About The Cold Cut...

The musings of a teenage audiophile. Indie, Rock, Hip-Hop, Rap, Dance, Dubstep, Garage, Metal... music crosses all boundaries. The Cold Cut is devoted to giving you a taste of what's going on in music at the moment.

About Me

A 17 year old taking his first tentative steps into the world of blogging. In my first year, its been up and down, from the slow first months to a busy time around the one year anniversary.

NME. Pick a band up... then drop it in the dumpster...

That's it. I've had it with this pretentious magazine, picking up a band in their conception and then dumping them when they don't produce the album of the decade.

Everyone needs to know about the harsh game that this magazine has been playing for many years now. Considering NME has one of the best up and coming band sections, good interviews and some other nice features, their only fault lies in their character, and vapid sarcasm. Without a doubt, NME is the most pretentious/facetious publication I have ever read; reading their '3 out of 10' reviews, I can just imagine the writers turning up their nose and sniggering like children. Its not funny, and its not mature. Given that myself, a 17 year old kid, probably has more honour and maturity than your whole magazine put together, now is about the time to clear up your act, before 'Morrissey' incidents become commonplace.

The album that has caused me to snap in such a way is Guillemots 'Red', coming out on 24th March. After praising 'Kriss Kross', the first single, NME gifted this stunning album a paltry 4 out of 10, stating 'If only Guillemots main man Fyfe Dangerfield hadn’t woken up one bright morning believing he could be indie’s Timbaland, this could have been a half-decent return.' Once again NME, you've completely missed the point. And you are alone in this endeavor... all the other reviews (see here and here) I've read state that 'Red' is the pop album of 2008. I will be able to put this matter to rest when I review the album... Oh, and on that point, an album review isn't about who can fit the largest amount of 'literally' advanced words into a paragraph, its about telling people what the album is actually about. Maybe you should take a note out of Q's book, who write content heavy reviews, giving you an actual feel for the album rather than a lyrically bloated and metaphorical look at the inner orchestrations of the album. Take this NME review of an Arctic Monkeys gig:

"By the time ‘This House Is A Circus’s manic skat-rap is bursting from Turner’s lips, there are bouncers peeling the Old Trafford crowd from the clouds. As the Monkeys rattle into ‘Teddy Picker’ they aren’t wrestling this gig from the brink, they’re stitching concrete wings to its back and sending it soaring to God to brag. ‘Mardy Bum’ and ‘Fake Tales Of San Fransisco’ are sung like the Lord’s Prayer by the hoards clamouring at St Peter’s gates."

Bullshit... a total waste of my time. Can anyone actually glean anything worthwhile from this passage?

I have nothing against this magazine as an institution, rather the writers who seem sucked into a vicious circle of helping bands to become massive and then pulling the rug out from under them. I firmly believe that this magazine is so far ahead of the curve that its almost unfair, yet I find myself pitying the bands who appear in their 'Radar' section, knowing deep down inside that in a mere ten months or so they will no doubt be taking a massive fall from grace. If any of you feel the same way, please leave a note. If would drive me insane if I knew I'm the only who feels like this.

Guillemots- Get Over It

NB- Not anywhere as good as Kriss Kross, but its a grower. Repeated listens have the desired effect!

MGMT... and an apology

MGMT- Time To Pretend
MGMT- Electric Feel

It kills me that I think of this blog as a small taste of what's great about music 'now', yet I still miss out some truly brilliant bands, doing some groundbreaking stuff. The time constraints of being at a busy boarding school are the cause of this, but my circumstances don't make it any less painful. The first band I've completely missed out on recently is MGMT (short for management). A web-sensation, this band's popularity has rocketed over through a combination of web-publicity and great tunes, directly converted into sales across the pond.

'Oracular Spectacular' has been out in the US for ages, but the band's UK label held the release until the new year, and I think that was a good idea. MGMT have literally dominated the Hype Machine/Elbows popular lists for the last few months, and not without reason. 'Oracular Spectacular' is an album that's inventive, brave and most crucially, packed full of fun. I'm not averse to a simple tune... MGMT don't dress the songs up any more than is necessary, and are brave in their delivery. This is unashamedly great pop music. 'Time To Pretend' is surely the best song attacking stereotypical rock stars' clichéd lives of snorting coke with buxom hookers. Relentlessly powering through a great bass rumble, this is their best song to date.

Next for me came 'Electric Feel', featuring a throwback synth lick that is truly genius, a retro beat and falsetto. These varied songs are vital to the band's appeal, throwing some curve balls and mixing up the album, which I'm sure will be similarly well recieved in Europe. The band are already starting to make an impact over here, weeks ahead of the album's release. Tomorrow night they're performing on 'Later With Jools Holland', playing both 'Time To Pretend' and 'Pieces Of What'.

