Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Kaiser Chiefs @ Birmingham NIA, 24/02/09

This was the first time I saw a band here, quite amazingly considering I go to pretty much all my gigs around Birmingham. It is half way between a medium venue like the Academy and a stadium - a little bit more standing room and a lot more seating. The first support band were a band called Esser. The lead singer, a man with a sparkly black coat and a Mohican, had a throat infection and kept telling us about it. I don't think they would have been much better if he hadn't been ill. It was ultra-fashionable electro-indie-pop, like Embrace with more synths or Hadouken! with less talent and anger. It was dull but not terrible.

The second band on were Black Kids. I was expecting the worst because I have never liked them on the radio, always found them a bit forced and soulless, but they weren't too bad live. They were well-drilled, and I'd imagine if you liked that stuff, you'd have been satisfied. But I don't like it, so I was bored. Between them and Kaiser Chiefs, some very unusual characters came on stage, dressed in white labcoats and mechanics clothing, measuring everything and ticking fake admin sheets on clipboards. Cue much cheering and laughter.

Finally, Chiefs took to the stage. They launched into Spanish Metal and everyone started fangirling (or fanboying) about Ricky's weight loss. He was energetic as ever, running all over the place and motioning to the crowd to cheer. They played a great set of old and new material, a nice mixture, that I can barely remember due to moshing and enjoying myself...Na Na Na Na Naa was definitely in there, and Never Miss A Beat, You Want History, Half The Truth, a beautiful electric version of Love's Not A Competition, Saturday Night, Ruby, Modern Way, I Predict A Riot followed by Take My Temperature where he went round the crowd and stood on a podium near the back, and it ended with The Angry Mob. After that they did an encore of Tomato In The Rain, something else and Oh My God, a very fitting end to the night. I am glad it'' back there where it should be in the setlist.

It doesn't matter what you think of their recent releases, it's hard to deny how good they are live. Everyone left sweaty and very happy, and I must say, it was the best gig of the year so far.

Sunday, 22 February 2009

The Last Of The English Roses, Peter Doherty

So, Pete is finally getting round to releasing that anticipated debut solo album, and this is the first single, to be released on March 9th in the UK? Brilliant! I bet it sounds like The Clash gone acoustic-folk with worse vocals.

Well, I was kind of right. The song opens with surprisingly electronic noises and slightly off-beat drum machine, not like Peter's previous efforts with either of his bands. It uses fairly simple chords which make you want to sway slightly and hum along. The voice comes in and it's recognisably Peter, completely void of saleability and yet perfect to give everything a bit of originality and edge. The vaguely poetic dystopian lyrics are what we've grown to expect from Pete Doherty; "She almost spilt her lager toasting girls of great beauty" and "You were slapped by that slapper and how we all laughed, but she laughed the loudest" for instance, have a certain charm in their simplicity, and when sung in that not-very-tuneful but endearing way that Doherty has down to a tee, they paint a vivid picture.

After a minute or so, it becomes a little repetitive, and the chorus is a let down after the build-up: it just continues to plod in major chords and the rather interesting homoerotic vibe is killed with a 'she'. (I'm certain he says 'coming out, coming alive' at one point, see, and there is gay kissing in the video. I'm not making it up, see for yourself.) It fizzles out in the end without really doing much, though it was a nice listen throughout and didn't get too dull after 3:54.

Overall, I like the song, I'd say 7/10, for the unusually relaxed tempo, good lyrics and memorability. However, I hope the upcoming album ('Grace/Wastelands', out in the UK March 16th) has more passion and grit to offer than this track, because to be honest, it's a bit...well...nice. A bit Radio 2.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Scarlet Harlots @ The Rainbow, 16/02/09

The evening started badly while queueing, with me knocking over a metal barrier in the street, and the sound of its falling over reverberated across what must have been the whole planet.

I've never been to The Rainbow before. It's in Digbeth, and like the Barfly a little further up, it is scuzzy as you can get before you just don't want to go in. You can't say it isn't atmospheric though, with fairy lights and ceiling beams and tiny corridors really not suited to a heaving music venue. I liked it and I'm looking forward to a better gig there.

