Tag Archives: appleseed cast

IS THIS THING ON’S TOP 20 RECORDS OF 2013 PART 2 (No’s 10-1)

Previously on ‘Is this thing on?’s top 20 records of 2013:

20 – Tancred – S/T
19 – Pity Sex – Feast Of Love
18 – Touché Amoré – Is Survived By
17 – Wild Moth – Over, Again
16 – Dowsing – I Don’t Even Care Anymore
15 – Sed Non Satiata – Mappô
14 – State Faults – Resonate/Desperate
13 – Placeholder – I Don’t Need Forgiveness
12 – The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die – Whenever, If Ever
11 – Nai Harvest – Whatever

To read more on no’s 20 to 11 click HERE

So, as promised, here is the top ten. Thanks so much for reading and sharing and everything this year, it’s been awesome!!!!

10 – Brave Bird – Maybe You, No One Else Worth It

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This album seemed to come out so long ago that I had to check it was definitely eligible for this list. One of the early indicators that 2013 was going to be another superb year for good music, this album is full of top quality emo noodling and more hooks than a fishing tackle shop.

9 – California X – California X

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I spent an evening in the summer browsing through the ‘related artists’ section on spotify looking for something I may have missed and stumbled across California X. A couple of days later my best friend is sat in my lounge telling me that they’re playing in Canterbury a week later, a very happy coincidence indeed because that show was amazing. They well and truly blew us all away and the album has become a firm favourite ever since. Summery grunge with massive riffs giving some credibility to a drop d tuning!!

8 – Lemuria – The Distance Is So Big

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A mark, for me, of how catchy a record is is if, after a couple of hours of playing it, my kids are still singing along. And that happened a lot with this brilliant album by Lemuria. I was a big fan of their last album but I think they excelled themselves with ‘The Distance Is So Big’, indie emo rock of the highest quality.

7 – Reiziger – Kodiak Station

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Just when I thought the whole ‘reunion’ thing had peaked one of my favourite 90’s emo bands returned and with a new album to boot. It had never occurred to me that Reiziger might make new music, I was so excited to get ‘Kodiak Station’ and even more excited to find out that it’s really, really good. It may sound a million miles from the ‘Don’t Bind My Hands’ EP but it is unmistakably Reiziger, now with a more polished production to their discordant, indie gems.

6 – Joanna Gruesome – Weird Sister

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‘Weird Sister’ is raw, lo-fi, indie punk at its best care of Cardiff’s finest, the brilliantly named, Joanna Gruesome. This is a debut album that marks the band out as one of the most exciting new bands to come out of the UK this year, I’m still gutted that I had to leave ‘About Time 2’ before they came on because I bet they’re awesome live.

5 – State Lines – For The Boats

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If it’s quality songwriting and anthem after anthem that you’re after then look no further than State Lines. A nod to ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’ here, a fantastic Hip Hop intro there and a whole record packed full of straight up, indie punk rock with vocals delivered like an emo Tim Armstrong are what you’ll find on ‘For The Boats’. And trust me when I say that you’ll want to listen to this record time and time again!!!

4 – Appleseed Cast – Illumination Ritual

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After all these years an Appleseed Cast record is always something to get hyped up about and all the more so when the record is as good as ‘Illumination Ritual’. The current line up have injected energy and a new creativity to the band, making a memorable record with plenty to enjoy. Seeing them play most of these songs live, back in October, also heightened my love for this record too. They were brilliant, if you used to love this band and haven’t thought to check this album out yet, what the hell are you waiting for?? Do it now!!

3 – Football, Etc. – Audible

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Football, Etc spoil us rotten, not only do they tour the UK with admirable regularity, they also release music of the highest quality on a very consistent basis. I love their last record, ‘The Draft’, but ‘Audible’ certainly feels like a step up. It seems like they’ve got a new found confidence as a band now which has increased the quality of the songwriting and delivery. ‘Audible’ comes across as a band that are having immense amounts of fun playing as a complete unit, Football, Etc have definitely found their feet. Amazing stuff!!

