MESMERISING LIVE SHOW BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN EPIC RETURN DRY THE RIVER DEBUT ALBUM VERDICT
TRIBES DJANGO DJANGO YOUNG THE GIANT
CONTENTS 3. WELCOME... THE LISTENING POST... 5. ARCADE FIRE 6. BON IVER 7. ARCTIC MONKEYS 8. GORILLAZ 9. THE SHINS 10. MICHAEL KIWANUKA 11. SANTIGOLD 12. PLAN B 13. ADELE INTRODUCING... 15. TRIBES 16. YOUNG THE GIANT 17. DJANGO DJANGO REVIEW... 18. BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN 19. DRY THE RIVER 20. TENNIS 21. SLEIGH BELLS 22. THE TING TINGS 23. THE JEZABELS 24. LAURA MARLING 25. NADA SURF
WELCOME TO EDITION 2
So where exactly did February go? Well, over here alot of it was spent listening to your feedback about our first WTGR magazine. We’ve tweaked a few things this month to make it easier to read and more enjoyable to look at. We’re proud of it. When we weren’t doing this however we were, as always, listening to great new music.
So as well as reviews of Bruce Springsteen, Dry The River, The Jezabels, The Ting Tings, Tennis, The Twilight Sad, Sleigh Bells, Laura Marling and Nada Surf, we introduce you to three fantastic acts that you made not have heard of yet, and catch you up on the best of a months music news. Writer Neil Riddell also joins the team, which brings our
numbers to five now. He writes our cover story in fact, a great review of what was by all accounts an amazing night in Bristol. So, relax, fetch a biscuit and a cup of tea and catch up on the last 30 days of essential music. Take it easy. Andrew Editor - When The Gramophone Rings
POST... THE TRACKS YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO MISS ALL AVAILABLE AT WHENTHEGRAMOPHONERINGS.COM
Including: The Shins, Gorillaz, Andre 3000, Bon Iver, Arctic Monkeys, Santigold, Arcade Fire, Plan B & Adele.
Arcade Fire are back in the form of brand new track that features on the soundtrack to the forthcoming blockbuster Hunger Games. It’s a slow, almost industrial slow-burning accompanied by wails of feedback and stuttering electronic drums. Quite a depeartue then. Talking to Entertainment Weekly, Arcade Fire frontman Win Butler said this of the song:
“I tried to put myself in the headspace of how excited I’d be if this film was coming out when I was 15. I still remember hearing Radiohead’s “Exit Music (for a Film)” in Romeo + Juliet when I was that age… Our whole approach was to get into the world and try to create something that serves the story and the film. There’s something in the story of Abraham and Isaac that I think resonates with
the themes in the film, like sacrificing children. So They aren’t complete reworkings and we made a weird, alternate-universe version of both feature a few more production that, where it’s as if Abraham had a daughter — tricks, making them an interesting listen. kind of a metaphor for [the movie’s hero] Katniss.” The Sprawl II remix originally appeared in the song’s interactive video late last year whilst Although Record Store Day is April 21 this year, the the Ready to Start remix initially appeared as a band’s remixes of “Sprawl II” and “Ready to Start” bonus track on the deluxe edition of The Suburbs. with producer Damian Taylor can be heard now.
ARCADE FIRE DROP NEW SONG & REMIXES
WASH 4AD SESSION
Fresh from his double Grammy win Bon Iver has released this, a mesmeric mini-set recorded in London’s AIR Studios in October 2011. With label mate Sean Carey sparing with him on piano, these are sparse reinterpritations of their recorded partners. And they are amazingly good, showing off Vernon’s voice at its best – loud, raw and crystal clear. 1. Hinnom, TX 2. Wash. 3. I Can’t Make You Love Me 4. Babys 5. Beth/Rest Watch and download the video here.
Arctic Monkeys unleashed a brand spanking new track – R U Mine? It doesn’t feature on Suck It And See, their 2011 album, and with its pshycadelic voodoo guitar and a lyric-spitting Alex Turner features a little more oomph than anything on that record. The band had previously said that they were planning to release “a new tune” before they undertake a lengthy stint across the USA and Canada as support to The Black Keys on their US arena tour, and one can safely assume that this is said tune. It will sound great live. The song, which features them driving through the streets while the track is given its radio debut on The Sex Pistols Steve Jones’ KROQ programme, is available to buy from iTunes now.
