FEATURE: THE SMITHS – STRANGEWAYS, HERE WE COME…

The Smiths

Strangeways-Here-We-Come-Smiths

I was nine years old, foolish and feeble, when I first heard “Stop Me If You Think You’ve Heard This One Before” by The Smiths. Even to my impossibly young and tiny mind I could sense it was something special – the greatest piece of music I’d ever heard. Not that I was any kind of taste-maker savant: I was listening to Starship, The Bangles, and Mel & Kim at this time – life was so much simpler then! But something happened during those three and a half minutes – a firing of synapses, an explosion of neurochemicals, a cloudburst of endorphins – that started a love affair (one-sided, as far as I know) that would stay with me for life.

“Best of Lists” – gospel to some, anathema to others – will tell you that The Queen Is Dead is the quintessential Smiths album...

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MARCH REVIEWS: Maximo Park, Sky Ferreira, Real Estate & Foster The People

Sky Ferreira - Night Time, My Time

SKY FERREIRA – NIGHT TIME, MY TIME

Some critics say music is cyclical, that it follows unruly patterns – a tide retreating back and forth, with continuous reconstruction of earlier works. It’s a ridiculous euphemism, of course.

In reality, music is parasitical, a constantly shifting and evolving monster, frequently splintering and fracturing; each genre preying on the other for endless inspiration. “Pop” is the Music God’s greatest false prophet: a genre promising continual innovation, but more like a bloated, swollen, regenerative serpent – one gorging eternally on its own tail.

Sky Ferreira’s debut LP ‘Night Time, My Time’ tries to slyly absorb the fashionable reflections of the current zeitgeist – straining itself to become a blissful blend of sparkling synth-pop and grimy indie...

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REVIEW: FUTURE ISLANDS – SINGLES

Future Islands - Singles

The “manopuase”: that curious time in a man’s life when, burdened with a heady sense of his own mortality, and acutely conscious of the legacy he’ll bequeath to posterity, he arrives at a cross-roads where he must decide: What kind of Man do I want to be?  Samuel T Herring – prophet and frontman for Baltimore synth-pop outfit Future Islands – has hit this point in his life earlier than most men. Resultantly, the existential angst that comes with the shadow of age looms large throughout Singles. But in asking his band this question, Future Islands have answered by crafting the most exciting LP of their flickering, fluttering eight year career.

There’s an element of theatricality behind the songs on Singles, but you only need witness Herring’s recent electrifying performan...

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REVIEW: BROKEN BELLS – AFTER THE DISCO

Broken Bells - After The Disco

My review of the the new BROKEN BELLS LP AFTER THE DISCO over at PRETTY MUCH AMAZING:

6.7 Stars (6.7 / 10)

“Broken Bells” – it’s a curious moniker, evoking the image of dusty cracked instruments, abandoned in a hidden basement to silent centuries of stony sleep, unable to fulfil the duty for which they were created – to make music. A smart satirical name then, for a group comprising musicians famed for their unbridled creativity and zealous work rate: James Mercer, the creative mastermind behind indie darlings The Shins; and uber-producer Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton), a man boasting a golden touch that packs more potency than Phrygia’s King Midas.

First things first: it’s a more accomplished LP than their debut – the melodies are dreamier and more inventive, Mercer’s delivery more e...

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FEATURE: LONDON GRAMMAR

I sat down with London Grammar for Pretty Much Amazing before their show for “London Calling” at Paradiso Amsterdam – to discuss their monumental year. We spoke about The National, Dot’s uncanny resemblance to Julian Casablancas, and what the band had in store for 2014!

London Grammar 4Hanna Reid on stage at Paradiso after our interview (photo by Willem Schalekamp)

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LIVE REVIEW: HAIM – MELKWEG – AMSTERDAM

I attended Haim ‘s Amsterdam leg of their Days Are Gone tour and reviewed it over at CLASH MAGAZINE..

IMG_0753Image: Raymond Van Mil

“Dressed in faded denims and cracked leathers, and wielding their instruments like seasoned rock stars, Haim’s appearance tonight betrays the direction their sound takes – embracing their debut’s rockier elements instead of its breezier pop leanings…”

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LIVE REVIEW: VAMPIRE WEEKEND – HEINEKEN MUSIC HALL – AMSTERDAM

I attended the Vampire Weekend ‘s Amsterdam leg of their Modern Vampires tour and reviewed it over at GLASTONBURY TO PARIS

Vampire Weekend

“It’s refreshing to see a band turn things round and snatch victory from the gaping maw of defeat – but there are few things as entrancing as watching a vampire rediscover its bite…”

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LIVE REVIEW: THE NATIONAL – HEINEKEN MUSIC HALL – AMSTERDAM

I recently attended the The National ‘s Amsterdam leg of their Trouble Will Find Me tour and reviewed it over at Clash Magazine.

DSC02082Image: Tassos Papazoglou

EXTRACT – “They finish with ‘Terrible Love’ – how could they not? Its title, its lyrics, it themes – they’re all illustrative of the contradictory duality at the heart of The National. Tonight, Berninger is introvert and extrovert, supergeek and superstar, manic depressive and life-and-soul: all at the same time. The National’s live performance scorches because – seemingly wracked by insecurity and wholly unsure of what he wants to be – Matt Berninger becomes everything, all at once.”

The below pic isn’t in the review, it’s a cheeky snap I took… During ‘Mr November’, frontman Matt basically crowd surfed/ made his way to the...

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REVIEW: CUT COPY – FREE YOUR MIND

Cut Copy Free Your Mind

 

My review of the the new Cut Copy LP Free Your Mind over at Pretty Much Amazing:

“Several tracks are too long, and the trio of short interludes feel unnecessary – threatening to pull you out of the moment and stifle the gradually escalating sense of euphoria. This is a small complaint, however, given the consistently infectious hooks and melodies, and the manner in which it brilliantly and wistfully evokes rose-tinted memories of the lost “Golden Age” of dance…”

7.5 Stars (7.5 / 10)

 

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LIVE REVIEW: LONDON CALLING – PARADISO – AMSTERDAM

I recently attended the London Calling festival in Amsterdam, and reviewed it over at Clash Magazine.

London Grammar 4

London Grammar by Willem Schalekamp

“The Dutch – they may be perennial underachievers on the football field, but when it comes to live music they really know how to stage a festival. Just weeks after hosting the colossal Amsterdam Dance Event, the Dutch music scene twists its gaze onto good old rock ‘n’ roll, with the second leg of its bi-annual music festival London Calling…”

Bands in the review: Circa Waves, Mac DeMarco, The Dodos, London Grammar, and MS MR…

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