The Strokes – Under Cover of Darkness

Five years and a few hit-and-miss side projects later, The Strokes are back and working up a frenzy in a way that only they could.

Their first single off upcoming album ‘Angles’ was released tonight at 7:30pm on their website, and it was premiered on Zane Lowe’s Radio 1 show.  With a great groove, a few strokes (had to be done) of Casablancas’ melodic genius and some pretty great guitar riffage (if you ignore the questionable Hammond Jr. solo), they have stuck to what they know, which at the end of the day is what everybody wanted. However, with everyone so excited and expectant of new material from these guys, it would be impossible to please 100% of their fans.

If i was to be really picky, I would have loved a bit more melodic flair in the vocals and a better guitar solo, but this hits the spot and Angles is eagerly anticipated.


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James Blake – Live at Rough Trade East

Yesterday I got up early, stood in the corridor of a (busy commuter) train on the way to London and met my cousin to go and get wristbands to see James Blake play an in-store show at Rough Trade East, in celebration of his self-titled debut album being released. Rough Trade do a lot of in-store shows for bands, and for last nights show the way it worked was that you bought the album and got a wristband to go with it that gave you entry to the performance in the evening. The wristbands were on a first-come-first-served basis and so in fear of not getting one, we got there at 9:30am. This meant we had the whole day to kill.

After visiting a few of the best coffee shops in London (The Espresso Room on Great Ormond Stuff is fantastic) and picking up a few bits and pieces, it was time to get back to Rough Trade.

The gig, which was more of a brief showcase, started with album opener ‘Unluck’, greeting the fans with a simple ‘hello’. Hardly the most charismatic man of earth, James Blake is a man of few words that allows the music to take centre-stage and speak for himself. Rapidly flicking through album material, Blake isn’t scared to improvise and manipulate his live show. A lot of the chords played throughout ‘Unluck’ differed to those from the album, and ‘I Never Learnt To Share’ at points was more disjointed and free-form. Whilst this keeps his live show fresh and exciting, I wasn’t – and I’m still not – sure whether this was intentional. Blake is still a newcomer in a live environment; I know that his support slot at The Union Chapel in December was his first ever live gig with a band infront of a public audience, and I think he is using these more intimate shows to tweak and tailor his songs for a live show. Saying this, Wilhelms Scream and Limit To Your Love (video above) sounded very strong and were received with rapturous applause.

What made the night special for me was being able to put the hype surrounding James Blake into perspective whilst observing the man himself, who is completely baffled that anyone at all listens to the songs he made in his bedroom. It’s every young musicians dream and I was watching his own dream slowly coming true. Three months ago he was fairly unknown; a Goldsmiths alumni who was releasing very leftfield dubstep music on 12″. Now he is one of the biggest names in music, proven by the Radio 1 airplay, the posters advertising his new album around all the London tube stations and the sell-out crowd who witnessed last nights performance. Blake made a short speech about how he was so overwhelmed with the album’s reception, and you could tell how much it really did mean to him. After every song his face wore a grin, impossible to hide.

There were glimmers of brilliance throughout last nights performance, and a huge amount of potential yet to be utilised, but most importantly was the visible admiration James Blake holds for his listeners and fans.

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Weekend Playlist #3

These past two weeks have been slow-paced in terms of new music. There have been a few releases – namely The Joy Formidable’s ‘Big Roar’, The Go Team’s ‘Rolling Blackouts’ and Destroyer’s ‘Kaputt’ – which I have enjoyed, but nothing has stood out. In other music news, Death from Above 1979 have issued an official reunion statement and The White Stripes have officially split up, although why this is a surprise to anyone is beyond me. The last time they played live was in 2007 and Jack White is balancing more side projects and production commitments than he’s had hot dinners, thus making it fairly impossible to ever continue with The White Stripes in a big way. However, we salute Jack and Meg in this fortnight’s Playlist and despite only having six tracks, I believe this Playlist is short and sweet.

The White Stripes – Fell in Love With a Girl

In celebration of their departure, we kick off the playlist with the song that, for me, summed them up as a band perfectly.

Bright Eyes – Coat Check Dream Song

In anticipation of the release of ‘The People’s Key’, I’ve been listening a lot to Oberst’s back catalogue. Coat Check Dream Song is a really interesting song off Cassadaga, I love the rhythm, the instrumentation and the washed-out, echoey atmosphere.