R U MINE?
GORILLAZ, JAMES MURPHY & ANDRE 3000 Pretty good line up ey? They’ve hooked up to produce a track for Converse - for some reason one of very few brands that it seems perfectably for musicians to cosy up to. Best of all, it sounds exactly like you’d expect a song from these three to sound like, or as
Converse themselves put it: “DoYaThing gets freakish as it brings together the perfect cocktail of Gorillaz, Andre 3000 and James Murphy.” Listen at When The Gramophone Rings now, and remember, DoYaThing.
BAIT & SWITCH
SeptembeR BAIT & SWITCH An upbeat, swaggering stab of guitar-pop, complete with some glorious group backing vocals. The groups new members look great, playing away in a simple rehearsal take within a cosy log cabin. It’s absolutely great, and wets the appetite for Port of Morrow‘s release on 19th March.
It’s a woozy acoustic number with some some great western electric guitar noodles and of course an airy vocal from Mercer himself in which he admits ‘i’ve been selfish and full of pride’. Indeed. The Simple Song single and accompanying September is out February 14. The video was premiered with Record Store Day.
A collaboration between The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach and the winner of the BBC’s Sound Of 2012 poll Michael Kiwanuka has been released online. The track, titled Lasan, will be the b-side to Kiwanuka’s new single I’m Getting Ready which will feature on the singer’s forthcoming debut album, Home Again, which is set for release on March 12.
Speaking about the track, Auerbach said: “It was great – really quick. We went and did it really quick at Ray Davies’ studio. It was nice. Obviously his voice is amazing the songs are cool. The production on that stuff is great too – I like what the guy is doing.”
Michael Kiwanuka & The Black KeyS
Rolling in the deep live at the grammys
Everyone knew it was going to happen, but that didn’t make Adele’s dominance at The Grammy’s any less impressive. For a record that was free of tricks or gimmicks and and instead focussed on great songwriting it is vindication that people are still after real music, even in its purest pop form. On the evening she won six gongs she also performed an epic version Rolling In The Deep and clearly enjoyed being back onstage after a lengthy time out of the limelight with throat problems.
Ill manors Plan B has posted iLL Manors, his first single since his phenomenally successful The Defamation of Strickland Banks, online. The song debuted on Zane Lowe’s BBC Radio 1 show earlier this evening and will be accompanyed by an album and film by the same name, both to be produced by Ben Drew and all to be released in May. Speaking about the album, Plan B told NME: “You could call ‘iLL Manors” bassline, soul, hip-hop. The album has the lyrical depth of my first record but the musical composition is light years ahead as it’s informed by everything I’ve learnt in the last five years – writing, producing and playing with a live band. I feel I’m better than I’ve ever been.”
Almost one month ago to the day we brought you Santigold’s brilliant comeback single Big Mouth. Now, here’s another. This, the second single from the upcoming Master of My Make-Beleive album, is a built over a skittering drum pattern and jittery keyboard stabs. It’s a little more conventional than the bonkers pop of Big Mouth. Speaking to V Magazine, Santigold recently explained that she has worked with Greg Kurstin, Dave Sitek and Nick Zinner of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on the record. Of the album title, Santigold also said: “My record is called Master of My Make-Believe because I want it to be about creating your own reality.” The song was made available on February 21st. A Disparate Youth EP will be released on April 8th, with remixes from Switch, The 2 Bears and Amateur Best.
