Saturday, 12 May 2007

Aereogramme (1998-2007)

It is not easy to write a post like this. Although we have yet to mention them, Aereogramme are dearly loved by all three of us at RP. However, just yesterday- 11th May 2007- a statement was released. It began-

"It is with heavy hearts that we tell you all that Aereogramme have decided to split up. Reasons are multiple and complex. It is however fair to say that the never ending financial struggle coupled with an almost superhuman ability to dodge the zeitgeist have taken their toll, ensuring that we just don't have any fight left in us.
We are immensely proud of the four albums that we made over the past seven years. We hope that they continue to grow in your hearts..."

This is not merely a band split. This is not merely the conclusion of some rock'n'roll fable. This is certainly not Take That breaking up in the mid-90s. This is the death of a dream.

Aereogramme are not an easy band to get into. They have never appeared on a hit TV show, soundtracking the lives of gurning yuppies. For many, they were a bunch of angry guys with beards, skulking onstage in venues scarcely bigger than a student flat. For them, Aereogramme are just a band.

For those who perservered, who looked past the lack of image and pretty packaging, Aereogramme became a totem. A band to dream along with when times were difficult, when they needed music that not only pleased the ear, but challenged accepted and tired forms. Music that cut through superficial bullshit and cheap sentiment to leave an indelible mark on those who truly listened.

Over the course of four albums, they created a vast vista of dynamics, instrumentation and emotion. Live, they brought the songs home, concentration etched on their faces as they strived to recreate
the extremities of their art. Their use of sequencers was strange to me- I usually far prefer the spontaneous aspect of live performance- but Aereogramme justified it and made the technique their own.

I find it difficult to continue without sounding like a green hack, hurling hyperbole at some band in an attempt to shift units and copies of their self-interested wankrag. As the saying goes, the proof is in the pudding, and those who choose to scrape past the light soil and get stuck in will find their efforts rewarded tenfold.

They have not finished quite yet- there are touring commitments in Scotland and Germany. They are supporting long-term allies and underground (though this is quickly beginning to change) heroes Biffy Clyro on the Scottish leg of their tour to begin with. Then they are headlining (!) one festival in Germany with some other dates (full details on their Myspace). The real conclusion will be their final headline set in Britain-

16th June 2007- Queen Margaret Union, Glasgow, Scotland.

My advice to those who have read this far is to invest in a ticket and for those who have not heard any of their music to purchase Sleep And Release immediately. There are no MP3s available in this post, though many are easily (and legally) available at their fansite- Saviours of the Underground.

Aereogramme survived for nine long years, an anomaly in a quick-fix, eyes-down world. Even when they were faced with the worst situations- rooms so sparse that some gigs must have felt more like a soundcheck than a performance, hard cold nights in an old van, returning home from tour to no fixed abode and months of scrubbing dishes and digging roads- with steely aplomb, their music sang out to the downhearted, gave them hope that they too could rise above the grim mundanity of everyday life and dream a little further.

That is why I cry when I begin to wonder what life will be like once this band finally cease to create music, but it is also why I will be forever grateful to four hairy men for letting us dream to begin with.

Thank you.


Aereogramme Myspace
Sleep and Release quicklink
Saviours Of The Underground [check the downloads and interview sections especially]
The SOTU board

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

American Gothic.

It's an odd quality in music to draw you into a time and place that creeps you out enough to be completely infatuated with. The past few years have witnessed the birth of a dark and twisted North American 'indie rock'. The kind that makes you feel uneasy, like staring into the painting above and being lost in the pitchfork and gothic revival window frame, the American Midwest in the early 20th Century. Arranged marriage and self sufficient communities, a last innocence before the world wars and technology pounded out through the years.

What's fascinating is that it's creeped into the mainstream climate of both the United States and the UK. It shouldn't have happened, but The Arcade Fire have crashed into the culturally conscious on both continents and it seems people can't get enough of them. Do they succinctly sum up how a generation feels? The new record 'Neon Bible' is quite frankly desolate, a band waking up to the complexities of 21st Century society. It seems a disillusionment has washed over us and no-one's putting up a fight. So resigned to a dreary and dirgey existence. If this is a protest record, then God help us! But there's an anger there, at least that's something to work with. That'll tide me over until the world rebels against technology and regresses into caves..! You can blog with chalk.
Time will tell if this is a band that made a difference.

Download 'Ocean of Noise'
Buy 'Neon Bible'
Visit the website.

