Blog

  • Kendal Calling 2009

    3 Ago 2009, 14:28

    Fri 31 Jul – Kendal Calling
    Night 1
    With what can only be described as predictable irony, as I set off to see the one band I quite fancied of the night (Fight Like Apes) we stumbled across a drugged-up punter, and by the time I'd sorted him out the "We are calling" stage had concluded for the night. So, musical highlights were fairly slim pickings I'm afraid.

    Couple of bands worth a mention though - first of all Out From Animals. I knew from hearing them away from the tent that it was the sort of music that I like - very loud, drum heavy music that sounds absolutely brilliant live. Sometimes it then means that I don't like the studio edits, but having a quick listen to some of the other songs I'm pleased to report that's not the case. Potentially one to keep an eye on.

    Then, after many of the stages (save for the dance tent, which was nothing sort of torture whilst subjected to that) had shut down I went to the Keylied (folk) stage. There was an excellent band on, which a crazy fiddle player and a lead singer who didn't sound that dissimilar to James Blunt, but only occasionally so it's not a bad thing for once. Butterfly was a good song, but I completely loved New York Trader. I recognised it somehow or from somewhere - maybe another folk festival I've been to this year, maybe an advert - but it was definitely memorable. Easy to sing along with, catchy, all great.

    Unfortunately, looking at my timetable (which was much changed), it's not the band who were due on that stage at that time, so must have been the famous person "Special Guest". And no amount of googling has helped so far.

    I will try harder tonight. Promise.

    Night 2

    So, with The Zutons headlining - who from the one or two songs I heard from walkabout were once again very good but I have been there before, so instead some other bands to touch upon, all of whom I think I've mentioned at some point in the past in this blog.

    Frank Turner played to a packed out Keyleid Stage. The Ballad of Me & My Friends is one I've heard before, somewhere (I love these mysteries), and sounded just as good live as I hoped. Turner may have a potty mouth between the songs, but with some almost acoustic numbers (save for crowd participation) his talents as a his musician cannot be called into question.

    Later, over on the We are Calling stage, ChewLips also packed 'em out - including me and some other Johnnies (well, it was raining). It was very bass heavy, as you can feel the beat through your abdomen. Throughout the set, I was thinking "I recognise this music" and "they sound very like that band that sung the song that goes ''We don't wanna wait there's no time, no time no ". That sung is obviously called Solo, and then there was the final number. Oh... Sorry, but the brain hasn't been properly functioning over the weekend!

    It ended up being an intimate setting, and cracking singing from Tigs made it a really enjoyable and surprise set.

    Another surprise was Casio Kids, who I often get tracks off to listen to but have never been overly enamoured with them. However, it's very apparent that they are a "Live band". A wide selection of instruments (including the famous cowbell) from the Norweigan group got the Keyleid stage going just after midnight. It was almost chill-out, but clear that the band were hard at work. Vendens storste land sounded particuarly great coming live. Maybe this served as the catalyst to get me properly interested in the guys.

    I've got to add - all of these 3 groups had sell-out crowds, and none are "huge" names in the way that the Zutons are. Music awareness is growing round here, and well done to everyone who got away from the main stages to discover what else is on offer at the festival.

    Night 3

    Much better night musically tonight, so well worth taking today off work to enjoy the activities.

    I caught the end of Idlewild, with the sort of music that'll really get you going including A Modern Way of letting go - really enjoyable.

    Then, I was in the pit for the final headlinersAsh. I love being in the pit for two reasons - first of all if anything happens medically they land at your feet and you have no preparation time, it's a real rush. Secondly, it's the best view in the house. Scarily, being paired with young Carly, she had never heard of Ash, and only recognised a couple of the old favourites Shining Light and Goldfinger I think being the relevant two. However, they've also got some new-er songs around, like Twighlight of the Innocents, bringing a wide selection of songs. Which to an extent was actually unnecessary - the classic songs from the band's hey-day were sounding just as fresh as they did about 15 years ago. Good at getting the crowd going, really enjoyable.

