Review: Jamie Lenman – The Garage 09/12/13

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The Garage in Highbury has seen a few changes these past few years. Gone is the shabby look of old, replaced by the shiny new interior and, as tonight’s headliner Mr Jamie Lenman notes, gone too are the spikes that previously hung from the stage ceiling.

One thing that hasn’t changed though, is the ex-Reuben frontman’s wit and charisma, something he brings in bulk to tonight’s performance. Whether its screeching through the heavier tracks from his double-sided debut solo album ‘Muscle Memory’, or, surprisingly, launching into the much-loved tracks of his previous band, his charm never falters.

Switching flawlessly between heavy and soft tracks, its the latter which feel more poignant. An acapella performance featuring six band members causes the whole audience to join in with their toe-tapping, while ‘Good Luck’ is an all-round sing-a-long, with Lenman adding his own touches to the second verse. Tellingly, at the end of the song the frontman notes the importance of the connection to his audience.

There’s a bittersweet sense in the room as the much-matured singer returns to his roots with ‘Moving To Blackwater’, a track from Reuben’s debut album. Although the song carries a lovely wave of nostalgia, its also a sign of how much has changed since its release. Gone is the dream of rock-stardom that Lenman must have carried at the time, along with former bandmates Jon Pearce and Guy Davis, both of whom have since departed to other projects.

As the night comes to a triumphant close with ‘Shambles’, a very old classic from the Aldershot three-piece, its an overjoyed crowd that will spill out onto Holloway Road tonight, albeit burdened with the knowledge that the songs they loved so dearly have come alive tonight for possibly one of the last times.

RC xx

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Jimmy Eat World – The Forum 08/11/2013

Jimmy Eat World The Forum

Its Friday night and the weekend has clearly begun for the packed crowd at The Forum tonight. Its not just the day of the week that’s bringing such good cheer to the gig-goers though, they’re preparing themselves for the euphoric pop-punk tones of tonight’s headliners, Jimmy Eat World.

This is a band that truly knows how to play to their loyal fans. It must be tempting for any band with a recent release, in this case, their ‘Damage’ EP which came out earlier this year, but the Arizona five-piece wisely choose to delight their audience with the hits from their entire back catalogue.

‘Bleed American’ and ‘Sweetness’ hit the highest notes, with ‘Pain’ and ‘Futures’ not far behind. Calling out the lines “don’t it feel like sunshine after all“, vocalist Jim Adkins could not be more accurate. Bathed in the golden glow of the stage lights, the band really are bringing the summer sun to a cold November night.

Even in their more sentimental moments, ‘Heart Is Hard To Find’ and the tear-jerking ‘Hear You Me’, there’s still a sense of joy that the band have so skilfully turned into their trademark sound.

It is the sound that clearly defines Jimmy Eat World. Few bands have succeeded in being so purely about the music and so little about the image. One reason for the overwhelming feeling of happiness in the audience tonight is that there’s not shoving to get the front, no calling out to specific band members, not even a sea of smartphone holders clicking frantically. These people came here solely for the love of music, and the only way they choose to show it is is with singing and dancing along to every joyful moment.

As the band return from their encore with fan-favourite ‘The Middle’, each crowd member is lost in their only private moment of happiness, singing, dancing, or simply nodding along to every word. It might be the brink of winter in London, but the crowds spilling out of The Forum tonight will have a warm fuzzy feeling in their hearts.

RC xx

Review: Green Day – Brixton Academy 21/08/13

Although Green Day‘s music has been alive and well in the UK, with their musical coming to our shores last winter, its been a long time since the band actually set foot in a venue around here.

That explains the excitement over tonight’s performance. Brixton Academy being a relatively small venue for a band that have sold out the Emirates stadium, its clear why the ticket price (a steep £40) hasn’t deterred the fans.

Starting off on a high note, Queen’s Bohemian Rapsody pours out through the speakers before the band’s drummer, Tre Cool appears onstage, dressed as a rabbit.

Theatrics aside, the band put on a good show. Launching into their more recent hits, ‘Know Your Enemy’ and ‘Boulevard Of Broken Dreams’ recieve a resounding applause from the audience.

what follows is an inspiring story from frontman Billie Joe, about his experience of drug use and getting clean. The opening rant about being hounded by cameras, though, is more worrying than uplifting.