It was packed, and with all the worst of people. I don't think there was a single music lover in the place - they were that breed of teen that the NME writes for: squealy things wearing too much make up and short skirts, carrying bags full of whatever drugs and booze they could scrounge off their older siblings, wearing extremely unsuitable footwear, and only there to take a million photos of themselves in their new Gucci sunglasses, which they were, of course, still wearing in the dark of the venue. None of them looked old enough to vote, and I'm sure there were goings-on in the toilets I can barely imagine. People were actually dancing to Jay-Z remixes, as if they were suddenly cool because they were being played at a Scarlet Harlots gig. I have been to a few gigs now, and never have I been to one which looked more like a scene from Skins.

The first band on I didn't catch the name of, but they sounded like a half-baked Editors with more electronics, so I don't think I want to know the name anyway. The second band were Yelps, who I went to see, and they were definitely not what I was expecting. The synth-based angular pop actually encouraged that unnerving glowsticks-and-PVC atmosphere which was already lurking. The vocals were more approximate than they are in the recordings, and the songs were all much of a muchness. Though the crowd were having fun, I guess they were out to have fun whether the band were good or not.

I left pretty sharpish. That is the effect the 'scene' scene has on me.

Monday, 9 February 2009

A video for you.

I should explain why you should love this band. While my taste is usually a lot more garage-rock-punk than Envy & Other Sins, who create what can only be described as excellent pop, Envy have stolen my heart and could easily steal yours. They won an essentially average talent competition called Act Unsigned in December 2007 and have been teetering on the brink of success for the past year; Polydor, who they gained a contract with after winning Act Unsigned, seemed to pay very little attention to them despite their obvious saleability (quirky clothing, intelligence, a great work ethic, catchy songs, a good dynamic as a band, talent), maybe because the talent show hung over Envy's name like a contagious disease and no-one seemed to want to touch them for fear of sacrificing their credibility. Zero advertising will add up to very few sales: the music business is built on advertising, and with a bit of it, Envy would now be 'big'. But no - they had to stick to touring 200 venues with very few album sales and yes they filled many of them, but those numbers dwindled and their fan-built forum struggles to keep afloat with 30 members. They are good enough for so much more. They can write proper pop gems and are masters at weaving traditional rock instruments into the pop framework. They make upbeat, modern, intelligent pop-rock and it's such a shame if you miss it because of their record company's indifference.

I've seen them six times live and once playing Pheasant, an ingenious cross between football and tennis, in a park with no public toilets. Six is a small number really, considering some of the Kaiser Chiefs fans I know who have seen Chiefs over fifty times. However small, it is my claim to them, along with keeping in contact with them over MySpace and having been onstage with them once doing their light show. I like to think, however audaciously, that Jarvey, Ali, Jim and Mark are friends as well as being in one of my favourite bands. They cheer me up musically and simply by perpetually being a part of me, as a live show in the future or memories in the past.

They aren't The Beatles, but they're ten times most of the local scene around where I live now. There are a million copy-bands struggling in the wake of Oasis and The Libertines, and Envy & Other Sins break free of that shit-quality-but-it's-okay-because-that's-the-way-the-Gallagher's-recorded-it mould that so many bands fit into.

Just watch the video and click on their name in this post, please? I don't know who is reading this yet, but hopefully someone will heed this call and we can get Envy to one more listener...they deserve it. Besides, check out that lead singer. ;)

Saturday, 7 February 2009

10 Songs I Love Right Now - 3/02/09

Franz Ferdinand - The Fallen

This is a great one to kick off with. The riffs in this song are turbo-charged, and there are loads of them. Besides this, the great lyrics: "So they say you're a troubled boy, just because you like to destroy all the things that bring the idiots joy, but what's wrong with a little destruction?" And it has a la la section! No pop rock song can be complete without a la la hook. Oh, this song - how can it not give you an angry high?

Sonic Youth - Dirty Boots

This song takes a while to get going, starting with those sultry chords and characteristic raw guitar noise, and then the brittle vocals, atmospheric and unsettling. It's repetitive and absolutely mesmerising. It builds up half way through, until suddenly it rocks out into this maddeningly irresistable chant of "You got your dirty boots!" over the backing and then fades out into soft, gentle strumming. Heaven.

