Travelling the meandering roads through the snowy mountains of the Peak District from Manchester to Sheffield was not the only journey myself and Mark Wood took on December 17th 2011.
We also took a journey back in time to the 80’s if the herb grinder’s Christmas decorations were anything to go by. As we wandered backstage we came across a tiny room filled with kettle chips, a bucket of icy beers, oh and two members of Sheffield band, The Crookes. They kindly withstood the chilly conditions to have a pre-gig chat with us.

The Crookes

The Crookes

Becky Excell: How are you guys today?

Daniel Hopewell: We’re good thanks, you?

BE: Not bad, a little cold. (We came across a lot of snow on our Sheffield journey!)

BE: This is your home coming gig after your European tour, how does it feel to be back?

DH: Well we played this venue back in March. But this time lots of our friends are coming, it should be a fun gig.

Mark Wood: The venue feels quite homely right?

DH: Yeah, it does, I like the 80’s Christmas decorations.

BE: Anyway, how was the European tour? Did you find that different countries gave different receptions to those of an English crowd?

DH: Yeah, it’s different in Europe.

Russell Bates: Crowds are a bit easier going, to put it nicely in Europe. A lot of people seem to come to gigs to just have a good time and they don’t really care what bands are coming on. They dance the night away!

DH: It’s more of an event; it’s an entire night, rather than just a show.

BE: Was there a favourite place you played?

Both: Slovenia!

RB: We didn’t really know what to expect, it was amazing. It was sold out and everyone was really into it.

DH: It’s really hard to choose though; they’re all a lot of fun.

BE: We also saw you played in Tokyo, did you realise you had fans in Tokyo before you went out there?

DH: Not really, it’s always a surprise when a crowd starts singing all the words; it feels strange every time it happens.

BE: How was life on the road across Europe? Did you travel around in a tour bus?

RB: I’d call it a van… a small van!

DH: We stay in hotels so we get to sleep.

BE: I read in a recent interview that you don’t always have such great places to stay?

DH: A lot of the time we don’t actually. We sometimes stay at people’s houses, if we can’t get a hotel. It’s a nice way of meeting people, we meet people we wouldn’t otherwise, and just sleep on their sofas which is always fun!

MW: I guess what you do is quite different to what most people get to do in their line of work.

RB: Yeah, but, people perceive that you get to travel around in luxury.

DH: Not true! By the end of a tour you’ve run out of clothes and are having to ‘recycle’.

BE: Talking of clothes, we saw that Burberry has been supporting you. What is it, do you think, about yourselves that has drawn appliance repair san diego to you?

RB: They thought we were cheap!

BE: Did they just contact you?

DH: Yeah, I think someone saw us at a show in London and just said “you’re a similar kind of aesthetic.” We’re very English; we try and dress smartly even though we’re poor. It’s ok though because charity shops always have cheap suits.

It was Burberry who took us to Tokyo actually; we couldn’t afford it without them. It was definitely something we weren’t use to. We went to Texas the previous year on our own money and we’ve been in debt ever since!

The Crookes

The Crookes

MW: We noticed you did a thevoiphub cover “Born under a Bad Sign” … Do you think that he has a big influence on most Sheffield bands?

DH: Yeah, he definitely has a big influence on us, we’re massive fans. We did a cover with him as well and he gave us a lot of advice, he’s adopted this ‘Godfather’ role.

RB: He’ll just every now and then send an email with a list of songs to cover.

DH: We were actually waiting for a response from him for ages and then we got a response telling us to cover a song called “Boy’s Cry.”

RB: Perfect song choice if the name is anything to go by!!
Nevertheless he is definitely a man to listen to. There are a lot of people who give you advice that you tend to ignore, but he’s one you pay attention to.

MW: How did you guys come to meet him?
DH: We got asked a while ago by Steve Lamaq and Jo Whiley. They were doing a reunion of their evening sessions and asked if we would get together with Richard and do a cover.
We had literally no practice time; the first time we played it correctly was live on the radio.

RB: Richard is such a professional though.

DH: I think he assumes we are too… we’re not!

