Gig Review: The XX (W/ Perfume Genius) @ SWG3

By Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

It’s hard to recall the last time there was any updates to one of Glasgow’s many iconic venues: there’s been shifts of course (SECC was previously the go to venue for big acts before the Hydro came along) but nothing notable in the way of evolution.

So when it came to last night’s gig, it marked not only the return of a band that have seemingly defined the 2010’s in many regards but also one of the cities’ most underrated venues being given a steroid boost. As opposed to the usual warehouse being used to host the night’s events, the SWG3 branched outside into an area usually saved for markets and the sorts. With multiple food carts, bars and merchandise tables, it felt like a mini pop up festival that already gave the night a unique flair.

Supporting The XX last night were Perfume Genius, Mike Hadreas’ solo project that has spawned some of the most lavish and lush music of the past few years. While they’re expected to play in a far more intimate venue later on this year, Glasgow’s School of Art on November 2nd, the art pop outfit were very much at home on stage in front of hundreds of ravenous fans. 

Despite the gorgeous aesthetic of not only his music but his wardrobe, the MJ white socks black shoes and leather trousers screamed glam, Perfume Genius hit on some very real topics – touching on sexuality, inner turmoil both physically and mentally as well as hatred that Hadreas has faced, the juxtaposing nature of their music was unapologetically beautiful and had the crowd gasping for more.

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While Perfume Genius put on an amazing show, The XX were the band many had waited hours for or, if you’re like myself, years to see in the flesh. The indie pop act seemingly came out of nowhere on the tail-end of the noughties with their self-titled debut and have been steadily gaining momentum in both the mainstream and niche circles.

Thankfully, the almost 4 year long wait since they last played as a group did not leave anyone disappointed – surrounded by reflective surfaces, resembling the artwork of their recently released I See You, The XX had the foresight of having a stage just as appealing as the music they were playing. A large chunk of new material was played as you can expect from a tour promoting the aforementioned third LP: Jamie was flawless on his transparent platform using his sample driven sound to deliver deliciously layered tracks like Say Something Loving and Lips with Oliver and Romy being on incredibly strong form.

However, the moments the band shined brightest were when the band’s friendship that has spanned more than ten years were on show. Romy’s incredibly personal performance of the aptly titled Performance, an interpretive song that in one way or another touches on depression, leaving the audience covered in goosebumps – this was quickly followed up by an embracing hug between Oli and Romy, a perfect example of the heart that drives this band.

As the set drew to a close, the band swapped up the sombre, melodic sound for a more dancy affair. On Hold, the first single the band had teased this year, was the penultimate track and had the audience in the palm of their hands, dancing away in way not at all unlike the moves you’d expect to see within the SWG3 itself. In a move that was warmly welcomed, Jamie XX played one of the many songs on his debut In Colour that featured Romy, backed up by a beautiful rainbow spectrum swallowing up the stage.

Some may assume that a band making a beautiful transition from album to live would be a bad thing but with how gorgeous the entire night was, there was no complaining: a beautiful tasting light wine as opposed to a harsh, intoxicating one. 

 

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FESTIVAL REVIEW – Gettin’ Glastönbutlered

By Oliver Butler (@notoliverbutler)

The key thing you need to take into consideration with Glastonbury is that it is not your common garden music festival. I mean, first of all, it’s actually a ‘Festival of Contemporary Performing Arts’, which is true, because no matter where you go in those trillion square acres of Somerset countryside, there is always something weird and wonderful going on.

Whilst yer da was at home complaining about how Jeremy Corbyn and Ed Sheeran was on his telly with 6,000 other available channels, there were a million other things happening. People were indulging themselves in ancient cultures, sampling some of the world’s hottest and most loved musical and artistic acts, and slightly overweight music writers were permanently sipping beer as they thought of what they were actually going to say about Glastonbury.

https://twitter.com/notoliverbutler/status/877657321886896129

Sorry to disappoint you, but there’s no perfect way to describe it. As soon as you sweep through the sleepy village of Pilton, Somerset, you’re greeted by sights that would put Disneyland to shame, and it really is Disneyland for grownups. There’s so much whimsy, magic and wonder as you stroll about Farmer Eavis’ Gigantic Farm of Banter, and the view at night from the hill on which the Glastonbury sign sits is unparalleled.

