Category Archives: music

REVIEW: THE HOTELIER – Home, Like Noplace Is There

Band – The Hotelier

Album – Home, Like Noplace Is There

Label – Tiny Engines

The Hotel Year are now The Hotelier, which still sounds the same if said in a broad, comedy, cockney accent. Not just that but they have a new album which I’ve been mulling over for a few weeks unable to decide exactly how I felt about it.

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There are 9 songs that make up ‘Home, like noplace is there’, The Hotelier’s sophomore record and something about it leaps straight out at you. Although, I think I’ve been holding back on letting myself really enjoy this record and I’ve been racking my brain as for the reason why. Annoyingly, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s my age. I can see that that is a really dumb thing to say but let me explain. The Hotelier don’t hold anything back lyrically or musically, they are really open to the point that it makes me slightly uncomfortable. Take the first song, ‘An introduction to the album’, for example. The way it builds and the emotion it shells out could be something off that would normally put me off but there is some kind of charm about that kept drawing me back. I put it on in the car on my way to work one day and a thought hit me, if I was 18 I would bloody love this band. Now this is nothing to do with being old or too mature etc… But when I was 18 I was a lot more open to music when I listened to it, now it seems I carry a lot of baggage when I hear something now that I close off. I feel more jaded, I can spot influences a lot more now and I let this get in the way of enjoying something.

Sure you can see influences dotted throughout this record, a bit of Saves The Day here or Piebald there, but it should be judged more on the quality of the songs rather than the originality of the sound. And the Hotelier pack plenty of quality in to their songwriting. Songs that come under the banner of ‘ANTHEM!!’ Come frequently through the record. The album veers in to a darker place but The Hotelier seem just at home with Touché Amoré style scream-a-longs as they do with their Jimmy Eat World style sing-a-longs.

The are a couple of spots where they don’t quite hit the mark, ‘Housebroken’ Is a bit of a dull point but by in large, if you let yourself, you’ll find this a really enjoyable listen. In the great scheme of things The Hotelier aren’t gonna steal my heart like, say, The Promise Ring but they will remain fondly thought of like, say, Hot Rod Circuit. Hopefully that analogy will make some kind of sense to you. Definitely worth checking out the record. Cheers.

You can download/stream the album HERE.
And the last time I checked Monkey Boy records had some vinyl copies available HERE

Thanks for reading. Get in touch. http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog
Twitter @alex_itto
Or ittoblog@gmail.com

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INTERVIEW: HUMAN HANDS

If there is going to be one band that defines the emo underground in the UK this year it will be Human Hands, if you have just one listen to their debut full length, self titled LP you’ll know exactly why that is true. It is an incredibly beautiful and powerful record and with plenty of other releases and tours planned for this year I thought an interview with the band was well in order. So here it is! (Ps the interview was conducted just before the release of the record so a couple of the questions are slightly out of date, but don’t let that spoil your enjoyment)

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Is This Thing On? – Hello. You’re on the cusp of releasing your debut full length record, can you tell us a bit about the background to the record?

Chaz: It has been in the works for ages now. We hatched a plan with Andy sncl at a basement gig in Manchester over 2 and a half years ago now, so yeh, it’s taken a while, but I think it benefited from that time and space. We recorded it at the end of May 2013 at JT Soars (aka Wine Vibes)in Nottingham.
Clyde: It has had a slow gestation, but that has mostly due to me moving away and touring rather than writing whenever I was back. When we got to it, it came together pretty quickly.
Rob: I can’t add much, I reckon we practiced most of the songs when playing shows! When we’re all together I think we’d rather play gigs wherever we can, so writing sometimes takes a back seat. Although it’s taken so long to surface, I think that we’re all really happy with the end result.

ITTO? – What themes does the record tackle? Is there a running theme throughout?

Chaz: Don’t think there is a particular theme that runs throughout. Most of the lyrics are about the bullshit I see in everyday life.

ITTO? – Listening through your back catalogue there seems to have been a real progression in sound, from the urgent to the epic. Is it just a matter of circumstance that it’s taken you this long to put out a full length or was it that you wanted to wait until the band was ready, sound wise?

Chaz: Mainly a matter of circumstances I guess (Clyde now lives in Iceland), but I’m glad we took a little more time with it. I think in regards to progressions in sound, when we started I think we just wanted to make something fast and noisy. I think from the first 7” we started slowing things down a bit, and have taken that ‘sound’ from there, I guess.
Clyde: There wasn’t really too much of plan. We just started writing that way. When we started it was to do a band in the vein of Swing Kids, Assfactor 4 and The Red Scare. As a consequence we came into it initially with more aggressive material to work on…in time I think we’ve settled into something a little more natural to us.
Rob: I would say circumstance. I think that we play much more comfortably together now and the LP has benefited from maturity, distance etc.

ITTO? – The two songs off the new record you have up on bandcamp at the mo showcase a really lush, gorgeous sound. Did you spend a lot of time getting the sound right or is that more down to who you worked with?

Chaz: We recorded with our friend Phil (who has recorded everything for us except the demo and split tapes with verme and deergear). We took a fair bit of time getting sound right, and then recorded everything live. I think it’s a combination of recording in a bigger room (JT soar venue) and Phil getting better and better at recording bands, and us taking a little bit more time with stuff. That said we recorded 11 songs in 2 days.
Rob: I think because we have been consistent with who we’ve recorded most of our material with, it gets easier and improves each time.

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ITTO? – Can you tell us about the artwork for the record? I’m always wary of asking people into music if they like football because you can get some really dodgy looks but are you guys football fans?

Chaz: The cover is just a collage piece I’d been working on for ages and thought would look good as a cover. I spend far too much of my energy getting upset by football, supporting Villa and the mighty Stratford Town.
Clyde: I’m not a football fan, but anything that helps get our songs sung on the terraces is good with me….
Rob: I’m a West Brom fan and watch Stratford when I’m not at work.

ITTO? – What have you been listening to recently and has that had any influence on the album at all?

