Monday, 21 September 2009

Wave Machines - Punk Spirit

A song "dedicated to anyone who ever ran away from a fight, then daydreamed an epic victory from the safety of their bed" Punk Spirit is a far cry from anything else Wave Machines have to offer. And that's no bad thing.

Singer Tim Bruzon delivers lyrics full of anger and disappointment in an ironically calm and understated manner. Punk Spirit is a compellingly beautiful, and at times even delicate, song. There’s something truly sad about this song, even the charming “ahahs” don’t stop it from being a melancholy affair. But everyone needs a bit of depressing music in their life and I can’t think of a better song to soundtrack the bad times than this simple but effective number.


Saturday, 19 September 2009

Twin Atlantic - 14th/15th September

I'm not going to do another proper Twin review, as I'm sure is obvious (check the title of the blog perhaps?) I like them a lot so it's hard not to be biased. Basically on Monday their mini album Vivarium was released (it's perfect - buy it ;]) and to celebrate they played a special secret gig in the Winter Gardens.

The idea was basically to get up at "stupid o'clock" as Ross put it and go down to HMV or Avalanche to get wristbands which would admit you to the gig. Thanks to school we couldn't go but Holly and Eilidh got us some wristbands so at 7 we found ourselves at Winter Gardens with 200 or so other fans. The venue was perfect (though extremely warm) as, with all its plants etc, it tied in with the album title. The gig itself was just fantastic, probably the best I've ever seen Twin, they played the full of Vivarium plus Crash Land, A Guidance From Colour, I Cave In and Time is The Enemy - in my opinion the best setlist possible. A great night was had by all and after a quick root about for anything we could find (we ended up with a setlist, a plectrum and a flower between us) we headed home.
(the result of not bringing a camera, but you get the idea)
Tuesday saw the guys do a signing at Avalanche Records. Firstly, apologies to anyone we annoyed in the queue, Shannon and Eilidh's birthdays were on Monday/Tuesday and we decided to celebrate by eating cake and playing with a bubble gun. Anyway the signing was pretty fun, had a nice chat with Barry and Ross about, well...everything really. Turns out Ross lives round the corner from me. After the signing Sam played a couple of acoustic songs outside which was a nice touch! Seriously these are some of the nicest guys you could ever meet, add that to the fact they're bloody awesome and you've got yourself a must see band. Roll on October 2nd!!!

(not my video, credit to connorsonfire)

Friday, 18 September 2009

Unsigned Band #1 - The Gap Year Riot!

The Gap Year Riot! are a five peice pop band from Glasgow. I first seen these guys last July and it's been a privelage to watch them grow into a brilliant live act. Over the past year we've become really good friends with them and it's clear no matter how many fans they get (and trust me, they're getting a lot) they'll always have time to speak to every single one of them. Taking influence from bands such as Kids In Glass Houses TGYR! have been gigging all round the UK playing their brand of charming pop punk and winning over legions of fans (admittedly a lot of them being young girls). I'd advise you to try catch this band live before they become the "next big thing". Anyway here's an interview myself and Shannon conducted with them a month or so ago. Read on to hear about pre gig rituals, Aberdeen nightmares and a rather scary Girls Aloud obsession...

So The Gap Year Riot! Introduce yourselves and tell us what you do in the band.
I am Fraser, I don't know why I'm waving cause there's no camera, and I sing.
Neil: Hi, I'm Neil I play keys.
Ian: I'm Ian and I play bass guitar

How did the band form and where did you get your name from?
Myself, Neil and Franky were in an old band and we got together with Cruise to play a couple of shows when our old bass player left, we quite liked him, he was a nice gentleman so we asked him to join! And our old guitarist left as well so we got Dave cause we knew him through work and we asked him to come along.
Ian: We got the name travelling back from recording and we needed a name and we thought that we had such fun on our way up from recording that it was a wee bit like being on holiday so we decided that being in the band was just like being on a big holiday so we named our band after that.
Fraser: A big gap year, just basically having a good time and not worrying about the consequences of your actions. Yeah so that's how The Gap Year Riot came about, it was Ian Cruise's name but...he shares it with us.
Ian: Yeah that's why I had to change my name to Ian Cruise, cause I was called The Gap Year Riot!

So describe the bands sound:
Fraser: I don't know how you'd describe it...I think that we are influenced by quite a lot of American bands as well as British bands, the fact that we have keyboard and use piano sounds sets us apart from a lot of bands that just have the two guitars. We have very much a sort of pop influence I would say, bands like Kids In Glass Houses, we like to make sure we've got a lot of melody in our songs and just try and write songs that are catchy and folk are going to enjoy listening to. What do you think Neil?
Neil: I think that pretty much sums it up.
Ian: Rockpopular!
Fraser: Rockpopular...because we're rock but we want to be popular!
Neil: You can cut that bit out...

