Despite struggling to decide whether I love or hate the bands’ name, there’s no doubting at all how I feel about ‘Set Me Back’ from Canada’s Weed. A stomping, sludgy yet strangely uplifting noise-pop track, ‘Set Me Back’ is in equal parts hazy and energetic; it’s three minutes managing to sound both restrained and powerful. Huge, fuzzing walls of guitars open the track, before the vocals alternate between an almost chanting monotone and a rasping wail – sounding somewhere between the slack trudge of Pavement and the epic shoegaze of My Bloody Valentine. Though cleaner, the production on ‘Set Me Back’, manages not to lose some of the abrasive edges showcased on their previously released ‘Gun Control’ EP.
‘Set Me Back’ is taken from Weed’s forthcoming debut album Deserve, coming out in July through Seattle’s Couple Skate Records. Here’s hoping the rest of the album hits just as hard.
There currently doesn’t seem to any plans for the band to come over to the UK, but hopefully it won’t be too long before a few dirty East London venues get them on their stages. To save you the hassle of clicking on a whole host of potentially dodgy sites when Googling their band name, find more information about Weed on their blog.
Rapidly emerging Newcastle based band Shields have put out arguably one of the best music videos of this year for their addictive single ‘Mezzanine’. Even if the music isn’t your cup of tea, the video is undeniably endearing and original and should be appreciated in all its sock-puppet-glory.
Having already performed with the likes of Neon Indian, Theme Park, The Naked and Famous and Gross Magic and touring with Zulu Winter and Wintersleep; Shields will shortly be embarking on a tour with To Kill A King. Tour dates are below:
20th – Westgarth Social Club, Middlesbrough
21st – Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
25th – Cargo, London
30th – Leopard, Doncaster
2nd– The Ruby Lounge, Manchester
Indie Math-rock band Foals have announced details of a UK tour to take place this November/December via their official website.
Foals will be playing some of the smaller cities and towns in the UK that are often overlooked on touring schedules. For a band that can pack out the NME tent at Reading & Leeds, these shows are very intimate. Here at Crossfire we can’t stress enough how strong Foals are live. Tickets go on sale this Friday and are expected to sell out quickly. The dates are below:
28th – SHEFFIELD Queens Social Club
29th – LEICESTER Lock 42
30th – STOKE Sugarmill
02nd – DONCASTER Leopard
03rd – DERBY The Venue
04th – GLOUCESTER Guildhall
06th – SOUTHAMPTON Cellar
07th – BOURNEMOUTH 60 Million Lights
08th – ALDERSHOT West End Centre
10th – BRIGHTON Concorde 2
11th – TURNBRIDGE WELLS Forum
You have no excuse not to know who Bloc Party unless you have been living in a South American rainforest, licking neon coloured toads for the past 10 years…
I can sum up their latest release in one sentence. It’s absolutely bloody amazing.
However as this is a review, I won’t leave it there, so let’s get the simple things out of the way first… ‘Four’ is a tour de force of indie guitar licks, riffs and hooks with all the Bloc Party trimmings.
Kele and co. have made us wait a while for their latest offering, but as soon as you press the play button, and you here the drum beat and distorted guitar that signal the start of ‘So He Begins To Lie’ you wont be able to sit still. This album works its way into your subconscious and induces some serious moments of tourettes-style head banging and foot stomping.
There isn’t a ‘bad’ track on this album. It swings between slow burning songs that build to a crescendo with squealing guitars through to some southern delta blues inspired throat-ripping guitar chords. The truth is, it is easy to love every single track on the album; so to pick a standout song is a bit of a task. Saying that, the songs that went down best here at Crossfire has to be the hauntingly epic ‘Real Talk’ and ‘V.A.L.I.S’, the hooktastic indie anthem that will have you singing along in not time at all.
If you’re into indie/rock then you should own this album. It’s one of the best albums to grace 2012 so far. A near perfect example of what Indie music should be.
With a chorus catchy enough to entice a bit of a sing-a-long but with a tempo slow enough to make sure you don’t have to put a lot of effort in, ‘Toucan Surf’ (released Digitally 27.08.12 via Rattlepop) is the soundtrack to a lazy afternoon in the sun. In fact, soundtrack is quite a key word here, because Jaws produce the sort of sound that doesn’t instantly demand your attention but is inviting enough to give you an overall uplifting feeling. ‘Toucan Surf’ is background music that will slowly manifest in your mind and eventually come through and repeat permanently in your conscious.
Dazed vocals, resounding jangling guitars and lo-fi synths give off impressions that the track was born in Florida, California or another suitably sunny location, a sizable achievement when it actually originates from the less than appetizing Birmingham, UK.
‘Surf-pop’ is a trending genre at the moment, but Jaws aren’t just any old band, they are the leaders of the pack, these guys are the ultimate chill-out indie band and ‘Toucan Surf’ is sure to propel the band to where they ought to be.