The Clash - The Guns of Brixton

I couldn't decide whether to include this or London Calling, but everyone knows London Calling, so I decided to put this in instead. It's dark and it was so new when they released it - this fusion of reggae and rock, with those almost comic sound effects and samples. It captures a moment in time so perfectly; seventies London, down and outs being hunted down by the racist police, taking sides to survive.

Babyshambles - Fuck Forever

Of course, the Babyshambles versus Dirty Pretty Things debate...I'll just add my two pence. Pete had the talent and the poetry, while Carl had the passion and the technical skill, in my opinion, although of course it's more complex than that. Neither follow-up band is good as The Libertines, but Babyshambles are better than Dirty Pretty Things. It's sad to think that the latter are gone now, as they did have something, but not quite the something that Babyshambles have. Take this track, Fuck Forever. He is just a master of choruses, no? This is not to be mistaken for background music; asymmetrical bar layouts, out-of-tune shouting and most of all, great great lyrics.

Blur - London Loves

Parklife gained Blur their fame, though it is a little clean for me. This song is a standout though. The slightly on-edge synths and Damon's mocking, neutral tone. The chorus I especially love about it. The harmonies just work so well, and the way he puns on misery and mystery, and the last line which always trails so poignantly into the next chord sequence...

Sucioperro - The Drop

The Drop is not the best on the album Random Acts of Intimacy in my opinion, but it seems to be the one I'm listening to most. The beautiful guitar playing throughout, and the lovely lyric "The days fall slow, like summer rain" I just want to listen to over and over again. When it breaks down at 2:50 as well, into a softer quieter bit - that's pretty. Very pretty.

Babyshambles - A'Rebours

A'Rebours is a deliciously upbeat track, especially that bassline which comes in at the very start and dominates the rest. I love bands who make liberal use of tambourine. Also here, I know this is cheating, but I'd like to say 8 Dead Boys is worth a nod. It's Hellishly angry, clearly a jibe at former bandmates of Peter Doherty, but the guitar licks are very well-played and the emotion in it is so wonderfully breakable.

The Stranglers - No More Heroes

Yes I've been raiding my mum's CDs again, and yes I liked it. No More Heroes is a synth-punk masterpiece damning idolisation - or is it the words of a dissolute young man who has found all his heroes to be fools? A young man whose heroes have failed him? Of course it is told from a disdainful third person view, making it even more sneeringly great.

The Libertines - Never Never

Is there anything happier than a ditty driven along by typical chords and a metronome? It's one of the little things I can never pin down, why a happy song like this sounds so happy - is it the major chords, the lyrics about friendship, the unusually great singing for Pete Doherty, or the little drum solo at the end? I don't know, but it really is so uplifting, and if you like the Don't Look Back Into the Sun side of the Libs, really check this out. "I'm still lining them up and knocking them down with you." ♥

Levellers - Three Friends

This is my soothing choice - a soft, eerie folk song with a twist, it starts calmly, slowly, with instruments humming and an inverted dialogue of whispering in the background. It's the bass and the fiddle which do it for me: they are at odds, spooky, and give the relatively regular melody of the song a real edge. Looking for a more upbeat, political Levellers song? No? Well I s'pose you should be. See Social Insecurity.

I had the audacity to put way more than 10 song references in there. Oh well. I love all of them. Take a look, as ever, they are all worth a listen or ten. Hope you're having a good 2009 so far, wherever you are.

10 Songs I Love Right Now - 23/12/08

The Cribs - Fairer Sex

This song is a Cribs B-side, and though I might be hearing the uninitiated screaming, how could the B-sides be any more underproduced than the albums?!, they manage it and it makes them even better. The raw, well-played guitar, especially in the soft chorus section, just knocks me out. On top of this, could Gary sound any more vulnerable with those lyrics and that voice?

Dirty Pretty Things - Deadwood

The little guitar solo that appears a few times in this song is an absolutely perfect thing to wake you up and cheer you up. With Dirty Pretty Things playing their last ever gig a few days ago in London, I felt it necessary to put a DPT track in here, and Hell, this is a VERY good track. It's hyper, well-written and you can't tell me it's not about a certain Mr Doherty in concept at least.

