Thursday, 26 November 2009

Live Review: Datarock, Thekla, Bristol, 23/11/2009

Datarock and Karin Park bring Scandinavian electro to Bristol’s longest running boat based live venue.

Karin Park opened the show playing songs from her wonderful Ashes To Gold album. The combination of dark lyrics, electro beats and straight out begging got the dozen or so early comers to get up and dance at the front of the stage.

Sadly only a few more people board the Thekla before Datarock arrive on stage to the canned fanfare of The Blog: the rapturous (recorded) stadium sized cheers seem a little overstated in the hull of a sparsely populated boat.

But the tracksuit clad Norwegians soon prove that no matter the venue no matter the size of the audience a Datarock gig is always something to cheer about.

The first part of the set is loaded with tracks from the band’s new album Red: The Blog is followed by Give It Up, True Stories and Dance which are all a lot of fun but it takes the older tracks Night Flight to Uranus and Sex You Up to really get everyone in the mood and moving.

During Princess the band introduce a dance they call the running man, soon enough everyone on the boat is jumping around in a fashion more suited to Aerobics OzStyle than a cool indie dance gig.

The good times just keep coming, one girl obviously unable to control herself storms the stage starts dancing with the band, screams in to the microphone, and pashes the drummer before being encouraged back down to the floor.

The always brilliant Fa Fa Fa is followed by the whole room screaming the call/response lyrics to Computer Camp Love before the band pogo their way through I Use To Dance With My Daddy.

Having played their three biggest songs in a row the band leave the stage with the promise “We are going backstage now, if you call out DATAROCK, DATAROCK we will be back in just a minute” While most people are happy for the breather no one wants the show to stop
And they are back on stage and before declaring "BMX is better than Sex" on Bulldozer they send out a tribute to their drummers. First best wishes are sent to their regular drummer who broke his leg while break dancing at the Birmingham show just two nights earlier. Secondly thanks is given to tonight’s drummer Daniel Park (Karin Park) who has filled the empty red tracksuit with ease, even taking on vocals duties for Ugly Primadona.

The night finishes with the whole band off the stage down in the crowd; dancing, playing saxophone, and posing for photos while leading a full room karaoke version of (I’ve Had) The Time Of My Life.

If I didn’t get sea sick I would ride this boat with the band all the way back to Norway.
Now I’ve Had The Time Of My Life, No I never felt this way before .....

Bawley (Hearts) 2009: Top 6 Covers of the Year

6. The Big Pink – Sweet Dreams (Beyonce)

The Big Pink’s delicate acoustic take on Sweet Dreams is the polar opposite of Beyonce’s over produced/polished pop, luckily the song is good enough to work for both artists. (link)

5. Gomez - From St Kilda to Kings Cross (Paul Kelly)

Gomez are regular visitors to Australia but it seems they keep coming back for more than the sunshine and beaches, they have also grown to love Paul Kelly. Here they give this distinctly Australian song some international favour. (link – skip to 13:40)

4. Dappled Cities – My Girls (Animal Collective)

Dappled Cities reveal that beneath all the Animal Collective (OMG! Animal Collective) hype My Girls is a really great song. (link – 13:30)

3. Mariachi El Bronx - I Would Die 4 U (Prince)

My third choice from triple j’s Like A Version series and by far the most unexpected. LA punks The Bronx swap their thrashing guitars and screamed vocals to and give this Prince booty shaker some Mariachi sunshine. (link – 12:00)

2. The Dead Weather – Are Friend Electric? (Gary Numan)

Jack White’s other other band apply their dark swampy blues to Gary Numan’s paranoid classic. The result dark, swampy paranoia – superb (link)

1. The Muppets – Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)

Only The Muppets could pull this off, watch below - and I challenge you not to hit the replay button.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Bawley (Hearts) 2009: Bottom 5 album covers of the year

Yesterday I posted my list of the best album art of 2009, now for some of the worst.

5. Morrissey – Years of Refusal

The cover of Morrissey’s latest album does nothing to dispel rumours that he eats small children for breakfast.

4. MSTRKRFT – Fist of God

A mish-mash of butts and thighs in the shape of a fist: the fist of God. God is angry, fear his wrath.

3. U2 – No Line On the Horizon


2. Weezer - Raditude

As lame as it is, the jumping dog on the cover is the rad-est thing about this appalling album.

1. Wolfmother – Cosmic Egg

Apparently the universe is a cosmic egg that cycles between expansion and total collapse. It expanded from a concentrated form —a point called a Bindu. The universe, as a living entity, is bound to the perpetual cycle of birth, death, and rebirth

Wolfmother are an Australian rock band with a bent for 70s rock riffs, fantasy world lyrics and horrible cover art. This is one rotten egg.

