Tag Archives: is this thing on?

INTERVIEW: MINERAL

You can’t have read this blog without knowing our feelings on Mineral. From naming ‘&Serenading’ as the no.1 emo song of all time to the love letter/tribute to Mineral we published last year we have made it quite clear how much this band means. On the eve of their first ever UK tour, it is a complete honour to share with you a Q&A with Mineral drummer, Gabriel Wiley, we conducted by email.

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Is This Thing On? – Hi. On the eve of your first European tour as a band, how is everything in the Mineral camp?

Gabriel Wiley – Doing well, real excited about playing Europe.

ITTO? – I heard that Mineral reuniting was Jim from Jimmy Eat World’s idea, had you ever discussed reforming before then? When did you first start realising how much people still loved Mineral?

GW – Yes, Jim wanted to put together a show with many of the bands they toured with in the beginning of the band. We were among those asked which caused us to get together and discuss it. Due to many problems the show never happened but we had started practicing and figured we might do a show or two. A nice fella from the windish agency said he’d like to book us some show out east and so he did. Everything has grown from there. After mineral, we were all in other bands and through shows with those bands we would be asked a number of times if and when mineral was getting back together. So we had some idea of the interest yet, it is very enjoyable to see how excited people have been.

ITTO? – Have you talked as a band about why you split up when you did? Was it an amicable split at the time? And was there any awkwardness when you first got back together?

GW – No, we haven’t and it would be counter-productive. I would not call it amicable but no knives were thrown. I don’t remember much awkwardness, at least for my part.

ITTO? – You’ve already completed a lengthy tour in America, how has the reaction been?

GW– It’s been fantastic and a bit humbling. There are times when I can hear the crowd singing louder than Chris’s vocals. The band that opened the US tour, Into It-Over It is awesome and we had a surprise in NYC when Frank Turner opened. That was incredible.

ITTO? – Have you discovered anything new about these songs that you’ve not played together since the last century, some of which you never played live?

GW – No, I know it’s not a very interesting answer, but they seemed to be just as we left them. I would like to say that I had some kind of spirited re-kindling with the songs, but didn’t happen.

ITTO? – I have friends who have seen you numerous times on this tour already and they’ve all commented about how you just keep getting better every show, have you noticed a progression? Are you a better live band now than you’ve ever been?

GW – That is true. Nothing prepares you for tour like touring. I believe we are better now than when we were actually a band. It definitely hurts more now.

ITTO? – In 2012 this blog counted down the top 100 emo songs of all time and ‘&serenading’ was number 1! What’s your favourite Mineral song and has it changed since you’ve reformed?

GW – Favorite is parking lot, and no. We would be a damn fool to change any of it. But &serenading is my wife’s favorite as well.

ITTO? – Do you have anything special planned for your Euro/UK shows? Do you have any idea what to expect over here?

GW – Nothing special, we’ve added a new song, 80-37 to the list (well new to the list but not a new song, as it were). I have been over here with a couple of bands and have a rough idea as far as some cultural differences and the like. (In Germany they like to make you pay to use the toilets!). But as for how people will receive us, I try not to expect or assume how a crowd will react to us.

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ITTO? – There has been a massive resurgence in bands playing this type of music over the last few years and many bands have cited you as a major influence, do you feel part of the current ’emo’ scene? Or do you still identify yourselves as still very much a 90s band?

GW – I feel much more like a 90s rock band, but I can use the word emo in the same sentence as Mineral. As for a current emo scene, I’m not sure I know who that would be. I am 43 and listen mostly to podcasts and music recorded before 1980. I never made music with the intention of influencing anyone, but it is nice that some bands point to us as inspiration.

ITTO? – I see you’re still announcing tours/festival appearances, what else is next for Mineral? Any plans to bring back any post Mineral bands (Gloria Record/Imbroco/Pop Unknown) ?