BE: The Sheffield music scene in general is renowned for being pretty successful. Do you think it has helped you being from a place like this?

DH: Sort of, I think being from Sheffield, Liverpool or Manchester helps; there’s something about those cities that tends to inspire people. There are similar traits amongst the people who come out of such places; and on a practical level there are loads of places in Sheffield where you can play music and loads of people are really into it. There is loads of support your young bands.

BE: So you’d recommend it as a place to be for bands starting out?

DH: Yeah, or for anyone! When we first started out we’d play five different venues a week in Sheffield; it gave us great opportunities. It meant by the time we went down to play in London, we’d already done 50-60 shows.

The Crookes

The Crookes

BE: We noticed that recently you’ve been recording your new album; it is going to have similar sound to energie solaire?

DH: The main difference is its going to be a lot happier. We wrote Chasing After Ghosts in Sheffield in the middle of winter. We had nothing to do and we couldn’t even afford the heating, so we were really miserable and that resonates slightly.
This album was recorded when we were travelling round Europe meeting loads of nice people, it’s much happier.

RB: And it was hot! It makes a massive difference to the songs.

DH: Every track thus far is really up beat and perky!

MW: (To Dan) You write a lot of the lyrics, is it a bit strange for you to have them sung by someone else or do you write them with that in mind?

DH: I think the lyrics I write suit George’s voice; he has quite a poetic voice. But I know there are some things he couldn’t get away with singing.

MW: So would you say you have a kind of partnership with him to make it work?

DH: Yeah, I think maybe only once or twice George has said “I can’t sing that.” It mostly clicks quite naturally, it’s never forced.

MW: You don’t get many bands where the lyrics are not written by the singer…

DH: Originally, when we started off I was writing lyrics and suddenly realised I couldn’t sing them, so I’d have to get someone else to, and it’s always been that way since.

BE: Will we hear many of the new songs tonight?

DH: At least two, but seeing as its Christmas we’re going to have to fit in some Christmas tunes as well!

BE: We saw only this morning that you’ve recorded a Christmas song of your own. Are you going to be playing that?

RB: Yeah, we practiced it yesterday for the first time actually.

DH: We wrote it over a year ago, and we left it till yesterday to learn it!

BE: Finally, we just wanted to know what the future is for The Crookes in 2012, obviously you’ve got the new album to be released, any date set?

Both: Nope!

BE: Any festival appearances planned?

DH: We’ll probably do quite a lot in Europe now that we have some good connections; we’re much more popular in Europe than England it seems.

BE: Right well have a good gig and Merry Christmas!

Both: Thanks very much, you too.

MW: Cheers guys!

- Becky Excell

“We’re anti-Dubstep”

 

After I interviewed The Vaccines I grabbed ten minutes with their support Howler.  It’s been a roller coaster couple of months for these fellas from Minneapolis…

Brent Mayes (far left, drums), Jordan Gatesmith (second from left, lead vocals & guitar), France Camp (centre, drums), Ian Nygaard (second from right, guitar), Max Petrek (far right, keyboard & vocals)

Jamie Collins: How’s the UK treating you so far?

Ian Nygaard: We caught some evil sickness, but now we’re alright.  Jordan’s got it, so that’s cool.

JC: Got the plague?

Jordan Gatesmith: We were licking skulls down a dark alley.

JC: Very Shakespearean.

JG: It was. “To be or not to be” … licked out the eye sockets, made sure I got all the goodness out.

JC: Nice.  So your last EP was called This One’s Different.  Without wanting to be too cheeky, what’s so different about you guys?

JG: Nothing.  I dunno.

IN: We’re just really trying to rip-off The Strokes.  Just kidding.

JG: That is what everyone who interviews us keeps asking us though…

JC: I won’t make that comparison, don’t worry.  I’ll give you a break.

JG: Thank you!

IN: We said we’d stab the next person who did.

JC: But yeah, it’s a bit of a controversial title…

JG: It wasn’t supposed to be at all.  Our first song had that title and it had nothing to do with a new sound or anything being different.  It was written as a love song pretty much; this girl’s different, this relationship’s different.

