Saturday, 22 December 2012

Quick Album Rundown for 2012

It's hard not to get down with the present state of music, when you've filtered out the cheap throwaway pop and binned the R'n'B the only guitar music on mainstream radio is depressing, slow paced "singer-songwriters" what a terrible genre that has become to stand for. While I have dipped in to that arena from time to time - and let's face it, the best music from most genres is worth listening to but please give me some more rock guitar singer songwriters.

All purchases this year have been of bands already on to at-least their second albums. I think that reflects two things, i) my lack of free time to search out new bands ii) the state of the record industry unwilling to back new bands. So on to the albums I have bought:

Muse - The 2nd Law

Muse continue on the route to becoming Queen. Not an easy task and some of their epic guitar tracks still exist on this album. I have spoken of my love of the track Survival before. Its lyrics may be simple and easy to write but they speak to me as a competitor and someone who likes to win.

Cosmo Jarvis - Think Bigger

Cosmo listens to my feedback and sticks to one genre on this album. Sadly it's more country and western than anything else. Not a bad album just not my cup of tea.

Reverend and the Makers - @Reverend_Makers

Given one star out of five by one past it and heading for extinction magazine you may be forgiven for thinking this isn't the album you were looking for. The band themselves admit the album opener was never due to go on the album. However the whole album has a similar feel. It's like the band left their political worries at home and went to Ibiza. There's still a guitar base but it's like they're trying to head towards a sound similar to The Prodigy. They never reach those highs but it works as an album and is uptempo throughout. Sadly their story telling isn't doesn't reach the heights of previous albums but it is one to own nonetheless.

The Vaccines - Come of Age

For me this is the best album of the year. Catchy, tight, cool. It has it all. I have to admit I thought they were from the US and I think this is where they lose some fans. They are creating a sound that they love but doesn't necessarily mark them out as band that was formed in West London. I don't really care where a band is from if they can make good music. They produced two cracking albums so far, now the pressure is really on for the third.

The Killers - Battle Born

A band that were the greatest slow growers of all time come back with another offering. Their debut Hot Fuss took critics and fans by surprise as it was released to low fanfares but by the end of the year of the following year everybody couldn't get enough. I don't think this album will be the same.

Spiritualized  -Huh? / Sweet Heart Sweet Light

Whatever the album is called it doesn't really matter. It's nice to have some new material from Spiritualized but it fails to reach the highs of Ladies and Gentleman or Let It Come Down.

The Maccabees - Given To The Wild

Having spoken to Schonberg about this band we've come to a similar conclusion. They songs all sound very similar. Not across different albums but each album is filled with songs very close related to each other. Inbreeding didn't work this time.

Keane - Strangeland

I bought this for my good lady with the added benefit of being able to listen to it myself. I've only listened to it a couple of times but nothing stood out for me.

Two Door Cinema Club - Beacon

Sometimes you need to hear more than one album from a band to get a full picture of them. This feels like I've learnt no more - and neither have they.

Call The Doctor - Hands Will Shake

Awesome album. Read the full review here.

So to sum up the year, I've really enjoyed The Vaccines and Call The Doctor, nothing else has really excited me.

Just as a quick after note there were some albums that passed me by where I have previously bought their material include:

Feeder, Rufus Wainwright, Dandy Warhols, Marina and the Diamonds, The Future Heads, Sigur Ros, The Hives, Passion Pit, Bloc Party, The Darkness, Animal Collective, The XX, Ben Folds Five, Greenday, Matt and Kim, Calvin Harris. They all released albums in the last year, can you believe it? Anyone buy any of these? Did you enjoy them? Let us know. I know +John Sills wasn't too impressed with The XX.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

A Bit Like Interpol and The National?

Today we bring to you Cfit and their album Triage. Hailing from Dublin, Ireland - it's such an American thing to put "small place, large place", you guys know where Dublin is don't you? So this band have been compared to Interpol and The National. Well, while they may have some similarities I probably wouldn't put them in that same bracket as those two. Their sound is one with great depth, this comes from all areas of the seven piece including the mix of male and female lead vocals. The whole album is free to download and I recommend you check out the slow building Plausible Deniability below.

Wednesday, 19 December 2012

The Courteeners - Lose Control

So we've had the first play of The Courteeners new track Lose Control and as a big fan of the band I have to say it wasn't what I was hoping for but maybe it will grow on me. You can check out the video below. The single is out 28th January.

Monday, 17 December 2012

New Alphabet by Eels

As the new album nears (5th February) we get to hear another track off the new album. New Alphabet is released tomorrow - 18th December. Check it out above.

