Ankit Love – Forever

When I was given this review to do, I wasn’t entirely sure if it would actually be any good. This of course was based entirely on the cover of this album that features a naked man with long hair and facial tattoos looking pensively into the distance. Such terrible snap judgements instantly bring the old proverb of ‘not judging a book by its cover’ to mind, although in this case it was a CD cover. But you get the idea. However within mere seconds of playing this album, I knew I would like, nay LOVE this album. And I do. I truly love this album. It’s glorious. It’s wonderful. It’s warm. It’s funky. It’s the balls….

 

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves here. I’m sure the question on everyone’s mind is just who/what is Ankit Love? This was the third question I had when presented with this CD to review (the first being, “Why is this man naked on this album cover?” and the second being, “Is that a pony tail?!”). Wonder no more! Ankit Love is a man with a mission, and that mission is to “radiate mystical vibrant love all over the world” according to his website. Ok, so that didn’t quite answer the question, and indeed may have sounded somewhat mental to folk (although those who think so have no soul). Born in New Delhi in India, Ankit Love moved to London a child and was schooled there before relocating to Los Angeles to study music and art. And it seems that said studying has paid off, with the release of Forever, his debut album.

 

The very first track of the album, ‘People Are My Favourite Things’, was released last year as a single on iTunes, and it’s a fantastic snapshot of what Ankit Love is all about. It kicks off with some funky bass and piano, something that is littered throughout the album, before Ankit Love himself spits some lyrics at us, his delivery reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers vocalist Anthony Kiedis. Indeed it seems that fellow Californicators Red Hot Chili Peppers are never far away on this album, as many of these songs could sit comfortably on an earlier Chili Peppers record (say Uplift Mofo Party Plan or Mother’s Milk), such is the blend of rock, funk, soul, hip hop and a myriad of other sounds and influences. But make no mistake, Ankit Love is no mere copycat or fanboy. Yes, you can hear his influences throughout (the aforementioned RHCP, James Brown, Parliament, Faith No More and Stevie Wonder are surely among his record collection) but this is a highly unique individual with a unique take on music and the world. With track titles such as ‘Spill The Milky Way’, ‘Lightning Lady’, ‘Mental Revolution’ and ‘Unite+Funk’, you realise that this is a special guy making special music. And when you delve that bit deeper and look at some of his lyrics, you can really see that this is a man who marches to his own funky, sexy beat. Take these lyrics from ‘It Is What It Is’;

“Electric therapy lip connection

a kiss from deep within the lungs

tasting of your respiration

pheromones bouncing on the air”

Or this snippet from ‘Unite+Funk’;

“Music is the super spoon, scoop it yo!

Umm I like that flavour!

Umm I like your taste!

No need to think about it, just move it from the waist!”

Terrific stuff indeed, from a very talented songwriter. And no, I’m not being smart or sarcastic, I genuinely mean it. Listen to these songs and you’ll see just how well the lyrics work.

The masterpiece of the album however is the stunning, breathtakingly awesome ‘Beethoven Burst’. It’s is quite simply amazing. There’s no other word to describe this beautiful, sexy, funking tune. You just have to give it a listen, or better yet head over to Youtube and check out the stupendous video, created and directed by Ankit Love himself (I’ve helpfully linked it for you; click here).

 

So there you have it. Forever is a totally unique and utterly brilliant release, mixing the spirituality of India with the sunshine of California, a musical tour de force that melds funk, soul, rock, hip hop and others into a groundbreaking record that will stay with you long after you’ve turned it off. One of the albums of the year. Amazing.

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He Slept on 57 – Childsmile

He Slept On 57 are a rock trio from Inverness and have been together since 2008, and have been steadily building a growing reputation. They’ve already released two EP’s, Turn Your Back On All You Know and A Glow From The Night Light. They’ve received critical acclaim from the likes of Steve Lamacq and have been building an ever expanding fan base with their relentless touring. Now they release their new single, ‘Childsmile’, available on the 21st of November from iTunes and as a limited run of 100 singles from their online store that included a bonus track.

 

Described by some as being influenced by bands such as Hundred Reasons, Biffy Clyro and Twin Atlantic, He Slept On 57 have a meaty, full rock sound that is tinged with melody and emotion. Not in a terrible so called ‘emo’ way, but in a good Jimmy Eat World type of way. New single ‘Childsmile’ is a great example of their sound and influences. It kicks off with a distorted riff before the entire band implode loudly and cleanly onto the tune. It’s chock full of loud, slow burning riffs and tight, precise drumming that implies upon the song throughout, and even better the singer doesn’t try to take on some American sounding twang but sings in his own voice, sounding very similar to the vocalist from Twin Atlantic at times, an influence they’ve often been linked with. The song takes a downbeat turn midway through before a bass riff motors onto a thrilling finale of explosive drumming and buzzing guitar riffs, with echoing vocals.

