Monthly Archives: May 2013

Wist and I somehow managed to see 13 bands over the course of this weekend.
Four, on Friday night (with Muse gig + pub)
And nine, at the Sofar Sunday Festival.

1. Bastille – Support at Muse @ Emirates
Pretty good live, but unfortunately was still light and people were more in the mood for drinking than dancing I think.

2. Dizzee Rascal – Support at Muse @ Emirates.
God I hated this. I mean c’mon, seriously?

3. Muse – Emirates
Incredible live gig.
Amazing stadium sound, beautiful light show and pyrotechnics – here’s some pics.

4. Jimmy C and the Blues Dragons – @ Old Kings Head Theatre
Playing the Old Kings Head Theatre pub, which we drank in after the Muse gig.
I’ve seen them a couple of times – they’re a really great blues band with a cheshire-cat-grinning singer that looked like Tobin c.2005.

On the Sunday, we headed to Sofar festival – in an amazing little venue called TestBed1 and the Doodle Bar. Here’s some pics and band thoughts….

5. Lonesound – @ Sofar Fest
Nice voice, with a solid band around him. Strong folk-pop songs. Nice. Funny haircut on the bassist – looked a little bit like that ‘Berries and Cream’ advert.

6. Ali Warren Band – @ Sofar Fest
Wist had a perfect description for this: ‘It’s like they’ve listened to too many Jeff Buckley middle 8s, and haven’t realised they need to put a song either side of it.’

7. Jay Brown – @ Sofar Fest
Very 90s, Skunk Anansie style sound – strong voice and good drummer

8. Cannon Street – @ Sofar Fest
Saw this band at Moseley Folk Festival. I really want to like them, they’ve got some nice harmonies and work well together – but the songs sit on well trodden ground, and they’re still a bit too giggly unfortunately.

9. Danglo – @ Sofar Fest
Very nervous on stage, and wasn’t a huge fan of their songs – the singer was strong in parts and there were some nice ideas in there but not for me.

10. Indigo Earth – @ Sofar Fest
Very very good. Great songs, three part harmonies, confident and catchy.
Not too sure about the name, but the band are brilliant.

11. Annie Eve – @ Sofar Fest
Also brilliant. Bought her EP. Ghostly, Laura Marling style artist with a lotta potential.

12. Fred Page – @ Sofar Fest
Fairly undistinguishable from every other singer-songwriter if I’m honest, but had a powerful voice.

13. Grass House – @ Sofar Fest
I liked this band. Echoey guitar and low, distinctive vocals. Nice.

Childhood – Solemn Skies

It’s quite nineties this track, but I like it. The vocals have a sort of lazy Morrissey lilt during the verse. During the chorus, the vocals straighten out a bit to hammer home the melody.  The track is slathered thick with reverb, which gives it a big old sound – akin to the Stone Roses, but with a harder edge.

Devil – Jstar

What fun. This sounds a bit like a modern take on the Specials, with sultry female pipes and computer game sound effects. I really like this – the off beat drum track is a welcome blast-from-the-past, the fx works seamlessly and the horns sing out. Towards the end of the track, the vocalist really goes for it – nice.

King Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds – Haunted Head

I love the way the drums have been recorded on this – they sound so live and rough – in an Ethan Johns kind of way. The guitar part that plays throughout has the same poise as something from the Shadows, but it’s darker and a little grungey. The vocals is recorded in two levels – one spoken, one sang – and overdubbed. Quite a nice effect, but in this instance I don’t think it works too well. Nice enough.

Melt yourself down – Kingdom of Kush

Party time! This track starts off with ska trumpet, complete with samba style beats etc.
Indie bass kicks in around 27 seconds in, along with some short screams from the vocalist. We hear some nice trumpet harmonies around 2.45 and it ends beautifully – sort of self-deconstructing and consciously falling apart.

