Saturday, 30 November 2013

Playlist: November 2013

So there was a post on tumblr a while ago about how to enjoy University and one of the points on it was to make playlists so that all the memories associated with certain songs can come flooding back when you listen to them. So I thought I'd start doing this, seeing as Spotify allows me to access pretty much anything ever and share it efficiently so here it is! Thought I'd write a bit about each song below the break too!


Thursday, 28 November 2013

Photography: 5ive!!!

Five's debut was the first album I ever bought. I ordered it off of some website, with some sort of jungle theme - although it might have been something other than Amazon. Who knows! When I got the opportunity to photograph them at Leicester's De Montfort hall it was something that I could only have dreamed of when I ordered that first album. Obviously nothing runs smoothly, and I had a couple of issues getting in but once in I had a lot of fun. Cannot wait to see them again on The Big Reunion tour with Liberty X(!!!) and the like. As always more photos on flickr including some proposal snaps! (aw!)

Monday, 25 November 2013

Photography: Stornoway, The Institute

So my four day whirlwind of going out to gigs finished with Stornoway (the band, not the Scottish town) at Birmingham Institute. I'd missed photographing them at 2000 Trees so was kind of intrigued to see what would happen in this even more intimate of settings. The support acts, Goodbye Lenin and Sivu were actually really good - the latter in particular. Highly recommended listening.

I didn't entirely mean to stay for all of Stornoway, having been pretty tired from the previous three days of travelling, gigging, and staying up to watch morning sessions of England being thrashed but they really enticed me with their songs and on stage presence that I actually ended up staying until the end, until I managed to grab a footlong Subway - which was one of the best meals I've ever had.

As always the rest of the photos are on flickr.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

LIVE: Burn The Fleet is dead.

Burn The Fleet were one of my favourite bands before they died this year at Takedown Festival in their native Southampton; so when they were resurrected from the dead for one last show I decided that I'd do anything to get down to it.

I saw Burn The Fleet before I knew they were Burn The Fleet when they supported Exit Ten at Reading Face Bar (I only went for Wolf I Am), and playing to almost nobody except me, my brother, and the other bands in the same venue, and supporting Don Broco in the same venue.

Basically, I've seen Burn The Fleet at the Face Bar a lot - coupled with a Takedown Festival appearance (not the last one) and a support slot with Night Verses when I had no idea they were playing. The only reason I even know who they are is because I was looking for Bless The Fall, had a free CD offer from Walnut Tree Records, and thought that I was actually looking for a band called Burn The Fleet instead.  Apparently lead-singer/bassist extravaganza, Andrew Convey, once roadied for them so I wasn't too far away - I may be making that up.

Anyway, that CD was their first EP, featured in this lovely Spotify playlist above - featuring the magnificent 'Handfuls of Sand', if they'd had a hit it would definitely be it. That said, it's not as if the rest of the EP is lacklustre. So to hear all of the tracks played for one last time was a pretty lovely experience.

Their first album, 2012's 'The Modern Shape', was given away free with Rock Sound. Or, as they said at the time, you could buy the album for £3 and get a free Rock Sound issue.  Songs like 'The Greatest Fire', 'Black Holes', and 'River Song' are huge, whether they're listened to on your stereo at home or having your ears blown by them at The Joiners.

Finishing the show with the aforementioned 'Handfuls of Sand', accompanied by a stage invasion was probably the best way to send Burn The Fleet back to their shallow grave.

"Burn The Fleet is dead" (again)

My ears are ruined.


(NB: if you're moshing don't hurl yourself into the wall, because that isn't cool.)

LIVE: Ben Marwood

Free gigs are always nice, and free gigs that involve Ben Marwood are even better.  So when he announced he was playing London on his mini-'run' of tour dates this Winter I became interested. When it turned out that I was planning on going home this weekend I felt like going via The Monarch was a must; Dragging all my stuff to a London show for the second time in two weeks.

