Grizzly Bear & Frightened Rabbit Gig Reviews

I've written a few nice words about Frightened Rabbit and many more unpleasant words about Gomez for the Forge Press.
Pick up a copy of the paper around the union or read the review online here (page eleven).


Grizzly Bear
Manchester Cathedral

Photo courtesy of amchu

After a critically acclaimed show with the London Symphony Orchestra on Halloween, the Brooklyn band appear in their usual four-piece form at Manchester Cathedral but retain a remarkable sense of grandeur.

Annie Clark (aka St. Vincent) sets the tone for the evening, the acapella introduction to her set grabbing the crowd's attention in an instant. Tender vocals coupled with a skeletal combination of acoustic guitar and sampled drum loops leave the audience silent, captivated. No mean feat for a support act.

Grizzly Bear transcend the traditional boundaries of indie rock; their sound, even without the backing of the LSO, is orchestral. Each song could be described as a series of movements, each building in momentum to a climax, before a period of calm, and so on. This is especially true of latest single 'While You Wait For The Others', where the effect is utterly compelling. Songs from this year's superb Veckatimest LP form the majority of the set but are interspersed with older material; 'Knife' from 2006's Yellow House proves to be a particular crowd-favourite.

The spectacular setting of Manchester Cathedral only adds to the sense that the audience is witnessing something special. The building's vast ceiling provides surprisingly good acoustics and leaves Droste and Rossen's vocals hanging in the air to intensely powerful effect. The band are surrounded on stage by hanging glass jars, each glowing intermittently as though a single firefly is trapped within [pictured]. At times the choice of venue seems particularly fitting as all four band members contribute to beautiful, almost choral, vocal harmonies throughout the set.

Grizzly Bear's vocal strength is striking - a YouTube video by La Blogotheque [see below] shows the band performing an acapella version of 'Knife' on the streets of Paris. It is perhaps best demonstrated, however, in their encore: a semi-acoustic version of 'All We Ask'. Rossen's guitar and microphone remain plugged in but Droste and Taylor turn away from theirs, opting instead to project their backing vocals into every pocket and corner of the cathedral and leaving the audience with a truly unforgettable experience.


November Podcast

Apologies for the minimal write-up this month but I really should be writing essays and whatnot...

Listen to the podcast here:

Podcast link is in the sidebar, the Mediafire download (21MB MP3) is here and some writing you probably won't read is below.

1. Jesper Dahlback - Gubbis
A tech house gem from Sweden's Jesper Dahlback, cousin of John Dahlback who you may remember from the DFA1979 remix album amongst other things. If you like what you hear then head down to the Plug on 5th December where he'll be DJing alongside Sebastian Leger. Unless you know me, that is, in which case come to DQ for my 21st...

2. Renaissance Man - Spraycan
More Swedish tech house here from production duo Renaissance Man (pictured) - the title track from their excellent Spraycan EP released earlier this year. They've also remixed the following track:

3. Noob & Brodinski - Peanuts Club
Brodinski (as featured on last month's podcast) teams up with fellow Frenchman Noob for some bleepy techy goodness on 'Peanuts Club'.

4. Digitalism - ZDRLT (Rewind)
Emerging from the depths of their Second World War bunker in Hamburg, Digitalism succeed where most fail in blending indie rock with electronica on 'ZDRLT' - their own rework of 'Zdarlight' from debut album Idealism.

5. Erol Alkan & Boys Noize - Waves
A huge collaboration from Germany's foremost electro producer Boys Noize and London DJ Erol Alkan. Pianist Chilly Gonzales has produced a unique rework of 'Waves' which, in Alkan's words, aims to 'translate a club ‘banger’ into something your grandfather could get with'. Highly recommended:


Tuesday Club announce Major Lazer show + No Age/Casiokids Reviews

Major Lazer (as featured on last month's podcast) are set to play at The Tuesday Club on 1st December. Should be well worth the £6.50 entry - get your ticket from Sheffield Union here or at the box office.

