Okay this really is the last Tumblr post from Music Junkie. For an explanation of what has been going on please read here.
See you on Twitter…
Music Junkie x
Okay this really is the last Tumblr post from Music Junkie. For an explanation of what has been going on please read here.
See you on Twitter…
Music Junkie x
22nd Feb 2013
I know I said we had made our last post, but I figured it would be better to have this article published somewhere, where people can read it, rather than sitting on my computer. I wrote this as a freelance piece, which never got published at the time (apart from on Facebook, which I am no longer a member of – they were starting to know too much about me!). It is a review of Glastonbury 2010, which took place just before I started writing the first Music Junkie reviews. I guess it’s nice to end things where you started.
The Stranglers – Friday afternoon, Other Stage
The burning question before The Stranglers walked out on to the Other Stage on Friday was ‘have they still got it?’ Ageing bands playing questionable shows are never a pleasant experience after all. However, the answer, much to everyone’s delight was a great big yes. Their set was brilliantly performed, containing a bag of hits (such as ‘Golden Brown’, ‘Peaches’ and ‘Walk On By’) that reminded the crowd just how many great tunes The Stranglers have churned out over the course of their back catalogue. As one of the first main bands to play the Other Stage, this was a perfect way of kicking things off and getting the crowd into the festival vibe. 4/5
Bombay Bicycle Club – Friday Afternoon, John Peel Stage
While a new acoustic based album is on the cards for the Crouch End indie rockers, the majority of the tunes for this show were taken from 2009’s ‘I Had The Blues
But I Shook Them Loose’. This resulted in a dynamic performance containing key songs such as opener ‘Magnet’ and quiet/loud anthem ‘Lamplight’. The unexpected highlight came at the end of the show, when they invited a samba band to join them onstage for closer ‘Always Like This’, which got the crowd moving even more than that had been already, in defiance of the heat in the packed and sweaty John Peel stage. Excellent Stuff. 4/5
Thom Yorke and Jonny Greenwood – Friday Evening, The Park
We were all told to expect surprises at this years Glastonbury festival, but no-one could have predicted something quite this special. After an introduction from Mr Eavis, Thom kicked off a selection of four songs of his solo album with title track, ‘The Eraser’. Naturally the crowd went wild, but when he was joined onstage by Jonny Greenwood to perform the last of these solo tracks, the excitement went to a new level, as the possibility of the two of them performing Radiohead songs was opened up.
As the sun went down over Glastonbury, the remaining five (Radiohead) songs were performed in a stripped down/acoustic style, causing an atmosphere that was both mesmerising an intoxicating. Hearing stripped sown versions of ‘Wierd Fishes/Arpeggi’ and ‘Idioteque’ was truly special and ‘Pyramid Song’ provided several minutes of pure haunting bliss. The real highlight was the last two classic Radiohead tracks, ‘Karma Police’ and ‘Street Spirit’, which got the whole crowd singing along (and continuing to sing some time after the show ended). This was a unique experience to say the least, providing one of the most memorable moments of the 2010 Glastonbury Festival. This is something that will still be talked about for years to come. 5/5
Gorillaz - Friday Night Headliners, Main Stage
Standing in as a last minute replacement was always going to make hard to please everyone, especially while under the scrutiny of disappointed U2 fans. However Gorillaz managed to pull it off with a stunning multimedia performance, comprising a vast swathe of artists, including the Clash’s Paul Simonon and Mick Jones, a full orchestra and a selection of backing singers, alongside superb videos and visuals. They were joined at various points by star appearances from Lou Reed, Snoop Dogg, the Hypnotic Brass Ensemble, Shaun Ryder, De La Soul, Bobby Womack, Mark E Smith and others. The performance was breathtaking, with the live instrumentation really bringing the songs to life.
The set was based heavily around acclaimed new album, Plastic Beach, along with a vast chunk from songs off Demon Days, and a single track from the slightly less acclaimed debut album. Consequently, a few audience members may have felt left behind at times by the amount unfamiliar material, particularly during more serious moments, such as a darkly powerful rendition of ‘Cloud of Unknowing’. However a good dispersing of hits (including ‘Stylo’, ‘On Melancholy Hill’and ‘Dirty Harry’) kept the crowd dancing. The only downer came when Damon unwisely chose an obscure song, ‘Pirate Jet’, to try and get a sing-along going (next time pick one where we actually have a chance of remembering the words!). One or two additional tracks off the first album, such as 19-200 or 5/4, might have worked better in its place. Thankfully, this was soon corrected with a rather moving tribute to Dennis Hopper, before a double whammy of Feel Good Inc and Clint Eastwood. 4/5
Field Music – Saturday Afternoon, John Peel Stage
Despite years of great critical acclaim, Field Music have never quite managed to achieve the widespread success to go with it. Once you stray from their large local following in the North East, their fans (despite being diehard) are often few and far between. This was reflected in the modest sized crowd they attracted at the John Peel Stage. It is the off kilter feel of their work, with its complex arrangements, that makes them simultaneously so brilliant and so hard to get to grips with on a first listen.