In every sense of the matter, this festival is huge, and the big name bands are merely just a side show. If you spend an entire Glastonbury weekend just watching bands, then buddy, you done fucked up.

However, my job for this website is literally writing about bands, so let’s talk about that, shall we?

Thursday

Old Dirty Brasstards

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2ga25UP2Lt8

Ooooooooh I’m drunk, and these boys are the perfect accompaniment to any decent session. The tweed-clad army of lads play up-tempo covers of some of your favourite pop and rock songs, opening 2017’s set with a beautiful rendition of QotSA’s No One Knows, followed by Taylor Swift’s Shake It Off, David Bowie’s Let’s Dance, and of course, for the stars of Friday’s show, a cover of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android, all expertly communicated through the jovial means of brass and percussion. Without hyperbole, if these boys played a Friday, Saturday or Sunday night, there’s every chance I’d have sacked one of the headliners off to see them. The Brasstards are the perfect feel good start to a weekend of quality music.

10/10

BANDS SEEN: 1

BEERS DRANK: Got a bit hazy around twenty. Went to Pimp My Fries, then strolling around the legendary South East Corner, on the hunt for some good times. Threw up. A lot.

Friday

Oh God. Is it possible to be this hungover? I can just about move my body and that’s to poke my head out of the tent pod’s little window to retch the last of my pimped fries up. Damn you Pimp My Fries. This Friday at Glastonbury is going to suck even more as in the evening, Radiohead, Lorde, Sleaford Mods, Dizzee Rascal AND Clean Bandit all clash. Fuck this festival and the sheer amount of quality musicians on offer.

Nothing But Thieves

They’re nonces, Jim.

Royal Blood

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B8AuiZ0O6Qg

Here’s another hot-as-bollocks band with a second album that’s come out in 2017, which, at first was a bit disappointing, but has grown on me, with live performances of Where Are You Now?, Lights Out, Hook Line and Sinker and Hole In Your Heart strengthening the love for How Did We Get So Dark? 

But it just wouldn’t be a Royal Blood set without jams like Figure it Out, Little Monster, and the almighty Out of the Black closing the set, with a massive cock tease as sticksman Ben Thatcher went into the crowd just before the final riff, only for the camera to pan to LARS FUCKING ULRICH FROM FUCKING METALLICA, maybe nodding to the fact that Lars took over the drums once before whilst Ben got closer to the crowd. However, it wasn’t meant to be, but Christ almighty, what a set!

8/10

The XX

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nhZTexVqRCI

I’ll level with you here. I watched these guys from my chair back at the tent which overlooks the Pyramid, because I couldn’t face standing up for a few hours waiting for Thom Yorke and His Gaggle of Weird Lads to show up. But having never really given them the time of day before, they were very impressive, and their airy, synthy sound was the perfect relaxer for a man with a devastating hangover. However, I did have a can. Lovely.

Look, if you’re looking for someone who spent his weekend sober, whilst sticking religously to his itinerary, trying to review as many bands as he could, you’ve come to the wrong place.

7/10 

Radiohead

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cGFg0FN2yBU

Bucket list band time here gang. Ever since I got my pubescent paws on a copy of OK Computer and The Bends whilst only really knowing the words to Creep, I’ve wanted to see this band, but in my heart of hearts, I knew they’d disappoint me because of how much I wanted this.

The first bar of Daydreaming and there was zero possible way that Radiohead could disappoint me tonight. I was stood around the WORST people, including a group of LadBible fanatics doing keys of MD, a man in slacks and a fleece taking photos of EVERYTHING, a couple who wouldn’t stop fucking kissing and literally Your Dad singing every word of every song but sulking through Creep.

However, the set was perfect, the notable highlight being the eerie silence during Exit Music (For a Film), turning that song from a 10/10 to a 20/10. Songs such as Ful Stop, Weird Fishes, Lotus Flower, Bodysnatchers and Nude made an appearance because I’m Thom fucking Yorke mate. A friend commented that they’ve got to play Pyramid Song because they’re on the Pyramid Stage, and they did! But probably not for that reason, probably because I’m Thom fucking Yorke mate.

Whilst some bands stick to their vanilla setlists to please all palettes, I can’t even work out what flavour this set was. Aged pistachio or something. But when you get Fake Plastic Trees and Karma Police as some of the final accents, it can be whatever flavour you want it to be. Truly one of the best sets I’ve ever seen. Ever.