Getting to The Monarch and already seeing everybody there was a heart-warming experience, even if I had (and still have) almost zero idea who any of them are. Getting in the pork-chops because I hadn't eaten a proper meal in two days was pretty decent too. (AMY, I AM NOT A DRUNKARD. I had two pints.)

Anyway, Marwood was his beautiful self as always (even if being on 'til 10/10:30' turned into coming on stage at 10). If you've never listened to him I recommend doing it. Especially if you're into folk/Frank Turner/Jim Lockey/that scene yo. New album 'Back Down' is pretty damn good, and it has '... Yeehaw Junction' on it even if he refuses (sort of) to play it live. Karma's a cruel mistress though Marwood, and know that that Sturridge goal was all down to choosing to play 'Claire' instead. If you want to give him a listen (and you really do) click the links! CLICK 'EM.

I heard the reason that they've moved everybody from Reading Gaol is because Marwood tried to murder the other inmates.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Photography: Mallory Knox, Coventry Kasbah

So without doubt last night's Mallory Knox gig is one of the hardest things I've ever had to photograph.  The moment you walked into the room every piece of glass you owned had condensation dripping off, and this led to my 17-55mm lens being unusable because it had condensed on something inside the camera and it wasn't as easy as rubbing it off. Couple this with the fact there wasn't a barrier and there was pretty much no way to shove myself to the front of the crowd everything was looking pretty bleak, especially when I go zero usable photographs of Blitz Kids. Well, at least I got a couple of Mallory. They put on a pretty good show, and sound a little like Deaf Havana would if they'd kept going on the same path as 'Meet Me Halfway...' without Ryan.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

Photography: German Markets and Charity Gigs

So this week the German Market on New Street opened for its traditional advent (plus a bit) run. A couple of house-mates and I decided to go down and check out the German food (and German beer) and it's pretty damn cool, despite the huge number of people that try to file down past waffles, schnitzel, sausages, beer - a lot of stereotypically German things plus the occasional market-stall. My visit was cut short though as I had agreed to photograph a charity show in Selly Oak, so ran home to sort out my camera and have a pizza and then made my way to The Lounge. Met some really cool people, and all the acts let me use flash! Hooray for pictures that should actually be quite good... Here's some (and more below the break as always). And below the break I tried experimenting a bit with flash, HOPE YOU LIKE IT! More on my flickr.

Thursday, 14 November 2013

LIVE: The Wonder Years

Whenever The Wonder Years announce a tour I'm always ready to jump on it; unfortunately due to the lack of a Birmingham date, and London being part of Warped Tour, it was a bit more difficult so instead I travelled to my favourite city of England, Manchester, instead.  Then, when the support was announced, I got excited all over again. Bringing over Handguns and - one of my favourite bands of the moment - Real Friends over from the States, plus the UK's own Neck Deep.

After travelling up and dumping all my stuff in the handy Salford Quay's Ibis Budget (which comes highly recommended for anybody looking for cheap hotels in Manchester)  it was a rush back into Manchester to meet Megan (who got in too early and caused me to rush my Burger King) before she forced me to rush to Academy 2, arriving half an hour early. I'm not the kind of person who enjoys queuing before gigs, if you do then that's absolutely fine and I respect your decision but I just don't understand why unless you're 4ft 0. (Which, to be fair, Megan is.)

Anyway, the inside of Manchester's University's Student Union - which houses Academy 2 - is pretty nice. The bar there even accepts University of Birmingham ID and I am eternally grateful for after I left my passport at home. Also, where else are you going to find pints for £2.40 'in' a gig venue?  We made it upstairs to catch the latter two-thirds of Handguns who are always pretty solid. The reaction for Neck Deep though is something else, pop-punk kids are really on their game when it comes to new music now-a-days. Not being a massive fan of the TSSF-tribute-band it was time for another trip to the bar before the latter two bands took to the stage.

