Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Wave Picture perfect

QUAINT, pleasant, parochial, kooky, out on a limb - The Wave Pictures' home village of Wymeswold has certainly influenced the band's debut album Instant Coffee Baby.
For The Wave Pictures exude the same kind of ramshackle charm and quintessential rural English qualities as the countryside that spawned them.
Frontman David Tattersall, although not blessed with the best singing voice in the world, demostrates a likeable sense of humour as dry as a Oscar Wilde's funny bone.
For example on I Love You Like A Madman he quips "I'll buy you bras instead of pickled eggs, chocolate instead of chutney" over the band's dishevelled rural indie in a way that all boyfriends who ever had good intentions can empathise with.
My only criticism of the group, who can be rightfully proud of their label debut is that after all the promising demos and EPs, Instant Coffee Baby still sounds like it was recorded in the village hall, and not in a plush studio on a big budget where this band patently belong.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Goodness gracious...


SO IN your face are young guns Hadouken! that even their name is a form of attack.
Luckily the title is an apt one for the Leeds-based grime group, who sound like Dizzee Rascal stealing The Klaxons' mobile phones.
For the five-piece are the furious ball of firey energy that the name suggests - from the menacing opening Get Smashed Gate Crash to the flurry of That Boy That Girl to the incessant Crank It Up.
Rough around the edges doesn't cover Music For An Accelerated Culture's grindie ASBO-disco - it's clear the group are wide-eyed with more than just the naivity of youth, which ultimately makes for a listen as frustrating as it is exhilarating, although on tracks such as the latest single Decleration Of War the group show they may have the legs to take their sound further.
I would have loved this to have come out when I was a teen - the album reminds me of The Prodgy's Experience, all energy, intoxicants and raw promise.
As they sing on the opening track: "We are the wasted youth, and we are the future too."

Young and single

THE Young Knives are set to release their third single from their cracking new album Superabundance.
Turn Tail will be released on May 19 by the band, who hail from Ashby-de-la-Zouch and Belton.
Also, a secret intimate gig in Ashby is rumoured to be taking place on May 6...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Classic four - Automatica choice

OF ALL the bands you'd have expected to spawn a side project of groovy dance-floor filling hip-hop, screaming hardcore outfit Glassjaw would be pretty far down the list.
However frontman Daryl Palumbo, whose inimitable vocal style is more heavily influenced by his Chrone's disease than any singer, created Head Automatica in 2004 to indulge his love for the distinctly un-Glassjaw genres of hip hop and Britpop.
With Dan The Automator of Gorillaz and Handsome Boy Modeling School fame at the mixing desk, the resulting Decadance album is a triumphant clash of styles.
With raggae-influenced skanking hip-hop beats meeting glittery electronica and funk-soaked indie guitar licking backing a toned-down Palumbo, Decadance was a classic that woefully slipped under the radar.
However, lucky for us, 2008 should see in long-awaited third albums from both Head Automatica and Glassjaw.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Pier here

CASTLE Donington-based indie rock-electronica crossover outfit Late Of The Pier are bringing their soon-to-be massive sound to Loughborough's Rapture Nightclub on May 30.
The town date is the last leg of a UK tour for the group, whose sound is like Frank Zappa jamming out with The Klaxons.
The local boys are also releasing a new double A-side single, Space And The Woods and Focker, on May 19.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Wave hello

THE best ever band to come out of Wymeswold ever, The Wave Pictures, are all set to release their debut album Instant Coffee Baby on May 5.

Single Strange Fruit For David, the second to be taken from the forthcoming album, will be released on April 28, and The Wave Pictures will also be undertaking a short UK tour including a date at Nottingham's Social on April 27.
Expect good things from the band's dishevelled indie sound.

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Back to The Futureheads


JUDGING by The Futureheads' forthcoming album This Is Not The World, the band are looking to their past for inspiration.
Following an underwhelming response to their difficult second album News & Tributes and a split from their label, the Sunderland band have returned to the angular post-punk of their debut for their third gamble.
And on tracks like opening salvo and single Beginning Of The Twist and title track This Is Not The World the band sound back to their ferociously quirky best.
However the album soon becomes too full of filler - for example Think Tonight sounds like an Andrew WK b-side - to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with their eponymous debut.
This is not The Futureheads back to their best, but it is a good start.