10/10

BEERS DRANK: Two! Two!

BANDS SEEN: Four. Ish. 

Saturday

Fresh as a daisy mate. Fresh. As. A. Daisy. I’ve probably had 10 hours sleep, and I’m ready to have halloumi for breakfast. I think I had halloumi. Really it’s hard to work out what happened and when, but one thing I can tell you for definite is that Saturday started with…

Jools Holland and His Rhythm and Blues Orchestra

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B6naZMWemDs

No word of a lie, there were fewer bands I was more excited to see this weekend. When he’s not walking backwards in a studio introducing bands, he’s an accomplished blues pianist, bringing boogie to all the land, and with his full orchestra, oh my, it’s a party!

Jools and his guests played a variety of covers, getting an early afternoon audience up and ready, pumping them full of feel good, including a joyful cover of Enjoy Yourself by The Specials, and an appearance from my favourite, the Queen herself, Ruby Turner.

One thing I would recommend is getting tickets to go and see this man. You won’t have a better evening, I guarantee.

9/10

Craiiig David

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vuUZh81B27I

Re-rewind, when I run back to the tent for more beers!

Straight off the bat, Craiiig David was a delight to see, playing a mix of orignal garage, soul and R&B classics, plus a few covers and a TS5 DJ set. It also led to the theory that Bo’ Selecta! did actually ruin Craiiig David‘s life, in that when introducing the stone cold banger that is Rise and Fall, he spoke about coming through adversity and how writing music helped him get through some tough times. Bo’ Selecta! came out in 2002, Rise and Fall came out in 2003. Your honour, no further questions.

But needless to say, Craiiig David had the last laugh, as he’s had a number one album, a UK wide arena tour, played the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury whilst Avid Merrion being about as funny as a haemmorhoid being Keith Lemon. So who won that round? Ya boi Craig did.

8/10

Jeremy Corbyn

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVGFi8balOM

“WOAAAAH JEREMY CORBYN! I don’t give a fuck about him, I voted UKIP” – those lads doing MDMA behind me at Radiohead.

Still never know which way Glastonbury leans. Whilst it’s an inherently left leaning festival in that it used to be a CND festival, it is chock full of Tories, and when they try to mosh, they endager the lives of everybody in that pit. That being said, worst you could do is give them a head injury and create a Lib Dem front bencher.

Oh yeah, Jeremy Corbyn.

It was a rapturous reception for the Labour party leader, with the field surrounding the Pyramid packed to the rafters (there are no rafters in fields, but fuck you) for his address, stirring the souls of every person in that field, giving a lucky young boy named Michael Eavis a signed copy of the Labour manifesto. Well jel. Whilst he was preaching to the many converted, undoubtedly there were a few who couldn’t help but be enthused by his message.

1 billion/10

Run the Jewels

Image result for run the jewels glastonbury 2017

Another tent special. Good guys, good sound, good message.

7/10

Liam Gallagher

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xo_GcOsp4k

Oh my God. This guy is literally Your Dad. He’s in his anorak, trying to sing Oasis coverOH it’s Liam Gallagher. If you were at that gig, please let me know if you were also there, purely for him to say “Oh and by the way, this is my brother Noel“.

In defence of the lesser of the two evils, sound quality plagued the Other Stage for the entire weekend, but the sound quality was still dire, as an anaemic crowd tried to pretend they gave a shit about Wall of Glass. Sure he played Rock n Roll Star, Morning Glory and Slide Away, plus an emotional rendition of Don’t Look Back In Anger, but there was little substance to this set, making the fact I ran out of cans even more upsetting. Jesus.

4/10

Katy Perry

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E5vp6usKX_Y

Caught the last bar of Roar, because it takes 9 years to walk anywhere ¯\_()_/¯

The National

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zBg9xysCYwU

Mad how Jurgen Klopp manages Liverpool and also fronts The National. Top boy all round. Being honest, I’ve got little to no interest in The National and couldn’t work out why they were sub headlining Saturday but the Eaviseseseseses are absolute r/madlads, so you’ve just gotta ROLL WITH IT, GEDDIT?! Oh wait, Liam Gallagher was the last act.

Yeah these guys sounded pretty good, and drew a decent crowd, but I can’t say I’d ever listen to them again.

