Tag Archives: carson wells

The Is This Thing On? Top 10 albums of 2015

So… I wasn’t gonna do an album of the year list this year. Mainly because I have been completely neglecting this blog for the most part of the year and felt a bit odd logging back in to just post a list of records I like. Also, I seem to have gone through a slump with new music, preferring instead to listen to older stuff. In truth, the album I’ve listened to most this year is ‘Leaves Turn Inside You’ by Unwound, an album which I’ve fallen head over heels for. But that was released in 2001 so isn’t really eligible for consideration here.

However, I did start to think that I would regret not doing one. These lists are fun to look back on in future years and give a great indication of my way of thinking at the moment.

So here goes….

10. Blur – The Magic Whip


I’ve always had a big soft spot for Blur, even if in the mid 90s I wouldn’t admit it as to not ruin my devout grunger street cred. I was happy to hear that a new record was coming out but had little idea just how good it would be. The Magic Whip is fantastic, It’s Blur back to their ’13’ era best but still sounding relevant. Damon’s genius songwriting with Graham’s inventiveness have been sorely missed and it was great to have them back.

9. Carson Wells – Tread A Northern Path


I thought I was going off post hardcore before I heard this. But Carson Wells reaffirmed my belief that when done well post hardcore is the greatest musical genre of all time. Still bringing the energy and noise they always have, Carson Wells managed to fit in even more passion and heart to this record than before. Essential listening.

8. Title Fight – Hyperview

Some people didn’t seem to get on board with this record which is fair enough due to a sizeable shift in direction. But, to me, this album was an amazing achievement which highlights a great maturity within the band. Title Fight may be heading more towards shoegaze nowadays but the whole album is rooted in their hardcore sensibilities and shows the band to be the great songwriters they are. When they played in Canterbury with Cold World in the spring it was one of the most special nights of the year and a personal highlight.

7. Waxahatchee – Ivy Tripp


Another record that soundtracked the summer this year, effortlessly catchy and loveable lo-fi indie pop the like of which I’m a complete sucker for. This record made me chastise myself for being slow on the uptake with Waxahatchee as her previous record is just as good. Maybe I just have to accept the fact I’m usually late to the party with most things, but at least I get there.

6. Spraynard – Mable


I punched the air when I heard that Spraynard had reformed, and couldn’t stop smiling as I listened to ‘Mable’, their comeback record. Missing out on a record like this is is exactly why I was so gutted when they split up, it is the most perfect pop punk being made right now. So much energy, heart and hooks. Oh so many hooks!!

5. Hop Along – Painted Shut


This band can do no wrong, simple as that. To follow up an album as genius as ‘Get Disowned’ must be terrifying but Hop Along take it all in their stride. ‘Painted Shut’ is every bit as good as its predecessor, it sounds amazing and I could just listen to that voice all the day long.

4. Beach Slang – The Things We Do To Find People Who Feel Like Us


What a revelation Beach Slang are, after two very promising EPs they finally delivered a full length record towards the end of this year and it is a rock triumph. Writing songs as big and as hook laden as Jimmy Eat World used to, if it was still the 90s Beach Slang would be playing the main stages of major music festivals. But it’s not, no good bands get to do that anymore, they’ll just have to make do to with being rock stars in my eyes. Hopefully they’ll settle for that and release many records of this quality.

3. Foxing – Dealer


I made the mistake of listening to ‘Dealer’ for the first time during my lunch break at work at the same time as being really in to reading ‘The Psycopath Test’ by Jon Ronson. Now when I listen to it I’m immediately inside Broadmoor but that’s my problem and I’ll learn to deal with it. You probably know how much I love Foxing’s first record, ‘The Albatross’, so you can probably guess just how excited I was to get my hands on this album. Having recently seen them live they had given themselves a lot to live up too. Foxing, thankfully, were up to the challenge. ‘Dealer’ is a really complete record, the kind that demands to be listened to the whole way through, from start to finish. That way you’ll always get the pay off of ‘Glass Coughs’ and ‘Eiffel’, two of the years most beautiful songs.

