The Hang of Music: Caught Between The Lines

And now for something completely different!

It may all seem like ancient history now, but last weekend was Tramlines Festival 2012, a rather awesome free festival. Don’t worry, I’m not going to write a post describing its virtues and its failings – that’s next year. But while I was there, listening to some good music I’d not heard before, I started thinking about what I could say, to you, about what I’m hearing.

So I’ve interrupted your scheduled reading with this: my review of the free music availible at Tramlines. And some free download/stream links as well.

To start us off, here’s the promotional trailer for tramlines itself, featuring “Call The Regulator” by The Hot Soles, availible on Soundcloud here.

Before I start this, I’m going to say that all (well all I’m gonna talk about) of the music I saw over the weekend was great, and if you get a chance to see or hear any of these acts, you should do it. Nonetheless, I am going to whizz through a bunch of the EPs I picked up/downloaded, as well as wee bit a bit of the live stuff that I saw.

And for the fun of it, I’m gonna go through them in the order that I saw them, hopefully for a bit of context.

And we start with a familiar face!

**** Number 0. Sad Claude ****

Sad Claude are a band I’ve talked about a fair amount on this blog.

So why do they get the dubious honour of being number zero on this list? That would be becuase there’s nothing new for me to review. No free EPs (beyond “Mercy”), no singles to download, nothing. At least I got to see them, though.

Seeing them for the first time, they were taut on stage, they were engaging, and fairly energetic. And If I have one complaint about the gig, it would be that they had nothing new for me. Me, personally! Give me some more music to listen to!



**** Number 1. Brave New Storm – “Life Trees The Sea EP” ****

Ah, the first real review. Brave New Storm are a band I’ve been meaning to see for a while – ever since they were recommended by my friend Ian, whose mate is in the band. Oh, he reeled me in though with the promise of violins. I love me some violins! And as luck would have it, they were sharing a stage with Sad Claude, at OXJAM. And they actually had a CD for me!

So? How were they? No, this is not a gig review. I’m reviewing the CD they gave me – “Life Trees The Sea EP”.

Luckily, I can descibe both their live act and this CD with the one word – sedate. Surprisingly so, considering how their name brings up images of storms clearing away the old. Now you know me – I like my heart-thumping pace, so I (and by extenstion, the band) am already at a disadvantage towards this album.

But despite that, there is a lot of talent present on this EP, and for that I must salute it. A lot of talent and some good violin. Combine all that with a very clear intent by the band to evoke emotion in their songs, then the calm and cheer I feel when I listen says very good things. Bravo!



Reverb Nation:

**** Number 3. Smiling Ivy – “Efficient Waste of Time” ****

Next up, I got my highlight of the weekend -Smiling Ivy are possibly – probably and almost certainly – my favourite local Sheffield act. And what joy! They have a new EP out next month! With a free download off of it, “Efficient Waste of Time”, already availible.

Now, Smiling Ivy are a great band: a fine example of ska, with great, meaningful lyrics, and dancey, catchy tunes. However, don’t take from this that I’m biased and blinded. I’ve seen them a lot, and they’ve done bad in the past (*cough* *cough* battleofthebands *cough*). And their first album, while good, is not without its weak tracks – “Dark Dub” for example, track one, is not very representative of them.

I’m telling you this so that when I tell you that “Efficient Waste of Time” is one of their better tracks. It’s a testament to a good band when you can dance to their newest songs without knowing anything about them. Uusally it takes a while to get used to a song enough to dance. Not here. Bravo guys: I just wish I had the rest of the EP to review!



**** Number 3. Mexanines – “This Is Not A Formal Event” ****

When walking up to the Shakespeare Pub, in preparation for the last band on this list, me and my compatriots heard an interesting noise. After pinpointing it to somewhere round a corner, we began to realise exactly how loud this band was playing. And believe me, that had nothing on the final event, which was fully amped up inside a small wood-panelled room. That is possibly the second loudest musical experience in my life.

Luckily, it was also very good.

One complaint about the gig: afterwards, we asked the lead singer for a CD, which he said he’d give us. But instead he fucked off. If you’re reading this – I still want my CD! So instead, I’m reviewing one of their EPs released a year ago on their soundcloud, “This Is Not A Formal Event”.

And unlike their live performance, which sounded very punk influenced, this EP sounds, more than anything, like Kings of Leon. (As in proper Kings of Leon, not the modern crap they’ve been putting out.) The same kind of crooning and heavy vocal emphasis, and it all being deep. With touches of Them Crooked Vultures and the Kooks thrown in.

One personal thing about the EP: it is long. This is definitely a good thing, as I like to feel that I’ve got my figurative money’s worth. Combine the big bassy sound with four long tracks, and you have a very meaty EP. I recommend.




**** Number 4. ObLONG – “club60 demos masterred”****

Speaking of bassy, greasy tunes, here’s ObLONG – capitalisation apparently crucial. I remember seeing them at last year’s Tramlines, and they’ve apprently

This is another band with no new EPs or CDs for me, so I’ve again had to resort to hunting the internet. This time I’ve come up with “club60 demos masterred”, a collection of demos from I-don’t-know-how-long-ago. I use “demos” in the loosest sense of the word, because they actually sound very polished. Clearly the extra “r” in the “masterring” process really helps!

Anyway, the music: They list Gang of Four among their inspirations. I can hear it, especially on “I Am The Noise”, though I can hear even more B-52s. Other songs have a much heavier, deeper sound. Which is odd, because live, I can only hear a more arty, “Long Blondes but they’s found a bass and the overdrive button” sorts of noises. And while good, I can’t say that any of the songs are hugely memorable. I reckon this album must be pretty old, and if their live show is anything to go by, an EP of their newer stuff would be much more up my street.

Facebook says their in the studio now, though, so they’re clearly already ten steps ahead of me! Score!



Reverb Nation:



Honourable mentions:

  • 65daysofstatic, whom I saw and enjoyed muchly, despite the overuse of drums and drum beats.
  • Rolo Tomassi, who supported 65days, and were much more gripping, even more fun, and put up with a shitton of abuse from a drunken asshole behind us. Fuck you, guy! Anyway, will be downloading.
  • Catch-It Kebabs‘ new outfit, “The Mighty Vipers”, who I missed due to Redhouse being full. CIK are one of the few bands I know that can pull off rap and a brass section, and I hope/assume that their new form will be just as awesome!
  • And an event that me and my friends have alternatingly coined as “the single most important musical event in the last hundred years” and “utter shit”. No, I’m not telling you who it was!

On the whole, a good haul.

And if there’s one thing to learn from this year’s tramlines, it’s this – if you’re playing a free festival, have an EP to give to new fans! On that front, only Brave New Storm and Sad Claude were winning. The other bands have all been around a lot longer, so have no excuses!


Posted on July 29, 2012, in Music, The Hang of Music and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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