Tag Archives: brighton

REVIEW: PLAYLOUNGE – PILOT

Band – Playlounge

Album – Pilot

Label – Dog Knights Productions

It’s around this time of year that I start to wonder what album will be the soundtrack of my summer. What album, for years to come, will always remind of awesome memories from these upcoming summer months. I know you shouldn’t force these things, overthinking everything is a bit of a habit and tends to take the edge off spontaneous moments but I can’t help it. Ever since the long hot summer of 1997 when my best friend got his first car and we spent the whole time driving around listening, pretty much exclusively, to 2 tapes he had in the car, ‘Everything Sux’ by the Descendents and ‘sublime’ by Sublime. Now, I haven’t listened to Sublime in forever but ‘Everything Sux’ still gets regular plays and always takes me back to being 17 and enjoying the freedom having a car brings with it. An early favourite for what will be my soundtrack of this summer has to be ‘Pilot’ by Playlounge and let me tell you why.

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The first time I listened to this album was in my car on a stupidly sunny day so from the word go I had a summery vibe going on. But the music itself is so upbeat and catchy that it would’ve given me that same vibe had it been cold and miserable that day. Playlounge are loud, their guitar sound is as distorted as it could possibly get yet their songs are full of melody and poppy happiness. Like the way Dinosaur Jr can manage to be unfeasibly loud without being classed as heavy. Their grunge heavy sound has a lot in common with Dinosaur Jr, it’s so great to hear a new band that you can say reminds of great grunge bands past without having to label them as ‘nu-grunge’ or lazy Nirvana rip offs. ‘Pilot’ starts with a blast and doesn’t back down one bit until all 10 songs have reached their completion.

‘I am a lion’ kicks the record of with thumping drums, you’re drawn in by the hazy, dream like vocals and when the guitar literally doubles in sound you’re completely sold on this Brighton 2 piece. They then follow this punch in the guts with a massive right hook, ‘Skulls’ is catchy, infectious and will make you happier than most songs you’ll hear this year. The rest of the record follows a familiar pattern which in now way gets stale or old, Playlounge play amazingly good, grungey noise pop and don’t feel the need to introduce gimmicks or other elements. And, hey, when they’ve got their sound absolutely nailed as good as this why the fuck should they??

I’m pretty convinced that I’ll have this record on constant repeat all summer long and far beyond that too. They seem to pretty much be constantly on tour so make sure you go and see Playlounge slay it live. I get to see them live this week and cannot wait to go all out crazy to their incredible noise!!!

You can buy the album HERE

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Thanks for reading. Come say hi: http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog.com, twitter @alex_itto or ittoblog@gmail.com

 

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Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate), Brighton 17/11/2012

I haven’t written anything for a couple of weeks and I kind of have an excuse for that. In fact the last thing I posted was an interview with Keith from Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) and if you haven’t already read that then do it now by clicking HERE. Back to the excuse, I’ve been sent a few things for review and this usually takes me some time to get through because I like to listen to something several times before I write about it. I have had the intention to get on and do this but all I’ve been wanting to listen to for the last few weeks has been Empire! Empire! The fact that I was about to go and see the band for the first time had got me just a little bit excited so I decided to sod everything else off and just indulge myself in their back catalogue until the time for the gig came.

I love Brighton, it’s an awesome city and always a great place to see a show. Plus my brother lives there so I can park for free which is a massive bonus. My good friend Paul and I made the 2 hour drive from Thanet down on a chilly and overcast Saturday evening in November and before long we were walking round like a pair of lost tourists trying to seek the venue out. The Green Door Store, as its name suggests, can be identified by its green door, with our combined brain power we worked this out and ventured in to the venue. The signs that this was going to be a great night were already there as soon as we entered as we took an instant liking to the place. It’s a charming venue situated underneath Brighton train station and we got there early so we could see every band on the five band bill.

First up were Summerslam 88, their lively pop punk seemed to go down really well with the early attendees which included the singers mum. My mum never came to any of my gigs, mainly because I never told her when we were playing. She would only have slagged it all off anyway, the guy from Summerslam 88’s mum seemed to really enjoy their set which was nice to see. Second on the bill were Me and Goliath who were extremely impressive, their short set of emotional hardcore reminded me of seeing Suis La Lune the first time. And they were loud, so loud that at one point during a wall of noise in the their last song I even had to take my coat off for fear of passing out. Any more of that and I’d be saying “Woah there fellas!”, luckily it didn’t come to that. Seriously though, I would love to see these guys play again and hopefully will one day. Then it was the turn of Gnarwolves. Judging by onstage banter and crowd reaction I was possibly the only person in the room to have never seen Gnarwolves before. I had read about them though and seen their name all over the place, I now know that this is due to the fact they can write pop punk songs with the best of them and cut it live too. I really liked seeing the crowd swell in size and voice during their set, they did an incredible job of warming everyone up for what was about to come.

