Tag Archives: T

Two Door Cinema Club: Tourist History – Album Review

1 Mar

OK, so let me preface this entire piece with the admission that yes, I was pretty darn excited about getting my hands on Tourist History. From the snapshots I had heard and the general buzz about Two Door Cinema Club everything was pointing towards great great things. When weighed up against that kind of expectation it is always likely that the realisation will fall some way short and leave you disappointed. So which way does Tourist History fall? Does it live up to the hype or does it leave you disappointed?

Well, neither really. It’s fair to say that the hype outweighs the product but at the same time I didn’t really feel I’d been short-changed or wanting more. Though if I’m honest, it wasn’t exactly what I was expecting either. Having been picked up by Kitsuné and having produced a fair amount of decent remixes for other people in the last few months I was expecting a greater emphasis on the dance side rather than the indie-style that is very much to the fore instead. That said, “I Can Talk” is a great upbeat, floor filler which is reminiscent of Hot Chip’s “Ready for the Floor”.

The only real issue with Tourist History though is that while each track is good, they all sound a bit alike. On more than one occasion I had to double check that I hadn’t accidentally hit repeat on my iPod, so similar are some of the introductions to each song. But as I say, each song is good at the very least and the album does stand up to repeat listening in a short period of time.

The whole album is shamelessly upbeat from the very opening bars of “Cigarettes In The Theatre” all the way through to “You’re Not Stubborn” less than 35 minutes later. Short, sharp indie-pop songs, all of which clock in at less than 4 minutes, Tourist History shoots along at a breakneck speed, barely letting you pause for breath. Full of catchy riffs and hooks, I found tracks like, “This Is The Life”, “Something Good Can Work” and “I Can Talk” bouncing round my head long after I’d stopped listening to the album. In fact, I’d say that triumvirate of songs, one after the other, is the high watermark of the whole CD. “Undercover Martyn” which follows these three is great too, but these are, for me, the standout tracks.

I’ve read elsewhere that they have been likened to Bloc Party and even early Radiohead but I’m not convinced myself. There’s an element of fun in Two Door Cinema Club that isn’t always present in these two groups. That said, there is evidence that both and other indie artists have influenced the tracks on Tourist History, I even thought I heard some Bluetones in there (on “This Is The Life”) and for some reason I can even hear the ‘Danger Mouse’ theme in “What You Know”. Says all you need to know about me really :)

I really liked Tourist History and if you’re a fan of upbeat indie-pop I strongly recommend giving it a go. I’ve stuck the CD in the car for the drive to work in the mornings to help get the energies flowing (it sounds even better in the car) and my eyes are well and truly peeled for upcoming gigs as I imagine they would be fantastic live. All in all, a strong, energetic, positive and hugely enjoyable debut which you’ll appreciate even more if you’ve managed to stay clear of the hype Two Door Cinema Club have generated already.

Intelligent & challenging: These New Puritans – Hidden review

3 Feb

As you will have no doubt seen already from Rover’s live review of These New Puritans instore performance at Rough Trade East, Hidden is not an easily classifiable album. This is a good thing. Those of you who have read my pieces on The Brits and Tuggawar will know that generally I rail against the current mainstream homogenised pop factory approach to music and the whole idea of your appearance being more important than what you produce.

With Hidden, These New Puritans have produced a compelling, challenging and, above all, damn fine record. Rough Trade had it as their album of the month for January (which is how I heard of them and they came to be added to the list by the way) and I can understand why.

Before I go any further I just want to give a caveat to anyone yet to hear Hidden who then decides to go and get it based on what they read here. The first time I heard it my immediate reaction was quite simply ‘what the fuck is this?’ There is no other way of saying it I’m afraid. I genuinely had no idea what the hell I was listening to or why it seemed so, well, odd. Should you too feel this way when you hear it for the first time I say ‘persevere’. Listen again, more than once. Seriously.

The track that has thus far garnered most attention is the seven minute opus, We Want War. In his live review, Rover described it a ‘song that would perfectly accompany a dramatic film’ and he’s right. Except, he’s also wrong. The first time I heard We Want War I instantly imagined it as just that, the soundtrack to a big battle scene, starting with a montage of warriors getting tooled up and ready before cutting out to great sweeping shots of an immense battlefield. Then it became a video scene from a vast sprawling video game but that’s not right either. My point, very badly made, is that We Want War has a quality that will make it almost anything your imagination will allow. With the obvious exception of it being the soundtrack to an episode of In the Night Garden. Perhaps if Iggle Piggle were to snap and go on the rampage killing all the inhabitants, starting with Macka Packa and his OCD addled brain but not a normal episode, no chance.
To me, We Want War is balletic; it conjures imagery of dance, of a strong narrative, of a remorseful hero and his need for redemption from the one he loves. Give it a listen; see where your mind is taken away to.

