Tag Archives: topshelf records

REVIEW: CRASH OF RHINOS – KNOTS

Band – Crash Of Rhinos

Album – Knots

Label – Big Scary Monsters/Topshelf Records/To Lose La Track

The last review I wrote, which was for the new Jimmy Eat World record, was written whilst trying to cope with the sleepless nights our new baby daughter was putting us through. She’s 9 weeks old now and either she’s getting better at sleeping or we’re just getting used to the lack of rest, either way I think I can write this review with more of a clear mind. There have been several things I’ve wanted to write about recently, new bands/albums/gigs etc… And I will get to all of these eventually but this just had to come first, let me tell you for why.

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Crash Of Rhinos are a band who like to make you wait, its been an age since they released their brilliant debut ‘Distal’ and their live shows are few and far between. But like your Nan would always says, ‘good things come to those who wait’. In this instance that phrase could be substituted with ‘Amazingly fucking great things come to those who’ve been desperately waiting for the new Crash of Rhinos record!!!’.

How often is it that you build up anticipation for a new record by some band and it meets all expectations? Well, ‘Knots’ is one of those rare records that not only meet those expectations but also blow those expectations apart. This is a monster of a record, I knew from the first listen that I would have trouble putting in to words that effect that the record is having on me. And just to say that its incredible will do it an injustice. I said before when reviewing Crash Of Rhinos that they are the best emo band from the UK since Spy vs Spy, but on the basis of ‘Knots’ you could argue that Crash Of Rhinos are one of the best emo bands ever, regardless of geography. I know you can get carried away when you first fall in love with a record, that love can fade and you’ll look back in a few years and have a totally different opinion on it. But I wanna tell you about this record now, I don’t wanna give it time, and at the moment I’m getting the same feeling listening to it that I did when I first heard ‘Mare Vitalis’ by Appleseed Cast.

You can easily draw comparisons with Appleseed Cast, a band who to me are one of the best emo bands ever. Both Crash Of Rhinos and Appleseed Cast write beautifully crafted songs, full of intricate details and emotion that can last over 6 minutes whilst never out staying their welcome. Crash Of Rhinos are more than just a lazy comparison with another band though and comparing them to Appleseed Cast won’t really help me to convey to you what to expect with this record.

‘Knots’ is a complete album, that is to say that it requires and demands your attention from beginning to end. It’s not an album with just a couple of great songs and then twenty minutes of filler. It’s also complete in the way that Crash Of Rhinos have really come in to their own with this record. There are less obvious influences on show here and fewer styles being played with, ‘Knots’ is Crash Of Rhinos being themselves and standing head and shoulders above the crowd because of this.

The opening song ‘Luck Has A Name’ sets the standard amazingly high but they never stray to far from this, the quality runs through the whole of the record. And that’s quality of songs and quality in the musicianship on display too. Crash Of Rhinos are a band full of accomplished musicians, they all compliment each other so well, knowing what is needed for the song at any one particular moment. The guitar work is intricate and interesting, the rhythm section is genuinely solid and the many vocals are always heartfelt. Combine this with the song writing and the absorbing production and you have one hell of a record. I really can’t say enough good things about ‘Knots’, I’d usually pick out my favourite songs and talk about them but that is very hard to do when they are all standout songs. I knew how much of a banger ‘Opener’ was as it was the first song to be streamed from the album, ‘Sum of all parts’ should be applauded simply for the reason of how much it rocks and ‘Lean out’ is a song that leaves me absolutely spellbound, its jaw-droppingly good! I could have mentioned any of the songs though, there isn’t one that doesn’t fit in or lets the album down and although this is quite a long album, listening to it from beginning to end is the only option you have.

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I was driving along listening to ‘Knots’ and for some reason the idea that this album is the emo ‘OK Computer’ came in to my head. ‘Knots’ sounds nothing like ‘OK Computer’ but I think it is a game changer. The same way that Radiohead went from being a good band to a legendary band with that one record, I see Crash Of Rhinos doing no less. Hopefully they won’t now go on to make weirdy dance shit records (best Radiohead description, ever) instead just concentrating on making some of the best music I’ve heard in the last 10 years like they do here on ‘Knots’. That’s right, I said its some of the best music I’ve heard in the last 10 years, trust me it really is that good.