2 – Foxing – The Albatross

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I did try to review ‘The Albatross’ a few weeks back but ended up going out on a more personal tangent (you can read that by clicking HERE) so I should probably say some more things about the record here. But what else is there to say apart from the fact that ‘The Albatross’ is an earth shatteringly beautiful album that will take you on an exhausting journey through a range of emotions but still leaves you wanting more. I can’t think of another band that has made such an impact on this emo scene in such a short space of time as Foxing have, they thoroughly deserve all the plaudits and I had thought that no other band would come close to usurping my number one album this year but with ‘The Albatross’, Foxing came damn close to doing just that. Absolutely incredible.

1 – Crash Of Rhinos – Knots

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If you’ve read this blog or spoken to me this year at all then it’ll come as no surprise to you that Crash Of Rhinos genius record, ‘Knots’, is my album of the year for 2013. This is the record that I’ve been waiting years for, the kind of record I had thought would never be made again, emo/post hardcore at its incredible best. Crash Of Rhinos make no point of trying to hide their influences but manage to push things forward to make, what is not, an album that is trying to revive the past but a completely modern and relevant emo record. ‘Knots’ is five accomplished musicians at the very top of their game coming together to make magic. To top things off they’re also a brilliant live band, they really can do no wrong. If for some reason you haven’t heard this record yet the click HERE to go to their bandcamp page where ‘Knots’ is currently available for free, you have no excuse and you definitely will not be disappointed. WELL DONE CRASH OF RHINOS, YOU’RE NUMBER ONE!!!!

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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!!

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INTERVIEW WITH FOOTBALL, ETC.

Just over a year ago a countdown on this very blog declared ‘Safety’ by Football, etc. to be the 79th best emo song of all, this is something that I now regret… Because it should be much higher!!! Football, etc. are one of my favourite bands from the last few years, these indiemo heroes have a new album recorded and a UK tour booked so I  thought this would be a great time to catch up with Lindsay, Mercy and Ed and fire some questions in their general direction.

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Is This Thing On? – Hey!! You’ve just recorded a brand new full length, how did it go? What stage of the process are you at now?

Lindsay – We recorded it 2 weeks ago, we tracked everything in 4 and a half days and it went really well, we had a great time. Currently it’s being mixed, we’re reviewing some mixes right now and it should be mastered and sent off probably in the next month or so.

ITTO? – So, you recorded it with Ed Rose who has recorded some legendary emo bands, how did that come about? Did you seek him out? And did he have much influence on how the record sounds?

Lindsay – Some time last year our friend, his name is Andrew Mcshan and he plays in an acoustic act called Emo Side Project, he tracked a song at his studio. He lives in Kansas, quite near it and so he posted about it. I looked up Ed Rose, I actually didn’t know who he was immediately, saw what he had done, was blown away then went to his blog page and saw that 2013 is the last year that he’ll be doing records so when it came around time for us to find a studio, when we were ready to record he immediately came to mind. We contacted him, he had the time available and we went for it.

ITTO? – Is there a reason he’s stopping recording bands?

Mercy – He seemed to be just looking for a more 9 to 5 type of a job; he really wants to sell the studio that he’s at currently. I think that he just wants to move on to a job that’s a little bit more stable, I suppose, then trying to record bands all the time.

ITTO? – Empire! Empire! Are recording now with him

Mercy – Yeah in a couple of weeks

Ed – Recording with Ed Rose was my first time in an actual, professional recording studio, so I was undoubtedly nervous. He was so easy to work with and everything went so smoothly, and that made the process enjoyable for all of us. At least personally, I never felt stressed or pushing too hard to get a certain sound or certain parts absolutely perfect, so that definitely left so much room to actually enjoy the recording. The enjoyment of making a record and just having fun with all aspects of the process is probably his biggest influence.

ITTO? – Cool. Did he have any stories about when he recorded bands like Appleseed Cast/The get up kids that were pretty funny?

Lindsay – I asked him about Appleseed Cast a little bit because, you know, one day we were in the mixing room I just for some reason said “Appleseed Cast Low Level Owl Volume 1 & 2, that’s like my favourite record ever!” and he kind of chuckled. I asked, you know, how did that go? What was the deal? The only thing I remember is that he said it was recorded in 18 days which I thought was pretty cool, it was a long album

ITTO? – What both volumes recorded in 18 days?

Lindsay – Yeah

ITTO? – Wow

Lindsay – Yeah, so, that was neat. And he had good things to say about projects that he’s done and he seemed to have fun.