    Elsewhere, 3/4 of Mumford & Sons were late starting, so I wasn't able to hang around for more than the first part of the song which took a while to get going; Birds Vs Planes Carly and myself were in mutual agreement that the music was fine and what we'd both like, but lead singer Jenny's voice was clearly on its way out; and somewhat disappointingly the Whiskycats idn't really get going as I hoped, but that was possibly because of what was coming from the Keylied tent just round the corner.

    Craig Charles on the decks playing the best of funk & soul got the crowd going incredibly as Sunday turned into Monday. Disco, funk, Motown, and best of all some Northern Soul (inevitably). When Do I Love You (Indeed I Do) started, I almost had to be physically restrained from joining in with the crowd - although I've got so say wearing boots in a muddy field isn't the greatest for the dancing...

    Final thoughts then - Kendal Calling is still quite a small festival, but better for it. More intimate. From my own perspective, the music got better as the weekend went on, but to an extent that was the shifts I was working. It's been going from strength to strength since it's conception, and if the line-ups stay of a similar standard I'm very likely to be back next year. V2009 in just a few weeks will end up being a shock.
  • In Concert: Joy Formidable

    15 Feb 2009, 11:20

    Wed 11 Feb – The Joy Formidable, The Common Empire, Room full of Owls

    Well, it took a wee while, but I finally got there. Carlisle
    Brickyard
    is a 'proper' venue - small, intimate, and with a decent history. Quite a few bands have performed there 'before they were famous', so it's a good place to keep your eyes on things. And, when I heard that up-and-coming band The Joy Formidable were due to perform, I decided that if I didn't go I'd regret it. Most unfortunately, there was not bitter on tap from the start of the evening, but providing it was a one off I will let them off on the basis of good music.

    The evening started however with The Common Empire. wasn't expecting much, they're Scottish after all (sorry guys), so after their set was very impressed. I thought at the time I'd heard bits of Blur, Glasvegas, Franz Ferdinand and Madness. Including madness from the lead singer. Jack Of Spades in particular has got that reggae feel. Out Of Bounds is loud, raucous, and Indie Rock at its finest. It was thoroughly enjoyable toe-tapping music. Chazz's voice on lead vocals isn't the most tuneful or polished, but I don't think it matters all that much. Would I say they're the next big thing? Well, probably not I'm afraid. But it's good stuff all the same.

    Room full of Owls followed up, with a full 6piece ensemble. I think the adverse to the The Common Empire applied here though. It was a very different line-up, I was expecting good things - but for the most part it was the same old music. Enjoyable, good, but nothing special. I was going to write a pretty luke warm review, until they finished their set with Patterns. On the radio, I'm not a huge fan of long instrumentals. But live, they've something completely different. They're an experience to feel the full power behind a band, and - done well - awe inspiring. At the time I wrote "Irish folk with a drum and guitars" to describe the song - listening to it again on myspace I think it's still a decent description, but the recording doesn't get any where near to demonstrating how good that was. I would have bought a CD there and then - but they'd run out. Shame...

    Finally, the headliners - The Joy Formidable. I've mentioned in the past that they're getting tipped at the minute for big things, and the set did reflect that. Just as with Room full of Owls, some cracking instrumental sections so you can feel the music instead of just listening to it. I decided to try out my the video facility on my new phone instead of lugging over my slightly-better-quality digi-cam, so whilst the quality it pretty crap there's no reason I can't demonstrate how they sounded live with a short clip of what will be their next single (out 16th Feb) - Cradle.
    (See original post on http://musical-bites.blogspot.com for video)

    One complaint though was the length of the set. You were just getting into things when it came to an end. My immediate reaction of "more please" wasn't in a good way.It created the impression (wrong, I'm sure) that there wasn't much else to the listen to. What was there though was definitely cracking stuff. Loud, powerful, dynamic indie rock - starting the set as they meant to go on. I would go and see them again, and I think they're a safe bet for future plaudits.
  • Tune of the Year 2008

    31 Dic 2008, 16:58

    To those that have been wondering where I've been, apologies - but TOTW has been continuing on the main blog throughout the year. As a special treat though, here's the "big" post of the year duplicated where it should be...