Chaz: Some records I have been enjoying recently are; Flesh World – S/T MLP, Saccharine Trust – Worldbroken LP, Can – Lost Tapes LP, No – Great Space MLP, V/A – Enjoy The Experience LP, Robbie Basho – Seal Of The Blue Lotus LP, V/A – Classroom Projects LP, Madlib – Rock Konducta LP, Peter Gutteridge – Pure 2 X LP. Can’t remember what I was playing lots when we recorded the lp, but like to think everything comes through in some way.
Clyde: I need to get that No MLP. I’ve been blasting the Party of Helicopter’s Abracadaver recently. Also, Mussorgsky – Boris Godunov, Ulver – Messe i.x–vi.x, Springsteen’s Born To Run. Eagerly awaiting the release of Carpe Noctem’s album on vinyl too. Not too many of these had an influence on the album.
Rob: I’m listening to a lot of Iron Lung, Asthenia, Grand Detour, Moloch, Jeru the Damaja, Disciples of Christ and Yaphet Kotto at the moment.

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ITTO? – I wasn’t the only one in the crowd at About Time 2 being completely blown away, how was that show for you and can you really feed off the energy of an audience even though they aren’t going nuts or screaming the lyrics in your face?

Chaz: That gig was great, and was pretty terrifying playing to that many people. I think most people watching us tend to feel tense or bored, so it was a pleasant change.
Clyde: The show was nerve-wracking for me as it was the first time I’d had to do lead vocals on a song. Overall though, it felt pretty together. It was a big crowd, but we had enough friends in the audience to make us feel comfortable. And it’s always good to know a crowd is digging.
Rob: Yeah both About Time gigs have been amazing. It was great to be asked to play again, and I think we held a crowd, which is always good.

ITTO? – It’s a real credit to the state of music in the UK that you can have an incredibly popular all dayer that is predominantly all UK bands. What do you think about the state of underground music in the uk at the moment?

Chaz: Yeh, it was a great day. UK is great at the moment for new music particularly punk and hardcore.
Clyde: Entirely. There are so many good bands out there at the moment from all across the spectrum. I think all of us have been into this music for a long time, and I’m not sure that I’ve personally ever experienced it this thriving.
Rob: I think the UK is doing awesome things at the moment. A lot of new, good bands are appearing all the time, from all over the country, which is great.

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ITTO? – What are your plans for when the record is released? Any touring plans yet?

Chaz: Yeh, there will be a small UK tour with Carson Wells in April and then a Euro/UK tour in the summer at some point. Following the LP there will also be split 7”s with Mars to Stay and Carson Wells and a 5 way split 10” with Manku Kapak, Asthenia, Nebraska and Duct Hearts.
Clyde: Pretty much that. Maybe another UK tour later in the year if we can afford it…

ITTO? – (Corny last interview question) If you could play with any band from history, alive or defunct, who would it be and why?

Chaz: Sabbath at any point during the first four lps.
Clyde: Can’t believe the others haven’t already predicted my response. Slayer.
Rob: Minor Threat, I think.

ITTO? – Human Hands, thank you!!

To buy Human Hands self titled LP click HERE
Or to stream/download it click HERE

Thanks for reading. As always, get in touch on here or Facebook http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, on twitter @alex_itto or email ittoblog@gmail.com

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REVIEW: ACID FAST – RABID MOON

Band – Acid Fast

Album – Rabid Moon

Label – Protagonist/Adagio 830

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I have a very good friend who also writes a blog about music, when he comes round my house I tend to bore him to death by showing him whatever new records I’ve recently acquired or downloaded. Our tastes have grown apart over the last few years and most of what I say falls on deaf ears but when I showed him the album sleeve for ‘Rabid Moon’ by Acid Fast he was completely fascinated and more than intrigued. I know where he’s coming from, my first encounter with Acid Fast was seeing this album artwork and my first thought was that I must listen to this ASAP. I had no idea, really, what to expect but those dogs look so ferocious that it was drawing me in. I put the record on and was completely sold on the band from the off.

Acid Fast are satisfying a need for a type of music I hadn’t realised I was hungry for. A lot of what I had been listening to recently was angry, moody and introspective but this was loud, upbeat and outgoing. But Acid Fast are a rock’n’roll band and this is a rock’n’roll record. Big thumping indie punk anthems with excellent duel vocals and more hooks than a cloakroom. Everything is loud, overly distorted and, as I said, big! Especially the melodies that capture your attention on each of the killer tracks and keep your interest right to the end. Acid Fast come from Oakland, CA and feature ex members of the band Big Kids which is a big reminder to me to go back and listen to Big Kids more.

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Maybe there are plenty of bands playing this Superchunk-esque, grand, indie punk sound but not many that I’ve encountered. Perhaps Joanna Gruesome but that’s all I can think of. Maybe I should lift my head up, turn of the depressing stuff more often if this is the kind of result I can expect. I doubt many bands will make an album this instantly excellent this year mind.

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Oh and my friend who I mentioned at the start who was intrigued by the artwork, just checked with him and he still hasn’t listened to it!?!?? But you’re not reading his blog so pay no attention and trust me when I say you need to buy this record!!!!!

You can buy the record from Protaganist HERE

Again, thanks for reading. Get in touch: Facebook – www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, twitter @alex_itto or email ittoblog@gmail.com

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IS THIS THING ON?’S TOP 20 RECORDS OF 2013 PART 1 (No’s 20-11)

It definitely is that time of year again and you’re probably already sick of album of the year lists but here I am to give you what I consider to be the best records of 2013. This year it’s a top 20 for 2 reasons, 1 – there has been a LOT of great records this year and 2 – because I’ve been so slack at posting reviews this year I thought this would be a good way to catch up. So here goes:

20. Tancred – S/T

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I had no idea what to expect with this record, hadn’t heard anything before and hadn’t read anything about it but as soon as I pressed play I was an instant fan. Brilliant grungey indie rock in the style of Juliana Hatfield, with plenty of catchy songs and charm.

19. Pity Sex – Feast Of Love

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Always love it when a band with a great name also turn out to be a great band and Pity Sex are no exception. Shoegazey, poppy, punk rock with superb, dreamy, downbeat vocals is a pretty lazy description but it hits the nail on the head. I would’ve listened to this record more but every time I looked at a distro they’ve already sold out of their copies, damn hip kids with their pocket money taking all my records!!!!

18. Touché Amoré – Is Survived By

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Touché Amoré are a band that just get better and better with every record they release. I have completely fallen in love with this new record, whilst being instantly recognisable as a Touché record it is also quite a departure to a more melodic and heartfelt sound. There’s still all the power and attack that you would want and expect but there’s also melodies and hook after hook. Very highly recommended listening.