Have you released anything so far?
Fraser: Yeah we brought a single out in March
Ian: Hush Hush, it's available on itunes to this day!
Fraser: Ian! Don't plug it!
Ian: I can't help it, it's on my notes I have to plug it!
Fraser: Yeah so we brought out Hush Hush as a single mid march and we have another single coming out towards the end of the year and we just released a free download a couple of weeks ago called Throwing Shapes which you can get on our myspace page so just head along there and check it out!

What's the songwriting process and who writes most of the songs?
Mainly shared between Neil and I, I'd say it was 50/50 at the moment. Generally either Neil or I will come into the studio with the basic idea, like Neil will have the piano part written or I'll have the bass part written and then we'll just kinda build it from there. Everybody writes their own parts.
Fraser: Yeah we just sort of throw ideas around and then lyrically myself, Franky and Cruise sort of take turns about writing songs.
Ian: So what that means is that Neil and I turn up with something and they say that's no good try again and we keep having to come back and come back until it suits!
Fraser: That is quite true!

Would you say that you have any idols? Anyone you look up to musically?
Fraser: My favourite frontman is Adam Lazzara from Taking Back Sunday just because I like the way he commands the stage so he's certainly someone I take influence from in terms of charisma and stage presence. *thinks* Cruise reminds me of Flea from the Red Hot Chilli Peppers..nah, I'm kidding on!
Ian: I really like Biffy Clyro, besides from the fact I like their music, I like the way they went around getting the way they are. They just gigged constantly making sure they built their fanbase up instead of just getting really big quickly. So they give a lot back to their fans like going up North and playing Skye and places so I really appreciate that sort of stuff.
Neil: My biggest influence is a band called Jack's Mannequin from America . I just really like their sound and I can relate to it because I also play piano.

How important are your fans to you and what involvement do they have in the band?
Fans are probably the most important part of being in a band for us because there's nothing worse than playing an empty show and the people that come along and sort of clap and sing along make the shows for us. It's the reason why we wanted to be in a band in the first place .
Ian: It's the sole reason that we do it. I think it shows how much time we spend on myspace as well. We're always on myspace, people keep commenting on how we're such a busy myspace band. We don't sleep, we've got rotas! No, I mean like they are the most important thing about being in the band, making sure we're doing things that keep the people that come see us happy, there's no point in having a big head or anything.
Fraser: Yeah I think it is, as I said, the most important thing. At shows we'll spend more time talking to folk than playing the show or sitting backstage. We're not one of those bands that'll just sit backstage and play and then go away, we like to make sure we can talk to the folk because if they make the effort to come see us it's the least we can do.

Have you got any funny tour stories?
Ian: They left me in Aberdeen once!
Fraser: We have quite a lot of strange stories, we went to Aberdeen once and Ian Cruise got quite drunk and there was a breakdown in communication, we ended up leaving without him which wasn't good! But we also broke down that day and had to spend an hour at the M73 at Stirling. Because we didn't have any breakdown cover we had to phone one of our drummer's dad's friends and he picked us up in a fruit and veg van and we had to sleep on packs of potatoes, we got home at like 7 in the morning! The next time we went to Aberdeen we got stuck in the snow, we didn't get home till again about 6 or 7 in the morning and when we got home and dumped our van Dave tried to take his car our of Franky's house were we'd all left our cars and got stuck in the snow to Neil's annoyance because he was working at 9 o'clock (Cruise: that still makes him angry!) so he couldn't get home. We were talking about that in the car in the way in today..
Neil: Yeah, I don't like to talk about it..
Fraser: It gets Neil really angry so we'll brush over that! Emm, and one of the last times we played Edinburgh Ian Cruise hit a pedestrian with his van!
Cruise: I'd just like to say on record, the sound on that video is greatly enhanced!
Fraser: Yeah so there's never a dull moment with The Gap Year Riot! But fortunately the police haven't been called...yet and we're still together so can't be anything too bad as of yet!

So have you got any pre-gig rituals?
I don't really think we do...
Ian: I like to stop all pre-gig rituals before they become too much of a habit, like singing Metro Station whilst holding hands!
Fraser: We did that once!
Ian: *looks at Fraser* yeah but certain people tried to make it a ritual..
Fraser: When Shake It came out, I mean you've got to admit it's a great song! So we sang that before we played an ABC show, I think because everybody was quite drunk to be honest! And it seemed like a good idea at the was a good idea when the music was playing through the PA but then that sorta stopped and the crowd were just waiting, I'm pretty sure folk could here us in our dressing room just singing *starts singing* "and she does it like this". Before a show we'll all just get together and maybe have a quick huddle and just wish everybody luck but other than that we don't really do anything too weird.

