Monday, September 29

Cheeky Cheeky And The Nosebleeds

Band names stand for everything. If Radiohead actually went with their first thought for a title - On A Friday - they might never have made such an impact on our amenable planet. And for Cheeky Cheeky and the Nosebleeds, such a curious moniker could only ever make sense fronting the kind of short-sharp indie-pop this five-piece from Suffolk very much formulate.
“Ali, our drummer, hadn’t ever said a word up until the age of 10 or 11, like literally never learnt to speak,” begins co-singer/guitarist Charlie, the brainiest-looking of the ‘Nosebleeds. “So our parents made us start hanging around with him to make him feel welcome, and after a couple of weeks he just came out with his first ever words, ‘Cheeky cheeky and the nosebleeds’. We just clicked with him after that.” Either this is the best band name story ever or they’re as much fibbing now as One Night Only are to themselves.
Currently cushioned into a long-stretch leather sofa in the upper-most tier of Camden’s tidiest of hangouts, Koko; Ali (drums), Thom (bass), Christian (guitar), Rory (vocals) and Charlie seem to possess a real comradeship to their pack, which could only be after mingling for so long. “We tried to form a super-team at first. Like Tony Blair on guitar, Mo Mowlam on drums cause we thought Moe Tucker, The Velvet Underground drummer, then ‘Mo’ Mowlam. But it didn’t work so we thought ‘Let’s not try and form the best band in the world, let’s try and become the best band in the world’, and here we are sitting at the top of the pile today,” kids Charlie.
Joke they may but give last single ‘Slow Kids’ a spin and it’s just downright hard not to skip and jig to its disco-laden magnetism whilst yelping ‘Single of the year!’ Re-releases generally suck but this is a song that just desires to be No. 1. “We couldn’t imagine not trying to make pop music,” admits Rory, before Charlie adds, “We don’t set out to alienate anyone. We don’t wanna push people away.”
Gaze under the ‘Influences’ sector of their Myspace page and you’ll see only the line, ‘Pop Music 1955-2008’. Erm, any specifics? “Chuck Berry, The Beatles, Rolling Stones, The Velvet Underground, Talking Heads, Orange Juice, Gang Of Four, Blur, Blur… BLUR,” they roar like Power Rangers morphing into action. Rory tells, “Five minutes before going onstage at Underage (Festival) they played ‘There’s No Other Way’, and it couldn’t have been more perfect. We all just looked at each other and knew.”
“We always try and stay out of scenes cause their well shit. Every one ends up so tangled in their own scene,” states Rory, sitting up and looking all intent. Yet luckily for he and his band it’s almost fair to say there’s few others out there right now riding that similar of a wave. “Because I wear glasses normally people say ‘Ah, Young Knives’,” Charlie makes known. Still, this lot’s brand of guitar-fiddly breakdowns and powerpopping vitality oomph’s up where said-Knives debatably doesn’t. Live favourite ‘Secret Agent Girl’ changes pace more than Joe Lean does his mind, while sure-fire future single ‘I’ve Grown Quite Fond Of You’ plays on infectious Television-like harmonies.
“When we first started we felt super-under pressure. You’d have people saying ‘Oh, so-and-so’s here to see you, so-and-so’s here to see you’. But we’ve kind of managed to get over that now,” declares Rory, who just a few hours later is full of zip dashing about Koko’s stage, plainly ready for the next level. And a much-anticipated tour this month sees them stop off practically everywhere around the nation. “You see us at the end of that tour,” warns Charlie, “We won’t even be speaking. We’re just sync each other’s minds!”
Cheeky Cheeky and the Nosebleeds may be hard to take seriously but there is one thing absolute about this lot: They’ve got the tunes to go a whole lot further than most.

Cheeky Cheeky And The Nosebleeds Myspace

Thursday, September 25

Rod Thomas

If the present-day fixation on folk and all its trappings is anything to go by, this young troubadour from the Welsh valleys and his acoustic guitar-plus-MacBook kit deserve to be taken seriously. But such I Was A Cub Scout-Lite that relentlessly falls short of unearthing an actual chorus line does not. “Hi my names’ Rod Thomas and this is what I sound like,” he declared at London's Water Rats theatre a couple weeks back. Synth-stodgy loops that even Joseph Arthur does better? Soppy lust songs that dare touch the class of Marling and Flynn? A puzzling conclusion of solely Thomas and his banjo just to churn out something suggestive of Dashboard Confessional in his prime? No ta.