GW – After this tour, we play a festival in Belgium and Spain in May. After that, maybe nothing, not sure. There is some talk of South America, but difficult to say. I don’t see any of my old bands doing anything, but might talk to the other fellas about their intentions.

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Sorry kids, Dad has some new babies now!

 

ITTO? – And finally. I bought my first Mineral album in 1998 when you had already split, I never dreamed that almost 17 years later I’d get to see you play live. Is there any band you would absolutely love to see reform?

GW – If I could go back to 1977 and see led Zeppelin that would be my wish. But without time travel, ummmm a Seattle band called these arms are snakes, a fantastic Seattle band. Super kick ass. See you at the show.

ITTO? – Thanks so much Gabriel

Get in touch. http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, Twitter @alex_itto, ittoblog@gmail.com

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INTERVIEW: DIKEMBE

A couple of months ago Dikembe, the band whose name I recently realised that I have no idea how to say out loud, made an emphatic return with their sophomore record, ‘Mediumship’. Their debut record, ‘Broad Shoulders’ got a lot of love from this blog and I’ve been wanting to write about how great their new record is since I first heard it. But instead of listening to me badger on for 700 words about how their subtle grunge influences coupled with the bands innate ability to write moody but very infectious melodies make for one of this years must hear records, I thought it would be a much better idea to get Dikembe to agree to an interview. As luck would have it they did, so here it is. Answering the questions is drummer David Bell.

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Is this thing on? – Hi. You have a new record out, how did you go about writing and recording this time round?

Dikembe – Our last record, Broad Shoulders, was written and recorded on the fly, so much so that there were a couple songs we had to learn to play together after the album was sent for mastering. We wanted to avoid that situation this time around. New songs were pushed into our live set as often as possible so that we could get a sense of how the tracks felt to play. If something felt weird we would bring it up during our next practice and try to make it feel better. When it came time to track the record we decided to track everything live, which saved us a lot of time and reaffirmed for ourselves how comfortable we would be to tour with these new songs.

ITTO? – The songs are recognizably Dikembe but there seems to be a progression in the sound from your previous records, has this evolved naturally or have you made a conscious effort to change your sound?

Dikembe – I would say we made a conscious effort to go with our gut and give little to no thought on the expectations of others. We just focused on writing and recording a group of songs we knew we’d all enjoy playing live and not worry about whether or not elements fit a predetermined genre or sound.

ITTO? – I love this record but found it to be a grower. Sticking with it has paid off really well, how has the reaction been to the record? Have you been nervous about how this record will be received compared to your previous records?

Dikembe– Feedback about the album has seemed pretty positive. I don’t think we were too worried going into the release. We were just excited for people to hear the jams we were having fun with during our live sets, especially since it felt like a lifetime since we finished our first album. I think Steven was the most nervous about Mediumship’s general reception, but we were on tour when it dropped and it wasn’t too hard to distract him from the twitters and such.

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ITTO? – I’ve noticed a grunge influence to the record with some of the riffs used and the loud/quiet/loud pattern on some songs. What have you been listening to recently and what has influenced your writing this time round?

Dikembe – Steven had the sudden realization that Pearl Jam’s Ten is an amazing album about two years ago. He has also been claiming that Soundgarden’s “Fell on Black Days” is his favorite song ever. Most of the musical elements to Mediumship were developed during practices, so I think this album displays more of the group’s collective tastes than our previous releases. Randy and I grew up heavily influenced by our fathers’ CD collections, which they probably attained through some sort of Columbia House Record Club style subscription. Late 80’s, early 90’s “alternative rock” feels very familiar to our ears, and it probably seeps into our song production style.

ITTO? – Steven Gray’s voice does weird things to me, it melts my heart like an emo Eddie Vedder. What vocalists have this kind of effect on yourselves?

Dikembe – Jeff Buckley’s voice in “Hallelujah” gives me goosebumps every single time. It’s disturbing.

ITTO? – You recently put out a split with veterans the Jazz June, how did that come about? Any other bands you’d love to do splits with?

