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INTERVIEW: HUMAN HANDS

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 (Ps the interview was conducted just before the release of the record so a couple of the questions are slightly out of date, but don’t let that spoil your enjoyment)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

ITTO? – Human Hands, thank you!!

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

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

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INTERVIEW: JOIE DE VIVRE

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JDV – Damn, you nailed it 😉

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

JDV – Oh totally – Jamie from Prawn knows Snookie.

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

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

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

ITTO? – Thanks!!!!!!!

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

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

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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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NEWSLETTER #3

Hey again. I have a rare morning of not having to do anything or be anywhere so what better way to pass the time then post another of these newsletter things. The theme for this one is ‘SPLITS’.

The idea for bands to release split singles/ep’s/albums has been around for ages but there seems to be a real trend for it at the moment, and why not? as the pickled onion producer Barry Norman would say. Splits are great, who doesn’t like the ‘2 for 1’ deal that you get? No one has yet to better the greatest split of all time, The Promise Ring/Texas is the Reason split 7″ and no one is likely to but some of the recent splits are pretty damn good so lets crack on.

1. PIANOS BECOME THE TEETH/TOUCHE AMORE (Deathwish/Topshelf records)

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If you’ve read this blog a lot then you’ll know my feelings about Pianos Become The Teeth, they are one of my favourite bands of the last 5 years. Their albums still blow me away with every listen, they left me speechless when I saw them play live in Margate and when I bumped into their guitarist in Subway, Tunbridge Wells before seeing them play the forum, he invited me to sit and eat with him, amazing! Their song from this split, ‘Hiding’, doesn’t disappoint one bit, in fact it exceeds all expectations. It’s slower and gentler but powerful. An epic song packed full of emotion, it’s a bit of a cliché for someone who writes a blog predominantly about emo to say they well up when listening to a song but Kyle Durfey’s voice does something to me. My heart literally melts as soon as he starts singing mix this with the post hardcore meets post rock music and you have as near perfect a song as you’re likely to hear all year. This review probably sounds a bit one-sided but nothing should be taken away from Touche Amore. Again they are an incredible band and their song, ‘Gravity, Metaphorically’, matches the PBTT side for brilliance. It’s a bit of a departure for TA, you could also describe this song as an epic as it’s about 4 times longer than any song from their last record. With the same kind of attack Touche Amore bring to their music, this song is allowed to breathe giving them time to play with the dynamics resulting in a rollercoaster ride of a song that leaves you exhausted but also wanting so much more. Cannot wait for their new record which is due to come out in the autumn.

Stream/Download HERE

2. TOUCHE AMORE/TITLE FIGHT (sealegs records)

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Sticking with Touche Amore for the moment, I do love a split where the bands cover each others songs ever since I got the Built To Spill/Marine Research split 7″ all those years ago. And this is exactly what you get here and what great songs they chose. Touche Amore could have chosen any song from ‘Shed’ and I’d have been happy, ‘Crescent-shaped Depression’ is what they plumped for and do it more than justice. It’s a straight up cover but it sounds great with Touche Amore bringing all the energy they normally do to their own material. Title Fight are pretty much a faultless band, their cover of ‘Face Ghost’ from Touche Amore’s last record ‘Parting the sea between brightness and me’ is brilliant. Mainly for the fact that at first glance it’s a straight ahead, loyal cover of a great song but Title Fight subtly bring their melodic hardcore/shoegaze crossover that they’ve been leaning towards on ‘Floral Green’ and it really sets the song alight. Both great bands playing great songs by each other, what the hells not to like?

Listen HERE

3. BRAID/BALANCE AND COMPOSURE (No Sleep Records)

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I finally get to see Braid play this summer and it’s on my birthday which is pretty damn perfect. In the meantime they’ve put out a split with Balance and Composure, a few people were annoyed that they were doing this with a new band but I really like Balance and Composure so can’t see the harm. Plus, Balance and Composure come out of this a bit better judging by the songs on display. Their half of the split doesn’t really cover any new ground for the band but cements their reputation for making really solid and really enjoyable slacker, indie grungemo, I don’t know if this is a reputation they have outside of my head but they should. The Braid half took a while to get in to, at first I wasn’t impressed. Both songs have grown on me more but neither come near to reaching the heights of ‘Frame & Canvas’, the album they’ll be playing in full this summer.

Stream/Download HERE

4. WITS END/HUMAN HANDS (adagio 830, strictly no capital letters, lila himmel, eat a book, and time as a color)

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This is a beautiful, must have split single on many levels. Not only are both tracks superb and also superbly different, but the way it’s packaged and presented reminds me why I love music and this scene so much. The 7″ comes in an individually stamped paper bag with photocopied lyric sheets, it is understated and glorious at the same time. The songs are pure emo joy, Wits End from Norway play brooding and intense emotional hardcore while Human Hands deliver long, repetitive, sparse, lo-fi’mo which builds with heart breaking beauty. Both songs fit perfectly together making an essential split single.