The album comes out on March 10th... pre-order it on Amazon. If you want to hear a couple more tracks, head over to the Hype Machine. Visit the band's website for more info.

The Definitive: Mystery Jets

Mystery Jets- Young Love

After 'Making Dens' thoroughly impressed me and I basked in the cool-down, Mystery Jets appeared to drop out of the music world, completely disappearing from magazines, websites and blogs alike.

The band have returned, with a noticeable spring in their step after their self-financed debut sold well. I saw them last year at the peak of their tour, in the Paradiso (Amsterdam), and was pretty blown away by their unique stage presence and quality of their live performance. Blaine, the lead singer, kept still by his spinal bifida, was surrounded by an array of percussion instruments (ie dustbin lids), and the rest of the band whirled around him. The success of 'Making Dens' in the UK created an avalanche which led to the albums release under the title 'Zootime' (a live favourite) in the US.

679 Recordings are the band's label of choice, who are also behind artists including Plan B and The Streets. The album, said to be titled '21', is setting itself up to one of the albums of 2008, with numerous tunes, including 'Flakes' and first single 'Young Love', a luscious slice of indie pop, featuring the always welcome Laura Marling, who keeps conveniently appearing in nice guest spots.

Over the last year, Blaine's father Henry became progressively less involved with the band's live performances, and recently decided to stop performing with the band altogether. He is, however, still involved in the studio work, but has been noticeably absent from their new videos and publicity shots. This is a shame, as he was one of their quirky aspects, setting them apart from the pack.

Regardless, '21' is sure to be another amazing offering from this grossly unappreciated band, and will hopefully see them take their music and stage persona to new heights.

You can pre-order the album on the online store... I would also recommend you watch the great video for 'Young Love':

CRS- Us Placers video

It appears I really missed a trick. The video for CRS' 'Us Placers' has been out since late December, but I only stumbled upon it today, out of the blue. The video itself is further proof that CRS aren't going to be 'just another rap group'. The use of a Thom Yorke sample cemented that fact, and the video goes further, simply by not featuring any semi-naked women, sex or alcohol. Instead, Kanye, Lupe & Pharrell are played by three lookalike children, who rap out the song, with the aid of a young Thom Yorke. Its a nice move, and is already superior to most of the rap videos which appear on MTV Base etc. This wont be the last we hear of CRS, trust me.

Pete & The Pirates- 'Little Death' review

Rating: The first truly great indie release of 2008

My post today will take a cue from the album it's focussed on. 'Little Death', Pete & The Pirates debut album, is solid proof that simple music can still work. This is a big deal considering the majority of popular music is now designed around the idea that 'bigger is better'. That, whilst generally true, does not mean that simplistic music cannot make an impact, and P&TP (as they will be known) make it look effortless.

The success of this album is bigger than that idea, though, and to be honest, P&TP didn't start off well. They chose one of the worst band names in recent history, and as musicians, appear unremarkable at first. When a band's name references a singular person ('Pete', of which there are two in this band), the general reaction would be to discount the backing band, labeling them session musicians. That, however, is not the case here, and their live performances are notoriously brilliant due to the closeness of the five friends from Reading.

Equal measures intense and light-hearted, 'Little Death' works on many levels, and despite a slow section, the album is never boring. The faster songs are mostly dominated by angular guitar riffs and frantic thrashing from the rhythm section, whereas the more heartfelt songs such as 'Ill Love' are more melodic, with a cleaner different mix. 'Knots', the lead single, on the other hand, leaves things jagged, and it's all the more charming for it, with its infectious hooks and licks. Then we have 'Come On Feet', a tune that, as the band put it, is "a fast, jangly punk-infused pop song about shit relationships, dancing and trying to get home". My personal favourite is 'Mr Understanding', a song has withstood more than 10 consecutive plays before becoming tiresome.

Nevertheless, it's not all genius, and the lyrics occasionally lapse into the grey zone, especially in the plodding 'Song For Today', the only song on the album which is considerably longer than 3 minutes. Its no coincidence that this is also the worst song on the album.

This can be easily forgiven, and barring this low point, the album fully lives up to our expectations. Sticking to what they do best, P&TP have played it simply, and it really pulls off. 'Little Death' is a testament to the fact that sometimes, production and complication can go out the window: all you need for great music is some nice lyrics, solid harmonies and a nice gritty riff.

Pete And The Pirates- Mr Understanding

Buy Little Death. Visit their official site, or Myspace.

Estelle ft. Kanye West: American Boy... YEEEEEAAAAHHHHH

Estelle ft. Kanye West- American Boy

Finally. Estelle is about to blow up, big time. I've been sitting patiently, twiddling my thumbs, for years, waiting for her talent to become appreciated. And now the time has come.

