Archive | May, 2012

Django Django, Pavilion Theatre, Brighton.

Django Django formed in Edinburgh in 2009 after meeting at Art College. We caught them at Brighton’s Pavilion Theatre, the huge queue outside a fair indication of how the band’s following has built up over the last couple of years although  undoubtedly the crowd is swelled further by the fact that they have been on Jools Holland’s TV show the night before.

On their eponymous album, released earlier this year, there are definite whiffs of the shambolic charm of the Beta Band but live I am surprised to find they have a pristine sound and incisiveness  which adds an epic quality that I wasn’t expecting. There is actually a Beta Band connection though as it turns out as drummer David Maclean’s big brother was a member of the much missed outfit.

Like the Beta Band Django Django understand how to mix their musical influences together in intoxicating ways: The keys cut through the mix  aggressively, threatening to turn the gig into a nineties style rave, the vocals float above the rest of the music with spacious psychedelic harmonies and the cowbell clanks as if your head is in a metal waste paper bin and Mr T is on the outside hitting the bin with a gold drumstick. At one point  the keyboards cut out, just as Grimes’ sequencers will do the following night but nothing can stop the Django feel good funnel for long and the ivories kick back in after a couple of minutes, albeit in mono.

From where we were standing, which was admittedly fairly near the back,  the pleasingly surreal impression I got of the band visually was that the group was made up of New Order’s Bernard Sumner on vocals, Jimmy Carr, the unnaturally huge headed joke jockey, on guitar and playwright Dennis Potter on keys.  On later reflection having seen their video appearance on BBC iplayer I realise this impression was possibly, arguably, slightly wide of the mark.  Either way Django Django are one of the best bands to emerge in the UK in a long time and live manage to be charming, exciting and original all in one accessible, love-able package and there just aren’t too many new bands around just now that you can say that about.

The Great Escape Festival – Juveniles at Komedia, Brighton

The French electronic/indie label Kitsune has been releasing good new music recently, especially the Citizens! debut album produced by Alex Kapranos of Franz Ferdinand and a couple of EP’s by three musicians from Rennes who call themselves Juveniles.

Juveniles are the first band Feast see today – a busy lunchtime show downstairs at Komedia and they turn out to be a brilliant start to the day. This French trio were a real find and I suppose this is what makes The Great Escape so alluring as a festival. I knew nothing about them except that they had recently signed to Kitsune. They announce that their next EP “One O Six” is due to be released in June.

Their sound combines guitars, drums, synths and programming which is inventive and energetic mixing electronica, punk rock and pop into an eclectic genre of music.
They stand apart in terms of electronic music the way that Daft Punk and Air did on their initial releases and are just as enthralling. The festival only schedules thirty minute live sets but Juveniles could have happily flexed and spread their sounds for a lot longer given the reception and encouragement they received from the crowd.

Live Review – This Is Music 6th Birthday feat. The Machine Room, Honeyblood and Magic Eye at Sneaky Pete’s, Edinburgh

Happy birthday This Is Music, you certainly know how to celebrate in style. We went along to join in the celebrations. Appearing tonight was an Edinburgh band and two Glasgow bands supporting Sub Pop favourites Still Corners. Being based in Edinburgh we’d heard good things about The Machine Room but didn’t know much about either of the Glasgow bands, Honeyblood and Magic Eye.

Magic Eye have just released an EP on cassette tape which you can get via their tumblr site at and tonight’s show coincides with their tour to promote it. They create tender melodic songs which are like sonic dreamscapes which wouldn’t be out of place in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. Heavily reverbed guitars swirl around dreamy vocals grounded by a solid electro drum beat. They’re back in Edinburgh with Honeyblood on Tuesday 29th May.

Honeyblood announce they only have six tapes left and wonder if anyone is going to go through to Glasgow the following day to see them at The Stag and Dagger Festival. I love it when you see a band you don’t know anything about and you get it and they’re great. This quite simply sums up Honeyblood. They term themselves a ‘garage rock-crunch pop’ band. Lyrically eloquent, they don’t pull their punches, as on Super Rat about a former relationship, “I will hate you forever, scum bag sleaze slimeball grease”. Single ‘No Spare Key’ is a standout as is their electrifying cover of The Innocence Mission’s ‘The Girl On My Left’. Probably no tapes left but visit their site anyway Got to be THE show of the week when they play with Magic Eye next Tuesday (29th May ) at Door 39, Niddrie Street.

The Machine Room come on stage all very unassuming; plug in, smile, and in an instant hit the audience with a brilliant electro-esque wall of sound which is made up of tracks from their recent ‘Love From A Distance’ EP. Each of their songs creates a lasting impression, highly emotive, full of synth stabs and echoing vocals and the crowd are obviously well aware of the qualities of this band when they cheer from the vocals which opens standout track “Camino de Soda”. All of their songs intrigues, building layer upon layer of sound into a catchy and very individual approach to creating haunting and beautiful music. See them at the end of term Edinburgh Art School revel on Friday June 1st.