 

If He Slept On 57 are to make it to the next level, they’re certainly going the right way about it with this release. It sounds fantastic, is a driving catchy rock song that displays the skill of all involved and is certainly very radio friendly. More songs like ‘Childsmile’ will surely see them arrive in the mainstream sooner rather than later. Good stuff.

Scroobius Pip @ The Tunnels 26/10/11

SCROOBIUS PIP TEARS ABERDEEN APART!

 

Scroobius Pip, for all those who lack ears and have done for the past couple of years, is the hottest sensation around in the UK hip hop/hip rock scene, and has been blowing minds and ears ever since he burst onto an unsuspecting yet needing public with the smash single ‘Letter From God To Man’ with Dan Le Sac. He and Le Sac have been touring extensively since, and have released two albums together, 2008’s Angles and 2010’s The Logic Of Choice. However Scroobius has also toured as a solo artist, firstly to support his debut album, 2006’s No Commercial Breaks and now his latest album, Distraction Pieces, which was released in September of this year. And that tour rolled into Aberdeen on the 26th of October, with a gig at The Tunnels.

 

Supporting Scroobius at this gig was a fine American rapper by the name of B Dolan. Performing on stage accompanied only by a backing track and noose around his neck (yes, he was wearing clothes as well), B Dolan proceeding to let rip with some powerful tunes about a range of topic, all fantastically delivered. B Dolan is well known as an activist (check out his website Knowmore by clicking here) and that was on display here, especially with the song ‘4 Homophobic Rappers’, an attack on the homophobia prevalent in the rap scene, and for that he must get much kudos as it’s something that needs to be said. He also played tunes questioning the death of Wu Tang Clan’s ODB and paying tribute to Marvin Gaye who he described as the ‘best singer ever’. His closing tune sampled MIA’s ‘Paper Planes’. This was fantastic stuff from a vastly talented writer and rapper, and a very sociably conscientious man, and the crowd were well into it. Check out his website and what he does. You’ll be impressed. I am.

 

Coming on stage to a remix of Nero’s ‘Me And You’, Scroobius Pip arrived, a bottle of red wine in hand, before his backing band took their places behind the drums and guitar. They wasted no time and ploughed right into songs from the new album Distraction Pieces, with Scroobius delivering the lyrics in his trademark Essex accent, a rapid fire delivery of poetry being aimed at the grateful capacity crowd. Highlights from the new material included ‘Domestic Silence’, the 3rd track (the name of which I can’t recall) with a blistering guitar solo and the 5th track that sampled Public Enemy’s ‘Don’t Believe The Hype’. Scroobius was then joined onstage by B Dolan for one of Dolan’s song, with Scroobius providing backing vocals and then a piece that seemed to have been written by the pair of them. Both were top notch stuff, Dolan’s American delivery clashing well with Scroobius’ Essex tones to create a unique sound. The crowd were well into this and were bouncing throughout. Things did take a calming turn when there was a jazz interlude, allowing performer and audience alike to draw breath. It didn’t last long, as Scroobius launched into his next song, taking a seat to read from his book of lyrics, seeming like he was giving a sermon with the stage acting as his pulpit. The fervour of the crowd was such that it could have been almost religious. Before playing new single ‘Introdiction’, out on Monday the 31st of October, Scroobius admitted that during the previous song he was a little bit sick, but courageously swallowed it to continue with the show! What a guy!

The show came to end after encore ‘Dreaming’, which like everything else tonight was rapturously received by the energetic and enthusiastic crowd crammed into the venue. Requesting to be surfed out of the venue, a request which was granted by the crowd, Scroobius Pip left above the heads of the crowd, surfing his way to the exit. He went out like he came in; a deity of hip hop and poetry above his loyal subjects. Awesome stuff, a feeling very much shared by Scroobius himself, when he posted the following on Twitter; “God. Damn. Aberdeen?! Early contender for crowd of the tour! Leeds? Newcastle? London? Brighton? You have competition…”

Feist – Metals

Metals is the new album from Feist and is out now. In fact fire over to Feist’s website (click here) and you can stream it for absolutely free!