The trio then bravely decide to play the whole of their first album, ‘Dookie’. This, being based on it being nearly the 20th anniversary of the record’s release, means that many of the audience members are not actually aware of the tracks.

The stongest moments of the record, primarily the singles ‘Minority’ and ‘Basket Case’ go down well, but the show begins to drag and many in the seating area are making full use of it.

It comes as a relief when Billie Joe signifies the end of that section of the performance, with the emergence of a t-shirt gun. Firing off the last item into the audience, the band return to top form.

The epic ‘St Jimmy’ is the band’s choice for an encore, receiving a full and joyful appreciation from the fans. With the thunderous applause that follows, it seems the band are back on track at last.

RC xx

Book Review: Davey Havok’s ‘Pop Kids’

Being a pretty big AFI fan, I was really excited to read the lead singer, Davey Havok‘s debut novel ‘Pop Kids’. To summarise, its the story of the young famed-obsessed Michael Massi, a self-proclaimed straight edge vegan growing up in a small town in California. Rebelling against his meat eating Italian parents, Christian neighbours and outcast social status, he sets up film nights in an abandoned theatre, dreaming of propelling himself to the heights of reality TV stars and the bright lights of LA.

I’m sure I’m not the only person who began reading this and immediately thought of Havok writing himself as the lead. Written in first person, its hard to differentiate the character’s thoughts from that of the author. The references to AFI’s lyrics are also easy to spot (for those of us who’ve listened enough), the Phoenix Theatre, the ‘candle wax and dried up flowers’.

I’ll be honest. I didn’t find the lead character likeable. I found him increasingly unlikeable. Without giving away too much of the plot, his judgements on women, criticising a friend’s girlfriend for refusing to perform OJ (oral joy, as he calls it..), then his obsession with the vegan blonde Becca, who he admires for her purity, whilst applauding Stella for her impurity. It’s vaguely hypocritical. Oh, and the constant referencing to clothing brands. Not being American, many times I had to Google the name, just to find out which item he was actually referring to.

Havok’s music taste, I’ll allow without judgement. Michael’s neverending quest for fame though, just feels cheap. I want him reach into the book and ask him why he needs it so much. Why he’s risking everything he has for it. Why he’s so devoted to the vapid Stella.

Feeling worlds apart from Michael, its hard for me to understand his goals. He grew up with the LA stars on the horizon, I grew up with the faint glow of London. Perhaps I’m simply more grounded in reality. Perhaps some are just born with loftier ambitions. Either way, the dissosociated youth presented in the novel is quite detached from my own experience. I can imagine his world exists, somewhere. Maybe at the parties I wasn’t invited to, amongst the ‘cool’ kids that I never fitted with.

It was a great relief when I read that the author doesn’t see himself as the lead either. I’m afraid I was starting to pass judgement on him, based on the character. However, its done nothing to deter the idea that I missed out on a lot in my teen years..

RC xx

Review: Bring Me The Horizon ‘Sempiternal’

Well there’s one album that I’ve been excitedly waiting for.. It was a nice surprise when this turned up yesterday!

Sheffield’s Bring Me The Horizon have just released their outstanding fourth album, Sempiternal. Well, for those of us who pre-ordered through their Pledgemusic campaign. The official album release is tomorrow, so I definitely recommend getting in on that if you haven’t already.
The record launches straight into the outpouring of a tortured soul, singer Oli Sykes screaming ‘I can’t drown my dreams, they know how to swim’. Turning his attention on to religion in ‘The House Of Wolves’ and ‘Antivist’, the scream-group shout-heavy drumming formula works perfectly. ‘Empire’ and ‘Crooked Young’ border on anthemic, ‘Sleepwalking’ brings in a nice eerie quality and ‘Go To Hell For Heavens Sake’ wouldn’t feel out of place in the end screen of a Resident Evil film.

Anyone who’s heard ‘Shadow Moses’ can guess why I opted to pre-order the album. Its just brilliant. There’s no way you could question that Sykes feels every word, its half a cry for help, half battle-call.

