Category: Music

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Feeder – O2 Birmingham Institute

With bands struggling to last much beyond a third album today, it’s refreshing to see a seasoned band such as Feeder still packing out venues and connecting with an audience that have generally aged with them.

Having taken a four-year hiatus following the fairly mediocre reaction to eighth studio album ‘Generation Freakshow’, Grant Nicholas and fellow long-standing member, Taka Hirose, strutted on stage to a rapturous welcome, allaying any fears that any ‘Feeder-fatigue had developed. Beginning with a new track – ‘Another Day on Earth’ – the song felt as unimaginative as its title. The majority of tunes played off their latest LP ‘All Bright Electric’ were a little vague lyrically and felt as if they were Feeder-by-numbers.

The show shifted up a gear when they played the gloriously poppy ‘Pushing the Senses’, inciting the sort of physical explosion in the crowd that Feeder gigs were often notorious for. The irritatingly catchy ‘Lost and Found’ was tossed out as a reminder of how Feeder have often marred albums with novelty rock songs.

Conversely, when they get it right, Feeder possess a collection of euphoric rock songs full of great depth and soaring melodies. 1997 single ‘High’ is a Feeder benchmark, and tonight was no different. The song resonating even more after Nicholas – somewhat uncharacteristically – introduced the song with an articulate polemic about the destruction of the music industry and how it was an  easier and more successful time to be in a band back in the 1990s. A simple but effective point as the fragmentation of music in the last decade has seen music diminish as a highly-valued art form.

The middle of the set felt a tad plodding and featured the gentile ‘Tender’ and newbie ‘Paperweight’, a pair of songs that witnessed the audience’s focus drift. However, football-style chanting of “Feedeeer” sparked a smiles from the band and gave credence to the hardcore element of fans who have followed the band since the days of the tragically departed former drummer Jon Lee, who committed suicide over 14 years ago. The interaction between band and audience was excellent throughout.

‘Come Back Around’ increased the tempo and made a welcome return to the setlist, having been omitted from their last tour. It was start of a top-heavy hit-laden final chapter of the set – albeit blighted by excessive feedback that spoilt the turbo-charged ‘Insomnia’ and new song ‘Infrared-Ultraviolet’. Not that the crowd seemed to mind, as signature tune ‘Buck Rogers’ brought the house down before a double-whammy of ‘Seven Days in the Sun’ and ‘Just a Day’ saw Feeder climax on a high. At their best, Feeder can be joyous, but their flaws were a little too evident to suggest this was a classic.



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Anxieteam

Take one part UK doodler and one part German art anarchist, give them a keyboard and a ukulele and sit back in wonderment at the music of Anxieteam.

This was the second time we were meeting up with Nottingham-based illustrator Jon Burgerman but the first time under the pretext of discussing his new venture, a band with pARTner in crime Jim Avignon, an artist and musician that believes in free art for everyone; we knew it would be entertaining.

We had an insight into Jon’s work last year when he designed our cover artwork with what is still the most popular cover to date and it was a pleasure to find out about his musical talents and to get to know Jim, a German-born New Yorker who has form in both the art world and the music industry.

Jim’s unorthodox approach to the art market has seen him giveaway 800 pieces of his art in a lottery at a museum that was covered in his paintings. He even gatecrashed Germany’s Documenta exhibition and spent three weeks outside the building painting three metre canvasses before jumping through them, getting motorcycles to drive through them and otherwise destroying the art. It was, as Jim puts it, ‘focussing on how the art market and the art world are connected, how the price of artwork creates the importance of the work.’ His aim was to create the art, let people take photos for posterity and then take away the value of the piece by its destruction.

It was art that brought Jim and Jon together in a Brooklyn exhibition that Jon was originally scheduled to do as a solo project. However, after emailing Jim they agreed to do the exhibition together despite having never actually met previously. “It could have gone terribly badly. We decided that it wouldn’t be a joint exhibition where one wall would be Jim’s work and the other wall would be my work, that we would paint on each others paintings; a proper collaboration. It was a really fun week, we worked really hard but it was a pleasure to do so, who wouldn’t love to do that for a week? Paint and draw and talk about things and listen to music, it was a real fun time.”

