La Bête Blooms, CHAMBERS – Union Mash Up, Hull

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I was trying to make it to 666 days since my last post when La Bête Blooms announced a special tiny show in Hull to celebrate the release of their excellent new single, Breaking In. I sorta had to go on account of how much I love La Bête Blooms and The Adult Teeth Recording Company in general.

With a stick of liquorice in my pocket and adventure in my heart, I got myself to the venue and waited patiently for the doors to open. It was only after spending 90 minutes stroking the hessian walls and blocking the way to the toilets that I thought of asking somebody what the darn heck was going on.

“The show? That’s next door, mate,” said the nice man with his craft beer.

This comeback was off to a great start.

Lovely, lovely hessian.
Lovely, lovely hessian.

Thankfully I didn’t miss any of openers CHAMBERS despite being a moron and that is a very good thing. CHAMBERS are loud as shit and that’s why their name is in capital letters. They’re certainly a capital band.

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Sorry.

CHAMBERS describe themselves as a two-piece sister doom band which is probably one of the best things I’ve ever heard and tops anything I could say about them, so I’ll just add that they’re really good. Here’s a terrible photo to prove I was there.

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Spot the band! Send in your answers for a top prize.

Also, here’s a video to make up for the fact that I wrote my notes in the dark and helpfully smudged them all, leading to this section being a lot shorter than it ought to be.

CHAMBERS. As somebody behind me exclaimed when they finished, “shittin’ ‘ell!”

Shittin’ ‘ell indeed.

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La Bête Blooms, man. Maaaan. Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan.

Fuckin’ love this band. They just keep getting better and better.

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Click the picture, hear the song! Internet magic.

Their new single kicks so much butt that if my butt had a butt on it then it would also have been kicked. La Bête Blooms are clearly as influenced by classic indie rock and Sonic the Hedgehog as everybody else but they stand out with their superior songwriting and passionate performances. Alliteration.

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It’s like 3D at the cinema but not.

Opening with the wonderful TV Speak from their debut EP, La Bête Blooms played a fast and powerful set full of new songs. A particular highlight was the second song of the night which I am assured will be appearing on their next EP. It was all dreamy and mysterious and it made me feel feelings. Always a good thing.

Sadly, all great nights must come to an end but memories are for as long as you remember them. La Bête Blooms put on a great show as they always do and CHAMBERS were absolutely superb. Give ’em a look for me, will ya?

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La Bête Blooms are set to release their second EP, I Know It’s Nothing, in 2017 on Adult Teeth and Warren Records. They’re on Facebook and Soundcloud.

I still can’t get over CHAMBERS. You can get a couple of tracks on Bandcamp and they’re also on Facebook and Youtube.

Union Mash Up was a nice place and had weird pictures on the walls.

 

 

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Live Review: Cheatahs, Menace Beach, Shinies at The Harley, Sheffield (February 15th, 2014)

Hello bus station coffee, my old friend...
Hello bus station coffee, my old friend…

As I got on the bus to Sheffield at a time that shouldn’t exist on a Saturday morning, I thought to myself, “What the fucking hell are you doing going to Sheffield? This is a really stupid thing to do. Why aren’t you sleeping like usual?”

Well, Mr. Internal Monologue Laced With Self-Doubt, you are dumb.

I saw Cheatahs last November (2013, if you are from the future) supporting METZ in Glasgow. It was excellent. Just… excellent. There are no words. That’s why I didn’t bother reviewing it. Yeah… that’s why.

Sheffield is nice. It has trams. I like trams. You buy the ticket on-board from a conductor, which is just adorable. Every public transport system should be so quaint.

Also, their coach station has padded seats and that's a major plus.
Also, their coach station has padded seats and that’s a major plus.

Would you believe my luck? The Harley is also a hotel, and if you stay at the hotel you don’t need to buy a ticket. This saved me the princely sum of £8 which I later invested in a drink or two. Or nine. It’s also really close to a little Sainsbury’s. This is good news if you are like me and make sandwiches in your hotel room to save money.

