Tuesday, 11 August 2009

LIVE REVIEW: Passion Pit, The Vibe Club, London (Date: 15.07.09)

Tonight feels very much like an industry bash, everything’s just that little too perfect. The people are on the flawless side of beautiful, the barmen know all the glass throwing tricks and the venue feels more exclusive than Tom Cruise’s social circle.

The Vibe Bar is an old brewery. A congregation of 'so tomorrow' indie adolescents line the Brick Lane side streets on the approach to the venue. Groomed and dressed for the occasion they sit, stand and slouch, suffocating in a cloud of self-appreciation and nicotine.

It’s fine though, this is Shoreditch. This is what you should expect. If you don’t look like a Topshop model you should feel out of place and your place is to feel inadequate. It’s almost a trend in itself, we brave few are trailblazers in our own right.

Tonight is the second of five Levi’s OnesToWatch Revue shows this week so it’s probably fitting that London Fashion Week has spilled over outside. American indie-dance outfit Passion Pit are tonight’s headliners: one of the most talked about bands of the moment and we all know how the dying music press likes to talk.

Tonight they’re playing for a small crowd in a small room but they’ll soon be headlining sunny stages soaked in cider. But for now the opening bars of the first song are missed as a very non-apple based beverage in the VIP lounge is picked up and necked. From now on the night will be full of imperfections. Glorious defects and blemishes that make the Massachusetts boys live set so much more compelling than their studio work.

Every live song is a very different beast to its recorded counterpart. Partly down to the high production value of their material and partly down to the effects applied to singer Michael Angelakos’ falsetto vocals. There’s not a better example of this than when you hear ‘I’ve Got Your Number’, the song is a set favourite by a Massachusetts mile, the beeps, clicks, rattles and synths of Chunk of Change EP’s second track almost sound acoustic.

With a semi-electro group the expectation is for tight and precise performance that mimics the records without deviation. But tonight it quickly becomes apparent that the five members of Passion Pit are comfortable to let their instruments bang and twang. This allows the songs to be shown in new and different ways, giving the tracks an intended amateurish box-fresh feel that melts the room. Listening to Manners in your bedroom scrawls images of five guys playing with knobs and buttons rather than strings and skins, the latter is definitely preferred here.

Other ballistic beat brothers are far too clinical when you see them live. The dog-eared, coffee stained, scruffy execution of their songs makes each one new and fresh as well as grimy and naughty. It is this new naughty sound that fills the room and soon strips the crowd of its pretentiousness - now people are enjoying themselves a little too much. With guitars high on their chests, fingers bashing keys, sticks flailing and bodies sharply convulsing in time it’s clear the band want to promote the gritty grinding bursting out in pockets of the crowd.

As the songs continue to pop and whiz it’s apparent Passion Pit have unapologetically stolen The Beach Boys’ sunshine, the beats of Justice and Simian Mobile Disco, the groove of The Avalanches and the march of Arcade Fire. These unlikely ingredients should be impossibly ill-fitting, and yet the joins are miraculously smoothed over the equally misplaced high-pitched warbling of Matt Bellamy. Mixed together it shouldn’t work and too many times it probably doesn’t. Looking around high handclaps and ecstatic expressions it appears to be going down pretty well here.

As the set is dragged kicking and screaming to its finale you realise a very distinct difference between the older tracks of the EP and album’s newer offerings. The bric-a-brac approach and the randy innocence of ‘Cuddle Fuddle’ and ‘Better Things’ is lost in ‘Make Light’ and ‘Let Your Love Grow Tall’. There’s pessimism in the performance of Manners as if the band has been mutilated since its infancy by their swift shove into the limelight. Not that they seem particularly bothered tonight.

For now the joy remains and it is this the crowd have been feeding off tonight and from this showing the smiles will remain on the Americans’ faces for a long time to come. Tonight has been perfect.

Watch a live recording of 'I've Got Your Number' below:

This news story can be found on Virtual Festivals with other pieces by Dean Samways.

Words: Dean Samways

Image: thelineofbestfit.com

Thursday, 2 October 2008

NEWS: Reckoner Gets Animated

The indisputable highlight of Radiohead’s In Rainbows has finally been given the visual treatment.

The video for ‘Reckoner’, the latest single to be lifted from the Oxford’s algorithm Kings seventh studio album, was created by competition winner Clement Picon from France.