Thursday, 13 December 2012


As I commented on Schonberg's last post I suddenly realised I'd been keeping my enjoyment of a track to myself. That track is of course True Romance by London based Citizens!. Not the first band to title their track True Romance, the track by Golden Silvers instantly springs to mind. So to name your track the same within such a short space of time suggests you've got some balls and are proud of your track. And Citizens! should be proud of this track. It came out at the end of last year and at the time it was just another track on a playlist for me but it didn't take long for it to grow on me and really stand out  What a track it is, it hides at the start creeping in to your subconscious until before you know it you're singing (screaming in my case) along to the track. Check out the video above, it's got the feel of a Lynx advert but don't let that put you off. Just like the song it draws you in.

Checking out their web site I listened to some other tracks and I think they've got a bit in common with Frankie and the Heartstrings. I decided to buy the album, you can too by clicking here. At the time of typing it's only a fiver...

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Schönbys 2012 - Best Single

They're back! After a year-long hiatus (well, what would you expect with an end-of-year awards?) the Schönbys are here to shower glory all over the best musical aspects of 2012.

The awards are a fictional vehicle for me to let you know what I've enjoyed listening to during 2012. Winners and nominations are drawn from music I have seen, heard or bought during the preceding 12 months.

First up is single of the year. I find this category difficult to judge, mainly because the kind of track I would normally like doesn't always make the greatest single. A case in point is one of the top 10 below. The Vaccines' offering of Teenage Icon can only be described as a classic single- catchy, high tempo and three minutes long, however I can't have it in my top 5 because it doesn't fit in to my idea of cool. Damn my music snobbery.

The ones that missed out on the top 5 (in no particular order) are:

Sweet Tooth Bird - Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny
Tessellate - Alt J
Theme from Velodrome - Chemical Brothers
Lightning Bolt - Jake Bugg
Teenage Icon - The Vaccines

So, let's count down those top picks of 2012...

5. Mountain Sound - Of Monsters and Men

There's always room for Icelandic indie-folk in anyone's top 5. Mountain Sound is the second single from Of Monsters and Men's debut album "My Head is an Animal", reaching the heady heights of No. 66 in the official UK charts.

4. Simple Song - The Shins

Simple Song just sneaks in the list, released way back in January of this year. The Shins seemed to have crossed the boundary into mainstream when dropping the Sub Pop label and releasing 'Port of Morrow', with a more accessible sound, and the British public responded by shooting the track right up to No. 192 in the official UK charts.

3. Black Doe - Mary Epworth

Officially a re-release of an early single, but sent out again to coincide with Mary's first full-length debut "Dream Life". Mary is yet to trouble the UK charts compilers...

2. Black, White and Blue - Ladyhawke

The electro-pop songstress from New Zealand returned with her follow-up album "Anxiety" in 2012, and this epic floor filler was the first single off it. I fear that I may not fill the same floors regularly frequented by the nation's single-buyers, however, as the track only managed to enter the charts in Belgium.

1. Default -Django Django

Seriously, who buys singles these days? This is a classic song, the first single from Django Django's self-titled debut album. It's funky, catchy, cool and short, with a killer riff. When researching this post I was expecting to find that it reached the top 10 for a brief period in January, but no, another strike out.

I'm looking forward to all your comments on my bad choices, so it's over to you...!

Friday, 30 November 2012

Do You Remember: Says She's Ms Blat?

That was the question Lottie from the band asked me and the answer was "of course". It may have been back in 2010 that I wrote about them but who can forget those slurred New York tones? What I didn't know was that Lottie is a classically trained pianist (or I might have known and forgotten). You can listen to their second album in full and download it, naming your price, at their bandcamp site. If you're too lazy to move web sites then check out their video below.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

2012 - Did You Survive

So as we inevitably head towards the end of year list it is probably a good time for me to squeeze in this reference to Muse's Olympic track Survival. It's been one of the few stand out tracks for me this year and yet I didn't get in to it until after the Olympics and even more disappointingly until after I'd finished my half marathon and all the training that goes with it.  This is just the perfect running track and I really could have done with it around mile 10/11 when I hit the wall. Maybe my time would have been better if I had? Check it out if you haven't already. The album's not bad either although the rest of the tracks are more Queen esq...

Tuesday, 20 November 2012

New Eels Track Gets A Good Response

As I've mentioned Eels a few times on here before I thought I'd mentioned he's got a new track out and a new album to follow. Sadly I haven't got a track I can post for streaming but it is being streamed here and you can pre-order the new album here Don't get too carried away though it's not out until 15th February.

Monday, 12 November 2012

Album of the Year? Call The Doctor - Hands Will Shake

We've featured Call The Doctor a fair few times on this blog in the past and now they've put down on vinyl (or download depending on your age) their work over the years. As their record sleeve says "Hands Will Shake is the product of 4 recording sessions with 5 producers over 2 years...". It really is an album that shows their range and how they've matured as a band. The album nods to the past with live favourites such as For Your Leisure which has a real home recording feel to it and progresses to what I feel is the clear stand out track in Stood Beside Her. This track surely shows that a lot has happened since the band formed with a real emotional element to the track.

