Tuesday, 11 October 2011
Gold Panda Live at The Brudenell Social Club- Friday 7th October
Before I talk about the gig I firstly have to make an excuse and an apology. See, originally I was never planning to review this gig, my plan had been to get shitfaced before stumbling into the night to say farewell to a friend who was fleeing country but betwixt the support and the main act I was accosted by a woman in black. "Why are you just stood here alone, dressed in black? Shouldn't you be dancing down there with everyone else?" I was dressed in black because It's slimming and I wasn't dancing because I was alone dealing with a mixture of funk induced happiness that was dealing with a melancholic thug of sadness that was threatening to beat me to death with the baseball bat of fond memories. Also I was becoming increasing drunk. To dismiss this would-be-cougar I simply stated that I was reviewing the band and it's easier to get a neutral view of a gig from the back, also that I was wearing black because it's slimming. As the woman in question to subtle attempt to seduce me ("so, shots?") I decided that even though I was drunk I would review the gig. That's the excuse.
The apology is for the fact that I continued to get drunk and parts of this review are irrelevant to actual gig. The parts that are relevant may be misremembered. I wouldn't go as far as to say that I'm like Hunter S. Thompson, and that this is "gonzo" journalism, no that's not for me to say (if people want to think that it's up to them) but it's certainly slap-dash, haphazard journalism. I promise my next review (of Craig Thompsons Habibi ) will be more sensible and not conducted whilst drunk. Thank you for your time.
I arrived at the Brudenell Social Club around 8 o'clock. If you've never been to or heard of then venue then shame on you. It's an indie-alt-centric venue in the heart of the Hyde Park area in Leeds. By the time I'd got there it was already crammed with the usual hipsters, scenesters, students and just general fucking weirdoes that normally frequent the place. The gig was sold out and there was chatter amongst the wall flowers that the gig was going to be great, not because of Gold Panda you understand but because of the support Dam Mantle. Of course the support was the real reason these bastions of coolness where here. Some of them where even going to risk their chinos and dance. Gasp. Dam Mantle had to do something pretty fucking good to win me over now.
I set up camp at the back, next to quiet area of the bar. A gentleman promoting his friends art show befriended me and the drinking commenced moments before the support. Dam Mantle walked to the stage. A wraith of an awkward bedroom DJ. The first track was uninspired and appeared to make the act dance like what can only be described as a spider having an epileptic fit. I was unimpressed. Initially. As he continued I became increasingly won over by the electron house display before me. Maybe these scenesters were right. This guy was making them dance, dammit I was almost dancing. What if Gold Panda came on and wasn't as good? His album, Lucky Shiner, is fairly mellow. What if I didn't dance? What if he sucked? What if this stranger wants me to buy a round? Wait where the fucks he gone? Dam mantle and my new friend disappeared around the same time and I was left at the bar, the room crashing towards me during the brief break to get drinks. That's when I met the aforementioned cougar lady.
Once the I was alone again and had decide that I would indeed write this review I decided to pay attention. Panda came to magical musical desk, canopied by fairy lights and a arty slide slow accompanying him. Electricity filled the room. The opening track was " You". This is the only track I can identify. I mean I could I name other tracks but I sure that he open with "You". Positive. Like 96 percent. Anyways, what happened was magical. Illuminated by fairly lights with the room became a pulsing, happy, dancing place. Panda jerk to the beat, his hood up like some electronic-dance monk. I found smiling uncontrollably. The music shift from track to track with technological precision. This was the chill out album I know and love, it had become a dance monster and the crowd was devoted. The screen behind Panda cut from images of waves to rain to industrial park. There was a sense of the exotic meeting the quintessentially British. In that former working man's club turned arty's subculture venue a little magic was create. The stage invasion mid set by a group of happy and I can only assume hammered teenage girls captured this perfectly. They danced away happily leaving the stage when they got bored or to be back with friends, they were never pulled away by bald men in yellow t-shirts. I'd like to say that "Snow & Taxis" was playing whilst this happened. I'd like to but that might just be wishful thinking.