Midlake are different in so much as they don't write about today. They don't do social commentary. The last album 'The Trials of Van Occupanther' was almost a concept album, set around a group of settlers surviving in and around woodlands and travelling across vast American landscapes. Musically they recall classic American folk rock such as Neil Young or early Fleetwood Mac. On 'Young Bride' there's a heavy sadness that takes ahold of you and demands you take notice, you're on a wagon and it's winter and she's dying. Joyful, yes? It's ok, the violin will keep you warm.
They recently toured the UK twice and it seems they may be back in July, so look out for dates around then. You shouldn't miss them.

Download 'Young Bride'
The videos of Van Occupanther
Buy 'The Trials of Van Occupanther'
Visit the website.

Band of Horses are a Sub Pop band originating from Seattle attracting a lot of attention with their debut album 'Everything All The Time' released last year. Like the previous two acts there's a soaring melancholy throughout their songs, something to get your teeth into and wistfully ponder over. Perhaps a little more modern sounding, they're appealing to a whole different set of fans than both Midlake and Arcade Fire, having appeared on both The OC and One Tree Hill. 'The Funeral' gets a UK single release on 21st May and it's a lush and epic indie ballad, 'At every occasion I'll be ready for a funeral' drips from the layered instruments and you remember this isn't no typical OC fare. Tour dates to support the single are as follows;

UK Tour Dates
May 20 2007
ATP vs. the Fans
w/Built to Spill, Shellac, Sparklehorse,
and more!!!

May 22 2007

May 23 2007
King Tuts

May 24 2007
The Music Box

Download 'The Funeral'
Buy 'Everything All The Time'
Visit the website.
Go to Myspace.

Sunday, 6 May 2007

Yesterday Went Too Soon

I guess to a large extent music is a reflection of a person and their personality, and therefore as an extension of that, this blog is a reflection of the personalities of the three of us that run it - Ed, Johnny, and my good self.

The younger a person is the more the music they listen to seems to reflect their personality, it’s a simpler more raw listening experience - when you’re young you listen to anything that appeals regardless of quality. Then when you’re older you listen to a better standard of music (if you develop any taste at all).

The first band to capture both your youthful zest for life, and your more mature desire for increasingly credible music remains a firm favourite with most people throughout the rest of their lives, no matter how much their music taste develops or changes.

For me that band was Feeder. I’ll always love Feeder for what they used to mean to me. Everybody I knew was loving Blink 182 and Linkin Park, and I felt I knew more than anybody. Was better than everybody. I’d endure the chats about “Take Off Your Pants And Jacket” at school with a wry smile, then jog home to listen to "Yesterday Went Too Soon" - the breakthrough Feeder album, and better in every way than its predecessor "Polythene".

I cried when Jon Lee killed himself, I’ll remember the moment I heard the news forever. I don’t remember where I was when I heard Princess Diana had been killed, but I remember Jon Lee like it was yesterday. It felt like a death in the family - as lame and pseudo emo-core as it sounds to admit that.

In later years I found out I wasn’t alone in this - with the proliferation of the internet, and indeed Feeder themselves, I realised Feeder weren’t a small underground band like they seemed to be to a young me, and that thousands of people had variations on the same experience as I had.

Even now I like Feeder. I hear the new songs every so often on the radio and - although they’re mostly fairly dull - they remind me of being young. Being excited about music for the first time. I still buy the albums as they come out, even though I know I wont listen to them much. If at all, actually.

I guess we all properly connect with credible music for the first time because of our personalities and how we feel a track we hear on the radio/television reflects ourselves. For me that track was Yesterday Went Too Soon by Feeder.

Walking along the streets with that on my headphones thinking about lost loves, future loves, and even self-love, everything felt ok. I loved the lyrics, I loved everything about it for childish reasons. Yet it was a more mature type of music for me to like than anything that had passed my ears previously.

Three minutes in when Grant’s vocals kick in, even now I get nostalgic. Feel like crying. Y’know, I can kind of see why emo has caught on - if it makes this connection with so many kids, then I guess you have a market. You have sold out tours. You have gold discs.

Hopefully you have a million new fans of more credible music in a couple of years time too, I think there’s chance.

Next up was my first gig - Feeder were playing at a locally hosted Radio 1 Roadshow hosted by Jamie Theakston and Chris Moyles. Feeder and the Manic Street Preachers. Not bad for a first gig, and not bad at all considering it was free. Also playing that day were OPM, of Heaven Is A Halfpipe fame.

From that day, my first ever connection with live music, I remember mostly Feeder playing Buck Rogers. Everybody else I know that was there that day says they remember the Manics. I don’t.

Actually, in truth I remember booing the Manics. I still had a lot to learn about music.

So yeah, this entry wouldn’t be complete with Buck Rogers for your aural pleasure.

"I think we’re gonna make it."


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Official Feeder Site

Feeder On Amazon