Crystal balls

ACCORDING to the hype, Canadian electro duo Crystal Castles are, and I quote, "the most exciting and original band in the world right now".
So I was more than a little excited about hearing the group's eponymous debut album, released here a little later than most places on April 28.
I shouldn't have been - Crystal Castles, who take their name from a 1983 Atari arcade game, sound like they are playing for their own amusement.
The band have been reported to say that it's not like they fell on a keyboard and these songs just happened, but listening to the repetitive computer game soundtrack bleeps and squelches it's hard to believe them.
The beats on Crystal Castles are pedestrian, the vocals are inaudible and annoying, and this reviewer really can't see what makes this group "innovative" sat alongside the likes of Hadouken! and Does It Offend You Yeah?.
As far as I'm concerned, do not insert more coins.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Arctic Monkeying about

THE Last Shadow Puppets, Arctic Monkey Alex Turner and Rascal Miles Kane's side project, is like listening to music in widescreen.
With a cinematic, Bond soundtrack feel - courtesy of the 22-piece orchestra backing the pair - opening title track The Age Of Understatement has a real epic quality to it, and this is followed in quick succession by forthcoming single, the steamtrain of Standing Next To Me.
The album is a real showcase for the duo's undeniable talents, and on the standout tracks such as the opening flurry The Last Shadow Puppets sound a force to be reckoned with.
At times the widescreen feel can leave the listener cold - where in their respective bands they come across as cheeky loveable scamps, here that appeal gets lost in the space they have given themself to fill.
Nevertheless, this will not be the last of The Last Shadow Puppets, rest assured.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Smoking Js

AS THE hype machine kicks into gear, NME pleasers Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong will be appearing at Loughborough University on Tuesday, April 22, for what should be a cracking gig, one of the first in their headline UK tour.
To coincide a six-track teaser for their rumoured to be self-titled album, currently being tweaked for an August release, was rushed to Echo towers - and it promises good things from Joe Lean And The Jing Jang Jong's Super Furry Animals meets The Cribs sound.
Although my full judgement and rating is being saved for the full album, tracks such as Where Do you Go and Dear Rose, as well as already-released single Lucio Starts Fires, sound like big hits in waiting.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Third class

NOW this may sound like stating the bleeding obvious, but come April 28 there will be a few depressed fans of Portishead.
For the band's new album Third, the first studio outing since 1997's eponymous offering, is a massive departure from the acheingly beautiful trip hop that has become synonymous with their name.
Instead this is Portishead at their rawest - where before the Bristol-based band were brooding, now they are sinister, where before they unsettled now they outright menace the listener.
This is the sound of Portishead suffering a panic attack in an industrial estate in Dusseldorf.
This is the sound of Portishead sitting listening to Kraftwerk in a car being crushed into a teeny little cube by heavy machinery.
This is the sound of Portishead naked and seething in a cold shower after being winded by a burly man.
This is the sound of a band delivering the truly original, instant classic of an album they always promised they would.

New look

TO MATCH the Loughborough Echo's swanky new look, which hits the streets this Thursday, April 24, Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice has also undergone an overhaul.
Whaddya think?
However regular readers - if there are such things here - you can rest assured that my trademark mix of music reviews and other associated drivel will continue in the same, stuck-in-a-rut fashion as it always has.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stars In Their Eyes

GLASTONBUDGET, Europe's number one tribute festival held in Wymeswold this May, has announced it's complete line-up - and, although I cannot say how good or bad the acts will be, some of the names are simply genius.
This year gracing the stage, among many more, will be Maybe Winehouse, the Kaiser Thiefs, Letz Zep, One Step Behind and Oasish.