17. Wild Moth – Over, Again

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Became aware of these guys through the SNCL mailing list, they came very highly recommended and they certainly live up to the expectation. Mixing brilliant post hardcore with indie sensibilities and the song writing ability of a band like The Cribs. (The first song really reminds me of The Cribs, which to me is high praise because I love The Cribs!). You’ll have this on repeat so definitely go and check this out.

16. Dowsing – I Don’t Even Care Anymore

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I’ve written loads about Dowsing in the past and the only reason I haven’t expressed love for this record on this blog already is because having four kids is so tiring and I just haven’t had time. I literally can’t go a blog post without writing lame excuses about why I’m so behind at updating this blog, I’m sorry. You know what to expect with a Dowsing record, you know the songs will be top notch and the melodies to be catchy as hell. This album requires a bit more work for the listener than the previous one but with work comes rewards. Check out the excellent title track ‘I don’t even care anymore’, sounds like a song that should be soundtracking the end credits of a 90′s teen movie, perfectly brilliant!!

15. Sed Non Satiata – Mappo

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This album is testament to the fact that taking recommendations from other blogs you love will pay off handsomely. First learned of this band through Cut and Paste and haven’t looked back since. Screamo/emo hardcore always sounds better in French, a brooding intensity blasts out of the speakers here, thrilling stuff!

14. State Faults – Resonate/Desperate

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This record hits the ground running and keeps the energy up to the last note. Much more focused and precise than the first album, this record is the ultimate record to throw yourself about like a lunatic too. Hopefully they’ll tour the UK in the next 12 months so I can see a whole room of people throwing themselves round like lunatics to this awesome screamo goodness.

13. Placeholder – I Don’t Need Forgiveness

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A lot of bands have adopted a huge grunge influence into their melodic punk rock, but not many bands have done it in the brilliantly lo-fi way that Placeholder have. I probably won’t ever grow tired of bands using the 90′s as a reference point especially when they’re making records as good as this one!

12. The World Is A Beautiful Place And I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Whenever, If Ever

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BAND WITH MOST EMO NAME EVER LIVES UP TO THE HYPE BY RELEASING A GREAT RECORD, is the headline the tabloid press would run with if the world worked like it does in my head. Twinkly bits, post rock bits, synth melodies and everything else that is making the cynics, who have been put off by the band name, turn their noses up just makes me love this band more. I bought my ticket to see these guys in Brighton in April within seconds of seeing they were on sale and cannot wait to go!!!

11. Nai Harvest – Whatever

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I saw these guys play twice this year and both times they were on top form, even the time in the pub on Margate seafront at the height of summer when it was too hot for most in attendance to bother coming inside to watch the bands. Nai Harvest seemed to have been everywhere this year causing quite a stir amongst all the UK emos, they have become behemoths of the scene ready to conquer all with their overly catchy emo rock. Rumour has it their new stuff is leaning more towards lo-fi indie rock and that sounds pretty exciting to me, expect to see plenty more of Nai Harvest in 2014!!

The TOP 10 will be published in the next couple of days.

Thanks for reading.

Get in touch here or on Facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on twitter @alex_itto

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INTERVIEW: JOIE DE VIVRE

This time last year I was declaring that Joie De Vivre had taken the number 1 spot on my album of the year list. Now, these incredibly popular and dashingly good-looking young men from Rockford, Illinois are back and are on the cusp of releasing some new music. I thought this was as good a time as any to ask the band some questions, all of which they luckily agreed to answer. Here goes:

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IS THIS THING ON? – Hi, how are you? How is everything in team JDV?

JOIE DE VIVRE – Hey man! Doing good! We just finally got all of our songs done for the two splits we have coming up and we are starting to write the new record! Brandon just got married and Mark has been busy finishing records with his other bands so we kind of laid low this Fall. We aren’t too stressful of a band haha.

ITTO? - I hear you have a couple of splits on the way, give us some details, who are they with/how did they come about/how are the songs sounding etc…

JDV – We have two coming out soon as of right now – we got one with our friends in Prawn and another with Empire! Empire! The Prawn split came about while we were overseas touring. We played a show in Toulouse, France, with Prawn (which ended up being the first time we ever actually met those guys) on Tony and our old drummer Stevie’s birthday. Alcohol got involved and we ended up having TOO good of a time and somewhere in that night we decided to do a split. We FINALLY have a release date for that and it will be February 11th, 2014 on Count Your Lucky Stars/Topshelf.

The Empire! Empire! split came about from Jeff over at Run For Cover Records asking us to be a part of a split series that they do every year and E! E! ended up being the other band on it. We were honored that he asked and honored to be doing it with Empire! Empire!, so we immediately jumped at the opportunity!

We are all really stoked on how the songs came out; our friend Mark Gustafson (who recorded The North End and WABTT) did the Prawn split, and our friend Matt Frank (from Their / They’re / There) recorded the RFC split. It’s definitely crazy because it’s our first split with our newer line up, and I did all of the guitar work on it. Hopefully people enjoy it – we definitely have!

ITTO? - Are they any plans for a new full length record at the moment?

JDV – Yeah we definitely have plans on another record at some point in the next year or so. We just started writing a new record and have a couple songs in their baby stages right now. We are all pretty domesticated with full time jobs and relationships so getting together to make something happen takes scheduling. Not that it’s hard; we usually just end up watching dumb YouTube videos, listening to records, or drinking. Usually all three. Somehow a record comes out of it.

ITTO? - It seems an age ago now but when I saw you play in Brighton it seemed like you were all having the best time, how was that tour for you?

JDV – Brighton was beautiful by the way, the UK in general was amazing – you guys were so amazing to us. That tour was a lifetime moment, that’s something we definitely will never forget. It was crazy to think that playing in Chicago, an hour and a half away from home, was the biggest deal when we first started. I definitely never thought getting on a plane to Europe was ever in the cards. We made a lot of incredible friends while we were there, saw amazing sights, ate and drank amazing food and beer, saw amazing bands, and the people were so nice and welcoming. It definitely didn’t feel like we were gone for a month, it flew by!

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ITTO? - Do you have plans to come back to Europe?

JDV – Oh yeah, we will be back sooner than later. We need to do some US touring though before we head back over. I know we all are itching to get back and the UK is definitely someplace we plan on hanging out in for a bit haha.

