Live Review – Enter Shikari @ The Corn Exchange, Cambridge – 24/02/15

EnterShikari

 

Enter Shikari are one of the few bands that require no introduction, partly because any attempt to describe their music would result in the same confusion as a discussion of the meaning of life with an infant. These genre-hopping giants recently dropped their incredible 4Th LP “The Mindsweep” last month, meaning it was time to ‘Take To The Skies’ once more and deliver a tour de force filled with brand new, meaty material, alongside fan favourites.

 

‘The Corn Exchange’ fits in perfectly with the architectural aesthetic of Cambridge – old and pretty from the outside, but neat and modern on the inside; with a decently sized floor-space for fans to tear up, a huge stage and the obligatory wall-length bars in the foyer. Unfortunately, Cambridge is around three hours away from where I live, meaning I missed the first support band: ‘Fatherson’ – which is a pity as their smooth alt-rock tones would have been the perfect way to get in the mood for a night of music – if not quite preparing for the hectic energy of the following bands.

 

 

The second band to hit the stage was ‘Allusondrugs’ – a band which I did manage to catch, who were sadly underwhelming. Each song seemed like a pastiche of a different band: first attempting to emulate ‘The Strokes’, then ‘The Darkness’, followed by ‘Marmozets’… unfortunately, by not choosing a signature sound for themselves, ‘Allusondrugs’ don’t feel like they’ve mastered any particular style – the set came across as bland and uninteresting. Oh, and the lead singer could benefit from some singing lesson (just saying).

 

 

All was not lost though, as ‘Feed The Rhino’ took to the stage to remind everyone that the raw energy of hardcore is still very much alive and kicking. Still riding off the back of the success of their most recent album “The Sorrow & the Sound”, FTR know how to get a crowd moving. The venue’s PA was almost unable to handle the sheer power or anthemic belters “Behind The Pride”, “Give Up” and the signature rock’n’roll vibe of “Deny and Offend”. Towards the end of their set, it seemed that even frontman Lee Tobin was struggling to maintain his voice – although I challenge anyone to keep up his full-throated hollering for over half an hour. ‘Feed The Rhino’ finished off their set with the more reflective “Tides” – living proof that even the heaviest bands have a subtler side – and the undeniably catchy “New Wave”. The energy in the performance was pure and ungated, and whet the crowd’s appetite perfectly for the entrée: ‘Enter Shikari’.

 

 

Before I continue, I should point something out: ‘Enter Shikari’ work within every genre of music possible. They can start off with a sombre acoustic sound, move into a dance track, a dubstep drop, crushingly heavy breakdowns and finish with a stadium rock anthem – often all in the same song. As a result, crowds aren’t full of the usual suspects when it comes to moshing. Usually, there’s a standing area at the back, a pit for moshing in the middle and people singing along at the front. A Shikari gig is essentially a free-for-all: there is no etiquette. People break out into moshing/dancing all over the venue, and standing at the front will get you squashed up against everyone else so tightly that you won’t be able to breathe. Ironically, this makes the pit (in any shape or form) the safest place to be – suits me.

 

‘Enter Shikari’ set the scene with the thought-provoking opener from the most recent album: “The Appeal & the Mindsweep 1”. The chilling electronic backbeat and slam poetry-style call to arms from front-man Rou Reynolds gave me chills, before the band launched into a frantic, anthemic journey – a pattern and pace that was held for the entire concert. I’m always impressed at how refined Enter Shikari’s lyrical content is – all songs are incredibly well thought-out political statements weaved into a beautiful and often raucous blend of electronic and metal music. Angry fan-favourites “Destabilise”, “Radiate” and “Gandhi Mate, Gandhi” provided the perfect atmosphere to throw my weight around and just wallow in the sorry state our society is (apparently) in. When a song starts off with the lyrics “Now, I don’t know about you…” and warning sirens, you know that someone is about to erupt – and it’s probably going to be you. New additions to the Shikari catalogue definitely don’t let up on this; notable songs include “Anaesthetist” – a furious retort to plans to privatise healthcare and the decline of the NHS – “Never Let Go Of The Microscope” – an electronic, almost ambient song if it weren’t for the carefully planned scientific rap from Reynolds – and “Myopia”, a tragic song about the extinction of various species on our planet. The technical proficiency of the band has noticeably improved since their inception, especially on these newer, more ambitious songs.