Crash of Rhinos will be supporting Braid on their UK tour, I’ll be seeing them play London on my birthday and literally cannot wait, don’t you miss out!!!

http://www.crashofrhinos.co.uk

Thanks for reading!! Stay in touch here, or on Facebook 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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The Is this thing on? Top 10 Records of 2012

What a year 2012 has turned out to be. So much so that this list has proved to be near impossible to write, choosing the 10 best records of the year and then listing them in order of bestest has given me a headache. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a good headache and I ain’t complaining. Last year I posted a top 10 and so I thought i would continue with this. My best friend paul who writes the Wallernotweller blog made the sensible choice of listing 15 records but I’m not that wise. So, 10 it is. Meaning that some bloody good records have ended up missing out on this list. Bands like Suis La Lune, Converge, Joyce Manor, The Cribs, Sport, Ape Up! and Dads have all produced some quality work and have only missed out on my top 10 by the slightest of margins. Annabel too, whose album ‘Youth in youth’ is packed with greatness and if it had come out earlier in the year it might have taken one of the top ten places. These are all very worthy but they can’t all be winners so on with the list..

10. You Blew It! – Grow Up Dude

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This is an album that just keeps on growing on me, I like it more every time I listen. The records perfectly understated production mixed with the heart and melody of the music make it hard not to love this album. The fact that bands are making music like this is the reason why I write this blog, if someone asks you if there really is a 90’s emo revival happening at the moment then play them ‘Grow up dude’ and they will have their answer. I’m sure I saw someone mention on something or other that You Blew It! might be coming to the UK in 2013, this needs to happen. In the meantime I’ll just make do with falling in love with this album some more.

9.  State Faults – Desolate Peaks

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My first listen to ‘Desolate Peaks’ was my first experience of State Faults and by heck it was a good one. I love it when you put something on completely without assumptions and end up being blown away. The record is powerful yet touching. It perfectly fills the void left by Pianos Become the Teeth not releasing an album this year. But of course State Faults are a lot more than just a lazy comparison and they are by far the heaviest, screamiest band on my list this year. Earlier in the year they were kind enough to answer some of my questions, click HERE to have a read.

8. Dowsing – It’s still pretty terrible

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This is a record that is full of charm and beautiful indie pop songs that warm the soul. I said in my review of this album a few months ago and I stick by it, this is the record The Get Up Kids were trying to make with ‘On a wire’ and failed. Dowsing however hit it spot on. Now I know for a fact that they are planning to tour the UK next year, this is one not to miss. These songs in a packed venue with a whole crowd singing along to every word is something I definitely wanna be a part of!!!

7. Basement – Colourmeinkindness

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This is a record that appeals to the teenager in me, the spotty kid in the early 90’s with long greasy hair who was proud to called a ‘grunger’ by every chav in Thanet. There are so many grunge influences on this record that it’s hard to keep up, Basement mix in their straight up melodic hardcore and what you have is an album that’s screaming out to breakthrough. If it does it’ll be too late though as Basement are no more which is more than a damn shame. Great record!

6. Glocca Morra – Just Married

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Glocca Morra are quite possibly my favourite band that I discovered this year. ‘just Married’ got a hefty few plays again and again this summer and listening to it now immediately reminds of that time. This is a perfect summer album because it’s just so much damn fun. If I was in to having house party’s and was wanting to get things happening then i would reach for this record, it would pretty much guarantee everyone a good time. Not only did Glocca Morra give us ‘Just Married’ this year, they followed it up with the equally amazing ‘An obscure moon lighting an obscure world’ EP. I hope they keep this momentum up and maybe next year they can claim my entire top ten!

It has come time to take a short break from this countdown and take a minute to remember the bands that we have lost this year. I mean, what awards show would be complete without a memorial montage and this Top 10 is no exception. So watch the video below and join me in some quiet reflection as we remember those that are gone.

5. Crash Of Rhinos – Distal

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Now, I know what you’re thinking, technically this record didn’t come out this year. It was first released in April of 2011 but it was re-released this year by Big Scary Monsters and this record is too good to be left out on a technicality. Plus who are you to say I can’t have them in my top 10, you’re not my mum! (mum if you’re reading this put the laptop down and back away, they’re in and that’s final). Crash of rhinos are almost too good, beautifully brilliant songs that last forever yet never outstay their welcome. With incredible vocals that seem to come from every member of the band and more bass players than bands that only have one bass player in them. They are touring in January with Raein which has ‘tour of the year’ written all over it already!!!