    Everyone has the standard charts at this time of the year, and I'm no exception. It gives me something to post about at any rate. 12 months ago, I picked some random criteria to decide who was going to be "Tune of the Year". I decided to limit the list to TOTWs. However, in the interests of fairness, I did add the 'last chance' option this year in case anything 'just missed out' on being TOTW. But, 52 weeks x 2 tunes per week + 12 last changers = A lot of music (116 if you're struggling on the maths). So, the other criteria are the same as last year:

    Memorability This is a handicap for songs earlier in the year. However, it's a simple test - can I sing the melody without listening to it again? If I can't, it can't have been that good. So, farewell to Band of Horses (TOTW6) and Gnarls Barkley (TOTW9) amongst others - which is a bit of a shame, because listening to them again they are proper songs.

    Artist Profile This is quite a big one - which artists have come round time and time again? No surprise that Adele and Duffy have both had 4 TOTWs, similarly little surprise that MGMT, The Last Shadow Puppets, and Guillemots have had 3 - although Gabriella Cilmi and the Feeling also joining that group surprised me a bit.

    Chart Position I suppose I should see what everyone else thinks about the said tracks. At the start of the year, quite a few selections were also No 1 in the UK Singles Chart - Mercy, American Boy, That's Not My Name, Dance Wiv Me, and Viva la Vida. Unfortunately, there's not been anything since August. I blame X-Factor winners taking up 7 weeks since then...

    Musicality Looking at the more formal nature of things and if they're good songs musically, or just cheezy pop that gets stuck in your head.

    Likability A very simple test, and perhaps the ultimate determining factor - do I like it? Those I like the most will end up at the top - fairly obviously.

    I could quite easily have generated a fairly long list of "top songs", but that would make a long boring post and difficult to list. So, once again, I'll stick to a sensible top 5.

    5. Mystery Jets - Young Love
    TOTW13 - Released 10 March - Top Chart position #34

    On a few occasions I've referred to the "Laura Marling effect", which makes good songs brilliant. As well as Young Love, see Noah & the Whale (TOTW31) 5 Years Time being in consideration for the final list too.

    OK, it didn't do that well in the charts, but it was the song that introduced me to the band and I've bought the album since. It's quite different to some of their other songs - probably due to William Rees singing instead of Blaine Harrison, but in anything but a bad way. Catchy, innovative, what's not to like?

    4. Radiohead - Nude
    TOTW11 - Released 31 March - Top Chart position #21

    When I first talked about this song, I was expecting it to be the TOTY without contest. I can still listen to it and be transported into a dreamlike state with the enchanting wailing. It's chart position really didn't reflect the quality of the song.

    However, the reason the song isn't higher up is quite simple - I'd almost forgotten about it. Only when rechecking the "long list" of TOTW2008 did I remember how much I liked the song, only on a fresh listen did I realise how much I loved it. The rest of the songs were always an option to be TOTY, and always in my mind. Perhaps it's because I was transported away when listening to it.

    3. Last Shadow Puppets - Standing Next to Me
    TOTW25 - Released 7 July - Top Chart position #30

    Probably the shortest TOTW all year, but that makes it all the more endearing. Featuring one LSP track or another was inevitable, but I went for this because it was my favourite of the year. The nostalgic qualities of the entire album show real creative talent, and this is proof that it is possible to write a good 2 minute pop song and it still be the right length.

    2. Elbow - One Day Like This
    TOTW21 - Released 2 June - Top Chart position #35

    What can be said about Elbow that hasn't been said already? Seldom Seen Kid is not only Mercury Prize Winning, but now critics choice winning. I know I said I'd refer to chart position in considering the ranking of the songs - and yet this is the lowest of all 5. It never wasn't going to feature though. Powerful, emotive, unique. Brilliance.

    1. Duffy - Mercy
    TOTW4 - Released 25 February - Top Chart position #1

    If I was asked, without any thought, if I preferred Mercy or One Day like this, I'd almost certainly go for Elbow every time. But, there's more to TOTY than that. Duffy featured in TOTW so many time with so many great songs, I couldn't ignore her talents. Mercy was certainly the song for the start of the year, and immensely popular throughout. It's a classic style with a twist, and immediately recognisable. The most important thing, in many ways, is that I'm sure it'll be popular for years and years to come. As soon as the bass starts with those 5 distinctive notes, people will sit up and take notice. Duffy was new this year, but I'm sure we won't have seen the last of her.