Polica – Tiff (feat. Justin Vernon)

There’s some really fine synth sounds in this track. The whole thing is paced nicely – it’s almost relaxing. Everything on this track is heavily effected but it’s far from sounding artificial. A Portishead for the next generation I suppose. And with attitude to match.

Bass Drum of Death – 3 Shattered me

I’m not sure whether ‘3’ is the track number, or whether it’s called ‘3 Shattered me’. The track itself is ace. Sort of underground garage rock – with driving powerchords, impressive drums and commanding vocals. At 2 mins 16 seconds long, it’s all over too quickly – look forward to hearing the album.

Charlie Boyer & The Voyeurs – You haven’t got a chance 

Nice vintage sounds on this track – a sort of clash between modern indie and 70s NYC pop. There’s some great pop organ during the chorus, and a short laddering guitar solo around 1.45. The drumming is consciously loose, which is nice, but overall the track doesn’t feel like anything new. Would be good to hear what else they’re up to.

CocoRosie – After the Afterlife

The first 3 seconds sound like the start of a hardcore electronica track, but we then have 30 seconds of piano and ethereal female vocals – before we go into a mishmash of synth, piano, drum loops and vocals. It’s all a bit too all-over-the-place for me, but there are some nice ideas in there. Plus, every so often you hear a whale noise in the background. I don’t think I’ve heard traditional piano singer/songwriter sounds mixed with synth and vocal effects like this before – which is interesting.

Golden Fable – Crossfire (alt version)

Light, airy, solo chorister style vocals fill this track. It’s nicely arranged, highlights including a delicate drum track (played with brushes) and pretty piano. It’s sort of baroque pop – and there are dashes of Kate Bush and Regina Spektor in there, which is no bad thing.

Lust For Youth – Barcelona

Pulsing synth at the start, and spoken word snippets are sewn throughout. It’s all a bit of a mess for the first minute or so – until the drum track lifts up in the mix and drags it all into line. Even then, it’s a bit too ‘Jez’ from Peep Show for me. “Does it fit into the Big Beat Manifesto Superhands?” Bit off the mark for me I’m afraid.

Maps – AMA

Effected drums, synth, electronic piano and cool slow vocals. I like this track – it’s got a solid chorus and it’s mixed beautifully. It starts to bring it down about half way through, but the volume kicks back in just after 3 minutes and it takes off again. The only issue I have with it, really, is that the synth sound is a little early 90s Ibiza in parts. But other than that, nice track.

The Wytches – Beehive Queen

Really great. Old style indie rock, that sounds like it’s played in a echo chamber. The drums are tight, and the tempo changes two or so times in the track with ease. The vocals are kind of screechy, but in a really good way, and the melody is catchy. Nice. Good one to finish this fortnight’s review.


With only two things left to tick off (Oysters and Sweetbreads. I mean meats. SweetMeats!) we hopped over to Columbia Road Flower Market in hunt of Colchester Oysters – a Sunday market stall selling the little blighters.

It’s a pretty bare set up – a work surface, a knife, a box of oysters, a tub full of chunks of lemon and a bottle o’ tabasco sauce.
And that’s it.

We bought two – dripped a bit of tabasco onto them and ate them.

The guy recommended we chew on them a bit – to ensure we taste the oyster not the ocean.
They were nice enough – I wouldn’t order them in a restaurant – but they weren’t disgusting.

We hotfooted it from east to west, and returned to Fortnum and Mason – if they sell kumquats out of season, they’re surely going to sell Sweet Meats?

And – breathe – they did!

They were kind of glace fruits, mixed in with marzipan etc.
If I’m honest – more than anything – they were just overpriced sweets.
But probably a lovely thing to have with a posh/pricey meal.

Sweet meats ticked off too – 23:Eat complete.

