Last night I went down to the Exchange to see one of the most exciting bands on the current punk rock circuit, that being Gnarwolves. A trio from Brighton who have over the past couple of years been building up burgeoning fan base for their hook laden hardcore punk, delivering sharp and snappy songs that completely rattle with the spirit of Community that punk rock really thrives on.
Gnarwolves really are a band that drive straight from punks social conscience with an anthemic feel. Droving like a teenage Anti Flag splicing through moments of the Descendants taking nothing for granted. There was a real feel that last night they were generating something that was really meaningful and exciting with their open embrace of punks DIY ethics, with songs written with a heart on sleeve open earnest approach.
It was great to see the room thriving as it was a sell out show, with pretty much everyone knowing the words whilst partaying in the stage diving, frenzied body action. it was just a full on headrush like how would imagine most hardcore shows would have been like in the 80′s and possibly 90′s. Captivating a young audience with the sense of belief that they belonged to something that could potentially give them a voice, or a way to act out their aggression using creative means, something that Punk rock through the generations has been pivotal in doing.
I think the reason why Gnarwolves have had their success so far has been down to a number of reasons, relentless touring and well written songs that openly talk about things that just about anyone can relate too. We can all relate to love, Loss, rage and the ignorance of not feeling listened too or in some case the lost sense of adolescence. Gnarwolves seem perfectly reflect upon all of these things whilst keeping open ears.
Community, Stability, Identity, is one of the bands slower and more anthemic numbers, but it still tackles the the issues of importance and the battles against ignorance and the general importance of social diversity.
Ok so last night I decided to go to the Thekla check out ab band that the youth of today are getting excited about, Hacktivist. I did not know much about this band, other then they are effectively trying to reignite the whole rap rock scene, taking flashbacks to the late eighties early nineties cross over scene, drawing on elements of the likes of Public Enemy, Cypress Hill, Body Count and the whole guitar tones from the likes of Coal Chamber, Rage Against The Machine and Korn, bands who heavily dominated the whole American Cross Over scene.
I mean musically what Hacktivist do is nothing really that’s that new, but they pulled it off with enough energy that it brought back memories of the kind of music that I found exciting as a teenager. I’ll admit that I have a prolonged fondness for the whole rap rock scene because of growing up listening to both genres simultaneously at the same time, being brought up listening to both an 80′s hip hop mix tape and Guns N Roses. I love a good lyricist with something to say and always have done.
What was amazing was watching how the band were connecting with their audience and that you could that too these kids the lyrics of Hacktivist’s songs really meant something to them and the fact that to certain extent the songs had personal messages behind them. It was refreshing to see connecting with music that has a social political edge to it because in my mind it brings out that music has the ability to communicate with just about anyone.
To see a band like Hacktivist engage, disenfranchised youth in a way that mainstream music has music has to a certain level been ignoring in favour of fashionable cool is great and energetically revitalising because they will encourage people to sing from the heart and maybe engage people like the socialy isolated in the creative arts.
My only one slight criticism is that I dont think they had quite enough materiel to warrant a headline slot, but then again if they are encouraging people to be pro active then who am I to criticize?.
Last night I went to the Motheres Ruin, which is one of a few pubs I go to because I can find pubs quite intimidating places to be in, especially if I am on my own. Also The Mothers Ruin has the tendency to put on some really inexplicably cool shows. I’ve seen many wild crazy, Beautiful, shows in there and have necked many sweat drenched cola’s in there. its one of my true alternative havens.
So last night I went down out of curiosity to check out a French drumming and triggers duo by the name of Deux Boules Vanille, which when translated into English means Two Vanilla Balls. Deux Boules Vanille were quite spectacular in creating a kind of rave like no other putting both sets of drums through and array of analogue effects which they controlled using two home made units which had behind them.
It was an incredibly dexterous show, with the pair often recreating the sort of sounds that Fuck Buttons may create with their kind of Nintendocore but replacing the Nintendo’s with drums and Analogue distortions that were coming out of huge stacks. They were also turning the distortions on and off using pedals in double quick time without missing a single beat, but also using the air of improvisation to keep things going.
It was a bone rattling experience mixing and altering the sounds of the drums, almost hitting juungle rhythms with elements of breakcore and almost Boredoms styled drones or Lightning Bolt if they were two drummers. They exerted so many ideas and playful will that it was hard to be impressed. In other words they just might have been ATP’s ultimate band.
This video of them playing Aculeus proves my point. It was in every term of the word a cool show indeed.
So on Sunday night I was up in Rise records, which is one of Bristols last great independent record shops, providing a near vital hub for the alternative and independent scene in Bristol. Every now and again they will have an evening in-store gig and on Sunday they managed to get a band that topped the stores album of the year poll, that being Factory Floor.
It’s taken quite a while for Factory Floor to finally release their full debut album, this is probably because the band work at an un rushed yet completely considered pace. Each and every element of the sound is carefully thought over and given time and space to breath. What Factory Floor have developed in their existence is the organic sound of dance music that a lot of Djs and producers have seemingly forgot about, working nearly entirely with analogue equipment.
For me Factory Floor are one of the most exciting bands that can be labeled under the term of dance music, because of their pure authenticity of diging back to the sounds that the likes of Can and The Silver Apples first invented before moving onto house music.