Then it was time for The Reptilian to take things to the next level. I took my place at the front and expectations were high due in part to Tommy Royds from the great Zine and not heard, who I’d just met for the first time in the bar, telling me just how awesome they had been a couple of nights previous in London. And he was right. They won the crowd over instantly with their energy, off kilter rhythms and mind-blowing fret tapping. However good I get at the guitar I’ll never be as good as the guy from The Reptilian at fret tapping, I’ve made my peace with this now and can appreciate just how awe inspiringly good he was. The whole band played as tight as any band you’re likely to see and this topped by the fact that they have some really kick arse songs made their set memorable for all the right reasons.

Finally, it was Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate)’s turn to play. This was their last night of a 2 week tour of the UK and Ireland and there seemed to be a real party atmosphere in the air as they played through their set. They seemed to be genuinely touched by the response they had gotten over here and repaid us with a set full of some of their best songs. The sound was incredible too all the way through their set, from the sweet interlocking guitars at the start of ‘Turbo Stasis’ to the massive full band rock of ‘Keep what you have built up here’. That second song I mention there whipped the crowd in to a frenzy of vocals and pointed fingers which reminded me of why I love going to see bands play so much. I’ve said this before and I’ll no doubt say this again, I feel so lucky that there are bands like E!E!(IWALE) out there right now playing this sort of music to crowds full of like-minded people. I wouldn’t have believed it possible 7 or 8 years ago when I’d become so jaded that I was starting to think that music was a write off. I can now go and see of my current favourite emo bands and there is a brilliant turn out, amazing atmosphere and a real energy about the scene. This makes me so happy which kind of takes away from the misery of liking emo music but , oh well, I’m sure I’ll get over that.

And if it isn’t enough that Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) are blowing us away already with their beautiful noise they also come with added extras. Because the band has only 2 permanent members (Keith and Cathy) this means that when touring they need to have back up musicians come with them and when said back up musicians include Warren Franklin then that can only be seen as a massive bonus to us fans. Especially when, during the set, he swaps his bass for a guitar and takes up lead vocal duties as the band play his song ‘You get weary’. Warren Franklin’s voice is incredible, hearing his voice live is a real treat and a definite highlight of the night. This treat then continues when Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) go to play their last song. ‘An idea is a greater monument than a cathedral’, the closing song of their full length lp ‘What it takes to move forward’, has to be one of my favourite Empire! Empire! songs and would be my choice as the perfect song for them to play last. So, as they play through the opening bars of the song I start to get excited. This then escalates when I realise Warren Franklin will be singing the gorgeous backing vocals at the end. It’s every bit as perfect as you can imagine and an awesome way to finish their set and their UK tour as a whole.

It was an unforgettable show, it totally lived up to the massive expectations which I had placed upon it. I hope they go home and tell every other band on the Count your lucky stars roster to get themselves over here asap. Although if they do I can say with some certainty that they won’t be recommending American Airlines as a means of transport. Upon arrival in the UK, Keith discovered his Gibson Les Paul had the headstock snapped even though it was in a flight case marked fragile. Luckily, someone lent him a guitar for the tour and even managed to fix his by the last show. You could see how happy Keith was to be playing on his own guitar at last, but this happiness was short-lived because on arrival back in America he found that the same airline had done the same thing to his guitar. There is a lesson here for us all. American Airlines don’t seem to be forthcoming with any sort of apology or compensation so please join the many others already doing so and hassle them on every social media outlet until they agree to do something about it.

Me with Keith and Cathy

Thanks for reading guys!!!

To stream/download songs by Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) click HERE

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Football, etc.

This post accompanies a post about Joie De Vivre, if you haven’t read it then click HERE to do so.