A budding Spike Jonze, Picon was selected from the four winners who entered the In Rainbows Animated Video Contest. The winner was picked by the members of the band themselves.

In an unexpected turn of events following the band’s rejection of music industry traditions and traits and self-release of the LP, the much anticipated video appeared first on MySpace Music.

In addition the site will also feature the three runners-up in the coming weeks.

This just goes to emphasise that fact that no-one really knows where and wehn Rdaiohead are going to pop up again with more new and exciting material and content.

Fortunately though the band have also posted it on their official website.

Words: Dean Samways

Image: photobucket

Thursday, 25 September 2008

NEWS: Cocker Preaches In The City

Music-conference-slash-festival In The City has today announced one of their most exciting guest speakers for this year’s music conference.

Former Pulp frontman Jarvis Cocker is to appear at the international music convention founded by Tony Wilson, which takes place in Manchester over October 5th, 6th and 7th.

Cocker will take to the lectern on the final day of the event. His lecture will discuss the function of lyrics in modern popular music.

Entitled ‘Saying the Unsayable’, ASAD is told it will be a completely biased and subjective exploration of a selection of Jarvis’ favourite songs on top of a dissection of some of his own lyrics.

He's likely to talk about Leonard Cohen, Pete Doherty, Hot Chocolate, Amy Winehouse, David Bowie, Lou Reed, Neil Sedaka, Dory Previn, Katerine, Rozalla, Arctic Monkeys plus many more he hasn’t thought of yet. There will also be an in-depth analysis of ‘Louie, Louie’.

Other keynote speakers already confirmed include former Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham, UK Culture Secretary Andy Burnham MP and some guy called Sean Adams from some site called Drowned in Sound. Other guest speakers and panelists will be announced over the next few days.

More details are available from In The City’s official website.

This news story can be found on Drowned in Sound with other pieces by Dean Samways.

Words: Dean Samways

Image: Google

Tuesday, 23 September 2008

NEWS: The Futureheads Bootleg Their Own Work

Sunderland’s finest four-piece, The Futureheads, top off a fantastic major-label-free twelve months with a full UK tour.

Not only are they touring, but in a Pearl Jam fashion, the Futureheads are releasing a number of live shows which fans will be able to buy as digital and actual CD albums from The Futureheads’ online store. The first of which, recorded at 2004 Quart Festival in Norway, is already available from this very link.

The tour dates are as follows:

29th London Astoria
30th Whitehaven Civic Hall

2nd Glasgow ABC 2
3rd Glasgow ABC 2
5th Cardiff Point
7th Norwich Waterfront
12th Sheffield Academy (Pet Sounds)
19th Gateshead Sage
20th York Duchess

Tickets are on sale now.

This news story can be found on Drowned in Sound with other pieces by Dean Samways.

Words: Dean Samways

Image: Google

Thursday, 18 September 2008

NEWS: Foo Fighters to take ten year hiatus from UK

Foo Fighters frontman Dave Grohl today sugggested that that the band may not be returning to UK shores for ten years.

His dramatic statement comes after the band played two stonking summer shows at Wembley Stadium.

Unfortunately, this means Grohl and the boys may well be on their way to grandfatherhood before we see them grace a UK stage again.

Speaking to BBC 6 Music Grohl said: “After doing Wembley, we shouldn't come back there for, like, 10 years. We're over there every year, every summer, and I think it's time to take a break and come back when people really miss us.”

Elaborating further he went onto say: "It's a funny place being in the band now because we've been a band for about 14 years," Grohl said. "We've gone from playing the Astoria, to playing Earls Court to playing Wembley. That wasn't really the goal but hey, we'll take it."

"We've never really taken a long break," he said. "I think it's time.”

The band have crossed the pond no less than three times in the last three years and were joined by Led Zeppelin on their last night at Wembley.

Here’s hoping they can still rock like Page and Plant in ten years times...

This news story can be found on Drowned in Sound with other pieces by Dean Samways.

Words: Dean Samways

Image: Google

NEWS: Watch: Björk & Antony 'Dull Flame Of Desire'

The video for Björk’s next single, 'Dull Flame Of Desire' is now online

Taken from Volta (reviewed) and out on the 22th September the song is a collaboration with Antony & The Johnsons front man Antony Hegarty.

As with everything associated with Iceland’s pop pixie, the video is pretty conceptual.