Mercy – Yeah, but he had some crazy stories too one was of this band that I don’t remember the name of. But it was one of those bands that were on a more major label that was kind of put together, sort of not organically. None of them really knew how to play their instruments or anything but they go in and they sign up to record with him and it’s just a total mess, the label ends up dropping the project and in exchange the band they were so angry that they stole the whole of his dvd collection that was at the studio.

ITTO? – (laughing) you didn’t do that?

Mercy – No, there was nothing left!

ITTO? – It’s been nearly 3 years since you recorded your last full length. Did you approach this record differently? Do you write songs differently now?

Lindsay – Well as far as the studio goes we wanted it to be similar as in tracking everything live other than doing vocals and a couple of extra little guitar and bass things here and there, so that process was similar. And working with Ed Rose was great. As far as writing I guess the biggest difference now is that we have a new drummer. I guess the approach hasn’t necessarily changed.

Mercy – Yeah maybe not the approach to writing songs but I think that we’ve been writing songs a lot more quickly since we started up with Ed.

ITTO? – Do you write songs as a band? Do you come to practice with an idea for a song and then flesh it out or are they pretty much written by one person and everyone just adds their own parts?

Lindsay – All of the above, some of them start with something I have written, some of them start with something Mercy has and then there’s the songs that just happen on the spot.

ITTO? – And what bands have you been listening to a lot lately and did they have any influence on how the record sounds?

(Lindsay & Mercy both laugh)

Mercy – I think we’re both laughing here because we continue to just listen to like all of our same favourites, you know, from like the past 10 years or whatever. I think I’m still spending a lot of time listening to Fugazi and stuff like that, I don’t know.

Lindsay – (laughs) I got a new car so I’ve been listening to satellite radio so I will say my favourite station is ‘90s on 9’ hits from the 90s, gosh, especially in the past couple of months writing the record, finishing that I kind of go on like a music hibernation sometimes. So I haven’t been listening to much, I know that’s a terribly boring answer.

ITTO? – No, that’s cool. How long have you had the songs for this record? Have they been written over the last few years since the first record or have they been written pretty much in the months leading up to recording?

Lindsay – All in the last year, one of them we wrote sort of in the in-between time before we found Ed and the rest of them we wrote, a couple of them we had before, but most of them we wrote with him and we even finished one at the studio so they’re all in various levels of completion leading up to recording. But, for example, there are 2 songs we wrote like a week or 2 before we went into the studio and one that Mercy and Ed wrote 2 days before we went into the studio and I wrote my part there.

ITTO? – Do you write the lyrics in advance, do you have an idea of what you’re going to sing about or are they more last minute?

Lindsay – I have a couple of journals that have stuff on the ready and once we have a song written I’ll kind of flip through and say hey, this might fit and kinda tweak it from there. Most of it I have written already.

ITTO? – Will it be coming out on both Count Your Lucky Stars and Strictly No Capital Letters again?

Lindsay – Yes.

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ITTO? – Ed is the newest member of the band, how did him joining come about? Had you know him long? Has he had any influence on the sound of the band or what direction you’re going in?

Mercy – We came in to contact with him, just like our last 2 drummers by putting up an ad on Craigslist and I think that is again a testament to like where Houston is like maybe not so heavily concentrated with people who like this type of music where we’re unable to find a drummer. I think he has changed the dynamic, he comes from more of a punk rock background than the last 2 drummers and he also likes all this kind of emo revival stuff. So I think overall he puts a lot more energy in to a lot of the songs.

Lindsay – And writing with him has been a lot of fun. It’s interesting, when we found him on Craigslist he had seen us before. We had never met him per se but he had seen us and liked our band, I thought that was really cool and we ended up having some mutual friends in Houston. He lives about an hour away right now, but it’s neat how we had kind of crossed paths.

ITTO? – You guys played the Topshelf/CYLS records showcase at SXSW, how was that? It looked like a pretty awesome line up?

Mercy – That was a fun time, it was really great to be able to see a lot of the, you know, a lot of the bands on CYLS really are our friends and we see them every time we go on tour and we see them we then come through so it was a great chance for all of us to be in one spot, we had a really good time.

ITTO? – Rumour has it that Chris Simpson of Mineral was there, did you see him at all?