7/10

Foo Fighters

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I2ER7ChXX6s

The more I think about it, the more I realise Foo Fighters is a ridiculous name for one of the world’s biggest bands, but Dave Grohl could start a band named All My Fans Are Cunts and I’d still lap up every note.

Two years ago I was pencilled in to see the Foos twice in two weeks, once at Wembley, and once at Glastonbury, until Dave selfishly broke his leg. Bastard. So this, in many ways, was a redemption gig. Opening the set with Times Like These, dedicated to Florence from Florence and the Machine, who performed the same song two years ago in their headline slot, you knew it was gonna be a good’un.

The thing about Dave Grohl, much like Thom Yorke, means that little to no fucks are given about setlist content. Which is why cats like Cold Day in the Sun, Wheels and Skin and Bones were thrown in amongst the pigeons of All My Life, The Pretender and Monkey WrenchSonic Highways hit Something from Nothing also seems to be a setlist mainstay these days, which is good, because it’s a high-grade banger, along with medium-grade banger Congregation. Brand new banger Run also got a… wait for it! Run out!

The negative points on this report card? No guests. I’ve seen these guys perform motherfucking Under Pressure with goddamn John Paul Jones and christing Roger Taylor before, but there were no special guests this time. But a cover of Under Pressure performed with Taylor Hawkins doing the vocals so that counts, I guess?

The high point of this set? The Everlong ending. Because quite frankly, if anything could ever be that way forever, if anything could ever be that good again, my word.

10/10

BANDS SEEN: Seven. Ish.

BEERS DRANK: So many. At least thirty. Ended up at a silent disco and a communal sleeping tent that honked of incense. N.B. It was a communal sleeping tent, and not an invasion of someone’s tent. 

Sunday

Hungover as fuck, gotta go load the car, so the first band I saw today was in the late afternoon and it was…

Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2oqXN06ffE

He’d be the first to admit it, but Frank Carter is a bona fide madman, and his Sunday teatime slot with The Rattlesnake just adds to that theory. Clad with pink hair, white jeans and a sheer white shirt, the punktastic prince angrily wrangled his way through Sunday afternoon, stopping to throw an entire bottle of piss back in the face of a lad who threw piss at him first during Juggernaut. A madman. A legend. An idol. Tried to start a circle pit through the whole of the tent. Killers fans weren’t having it. Mugs,

The beauty of a Frank Carter and the Rattlesnakes set is that you’re guaranteed hits, and with Snake Eyes, Jackal, I Hate You and Lullaby being charmed out the snake basket, it was business as usual from an energetic and enthusing set. Another particular highlight was getting a girls-only crowdsurf during I thiiiiiink it was Devil Inside Me, threatening to decapitate any handsy male who tried groping them, stating that we are all equal, to which the Andy Dick looking motherfucker creepily rubbed his hands together when the subject of groping young women came up, and sulked when Frank said that we were all equal. I hope you do get decapitated, pal.

9/10

The Killers

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SRF0q6z60hc

Best part about where we camp is that we can hear about four stages clearly. I heard The Killers. In this same time period, I had violent diarrhoea. Go figure.

Chic

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i2khokvlf_Y

I also heard funktastic disco legends Chic from our tent, which was much, MUCH better, for am I of the opinion that there are few finer guitarists in this world than Nile Rodgers. This set delivered by the bucketload, featuring, Everybody DanceGood TimesLe Freak, fucking He’s the Greatest Dancer, Let’s Dance, GET FUCKING LUCKY, and Good Times. Also featuring a funk off between Nile Rodgers and Jerry Barnes. Jesus Christ.

9/10

Biffy Clyro

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wlPt8C5Fnxk

First things first. Biffy should have headline before Sheeran. They’ve got greater pedigree, more albums, more prowess and more fucking everything than someone playing a small guitar. There. I said it. Although someone leaving Chic was saying “I hate Biffy Clyro, he(?)’s shit, ooh, Courteeners are on”. Confusing.

But then again, Biffy were a wildcard. I’d have never painted a band of their demeanour as Glastonbury sub-headliners but they made sure that they secured themselves a second invitation. Definite 2019/20 headliners.

The set was a mix of old and new, opening with Wolves of Winter and ending with Stingin’ Belle,whist throwing Who’s Got A Match?Bubbles, Medicine, Re-Arrange and Animal Style in between those two delicious slices of bread. Also they threw in Puzzle album track 9/15ths because why not? It’s fucking brilliant.