'American Boy', the second single from new album 'Shine', is the song which lays it out. Estelle is essentially one of the UK's brightest hip-hop hopes, but she has yet to make it big. The last few months, and the build-up to the new album's release, have been different. The sight of this song at the top spot on the Hype Machine was a great sight, and I even managed to get 'Wait A Minute (Just A Touch)' to number one a couple of months back. These are milestones, and the single already has the makings of a hit, after receiving some serious airplay on UK radio and great write-ups across the board on blogs and in various publications.

The placement of Kanye West on this track is key, and he acquits himself well. However, the story behind this collaboration is more important than the result. In Estelle's own words:

"So then Will pulls out the beat and this is me: 'woooh, let me get down to this one, it sounds like a funky house tune.' And we wrote the song. Then we asked Kanye to be on it, and he said 'let me listen to the rest of the album and see what it's like. He genuinely liked the whole album, so he appeared on the song."

Kanye West's seal of approval is not something to be sniffed at, and I will await the release of 'Shine' on May 6th with bated breath. 'American Boy's physical release is March 24th, and as a download on March 17th. Visit Estelle's site. Do you love the single? Have you been a fan since the beginning?

Yael Naim: Apple Made Her Musical Dreams

Chances are, you will have inadvertently heard Yael Naim by now. Its been nigh on impossible to escape the Macbook Air advert for weeks now, seeing it removed from that manilla envelope. Thinnovation! And the song in the background? 'New Soul' by Yael Naim... and that simply, a star was born, just as Feist crossed over after '1234' was featured in an iPod nano advert.

Yael Naim is a French-Israeli singer whose life has literally been turned around by this advert. She's always had the talent, but as is often the case, talent doesn't always translate into commercial popularity. That has all changed. After the advert first aired, 'New Soul' debuted at #9 in the Billboard chart. Her self titled second album also reached unknown heights, ending its rise at #6 in the digital albums chart. A physical release is coming on 18th March in the US.

Apple value their music, and have the seemingly effortless ability to find songs that fit their adverts, in the process giving great artists a boost. I'm a fan of their products, I'm a fan of their adverts, and now I'm a fan of their music choices as well. How fitting...

Yael Naim- New Soul

To find out more about this amazing artist, see her website here. And a live version for all those who have yet to be converted. Had any of you heard about Yael before her big break?

Inbox Round Up

I'm ill at the moment, so the posts today might not be up to standard. Inbox Round Up is an enjoyable, easy post, and if you would like to be featured here drop me a line at william_hines@hotmail.co.uk

Round of applause- the first band featured today is Ionia, a four piece hailing from New York, who play songs imbued with a mix of powerful rock and metal, with some softer moments in between. Its a travesty that bands such as 30 Seconds To Mars have made it big stateside, when Ionia are essentially a better, more musically talented version of the popular band. 'Rewind' reminds me of an early My Chemical Romance, with its spoken introduction and intense chorus. 'Gasoline Rainbow', however, is the clincher. This song has been whipping up a stir for a while now, not least because it pulls off the impossible trick that Our Lady Peace once made famous: great, massive American pop music that clicks. They seem to be a nice bunch as well, having just returned from a tour down in Costa Rica designed to benefit the the Roberta Felix Foundation.

Ionia- Gasoline Rainbow

Check out their website here, or their MySpace to listen to some tracks. You can also take a look at some footage of their live performances in Costa Rica. Ionia have a new self titled EP out coming out in a couple of months, and I've heard it in full. Take my advice... Cop it!

Next up, The Hysterics. I know I've written about these guys before, but with each release, they only seem to get better and better. And on their second release, 'Radical Chic', some interesting comparisons develop. Whereas 'Mostly Untitled' showcases the bands chilled demeanor, this song is quite simple really, starting off small and ending up big. The band are constantly straining for that extra little bit of volume, and near its peak their lead singer begins to sound like Craig Nicholls of the Vines. We also get our first epic guitar solo, which was well worth the wait. Their self titled debut finally drops on 4th March. I can't wait. For more info, hit up their site.

The Hysterics- Radical Chic

From Frenchkiss Records- rapidly becoming my go to label for exciting new bands- The Big Sleep have a new album out today. 'Sleep Forever', a 12 track second album effort from the New York band, is eagerly awaited. Lead singer (and bassist) Sonya Balchandani is a true master of ghostly vocals, and their debut 'Son Of The Tiger' was a rarity- a brilliant album that arrives with zero hype and far exceeds the critics expectations. The set up is simple- guitar, bass and drums, but the product isn't. Its much more than the plain rock which you would expect, with searing guitar riffs, understated vocals and clever musicianship. Buy the album here.

The Big Sleep- Bad Blood

Visit their website for a preview of the new album...