This is the sound of a band reaching their potential. If music quality really defined the success of a band, this will be the year that they cement themselves as one of the best young British bands around. If not, it’ll be a real shame, because this record deserves to be heard by everyone.

RC xx

 

Single Review: Lauri Ylonen ‘She’s A Bomb’

So for anyone who’s been reading this blog for a while, you’ll be aware of my undying (and slightly embarrassing) love of Finnish rockers The Rasmus. So I’m always keen to check out what the band members are up to with solo projects and such.

Lead singer Lauri Ylonen‘s first attempt at a solo career seemed pretty good. His first album ‘New World’ was a bit more tech-influenced, carrying an theme of escapism and fantasy through the tracks and videos. It was different, but it was listenable, just as catchy as The Rasmus’ music and fell under the genre of ‘dark electro pop’.

Unfortunately, ‘She’s A Bomb’ isn’t quite the same. It’s still catchy, in a Tiga-esque way (repetitive words instead of the lyrical stories that I would’ve expected). The video though, which I’ve decided not to include just to keep this blog PG13 is downright weird. It feels like a joke that I’m not a part of. Maybe a take on society, but its not poignant enough to make any kind of statement.

I’m quite disappointed by this. I’ve stuck by this band through the bottling at Reading, the several-years-long absence from the UK, even finding out about the slightly bizarre fashion choices of their youth. This though, will be one piece of music that I don’t think I’ll be buying.

Make your own mind up below:

RC xx

Album Review: Pure Love ‘Anthems’

I’ve been desperately trying to keep up with Pure Love. Last year, having seen Gallows at Reading festival and become a vague fan, I decided to go to their Valentines day gig in Shepherd’s Bush. It wasn’t to be though. The friend I was planning to go with was running late at work. We’d made plans, I couldn’t go alone and leave her with nothing to do on the most romantic day of the year (debatable). Not when we were both single.

To cut a long story short, we spent the evening drowning our sorrows in wine and chocolate. It wasn’t a bad night, but I couldn’t help feeling that I’d missed out. This year I missed out again as I already had plans. Safe to say, I’ve been pretty determined not to miss out on their album release.

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As the name suggests, the album is full of anthems, dedicated to the lost young people today. The band manage to sum it up pretty well, sauntering through dark relationships in ‘She’. There’s even a quick reference to singer Frank Carter’s departure from Gallows two years ago on ‘Bury My Bones’ as he growls ‘I’m so sick of singing about hate..’.

‘The Hits’ is a straight-up punk song, with ‘Anthem’ adding an underlying bluesy tone, almost reminiscent of The Gaslight Anthem. (Even if I can’t help thinking of the ‘down and out’ song from Bugsy Malone).

The record really picks up with the more joyful ‘Beach of Diamonds’ and rock’n’roll esque ‘Handsome Devils Club’. The entire record’s intended outreach can be summed up in the track’s lyrics ‘we are the wrong and the guilty, we are the young and the unimpressed’.

‘Riot Song’ is an instant classic, starting off a little slow, only to channel The Clash with the ear-worming chanting ‘there’s a riot on the streets of England’. ‘March of the Pilgrims’ is a more than fitting finale to the record, building up to a roaring crescendo

I wouldn’t quite associate the songs with the name Pure Love, but this record definitely fits the band members’ description of being a more positive take on life than the savage angst of Gallows. Its definitely a fitting anthem for the so called ‘lost generation’, almost becoming what you wanted Greenday’s American Idiot to be; churning the hopelessness of today’s recession-clad society into a cry for change.

‘Anthems’ is out now.

RC xx

Kerrang Tour, Brixton Academy 15/02/13

After two weeks of ransacking the UK, the now infamous Kerrang tour finally reached the capital. I went along, just to see what the fuss was about..

Arriving late, I breezed through security and rushed straight into the main standing area, just in time to catch Tonight Is Alive performing their last few songs. There’s a nice moment where the crowd get their lighters out (only in London would there be more lighters than mobiles). It’s only slightly ruined by a friend of mine telling me how much the band like to run around naked backstage. Constantly.