Having steadily gained attention while blitzing the summer festival circuit last year and occupying some standout opening slots for The Kaiser Chiefs and The Kooks it is quite obvious to see that Camden four-piece Tribes are boasting quite a lot of potential. The recent release their debut album Baby saw them wholeheartedly realise it. There’s something of a nineties Britpop feel to Tribes and that’s absolutely no criticism; they have a strong, guitar-based indie flag to fly with a troop of melodic tunes that while on the surface may seem easy to sneer at, frankly just hit the spot. The album reeks of Suede, Oasis and Blur; everything that was good about nineties Britpop. Tracks such as the single Sapph0 showcases the lyrical depth found throughout the album, with intimate whispering vocals which smoulder and build to a classic sing-along chorus which boasts the influence of The Pixies. We Were Children gives a
clear indication of the era that influenced Tribes with singer Johnny Lloyd spinning out lyrics such as “we were children in the mid-nineties” while the rest of the group – made up of Dan White, Miguel Demelo and Jim Cratchley – flit between bombast and intimacy. Throughout Baby Lloyd reveals himself as a talented wordsmith. Despite the majority of songs tackling the minor issue of death it blends a dark edge with pop tunes, reminiscent of the noir witticisms of messrs Morrissey and Curtis. In this so-called drought of decent guitar bands, four indie lads from Camden may not sound too promising. Ignore the naysayers, they’re talking rubbish: Tribes are genuine contenders.
TRIBES’ DEBUT ALBUM BABY IS OUT NOW
YOUNG THE GIANT
Whether it’s the beaches, the sunshine, the shadow of the Hollywood sign or just something they put in the water, there is no denying that California bands usually sound very, er, Californian. That is to say whether it plays out within the lo-fi fuzz of chillwave or the taught urgency of post-punk, there is usually plenty of primary colour involved. Bright swathes of the stuff. Orange County five-piece Young The Giant sound very Californian. Meeting at high school and now in their
early twenties, their brand of laidback guitar-pop is indebted to long days at the beach and the sound of waves crashing. After a promising early EP their debut full-length – released last year and produced by Joe Chiccarell (The White Stripes, My Morning Jacket) – is a chock-full of summery, uptempo toe-tappers. Future UK festival anthem in waiting My Body sounds like a bouncier, poppier cousin to touring buddies Kings of Leon’s Black Thumbnail, while the anthemic Cough Syrup,
with its soaring chorus and chiming guitar, edges towards what Coldplay would sound like if they turned everything up and stopped worrying. Boasting a pure Americana sound that belies their diverse backgrounds – Indian, Persian, British and French-Canadian among them – and signed to a subsidary of Warner Music Group there is no denying that big things are expected. But with singer Sameer Gadhia’s voice more than capable of filling even the vastest arenas, there is no denying they are band that would sound
fantastic in bigger spaces. Not that Gadhia would admit it, recently telling Paste Magazine of their rise to fame so far: “For better or for worse we really don’t take anything for granted.” About to embark on sold-out tour of the States it may be some time before they venture back over to the UK, possibly when armed with second record once they head back into the studio this September after a no-doubt successful festival run.
YOUNG THE GIANT’S SELF-TITLED DEBUT ALBUM IS OUT NOW
Django Django are four men who met at Edinburgh College of Art in 2008. Among many other British bands they can play guitar, bass, drums and sing. Given the current climate, this doesn’t sound too appealing does it? However three years in the making after an initial hype frenzy over their debut single Storm they have managed to produce a self-titled debut album. On top of that, it happens to be one of the most inventive debuts heard in a long time and also serves as conclusive proof that guitars aren’t obsolete.
The spirit of The Beta Band can be recognised floating eerily through much of the record, including opener Introduction/Hail Bop which boasts schizophrenic synths and stylised vocals. It is supplemented beautifully by the stellar single Default and other highlight Waveforms, before the album’s latter half becomes more adventurous with tracks like WOR and Loves Dart which employ a mean surf guitar sound and grumpy, rumbling drum beats. It all suggests that this is a band with a serious intellect, a sharp wit, and a knack for subversive hooks.
DJANGO DJANGO’S SELF-TITLED ALBUM IS OUT NOW
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN WRECKING BALL There is an interesting moment in Wings for Wheels, the making-of documentary accompanying Bruce Springsteen’s seminal 1975 album Born To Run. It features its maker hunched over a pad of paper, furiously editing his lyrics prior to another larynx-shredding vocal take. The camera pans onto the sheets of paper to see a mess of ideas, dozens and dozens of which are crossed out, replaced with refined versions of themselves. They looked less like song lyrics and more like a finely tuned movie script. Every word, every nuance and every breath there for a reason. If you’ve listened to any of his more recent albums, and there have been quite a few, it’s safe to say that, 37 years later, Springsteen no longer writes in this way. At the age of 62, you can’t blame him. So while much of his post-millennial E Street output has been painted with a broader brush, the intricacies replaced by sheer emotional weight, it hasn’t stopped him entering a genuine purple patch of form in which he’s released six albums in the last decade.