    And with the best wishes for 2009 and tonight's festivities, I leave you with a live version Asp Bites' Tune of the Year - 2008.

  • What do you do at the weekend?

    24 Ago 2008, 18:31

    Asp Bites' Tunes of the Week #34

    Apologies to regular last.fm readers for a distinct absence here - it's all holiday related. Standard posts will rejoin soon, but remember you can always read the TOTW plus extra features at the Musical Bites blog itself.

    When I started with TOTW a significant number of months ago, it was less a look at singles around and about, but more the tunes that were stuck in my head. They might not necessarily have been good songs, but they were sticky - and I spent far too long in the course of the week singing the tune. Thankfully, Sandi Thom's Saturday Night (Aug 25th) is not just so sticky I've been bopping around cleaning cars and unpacking boxes whilst whistling. It's a genuinely good song as well


    I like carrying on themes, even if they are pretty crap. Still, after my recent comment discussions about Queen, I think it's fair enough to return to them as C-lebrity is getting airplay, the new song from the collaboration with Paul Rodgers - to be released on 8th September. It's unmistakably Queen. There's even the classic Brian may guitar solo. However - and I suppose it was inevitable this was going to be the case - there's something missing. Queen without Freddie Mercury is a bit like Laurel without Hardy. France without onions. Chips without gravy (hey, I'm from Lancashire). They're fine on their own - but not quite the same. It's still a great song. And Paul Rodgers is a fine singer, and carries the tune well. Yet, I'm still left thinking "Well, what would it be like if Freddie had been singing it?"

    10,000 Nights is in my hearing at the minute, because the Beeb are using it in "The Games today" on their Olympic coverage. But that's not Alphabeat's latest single - on the 25th their releasing Boyfriend What is it about the Scandanavians that means they release such catchy music? I feel like I should be ashamed saying I like it, it's the sort of thing I'd have danced to when I was 6. Just try not tapping your foot along to it though!

    It's another dreaded re-release. Still, Glasvegas has come on leaps and bounds since releasing Daddy's Gone irst time round, so it's understandable that it's coming back on Monday. Surprisingly, I've heard it on the radio on less occasions than last year - which I can't figure out at all, and means it's not really 'implanted', whilst still being a brilliant song.

    Couple of 'smoothies': Colbie Caillat's father (Ken Caillat) is a producer. You might have heard some of the albums he co-produced, "Rumours" perhaps? Growing up in the presence of Mick Fleetwood is a great start in life for anyone, so it's no surprise to see her first single Bubbly (Sept 8th) being so enjoyable. As I often say, it's that music that can't offend.

    Similarly, I don't think In My Arms (Aug 18th) is the sort of anyone can really hate. Another off-spring of musical fame (Richard & Linda), Teddy Thompson hasn't had the commercial success you might have imagined. But, with this single sitting on the Radio2 playlist, a video cameo by Rufus Wainwright, and country music going through one of its more popular phases - perhaps this could be the big break?

    Talking about country, is it wrong to still be liking Glen Campbell's cover of Good Riddance?

    Moving a bit more modern though, David Holmes I Heard Wonders (Aug 25th). The Daily Music Guide describes it as a "wonderful listen, [but] it doesn't scream 'play me again!'", which I think is a perfect analysis.

    Jump in the Pool (Sept 1st) is nothing to do with Tom Daley, instead it's the new single by Friendly Fires (which is turn is nothing to do with Olympic Flame). Distinctly different to Sandi Thom, and probably not quite as "sing along" - but this semi-electronic style of music (cf. Late of the Pier, and probably also the Klaxons in a round about way) is definitely appealing to me.