Downliners Sekt's second album, 'The Saltire Wave' is an eclectic mix of electro and rock. There aren't any vocals to speak of, and to be honest, I can't really explain it any better than the band themselves. On their site, they have a comprehensive FAQ section, outlining their musical background, influences, and most importantly, why the album is free. Its an interesting musical statement, and they make a strong case for the death of the album. The music itself isn't my thing- I prefer some vocals to keep things interesting, but if you liked Burial a lot , this is distantly similar, but a little less interesting.

'The Saltire Wave' is available for free download on their website...

Club NME- Glasvegas 15/02/08

Another day in London, another dirt cheap gig to go to. Two days ago, for an unbelievably cheap £5, I went to Club NME at the KOKO, a great night. The format is as follows: some great indie bands (ie New Cassettes and Glasvegas) interspersed between some DJ sets. It starts at 10, and will go on into the early hours of the morning; I only stayed for Glasvegas, but it was well worth it.

This was a band possessing a sound much bigger than the venue, using the patented 'wall of sound' technique, I'm confidently informed. For the uninitiated, this involves a simple backing setup, and vocals low in the mix. The 'wall' is the guitar/bass, which were amped up to the max, and altogether it produces quite a distinctive, impressive sound. Lead singer James Allen's voice is arguably as good as in the studio, and the backing band were all energetic. Take drummer Caroline McKay, a force of nature, who refuses to sit down, whacking her simple kit into submission, and *they* jiggle all over the place- the audience was mesmerised.

The set was short due to their unfair positioning as a support band- they played all the favourites: 'Daddy's Gone', 'Go Square Go' and latest single 'Its My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry', and I was wholly impressed by their performance. I expect to see the four piece filling major festival slots this summer.

At this point, I will point you to their new website, which is a fitting companion to the songs released thus far

Glasvegas- It's My Own Cheating Heart That Makes Me Cry

Image courtesy of bibabidi.com

50000 Visitors... Many Thanks

Wow. 50000 visitors. Its hard to believe The Cold Cut has only been going for 10 months, but I feel as if this blog is at least beginning to make an impact. I had a few issues at first- I didn't focus enough, but music is quickly becoming an even more important part of my life, and I'm really glad that its the focus of this blog.

I just want to thank everyone who has visited The Cold Cut, from a one-time visitor to those of you who come here everyday. Regardless of your standing, I urge you to subscribe to my RSS feed, tell your friends, spread the word and comment. Your contribution means more to me than you would believe.

It happened very quickly- some pretty cool stuff started happening about 3 months into this blog's life. I've had Dev Hynes of Lightspeed Champion commenting, a producer of Lupe Fiasco's (The Black Mage, or Chris of 'Chris N Drop) new album commenting numerous times, been on Rolling Stone's blog and much more. Lately, I've started to receive loads of band submissions, something I'm truly grateful for- I hope my posts have helped you all in some way or another. My popularity is increasing, with the Hype Machine indexing my blog (I've been number 1 on the popular list about 10 times now!), regular Paper Thin Walls spots and popular posts on Elbows. The page rank is going up as well- just as a side note, if you want to exchange links, drop me a line...

I have serious plans for this blog... I recently bought a new domain, www.thecoldcut.com, which is not functioning just yet, but will soon be up. With the new domain I will keep Blogger hosting for now, but may eventually move to Wordpress so I can integrate a much better template. I've put more advertising on the blog to offset the costs of file hosting- I will hopefully soon be making enough to buy a yousendit premium account.

Thanks for a great 10 months. Long may it continue... This one's for you!

Led Zeppelin- Thank You

Babyshambles, The Courteeners & Beggars @ Carling Brixton Academy- 11/02/08

On Sunday, my friend Mike (of Albion To Arcadia) will be celebrating his 18th birthday. A couple of days ago, to celebrate this event, we went to see Babyshambles, The Courteeners & Beggars at the Carling Brixton Academy in an NME Awards show. These were three completely different, varying acts, and for the purpose of this review I'm going to split them up. This was not an ordinary gig- first of all, it lasted an ache-inducing 5 hours. At 6 PM yesterday evening, a legion of indie kids outfitted in a combination of skinny jeans, leather jackets and day-glo t-shirts descended on Brixton, and 'normal' people like myself (outfitted in a nice, but plain, Esprit jumper and 'phat' jeans) felt a little bit out of place. And so the fun began...


The doors opened at 6, and after an hour's wait, the first act, Beggars, came on. An interesting support act, they were really good, but not always interested. Its a little bit disconcerting that they seem to have it all worked out already, but they had the edginess and potential to get the crowd going. Their drummer was ace and the music worked as an openert- there were a couple of good songs, some great harmonies and a generally solid set. If you want to check out their Myspace, here it is...