I strongly recommend you buy the album, in fact I implore you to buy the album. Back the little guys that are out there making awesome music. Schonberg rated this as his favourite album of the year so far not so long ago - and he's met Steve Lamacq don't you know!

Buy download, buy hard copy.

Saturday, 10 November 2012

The Courteeners New Album

If you've read this blog over the past few years you will know I'm a big fan of The Courteeners. So it was great news to hear they have recorded their new album and it will be out in February. All they are allowing us to hear at this point is a snippet of the first single off the album. I'm reserving judgement until I hear more of their new material. The single Lose Control will be out 28th January with the Album 'Anna' out 4th February.

Thursday, 8 November 2012

The 1975

This band's photos made me laugh. You can just hear the photographer saying, "right to look cool, two of you stand straight up and two of you look away from the camera". It must be hard taking photos of a band and make them look different than the million that have gone before. At least the photographer shaking his head and adding dandruff to the shot brought something else to the piece.

Anyway the music is what we're all about and this was Zane Lowe's hottest thing since the last thing or something like that. Check it out it's pretty catchy.

UPDATE: Last minute arrival in my inbox today (9th Nov) is this remix which you can download...

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Whatever happened to Pushboxer?

OK, so if you're wondering who Pushboxer are then you're probably not wondering what happened to them but they were featured on this blog back in 2009. A lifetime ago in music and so they've done well to be still around in some form or other. They are now called Flutes and despite the name there's no flute I can hear on the track. They still have the same dark broodyness of Pushboxer but I'm guessing it's mainly a personnel change. Check out their track below.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

It's Been A While

Sorry folks it's been a while but hey I've had a half marathon to train for and the small matter of a second daughter arriving. You'll be pleased to hear I got a new personal best - at the half marathon, the baby is of course in equal first place with her sister.

Anyway enough about me, I'm sure you just come for the music. First off Frankie and the Heartstrings have a new single out and best off all it's a free download at their web site. I Still Follow You doesn't break any new ground but is a better representation of the band than the last single.

Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Little Comets - Language Is Over

I always think of Little Comets when the clocks go back (One Night In October) so I was pleased to hear they're still around and making music. In fact I've got a video of their single to share with you and a free acoustic download.

Tuesday, 19 June 2012

White Light Parade - New Album

I was really excited to hear the other day that White Light Parade have a new album out soon. The main reason I was excited was that I didn't know they'd had a debut album out already! I quickly ordered the last album and have now got myself clued up on their progress since I saw them live years ago. At the time I saw them live I bought a four track EP and I really enjoyed 'Wait For The Weekend' which I have since learnt later became a single. They also had their 'Riot In The City' track feature on Grand Theft Auto IV. To give you a guide to their sound, I guess they most closely resemble Hard-Fi but at times can sound a bit heavier, especially on the 'Riot In The City' track.

Below is a remix of their new single which you can download now.

Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Free Download From Reverend and the Makers

I'm pleased to hear that Reverend and the Makers are back and they're even giving away a track as a freebie. The album proper is out on the 18th June and the lead single from the album Wrestler was out yesterday (11th) although I was struggling to find it on iTunes. I've ordered the deluxe album from our favourite tax dodgers at Amazon.

On a separate note it was good to catch up with my old friend Matt at the weekend who said he's read the blog for years. So even if you don't comment, hello to you dear reader.

Friday, 18 May 2012

Cosmo Jarvis New Single and Album

It doesn't seem five minutes since I bought Cosmo's last album "Is The World Strange or Am I Strange?" and now I receive the news that not only does he have a new single out in July but the album is going to follow it days later.

Single 'Love This' (above) is out on the 2nd of July and album 'Think Bigger' is out on July 9th. It seems that Cosmo has listened to my review as the new album is less of a mashup of styles and is more down the "singer songwriter template tinged with alt-country". I'm not sure I wanted him to head down the alt-country route more but let's see what he's got.

Thursday, 19 April 2012

Now for something completely different - Thrash Metal!

This isn't something I'd normally post on this blog and it's certainly not something I'd normally listen to if I'm honest but through somebody I know I have come to know thrash death metallers Flayed Disciple. Known for their 'interest' in serial killers and admiration of Metallica's early music they take their music very seriously. Like a tradesman learning everything about his tools, Flayed Disciple work tirelessly to produce a sound that breathes new life in to classic style death metal.

The video above was shot by upcoming video production company Dead Parrot Productions using pig hearts, guts and lungs. Nice. I wouldn't watch it if you've got a weak complexion.

Monday, 16 April 2012

What Makes An Excellent Mix Tape?

What makes an excellent mix tape? Well awesome tunes obviously but let's take that as a given and while we're at it let's also knock some other factors on the head. A compilation of your favourite current tunes doesn't count. OK 90% of the playlists on my iPod were created this way and some of them I would class among by best 'mix tapes' but there's nothing that special to creating them, do I like that song? Yes. Where should it go on the playlist (up-tempo/favourites at the start and slower/fillers later on) and then they're ready to listen to.