Beyond the pail


OSCAR Levant famously said: "There's a fine line between genius and insanity."
And although he was referring to himself being committed to a mental hospital, that infamous line is without doubt the one straddled by Buckethead, a man that dribbing oddball Ozzy Osbourne deemed too wierd to be in his band - although Buckethead did manage to get into Guns 'N' Roses.
Enter The Chicken, a reissue from 2005 available for the first time in the UK, sees Buckethead - a mysterious creature with a Joe Satriani, Steve Vai level of guitar-playing ability and a KFC bucket on his head - reigning in his experimental tendancies showcased on his 17 previous releases, and everything he's done since.
Instead here Buckethead welcomes guests including System Of A Down's Serj Tankian, Iranian singer Azam Ali and spoken word rapper Saul Williams on an 12-track album ranging from Evanescance-esque ballads to ear-shredding guitar exhibitions.
And it's finger pickin' good.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Background material

FIFTY not out!
To celebrate achieving a half-century of posts, without the powers that be at Echo towers taking my blog away and slapping my wrists, I have created a must-have, limited edition piece of spin-off Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice merchandise.
Yes that's right - Isaac Ashe's Sound Advice wallpaper for your computer desktop background can be yours, but for one week only.
And as a reader of my blog, you can get your sweaty hands on this delightful adornment for your computer, compatible with both PCs and Macs, by e-mailing me at, stating "I want my wallpaper!".
But hurry, the deadline for applications is April 24.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Name game

EACH week in the Echo I compile a Gig Guide for the paper of bands and singers and suchlike plying their trades locally, and every now and again a band name crops up that makes me smile.
This week, Pigeon-Toed Orange Peel are playing at the Three Nuns in Loughborough on Saturday, April 19 - how the hell do you think up a name like that?!?
It's the best one I've heard since the Ministry Of Beaver came to town.
If you know of any great band names, funny or foul, clever or plain stupid, local or otherwise, I'd love to hear them - for the record, the bands I played in were called Asbestos Lung and FX-15.

Band Head Off into sunset


CHOPPERS at the ready – Swedish glam metal band The Hellacopters are back.
However this outing will be their last - following this album, Head Off, and the associated tour, the group will call it a day.
After 14 years and seven albums, their Sweet meets Alice Cooper garage rock sound is so polished you can see your face in it.
However as a result the leather-clad, glitter-sprinkled pomp is overcooked – there's no meat on the bones of the songs.
While the music plays, you're partying with the devil, but as soon as the music stops, the tunes just fly away.

Monday, April 14, 2008

A most greatest EP


DESPITE the title, System Of A Down's Lonely Day EP is like bumping into an old friend.
Poor grammar aside – "the most loneliest" indeed – the title track is a polished, atmospheric track taken from their 2005 album Hypnotize that typifies the band's stadium-shaking sound. However this is followed by a glut of older rarities beginning with Shame, a glorious cover version and collaboration with the Wu-Tang Clan which sees Serj Tankian stepping into ODB's larger-than-life shoes.
Accompanying this are System Of A Down's reworking of Black Sabbath's Snowblind and a cover of Berlin's Metro, and completing the spread is Marmalade, a track originally cut from the band's eponymous debut.
Although there's nothing new here for the band's hardcore followers - which will not dispel the rumours the band are not to record together again - Lonely Day is a timely reminder that the metal landscape is all the more desolate without them.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Not Four Tet's forté

FOUR Tet, human name Kieran Hebden, has returned to the studio under the Four Tet banner for this mini album, ahead of a full-length album later in the year.
And it's clear from this four-track, thirty minute effort that after sharing Tongues with jazz drummer Steve Reid - not a pleasant mental image I grant you - Hebden now has his focus firmly on the dancefloors.
Ringer is a surprising shift away from Four Tet's forté of chin-stroking free jazz meets cut-and-paste turntablist electronica.
Here the beats are predictable and pounding, providing an unusual anchor for Hebden's incessant knob-twiddling.
But although the results are, as you would expect from a Four Tet release, abstract and engaging, there's still not enough in the way of melody to lift this above the mundane over the course of a half-hour - unless it's 4am and you're still on the dancefloor, that is.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Thrice in their element


CALIFORNIAN rock group Thrice's now-complete Alchemy Index series of concept EPs has been the perfect showcase for all the band's elements - songwriting and musicianship, the pulsating and the poignant.
Completing the quartet which started last October with parts I and II, the blistering Fire and the soothing Water, are soon-to-be-released parts III and IV, Air and Earth.
I ducked out of including the first instalment in my albums of the year 2007 at the 11th hour in favour of Dillinger Escape Plan's Ire Works, but when I heard the opening tracks of Air I was blown away.
Air is a continuation of more traditional Thrice fair, an alternative rock six-track section with a lighter touch that really showcases the band's technical abilities, but it's Earth that really stands out.
A dustbowl of an EP, the band's songwriting really comes to the fore in the concluding chapter, with a more acoustic, country tinged sound, and tracks like Moving Mountains and Come All You Weary up there as career bests.