After some technical hitches at the start, they soon got into their stride (with the usual rotating turns to take the lead between brothers Peter and David Brewis). Key songs ‘Something Familiar, ‘Rockist’ and ‘Them That Do Nothing’ drew rapturous applause from enthusiastic onlookers. A rocked up version of ‘Let’s Write a Book’ provided the most captivating moment, developing the track from the version heard on recent double album ‘Measure’. Hopefully they will soon manage to achieve to widespread recognition they deserve. 4/5
Devendra Banhart – Saturday Afternoon, West Holts Stage
One of the big surprises of this festival was the recent image change undertaken by Devendra Banhart. His previous minimal folk sound and hippyish appearance have given way to the increasingly rock and roll leanings of the last few albums and a hipster dress sense. Jumping about energetically onstage with his band, The Grogs, Devendra managed to get the crowd excited with tunes including ‘Long Haired Child’ and ‘16th and Valencia Roxy Music’. A tongue in cheek rendition of Taylor Dayne’s ‘Tell It To My Heart’ was also well received, though the greatest element of the show was the back to back playing of Doors/Zeppelin-esque epics ‘Rats’ and ‘Sea Horse’. Standout song ‘I feel just like a child’ provided a great close to the set. 5/5
Foals – Saturday Evening, John Peel Stage
Being hotly tipped as a must see, after the release of their recent album ‘Total Life Forever’, caused a busy and eager crowd to squeeze itself into the John Peel tent. The title track of said album kicked off a set containing new tracks such as ‘Miami’ alongside older fan favourites, including ‘Cassius’. There appeared to be a few issues with sound levels on some songs at the start, but these were soon corrected, allowing the show to gather pace, in front of an enthusiastic audience. A truly stunning performance of ‘Spanish Sahara’ put the seal of quality on the show as a whole, while ‘Two Steps Twice’ provided a fitting ender for the Oxfordshire 5-piece. 4/5
Muse – Saturday Night Headliners, Main Stage
‘Epic’, ‘massive’ and ‘awe-inspiring’ are words that spring to mind when seeing Muse live. Thankfully their headline Glastonbury slot provided all of these in generous measure. Even fans disappointed by their recent album, ‘The Resistance’, must have found it hard not to be blown away by the opening performance of ‘Uprising’. Conversely ‘Guiding Light’ provided a rather dull new-track moment. Stellar performances of ‘Hysteria’, ‘Supermassive Black Hole’ and ‘Plug In Baby’ stole a show littered with energetic, improvised rock-outs between songs. A guest appearance of The Edge, to perform a cover of U2’s ‘Where the Streets Have No Name’ was a nice touch, even for U2 haters. It was a shame that they included no songs off debut album ‘Showbiz’ for longer term fans, but you can’t please everyone. ‘Knights of Cydonia’ brought things to a climactic finish. 4/5
Grizzly Bear – Sunday Afternoon, Other Stage
The Broklyn-based experimental rockers provided an atmospheric of refuge for tired festival goers on the final afternoon of live music at Glastonbury 2010. Impressive vocal harmonies bolstered strong performances of ‘Cheerleader’ and ‘Two Weeks’, providing a welcome retreat from the world cup thrashing that was taking place elsewhere in the festival. Some members of the audience stood-up, in full captivated attention, while others lay in a dream-like state as the warmth of the tunes washed over them. This was a very satisfying performance to watch and provided the perfect moment of calm before the hedonism of the final night of parties. 4/5.
LCD Soundsystem - Sunday Evening, Other Stage
With the release of their latest (strong but not brilliant) effort ‘This Is Happening’, LCD announced that it would be their final album, raising the possibility that this might be one of the last chances to see them live. While this was a solid and entertaining show, it was not one of their best by any means, though ‘All My Friends’ and ‘Daft Punk Is Playing At My House’ were hugely impressive performances. The show ended with an extended playing of ‘Yeah’, which saw everyone in the crowd put on their dancing feet. A couple of key songs, such as ‘North American Scum’ and ‘Someone Great’ were noticeable missing from the set however. 3/5.