While Jon admits he hasn’t gone to ‘some of the extreme lengths that Jim has done’ when it comes to art anarchy, he does like to keep his work accessible – something our cover artwork is testament to. Jim is of a like mind and explained, “In my opinion art should be made for everybody; everybody should be able to afford it.” This was no more so in evidence than in 2009 where Jim drew portraits of people at a Hamburg exhibition from his home in Brooklyn via Skype. “I could see people sitting in a booth. I did a drawing, a three minute portrait, and scanned it and sent it and they printed it out and took it home for free.”

Art collaborations developed into music collaborations when Jim pitched the idea of forming a band to Jon who, after some deliberation, recorded the vocals in Nottingham, sent them to Jim in Brooklyn who put a song together and played it at a New York gallery’s closing event. Jon tells us, “people seemed to like it and it went down quite well, so the next time I went to New York, I met up with Jim again and we just started doing stuff.”

Although Jon insisted explaining their sound was a difficult question, he immediately gave us a pretty comprehensive description. “It’s sort of low-fi electronic noises with erm, a smattering of ukulele, but we’re very crafted, simple with catchy melodies underpinning it all. We try and keep things simple but very melodic and colourful in its music. I think we listen to lots of different genres of music and rather than taking something sonically from those as inspiration. I would say we get inspired by bands that leave you in a good feeling or that have a nice sort of quality to them rather than like ooh, try and make it sound like this or that. I mean, I’m not a super proficient, technical musician at all so I don’t analyse music in a way that I try and replicate a certain technical element of it. I’d rather have a song that is memorable and you hum it to yourself or you enjoy listening to it, and it gives you a pleasant kind of experience for the short while you’re listening.”

With songs about eating Soya and being a cat, combined with unusual musical arrangements, we asked if there were similarities between Jon’s art and the music. Was the music an ‘audio doodle’? “Yea, definitely, stylistically, it’s like a sonic representation of the way that I would work in a drawn manner, but it’s a little different whereas I might do a drawing and it might take a minute, songs just by their nature, composing something and having a structure, it’d be misleading to call it a doodle. It’s not like something’s just plonked out and there it is, it might have a light feel to it but it’s actually very meticulously planned and honed and polished and you know, made to work, which you don’t necessarily have to do with an illustration, you can do a drawing quite quickly and it might magically just work. We definitely want the music to have a nice effortless quality, we don’t want it to sound laboured, but actually behind the scenes they’re very much honed.”

anxieteam-2We knew the time was coming when we’d have to ask the inevitable questions of choosing between music and art. “I get asked that a lot”, Jim explained. “The art is the one thing I’m kind of guaranteed to make a living from, but the music is the one that has my soul inside so er, sometimes people ask me if I’d prefer to be blind or deaf…” Jon interrupts by suggesting being poked in one eye and blocking up an ear as some kind of compromise which helped lighten the severity of Jim’s revelation.

“Personally I would lose more if I couldn’t do the music,” he went on to clarify. “Doing the art is more like doing some kind of work, doing the big works is more like, I have to work now. So it’s like, get up early, do the work. But with music it never feels like work, I always enjoy it. It’s like you’re looking for something, you don’t know what it is and it’s that moment you find it. It could be a tune, some weird arrangement idea, I really enjoy that process of finding it.”

Jon’s response was less surprising given what we know about him, “I love listening to music but playing it live and creating new songs with someone is fairly new to me.” Given just how unfamiliar it was to be a musician and lead singer in a signed band, we asked just how scary it is to play live to people. “It is scary, I’m not a performer, I’m not a singer or a dancer or anything so to do that is very scary, but that’s exciting. It’s nice actually to do both, to have a period of time doing music and enjoy that and get excited about that and then you forget about some of the work of painting, you forget about some of that hard drudgery, and so when you go back to it it’s fun again for a bit. So it’s been good this year doing a little bit of each.