If you have read many of my older posts then you will know how much I bang on about how stupidly bad my back has been. I’m aware that it is annoying to keep mentioning it but here goes anyway. Much earlier this year I was awaiting my second operation on my spine and wasn’t able to do very much apart from annoy my good lady wife and make lots of ouchy noises. And also be overly jealous of anybody that was able to just go out and about in a normal manner. A friend on facebook updated their status with the fact that he’d been to see Football, etc and that it was brilliant. Predictably I was instantly envious and cemented that by going on to read on various sites about how brilliant their whole tour had been. Great! I thought, another band I’ve missed out on seeing. Luckily though, they didn’t waste much time in returning to our fair Isle. There were touring the UK with Joie De Vivre and I wasn’t going to miss out on this one.

There was such an incredible atmosphere in the venue that night. This was last friday (6th July) at Sticky Mikes Frog Bar in Brighton. Maybe it was just my excitable fanboy disposition that was giving me this impression but there did seem to be a real buzz about the place. The singer of Holland, the band on before Football, Etc had mentioned during their set about how amazing Football, Etc had been when they payed the Albert in Brighton on their last UK tour, so I knew there was a lot of expectation in the audience. Again, they didn’t disappoint and, if anything, surpassed any expectations that I had.

Playing a set that included songs from their full length, ‘The Draft’, and some new songs that featured on a split cassette with Square Business, which I’ll mention again in a moment, their gorgeous indie emo sound came over perfectly. They played tight as a group which was to their credit as their drummer on the night wasn’t their usual drummer and just a stand in for this tour. Not that you could tell though as they sounded like they’d been playing together for years. The newer songs were exciting as they showcased a band with a knack of writing consistently enjoyable songs and hinted at the fact that another full length from them will be just as brilliant as thir last one. Everything about the set was enjoyable, from watching the band having a great time to watching Brandon from Joie De Vivre looking annoyed to be having to hold a lead in place at the back of Lindsay Minton’s amp so her guitar wouldn’t keep cutting out.

Football, etc ended their set just as I’d hoped they would by playing ‘Safety’. A few months ago you may have read that I posted the Is This Thing On? top 100 emo songs of all time, ‘Safety’ came in at number 89, which having listened to that song a lot since publishing the list seems to do the song a bit of an injustice. It’s not only my favourite Football, etc song, it’s also one of my favourite songs of the last couple of years. The chorus is unbeatably perfect and seeing them play the song live seemed to heighten my admiration. The song begins with a really simple yet catchy guitar melody, having the full crowd in Brighton that night singing along to that bit made the hairs on the back of my neck stand tall. Add that to the fact that Lindsay Minton’s voive sounds as incredible live as it does on record and getting to see Joie De Vivre dancing along deliriously at the side of the stage made it a very special moment. It left me with a smile I found very hard to get rid of. Especially when after the show I spoke to Lindsay whilst buying a Football, Etc T-shirt and mentioned the list to which she replied that she had already seen it and was very flattered, woop!!

I also got myself a copy of the split cassette that I mentioned earlier. I love that bands are releasing cassettes again now, I am hoping to rectify the fact that I don’t currently own a tape player very soon. Luckily it came with a download code so I could enjoy the music straight away. And enjoy it I do. The split is 3 songs each and is definitley worth trying to get a copy of. The Football, etc side is pure Football, etc. 3 songs that totally live up to their full length. The first song, ‘Hut 1’, begins with a dreamy emo guitar riff with full band backing it up which then turns in to a verse which is catchy as hell. From then it doesn’t stop getting better. ‘Hut 3’ starts with bit more pace to it but turns out to deliver slower, dreamier parts that are equally as good. Their side of the split is then rounded off nicely with the laid back, ‘Hike’. The other side is my introduction to Square Business and I have to say that my first impression is a really good one. What starts out with some nice jangly, lo-fi emo paves the way for some really good grunge rock. Being a fan of grunge and emo makes this particularly appealing, Daylight are another band who really succesfully marry these two genres together and I love that band so Square Business are in good company. I will definitley be on the lookout for more from them in the near future.

If you missed on seeing Football, etc on this tour then I hope for your sakes they come back soon, they seem to really enjoy it over here so here’s hoping. In the mean time check out the split, you can stream the Football, etc half of the split HERE.

Just started a facebook page for this blog, come and say hi www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog

Thanks for reading, and thanks to Mikee/Living Well Productions for the live photos.

