February 26th, 2012

Allo Darlin’ and the End of Nostalgia More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Allo Darlin' at The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds

It would take a stone heart to not warm to London/Aussie popsters Allo Darlin' who bash out a set on a Sunday night in Leeds splitting their set between their as yet unreleased second album Europe and their first album which could not be said to be inspired but does showcase the band's problems effectively.

Problems such as they are. The first album has been on my playlist since it's C86 inspired ditties floated in two years ago and the first four tracks on that album - all played tonight - could have been pulled off any good Sarah Record of the period. The Polaroid Song is typical setting the end of a film stock against the passing of part of life, and off the innocence that comes with that.

Nostalgia leads to ghettoes though and while the band are sensible to stack their set with well known tracks to finish the early set shows a band changing and maturing. More bittersweet the album Europe more readily references the likes of Camera Obscura than it does The Field Mice or Even As We Speak.

The four piece play those song nervously, unsure perhaps of how the band will change from sweet memories to a more painful, more grounded reality.

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, February 26th, 2012

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February 26th, 2012

Over The Bluffs by The Holiday Crowd More

EP Tracks/Albums

Written By Leon Carroll Sunday, February 26th, 2012

Hailing from Toronto, The Holiday Crowd are my new crush. The video to 'Pennies Found' off their debut mini-album 'Over The Bluffs' has had me swooning over Colin Bowers' ‘lead-as-rhythm’ guitar playing and his gorgeous Gretsch guitar itself.

They owe a debt to Johnny Marr, but don’t we all? Singer Imran Haniff has echoes of Morrissey in his delivery too, but these aren’t mere Smiths copyists. The similarities are subtle, and ‘Painted Like A Forest’ is more Suede than Smiths. The plaintive backing vocals on ‘Tender Age’ don’t half get me right here, as Imran sings “oh tender age, another useless phase of my life”. Sigh.

The album sleeve resembles an old fabric covered hardback novel, and the album itself has a romantic character which evokes faraway places, the Bluffs being Scarborough Bluffs on the shore of Lake Ontario. God, just those names do it for me, so they were onto a winner from the start.

Out Now: ‘Over The Bluffs’ Shelflife Records

Written By Leon Carroll Sunday, February 26th, 2012

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February 17th, 2012

Know Me by Frankie Rose More

One Track Tracks/Albums

Written By Leon Carroll Friday, February 17th, 2012

Formerly a member of Vivian Girls, Crystal Stilts and Dum Dum Girls, Frankie Rose knows a thing or two about reverb. Her songs are awash with the stuff, and like some of her former bands, she is a well known exponent of Girls in the Garage/surf influenced songs with a shoegaze softness of touch.

However with ‘Know Me’, the first single to emerge from the forthcoming second album Interstellar, Miss Rose has hit on a poppier sound without easing off on that beautiful reverb. The guitars are cleaner than was often the case on her first album, 2010s 'Frankie Rose and The Outs'. The tempo is also faster and the drums and guitar put me in mind of ’Seventeen Seconds’ era The Cure, but those lush multitracked vocals definitely take centre stage. The new album due out later this year promises to be a smasher. Check out 'Know Me' online, or even better, buy it from Slumberland Records, you know where to look.

Written By Leon Carroll Friday, February 17th, 2012

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January 30th, 2012

Clap Your Hands Stay Warm More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Monday, January 30th, 2012

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah at The Cockpit, Leeds

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah are a spirited bunch but in the half full main room of The Cockpit at one point one can see the curling mist of breath coming from the audience. Coats are on, there is room to swing, and it is distinctly chilly.

The band, oft talked of of having listened to a few too many Talking Heads circa 1986 records, are an interesting proposition. The early songs - crowd pleasing and coming towards the end of the meaty set - focus on the kind of deliberate quirk which Talking Head point to while newer work is more rough and ready and perhaps better for it. Alec Ounsworth's staccato vocal style of five years ago when the band first broke has been replaced by something more powerful and more able. He hits notes, guitars fuzz, it feels more real.

Which suggests a band in transition. Going from what made them known to something they are feeling out the edges of. Perhaps this accounts for the relatively Spartan audience showing. The tenancy for old favourites to dominate is common in most gigs but, when styles change and some are left behind, the effect can be on of dilution.

Not that that should deter band or audience. The newer work has an edge which is interesting, 4AD like if I were looking for comparisons, and more demanding. A shame then that it did not demand a bigger audience.

Written By Michael Wood Monday, January 30th, 2012

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January 11th, 2012

Andrew in Drag by The Magnetic Fields More

One Track Tracks/Albums

Written By Michael Wood Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

The first track to reach the ears with 2012 stamped on the label and it will be hard to find better than The Magnetic Fields playful gender romp Andrew In Drag which at a brisk 2:12 revisits the joy of early 1980s Sheffield electro-pop, adds a customary dash of Bowie and delivers all in Stephin Merritt's acerbic New York tones. It promises much for the album to come.

That promise not having been fulfilled on the 2010 album Realism which seemed to be exactly the album that The Magnetic Fields wanted to make but not really the album that those who had been in awe of 69 Love Songs or impressed by the inventiveness of Distortion wanted to hear. Too picked, too much of a project and not enough of the sardonic take on pop that the band have become known for.

"I've always been a ladies man/and I don't have to brag/but I've become a ladies by/for Andrew in drag". Its rare to have a band so impressive and funny at the same time.

Written By Michael Wood Wednesday, January 11th, 2012

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