Don Broco @ Camden Barfly (gig review) 13.08.2012

This was probably the best gig I’ve been to, and it was the album release show that you had to preorder the album to win tickets to. Luckily, I won the tickets and headed up to Camden eagerly anticipating a great show, as I’d seen them (supporting) before, and they were excellent. It was perhaps a shame that the gig was on the same day as the album came out, because many of the new songs weren’t too well known, and they said that they couldn’t play every song on it yet because they’ve not learnt them all!

The doors were open at 7:30 and they had us waiting around until nearly 9:00, but boy was it worth it. It was good to meet some other people with similar music taste and I think everyone had a good time – even my +1 who didn’t know the band at all (he’s a ‘gig whore’).

It was a great shame that they only played for a little over an hour, but to be fair they only have one album and one EP and a few additional songs, so it was understandable. I’m quite glad there were no supports, because Don Broco were exhausting! The atmosphere inside the Barfly was incredible, and the songs were performed faultlessly.

These guys are doing so well on the UK iTunes rock chart and are getting national radio and BBC coverage too, so hopefully they’ve got a good future ahead of them, and I’ll be proud to say I’ve seen them twice already.

9/10

Another Year, Another Failed Eurovision Effort

It’s something we Brits have become well too accustomed to over our many years of participating in the annual Eurovision Song Contest, but it does seem to be getting steadily worse and worse every year.

Tonight, we managed to come an unimpressive 25th (or 26) thanks to Engelbert Humperdinck’s well sung and performed effort, gaining a dreadful 12 points. Putting things in perspective, Jedward got four times that – and people expected them to get more. So it was not a good year. A few years ago, new rules were put in place that were supposed to make the scoring system more representative of which act had the best song/performance, but it seems it has yet again failed to make the correct choice, picking an urban Swedish song as the winner, despite valiant efforts from many other countries. Truth be told, it wasn’t one of the best years in terms of talent (or song writing!), but there certainly were better songs than Sweden’s, and there certainly were worse ones than Engelbert’s.

I thought we’d picked a song that much of Europe would be able to relate to, and added to this, our singer had a German/Austrian sounding name, I thought we were sure fire at least a few points. Unfortunately, it was not to be, and ended up picking up points from only 4 countries.

In my memory, the only ‘success’ from a British Eurovision entry was Jade Ewen back in 2009, who managed to come 5th I believe, and I thought this symbolised a change in Britain’s fortunes. However, as above, it was not to be, and we then slumped to last place with Josh Dubovie. 2011 marked a better than average result, but this was perhaps because we employed the boyband ‘Blue’ as our artists – a good way of getting a few more votes. We came 11th with 100 points. But, as I’ve said, it’s back to winning ways for the UK and we landed a solid 25th spot without even votes from regulars Malta and San Marino.

In recent years, I have rarely disputed the victor, even though many of the higher ranked entries were unjust in my opinion. Notable winners include Germany’s Lena, Norway’s Aleksander Rybak and of course Finland’s Lordi. Last year’s winner, Azerbaijan, wasn’t undeserved either, but I wouldn’t have been happy to see them win again this year, nor would I have been happy to see six seventysomethings win purely because people thought they ‘were cute’. Despite this criticism, I did have a certain affection for Ireland (and ex X-Factor!)’s Jedward, who got their highest tally of points (10) from the UK and ended up comfortably beating us, even though our song was clearly a better song, thus proving the ridiculousness of the name ‘Eurovision Song Contest’. It’s not about the song any more, it’s more about the entertainment, but even that can be questioned in some of the performances. It doesn’t hurt to be close with your neighbours, either.

Bon Iver – Bon Iver (Review)

This is an absolutely outstanding album, dubbed by many as the album of 2011 by a band who are only into their second effort. Bon Iver is a band founded by the singer-songwriter Justin Vernon, and he has Michael Noyce, Sean Carey and Matthew McCaughan alongside him. Together they make some of the most touching music I have heard. This is not usually the genre I listen to, it’s much softer, much more emotional, and I love it.

Right from the first song, Perth, one can tell that this is going to be a great album, but it is not just great, it is unique. Vernon’s voice is incredible throughout and it is so different to anything else I’ve heard. It is difficult to find the words to describe this relatively brief collection of songs, but I dare say the word inspiring isn’t a poor start. The musicianship is kept quiet throughout but don’t allow this to make the album seem weak, the harmony of the strings, horns, and of course Vernon’s voice itself, is fantastic, and the lyrics to every song, especially the most popular single – Holocene – are moving.

The last song, Beth/Rest, is an abnormality in this album, with a completely different feel to it. I’m afraid I don’t really understand why it is part of the CD, and I think it detracts from the overall quality of the album. This song is why I wouldn’t give the album a perfect rating.

I have only just discovered this Vernon’s work, but I feel I will carry on following it for many years to come. This album is a beautiful construction, worth every penny, and I thoroughly recommend it if you are a fan of folk, indie or acoustic music. Or, failing that, any genre of music! It’s difficult not to be transfixed by stand out tracks such as Holocene and Towers, as well as the rest of the brilliant album of course.