And so Reading Festival was finally upon us. From the moment the first acts are announced early on in the year, you can’t help but be excited about it. You’ve just never heard of anyone having a shit time at Reading, have you? We certainly never have. Despite almost blowing it by getting rather out of control on the Friday night, we managed to last the distance and ended up having one of the best Reading experiences ever, helped along by a multitude of excellent bands, an endless stream of good people, power ballads, mainstream hip-hop, vodka in Capri-sun containers, a fair few pints of cider and a gallon or two of Relentless energy drink. Relentless eyes ahoy!
Unfortunately, we missed Young Guns open up the main stage but by all accounts, they had a monstrous crowd and did their job of kicking off the festival very well indeed. A Day To Remember followed on in style with their enthusiastic combination of pop-punk and hardcore getting the crowd in a tizzy despite it only being 1pm. Judging by the intense reaction they got, there will be no stopping their rise in popularity any time soon. Everyone present seemed to be relishing in the great melodies mixed up with great chugs.
Two Door Cinema Club continued the theme of humungous crowds for their poptastic set over at the Radio 1 / NME tent. Despite never having consciously listened to their music, they’re one of those bands whose songs I apparently know anyway through some sort of mainstream osmosis process. The band’s set was rapturously received by the mass assembled and it’s safe to say they were the perfect choice for that stage. They probably could’ve even been billed higher. One of those cases of a band blowing up so quickly that, by the time Reading and Leeds come around, they’ve kind of outgrown their slot. Due to the Festival Republic stage running behind schedule, we managed to catch a bit of indie-pop duo Summer Camp who rattled off some dreamy ditties to a moderately enthused crowd. Pulled Apart By Horses were the next to provide the rock as they proceeded to lay waste to the tent in spectacular fashion, bounding all over the place, banging out riffs and generall just being awesome. NOFX sounded good as we traversed the main arena back to the guest area where we heard tales of Strike Anywhere’s Lock-Up stage set being sadly empty.
Biffy Clyro kicked the festival up a notch into another league with their polished yet somehow still raucous epic rock. A fair few classics from back in the day mingled in with the standard modern hits like ‘Mountains’ meant their set was enjoyed by all. Not least all the ladies present who were no doubt swooning at the three shirtless men, despite frontman Simon Neil looking kind of like Father Christmas now he’s bleached both his hair and beard. Plus pink jeans – wow. Phoenix continued the wow-factor of the weekend over on the Radio 1 / NME stage. The French act had the most amazing pulsating lights, flashing all the colours of the rainbow and hypnotizing the crowd in the process. Luckily, they also have the tunes to back up the lightshow and everyone present was dancing along to their effervescent pop hits.
We failed a bit on Saturday in terms of watching bands. What can we say – got a bit too enthusiastic at the power ballads DJ set the night before and it somewhat dampened our enthusiasm for Saturday.
Paint It Black, Trash Talk and Gallows were the main casualties of our laziness though by all accounts they were every bit as rad as we knew they would be. The Gaslight Anthem kicked off our band-watching activities for the day in style though. An intense main stage experience, though it could’ve been improved upon tenfold if the soundman had turned up the volume a bit! In spite of this annoyance, the set was enjoyed by a massive crowd as the band reeled off hits like ‘Old White Lincoln’ and ‘American Slang’ and the crowd sung their hearts out to make up for the lack of volume from the stage.
Cancer Bats rocked the Lock-Up stage to its core in a set that put them up against Dizzee Rascal’s Main Stage appearance. Still, their scuzzy riffs were clearly a draw for the rock kids at the festival. We went on to catch a bit of Dizzee, including his now-legendary Nirvana-mashing with ‘Stand Up Tall’ versus ‘Teen Spirit’. An excellent performance as ever, enjoyed by all. The Get Up Kids played to a half-full Lock-Up tent but that didn’t matter. Everyone there was a complete superfan and it was a great set of newbies and classics and also included their cover of The Cure’s ‘Close To Me’. Lovely. Passing by Arcade Fire for a song or two, it sounded pretty incredible, although it kind of looked like everyone was watching Pendulum on the NME / Radio 1 stage instead…
What a day! This has to be one of the best main stage line-ups of all time. So we’ll get to that. But our day started with a bit of Lights on the Dance stage which was all very pleasant girl-fronted electro-pop. Kvelertak were slightly louder on the BBC Introducing stage and definitely did more to wake us up with their Nordic metal inclinations, fused by good old-fashioned rock’n’roll. Foxy Shazam wow those who make it to the Festival Republic tent for their set. Pure genius showmanship. And acrobatics to boot. Debut UK single ‘Oh Lord’ sounds tremendous. We nip out to catch a snippet of Thrice on the mainstage including the massively brilliant ‘Silhouette’. Next up we’re excited to see local youngsters done good You Me At Six on the Main Stage. The band do an immense job of getting the crowd involved even though the big screens have been taken down due to a freaky bit of stormy weather during All Time Low’s set. Hayley from Paramore even comes on to sing ‘Stay With Me’ with YMAS. The screens come up again during Limp Bizkit’s procession of stone cold hits. In fact, their choice of setlist is suspiciously similar to that of their set at Reading 10 years ago. Not complaining though. It was ace. And Fred Durst is definitely a legend, even when not wearing the obligatory red cap (a white cap?!) As a friend quite rightly points out, Wes Borland is dressed as a cross between a witch and a Guylian chocolate. Entertainment at its best. Well, not quite.
