Christmas Day 1999 was a day of contrasts for me. On one hand, I finally got a PlayStation and a BMX scooter, which made my nine-year-old head explode. I’d have been happy with these, more than happy in fact, but there was another present to open, which had a distinct, CD shaped look about it. “Great”, I thought to myself. I’d just started getting into music and I was happy to think that my sister had noticed my growing interest in AC/DC, Motörhead and Metallica.
Returning to Academy 1 in support of their seventh album, the wonderfully-titled Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, post-rock veterans Mogwai deliver a stirring, two-hour set that spans their entire career. They showcase a whole host of tracks from the new record, opening with the chirpy and upbeat ‘White Noise’, with ‘Mexican Grand Prix’, ‘I’m Lionel Richie’ and new single ‘Rano Pano’ also aired, the latter brilliantly blending grinding guitars with subtle synths. This is a band capable of conveying an incredibly wide range of emotion in their music, which is all the more remarkable when you consider that the vast majority of it is purely instrumental.
Ke$ha has been one of the rising stars of 2010, most notable for her “sing-talk” method and catchy songs, but being seen as a “metalhead”, it seems almost unspeakable that I enjoy listening to her music. The lyrics may make very little sense whatsoever, yet Ke$ha contributes a large amount to the writing of her songs, as opposed to many other pop stars who rely on professional song-writers to compose their hits.
2011 has been a year of Britpop revival. Oasis-esque Brother are set to release a hotly anticipated debut, Liam Gallagher’s new band have just released theirs and a reformed Pulp are about to take this summers festivals by storm. Now, 15 years on from its original release, the too often forgotten Ocean Colour Scene are re-releasing their classic album Moseley Shoals.
As a plethora of female artists dominate the charts, another joins the party in the form of Jessie J and her recently released debut, Who You Are. Much like everything else in the music world, it’s divided our writers into opposing camps where, on the one hand, this new pop sensation deserves the ever-expanding success thrown her way. On the other, Who You Are is a painful attempt to be different, rendering her another generic pop princess.
“It seems like everybody’s smiling tonight,” notes frontwoman Ninja after opening with the frenetic T.O.R.N.A.D.O., “is it a Northern thing?” You can’t really blame her for forgetting – after all, it has been a full three years since The Go! Team’s last UK tour and even longer since they last played in Manchester. Judging by the quality of their superb third album, Rolling Blackouts, and the way it translates live tonight, it certainly seems to have been time well spent.
Ten is the new album from the Manchester Aid to Kosovo organisation, with all proceeds going to community projects and the construction of the Manchester Peace Park in Kosovo. Marking the tenth anniversary of their first compilation, Cohesion, this second release is an assortment of gems from Manchester’s alternative and indie music scene; compiled by The Travelling Band’s Jo Dudderidge.
Their new album, The King Is Dead, went to number one in America and tonight’s show is part of their biggest UK tour to date, but the strongest indication of The Decemberists having ‘made it’ surely comes in the form of a pre-recorded message, played before the band take the stage, from the mayor of their hometown of Portland, Sam Adams.
The intimate atmosphere in Academy 3 was the perfect setting for the first appearance of intriguing new sound and beat makers, The Naked and Famous. This New Zealand-originated rock band have fused the ferocious talents of Alisa Xayalith and Thom Powers to create a five-piece band with a style similar to that of MGMT, yet they differentiate with vocals to rival that of Paramore’s Hayley Williams.
With their latest effort, this all-female trio from Brooklyn seek to surpass their ordinary, hastily executed kitsch in pursuit of a more exploratory sound. Emerging from the noise-pop scene of New York that has manufactured the equally derivative Crystal Stilts, the Vivian Girls have reveled in their unpolished and hurried style, stubbornly sticking to their uncompromising, primitive clatter. In Share the Joy these achingly hip darlings of Pitchfork, in some ways succeed in going beyond their familiar C86 like jangles.
Scuba vs SCB, Dark Sky, Pangaea, Instra:mental, XXXY
11th March 2011
Build a Rocket Boys! is Elbow’s fifth album and follow up from their 2008 Mercury award-winning The Seldom Seen Kid. The Brit-Rockers still pedal their guitar-orientated brand of melancholy, but this time have swapped cynicism for nostalgia.