Monday, 6 July 2009

Egyptian Hip Hop

Firstly, great name, Eygpitian Hip Hop, I’ve got to hand it to them, really great name. You may or not be dissapointed to hear they don’t sound anything like Eygpitian hip hop, not that I’m really sure what that sounds like, but I’m pretty sure it’s nothing like this. The band,who hail from Manchester, are apparently still in school, and you can definitely tell it’s a young band but their three demos that I’ve heard so far really shows promise. (I’ve just read they’ve only played three gigs, which is pretty scary). Rad Pitt (again, great name) has already been on repeat for days. A sort of lo-fi Cure with a bit of John and Jehn mixed in there, with cascading guitars, huanting yet uplifiting electronics and their part sung part spoken vocals all adding to probably one of the best demos I’ve heard this year, certainly from a band so young. Unfortunately I won’t be in London for the next gig but they’ve got three upcomng gigs in Manchester and London so go and check them out.

Egyptian Hip Hop-Rad Pitt

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Tina Turer and Marvin Gaye

Every now and again I spend my hard earned free time YouTubing Tina Turner, it's always worth it, especially when I discovered this little gem. A young Tina Turner performing with Marvin Gaye in 1965. It's even better than you'd imagine. Tina kicks things off but when Marvin kicks in, oh baby baby, it's sweet.

Wave Machines-Free Download

Well folks, it's been a while, but my first post back is this, a free Wave Machines download; BOOM TIME!!!

Saturday, 28 February 2009

top banana: amadou and maraim; heroes; wave machines; post war years; james yuill; rafa

Most of the time it’s pretty rubbish being unemployed. Days merge into one, you never have any money to do anything, you spend most days looking for jobs that you can actually do, then when you do actually find a job you want to apply for, you send off your CV and never hear anything back. But on days like Wednesday its bloody great being unemployed. At 12 I met an old friend from uni and we headed down to Pure Groove to see Amadou and Mariam. Having only recently discovered the Malian duo I was very excited about getting the chance to see them.

They came onto stage to a rousing reception but I have to say during the first song I was starting to doubt them. They didn’t have any backing band and I just thought it sounded a bit weak with just him on guitar. However as their set went on they just kept getting better. Amadou’s guitar playing was pretty special as well, whacking out these really rhythmical, entrancing solos. They both had good voices but Amadou was definitely the star of the show. He's just a dude and he always had the biggest grin on his face when he was playing his solos.

So gig number one was a success. After returning home for a few hours and watching the new episodes of Heroes (maybe the best one since the Company Man episode) I headed out again to the Lexington for the Chess Club singles tour with my favourites Wave Machines, Post War Years and James Yuill. Since the moment I found out Wave Machines and Post War Years were playing on the same bill I’ve been very excited. I can’t see how these two bands aren’t going to destroy this year, and if they don’t, I really will have lost all faith in the human race.

Wave Machines were first on and they were as good as I knew they would be. The singles were both massive. Keep The Light On was even sexier and more menacing live. For their penultimate tune Carl took front man responsibilities for a song that I hadn’t heard before but it was an absolute belter. They ended their set with soon-huge-mega-anthem Punk Spirit. I really can’t stress enough how fantastic Wave Machines are. They just write great pop songs but with being twee or any of that rubbish. They just write fucking cool, super catchy songs. The only downer on the evening was that they announced their album wasn’t out until the May, and I’m really not sure if I can wait that long.

So after the sublime Wave Machines, it was Post War Years time. I’ve seen them five or six times and always really enjoyed them. Along with Wave Machines and Mumford and Sons (and maybe We Have Band), they’re definitely one of my favourite new bands. But I have to say before I think I was leaning slightly towards Wave Machines. But I was not expecting what came next. Thirty minutes of one the most mind blowing sets I’ve probably ever seen, especially from a band who haven’t even released their debut album yet.

I was just entranced. I’ve heard most of the songs they played before but they’ve obviously been working on them. I can’t really find the words to do their set justice. At the heart of their sound are the drums and Fred’s a great drummer. I love watching drummers who just hit the drums fucking hard, giving it all with just a massive grin on their face. Matt Barrick from The Walkmen is a prime example of this, and Fred has joined this list for me. Their songs don’t have the immediate accessibility to them as Wave Machines but in the midst of the hectic drumming, whirling synths, huge bass lines are these great songs. If this was the Champions League Final, then I think Post War Years would have beaten Wave Machines on penalties. But it would have been a great game' end to end stuff, long range pile drivers, diving headers, silky skills, over head kicks, the lot.