The Joy Formidable – Austere

My favourite song off ‘The Big Roar’, The Joy Formidable don’t seem to be trying anything new or innovative, but they have a massive sound! Throughout the album there are moments where you wonder how they can create such a noise with only three members.

Flying Lotus – Tea Leaf Dancers

Flying Lotus filled in for Benji B last week on Radio 1 with an amazing Brainfeeder special and ever since I have had FlyLo’s LP’s and EP’s on rotation. Tea Leaf Dancers is off his ‘Reset EP’ and is an amazingly chilled-out song. Flying Lotus did a session last year at Radio 1’s Maida Vale studios and this is one of the songs he did complete with a live band. If anyone has a full video of it, I would hugely appreciate it, all I can find are teaser videos!

Thrice – Come All You Weary

I’ve been listening to their ‘Live at the House of Blues’ album alot recently for no particular reason apart from the fact that they are an amazing live band and this album has a great set list that shows just how versatile they are as a band. Come All You Weary is a perfect weekend song.

Death From Above 1979 – Blood On Our Hands

And we close on another celebratory note! Listen to this song and you will quickly realize why so many people are excited about their reunion.


I’ve done it slightly differently this week, but this is MUCH more effective. Instead of putting a Youtube link every song title, I have made a Youtube playlist so you can just press play and let it work it’s magic. Amazing, ey?

YOUTUBE LINK: Weekend Playlist #3

SPOTIFY LINKWeekend Playlist #3



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LISTEN: Bright Eye’s ‘The People’s Key’ in full

NPR are currently streaming the whole of Oberst’s latest offering The People’s Key, available to anyone. NPR reckon this album is ‘career-defining’ moment for Oberst, but I’ve never liked that term. Zinedine Zidane headbutting Marco Materazzi in the 2006 World Cup was career-defining, but it doesn’t mean it’s good.

It is certainly an album taking Oberst out of his comfort zone slightly, swapping acoustic guitars for synths and even brief stints of what can only be described as metal-drumming freak-outs on Jejune Stars. The ethereal and mystical atmosphere of songs such as Approximated Sunlight and Shell Games is reminiscent to a lot of material off of Cassadaga, the previous Bright Eyes album, and TPK only seems like a natural progression of what Cassadaga offered, with similar concepts of the origins of life and extra-terrestrial activity. As Oberst sings in A Machine Spiritual (The People’s Key), “The theme repeats…”.

Each song is amazingly different but works so well as an album. Have a listen and please let me know what you think.

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HOT STUFF: James Blake – The Wilhelm Scream video

I needn’t say much for this. The most beautiful song I’ve heard this year accompanied by a brand new, simple yet effective video.

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Juno Dubstep Podcasts

Once upon a time, there was a phase where people like Rusko and Caspa made dubstep tracks with huge bass wobbles, piercing snares and LFO madness, and it was cool, innovative and fresh. That was about two years ago, and yet dubstep producers have continued making their tunes so bass-bloated that it just sounds like a big mess, like Rick Waller just fell on the microphone. Fair enough if you enjoy it, there’s nothing wrong with it, but nowadays I find that dubstep really shines when you take all the pretense away from it and focus more on the rhythms involved. That is, after all, what makes dubstep; the half-time beats which stem from reggae and dub music.

Juno Records have one of the best online dance record stores going, and their podcasts, which span from dubstep to minimal to disco, showcase the best records around, all of which are available from the Juno store. Juno Dubstep podcasts focus very much on the ambient side of dubstep and is essentially music that you can chill out and relax to, yet is interesting and experimental. That is the essence of dub music and therefore it should be the 1st priority within all of the modern-day dubstep music being produced. Anyway, take a listen, subscribe to the podcasts on iTunes and enjoy the rest of your Sunday! I’m off to a music-based pub quiz tonight. Going to merk everyone.

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Flying Lotus fills in for Benji B on Radio 1

It’s been all over the internet the past two days, and I am late to give it a new home via Homework On The Fire, but bonsoir, ça va, FlyLo?

Benji B was on holiday at the time of his usual show, 2am on Thursday morning, so Flying Lotus filled in live from his house in California. He and a few friends came together for a Brainfeeder special, full of awesome DJ sets and live music courtesy of Matthew David, Gaslamp Killer, etc. If you like Flying Lotus, IDM, even James Blake-esque dance music, it will almost definitely be beneficial for you to take a listen.

It’s a shame i’m not an insomniac and could listen to these radio shows more often. Did anyone actually listen to the likes of Benji B and Giles Peterson before the iPlayer!?

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