Tonight Alive

The Aussie’s slick pop-punk tunes go down nicely. Its just a shame the venue isn’t more full. It might be the downstairs age limit, or the early start time, but for a tour so huge, its surprisingly to see so many empty spaces.

The arrival of Chiodos is heraled by Taylor Swift’s ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ blaring out of the speakers. The crowds reaction is overwhelmingly positive. There group of barely clothed teenage girls behind me scream and dance around. They scream even more as the band come onstage.

The band growl their way through the set, inspiring a few ‘hands in the air’ moments, but overall its nothing spectacular. By the time they start to clear the stage, the crowd are already chanting..

‘Black Veil Brides’. ‘Black Veil Brides’. ‘Black Veil Brides’.

The sound echoes off the dusty ceiling. Swarms of kids in face paint and black skinny jeans push past us, racing to the front. Its clear who everyone is here to see.

Black Veil Brides

There is a thunder of applause and screams as Black Veil Brides appear. Playing at about 10x the volume of all the other acts might give them an unfair advantage, but its one that they don’t need. They tear through the set, mostly comprised of tracks from their mind-blowing new album ‘Wretched and Divine’.

Wil Francis joins the band for a brief moment, but the real star of tonight is vocalist Andy Biersack. Strutting about the stage in jeans so tight they may as well be painted on, he exudes a confidence far greater than his rakish frame would suggest.

Wil Francis with Black Veil Brides

The banter between songs is short, but the performance is immaculate. There’s two brief, and slightly unnecessary disappearances from the stage, but the audience doesn’t seem to mind.

Black Veil Brides are clearly a band on the way up. From what I’ve seen tonight, there’s going to be no stopping them..

RC xx

 

Album Review: Mallory Knox ‘Signals’

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I’ll be honest, I bought this album based on the weight of ‘Lighthouse’ alone. That and I’d heard the band name whispered by a few of the other bands / musicians I’m a fan of (Wil Francis, I think this was your doing).
Luckily for me, Mallory Knox’s debut album ‘Signals’ doesn’t disappoint. ‘Beggars’ kicks things off nicely. ‘Wake Up’ and ‘Lighthouse’ are the key tracks though, they scream out, demanding your attention.
There’s a sweet ballad hidden in there too, ‘1949’ is an ode to growing old together (a nice bit of out-of-the-box thinking from a band that clearly haven’t been married for 60 years).
‘Hello’ has to be my favourite track on the album though. There’s something about the vocals from Mikey Chapman in that song, the way he really sings, and like he means it as well. He shows off his skills again in ‘Bury Your Head’. half singing, half whispering and its genuinely touching.
We might have been kept waiting since 2011for this album, but it looks like the time was worth it. Here’s a band starting out with a clear sound and real talent behind it. Expect big things from these guys.
RC xx

Single Review: Fall Out Boy ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark’

fall out boy

So Fall Out Boy are back. There’s a new album announced ‘Save Rock and Roll’ (a bit of an odd title, considering they’ve never been a rock and roll band – am I missing some irony here?) and a video released for first new single ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark’. For once it seems the internet rumours are coming true.

Solo projects and a certain marriage / breakup with a female popstar aside, this is a band that haven’t had a huge amount of attention for a while. (In fact, a few months ago I found myself wondering whatever happened to them). The band must know that they’ve got to create something amazing to get back what they had.

It definitely sounds like they’re going in the right direction with ‘My Songs Know What You Did In The Dark’. On first listen, the song sounds fairly typical of Fall Out Boy. Catchy hooks, clever lyrics with a bite, good beat. Play it a few more times though, and it starts to sound darker, heavier. There’s more of an electro edge that we haven’t heard in Fall Out Boy’s music before. The vocals sound fiercer too.

There’s no mistaking the message that the band are putting whatever troubled past they might have had behind them. The video consists of rapper 2 Chainz burning the band’s memorabilia. The band’s Facebook page shows them doing the same (anyone else hoping Patrick hasn’t burnt his hat collection? I always liked his hats..).

To the band’s credit, this song does sound like they’re pretty tight. And they mean business.

Make up your own mind:

UK folks, you can catch the band at Camden Underworld on February 25. Tickets go on sale Feb 8 & 9.

RC xx