ITTO? - There is a lot of talk and arguments about the term ‘emo revival’, do you ever get annoyed with labels that are attached to your band? Would it ever push you over the edge so much you end up making a dubstep metal album?

JDV – Haha I don’t think any of us really think about it. All of the articles and lists coming out right now are a bit ridiculous. I do think it’s a misuse of the word “revival”, it never really left. But we get a good laugh at it and also at ourselves being mentioned, so it’s nothing that really affects us one way or another.

ITTO? - Is it true or is it not that the only reason you split up was just so you could reform thus making you the ultimate revival band?

JDV – Damn, you nailed it ;)

Noooo, the reasons we split up for were pretty legit at the time. We all were heading different directions and couldn’t really get the motivation to do Joie as much as we really wanted to at the time. School, work, moving, women – pretty much everything Brandon sings about. I think we just needed a breather.

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ITTO? - Your jimmy eat world covers set that was put on YouTube caused a lot of excitement among us emo nerds. What band would you do next and what songs would you play?

JDV – That was a blast – we did that with our friend Marky from this band The Felix Culpa who we were all were big fans of. It was pretty cool being able to play with him and hang out as much as we did for practice.

We always talk about covers we would like to do or cover shows we’d like to do. The problem with us is historically we’ve been very bad at pulling it off live. Marky whipped us into getting it down. Otherwise if he weren’t there, we’d be watching YouTube, listening to records, or drinking, like above.

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ITTO? - It’s about time for everyone’s end of year lists to start emerging, what’s been your album of 2013 so far?

JDV – Oh man, I have been listening to a lot of older records lately and polishing up on bands that I have been told to listen to. That new Foxing record is going to be one for the era man, seriously. I can’t stop gushing over it. I was actually listening to the new Into It. Over It. record today and I think that’s pretty amazing. I also really loved the new Mountains for Clouds record, “Maybe It’s Already Everywhere”.

The new My Bloody Valentine was pretty amazing, and so was the new Low and The National records. I also have to listen to the new Dismemberment Plan, Pusha T, Pearl Jam, and James Blake records, so I am not at liberty to give that trophy out yet haha.

ITTO? - And finally, tell us a secret no one else knows about another band?

JDV – Oh totally – Jamie from Prawn knows Snookie.

Andrew Stefano from Mountains for Clouds loves to play acoustic shows.

Keith Latinen from Empire! Empire! owns a mink coat that he got from “that emo money”.

Kevin Duquette of Topshelf Records has the best hair in emo.

ITTO? – Thanks!!!!!!!

For more Joie De Vivre greatness click here for their bandcamp/tumblr/facebook/twitter/Instagram

Thanks so much for reading, leave a comment or come say hi on facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on twitter @alex_itto

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That new Foxing record vs. sleep deprivation

It never rains but it pours and sometimes it just pisses it down. I’ve said before on this blog about how certain records seem to come along at the most appropriate time, they coincide with events of your life that give the records an extra weight and meaning. The new Foxing record is a perfect example of this. I have been itching to listen to it as it’s been causing quite a stir amongst the devotees of the 2013 emo scene but nothing could have prepared me for how much of an effect this album would have on me.

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As you may well be able to tell, I have always been quite a sensitive person. This seemed to intensify after my wife, Hannah, and I started having kids over 9 years ago, so much so that I would find myself in floods of tears because someone on a reality show was having a hard time and other examples which are all equally as embarrassing. An album like ‘The Albatross’ by Foxing would normally floor me at the best of times but having been starved of sleep for the last couple of weeks, it’s completely wiped me out.

Hannah and I now have four children, the latest being our daughter Indigo who was born in May of this year. Having a new baby you expect there to be some sleepless nights but Indigo seemed to fall effortlessly in to a nighttime routine really quickly. Sadly we weren’t able to savour this great achievement for very long as our youngest son’s behaviour in the night had started to become very erratic. Thurston, is now 5 and was diagnosed with severe autism when he was just 20 months old. He’s never been a great sleeper as he finds it very hard to switch off, he is prescribed medicine to help him get to sleep as part of a bedtime routine but it’s not designed to keep him asleep. When he wakes up in the night then that is that, he’s awake, he’s full of energy and there’s no option but to be there for him.

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Recently, Thurston’s sleepless nights have started to become a nightly occurrence and we feel a bit lost at sea with what to do. Before Thurston started school he was offered a lot of support from the under 5′s team at the local children’s centre. He had years of speech therapy, physiotherapy because he also has low muscle tone in his legs and we were able to attend a course to help us understand Thurston’s diagnosis. When it was time for Thurston to start school we were lucky enough to find a mainstream school that could provide, with the help of his own one to one teacher, the support that he needs. But all other support seemed to come to an end, we are now for the most part on our own and as Thurston gets older his behaviour changes and the challenges we face change.

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Thurston is an incredibly beautiful person, he is a genuinely happy kid who has the ability to light up rooms with his presence. He has incredibly long eyelashes that contain some kind of voodoo magic because one bat of these lashes can make the most unsuspecting person fall instantly in love with him. It’s really heartbreaking to see his behaviour change, his mood swings to become more evident and his tantrums to become more extreme. He gets frustrated and he lashes out, things need to be how he wants them to be or how he expects them to be otherwise things don’t make sense to him. He sometimes disappears in to a rage and there is no communicating with him, when he comes around he is always immediately regretful if he has ended up hurting or upsetting somebody.

In the last couple of weeks Thurston hasn’t managed to sleep for a whole night, he is going through quite a difficult time and this has really affected him at night. He is now in year one at school which is a big change to what it was like being at school in the reception year. He works hard and is academically doing really well but there seems to be a new structure to his school day that he doesn’t get along with. Everyday there is usually an incident involving screaming, running out of the class room, time on the thinking chair or time spent in a different room to calm down. His new thing is walking in to class and shouting ‘BLOODY HELL’ for no apparent reason but I’ll take some of the blame for that one. At night now he will generally not make it past 2am without waking, his head is full of things that won’t let him sleep and even when he is extremely tired and visibly exhausted he is scared to go back to sleep. It is very hard to watch him nearly doze off to sleep but then force himself to stay awake, it is quite common for people on the autistic spectrum to have this fear where they don’t understand that after they have slept that they will wake up again instead of just sleeping forever. Obviously this has him then stuck in quite a viscous cycle of having a hard day at school because of his lack of sleep and then having a bad night because of the hard day at school he’s just had. Quite a few times recently we’ve been to pick him up from school where his exhaustion has gotten the better of him and we find that he has been asleep since the end of lunch time.