1. Jellied Eels
2. Pig Cheeks
3. Sweet Meats
4. Bubble tea
5. Dried Insects
6. Quails egg
7. Creme de menthe
8. Frogs legs
9. Snails
10. Kangaroo
11. Nettle tea
12. Oysters
13. Steak Tartare
14. Dandelion Wine
15. Gazpacho
16. Pea Soup
17. Root beer float
18. Gnocchi
19. Ox Heart
20. Squirrel
21. Spotted Dick
22. Souffle
23. Kumquat

Wist and I popped over to Madrid a couple of weekends ago.
It’s a beautiful city – and I actually managed to try a couple of new things too.

Madrid is a party city – and its night owls need to eat when they’re all partied out.
In the UK, they’d probably grab a kebab.
In Madrid, they eat hot fried doughnut dipped in melted chocolate.
Or ‘Churros’ as they’re known.

We went to a 23 hour 7 days a week (what hour do they close!?) chocolateria to taste them.

They’re really nice, but really sickly after a few mouthfuls.
Kind of like fried bread dipped in melted nutella.
Abra Kebabra hasn’t got anything to worry about yet…

The Oldest Restaurant in the world
As I’ve spent the last 11 months working my way through food based challenges – it was almost fitting that we found the worlds oldest restaurant right there in the city centre.

Sobrino De Botin was established in 1725, and is famous for its roast suckling pig dish Cochinillo Asado.

I had to try it.

Madrid is a strange city – most restaurants don’t really start serving until 10pm, and the centre doesn’t start to swing until past midnight.

We therefore had to wait a while before we could eat – but it was well worth the wait.

A double espresso to finish the meal off – and we went off into the night.

Edible Shot glasses
Onto a bar to drink shots…
The drink itself, El Madrano, was nice and sweet.
But the best bit? You can eat the glass afterwards!
Why has this not travelled?

We didn’t travel to Madrid with the sole purpose of trying sweetbreads – but none the less, we managed to find some, in an authentic offal restaurant ‘Freiduria de Gallinejas’ in the south of the city.

The restaurant itself has been serving up innards to customers for over a century. It’s really not for the faint stomached.

The staff were really helpful, and started us off with a couple of cold beers and a small, mixed taster plate of Gallinejas (fried lambs intestine) and Entresijos (more lambs intestine, but with the spleen/pancreas attached.)

If I’m honest, I struggled.
To the point, I almost didn’t want to ask for the sweetbreads (mollejas blancas.)

Nevertheless, we battled on – and ordered them in clumsy Spanglais.
The friendly waiter brought us a pile of them – and I went in for the first bite.

And they were actually quite nice. Much more palatable than the intestines – if I’m honest, they were a bit like a moist McDonalds chicken nugget.

Smug, I got home to write up the blog.

When I’d written the first list, I’d written Sweet Meats not Sweet Breads.
The whole time I’d been chasing Sweet Breads, I should have been chasing Sweet Meats.

Stubbornly, I refused to just change the blog.
The search for Sweet Meats was on.

It’s a good thing we didn’t go to Madrid purely for Sweetbreads…

1. Jellied Eels
2. Pig Cheeks
3. Sweet Meats
4. Bubble tea
5. Dried Insects
6. Quails egg
7. Creme de menthe
8. Frogs legs
9. Snails
10. Kangaroo
11. Nettle tea
12. Oysters
13. Steak Tartare
14. Dandelion Wine
15. Gazpacho
16. Pea Soup
17. Root beer float
18. Gnocchi
19. Ox Heart
20. Squirrel
21. Spotted Dick
22. Souffle
23. Kumquat