The Courteeners
The boys from Manchester did some impressive work convincing me that their album might be pretty good after all. Let me just clear things up, though- they wont change music. Their first album will be solid, from the tracks we heard, and their live act will get better and better. The crowd were up for it, and there were a handful of moments where it all clicked, most obviously on the familiar songs such as 'Acrylic' and 'Cavorting', the former inexplicably left off the tracklisting for their new album, 'St. Jude', out April 7. I was surprised to see that Liam Fray had very little of his trademark swagger on show, repeatedly thanking the crowd for 'this amazing chance'. Your welcome... Check out their website to listen to a couple of tracks.

The Courteeners- Acrylic

Babyshambles were the biggest surprise of the evening, for me at least. I have always been quick to belittle Pete Doherty for his part in the break up of The Libertines, his drug problems and the fact that he cant sing. Last year, I got really bored of seeing his name in the tabloids every day, but his popularity dipped for a few months and he has now returned, a seemingly different person. This isn't the Pete Doherty that embarrassed himself on Friday Night With Jonathan Ross- with the aid of a really solid backing band, Pete put on a great show, and his voice was great. The mosh-pit was ridiculously good fun- one of the best I've been in- with a nice atmosphere and a great venue- the sloped floor is a great idea, apart from everything rolls to the front, including beers, dropped phones and pretty much anything else going.

Their set was a good length, with a nice mix between the heavier songs and the slower tracks. They played 'Delivery about two tracks in, which suprised me, and although I didn't know any of the songs there was still that sense of familiarity. The band were really chilled out onstage, only pausing occasionally to make sure that no-one was getting crushed in the pit. Closing their three track encore with chaotic fan favourite 'Fuck Forever', the set was a great end to a brilliant gig. I've been won over by Babyshambles, and the support acts were great. All in all, well worth it.

Babyshambles- Delivery

If anyone reading this was at the gig, leave a comment. How did you find it? Good time, yeah? Check out this video of 'Fuck Forever'.

Quick Look: Rainydayz Remixes- AmpLive

Rainydayz Remixes is a short album, at 8 tracks long, so I'm not going to run a full review, rather a short look at what it has to offer. First off, what is this album, and who is it by? A while back AmpLive (an Oakland DJ-Producer) began re-tooling 'In Rainbows', starting off with 'Nude' and then moving onto the whole album. He hit a legal wall when Radiohead's management heard, and a legal battle ensued as AmpLive had not asked for their permission to use their material. A few months have passed, and now an agreement has been reached, and the album released. In the spirit of the original release, its free, but its a wonder that this album even saw the light of day at all. You can download it here, from AmpLive's website...

Radiohead/Thom Yorke lend themselves well to remixes- over the last few months we've had CRS using 'The Eraser', Mark Ronson switching up 'Just' and now this. AmpLive applies a hip-hop vibe by pulling in favours from some great guest artists, including Charli2na and Too $hort. My personal favourite is a much improved 'Videotape', featuring the always reliable Del The Funky Homosapien- a huge improvement over the original. AmpLive's own contribution is impressive, chopping the songs to pieces before re-tooling them. On many of the tracks- 'Weird Fishez' and 'All I Need' for example- the remix sounds completely unlike the original, but still cashes in on the quality of the original songs, and the resultant album is sleek, accomplished and well worth your time.

Just as with 'In Rainbows', you would be stupid not to download this- and as an added bonus, you don't have any choice over the price this time around- its free. If you do download it, leave a comment- what do you think of the remixes?

AmpLive- Video Tapez (ft. Del The Funky Homosapien)

Daft Punk & Kanye West: Making the 50th Annual Grammy Awards

Update- Unfortunately, many people are beginning to doubt that it was actually Daft Punk at the Grammys, and also that they were playing live. I stand by the fact that it was them (why wouldn't it be?)- see here for 'proof'- and that they were playing live. Their Alive tour set-up was leaked a long while back, and the Lemur screens were on there. So why do people doubt that they were actually performing live? The 'Harder Better Faster Stronger' sample was on a loop, and they each controlled a variety of different filters and pitch modifiers. Okay, so it looked a little bit theatrical, but it was their first ever TV performance. They had to make it look great, didn't they?

I really picked a bad couple of days to go away (went for a friends bday- a great gig, which I will post about later today)- a couple of amazing albums were apparently released, the Grammys took place and more importantly, I missed Daft Punk's first TV appearance, EVER. And it was so ridiculous...

If Kanye ever performed 'Stronger', they were always going to be there. It had to be special... and it was. We saw more of Daft Punk's stage act than ever before, including a close up view of their set up. 4 JazzMutant Lemur's, each of which would set you back a cool £1600 (or approximately $3200 for my US readers) were shown- the Lemurs, a touch sensitive screen used to manipulate audio output, were used with the looping sample to apply different filters and effects. And yes... it was live. This was a never before seen version of 'Stronger', created specially to mark the event.