As far as hotels go I’ve stayed in fancier but I found it was pretty cosy. A little run-down but not dirty and at no point did I fear for my life. Considering recent experiences, The Harley might as well be the goddamn Marriott. I watched the Food Network, I napped a little. It was bitchin’.

Then I had a dreadful nightmare.
Then I had a dreadful nightmare.

I went downstairs and felt really awkward for a while. Also, £4.50 for a Kopparberg!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!??!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

Shinies were first up. They’re from Manchester. They’re also really, really good. I have a great attitude towards research so I knew absolutely nothing about them or even that they were playing, so I can’t tell you what songs they played. What I CAN tell you is that the songs were awesome. Definitely a band I’ll be seeing again.

If you don’t like to watch people eating, you can listen to the song by itself. I highly recommend it.

At this point I should mention that the music played between bands was just endlessly great. This is something that a lot of people neglect. A great opener should get you in the mood for the headliner, but what’s all that energy worth if you’re going to spend the next 20 minutes standing around being bored? I’m looking at you, Manchester Cathedral. You are boring.

The screen showed clips from Tarantino movies.
Menace Beach. The screen showed clips from Tarantino movies. Cool.

Menace Beach played in the middle and I shuffled myself down to the front. It’s really lame seeing an empty space at the front where there ought to be people – if you go right to the stage you no longer have to see the gap. This wasn’t an issue for much longer because Menace Beach are fucking brilliant. I’m going to save a lot of my gushing for the inevitable review of their EP, but I think I love them.

I took video. Here is video. It’s not the finest in the world, but sometimes shopping at Aldi isn’t so bad. Also, it’s my website so shut up. I do what I want.

Cheatahs are a real joy to see live. Their music is a fun mix of heavy, spacey and a little poppy that’s hard to dance to but a treat to hear. As good as their recorded material is (including their album which came out last week, it’s so good) nothing compares to seeing them live.

This was really the crowd looked like. Apart from not a cartoon.
This was really the crowd looked like. Apart from not a cartoon. Yes, this is how I dance.

There’s something about seeing Cheatahs that makes you forget about your life for a while. It’s hard not to feel like you could float away on the music. Some scienticians have found that good music increases dopamine levels in the brain. After this show, I believe it. It was a great spiritual cleanser.

If you think that sounds pretentious, you don’t understand because you weren’t there, man.

You know a thing I really like? When band members sit at the merch table. There’s something that feels so right about physically handing over your money to one of the people directly responsible for the stuff you’re buying. If I was a band I would totally do this, even if I was Nine Inch Nails.

I sort of hung out a little with Menace Beach. There was chocolate. There was rum. They are very nice.

Needless to say, I hated myself in the morning.

Bacon helped.

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Review: The Drone by We Are Knuckle Dragger (2013)

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The Drone is the second album by We Are Knuckle Dragger. They’re a very good band and this is a very good album, but will you like it? Maybe.

Knuckle Dragger aren’t a group for everybody, but that’s fine. They make the music they want to make, which shouldn’t really be such a fucking novelty, and that music is beautiful. Not beautiful like Chopin, but beautiful, glorious NOISE.

A huge shit-eating grin spreads over my face every time that first slab of grumbly rumbly bass starts molesting my speakers. Perhaps such mucky stuff shouldn’t make me so happy, but I can’t help it.

This shit’s all over the place and I love it.

The Drone was produced by Ross Robinson, the man who invented Slipknot, and he’s a great fit. As much of a crime Korn was he totally makes up for it with this. We cool, Ross, we cool.

I’m not going to talk about The Drone song by song because it’s not that kind of record. Everything is brilliant, that’s what you need to know.

It’s also heavy. Really heavy. Really fucking heavy. Jesus Christ, it’s heavy.

Do you like heavy music? Do you like noisy noise? Do you like to boogie? Do you like to rock and/or roll? Do you like grunge? Do you like to do a depressed shuffle to The Cure? Into ABBA?

None of the above?

Billy Joel 4 life.
Billy Joel 4 life.