Now let's look at true, creative mix tapes. What are the rules? Surely good music shouldn't have rules? Well actually the rules are what make a good mix tape and you make them up yourself as you go along. First you choose a theme. This could be a mix tape with all summer songs, chilling out songs, songs with ages in the lyrics, songs with years in lyrics, songs from a certain era (eg. Britpop), I even had a mix tape in my teenage years called "Making The Bed", man I must have been some hell raiser in my teens.

Where am I heading with all this? Well last week I had a package pop through the post with a German post mark and all it had inside was a CDR with FAQ written on it. "Perfect" I thought, something to listen to on my way to work and even better I didn't know what was on there (sometimes the best/worst thing about a playlist is knowing what song is coming next).

So I popped in the CD and the first track was "Whatever happened to Corey Haim?". "Ah easy" I thought, FAQ, frequently asked questions, "they're all questions". They came on Deacon Blue and I couldn't quite remember the title of the track but I couldn't work out the question. Then came on "What's the frequency Keneth?" followed by Grandaddy. I knew the title of the Grandaddy track but again it wasn't a question so what's the theme? Was I missing a lyric? Maybe the next track would give it away? "Hey you what's that sound?" by Les Rythmes Digitales and then next one - YES I finally got it. "Whoop whoop it's the sound of the police". They weren't all questions. They were questions and answers.

Soon I found myself listening to the question song and trying to guess the answer. I was devastated to hear the Magic Numbers tell me my jumper was Forever Lost, I laughed out loud (sorry LOL'd to you kids) as Pulp asked "Do You Remember The First Time" and Pet Shop Boys told me their memory was that "Love Comes Quickly".

What a great idea for a playlist and one that on the surface seems so easy to do, but can you make it difficult to guess at the start and then entertain later? I was so sure that Nirvana's question of "Where did you sleep last night?" would be followed by "Hotel Yorba" only to find she was "Somewhere Else", thanks for nothing Razorlight.

So all in all it was an excellent mix tape, it puzzled me, it entertained me and best of all I didn't skip a single track (despite my keenness to find out the answer). So I guess my challenge now is to send one back and anyone reading this, yes you, you should put together a mix tape and pop it in the post. They're great to put together and a good one is even better to receive...

Here's the full track listing. Anyone got any they'd like to add?

Oh and who was the playlist from? Schonberg of course.

Whatever Happened To Corey Haim? - The Thrills
Real Gone Kid - Deacon Blue

What's The Frequency Kenneth? - R.E.M.
AM 180 - Grandaddy

(Hey You) What's That Sound? - Les Ryhmes Digitales
Sound of da Police - KRS-One

Where Did You Sleep Last Night? - Nirvana
Somewhere Else - Razorlight

How Was It For You? - James
In Too Deep - Sum41 (You wish Schonberg)

What You Waiting For - Gwen Stefani
Last Train To London - ELO (I had to Shazam that one, I admit it).

Where's Me Jumper? - Sultans of Ping
Forever Lost - Magic Numbers

Where Have You Been Tonight? - Shed Seven
Drinking In LA - Bran Van 3000  (Could have been Gay Bar, Shorley's Wall or Dog Shit Street?)

Do You Remember The First Time? - Pulp
Love Comes Quickly - Pet Shop Boys

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Best of Bootie

While Schonberg takes a holiday, I thought I'd (belatedly) give you my yearly nod towards Bootie the self proclaimed "Biggest Bootleg Mashup Party In The World". Each year they compile their 'Best of' mixtape covering the best mashups from the previous year. Now anyone who has come across mashups in the past knows there's an element of cheese to them, they don't take themselves seriously and, while there is an element of art and skill to them, they don't provide ground breaking music. However, they can be immense fun and breathe new life in to an old song or make an new hit more likeable.

The two I have picked out from this year's compilation do exactly that, mix new with old and produce something new, and that's the way to approach them. They become new tracks that you learn from new despite their familiarity. The titles tell you all you need to know. Try them and I hope you like them. Check out the rest of the year's goodies here.

MP3: John Marr - Hello Black or White (Michael Jackson v Martin Solveig)

MP3: DJ ShyBoy - Feel Good Feelings (James Brown v Flo Rida v Black Eyed Peas)

Monday, 27 February 2012

Hey Jane - Spiritualized are back!

An eight minute epic called Hey Jane with a na na nar ending. Haven't I heard that something like that before. The answer is yes and no. You certainly haven't heard it coming from The Beatles. Despite the title and track length it doesn't appear to be a cheap counterfeit of Hey Jude. However it is nice and upbeat, certainly for Spiritualized and certainly compared to A&E, their last album 4 years ago.

If you haven't come across Spiritualized before I suggest you purchase Ladies and 'Gentleman We Are Floating In Space' and 'Let It Come Down'. The reason I guide you is that their albums seem to be hit and miss, those two are certainly hits and up there in my favourite albums from the years they were released.