And Kanye himself? Unbelievable... with his trademark glasses (now lit up), he was really up for it (after winning 4 Grammys), and it was the performance of the evening. Watch it below, immortalised by Youtube...

Kanye West ft. Daft Punk- Stronger (Live At 50th Annual Grammy Awards)

The LK: Vs. The Snow

Rating: A rare collage of musical styles... that really works

"The LK is the collaboration between Lindefelt, abstract sound artist, and Fredrik, pop visionary and songwriter par excellence. Fusing musique concrète-style collages of sound with iconic pop arrangements, the typical LK song is both gradually mind-invading and comfortingly direct. Recorded with a minimum of equipment, VS. the Snow was built largely by gluing pieces of Lindefelt's abstract sounds, lyrics and voice to Fredrik's simple, beautiful melodies and chords. The resulting 11 (including 1 bonus song for kora) tracks make for a crisp, fuzzy, stylish, melancholy noise-pop cocktail with a human warmth and dark sense of humor."

For the most part, The Kora Records description (above) of their newest signing The LK is on the money. The only thing they missed out is that 'Vs. The Snow' will be invading your airspace over the next few months, and no doubt finding its way onto a couple of 'Best Of 2008' lists. Ever since I first heard their first single, 'Private Life Of A Cat', I have been completely hooked on their perfect blend of Euro pop and electronica. Previously released as The LoveKevins, this new incarnation sees some nicer album packaging, a new track list and a US release under The Kora Records, who picked up the duo after they understandably sold out in Sweden.

'Vs. The Snow' is an album almost perfectly suited to its title- at times intense, at the next ethereal, this is the perfect accompaniment to a wintery day, which I'm sure the duo must be used to, hailing from Malmo, Sweden. Lindefelt and Frederik have created something that, if broken down, wouldn't really amount to much, but when you throw the dark lyrics, lo-fi melodies, abstract instrumental and samples into a musical melting pot, it amounts to much more than the sum of its parts. The songs sit comfortably in the no man's land between alternative pop and experimental music, never venturing too close to the boundaries of known musical genres. I, for one, have never heard anything like it- if you have a soul, songs like 'Private Life Of A Cat' and 'Blakboy Vs. The Snow' will grab you, I promise.

There are a couple of audible high points on this album, but no noticeable dips in quality- songs like 'Eurovision' and the single are brilliant, but the rest of the album does not disappoint, by any stretch of the imagination. With 'Vs. The Snow', we have an album that is the perfect accompaniment to every situation, wrapping you up with its melodies and take you along for the ride. As I said earlier, this album invokes a feeling of warmth whenever you listen to it, which is a rarity in the music world, where most are focussed with constructing the biggest and boldest bass line or beat. A rare gem of a record...

The LK- Private Life Of A Cat
The LK- Eurovision

Vs. The Snow is out on 4th March- get your hands on it here, before it sells out again!

Album sales, and the importance of user generated content...

I would just like to direct your attention to this brilliant article by Ars Technica, concerning the impact of user generated content- and blog posts- in particular, on the performance and volume of sales on an album.

"Blog, Social Network buzz correlates to better album sales"- Ars Technica

The idea isn't really new, but I have to say that its a nice feeling that blogs are starting to become acknowledged as free, and powerful, press. The fact that a couple of scientists sat down and worked this out is pretty cool- "if 40 or more legitimate (written by normal people and not by marketers) blog posts were made before an album's release, sales ended up being three times the average."

Thats a large increase, and the popularity of blogs is increasing, as labels start to send whole albums via internet, free of charge, for us to review. This is the life...

The Dodos- Jody

Frenchkiss Records debutants The Dodos have done it again with their second single 'Jody'. Whilst not quite as infectious as 'Fools', this has done more than enough to convince me that 'Visiter' is going to be a worthy purchase. The drums, as usual, never do what you expect, running slightly off the beat, and the Meric Long blends the guitar melody well with his voice. Who Jody is, we have no idea, but she makes fitting subject matter for the song... again a mouth watering 4 minutes 30 seconds, and at no point boring.

The Dodos- Jody

'Visiter comes out on March 18th, make sure you pre-order it here!