Three amateur directors were picked from hundreds of competition entrants and given the responsibility of producing a video worthy of the Björk’s prestigious music video library.

The two singers performed against green screen in New York then each director was sent the raw footage to edit and create their piece. The directors were each given their own section of the film to develop how they saw fit. The three parts were then edited together here in the UK to create the final piece.

Watch the video right here, right now:

This news story can be found on Drowned in Sound with other pieces by Dean Samways.

Words: Dean Samways

Image: hejhejmusic.com

NEWS: Doherty & Barat Impromptu Reunion

Former Libertines band mates and likely lads Pete Doherty and Carl Barat joined forces once again last night when they performed an impromptu set in London town.

The surprise performance took place at the Prince of Wales pub in Camden where Doherty was playing his own material for an MTV documentary before a gaggle of fans.

When Barat strolled out on stage though the congregation couldn’t believe their luck.

The cockney couple performed classics from their days as leaders of The Libertines, including 'Don’t Look Back Into The Sun' which transformed into a rendition of Oasis’ 'Don’t Look Back In Anger'.

This news story can be found on Drowned in Sound with other pieces by Dean Samways.

Words: Dean Samways

Image: blogs.guardian.co.uk

NEWS: The Rapture Mix Tapes

New York post-punk partiers The Rapture are releasing a compilation LP of inspiring tracks gummed together with their own finest DJ glue.

Released on October 20th Tapes is the latest in the DJ Kicks series which has seen contributions from Hot Chip and Four Tet in the past, delivering their own brand of mixtape mastery.

According to the press release:

Tapes is a treasure trove of rare grooves and cult classics spanning three decades, from the late 1970s to 2008. One key thread running through the mix is the evergreen sound of the New York underground, epitomised by classic tunes like Vaughan Mason & Crew’s 1980 disco-rap milestone ‘Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll’ and the irresistible beat-pop ditty ‘I’m An Indian Too’, recorded in 1979 by East Harlem’s Don Armando and his Second Avenue Rumba Band. NYC’s latest clubland stars also make their mark, from neo-disco supergroup Arcade Lover to hip-hop DJ Frog’s dazzling robo-funk alter ego, Dances With White Girls.

There’s also a selection of European-grown talent crammed into the tracklist too but the overriding influence is clearly 80s disco and hip-hop.

Of course a heavily influenced back catalogue like The Rapture’s is expected to be as eclectic as Winehouse’s taste in illegal substances so it’s only natural to expect a few unfamiliar names alongside golden roller-disco oldies.

The proof is in the pudding as they say so have a gander below for the full tracklisting:


1. The Undisputed Truth - “Earthquake Shake”

2. Ghostface Killah - “Daytona 500”

3. Junkyard Band - “The Word”

4. The Bar-Kays - “Holy Ghost”

5. Vaughan Mason & Crew - “Bounce, Rock, Skate, Roll”

6. Northend - “Tee´s Happy”

7. Don Armando´s Second Avenue Rumba Band - “I´m An Indian Too”

8. Martin Circus - “Disco Circus”

9. Arcade Lover - “Fantasy Lines”

10. Thomas Bangalter - “Club Soda”

11. Kiloo & Phonique - “The Passion (Phonique Mix Down)”

12. Armand Van Helden - “Flowerz”

13. Cajmere feat. Dajae - “Say U Will”

14. Syclops - “Where´s Jason´s K”

15. DJ Mujava - “Township Funk”

16. Donk Boys - “Cpstyre”

17. Dances With White Girls - “Everybody´s Got To Make A Living”

18. Alter Ego - “Why Not?!”

19. Paul Johnson - “Get Get Down (Extended Mix)”

20. Kid Crème - “Austin´s Groove”

21. Richie Havens - “Going Back To My Roots”

22. Galaxy 2 Galaxy - “Afro Arps And Minimoogs (S2)”

For more information visit these websites:



This news story can be found on Drowned in Sound with other pieces by Dean Samways.

Words: Dean Samways

Image: Press Pack Shot

Thursday, 11 September 2008

FEATURE: How great is the BBC?

This feature was posted on Drowned in Sound:

DiS was surprised and excited to hear news that the BBC are working on a project to make all their glorious audio and video music content available to download.

The download service being developed by BBC Worldwide will offer streamed and paid download material from it's vast music archives.

This is a very exciting prospect. All the Peel sessions, Led Zeppelin's performance on the Old Grey Whistle Test, grunge hammered out on Top Of The Pops direct to your computer's video library.