JC: Its gotten a bit lost in translation, I think the world has taken it the wrong way…

JG: I know, it’s funny… I’ve never had that in an interview before though so you’re the first!

JC: There you go!  How are you guys finding it with The Vaccines so far?

IN: Good, they’re cool blokes.  They give us champagne.  I don’t know if they feel bad for us, but they still give us champagne, so it’s cool regardless.

Max Petrek: They give us shampoo too…

IN: And Freddie’s just so handsome, who can deny it?

JC: He is a dashing young man.

Brent Mayes: I think they’re all pretty handsome.

JC: There’s nothing wrong with a bit of man love.

IN: I’d do them all.

JC: That’s going to be the title of the article. Nice!  So yeah, how’s it been working with a label like Rough Trade?

JG: Amazing, they’re a great group of people, very supportive.  They’re all about the artist.

JC: How quickly were you guys snapped up exactly? It seemed pretty quick.

JG: A matter of hours.  It was really crazy.  It happened fast.

JC: Had you guys been a band long before that happened?

JG: Well we’ve only been together now for a year and a half.

MP: This full band has only been like this for a couple of months.

JC: So has it blown you away, the speed of it all?

JG: I think we’re all staying pretty levelheaded about it.

JC: How different has it been playing here compared to the States; what’s the vibe like for you?

JC: We just got off tour with Tapes ‘n Tapes in the USA before this.  We were playing fairly small venues, we played the Bowery Bar which is a big venue but before that it was usually two hundred capacity every night.

IN: Yeah we played a venue one night and Jordan came on stage and said “Ah, the whole group’s here!”.  We introduced our names and then we went round getting everyone’s name in the crowd.  Then two more came in and we were like “Latecomers! What’re your names?”.

JC:  Do you like that, though? That can be kind of cool when the barriers are broken down.

IN: Yeah but that was almost too intimate.

JG: Size is the main difference on this tour.  We’ve gone from playing to a hundred people every night to a couple of thousand.

JC: So your debut album’s called America Give Up.  It’s fair to say that sounds pretty political, do you consider yourselves to be politically motivated?

IN: I’ve been into politics for a while, I was in the debate club in high school.  I was always very political…  But I wasn’t in the band when the CD was made.

JG:  You can’t get around it without it being political.  We don’t take ourselves seriously though.  It’s not like a Green Day thing.  It’s more like “f*** it, give up”.

IN: It’s more of a statement.

JC: Is there anyone in the music world at the moment who really grinds your gears?

JG: Viva Brother.  I’m not really into them.

IN: He also hates Witch House.

JG: Yeah I do.

IN: I hate Dubstep.  We’re anti-Dubstep.  Max likes Dubstep.

JG: Yeah but f*** Max.  No but seriously, I feel like there haven’t been any real rock bands in the past few years or so.  Especially in America, everything’s Chillwave.  I think The Vaccines are doing a good job of raising that flag again.

*** Howler’s debut album America Give Up is out 16th January and available to preorder now!

One chilly December evening, myself and fellow musician intimidator Mark Wood scurried down to Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar hoping to avoid a “Sticky Mike” or any frogs… luckily we were fortunate to bump into a couple of Wounded Birds instead. Johnny and Joe, looking less than wounded were happy to answer some of our questions whilst sipping on overly strong whisky and cokes.

Becky Excell: How are you today?

Johnny Danger & Joe Stevens: Alright

BE: You’ve been touring recently around the UK, how has it been going?

Johnny Danger: Yeah, it’s been going pretty good, we’ve had a good response & the shows have been really busy which is always nice. It’s been nice to go to different places as well.

BE: The first time we saw you was at The Great Escape Festival in Brighton last May which we really enjoyed… we also noticed you played the Introducing Stage at Glastonbury in June; did your appearance help raise your profile?

JD: Yeah, it was a good weekend, really hot on the Sunday. Though the sound was just “alright,” we really enjoyed it.

Mark Wood: I noticed that you give way some free tracks from time to time; does that help to get more people into the band?

Joe Stevens: Well, I think you need to give stuff away these days, it probably does help, but we haven’t kept much track of it.

