It seems fitting to kickstart this new streamlined (and in theory less wordy) version of TWLT with an album that successfully manages to be short, punchy and highly effective.
Picking this album up on recommendation from the R : : fan page itself I was admittedly hoping for something electronic with the same sort of haunting soft vocals found on Change but what you have here is in fact a blues-style rock album that flits comfortably between high tempo get-up-and-go tunes (opener Same Side and You Never) to more soulful acoustic ballads (Lighthouse and Letting Go) that hold attention throughout with some atypical breaks and changes keeping the overall sound fresh.
Marc has a great sense space in the composition of the album and knows where to let the various parts of the song breath and this goes a long way to improve the landscape of many of the slower songs which – in some ways after several listens – show some elements of Damien Rice at his best. Coming through in the sparse use of piano and the slight “big hall” style reverb effect on the vocals I see this as no bad thing.
Since the album is so short it seems unfair to draw attention away from any part of it by focusing on any of the tracks in particular but I can’t help but be moved by two tracks which I will just quickly dwell on.
Firstly there has to be some credit given to the opening track Same Side which really is a fantastic way to start an album. It’s been a long while since an opening track has really hooked me as it doesn’t seem to be the fashionable thing to do any more to lead with what could be argued as your main track but with a deceptively soft but pacey guitar and vocal melody at the start giving way to full on blues crunch for the rest of the way through it deserves a mention apart from the whole album.
On the other end of the scale though Bleed provides one of the more beautiful contrasts with the tip-tap rhythm akin to More Than Words and falsetto vocals sounding so tender they feel more like a fleeting afterthought than a fully realised part of the song and it just works.
Regardless, I have been listening to this album on and off for months now and it still continues to please and surprise me with its quality and would strongly recommend you give it at least one listen.
Oh and Fallen…Fallen is also great.
And You Never…
Welcome back – to you the reader and in some part to the gang of misfit writers who make up TWLT!
We are making a return to the ever wider world web with a new
improved abridged version of the blog setting ourselves the simple challenge of each recommending one album we think is worth listening to each month.
It may be new, old, niche, mainstream – whatever takes our fancy. What is important thought is that we keep the word-count down both for our own sanity and to keep you reading all the way to the end.
First post will come at the end of this week where I will be dipping my reviewing toes into the water with Marc O’Reilly’s confident debut album Human Herdings.
Watch this space…
So where to begin?
I’ve been wanting to see these guys for a long while and following on from my previous few posts ranting a little about missing out on seeing my favourite bands before they split up (or in some cases get so huge I can’t afford to see them or find it at all worthwhile anyway) I was deeply looking forward to seeing Bombay Bicycle Club.
Having also had a small amount of free time at work while staying late I decided to quickly check out the one confirmed support act and found them to be quite pleasant and very similar to Bombay Bicycle Club although somewhat less intense, but quirky enough for me to be quite pleased at the idea of them playing.
So first bugger of the evening turned out to be that my tickets were for the balcony – which basically meant leaning on a wall or having a seat – either of which tends to make you feel more than a little distanced. Second bugger came from somehow picking the one row where every other person seemed to be in possession of bladders the combined size of a gerbils penis (something I assume to be incredibly tiny).
These small issues aside I took the opportunity to be able to sit back and really enjoy what proved to be an epic night of lights and sounds which had me starting a standing ovation by the end of the evening (another bugbear which I will come to later…).
Anyway, first up in the evening we had the very reasonable Dog Is Dead. Bearing in mind I only knew 2 songs prior to seeing them play I was still singing along to half of the tunes they were that catchy. They put on a very, very solid performance. The sound was excellent and the harmonies were absolutely phenomenal – no audience participation which would normally wind me up but I was enjoying their ridiculous on stage movement (clearly they had been told early on by management to move about more on stage) and overall performance was excellent.
However the surprise of the evening came from follow up act Dry The River – how have I not heard of these guys before now?? Very similar in terms of beautiful harmonies, sweet guitar licks but this time mingled with some banjo, a superb violinist and singer who was more than happy to talk to the audience, going so far as to explain why he was wearing no shoes (apparently his top button broke at a previous gig and having no belt he had to use his shoelaces as a makeshift belt and enjoyed the sensation of playing in no shoes so much he has since stuck with it!). So in fact enjoy their best track available online below:
Onto the main event however, Bombay Bicycle Club. Well I was honestly worried that after dry the river there may be no way of upstaging them…I was blissfully wrong. Starting with the first single off the new album “Shuffle” the whole room was kicking into another gig from the word go. I’ve tried looking for the set-list online as I am shocking for remember order of songs played but I can’t think of a single song I would have wanted them to play that they didn’t.