Seriously though, Biffy delivered in a big way, and proved their worth as certified festival headliners.

9/10

Boy Better Know

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0_BzqnpyVM8

My relationship with BBK is strained at best. Whilst I remember the days before JME and Skepta had albums and were world renown, I just can’t seem to enjoy a live set, and neither did Glastonbury, as barely anybody showed up. To be honest, the only song I really recognised was That’s Not Me, leading me to realise I’m quite behind on the times with BBK, but will forever remember playing songs like Serious and Doin’ It Again on repeat. Sometimes, the past is best left in the past.

6/10, I guess.

WEEKEND VERDICT

Yet again, this magical festival met my expectations and exceeded them. I had a fantastic weekend with quite literally, all my friends, having a laugh, getting drunk and mooching around the numerous exciting and interesting areas, sights, sounds and indeed, smells, this festival has to offer. Sure I could’ve spent my weekend religiously seeing a lot of bands, but there’s no fucking fun in in that. I could’ve been up, bright and breezy to see someone I’ve never heard of who might be alright, but I’d be on my own, or I could’ve gone for a greasy breakfast and had a few cans with my friends.

What I’m trying to say is that music is beautiful, it’s wonderful and it’s lifesaving, but it’s meaningless if I can’t enjoy it with my pals. They’re the real headliners of any festival, and the highlight of any set. I had a fucking great weekend and had gotten my money’s worth by Wednesday evening, because we were all having a laugh together.

So here’s my final review:

My Pals

A great set from the 14-piece roast-and-booze ensemble, notable highlights including Broken Chairs, Stone Colding Beers, Dancing to Bassline Junkie in the Tent and of course, Saturday Night Piss Up. Could never ask for more from an act.

14/10


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Top 10 Albums of 2017 (So Far)

We’ve already given our rundown of the best tracks this mess of a year has provided us with so far and while songs are significant, the art form of the album is one that makes music such a beautiful thing to so many. From emo-folk to hip-hop to glitzy indie rock, the blinkclyro team has put our heads together to come up with the ten best records 2017 has gave us so far. This could have so easily became a top twenty with the sheer amount of quality albums that have been released so far but we had to show a bit of self restraint – we’ll leave the gushing till the Top 25 at the end of the year. So let’s stop beating around the bush and jump right into the main event: don’t get too angry. 

– Liam Menzies (@blnkclyr)

10. The Menzingers – After the Party

According to Greg Barnett of the punk-rock act The Menzingers, there’s a song that was originally meant to appear on a split before all of a sudden “everyone just started falling in love with it”. While it would be easy to point this song out, After the Party contains a lot of tracks that you’ll find yourself adoring due to the band’s integrity being intact while pursuing a more fun sound – though this doesn’t mean that the album avoids touching on any topics that are the antonym of it.

Much like The Dream is Over last year, The Menzingers‘ sublime use of imagery, rock n roll vocals and easy going, fun instrumentals mixed with some smart narratives makes this a must listen to any rock fan.

BEST TRACK: Bad Catholics

9. King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Flying Microtonal Banana

The first of five albums they are planning on releasing this year, and their ninth altogether since their debut ’12 Bar Bruise’ in 2012, Flying Microtonal Banana could be considered a bigger, better and more artistically thought-out version of King Gizzard‘s previous release, Nonagon Infinity.

Unlike Nonagon Infinity, the tracks on Banana are all based on different riffs. In true King Gizzard style, they all blend into one another without a break, but you can easily tell when one song finishes and another begins. If Flying Microtonal Banana isn’t to your taste, don’t worry- they’ll probably have released another album by the time you have finished reading this.

Full review by Nicola Roy here

BEST TRACK: Rattlesnake

8. Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

Pure Comedy is the third album our Holy Father has released, which packs in just as much punchy realism and sheer gorgeousness as predecessors Fear Fun and I Love You, Honeybear, respectively released in 2012 and 2015. Pure Comedy is a beautiful and sometimes harrowing critique of 21st-century life, almost taking the piss out of the internet and the culture surrounding it.