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When he wakes up in the night he is completely awake, everyone else is fast asleep and there is only a small window of opportunity between Thurston waking up and him waking everyone else in the house up where you have to find him and then take him downstairs to help him calm down without disturbing anyone else. Left too long and Thurston has worked out that if he opens and slams shut the wardrobe doors in our bedroom then he will get what he wants, which is for us to all be awake. Generally Hannah and I take it in turns to be up in the night but with Indigo being the easiest to disturb it usually works out that we are both awake dealing with a child each. This has made the last couple of weeks hard to deal with, add on to that the normal stress of being a parent of 4 kids with 2 different schools to get to everyday and plus the fact that we’ve just been served notice on our house because our landlord is selling up and we need to find somewhere else to live by February. Don’t even mention that it’s Christmas in a few weeks, please???!!!.

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At times like this music is my comfort blanket and ‘The Albatross’ by Foxing has become like a giant, warm duvet encasing me as I lie snuggled underneath in the foetal position peacefully asleep. When I wearily start my car to drive to work after the morning school run the beautifully poetic ‘Bloodhound’ with its sombre piano and gorgeous vocal arrangements comes on the car stereo and starts to feed my soul. Its the respite I need to get through my day. Some people may look to something a bit more upbeat in this situation but the emotion of this incredible record is what I want and its what helps me through. I don’t know the album lyrically very well at the moment but the delivery and tone of the record has meant that I have made this immense connection to it.

‘The Albatross’ feels like one of those touchstone moments that will go on to define an era, in ten years time when it is the ‘emo revival’ revival, bands will name check this record as their source material, as their reason why they started their band or why they’re as in love with music as they are. Hannah and I, together, can get through anything, she is as Homer describes Marge ‘as beautiful as Princess Leia and as smart as Yoda’ but like a million times better. She is my soul mate and without her I have literally no idea what I would do. Together we can get through the hard times knowing we’ll make it out intact on the other side. Music completes this and albums like ‘The Albatross’ are there to make everything ok again.

I did mean for this to be a straight up review of the record so I apologise to you and to Foxing for not doing their work of art justice. In my sleep deprived state this is all I could manage, normal service will resume soon and thanks for being a shoulder to rest my tired head on. Please do seek out ‘The Albatross’ because you won’t be disappointed and it may even help you out in your time of need.

To stream/download ‘The Albatross’ by Foxing click here

Thanks so much for reading. Get in touch on here or on Facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on twitter @alex_itto

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THE APPLESEED CAST LIVE IN CANTERBURY, OCT 2013

I’m not one for school reunions, I don’t really wanna be stuck in a room with people whose friend requests I’ve ignored on Facebook saying things like “Do you remember when we were at school and it was shit?”. When it was announced a few months ago that The Appleseed Cast were going to play Canterbury it felt like a bit of a school reunion but in the best possible way. Appleseed Cast are a really special band, who are much-loved by most of the local scene we had here back in the day. They played up the road in Margate 3 times between 1999 and 2002, these shows had such an impact they are still talked about to this day, the news that they were playing here again created a buzz of excitement with the old faithful across many social media outlets. It felt a lot like the old days, just with added technology and part of what made this autumn night in Canterbury so special was this reunion of sorts. Old friends, exchanging stories and having a laugh brought together by the love of a legendary band that played such a big part of our scene.

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I have to apologise to Cascade who opened the show as I turned up just as they were packing their equipment away, gigs seem to come with so many support bands these days and despite my best efforts I just can’t get there early enough. I’m sure they did a stellar job of opening up, if they were half as good as the next band, Cosmic Thoughts, then that would certainly be the case because they were superb. Mixing artful indie rock with beats that make you want to shake your behind definitely got the proceedings off to a great start. Cosmic Thoughts have been recording recently and I’ll make sure to post a link as soon as they have something available.

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Moose Blood were next up and received a great reception from their home town crowd. It’s only been a year since they played their first live show and they have come so far since, crazy to think what they may achieve in the next 12 months. Theirs was a concise set of songs that demand people to sing along to and many in the crowd were glad to oblige. The final support band of the night were Appleseed Cast’s touring support for across Europe, June Miller. Their engrossing post rock set the tone perfectly for what was about to come. June Miller produced a beautiful sound and their set was delivered with plenty of heart, even included some audience participation towards the end too which is always a nice touch.

It was then time for The Appleseed Cast and my excitement levels were through the roof. Bramleys, the venue for the show, is a really intimate wine bar with a low ceiling and vintage lamps providing mood lighting, It’s the perfect setting for seeing Appleseed Cast play again. The show was sold out and the assembled crowd had drawn in making a tight semi-circle around the band and they didn’t disappoint us one bit. The Appleseed Cast has always been a band with a consistently changing line up and now is no different. Their current line up, which was the line up for their latest album ‘Illumination Ritual’ fronted by the only remaining founding member Chris Crisci, have an amazingly youthful energy about them. The Appleseed cast have been around for about 15 years now and although there have been gaps in between records they’ve never split up although they may have changed quite a bit. This current line up seem to work really well together and although anyone watching my bad old man emo dancing will say that I was most active and excited during the older songs, it was the new material from ‘Illumination Ritual’ where they sounded at their best.
Apparently ‘Illumination Ritual’ came together in same way a Mike Leigh film does, hours of improvisation from the band as a whole honed in to the actual songs by Crisci, the band’s leader. It really works for them and the album is an incredible success, my favourite Appleseed Cast album since the formidable ‘Low Level Owl’ double epic. This writing style seems to have brought the band together as a live force, the interplay between the superb drums and bass on songs like ‘Cathedral Rings’ is spot on and leaves a lot of scope for the two guitarists to play with on top.