Weezer are up next and what they do is phenomenal. Simply put, this is probably the best Reading festival set I’ve ever seen. The sun is shining and Rivers is in the best mood ever. He also has props. A Lady Gaga wig (they cover ‘Poker Face’ mixed in with MGMT’s ‘Kids’), a cat hat, a fucking trampoline. This is the exact opposite of every other performance I’ve ever seen Weezer do. AND they play the good shit. Nothing off ‘Pinkerton’ which is definitely a shame. But we don’t even care, it’s THAT good. ‘Surf Wax America’, ‘Say It Ain’t So’, ‘The Sweater Song’ are definite highlights but even the more frivolous ‘Beverly Hills’ and ‘Troublemaker’ sound awesome. Everyone has a permanent smile on their face for the rest of the night and I’m pretty sure it’s all because of WEEZER.
We caught a little bit of Paramore. Enough to be able to tell that they’re still great at what they do and we’re going to be excited when they return to the UK for TWO o2 arena shows. Blink 182 got everyone more excited than I ever thought they would… They pulled an entertaining set out of the bag, as was to be expected, and they also proved that they’ve got better at playing their instruments in the years since they last played the festival. Not that Travis ever had anything to prove. Obviously. Hits that provided a constant stream of crowd singalongs included ‘First Date’, ‘Rock Show’ and, of course, ‘All The Small Things’. It was also great to hear the songs from further down the line in the band’s career like ‘Feeling This’. I think it’s safe to say that a good time was had by all, not least the main stage bands on this final day, all of whom clearly reveled in their participation in such a well-placed rock line-up. One that will not be forgotten in a hurry.
British rockers The Charlatans have posted a video of their new single ‘Love Is Ending‘ which is to be released on August 2nd.
The video was directed by Douglas Hart of The Jesus And Mary Chain and features an blossoming oxymoronic relationship between ballet and alternative rock. Expect the usual catchy choruses and a fuzzy jingle jangle that blends darkness with optimism seamlessly, the perfect sound to accompany the contrapuntal visuals.
The band will release their eleventh studio album ‘Who We Touch‘ on September 2nd.
with Peggy Sue & Meg Baird
The Garage, London
Wichita Recordings have covered a lot of ground in the last ten years. Wichita is the colourful phoenix that flew out for the ashes of Creation Records, guided a lovely bearded Welshman that was partly responsible for the signing of some the 90s most incredible acts. Though they began with releasing some of my favourite albums of the decade (Bright Eyes’ ‘Fevers and Mirrors’ and Bloc Party’s ‘Silent Alarm’), it was Dick and Mark’s discovery of two girls from Sweden with stunning voices and an inexplicable talent for melody making, First Aid Kit, that made me actively fly the Wichita flag.
There wasn’t any other choice for who was to headline the ‘folking excellent’ Tueday night in their string of celebrations for the record label’s tenth birthday. New Jersey’s Meg Baird was tremendous and continued to draw attention from NJ’s sore shore rep and point us in the direction of the spectacular and pleasantly haunting music that emerges from the garden state. The folk or ‘anti-soul’ revival was in full-force when Peggy Sue mounted the stage in front of a now-rammed Garage. These were two brilliant sets, but First Aid Kit made me cease to function properly like jeeping shit.
First Aid Kit burst onto the web with an acoustic cover of Fleet Foxes’ ‘Tiger Mountain Peasant Song‘ in a nearby forest that can only be described as the loveliest viral video ever created. Since then they’ve released an equally lovely EP and a stunning debut that was matched by one of the most heart-warming, awe-filling live performances I’ve seen in some time at Wichita’s birthday feast of folk. They open with ‘Tangerine’, a gentle world-weary and refreshing blowback of Cat Power smoke which lingers like a surprisingly pretty moth as they power into the delicately perfect ‘You’re Not Coming Home Tonight’. They are utterly unaware of their flawlessness and play to us almost as if they we were peer pressured into playing the lonely looking guitar that’s placed against the wall of their bedroom. The Garage isn’t a large venue but it certainly isn’t small, and to render the entire crowd fully silent during an entirely unplugged rendition of ‘Ghost Town‘ speaks volumes about their natural talent that doesn’t require any further lexical amplification.
Of course their Fleet Foxes’ cover proved favourable with a perpetually beaming crowd but the highlight was a foot-stomping march through melody and powerful choruses in ‘Own Our Pretty Ways‘. They’ve come a long way from recording inconspicuous videos in forests and regardless of their admirable ‘aim for the hearts, not for the charts!’ motto, could very easily win the love from both.