In the build-up to Wrecking Ball the buzzwords from both the man himself and his long-time manager Jon Landau has been that of “angry patriotism”, good news for an artist that thrives on having something to rally against. 1980’s The River told tales of a crippling economy,1984’s Born In The USA spoke out at the treatment of Vietnam veterans, while ‘87’s Tunnel of Love charted the disintegration of his first marriage. Anger has informed much of his recent work too, an anger that comes in many forms. Whether summoned whilst looking out over a post 9/11 New York on 2002’s The Rising – released as the dust settled and many Americans asked ‘what next?’ – or used to rally against the ineptitude of the Bush administration on 2007’s Magic. Not by coincidence then was his happy, optimistic, things-canget-better Working On Dream, released at the time of Obama hysteria, an absolute turkey. With the political landscape at last looking cheerier, it was the sound of a writer with nothing of note to write about. Thankfully though the banks went tits up and Springsteen’s blood pressure rose to levels that usually equate to musical gold. He wasn’t lying, Wrecking Ball is a very angry album. To an almost unrelenting degree. From the opening We Take Care Of Our Own, which replicates Born In The USA’s making the complete opposite point to the one you may think he’s making, via some choice song titles that include Shackled & Drawn, Death To My Hometown, This Depression, Rocky Ground and the blistering title track, anyone coming
expecting a barrel of laughs or queens of the supermarket will be highly disappointed. Anyone expecting an album worthy of any moment in Springsteen’s long career will, however, be very satisfied. Wrecking Ball, perhaps more than any Springsteen album to date blends the two versions of himself that he tends to keep apart: the pop-rock anthems of the E Steet Band and his darker, folkier, often solo albums. In both camps there are some absolute gems on show. Delve a little deeper and sprinkled throughout are a smattering of songs that are up there with his best. Of the folkier stuff, the beat-driven, Celtic march of Death To My Hometown is thrilling, and sees him waging war on those that have done the same to his country. “No cannonballs did fly no rifles cut us down, no bombs fell from the sky no blood soaked the ground,” he sings before you realise that this is not a war fought on the battlefield, but in the banks, with their economy-obliterating weapons of choice brining “death to our hometown boys.” The shuffling workerschorus of Shackled and Drawn shows off a frustration for the ready-to-work jack of all trades – “let a man work is that so wrong?” – who is instead “trudging through the dark in a world gone wrong”. In the following track, literally titled Jack Of All Trades, he goes even further still, with the titles character desperately searching for work - “I’ll mow your lawn, clean the leaves out your drain” – holding back his anger until he no longer can, admitting towards its climax that he wants nothing
more than to “find the bastards and shoot them on sight.” Pretty clear then. Of the more E Street material, the rollocking Easy Money sees Springsteen flex his oft-forgot melodic pop muscles – power after all, is nothing without its melody – and features a wonderful “na na na na” close. The exceptional title track is summery and flecked in nostalgic sunshine, building and building before letting rip into a barnstorming, toe-tapping, double-time crescendo. The real treat however comes in Land of Hopes And Dreams, a live favourite for years that has up until now not been tried in the studio. It’s the one moment here in which the writer allows himself to get optimistic, and it shines all the brighter for it, its widescreen shimmer bleeding into the final Clarence Clemons solo, recorded before his passing last year. Wrecking Ball isn’t without fault. Two of its tracks, You’ve Got It and Rocky Ground – funnily enough the two on which he sounds least angry – sound out of place and pointless. Thankfully he has put them right next to each other so that a quick double-tap of skip will see you through. What Wrecking Ball is however, is absolute confirmation that Springsteen is an artist for the big questions, the big moment. The biggest of all the big game players. Regardless of his age and regardless of his back catalogue Wrecking Ball should be celebrated. That it comes from a 62-year-old who has nothing left to prove makes it all the more fascinating. Broad brushstrokes yes, but it results in a near-masterpiece.