 

 

Of course, it’s not all violence and harsh sounds: Welcome respites from the madness came in the form of slightly softer songs such as the acoustic “Stalemate”, “Torn Apart” which is an anthem for the decline of society (and oh so danceable-to) and the almost Coldplay-esque “Dear Future Historians”. Each of these songs starts off noticeably softer, in an acoustic manner and build different layers of sound until you’re hit with a wall of emotion – which is no less breathtaking than screaming your lungs out. It’s during these quieter moments that you realise “Wow, these guys are seriously talented musicians”, and it’s utterly true. Few bands can claim to flick between your emotions like Shikari do: tugging on your heartstrings, making you think about the world that you live in and getting you riled up about how stupid human beings can be.

 

 

Not to say that the show was all doom-and-gloom – more reflective at times, with an aura of aggression that’s a welcome release for most. Some class-A stage-presence and banter kept everyone completely invested in the show – particularly towards the end of the show. Already a fan-favourite, the 2-minute restaurant complaint in the form of “Slipshod” went down an utter storm, with the entire crowd screaming out the quintessentially British anthem of disappointment. Reynolds may have even gotten a little too into it, as he smashed a glass vase on Rob Rolfe’s drum kit to the cue in the song. It just made me wonder how many injuries the band sustain from shows like these! “Slipshod” ran straight into the party anthem “Sssnakepit”, Shikari-style: The song started off with the Hamilton remix of the track and the band transitioned seamlessly into the original. This practise was seen earlier with the dubstep edit of “Motherstep 2.0” into “Mothership” and a mash-up of the latest single “The Last Garrison” with a stellar remix of “Juggernauts” by Nero, ending up again on the original. Throughout the gig I was constantly aware of how much planning the boys put into their set – which music to play, how it all flowed into the next song and how to create a spectacle with a mix of gravitas and exceptional lighting.

 

 

This was the 4th time I had seen Enter Shikari, yet I was still completely blown away. It definitely won’t be the last time either. If you’ve never seen the indescribable spectacle that they put on, I recommend you head down to a show as soon as you can.

 

 

~ Adam Hitchen, Head of Music

Pick Of The Week – "All The Sad Young Men", Spector

spector

 

Spector have been under the radar for the past couple of years since their debut album ‘Enjoy It While It Lasts’, but they’ve burst back onto the scene with their latest single ‘All The Sad Young Men’. I feel like it’s a homage to the ‘80s with excessive synths, and this absolutely complements the band’s style. I can’t get enough of this track and its tongue-in-cheek lyrics such as ‘no, nothing ever really started with a kiss’ which is an ode to The Killers’ ‘Mr. Brightside’. Big synths are my thing at the moment, so this track is one to be played really loud. I can’t wait to see what subsequent tracks will follow – a deserved pick of the week!

~Ceri-Ann Hughes

Check out “All The Sad Young Men” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UlfsI4UD4ZE

Album Review – "Everything Is Fine", Hawk Eyes

everything is fine

It has been three years since Hawk Eyes’ last full length release “Ideas”. However, despite receiving almost universal critical acclaim in the mainstream music press, the album only sold modestly. This eventually left the band without a major label, forcing them to adopt the more DIY approach in their following EP “What Is This”.

 

I have very much enjoyed all of Hawk Eyes’ offerings to this date, so was really looking forward to getting my hands on “Everything is Fine”. On first listen I was not entirely sure of how much I liked it, due to how different it was from their previous releases. Initially the album lacked some of the manic energy from songs like “Hollywood Sweatshop” and “You Deserve a Medal” from “Ideas”. Despite this, upon further listens the album began to grow on me and I found I very much enjoyed the new approach. While being a little tamer than Ideas perhaps, most of the heaviness is still there and the focus seems to have shifted slightly to making the songs more concise and cohesive.

 

The band’s signature guitar sound is back and better than ever in my opinion: their continuing work with producer Andy Hawkins is really paying off, his touch giving the album some of the best guitar sounds I have heard in a long time. This is particularly apparent on tracks “The Trap” and “More Than a Million“. The drums and bass are also clear and well placed in the mix and serve the songs very well thought the album.

