Posts Tagged ‘Review’

music

The Shadow Kabinet – Nostalgia For The Future review

By Stefano on April 22nd, 2013

Nostalgia_cover

If you have never heard The Shadow Kabinet’s epic album Smiling Worlds Apart I suggest you do it pronto. Especially if you love The Beatles. For with tracks like Tabla Motown (a quirky sitar driven instrumental) Office Life (Lovely Rita style pop) and the title (think Harrison’s droney psych), multi-instrumentalist Steve Somerset, for he is The Shadow Kabinet created a Sgt Pepper in miniature. And very good it is too – Spotify link below.

Now four years on and Somerset is back with the third SK album Nostalgia For The Future. Having made his Fabs’ inspired pop masterpiece Somerset has fast forwarded a decade or so with Nostalgia and many of the tracks sound like they have their roots in the 70s as opposed to the 60s vibe of his earlier albums.

Sure there’s a smidgeon onf psych, especially in the album’s opener – the title track – and its Lennon-esque finale Let It Go, but in between the music’s inspiration hovers somewhere between 73-76.

So you have Dust Descends Into Light – a droney slice of Wish You Were Here era Floyd complete with Gilmour-esque guitar and  Ladder To The Moon, whose jazzy interludes and odd instrumentation recall Peter Frampton. The album’s opening single Angelville even has a whiff of Chris Isaak’s Wicked Games about it.

In some respects then Nostalgia doesn’t connect quite as quickly as its predecessor, but give it time. It really gets under your skin and stays there.

Somerset’s songwriting has blossomed too. There are some great off the wall lyrics, such as Have We Got Max On Board which imagines how a world war was temporarily postponed so the world’s inhabitants wouldn’t miss the final of the X-Factor. Or the story of a girl who falls out of her window in Camden in the intriguing Ladder To the Moon.

While the lyrics are often inspired and the arrangements ambitious it is the melodies that carry this excellent album. The title track may be Somerset’s best ever though Honey Glow Afternoon – a gorgeous slice of folk pop – runs it very close.

If you have ever loved Pugwash, XTC, The Orgone Box or any number of McCartney influenced US power poppers then you’ll adore this.

It is available for download here.

 



music

More great new Psych – Jacco Gardner – Cabinet Of Curiosities review

By Stefano on February 12th, 2013

Jacco+Gardner++video+shootIf you are a regular on these pages you’ll already be familiar with the work of one Jacco Gardner, the Dutch psych whizz kid who last year produced one of those drop dead brilliant, play it to everyone you meet type singles in Clear The Air.

The single perfectly captured late 60s British Baroque Pop in a way that no one has done for decades. Yet it still managed to sound contemporary and, dare I say, digital.

Gardner is now very much at the forefront of the new psych revival which has been bubbling under for ages, went over ground last year with Tame Impala and will go stratospheric this year once BBC 6 Music gets its head around the astonishing Foxygen.

So let’s just say that the expectations for this, Gardner’s debut album, are very high. Fortunately for psych fans everywhere the fella has delivered an album that builds on the promise of that superb single without, to be honest, ever quite eclipsing it.

I should say straight up that this album is not for everyone. There will be a people for whom the oompah beat, fairytale lyrics and Mellotron of the album’s closer The Ballad of Little Jane will send them screaming back to their Stooges albums. But if you like melodic, tuneful, experimental (there are plenty of odd song structures going on here) pop that owes a huge debt to the late 60s start here.

In many ways Gardner has picked up on some less, how shall we say this, fashionable psych influences. Sure you can hear Syd Barrett in Clear The Air and UK band Kaleidoscope could quite easily have recorded Where Will You Go in their Fairfield Parlour guise. But I am also hearing the first Genesis album (check it out it has some great tunes) on several of the tracks and the Mellotron that washes over Help Me out reminds me of The Moody Blues. Gardner is also clearly a huge fan of the always brilliant Fading Yellow series of compilations masterminded by Swedish psych fanatic JJ.

Highlights. Well apart from the singles Clear The Air and Where Will You Go (love that nibbling bass sound) the spacey drone of Puppets Dangling and gentle folky waltz of Lullabye do it for me. There isn’t really a weak moment. Occasionally though the precise nature of most of the tracks (Gardner is obviously a perfectionist) and the very mannered English sounding (for a Dutch fella anyhow) vocals can have you screaming for some explosive drums, powerful grooves and fuzzy guitar to mess things up a little. Maybe next time.