With potential to be bigger than the iPlayer, DiS is naturally gagging with excitement. Details of the launch date have not yet been made available but that's not gonna stop us celebrating the news of this new music download service.

So in anticipation we thought we'd raid the YouTube archives and bring you some BBC music highlights that have inspired, awe struck and left DiS generally motived to keep pushing the good musical word.

Have a look below and see what you think of our selection. If you have any better ideas post them below and we'll soon let you know if you're right or wrong.

1. At The Drive 'One Armed Scissor' (Jools Holland 2000)

No-one was expecting At The Drive-In (pictured above) to incorporate a piece of seating furniture so creatively into the performance. This one track set was ground-breaking and sent jazz-grunge shockwaves far beyond television centre. Watching it back again it hasn't lost any of it's aggression and appeal.

2. Blur 'Universal' (Glastonbury 1998)

One of many Glastonbury performances you could pick from the Beeb's extensive annual coverage of the festival. The song's explicit optimism struck a cord with everyone in the audience both in the field and the armchair. This track especially seems to marry the message of every Glasto undeniably well.

3. Nirvana 'Smells Like Teen Spirit' (Top Of The Pops 1991)

Probably one of the funniest clips you'll see in the list. Kurt can already be seen giving fame the cold shoulder here as he refuses to tow the TOTP party live and perform conservatively. He deliberately puts on a Morrissey-esque low voice to either poke fun or entertain. Either way his efforts to fail failed as The Observer newspaper listed the performance as the third greatest in the programme's history. Amazing!

4. David Bowie 'Fame' (Bowie at the Beeb 2000)

The thin white Duke returned to his old stomping ground just days after his incomparable headlining set at Glastonbury 2000. The exclusively recorded intimate gig would be the blueprint for other, more contemporary performances from The Streets and Coldplay's outdoor show at Television Centre (youtube). This was easily the best time to see the most influential man in rock do a unbelievable greatest hits set.

5. The Maccabees 'First Love' & 'Latchmere' (BBC Collective 2007)

Bringing us bang up-to-date and coincidentally with a bunch of lads much loved by DiS are The Maccabees. The band performed in 2007 as part of the BBC Collective Sessions, a culture magazine that was available on the website (bbc.co.uk/dna/collective/). Unfortunately closed now but that doesn't mean we still cannot adore the amazing sound and visual quality of the magazines extensive archives. This is what live music should sound like.

This news story can be found on Drowned in Sound with other pieces by Dean Samways.

Words: Dean Samways

Image: Google

Videos: YouTube

Wednesday, 10 September 2008

NEWS: To The Bones Release Album, Single & Video DIY-Style

DIY music may have had a massive boost from Radiohead this year but it's still alive and well at grassroots level.

Black leather clad Bolton rockers To The Bones (pictured above) release their debut album Duke Type A on 29 September although that's not the story. On the same day they'll release the single 'Rex' through Medici Records.

The label had a very humble birth not long ago when Conor McGloin, the head of the imprint and formerly of Kinesis fame, decided to use the rest of his student loan to fund the band's forthcoming releases, tour and video. And with some success to.

To The Bones are about to embark on an 11 date tour in and around the releases and the video to 'Rex' looks as professional as anything Coldplay could throw at you.

Filmed during a house party, it cost nothing to make hiring only one cameraman, four lights and got every drunk for atmosphere.

They must be doing something very right for their high octane riot rock, endorsed by Manics and Idlewild producer Dave Eringa, has been deemed fit for a showcase slot at Manchester's music industry do In The City at the beginning of October.

You can watch 'Rex' below but the list of tour dates are as follows:

  • 10th September - London Notting Hill Arts Centre
  • 19th September - Grimsby The Matrix Club
  • 3rd October - Bolton Kico Club
  • 7th October - Manchester Cellar Vie (In The City Showcase)
  • 9th October - Basingstoke Light Lounge
  • 10th October - Oxford The Wheatsheaf
  • 11th October - Chelmsford Barhouse
  • 16th October - London The Metro
  • 17th October - Brighton The Freebutt (w/ Killa Kenada/The Horse)
  • 24th October - Derby The Venue
  • 31st October - Salisbury The Barn

This news story can be found on Drowned in Sound with other pieces by Dean Samways.

Words: Dean Samways

Image: BBC