2. Shizune – Le Voyageur Imprudent


When you see the words ‘Italian screamo’ you know you’re in for a treat, and this record certainly is a treat. It starts with a bang and caries on being intensely brilliant until the very end. If you think you may be bored of this kinda thing then Shizune will reaffirm your faith, let me tell ya. Very highly recommended.

1. Sleater-Kinney – No Cities To Love

Indigo loves this record!!

 

This record and this band has really defined this year for me. I cannot begin to tell you how excited I was that they were releasing a new record after 10 years on hiatus. Their last record, ‘The Woods’, is one of my favourite of all time, they left me sorely wanting more. And ‘No Cities To Love’ was worth the wait. They have said in interviews that they would only release something new if they were up to producing something of quality, this is definitely the case here. Again, it shows a shift in direction, this is a much more straight up rock record but still a sound that is unmistakably Sleater-Kinney. We have Sleater-Kinney on heavy rotation on our car stereo on family days out, the kids each have their favourite songs, Thurston loves ‘Price Tag’, Indigo is a big fan of ‘Oh!’ from ‘One Beat’ and so on. I can’t pick a favourite from this near perfect album. Here’s hoping there’s not another 10 year wait for their next one.


This has been fun, thanks for reading. Maybe see you more in 2016.

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ABOUT TIME 2, PECKHAM, NOV 16TH 2013

This is not a review in the┬átraditional sense as I wasn’t able to stay for the whole day but I really wanted to write something about how good an experience attending About Time 2 was. Family commitments meant that staying the whole day wasn’t an option but having missed out on About Time last year I wanted to make sure I was there for as much as I could this time round and thanks to my incredibly supportive wife, Hannah, this was possible. It’s a real shame to have missed Joan of Arc and Joanna Gruesome but I’m so happy I got to spend most of the rest of the day there.

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About Time 2, the sequel to About Time, was a one day DIY festival that boasted the UK’s best emo/indie/experimental bands (as well as Italy’s finest screamo band, but we’ll come back to that in a mo). All dayer’s have provided me with some of my favourite gig going memories from the Hot Water Music all dayer at the Garage that also featured Discount, Spy vs Spy and the Autumn Year to the Converge all dayer that took place in a Scout hut in Canterbury and also featured November Coming Fire and the Break In. About Time 2 can now stand proudly with these memories as it was an incredibly enjoyable and exciting day of crazily good music. Like most live reviews I write I have to start by apologising for turning up late, I will always endeavour to get to shows on time but sometimes it’s completely out of my control. The reason this time was the task of getting Hannah and all our 4 kids to her best friends house in Peckham safely before I could head over to the show. I think we did pretty well to get there when we did but it did mean that I missed the first the first 3 bands and turned up just as Playlounge were playing their last notes. So apologies to Healing Powers, Mars to Stay and COP for not being there early enough to watch you play, from what I’ve read online you were all pretty, pretty good.

My comrade for the day was my good friend of many years, Tim. Tim is a music obsessive and some time DJ with incredibly eclectic taste taking in everything from Rockabilly to shoegaze but has never witnessed an “emo” show before. He was very excited to be coming and as he’s read this blog and knows just how passionate I am, he wanted to see what all the fuss was about. It was going to be interesting to see if he would be into any of the bands and what he’d make of the day as a whole, I jokingly told him that I imagine the next time I see him he’ll be sporting the plaid shirt with back pack look and complaining about all this revival rubbish and who knows, could happen because he seemed to as much fun there as I did.

The first band we saw were my good friends band Cosmic Thoughts, who had attracted a decent sized crowd upstairs on the second stage. Their off kilter, synth heavy, arty indie rock with straight up thumping bass lines and persistently infectious drum rhythms got a good percentage of the crowd shaking their hips. Like I’ve said before keep an eye out for these guys as they’ve definitely got an amazing record inside them waiting to burst out at some point in the future.

