Archive for April, 2012


Here is my review of Sheffield band The Letters Unknown Failures for Counterfeit Magazine http://www.counterfeitmag.co.uk/reviews/the-letters-unknown-failures/

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Manchester’s Academy 2 is a pretty basic venue which reminded me of a school sports hall, especially when I saw the average age of the people attending. But last night it staged more of a mini festival than a gig courtesy of Little Comets and their two quality support acts.

The first was Bwani Junction, a very young band but with an accomplished sound. Their original songs were upbeat and musically clever; their cover of ‘Dirty Old Town’ showed a wide range and depth of musical knowledge and influences. I was particularly impressed with the skill and athleticism of their drummer.

The second support was The 1975. I really enjoyed their set and was very impressed. Each song was well written, structured and performed. The front man’s cocky on-stage persona was endearing rather than annoying. His vocal style had a rawness to it which works well and it’s always good to see a band performing with smiles on their faces.

Finally came Little Comets. This was a fantastic performance, really tight and joyous. Their unique brand of calypso-indie had the crowd jumping around progressively more and more over the course of the night.

‘Isles’, ‘Dancing Song’ and ‘Joanna’ were the crowd pleasers played from their last album but they also performed some new material. At times slower, always clever and melodic, the new material was instantly accessible to the fans and got a great reception.

Their live performance was thoroughly enjoyable. As a band they were incredibly tight, even when they free-styled with the random percussion instruments they had dangling over their heads (well…if you can call a saucepan an instrument).

Lead singer Robert Coles has a very distinct vocal delivery and was on top form last night despite clearly suffering from a cold. As impressive as his voice were the perfect vocal harmonies between him and bass player Matt Hall.

They played the whole set in one go as the band said ‘writing an encore into a set list feels too presumptuous.’ This shows just how down to earth they are and even though the crowd clearly wanted an encore they stuck to their word. As Walt Disney said: ‘Always leave them wanting more.’ Although obviously I don’t agree with his disgusting views on race and the civil rights movement, I do agree with this one quote.

Through their excellent choice of support acts and the quality and energy of their performance Little Comets put on a great show for their devoted followers.

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This is the first time I have had something submitted for review and I have not completely adored it. I’m not saying it’s awful, it’s good pop music; I’m just saying it’s not quite up to the standard of Dead Social Club and Your New Antique.  Maybe I’m being unfair by drawing a comparison to previous reviews as Death in Texas is a very different type of band.

 This E.P. has some very good elements and the band members are clearly talented. All the tracks are pleasant but as I am not a fan of this genre they didn’t really grab my attention. Listening to this left me feeling about as excited as I would be if I just found out that Michael McIntyre was performing in my town. So basically it left me feeling indifferent towards what I was hearing. Previous submissions have left me feeling like I had just heard Louie Spence had drowned in a puddle caused by his own lisp, so very excited indeed.

I don’t want to be too critical because there are some good ideas and lots of potential there. The female vocalist has a good voice and the piano is clearly being played by someone with talent but I felt these four tracks were too safe and cautious for my liking.

They classify themselves as progressive pop and this is a very accurate description. I hate pop music but I didn’t hate this. This is far more clever and interesting than pop music generally is and it is pretty unique. I can’t think of anything similar. The best comparison I could make would be if you imagine Phantom of the Opera, but it has been written by Lana Del Rey and not Andrew Lloyd-Webber (I’m not calling him Sir). Each track is very well structured with some interesting changes in direction. The instrumentation is reminiscent of musical theatre combined with a female vocal which reminds me, on occasion,  of Shingai Shoniwa from The Noisettes.

Another point I must make is that Death in Texas are clearly very good at what they do but it is just not a style of music which I have a passion for. I’m sure they have a huge following and will do very well for themselves.

Don’t just take my word for it though have a listen yourself. Their E.P. is available as a free download, and includes the tracks “We Will Implode” “CC & Dry” “Dancers” and “Green”, just follow the link www.deathintexas.bandcamp.com . If you enjoy the tracks, which I’m sure lots of you will, then check out www.facebook.com/deathintexas for future tour dates and releases.

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The first thing I must say is that I have never enjoyed a small intimate gig to the extent that I did this one. The undisputable example of how good this gig was how it affected me during the last song of the encore. I hate being seen dancing in public (I like to think I’m too cool for all that business), however during the final song I found myself dancing and genuinely enjoying myself. The fact that I allowed myself to let loose like that shows just how good the gig itself was and how encapsulating the experience of their live performance was.

The gig was to celebrate the release of “Sirens” as part of the “5 Songs, 5 Bands, 5 Cities” E.P. on the label The Animal Farm (http://www.theanimalfarm.co.uk ). The venue at the Parish was intimate and provided the perfect atmosphere. The two support acts (ilovecolour and Beware Wolf) were well chosen. Both were good but different from each other and Your New Antique.

When Your New Antique came on stage they started with “Chemistry” which set out their intentions and instantly got the crowd going. By the time they played “Sirens” four songs in the crowd were really into it, the majority were singing along and dancing. The applause and whistles after were really loud and warm, making the hairs on the back of my neck stand up. I also liked how they then went straight into “Sirens” from “Borders” they didn’t make a fuss about it being the single. They just got on with performing and mentioned it was the single after playing it, but I think the majority of the crowd were hardened fans and would have known anyway.

Although I was aware of some of their songs this was my first time seeing Your New Antique live. I was massively impressed with their new and old material that I was unaware of. They played “Break-dance” for the first time ever live. I loved it, especially the way it seemed to always be building towards a powerful ending. I found it to be almost euphoric.

As a band they demonstrated their diversity with songs like “Sirens”, “Black Sea” and “Open Your Eyes” showing off their powerful live performance. They have other qualities which they proved by playing “No One’s There”. Whilst this track has its moments of power it is also moving and beautiful in places. Its beauty comes from the meaningful lyrics and the vocal harmonies.

Your New Antique are excellent musicians and talented writers, which makes for a truly enjoyable live performance. The band were incredibly tight throughout. This is even more impressive when you find out that they haven’t practiced for two weeks as the lead singer has a broken rib.

Even with this broken rib the singer’s vocals had the capability to effortlessly range from forceful and punchy to melodic and moving. The vocal harmonies with other band members also worked really well. Both the bass player and lead guitarist impressed me, they had their own style and clearly each added something different which helps Your New Antique create something unique.

Finally I must mention their drummer. His performance was fantastic. A lot of the time I find drummers can go unnoticed in bands but this one’s talent is too clearly visible for that. The drums in each track were frantic but in a clever way, it wasn’t just noise it was a fast and complex rhythm. I wanted to record a video of him to prove this but there would have been no point because watching him live the sticks were just a blur.

After a set which thoroughly impressed me the crowd begged for an encore, which began with “Open Your Eyes”. Apparently this was the first song the lead singer ever wrote and the crowd loved it. They also played “Forgotten” which was so good I ended up dancing….. I can’t really expand on that, if it made me dance when I wasn’t even drunk then that is the highest possible praise from me.

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