“I like the real time aspect of it, I’ve done a lot of live painting and I guess it’s a similar kind of thing where you’re creating something in front of people and that’s exciting because every time it’s a bit different and their reactions will influence how it goes, and that’s nice to have that feedback, to see people’s reaction to your work immediately, you don’t get that so much when you have a painting on the wall… unless you stay in the gallery all day watching people’s faces…”

“I think if you sing and stand on stage you learn something new about yourself,” added Jim. “I think that’s also a reason why a lot of artists started in music as well. It’s a different way of expressing what’s going on with you or what you want to say.”

Before we let the guys get ready for their gig we asked them to tell us the story behind the band’s name. “We did an exhibition together in Brooklyn, and for that Jon suggested the name Anxiety Room because Jon is a very anxious person. He sees dangers everywhere, and he thought from knowing my art I would be the same, but it turns out I am blind to any possible dangers (both laugh) so we did that exhibition about anxieties and it turned out to be not a very scary exhibition, it rather turned into a funny thing. When we came up with the idea to have a band we thought we’d stay with that theme and we played around with words and we liked the combination of anxiety and team like to present us as Jon’s the Mr Anxiety and I’m the Mr Team, or like staying together and fighting anxieties. I don’t know. It sounded good. We liked it. We took it.”

www.anxieteam.com www.hellothor.com www.jonburgerman.com www.jimavignon.com

This article was first published in our partner magazine in November 2010.



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Win Tickets to Festival No.6

Festival No.6 – Portmeirion’s award winning music, arts and culture festival.

A festival unlike any other, in a place like no other, Festival No.6 is an intimate, bespoke banquet of music, arts and culture, taking place over the weekend of the 1-4 September in the magical village of Portmeirion, Wales, home of the cult TV series The Prisoner.

The carefully curated and eclectic line-up includes Noel Gallagher’s High Flying Birds, Hot Chip, Bastille, C Duncan, Django Django, Echo & The Bunnymen, Frances, JP Cooper, Lucy Rose, Oh Wonder, Super Furry Animals, Temples, Broken Social Scene and DJ sets from Andrew Weatherall, Ben UFO, The 2 Bears and Maribou State as well as an arts and culture programme that includes Irvine Welsh, Shaun Ryder, John Cooper Clarke and Catrin Finch plus many more.

Acts will perform across the entire site, by the whimsical Italianate architecture of the village, the historic town hall, piazza, Bristol Colonnade, the picturesque Estuary stage, the atmospheric woods and the promenade along the River Dwyryd.

Constructed between 1925 and 1975 by maverick architect Sir Clough Williams-Ellis, Portmeirion is a wonderfully bizarre and elaborate interpretation of a Mediterranean villa, nestled in the stunning mountains and forests of North Wales overlooking the expansive estuarial waters of the Irish Sea.

For more information and tickets, visit www.festivalnumber6.com

Win Tickets for you and a friend

All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is like or comment on our facebook page https://www.facebook.com/artmuso before August 14th at midday.

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COMPETITION T&C’S

T&C’s: Prize includes one pair (two tickets) of adult weekend tickets. Each ticket admits one person. One person in the group must be aged over 18 (NB children under the age of 10 years do not require a ticket). Travel is not included. The prize is non-refundable and no cash alternative will be offered. The prize is non transferable and ID will be required at time of collecting the ticket wristband upon arrival. The prize includes all events and activities at Festival No.6 (subject to availability) but not food and drink from any stalls or bar. Winner chosen at random.



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Brand new festival at iconic Jodrell Bank

Jean-Michel Jarre, Underworld, and Caribou are to headline ‘bluedot’ the new festival that promises to blend music, art, and science, with Prof. Brian Cox also appearing as part of Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage.

Jodrell Bank, the iconic observatory in Cheshire, sees the new 3-day event take place from 22-24 July with the backdrop of the giant Lovell radio telescope piercing the countryside.

Jean-Michel is known for incredible live performances as are Underworld, and electronica fans will also want a piece of the influential Caribou.