You should listen to The Drone anyway. It’s only 29 minutes long, what else were you going to do today?

It’s been very interesting to see this album develop. I was lucky enough to attend a secret show in Knuckle Dragger‘s rehearsal space where they played 9 of these 10 songs (the 10th wasn’t done yet) only a few days before they were recorded and beaten into shape. To then see them (in HMV, of all places) perform the whole thing front-to-back on the day of release was a real treat.

If they come anywhere near you then try and catch them while they’re still cheap to see. If you live somewhere near Newcastle-upon-Tyne then your chances are better than most (I’ve seen them three times this year without really trying) but they tour the UK fairly regularly and it’s surely not long until they can pop on over to mainlaind Europe to give them a good kicking.

Look! They're in HMV!
Look! They’re in HMV!

Here are a few videos to give you an idea of what’s what and the full album is below (on Spotify). Here’s their official website where you can buy their albums. Do it!

The Drone track list:

  1. This Better Be Life Threatening Norman
  2. Starting Strength
  3. Class of 94
  4. Bunch of Fucking Mutants
  5. Sucker
  6. The Moon on a Stick
  7. Learning by Doing
  8. Here’s Your Shit Sandwich
  9. Flapjack the Ripper
  10. Funhouse

Review: The Bones Of What You Believe by Chvrches (2013)

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I feel strange. I was aware of Chvrches through their name alone and was very put off by it – in my head it manifests as Chvurchevesezeches – and so I ignored them in the hopes that they’d go away.

Pixies were on Jools Holland last week. I watched it. Chvrches were also on and I was feeling open-minded (read: lazy) so I chose not to fast-forward it. Not exactly to my tastes, I thought, but certainly intriguing. Their second song came after an interview with Black Francis, so I couldn’t ignore it, could I?

On that Saturday morning, sat in my pants and eating leftover Chinese food, I found myself thinking that this band were actually kind of great. That thought stuck with me all the way ’til Wednesday, when I decided that I could take it no longer and marched myself to HMV.

I bought an album that’s in the top 10 this week… because of telly. They’re so goddamned new that only one of their members has a Wikipedia page.

It was a great fucking decision.

The Mother We Share is both the first track on the album and my introduction to the group. Plenty of interesting things going on. Snappy synths and a lovely warm wash of a chorus. I’m not sure you could find a way to not like something about this song. She also swears. I love swearing! We Sink has another fuck. Is it because they’re from Glasgow?

Gun is a single or something. It’s got a video. Lots of nice colours! I could probably boogie to this, and I hate dancing. I really do. That’s just how good it is.

It’s like I’m inside the song, man.

Time for the slow track. Yay. Tether is a nicely atmospheric track, gloomy guitars, muffly bass and the sort of beat your heart does when you’re about to do something terrible. This is probably the electronic equivalent of the classic LOUDquietLOUD dynamic. Naturally, things get more complicated towards the end. This song deserves a decent video at some point.

Lies is the song that swayed me on that cold morning, wrapped up in my quilt and cradling my rice. It reminds me quite a bit of Black Celebration-era Depeche Mode – it may seem to be conventionally poppy but there’s also something horribly wrong, something unsettling. A nice splodge of Nine Inch Nailsian noise at the end too.

Oooh! Under The Tide is sung by somebody else, but I don’t know who does what at this stage so you will have to make up his name. Far from simply being a ‘letting Ringo sing’ moment, it’s a very good song and fits perfectly on the record.

I bought the CD, but this is probably where you turn the LP over.

No interesting caption, just a cool picture.

Recover is a pop sandwich – bright and bouncy bread with a filling that pleads for better, some salad, some cheese, anything. An utterly brilliant track.

What’s going on here? Science/Visions is going on, that’s what. For some reason it reminds me of Akira. Does that make me a massive nerd? It’s a very oppressive song. I love it.

Lungs brings to mind some of the more damning songs from Nine Inch Nails’ Year Zero. While it doesn’t necessarily sound like NIN it’s not lyrically dissimlar to songs like The Warning.