4. Prawn – Ships

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Shortly before getting this EP I went to see Prawn play live in Folkestone, the show was beset with technical problems so much so that they ended up only being able to play 4 songs. At the time I wasn’t bothered because I’d had a great night and Prawn were still fantastic. But after getting ‘Ships’ a few weeks later I was gutted that they couldn’t play all night. The songs that make up ‘Ships’ are so incredible that hearing them live would surely constitute one of the best gigs you’re likely to ever attend. Perfect emo like a poppier Appleseed Cast, love it!!

3. Title Fight – Floral Green

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Title Fight keep going from strength to strength and ‘Floral Green’ is their best record to date. Only a year after releasing their first studio album ‘Shed’ they released a record that was not only brilliant but also showed they had made great leaps forward in terms of sound and maturity. The dreamy, shoegaze magic of ‘Head in the ceiling fan’ showed a new side to Title Fight and ‘Secret Society’ proved that Title Fight can write catchy, instantly likeable grunge songs as well as anyone. Another essential record.

2. Dikembe – Broad Shoulders

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Dikembe are one of the best bands you’re ever likely to hear, following up the massive potential shown on last years ep ‘Chicago Bowls’ with a near perfect record of beautiful, mid paced emo. My heart melts at the first sound of Steven Gray’s voice and the guitar sound they have only heightens this sensation. I can see this album/band coming to define this current wave of emo tagged music, in a few years we’ll be looking back at it with the same fondness that we look back at, for example, ’30 degrees everywhere’ by the Promise Ring it’s that good. In any normal year it would easily win my album of the year top spot and they were only very narrowly beaten this year by…….

1. Joie De Vivre – We’re all better than this

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This years first prize just has to go to Joie De Vivre with ‘We’re all better than this’ an album which I’ve very rarely not been listening to since it came out in the summer. Having split up it is unfathomable that this record could never have been made and I am so grateful that they gave it another shot. Seeing them play this summer in Brighton is one of the best shows I’ve ever been to, a brilliantly uplifting experience. Which is like what you get every time your hear ‘We’re all better than this’. An album that both boasts the best use of trumpets all year and the amazingly lovely backing vocals from Lindsay Minton (Football, etc) cannot fail to impress. A beautiful, beautiful record, well done, FIRST PRIZE!!!

Well, there you go. 2013 is already shaping up to be another incredible year that is promising new albums from Tigers Jaw, Football etc, Daylight, The Reptilian, Appleseed Cast, Jimmy Eat World and many more. I literally cannot wait. In the meantime thanks for reading and have yourself a very merry christmas xx

I’ve made an Is this thing on? best of 2012 playlist on Spotify if that’s your kind of thing, click the link below x

Is This thing on? best of 2012

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Summer

Wow, who knew it would be so hard to combine the kids summer holidays with writing a blog about music? I have 3 boys, all of whom are now of school age and the amount of energy that these guys take out of my wife and I is unreal!! I’ve been to a couple of shows and have been listening to a number of great new albums and I’ve been wanting to write many nice things about them all yet it gets to the evening, which is my usual blog time, and I’ve barely got the energy or motivation to keep my eyes open let alone tap some words into my computer. We’ve also been preoccupied with the Olympics and Paralympics which took up more time than I thought ever would. It seems strange now that I would wake up and my first thought would be “better watch some Olympics”, a thought that would repeat throughout the day until I realised it was midnight and I was still glued to the tv. At the time it seemed perfectly normal.

Me at the Olympic stadium during the Paralympics.

So I thought I’d do a big round-up of all the stuff I’d been to and been listening to bring us bang up to date.

First, the shows I’d been to. Here’s where I would’ve been writing glorious things about how good Everyone Everywhere were on their recent uk tour. Sadly, money and time were both against me on this one and I didn’t get to go. My twitter friend Gary went and I’ve asked to write a very quick review of the show, here’s what he came up with:

“The gig was sparsley attended but still amazing, catchy, anthemic emo!!” I wish I had gone.