It’s also a grandiose message about the state of current society, especially with lyrics such as ‘I’ve got the world by the balls, am I supposed to behave?’ which could easily be a reference to the leaders of our world who have no clue what they are doing. They’re in it so they can have their white, wrinkly hands on our incredible diverse world by the balls. Our collective balls. Once again we are left contemplating our own existence. Very on brand.

Full review by Becky Little here

BEST TRACK: Total Entertainment Forever

7. Vince Staples – Big Fish Theory 

Staples’ sophomore album sees him at his most confident he has ever been with impressive features but no need for help stealing the show, Vince isn’t once outshined by his featured co-stars on Big Fish Theory, capturing the attention span of the listener throughout the entire album.

With the sound hip-hop has been embracing lately, Big Fish Theory comes as a refreshing, fun listen that can be dove deep into or enjoyed on the surface either way. It’s the young rapper’s best work thus far and brings a wild amount of excitement for his next move.

Full review by Ryan Martin here

BEST TRACK: Crabs In A Bucket

6. The XX – I See You

While there are many changes that are apparent on I See You, what’s utterly remarkable and something that should be commended is the fact that The XX are simultaneously pushing themselves out of their comfort zone while staying true to their humble roots. The sampling on display and subsequent alterations to the sound make it feel like an R&B album more than an alt rock one but the emotional voices that manage to project both passion and insecurities feel so quintessentially XX. There are tracks that feel like they could have been ripped straight off of their debut like ‘Performance’ while others like ‘Dangerous’ and ‘On Hold’ feel like they’ve landed from a parallel universe where the band are far less timid.

I See You shows reminiscing, acceptance and strength, feeling like the most solid chapter in The XX arc but leaving room for the inevitable follow-up to build upon the now strengthened foundations.

Full review by Liam Menzies here

BEST TRACK: Dangerous

5. Paramore – After Laughter

After Laughter is the riskiest album Paramore have ever put out. 2013’s self-titled effort, while great in its own right, felt like the beginning of a metamorphosis for the band. They were gradually becoming a different beast entirely: with songs like Ain’t It Fun and Still Into You, they were starting to shed the “punk” from their “pop-punk” label, opting for an edgier pop vibe, and it worked with those singles being massive successes. 

So, now comes the most important question about After Laughter: did Hayley, Zac and Taylor make the right decision in not listening to the angsty side of their Parafans? (Note: we’re not sure if they’re called Parafans but as far as Jake is concerned, they are now). In short, they absolutely made the right choice. After Laughter is the sound of a band finally making the kind of music they’ve been threatening to for years now.

Full Review by Jake Cordiner here

BEST TRACK: Hard Times

4. Mount Eerie – A Crow Looked At Me

Whilst A Crow Looked At Me is full to the brim with sombre and heartbreaking imagery, one line that manages to evoke the realness of Phil Elverum‘s ordeal comes on the record’s third song. As Ravens concludes its second verse, Elverum’s sulky and trauma-ridden voice project the words “now I can only see you on the fridge in lifeless pictures“. Without context, the lyricism of Mount Eerie still manages to strikes an emotional chord with even the sternest of listeners though being a concept album, A Crow… becomes a different beast when you dig beneath the surface.

While the sound, lyrics, and themes that fuel A Crow…help to make it the magnificent record that is, it’s hard to shake off that what it represents it what helps to make it such a vital listen. That’s not to say that the record is only good because it is about losing a loved one and deserves sympathy points for it, no, not at all. Instead, A Crow… manages to rise above some limitations of music much like last year’s Blackstar: it explores death both depressingly and beautifully, making the issue far more 3D and lifelike despite being solely audio, while also acting as a Memorium to someone special.

Full review by Liam Menzies here

BEST TRACK: Toothbrush / Trash

3. Run The Jewels – RTJ3

“We’re in sync so much now, after two records and several tours – and this new one felt like we hit that point in the Rocky training montage when he’s just killing shit,” said El-P in an interview with The Guardian and RTJ3 very much feels like the point where both him and Killer Mike have managed to catch the chicken. Showing sincerity, awareness, and aggression all at once, RTJ are the epitome of every liberal’s worst nightmare: they’re an answer to the intolerance that has infected America since its birth and do not give a fuck who disagrees. Their music is sure to be the soundtrack to the revolution and what a fucking soundtrack that is.