I left that night with a smile on my face ready to enjoy the rest of my night and say goodbye in a cheerful to my friend. Also I stole a Jamie McKelvie Art Brut poster on my way out. Good times.
Green River Killer: A True Detective Story
Written By Jeff Jensen, Artwork by Jonathan Case, Letters by Nate Piekos
Jeff Jensen's first graphic novel recounts the story of his father's investigation into the titular Green River Killer. Cited as the worst serial killer in US history, haunting Seattle and claiming the lives of almost 50 women, Jensen retells his father's downright tenacious "quest" to capture Gary Leon Ridgeway.
The narrative is fantastic and pace is fantastic. The prologue gives us an alarming and brutal insight into the mind of Gary, depicting his first foray into violence whilst the epilogue paints us a picture of the Detective Tom Jensen. These juxtaposing scenes bookend the story itself that jumps back and forth skilfully throughout the investigation that creates a complex, and engaging story. Spanning and visiting different parts of investigation treats us to sophisticated visual foreboding and intrigue that we can see that we can see have importance that isn't revealed until much later on in the story. The picture of the author as a youth dressed as a knight that is stapled to Det. Jensen's cubicle with the caption "Green River Mission Statement" is a particularly strong motif that has a resounding significance come the end of the story and the understanding that although the story is a crime thriller and it's really an exploration of Detective Tom Jensen and the kind of man he is. Little nuisances, his behaviour with colleagues, are all beautifully depicted. The work Jensen and Case do with panels and paces displays wonderful characterisation, in particular pages 187-192 allude to the detectives hidden frustration and steely commitment fantastically.
Case's art is outstanding through. Almost classically cartoonish, he manages to capture every decade the book moves trough and ages the characters brilliantly. His real forte is his mastery of expressions though. He expertly captures the frustration of the case, the joyous camaraderie between the detectives and the icy distance of the killer. Part way through you believe that these characters are real, and then you realise they are. Whether a cost based or stylised decision, black and white works for this book. The shocking murder scenes are so because of the nature of them and the psyche of the murderer. Coloured panels would of cheapened or at least detracted from the ideas behind the story.
The only thing I could possibly put against this book is that the jumping narrative may prove difficult for those inexperience with reading graphic novels. That is it. Green River Killers works as a crime novel but works even better as a son's explanation for the idolisation of his father. But by far and away I think the this book is a master class in exploring mindset of a good man wholeheartedly dedicated to his pursuit. There are a lot of creator owned biographical graphic novels out there cited as master pieces, a lot with better art, a lot with more revelation about the author but not as many work so well as a story in themselves. This is a great story with outstanding characterisation, if that's the kind of thing your into, and let's face it if you have any sense you should be, put down whatever superhero trade paperback you want to buy, walk over to the Dark Horse section and pick up Green River Killer. It's Good.
A track by track review of "In the Grace of Your Love" by The Rapture.
This reviews a little late. Sorry but I was watching several documentaries about dinosaurs so as a wise ninja turtle once said "gimme a break". Anywho, for those of you that are already aware of The Rapture, well done you, let's be friends, but for the uninitiated they are an electro-dance-punk act on the major electro-dance-punk label DFA Records, home to the now defunct LCD Soundsystem (lest we forget), Hotchip and a bunch of others. Even if you don't already know and love the rapture you've definitely heard at least one of their tracks if you've been to any self respecting (or self loathing; it's hard to tell with indie kids these days) indie based night. Namely, the cowbell noise music monster "House of Jealous Lovers". Followed the link? Remember what I'm on about? Good. Anyway their latest album is a tad different from that. It's their fourth so far and these guys are no longer just concerned with just making you dance so hard you spill your cheap drink on whatever topman garments your clad in, they have pop music in their sights.
1. Sail Awa
The opening track kicks off with Luke Jenner's pained and strained vocal with "Sail away!" ascending into the track. Accompanied by a joyous little synth melody and a jangly drum beat, this song almost writes itself. It instantly feels familiar. Until the extended psychedelic outro, at which point it feels like a close friend telling you he's the pope unexpectedly. It's unusual and out of the ordinary but you still can't help but love the chap.