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Their set relied heavily on songs from the new record but that’s not to say that they didn’t play any of the old songs and the ones they did were superb choices. Discussions amongst some of my friends before the show had practically ruled out the possibility that they might play ‘Marigold and Patchwork’ and those predictions were true. I don’t mind really as I have seen them play it before and when they played it the first time they had played Margate it was one of the all time best moments from any show I’d ever been to. They instead chose to play some other definite fan favourites in the way of ‘Steps and Numbers’ and ‘On Reflection’ from Low Level Owl Vol One and ‘Forever longing the golden sunsets’ and ‘Fishing the sky’ from Mare Vitalis. The latter two really made the night for me and it was during one of those a friend of mine grabbed my shoulder and shouted in to my ear that he was so happy, a sentiment that really summed up the whole evening for me.

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A great indicator to how good Appleseed Cast were was when I was stood talking to friends after the show and checked the time, none of us could believe how late it was. Time had stood still that chilly night in old Canterbury town. I spoke to a couple of the band members briefly at the merch table before I left and mentioned that I was wearing the same t-shirt that I had bought from them the first time they played Margate in 1999. They seemed amused by this so I asked Chris Crisci if he remembered playing Margate, those amazing shows that still mean something, and his response was “Sure”. That was enough for me, I left the venue on a massive high with a huge grin on my face, got in my car and listened to ‘Illumination Ritual” full blast all the way home. A truly brilliant night!!

Thanks so much for reading

Come say hi on Facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on twitter @alex_itto

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REVIEW: FOOTBALL, ETC. – AUDIBLE

Band – Football, etc.

Album – Audible

Label – Strictly No Capital Letters/Count Your Lucky Stars

The reason I started this blog was to say really nice things about new bands that I’ve fallen in love with. After years without finding any new bands that I felt a connection with all of a sudden there were a plethora of new bands that were exactly my cup of tea, so much so in fact that I can barely keep up. One of these bands are Football, etc. Over the last couple of years I’ve said plenty of overly lovely things about these guys and at the risk of becoming a Football, etc bore I’m about to say plenty more. But hey, these guys deserve it.

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People say second albums are tricky, I’d say they’re wrong as there’s an endless list of 2nd albums that are better than the debut and its 4th or 5th albums that are the tricky ones. If Football, etc found making ‘Audible’, the follow up to their superb debut LP ‘The Draft’ tricky then they’re making a damn good job of hiding it because ‘Audible’ is brilliant. And brilliant in the instantly likeable sense. Football, etc aren’t gonna make you work to like their record, it won’t require time to grown on you or you won’t have to revisit it in months to come to give it another chance. Just put it on and from that first listen you’ll be sold.

One thing that leaped straight out at me from the first time I listened is just how confident the record is. The way it sounds, the vocals and the way the band play together are all examples of a band that clearly know what they’re doing and know exactly how to put it across. This probably sounds a bit weird but Football, etc seem more of a band on this record. I think the addition of new drummer Edward Reisner has made a great difference because the rhythm section are now providing a great backbone to their already brilliant songwriting skills. The interplay between Ed and Mercy Harper on the bass VI really bring the album to life. I think also that one of the biggest reasons ‘Audible’ sounds so confident is how incredible Lindsay Minton’s voice sounds. Her vocal style used to remind me of Jeremy Enigk, which I guess it still does a bit in certain places, but now there is a great clarity in the way she sings. Her voice is high in the mix, it grabs your attention and invites you to sing along to every word. It really is Indie pop singing at its best. Also, it doesn’t hurt that they had somewhat of an emo legend in producer Ed Rose at the helm. The man behind the mixing desk for some of your favourite records (Low Level Owl!!!!!!!) has clearly captured Football, Etc at their best.

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Although none of the songs on ‘Audible’ will replace the mighty ‘Safety’ as my favourite Football, Etc song I think the overall quality of the songs are better on this record. The album really zips along and shows a greater depth in their songwriting ability. There are moments of classic emo, infectious pop songs, love songs about crossing the pond and moments where Sleater-Kinney comparisons could be drawn, all packed in to the 11 songs on display here. It also feels like a complete album, rather than a bunch of songs put together. Each one fits perfectly in its place, making the album flow so well that you must hear it all the way through from start to finish every time you put it on.

It’s hard to think of a band that plays this type of music as well as Football, etc. They are the ultimate indie emo band currently playing. And although ‘Audible’ sounds and feels different to their earlier out it’s still unmistakably Football, Etc and undeniably good. Go buy it now!!

You can purchase ‘Audible’ in the UK from Strictly No Capital Letters HERE. Or stream/download it from bandcamp HERE.

Thanks for reading. As always come say hi here, or on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on twitter @alex_itto

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27.07.2013 A GOOD DAY TO BE ‘MO

Some days are just destined to be perfect, where everything comes together completely as it should and leaves you feeling as high as a kite about how wonderful life can sometimes be. Some days will stay with you forever, days you’ll find yourself on a dull, wet afternoon in the future daydreaming about, wishing you could be back there. On paper the 27th of July 2013 looked pretty damn good, in reality it was fucking incredible.

Everyone knows how much I love Football, Etc, last year I drove down to Brighton to see them play with Joie De Vivre and was blown away. A few months ago I was lucky enough to interview them for this blog and asked them about future UK tour plans. After we spoke I looked up the dates to make sure I could go and, as luck would have it, realised they were playing London on the 27th of July. My birthday! Yes!! I punched the air with joy at the thought of spending my birthday in London watching one of my favourite bands.

Going to this show was set in stone until a couple of weeks later Braid decided to throw a spanner in the works. I had seen that there was a campaign to get Braid to play in the UK and now it was actually going to happen and happen it was on the 27th of July!! Dilemma time, do I travel to London and spend my birthday watching one of my current favourite bands for the 2nd time or do I go and see one of the most legendary emo bands of all time for the first time playing an absolute classic album in its entirety??? Luckily in the end this was a decision I never had to make thanks to some genius thinking by Tommy/Zine and not heard who were putting on the Football, Etc. show. After an initial idea of making that show a Braid after party it was announced that the Football, Etc show was going to be a matinée and would finish before the Braid show started. And not only that it was going to be in the Buffalo Bar, a venue directly opposite the Garage where Braid were playing. Phew!