MW: How do you feel about giving free stuff away?

JD: We just like people to hear it really, we have a big catalogue of songs and while we wait for stuff to get released it’s nice to just let people hear it.

BE: I saw that the BBC Sound of 2012 shortlist was announced this week. We were disappointed that you & generally guitar bands didn’t really appear on it. What are your thoughts? Would you have liked to be on it?

JS: I don’t think we would necessarily have liked to be on it, it really depends who else was on it. If the list is made up of bands that we don’t like or have nothing in common with then no.
To me it’s not that important… what about you? (Turning to JD)

JD: It’s not really what it seems.

JS: It’s all rubbish, people have made themselves a job making those lists.

JD: If something’s good, something’s good… you don’t need a list to tell you that.

MW: A lot of your music is inspired by older style genres, I was wondering if you felt that you had to adapt your material to suit contemporary audiences, or whether you feel they are ready for it just as it is?

JD: Well I definitely don’t sit there and think “how can I adapt this?!”
Obviously we are influenced by some music more than others, I just enjoy the older genres & if what I write is inspired by that then that’s what it is. It just comes out how it comes out.

MW: I saw recently a video of you playing ‘No Return’ on YouTube. Somebody said you ripped off a band that barely anybody has even heard of just because it was Doo-Wop…

JD: Then everyone who does Doo-Wop would be suing each other because it’s the same form of music! There’s no point arguing with them, people know or they don’t.

BE: I feel like you’re something quite different, your surf sound is not something you hear a lot, especially in current bands.

JD: The album isn’t going to be all ‘Dick Dale’; it’s just a portion of what we are in to. I do really love The Beach Boys and Dick Dale, its good instrumental stuff; but that’s just what we’ve released so far. When people hear the album they’ll be really shocked.

JS: Really going to be a big surprise… this boy (JD) can rap!

MW: Your recent EP (Single!) seemed to cover a lot of styles and genres in just three songs

JD: On the B-side of a single, we like to add two tracks… and each single release, we add an instrumental after the B-side so it’s like a bit of an on-going theme…

BE: We noticed you have quite a unique stage presence, we were wondering if you have any idols for how you perform on stage?

JD: I don’t really pay much attention to myself, I just do whatever. I wouldn’t like… you see these idiots waving their arms around everywhere!

MW: Not to name anyone but we saw a band who did that not long ago!

JS: C’mon, say who!

Transcript Briefly Terminated.

Transcript Recommences.

BE: We also really wanted to know what you see in the future for Two Wounded Birds, obviously you’re going to be releasing an album, but, how’s the next year shaping up?

JD: Well… album, EP, second album, more touring and some collaborations with cool people.

BE: Have you got any collaborations planned?

JD: We have, but we can’t say!

BE: Are you going to be playing any festivals?

JS: Yeah, you’ll see!

BE: When is the album going to be out?

JD: Middle of March, there will be a single before that though.

BE: Have you got a name for the album yet?

JD: Under wraps…

JS: Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band!

MW: I like the sound of that!!

MW: You supported The Drums for a while not long ago, how did that come about?

JD: They heard our songs then messaged us & we spoke for a while. They asked if we wanted to play & we were like… YES!

MW: Seems quite out of the blue…

JD: Yeah, but it was fun going from playing to 2 people to 2000!

MW: Were they the biggest shows you had played?

JD: Yeah, we were kind of thrown in at the deep end, nevertheless it was good.

BE: Well thanks for the interview TWB, it’s a bit loud now (support act starts playing!), so we best call it a day.

MW: Cheers guys

JD & JS: Thanks!

- Becky Excell

As the first act on stage, the incredibly young Heavy Hearts probably had the toughest slot of the night. However, it was a task they took to incredibly well, as their persistent and infectious foalsesque guitar riffs immediately drew the audience in.

Just a few gigs in, they understandably appeared to be a little nervous between tracks, but the confidence they have in their songs certainly shone through once they settled down. This was epitomised by frontwoman, Rosie Shingles, whose stunning voice and charisma  kept the whole room captivated.

