Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Lamplighter - All Is Vanity: Album Review

Lamplighter (aka Robin Legge) is an Edinburgh based musician/producer, with an album of instrumental, electronic hip-hop out next week. I'm already horribly out of my depth and I've not even started reviewing the album, All Is Vanity, yet. Settle in and laugh as I now try to write more than just "I liked this" over and over.

So, we've established that I like the album. Why? Well, for one thing when it is done well I enjoy instrumental hip hop. Lamplighter does it well. Although the album is - at least to my uneducated ears - well produced it isn't too polished. There's an endearing rough quality to things, nothing sounds too clinical.
All Is Vanity also reminds me of a few things that I really like too. There's a few songs that bring to mind the production on the first Wu Tang Clan album, for example. Just little things, the way things sound interesting, a bit off kilter and not quite what you expect.
Another thing the album puts me in mind of is a John Carpenter score. Much of the album has similar use of atmosphere and hooks, and a somewhat retro, lo-fi vibe to it, that you can find in Carpenter's music.

So, yeah, even though I'm rubbish at trying to explain why, I liked All Is Vanity a lot. There's a track embedded below, and more on Lamplighter's MySpace, so have a listen for yourself.

All is Vanity is released by Antimatter Records on May 10th.
Lamplighter plays an album launch gig at La Cheetah in Glasgow on May 6th, with support from Noma and Cheer.

Tigerfest 2010 Updates

As you might know, Tigerfest 2010 kicks off tonight, or more accurately kicked off about 45 minutes ago with tonight's gig at the Electric Circus.

There's been a couple of changes to the gigs previously announced, so this is just a wee update on a couple of things.

Firstly, The Gothenberg Address will no longer be playing at the 17 Seconds night on Sunday. Replacing them on the bill for that gig are White Heath.

Secondly, tomorrow's gig at The Wee Red Bar is, unfortunately, cancelled. Phoebe Kreutz, along with guest and tourmate Casey, have been left stranded somewhere in Europe but the reappearance of that deadly, gig destroying volcanic ash cloud.
Refunds are available at point of purchase, and everyone is a bit gutted.

You can find the line-up here, and further details at the Tigerfest website.

Round Up Reviews

There's a frankly embarrassing backlog of things I've been sent recently, so rather than let stuff sit in the inbox forever, here's a very quick round up of the shorter things, singles and demos.
If you've sent something over and it's ended up on here instead of getting a proper review then sorry, but there's only so much time in the day.

Palace Ballet - Gabriel/City of Lights
This was meant to get a full review weeks ago. Clearly, that didn't happen so instead through no fault of it's own, it's ended up in here. Gabriel is straight up indie pop, complete with a big catchy chorus and lots of "whoa-oh-ohs". Nothing particularly groundbreaking, but perfectly enjoyable all the same. I could have lived without my copy having a radio friendly edit of the "happy as a pig in shit" lyric though, but that's a small complaint. City of Lights stands out a bit more and shows off that there's more to the band than you might expect. Lots going on without being cluttered, lots of shifting styles and moods. Good stuff really. Shame I kept forgetting to review it till now. Gabriel/City of Lights is available as a download from iTunes now.

Night Noise Team - You Won:
I had to check a couple of times I was listening to the right thing here. I've heard a fair chunk of Night Noise Team before and didn't expect their next single to be some big dancefloor monster. This is ace. You Won is released as a download on May 17th.

A wee bit like Last Shadow Puppets for me, but decent enough. Gets a bit more interesting towards the end, and there's some nice jangly guitar in there. More promising that exciting, but nowhere near bad. Download some demos free here.

Tokyo Knife Attack - Cool Kids:
Gloriously retro synthpop. The kind of thing that - similar to X-Lion Tamer - I usually start off thinking "I shouldn't like this" then after about 30 seconds give in, abandon my snobbery and dance my arse off to. Excellent. Cool Kids is released as a download on May 31st.