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The day finally arrived and after a morning of being spoilt by my wife and kids with a cooked breakfast and a stack of new records I set off on the train to London. Since I started this blog I have made some really good friends on twitter/Facebook etc.. with some lovely, like-minded folk who are all as nuts about emo as I am. My kid, Louis, refers to these people as my ‘e-friends’ and it was them I was going to be spending this day with. Turns out not everyone you meet online is a crazy psycho-sex pest like my mum always warned me they would be, in fact they were really bloody amazing people. We met up, shook hands, acknowledged how extremely hot it was in that there London and off we went for a whole day of ‘mo.

We turned up to the Buffalo Bar just in time to catch the last few moments of Wrestling, a shame really as the seemed really good. Next on were Doe, who despite the setback of having to spend most of their set restringing a guitar whilst listing their favourite paedophiles (you had to be there), played an enjoyable set of grunge pop. The show really kicked in to gear when the next band, Plaids, took to the stage. I was very excited to see this band, I’d heard that they were great live and I was already a fan of their recorded output so in my mind they couldn’t fail and fail they did not. Plaids bring it like any great punk band should, an abundance of energy and quality post-hardcore that really drew the crowd in, which by this time had swollen in size to pack the venue out. Plaids seem to tour a lot so I would highly recommend taking any chance to catch one of their shows.

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By the time Football, Etc took to the stage the venue must’ve been at capacity, I’m judging this by the fact that there were people crowded all the way up the stairs that lead in to the venue and the almost unbearable heat that came from being near the front. The reception they got was every bit as warm and was thoroughly deserved. Football, etc are the definitive indie emo band, a band who seemed to bring with them a new confidence that made them an even better live band than what they were last year. Maybe it was the addition of a new drummer or just the knowledge that they were on the verge of releasing a brilliant new album (an album which I will get round to writing about very soon), that was giving them this air of confidence. Usually a band who plays mainly new material that the majority of the crowd would be unfamiliar with would have a hard time getting the crowd on their side but this didn’t seem to be a problem at all. The fact they looked genuinely happy to be here and even played a song that stated this to be true made it impossible not to love their short but very excellent set. This first show of the day came to an end with Football, etc playing the mighty ‘Safety’. ‘Safety’ is one of the best songs of the last 5 years and live it takes on a whole new life of its own. The reaction from everyone present made the hair on my neck stand tall, the whole place was filled with the noise of a crowd singing in unison to not only the lyrics but also the opening guitar melody. Things got even better when Tommy Royds stormed the stage and gave Mercy from the band no option at all but to partake in some crowd surfing, Bass VI in hand, she was held aloft as the song was coming to its amazing climax and with that the show was finished leaving everyone in attendance suitably blown away.

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This would normally be enough for one day, but after a short break for some dinner we were in line at the Garage ready for the 2nd show of the day to begin. Once in and after eyeing up some more merch we made our way to the front ready to be blown away all over again. Up first on this 2nd show were a band that I’ve spent many an hour writing obscenely nice things about on this blog, Crash Of Rhino’s. If you haven’t read my review of Crash of Rhino’s new album then let me summarise by saying that I pretty much proclaimed it to be the best album of the last 10 years, a statement I still stand by. I had never seen them play live and I was probably more excited than a kid on Christmas morning as I stood waiting for them to come on, when they arrived and started playing ‘Everything Is’ quickly followed by ‘Interiors’ I realised that this was better than Christmas. I was watching one of the best bands this genre we call emo has ever produced and they were absolutely killing it. Crash of Rhino’s are a uniquely special and supremely talented band, they sounded incredibly huge that night and the joy of watching them play, swap instruments and take turns at singing is hard to convey by mere words. I’d show you by performing an illustrative dance but y’know, bad back and all that.

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I did start to wonder in the middle of Crash Of Rhino’s set if Braid had shot themselves in the foot by getting such an amazing band to open for them. But these thoughts were laid to rest as soon as Braid launched in to the opening song off ‘Frame & Canvas’, the classic ‘The New Nathan Detroits’. However good Crash Of Rhino’s were, this was Braid. BRAID!!! ‘Frame & Canvas’ is the stuff of legend, an album that hasn’t dated or lost any of its vast charm in the 15 years since it was released and Braid were here to play in full. As soon as Braid started the crowd were whipped in to a frenzy, pointed fingers were everywhere, every lyric was being screamed back at the band. The energy inside the Garage was palpable, Braid appeared to be really responding to this wave of adulation by giving it their all, in spite of the soaring temperatures. The only thing that nearly spoilt proceedings was some nasty sound issues, horrible feedback from one of the mics marred the end to ‘..Nathan Detroits’. Thankfully this was sorted quite quickly. It was so fantastic to be watching Braid play live at last. I can’t really work out why I hadn’t seen them the first time round and this more than making amends for that.

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By ‘Breathe In’ I gave in to the heat and retreated to the back of the venue to get some water and have a bit of a breather. I made the decision to watch the rest of the show from here which I do slightly regret because the atmosphere was a lot less intense at the back. It was so freakishly hot inside the Garage that night that getting some refreshment was probably the right thing to do and I was still able to really enjoy the encore. After Braid had played ‘Frame and canvas’ in its entirety they played a selection of fan favourites like ‘Please Drive Faster’, ‘Forever Got Shorter’ and ‘What a wonderful puddle’ as well as the two songs from the split they recently released with Balance & Composure. This led them on to say that a new album will be on its way, hopefully this will mean another tour too. Fingers crossed.

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What a day!! It will definitely remain one of my highlights of 2013 and a benchmark to measure all future birthdays against. I feel bad for you if you weren’t there, I’d like to say there’ll be days to come that will rival the 27th of July 2013 but I can’t picture there will be many. Just perfect!!

Thanks for reading. Feel free to get in touch on facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on twitter @alex_itto

Couldn’t find any videos of the London show but here is a video of Braid playing in Leeds on the same tour

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TIGERS JAW, CANTERBURY 02.08.2013

What an unbelievable week it has been, last Saturday I got to see Braid, Crash Of Rhinos, Football etc and Plaids at two separate back to back shows in London. I will write in-depth about how incredible that day was very soon but first I have to tell you about what happened last night in Canterbury.

I’ve never been to a ‘secret show’ before, I’ve certainly read about them happening but only after the event. I also never really understood how people found out about them, I always put it down to being in the right place at the right time. And that certainly is the case here. I found out that the show might happen about 6 days before as it was a very, very good (and awesome) friend of my wife and I, who is also very close friends of the band, who was putting it on. I surprised myself by keeping it a secret, when you get news like this the first instinct is to tell everyone who might even slightly care but I wanted to keep my word and also I didn’t want to jinx that fact that it might happen as it was still not a certainty until a couple of days before the show.