Lindsay – Yeah, he was there. He did a surprise acoustic set, we played with him last year, he played with Zookeeper. And actually our band Tin Kitchen, our band before this, booked a show for Zookeeper in New Brunswick in like 2006 maybe or 2007. So we’ve crossed paths with him a few times which is pretty cool.

ITTO? – Awesome. You are coming back to the UK this summer to tour again and that will be your 3rd time in 2 years, what is it you like about the UK and what keeps bringing you back to come and play for us?

Lindsay – I don’t know, I really like it over there. The shows, I don’t wanna say they’re more fun, but in a way it’s like, I don’t know, people seem really in to us and in to the shows that we play and it’s a different vibe. And after the first time, of course being in a new place and being just in awe of everything, everything’s a little more fun and a little more interesting and making those friendships and wanting to do it all again, we’ve been lucky enough to be able to just do it.

Mercy – I would just add that a lot of the bands over there are bands that I really like and so that’s really fun and exciting to play. You know, it’s different from the US because we’re covering a smaller territory, you can have dates with a band like Human Hands like a couple of days in a row even though you’re not officially touring together and that’s fun too.

ITTO? – Like you say it’s a smaller territory but do you still find a difference between playing a show down south as opposed to playing in Scotland or the Midlands etc..?

Lindsay – That I did not really think about although I will say different places have their different personalities.

Mercy – Yeah, for sure.

Lindsay – Brighton was fun, like really energetic fun. Swansea…

Mercy – Is amazing!

Lindsay – Surprisingly amazing. It really seems that they have a really cool thing developing right now and there’s this venue that looks like it used to be a restaurant and we’ve played there twice and we’re playing there again. It’s just a really cool spot; I’m excited about what’s going on there

ITTO? – Excellent. When you play ‘Safety’ and everyone sings along with the guitar melody at the beginning, is that something that only happens here or does that happen every time you play?

Mercy – I don’t think that’s ever happened when we play in the US.

Lindsay – Maybe after people saw the videos from ‘About Time’. That was a UK thing, it started in Manchester.

Mercy – Yeah, we were totally caught off guard by it but it definitely caught on.

ITTO? – The so called ‘emo’ scene is really vibrant and exciting at the moment, is that true of where you are in Texas or do you have to tour to feel a part of it.

Lindsay – I think right now there are some bands in Houston that are…

Mercy – Going for that sound or whatever…

Lindsay – yeah, that are in a nutshell a part of it but not necessarily leaving town and connecting but they’re definitely a product of it, newer bands. But it takes travelling to somewhere like Chicago or a lot of different places where like you’re ‘in’ it.  I wouldn’t say in Houston it’s a cohesive scene but its happening.

Mercy – I think it’s in the early stages right now, whereas like in other places like where we moved from, New Brunswick in New Jersey, it was already going by 2007/2008. I think here it’s just sort of beginning to develop and I’m not really sure exactly why that is but…

ITTO? – Yeah, where I live, in Margate, we had a massive scene at the end of the 90’s that my band was a part of but we don’t seem to have that now but there’s so much in other areas of the UK. It’s weird that in some places it’s really caught on and come back but now I feel I have to go online/write my blog to feel a part of it, rather than just having it locally like we used to.

Lindsay – I really think it pops up in bubbles, I mean if you think of it that somebody starts a band, they play with their friends bands and then it creates this thing. I feel like these bubbles pop up and they move and then they settle down again, you know, there are towns like you said in Margate that used to have something but just right now nothing is really happening. Yeah, I definitely think in the US it’s like that.

ITTO? – Yeah. And with ‘emo’, historically bands hate being labelled as ‘emo’ bands but that doesn’t seem to be such a problem anymore, bands seem to accept it. Do you have any objections to being called an emo band? Or does it not bother you at all?

Lindsay – It doesn’t bother me, I still feel like we are slightly, I don’t know, different.

Mercy – Yeah, I see what you mean. So, like, I don’t mind our band being called that but sometimes I don’t want anybody to be misled in to thinking it’s going to sound more like something else or whatever and I’m not talking about the Hot Topic thing, I’m talking about feeling like we’re exactly like the poster child of this whole emo revival thing. I mean, we don’t always adhere to the model.

Lindsay – And certainly if some layperson asks me what kind of music my band plays I would not say emo first because then I’d have to like give some sort of history behind that, I usually just say ‘Indie rock’. But I also feel like we’re a punk rock band at the core through just the way we do things.