Thursday, April 10, 2008



OF ALL the unexpected comebacks, a whopping 16 years after their last album, the B-52s are back - and they're desperate.
After all, there are acts in the charts that hadn't been born when they last had a hit.
Funplex is essentially the goodtime, shimmying, head shaking sound of the B-52s that we all knew and loved - albeit if only on Love Shack, Shiny Happy People and at a push (Meet The) Flintstones - but while they're trying to be sexy.
And lets be frank, the last people you'd want near you while you're gettin' it on would be an ageing pop group that resemble the Scissor Sisters' demented parents.

Top exclamation marks

DISORDER, more than any other word in the English language, encapsulates the work of Leeds' ¡Forward, Russia!, in every sense.
For not only do the band write chaotic, rabble-rousing, proletariat-inciting At The Drive In-style rock, up until 2006 they also named their songs the number of the order in which they were written.
Therefore their singles to date have been Nine, a double A-side of Thirteen and Fourteen, Twelve, a re-release of Nine, then Eighteen, Nineteen and, most bizarrely, Don't Be A Doctor.
So with Life Processes, as you would expect, you can count on the band for more of the same punk-funk emo and jarring alternative indie that dares the listener not to hate it.
And for the best part, for all ¡Forward, Russia!'s spiky eccentricity and refusal to conform, Life Processes is the album you love to hate – sure, it's a shaken fist rather than a pat on the back, but sometimes, not every day, but sometimes, you just want to be challenged.

Pop charts

AN ARTICLE in The Sun tickled me today, showing representations of songs in chart form. If you wish to be similarly tickled, you can see some examples online here.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

A Cut above

AUSTRALIAN electroclash trio Cut Copy's second LP In Ghost Colours is, if you'll excuse the pun, a spirited affair.
The indie dance acts' album begins with a derivitive half-Bob Sinclar, half-Phil Oakey hybrid of a track called Feel The Love, which lacks substance and fails to set the right tone for what is actually an inventive and entertaining opus.
Luckily it's not long before the group get their guitars out, and In Ghost Colours steps up a gear.
There's more Blue Monday-style indie-influenced fare here for existing fans, as there was in their debut Bright Like Neon Love, but the group now flex their electronica muscles more, such as in tracks like Hearts On Fire.
On this showing, Cut Copy definately deserve to be pasted across both charts and dancefloors.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Orchestra not the pits


AS THEIR name would suggest, in this live recording made at the Royal Albert Hall the Cinematic Orchestra create soundscapes as much as they do play songs.
The British group, a six-strong trip hop and jazz outfit, are so laid back here they're almost upside-down. Think a contented version of Portishead and you're not far off.
However that's not to say this recording is soporiphic - in fact the engaging Live At The Royal Albert Hall is as warm and rich as a contented Bill Gates wearing a woolly jumper eating chocolate cake by the fireside, thanks to the 24-piece orchestra backing the band.
At times the group erupts into skittering drum and bass-influenced acid jazz, at others such as on Familiar Ground and All That You Give, led by female vocalist Heidi Vogel the set just concentrates on atmosphere.
I spoke previously, in my review of Shine A Light by the Rolling Stones, of a sense of occasion coming through on live records - and you can clearly tell here that the Cinematic Orchestra, a band very much on the periphery of the mainstream, clearly relished every moment they had in the Royal Albert Hall's limelight.

