Dinosaur Jr have been going long enough now to have become Dinosaur Senior. J Macsis’ thinning hair has a distinct silvery grey hue, his glasses are probably a higher prescription, and bassist Lou Barlow enjoys nothing more than a sit down and a rich tea biscuit. Between taking the grandkids to school they still find time to rock though. ‘Don’t Pretend You Didn’t Know’ doesn’t indulge the band’s usual penchant for huge slabs of overdubbed guitar, instead filling up the sonic space with organ drone and a twinkling piano. Their past selves would be pulling their still thick hair out, but the result is a pleasant indie feel, low fi and relaxed but with a punch to lift into the chorus . You still can’t really tell what the fuck Macsis is singing about, although it’s probably about chicks as usual, but it’s not important anyway. You won’t rock to this like ‘Freak Scene’ or ‘The Wagon’ but it’s perfectly enjoyable, although Lou Barlow still reckons Rich Tea’s are better. Not with a brew though, oh no, not with his bladder.
The Voynich manuscript is a very old book, from around the 15th century. It’s all about plants and herbs, with big illustrations and written descriptions, but all is not as it seems. Firstly, the language the writing is in is a total mystery. Nobody knows how to speak it, or where it came from, let alone what it says. It’s possible it’s some kind of encrypted script, but as yet none of the experts who’ve put their minds to it have managed to crack it. Yet the weirdness increases, as the majority of the plants drawn do not correspond to species of plants we know, nobody has any idea what plants they are supposed to be. The drawings aren’t crap, they’re highly detailed, yet what real life plants they are is an unclear as mud.
Electric Circus, Edinburgh, 9th February, £12
The story of Balthazar’s formation goes some way towards giving you an idea of what they’re all about. Twin frontmen Maarten Devoldere and Jinte Deprez busked as teenagers on opposite sides of the same square. They didn’t know each other, but became aware that they were in competition, and that they were both rinsing and repeating a three song set. The union came with the realisation that two three song sets would become a six song set, and that two voices opened the potential to harmonise. Having become infinitely more successful buskers as a result of teaming up, they have come a long way since.
Glasgow King Tut’s, Wednesday 13 February, 8.00pm, £14
When bands experience a change in line-up, the history books won’t always view it as a positive thing. Can anyone really say that their favourite Iron Maiden songs come from that questionable 90s period when Blaze Bayley was their frontman?
Tarantino is known for avoiding scores for his films and his ability to create the perfect soundtrack himself. His western/slave trade film brings together a mix of western movie classics with some original songs from the likes of Rick Ross and John Legend. The western selections are generally high quality and songs such as ‘Django’ and ‘Sister Sara’s Theme’ are emotive even outwith the film context. ‘Freedom’ by Anthony Hamilton featuring Elayna Boynton is one of the original selections the album offers, and the song features great vocals and the slow beat of the song captures the mix of themes of the film well but remains firmly modern.
The modern selections do a surprisingly good job at fitting in to the album and few songs feel out of place. ’100 Black Coffins’ by Rick Ross may use a modern rap and beat but the effective use of whistling and humming in the background keeps it dark and firmly grounded in Django’s story. “Ancora Qui” is a new spaghetti western style song and while not the best on the album does capture the feel of a western. John Legend’s ‘Who Did That To You?’ is a stand out song from the album, cool and collected it smoothly sums up Django. Jim Croce’s ‘I Got A Name’ does stand out against the themes of the album but is a good song and may make more sense in the context of the film. Django Unchained soundtrack features all the makings of a great soundtrack and the new songs make it well worth a listen.
King Tut’s, Sunday January 20th
The Blackout are back once again, headlining their own UK tour with support from Sonic Boom Six and Proxies. The tour, which sees them play Glasgow’s King Tuts on Sunday 20th January, coincides with the launch of their next single ‘Running Scared’ from their fourth album Start the Party, which is released on the 21st January.