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ITTO? – And finally. If you could’ve been in any band from the 90’s who would it be and why?

Lindsay – Well I would say Rainer Maria is the obvious answer as it’s my favourite band. I think through playing music I’ve really come to appreciate how much they do as a 3 piece band. It’s just cool to think about the things that they do and how that might influence me or inspire me. Also another would be Sonic Youth because it’d be really fun to, first of all, play loud in humongous places but also to do all that crazy shit with the guitars all day would be…

Mercy – Really fun!

Ed – My love for Metallica makes me want to say them, but I think I’d love to have been in No Use for A Name. I remember listening to them in ’97 in junior high and, although not really realizing what “punk rock” was, completely loving them. Melodic punk rock has always been one of my favourites. It broke my heart to hear of Tony Sly’s death this past year – we were actually on tour when it happened, and I made it a point to dedicate our set to him that night

ITTO – Football, etc. Thank you so much!!

Links:

http://footballetc.bandcamp.com/

http://footballetc.wordpress.com/

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Review: Annabel – Youth in youth

Band – Annabel

Album – Youth in Youth

Label – Count Your Lucky Stars

If you’re anything like me then you’re the sort of person who likes to start figuring out your top 10 albums of the year from about January. Come November you have a pretty established idea of what that list is, who’s on it and in what order. And if you are anything like me then when you hear the new Annabel record, ‘Youth in youth’, you’re going to have to rethink that whole list. Let’s get something straight from the start, this album is brilliant.

Annabel are from Kent, sadly not the Kent in England in which I live but the one in Ohio, USA. This is their second full length LP and if you’re getting down about how cold, wet and miserable the weather is then you need this record. It may be horrible outside but one listen to ‘Youth in youth’ and it’ll be summer again. There is so much warmth, joy and happiness emanating from the music on this album it can’t help but lift your spirits. It’s hard to pinpoint an accurate description of the beautiful sound that Annabel creates but I will give it a bloody good try nonetheless. Think pop, but an indie pop and also think of the grand, lush emo that Appleseed Cast are famous for and now add a triumphant joy to this too. Imagine what it would sound like if the Polyphonic Spree covered the whole of ‘Mare Vitalis’, now scrap that thought and just go and listen to the record itself because I know I’m just confusing matters.

There is a theme to the record about growing up, what happens when you do and what constitutes being an adult. The first song on the album, ‘Young American’, begins with the line “So much for adulthood and all the things that I was looking forward to” and then continues in this vein. The lyrics which tell of confusion and disappointment juxtapose with the confidence and grandeur of the music. It gives the album certain openness, they’re not shying away and hiding at all, instead they’re choosing to stand proud. There are anthems on this record, ones you can easily identify with and ones that will get stuck in your head and refuse to leave. There is no letting up for the first four songs , these are some of the catchiest songs you will hear all year with ‘Anti-decisions’ and ‘Risk/reward’ doing battle with each other over which one you’ll not stop singing to yourself for days on end. The instrumentals ‘Theme from home’ and ‘Rapids’ offer the only and briefest respites on the whole album. The second half of the album has a drop in the pace here and there without the slightest loss of quality and with more potential for mass sing-alongs courtesy of ‘The dept. of mutual appreciation’ and ‘You could be living better’. The record finishes with the lovely ‘Our days were numbered’ which is pure Weezer. By which I mean good old Weezer rather than the more recent, mediocre Weezer. It’s a brilliant ending to an incredible record.

What more can be said? Annabel are a band that knows their craft, they write brilliant and beautiful pop songs and ‘Youth in youth’ is practically a faultless album. I say practically, I’ve yet to find fault with any of it but that could just be that I’m so blinded by the love I have for this record right now. I have played this record nonstop and can’t see myself tiring of it anytime soon. I hope it brings you as much joy as it has done to me. Well done Annabel

For more info click HERE for the Annabel site

Or pre order the record HERE

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Review: Dikembe – Broad Shoulders

Band – Dikembe

Album – Broad Shoulders

Label – Tiny Engines

I wonder, every so often, which albums out of this new wave of emo will stand the test of time. I feel as excited right now as I ever did about this kind of music and, like all good things, I don’t want it to end but one day it will and what will we be left with? When the world moved on to whatever it was that it moved on to before, I was still listening to Appleseed Cast or The Promise Ring on a very regular basis. So, what will be the records that stay with me when the scene no doubt falls apart like it did back then? Well I can say with a very certain amount of confidence that ‘Broad Shoulders’ by Dikembe will be one of those records. I don’t know if it’s right or not but I have only had the record for a few weeks and I’m already holding it in the same esteem as ’30 degrees everywhere’ and ‘Mare Vitalis’, or, to translate that for you IT IS REALLY REALLY FUCKING GOOD!