Orbital – Sunday Night Headliners, Other Stage
The final evening at this years Glastonbury saw a superb performance by the electronic music veterans. It did not take them long to win over the crowd and get them and dancing enthusiastically to a set list comprised of a surprising amount well known classics (that you might not have realised were by Orbital). The vintage dance/sci-fi feel of the songs was accompanied by fitting visuals and a laser show. The most memorable moments included the whole crowd moving to the brilliant ‘Halycon And On And On’, a ferocious drum and bass ending to ‘Satan’, and an appearance by Doctor Who star Matt Smith, to introduce Orbital’s mix of the shows’ theme tune. 4/5.
Brass Roots – Early Hours of Monday Morning, Club Dada
Shargri-La, Arcadia and Block 9 provide Glastonbury’s essential late night hedonistic party experience. On Sunday night the area was still particularly full of festival goers enjoying messy intoxication through soft-focus revelry. It was by stumbling through this corner of the festival, by night, that a treat could be found at Club Dada. Brass Roots, an eight piece brass band from London, took us through a selection of cheeky and upbeat cover versions of various classics, including ‘Hey Ya’, ‘Ring Of Fire’, ‘Sweet Dreams Are Made Of This’ and ‘Karma Police’. The crowd responded with a great deal of cheering and dancing, providing a fun and unexpected element to the final night of the Glastonbury celebrations. 4/5.
Music Junkie UK
Sadly, the day has finally come for Music Junkie to make their last post. We have had a great time, since June 2010 when our first article was written, right up until January 2013, when we decided to call it a day. New projects are on the horizon now, which is great on the one hand, but it will mean that there is no longer so much time to keep the blog updated. We figured it best to end on a high, rather than gradually die a slow death (by keeping Music Junkie running, but neglecting it).
Before we all go on our separate ways, we would like to say a big thank you to all of you who have followed our blog over the last quarter of a decade (and also those of you who supported our live gigs that we used to organise, for a few years before that). We’d also like to say thanks to all of the bands who have provided the great music - without which this blog would have been impossible. Finally we’d like to say thanks to all the people who have contributed and been involved with writing about (and researching) the artists we have supported.
It’s not all bad news though, as the Music Junkie Twitter feed, @killmusicjunkie, will stay operational. We will continue to support the artists we love, and recommend new music for you, only in considerably less words…
…and who knows, we may be back some day. Think of it as an indefinite hiatus.
Thank you and goodbyeee x
-Music Junkie UK
It’s a familiar story; one which has haunted the career prospects of many up and coming bands. They hit the scene with a strong debut, gaining critical praise and an enthusiastic fan-base. Then comes the second album. Two or three years have gone by and the anticipation has been building. Finally the release date arrives. It’s time to give the album a listen. After you have finished the last track, you sit back and realise that it’s… well… a bit shit.
Thankfully Arc doesn’t fall victim to the the curse of the ‘disappointing second album’. This is a quality collection of songs, well constructed, well recorded and equally well produced. On the other hand, while it is no worse than the first album, Man Alive, it isn’t necessarily any better either. They don’t deviate too far from the sound they developed for their debut (not that there is any need for them to at this point), although they do show a bit more restraint across many of the songs, meaning that there is a less of the frenetic energy this time around. They also inject a little more pop sensibility into the record, although fans need not worry that they are selling out, as there is still plenty of their trademark genre splicing, brainy math-indie structures and clever vocal layering. The distinctive, rapid-fire singing style is still there too (a friend once amusingly described it as Jonathan Higgs sounding like he is trying to fit too many words into each line of lyrics), although it is also more restrained than last time around.
Album opener, and lead single, Cough Cough carries on seamlessly from where the last album left off; brilliantly catchy, energetic and off kilter. Second track, and second single from the album, Kemosabe, is even more catchy and is a good example of the increasing influence of R&B and Electro on their sound. At first it seems like business as usual. Torso of the Week takes the album in a darker direction though, zig-zagging between a minimalist verse with sparse beats and a mellotron-esque keyboard; and a dramatic chorus complete with an icy guitar line. Duet then takes a more melodic direction, with strong vocals and entwining string arrangements.
The album plays around with sonic textures in interesting ways. For example, Choice Mountain pulls in the palm muted guitars we have heard before (on songs like Suffragette Suffragette and Final Form), but with layers of guitar effects, keys and other sounds that eventually break into an abstract gracefulness, as the song enters is final section. Although, the lyrics do feel a little off the mark at times, during this song. Feet For Hands also uses palm muted guitar lines, but overlayed with acoustic guitars, giving it a rich depth of sound.