For now though give Cabinet a few listens on Spotify. By the time you have played it three or four times you will be addicted to it. Then get the vinyl!



music

Mondo Jet Set – Provincial Drama Club review

By Stefano on February 3rd, 2013

mondo jet setLuke Haines has quite possibly the best Twitter profile description ever. The one time Auteurs and Black Box Recorder man who recently rewrote the history of Britain in the North Sea Scrolls describes himself as being at ‘At the coalface of conceptual rock n roll.’

And mining away next to him in producing melodic pop gems with wonderfully pretentious monikers like ‘I Danced in A Secular Fashion and ‘Everyone I Know Dead Or Fire’ are Mondo Jet Set. And they are good, very good.

Don’t beat yourself up if you haven’t heard of them. The West Country band are very under the radar and seem quite content about it too. Some of the members were in a late sprouting Brit Pop act called Garfield’s Birthday. With Mondo Jet Set they have now issued four albums which have steadily got more ambitious, bizarre and tuneful as the years have gone by.

Their latest, Provincial Drama Club, which came out a week or so ago is their most brilliant, and most baffling yet. It is a collection of 23 songs, the vast majority of which clock in at under two minutes. Even the longer tracks like Caravan/The Slow Arcade are actually two songs spliced together.

The quirkiness and brevity of many of the songs remind me of The Magnetic Fields’ magnificent 69 Love Songs where the band veer from Busby Berkley show tunes to Velvet Underground style punk and then on to cheesy jazz in the space of five minutes. I’d also namecheck the rather brilliant and very hip Foxygen as fellow travellers too in the way that the LA band’s tracks are so packed with unexpected twists and turns.

Provincial Drama Club is slightly less exotic than 69 Love Songs – the key influences here are The Kinks, early Blur B sides and occasionally the harmonies of the Wilson Brothers – but  is still a disconcerting listening experience.

Yet like 69 Love Songs, which took me about 10 plays before finally getting under its skin, stick with Provincial Drama Club and  pretty soon you’ll be so addicted to it you’ll wish there were even more songs to hear.

There really are so many highlights here from the instant pop blast of ‘Everyone I Know Dead Or Fire’ or the Blur-esuqe (think Bank Holiday type thrashes) ‘Moth Attack.’ Pretty much everything on the album has a a hook or a melody and some odd instrumentation that makes it very memorable.

It does get a little too much at times. Alice – the latter part of John Before The Fire – has a gorgeous Beach Boys’ style melody which you want to hang around for way longer than the one minute that MJS give it.

But given the ambition and scope of Provincial Drama Club I can forgive them anything.

And when finally you have exhausted this album – and it has taken me the best part of three months to get in any way remotely tired of it, there is its predecessor Ha, Ha, Ha to explore – an album that for me was the best, ok second best, of 2011. A must buy for anyone who cherishes quirky English pop.

 



features, music

REVIEW: My Bloody Valentine @ Electric Brixton (27/01/13)

By Gerald Lynch on January 28th, 2013

It’s been five years since I last saw My Bloody Valentine live, and I’ve only just managed to recover the last fragments of earplug mined from my brain after surviving their sonic assault at Camden’s Roundhouse back in 2008.

Their 2013 return to the UK sees volume levels remain the same (watching MBV is like picking a fight with a 747 in a wind tunnel and losing, as I tweeted last night), but the setlist is a little different; there’s a new album on the way, more than 21 years since the launch of their seminal Loveless record. And tonight’s gig marks the debut of a few cuts from it.

Kevin Shields and co kick off with new number ‘Rough Song’, and for a band whose signature live attack is dished out with serrated guitars, the presence of a keyboard is a little unnerving. It’s a poppy number that recalls ‘When You Sleep’, suggesting the new album may have a fair whack of tunes as well as ethereal dreamscapes. It brings with it a tease from the usually-silent Shields, mumbling to a persistent heckler that the new album’s release could be as close as “two or three days”. What with Shields’ trademark tardy perfectionism, we wouldn’t start holding our breath just yet, but considering the album was apparently mastered back in December anything is possible.

Anything, that is, than being able to decipher a tune tonight. Even by MBV’s aggressive standards, something’s a bit off. The PA at Electric Brixton is overwhelmed by the band, with vocals (traditionally low in the mix for MBV by default) lost in the squall. You don’t expect subtlety from Shields’ screeching riffs and Debbie Googe’s bass pummelling, but even Shields finds it necessary to cut off ‘To Here Knows When’ halfway through.