Since the release of their debut ep last year, the amazing 4 track ‘Chicago Bowls’ there has been much anticipation for Dikembe to deliver a full length record. They’ve taken a fair amount of time for it to get here, enough time for people on the internet to refer to it as the ’emo chinese democracy’ (which I think is to do with the amount of time it’s taken the record to come out rather than they have a guitar player who wears a KFC bucket as a hat, unless I’m missing something here). In fact it hasn’t been that long, it may seem like it just because you want it to come out so much and they’ve done well to take this time over it because what Dikembe have delivered here is a modern emo masterpiece.

Everything about this record just feels so right, the to the point indie production, the gorgeous guitar sounds, the perfect pacing of the songs where nothing feels rushed or hurried, just naturally brilliant. I read that singer Steven Gray said the theme of the record is growing up and you do see that throughout the record. on the Wavelets LP ‘Athaletics’ (his other band) he sang “I’m not mad I’m just fucking stressed out”, here on ‘Apology not fucking accepted’ he sings “I’m so mad I can’t fucking see straight”. Maybe he sees things different now as part of growing up or maybe those two are nothing to do with each other and no comparison should be drawn but either way they are 2 great moments of each record.

And great moments keep coming on ‘Broad shoulder’, like the chugging groove laid out at that start of ‘I watch a lot of Jackie Chan movies’ which turns in to perhaps the best song on the album. The album is equally as good in its more uptempo parts such as ‘We become river rats’ and ‘Librarians kill for that kind of quiet’ as it is in its quieter songs like the beautifully downbeat ‘Not today, angel’. By the end the album leaves you with a feeling of total contentment, this is what we’ve been waiting for and now this is what has been delivered to us, to put it a simpler way it’s like a having a perfect christmas. All the build up was overwhelmingly worthwhile.

The thing is with a revival of a sound, there are those bands that will do well by imitating what was there before and just bringing in to the current day and there are those that just get it. Dikembe are a band that just get it, this is the type of music they play because when they get together this is what comes out rather than thinking beforehand “hey, lets write a song that sounds like those guys”. They are a timeless emo band, one that has reaffirmed my love for this music for which I’ll be forever grateful. Cheers dudes.

Click HERE to go to the Tiny Engines bandcamp to download/stream the record.

Cheers again for reading xx

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REVIEW: PRAWN – SHIPS

Band – Prawn

Album – Ships

Label – Topshelf Records

My goodness it has been a long time since I last posted something. The main reason being that my wife and I both got completely hooked on the London Olympics, spending the first week obsessing about what was going on in the aquatics centre to then being totally consumed by what was happening in the Olympic stadium. With sudden interests in Tae-kwon-do, womens boxing and the awesome velodrome action this left little time for other things such as sleeping/washing/going outside/blog writing. Of course, this is all over now so things can start to return to normal and I can get on and write all things I had planned to write over the last few weeks, that is before the Paralympics starts and we get completely swept up again.

The first thing I want to write about is a record that blew me away on the first listen and has continued to blow me away with each subsequent listen. You may recall I wrote about Prawn playing in Folkestone a couple of months ago (if you didn’t, you can read it HERE), for reasons out of their control they only ended up playing 4 songs that night. But, despite the short set and the technical difficulties they were experiencing it was still an amazing show. I came away from the venue that night on such a high. Having included a new song into their short set it was obvious a new release was on it’s way and you can imagine my excitement when I recieved ‘Ships’, their new EP/mini album to review. And, my goodness, I was not disappointed.

Having been a massive fan of ’emo’ since the late 90’s, it means the world to me that bands are making music like this again now. Having thought for years that it was a forgotten culture, a scene that belonged to the past that would never be repeated, it feels like a dream to be in the midst of it again. And with bands making records as good as ‘Ships’ by Prawn you could start to think that we’ve never had it so good. I made this comment to a friend on Twitter recently, that maybe the scene now is better than it ever has been, he countered with the point that maybe it was because of how much the past scene meant to us that it’s making it all the more sweet now. I think he’s probably right, with all the mid noughties suffering we endured we have emerged with incredible rewards for our patience.