If you could cover one song by any band what would it be?
Ian: I'd probably like to cover a Lostprophets song I'm quite a big fan of them.
Fraser: I think we're all quite big Lostprophets fans.
Neil: Aye, I like Lostprophets.
Ian: Don't really know what song it would be though.
Fraser: Maybe Rooftops or Last Summer or something like that, good tunes. I'd quite like to cover MakeDamnSure (Taking Back Sunday song)
Ian: Or something by Girls Aloud, I'm pretty fond of them as well.
Fraser: Yeah, we've done some strange covers in our time, we've done..
Ian: Katy Perry!
Fraser: We've done Katy Perry, We've done Rihanna, some Killers, we did Lou Bega one day..
Ian: That wasn't for people, we just did that!
Fraser: We just did that practising one day, we spent three weeks learning Mambo No. 5! No I don't know, I'd like to cover Konstantine which is a song by Something Corporate which is a very much a sort of piano and vocal song that Neil and I both really like. Problem is it's like nine minutes long so I don't know whether or not we'll ever get to do that, you never know!
Ian: In a half hour set!
Fraser: Yeah if people are patient and they give us an hour to play then we might burst that out one day!

What's your dream festival line up?
Fraser: I would like to see Taking Back Sunday, one hundred percent.
Ian: Lostprophets, Kids In Glass Houses...
Fraser: You Me At Six.
Ian: Alphabeat.
Fraser: Nah we're too much like Alphabeat, I think there'd be a clash there!
Ian: True, people would get confused!
Fraser: We need to be careful that we don't name too many good bands otherwise we won't get a slot on the bill.
Ian: That's true, we might just end up being the sound guys.
Fraser: Yeah we'll just watch and seals! *does seal impression* Emm...Biffy Clyro I'd imagine you'd like to be on there Cruise, Jack's Mannequin, the list is endless.
Ian: There's quite a lot of bands we'd like to play with to be honest with you.
Fraser: We'd be quite high up on the bill though, probably main support to Taking Back Sunday!
Ian: I'd quite like Twenty Twenty to be in that gig.
Fraser: Yeah...he would as well!

Who should never have been allowed to make music?
: Probably me!
Ian: Dave Boom! (bands guitarist)
Fraser: Don't want to name a local band! *everyone laughs* We don't want to say that, that'll get us into some hot water!
Ian: I'll go get the list out!
Fraser: Eh, I don't know, who really annoys me? I don't like Glasvegas, I really really don't rate them, I don't think they do anything worthwhile whatsoever.
Ian: The View.
Fraser: The View have got some catchy songs to be honest. I quite like Skag Trendy.
Ian: Oh dear..
Fraser: We'll not go into that! I'm not really a big fan of indie music so bands like Babyshambles and Dirty Pretty Things are a bit of a waste of time, I'm not a big fan of them. Other than that I don't really think there's...oh the Red Hot Chilli Peppers! I can't handle them and I know that Franky hates Nickelback so I'll just put that in there. Franky's got a real problem with Chad Kroeger.
Ian: He's got a genuine big issue with him!
Fraser: Another problem is that Cruise looks kinda like Chad Kroeger so sometimes Franky has to battle that demon when we're at practice, especially when Cruise had his long blonde hair and was bursting out a bass solo. Franky was like that *mimes throwing drumstick* trying to throw a stick at him! Other than that I don't really think there's anyone that gets my goat up, what about you Neil?
Neil: Nah, I'm fine with everybody.
Ian: You're just happy with all bands ever!
Neil: There's local bands but I don't want to talk about them...
Fraser: Don't want to get into that because if this gets published...
Ian: We'll get into a turf war!
Fraser: Yeah it’ll be like Tupac and Biggie, I don't want to get shot before my time!