“Wrecking Ball is absolute confirmation that Springsteen is an artist for the big questions, the big moment. The biggest of all big game players…”
“The constant juxtaposition of the visceral and the pastoral is what makes Shallow Bed such an interesting listen…”
DRY THE RIVER
Just when you thought the London nu-folk scene that recently bought you Mumford & Sons, Laura Marling, Noah & The Whale and Jonnhy Flynn had exhausted itself of new acts after a triumphant couple of years, along come Dry The River. At first glance they seem a perfect addition to the team: acoustic guitar is often the beating heart of their songs, they have a fiddle player and more than one members can usually be spotted sporting a chunky beard. Over the course of their debut album however, it becomes quickly obvious that this is where the similarities end. So while there is acoustic guitar here it is often
drowned out or swallowed up by swelling tides of electric guitars or triumphant horns, the latter of which surely coming courtesy of the light touch of The National producer Peter Katis. The fiddle finds itself in a constant battle to be heard, but breaks through at just the right times and if you look beyond the beards you’ll see the tattoos and long, lank hair of a group of young men enthralled by US hardcore. That is to say, unlike anything this nu-folk scene has produced so far, Dry The River are not afraid to get loud. Very loud. Tracks such as the soaring, anthemic New Ceremony and previous singles No Rest and Weights & Measures have a
punkish, almost emo tinge to them, their chorus fit to burst with Peter Liddle’s passionate vocals. They get bouncy on the fantastic History Book, which saves a fantastically poppy, horn-assisted coda until its closing minute. Further highlight Chambers & Valves follows immediately and, with its swollen trumpets and clattering chorus, benefits most from the involvement of Katis, who never allows things to get too congested. Even when things get quiet they don’t do so for too long. Both the mournful Bible Belt and the downtrodden Lions Den begin with plucked acoustic guitar but end in far
grander surroundings, the latter closing with a wall of noise and feedback as Liddle screams himself course. This constant juxtaposition of the visceral and the pastoral is what makes Shallow Bed such an interesting listen time and time again. It also means they can offer something that is almost entirely of their own. For a band hyped as the next big things of the nu-folk scene they sure don’t have much in common with their stablemates, but after even a single listen of Shallow Bed you’ll be very glad they don’t. It is, without questions, a stunning debut.
7 TENNIS YOUNG & OLD “Tennis may be the musical equivalent of that couple that won’t stop posting pictures of themselves kissing on Facebook…”
The back story of Tennis is almost too good to be true. Formed after married couple Alaina Moore and Patrick Riley sailed down the East Coast of the States and wrote some songs while doing so, their 2011 debut Cape Dory was everything you’d expect the output of a couple in love – and who are kooky enough to up sticks and go on the voyage in the first place – to be. It was chirpy, and at times rather too sickly. If your gag reflex has already kicked in and you’re desperately
reaching for a sick bag it’s probably not the time to tell you that their releasing its follow up, Young And Old, on Valentine’s Day. Yup, Tennis may be the musical equivalent of that couple that won’t stop posting pictures of themselves kissing on Facebook. However, if you can get past the rose petals at the front door and step inside, it’s a deliciously well-decorated home. First single Origins perfectly captures the melodic muscle that Tennis have developed since they once
again set foot on dry land. A We Used To Wait-esque piano part romps over a thumping groove before Moore’s sugary sweet vocal kicks in and grounds things a little with just the right amount of microphone fuzz to make the whole thing sound like it was recorded way back in sun-soaked ’77. The dizzying Travelling is a rollercoaster ride of spiralling synth and one of the few songs that posseses a real urgency, suggesting a foot-to-the-floor car chase rather than a leisurely sail
down the coast line on a gentle breeze, while Moore thinks aloud as she coos “this must be rare, cos nothing else can compare, not that I’m aware of…”. Things are still chirpy in the land of Tennis, unfalteringly so. Throughout Young and Old the weapons of choice are simple: drums, bass, guitar and piano, with the latter of which punctuating many of the best tracks here, including the fabulous Petition. At heart a vintage soul classic it features a solid gold Moore chorus and
a devilishly effective tom-tom drum slip and acts best as the new listener litmus test track that all albums must have. I.e you can work out if you’re going to get on with Young and Old on this song alone. The waltz-time ballad Dreaming and the pounding High Road add a welcome touch of variation to the record’s latter half, but don’t go the whole way in covering the album’s only real chink – that perhaps a couple too many of these songs slip rather
unnoticeably into one another. If you found it too gooey to begin with, then they certainly don’t throw you a bone during its ten tracks. So if you don’t mind it when friends post their kissing pictures, or maybe better yet even enjoy seeing them happy, then Young and Old will be plain sailing.