So far this year I’ve reviewed Delphic and Chew Lips. Both high quality electronic based releases. Hidden too uses a lot of electronica but in a very, very different way. You’re not going to get the same euphoric high as when listening to Delphic or the beautiful haunting vocals of Chew Lips washing over you. No, from the very beginning, the two minute long Time Xone which is a very gentle horn piece, you know this is going to be unlike anything you’ve heard before. Time Xone slips surprisingly easily into the pounding drums of We Want War which in turn moves effortlessly into the dark yet catchy Three-Thousand. Just when you think you’re getting the measure of Hidden it then sweeps into Hologram which genuinely sounds like something Badly Drawn Boy might’ve done than back, back to the drums and the rhythmical assault that is Attack Music. You know what? It IS attack music! Again though, like We Want War, there is a somewhat orchestral feel to it, like We Want War it includes the use of a knife as a musical instrument (you don’t get that on the X-Factor!) but unlike We Want War, Attack Music is more directly accessible. Of all the tracks on Hidden, this is the one that is most likely to creep back into your skull four hours later without you realising, stealthily creeping towards then slitting the throat of Bad Romance before taking its place as that tune you just can’t get out of your head.

What follows are more drums, more horns, more woodwind, more electronic punctuation throughout and more intelligent, challenging tracks. For me, after seventh track Orion the album does seem to lose its way a little but it’s still going to be a long way ahead of much of what comes out this year. Hidden is a rich and varied album filled with dark melodies layered over a multitude of diverse vocal arrangements (some reminiscent of Mezzanine era Massive Attack, some even a little like Mike Skinner) and vast sprawling drum beats. Look out for it in the end of year lists.

Great Videos and February Preview

31 Jan

Yeah so, I’ve been a bit tardy in posting this week. Sorry about that, the real world got in the way somewhat this week. So, to make it up to you lovely people I’ll give you a quick preview of what’s coming up in February and as an extra treat, four of the best videos of all time. OF ALL TIME!

So, February’s going to be pretty packed. At the very least I will endeavour to do the following:

T – These New Puritans, Hidden review.

T – Them Crooked Vultures (eventually).

G – Ellie Goulding (yep, been promising that one for a while too).

CONTRA! – Review and thoughts on Vampire Weekend’s latest masterpiece.

K- Two part piece on Chicago’s finest, Kid Savant.

LIVE BLOG! – Yep, I’m gonna give it a go. Live blog from the NME Shockwaves tour.

Los Campesinos! – Gig Review.

So, that’s the plan for Feb, plus any other stuff that may come up, like taking the piss out of the Brits some more.

Now, on to those top four videos! Enjoy.

Moray McLaren – We Got Time. No special effects or CGI in this, all legit.

Tenacious D – Tribute. Complete with Dave Grohl Demon!

Pop – Pop Goes My Heart. You don’t like it? You’re dead inside, fact.

Hurt – Johnny Cash Version. Great cover, great video.

Hope you like them.

Don’t agree? Feel free to post alternatives in the comments section below.

These New Puritans – Instore at Rough Trade East

20 Jan

He’s back, due to popular demand (well he demanded I let him back again) our Roving Reporter has returned to Rough Trade East to catch These New Puritans performing live to promote Hidden, their new album which has already gained rave reviews across the board. They are also one of three ‘T’s on the list so look out for my thoughts on Hidden in due course.

Here’s what he had to say:

I don’t know much. The first song was a seven minute epic – We Want War. After that, I’ve no idea. Looking through the vinyl album sleeve notes, only four out of ten songs have their lyrics printed. Where are the rest? In the who plays what bit – Jack Barnett plays a whopping fifteen instruments, Sophie Sleigh-Johnson has nothing next to her name. Perhaps, These New Puritans new album title provides some explanation – ‘Hidden’. Maybe the band want to leave some things unknown.

I went along to the instore based on hearing just one track, the aforementioned ‘We Want War’. It’s a song that would perfectly accompany a dramatic film – pounding drum beats, extensive horn section, odd samples, a children’s choir, heck it even features the decade’s first use of a knife as an instrument. If you asked 100 people to interpret what its all about, you’d get 100 different ideas.

So you can imagine, I was more than a little intrigued to hear how this spectacle was going to be recreated live. The answer was more cables and gadgets than your local branch of Maplin Electronics. Laptop, cables, synths, pedals, distortion, delay, another laptop, switches and a little box that lights up with Tetris shapes. If that all sounds like it would add up to a manufactured, hollow performance, again the band defy expectations. Duel drumming twin brothers make for an organic, raw power that propels the whole experience along.

In terms of the rest of the performance, there was the odd momentary delay between songs prepping gadgets. Between song chat was zero, which probably suits the band quite well but it would have been nice to know what they were playing. The set was all too brief, just five songs. Possibly due to the sheer amount of effort required to recreate one song, let alone any more than five. Did I mention that the keyboard parts were complex enough that they needed handwritten sheet music?

Apologies, if this review is leaving you a bit baffled. Its just the effect These New Puritans have on you even after a short time in their presence. They are not the finished article and you wouldn’t expect them to be, none of them look older than about 19. I can’t wait to listen to the album in full, I wonder what further hidden delights await?

Thanks once again to Rover (I like it but he says its too much of a dogs name) for that review. BTW, there is no truth to the rumour that I only send him to these instore performances in order to fetch me the albums and bonus CD’s, its just a happy coincidence.

Good Boy.

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