Ah, I like this. It's pretty much indie pop with a bit of post-rock slung in, but it does what it does really well, and manages to find it's way right up my street. Well, apart from the very start of second track The Highest of Fives, which always makes me think I'm about to hear Natalie Imbruglia sign Torn. Still, it's a pleasant surprise when I don't have to suffer that. Aaaand now I'm rambling. EP closer Sleeves Rolled Up, The Team Rolls Out has a bit more drive and urgency to it than the first two tracks, which rounds things out nicely. Liked this a lot, so you can probably expect me to bring up Blue Sky Archives again in the future. The Blue Sky Archives EP is available now on Bandcamp.

All a bit run of the mill, plodding and indistinct sadly. I've heard much better from this band before, so we'll write this off as a blip. Still, bit disappointing.

Monday, 3 May 2010

This Week's Gigs

Now that I'm done pimping the heck out of my own gig, it's back to just pimping gigs for everyone else this week you'll be glad to hear. This week starts quietly, before going mental around midweek. It's like it knows I'm running out of money. In return for the week mocking me, I'm more bitter than normal at some of the rubbish that's on this week.

Fear The Fives are playing a wee acoustic gig at Tchai Ovna, but I'll be waiting till Thursday to see them.
You could go and see Scouting For Girls at the O2 Academy, but if you do I might have to question whether you are welcome here. I kid, everyone is welcome here, but still, please don't encourage Scouting For Girls.

Pavement play the Barrowlands. That's Pavement. At the Barras. And I don't have a ticket. The sound you are hearing right now is me sobbing.

Catch High Places at Nice n Sleazy, with support from Dam Mantle, Kill The Waves (formerly known as Camembert) and Barn Owl.
I however will be heading along to Bloc, where Fear The Fives are having an EP launch gig. I can't say enough how much I enjoyed the EP in question.

Ah Friday, why are you mocking me so? You know I'll probably be quite skint by the end of the week, yet you conspire to have three, THREE!, gigs I want to go to.
At Nice n Sleazy there's Midnight Lion, .scores, The Darien Venture and Trapped in Kansas. One of these bands are threatening to be swallowed up by the hype surrounding them, the other three are good. My "too nice" reputations prevents me from being more specific.
Speaking of shite, Sandi Thom is on at the ABC. Please, just don't, there's so many better ways to spend your time and money.
A much better choice would be Make Sparks, Black Heart Generator and Peenko Vs Aye Tunes co-stars Mitchell Museum at The Flying Duck. I missed most of Mitchell Museum on Friday, so I'd have been going to this, were my plans not foiled by...
The Kays Lavelle. It's the Glasgow leg of the launch for Be Still This Gentle Morning, their debut album, on Friday. Ideally between now and then I'll finish off the album review I've been attempting. Support comes from Woodenbox With a Fistful of Fivers and Autistic Angus, and it's at Stereo.

Song of Return and Boycotts are playing at Stereo, while Owl City gives me another chance to be insulting by playing the Barrowlands on the same night.
Despite having this one written down on a bit of paper right next to the computer, I forgot to mention it. At the Citizens Theatre there's another Frost and Fire gig on. Playing this week are Cath & Phil Tyler, Nereo Bello & Lucy Duncombe, iSSHO and the excellent RM Hubbert.

NEXT Week:
Alright, so mentioning things this far in advance won't be a common occurence, but there's a couple of gigs that look good enough that if I wait a week to mention them might not be options anymore. Best to get your tickets now if you want to go to:
Shonen Knife - Monday 10th May - King Tuts
Faust - Tuesday 11th May - The Arches
CocoRosie - Wednesday 12th May - The Classic Grand

Gig Review: Peenko vs Aye Tunes - Kid Canaveral, Mitchell Museum & Campfires In Winter

Peenko Vs Ayetunes
Kid Canaveral, Mitchell Museum & Campfires In Winter
Captains Rest
30th April

Last night after a long day of avoiding studying by being locked away in a rehearsal studio I headed out to the first ever(and hopefully not the last) Ayetunes vs Peenko night at my home away from home The Captains Rest in the west end of Glasgow. Though I managed to lose my ticket some time in the run up to the event in this sold out event I luckily got in, cheers for that by the way lads!
After wading my way through a crowd of some of my favourite bloggers and podcasters around town I made it downstairs with time to spare to get ready for Campfires In Winter.