Have you got any guilty pleasures?
Guilty pleasures? I'm a big fan of midget gems.
Ian: And your appearance!
Fraser: And my appearance, I spend too long on my appearance which is a bit sad isn't it? It's strange actually because I never leave the house unless I've done my hair but after the first half of a song on stage my hair is an absolute riot because we're jumping around a lot so it's quite an ironic thing! No, I do eat a lot of midget gems. Bandwise? Girls Aloud!
Neil: I agree with that!
Fraser: I think that's a Gap Year Riot guilty pleasure to be honest, we are big, big fans of the girls.
Neil: Favourite song?
Fraser: Hmm I would probably have to say..
Ian: Biology.
Neil: Can't Speak French.
Fraser: I'd say Jump, I like what they did with Jump. They took a classic and they made it their own.
Neil: I'd probably say Can't Speak French or Sexy No No, that's up their with the best of them!
Cruise: I'm a fan of the early stuff...
Fraser: What's that one that goes *starts singing* something kinda ooh?
Ian: That's called Something Kinda Ooh..
Fraser: Oh is it? Well I like that one!
Neil: I like that one.
Ian: Enough Girls Aloud!

So now on to the quickfire round! Favourite breakfast food?
Fraser: Cereal..lucky charms!
Neil: Cornflakes.
Ian: Coco pops.
Fraser: That wasn't a quickfire, he needs to be faster than that surely!
Ian: Am I out?

Favourite band?
Ian: Gap Year Riot!
Neil: Jack's Mannequin.
Fraser: Taking Back Sunday.

TV Programme?
Hollyoaks...can I take that back?
Fraser: I've got Neighbours in my head and I don't even watch it!
Ian: The Hour show!
Fraser: Mighty Boosh, Mighty Boosh is definitely mine.

Fraser: Midget gems.
Neil: *thinks*'s not..
Ian: Twix's.

Favourite gig you've ever attended?
Probably Taking Back Sunday at the Barrowlands in 2005.
Neil: Mayday Parade at King Tuts.
Ian: Foo Fighters at SECCCCCC...
Fraser and Neil: CCCCC...

And, last question, where do you see yourselves in the next year?
Ian: On myspace!
Fraser: We'll certainly still be on myspace yeah, I don't know, we've got a tour coming up with Twenty Twenty and if things go well there we're hoping we can get a few more tours in the new year through them. We've got a headline tour coming up in October so we'll be announcing the dates for that in the next week or so. And just sort of playing as many shows as we can, meeting new people, picking up new fans and anything else that comes other than that would be a big bonus. So as long as we keep doing what we're doing and enjoy what we're doing and as long as folk like you guys enjoy what we're doing then that's really all that matters to us I would say!
Ian: As long as people keep coming to the gigs we'll keep playing gigs.
Fraser: Indeed!

The Gap Year Riot! are;
Fraser Binnie - Vocals
Ian Cruise - Bass
Dave Lennon - Guitar and Backing Vocals
Neil Sharkey - Keys and Guitar
Stuart *Franky* Hamilton - Drums

Catch the guys live in Glasgow at the Garage on December 5th with Yashin. Their new single Vanity Kills should be out sometime in the near future and you can also see them play;

17th October - The Cell, Kilmarnock
18th October - Harleys, Bathgate
20th October - Rios, Leeds
22nd October - Madhatters, Inverness
23rd October - Tunnels, Aberdeen
25th October - Mondos, Perth
4th December - Z1, Girvan


Saturday, 5 September 2009

UUVVWWZ - UUVVWWZ, Released - 21st September

It took me three attempts to listen to this album all the way through. Actually, I found it difficult just to get past opener “Berry Can.” With it’s hypnotic repetition and muted instrumentation it left me wanting to get as far away from this band as possible.

In a strange way their name (pronounced double-yoo, double-vee, double double-yoo, zee) is a bit of a warning. If you're not patient enough to say it properly then don't bother even trying to listen to the album. Fans of simple music with sensible lyrics should also stay away. For, as their choice of name would suggest, UUVVWWZ are anything but simple. Infact they're down right weird. I must admit, I am partial to a bit of weirdness but this is just too much. At times it's unnatural, forced even, many of the songs feel as if they're weird just for the sake of it.

Take "Jap Dad" for example. It takes a good 40 seconds of her singing, or should that be shrieking, before any of Teal Gardner's lyrics are recognisable as English and even then her chant of "M.A.K.E.M.E.L.O.V.E.Y.O.U" isn't exactly intelligible. But this isn't just a one off, most of her lyrics are either nonsensical or simply undecipherable. Teal’s vocals are also a bit of an acquired taste. Ranging from smooth and delicate to shrill and tuneless they’re definitely the main talking point of the album.

For a band who claim they’re “a rare bird” UUVVWWZ remind me quite a bit of a poorer version of Deerhoof. And who wants an inferior imitation when you can have the real thing? That said, there's no doubt they will appeal to some people. Fans of "avant-rock" will love this album, as will those who consider anything unconventional to be "art". But unfortunately it's just not for me, I'll take straight forward rock and roll anyday!

Gemma Barnes