I wasn't sure how active the crowd would be for Real Friends, they're still relatively new on the scene, only having been around for a year or so but any reservations I had were dispelled immediately, as they should've been after the reaction to Neck Deep. 'I've Given Up On You' was incredible, as was 'Floorboards' and despite their boney knees and sleepy eyes (there's a joke that's never been made) they put on one hell of a show. Vocalist Dan Lambton looked visibly moved by the reaction of the crowd. Here's to hoping they come back over here again soon. The Story So Far started with a support slot for Man Overboard and look where they are now...

Finally we get to The Wonder Years, kicking things off with 'Passing Through a Screen Door' it's obvious that tonight's going to be pretty excellent. The crowd are most definitely in the mood to party and they're rewarded with a bit of a treat, the sparsely played 'Coffee Eyes'.

There's nothing with more energy than a TWY live performance. It's a little bit ridiculous how they don't seem to stop for breath through the entire show. The sing-a-longs, especially for tracks off the new album like 'Dismantling Summer' and 'The Bastards, The Vultures, The Wolves' are huge. Finishing off the main set with 'All My Friends Are In Bar Bands' feels a little odd as it feels like a step backward but then again I don't think I've ever really felt that it translates as well to a live setting, and works much better as an album-closer.  The encore however is magical. The entire room helps out with 'Living Room Song' before 'Came Out Swinging' makes the place erupt.

The Wonder Years have always been a special band to me, helping me through my tough middle-class-white-boy problems, and their live show has always blown me away every single time. I'm so thankful that they exist and I really, really hope they continue to exist for a long time. 10/10, thanks Wonder Years.

Side-note: The entire crowd singing along to Total Eclipse of the Heart after the show was spectacular and should be recreated at every gig.

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Music: Anavae - Dimensions

So I'm not entirely sure whether to call this an album, a mini-album, or an EP and neither do the guys at LAB because all they've been calling it is the new Anavae 'record'. Either way the new Anavae release is pretty damn special. Previous attempt, 'Into The aether' was solid if a little generic but straight from the moment the drums hit in 'Anti-Faith', the opener to 'Dimensions', you know you're in for a treat. This isn't a band afraid to play with their sound, check out those chopping vocals in the chorus.

'Storm Chaser'  was released a while ago in its own EP but makes an appearance here as well in a move that will disappoint nobody.  'Hang Man's introduction is a beautiful looped guitar lick and a frantic rush to get to the finish whereas the pulsating 'Aeon' is a careful, methodical track which takes its time to reach a climax.

'Dream Catcher's lyrics stand-out, what with metaphorical cake it's not hard to. If you can resist screaming "I can steal your dream" at people then you're by far a better person than I am. It's not hard to see why 'Bring Me Down' (sort-of) closes the album and Becca's vocals are absolutely stunning, somehow effortlessly communicating her emotions, "Bring me down to you, you'll die down there alone."

Personally I don't think it's a stretch to make the comparison to Perceptions-era VersaEmerge, with the somewhat dreamy lyrics, guitar licks, use of samples...You'd be hard pressed to like one but not the other but that's not to say that Anavae don't have their own charm, and it's a charm that could quite easily see them surpass VERSA (or whatever they're now called) if they haven't already, and a huge part of down to just down to how well this album is produced on top of how good the tracks are.

And that brings me on to a huge shout-out to whoever produced, mixed, and mastered this album (quick consultation with the album notes and we get: John Mitchell, James Billinge, and Ian Sadler) because everything is absolutely spot on. The guitars are punchy, the vocals sit beautifully in the mix and with the amount going on in some of these tracks that's no mean feat. Brilliant work, so many albums are let down by poor production.

Tl;dr This [insert format here] is stunning. This is the best £4.50 you'll ever spend, buy it.

Sunday, 10 November 2013

LIVE: Frightened Rabbit, O2 Academy BRIXTON.

I'm sure people are sick of this anecdote by now but in March 2010 I ventured to the West End Centre in Aldershot to see a relatively unknown Scottish band, who'd just released their third studio album. Obviously the title slightly gives away that this was - of course - Frightened Rabbit, who at the time could only dream of where they'd be at 21:20 on this cold Friday evening; Just stepping onto the stage to headline Brixton Academy. On Wednesday and Thursday the stage was graced by Oli Sykes and his Bring Me The Horizon gang, before Major Lazer takes over the venue on Saturday night. This isn't playing to 300 people in squaddie-town any more.