Following on from them was James Yuill. I’m still in two minds about James Yuill. I like his music but sometimes I feel like his vocals aren’t quite strong enough, they’re nice but just don’t grab you by the balls. And I like being grabbed by the balls. In fairness he did have a huge act to follow after both Wave Machines and Post War Years. But nonetheless I still enjoyed his set. You can tell he’s a nice guy, got a good sense of humour and his mixture of folk and electronica works well and he’s got some good songs. They just maybe should have swapped the line up around. But all in all, I haven’t been to a gig as good as that in a long time.

To wrap the day up I returned home having managed to not hear the Liverpool score and watch them beat real Madrid on Sky Plus. Days don’t get much better than that. Top banana. Top Banana.

Friday, 20 February 2009

passion pit @ pure groove

My passion for Passion Pit was starting wane slightly. I discovered them over the summer and spent a lot of my spare time listening to their MySpace. I did however begin to lose a bit of interest. I was really keen to hear more and I still loved their tunes but I had just started listening to other things. But when I found out they were playing an in store at Pure Groove I was eager to see how they translated their ridiculously euphoric, synth driven pop live.

So after a hearty traditional German lunch we wandered down to Pure Groove. Despite suffering from technical difficulties they put on a great, albeit brief show. Lead singer Michael Angelakos greeted everyone with an exuberant hello, only to be greeted with a sea of blank faces. ‘Jeez, you guys alright?’ obviously slightly deterred, ‘We’ve come along to see you guys’. Welcome to London! (Although in all fairness the crowd was far more enthusiastic by the end of their set).

They were obviously suffering from technical problems but this did not stop them from giving it their all. All their songs sounded a lot bigger live than on record and amazingly Michael could hit all the high notes live. My one criticism is that they perhaps could have done with some backing vocals, but that’s only a very small complaint. I’ve Got Your Number was absolutely massive as were the ridiculous synth solos at the end. And yes, Sleepyhead was great. It sounded even more like a massive anthem in the waiting. Unfortunately their show at Cargo on Monday is sold out because I’d love to them do a full set at a proper venue. My Passion for the Pit is back.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

wave machines

I've posted a piece about the AMAZING Wave Machines on Shattered Satellite, a great new music blog that Jehan has kindly allowed me to write for. But I had to mention them on meandbruce as I just can't get enough of them. Especially as last night, just as I had finished my exceedingly cheap bottle of wine and was heading off to bed, I noticed that they had uploaded new tracks to their MySpace. Unsurprisingly they're all absolute tunes and they kept me up for another hour listening to them again and again on repeat. I really can't remember the last time that I have been as excited about a new album as I am about the forthcoming Wave Machines album. It's going to be MEGA.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009


As I'm on the subject check this video out. x

choir of young believers and laura marling @ rough trade

Last night I popped down to Rough Trade to check out Choir of Young Believers and a ‘mystery mercury nominated guest’. I was sort of holding out for M People until I remembered that did actually win it bizarrely enough. The trusty 26 and 388 buses were both non existent for over half an hour. Fortunately I arrived at Rough Trade in time for Choir of Young Believers. Unless you’re Danish you probably won’t have heard of COYB. The band have had huge success in the home country, scoring several number ones as well as collecting several awards at the Danish equivalent of the Grammys. They’re releasing their UK debut single Action/Reaction via Chess Club this week. The band had only flown in a few hours prior to the gig and looked fairly confused and the sound wasn’t great but they played a good set. They sound like a mix between Sigur Ros, Fleet Foxes and Flaming Lips if they were from Denmark rather than from Mars. At times they went a bit too serious for my liking, but I think that says more about my tastes rather than the quality of the band. The lead singer Jannis Noya Makrigiannis has a beautifully haunting voice. I could imagine loving it amongst 20,000 Danes at some Danish music festival as the music had a real big sound. The highlight of their brief set was their last two songs which included their single Action/Reaction. I could feel the place lifting, a more upbeat number than the rest of their music. A sort of Danish Flaming Lips with bongos. I definitely recommend checking the band out live and on record.