1. Hooded Fang – Ode to Subterrania
First piece of advice. Check the volume level on your headphones before starting this track – the alarm-like sound at the start will shake you apart. Nice sort of post-surf, echo-ey pop to start this review of twelve off. The vocals are beautifully lazy and microphone gritty enough that you can’t hear all the lyrics. About 2.30 in, the guitar solo kicks in and the whole track begins to self destruct. Very nice.
2. Hookworms – Radio Tokyo
I really want to like this track. There’s a a little Datsuns in the vocals – but without the hooks. Some really nice deep purple style keys in the chorus and the band are tight. But for some reason it’s just not clicking. With a nice crisp finish, I get the appeal, but I’m afraid this track is just not for me.
3. Mount Kimble – Blood and form
A little bit post-dubstep, like James Blake, and with similarly great synth sounds to match. The simple drum track gives the mix a little space to breathe, and sounds like it was (partially) recorded live. The vocals are sporadic and are perhaps closer to speaking than singing – but with a nice chorus effect applied. I’m not enthralled by the track – it’s found its level and doesn’t shift from it – but I’m going to look up Mount Kimble for sure.
4. Fair Ohs – Green Apple Milk
A busy, and rather predictable bit of indie punk here. A nice use of brass post-chorus, and the guitar twangs like a western movie in places. I don’t think this track will set the world alight, but it would be rather good fun to see it played live.
5. The Graphite Set – I see no lies
Tightening a drum skin as you play it can sound pretty odd. But at the start of this track, it sounds bloody brilliant. Weighty, powerful Adele-like vocals kick in over the minimalist backing – and the whole thing begins to crescendo around half way through. The track skips through very quickly, I can’t quite believe it’s over 3 mins 30, and before long we’re at the fade out. Nice. 
6. Dirty Beaches – Love is the devil
The strings at the start of this track are haunting – beautifully arranged, atmospheric and thick like honey. To me, it sounds like it’s been recorded to mimic the dark soundtrack of an old black-and-white tragedy. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the album. 

7. Ghostpoet – Meltdown

I’ve liked Ghostpoet for a little while now, so was glad this track was as good as the previous. The drum track is tight, and the piano sounds like it’s been reversed – which is nice. The female vocals (around 1.30 in) sound great too. The strings around 4.30 in build beautifully, and offer a smart segue into the next track (of which I’ll definitely be checking out!) Really like this.

8. JAWS – Surround You

Effected keyboard kicks this track off and it’s only around 20 seconds in we hear the band in its full force. A guitar track mirrors the vocal line during the verse and it sits quiet – before everything kicks in again for the chorus. There’s quite a brit-pop feel to the reverb on the vocals, but the track is way past that. It’s great – kind of ‘Empire of the Sun’ with a brutal hangover that’s preventing them from being so damn upbeat.

9. William Basinski – Nocturnes (excerpt)

The first thing you notice is its run time – 11 mins 23 second. Uh oh.
It sounds a little like a recording of some kids hammering away at a piano. Except the recording is being played back at 700 x slower than it was recorded. Or perhaps it’s a little bit like a computer’s first attempt at writing incidental music. Either way, I have to say it’s actually kind of nice. Despite the dissonance, it’s fairly relaxing.

10. Dutch Uncles – Flexxin (Eve session)

If I’m honest, the vocal line grates a little on this one. But the overall mix is nice, and there’s some nice cello and xylophone lines in the background. I’d like to listen to a couple of other tracks to give them a fairer review – but this one didn’t do it for me.

11. Amateur Best with Chilly Gonzales – Ready for The Good Life

The track starts with some beautiful piano riffs, building quickly to the lead vocals. Gospel style choir quickly joins the number – which sounds great. In many ways, I wish a full band had kicked in to support the piano – but I’m sure that’s my over-produced mind playing tricks. The piano plays us out in a Steve Reich repetitive arpeggio. Very nice track.

12. Bibio – A tout a l’heure

The last Bibio track I heard, I loved, so I had high hopes for this one. And it delivered.
The track is perfect montage music I think. A tight rhythm section provides solid footing for the squeal of a synth and the twang of a 12 string guitar, with the vocals kicking in around 45 seconds in. The vocals are drenched in echo and chorus – but in an analogue sort of way. In fact, the whole track sounds like its been put through a sort of ‘last summer’ graphic equaliser – I really like it.