But let me try and at least highlight a few things.
- The sound was excellent. I mean really outstanding – vocals were perfectly mixed, keys and guitars genuinely intertwined and boomed out louder in a way that only live music can and makes you wish that the albums had half of the energy (and bear in mind their first and third albums are mixed incredibly well).
- Also since having seen all the many random live clips of the guys online they have hugely upped their performance in terms of moving and shaking, chatting and generally looking like they are really enjoying themselves.
- The songs they played of the first album sounded incredible. There was a vast difference in terms of sound, structure and performance between the newer tracks, which still sounded great, and their older stuff which just sounded phenomenal, polished and well practiced to an extreme.
- “Magnet”, “Evening/Morning” and “What You Want” were without comparison.
- Sadly weak points were two of my favourite songs “How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep” and “Always Like This” which just sounded a bit thin and lifeless, no idea why.
- The final song of the set was Giantess which I am not normally that keen on, however the band invited Dry The River back on stage to harmonise and then they left as the song somehow melded into Emergency Contraception Blues which was not only a nice touch, but really was so heavy and full of oomph it was hard to stay in my stupid seat and not jump around wildly regardless of seating arrangements.
The encore…”Still”…there was a piano on stage and I had been staring at it with a deep sense of longing all night praying that it was an obvious hint that the song would be played. I think I was the only person in the audience to shout, much to my friends embarrassment, very, very loudly for it the moment they came back on stage. But do you know what? I don’t give a shit, it’s an incredible song and was one of the few points in the evening when I literally didn’t hear or see anything except for what was going on on-stage. It was utterly sublime and sung without shame.
After this of course I was racking my brains to think of what song I hadn’t heard that they could possibly finish on…I of course forgot “What If” easily one of my favourite songs from the debut album and an absolute corker to finish the set off with.
I would say that if opportunity arises I would happily go and see this exact gig again at another venue and have been looking around as such but tickets are scarce. It was that good.
I leave you with THE song of the night and two more quick insights. The first being that Cat Empire have a hell of a lot of work to do to beat this gig. And secondly, Flaws is still shit, sorry guys.
Friday 24th – Croissant Neuf 14:30
It was 3 years ago, when Ed Sheeran was 17 that I saw him live in a random pub in Islington. And although I haven’t listened to him much since, I advise you to see him live! He’s so impressive with the loop station and his little travel guitar! Plus he has a great voice and he’s playing like 4 times so no excuse to miss him at glasto!
Ellen & the Escapades
Saturday 25th – The Park 11am
I saw them last year at the Bedford and loved them straight away! Ellen has such a deep voice, it’s amazing! They are all so good at their instruments and it makes them a great band! Hope you’ll get up to see them! I am 😀
Kitty, Daisy and Lewis
Sunday 26th – Avalon Stage 12:30
I can’t remember how I know these guys! But they’ve been my myspace friends for ages! I think they had an original idea but I just watched their interview on BBC breakfast and they sound quite big headed… :s I’m not sure I’ll go see them because Jamie Woon is playing at the same time… Bad luck!
I’ve been pretty busy lately, as you might have noticed with the lack of TWLT postage, but I have finally come into a tiny bit of the stuff and have tried to hobble together a last minute list of artists you might not know that might be good. I say might be good because a lot of these artists I am excited about without actually knowing that much about them or hearing more than a couple of songs by them. Ah well – enjoy nonetheless!
Throwbacks to the golden age of rock and roll, with a very rockabilly look. My head says that these guys are nothing special, just a straight ahead rock band with nothing new to give. My heart on the other hand is hankering for a great rock band to fall in love with. Either way, I reckon they will give a really solid set at Glasto.
With Glasto just round the corner, we thought a little heads up about some of the lesser lights on the line-up list would be very helpful to those still fine-tuning their plans for the festival. So, without further ado…
Nicolas Jaar, Saturday, 1.45pm, West Holts Stage
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Marcus Bonfanti, Thursday, 4.45pm, Bourbon Street Stage