Closing time. You Caught The Light has some nice Martin Gore vibes and has other fella singing again. It ends things on a nice quiet note and leaves you feeling that, yes, you would quite like to play the album again.

You know what? That’s just what I did.

The Bones Of What You Believe is an excellent record and I’m very pleased that it exists and is successful. It deserves it. I’m also happy that people are buying such great music lately. Thank you, people.

Buy it today and make some Glaswegians happy.

Chvrches deserve all the success they can get. They write, perform and produce their own material and seem to do what the hell they like, which is always admirable. We have a female singer who sings like a real person and isn’t willing to take any of your shit. We also finally get some decent new electronic music that doesn’t have any shitting dubstep in it and isn’t trying to make me dance or buy trainers. It’s all very refreshing..

Everybody have a look at these people. They are awesome.

The Bones Of What You Believe track list:

  1. The Mother We Share
  2. We Sink
  3. Gun
  4. Tether
  5. Lies
  6. Under the Tide
  7. Recover
  8. Night Sky
  9. Science/Visions
  10. Lungs
  11. By The Throat
  12. You Caught The Light

Review: EP-1 by Pixies (2013)

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In keeping with their “let’s just release things when they’re fuckin’ ready” philosophy, Pixies stuck EP-1 on our internets recently, promising more to come.

We have two die-hard Pixieholics here on Off Your Shelf, so instead of fighting over it like hobos over meat it was decided that we both cover a side each. That’s a lot better, isn’t it?

Side One, by Sean

1) Andro Queen

2) Another Toe

Right from the start, Andro Queen is an unusual song in Pixieland. It’s not Gouge Away, so we’d better hate it, yes? Fuck you, Pitchfork. Fuck off back into your stupid hidey-hole of wankery.

Anyway, Andro Queen. It’s really quite pretty. Very spacesome, a little bit Bossanova II – Surfer’s Revenge. Is there a smidgen of auto-tune? Mayhaps, but it’s quite subtle and seems to be used as an artistic tool rather than to mask a lack of talent or ability. It’s certainly not as intrusive as it is on modern dancefloor smash Black Paisley.

It’s quite remarkable to have a Pixies release that doesn’t start off with a massive explosion of a song. Andro Queen is intriguing and invites you into the greater Pixiemystery that awaits within EP-1.

Another Toe is an interesting beast (and it is a beast). The rhyming progression takes a little getting used to at first, but it leads into such a stunning chorus that they could have just farted for the first 30 seconds and it would have been fine. We are treated to our first classic Joey Santiago licks on this track, masterfully underlining and enhancing without wanking all over the place like certain other guitarists might be tempted to.

Of course, when you let him loose he comes up with a great ghoulish bastard of a solo. Can you call it a solo? I’m calling it a fucking solo.

Are these songs insta-classics? No, but the Pixies have never been that way. EP-1 might take some time to sink in next to Surfer Rosa but it’ll get there. Buy it! And listen to side two, of course…

Side Two, by Holly

3) Indie Cindy

4) What Goes Boom

As a huge Pixies fan since the tender age of thirteen when a rather catchy track concerning a Japanese man driving his car over a cliff somehow managed to reach me on an existential level, I, like Sean, embraced this new EP with a happy face. Their first collection of songs in a number of years, and since the replacement of the inimitable Kim Deal with Female Bass Player Called Kim #2, a heavy sense of anticipation settles on the ears as one sits down to listen. Luckily, it doesn’t disappoint.

Indie Cindy takes its title from a term popularised by a semi-well known song by a band about as far removed from the Pixies as Meshuggah to Miley Cyrus. The good news is that the influence ends there. The song kicks off as classic Pixies, a smooth easy-going rhythm with the confident, casual lead guitar we’ve come to expect from these guys. Personally I hear a little Where is My Mind? influence touching the first half of the song.