Something I did get to go to however was the last day of this years Hevy festival (with very special thanks to our good friends Chloe and Justin). The festival was in its 4th year and I’d been wanting to go since it started with just some bad luck preventing me before. Hevy is a small festival situated next to the Port Lympne wild animal park in Kent. I say small but one of the things I really liked about the day was the size of the festival, it was ideal and given the right line up i think it could be a great success. When we got there my wife, Hannah, and I met up with some friends who had been there for the whole weekend. They were wide-eyed with excitement about how much fun they’d been having so that instantly got me in the mood to stand in a field and watch some bands. During the day there were some great sets from Cruel Hand who delivered some hardcore goodness, 7 Seconds who in their fifties showed they could still entertain a big crowd and Suis La Lune who are always brilliant.

As it got towards the evening things started to get very exciting indeed. During Listener, who had packed out the tiny Red Bull tent and for good reason because they were spine chillingly good, our friends Chloe and Justin managed to get us to go backstage and I got to fulfill a bit of a lifetime ambition. I have always wanted to stand on the side of a stage at a festival to watch a band and during Hundred Reasons set on the main stage there we were and it was awesome. Now, I know we were hardly looking out over the crowd at somewhere like Reading where I imagine the feeling is even better but I loved how we could see the band up close and get to watch how the crowd were reacting and the crowd were loving it.

After that excitement there was still much to enjoy, Lemuria brought their charming pop loveliness to the festival to great effect and Vinnie Caruana made Hannah’s summer by not only playing an amazing solo headline set in the Red Bull tent but also stopping to have his photo taken with her when we bumped in to him later. Converge then came out and tore the place apart, the atmosphere was incredible as they launched into ‘Jane Doe’ but sadly my back was giving up on me and we made the hard decision to go. It was a hard decision because it meant that we missed out on watching Descendents who by all accounts played a super greatest hits set. My back is a bitch, I’ve gone on about it way too much before and it still pisses me off so I’ll leave it there. A fantastic day all in all and I really hope Hevy manages to continue on, I will certainly be going back if it does.

A week later we had the incredible privilege of Baroness coming to Margate to play an intimate show at the Westcoast Bar. It was a very special night as a pretty fair-sized crowd packed the basement venue. There were plenty of good friends there amongst the crowd and our friend Jason’s new band Harrowed played as support. They were loud, powerful and very impressive and were playing minus a bass player not that that made any difference to their set. Definitely seek them out and give your ears a good pounding. Baroness came onstage to a heroes welcome, they are obviously a band with a huge and devoted fan base and they lapped this up by playing a brilliant set full of songs old and new. Afterwards the band came out front to meet and greet with us fans, we got to chat a little with singer John Baizley who also posed for a photo with Hannah and our friend Emma. We were all extremely sad to hear the horrible news that 2 days later their tour coach crashed off a viaduct in Bath during torrential rain. Some of the band and other passengers suffered some horrific injuries and I hope that they will all make a full and speedy recovery.

The relentless onslaught of amazing music being released has also continued itself over the summer, some massive albums of which I’ll be posting some reviews of in the next few days. But for now I thought I’d roundup some really great records that you may or may not have recently missed.

Topshelf records release schedule has been as busy as always, including 2 records in particular that really caught my attention. The first being the new self titled album by the band Sirs. There is so much energy and joyous noise packed in to the 8 songs on the record that it leaves you little option but to fall instantly love with them. They are punk band in the best indie lo-fi kinda way, each of their incredible songs include hooks and melodies that leap out through the distortion and screams which will keep you coming back for more. Some songs last barely a minute and some stretch past 6 minutes yet all feel equally at home on what is a really, really good album that is absolutely worth your time, money and attention.

The other is the new album from Duck. Little Brother, Duck! ‘Don’t Take Our Filth Away’. If you like your music a bit more challenging and like songs to be messy and unpredictable rather than the standard verse chorus verse then this record will hold some appeal for you. The record starts out a bit Joan Of Arc but then soon enough comes across a bit more Sonic Youth whilst all the while sounding like neither of those bands. There is no set pattern to the songs on the record, the songs are interesting and inventive, a math rock wall of noise in parts with vocals way down in the mix to form another instrument of sorts. It again is a really great album with some brilliant song titles, ‘Flashes of Quincy’ and ‘Everybody Loves Screamo’ being a couple of my favourites.