I know I have digressed some what but it helps illustrate the point of how much this new record by Prawn means to me. The record starts with distant, faint and gentle guitar interspersed with muffled voices, it’s remeniscent of the start of Low Level Owl by Appleseed Cast. I have thought in the past with their last record that Appleseed Cast was an influence on Prawn’s sound but as soon as the first song, ‘Costa Rica’, kicks in properly those comparisons fade away. Instead you have a band who have made this sound their own. And the sound is glorious. The band sound huge, the guitars are clean but big and the energy and passion with which they play makes the record rock.

The second track, ‘Grass and Bones’ is an instant hit, the kind of song you could listen to 20 times in a row and still wanna hear it some more. The slightly off kilter timing to the intro, the sweet and twinkly verse and in to the stoccato guitar riff in the middle all come together to make an unforgetable song. It’s rare for a song to start off so well yet still get better with each part that follows. To top it off it has you singing, “Will you recognise me in 20 years?”, along with them at the end as well. Just when you think that this could be as good as it gets the next track has the hair on the back of your neck standing on end within the first few bars. ‘Donald Domesky’ launches straight in with the most uplifting start to a song you’re likely to hear. As with the previous track as the song progresses it gets better and better. You start to realise that Prawn don’t have to rely on clever lyrics and catchy vocals to reel you in. Of course there is plenty of that on display too but they are also just as memorable and catchy when it’s just the band playing. Take the chorus section of this song, for example, when it kicks in it lifts the track and gets you dancing along. And the trumpet line at the end will be on constant rotation in your head for the rest of the day.

The next 2 tracks take on a more laid back direction whilst remaining beautifully brilliant. Each boasting much to savour whether it’s the effective lullaby-esque vocal line and lovely backing vocals on ‘Spring River’ or the chant along section of ‘Praxis’.  Things are brought to a close with ‘Two Ships’, which rocks a little harder than the other songs with an epic, post-rock feel to parts of it. Again it’s another fantastic song that closes the record in the most perfect and sweet way.

I really can’t praise this record high enough. My only criticism is that it is only 6 songs long, for very selfish reasons I would love this to be a full length. But like seeing them live, they don’t need to go on for ages to convince me that they are one of the best bands around at the moment. Plus I guess it just means I can listen to it all the way through on a more regular basis.

Go and download or buy a physical copy now. Click HERE to go to the Topshelf records bandcamp page. You won’t regret it.

Thanks for reading, I won’t leave it as long to post the next piece, promise. x

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THE ‘IS THIS THING ON?’ TOP 100 EMO SONGS OF ALL TIME PART 3 (80-71)

#emo100

Previously on the Top 100 Emo songs of all time………..

100 – Reggie and the full effect – Thanx for stayin

99 – Roadside Monument – Sunken Anchor

98 – Boilermaker – Slow Down

97 – Hundred reasons – If I could

96 – Jets to Brazil – Chinatown

95 – Coping – F For now

94 – Inside – Ray Brower

93 – Basement – Grayscale

92 – The Jazz June – Viva La speed metal

91 – Everyone Everywhere – I feel fine by Everyone Everywhere

90 – Hunter Gatherer – Low standards for high fives

89 – Football, etc. – Safety

88 – Race Car Riot – Raincheck

87 – Taking Back Sunday – Bike scene

86 – Leiah – Tiglio

85 – Brandtson – Still life

84 – Polar Bear Club – Bottled wind

83 – Starmarket – Losing track

82 – Sunny Day Real Estate – Guitar and video games

81 – Grade – Stolen bikes ride faster

To read more about these tracks click here for no’s 100-91 and here for no’s 90-81 and for some background as to why I’m doing this list click here.

80 – Bob Tilton – September

Very influential British emocore from the mid 90’s with shades of Rites Of Spring, Bob Tilton released 2 albums splitting up shortly after their 2nd, ‘The leading hotels of the world’ in 1999. ‘September’ is taken from their 1st album, the classic ‘Crescent’, and displays their dynamic style in full. With brooding bass guitar, sometimes soft and sometimes harsh guitars and always emotional vocals you can see why Bob Tilton were held in such high regard.