The ‘new’ Pixies blasts into its own in the second half; fast, furious guitar licks just slightly too chaotic to be called ‘tight’, Francis’ hectic babble-singing riding over them. This works, somehow, by the quick transfer to the softly spoken, hypnotic chorus that has practically become a trademark. The song, according to Francis himself, is a direct attempt to re-seduce fans after their hiatus; suitably enough, it is comfortingly familiar while demanding that listeners stand up and take notice. And it works.

What Goes Boom, after the slow seduction, seems at first to be decidedly un-Pixies song. Squealing licks continue throughout, carrying Francis’ newfound confidence as he loudly proclaims his lyrics with an air of knowing that his seduction was successful. While the track slips past as generic rock on the first listen, subsequent attention reveals that many of the nuances and characteristics of the Pixies we’ve loved for years remain present, bold and strong. This track is just louder, more confident, slamming the band’s return to the music scene down in a way that can’t be ignored. And why would you want to?

Review: NonStopErotik by Black Francis (2011)

Mr. Francis looking a bit hungover.
Mr. Francis looking a bit hungover.

NonStopErotik is my favourite album by Black Francis. This includes everything he did with the Pixies, as Frank Black or even Frank Black & The Catholics – and some of those albums are my favourite albums in the whole entire world. This record sees Black Francis working with Eric Drew Feldman on keys again (and co-producing with Mr. Francis) which is always a winning combination. It’s also surprisingly sexy.

Not suitable for the kiddies.
Not suitable for the kiddies.

Lake of Sin starts off as all great records do, with drumming.  I’m pretty sure it’s about vaginas. O My Tidy Sum has some really cool synthesised strings and organ and stuff, while Black Francis sings in an impossibly high voice. It’s great!

Rabbits is probably even more difficult to sing along to, which is a shame because it’s the catchiest slow song you’ll ever hear. This one features not only mock-saxomaphone but also mock-harpsichord and is definitely a highlight.

Rabbits?

Wheels is a cover of a Gram Parsons/Flying Burrito Brothers song which is nicely sped-up and rocked-out but still retains some of that good ole country flavour with that dash of Gram Parsons’ own brand of desperation. Unlike most cover songs it fits perfectly on the record alongside the originals and inspired me to check out the original artist properly. Thank you, Black Francis!

You know what totally rocks? Dead Man’s Curve. There’s another version of this available on his earlier live-acoustic record, Christmass, so it’s interesting to hear how it developed in the years between that album and this one. There’s some classic Black Francis screaming in this one too.

Corrina is a nice punky fast little number which is a little overshadowed by the similar-but-better Six Legged Man coming next but I suppose every album has to have at least one participation trophy recipient. Wild Son is where NonStopErotik starts getting sexy again with some slight Sade piano and more difficult singing.

That's a very good try, yeah? Yeah.
That’s a very good try.

The last three songs are probably the best on the record. When I Go Down on You is the sickliest sort of ballad, drenched in honey and reverb. Title track NonStopErotik follows, stripping it all down to sensual piano and synth-strings with a slinky guitar solo thrown in for maximum sex. Both songs are kind of gross and very funny for it, which I believe was intended.

Speaking of which, “I wanna be inside, that’s my intention… inside of yooooooooouuuu” has to be one of the finest lines in the history of songwriting and is reminiscent of Mike Patton’s “Eeeeewww!” in the middle of Faith No More’s Lionel Richie’s Commodores’ Easy.

Cinema Star is a classic rock ‘n’ roll closing song, being enough to close the album in a satisfying way but not so much that you can’t just press play again (which I often do). The players all drop out one by one towards the end, leaving a mental image of everybody putting their instruments down and buggering off for a pint while Eric Drew Feldman tries desperately to finish the song.

For all that’s funny about these songs, there’s also a sincerity in the writing and the performance that helps keep it from descending into the knowing irony that has marred so many wonderful things. Black Francis – keeping it real as always.

NonStopErotik track list:

  1. Lake of Sin
  2. O My Tidy Sum
  3. Rabbits
  4. Wheels
  5. Dead Man’s Curve
  6. Corrina
  7. Six Legged Man
  8. Wild Son
  9. When I Go Down on You
  10. Nonstoperotik
  11. Cinema Star