Other artists featuring on the first wave of the line-up are electro-rock darlings Everything Everything, art-rock archivists Public Service Broadcasting, neo-psychedelic titans Mercury Rev, folk experimentalist Steve Mason, post math-rock instrumentalists 65daysofstatic, genre-transcending indie rockers British Sea Power and Californian space-rock adventurers Moon Duo.

The late-night electronic line-up promises to be equally impressive with the initial bill including Erol Alkan and Richard Norris’ electro-house alter egos Beyond the Wizards Sleeve, Hessle Audio founder Ben UFO and turntable maestro DJ Yoda with many more still to be announced.

Recording an episode at the festival is Radio 4’s The Infinite Monkey Cage with Prof. Brian Cox and Robin Ince. Their irreverent and amusing insight into some of science’s biggest questions is guaranteed to entertain and elucidate and will undoubtedly be a highlight of the festival.

slide_5hFestival goers will experience five distinct arenas featuring space orchestras, talks, screenings, lectures, comedy and debates and a vast spectrum of hands-on activities including the Luminarium, art installations, robot workshops, a planetarium, the Galaxy Garden, pulsar hunting, and graphene making classes.

A nod to Carl Sagan’s pale blue dot, the festival aims to “blow people’s minds with some amazing music and some incredible ideas – from the Big Bang to black holes, AI to climate change, and loads more.” According to Associate Director of Jodrell Bank, Professor Tim O’Brien.

Find out more about bluedot at discoverthebluedot.com



The Subways – The Institute Birmingham

On the opening night of their UK tour, promoting their eponymously titled new album, The Subways have a surprise in store from the outset as drummer Josh Morgan is beating the skins again after a recent break due to illness.

With the original triumvirate restored, they waste no time in instigating intense moshpit action by playing old favourite ‘We Don’t Need Money to Have a Good Time’, a nostalgic ode for many in this crowd who would probably yearn for a return to summer nights as a teenager, when you could chill in a park until dusk and beyond.

The Subways as well as marking their new album are keen to reflect on the tenth anniversary of their spunky debut, ‘Young for Eternity’, a much hyped record on release but only created enough ripples in the charts to ensure they build a solid fanbase as opposed to hitting the major leagues. I also believe that because the template for future albums adopted a similar path, it’s hard to differentiate between their material in terms of standard. Four albums of affable pop-rock keeps the core fans entertained but an attempt to diversify might have led to a shift in success and critical acclaim.

However, they charge through songs with such gusto and intensity, the crowd aren’t overly concerned by the set not delivering any leftfield tunes, or rarely mixing up the tempo. It’s a case of sticking to a tried and tested formula: songs with simplistic melodies, banal lyrics but triggers collective bouncing and jostling throughout.

Signature hit ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Queen is played mid-set; a suggestion in the band’s confidence in their newer material is how many of their better known songs are played early. It’s an effective ploy as it ushers in crowd engagement early and this shows no sign of abating.

When it comes to lists such as ‘The Greatest Songs of All Time’ and ‘The Greatest Albums Ever’, The Subways are going to be struggling to make the longlist, but in the category of “throwing a rock ‘n’ roll party”, The Subways are in the upper echelons. After all, it only cost sixteen quid to have a good time. And closing with ‘It’s a Party’ suggests they would be in accordance with that viewpoint.



Idlewild – The Institute Birmingham

Reunions tend to either be a cash-in on past glories, fun but lacking genuine validity, or they can be an opportunity to showcase an evolution within the band as well as providing a timely reminder of the bands’ past. Idlewild, who have reconvened after a self-imposed five-year hiatus, definitely fall into the latter category.

From the outset of their show at The Institute, the power-pop of ‘Nothing We Can Do About It’ indicates Idlewild have expanded their instrumental repertoire, adding multi-instrumentalists, Lucci Rossi, Hannah Fisher and Andrew Mitchell, to their original three founder members. It facilitates a chance to rework older tracks, a fact reflected on the band’s biggest hit, ‘You Held the World in Your Arms’, which has morphed into sounding like folk-tinged euphoria. Next, they seamlessly move into a punchier version of newbie ‘Collect Yourself’, offering guitarist Rod Jones an opportunity to exhibit his full arsenal.