At their most aurally-unapologetic however with ‘Feed Me With You Kiss’ and the closing 10 minute white noise endurance test of ‘You Made Me Realise’, the night hits a sadomasochistic state of nirvana, a blissful sonic-sucker punch to see the punters off into the night with a smile on their faces and bloody tissues in their ears.

Here’s a selection of choice Twitter commentary on the gig from last night:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Footwear

Review: K-Swiss Classic Hiker

By Laura on February 10th, 2012

I need to be completely honest right from the off – I don’t wear hiking boots. Not in a hiking sense, nor an ironic country-in-the-city sense.
As such, it’s taken a little while to find where the the K-Swiss Classic Hiker Highs fit into a city life. This is now clear.

If you’ve ever been skiing or snowboarding you’ll know that it’s a treacherous business negotiating a scenic, snow-coated town in anything less than your ski/snowboard boots or big, deep tread hiking boots. It’s also difficult to find any suitable boots that aren’t painfully bland and unstylish. The same applies to hiking, I would imagine.

The K-Swiss Classic Hiker, however, is the perfect middle ground boot. Granted, I wouldn’t wear them to nip to the shops (unless it was snowing, obviously) but I would wear them around any little Alp town or country retreat and feel the business.

Those opting for trainers to remain fashionable would slip and slide past me, envious of my steady poise and solid grip on the terrain. Those trudging up the hill in their beige, run of the mill hiking boots would be taken aback by the stylish contrast of the rich brown leather upper and contrasting lighter tan K-Swiss stripes.

They’re comfortable, warm, secure, good with baggy jeans or salopettes and very on trend. They aren’t too bulky or wide on the foot, and support for both ankle and arch is fantastic.

I’ve naturally focused here on where I would wear them, but there are of course numerous other occasions where these could be a great shoe. If your journey to the shops would be made better by the attributes above, then wear them to the shops. Don’t let my talk of higher altitude stop you.

In short, a great shoe for the outdoors – be it mountains, hills or if it suits, the High Street.

Guest post by @Alex_Clough



Scent & Aftershave

Burberry fragrance for men- like rubbing Phillip Schofield all over

By Jonathan Smith on February 20th, 2009

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Firstly let me confess my prejudices: I freaking love Burberry. I love Burberry for it’s class and excellence but more than that I love Burberry for its brash and obnoxious reputation bestowed upon it by council estates across the nation. No other brand can you wear and say with equal validity “I’m 1st class on Eurostar to Paris at 8:55 so get me on my Blackberry.” and “You look at Stacey again ‘n I’ll smash your fuckin’ head in!” Which is why I went off the radar with excitement when Isabelle told me she was calling in Burberry for men for me to test drive.

For the sake of this post I will not be suspending my prejudice but will be practically encouraging it. This disclaimed please jump through and get yer eyes round this review chock full of angels vaginas and teenage pregnancy- because you’ll never guess how I shoe horned those into this write up…

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Designer Spotlight, Trends

Gareth Pugh’s first menswear show in Paris

By admin on January 27th, 2009

Gareth Pugh‘s first menswear show was greatly anticipated but having seen it I rather feel a bit of an anticlimax. It was exactly as I could have predicted with wetlook finishes, goathair epaulettes, and Margiela-style .He carried on the aesthetic from his last womenswear show, taking his origami facets onto puffa jackets and trousers, and accessorising with studded boots and feather headpieces.

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Clothing, News

Blood, Sweat and T-shirts review

By admin on April 23rd, 2008

blood sweat and tshirts.jpg The premise of ‘Blood, Sweat and T-shirts‘ is simple; get six fashion fanatics – who all seem to be doing their hardest to be unlikeable – send them off to a sweatshop and see how they cope. Do they crumble or do they start sewing 1000 garments a minute with one hand tied behind their back?

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Designer Spotlight

Milan Fashion Week Catwalk Report: Giuliano Fujiwara

By admin on January 16th, 2008

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(Click on the picture for a larger image)

Giuliano Fujiwara have always been invested
in merging the fashion world of Japan and Italy and their A/W 2008 collection
looks to be a continuation of that theme. The far right photo is the perfect
example of this: an oversized hip-hop style jacket complete with tape next to
slim jeans.

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