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Joie De Vivre

Bands from years ago, bands we all loved/still love, have been reforming to play reunion shows and tours a hell of a lot recently and this year is no exception. It does excite me somewhat when I hear that I may get to see a favourite band play live again. It’ll never match seeing them play the first time around though. However excited we get to go to these gigs we all wish we’d been there in their heyday playing some tiny basement somewhere. Which is why, when I see that a new band that I’m really excited about is going to play somewhere within reasonable distance I’m going to make the effort to turn up. As we arrived to see Joie De Vivre play in Brighton last Friday (6th July) I mentioned to my friend that this was my Mineral! Now I know that sounds a bit dumb. I never got to see Mineral play, not that many people did and Joie De Vivre have been compared a lot to the emo legends. But I think it’s more than just a comparison in their musical style. I believe that Joie De Vivre are a truly special band who make beautiful records, just like Mineral did. So getting to see Joie De Vivre play just weeks after the release of their latest album it felt like one of those moments that I will be looking back at, in years to come, and thank goodness that I was there.

As I just mentioned, Joie De Vivre released their new album, ‘We’re all better than this’, in the last few weeks. It’s a record that has been creating quite a buzz amongst us emo types on twitter and the like recently and as soon as you put the record on you can see that’s it not all just hype. It’s a tremendously uplifting record and so was the experience of seeing them play. They were playing with Football, etc., another band that I’m a huge fan of, at Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar in Brighton. We got there early, enjoyed a pizza and the flashback shows playing on a big flat screen TV (Including clips of Neighbours, Gladiators, TFI Friday and Willo The Wisp) ,waited patiently through the other support bands and made our way to the front for the reason we came. Read about Football, Etc. HERE.

Joie De Vivre had arrived onstage later than expected and wasted no time in setting up and launching in to their set. The room was soon packed and the crowd were in great voice. It is often a worry that you can build expectations up too high when you go to see a band that you love and there is nothing worse thn a band turning out to be rubbish live. It really ruins them for me. I remember seeing Soundgarden play at Reading Festival in 1995 when I was 15, at the time I was as big a grunger as could be and I had the long, greasy hair to prove it. Soundgarden were the 2nd to last band to play on the main stage on the Sunday and they were awful. The sound was bad, they looked like they couldn’t be arsed to be there and the hour that they played for seemed to drag on forever. After that, I never really felt the same way towards them again, even though ‘Superunknown’ was one of my favourite albums at the time, It was now tainted. I digress but I just had to get that out there, I’ve kept it in for so long. But I’m more than extremely happy to report that Joie De Vivre absolutely killed it!!

It was a set heavy with songs from the new record and that beautifully positive and uplifting sound translated incredibly well to their live show. The sounded faultless and looked like they were having the time of their lives. Every time the trumpet played I was getting goosebumps and we had the added thrill of Lindsay Minton from Football, Etc on hand to provide backing vocals like she does so delightfully on the album. What a treat! They also had a great banter about them, the breaks between songs were often as entertaining as the songs themselves. When deciding what songs to play at the end of the set someone in the crowd shouted out, “Play the song that sounds like Mineral!”, singer/bass player Brandon Lutmer looked him in the eye, pointed his finger at him and with a huge grin exclaimed “Done!”. It’s such a joy to see a band enjoying being there.

‘We’re all better than this’ really is a contender for the album of the year. It’s so good it annoys me that songs like ‘Maybe people don’t change’ and ‘At least I tried’ aren’t included in the Is This Thing On? top 100 emo songs of all time because they deserve to be there. I will have to do an updated list at some point. Although I’ve talked about how uplifting I find the music to be, the lyrics speak of love thats lost and a willingness for things to go back to what they used to be. This never brings the tone of the record down, the emotion is true and the delivery is honest, you can tell that being able to write these songs is working in a cathartic way. The album is also very precise, the songs don’t linger on like they could do. Many of the tracks are less than 2 and a half minutes in length and they don’t need to be any longer, they always manage to convey what is needed and this also helps to be as listenable as possible. As soon as it’s finished you can just stick it back on and enjoy it again.

The album, whilst still retaining that 90’s emo sound, sounds less like Mineral than their older releases. There are still influences running through, a bit of Gloria Record here and there and ‘Going to a going away party’ starts off by sounding a bit like Joan Of Arc at their best. But overall ‘We’re all better than this’ sounds like Joie De Vivre, they really have come in to their own on this album. If you know what is good for you then you will go and buy this record if you haven’t already. If you are here in the UK you can order it HERE from Strictly No Capital Letters, or you can download it HERE from Count Your Lucky Stars.

Live photo’s courtesy of Living well productions, thanks Mikee

I hope you enjoy it. Again and as always, thanks for reading. Feel free to comment or come bother me on twitter (@alextb3)

Cheers x

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