Stream Human Hands HERE Stream Wits End HERE

5. TIGERS JAW/CODE ORANGE KIDS/SELF DEFENSE FAMILY/THE WORLD IS A BEAUTIFUL PLACE & I AM NO LONGER AFRAID TO DIE (Topshelf records)

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This split wins the award for the most interesting and intriguing of all the splits mentioned today. The line up had to be admired, 4 totally different bands put together on one record and it all makes sense. Although, this split is tinged with sadness, could this possibly be the last song that Tigers Jaw ever release? I fucking hope not, I was so gutted to hear they had split up and it’s with a heavy heart that I listen to their new song. If they had made it terrible then maybe it would be easier to accept the break-up but Tigers Jaw don’t know how to write bad songs. ‘Fake Death’ shows a band still at the height of their powers, the guitar work, the harmonies, the downbeat pop, it’s all there and it’s all good. Code Orange Kids take you by surprise with ‘VI (Worms fear god // god fears youth), experimental yet captivating. Self Defense Family take you in an altogether different direction with their affecting and repetitive folk anthem ‘Holy Trend’, that leaps at you with the delivery of someone preaching the end of the world on a street corner. The split is finished by The World Is A Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid To Die who really are an incredible band and not just because writing their name in full on my blog pushes the word count up considerably making me feel like I’ve done more work. Their song, ‘Beverly Wyatt’, is typically beautiful and uplifting and the underlying ethereal melody that plays through the whole song helps paint pictures in your mind. There is a rumour going round that they are going to tour the UK this autumn with Dads, this has to happen!!

Stream/Download HERE

6. DIKEMBE/HIGHTIDE HOTEL/JET SET SAIL/MONUMENT (Count Your Lucky Stars)

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Another 4 way split and another stellar line up. Dikembe can do no wrong, their songs are always instantly likeable and this one is continued proof of that theory. ‘Donuts in a six speed’ wouldn’t have felt out-of-place on ‘Broad Shoulders’ and builds the excitement nicely for their new album which will be out soon. Hightide Hotel announced last year that they are splitting up but not before they release their second record this year. It’s a massive shame because based on ‘Built to last’ they’re a band that could offer so much. The main riff reminds me of the kind of ones i’d try to write for my old band back in the 90s, I was never this good though. Jet Set Sail continue the quality of the split here with their barnstormer ‘Strickland North’, I definitely need to investigate this band more because I listened to this song back to back a good 4 times in a row which always a good sign. Monument bring the split to a close with ‘Sophisticated Liars’. Monument are a criminally underrated band who write consistently great music, their song here is catchy enough to have you singing along by the second chorus (woooaaaoooohhh) and is a good reminder to listen to their music more.

Stream/Download HERE

7. FAKE PROBLEMS/YOU BLEW IT! (Topshelf Records)

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A band I love and a band I’ve not heard before makes for a good split single, which is exactly the case here. Fake Problems play bright, britpop-esque music with massive choruses, they remind me of Gene and maybe a little bit of Suede in a good way. I wasn’t expecting to be reminded of them and it came as a nice surprise, their songs are catchy enough to find yourself humming them to yourself hours later. You Blew It! made one of my favourite records of last year and the 2 songs on offer here keep that quality up, the first of which, ‘Batavia, NY’, is currently my favorite songs of theirs. Saying that, both songs are great. You Blew It! are another band who need to make the trip across the pond and come play for us.

Stream/Download HERE

8. FOOTBALL, ETC./PLAIDS (Strictly No Capital Letters, Count Your Lucky Stars)

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I’ve written so many nice things about Football, etc in the past that I’ve literally run out of superlatives to attribute to them. Although I’ve probably never simply stated that they’re fucking great, which I should’ve because they bloody well are. Their song here, ‘Down The Field’, continues them on the path to become my absolute favourite band, faultless indiemo of the highest quality. Them putting out a split with Plaids is a very exciting prospect. If, like me, you spend far too many hours reading about emo bands on the Internet then you’ll know that Plaids are one of the most exciting bands in the UK at the moment. They just get it, their music plays with time signatures, brilliant angular guitar work and delivered with a blast of incredible energy. Both bands are touring the UK together this summer which will be a tour not to miss.

You can download/stream the songs HERE

Cheers for reading!!

Come and say hi, leave a comment here or on Facebook www.facebook.com/isthisthingonblog or on twitter @alex_itto

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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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