Sonic Youth - Reena

From the most recent of twenty albums (!), Rather Ripped, Reena floats along, carried by a brilliant dizzy riff and ambiguous lyrics about a new 'friend' who showed the breathy singer how to 'live in the end'. It's very beautiful, and it hits a chord with the dreamer in me. It is a very pretty, uplifting track.

Idlewild - No Emotion

No Emotion is a gorgeously melancholy and melodic track which you can play when you're happy or sad, because it spans such a huge range of emotions. The lyrics and some of the melodies are quite sad, but the playing is exuberant and aggressive and the vocals are often quite uplifting. Competing to get in here as well was In Competition for the Worst Time which is a brilliant song containing the lyric "In competition for the worst first line I could use in conversation for the first time". The internal rhymes in there are genius. ;)

Janis Joplin - Down on Me

This has to be one of the most uplifting of Janis Joplin's tracks. The version I've got is a live one, and that she could pull off that skill in her singing live quite bemuses me. It helps that the pretty conventional 60's backing with raucous guitars and jazzy bass is brilliantly played too.

Radiohead - Subterranean Homesick Alien

While the progressive giddiness of Paranoid Android is the most startlingly enthralling on OK Computer, I have recently been very impressed with this track. It's soft guitar entrance is just the most wonderful thing, and is followed by a witty but rather sad description of what humans would be like from the opinion of an alien (Think the Savage from Brave New World seeing humanity after he's let loose).

Robin Williamson - Black is the Colour

Suddenly this harp-endowed love song holds more meaning for me. I think you have to relate to love songs, but even if you don't, this masterpiece of harp playing and beautiful story about a lost love makes lovely listening. He was in The Incredible String Band...remember? Hmmm, maybe not.

Sonic Youth - Rats

I have been obsessed with this song for about 2 weeks. It's dark, sultry intro with cross-rhythms and raw guitar distortion sends a shiver down my spine. Then when the vocals enter, deep, angry and saying the most wonderfully paradoxical lyrics, I am just lost. I showed my friend and she said it was amazing how he managed to sound so hurt. "If you're ever feeling low down in the fractured sunshine, I'll help you feel the noise" is a very very atmospheric lyric indeed. In fact, 'atmospheric' sums up the song.

The Specials - Little Bitch

Ska passed me by a bit, probably because I wasn't born. This track sums up The Specials so simply - you can hear rock in the intro and then it breaks into goodtime reggae. It's also a great angry and mocking track; the chords in the intro are great, and then the nasty lyrics and shouting of 'ONE TWO!' and of course 'I know you know you're just a little bitch!' make the song.

Suede - Can't Get Enough

This sounds like a lost Britney track: you know, the one which all the rockers secretly like but won't admit to it, dance around the bedroom to but turn it off when their parents come up the stairs. The best thing is that you don't have to turn it off because it's under the guise of being a nineties Britpop track. Get that hairbrush and start spinning round that room.

Thanks for reading...and please do have a little look at the songs, they are all very good. Have a great Christmas if you celebrate it, a great New Year too. Consume too much alcohol and listen to too much music - too loud. ;)

10 Songs I Love Right Now - 1/11/08

The Animals - I'm Gonna Change the World

This track was very ahead of its time in the late 60s with the lyrics "No more black or white, no more left or right". It is all most identical in tune to It's My Life, though the sentiment is slightly different. The main idea is 'I have a thinking mind, I know how to make the world better, I'm going to change it.' and it's very uplifting even if it was written in a different society to today's. It's My Life is just as uplifting, if a little more teenage and angry.

Babyshambles - Carry On Up The Morning

Perhaps Pete Doherty has had a hard time of it recently in that he is persistently getting judged for his extra activities outside of his job as Britain's most poetic songwriter of the present day. Listening to this song, you stop caring what he does in his free time, it is such a good song. Containing the immortal line "In the morning where does all the pain go? Same place the fame goes - straight to your head", and other great lines, it is an enthralling song with a truly moving melody.