Read my review of the non-electronic but excellent No Age gig in Manchester a couple of weeks back over at Forge Media. I also wrote a review of Casiokids' (pictured) Sheffield gig last month which didn't get published so I thought I'd post it here instead:

Casiokids @ Sheffield Union, 12/10/2009

“The band is called Casiokids and this is the first time we have come to Sheffield”. Sadly, I'm not sure Sheffield gave the Norwegian electropop group much incentive to make a return visit, but they still gave it their all.

I arrived to find Fusion quite literally empty and though the room gradually filled up, even by the end of the night we would have struggled to form two football teams. In the vacuous surroundings of the Fusion Bar, this small turnout made for an uncomfortable atmosphere - something that became painfully apparent when support act Shake Aletti took to the stage. The Sheffield two-piece delivered their brand of disco-influenced, Chromeo-esque pop with enthusiasm, but their attempts to get the audience on their feet went unrecognised, leaving singer Steve to circle the barren dancefloor alone.

Mercifully, Casiokids succeeded in moving the, er, crowd to its feet. The band expand on the traditional five-piece format with the distinctive sounds of synthesisers, wood blocks and cow bells driving many of their songs. Hailing from Norway, they sing in their native tongue, but this does not make their music inaccessible. Dreamy, harmonised vocals simply float along atop the cheerful and uplifting zephyr that is Casiokids' sound.

An extended introduction to recent single 'Fot I Hose' built up anticipation as each band member commandeered the wood blocks in turn, and when the song's infectious bassline finally dropped, the audience burst (as far as twenty people are able to burst) into movement. Against a backdrop of tinsel and toy-animal adorned keyboards, the appearance at this point of a monkey suited man on the dancefloor felt like it was meant to be.

I was reminded of music lessons at school - playing around with pre-programmed beats and dated synthesiser voices on the cheap keyboards whenever the teacher's back was turned. Casiokids, as their name (and that they once did a tour of Norwegian pre-schools) suggests, capture this spirit of childlike electronic experimentation and, unlike in those school music lessons, are fortunate enough to be able to combine it with real musical ability and charm.


October Podcast

Just in time to count as an 'October' mix, this month's Duck&Cover podcast takes a break from its usual electro/techno/whatever-you-want-to-call-it focus and instead features a selection of artists from around the world that are all bringing something different to the table.

1. Lykke Li - Dance Dance Dance (Buraka Som Sistema remix)

Buraka Som Sistema [pictured] transform the Swedish singer-songwriter's downbeat original into a carefree, fire on the beach, time of our lives epic. As the winter evenings draw in, the song's bouncy rhythm and fuzzy synthesisers are enough to make us forget about the harsh temperatures outside and just dance, dance, dance.

2. Buraka Som Sistema - Aqui Para Voces (Brodinski remix)

This Lisbon based collective are at the forefront of the 'kuduro' genre. Originating from Angola, kuduro blends techno and house with traditional African styles to create a truly unique sound. Brodinski's remix of Aqui Para Voces is a fairly minor rework but just happens to be at the right tempo for this mix. Be sure to check out the original and the rest of their Black Diamond album.

3. Radioclit - Divine Gosa (Switch remix)

French-Swedish production team Radioclit make up two thirds of The Very Best. The global influences of that project and its excellent Warm Heart Of Africa album are clearly visible in their work as Radioclit too. London's Switch gives 'Divine Gosa' the remix treatment here with rolling drum loops and wonky synths proving to be a simple but infectious combination.

4. Major Lazer - Pon De Floor

Switch, meanwhile, has collaborated with US producer Diplo on the Major Lazer project which sees the duo try their hand at dancehall, teaming up with a variety of Jamaican artists in the process.Guns Don't Kill People...Lazers Do is a bit hit and miss, but 'Pon De Floor' is a definite highlight. The hook might be daft, but when combined with marching drums the effect is irresistible.