After the crunching, spiky old favourite ‘Little Discourage’ we get treated to the vocal delicacies of singer, Roddy Woomble, who, even approaching forty, remains svelte and hits the harmonies with as much beauty as ever, especially on the elegiac new song ‘Every Little Means Trust’. ‘Live in a Hiding Place’ and ‘Love Steals Us from Loneliness’ only add to the feel good factor permeating the room.

Midway through the set and Idlewild shift the tempo up a gear, harking back to their punk roots, they play early single ‘Film for the Future’ with machine-like precision before segueing into a snarling, nasty ‘Captain’, leading to the evenings first sings of moshpit carnage. A self-declared rock medley to remind the audience that Idlewild haven’t forgotten their earlier incarnation as a post-hard-core/punk group, although representation of this period was a little sparse given the set’s length of 22 tracks.

‘Roseability’ and ‘American English’ are sung with soaring grandeur by band and crowd, before closing with ‘utopia’, a new song that underlines the rich depth of Idlewild’s current sound.

The band return for a four-track encore, hitting a cacophonous peak with the turbo-charged blast of ‘Modern Way of Letting Go’, inciting a full scale circle pit that took no prisoners. And, in keeping with the evening’s varied tone, they close the set with the plaintive melancholy of ‘In Remote Part/Scottish Fiction.

Idlewild’s career is a fascinating one as they have managed, in a way Oasis didn’t, to evolve their sound and adapt to personnel changes, commercial fluctuations and a changing musical climate. This return not only underlined the strong back catalogue they’ve assembled over two decades, but showcased a band who have discovered their most complete and diverse sound to date. This was a band revitalised by a break, not intent on recapturing their past.



Idlewild: A New Chapter

After calling an indefinite hiatus in 2010, Idlewild remerged last month with their first album in five years, ‘Everything Ever Written’, a collection of songs they’ve recorded in the last couple of years, on both sides of the Atlantic. The recording process saw two new members, Luciano Rossi and Andrew Mitchell (not the ‘Plebgate’ one), complement the three original founding fathers of singer Roddy Woomble, guitarist Rod Jones and drummer Colin Newton. As a result, Idlewild’s new material sounds more complete than previous offerings.

During their sabbatical, the original trio ploughed separate paths, with Woomble and Jones both releasing solo output that was heavily influenced by folk music. A dissatisfaction with what Jones believed to be ‘a saturated market for folk music’ led him to form a band ‘The Birthday Suit’, who produced a pair of albums before Idlewild reconvened. Woomble himself had used the break to work in a collective as well as on his own. Ultimately, given the hiatus was called amid no acrimony, it wasn’t a tough decision for the band to reconvene, and they believed that their hardcore fanbase still had an appetite for new Idlewild songs.

The band embarked on a jaunt around the Scottish Highlands roadtesting new material alongside a vast and rich back catalogue. However, this month sees the band’s first ‘full’ UK tour for with stops at Glasgow (twice), Birmingham (a review coming up soon), Manchester, London, Belfast and Dublin.

In an age of banality, dumbing down, instant gratification, there’s something pleasing about the return of a band who have always brought a literate profundity to our ears, an intellectual depth missing from much of today’s offerings.

 

 

 

 



Bonobo at the Warehouse Project Manchester

Store Street, the home of this year’s Warehouse Project is an odd, sometimes scary place. Situated in a disused car park underneath Piccadilly Station in Manchester city centre its crumbling arches and dripping ceilings wouldn’t make Jack the Ripper feel out of place. Yet it’s Manchester’s home for top DJs and electronic musicians including MK, Chase and Status, and many more. Tonight was the turn of ambient and downtempo artist Bonobo, which in the dark dungeon-like scenery of the Warehouse Project may be an odd fit, but he brings his style of ambient chilled electronic to brighten up this dingy corner of Manchester.

Bonobo first appeared in 1999 and since then has gained traction in the electronic music scene, particularly 2010’s ‘Black Sand’ and follow up ‘The North Borders’. This show is near the end of a two year mammoth tour which has seen him play across the world to over 2 million people.