A band that came to my attention recently thanks to someone mentioning them on this blog’s facebook page, (thanks Lee), is Sport from Lyon in France. Their album, ‘Colors’, is one of the best things I’ve downloaded from bandcamp in a while. It is an instantly likeable, summery album that never fails to put me in a good mood. Bright, poppy, twinkly emo of the best variety bringing to mind Algernon and Ape Up! and it is French which is always a big plus in my book. You can download it dirt cheap on their bandcamp page, the link is below.

The last band I’ll mention today is a very special one indeed, a band that have barely been off my stereo in the last month or so which is either due to laziness of the fact it’s really fucking good. And I think you’ll find it’s the latter. The band in question is Glocca Morra and their new record ‘Just Married’ is just genius. I could leave it at that but I won’t. Just as I was mourning the break up of Algernon Cadwallader this record comes along, slaps me around the face and tells me to get over and quick for I have some dancing to be doing. And dancing is just what I want to do when I hear this record for this, as the picture on the front cover suggests, is a party record. Glocca Morra know how to write a good melody, they may seem to want to make it messy and add a bit of grunge here and there but the melody always comes through. They also like to say ‘Fuck’ a lot but, hey, who the fuck doesn’t. This is a highlight in a year packed full of them, go and listen because you won’t be disappointed!!

Here are some links to the things listed above:

Sirs – Sirs

Duck. Little Brother, Duck! – Don’t Take Our Filth Away

Sport – Colors

Glocca Morra – Just Married

Harrowed – S/T Demo

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Thanks for reading, feel free to comment/share etc.. More to come soon

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REVIEW: PRAWN – SHIPS

Band – Prawn

Album – Ships

Label – Topshelf Records

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Review: Suis La Lune – Riala

Band – Suis La Lune

Album – Riala

Label – Topshelf Records

Europe is a breeding ground for amazing emo bands of all varieties. Emo, screamo, indiemo, happymo and all the other many types that exist under that banner. Maybe it’s the landscape, the heritage or the weather or maybe it’s just a coincidence that over the last 15 years European bands have made some of the best emo music that exists. Suis La Lune from Sweden are continuing this long tradition with their latest long player, ‘Riala’.

The first experience I had of Suis La Lune was early last year when they played in Margate with Pianos Become The Teeth. I didn’t have any expectations as I was a bit blindsided by the fact PBTT were playing so locally to where I lived so hadn’t thought to look Suis La Lune up, but as soon as they started I instantly became a fan. I was entranced by them. They sounded incredible and had killer facial hair, what more could you want? So it was more than exciting to find out they would be bringing their new album out on the fantastic Topshelf Records, home to PBTT, and even more exciting to find that the album is everything I had hoped for.

‘Riala’ is 10 songs of gorgeous emotional hardcore. What sets Suis La Lune apart is how well they manage to blend the loud parts with the quiet, the hardcore with the indie sounds. Other bands manage to do this very successfully but there is something Suis La Lune do that is utterly different. I think that its just how delicate and intricate the guitar play is on the quiter moments, they then manage to bleed this through in to the heavier parts. The result is incredible and they never lose any intensity or power throughout the album.

The album begins with ‘Cornea’ and with it they throw you straight in to the sound of the whole record. It is heavy and exciting while also being soft and beautiful. The way that over the shouty/screamed vocals and hardcore drumming the guitar remains simple and delicate which elevates the sound. Their as indie a hardcore band could ever be, you hear this clearly on the second song, ‘Stop Motion’. Played by another band this could be a classic British Indie song but played by them it still has this intense hardcore undercurrent. It’s hard to explain exactly and I probably haven’t done it enough justice.

This is a record best played from beginning to end, It doesn’t have any ‘stand out songs’ or hit singles as such, it’s a work of art that demands your full attention to give it the justice it deserves. All the way through the album there are moments to savour and enjoy, there are also moments of dischord and discomfort. The vocals blend in to the sound as an extra instrument, delivered with emotion and desperation throughout. There are times when they come to the fore like on ‘All that meant something’, where the repeated refrain ‘You took it away from me’ is the closest the album comes to a sing-a-long moment.  The title track, ‘Riala’, serves nicley to break the album up a bit, It’s kind of like a majestical post rock lullaby and then the closing track, ‘One and all, every bit’, sends the album off in the most epically brilliant way.