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The show was announced on the Thursday afternoon, the day before it was due to take place and the reaction was immense. Tigers Jaw mean a lot to a lot of people, earlier this year 3 of the members left the band throwing the whole future of the band up in the air but here they were, about to tour the UK and to kick it off were about to headline a show in a tiny practice studio in Canterbury with a capacity of 50 people. It was really exciting to spread the word and see the reaction the announcement was getting. Some people were in disbelief, some were busy changing plans just so they could get there and some seemed genuinely upset that they had no way of attending. On the walk up to the venue my excitement had reached fever pitch, I couldn’t wait to find out what was happening, had far too many people showed up? Were we gonna be left on the street and not allowed in? Had it all backfired and was no-one there?

The power of Tigers Jaw had pulled through, there was more people there than was first allowed but there was enough space to fit everyone in, the place was going to be packed but no-one was going to miss out. The atmosphere there when we first turned up was amazing, the weather was good, everyone was happy, friends were giving us hugs and the first band were already playing, this was really happening.

First up were Cascade, a new local band who made up for the lack of songs by playing what they had with heart and sincerity. This was their first gig, they are also lined up to play with Appleseed Cast in October, this band knows how to party. I only caught their last 2 songs but that was enough to get my interest up and they are certainly worth checking out. Click HERE to go to their bandcamp page!

Next up were local heroes Moose Blood. Everyone loves Moose Blood, how could you not?? Quality songs that are made for you to sing along to with both hands in the air. Things are really happening for this band, they had already supported Lemuria this week and you could see how excited they were to be here tonight. Their set was short but perfectly formed, they had the crowd singing along by the end and dealt well with the ever-increasing heat inside this tiny room. As the practice space is in a residential area the doors and windows had to be kept shut and the air conditioning could do nothing to battle the heat. Everyone was sweaty but we were all in the same boat so I don’t think anyone really cared. Plus one of the best bands in the world currently playing were about to come on so I was hardly about to start complaining.

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After Moose Blood finished most of the crowd did the sensible thing of leaving to get some much-needed fresh air, my wife Hannah and I decided to stay put and watch Tigers Jaw set up. The two remaining original members of the band are some of the nicest people you’re likely to meet, chatting and having a laugh with them then watching them set up makes you remember why you love this scene so much. Here was a band that my whole family (my kids fucking love this band) have listened to relentlessly for the last couple of years about to play live, right in front of us with no stage, barriers, security, arrogance, attitudes or anything like that. It was as if a friends band had come to play and add that to the already party like atmosphere there was no way we were about to be disappointed.

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We took our place at the very front, the room filled up and Tigers Jaw kicked off with ‘The Sun’, the first track from their legendary self-titled LP. They sounded huge, the remaining air in the venue was immediately taken up by the whole crowd shouting along to every word and it was HOT. You could put this down to it being the middle of summer, a tiny room packed with people and no open windows or doors but I’m going to put it down to Tigers Jaw being on fucking FIRE. As soon as they started I was reminded that this was obviously not a local friends band playing but instead a band worthy of the love and all the praise that people shower them with, they sounded perfect. Which is also amazing considering that this current touring line up had only played for the first time together the day before, they practiced on the Thursday and then for a short while on the Friday before the show but were playing together as if they had been doing it for years. The vacant spaces were being filled by two members of Basement and one from Sainthood Reps and although I’ve never been lucky enough to see Tigers Jaw before it did feel like life was being injected into their live show, every member looked so happy to be playing and that really came across to us in the audience.

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Second, they played on of my favourite Tigers Jaw songs, ‘Distress Signal’, and from here on you could see that it was going to be a kind of ‘greatest hits’ set. Playing a lot of songs from the two full length studio albums but also mixing in a couple of fan favourites from splits and comps and also a brand new song. Yes, that’s right, a BRAND NEW SONG and as vocalist/guitar hero Ben Walsh stated before they played it that it would be from their BRAND NEW ALBUM which will come out at some point soon. This is the best news to hear for people like me who had assumed that the band would be no more after this tour. On first listen to the new song that it’s clear that the new album will be classic Tigers Jaw and it really can’t come out soon enough.

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This is one of the best shows I’ve ever been to, every song was killer, Ben and Brianna’s voices sounded beautiful and the music was loud, just like the crowds vocals that were being hollered back at the band. The band took a short break towards the end of the set to replace a broken snare drum and most of those in attendance took the opportunity to head outside and cool down. After this short break Tigers Jaw finished an incredible night with ‘Plane vs Tank vs Submarine’ followed quickly with ‘I Saw Water’ and the brief fresh air seemed to rejuvenate the crowds voice as they sang along louder than they had all evening. It was a perfect ending to a completely perfect show.

Tigers Jaw are a really special band and they mean a lot to my family. My youngest son Thurston has severe autism with a speech disorder among other physical disabilities, when it came time to send him to school the infant school Thurston’s 2 older brothers had attended told us in no uncertain terms that they would not be able to cope with him going there. As such, we had to find somewhere else for him get his education and this also meant that he wouldn’t be able to walk with his brothers on the school run. Instead I would have to drive him to his school and it was during these times that he started to really fall in love with Tigers Jaw’s music. Obviously I always play music in the car but Thurston started making it known that there was only one band he’d let me put on. First he called them ‘wooo-ooooo-ooooh’, I figured out what this meant when I would catch him singing to himself in the evening and realised he knew all the words to ‘Never saw it coming’ and his favourite part was the woo-ooo bit. This soon turned into him shouting ‘LIE TO ME’ every time I started the car’s engine up and then I’d see him the rear view mirror singing every word to ‘I saw water’ and ‘Chemicals’ too. He’s never done this any of the other bands I’ve ever played him, there is just something about Tigers Jaw that makes him happy. On Wednesday this week we got to spend some time with Brianna from the band. I don’t think Thurston really put the 2 and 2 together to understand that she was from the band but all the same seemed very fond. Below is a photo of the 2 of them on Margate beach and a video of him singing ‘Never saw it coming’ in his beautiful little voice.

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Thanks so much for reading. Come say hi on Facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog and twitter @alex_itto

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