Tuesday, 1 February 2011

Album Review: Conquering Animal Sound - Kammerspiel

Regular readers might recall that I have quite a love for Conquering Animal Sound, with their debut album being rather highly anticipated round these parts. Now the release is upon us it is time to see if it lives up to my hopes.

For those of you short on time that don't want to read this whole thing, the short answer is yes. Hopes lived up to, expectations not only met, but surpassed.

Slightly longer version? If you insist. There's an awful lot going on throughout this album, layers upon layers of instruments, electronics, vocals and all sorts of other noises, but at no point does anything sound cluttered or messy. In fact every single sound seems totally organic and essential. Even with a million things going on the songs can seem sparse and bare, like a tree stripped of its leaves, or full and warm, like a hug from that friend you are seeing for the first time in ages. Previous single Giant is a great example, sounding at time huge, almost overwhelming, before swiftly and beautifully changing into something tiny and minimal.

Put quite simply this is pretty much an astonishing, beautiful sounding album that shows that the previously released singles (Giant, Wildthings and Bear, all included here) were far from flukes. There is nothing on the album weaker than those singles and the word filler doesn't appear to be in the Conquering Animal Sound vocabulary. Kammerspiel is a fantastic album to get lost in.
Everyone has their songs and records that come in useful after a bad day, when needing to clear their head, or to put them in their happy place. This is one of mine now. Worth the wait? Goodness yes.

Oh, I almost forgot to make the required comparison between Anneke Kampman and Bjork's voices, which it seems all Conquering Animal Sound reviews must contain. They aren't really that similar, but would probably overlap somewhere on a Venn diagram.

At the start of last year The Unwinding Hours came along with an impressive debut album and threw down a gauntlet to everyone for the rest of the year. With Kammerspiel Conquering Animal Sound have done the same. If there's many debut albums better than this, in fact many better albums at all, then this will be a fantastic year for music.

Kammerspiel is released by Gizeh/Mini50 Records on February 7th. Order it from the Gizeh records shop here. The album is also available on eMusic, iTunes HMV and Amazon

Conquering Animal Sound: Website - Facebook - MySpace

Listen/free download - Ira

Conquering Animal Sound are off on tour for the next couple of weeks, dates below:
February 2nd - HULL | Adelphi
3rd - YORK | Basement (Tickets)
4th - LEEDS | Packhorse
7th - LONDON | Slaughtered Lamb (Tickets)
8th - NEWCASTLE | Head of Steam
9th - DUNDEE | Doghouse (Tickets)
10th - ABERDEEN | Snafu
11th - GLASGOW | Captain's Rest (Tickets)
12th - EDINBURGH | Sneaky Pete's (Tickets)

Monday, 31 January 2011

Gig Review: Twin Shadow

Twin Shadow
The Captain's Rest, Glasgow
27th January 2011
Review by Stephen Donkin

Sometimes a single song can remind why you spend so much time hunting around the interwebs for new tunes, and drop all your available cash on importing 7” records from Canada, and suffer the dodgy looks from your boss as you slope off early to go to another midweek gig on the other side of the country. The opening song of Twin Shadow’s set at the Captain’s Rest on Thursday was one such song.

On record, Shooting Holes In The Moon is a sleek, wiry little pop song bathed in soft eighties synths a bit of funky bass, and mournful vocals singing a gorgeously nonchalant melody. Live, it was absolutely transformed into something altogether more muscular, loud, fast and…heavy. The tiny sweaty walls of the room were at bursting point, full with people expecting a bit of a bop, a wee singalong and to hear some songs of one of the best albums of the past couple of
months. What they got was an absolute tour-de-force in how to translate your record for live performance.

There was always a bit of suspicion about Twin Shadow, which is essentially one man, George Lewis Jr, that their popularity is as much a product of a massively popular man, who happens to be a great songwriter, than it is a result of a great songwriter becoming popular. However, the humility was written all over his face as he received a rapturous applause after every song from a clearly adoring audience. It became a bit of a love-in to be honest, with George reiterating at
every opportunity what a great gig it was, and the crowd reciprocating with gushing shout-outs.

Of course, there was more to the set than just the first song, as excellent as it was. The rest of the gig played out like a mini greatest hits set, with Castles in the Snow, Forget and Slow superseding their recorded versions in much the same as Shooting Holes in the Moon did. So let it be a lesson to all those bands out there who are obsessed with replicating every detail from their recordings: sometimes the song is just enough. And if it’s not, well….draw your own conclusion.

Twin Shadow: Website

This was a guest post by Stephen Donkin. Stephen is a member of Birdhead, who release an EP, Talons, soon. Thanks Stephen!

Sunday, 30 January 2011

This Week's Gigs: 31st January - 6th February

Gig guide time, with a bare minimum of chatter from me.

Redwings, Now Wakes The Sea, Ryan Joseph Burns. The Captain's Rest. (Tickets)
Redwings feature The Seventeenth Century's Andrew Truscott, Now Wakes the Sea featured here during our Christmas songs, and Ryan Joseph Burns, also of The Seventeenth Century, is just plain fab. Good way to spend a Monday night.


Friction Burns - The Alternative Burns Supper. Pivo Pivo, £5.
Swing by Facebook for all the details on this one, as the list of people taking part is a lengthy one!


Launch night for the new Miniature Dinosaurs EP, and they've assembled a pretty ace line-up for it.
Another launch night, this time for Zoey Van Goey's second album. Support comes from Malcolm Middleton's new thing, Human Don't Be Angry.