After their set everyone seemed to be filtering out so I assumed that the mystery guest had already played or wasn’t going to but as I was slowly making my way to the door I walked past this diminutive blonde girl getting a guitar out. Through a possess of elimination I realised it wasn’t Thom York or Guy Garvey so it must be Laura Marling. And she was unbelievably good. She just played three new songs with just her and her guitar but her level of song writing is unbelievable. I came away from Rough Trade with the conclusion that a) comparisons to Joni Mitchell are fair, if a little premature, and b) she must be like Brad Pitt in Benjamin Button because surely she can’t really be 19 and writing songs like she does.

Monday, 16 February 2009

getting it out

Listening to Marina and the Diamonds has made me think again about the lovely Regina Spektor. I started listening to her music a few summers a go and then later that summer I went to V festival. The festival itself was fairly rubbish. My only previous festivals had been Glastonbury and Reading. Since the moment I walked into Glastonbury I knew this was the best festival, incredible line up and for five days you are completely lost in a different world with 100,000 different people, all on the same page. Reading, I enjoyed but wasn’t as taken with it. Like V Festival you’re forced to camp outside the arena and have to queue to get in and out. But at least it had its own identity and a great line up. The line up for this V Festival was pretty good, Radiohead headlined, and I saw Divine Comedy, Richard Hawley, Jim Noir, Morrissey, Son of Dave. But it just lacked atmosphere, the bands sets were short and not only could you not take alcohol into the arena, you had to pay for everything. You even had to pay for the programme, even the one you hang around your neck, so unless you wanted to splash out a tenner on one of those you had no way of knowing the times of when the bands were on. There was also a constant smell of poppers following you around everywhere you went. (I can neither confirm nor deny these were Richard Branson branded poppers but I wouldn’t put it past them).

But on one of the afternoons we all went to a packed tent to see Regina Spektor. She came on shyly announcing that she found all of this terrifying and to be honest, she had already won me over then. But what followed was the most intense, captivating, beautiful, awe inspiring set that I have probably ever seen. Everyone in the crowd was transfixed. In one of her songs she had this long build up and the second time she came round to it the crowd was going so wild she had to pause for a moment to let everyone settle down a bit before continuing. I have never experienced anything like it. As she was coming towards the end of the set she was playing her song Samson. Everyone was quiet, soaking in every last note, every last word, every last smile, every last gesture, all in the knowledge that soon this moment will be gone. Never again would you be in the same place, with the same friends surrounded by the same people listening to the same music and when it's over all you will be left with is memories and the knowledge that you had just witnessed something very special. The crowd was at this point was so quite, no one was talking, everyone’s eyes transfixed to the stage. ‘You are my sweetest downfall, I loved you first, I loved you first’ and then in the middle of this moment of pure transcendent beauty came this thick northern voice from behind us, ‘Get your rat out!’ Unbelievable. I mean, still to this day I can’t imagine what was going through his mind. This sweet, shy woman was pouring her soul out at the piano, giving it her all for us lucky few and all that could come into his mind was to shout ‘Get your rat out.’

Friday, 13 February 2009

me and bruce

Me and Bruce had a rocky start to our relationship. When I had just started out at senior school we had this prefect who was in charge of looking after our class. And I remember at the time we all thought he was the coolest man on the planet. He used to come in and play us Stereophonics covers on his acoustic guitar before assembly, tell us how it was, and best of all discuss his sex life with us during games of fumble (having read this back that really sounds quite inappropriate, but what I mean is the innocent game when you throw a ball against a wall and try not to fumble the ball). Which for a bunch of 12 year old school boys in a predominately all boys school was, well, maybe not jaw dropping but certainly an eye opener. He used to tell us about ‘sex Wednesdays’ when he’d skip school and go and ‘give it’ to his girlfriend all afternoon long. I remember one of my slightly over excited class mates asking him with genuine curiosity had he ever strapped a dildo to his head and done her that way.