The Dodos have just started a US wide tour, including dates at South By Southwest in early March. Wish I could be there... (*sighs longingly*)

Tour Dates:

Jan 28 9:00P
Mercury Lounge/New York w/ Alberta Cross
Feb 2 11:00P
Union Pool/Brooklyn NY w/ Phosphorescent
Feb 15 10:00p
The Blank Club/San Jose CA w/ The Mumlers, Two Sheds
Feb 28 11:00P
Cafe du Nord/San Francisco NOISEPOP FESTIVAL w/ Or the Whale

March 8 9:00p
The Smell/Los Angeles w/ the Ohsees

March 9 8:00P
The Elephant Bar/San Diego w/ the Ohsees

March 12-16 2008
SXSW/Austin TX
March 19 9:00P
Lola's/Ft. Worth, TX
March 22
The Ballroom/Marfa TX
March 22 9:00P
Mink/Houston TX
April 5 9:00P

Cafe 9/New Haven, CT
April 10 9:00P

Bard College/Annandale on the Hudson NY
April 19 9:00P

Culture Shock Festival at Indiana
April 20 9:00P

Replay Lounge/Lawrence, KS
April 21 9:00P

Hi Dive/Denver CO

Thriller 25

Michael Jackson is a living legend. Okay, so recently he's been busy turning into a weird looking, purportedly kiddy fiddling legend, but that doesn't change the past. A child star like none-other, he pulled off the difficult trick of cashing in on his young talent, and transforming it into a proper career. The rest is history- 7 albums, more than 100 million sales, the moonwalk and the gradual fall from grace. It looks like now, 7 years after 'Invincible', is the time for his comeback.

On February 11th, Thriller, the best selling album of all time, will turn a momentous 25. And to mark the occasion, a commemaritive album is being released, entitled 'Thriller 25'. The album will feature all the remastered versions of the original tracks, plus some new versions of the hit singles. It is a testament to 'Thriller' that a quarter of a century on, it defiantly stands up to the test of time- the 80's retro sound which I usually despise still sounds great. Unfortunately, we already knew that, and its place as the best selling album of all time is pretty much guaranteed- Thriller 25, however, wont be repeating that feat.

I haven't heard the released version of Thriller 25 yet, but I've heard demo's of every track on this anniversary release, and the outlook isn't looking too good for the 'bonus material', included with the special edition CD.

Jackson really needs to wake up. Using artists like Fergie, will.i.am and Akon for your comeback album is a stupid move, given that they struggle to keep their own solo careers afloat. And this becomes blatantly obvious when you hear 'Beat It 2008', a shameful version of the classic which now has Fergie bawling over Michael and the distastefully updated backing track. Even Kanye West stumbles on his re-hash of 'Billie Jean 2008', slowing things down way too much and adding a 'ghetto' beat. This isn't 'Graduation', Kanye, this is 'Thriller'. Will.i.am, as usual, makes the mistake of stepping out from behind the mixing desk. Stick to producing- your version of 'The Girl Is Mine 2008' fares slightly better, but in the right hands, this could have been so much more. The only winner here? Surprisingly, Akon, who really blew me away with 'Wanna Be Startin' Something 2008', where he put his distinctive voice to use (a voice which usually drives me insane, but fits this song). I'm sure many of you will have already heard these tracks, and I'd like to hear your thoughts? Which of the new tracks did you like?

Other than 'Wanna Be Startin Something 2008', these songs reek of a cash-in. Using 'popular' artists to give your image a positive boost is an old trick, and it never works. See Duran Duran, who had Timbaland produce their latest album, Red Carpet Massacre. It bombed. And whilst 'Thriller 25' will be carried by the strength of the original material, its obvious that these extra tracks have been made with the minimal amount of effort and thought.

Its sad that the legacy of this album looks set to be tainted by this pointless release. 'Thriller' is an album to remember, and it frustrates me that this will even be a part of its history. Its obvious that the aim of this is to bring Michael Jackson back into the world's eyes, as a musician, before the release of his new album- which, by the way, is classic Jackson, and its great- but on the basis of this, this could be the commemoration that never happened. The prospects for Jackson's comeback, however, look good: I've heard an early mix of his album, and already its full of classic pop songs, plus Jackson trademarks- high pitched squeals, a retro beat and some accompanying dance moves that I can already picture.

The question is, do we want him back? Has Michael Jackson had his time?

Michael Jackson ft. Akon- Wanna Be Startin' Something 2008
Michael Jackson ft. Fergie- Beat It 2008
Michael Jackson ft. will.i.am- The Girl Is Mine 2008
Michael Jackson ft. Kanye West- Billie Jean 2008

Listen to 'Xcape', a track from his new album, here...


download it here: Michael Jackson- Xcape

Thriller 25 can be pre-ordered here...

Cloverfield- A triumph for innovation (Minor Spoilers)

The Cold Cut was initially started as a cultural experiment, but the general focus was slowly dwindled down until music was crowned king. However, films still hold a place in my heart, and yesterday I saw a film that has provoked such a huge reaction in me that I am considering starting a new section this blog, where I will occasionally write about my theatrical experiences, perhaps with an accompanying song. This is the first of my entries. This is Cloverfield.
Cloverfield is, without a doubt, one of the most innovative films that I have ever seen. Every few years, a film comes along that does something completely fresh in a dead genre. Cloverfield is one of those movies. There have been numerous detractors who claim the 'handy-cam' is a gimmick, and that there is nothing new here. Unfortunately, they are terribly, terribly wrong. Director Matt Reeves and producer JJ Abrams had so much to lose, but this movie is a triumph for the movie industry, especially during such turbulent times. The viral marketing campaign and trailers were great, but they aren't all this movie has going for it (see Snakes On A Plane). So whats different? Well, first off, you have the 85 minute running time, a clever move which keeps exposition to a minimum and also cranks up the intensity. There were numerous points in the film where I found myself turning to my friends and just saying "Holy shit!", quivering with fright and excitement.