 

Vocally the album is not a huge departure from their previous work, which for me is a good thing as I have always enjoyed Paul Astick’s vocal style and the lyrical content found in Hawk Eyes’ back catalogue. They continue exploring themes of disillusionment with modern society, as well as some songs with what I would assume were slightly more personal themes. I would think of it in terms of following similar themes to much of the alternate music of the early 90’s, something that really excites me since I’m a fan of the time period.

Despite my initial reservations I really like “Everything is Fine” and think that I will be listening to it for a long time to come just like I did with “Ideas”. I would recommend it to anyone who is a fan of alternate rock or metal as the band has such a unique and distinct sound that I think they are well worth giving a try and “Everything is Fine” is a great place to start.

 

~ Robert Appleton

Live Review – Marmozets, Electric Ballroom, 19/02/15

marmozets

 

Every so often a band comes along that makes you question why everybody else settles for musical mediocrity when they could strive for so much more. Marmozets showed promise from the moment they burst on the scene, fresh-faced teenagers spitting venom in every direction. But last-year’s debut full length The Weird and Wonderful raised the bar not just for them, but British rock as a whole, and it’s off the back of that that they’re headlining a rammed Electric Ballroom (one of the finest clubs in London) to a totally partisan crowd.

 

Before the main course comes two starters of very different quality, the first of which is steak. Belgian sludgy-post-metal quartet Steak Number Eight to be precise, who immediately impress with their often-instrumental bludgeon. Frontman Brent Vanneste has an impressive howl on him when he lets rip, but for the most part it’s the thick, ripping groove riffs that course through their music that seem to make a big impression on the already surprisingly full room. There’s an unusual accessibility to them that makes their half hour on stage a resounding success – and frankly any band that end a song called ‘Dickhead’ with “banana!” screamed repeatedly deserves plaudits. They fare far better than the bizarre Thought Forms, whose long-winded droning loops fall largely on deaf ears and provoke little more than polite applause. In comparison to what came before and the thrillingly direct headliners, the lack of energy results in a damp squib of a set.

 

Not that anybody stood a chance coming on before Marmozets. Opening with your best and arguably most popular song is a risky move, but as soon as ‘Move Shake Hide’s opening riff pours out of the speakers, the Ballroom is electrified into action. For the next fifty minutes, a thousand people lose themselves in reckless abandon to a soundtrack of apocalyptic rock ‘n’ roll – and this really is rock ‘n’ roll, as easy to dance to as it is to kickstart a mosh pit, many of which carve open the Ballroom’s floor this evening. From there it’s a thrill ride that takes in everything from dizzying mathcore on ‘Vibetech’ (for which even the breakdown is a sing-along moment for the crowd) to gorgeous atmospheric post-rock yearning in a passionate ‘Back to You’. A symbiotic relationship is established between the band on stage and the audience, each feeding off the energy of the other.

 

It’s easy to forget in this maelstrom of energy how capable and talented the musicians that make up Marmozets are, intricate riffs and unusual guitar parts adding an extra dimension to their white-knuckle punk rock rush. Worth singling out for praise is drummer Josh Macintyre, who has the unenviable job of keeping the perfect chaos together in a coherent rhythm, a job he does seemingly effortlessly. His sister Becca seems somewhat lost for words between songs, perhaps overwhelmed by the crowd’s adulation, but while singing she’s a commanding presence and her ability to flit between beautiful clean singing, a towering wail and of course feral screaming is unparalleled. Highlights come thick and fast – ‘Is It Horrible’ is as deliciously scuzzy live as it is on record, for one. “Hit the Wave’ boasts a chorus so huge it would better fit arenas than this small room, but perhaps best of all is the thousand voice singalong to now-established anthem “Captivate You”.

 

Captivating is the perfect word to describe a brilliant set that concludes with consummate crowd-pleaser ‘Why Do You Hate Me?’ and absolute bedlam across the floor. What Marmozets bring to live music is unique and thrilling, and the quintet deserves far bigger venues to slay next time around. Their songs represent everything good about rock – they are exciting, unpredictable, uncompromising, adrenaline-charged and catchy as hell. ‘Weird and wonderful’ indeed, Marmozets are here to stay.