Heavy Hearts

This was accompanied by the fantastic musicianship of guitarists; Josh Scarbrow and Ashley Coot whose clean, trebly riffs will draw them comparisons to the likes of The Battles and Bloc Party. They are both certainly very capable musicians and this ability matched with the exotic drums of Tom Baxter and brilliant bass lines of  Michael McConnell was a stunning combination.

So, they certainly are not short of musical ability and the strength of the songs proved they are definitely very capable songwriters, even if a little naive at times. One of the highlights was “The Wanderer”, which shows off Rosie’s vocals and features great off-beat guitar riffs and a captivating bass line throughout.

At the age of just sixteen, Heavy Hearts certainly have a stage presence and songwriting ability which belies their years; let’s hope this potential is fulfilled.

- Louis Childs.

Previously known as “Zoo Kid”, Archy Marshall returns after his 2010 single ‘Out Getting Ribs’, a fantastically raw, unhinged track which served as a brilliant introduction to this great new talent.

At the age of just seventeen, his lyrics belie his years. This is particularly prevalent in ‘Lead Existence’ where he sings “I know that I/live a life that won’t change…I lost my soul to the blues/a long time ago”. His baritone, Joe Strummer-esque, voice may be an acquired taste but the strength of these songs cannot be denied. He has a fantastically relaxed and casual way of singing lyrics, which also include darker lines such as “Now I’m covered in blood on the bed/ And it’s a familiar scene.”

Having said this, the most impressive aspect of this EP is the production. The echoing guitars and warm keyboards offer a great contrast to his distinct vocals. The mixture of atmospheric reverb and mystical instrumentation combine perfectly, such as in the bizarrely brilliant ’363N63′.

The songs occasionally get dragged down by the production, as he arguably has a tendency to rely on reverb slightly too much. But this provides a sketchy quality to the tracks which is one this EP’s strengths. It’s refreshing to listen to something in the present musical climate, which isn’t completely overblown and over-produced.

The lack of conventional pop structures may not bring him the commercial success he deserves, but with time on his side, King Krule is far more important for this generation than it may appear.

8/10

- Louis Childs

“We don’t want to be sitting on our hands”

 

A month on from interviewing Bombay Bicycle Club I left Essex and crossed enemy lines to chat to The Vaccines ahead of their headline show at Norwich’s UEA.  The Rabbit  first met the group back in February when they played in London on the NME Awards Tour.  A whole lot has changed for them since then.  I caught up with guitarist Freddie Cowan and drummer Pete Robertson.

Pete Robertson (left) and Freddie Cowan (right)

Jamie Collins: We first met you guys back in February on the NME Tour.  Now you’re the biggest selling new band in Britain.  How does it feel?

Pete Robertson: Its kind of hard to put into a brief sentence really.

Freddie Cowan: It definitely feels like more than ten months since we were last sat in this room.  It feels like five years.  They say as a busy musician you live a week in a day.  I definitely feel that.

PR: Its interesting to think back to when we were doing interviews around that time that people kept asking us about hype all the time.  Its nice to be shot of that now and feel confident that we can come to places like this and fill the room.  It feels like we’ve established ourselves properly.

JC: This time last year you went to America as a band for the first time and more recently you just finished touring with the Arctic Monkeys.  Now you’re back in the UK doing your own thing.  Which of those gigging scenarios do you prefer?

FC: I think when you’re playing the same songs every night a bit of variety is always welcome, be it playing festivals, supporting someone or headlining ourselves.  Its all great; whatever keeps it different.  We’ve learnt a lot from the Arctic Monkeys and we had a great time with them, but now I feel like we’re ready to play our own shows again the way we want to.  Especially as we’ll be back playing festivals in January in Australia.  It feels like the best way to round the year off.

JC: It must’ve been a great catalyst to tour with them, to gain that grounding?

PR: The thing is when you’re touring or playing festivals the idea is to try and win new fans.  I think we definitely achieved that to a certain extent.

JC: The underdog vibe where you feel like you’ve got a point to prove versus whereas tonight you’ll be playing to a crowd of your own and feeling more comfortable?