No Spare Key by Honeyblood

Flamin’ Teenage by MAGIC EYE

Alabama Shakes, King Tut’s, Glasgow

Star studded audiences, tickets going for ten times their value and riding on a whirlwind of frenzied hype the Alabama Shakes rode into Glasgow. The atmosphere in ‘Tuts was electric, a packed crowd grinning in fevered anticipation, and there hung a hopeful sense of magic in the sweaty air. All too often bands arrive amidst the frenzied ‘the next big thing’, ‘band du jour’ and even every once in a while ‘the voice of a generation’. The album delivered but will the live performance equate the hype?

Bounding onto the tiny stage like a Southern preacher, Brittany Howard had the crowd in the palm of her hand from her first breaths ‘Goin to the Party’. Her soul-drenched holler has been compared to everyone from Janis Joplin, Howlin’ Wolf and Aretha Franklin her voice is something to really behold a Southern bellow that defies belief and stereotype in equal measure, whilst she contorts her face and attacks her geetar with bullying vigour.

Throwing their biggest song, the gospel-tinged ‘Hold On’ so early into their set could prove catastrophic for many bands but the ‘Shakes pull it off with ease, with the audience joining in the sermon all hands in the air and singing along.
Most of their debut album ‘Boys & Girls’ gets a preview with the soulful refrain ‘Hang Loose’ and the hearfelt, spine tingling ‘I found You’, follow in quick precesion. ‘Boys & Girls’ starts with Howard telling the crowd ‘I’m gonna tell y’all a lil storee….’ in her honeyed Southern drawl as the crowd whoops and claps, hanging onto every word and hollered syllable. Whilst the rest of band Heath Fogg and Zac Cockrell (can you get much cooler) and Steve Johnson also deliver a confident, assured and energetic performance. ‘Heavy Chevey’ is a rollicking, raccous shot of Southern rock n soul, a perfect set closer.

Remarkably, Alabama Shakes are doing nothing new, or fashionable but a band who with so much soul and conviction that everything else seems irrelevant. This time, believe the hype.

The Great Escape Festival – Holland at Mrs Fitzherberts, Brighton

The Great Escape is a new music festival and convention held over three days every May in Brighton. Being a fledgling blog who have also started a record label and soon to release our debut single by Maydays , we were really interested in attending the DIY panel discussions on how to develop and promote a record label in a rapidly changing music industry environment.

The other reason to attend was to see some great new bands that we could champion in an unlikely ploy to help attract these bands to come and play in Edinburgh. I do hope The Great Escape sticks to focussing on new bands and stays well clear of putting on a headline act to generate publicity which sadly Edinburgh’s own Haddow Fest did last year by booking Razorlight – paying a band who have no interest in the longevity of the festival a massive fee, which is perhaps one of the reasons the Festival has yet to appear this year, and in the process potentially depriving local bands of the experience of performing in a festival setting.

We arrive on the Wednesday evening which is when the Alternative Escape begins. This is a platform for bands who are not on the official festival playlist. We decide to go to the ‘Made In Cornwall’ night upstairs at Mrs Fitzherberts pub, but as we are pretty late in arriving only manage to see the last band of the evening called Holland.

Decked out in Cornish flags, upstairs at Mrs Fitzherberts is so small that getting thirty people in is pretty much a sell-out show. On first appearances it looks as if the band members are four feet tall, however the ‘stage’ is actually a two-foot drop from where the audience stands and a wide pillar which blocks the view of the band pretty much means that the singer is facing a wall for most of the set – a bizarrely intimate venue.

Holland are not influenced by The Beach Boys despite their name being the title of one of the bands’ great early ‘70’s records. Their music is fast and frenetic combined with dream-like vocals, but clearly they know how to create a dynamic within a song which keeps their slightly shoegaze approach appealing. They are incredibly tight and have a good sense of how to pace their set with current single “Lovely Bones” being a standout track which keeps this small but highly enthusiastic crowd jumping in admiration.

Holland – Lovely Bones 7″ by destinationmoon

The Great Escape Festival – Grimes at Digital, Brighton

There is a real sense of anticipation amongst the packed audience as Montreal electro-pop artist Grimes (aka Claire Boucher) sound-checks her own equipment. However, as the show starts, Boucher signals to the mixing engineer that there’s no sound emanating from her keyboard before realizing she hasn’t turned the volume up on it. An apologetic cry of “oops” only serves to endear her to the audience even more.

In between playing keyboards, sometimes two at the same time, Boucher howls and yelps into her microphone whilst doing some live looping, dancing and bouncing to the beat. She plays “Vanessa” which brings a huge cheer followed shortly afterwards by “Oblivion” and “Genesis” from her recent 4AD album “Visions”.

Boucher sports an ‘Anarchy’ t-shirt which is apt given the cacophony of sound she has mutated into what can only be termed wondrous and beguiling songs. She is joined on stage by two dancers decked out in all black clothing, sporting chalked faces weaving shapes to exemplify the twists and turns of Grimes’ musical vision. A great album…a brilliant performance.