His live shows have become an important part of his appeal, choosing not to simply play his music solo, instead bringing a live band to truly bring out his sounds. With flutes, violins, saxophones and a variety of other instruments, Bonobo’s live shows comes closer to watching an orchestra perform than a dance musician.

Appearing one by one for captivating opener ‘Cirrus’, each member of Bonobo’s band add a layer of sound building up a wondrous wall of sound in one of the best openers I’ve seen. The combination of live violinists for track ‘Kiara’ is a unique and brilliant experience and combines both electronic sounds and live orchestration, which many may argue are polar opposites.

Later on there are live vocals from Szjerede for Bonobo’s calmer moments such as ‘Towers’ and ‘Stay the Same’ which still entice the audience, despite the lack of beat. These proved to be some of the highlights of the set, which is testament for a venue known for its fast and loud dance music.

However it’s not all solemn and reflective, as tracks such as ‘Kong’ and ‘Ten Tigers’ get the packed out crowd moving. Other highlights include ‘Flashlight’ from the forthcoming EP, which shows a bright future for the musician, further enhancing his staple of atmospheric electronic music.

As the band leave the stage at the end of their set to loud cheers from the grateful, and very sweaty audience, it’s clear Bonobo’s live show is a journey of what can be achieved in modern music. From raving one minute, to reflecting emotionally the next, Bonobo’s shows are unique in showing the power and beauty of dance music. Never before has a sweaty disused car park been so beautiful.



Common Review @ Gorilla Manchester

Fresh off the bat, touring worldwide for his new album Nobody’s Smiling, Common was originally booked at the Albert Hall, having filled up venues from Paris and Amsterdam, to London and Bristol, but it was a late switch to the smaller Gorilla that mixed things up surprisingly at last minute. Now Manchester’s scene for music is pretty renowned, but with most of its current attention on the electronic side of music, its pull for hip hop is different. If you add that with little promotion, and his two recent albums haven’t done as well commercially as the previous efforts of say Be, Like Water For Chocolate, or Finding Forever, then the surprise switch for a change in venue isn’t as surprising when you think about it.

On the positive side, moving to Gorilla was better for Common’s fans, as it meant not only a closer and intimate performance from its lower stage, but it has a clearer sound system and was packed to the rafters.

When we arrived it was just before Common was about to hit the stage, backed up by two DJs, a keyboard player and a vocalist, when he finally walked out, it was to a very warm reception! With Gorillas sound being far clearer than the Albert Hall’s this was a good switch in the end, what would be muffled was now crystal and Common moved about the stage with confidence, spitting rhymes and words of motivation to the crowd.

When you have a catalogue spanning 10 albums and a whole bunch of hits, it’s obviously nigh on impossible to fit them all in, but Common did the job well playing newer slots from Nobody’s Smiling like ‘Kingdom’ and ‘Diamonds’ to the classics like ‘Go’ and ‘Southside’. Judging from the crowd’s reactions the older cuts were what people were there for, as fans sauntered around when ‘Diamonds’ was on, yet the difference was huge when Common stopped to speak about and thank his long-time producer/friend No ID, before breaking out ‘I Used To Love H.E.R.’ to epic roars from the crowd!

There was some touching moments in there too, his heart-felt mentions of the late J-Dilla and his interactions of when they first met through A Tribe Called Quest, before playing some of their cuts, to then Common laying out what was said between them when he found out Dilla was dying, emotional and pure reminiscing of the legendary influential producer that gave a surreal feeling throughout everyone.

From one moment a long time ago, to being completely in the moment at Gorilla, Common decided to break away from the sadness of the latter with some free-styling, which again completely turned the crowd and got them roaring through mentions of Manchester and punch lines of photos for Instagram. He wasn’t the only one to freestyle on the night either, his DJs took it back to the days of real beat matching and scratching through beat juggling tracks like ‘Billie Jean’ & ‘Ten Crack Commandments’ to thunderous applause.

Ending the night on a high after his encore, Common had achieved the opposite of his newest album’s title and it’s safe to say the crowd got what they wanted… the gig in the end was a great night for hip hop fans of all creeds.