FC: I guess so.  Playing with a band as proficient as the Arctic Monkeys didn’t put me in the mindset where I didn’t necessarily look at the crowd as potential new fans.  I’m sure the managers did but I was more aware of the fact that we were on tour with one of the best live rock bands in the country.  We can learn a lot.  You are playing to their audiences, you’re on the same stage every night, so you are effectively going up against each other.  It was just the best training for us.  We’ve come out of it a much better band.  To watch them play every night and see how they do it, it definitely, definitely builds you.

JC: What are your highlights from the summer festival circuit?  I saw your Reading performance and that seemed pretty special…

PR: Yeah, Reading was one of my highlights.

FC: They’re very different kinds of highlights.  England had much more of a feeling of victory.  Some others had more memorable qualities, like playing in New York and working with Albert Hammond Jr. in the summer.  Fuji Rock in Japan was pretty amazing because of its setting.

PR: Glastonbury as well.  Your first Glastonbury is something you’ll always remember.

JC: What was working with Albert Hammond Jr. like?

FC: Slightly surreal to begin with just because it came out of nowhere.  We were so busy at that time, you could’ve told us anything and we wouldn’t registered the scale of it.  Albert got in touch and then everything kicked in and we finally went, “Oh, Christ! This is actually quite important”.  He’s a very switched on guy and it turned out great.  It was an incredible experience.  Thankfully, he was everything we could’ve hoped he would be.  As a teenager I loved The Strokes.  We turned up to his house to find this stunning American architecture and a big “A” on the outside of his front door.

PR: The first five minutes were beyond surreal and then after that it just had the most normal feel to it all.  He’s incredibly down to earth.

FC: Apart from that model who walked out and just said to him “heres your ice cream babe”.  Keeping the dream alive.

JC: Awesome.  Lately you guys have said you want to steer clear from making a rehashed second album.

PR: Its all about striking a balance.  Development is always difficult and you can’t premeditate it.  We definitely want to move forward with what we do but I think at the same time to ignore a lot of our qualities would be stupid.  We’re not gonna bring in loads of synths or anything like that.  We haven’t really planned it in any great depth, we just want the songs to lead the way to a good producer.

JC: Have you got anyone in mind?

FC: We’ve got a couple.  Initially we thought it’d be nice to work with a musician but we’re not exclusive to that.  We just like the concept of the qualities that a musician would bring to the table.

JC: A fifth member for the group.

FC: Exactly, someone whose very creative and isn’t afraid to encourage us to experiment.  We have an idea of a couple of people, I think we’ll make the decision quite soon.

JC: When this tour culminates are you guys looking to take some time off?

FC: Not really.  We have been very busy this year.  Justin had a throat issue and we had two months off which would’ve otherwise been at the end of the cycle.  I think we would’ve been dead by now if it wasn’t for that break.  We feel good at the moment and we’ll have a bit of time at Christmas.  We’re doing that tour of Australia which is very relaxed because we’ll do one gig followed by three days off.  We’re in a position where we can get straight back into it which is great, I don’t think we really want to be sitting on our hands.

JC: You’ve got to make the most of it.

FC: Its not even like that really, its just a matter of when its right, we’ll do it.  Its not really a matter of capitalising on it.

JC: Sure, if you’re enjoying it and you want to do more, why not?

FC: Exactly that.

December is upon us and the Christmas festivities are beginning to take shape. The bells are starting to ring, the presents are swiftly being bought and most importantly for writers like myself, the arrival of new Christmas albums to the charts and shop shelves has commenced. Smith & Burrows, consisting of Tom Smith of The Editors and former drummer of Razorlight, Andy Burrows, have offered music listeners a new festive album for Christmas 2011, whilst leaving out the pandemic, commercialism that has scorned (and celebrated) Christmas classics of the past.

The album consists of a number of newly constructed wintery tracks that highlight the time of year’s traditional climate, with also adding a dimension of political issues that have plagued  the world in recent months, most notably seen in the track, When The Thames Froze. A number of Christmas covers also feature on the album, from Yazoo’s Only You to Mel Torme’s The Christmas Song. Smith & Burrows cleverly add a seasoned glisten to these new renditions of old tracks, making the tracks more appealing to the contemporary age, though highlighting the time of year. This new version of Only You is particularly impressive.