“They’ve been careful not to stray from the classic formula, but make enough of a creative step to keep things interesting…”
SLEIGH BELLS REIGN OF TERROR Brooklyn duo, Alexis Krauss and Derek Miller (aka Sleigh Bells), earned unexpected buzz for their 2010 debut Treats. They now return with their latest album Reign of Terror promising to be equallyas noisy and vivacious as its predecessor, all the while spouting hype-inducing soundbites like ‘’the sonic equivalent of a beautiful shotgun to the head’, making it concrete clear that they would be staying faithful to their trademark decibel level. On that promise, Reign Of Terror doesn’t disappoint. It erupts into life with the roar of True Shred Guitar, an opening every bit as ridiculous as its name suggests it will be, complete with the sound of a rambunctious audience cheering to the commands of singer Alexis Krauss and a storm of slamming drum machine bursts from Miller. The prelude leads into the exhilarating Born to Lose, the first single to be released off the new album and a track with so much going on- plenty of which is hard to decipher over Krauss’s droning vocals – that it may leave you feeling nauseous. It’s the same eardrum punishing noise associated with Sleigh Bells but mixed with an ominous undercurrent lurking amidst Krauss tender vocals and an eerie childlike chorus. Crush has the most commercial appeal of anything on the album, with a sweet and glossy chorus that hears Krauss modestly admit ‘Ive got a crush, Ive got a crush on you.’ But this vulnerability is dispelled with a background of crunching snarly guitars that wipe away any coyness Krauss maybe teasing us with. Recent single Comeback Kid is an infectious and (for Sleigh Bells) relatively easy on the ear effort. The truculent side
to Sleigh Bells is put to one side as Krauss sings in a sugary-sweet tone amongst hardcore riffs and assaulting drums, ‘you gotta try a little harder, you’re the comeback kid’. The vocal line, displaying similarities with Crush, suggests plenty of time spent listening to sleazy, modern RnB with an incredibly catchy hook that will stick in your mind for hours. Fittingly, the darkest moment of the album comes in the form of Demons, with Krauss seeming like a being possessed. The fact it comes after the aural candy of Comeback Kid cleverly heightens contrats with Krauss hollering “burn the orphanage!” before a squealing guitar lick enters the fray. Miller is unrestrained as he introduces purely metal guitars that will make your ears bleed, all the while Krauss is consumed by rage, angrily singing ”you’ll be taken down.” Elsewhere, Never Say Die hints at a more progressive sound. A ghostly melody coupled with a feeling of Klauss’ spirit breaking continues into the final track DOA, grinding guitars and hypnotic vocals, allow the album to end on an unsettling note. Reign of Terror feels like a natural evolution from Treats. It’s careful not to stray from the classic girly vocals atop gnarly guitars and heavy drums enjoyed in Treats, but makes enough of a creative step to keep the listeners interested. In essence, it’s exactly the right mix of the two creative paths to guarantee them a third effort. The pair have proved they’ve made a cacophonous comeback. With their volume alone making them hard to ignore it will be interesting to see what direction they take on their next album.
