10.21.2009

THIS TOWN NEEDS GUNS+ Tubelord. Oakford Social Club, Reading. 18.10.09

The start of a tour featuring a terrific tag-team of totally tuneful but arty and inventive, tousle-haired, twiddly-guitared outfits, tonight has the potential to be great. And Tubelord don’t disappoint. Sure, the Kingston trio (now with new bassist in tow) owe a lot to acts like The Fall Of Troy and Biffy Clyro but they sound more like their own band with every show. Tunes from new album ‘Our First American Friends’ are tight, dynamic, and, vitally, original too. And if getting everyone to sit down while they recite Ginsberg is hokey, a schizophrenic but captivating ‘Night Of The Pencils’ starts superb and explodes into what our merry ears might call one of the best songs ever written.

Not that This Town Needs Guns lack killer tunes. ‘Lemur’ pops in all the right places, ‘Baboon’ is all-at-once off-kilter and even a little out of tune but trap-tight and beautiful too, and ’26 Is Dancier Than 4’ is perfect, the sort of no-hit wonder that deserves to be dug up and discovered in years to come and declared the classic it’s always been. The Gunners air new material too, showcasing an unnamed song that’s a real revelation for them- magnetic and complex but slick, fast and danceable, all without once sounding cheap and dirty. It points towards the bigger things that this band have deserved for some time and rounds up a night that delivered all it promised, terrific from start to finish.

10.19.2009

SLEEPING AT LAST- Storyboards

This is so easy to fall in love with. There’s the raw talent, it takes just two minutes to work out that the three members of Chicago’s Sleeping At Last have got some serious chops. There’s the lyric sheet, with lines like “when we awake, we are left with the eggshells inside of the nest and the promise that one day soon, it will come back to us” that could have come from a poetry book. There’s some real pedigree here as well, contributors have also worked with Paul McCartney and Death Cab For Cutie, Van Dyke Parks (whose resume includes time with U2, The Beach Boys and Walt Disney) arranged the strings, and the whole shebang was recorded at Steve Albini’s Electrical Audio Studio. And then there’s the music all those skills combine to create- ‘Side By Side’, which sounds like Coldplay but modest and captivating too, the sombre but sunny layers of ‘Unmade’, and the fragile, tender ‘Na├»ve’, one of the most delicately beautiful tunes of the year. Of ever, really. Listen to this album immediately then, fall in love, but don’t blame us if it leads to an affair that lasts the rest of your life.

ON HISTORIES OF ROSENBERG- On Histories of Rosenberg

What’s in a name? Obviously not enough for promising Winchester outfit Caesura who, in the light of the 50 or so other Caesura’s in the world, have become On Histories Of Rosenberg. But while some things change, others stay the same and the music on the History boys’ debut EP picks up right where their old band’s final efforts ended. Opener ‘Am I Awake?’ is a slowly-swelling 5-minute mini-epic with real emotional power at its core, ‘Danger Danger’ gets all starry-eyed before becoming a proper belter mid-way through, and ‘Leave Us Here’ combines a love of Minus The Bear and Jimmy Eat World with handclaps and a post-rock climax to make for a powerful conclusion. Admittedly how hard you fall for this will depend on how much musical melancholy, heartfelt musing and twinkling guitars you can handle but only the harshest souls will deny the presence of massive promise and potential.

IMOGEN HEAP- Ellipse

Lovely this. But never quite the masterpiece it was supposed to be. After all, from the springboard that was 05’s ‘Speak For Yourself’, Imogen Heap could have gone anywhere, taking her breathy and experimental pop to pastures entirely new. She could have spent the last few years working on music to blow minds. Instead of fresh and challenging though, this is beautifully familiar, perfectly charming, and utterly comfortable stuff. If that sounds like a slating, it’s not. Not at all. Hell, Heap could hum a shopping list and make it sound as handsome as the most heartfelt poem, and ‘Ellipse’ does sound better than ‘Speak…’, supported by a sweet but not sickly production job that really suits. It’s just that for a girl that had the potential to reach for outer space and soundtrack the stars (instead of just Hollywood blockbusters), the clean, pristine pop songs here don’t feel quite enough.