As you will probably appreciate from Hey Jane they're not a singles band and all you can take from one track is a guide to what is to come and I'm excited. The picture above is the artwork believe it or not and the album and single will be out on April 16th.

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Grouplove / Two Wounded Birds - Sheffield Leadmill, 18 February 2012

photo copyright Jamie Boynton (from

It's three years since the last time Jal and Schönberg managed to get to the same gig, but this is what happened last Saturday when Mrs Schönberg was laid up with the dreaded lurgi. The lure of Grouplove and their own brand of indie pop was too much for Jal and as the gig was sold out the offer of a ticket was most welcome.

First up was Two Wounded Birds, hailing from Margate and sounding like a mash-up between the Vaccines and Dick Dale and the Del-Tones. The band seemed to be undecided as to what they want to be; a sub-three minute power chord number would be followed by surfer rock 'n' roll reminiscent of the Pulp Fiction soundtrack. It must be said, however, that both genres sounded good.

The headline act hit the stage with tremendous gusto and never looked back. Their debut album (and a few other songs) were delivered professionally and with great energy - I think even if you didn't like what Grouplove had to offer then you would still enjoy and be entertained by their live performance. I certainly enjoyed every minute, well, except for having to listen to Jal shout out the chorus to 'Tongue-tied' and the like! I think Jal also enjoyed himself, he even set himself the task of meeting the band afterwards to let them know how much he's enjoyed it (see picture below).

So, if you get chance to catch Grouplove during their current tour then take it, you won't be disappointed.

Stream: All we wanna do by Two Wounded Birds
All We Wanna Do by Two Wounded Birds

Stream: Colours by Grouplove
Grouplove - Colours by Atlantic Records UK

Saturday, 18 February 2012

exlovers - Starlight, Starlight

I've just discovered exlovers and the first single 'Starlight, Starlight' from their forthcoming debut album, after listening to the band do a rather nice cover of Chris Issak's 'Wicked Game'. The single is available as a free download on the band's website, or you can stream it here on Soundcloud. The Wicked Game cover is provided below (offered for free download by the band).

Thursday, 16 February 2012

A tale of two CDs

I bought two albums this week. No wonder I've never got any money.

The first was a bit of a Valentine's present for Mrs Schönberg, Lana del Rey's debut offering "Born to Die". What can I say about the album, after two or three listens on the way up to the Lake District this weekend? Well, somehow I was expecting a brooding, ghostly album in a similar vein to 'Video Games'. Instead, there are a few listenable tracks (expect 'Summertime Sadness' to be the next single), but mainly it's like listening to Gwen Stefani in slow-motion. Mrs S seems to quite like it though, so brownie points awarded all round.

The second album was waiting for me on the doorstep following said trip to the Lake District, "Plumb" is the fourth album by Field Music, and I managed to give it quite a few spins on my way to work the following morning. The album is characterised by the first (and second, and third) songs. When Queen wrote Bohemian Rhapsody, it is said that they shoe-horned three separate songs into the one track, with the new Field Music album it seems like the first track has been expanded to three separate songs. The sudden changes in rhythms, tempos and styles throughout the album are quite reminiscent of Bohemian Rhapsody, the music is very well played, is rich in production and is probably best-described by the term 'avant garde'. Following the lengthy intro, the album just gets better. Next up is current single (and free download below) 'A New Town', which goes to show that when they want to, Field Music can write a pretty good indie single. The album is probably best listened to in it's entirety, and probably sounds great live. I'll let you know when I go see them next Monday...

As I write this, the midweek album chart has Lana del Rey at number one, and Field Music new in at number 39. Thank heavens for supermarkets. What's wrong with the mainstream?

Sunday, 12 February 2012

This Many Boyfriends - Starling

It seems like quite a long time since 'Young Lovers Go Pop!', so I am genuinely excited by the news of the release of 'Starling' by This Many Boyfriends.

If you like this sort of thing, then why not go and catch TMB live when they're next in your town? Their current tour is detailed below, but beware, all the Cribs dates are sold out!

23 February 2012 - Manchester - with Allo Darlin', The Deaf Institute
24 February 2012 - Sheffield - with Allo Darlin', Queens Social Club
25 February 2012 - London Popfest - 100 Club, Oxford St
26 February 2012 - Leeds - with Allo Darlin', Brudenell Social Club
28 February 2012 - London - with The Cribs, ULU Live
29 February 2012 - Cardiff - with Allo Darlin', Buffalo Bar
01 March 2012 - Edinburgh - with The Cribs, The Liquid Room
02 March 2012 - Brighton - with The Cribs, Concorde 2
03 March 2012 - Leeds - with The Cribs, Metropolitan University

This Many Boyfriends - Starling by Angular Recording Co

Wednesday, 8 February 2012

Richard Hawley to Headline No Direction Home

Richard Hawley has been revealed as the finale headline act for the No Direction Home Festival to be held at Welbeck Abbey this summer (see here for a blog post on this). Richard is a bloody good musician, with a great and long track record, and he just so happens to support the best football team in the world as well. An excellent addition to the line-up if you ask me.