Campfires In Winter
Being a fan of all the recordings I had heard so far but not having the opportunity to catch them live yet as of yet I was very happy to finally get the opportunity to see them in action, and they didn't disappoint The band came out of the gate with personal favourite They Looked Like Fallen Leaves they instantly caught my attention with their great atmospheric guitar sounds and honest and convincing vocals backed by a piano and a peculiar yet highly effective percussion set up which appeared to be a tv dinner, a floor tom, a ride cymbal table and a box with a kick pedal, despite the loss of a member in recent months the band did their selves justice which is always a worry seeing an act for the first time live. The band left me transfixed for their entire set with subtle builds and soundscaped backing along with a few well picked covers in Neutral Milk Hotel and Square 9 by Frightened Rabbit which I never knew was a cover until it was pointed out to me post set. They closed with the track Mortigi Tempo which was a powerful ending to an excellent set, and a perfect start to the night! After the topping up of beverages it came the time for Mitchell Museum.

Mitchell Museum
This was a band that I had experienced once in Brel at a gig which seemed to be filled with technical problems but couldn't wait to see what they had to offer. The band spared not even a drop of energy in their performance of fun filled, hook laden and groove ridden pop songs. Mitchell Museum really brought the energy to the packed out sweaty basement that was the Captains Rest, and their highly entertaining yet cheeky banter kept you entertained between every track. Tracks like Take The Tongue which was one of my personal favourites of the set showing off their high tempo almost circus influenced pop side alongside upcoming single Warning Bells more of a groove ridden vamped pop song with a great sing along chorus which I am listening back to again now on their site and cant wait till its available to be bought. All in all they blew me away with their energy and ability to control the audience and look forward to the opportunity to catch them again. After catching my breath and cooling down it was time for the main attraction of the evening Kid Canaveral.

Kid Canaveral
I have seen this band a hand full of times now, they have yet to disappoint and this time? Well they were on fine form! The band kicked off with a slower number which I hadn't heard before which I can only assume is from their upcoming album(which will be released at the Roxy Arthouse in Edinburgh on June 3rd) this was a slowed down beginning for the band, I had seen them use this technique before so the second track hits hard and it did with “Good Morning” a song which is a great example of their energetic indie pop sound which managed to capture this rooms full attention. The band were playing all of their hits tonight and it amazed me how many of the songs I actually knew to sing along with tracks like Smash Hits, And Another Thing and Left and Rights. The performance they gave did not leave people bopping their heads but the front of the crowd(myself included among the many bloggers) pulling shapes and bopping around and smiling like idiots. Kid Canaveral closed the set with fans favourite Couldn't Dance where the crowd and the band used up the last of their available drops of energy that they had left form the rest of their set. The band walked off the stage leaving their guitars buzzing and the crowd cheering.

All in all this was a great gig, 3 bands who put their full energy to their performances. If anyone went home from that gig I would be highly surprised. Ayetunes and Peenko put on a great event and I'm left wondering, when's the next one?

Review by Wull Swales of Define Pop. Cheers Wull!

This Week's Records

It's another fairly slim week for Scottish releases, so I'll also be throwing in a few things from elsewhere this week.

Fear The Fives have their debut self titled EP out, which I though was excellent.
eagleowl have a beautiful new EP out, which I should be reviewing some time this week. Don't bother waiting for what I have to say though, go buy Into The Fold here now.
Meursault's new album, All Creatures Will Make Merry, is available from eMusic now, possibly a bit early. Full release is due for the end of the month, if you are lucky you might still be able to get a special early CD direct from Song, by Toad too.
Tim and Sam's Tim and the Sam Band with Tim and Sam are the first non-Scots to make an appearance this week. Their album, Life Stream, is fab.
More non Scots with an album out are CocoRosie. Grey Oceans is out now, and the band visit Glasgow next Wednesday (May 12th) for their only Scottish date of their current tour, with a gig at The Classic Grand.
Kill The Captains have an album out too. Once again, they aren't Scottish, but Fun Anxiety is released by Armelodie, which is a Scottish label, so gives me a tenuous link.

I've probably missed stuff, so as usual let me know if I have.