~ Michael Bird

Check Out Marmozets’ single “Move Shake Hide” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8ZPrdAwg3M

Live Review – The Kathryn Wheel @ The Retro Bar, Manchester

kathryn wheel

 

The best sort of gig is always the one in a tiny, dingy underground bar in the back streets of a city – and Manchester is as good as any! I haven’t had time to attend many of these little events recently so it was a welcome change which led to an absolutely fantastic evening in ‘The Retro Bar’. Although a few local bands were on, ‘The Kathryn Wheel’ (who were headlining the evening with an extended slot) are a band particularly close to my heart; front-woman Sarah Woodcock is a close friend of mine, whose gigs I’ve been attending since we started sixth form – meaning I’ve seen her grow and develop as an artist. Sarah has always stood out as she has a really unusual voice – especially now having reached the age of twenty. As I listened to her singing, I really struggled to find artists to compare her to. Her voice is much lower with a more sultry tone than most modern female singers, and a woman at the venue in fact pointed out how it reminded her of Stevie Nicks – which seemed an apt comparison! Top songs of the night were in my opinion ‘Save The World Tonight’ and ‘A World Away’, receiving an impressive response from a very enthusiastic audience.

 

The addition of the country-esque bass and guitar sounds of Peter Woodcock and Geoffrey Peach respectively, give a strong hint of a Fleetwood Mac or REM style, their music sounds so brilliantly raw and perhaps reminiscent of a variety of seventies southern American groups. Tracks are available to listen to on YouTube and their debut album ‘It’s Only Life’ can be downloaded on Itunes or Amazon. My Favorite from the album has to be ‘Welcome to Hell’, definitely worth a listen! For more information visit their website at http://www.reverbnation.com/thekathrynwheel.

 

~ Natasha Barrett

 

Check out “Save The World Tonight” here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_k_bFSUdGVA

Interview – Walking Relic

The band formed in 2009 – how did this happen?

 

Me (Jessie) and Chris were in a band in high school, but it didn’t work out, so we started playing with his brother-in-law (Derek) and it just sort of happened!

 

You’ve been likened to acts such as ‘The Killers’; do you think this is accurate?

 

Yes definitely! They’re one of our major influences!

 

Other than ‘The Killers’ then, who would you say have been your musical influences, as on your website, you talk about how your EP ‘Sojourn’ has been influenced by various artists.

 

Yea, definitely… well like we said ‘The Killers’, definitely a bit of ‘Muse’, ‘Florence and the Machine’, and we’d probably say ‘Tegan and Sara’ too.

 

Your website also claims that your EP is a different take on synth rock music… what do you think it is that makes you guys different, and what were you aiming to achieve with this EP?

 

I don’t think we were intentionally setting out to be different, it just sort of happened… I think a lot of it is the actual music. We tend to go a bit over bored with the music, so I guess the sound is pretty layered. I think sometimes bands today don’t have many layers to their music, so I guess this makes us sound a bit different. To be honest, we’re just trying to get ourselves out there and hopefully branch out to the UK.

 

How have you found your music received in the UK compared to the US?

 

I think it’s a bit difficult to say at the moment, because we haven’t yet been out there and seen the influence our music is having over there yet. There is such a different kind of music scene in the UK that we really want to be a part of. We’re from Oklahoma, and our music is very different from the usually Oklahoma scene. We’re hoping our work will be more accepted in the UK.

 

I personally find it really cool that you guys are female fronted. What affect has this had on your career as a band, and do you think it has benefitted you?

 

Yea, I’d definitely say it’s been a benefit. It’s very uncommon within the Oklahoma music scene so it definitely makes us stand out. Plus, there’s been a massive uprising of female artists, such as ‘Haim’, ‘Chvrches’, etc., so this has helped, and it’s really cool to be a part of that.

 

Finally, you’ve done several EPs now… what are we to expect next from you?

 

Yes, our first EP was definitely a learning experience. We mainly just wanted something people could listen to! And this one (‘Sojourn’) is us trying to really get ourselves out there and to spread the word of what we’re about. But we have a full album coming out around the end of Summer/ early Fall which we’re currently recording and are very excited about.

~ Emily Edwards

Check out the new video for “Every Little Thing” from Sojourn herehttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ZyGj3hS3js