The Schönbergs will be attending the festival, if you want to join us, visit for details and tickets.

Richard has collaborated recently with fellow Sheffield exponents Arctic Monkeys, wonder if he can persuade them down for the encore?

You and I by Richard Hawley and Arctic Monkeys

Sunday, 5 February 2012

Band of Skulls - Sweet Sour

Do you know, it seems that there is a good reason to write a music blog. Jal has hundreds of emails from bands and labels offering tracks and albums up for review. Some of them are pretty good, others are quite colossal. Band of Skulls release their much-anticipated second album exclusively on iTunes on 7th February, and then everywhere else a week later on 14th February. In order for me to take advantage of having the album a full week before the general public I've given it quite a few spins over the last couple of days, and here's what I think:

Band of Skulls, to the layman, could be considered a bit of a one-trick pony. It's the heavy bass rock anthems that they do so well that people will hear, but the ballads and intricate post-progressive arrangements are the things that they excel in. This is supposed to be a 'dicfficult' second album, but it flows as easy as the band's melodies.

The album starts with an absolute corker, the title track 'Sweet Sour'. Colourful guitar riffs are reminiscent of White Denim, and they continue through to 'Bruises', a song that flits between melodic chorus, quiet verse and metal guitar riffs as well as any 'Smells Like Teen Spirit'. The band rock out as well as Metallica on the first single 'Devil Takes Care of his Own' and 'You're not Pretty But You Got it Goin' On', but can play it cool and calculated too - 'Lay my Head Down' and 'Hometown' are early favourites.

If you want a play-it-by-numbers rock album then go out and buy whatever the Darkness are releasing, if you want some intelligent progressive rock with a bit of variety then this is the album for you. Go out and buy it, so I don't feel so guilty for blagging a free copy!!!

The band have kindly allowed us to post a link to a free download of the title track, below. Thanks to Vic Trubowitch at Vagrant for the permission to post.

Band of Skulls - Sweet Sour

Plus, here's Bruises for you to listen to too

Band of Skulls - Bruises by Vagrant Records

Tuesday, 31 January 2012

January 2012 Playlist

It used to be a long-standing tradition for WWWTM to produce a quality end-of-month playlist of juicy mp3s that were gracing the iPod of our founding father, Lord Jal of the Shire. This short list of what's been doing the rounds on the Schönberg turntable over the last month is by no means a replacement for the classic WWWTM playlist, just wanted to log what I've been listening to. Enjoy (or otherwise)!

Field Music - A New Town

Friends - Friend Crush

Allo Darlin' - Capricornia

Standard Fare - Suitcase

Lana del Rey - Born to Die

Grouplove - Love Will Save Your Soul

Fanfarlo - Shiny Things

Concrete Knives - Brand New Start

The Chameleons - In Shreds

Bleached - Electric Chair

Sunday, 29 January 2012

Concrete Knives - Youth Compass

Did anyone catch Concrete Knives at the Thekla in Bristol earlier this week? If not, pity. This French indie pop band have just finished a (very) mini tour of the UK and are now safely back in their motherland. Their biography says that they are the rightful heirs to the B52s, but I would say that they sound like a poppy version of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, or even a de-folkified Polyphonic Spree. Anyway, have a listen - I'm sure they'll be back to these shores in the near future...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Standard Fare - Out of Sight, Out of Town

I haven't posted much in the last week. This is not because I'm getting bored of posting, but rather because I've been listening to a few new albums that I've acquired in the post-Christmas, early new year lull. They're mainly albums that I've missed out on over the last year, and one of them is so good that I've decided to review it for you.

Out of Sight, Out of Town is the second album from Sheffield Indie-popsters Standard Fare. The album was released under the radar just before Christmas and so did not get enough of a listen to feature in any of the reviews of 2011, but after pretty heavy rotation on the Schönberg decks, I would maybe like to re-do my top albums of the year.

Not unlike Standard Fare's first album 'The Noyelle Beat' this album is full of whimsical indie pop, reminiscent of the 'C86' movement in the late eighties. In fact, the first song, 'The Look of Lust' is very much in the vein of "life's a riot" era Billy Bragg, a slow-burning start before the indie floor-filler that could be 051107. It is with this song that you realise that this second album marks a step up for Standard Fare - gone (but not forgotten) is the DIY, jam-in-the-bedroom production to be replaced by something so much more produced. This could be the breakthrough...

