Five Massive Comebacks in 2017

QOTSA Villains Artwork

Making music is a cyclical process. Make a song, record it, sell it, play it live and repeat. That's usually how it goes anyway, and the time scales of that process can differ immensely. Some bands are happy to spend years away from the limelight, locked away in their musical caves, intensely preparing for the start of the musical rollercoaster (or carousel) all over again.

2017 has seen a number of great acts return to the spotlight with amazing new tunes. I've been pretty lax on shouting about these tracks on here, and that really bugged me. So to remedy that, I've decided to do a round up of some of the best comebacks I've witnessed this year.

Starting with...

Queens Of The Stone Age - The Evil Has Landed



New album entitled Villains, is (at time of writing) just over a week away. It's been produced by Mark Ronson and first single The Way You Used To Do had an almost swing/ big band vibe, think ol blue eyes sporting a leather jacket. The Evil Has Landed is a six minute monster of a track, which swirls around in a myriad of riffs and solos before exploding into an Eagles of Death Metal-esque orgy of fuzz.

I cannot wait for this album. PR's send me a link.

Enter Shikari - Live Outside



This band, man. They really are something special, you know? After indulging in fan service with their recent anniversary tour in support of first album Take to the Skies, Enter Shikari are ready to crack on re-defining what it is to be in this band and introduce themselves to a new audience, perhaps unfamiliar with their heavier hi-jinx.

Live Outside is a straight up electro rock banger with a chorus that will burrow into your brain for days. Front man Rou Reynolds commented that for their new album The Spark, the band decided to not worry about how HEAVY a track was going to be and instead focus on the songwriting process, and really think about what approach would benefit the song as a whole.

It's an interesting change of pace, and you can guarantee the Enter Shikari of three years ago would have shoved a breakdown slap bang in the middle of Live Outside. But you know what? It doesn't need it, it's fucking great how it is.

Death From Above 1979 - Never Swim Alone



Death From Above 1979 are criminally under rated in the UK. Hopefully that will all change after new album Outrage! Is Now drops. We've so far heard two tracks from that forthcoming record, and they're both show stoppers.

Latest track Never Swim Alone is as simple as it is effective. It's just over two minutes long and...well quite frankly it leaves you begging for more. Hit repeat enough time and you may find it transforms into a rock n roll mantra. And with a meditation technique that strong, enlightenment is almost guaranteed.

Arcade Fire - Creature Comfort



From a two piece to a band with a seemingly endless number of members to choose from. Creature Comfort is a dark synth led track with lyrics about struggled teenagers and the quandaries of modern life.

Sounds good, right? Well trust me, it's a blast. With vocalists sparring throughout, the epic synthesizers and hypnotising drums it's a style that suits this band down to the ground. And guess what,  it sounds even better live.

Say what you want about the new album as a whole (I've read criticism but haven't stuck the whole thing on yet) this track is a diamond and should be added to your playlist immediately.

Don Broco - Technology



Plucky Brit rockers Don Broco appear to be consistently delivering rock bangers as if it were the easiest thing in the world currently. After previous track Pretty, caught everyones attention with it's devastating riff and terrifying video, the band have just released Technology, and it shreds.

It's the same formula as their last single release, killer track + great video = winner!

With a third album on the way, and enough hit songs in the bank to make any rock act envious, Don Broco could be on the cusp of achieving mainstream adoration, the likes of which they absolutely deserve.

Keep at it lads, just don't drop Thug Workout from the set.


For Your Viewing Entertainment #11: Gallows - Relentless Lives Of The Artists

Gallows Relentless Lives of the Artists

I love Gallows. I've said it before and I'll say it again, that band were the punk rock ethos anthropomorphised into a five piece. Whether they were having the times of their lives, or destroying themselves on ill advised tours, they were never afraid to tell things exactly as they were.

"Lives of the artists" was a feature length documentary produced by Relentless energy drinks, which consisted of different musical performers showcasing how they dealt with the realities of life on the road. One of the artists involved in the film was Gallows, and their segment displayed exactly why the original line up soon parted ways after the making of this film.

This documentary focused on the harsher realities of being Gallows. Filmed during the Grey Britain era, during a mammoth stint on the infamous Warped Tour, the footage features three live cuts taken from their performances,  scenes of violence between singer Frank Carter and the crowd, and one on one interviews with the band in which they all look half dead.

It's a stark look at what happens to artists when they leave it all on the stage night after night. This band cared about what they did. They stood for something and eventually the burden of sharing that message to the masses took its toll.

The video is split into three parts below and lasts around 25 minutes in total. It is well worth your time, if just for the live performances alone.

Tracklist

Gold Dust
Leeches
Misery

Part One



Part Two



Part Three




Muse: The Definitive Setlist

Muse by request show 2017

The news that Muse (no rhyme intended) were playing a very special by request show at London's Shepherds Bush Empire in support of the charity The Passage on Saturday August 19, had many a Muse fan boy excited. Unfortunately, there were very limited tickets available and I missed out. Boohoo.

The show did however spark an idea for a new series of blogs.

The Definitive Setlist Series

It's a self explanatory series really, I pick a band and, following a few carefully selected rules (to keep things interesting), I craft a definitive setlist that if performed live, would cause the audience in attendance to collapse through sheer shock and awe.