Sex Bass! Thats right this track has sexy bass kicking it off. On first listening it the lyrics sound hammy, almost a parody, but by the chorus you realised that once again these guys are trying to make a classic sing along pop extraganza. Expect to try and clap along to the clapping in the track and fail. Moments to look out for: The snare drum kick after the bridge. Saucy.
The most "indie" track on the album. Buzzing guitars with up tap tap tappah tappah drums pierced by falcetto vocals. The chorus a pretty chant with wailing guitar solos. The most inoffensive track but also the most boring it's pleasant enough but feels somewhat like filler.
4.Come Back to Me
A gypsy exploration. The distant vocals carry what is essentially a simple enough dance track until the hypnotic chorus of " Are we all children". At which point you have to start paying more attention. "I welcome you back into my heart, my spirit, my nourishing spirit" starts to sound increasingly sinister. Like a seductive circus that you don't realise is filled with sexual deviants and people who like the musical stylings of Katy Perry. The reprise is a heavy step in this direction (not towards Katy Perry thank God, towards the dark.). A white noise background, then more synth. Cut. Funky drums. The reprise is remix fuel and harks back to "Echoes" with its sinister feel.
5.In The Grace of Your Love
Title track time! A lumbering track with plodding synth and art-school sharp guitar. "In the grace of you love" acting as a prefix to every other lyric, this is another attempt to write a pop song with none pop music. It's not long before you find yourself bopping (you kids still bop right?) to the funk. That's just before another creepy reprise. This album is about love, but a creepy love-is–terrifying type of way.
6.Never Die Again
Alright. On a album listen you'll probably listen as you'll be too engrossed by previous tracks. On an iTunes shuffle it might get a skip. Pretty much run of the mill Rapture, five to five on a Friday afternoon, let's get bash this track out and get to the pub type affair. Saying that it is funky and does have quite a looming a deep ending.
7. Roller Coaster
Welcome back to the carnival of dance-punk. The title lyrics wash over you like a cultish chant. The rolling drums and singing guitars create a sense of bitter sweet summer afternoons with lyrics telling the story of a roller-coaster relationship that's on the rocks. This track is warm yellows, orange and gold with summer sun glare spilling over a BBQ that's about to end.
And the award for track mostly to appear on an advert promoting some shit movie channel in the spring goes to.... That's not entirely a bad thing though. This track has a happy little melody with simple, sweet lyrics. It sounds a tad like "Sweet Disposition" by Temper Trap or " 1914" by Phoenix ( Philipe Zdar produced both this album and "Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix, if its not broke eh?) with a kind of Playschool vibe. As much I hate to admit it, I like those tracks. Just like every over person on the planet.
9. Can You Find a Way?
The Middle East meets videogames and vomits a track in your face. With a dervish call to arms droll of "Maybe if you tried it you would even like it, maybe if you let yourself go," bloopy-bleepy synth (don't act like you don't know what that means) with random and crashing guitars. This track is short, unusual, a tad unsettling but fun.
10. How Deep is Your Love?
Gospel type pianos and drum machine equals early nineties eurodance! Unsettling for many of us admittedly but give this track 48 seconds. The static bass kicks in with his buddy the funk drums! Bam the best dance-punk track since LCD's "Dance Yrself Clean" (admittedly that was only last year but it was bloody good). "Let me hear that song" should be on the mouths of every alternative, every hipster, every indie kids lips for the next few months. Assuming DJ's are brave enough to play it. Listen closely and you can hear the cowbells are back in this track with a vengeance. Move over "House of Jealous Lovers" the Rapture have a new calling card. The bridge gives you a moment to catch your breath and commences with "How deep is love? Oh! How deep is love?" (Not a cover, alas) then this track just kicks you teeth in with bum bum bumbumbum, reprise. Cultish dance master class. Be here now.
