Dananananaykroyd at Tramlines.
Dananananaykroyd at Tramlines.
It was fast rock that provided many of my Tramline highlights with Dananananaykroyd and Johnny Foreigner both turning in fantastic sets. Los Campesinos(!) managed to make their twee indie come alive on stage with You! Me! Dancing! particularly getting everyone singing. Many relatively unheard of, but equally brilliant, folk and world bands played throughout the whole weekend, keeping literally 1000’s of people entertained.
Lets hope Tramlines will return in 2012 and prove to be as successful as this year, last year and the festivals debut in 2009.
Sheffield has one of the most thriving alternative scenes in the UK as well as a large history of producing world class acts. It was Rolo Tomassi, one of these great local artists, that curated the Tramlines Sunday new music stage and their set provided one the highlights. Their mix of experimental math rock and metal really got the crowd going especially when combined with front-woman Eva Spence’s fantastic stage presence. It is always amazing to hear that voice coming from such a tiny person.
Tramline’s is the biggest free musical festival in Europe, with 100s of acts across about 100 venues (from outdoor stages, to bars and clubs). There aren’t many councils that would trust music lovers with their city centre, but Sheffield prides itself on being a safe and friendly environment. Its not every weekend you get to see a mosh pit forming outside of a John Lewis’s or a world class folk band playing in the local woods.
How to make a classic Radiohead album out of the best of the none-album releases…
It doesn’t take more than a geek with a computer to knock out a new Radiohead album. Radiohead have a wealth of great songs (from b-sides and EPs to compilation tracks and singles) that never made it onto their albums. In the modern days of downloading it is pretty easy to get hold of these and, after bit of culling and sequencing, you can have an awesome new Radiohead album to listen to.
STEP 1. Pick and sequence your songs:
Here is a suggested track listing. All of these songs are good enough to have fit onto their respective albums.
1. Supercolider - Single
2. Polyethylene (Parts 1&2) - Airbag/How Am I Driving EP
3. Banana co – Pop Is Dead EP
4. Talk Show Host- Street Spirit B-Side
5. I Am A Wicked Child – Com Lag EP
6. Pearly – Airbag/How Am I Driving EP
7. Cuttooth – Knives Out B-side 8. Palo Alto – Airbag/How Am I Driving EP 9. I want none of this – Help! A Day In The Life Compilation 10. Worrywort – Knives Out B-side 11. Fog - Knives Out B-Side 12. These Are My Twisted Words – Single
7. Cuttooth – Knives Out B-side
8. Palo Alto – Airbag/How Am I Driving EP
9. I want none of this – Help! A Day In The Life Compilation
10. Worrywort – Knives Out B-side
11. Fog - Knives Out B-Side
12. These Are My Twisted Words – Single
This track selection focuses on tracks that would fit onto a post-Pablo Honey Radiohead album. There are also great tracks from the Pablo Honey/Early Bends period that are worth checking out. Pop Is Dead and Faithless the Wonderboy for example are, arguably, better than a lot of songs that made it onto Radiohead’s debut.
STEP 2: Pick some artwork:
The only artwork that would be suitable for a Radiohead album is artwork created by their long-term collaborator Stanley Donwood. The image supplied with this guide is suggested, though a handy Google search will give you plenty of alternatives to chose from.
STEP 3: Pick an album title:
Suggestions include King Of Rainbows, Kid Computer, Kid Ok, Insomnia, Chill Factor……….just pick something vaguely Radiohead-ish.
STEP 4: Enjoy
You have a brand new Radiohead album to listen to!
Stepping out into the insane heat of the Pyramid Stage Laura Marling looked somewhat nervous. I was stood next to man who had been previously discussing seeing Dylan in the 60s, and how that was the greatest show he’d ever seen. By the time Laura had finished her set he was stood opened mouthed. Her magnetic stage presence, great songs and obvious shyness seemed to remind him of those early Dylan gigs and he admitted that he’d “never heard of her before” but he was definitely going to check her out.
Hype indeed. Such hype seems to follow Laura Marling around quite closely, but seeing her perform it somehow seems justified. What surprised me most was that not only is she a fantastic songwriter and singer, she is also an incredibly skilled guitarist. She has so much potential, and plenty of time to develop it.