Next we have the hand-held camera work, which really does set this monster movie out from everything else that has come before it. For the first five minutes, I was worried about the motion-sickness that many people have brought up in their reviews; after the first shaky moments, however, it really isn't an issue, as your eyes adapt to the motion. Take care, though- I smelt the distinctive scent of vomit on the way out of my screening, and I know that many people suffer nausea and vertigo. For those of you who worry about this, sit at the back so that you have something to focus on if it all gets a little bit much. The final thing that really sets this apart from the creature-feature bracket is that there is very little plot development- you have a monster, you have some characters, and thats it. No back-stories, no explanations, no questions asked. And thats the main reason that this works. It could happen...

The monster itself is the star of this film, and is pretty much indescribable. Introduced without any story or explanation, through teasing glances you progressively see more and more until the big reveal. A tail, a leg, a foot, or one of its parasites, each glimpse has you wondering 'what the hell is that thing?'. Simultaneously disgusting and beautiful, Godzilla looks timid compared to this thing. 'It' is frightening, and after decapitating the Statue Of Liberty, we get Hud's explanation: 'I saw it. It's Alive' and then later on 'What is it?''I don't know, but it's winning'.


The choice to use unknown actors for the protagonists has also paid off immensely, as their is no familiarity. They do their part in the dialog-heavy first 10 minutes, but this is kept to a minimum during the tense scenes, a la 'OH MY GOD'. They aren't there for character development, rather to try an outrun the entity that is destroying New York. Our cameraman, Hud, is reliable in his stupid/hilarious responses to situations, filming so that people 'will know how this went down'. A bit of a klutz, he still manages to hold on to the camera, producing some excellent shots in the most diabolical of situations.

The CGI is perfect, and the seamless interaction between the character and the beast/parasites again holds the tension. There is one truly frightening scene in a tunnel, which I will only hint at: it contains night-vision, and some truly harrowing things. The lack of a soundtrack is a great concept, and it really pays off, emphasizing the serious nature of this situation. This isn't Godzilla meets the Blair Witch Project, this is Cloverfield. This could be real.

Cloverfield's critical reception has been mostly positive, and its no coincidence that most of its detractors lie in the +30 bracket. Perhaps, as well as the motion sickness warning, they should put a warning to the older members of the critique, who have lost their ability to have fun. Simply put, this is a monster movie that is much more than it first seems. It isn't a 5 star film, as the plot has very little development and there isn't enough 'acting' to make this into a film. That, however, is the whole point. You can't compare this to anything else before it, because it is new, fresh and innovative. It will satisfy your needs, whether you just want a fun blockbuster or something much deeper. One of the most enjoyable films I have seen in the last few years, Cloverfield's bravery paid of immensely- now we just have to hope they don't ruin its mystique by making a sequel. Wait to the credits to see... 'Help us! It's still alive!'

Gnarls Barkley- Boogie Monster

And So It Begins

The early bird tickets for Lowlands 2008 have officially gone on sale today. From two years experience at this awesome festival, I will be buying my ticket over the next few days, and I recommend you do too.

Lowlands is a really special festival- with a line-up that could equal Reading or Leeds, great facilities, tasty food and most important of all, nice people, it was my first festival experience, and one that I will always remember.

The tickets are outrageously cheap at this point: an 'early bird' ticket (i.e before the line-up is announced) will set you back €122, and the first 10000 people to buy their tickets will get a further €10 discount. To put this into perspective, for Reading you are looking at around £130 for three days, and Glastonbury £150. The €122 euros for a Lowlands ticket translates into £90, and the other costs associated with a good festival experience are also a lot lower. Shuttle buses from the station are included, and a 'Lowlands' train ticket will cost you €14, from the airport to the festival site and back again. Then you have the food- catered for by a Dutch eatery 'La Place', you can eat what you want, when you want- healthy or junk food, Lowlands will satisfy your every desire.

The build up to Lowlands is always enjoyable, and this year I will be going with an even larger troop of people. Last year, me and two mates arrived first, and saved space for the 20 tents which eventually turned up. All in all, its an epic experience, and I can promise that if you end up going, you will have a great time. Let me know if you end up buying tickets- a meeting could be arranged, perhaps? MAKE LLOW NOT WAR

Lightspeed Champion- Waiting Game