79 – The Autumn Year – Little Lost Words

Expert's Ideas Another example of a damn fine British emo band, The Autumn Year came from Leeds (I think) and featured a member from the very awesome Canvas. Playing epic emotional music in the vein of Mineral but with more screaming. I only got to see them play once which was at a Hot Water Music all dayer at the Garage in London. The Autumn Year were playing as the doors were opened which has go to be the worst slot imaginable but they pulled it off, was actually really incredible to walk in ans see this amazing band all ready for us.

78 – Koufax – Going To Happen

Piano led emo pop at it’s very best, ‘Going to happen’ is so infectious it will get in your head and will refuse to leave. Koufax came and played to us in Margate and jolly nice people they were too. I can’t help but want to dance whenever I hear this song, like the Mary Whitehouse Experience would say, “It’s got a good beat to it”.

77 – Wavelets – Julio Won’t Get Out Of The Car

If you have been reading my blog over the last 6 months or so then you will be fully aware of how much I love Wavelets and their album ‘Athaletics’, so it’s no surprise they are included in this countdown. They have the perfect lo-fi emo sound down to a tee, ‘Julio won’t get out of the car’ is the opening track from the album and is a great introduction. The gang vocals on the chorus gives me goose bumps every time.

76 – The Get Up Kids – Forgive and Forget

It kind of goes without saying how important the Get Up Kids are to emo history. There was a time when they could do no wrong, ‘Forgive and Forget’ may never have been a proper album track but it shows everything that was great about the band. They had 2 very good singers, an amazing drummer, the best use of keyboards and the know how to write anthem after anthem. I’m sure they will be popping up on this list again at some point.

75 – Hot Rod Circuit – At Nature’s Mercy

For me this is the standout song from their 3rd album, 1st on Vagrant ‘Sorry about tomorrow’. It’s hard to resist that halftime emo sway that they’ve got going on at the start of the song, it’s even harder when the song reverts back to it after the uptempo emo rock of the middle section. Makes me want to do that ‘rocking your body back and forth with a backpack on’ dance that us emo boys are renowned for.

74 – The Appleseed Cast – Steps And Numbers

The first appearance (of probably many) on the countdown of one of emo’s most important and influential bands. Is there anyone that doesn’t like Appleseed Cast? If someone says they don’t, don’t trust them for they are liars! ‘Steps and numbers’ comes from the first part of the epic 2 part ‘Low Level Owl’. This song has magic all the way through its 5 minutes and 54 seconds, through the gloriously dis-jointed verse, the build up to the beautiful chorus, the beautiful chorus and then the organ-centric end riff. Brilliant!!

73 – Stapleton – International Departures

Another British band included, this time from Scotland. ‘International Departures’ is taken from their debut album ‘Rebuild the pier’ which was released on Year 3000 making them one time label mates with my old band The Babies Three. Always great emo rock, Stapleton, according to their wikipedia page, got to play with a who’s who of emo bands. I saw them support the Get Up Kids in London, those lucky guys!!

72 – New End Original – Lukewarm

I could listen to Jonah Matranga sing all day, luckily for me he’s released enough material to make that possible. New end original was an emo supergroup and full band version/anagram of Jonah’s solo project One Line Drawing. They released one album on Jade Tree, ‘Thriller’ which went on to be the biggest selling album of all time. Oh, wait I think I just mis-googled that record. Anyway, ‘Lukewarm’ is a rocking emo blast of greatness.

71 – Hundred Hands – A Replay

An Appleseed Cast side project was always going to be something to be getting excited about. Featuring Aaron Pillar and Christopher Crisci from Appleseed Cast, Hundred Hands released a 6 song mini album on Deep Elm records and it continues on with that almost post rock, emo sound that they were famous for. It is definitely worth checking out, ‘A Replay’ is the gorgeous openng track.

Thanks for reading, and many thanks for all the comments and shares. Please keep them coming and feel free to share with anyone. The next part will be up very soon!!! Cheers x

UPDATE: To read the next part of the top 100, numbers 70 to 61click HERE

If you use Spotify click HERE for a handy playlist of most of the songs already featured on the list.

Below is a live version of Appleseed Cast playing ‘Steps and Numbers’

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