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After looking a look about, taking things in and catching up with some “internet friends” it was time to see one of the bands I was most excited about seeing, Carson Wells. With this set Carson Wells really set the bar high for all the other bands still to come later, amazingly tight and powerful post hardcore of the highest quality with some great banter thrown in between songs. If you think their LP is great (and it is) it really comes alive when they play live, I was blown away which ain’t bad for a band playing at 2 in the afternoon.

about time 1

We then caught the end of Blood Sport’s set, their fresh faced, experimental, Afro beats really caught Tim’s eye and ears for that matter. Then, due to a play being performed in the building, there was an extended break which we capitalised on by finding a greasy spoon cafe who dealt out very generous portions. After filling up all the bacon, eggs, beans and sausages we could manage (or liver in Tim’s case) we were back at the Bussey building hungry for some more live treats.

What greeted us next were We Came Out Like Tigers and a packed room of punters. Probably the best band on the bill to welcome in the evening, the sun had gone down and now the walls were full of a light display which gave their set an added eeriness to the the violin led screamo onslaught. Tim mentioned to me that this was the first moment of the day that it felt like we were part of something that was happening, witnessing an underground scene coming alive. And from here on in it was just band after band like clockwork over two stages. Having seen a band upstairs you would head downstairs to find a band waiting to play, no time wasted and this all added to the overall excitement of the day.

about time 9

I made sure that Tim and I were down the front in good time for the next band because I could sense something special was about to happen. Human Hands took to the stage and proved me right, I’d said earlier in the day that this was the band I was most excited about seeing and hoped Tim would see why. After their first song he leaned in to me and declared that what he’d just heard was “delicious!”, I couldn’t have put it any better myself. The room was absolutely packed and the atmosphere was more than electric as Human Hands delivered the performance of the day. Passionate and intense emo in the greatest 90s sense ending with the guitarist angrily throwing his guitar down and leaving a crowd with its collective jaws on the floor. Absolutely perfect!!

about time 2

How the hell do you follow that?? Well a change of tone and back upstairs to see Well Wisher get the party well and truly started with their energetic, hook laden emo rock. A great reception greeted them from a crowd that was lapping up what was on offer.

about time 3

Things were just getting better and better and this didn’t stop as we headed back downstairs. Plaids were next on the main stage, the crowd was ready and hungry and got exactly what they wanted from a band that is really coming into their own. Plaids worked the crowd to perfection with their shouty emocore not letting the ball drop for a millisecond. There was no way that they would be the weak link in an evening full of the best bands you could see in a day.

about time 4

The same could be said of the next band, the final band of the second stage Nai Harvest. A poor position dampened my enjoyment somewhat of their set which is a real shame as they sounded great. Opening with new songs at a festival is always a risky move but they seemed to pull it off and repaid the audiences commitment with some classics from their full length.

about time 5

The final band of the day for Tim and I were Italy’s finest, Raein. I’d missed their UK tour at the start of the year which I was very annoyed about and was so happy when it was announced that they’d be playing About Time 2. With the fact that we had to leave after Raein had played meant we were treating these guys like headliners, a role they fulfilled completely. Everything was right, their guitar tone, energy, passion and all else besides made their near hour long set pass by in no time at all. Finishing up with some older songs that sent the front half of the crowd in to a frenzy of flailing arms and with that came the first crowd surfers of the day, rising from the pit. A perfect end.

about time 6

And with that we left to go home, tired and extremely happy. Tim’s request to make sure we go again next year confirmed to me that he’d had as good a time as I had. We both agreed that Human Hands stole the show but aside from that it had, all in all, been a really incredible day with every band bringing their a-game. Zine & not heard/barely regal records/HOU project know how to throw a party, London you should count yourselves very lucky!!

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