    The advantage of a Sunday TOTW (it's still weekend, so totally valid) is occasionally you hear an extra track to mention. And in the last 24 hours I've heard the new single from Ben Folds twice.You Don't Know Me features Regina Spektor and is released on the 22nd September. It's good, definitely, and I'm sure we're going to hear a lot of it in future weeks, and future mentions here are almost guaranteed.
  • Isn't it annoying (TOTW25)

    30 Jun 2008, 15:35

    Asp Bites' Tunes of the Week 2008

    ... when tunes are made popular because of TV talent shows (which I've mentioned elsewhere that I hate). Often, when a song is featured in a TV advertisement, it's jet propelled up the charts. Strangely with Mint Royale's remix of Singin' In The Rain, I can't remember it doing exceptionally well in the charts after advertising a VW Golf. Since a teenager with nothing better to do has spun on his head under a bucket of water to it, it's at the top of the charts. Go figure. Still, it's an interesting and inventive adaptation, so I can't hold anything the tune itself. Just a shame how it's got to the top.

    ...when an artist you can't stand has a collaboration with an artist who you actually think is pretty good, resulting in this:

    Dance Wiv Me is a rap tune out on the 7th July. I really can't stand "Dizzee Rascal", he can't even spell. But that Calvin Harris chorus is (like most of his music) extremely addictive, and memorable just after one listen. As a result, I just can't get the tune out of my head. It's wrong, I know - but finding myself 'bopping' along to it means it must be good enough for a TOTW.

    ... when an overly pop band keep producing catchy little number. The Feeling are a prime example, whose latest Turn It Up is released digitally on the 30th June, and in hard copy on the 7th July. It is a bit cheesy pop, and some of the rhymes are nothing short of diabolical ("Like you see in the papers / That you read on escalators"), but it's still nothing short of catchy.

    ... when you don't quite finish an album review, in which you were going to say how much you love Standing Next to Me, when it starts getting airplay as the next single and is an obvious choice for TOTW

    I think that Standing next to me was actually the second song I heard from the Last Shadow Puppets (in an acoustic style), and a lot of the praise I levelled at Age of the Understatement (TOTW12) is still applicable to the new single due for release on 7th July. The harmonies, the combination of the voices, the classic style - I can't praise the creativeness enough, and am enamored by their talents. I'll save myself from saying more though, as I am going to get the review of The Age of the Understatement done shortly and want to save myself things to say there.
  • In Concert: KT Tunstall

    19 Jun 2008, 9:30

    Sun 15 Jun – KT Tunstall - Asp's Musical Bites

    Final night of the Delamere Forest Tour, and from the previous reviews I think you'll have found a common theme - that you might not know all the songs performed.

    For Tom Baxtersupporting KT Tunstall, it was worse - with only really one known song. Miracle is (I think still) on various radio station playlists, and thankfully is a very good song.

    Other than that, it was a total voyage into the unknown. Which perhaps made it even more pleasing. The entire concert was at a totally different pace to previous evenings, and the mellowness of Baxter matched the picnics perfectly.

    Things weren't annoyingly dreary either, a bit of enthusiasm being shown in the occasional song getting a bit more enthusiastic atmosphere. I'm sure it has to be a certain style of event to suit Baxter's music - but the boxes were ticker, and the mood was built perfectly.

    Leading us nicely to KT Tunstall herself I think there might have been one I didn't recognise - that was probably it. Tunstall plays to the crowd with an exceptional talent, ensuring everyone young and old was body popping to Hold On. She really did talk to the crowd, giving a bit of history behind Black Horse and the Cherry Tree it made it worth more than just listening to some music.

    The set itself was wonderfully diverse, even if I'm not entirely sure how many guitars a girl needs - she seemed to change every other song! Beyond the rousing end of Suddenly I See to the 3-song encore of perhaps lesser known songs (including Universe & U) there's no doubt that everyone had a really good time and was enthralled in the music. I also think that the venue really suited Tunstall (and Baxter) more than the other acts - performing in a forest really is a brilliant idea, and I am very tempted to return next year, depending on the acts of course.