Not only do the covers have a traditional veneer smothered over them, but even the newly recorded tracks hold an anthemic, aura-filled drone that is consistent amidst the album. This is owed a lot to Smith’s vocals that appear to really suit this music genre. Smith’s vocals help many tracks convey a homely atmosphere amongst the orchestral instrumentation, as seen particularly with In The Bleak Midwinter and The Christmas Song. With a good array of instrumentation, the piano, strings and bells add to the albums authenticity as a true Christmas composition.

To summarise, the duo of Smith & Burrows have successfully created a well-rounded Christmas album that succeeds in not getting on your nerves after being played on repeat, something hard to come by if you think about many Christmas albums of the past…sorry Sir Cliff. Funny Looking Angels shares a new breed of Christmas album that acts as more of a seasonal release. However, its status as a Christmas album limits its success to the holiday season, and with no previous work to their name, Smith & Burrows may just slip under the radar on many music listeners radar this December. Nevertheless, the album contains many positive elements and gains bonus points for not promoting the festive commercialism that surrounds Christmas, like many albums before have been known to do.

8.5/10

-Tom Rawle

http://tomrawlerabbit.wordpress.com

So with Christmas just around the corner, every band with a back catalogue is rereleasing, remastering and regurgitating everything that sold in order to pay for their kids new yellow jiggling robot thing they love. So here’s the few I’ve heard about and listened to so far:

Barenaked Ladies- Hits from Yesterday and the Day Before

A basic, boring, chronological collection of singles, building on their last compilation album All Their Greatest Hits: Disc One 1991-2001. Notably, they have included the Big Bang Theory Theme which is now a minute and a half long and includes two extra humorous verses and a slightly nihilistic middle 8.

Good tunes, but not enough difference from their first compilation, theme’s good though.

5/10

Gorillaz – The Singles Collection 2001-2011

Gorillaz are a band that’s been around for a decade and made 3 albums. These are the singles, in chronological order. I mean, it’s Gorillaz, so that’s cool, but you could probably get the entire back catalogue for the same price. Couple of nothing remixes thrown in. They do, however, do a 7 inch record collection of the album which looks expensive but entertaining.

For an extensive review, please refer to track one of Gorillaz by Gorillaz.

4/10

Seasick Steve – Walkin Man: The Best of Seasick Steve

I enjoyed this. A healthy choice of songs from every album released by Seasick Steve, including a few songs from the debut album Cheap. Done like a mixtape which was pleasing as it feels different listening to the songs in that order. Also allows a couple of Seasick Cynical jokes, (the last two tracks of the album being Xmas Prison Blues and That’s All.)

Great introduction to the blues man and a good gift to anyone with Delta leanings

7/10

R.E.M. – Part Lies, Part Heart, Part Truth, Part Garbage 1982-2011

R.E.M have created an album that no one can buy. If you’re a fan, you’ll have most of the tunes on the album, and probably most of the demo stuff as well. As an outsider listening, I was unimpressed. The album, with tracks hand picked by the band, is attempting to make some cash out of their recent split. In terms of compilation, I’m not sure how it adds to it’s other compilations: Dead Letter Office, Eponymous, The Best of R.E.M., R.E.M.: Singles Collected, R.E.M. In the Attic, In Time: The Best of R.E.M. 1988 -2003 and And I Feel Fine… The Best of the I.R.S. Years 1982-1987.

I get the feeling that this has been done to death. A good 40 songs though so that’s OK .

6/10

The compilation album is dead anyway. Go buy your favorite tracks on iTunes or Spotify or whatever you messed up kids use.

-Oliver Morris

Two Wounded Birds are a Margate based band with a sound that could have arguably been created if the Ramones rolled up their jeans and went down to the beach for a quick dip more often. The band’s sound encompasses aspects of Rock, Surf and classic Pop music, often combined with Rockabilly-type guitar solos. Having recently graced the BBC Introducing Stage at Glastonbury this year, Two Wounded Birds are quickly making a name for themselves in the music world.