Monday, April 07, 2008

Deus add Vantage


HAILING from the country that brought us sprouts and Tintin, it's no wonder that rockers Deus have caused quite a stir on home soil.
However Belgium's finest's fifth album Vantage Point is not as almighty as its creators' moniker might suggest.
A blend of experimental indie crossed with electronica and raw funk, with a heavier tone than golden-era Deus circa Little Arithmatics, the band now sit in the no man's land between Talking Heads, Sly And The Family Stone and Henry Rollins.
Sadly, for too much of this album the results are laboured, and I know that English is their second tongue, but lyrics like "I feel at home in your pleasuredome" are never going to help.
However when it all comes together, for example on Eternal Woman and the magnificent Architect, Deus truly are divine.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Stones Shine on


NORMALLY, unless you were actually there, a live CD would have to be something pretty special to warrant your attention.
However if a band with nearly 50 years in the industry, that has penned some of rock's greatest hits - Satisfaction, Jumpin' Jack Flash etc. - and been behind some of rock's biggest headlines - Mars Bar, father's ashes etc. - team up with names like Jack White and Christina Aguilera for a live double-CD directed by Martin Scorcese, then it might, just might be worth a listen.
And the Rolling Stones' Shine A Light is everything you'd expect - on the top-notch set list Jagger is at his strutting best, and Keith Richards proves he is still the daddy when it comes to churning out those inimitable licks of his.
Yet the album, for me, lacks a sense of occasion - you have to remember that the for Rolling Stones, this is live album number nine.
However as the soundtrack to the accompanying Shine A Light rockumentary it's sure to be perfect - in fact, the music of the Rolling Stones is so perfect for the movies, Jagger has joked that Shine A Light may be the only Scorsese film that does not include Gimme Shelter in its soundtrack.
So, judged by the Stones' own high standards, Shine A Light gets a three rating for now, though more marks may be on the cards if I give the film a glowing review.

Saturday, April 05, 2008

Jools rules

I thought I should leave just a quick note, without my patent Sound Advice Reviewer's Hat on, to say congratulations to a small pianist.

Last night I caught a glimpse of the Neil Cowley Trio on Later... With Jools Holland, and I was thoroughly excited by the angular jazz wot I saw.
Now I must wait for a copy of their latest album, Loud Louder Stop, to wing its way to me in the post to hear more, but I anticipate great things.
In the past vertically-challenged music savant Jools has introduced me to some bloody brilliant stuff that I may never have heard otherwise - Acoustic Ladyland, Son Of Dave, Beirut, Ida Maria, Seasick Steve, the list goes on and on.
Although the chances of the great man himself actually reading this are slim, may I just take this opportunity to say "ta".

Friday, April 04, 2008

Hangover for Moby


LAST Night, the latest album from Moby, is the soundtrack of a night on the tiles in New York city, but while drinking water and wearing slippers.
Moby has long been a figure of fun – from his recent ridiculing on Never Mind The Buzzcocks for being boring to Eminem rapping "you're too old, let go, it's over, nobody listens to techno" on his hit single Without Me.
And true to form the vegan DJ, real name Richard Melville Hall, does little to excite the listener with this latest long-player.
A house dominated dance record with nods to the past of dance and hip hop, all the elements are here and no doubt a single or two from Last Night will trouble the charts.
The problem is that for a night on the tiles record, there's little here that is fun or fast-paced enough to demand it be a soundtrack to nights out that are yet to happen.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A break from tradition

DESPITE me having written news articles for the Echo smaller than the title of this release, the new 65 Days Of Static EP itself is all too brief.
The Distant and Mechanised Glow of Eastern European Dance Parties is a 17-minute long experiment by the instrumental math rock band, whose usual sound is primarily guitar driven, sounding like Mogwai with hammers, mixed with a splash of sampled drums.
However here the Sheffield band would be more at home on the dancefloor than in a mosh pit, having turned for four tracks towards breakbeat and techno.
And the results are an intense, brooding, atmospheric, dense scuffle between thumping beats and post rock growls.
According to some sources the band take their name from the amount of time it takes to render a listener insane with white noise, however here the noise just doesn't last long enough - perhaps a full length dance album would not be such a crazy idea...

Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Don't Do It!

DO IT!, Liverpudlian band Clinic's fifth studio outing, really didn't do it for me.
The critically-acclaimed, publically-ignored group seem to have set out to be deliberately obtuse with this record, and as a result it surely won't be the shot-in-the-arm for their commercial shortcomings they so desperately need.
For the normally fast-paced indie band's distinctive raw sound is, on this LP, ramshackle and cumbersome, and near-totally bereft of hooks or tunes.
And as a result, without some reconstructive surgery next time around, the eclectic Clinic could tragically no longer be in operation.

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