Biffy Clyro - Muckquaikerjawbreaker

Oh the glory of this track. Half of it is just experimental guitar work, but it has some bits in it which are very powerful. The lyrics are the usual Biffy-type lyrics - abstract and linked to some relationship somewhere, but they are nice and the melodies are lovely. I thank thekillingspree very much for sending me this free. Thank you.

Franz Ferdinand - 40'

This song has a great catchy riff as an intro, which immediately gets your foot tapping, and then it launches into edgy, quirky Franz brilliance. My interpretation of the lyrics is that someone is standing at the top of a cliff deciding whether to jump or not ("looking down, looking down, down down again, oh 40 feet remain"). It's melancholy, the words and the harmonies, but I think it's rather endearing.

Larrikin Love - On Sussex Downs

The lyrics to this song are all about some strange trip to Sussex where the singer took off all his clothes and played in the long grass of the fields joyfully. It's postively pagan, I love it. The idea of being a wild creature one day and then tied to routine the next is both uplifting and miserable. The best thing about the track is its sheer energy and ability to get you smiling; also found in the song about frustrated transexuals - Six Queens.

Kaiser Chiefs - Half The Truth

Half The Truth is so fun. I have gone off Chiefs a little recently, and although there is still a little bit of my heart wedged firmly between the steps of Billy's Bar's front porch (Elland Road) and thinking of February 2007 makes me smile, I'm not a huge fan of the new album. But this track is so so energetic, and it reminds me of Elland Road so much that I had to like it.

The Libertines - Vertigo

Piercing through the over-produced manufactured indie which was topping charts at the time, the first track from the first Libertines album was a great introduction to the amazement to come. Starting with a slightly unsettling guitar riff with absolutely no polish on it, it builds into a really down-to-Earth nearly-love song with out-of-tune vocal harmonies and almost-sexual lyrics. Hell, it deserves all those dashes.

Muse - Sober

There always has to be room for a Muse track in favourite track lists. Muse tracks are life-affirming. This one is a slightly angry and miserable personal attack on the one remaining person the singer loves, and how they 'turn on' him. It's all a bit dramatic, but hey, that's what we love about Muse, isn't it? And it's just brilliant musically, which helps.

The Specials - Enjoy Yourself (It's Later Than You Think)

This is amazing. It's old, yes, it's a bit cheesy, yes, but how uplifting is it? It contains the title line 'Enjoy Yourself, It's Later Than You Think' which has to be one of the most fun and irresponsible statements they could have made, and the ska backing music with all the instruments and voices is so entertaining, so fun. Surrender, you know you want to.

The Libertines - The Good Old Days

I'm a sucker for a good romantic story, and this, along with Can't Stand Me Now and What Became Of The Likely Lads? soundtracks the very romantic tale of the Libs' ups and downs. The chorus has some very poetic lyrics and it all sounds a bit melancholy, an emotion I relate to very much; I like it a lot.

It's funny how many more I could find in just over a month. I listen to too much music.

10 Songs I Love Right Now - 28/09/08

Biffy Clyro - Buddy Holly (Weezer Cover)

I actually heard this cover before I heard the original. I assumed that the original would be pretty out there too; I went looking for it and found a sweet American pop song. Biffy have magically transformed this track into something very impressive. Built around ridiculously complex time signatures and shifting melodies, this is an amazing musical masterpiece. Then the Scottish voices singing the lyrics over the brilliance, following the original tune but fitting it very loosely around the backing just make the song what it is. They made it better. Obviously I'm biased, Biffy being my favourite band, but seriously, this would be a good cover either way.

Envy & Other Sins - Help Yourself

This song is so damn happy. I bought it on the Prodigal Son single at a gig in Stratford, a self-released venture by Envy & Other Sins which didn't really get anywhere, but which is really quite brilliant. Two days afterwards I fell madly in love with them on stage at Birmingham ArtsFest, and for days after that I was playing Help Yourself on repeat in blissful retreat from the world around me, and for that time I was happy. So it's a happy song for me now, very happy.

Caetano Veloso - Irene

I can't explain my love for this song very well, it's all emotional. For a start, it's my dad's music, which brings an element of guilt into it for me, but I can't deny how great it is. It's a love song with quite melancholy lyrics (when translated from Portugese) but the tune and the rhythm is so uplifting and cheerful. It makes me want to skip down the street, it's so beautiful and carefree.