Dikembe – I believe they contacted us in some way and pitched the idea about a year ago. We were blown away by the idea that they had heard our music, let alone dug it enough to let us be part of their long-awaited return.

Randy says a split with Creepoid would be cool.

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ITTO? – Are you guys able to commit to the band full-time or do you have to fit everything in (touring/recording etc.) around your regular lives?

Dikembe – As much as we would love to commit our full-time to life on the road and in the studio, Steven has a big-boy job teaching middle school kids and Ryan just produced a real-life baby human. We practice maybe once every two or three months because Steven lives in Orlando, a two-hour drive from the rest of us in Gainesville. It’s astonishing how much we’ve been able to do and how often we’ve toured given how little time we commit to this band as a whole.

ITTO? – What would have to happen for you guys to come and tour the uk?

Dikembe – We’ve gotten close, but scheduling issues continue to kill off plans. We would need a UK band to agree to a summer tour, let us squeeze into their van, and allow us to use all of their gear every night. I don’t think we can afford to fly over, rent gear, and rent a vehicle with our own finances.

ITTO? – Bands keep getting robbed on the road, seems to be an everyday occurrence at the mo. Have you had bad experiences yourselves? Does it put you off going on the road? What security tips can you give aspiring bands?

Dikembe – Thankfully, we have not had any bad experiences on the road so far. It helps that we tour in a 2013 Dodge Caravan that features an alarm system, slightly tinted windows, and an overall look that suggests it carries a family of six around instead of hundreds of dollars in musical equipment. Nevertheless, we still are very careful about where we park it. There are only two things I can think to suggest for a band going on the road in a 15-passenger van:

Get an alarm system installed or insurance on your gear. It’s obviously an investment, but you don’t want to have to rely on internet donations if the worst happens. Plus, it would really suck to have to cut a tour short because someone popped a lock off your van door with a screw driver.

If you can’t throw down that kind of money, invest in making your van look like a difficult job. Buy a fake alarm system with a flashing LED light on the dashboard, or get some tint on the back windows so that the value of heist is less defined. Carjackers and thieves look for easy wins, not possibly complicated scenarios.

ITTO? – Since the World Cup, we’re told that America has fallen in love with football (soccer) and football (soccer) is about to surpass regular American sports, such as basketball, as the national sport. can we now expect a Dikembe football (soccer) themed EP?

Dikembe – The United States’ love for football is as transient as it’s love for the Olympics. We’re just big fans of the concept of national pride. I’ll believe soccer is reaching the hearts of Americans when I can watch an MLS game on basic cable. I think Steven and I are the only members in the band that have any interest in professional sports, and that is solely reserved for the NBA.

ITTO? – Everyone says the UK is always a year or two behind America. What is the next big thing (TV, music, fad) sweeping America we can expect here in a years time?

TV personalities taking selfies while on the air and constantly mentioning their twitter handles. Be prepared, it’s awful.

ITTO? – Sounds awful. Thanks for talking to us!

You can buy ‘Mediumship’ on vinyl in the UK from Monkey Boy Records HERE

Or you can stream/download it HERE

Thanks for reading. Get in touch: http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, @alex_itto on twitter or ittoblog@gmail.com

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REVIEW: EMPIRE! EMPIRE! (I WAS A LONELY ESTATE) – YOU WILL EVENTUALLY BE FORGOTTEN

Band – Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate)

Album – You Will Eventually Be Forgotten

Label – Count Your Lucky Stars/Topshelf Records

The first two songs of ‘You will eventually be forgotten’, the second full length album by Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate), each tell the story of how both the members of the band were separately involved in near fatal car accidents. Thankfully they lived to tell the tale but imagine for a second if things had turned out differently. Keith and Cathy Latinen, the husband and wife duo that make up Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate), are more responsible than most, both as this band and as owners of the Count Your Lucky Stars record label, for reigniting the fire in this once almost forgotten genre. Their tireless output, with their own bands countless splits/e.p’s & debut full length and the consistently brilliant records their label has released, has brought a lot of credibility to the current wave of emo, making it as popular as it is today. Without these two would I even be listening to any albums recorded after 2002?