“If Nowheresville is where these sounds are from, it’s also where you can’t help but think The Ting Tings are going…”
THE TING TINGS
SOUNDS FROM NOWHERESVILLE
It was 2008 when The Ting Tings – long-time friends Katie White and Jules De Martino – broke through the buzz barrier and reached number one in both the album and singles chart with their debut effort We Started Nothing, supplemented by the radiohogging singles That’s Not My Name, Great DJ and Shut Up & Let Me Go. Not a bad way to kick off your music careers at all, ay? The duo then planned to release a second album called Kunst, plans that were scrapped after single Hands failed to set the charts alight
back in October 2010. So we heard nothing more, until now. Sounds From Nowheresville has taken two years to produce and comes four years after their debut. Unfortunately, having listened to it you’d be forgiven for wondering why it’s taken so long for the group to produce, well, this? Yes, some moments have the melodic charm that attracted listeners to them in the first place. Tracks such as single Hang It Up, with its Beastie Boys Licensed to Ill sound that consists of White rapping over a guitar riff straight from the 80′s, could happily
have featured on We Started Nothing. Unfortunately, we’ve heard it all before from The Ting Tings. Thankfully, it’s far from the record’s highlight. When they get it right Sounds From Nowheresville shines. The infectious Guggenheim comes across like a 60′s girl group ballad as White tells the tale of a doomed romance. Soul Killing and One by One have a ska-jive to them, which would sound like a ridiculous combination to anyone, but surprisingly it works quite well with some clever layering. It’s unfortunate that this record
took so long, killing the momentum the group where building on both sides of the atlantic. It is surely because of its long incubation that the record lacks some va va voom. In short, The Ting Tings, despite still being arguably enjoyable and upbeat, have chosen a path which has taken away the spark and excitement we heard on their first album. If Nowheresville is where these sounds are from, it’s also where you can’t help but think The Ting Tings are going.
“There is certainly enough on display to suggest The Jezabels are worth taking seriously…”
7 THE JEZABELS PRISONER With a gold record in their native Australia still blowing through The Jezabels’ sails, their debut album now finds a UK release through Play It Again Sam. And with Florence + The Machine’s Ceremonials proving that there is currently a market for huge, OTT, avent-garde, femalefronted songwriting, you suspect that these guys may just stand a chance. The hefty emotional punch that Prisoner packs hangs on Hayley Mary’s fantastic vocals.
Across its 13 tracks they fill every available bit of space, soaring above the mix of stadium sized drums, chiming guitars and slices of synthesiser. When it works, boy does it work. Endless Summer , a frantic, arena sized mini-anthem, flits between melancholic verses and sure-footed chorus to fantastic effect. Early single Try Colour sees Mary stretch her vocal beyond her default bellow into a sweet, sugary croon while Rosebud, with its Breakfast Club synths and
reverbed drums, could be right out of a John Hughes movie. Coming in a few minutes shy of an hour, of course it’s at least two or three songs too long and there is an unfortunate lack of concentration towards its close. However, with more than its fair share of canyon-sized choruses and ever-increasingly vast production, there is certainly enough on display to suggest The Jezabels are worth taking seriously.
Five years into a musical career which appears to boast limitless potential, Laura Marling’s stage presence is utterly unrecognisable from that of the shy, slightly petrified-looking teenager who first appeared on our TV screens in her late teens. Having reached a grand old 22, the songstress still prefers to let her songs do most of the talking, but there was notable poise and quiet confidence in her demeanour as she ambled on to take centre stage at Colston Hall shortly after 9pm, flanked by a quintet of upper crust musicians. Palpable enthusiasm was in the air as Saturday night’s Bristol gig began with a quartet of songs from last year’s lyrically dark A Creature I Don’t Know, the band adding jazzy flecks to The Muse and Don’t Ask Me Why. Her vocal stylings continue to frequently recall Joni Mitchell, undoubtedly a formative influence on Marling’s writing from an early stage. Eschewing the clichéd expressions of schmaltz favoured by too many of her peers, Marling’s subtle songs hone in on lust and longing, demons and death, the words sometimes delivered in an icily cold and distant manner, at others in achingly soft and beautiful tones. A reminder of her lingering precociousness came early on as she reminisced about the personal significance the Colston Hall holds for her, Marling’s first ever gig experience having taken place there. Inquisitive calls from the audience prompted her to reveal that a decade ago, as a wide-eyed youngster she had come by train with her dad to see Ryan Adams, with whom she sang so beautifully on Channel 4’s Live from Abbey Road