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It just aint worth it

Rod Thomas Myspace

Monday, September 22

The Virgins

Live Review
The Monarch, London - Friday September 12

Just because The Virgins inhabit inside the present-day talent pool of New York, doesn’t mean they’re inevitably gifted, all new woven punk and riveting anecdotes, prep’d up to vie with what would-be contemporaries of Vampire Weekend, MGMT and Amazing Baby. But if their as yet Stateside only debut record is anything to go by, this cramped north London pub is all set to experience one more add-on to NME’s Bands Making America Cool Again.
Dolled up in the manner of a scrawny Kid Rock modelling a flowery neck bandana, band leader Donald Cumming sure seems pumped. ‘Radio Christiane’ bears out if there’s one band lugging back The Strokes’ spirit of 01 into the current stream of 08 NYC it’s this lot. But as opposed to exhausting the exact same sluggish garage-feel (see under Tokyo Police Club), The Virgins are sugaring up their guitars via funk’d up thumps and soulful breakdowns, just ideal to groove to. Not that this typically still London crowd are getting down, even in the wake of a now pissed off Cumming yelling, “We don’t come over here every week you know!”
Then comes ‘She’s Expensive’, swelling up like ‘The Menace’-era Elastica by means of springy bass courtesy of the mirror image of a paunchy Pete Wentz, on top of which are Cumming’s routine dame-centric mumblings. Saving the best till last, ‘Rich Girls’ is what all in here have been yearning for, and where The Virgins truly glisten from the disco-burdened rock they’ve suggested all night.
This isn’t the seminal moment that’ll blast these off into the ever-aching hype machine, but a further example of why the capital of the world kicks butt more than any other. And don’t hate em cause their mates with Ronson.

The Virgins Myspace

Thursday, September 18

Pavilion

Ryan Jarman doesn't have a Wikipedia page for nothing. Not only does he find the time to make ultra fine Cribs records, engage indie girls from Harrow named Kate Nash, and convince that former-Smiths legend joining his band is the best thing he can do to make sense of his ludicrously tight Levis. But now Jarman is a producer and all. At least for Pavilion, his buddies from Wakefield. Considering the man's comments at last year's Glastonbury - "The mainstream attitude of indie bands today is a bigger problem than global warming" - Pavilion sound little like The Cribs, and more like most mainstream indie bands today. 'Spoils Of War' anyway, ruffles its feathers through a big, epic almost Editors landscape, finger-picking Modest Mouse (Marr's other band) strings but without all the screeching. It's brave for a first tune, but that's probably exactly the kind of attitude Jarman years for in the big bands of now. And these could be one.

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Spoils Of War

Pavilion Myspace

Monday, September 15

The Gaslight Anthem

The ever-aching hype machine can be a hard thing to measure sometimes. But if there's one band leading the pack of Indie's Most Fussed About it's probably The Gaslight Anthem. Deserved? Well, judging by the one we'll all be sick of by the time the record is punctured into our brains enough times - The '59 Sound - yes, very much so. Swelling up in the manner of a good version of The Hold Steady riding on the coat tails of mid-80s Springsteen, it's mighty for sure. They can tour with post-hardcores like Thrice and Rise Against, yet they can one-day open for mega-huge acts like Editors or Kings Of Leon. It's a 'universal' sound that you've heard a ton of times before, but works today all deodorised in America's newfangled talent-assault on the musical world.

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The '59 Sound

The Gaslight Anthem Myspace

Thursday, September 11

Mumford & Sons

Live Review
George IV Chiswick, London - Sunday September 7

Just because The Beatles blasted off their trade via Liverpool’s renowned Cavern Club, doesn’t mean every chipper untapped band to play there on a Thursday night will lap up the same generation-defining success. But ‘Blue Flowers’, west London’s monthly evening of stripped-down snug acoustic, seems to parade only indie’s ultra finest early on its paths – see under Jamie T, Laura Marling and Noah & The Whale, each one of whom emerged earlier tonight as unannounced additions to what is the final ever ‘Blue Flowers’ at The George IV. And following Paris’ frail but witty Soko (featuring a helping hand from Kid Harpoon) are headliners Mumford & Sons, presently displaying the kind of pulpy bluegrass just right for a laid-back Sunday.
After wandering about the capital’s newfangled anti-folk hoopla for a little while, these already appear prep’d to vie with their close compadres of said-Marling and Johnny Flynn. Set opener ‘Sigh No More’ swells up in the manner of ‘Parachutes’-era Coldplay, by way of fierce harmonies that trance this over-capacity crowd into stunned silence. The introduction of a fresh-out-the-box banjo leads to ‘White Blank Page’, where band leader Marcus Mumford’s Buckley-set croke twinkles atop chilled Beirut strings daytime radio will one-day no doubt rejoice in spinning to death.
This room’s homely aura fits M&S down to a T, as all four execute their spirited rumpus in rugged shirts and waistcoats standing below a towering double bass. Then comes ‘Sister’, a short-sharp shot in which ‘Fix You’’s sugary chimes stumble upon Cold War Kids’ holy baggage, all for the good of one bulging line; “Don’t test the ones you love, it’ll only tear us down. If you wanna feel alive then learn to love your ground”.
Nearing the end and Marcus concedes, “We feel pretty shit-terrified playing after all of them!” vis-à-vis tonight’s special guests. But they shouldn’t. This was perfect.