    I finish my reviews with the same song that the weekend as a whole finished off, and the same comment that KT made - this song isn't about you. I hope, here's I Don't Want You Now
  • In Concert: Elbow

    19 Jun 2008, 9:25

    Sat 14 Jun – Elbow, I Am Kloot - http://musical-bites.blogspot.com/2008/06/in-concert-elbow.html

    The number of people in advance of Saturday's concert, when talking to them, had no idea who Elbow were. And, in all honestly, I've only really heard of them in the past 6 months - and started to like the music within the past couple. It's a problem - they've been recording albums (under that name) since 1997 - but of the four albums released none have really had mass appeal (despite all being top 5 in the charts). I suppose it makes them more of a niche band - and yet there was still an almost sell-out crowd in Delamere Forest.

    Support came from I Am Kloot, who are a band I'd never actually heard of. Unfortunately, I'm afraid to say, I don't really think I'd missed much. They basically had a two part set - starting with a heavy rocky sound; finishing with a smoother acoustic selection. Regular readers will know, I'm not a fan of "rock", so whilst the opening was a lot more entertaining than with Noah and the Whale from the previous night, it really wasn't my cup of tea. Some of the slower numbers were fairly pleasing - but by that stage I had decided I didn't like them. Perhaps less of a split would have been a better result, either way, I was left really looking forward to Guy Garvey even more.

    But that was then I discovered the problem with Elbowbeing a niche band. I hardly knew any of the songs. Grounds for Divorcewas enthralling, and finishing with main set with an extended version of One Day Like This(which is still my favourite track available at this precise moment in time) was nothing short of awe inspiring.

    It was incontestable that Elbow are an exceptional live band. All of the songs were passionate, Guy Garvey engaged the audience to ensure that everyone had a good time. By performing the songs I didn't know, I loved them even more. Station Approachis one that really got the crowd going.

    But, there was a problem. Most (if not all) of Elbow's songs are quite heavy. There's nothing with vigor, nothing with "get up and go". Whilst I still say that every single song was very impressive, 90 minutes of it (including encore) did end up being a bit too much. Short bursts are brilliant, such a long set I'm not too sure.

    That said, it really did suit the venue. The Weather Gods were smiling, leaving us with a crisp, clear, cloudless night - with a beaming white moon shining over the venue. It proved that Delamere is an exceptional venue for gigs, and long may these concerts continue.

    And there is one further important mention to make - the guest performance of Richard Hawley (two for the price of one) for The Fix - the track Hawley both co-wrote and appeared on the latest album with. An exceptional talent of his own, adding him to the performance sealed the deal.

    The beauty of the youtube generation is that there's almost certainly to be at least one person who recorded part of the gig. So, as the parting video, and as it was only nominated as a TOTW, here's Grounds for Divorce:
  • In Concert: The Zutons

    16 Jun 2008, 8:54

    Fri 13 Jun – The Zutons, Thea Gilmore, Noah and the Whale - Asp's Musical Bites Review

    Delamere Forest is one of the Forestry commissions venues for their "Forest Tour" of live music from the unique location of - well - a forest. Delamere's part of the tour is three nights in June, starting on Friday 13th June with The Zutons.

    Noah and the Whale are supporting the Zutons throughout all their performances of the tour, and opened proceedings. They're a band I've heard on the past, but I can't really say much more than that. Shape of My Heart as their most recent single, was one I certainly recognised and enjoyed. Unfortunately, that was a rare event.

    I consider that one of the most important things in a gig is to start the set with a strong song, that will get the crowd bouncing along to and enjoying themselves. Unfortunately, it didn't happen - and it really took a while to get going. Most of their songs are drab and dreary; and fairly toneless.

    Some tunes had an enjoyable tune - but the verses just didn't get there at all (Beating a good example of this).

    I don't think it was a particularly bad performance. I just didn't enjoy the music at all. Which is a shame, because we agreed that some of their finer moments were with nice complex Arcade Fire-esque orchestration. It's just we were too dreary by that point to enjoy things.

    Thea Gilmore was the "special guest" at the gig, and special she certainly was - by far the best act of the evening. It was impossible to be offended by anything she sang. Simple, acoustic chants. Her cover of You Spin Me Round was the track over the entire evening that I'll remember for a long time. She made it for the Liverpool number 1s album (to celebrate the Captial of Culture, as she explained from the stage - great for an artist to give a bit of background information instead of just the bog standard "this is a new one"), and made it so distinctly different to the original. She takes the tune and really does make it her own (cliché I know) - the duet at the chorus (I'm afraid I don't know who she was performing with on the night) simply sublime.