 

Fans of Feist will know that Feist is in fact Canadian singer songwriter Leslie Feist. She’s been writing and releasing music since 1999, when she released her debut album Monarch (Lay Your Jewelled Head Down). That was followed up with Let It Die in 2004 and The Reminder in 2007.

If you think the name is familiar then it’s probably due to her massive hit song ‘1234’ from her album The Reminder, which featured in an iPod Nano advert, and later was sung by Feist on her appearance on Sesame Street. And for a while, it seemed like this would what she was remembered for in the musical scene. It’s been five years since The Reminder, and reportedly there was an 18 month period during that time where Feist never even touched her guitar.

 

But all that is in the past with the release of Metals, which will now surely free the albatross of ‘1234’ from around her neck. It’s a beautifully crafted album full of painstakingly written songs and packed full of melody and atmosphere. But that’s not to say that it’s all soft sounds and laid back vibes. Indeed the album opener ‘The Bad In Each Other’ starts out with a cacophony of driving drums, guitar and saxophone, with her distinct voice covering the music like a blanket. Indeed other tunes such as ‘A Commotion’ and ‘How Come You Never Go There’ show that she has chops and noise when she wants to bring it. However her more melodic side is always bubbling close to the surface, and tracks like ‘Cicadas And Gulls’ and ‘Get It Wrong Get It Right’ are evidence of this, with some soft strings and piano sounds softly adding to the ambience throughout.

 

Metals is a fantastic release from a musician back at the top of her game, and offers much to the listener who is not familiar with Feist’s work but also has plenty for old fans. Whatever camp you fall into, this is one album well worth repeated listens. Go give it a spin.

Oxjam Aberdeen Takeover 2011 @ The Blue Lamp Saturday 22/10/11

This article was originall written for the Aberdeen Student Radio blog

 

By now you may have heard of the Oxjam Aberdeen Takeover 2011 if you’ve been reading this site or are resident in Aberdeen, but if you somehow missed out on the event or have no idea what it is/was (shame on you!), then what follows is a brief synopsis. Oxjam is essentially the ‘musical arm’ of the renowned charity Oxfam, something we’ve surely all heard of. On Saturday the 22nd of October, 2011, Oxjam put on the Aberdeen Takeover 2011, which basically meant they set up gigs in four venues in Aberdeen to raise money for charity. The four venues were Snafu, Café Drummonds, Tunnels 2, and The Blue Lamp, the venue to which I was posted for reviewing purposes. So to the review we go!

 

The Blue Lamp is known around Aberdeen for leaning towards the more acoustic and folk side of music, and indeed that theme was to upheld somewhat for the Oxjam Aberdeen Takeover 2011 (from now on referred to as the OAT11 as I can’t be arsed typing it all out anymore). The Blue Lamp is a cracking rustic style pub, with soft lighting and even candles on some tables, with wood aplenty (no, not that kind, the actual kind, i.e. from trees). It could be described as ‘warm’ in atmosphere. That’s not a slight against the pub. Anyway, upon entering this fine establishment for a night of musical merriment, I was greeted by the very enthusiastic and lovely Oxjam volunteers, who had been on the go all day yet were still buzzing. Top play to them. After some quick and rather witty chit chat, I took my place at the bar, beer in hand, where I met my rather more glamorous ASR colleague Lucie Douglas. There were to be four bands playing that evening, the first due on at half 7, although we all know that bands never actually go on at the time they’re billed to.

The first band of the night came on at 8pm. They were billed as Jamie Rodden, but Jamie himself told us they’re now The Fool’s Reel. A fine name I must say. And a fine band. They were a great way to open the musical proceedings, replete with fiddle, sounding rather like a more acoustic Arcade Fire crossed with The Waterboys. And they showed they can deal with all sorts, when just a couple of songs in a string broke on the guitarist’s guitar (well clearly). Whilst he fixed it, the drummer revealed that he perhaps may one day join Mastodon as he gave the audience a crushing drum solo. Top stuff. Guitar string fixed, the band ploughed on, only for catastrophe to strike again when the guitar string broke once more. This time we were treated to a fiddle solo, which at first sounded suspiciously like the tune Sir Robin’s minstrels play in the Monty Python film ‘The Holy Grail’ about Brave Sir Robin running away, but then turned out to be more toe tapping, earning full audience participation with everyone clapping along. Sadly due to time constraints that was it for The Fool’s Reel/Jamie Rodden. Still, a fine start to OAT11 at The Blue Lamp.