For a few years I have been watching this band really transform and effectively take shape fine honing their musical references, they have always been a band that have impressed me live, but watching them in the middle of a shop floor was a bit special because I could stand behind the or as close to standing as I come and seeing the thought process of the band as they carefully manipulated the sound and their ability to mix things up. Crunching live drums, huge patched up analogue synths that are just droning into the soul. Like how real house music used to be with slow and repetitive grooves that just eat away causing movements in shape and sound.
What the trio have done is something that is at its core very refreshing in asking what is dance music?.
Last night I took what felt like brightly coloured acid trip back to the late 60′s early or mid 70′s with psychedelic progressive doom rock band Purson at the Exchange. They really did just look like they had stepped out of a time warp, with bell bottom flairs, huge psychedelic dresses and trippy tops, like as if they had just walked out of a Jethro Tull show from 1965.
Now Usually when ever I hear the words progressive and rock put together then it usually gives me nightmares of Emerson Lake and Palmer doing pixie dancing with oversized wizards and Rick Wakeman styled solo’s. Luckily Purson took their inspiration from progs heavier edge, taking note from the early 70′s psychedelic doom of the likes of Black Sabbath, the more experimental edge Led Zepplin fuzzed in with a distinctive almost Grace Slick styled vocal.
what Purson managed to capture was the whole sonic feel like that of bands like Circle who revel in the heavy psychedelic grooves, mixing squidgy keys with heavy grooving guitars driving rhythms and haunting witch like vocals that perfectly suited the Exchanges dingy setting. ity was joyous in its unrelenting fondness of the hazy 70′s feel without coming out too much like a cheese.
It ranked up there with the Trippy Wicked And The Children of The Knight and Wight duel show earlier in the year, which was memorable for both bands delivering heavy stoner doom with a real kick oh and for Wight’s incredible soloing, the bass solo was an particular highlight that night.
The Song The Contract perfectly captures the true haunting effects of real progression whilst out Mars Voltering, Mars Volter. Its big and bewitching
No words will do justice to what witnessed tonight at the St Geogres Hall, Icelandic, neo classical composer and pianist Olafur Arnalds, who was over promoting his latest album For Now I Am Winter. It very much felt like it was the case of right venue and right time for this gig.
St Georges Hall is probably the most beautiful venue in Bristol with the very best natural acoustics, The building its self is a rather grand old Baptist Church that sits upon the hill side with a dome shaped roof just off of Park st. It really is something beautiful, it is often the venue for many classical and folk concerts because the hall just reverberates with a natural sense of noise. with ornate back drop making it the perfect venue for Olafur to play.
I find it hard to know how to really describe Arnalds work, somehow he manages to capture the sonic landscaping of the likes Efterklang and the sheer majestic euphoric of fellow Icelanders Sigur Ros. Playing largely well constructed and deeply intricate instrumentals . Multi layering up loops accompanied by viola and Cello for most of the evening with addition of vocals for the last two songs.
I spent most of the set with my eyes closed, allowing myself to be taken in by scenic beauty that Olafur creates in his music. Very glacial icy cold spine tingling moments of sheer wonder. I could feel the presence of what felt like a goddess speaking to me, giving me the feeling that what I was experiencing was in some form other worldly. I mean I could see why Bjork has used him as a musical orchestrator because of his natural organic feel almost gives him an air of Philip Glass about him, using electronics to power home varying shifts in moods whilst his gentle piano melodies meld perfectly in.
I think that The song Poland from his latest Album perfectly displays Olafurs taste for progressive melodies that at times takes the listener by surprise and gives them some otherworldly feelings.
So last night I went to the Night beds at The Trinity Centre, which is one of those venues in the shell of an old church right at the bottom of Old Market. This was a long overdue visit by the band considering they were originally due to play the humble surroundings of the Louisiana, which they had decided to postpone in favour of playing on Jules Holland.
The band first came to my attention with the release of their debut album American Sleeps which was released earlier in the year, all the way back in February. The album came out on Bella Union records which is a label perfectly fitting for band like Night Beds, because the specialise in doing big melodic folk twinged alternative Americana.
What made the band really stand out was the strength of the songs delivered with Winston Yellens distinctive high lined voice, drawing reference’s to a cross diversity to number artists like Neil Young, Crosby Stills and Nash through to the likes of Nick Drake and Gillian Welsch among a rich multi layered tapestry of singers. Much like fellow label mates Villagers each song feels like it has a very personal message attached to it.
Last night they battled with a mixture of sparse attendance, various sound issues and a very enthusiastic but overly chatty young couple who even talked over some of the most poignient moments of the set, a number of times I had to tell them to quieten down and I tried to ignore them even though what they were saying was possitive it did jarr on the distracting side.
But still there were some moments of pure gold, The beautiful songs like Ramona and Even If We Try, which was a real highlight of the set, because displays the true sensitivity in both Winston’s voice and lyrical style. Ultimately for me this band bring a warmth in their sound like Bright Eye’s longing for Summer whilst lumping along the National in the background and the whist-fullness of Wilco. They are band who will have a long prolonged and slow burning success if they every get into the populist parrapet.