Wednesday, February 22, 2006Who's coming to see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs?
You are, if you act swiftly! At Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Headquarters there are pre-sale links to the entire UK tour, which goes on general sale tomorrow (23.02) at 9am. The European Tour in May so far is:
13th All Tomorrow's Parties
16th London Kentish Town Forum
17th London Kentish Town Forum
19th Glasgow Barrowlands
20th Manchester Academy
21st Birmingham Academy
23rd Amsterdam Melkweg
24th Paris L'élysée Montmartre
26th Immergut Festival (Germany)
27th Berlin Postbahnhof
29th Köln Live Music Hall
30th München Muffathalle
With probably some more dates to be announced. All the mainland European dates apart from Munich are on sale at the moment. Act quick. Three songs have now leaked from Show Your Bones, showing a very different direction. The sound is bigger, more sweeping, softer. They decided early on that they wanted album number two to sound completely different from 2003's Fever To Tell and to that end they have succeeded. Show Your Bones seems a fitting title - it feels like this is the album that was under YYYs' skin, this is what they're really about. I, for one, am very excited about its imminenet release! Bring on 27th March!
Yeah Yeah Yeahs - Let Me Know (Demo)
Sunday, February 19, 2006I'm a Kook(oo)
One of the best things about being a gig-goer in Berlin is getting to see all the hyped British bands in tiny little venues. It sometimes feels like I spend my life in the oven that is Magnet, but when you get to see bands playing in the 300 capacity venue that can fill Brixton Academy, you know you are onto a winner. On Saturday, the UK hype ship sailed into town as the Kooks made their German debut. Tickets were a mere 5€ so the queue of Zeitgeist followers stretched for blocks and blocks.
The Kooks are a band from Brighton. I love Brighton. It's a special place by the sea - a quirky and liberal town that fosters great artists and great music. My favourite Brighton bands are The Pipettes and British Sea Power and I love very little more than a sunny Saturday in Brighton, scampi and chips on the beach as the sun sets. The Kooks disappointed in so far as they are not as original and exciting as their fellow Brightonian cohorts. But they satisfied in their jingly, jangly, jumpy Kinks-inpired urchin-indie-rock, catchy melodies, sweaty, energetic rock posturing and thick Sarf-Coast accents. It reminded me of when I saw Arctic Monkeys in June 2005 and the raw energy between the band and the crowd was unimaginable. It was a similar deal here, or maybe a drunken Saturday night crowd, but there was real electricity. Luke, the singer, made sure the crazies in the front row were "awite?", emulating that "we are one" attitutde characteristic of bands like The Others and Arctic Monkeys.
Wow, I've gone so far without saying they sound a bit like Razorlight. They sound like a bit Razorlight, but this is ok, because Razorlight actually were good fun until Johnny Borrel decided he was a Messiah. In conclusion. I like The Kooks, their album Inside In/Inside Out is really nice, going to their gigs is fun. Oh, and they are coming back to Germany in April:
18th Munich Backstage
19th Frankfurt Batshkapp
20th Dresden Starclub
21st Berlin Postbahnhof
22nd Hamburg Grunspan
23rd Bochem Zeche
Have a listen to the first song on the album, Seaside.
Thursday, February 16, 2006The Boy With The Arab Strap
I always love hearing Scottish people when I'm not in Scotland. I like to think there's something special about being Scottish that renders you with a level of understanding of Scottishness and Scottish music that people who haven't lived there can't understand. I probably can't speak - I rememember one time as my GNER train was pulling in to Edinburgh, a Glaswegian answered his mobile phone and said "Aye, I'm still in North East England". Those bastards. But anyway, there's something about bands like Sons and Daughters, Belle and Sebastian and this week's Scottish visitors in Berlin (other than my friends from school), Arab Strap, something dark, sinister, sad, hopeless, that can perhaps be best understood after year on year of rain, chips and cheese and Tenants lager. Maybe that's a Glasgow thing. In any case, there is something particular about coming from Scotland. As Arab Strap came on stage at Magnet on Monday, Aidan announced that they came from "all corners of Bonnie Scotland" in a gravelly thick accent. And even as an Edinburger with London vowels and Scottish Rs (i.e. I basically sound Cornish), I felt ripples of unsubstantiated pride.
The gig itself was epic - little banter, deep, dark songs detailing the bleaker states of mind. The songs off last year's The Last Romance went down especially well - they are definitely more accesible than those on the previous albums (and I must say this is a good thing!) and inject a bit of energy into the live show. The most alarming thing about the gig was the amount of hippies there - totally unexpected. I had not-washed-in-five-years dreadlocks brushing against my camera, roll-up smoke blown in my face, the stench of stale sweat..urgh. It was as though my famous eco-warrior sister was also in the room.
You can download Stink from The Last Romance here:
And in Scottish band news, Belle and Sebastian, possibly my favourite band in the world, will be touring Germany in May:
11.05. Köln E-Werk
12.05. Hamburg Große Freiheit 36
21.05. Berlin Columbiahalle
22.05. Mainz KUZ
23.05. München Tonhalle
Sunday, February 05, 2006Information Travels Faster In The Modern Age
Last week Death Cab For Cutie kicked off their first European Tour in Berlin. Last time around, they had just released Transatlantacism and they were gradually penetrating the consciousness of the European Indie kids. Two years on and the indie world has changed. Camden Town is now full of a tribe called "Emos", sixth form colleges around Britain are awash with floppy asymmetric fringes...and then there's the OC. I can honestly say I've never watched it, having been TV-less since 2003, but its power in giving bands exposure is undeniable. A band makes an appearance on the Southern Californian teen series and millions of teens all over the world are aware of the band. Death Cab for Cutie have benefitted massively from heavy rotation on the show and a performance in Spring 2005. So when they released their latest album, Plans, in August 2005, it came as no surprise that Death Cab had entered new stratospheres of popularity and success.
Ben Gibbard's voice is something special. It's so clear, so pure, so heavy with the emotion of every word of every lyric and every momentuous chord change. Their live sound is big - a huge soundscape. I spent the whole gig in dumbfounded awe - the band aren't remarkable to look at - they're hitting 30, balding, chubbing up - but there's something about the wistful coming-of-age/ getting used to growing old theme that runs through their music that strangely appeals to me. I guess it's something to do with acknowledging settling down at some point in the future - maybe it isn't such a bad idea after all? As Sinnead O'Connor once sung, how could I possibly know what I want when I was only twenty-one?
Regardless of interpretations, the last three Death Cab For Cutie albums (The Photo Album, Transatlantacism and Plans) are three of the most beautiful albums I own. They were not immediate - I have only really gotten into Plans recently - but persevere and you'll never, ever look back.
Some live mp3s from fansite dcfc-tour.net