It only seems right that we kick things off with Muse. But before we get to the set, let's take a look at what constitutes as a definitive setlist and the rules in creating one.

The Rules

- This is not a greatest hits set. So popular songs can be dropped if you can justify it.

- The setlist must include a track from each album released. This includes b-side collections, but does not include EPs or country exclusive releases.

- Speaking of b-sides, the setlist must include at least one b-side or rarity. Because no legendary setlist consisted of just your standard fare.

- The setlist must not exceed 90 minutes. It's not a lot of time, some would say not enough, but I disagree. Always leave them wanting more.

- As ever, it's my personal opinion, so if you disagree...DO YOUR OWN BLOODY LIST.

Anyway, without further ado, allow me to reveal...

The Setlist

- Take a Bow
- Supremacy
- Plug in Baby
- Space Dementia
- MK Ultra
- Psycho
- Citizen Erased
- The Groove
- Muscle Museum
- Assassin
- Hyper Music
- Fury
- Reapers

Encore #1

- Shine (Acoustic)
- Sunburn
- Exogenesis: Symphony Part 3

Encore #2

- Time is Running Out
- Stockholm Syndrome
- Knights of Cydonia

Setlist Length: 1 hour 29 minutes

Number of Songs: 19

Spotify Embed Code



Notes

- This is a setlist that finds Muse on the heavier side of their musical repetoire for the most part. There's enough pop hooks to keep everyone happy, but it features an awful lot of riffage. Which is a good thing in my eyes.

- No Hysteria. That was a pretty painful decision to make, but as it's a regular in most of their sets...I thought it could be sacrificed this time around.

- No Bliss either. But there's enough Origin of Symmetry goodness to make up for that.

- The Groove and Fury are the two of the best tracks written since the turn of the millennium, and the fact that they're both b-sides boggles my mind even today.

- Only one track from The 2nd Law. I liked that album, so it's not a slight, just a testament to the strength of the rest of their catalogue. Save Me was close to making the cut, as was Animals.

- Take a Bow and Knights of Cydonia are for my money still the best opening and closing tracks Muse have come up with. Lots of pomposity, ridiculousness and aggression.

- Shine (Acoustic) is incredible and it's a crime it's not played more.

- Muscle Museum and Sunburn still stand up today, and would most likely be highlights.



So what do you think, not enough hit singles? Not enough rarities? Or just right?

Let me know and send across your own definitive hit list for comparison. We'll see what the lads pull out the bag August 19th.





Five Top Sessions From Audiotree.tv

Audiotree top performances
When I find a new platform which allows me to discover and listen to live sessions from exciting new artists, I like to shout about. Just to be clear, this isn't an advert...I just really like these guys.

Based out of Chicago, Audiotree describe themselves as "a multi-faceted artist discovery platform" which is a bit wanky...but we'll let them get away with it. They produce studio sessions, live-streaming concerts, music videos as well as a whole host of other stuff.

It's the studio sessions that are the jewel in the Audiotree crown however, and I'm here to share with you five of my favourite recordings shot by the lads and lasses from Chicago.

PAWS



Whilst touring their third record No Grace, the trio from Scotland popped in to the Audiotree studios to lay down their brand of gritty alternative rock. I'm a massive fan of these guys, and they put on a great session, firing out all the big singles from No Grace whilst finishing on one of my favourites from their Coke Float record.

Setlist

- No Grace
- Gone So Long
- N/A
- Impermanent
- Oh The Places You'll Go
- Catherine 1956

Sorority Noise



I've said it before and I'll say it again. Sorority Noise are incredible and you should put whatever you're doing to one side and check out this session right now. There's also some great in between track banter between the presenter and the band, which helps them come across as genuinely nice guys.

I'd definitely have a beer with these boys.

Setlist

- Nolsey
- Art School Wannabe
- Mononokay
- Using
- Dirty Ickes
- Your Soft Blood

letlive.



Proof that can you bring just as much energy to a studio session in front of 10 people as you can to a live gig in front of a 1000 people. This set is straight up rock n roll and features Jason Aalon Butler leaping across the place like a caged animal. Essential viewing.

Setlist

- Banshee (Ghost Fame)
- Enemies [Enemigos]
- Virgin Dirt
- The Fear Fever
- Fix Me (Black Flag Cover)
- Dreamer's Disease

And So I Watch You From Afar



Who needs vocals when you have devastating hammer ons and fuzz pedals? And So I Watch You From Afar have done two sessions for Audiotree, but their second is really quite something. Frenetic energy, coupled with interesting song structures has always been the post rock genres winning formula, but the shock and awe aesthetic that ASIWYFA bring to their tracks helps them stand out from the rest.

Setlist

- Run Home
- Wasps
- Think:Breathe:Destroy
- Search:Party:Animal
- A Beacon, A Compass, An Anchor


Rainbow Kitten Surprise



They have a band name which really does split opinions down the middle. Love or hate it, the argument soon fades into obscurity after you hear what these guys are capable of. A unique vocal performance and some laid back, yet atmospheric rock n roll vibes really make this session something special. GREAT STUFF.

Setlist

- Devil Like Me
- Cocaine Jesus
- Seven
- American Shoes
- Lady Lie
- Wasted

So there you have it, support the guys the really do deserve it. If you like what you hear you can check out their website here - https://audiotree.tv




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.)