    It was though, for obvious reasons, more than just one simple song. Old Soul is the well known one, and hearing it live I was just able to drift away. Overall, it was the showcase of a very talented songwriter with an beautiful voice. I was hardly aware of her before Friday night. Now, she comes with very strong recommendations.

    So, onto the headline act then. And I'll tell you what about The Zutons - it's amazing how few tracks you actually know by them. Everyone was able to sing along to Valerie but how much of that was thanks to Amy Winehouse?), and most people knew the latest single of Always Right Behind You.

    But - and think about this carefully - how many other tracks by the Zutons can you remember? It's not that easy a task. A few became recognisable after a few bars - even thought you can't help but think if Confusion is going to be a cover of Sitting on the Dock of the Bay. On which point - Confusion was perhaps different to the rest of the set. It was nice and soothing, one to sway along to (as most of us did). The rest was very loud - leading me to wonder if the balance was quite right. OK, I'm sounding like an old man - and you obviously go to gigs to hear the music in its full glory. But, coming after Thea Gilmore, it really was blasting.

    Despite that, it was a good set on the whole. The songs are all very catchy, and easy to join along with. The musical influences are distinct (have a listen to You Will You Won't) and ensures that the band doesn't just appeal to a small section of people - which no doubt helped build a big crowd. It was lacking in some respects, enough to not encourage me to go out and buy the latest album, but still a very enjoyable end to the evening and a pleasant Friday night.

    To finish the post, here's one of the real sing along tracks of the set, from the 2004 album - Don't Ever Think (Too Much)
  • Sprities [anagrams]

    15 Jun 2008, 12:38

    Asp Bites' Tunes of the Week - #24

    It's a case of getting straight on with the show today. There'll be plenty of introduction and waffle in my gig reviews from The Zutons and Elbow (that I'll try and write today before I forget to publish over the week) and KT Tunstall (which I'm going to this afternoon, reducing time a bit then...). So:

    Black Kids are a previous TOTW, and Hurricane Jane is their latest, due out 23rd June. Nice contrast between the verse and the chorus, however, I think that the verse is a bit lacklustre and lacking in a real tune. A shame, the chorus is brilliant.

    I'm going to be mention The Rascals in an album review shortly - Miles Kane of course now perhaps better known as the other half of The Last Shadow Puppets. I think it's fair to say that Freakbeat Phantom is going to be their first 'major' launch on Monday, and it's very interesting to compare it to both LSP and the Arctic Monkeys. Kane's voice is the same harshness as Alex Turner, and you can see how it amalgamates with Turner's own writings in the 'Monkeys albums to create Age of the Understatement. Similar - but different. Familiar - but original. Nice mix.

    Cage the Elephant - brilliant name for a band. Ain't No Rest for the Wicked is out on Monday, with a wonderful twist of combining blues guitar with a funky beat. Fraser McAlpine suggests that it's a bit 90s - yes it is, but it's a good tune, so who's to moan?

    You might not believe me, but Melee are not Keane. Built To Last works to try and show otherwise, which really is their downfall as a band. It's a thoroughly decent and enjoyable song. But it's almost a pure copy to me, out on July 14th.

    Hazard has already talked about Geraldine by Galsvegas, so there's little for me to add apart from to agree with him that it's a great song, and worthy of TOTW mention, due out on the 23rd.

    Can't Go Back (14th July release) I consider an ironic title by Primal Scream. What can't they go back to? They've been around for ages, so they are back in a way. Am I making sense? I'll shut up then, and show a couple of videos instead.


    My Sunken Treasure is an interesting one. The Duke Spirit's lead singer, Liela Moss, seems to be talking her way through through the verse, but it builds very nicely into a great chorus. It's a bonus little number, and was actually released on June 9th. I blame exams for missing it before today, it's well worth being a TOTW.