Most of the 13 songs on the record are solid, but some certainly work than others. The only obvious weak track, is the clunky Armourland, which fails both musically and lyrically. Some of the albums darker moments are the most rewarding however. Although, there has always been a bit of darkness lurking below the surface with Everything Everything; a feature that is more obvious when you read their lyrics. This time around a variety of topics are covered, in Everything Everything’s typically cryptic fashion; from insecurity, to image obsession, to divorce. There is plenty of intellectual, middle-class dissatisfaction woven into the subject matter (not a bad thing), but not to the extent that it weighs down to heavily on their ability to create good tunes. At the end of the day, there music is more cerebral than emotional. This is still true with Arc, even if there is a little more emotion in the mix, with album number two.
Back on the subject of the darker tracks, Undrowned starts off in a minimal fashion, but the cascading melodies start to spiral and tumble, building up into a brilliantly epic finish. The Peaks, on the other hand, is just darkly beautiful, a haunting, down-tempo piece of music that could have functioned as the album closer. However don’t Don’t Try steps in afterward as the actual final track, catchy, confident and full of pop charm.
Fans of the more energetic, riffy sound of their early demos and some of the first album, may have a harder time warming to this record. Many people will enjoy both (such as myself - although I guess of someone put a gun to my head, I would choose the energetic, riffy stuff). More importantly, from the perspective of the band, they should be able to pick up new fans with this album. In short, Arc is as strong as it’s predecessor, showing the band developing their sound with confidence.
-Music Junkie UK
I Know Evil by Jason Blum. The track is taken from his forthcoming album Radio Dial, due for release on 26th March 2013. He will be doing a release show at Rockwood Music Hall NYC on March 27th. Find out more here.
-Mr J.S. (Music Junkie UK)
‘1’ - by Blur (Bill Laswell Session, 2000).
I was digging through some of the rarities on the Blur 21 box set over the weekend and I came across this little known track. It’s taken me a while to get round to it, as my list of stuff to listen to continues to grow exponentially. Even though I’m a pretty big Blur fan, listening to obscure live recordings, and early studio jams of stuff they went on to release later, is not something I really get that excited by (I have all their back catalogue anyway, including a load of b-sides and other bits). Moreover, there is usually a good reason why things get left on the cutting room floor..
Still, you do come across the occasional gem, such as this recording. For an unfinished studio take, it sounds great! Not sure why they never gave it a proper release at the time. The lyrics sound a little under-developed and they didn’t get round to giving it a real title, but the tune is solid (some good riffs in there too!).
To find out more about the Blur 21 box set, click here.
-Music Junkie UK
It is strange to think that William Bevan hasn’t put out a full length album since 2007’s Untrue. That is not to say that he has not been busy of course, as Truant/Rough Sleeper is the latest in a string of EP’s and collaborations that he has been drip feeding his fans. Added together, there is more than enough material for a full length album; probably enough for two if you include the collaborations with Four Tet and Thom Yorke. You have to wonder if he might follow Four Tet’s lead, and pull some of the best material together as a compendium album, in the style of Four Tet’s Pink.
This latest double A-Side, released at the end of last year, continues the development of his style. Both tracks still have his trademark sound, but the expansion of his musical palette keeps them sounding fresh. Both songs also have a dreamy, uplifting quality; a slight departure from the harder edge of the excellent Kindred EP. The tracks feel like mini symphonic compositions, as the music pulls into interesting directions, morphing and taking the listener on a journey.
Truant starts with gentle synth that weaves over a minimal beat, before the song breaks open to allow a vocal line in. A few minutes in, the beat develops a shuffling quality and the bassline deepens. Towards the latter end of the track, the tune changes completely, into what sounds like rave music, which has been melted down into a dreamy melodic haze. The last section of the 12 minute piece hits in with some harder sounds. Rough sleeper starts with an organ line that gradually fades in. A lively beat gives the song a euphoric feel, while different layers of sound and vocals play into the mix. Over the course of its 14 minutes, the song continues to evolve, developing into a choppy, static laden final section.
This latest release from Burial sounds great. It shows him sounding as original as ever, but with a little bit of extra warmth. You can download both tracks here.
-Music Junkie UK
Crocodiles & Dum Dum Girls - Merry Christmas Baby (Please Don’t Die)
Merry Christmas from Music Junkie UK