With a wide range of influences, Two Wounded Birds offer a diverse catalogue of tracks which range from chilling, reverb-drenched Surf (‘Midnight Wave’, ‘Night Patrol’) to classic Doo-Wap (‘No Return’) with many more variations in-between. Citing influences such as The Beach Boys, The Smiths and The Beatles, it’s refreshing to hear aspects of all these legendary bands in Two Wounded Birds’ sound, whilst still creating something new and interesting.
Their new EP ‘Together Forever’ was released on the 30th of October 2011 and acts as a true window into Two Wounded Birds’ sound. The title track is a short and direct burst of classic Punk Pop which you wouldn’t find particularly out of place played on a 70’s Punk Radio station. The second track, ‘I Think the World of You’ is another haunting Surf excursion with a driving bass-line that gives this song its momentum. The final track ‘My Daydream’ is a low tempo instrumental track which is immediately reminiscent of a sweltering mid-summer trip to the beach.
Capturing a diverse range of sounds in just three songs, their latest EP prove Two Wounded Birds to be a band that’s constantly experimenting and blending aspects of genres that time has long since forgotten.

The ‘Together Forever’ EP is out now; and be sure to check out their website for a free tune. Or why not see them on tour… they’re about ’til Christmas! Tidy.

- Rebecca Excell

I’m a sucker for blaring lo-fi; its hardwired into my audio sensibility.  Admittedly, In the past I’ve been somewhat of a lyrical elitist when it comes to the subject of my-new-favourite-band.  These days big, fat, fuzzed-out three pieces always seem to get me on the ropes while they bludgeon away at the misty-eyed Morrisseys of my world ’til they’re a mushy pulp at my feet.

Nathan Williams of Wavves (left) and ? (right)

At just shy of twenty one, I’ve recently put an end to wearing nothing but skinny jeans and started throwing slim fits into the mix.  I’d like to think I’m taking a similar approach to the bands I’m getting into.  Wavves are to the commerical musical slipstream what garish Hawaiian swim shorts are to dedicated followers of fashion.  An eyesore; a stye.  You can itch and itch away but it’ll only become more inflamed.  Nathan Williams & Co. have sent similar ripples of irritation through the world of Pop.  In essence, that’s what they make; catchy, guitar driven Pop music.  This was cemented by the release of their second album King of the Beach, which demonstrated how a Garage Rock group can benefit from a Pop finesse.  Frontman Nathan Williams has gone so far as to say that King of the Beach is for Wavves what Nevermind was to Nirvana.  If you look close enough you might find the same conundrum that was found by Cobain loyalists in 1991: It becomes easier to tap into Wavves’ unashamed idiosyncrasies with each commercially viable listen.  By now attachment has set in and it becomes all too much of a moral Sudoku to simply put them up on the shelf and dismiss them as just another bunch of beach bound Californian stoners.

Williams is constantly on vendettas of one kind or another, predisposed to brutally honest outbursts of vented up frustration.  The opening lines of Wavves’ latest EP, Life Sux, that make up the first verse of track “Bug”, are no exception to this rule: ‘You’re such a bug to me man/You’re such a drag on everyone/You’re such a burned out zombie/You always suck out all the fun’.  His cynicism is freewheeling and is allowed to run rampant and defiant against a closely knit backdrop of infectiously thrashy, grunged-out surf rock.  Almost all too coincidentally, the title of the second track off Life Sux pays homage to Nirvana’s powerhouse a.k.a. Dave Grohl; “I Wanna Meet … “.

In light of the recent 20th anniversary marking of Nevermind, Williams & Co. are teed up very nicely to catch the spray of interest surrounding this iconic release before the rollers break.  So long as Wavves remain immersed in a cesspit of teenage angst, sooner or later they’re bound to break the mould.  I’m not sure if that’s what they really want: ‘I still hate my music/It’s all the same… To take on the world would be something’ (“Take On The World”, King of the Beach).

- Jamie Collins.

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