Sometimes mainstream hype can kill an artist’s credibility. Lets hope this doesn’t happen with Laura as she really is worth the praise.
Warpaint, Radiohead, Caribou, Fish and Tits (best bar in Shangri La), Patrick Wolf (amazing performer), Battles, The Horrors, Chemical Brothers (best headliner), Laura Marling, TV On The Radio, Wu Tang Clan (overcame sound problems, to produce a blistering set), Arcadia, Eels.
The weather (too wet then too hot), The mud, Two Door Cinema Club (awful), Noah and the Whale (good performers, dull songs), U2.
NOTE: These are personal views; any awesome performers (pulp?) that weren’t included weren’t seen.
In the space between sets, under the beating Glastonbury heat, I overheard the comment:
“Coldplay were way better than Radiohead, they played their hits.”
Now this probably says more about the mentality of Coldplay fans than Radiohead’s set, but it is a sentiment that has been echoed in some areas of the mainstream press. There seems to be an overriding belief that Glastonbury should be about safe crowd-pleasing sets, and spontaneity is really not encouraged.
Mainstream grumbles aside, Radiohead were absolutely outstanding. From the front of the park stage, all the way to behind the GLASTONBURY sign at the top of the hill, people were packed in. The feeling of excitement and nervousness (will they actually show up?) had already turned the air electric and when Thom, Jonny and co. stepped out the cheer was almighty.
As good as it is to play the hits, a band is always going to be more passionate about their most recent compositions. This was evident on the bands 2008 tour where (as amazing as the hits sounded) it was the In Rainbows material that provided the highlights. Turning up at Glastonbury and neglecting earlier fan favourites takes a lot of balls, but it is this willingness to push forward and take risks that makes Radiohead a truly great band.
From opener Lotus Flower, to set list highlight The Daily Mail, the band sounded energised and full of life. The few of us lucky enough to be at the front could feel the passion pouring off of them and, for such a tiny guy, Thom Yorke has a massive stage presence. His comment that they were the “budget U2” in retrospect seems somehow off mark especially after Bono’s akward lack of stage presence. In all honesty they made U2 seem like a “budget Radiohead”.
Seeing a band as big as Radiohead in such an intimate setting playing exactly what they wanted was such a rare treat. Apart from a drunken evening spent in Shang-ri La, I personally cannot think of a bigger highlight to this years festival.
‘Morning Mr. Magpie’
‘Little By Little’
‘All I Need’
‘Give Up The Ghost’
‘I Might Be Wrong’
‘The Daily Mail’
‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’
When I first saw the Glastonbury lineup I stupidly agreed with the general consensus that it is a disappointing year (Coldplay and U2? Aren’t they basically the same band?). Uninspired stadium rock and pop is taking over, and the usual Glastonbury spirit is dying. After a second look though, I realised that there is far more to this year than people are giving credit to. After all there is no law dictating that EVERYONE must see the headliners. There is no one there who is going to force people, against their will, to see Elbow and Tinie Tempah. This then, is our top 5 picks for this years festival.
It is easy to pour derision on Bright Eyes. Even his fans would be hard pushed to argue that he didn’t act self important and pretentious. It is testament to his skill as a songwriter that he somehow rises above this to produce such brilliant music. Its not easy to step so close to self parody without (so far) teetering over the edge. At his best his lyrics are pure poetry, full of evocative imagery and barley checked emotion, which (at times) even comes close to the skill of Bob Dylan. He has a great ear for a tune too (one of the best in the indie folk scene) and his set is perfectly placed for an early afternoon sing along.
Love him or loath him, there is no denying Morrissey’s skill as a songwriter and lyricist. With all the controversy surrounding him (partly down to animosity stemming from the Smiths demise) and recent unsubstantial accusations of racism, it is often difficult to separate the music from the headlines. No matter how awkward Morrissey can be, I doubt that even he would perform on the Pyramid Stage without bringing a crowd pleasing set list. This is bound to include both solo classics and Smiths songs making him one of the most unmissable acts of the weekend.
TV On The Radio
Brooklyn band “TV On The Radio” are appearing at Glastonbury in tour of their fifth album “Nine Types of Light”. After 10 years of existence TV have built up a fearsome reputation as a live band and have produced a critically lauded back catalogue. With a likely third day hangover and a severe lack of sleep, an energetic band may not feel such a appetising prospect. TV are such a great band though, they really disserve the last throws of your energy before you collapse into oblivion. Save those hangovers for Monday and Tuesday.