5. Diplo - Bandida (ft. Deize Tigrona)

Diplo. A phrase concerning fingers and pies comes to mind. When he's not busy producing mixtapes with M.I.A. and Santigold or generally remixing everything in sight, he spares a few moments to get Brazil's Deize Tigrona - who also provides the vocals on Buraka Som Sistema's 'Aqui Para Voces' - to drop some lyrics over Devo's 'Mongoloid'. Inspired.

Listen to the podcast here:

Alternatively, grab the Mediafire link here (19MB MP3) or subscribe using the link in the sidebar.

Have a good Halloween - I'm off to construct a costume.


Surkin to play Club Pony + other news

Just a quick note to say that French producer Surkin, as featured on last month's podcast, will be playing at Sheffield's premier electro/techno night Club Pony next month. Should be a good night - details on Facebook and tickets available now from the usual places.

Artwork by Kid Acne. London Road, Sheffield.

In non-electronic music news, for an hour and a half of really good alternative music check out Eric Shapiro and Clara Chinnery's new show on Sheffield University's Forge Radio every Thursday at 9.30pm. Listen again to their first show here, featuring Duck&Cover favourites Animal Collective, The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart and TV on the Radio amongst others. On a related tip, my review of Leeds band Wonderswan's gig at the Harley a couple of weeks ago was published in Fuse - page 11.

October podcast should be up in the next couple of weeks...


Welcome + August/September Podcasts

Music blogs and the Hype Machine have become indispensable tools for discovering new music. But their rise has also created a culture where every week a new artist is dubbed 'the next big thing', only to be exploited for blog hits and then forgotten as soon as another exciting act appears on the scene. This is especially true in the world of electronic and dance music, where the blogs have been taken over recently by a wave of second-rate electro and remixes disparagingly referred to as 'blog house' (Sheffield's Article Magazine has similar thoughts this month).

Duck&Cover will attempt to separate the wheat from the chaff and feature electronic music that will stand the test of time. So to kick things off, a couple of quick mixes of mostly oldish tracks to give you an idea of the kind of artists that will appear on the podcast. If you want the mixes to magically appear in your iTunes every month then subscribe here. Alternatively, you can just grab the Mediafire links which will probably be much quicker and more reliable - just remember to bookmark the blog and check back every month!

August 2009
1. Simian Mobile Disco - I Believe
2. M.I.A. - Pull Up The People
3. Modeselektor - Godspeed
4. Santigold - Say Aha (Tepr Remix)

Mediafire 16MB MP3

September 2009
1. Simian Mobile Disco - Sleep Deprivation
2. Soulwax - E Talking (Nite Version)
3. Daft Punk - Rollin and Scratchin
4. Modeselektor - Kill Bill Vol. 4
5. Surkin - Radio Fireworks

Mediafire 24MB MP3

I know, I know, two mixes both beginning with Simian Mobile Disco [pictured] tracks, but after seeing them open their set at The Plug last week with 'Sleep Deprivation' it just had to go in. The fact that Attack Decay Sustain Release is a truly great and unique album didn't help either. It's just a shame that the same can't be said, for the most part anyway, of their new release Temporary Pleasure. 'Pull Up The People' is a classic track from M.I.A.'s first album Arular whilst Tepr brings some extra bassweight to 'Say Aha' by Santigold, who is too often likened to M.I.A. on fairly shallow grounds. German producers Modeselektor provide some intricate electronica in the form of 'Godspeed' and bassy techno on 'Kill Bill Vol. 4'.

This version of Soulwax's 'E Talking' is taken from their excellent Nite Versions remix album - expect to hear more remixes of decent indie/guitar tunes on future podcasts. Surkin's 'Radio Fireworks' is a great example of electro done right and it's hard to believe that it's already three years old. Finally, 'Rollin and Scratchin' is a perfect example of a track that stands the test of time. Twelve years on and Homework is still incredible - who cares if you've heard it a hundred times before?