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Which segues nicely into giving a nod to the guest vocalists that are featured on this record. One of the biggest bonuses from bands playing this type of music again is proving to some of the legendary bands from back in the day there is still a loyal, devoted audience out there for them. You can’t have missed that Mineral are about to embark on a massive reunion tour and I hope you haven’t missed that Braid have come back this year with an incredible new record. Both Bob Nanna of Braid and Chris Simpson of Mineral make an appearance here and with these comes a sense of triumphant togetherness. We die-hard emo fans have found each other and our reward? One hell of a beautiful new record by Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate).

The weather is changing, it’s getting colder and the nights are drawing in, autumn is coming. And what an album ‘You will eventually be forgotten’ is to soundtrack this change in seasons. I always feel reflective at this time of year which has made me feel an instant connection with this record. The autobiographical nature of Keith Latinen’s lyrics, telling coming of age stories from his youth as well as asking questions about his own mortality really speak out to me as someone who, ever since turning 30, has started to question everything in life, constantly looking back at big turning points in my life wondering what could have been. All 11 songs here take on a linear approach, eschewing familiar verse/chorus/verse structures and preferring to take the listener on a journey propelled by the powerful story telling of the lyrics. Poetic tales of love, friendship, youth and companionship are told with such an attention to detail that I know feel, after numerous repeat listens, that I really know both members of the band personally. The album is the musical equivalent of those magical nights at the start of a relationship when you stay up all night talking to someone and in the morning you feel like you’ve known the person all your life.

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The lyrics to each song had been posted online in the weeks leading up to the album’s release, being a musician I normally find it takes me time to find a connection to the lyrical content of a song, usually long after I’ve fallen in love with the music. But in this case, the lyrics are strong enough to stand alone without already knowing the melody as a piece of work in their own right. So it was really nice to get to know the songs before actually being able to listen to them. Don’t let me take anything away from the music though, because musically Empire! Empire! are as strong here as anything they have ever released before. Gorgeous guitar tones and big thick drums compliment the vocals throughout, clearly the whole production here has been meticulously worked out with the band knowing when to hold back and when to let the feedback take over for added drama. Echoes of Sunny Day Real Estate’s ‘How it feels to be something on’ and Appleseed Cast, mixed in with Empire! Empire!’s own inimitable style make this a record to truly behold.

With the many songs Empire! Empire! (I was a lonely estate) have put out in the 5 years since their last full length, it would’ve been really easy for them to cobble together enough for a follow-up album. I’m really happy they have waited until they had the time to commit to making something completely new with the sole focus of making a new record. ‘You will eventually be forgotten’ is a concept album of sorts, using moments in their lives to ask big questions about life and what is the real point of it all. Keith Latinen has experienced near death but not had any great epiphanies about what it all means (“My life did not flash before my eyes”), he has witnessed two people who, after a lifetime of devotion to each other, became so entwined that they passed away at the same time, even though they died 2 years apart (“It took 2 whole years to convince his body”) and is left to wonder if what he is doing is really worth it.

How do we ever know that? We can always look back, and consider what would have happened if we had done things differently but it won’t make any difference. As long as we do what we think is the right thing to do in the present tense then there shouldn’t be any regrets. There is a lot of love on display here for each other and the vast amount of love about to be showered on these two after the release of this perfectly amazing album should at least let them know that they are currently doing everything completely right.

Please don’t hesitate to listen to this truly INCREDIBLE record!!

You can stream/download/order the record HERE

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This is me with Keith and Cathy after their amazing set in Brighton, November 2012

Thanks for reading. xx

Get in touch. http://www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog, @alex_itto or ittoblog@gmail.com

 

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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!!!!

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

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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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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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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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