But anyway, skip forward about four years, the aforementioned prefect has left school and we were a bit more savvy, we knew what was cool and what was not and most of all we were beginning to think what the fuck was this prefect doing hanging out with twelve year olds, playing us Stereophonics covers and telling us about his sex life, I mean, what a fucking loser. And he was, he really was, I’m really not exaggerating just for the sake of the story. So, we’re at this party of one of our mate’s older sisters, and who is there but the aforementioned prefect sporting a leather jacket with his hair in a pony tail. Spotting some of his former disciples he approaches. ‘Alright lads’. ‘Yep, no, we’re alright thanks…’ So me and my friend started chatting with him. It turns out that he was now at uni in Manchester and singing in a band (who would have been alright if wasn’t for his awful lyrics and vocals) And after a brief chat with him he left us but not before giving us a last piece of advice. ‘Two things lads, firstly; at uni you’ll get bored of pussy, I mean all uni is, is pussy, pussy, pussy. All you have to do is go up to a girl, say, hi I’m Ed, I do Drama Studies, what do you do? And next thing you know you’re back at yours strapping a dildo to your head. Second, when it comes to music look no further than The Boss.’ ‘The who?’ ‘Springsteen man, you really have to look no further.’

Prior to this I had little exposure to The Boss, all I knew was that he was someone that my parents listend to and he was born in the USA. So for a few years after that anytime anyone mentioned Springsteen and I would dismiss it straight away. (I am deeply, deeply sorry Bruce.) But as my teenage angst was slowly becoming a distant memory I began approaching things with a more open mind. And then when I was driving round France one summer Born To Run came on my friends I Pod. And it hit me, what the hell have I been saying all these years, turn this up. BABY WE WERE BORN TO RUUUUUUN. Yes Springsteen. Suddenly everything before then seemed hollow, meaningless, just an empty void. On returning home I got everything The Boss had recorded. Not only did he have the hits but his albums were incredible as well. I mean Nebraska, an acoustic album with genuine gravity and beautiful songs. His early stuff, amazing as well, right from the word go in 1973 when he released Greetings From Asbury Park he was writing great songs. That’s over three decades of putting out monster tracks. In 2002, in the wake of 9/11 America was reeling, they had been suffered the worst attack on home soil and they had a man in the whitehouse for who was still trying to get to grips with pretzels. Up steps Springsteen, releasing The Rising, written about 9/11, but not only that, it was one of his best album in years. If ever there was time for Bruce to stand up for the country he loves so much, then surely that was it. The crowning moment for me came last summer when we went to see Springsteen at the Millenium Stadium. No support band, just two and a half hours of pure Bruce. And there were no lulls in the set. Two and half hours of tune after tune after tune. All the while Springsteen was running around, going into the crowd, falling to the ground and yes, a massive power slide on his knees. All around us 60,000 people (mainly middle aged men) having it to Bruce. Fucking brilliant. All we can do now is pray he’s is on the main stage at Glastonbury this summer.

Bruce Springsteen - Blinded By The Lights


I decided to give Marina and the Diamonds a re-listen today and decided that I liked her songs and that it reminded me a bit of a British Regina Spektor but also Micachu. Then the obvious question popped into my head, who would win in a fight, Marina or Micachu? Both relatively new, ‘kooky’ female singers with similarish voices. I went to see Micachu at the end of last year and although she is diminutive in size she does look like she could handle herself in a scrap. Unfortunately I haven’t had the chance to see Marina live yet but from her photo she seems feisty enough and after further research it turns out a) she claims she’s from Ancient Greece, home of the ancient art of wrestling, b) she’s actually from Wales, home of the late night, city centre wrestling and c) she did actually throw a punch at a member of her audience at one of her gigs, albeit a ‘girls punch’.

So at this stage I would say it’s maybe favouring Marina. But would their respective bands be involved as well? The Shapes who perform with Micachu consist of another girl and a very talented but slightly geeky male drummer. On Marina’s MySpace she says that we are the Diamonds, which is nice, but slightly unfair in this context. So the solution? Well this is my solution, which I think is the fairest. Put on a silent gig (like a silent disco but with bands playing at each end of the venue at the same time) and see who attracts the most listeners. Then during the final song both Marina and Micachu advance to the middle of the venue with their respective fans that they have just won over standing behind them (they will also be taking part in this fight). Then let battle commence, last kooky female singer standing wins. Simple, and I think you’ll agree, fair. So I’m off to get in contact with their respective managements and I suggest you give both equally fabulous Marina and Micachu a listen.