Wu Tang Clan
Ever since Jay-Z’s headlining set Hip Hop has become more and more acceptable at Glastonbury. Of all the Hip Hop acts of the last 20 years the Wu are one of the most influential. Their whole image, lyrics and musical output is so cleverly stylized as to set them apart from everyone else. Kung fu, 40s gangster films and samurai movies (Shogun Assassin especially) produce a more cinematic feel to their music, a nice contrast to boring “guns, girls and money” obsession of the mainstream. Their big hit, Gravel Pit, is hugely popular and the nostalgia it brings is likely to drive the crowd into an entertaining frenzy. A good party starter for the first day.
Battles are another experimental rock group from New York. Their first album Mirrored, was critically worshiped and appeared on many end of the year lists. What makes them such an awesome live draw is that, no matter how experimental they get, they are tremendously danceable. If their new album, Gloss Drop, is as good as their debut they are likely to be one of the weekends major highlights.
There are many other great acts in addition to these five. Robyn and Janelle Monae have produced the two best pop albums of recent times, and Chemical Brothers and DJ Shadow are always good to see. The Glastonbury tradition of having a much loved older act for a Sunday afternoons is fulfilled this year by the majestic Paul Simon.The Horrors, Warpaint, Primal Scream, Cee Lo Green, Big Boi, Wild Beasts, The Walkmen, and Lyyke Li are all well worth seeing too. As usual, we are spoilt for choice.
The full Glastonbury lineup can be found here:
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EMA isn’t very well known yet. If you google her name in the UK you are more likely to find websites on Education Maintenance Allowance, East Midlands Airport and MTV’s European Music Awards. In fact she doesn’t even have a Wikipedia entry yet, and her website figures so low in google ratings as to be near impossible to find (the address is www.cameouttanowhere.com btw). Despite this obscurity she is well worth your attention. Her new album “Past Life of Martyred Saints” is starting to pick up a small buzz on blogging websites, and has received glowing reviews in Pitchfork, Drowned in Sound and NME. The buzz has spread to some broadsheet newspapers, and she may soon gain the success she deserves if introduced to the right audience.
So who is EMA? Well she is a 6ft blonde resident of South Dakota, with an androgynous style and a Thurston Moore indie haircut. Her full name is Erika M Anderson, and she was originally in obscure cult folk/drone band Gowns. Despite their underground status their fame as a live band is well documented, and they became a popular draw in numerous underground American scenes. She has now gone solo and “Past Life of Martyred Saints” is the result.
The album itself has a lot of touch stone influences with PJ Harvey and Courtney Love being mentioned a lot (even by EMA herself) but still manages to sound modern and fresh. There are folky moments, noise rock and electronic parts gelled together by a sustained (but not overpowering) atmosphere of darkness. At times the album recalls Kim Deals work with Sonic youth and at other times the slowcore beauty of Low, but it never sounds like an imitation.For such a low-fi recording EMA invests a lot in production. Her flips between low-fi and high-fi styles builds on the Pixies quiet/loud dynamics, and her dedication to atmosphere is clearly evident. The songs themselves contain multiple hooks, and the lyrics are personal almost, at times, to the point of unbearablity.
Single, and first track, The Grey Ship is possibly the highlight of the album. The slow folky noiserock build up recalls the Sonic Youth classic “The Diamond Sea”, and the final explosive payoff is breathtaking. Second single Milkman is less indicative of the albums style, but still a worthy track. The clanking background sound recalls industrial noiseniks to an almost danceable level as if it could be the final song played in the death disco from hell. Infact this song successfully manages to do what the other acronym named singer, MIA, tried and failed on her last album. Dense industrial beats, personal lyrics and tuneful listenable.That’s not to say ANY of the other songs are in anyway danceable. The album itself is designed to be listened to as a cohesive whole, probably by yourself, in the dark with a whiskey for company.
With an evergrowing wave of goodwill EMA is likely to become a word of Mouth success soon. Listen now and spread the word.
The Past Life of Martyred Saints is available now, and you can follow EMA on twitter at @EMAThorstar.
Visit our website: http://declineof.blogspot.com/