9.5/10

Oli

 

Buy here:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/Bon-Iver/dp/B004ZAXYOU/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1337193566&sr=8-1

Holocene Video:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TWcyIpul8OE

The Skints – Part & Parcel (album review)

After hearing they were supporting You Me at Six, Kids in Glass Houses and Mayday parade in the Brixton gig I went to in April, I went ahead and bought their debut album, Live, Breathe, Build, Believe, and it was fantastic. A couple of months on and I’ve now invested in their follow up attempt, and it’s every bit as good. 

The dual vocals complement each other so well, much like they do in Of Monsters and Men’s ‘My Head Is an Animal’ (review here: https://olivermills6.wordpress.com/2012/05/09/of-monsters-and-men-my-head-is-an-animal-review/) The songs are less instantly catchy than before, but there are still some fantastic tracks in there. Rat-at-at is the big single, and Up Against the Wall Riddim is another memorable one. The whole album is solid though, and this is something we don’t always see in bands, especially in their second album, I find, some tend to drop off the boil a bit and include a few fillers. Not the Skints. This is a truly exceptional creation, mixing reggae, ska, rock and punk in a unique combination that sounds fantastic. I really recommend you give them a listen, and if possible go and see them. They are playing a day festival in June: http://www.banquetrecords.com/BBDOticket  

Overall, this is an excellent album and I have a funny feeling I won’t be getting bored of this lot any time soon… they’re a breath of fresh air is an increasingly drab industry.

9/10

Of Monsters and Men – My Head Is an Animal, Review

The six-piece indie rock/pop band that is Of Monsters and Men came to the public eye through winning a battle of the bands competition back in their native Iceland in 2010. Since then they have released My Head Is an Animal, a true masterpiece of modern music.

There are dual vocals – one male, one female, and they complement other very well. At times, the woman sounds like Florence & the Machine or Marina & the Diamonds – you get the idea – and I love that.

The album kicks off with Dirty Paws, a solid opener. 7.5/10

Next up is King and Lionheart, a slower affair that showcases their song writing ability. 8/10

Mountain Sound is much more upbeat a tune, but that shouldn’t take anything away from it, it’s another excellent track. 8.5/10

Slow and Steady takes us back to the slow style we’re now used to from OMAM. The drums are prominent here despite it being a quiet song. 7.5/10

From Finner builds brilliantly and doesn’t fail you. 8/10

Little Talks is the big hit single from the band, and deservedly so. If you want to listen to this song, I recommend watching the official video with it, it’s well worth it. Vocals are chilling here, and again, it builds so well. 9.5/10

Six Weeks, another enjoyable track but nothing groundbreaking. 7/10

Love Love Love is one of the best songs on the album. The lyrics are so meaningful and well delivered. 8/10

I like Your Bones, but it requires something more for me to say I love it. 7.5/10

Sloom is a superb track, so much meaning. 8.5/10

Lakehouse is another nice tune that builds up to the final one. Choruses of ‘la la la la la la la la la la’ stick in your head. 7.5/10

Yellow Light concludes the album well, another slow but steady song but you’re left feeling like there’s something missing.

Overall, this is a fantastic debut album from the band, and hopefully there’ll be many more to come. If you haven’t heard of them, check out Little Talks here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ghb6eDopW8I&ob=av2e

Album rating: 8.5/10

Deaf Havana, The Swellers and The Dangerous Summer – 26th April, 2012

My first visit to Camden’s Electric Ballroom was a very positive one. I went to see one band I’ve known for a few years (The Dangerous Summer), a band I’d only recently started listening to (The Swellers) and a band I’d already seen live and loved the new direction they’d taken (Deaf Havana). 

All three bands were excellent, but the atmosphere too was insane. The audience was mainly 16-22 year old rockers and the like, as it often is, and they did not disappoint either. 

The show kicked off with a The Dangerous Summer set that was unfortunately not too well known by the audience. Nonetheless, the band put in a stellar performance, and the songs sounded great. The highlights had to be The Permanent Rain (my favourite TDS song) and No One’s Gonna Need You More, a song off their recent album, War Paint. 7/10

Then came The Swellers, a band I did not know too well. Their songs, however, sounded familiar after I’d bought their new album (Good for Me) on the cheap a few weeks in advance. Most of the set list was from that album, as it happens, and the atmosphere was, appropriately (for the venue name), electric, making for a great performance from the Michigan outfit. 7.5/10

Last but certainly not least came Deaf Havana. When I saw them for the first time, back in October 2010 (for a measly £8, with two excellent supports, I might add) they had a screamer in the band and music that was primarily screaming. Unbelievably, I didn’t know much of their stuff before that gig, but there were some memorable songs back then and I ended up really liking their music, despite not normally liking screaming. But the band lost Ryan Mellor, the screamer, and instead took a different, more rocky and acousticcy path, leading to the much anticipated release of Fools and Worthless Liars, an excellent album by anyone’s standards. Most of the songs played in Camden were off that new album, but a couple of the old classics were played (sin the screaming), and they were Friends Like These and Nicotine and Alcohol Saved My Life. It was a completely different experience. I must admit, I think I prefer those two songs with screaming, but the new album certainly without. During Little White Lies, the female vocals could not be heard because of a technical failure, and this was certainly a disappointment, but did not ruin the show by any means. 8.5/10

Overall, I thought it was a thoroughly enjoyable gig and I think everyone else enjoyed it just as much as me. If you haven’t heard of any of these bands, and are into rock music, I certainly recommend you give them a listen.