Radiohead - Planet Telex Ah Radiohead. I suppose I'm late to discover Radiohead - it's not my fault I was born at the wrong time! This song is everything at the moment, eerie and sad but also perfect for encapsulating everything I feel. "Everything is broken." It's a dreary lyric, but it fits my mood - the rest of the words are generic enough to capture hundreds of people's feelings, but specific enough to feel like they apply to me only. It's set to very moving music too. My Iron Lung is also capable of this, the funk-rock heaviness towards the end giving me something to mosh to in my front room. Love.

Blur - Wear Me Down

This song is a bit dull to be honest. It's a twisted love song with sweet but predictable melodies and very little lyrical or rhythmic interest. But it's sexy, I suppose, the sleepy, deep vocals compelling and disobedient; the song is gorgeously morose and angsty, and when I don't want to hear something happy and I don't want to hear something sad, it's the perfect compromise. Damon's voice always gets me too. It's special.

Flight of the Conchords - The Most Beautiful Girl (in the Room)

I don't know, this song is just hilarious. The lyrics are hilarious and very cruel ("You're so beautiful like a tree or a high class prostitute, you could be a part-time model but you'd probably sitll have to keep your normal job"), but beneath them there's a very sweet tinge to this song which makes anyone with half a heart go 'awwwww'. He really seems to want to be with this girl, just has no tact whatsoever. It's cute and sweet and outrageously funny.

Biffy Clyro - Stress on the Sky

I love everything about this song. I love its name and its lyrics and the cover of the album it is on (Blackened Sky) and its screamo patches and quiet patches, its intro and its beautiful harmonies, and most of all I love the quiet, considered riff after about a whole minute of heavy guitar and aimless shouting. This song is tied to a very depressed few months in my existence, and whenever I listened to it, it took the world off my shoulders and made me sink into bliss for 4 minutes. The need for that has passed now, but I cannot help but feel a ridiculous attachment to the beauty of it.

Blur - Blue Jeans

This song is a very pretty melodic slow one about the mundanity of modern life (Blur's favourite topic) but I find it more attractive than others they have done of the same type. It brings up images of a failing relationship, going so well, so much love being lost to a tide of boredom and repetition. The chorus has such lovely harmonies and melancholy sweetness. It's an emotional sigh of a song.

The Cribs - Baby Don't Sweat

It's mostly the intro to this song which makes it great. It's sexy and raw and the whole track is upbeat without being too upbeat to listen to when you are miserable. It's simple but attractive, and best of all, I can play it on my guitar!

Marmaduke Duke - The Beaver and the Rabbit

Finally, Marmaduke Duke. Simon Neil's side project, I was bound to like it really. This song is angry and it doesn't fit into any of the usual structures songs have. There's no time signature that you can stick to, it's always morphing, the guitar work is simply amazing, and while the screamo bits are almost TOO experimental, it works. Stunning moments of harmony puncture the very hard and rough tune and it's impossible to listen to it without an open mouth.My 10 tunes of right now, explained.

Go and listen, go and explore, they are all mind-blowing.

Friday, 6 February 2009


I am intending to use this blog as a way of archiving many of my Last FM journals (especially my '10 Songs I Love Right Now' lists, which are my pride and joy and so I do not wish them to get mislaid in the vast universe which is the internet), and blog specifically about music. I'm hoping to do live reviews, album reviews and write down those little emotional explosions I have when I'm listening to music.

I am also a loyal LiverJournal blogger, though that's all "Daily life - ain't it shit, man" stuff, nothing like the emotional mess I am planning to get into here, over music.

The title of this blog comes from a Libertines song of the same name, and I thought it appropriate considering my attachment to music, night-time and The Libs themselves.
If you wish to hunt me down for any reason, search KCKate or ItMustBeKate, or Kayte - so basically you won't be able to find me. :)

Anyway, I'd love some sort of attention, I'm extremely predictable like that: have a nice day and don't forget to come back sometime in the near future for stuff about music, yes?