Mumford & Sons Myspace

Monday, September 8

The Airborne Toxic Event

Judging only by the band name, one might assume The Airborne Toxic Event to be some doom metal horde who take pleasure from The Britney Breakdown. But they're not, and they probably don't. Much like White Lies and even Glasvegas to some degree, TATE (ooo, just like the art gallery!) are preceding in the stomps of Editors and so - at least deeming from 'Sometime Around Midnight', which not only has 'midnight' in the title but also swells by each post punk'd inflection until it eventually dawdles around in a delirium of anthemia. Red Light Company could only wish they were this good. You'll also more likely to find them wearing black more than any other colour, which says something considering they hail from sunny California. And after doing the whole Conan/Carson circuit around their home country, it's now up to the UK to embrace em. Oh, and their keyboardist went to college with Vampire Weekend. Small world, but an even better one with this lot in it.

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Sometime Around Midnight

The Airborne Toxic Event Myspace

Thursday, September 4

Tilly And The Wall

Some bands seem like they've been around for ages. The name 'Tilly And The Wall' has been floating about for a good few years, by way of a couple of records that attained 'critical acclaim' but never high-strung hype. Then comes 'Beat Control', a disco-burdened nugget CSS could only wish their second album was as good as, and one of this year's finest singles. It's nice when bands who seem like they've been around for ages journey you to their Myspace page, make you listen to their hit tune while scouring for UK dates, and sit and wonder at what exactly their back-cat has to offer too. 'O' is their new album, out on Moshi Moshi very, very soon, and features the title 'Tilly And The Wall' squashed into a circle representing an 'O' on the cover. Simple but mightily impressive. Oh, and they use a tap dancer instead of a drummer. A tap dancer instead of a drummer! Right, that's it, where's their merch store?

Tilly And The Wall Myspace

Monday, September 1

August - Albums Of Last Month

That's right. For the second time in Shout And Twist's history there shall be joint winners for Album Of Last Month. Why? Because there's no way I was gonna choose between these two. That's why...

Noah and the Whale - Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down - Young And Lost Club
I thought I had my Album Of The Year all worked out. But now I'm not so sure. No matter how many a time '5 Years Time' gets spun to death on stations and channels nationwide, 'Peaceful, The World Lays Me Down' is undoubtedly the best debut album released this year thus far. Harmony for harmony, horn for horn, heart-rending bowed violin string for heart-rending bowed violin string; there's just not a second-rate strain on here. Leader Charlie Fink's eggshell tones are spell-bounding, firstly laid out in the ever-intensifying '2 Atoms In A Molecule'. "If love is just a game, how come I've never won?" he appeals, pretty much gauging the temper of the next ten tracks. Best of all is 'Do What You Do', a poignant merge of stirring strings and Fink's call to just be yourself. Dark and intense wordplay seated above quite the opposite in soft and charming acoustic pop is what Noah and the Whale do best, and this record is everything early admirers could've hoped for. Long-time friend Laura Marling and her own awe-inspiring notes are evident throughout, though shine more than ever on 'Mary'. If this truly is the age of folk then Noah and the Whale are the absolute kings.

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Do What You Do

Bloc Party - Intimacy - Wichita'Rush-release.' That is the term being endlessly flung around in attachment to the description of this album. Thing is though, I have an inkling this was by no means a rush-release whatsoever, especially as far as Bloc Party were concerned. It is kinda revolutionary (and probably typical of this lot) how they simply chucked up some news on their site just days before it came out, while their coevals from the 04 art-rock shift are either in the middle pages of NME trying to solve an identity crisis (See under The Killers), following all else by releasing two records in one year (See under Kaiser Chiefs), or taking flipping ages perfecting their third album in the backwaters of Scotland (See under Franz). Not that such competition would ever affect Kele and co, because this is a record evident of Bloc Party's constant need to bring forth fresh and stirring music whatever, reflective of the time and space they're in as beings, as well as a band. But is it any good? Well, yes. It's f*cking great. It's raw and it's dirty. It drifts back to the frantic edge of 'Silent Alarm' (Paul Epworth-produced half) at points, moves forwards to the calmer landscapes of 'A Weekend In The City' (Jacknife Lee-produced other half) at others, while adding a whole load more far-out fuzzy guitar backdrop and a darn tough acidity right through. Ten tracks is perfect too, ideally incisive spreading thrusts of love and, well, making love. Such a topic has always been somewhat evident in Kele's wordplay, but here it all seems more personal than ever. If they're are any digs at The Daily Mail or the American government there a whole more subtle this time around. And below the utterances of his imposing relationship are some of the best tunes they've ever devised. Straight off 'Ares' is the ideal smack to get things going, wistfully screaming "War, war, war, war!"; 'Biko' is a model Bloc ditty soused in patent Lee-fashioning; 'One Month Off' mingles Russell Lissack's one-day trademarked pungent string-picking with solar jamboree; then there's 'Ion Square', quite simply the best song Bloc Party have ever made. Though the essence of what 'Infinity' endeavors to put across is much less thought-provoking than the previous two, here they've plainly reveled in their own euphonic class. They are no longer the Gang Of Four-fanatics that once earned them the cover of NME. They are the band who'll clutch you and I into an unknown sweep of sonic blares we'd otherwise dare scope out. And I don't want anyone else to take me there. Bloc Party: The New Radiohead.

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Ion Square