Also: What is that skinny naked boy doing in the bushes?

Music Snobs Protest Predictable Use Of Metallica, Pantera To Torture Prisoners

WASHINGTON—Amid continued reports detailing the CIA's use of loud music to torture detainees at Guantánamo Bay, pop-culture elitists from across the country gathered in the nation's capital Monday to protest the uninspired song selections employed in the brutal treatment of inmates.

"To remain silent about the abhorrent methods used to interrogate alleged enemy combatants would be a betrayal of the ideals we hold most dear," said New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones, a spokesperson for the loose coalition of music snobs. "I mean, 'Enter Sandman,' from Metallica's 1991 self-titled album? Really? Not to say there isn't some classic stuff on the torture playlist, but even my 12-year-old nephew would choose something a little more unexpected than Nine Inch Nails to shatter an utterly demoralized man's already tenuous grip on reality."

"They could have at least picked an excerpt from Dream Theater's A Change Of Seasons EP to play at 120 decibels for 14 hours a day," Frere-Jones continued. "If I were handcuffed to a chair with something as tired as Tupac's 'Keep Ya Head Up' blasting in my face, I'd probably pass out from boredom, despite the painful sleep deprivation stress positions."

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Sunday, 22 November 2009

Bawley (Hearts) 2009: Top 5 album covers of the year

Album art just about managed to survive the shift from record to CD (from 12 inches of cover space down to 5) but the move to digital downloads and ever shrinking mp3 player screens are proving difficult for many of today’s artists.

Not all hope is lost. Here are five of the best examples of album cover art circa 2009.

5. Neko Case – Middle Cyclone

Neko Case crouched on the bonnet of a muscle car, sword in hard ready to pounce...enjoy the album, just don’t get in her way.

4. The Xx – The Xx

The CD version of this album comes in a black cardboard sleeve with the ‘X’ cut out revealing the white inner booklet. A great idea that translates to a great image when shrunk down to 100x100 pixels.

3. Manic Street Preachers – Journal For Plague Lovers

The cover of Journal for Plague Lovers, an oil painting by Jenny Saville, was judged to be too offensive for public display.

Apparently the heavy red and brown brush strokes can be interpreted a blood on the boy’s face – of course, this is a subjective view.

Commenting on the controversy, singer James Bradfield said:
"You can have lovely shiny buttocks and guns everywhere in the supermarket on covers of magazines and CDs, but you show a piece of art and people just freak out ... We're not going to censor it or anything ... It is what it is."
2. Yeah Yeah Yeahs – It’s Blitz

This action shot of a lady’s hand, chipped nail polish crushing an egg, perfectly captures the bands dangerous energy and, like many of the great album covers, it works no matter the size.

1. Danger Mouse and Sparklehorse – Dark Night Of The Soul

The cover art for a blank CD-R. The release of the Danger Mouse/Sparklehorse/David Lynch collaboration was scuppered by legal issues, but rather than bury the project the recordings were leaked to the internet and collaborators released a limited edition 100 page booklet with an accompanying blank CD-R. The packages sold out in near record time, proving that modern music fans will pay for quality album art.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Heavy Metal World Cup – Drinking From the Goblet

After a week of demon summoning death growls, face melting guitar solos, whiplash inducing hair windmills and reversed satanic verses the 6Music Heavy Metal World Cup has come down to Black Sabbath vs Iron Maiden.

Two UK giants: one invented the genre, the other continues to define it.

With their 30+ year career, skeletal mascot, massive live show and refusal to die, the winner of the Heavy Metal World Cup is Iron Maiden.

Get a full run down of the results on the updated Heavy Metal World Cup wall chart.

Horns Up \m/

PS: Do watch the video’s linked above, if nothing else metal is always funny.

Tuesday, 10 November 2009

Heavy Metal World Cup – The Group of Death

Today BBC 6Music’s Steve Lamacq announced the 16 bands that have qualified for the first round of the Heavy Metal World Cup.

The 16 bands and their first round fixtures are:
Slayer vs Van Halen
Black Sabbath vs Metallica
Judas Priest vs Def Leppard
Rainbow vs Saxon
Iron Maiden vs UFO
Kiss vs AC/DC
Deep Purple vs Anthrax
Motorhead vs Led Zeppelin
So some big first round clashes, hear Bruce Dickson's (of Iron Maiden) analysis of the first round fixtures on Listen Again.

You can follow the progress on the Heavy Metal World Cup Wall chart, or by tuning into 6Music from 5pm (GMT) every day this week. Listen Live.