The real allure for me is Emma Kupa's (Cooper?) vocals. I would describe her sound as always on the edge, be it the edge of a scream, or breaking down into tears, but always evoking emotion as she sings tales of relationships and love and loss. And when her voice is accompanied by guitarist Danny How, then the clash is fantastic. Dead Futures is a great example, the chorus of 'b.. b.. b.. bite my tongue' and the bouncy melodies is akin to an edgy Belle and Sebastian. Emma's vocals can be mellow and soothing too - the low-key "Darth Vader" has her consoling over what must be a U2-inspired bass and drum beat (well, it sounds an awful like '40' to me).
So, all in all a great many really catchy indie pop tunes in there, in fact I'm amazed that they haven't already been booked to support The Wedding Present later this year when they tour the 21st anniversary of 'Seamonsters'. This album shows Standard Fare's graduation from their under-produced, quirky first album (which was incidentally also very good) to indie mainstream hopefuls. There's a new movement of C86-style whimsical indie pop coming, and Standard Fare will be right at the forefront.

051107 by Standard Fare

Thursday, 19 January 2012

No Direction Home

The time has come for Mr and Mrs Schönberg to indoctrinate the Schönberiños by subjecting them to their first music festival. Actually, what I mean is first festival in a field with tents and chemical toilets and stuff like that, because they've already experienced the rather excellent Tramlines festival held in downtown Sheffield. And really, this festival will be nothing like my first experience of a festival all those years ago at Reading. The No Direction Home festival is an off-shoot of the family-friendly 'End of the Road' a boutique festival held each year in Dorset. No Direction Home is the new Northern counterpart, to be held for the first time in 2012 at Welbeck Abbey, on the outskirts of Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire.

The first round of bands to appear have been released, and I'm expecting more to be named in the coming weeks and months. You can learn more about the festival here. Some interesting bands already confirmed, one I'm particularly interested in seeing is Veronica Falls, but a quick check on their website reveals that they've double booked themselves with Primavera in Portugal! They'd better turn up!

Bad Feeling by Veronica Falls

Monday, 16 January 2012

Fanfarlo - Shiny Things

On the 4th January Marc Riley, on his 6music evening show, played a world exclusive of the new Fanfarlo single. Entitled 'Shiny Things', the track will be taken from the forthcoming second album by the group 'Rooms Filled With Light', and has already been showcased with new album material on the band's recent tour.

Fanfarlo, in my opinion, are the quintessential band for this blog. Mainly ignored by the mainstream in favour of other folk-rock combos such as Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes, Mumford and Sons, etc., the band's debut album in 2010 was an absolute triumph. It seems from this track, and the album opener, Replicate (downloadable from the band's website here), that the band will follow up with yet another great album.

It's taken me four days to write this post, hoping that Shiny Things would appear on Soundcloud to stream, but so far nothing is available so you'll have to make do with this youtube video of the track live at The Mercury Lounge in New York last year.

I've purposefully held off  writing this post in the hope that the track would appear on SoundCloud, and yippee! It has. I've already pre-ordered the album, and listening to this has certainly got me salivating.

Fanfarlo- Shiny Things by MMMusic

Saturday, 14 January 2012

Guitar Bands are dead...

... Long live the Guitar Band?

A recent interview with Jim Chancellor, MD for Fiction Records, revealed that record companies are scared to sign up guitar bands, preferring to invest in other forms of music. The reported interview can be found on the BBC Newsbeat website here.

Apparently there was only one debut album in the top 35 of 2011 from a guitar band (The Vaccines). The interview also cites the fact that only one guitar band made the top 15 shortlist for sound of 2012 as reason to panic.

Shaun Keavney on 6music hit the nail on the head the same morning when he declared that this sort of non-news story rises up every three or four years as music tastes cycle, and a quick search of the internet in trying to find the newsbeat story brought up quite a few, very similar, stories from previous years.

So, what do you think? I certainly would agree that there isn't the mainstream interest in indie guitar music that has been enjoyed around the time of, say, the Madchester scene of the late eighties / early nineties, or the Britpop scene in the mid nineties, but that's not to say that the quality of the movement is any lower, rather the genre is missing that one (or two) great bands to lift the scene into the public eye. I can't see 2012 delivering any such band, but then again sometimes I quite like the fact that the genre is left to deliver good, honest music without having the massive mountains of hype dropped on it by the 'mainstream' radio stations and TV programmes.

In celebration of the institution, here's a track by my favourite guitar band of all time. One, Two, Three, Four!

This Boy Can Wait by The Wedding Present

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Well Did I Do It?

Following in Schonberg's footsteps I attempted to buy 12 albums during 2011. Did I do it? Well as I type this I honestly don't know, so together let's have a look at the albums I bought and see how I got on. As I think it will be close, I'm going to count all albums I bought, whether they were released in 2011 or not - I may revise this if I easily make it!

So first up was Vampire Weekend's Contra which I bought in January. Meh. I last listened to it in June probably tells you all you need to know.

Next, also in January was Two Door Cinema Club. Tourist History is a great pop album, I also managed to see them live. Indie pop live is never as good as rock live plus most of the audience probably couldn't buy alcohol in the venue (18 in the UK). Beware this album is catchy.