recently. Maybe the excitable 12-year-old in the crowd will be up on the same stage covering one of my songs ten years hence, Marling mused. Fresh from wooing audiences in Australia and New Zealand at the start of 2012 and on the back of a richly acclaimed tour of British cathedrals last autumn, she and her slick backing group had the 16-song set list down to near perfection. It consisted of half a dozen tracks from A Creature I Don’t Know, and the same again from her finest outing to date, 2010’s I Speak Because I Can. From her underrated debut LP Alas I Cannot Swim, only the catchy Ghosts (ending with some furiously jabbed ivory tinkling from Pete Roe, one of the night’s warm-up acts) and the jaunty title track have survived the cull. The latter’s conclusion signalled it was time for the band to take a breather, leaving a rapturous sellout audience to be spellbound by a trio of solo acoustic numbers. An arresting new song saw Marling needlessly apologising for playing one
LAURA MARLING COLSTON HALLS BRISTOL 08/02/12 the crowd hadn’t heard before, followed by a sublime, gender-bending reading of Adams’ vulnerable hymn My Winding Wheel. She rounded the miniature solo set off with a gorgeous, goosebumps-inducing rendition of her own Goodbye England (Covered in Snow). A song pretty enough to make even the most avid snow-hater yearn for some of the powdery white stuff, it demonstrated her mastery of lurching between melodic falsetto and a multispeed, almost spoken word delivery – again bringing Joni to mind. It was a pity she didn’t deign to play alone a little longer – though that is no criticism of her backing band, all consummate musicians, even if there were odd moments when the raw vulnerability of Marling’s voice and words felt a little smothered by some mildly overbearing arrangements. Between them playing banjo, cello, double bass, drums, guitar, keyboards, mandolin and piano, the band for the most part provided majestic, stately backing to give the songs room to breathe. Towards the tail end of the night last year’s single Sophia morphed abruptly from gentle lament into good old-fashioned country hoedown. While conforming most closely to the prevailing pattern of soft beginnings followed by more frenzied crescendos, it also provided one of the gig’s most thrilling moments. As the 70-minute, encore-less performance wound up with the graceful I Speak Because I Can, it left in its wake memories of another spellbinding show from a young lady who is growing rapidly in stature, and whose singing and writing continue to mark her out as one of the few true treasures in British music today. Photo by Daniel Mackie.
There can’t be many other bands that leak effortless goodwill quite like Nada Surf. Releasing charming album after charming album they’ve built up a loyal following despite remaining, in the UK at least, neglected by playlist compilers and magazine editors. While the fickle fingers of hype and hyperbole have never been their style, noone who witnessed their blitz two date tour of our fair isles could deny that whatever they have been doing is working for them. Now in their 40′s and boasting more than just a few grey hairs the New York trio are playing among some of their biggest UK shows ever, bucking the trend of diminishing returns after a certain age. It’s not without reason then that when the group – bolstered to a five-piece tonight – amble onstage to a exceedingly warm greeting the welcome is equally as sunny: “Hello friends!” The set draws fairly heavily from their brilliant new record The Stars Are Indifferent to Astronomy and kicks off with said album’s opening pair: the pummeling title-track followed by the poppy Waiting for Something. While the instruments fizz and the melodies flutter it’s not until the more familiar Happy Kid that this Wednesday night crowd really get moving, with the addition of Doug Willard on guitar making an instant impression, opening up and complimeting many of of singer Matthew Caws’ original riffs as well as adding a further layer of fuzz to the raucously upbeat opening. When they do slow it down it allows the more delicate of their songs to shine too. Inside of Love in transformed by a slight tempo shift and an added groove into the soft-rock anthem that it never quite had the confidence to be on record while the dark, brooding Killians Red builds into a haze of big chords and bright lights. But it’s the hands-in-the-air singalongs that work best tonight. Hi Speed Soul is dazzling with its beefy guitars and glitterball chorus. Always Love threatens to burst free of KOKO in search of the nearest arena such is its ability to get lungs bursting and legs pogoing. As the evening progresses and near-perfect slabs of indie-pop are followed by near-perfect slabs of indie-pop you can’t help but feel that, with the 20th anniversary of the group coming next year, a singles collection ‘Best Off’ would perhaps finally show off this now cult group in all their glory. “If you believe in something, don’t give up” declares Caws before they launch into The Moon Is Calling. It’s a perfect peice of advice to sum up Nada Surf, and one that 1500 Londoners tonight are very glad they stuck to.
NADA SURF KOKO 08/02/12