Friday, May 29, 2009

Upfront ft. Ratatat: A Junk Music Project @ Zouk 28.5.09

On record, Ratatat's unique brand of guitar based electronic synth fest is amazingly electrifying. After watching their live performance, they certainly lived up to that and did not disappoint.

The show kicked off much later than it should be, typical local timing. Around half past 9, the lights dimmed and one word was emblazoned on the projector screen: RATATAT. The crowd response was deafening. Mike Stroud and Evan Mast wasted no time in getting the party started with the tinkering sound of LP3's opener "Shiller". The New York duo did what they do best. Thriving on the enthusiasm of the fans, Ratatat impressed everyone with their layered, structured combo of guitar + synth music perfection. Heart pounding beats and distorted guitar riffs shook the room, with random video footage like multiplying bird heads and distorted version of Paul Simon's You Can Call Me Al with Chevy Chase and fire everywhere being played from the projector to accompany the music. On another note, Stroud is an incredible guitarist to watch, expressing his showmanship as he used every square inch of the stage to dance, jump or bend over backwards.

Much of “Classics” made an appearance, with “Lex” and “Wildcat” being obvious crowd pleasers. There is nothing lack from their latest album, “LP3” as well, which includes the Spanish-flavoured psychedelic "Mi Viejo", "Falcon Jab" and "Flynn". The electronic drum clutter of "Shempi" is one of many highlights. Starting off with the eerie bleeps and distorted guitar effect, the track definitely brought the excitement out of the crowd. Stopping for a sip of beer, Stroud made sure that what didn’t stop was the constant beat, feverishly banging on the bongos after that, with Mast pouding on the tom to bring the set to a climactic end before leaving the stage.

The crowd stayed on anticipating an encore, with the notion that a Ratatat's gig would not be complete without their best known hit 'Seventeen Years'. I even spotted two more songs - 'Bruleé' and the afromentioned hit from the set list, so I presumed the band would come back for an encore to please the punters who were seen chanting 'Seventeen Years' whole-heartedly. When the light was up and the band came out to plead for the crowd to leave, I could taste a horrendous taste of regrets hanging in my throat. Apparently, the band had to cut it short to give way for a notorious 'Gaga' event that took place in the same venue later. It is such a norm to put the mainstream regulars ahead from the minority indie kids that I have no qualm anymore. A word or two to the organiser though, why left us waiting for an hour and half without any opening act where they could have called for the gig to start earlier? They could have estimated the time length of the set to schedule an earlier starting time to avoid the massive anticlimax that took place.

Despite the flaw, the band pulled off a solid show. A decent live act indeed. Good effort from the local organiser for bringing in such amazing band and we definitely hope more follow suit in the near future.

Ratatat - Seventeen Years
Ratatat - Bruleé

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Friday, May 22, 2009

All Kind Words

The Maccabees were always a little bit more than a pigeonholed indie rock band from Brighton/London, like I have said here before when the lads debuted two years ago with the so damn fine 'Colour It In'.

The free download 'No Kind Words' prior to the release already gave us an insight into the band's second offering which is much more carefully crafted and complex than the light-hearted debut. The much anticipated sophomore 'Wall of Arms' has been released on 4th May. As always, the buzzy guitars, quirky lyrics and Orlando Weeks' unique voice are well intact, a welcome familiarity amongst new ground.

As I gave this a couple spins and not skipped a track, soon realised gone are the playful, youthful vibe and lust in 'Toothpaste Kisses', the single that most people know them for. They are replaced with a darker and atmospheric sound unveiled under layers of propulsive guitar and anthemic arm-in-air chants. Despite the shift in tone, these are still perfectly structured pop songs, the essence that made me fell in love with The Maccabees years ago in their short career. I believe people will catch on to this prime indie pop soon enough that you regret for letting this slip now.

The Maccabees - Wall Of Arms
The Maccabees - Seventeen Hands

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Sunday, May 17, 2009

Two Door Cinema Club

Talk about fantastic pop that is short, sharp and brilliantly mellifluous to the tone, Two Door Cinema Club has done it with ease. Hailing from Bagnor, Nothern Ireland, the seaside-based boys are all summery guitar riffs and electronic melodies with a tropical shine.

Apart from that, one of the most impressive things about
Two Door Cinema Club is how they appear to craft such infectious melody with the aid of just a laptop-based percussion. Lead singer Alex Trimble is classified as the beat-maker with his percussive chops, and coupled with bassist Kevin Baird's hooky bass lines and guitarist Sam Halliday's jangly guitar riffs, the absence of percussion has little effect and the trio ends up sounding just as infectious with more hooks than a fisherman's hat.

Every now and then a song comes along and it just stuck in your mind, and "Something Good Can Work", leading off the upcoming
Kitsuné Maison 7 compilation is one of those tunes. A quirky combination of jubilant indie-pop and electro, the subtle melodic additives and harmonical vocals makes the track amazingly danceable. Brilliant work and it will definitely end up somewhere in my top played list by the end of the year. "Hands Off My Cash, Monty" reminds me of The Wombats, which is all pop lovin' cheek fun.

Without a doubt, these lovely lovechild of Phoenix and Vampire Weekend are about to make a proper splash. Watch out for the full-length debut around late 2009 or early 2010.

Two Door Cinema Club - Something Good Can Work
Two Door Cinema Club -
Hands Off My Cash, Monty

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