11. It Takes Time to Be a Man
Jenning's song to his children full of a hopeful advice and the nicer side of Christian idealism; also happens be the funkiest, most soulful, piece of Motown mimicry there is. Lazy seductive bass, with "my first piano" melody cuddles Jennings "I bet you can't get what you want, come on baby come on darling, I bet you can't get what you need, come on sugar and try". For my money the standout track on the album. Not only because it stands out like a sore thumb, but also because just a massively seductive and warm track. This will make your day so much better.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoy this album, but I'm biased I love this band. Hopefully you do to know. Go buy their third album "Pieces of the People We Love" it's largely more upbeat but a much harder listen. Take on "Echoes" when you're a pro. Until next time scenesters.
Mariachi El Bronx (II) by Mariachi El Bronx
On my desk rests a cup. This cup is home to cold puddle of the finest chai Yorkshire has to offer, a lump of chocolate digestive lost tragically mere minutes ago rests beneath the surface, occasionally fragmenting and reminding me of my snacking failure and I finish off the last of the tea. I gaze across the street. The flat faces of terraces houses stand boorishly in front of the overcast sky sporting no less than 21 different shades of grey; I am firmly planted in England. Or am i? Let me fill your ears for one moment with the music of Mexico. Let me paint a sonic picture of dusty roads, a golden blue sky, tequila, irresponsible pistol usage and beautiful Latino women. Rather, let Mariachi El Bronx do it.
Mariachi El Bronx(II) is the second, rather cunningly named outing from LA's hardcore heroes The Bronx alter ego. There first mariachi album was unexpected, fun and pretty thematic. The second is much of the same fair. This is a good thing. The album kicks off in full form with "48 Roses", an alarmingly catchy track about the problems with having several lovers. Its filled with a urgency and alarm beyond its station. "Great Provider" is filled with a happy, almost cliché sound, but concerns itself with the loss of love. Through this album the lyrics and the music should be conflicting but they don't. They perfectly capture the feel of Mexico, or at least the idealised idea of Mexico. Songs are filled with religious references with constant requests for forgiveness, combined with the manner a tragic line about love ( "everybody wants to be alone, until they are alone" – "Poverty's King") and a general feeling that the band are up to no good creates a feeling of some heartbroken, gun slinging mariachi circa Once Upon a Time in Mexico.
The stand out stacks for me has to be "The Matador" a beautifully heroic and rather laid back affair about the death of a matador. "Bodies of Christ" is a rather sensual track that's another stand out, with aching vocals from front man Matt Caughtran and a lazy riff that paints an image of some sweat and candle lit bedroom.
Technically, the album is great. The variation of styles, compositions and dynamics is a little exploration of mariachi styles. The first album felt very much like a band doing trying to do songs in a mariachi style. This album sounds like a mariachi band.
This album is an album of little victories and tragedies. It feels intimate and genuine. The lyrics never feel like they were looked up in the big book of acceptable (read as expected) pop lyrics. Each song feels like it relates to specific events, they all feel like little stories in themselves. For 46 minutes today I was in the sun enjoying a complex life a roguish and lovelorn musician, stalking the streets of Tia Juana looking for my next adventure. As the final track "Spread Thin" hits its climax, sunset of a guitar solo with pacing drums and dynamic trumpets I'm dumped firmly back home. Oh look, it's raining. I might give it just one more listen.
"Mariachi El Bronx" (featuring Mariachi Reyna de Los Angeles)
"Map of the World"
"Bodies of Christ"
Now some admin. Myself and Jordan Collver (http://jordansdrawings.blogspot.com/) have started work on a comic together. its going well so far. We are at the Inking stage and go to print in a few weeks. The details are all here http://www.indiegogo.com/Ladies-Gentlemen-The-Curse-of-the-Were-Hyena-and-other-Horrible-Hybrids.
Furthermore i've started writing reviews here http://www.thepeopleihaveknown.com/a-shot-in-the-cock.html. Anyways i promise i'll update more often hence forth. see y'all in the funny pages.