    [video artist=Sharleen Spiteri]All the times I cried[/video]
    We all know Sharleen Spiteri, lead singer from Texas. However, this single All The Times I Cried is now launching her as a solo artist. I can't help but sensing that with the brass instrumentalisation, she's jumping onto the neo-soul (yes, I have just invented that word) band wagon of Amy Winehouse and Duffy. Although, that doesn't bother me in the slightest, as I love such neo-soul, and it's a great tune. A bit melancholy, and I'm not the greatest fan of the video (have a watch of this from Later... instead), but it's nicely soothing - out on July 7th.
  • Yankees

    8 Jun 2008, 20:52

    Asp Bites' Tunes of the Week #23

    If Lay Your Love On Me had appeared at the Eurovision song contest the other week, I wouldn't have been surprised. I don't think it would have won, but it's got all the necessary characteristics: dodgy dance moves, dodgy pause leading to even dodgier key change, and does sound slightly like something famous - ie. Madonna.
    Believe it or not though, it wasn't, and it is instead the latest single by Swedish group BWO. Swedish - that explains why it sounds like Eurovision then. Despite that, it is sufficiently catchy, and unlike the Eurovision entries is getting more than a bit of coverage over one week. Makes it more annoying than anything else though perhaps? I understand it's due for release on 28th July, which means there's plenty of time for it to get very disturbing.

    What do you get if you take Warren Zevon's Werewolves of London (with the greatest opening line of any song) and the classic Sweet Home Alabama by Lynyrd Skynyrd, and mash them together?
    Well, you get Kid Rock's All Summer Long set for release on 30th June and Radio 2's most recent Record of the Week. It's taking the "copycat" that I often mention and frequently despise to a whole new level. However (there's always an "however", isn't there?), if we get a British summer, it would be a perfect tune to Barbecue to. It can put a smile on your face as you want to start singing "I saw a werewolf with a Chinese menu in his hand"; and alternatively loudly shout "Sweet home Alabama!" Concerning how music can do that to you...

    Talking about the "copycat", I find myself (once more) in agreement with Fraser McAlpine at Chart Blog. Bryn Christopher is a very powerful singer, and clearly one of great talent. The Quest is a very good song - dark, mysterious, retro with soul. But, if you're going to copy a song, why make it quite so obvious as the person you toured with. No doubt he's heard You know I'm no good many a time, is this proof of music implanting into a subconcious?

    I've mentioned that I love Warren Zevon's lyrics - best opening line on pop music according to a Radio2 poll no less. As it's not an opening line, the latest one by the Hold Steady can't beat it in that poll - but it's still a brilliant line: "Subpoenaed in Texas, Sequestered in Memphis".
    I first heard the song on Roundtable (it got a respectable score); but in the past week it's been the Pick'n'Mix winner on RadMac, bringing it to my attention once more.

    Sequestered In Memphis does sound dramatically like Bruce Springsteen, but if you read my main blog you'll see why those lyrics, it was an inevitable TOTW. It's available for download now.

    That's it for 'new' tracks on the shortlist this week - probably expected after the monster number last week. Thankfully, there's already at least one that I'm confident will be mentioned next week - but you'll notice that there's only 1 video so far.

    So, I'm left looking back to last week's huge list - what's still been playing and is worth mention. There's a few, for sure - Chick Lit and Cross Your Fingers for instance.
    But what's definitely still around and still sounds great is this:

    Julian Velard is, perhaps, cut to a similar mould of Jack McManus and Adele and the others from the Brit School. Certainly Jack McManus - big piano influence here too (see TOTW15 for McManus' own piano banging). The key difference though is that Velard is a yank - coming over from a Brooklyn fame school instead. Jimmy Dean And Steve McQueen, available now for download and hard release on the 16th June, does show that the American's music does match the UK music scene (perhaps more so than his native one?), is nicely worked so it's not purely simple - but memorable enough. Certainly a talent to keep an eye on.

    Finally, as this is the first TOTW of the month (although it does seem like it's been June for ages), time to pick a "Last Chance" track from May.
    A wide selection of tracks, and any one of a number could have made it. Thankfully, I don't have to justify why I picked one over any other, as it's my blog - so here's Sir Ian McKellan:
    Guillemots - Falling Out Of Reach