Early February saw me purchase My Chemical Romance: Dangers Days... I wouldn't recommend it. Reminded me of Green Days last album. Like Green Day's album it had all the features of the previous album but with none of that special ingredient that makes you want to listen to it again and again.

Thankfully MCR were followed by the perfect antidote, Frankie and the Heartstrings. I know I've mentioned them a few times in the past year but their album got me through some solitary times as I worked by myself for nearly 8 months. I also managed to see Frankie et al live, sadly it was on a rescheduled Monday night and there was a poor turnout. The band and songs were great and were let down by a lacklustre atmosphere.

Their latest single came out on the 28th November. Preview it below.

Frankie & The Heartstrings - Everybody Looks Better (In The Right Light) by Wichita Recordings

Now on to the first album that both myself and Schonberg both bought. No surprises that it was White Lies album Ritual. This didn't get the same kind of play time that their debut album got and I think it's not because the overall album isn't as good I just don't think it has the stand-out tracks that the first album did. There's no Death or Unfinished Business.

The Vaccines is another album we both set our hearts on and I think I was happier than Schonberg, much more the singalong indie rock/pop that's my scene. I've run to this album, I've sang along in the car. Definitely in my top 5 albums of the year. My favourite track is Wetsuit, at a festival it would be awesome with the crowd joining in.

My patience is struggling with Elbow. Album after album I have bought of there's and every time I put a lot of energy in to listening to their albums. I know that all sounds like a chore but I know that if you give them time they will grow on you and become a really comfortable jumper that you put on at just the right moment. However, in a world of instant downloads it's hard to keep putting in that energy when I have such instant gratification at hand with the likes of The Vaccines and plus I've got four other comfy jumpers of theirs that I can put on at any time I want. I'll still buy their next album though...

Now Noah and the Whale was an album I really enjoyed when it came out, with a sound of Tom Petty and a couple of catchy singles that I couldn't get out of my head it was my kind of music. Yet for a reason I can't explain it's not an album I go back to often. I think it's just a bit slow at times without being beautiful or touching. However you look at it though Noah has grown up since his days at the zoo.

The Airbourne Toxic Event I believe are A LOT bigger in the States than they are in the UK. If I hadn't been careful they could have past me by altogether. All At Once is their second album and I love it, it's another one I like running to or driving fast. I particularly the combo of listening to The Kids Are Ready To Die followed by Welcome To Your Wedding Day. Like a great line out of a horror film "and the sign says run". Check it out.

Hard-Fi's Killer Sounds was downloaded rather than bought on CD as it was to be taken on holiday and studied. Sadly my daughter's love of Postman Pat seemed to win out and I didn't get much chance to listen to it. Without a physical CD in my hand I forgot about it on my iPhone and by the time I did remember about it my enthusiasm had gone. It just isn't anything new and if you stand still you go backwards.

Eleven already! I bought The Whip's album purely on the back of the strength of the first album and without expecting another stand-out track like Trash. As I was going to see them live I wanted to give the five "preview" tracks heavy rotation and those tracks came across fairly well, is it as good as the first album? No.

Cosmo Jarvis my main man! The gay, kiddy fiddling pirate/priest (you have to listen to his music to get what I'm on about) comfortably takes me over the finishing line. He's albums not bad, a real mixed bag of music styles and quality. As a debut album it's a good marker in the sand and I have big hopes for his next album, if he can refine his writing skills and choose a sound he is happy with I'll think he'll nail it. We could all be talking about him in 2013.

Kasabian's fourth album Velociraptor! took me by surprise in more ways than one. I'd not heard rumbles that they were about to release another album in what felt like a short time since the last album. It was in fact two years since the great W.R.P.L.A. had been released. It has seen a fair change in style with a more experimental and mellow style and it took some time to grow on me (to be fair all their albums have). Yet now I rank it amongst the best albums of the year. Don't get me wrong they show some of the old style and finesse but anybody who thought they might be getting stale will enjoy this new direction. For me the stand out track is Goodbye Kiss, a real departure from the hard rock of the Kasabian of old but it really shows their amazing range and why they look set to dominate for years to come.

I didn't buy this album but I'm still counting it as it was given to me before 2011 was up. Grouplove were brought to my attention last year with the excellent Colours. A real strong indie track. Then in 2011 Schonberg also ran the Lovely Cup and Tongue Tied tracks past my ears and despite being poppier (Tongue Tied reminds me a bit of Black Kids at times) I put them on my shopping list for January's pay day. Thankfully I didn't have to pay for it and incredibly I've already listened to it more than half the albums on this post. Buy it, you know you want to.

P.S. I did of course listen to other albums over the year, The Strokes, Coldplay, Noel Gallagher, Pete and the Pirates, The Horrors and Foo Fighters amongst others all had their chance but ultimately I didn't buy them for one reason another (I might still buy Noel's). However if I (and Schonberg) have missed some albums that we should definitely bought, let us know.