Another year, another twelve months when hundreds of bands have been showcased on Live4ever via reviews, New Tunes Guides, interviews and Presents features.
Here, our editor Dave Smith has picked out 20 of the best for you to revisit or perhaps discover for the first time, be it the ‘naive enthusiasm’ of Wild Smiles, the ‘raucous, foot-to-the-floor, blink-and-you’ll-miss singles’ of Slaves, or the ‘sense of joy, of wonderment’ that underpins Trampolene‘s ‘I Don’t Know‘. Tomorrow, Trampolene will be talking us through ‘I Don’t Know’s origins and their plans for 2015.
Don’t forget, you can catch up with our Essential Listening 2014 series so far at this link. The final installment, The Albums, is coming next week.
There is a certain warmth to Los Campesinos! that cannot but appeal.
Which, considering that much of their output recounts the difficulties of love, has always been unexpected. Charm feels like an odd approach to heartache. And live this charm is not lessened, but is actually even more, well, charming.
Over the years this likability has served them almost as well as the quality of their output – tonight is no different. The audience are not just here for the music, but for the sense of community. To those gathered in Manchester, this is a gathering of old friends.
As venues go, this is a tough one to get past. For most bands it would merely be a gimmick. For Augustines it is possibly the perfect venue, but also possibly their nemesis. There is no doubt they can fill the space, heck, when live they can consume it. Devour every cubic foot of static history. And they do.
The venue swells with majesty and glory. Their sound has a grand triumphalism that wonderfully seeks to fill the meticulously detailed and cavernous void with the hope-over-adversity that it is designed to bring to all who gather there. With this combination, spirituality is a very real possibility.
But the duality of the church is reflected in the duality found in Augustines, only in reverse. Where the Cathedral seeks redemption through quiet contemplation, Augustines find theirs through plaintive cries to the heavens. In contrast, the Cathedral passionately and loudly expresses its love in its every detail, by its very dominant presence. While Augustines find love in the subtlety and simplicity.
In the build-up to Christmas you’ll find videos selected by our award winning founder Paul Bachmann, tracks picked out by editor Dave Smith, and favourite albums personally selected by our staff as Live4ever’s Essential Listening 2014 series gets underway today. To start, our writers and photographers have put their collective heads together to help shape our Essential Gigs of the year, showcasing live reviews, galleries and interviews from a year of Live4ever featured shows in both the US and UK.
Amongst those making the cut is the ‘intimacy and skeletal delivery’ of Jake Bugg live in New York, The Jim Jones Revue saying farewell by ‘grabbing the lapels and screaming directly into the crowd’ at the Leeds Brudenell Social Club, and Embrace performing on an ‘emotionally-charged night’ upon their return to Manchester. You can discover the features in all their glorious entireties by clicking on each individual link.
For most bands the rules of playing live are quite simple: 1. Turn up 2. Play 3. Run for the exit.
Admittedly some also find time to thank the crowd. But then for most bands music is written, not created. And what is exciting about them comes from practice and planning, not experimentation and actual excitement.
So the excitement of the crowd is palpable when Parquet Courts take to the stage, for it’s not very clear to anyone what is about to happen, but something is definitely about to happen.
There is a moment this evening (November 23rd) – several, in fact – during which Tim Booth seems to be a man as at one with the world as anyone else in the Leeds Arena; a modern, purpose built entertainment aircraft hangar, but an aircraft hanger all the same.
Exuding serenity amongst the noise and sometime chaos, his Zen like calm and warm good humour aren’t always as infectious to the crowd as they should be, but his lack of ego is startling for someone immersed for thirty years in the career aesthetics of rock n’ roll. It feels absurd calling him a frontman; part ballet dancer, part university prof, part peacenik zealot, he’s the antithesis of the modern day rock avatar.
This is all the more remarkable given that James found the mainstream almost by accident in the early 90s and should now be considered veterans of the post acid house scene. Their audience has stayed with them too, if tonight’s attendees are anything to benchmark them by. This is the generation which briefly swapped hooliganism for hugs remember, ex-flower power casuals who now stand as designated drivers, watching on arms folded while their kids cut some rug.
Like a zombie virus, Pulled Apart By Horses hit Manchester hard.
They hit the stage and take a huge chunk out of the audience, fever spreads throughout the crowd and pandemonium ensues. Then, as the lights come up, out stumble the tired and ruined shells of what was once their very alive fanbase.
Complete shock and awe.
Now, obviously anyone with any experience of Pulled Apart By Horses live, or even on record for that matter, will not be surprised by this. But on this tour it’s a little different; buoyed by the success of their most recent album ‘Blood‘ they are more vital and electric than ever.
As well as me we have Sonny Greaves on drums, Ali Hetherington on bass and piano, Tom Julian-Jones on harmonica and Chloee Christmas on backing vocals.
Now, we at Live4ever have been around long enough to know the art of making a good compilation when we hear one (say it quietly, but we even remember mix tapes).
We’re here to tell you that, just like not getting violently offed in Scream, there are rules which anyone who’s ever written ‘Great Songs Vol. 1′ in felt tip on a CD-R will be able to tell you.
So, given that the Killing Moons label has chosen to lay a 26-track collection on us, we thought that it was about time we tested some of these ancient maxims on what in reality is fast becoming a lost art in terms of sequencing, consistency and packing a punch.
Here then, in association with ‘New Moons Volume II‘, are our Killer Kompilation Kicks.
Wild Smiles are three musicians from Winchester who don’t mess around.
Their debut ‘Always Tomorrow’ – straightforward in its pursuit – is unpretentious. While the deep-running, yet quick-to-stick lyrics address lost loved ones and the challenges of adolescence, the music is an easy-to-the-ear rock out.
Marked by drums that bang away like naïve enthusiasm and a guitar that pirouettes through a haze of noise and fuzz, their style is in one piece even though their influences seem fragmented. What John Holmstrom described as ‘Bubblegum Heavy Metal’, epitomised by the Ramones, is perhaps also apt for Ben Cook and brothers Chris and Joe Peden’s straight-sailing approach.
Early US punk being the groundwork, there’s some garage and grunge in there too, which – although rooted in the 60s and 90s respectively – is reminiscent of the wave of late 2000s UK bands like the Kaiser Chiefs. Though their music is dubbed ‘indie’, it shares a similar connection to the past.
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