Next up we had Craig John Davidson, a local musician, armed with just his acoustic guitar and a friend on drums who he introduced to the audience as ‘Paul’. Oh and some rather fantastic bright green trainers. With a musical style that sounded at times like a more acoustic Doors or a toned down Interpol, Craig John Davison is clearly a very talented songwriter, as highlighted on tracks such as ‘All In Song’, ‘Here But Never There’ and his set closer ‘Way’, but at times it feels like he could do with a more beefed up sound, with a couple of tracks even seemingly crying out for some funky bass. Still, this was a very enjoyable and accomplished performance from a very hard working performer who can be seen at most of Aberdeen’s venues on a frequent basis. Go check him out one night.

 

Following on, Dearstalker were the next band to take to the stage as the venue became busier. The band were comprised of three members, with a guitarist, bassist and singer/percussionist being the three. If percussionist sounds like a derogatory term, it’s not. It’s simply the best way of describing what he did/does. At times playing bongos and other times playing an acoustic box (look it up if you don’t know what that is), it added a very unique feel to the band’s acoustic driven tunes and a very comforting beat. Dearstalker more than any other band of the evening represented the folk and acoustic feel of the venue, with a laid back vibe that was juxtaposed with tight and precise musicianship, a particular highlight being ‘Energy’. Only their set closer contained any vocals, which was something of a surprise when the vocalist opened his pipes, as he’s got a rather good voice. Still, another fine band, even if their set was the shortest of the night.

 

And so to the headliners, The Lorelei. Rumours that they are named after the character of the same name from ‘Gilmore Girls’ are utterly false and were invented by me, although Lucie thought there might have been something in it. With a kilt clad electric ukulele player, how could they fail?! And so it proved, as they showed why they were the (very deserving) headliners with a storming ferocious set that had the venue rocking. Playing like a punk Runrig melded with Rocket From The Crypt, they launched into opener ‘Home’ by demanding that the, by now very large, audience howl. Many obliged. More than any other band of the evening, The Lorelei really got the venue bouncing. The lead singer, looking like a beefier and punkier Olly Murs complete with tambourine in hand, really engaged the audience, asking us ‘Do you feel celtic?!’ before demanding that we tap our legs or, for those who have none, their prosthesis (nice to see inclusion) to what he described as a ‘drinking song’, which was a breakneck tune. Props must go to the old school punk down front who was skanking all night (look up what that means too; it’s a style of dance in case you Google the wrong thing). They ripped through their set, regaling us with what they termed as ‘a country song’ that sounded like The Pogues on speed. The only respite came when they announced the winner to the ‘Guess The Number Of Sweets’ competition the OAT11 folk had put on. But with everyone just about catching their breath, The Lorelei steamed into their set closer ‘Worthington’, with the kilted ukulele player switching to fiddle. A storming tune that got the entire bar up and moving, even your reviewers, it was a fantastic song to close a fantastic set and a fantastic evening of live music at the Blue Lamp. The old school punk even got a dancing partner. The Lorelei stormed the Blue Lamp and are another band you should really check out. Utterly brilliant stuff.

 

And so it was to Tunnels 2, where we managed to catch the end of the fantastic Taco And The Sharpies’ set, before the after party. Which was terrifically good fun, involving some ludicrous dancing and some liver punishing drinking, all to a musically thrilling backdrop of DJ’s Ali Welsh and Steve Milne. All in all, an excellent night full of cracking live music, beer, dancing and good laughs, all of which was for a great cause. If you weren’t there, have a word. And perhaps we’ll see you next year.

The Joy Formidable – Cradle

Ah, The Joy Formidable, a favourite of this writer. In fact they’re so good that their debut album, the excellent The Big Roar, is currently this reviewer’s album of the year, and it’s going to take some beating to dislodge it.

 

You may recall I reviewed The Joy Formidable’s previous single, ‘A Heavy Abacus’  rather favourably, and now with their new single, ‘Cradle’, you might see why their album is so highly regarded.

 

As indeed ‘Cradle’ is also rather magnificent, another terrific slice of rock from the Welsh trio. It’s a short, sharp spiky number, clocking in at just 2.46 long, but it’s more than enough time for it to become firmly entrenched in your memory. In fact from the very first seconds, when a buzzing bass riff and pounding drums kick in with no introduction punctuated with some mean ‘Oooh-ing’, it’s practically digging itself into your brain, establishing a fortified structure from it which it will never be dislodged. This is not a bad thing though, as the song is quite brilliant and if you had any sense you’d simply open up and just let it in. It drives along at a relentless pace, with the aforementioned buzzing bass and pounding drums carrying the tune like a wave carries a surfer. Vocalist Ritzy Brian delivers a fantastic breathtaking delivery throughout, desperately singing line after line in her unique and exceptional voice.