Notorious for their boisterous live performances and a real personality on stage – the band describe themselves as a concoction of ‘Beastie Boys meets Andrew W.K. meets Dirty Sanchez’, the six-piece from Merthyr Tydfil in Wales certainly know how to put on a show. Their mix of high-energy pop-punk and punchy riffs has seen their last two albums – Best in Town and Hope – warmly received by music critics and their latest effort looks likely to do the same, with ‘Start the Party’ making it onto Radio 1’s B List.
When you combine the boys’ enthusiastic stage presence with a venue such as Glasgow’s famous King Tuts you begin to realise that the 20th January will be no ordinary Sunday evening! Don’t miss out.
Trudging round TK Maxx in pursuit of small woollen items for assorted relatives, qmunicate’s resident Grinch was struck by the difficulty of crafting a Christmas playlist devoid of the kind of saccharine, John Lewis-Ad sentimentality, Mariah Carey-esque caterwauling or indie bands doing ‘ironic’ reinterpretations which tends to dominate shop and radio playlists over the festive period. With that in mind, let us dive into the swirling snow dome of minor chords, seasonal references and gin-soaked melancholy that represents a take on Christmas bonhomie for the more discerning listener….
Look, I get it. We’re students. Indie cred is important to us. Once I had finished Ke$ha’s Warrior I had to put on Kendrick Lamar’s latest album just to feel better about my reputation. Then I put Warrior back on.
In a chart that is dominated by dime-a-dozen dance, Ke$ha’s quirky and dirty pop is a relief. The pulsing lights and bassline clichés are all present, but there is something infinitely more raw and visceral about Ke$ha’s approach to pop that makes this a whole lot more exciting than anything else on the radio.
The double whammy of title track ‘Warrior’ and lead single ‘Die Young’ solidifies Ke$ha’s earlier claim that the party don’t start til she walks in, and these tracks are the sound of her kicking the doors down. Both are designed to get inside your head for weeks, and have so much swagger that you will be able to cringe at people striking their best catwalk moves on the dancefloor for ages to come.
To prevent any sort of mid-album lull, a few special guests pop up. On ‘Dirty Love’ Iggy Pop competes with Ke$ha for dominance in what is the most rock ‘n’ roll track of her career so far. Elsewhere, Julian Casablancas unconvincingly tells us he wants to dance with us on the aptly named ‘Only Wanna Dance With You.’
Ignoring the embarrassing ‘Gold Trans Am’, which sounds like a poor man’s ‘Peacock’, by Katy Perry, Ke$ha is on to a winner with Warrior. It’s fun, it’s pop with rock ‘n’ roll sensibilities, and it’s a light relief in amongst the current apathetic pop climate.
Nov 30, Glasgow Arches
Glasgow Arches play host to a huge night of metal as they become the latest stop on Georgia hard rock band Fozzy and Chicago metal act SOiL’s co-headliner tour.
Nov 26, Glasgow O2 Academy
For a band that only came into existence a couple of years ago, The Vaccines have come a long way. The band’s success is evident in the fact that they have packed out the O2 Academy, where, despite three fights breaking out before the first support act has even come on stage, the atmosphere is utterly incredible. A special mention has to go to the first support act, Deap Vally, a female blues rock duo who look vomited straight from the 70s, and channel an odd, yet surprisingly effective combination of AC/DC, Jack White and Dolly Parton, really managing to warm the crowd up.
Considering The Vaccines now have two albums under their belt, their set, at barely an hour long, is a lot shorter than expected, but this does not detract from the fact that what we do get is incredibly energetic and high-quality. The band may not spend a lot of time interacting with the crowd, but they still manage to maintain a good rapport and keep everyone on their feet and dancing throughout. The music itself is mostly fun, punky indie-rock, reminiscent of The Strokes or The Ramones. Bursting onto stage with high-energy number ‘Blow It Up’, they keep this level of energy throughout, and maintain a perfect balance between loud, fast-paced numbers and songs with a more laid-back, acoustic sound. While, at points, their sound runs the risk of becoming a little generic, it is important to bear in mind that this is a band that only formed in 2010, and, though they are clearly still evolving, they’ve come a huge way since then. If we take this tour as a sign of what to expect from The Vaccines in coming years, we have some big things to look forward to.