‘Riala’ by Suis La Lune is a really great record, it has a classic emo/screamo/whatever sound but still comes across as refreshing and new. It’s available to download from Topshelf Records bandcamp HERE, they tour the UK in August and I can’t wait to see them at Hevy.

Hope you enjoy and cheers for reading x

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PRAWN, Folkestone 15.06.2012

Now that my back is starting to feel more normal, or as normal as it’s likely to feel after 19 months of pain, painkillers and operations, I am able to get out and see bands again. I’m now seeing flyers for shows and getting excited rather than frustrated at my predicament. A show I’d been really excited to go to since it was announced months ago was Prawn and Ape up! being put on by Box Social in Folkestone. This excitement was then vastly increased when Alex, the promoter, arranged for me to be able to interview Ape up! before the show.

If you’ve read my review of Ape Up!’s latest record, Kemosabe, (if not you can read it HERE) then you’ll know why I was excited. The band are awesome. But then a couple of days before the gig some really bad news broke. Matt, the singer, had had a really serious accident whilst in Poland and was in hospital. Ape Up! obviously had to cancel the rest of the tour. But Prawn had made the decision to continue and play the remaining dates, which meant they were still coming to the UK, which meant that I was definitely gonna make the hour long drive to Folkestone to support them.

As there were only going to be 2 bands playing the sensible decision was made to put the bands on after the football had finished. England were playing Sweden in the Euro’s and sometimes it’s easier to not try and compete. It turned out to be a great move as the result, plus the disbelief that an England team could score a goal like they did for their third, added to the overall enjoyment of the night.

First up were local band Yes We Canada who played a short set of noisy punk with a big heap of pop for good measure. It was the first time I had ever seen the band and I really enjoyed their set and it seemed the rest of the crowd felt the same. A young band full of youthful energy is hard not to like and they had enough hooks and melody to back it up. Impressive stuff, even when they finished a song early because of a mistake it kind of added to their charm.

Then it was the turn of Prawn to take the stage. I’m a really big fan of Prawn, they play a classic, Low Level Owl (minus the weird bits) era Appleseed Cast type of emo and they do it well. A good crowd had started to assemble but there seemed to be problems. The power in the venue kept cutting out and time was getting on, it started to look like Prawn weren’t going to be able to play. Luckily they managed to sort the problems out, although not without having to sacrifice some effects pedals and a good chunk of their bass sound. The problems were later blamed on the wrong power converters given to them in Holland, that added to what had happened to Ape up! in Poland and Prawn were starting to take a dislike to some of Europe. Thankfully the goodwill of the crowd kept them positive enough to still entertain us with their beautiful songs. They opened with ‘At dawn we left’, the opening song from their full length, ‘You can just leave it all’, which still sounded gorgeous despite the lack of bass and distortion pedals. Maybe it was the added relief that they were actually playing which made Prawn sound all the more sweet. The only downside with their set was, due to the problems they had be encountering which meant that they started late, it was a bit too short. They only played 4 songs, which wasn’t their fault and was one more than they could have done with the threat of being chucked out by the venue after they had finished their second song. They sneaked in a fourth before accepting the fact they would have to stop, in their own words they didn’t want to be “punched in the face by some English bloke”. During the short set we were treated to a new song which sounded as consistent and great as their older stuff and they finished with ‘Arctic Foxes’ at the request of someone in the audience which went down a storm.

There was a great atmosphere in the venue that night and although the set was short Prawn still managed to blow me away. Short sets can sometimes be a blessing anyway, I hate bands that outstay their welcome and play for far too long, not that Prawn would have done that. A short, sharp set can be just what is needed, leave ’em wanting more as the old showbiz saying goes. I do hope they come back to the UK soon though. They still have a few dates left in Europe so go see them if you can.

And to Ape Up! I really hope all is ok and you manage to get safely home. I managed to speak to Roland from the band afterwards. He had stayed on with Prawn to do the merch and sell some Ape Up! stuff too. He was so super nice, sadly I had nothing with me to interview him so hopefully I’ll get to do that another way soon. He also gave great advice on size and colour when deciding what T-shirt to go for, a man of many talents.

Me (with full on geeky fanboy grin) and Roland after the show

Next up on the gig front is Joie De Vivre and Football, etc in Brighton this July, very very excited about this one. Some more reviews and other things will be posted soon. Thanks for reading xx

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