However it’s during the choruses that the song really shines. The band manage to find yet another, higher gear to kick into, and do so with glee. It’s like the build up to the chorus is a rollercoaster on the up section just before the drop, and the chorus itself is the exhilarating descent. The guitar really kicks in, the drumming takes on a more frenzied and frantic beat, with the bass still raging away underneath and the vocals are delivered to a backdrop of more ‘oo-ing’;

“I wish, oh, I wish
I wish the cobwebs would cover me
Cover me, cover me”

 

The Joy Formidable are so good that they make even a song about staying in a relationship when you don’t want to utterly joyous and fantastic. They’ve struck gold with their debut album, The Big Roar, and as noted before they’ve not gone unnoticed with none that Dave Grohl as a fan, so much so that he personally invited them to open for the Foo Fighters East Coast leg of their U.S. tour next month (which includes a date at the world famous Madison Square Gardens). They’ve also performed live on the notorious ‘David Letterman show’ (check it out on their website). Expect big things of this band, especially if their ambitions match their music. Awesome, awesome stuff.

Oxjam Aberdeen Takeover 2011

 This Saturday, the 22nd to be precise, Oxjam will be ‘taking over’ Aberdeen in a musical sense.

 

But what/who is Oxjam, and what do they do? Put simply, Oxjam is the musical arm of the charity group Oxfam, an organisation I’m sure we’ve all heard of. And what they is raise money for charity through music events, like the aforementioned Aberdeen Takeover. For more info on them take a look at their website.

 

So the Aberdeen Takeover which, as I’ve mentioned, is this Saturday, the 22nd of October 2011, is going to be quite the event! It kicks off during the day when there will be a free acoustic set at the Kilau Coffee Shop on Little Belmont Street from local artists Tim Courtney and Steven Milne. Look out for Oxjam collectors around Aberdeen during the day as well; they’ll be the ones with the buckets standing in the pouring rain! Give generously!

 

Saturday night is where it really gets going though! Oxjam will be taking over four Aberdeen venues (I guess that’s why they called it the ‘takeover’ then!). The venues are The Blue Lamp, Café Drummonds, Snafu and Tunnels 2, at which a whole host of different bands and acts will be performing. And for just £7 you can purchase a wristband which will let you into each venue as many times as you want over the course of the night to see whatever bands/acts you desire! Wristbands can be purchased on the night at any of the venues. Not only that, but the wristband gets you exclusive access to the after party at Tunnels 2 which begins at 12 and will feature Ali Welsh and DHC’s Steve Milne on DJ duties. If you don’t have a wristband you can still get in for £2. It promises to comical drunken fun for all. Bring a camera along to snap your mates in various states of calamity! I’ll be there of course, and you can buy me a drink if you like.

 

But to be serious for a moment, this event is all about raising money for charity. The smallest sums of money to us can make a massive difference to others across the world. For just £3 a family can get fresh water, something which we take for granted here but is a privilege to many across the world and can literally be a life saver. For £1000 a library can be built to provide education and a future to young people all over the world. So have fun, but remember that it’s all for a great cause; saving lives.

 

So back to the event itself. Check out the Facebook event and the Facebook page for more details and features on the bands involved throughout the week. And of course it would be rather remiss of me to not tell you what bands are actually going to be performing, so below is a list of what bands are playing at what venues. Please note that all the gigs open at 7pm and the first band will start at roughly 7.30pm. For more info on the bands check the aforementioned Facebook pages or click on the name of each band.

The Blue Lamp

Gerry Jablonski (HEADLINERS)

The Lorelei

Dearstalker

Craig John Davidson

 

Snafu

Katerwaul (HEADLINERS)

Carson Wells

Min Diesel

 

Cafe Drummonds

The Little Kicks (HEADLINERS)

Stanley

Leighann and Jan

The Blitz

 

Tunnels 2

Taco and the Sharpies (HEADLINERS)

Stanley Odd

Taco DJ

 

 

So if you had any plans for Saturday, cancel them! Instead come along to the Aberdeen music event of the year! Bring friends, and their friends, and their friends! See lots of new bands and chat to lots of new people (including your rather handsome scribe!). It’ll be a cracking night, and not one to be missed. DO IT.