Tonight then, off the back off top-10 album 'Pedestrian Verse', is the Glaswegian quintet's cliched coming-of-age.  This has been such a long time in coming ever since 2008's 'The Midnight Organ Fight' was heralded by pretty much everybody. The most recent record saw them wade over to Atlantic Records, which proved the decisive spark that caused the bands' explosion into the UK mainstream.

'Holy' immediately has the crowd's attention, and 'FRabbit' crowds aren't renowned for being particularly raucous but tonight they're all singing along and there's exactly the right amount of movement, plus the occasional pogo at Scott's request. The token 'Sing The Greys' track 'Music Now', more than anything else, really shows how far their songwriting talents have come. The poignant duo of 'Nitrous Gas'  and 'Fuck This Place', complete with guest vocals from Laterns on the Lake's Hazel Wilde, could reduce the hardest man to tears, and that's without them being followed by an unplugged version of 'Floating in the Forth'.  I was always sceptical about using 'The Loneliness and The Scream' as a closer to the set but nothing will ever beat the entire crowd singing along to the gang vocals at the end, and it put one of the biggest smiles on my face so I really can't complain.

Frightened Rabbit's live show has been a little suspect in the past but in the last year they've really upped their game, and tonight is a culmination of so many things that it's completely appropriate that tonight is probably one of their best performances. Scottish music as a whole is at the top of it's game right now, and it really bodes the question how far can FRabbit go?

Thursday, 7 November 2013

Photography: Lacrosse

On a rather wet November afternoon I ventured down to the Munroe Track to watch my first ever game of Lacrosse. I honestly had absolutely no idea what was going on, does anybody? The game was between my two first-choice universities, Birmingham (obviously) and Newcastle. Interesting match-up (maybe?) but apparently my camera doesn't really like shooting in the rain, which causes there to be a lack of light (by definition) and leads to shooting at a high ISO, combined with rain and everything looks horrific. I really need a new body at some point! Anyway, here's a few of the shots below the break.

Monday, 4 November 2013

Life: 3 Things I'm Excited For This Week...

So it's a (very, very) cold Monday morning, and university has started again after a rather spiffing four day break. Time for Haskell to frustrate and depress me for another week. That said there's lots coming up this week, SO LET'S CELEBRATE THAT EH?

3. Reading Vs QPR... Wait...
Okay, so this one is probably not something I'm looking forward to very much off the back of a 5-2 defeat to Sheffield Wednesday, a team who hadn't won up to this point, where former Royal Michail Antonio tore us apart. I SAID NOT TO SELL HIM. How we're still in the play-off positions is beyond me. Anyway next week is the big one. QPR vs Reading. Two of the relegated teams. Please let us win, we haven't actually lost at home yet so that's sort-of promising.

2. Anavae Release Dimensions
So one of my favourite bands ever Anavae are releasing their new record Dimensions and I can't wait because everything off it that we've heard so far is AMAZING. Anti-Faith is possibly the best song released in the last year, and hands down the best thing released out of the English underground in a long, long time. You know you've made it when people start ripping your videos to put on YouTube themselves (which I have never understood but...)

1. FRabbit Headline BRIXTON 

So in March 2010 I saw Frightened Rabbit headline the West End Centre in Aldershot, the same week I saw Twin Atlantic play the Borderline (what a week!), and on Friday they headline BRIXTON ACADEMY. Which is one of the most mental things I've ever heard. I'm so excited because Pedestrian Verse was incredible and they deserve all the success that comes their way off the back of it. FRABBIT. BRIXTON. Everything is right with the world when a band who've toiled finally get to reap the rewards. If you have nothing to do on Friday I suggest you come down, there's still some tickets left. Make me cry, Scott.