Full Review by Liam Menzies here

BEST TRACK: Legend Has It

2. Kendrick Lamar – DAMN.

It seemed like Kendrick Lamar‘s ambitious feats in the world of music may become his own undoing. After the success of To Pimp A Butterfly, expectations were high but somehow, Lamar managed not to falter under the pressure. Exploring an abundance of themes and emotions (pride, heritage, paranoia, love, lust etc.) with interesting instrumentals and engaging sounds, DAMN does a fantastic job of cementing Lamar’s legacy.

DAMN and Kendrick asks you this: will fear drive you down a wicked path, falling victim to the fate that has faced many? Will you find yourself weak, surrounded by the sins our world has? With the last track looping the album into itself, the questioning is eternal and Kendrick has made a record that will be sure to be as timeless.

Full Review by Liam Menzies here

BEST TRACK: DNA

1. Lorde – Melodrama

When Lorde first released Pure Heroine at 17, she instantly gained notoriety for her cutting art pop. Rightfully so, her debut was exceptional, and after a long four year wait we finally have a follow up LP. Coming in the form of “Melodrama” the new album is big, bold and devastating. More realised and confident, it is a fitting follow on to everything Lorde embodies.

Melodrama is nigh on perfect. It’s joyous and celebratory of the singer’s successes but maintains everything she became known for. It’s nice to see that writing songs for the Hunger Games series hasn’t swayed Lorde towards more commercial ventures. Especially when trips down a more avant-garde route produce such high quality output.

Full Review by Patrick Dalziel 

BEST TRACK: Hard Feelings/ Loveless


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GR8 MUSIC M8: January 2017

A new segment where I’ll be taking a look at any albums, EPs and singles that were my favourites of the past month. Want something reviewed? Let me know via twitter.

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Albums

Run The Jewels – RTJ3

“We’re in sync so much now, after two records and several tours – and this new one felt like we hit that point in the Rocky training montage when he’s just killing shit,” said El-P in an interview with The Guardian and RTJ3 very much feels like the point where both him and Killer Mike have managed to catch the chicken. Showing sincerity, awareness, and aggression all at once, RTJ are the epitome of every liberal’s worst nightmare: they’re an answer to the intolerance that has infected America since its birth and do not give a fuck who disagrees. Their music is sure to be the soundtrack to the revolution and what a fucking soundtrack that is.

FULL REVIEW HERE

10/10

Code Orange – Forever *

Having had no prior knowledge of Code Orange or any previous interest in metalcore, it came as a total surprise to me that Forever would be one of the first music gems of 2017. Managing to balance off the hardcore punk sound that appears on the vast majority of these tracks by dipping their toes into some alt-rock waters as heard on Bleeding In The BlurForever is a true tour de force, putting aside any worries fans may have had after the act moved onto a major label. If there were any doubts about Code Orange being on their best form then Forever puts them all to rest, under a tsunami of sheer fury.

9/10

The XX – I See You

While there are many changes that are apparent on I See You, what’s utterly remarkable and something that should be commended is the fact that The XX are simultaneously pushing themselves out of their comfort zone while staying true to their humble roots. The sampling on display and subsequent alterations to the sound make it feel like an R&B album more than an alt rock one but the emotional voices that manage to project both passion and insecurities feel so quintessentially XX. There are tracks that feel like they could have been ripped straight off of their debut like ‘Performance’ while others like ‘Dangerous’ and ‘On Hold’ feel like they’ve landed from a parallel universe where the band are far less timid.

FULL REVIEW HERE

8/10

Wiley – Godfather *

Even though he may hit out with the threat of retiring as frequently as Donald Trump tweets out a potential World War 3 catalyst, Wiley has still continued to make music and Godfather may be his magnum opus. Most members of the public no doubt know of the grime artist via his chart hits such as Rolex and Heatwave but it does the artist a complete disservice not to recognise the impact he has had on the genre, being there from practically the beginning and surviving both the boom, death and subsequent revival of Grime. Featuring some of the darkest production to appear on a grime record in quite some time, Wiley offers up a variety of different sounds as well as some amusing and hard-hitting lyricism. Speakerboxx may very well be 2017’s Shutdown as it packs in an Arabic sounding flute, which feels like it was taken straight out of Banjo and Kazooie’s Gobi’s Valley, alongside a dominating and intimidating Wiley who chats about his youth selling drugs while comparing himself to the Bob Marley of Grime. With an output and influence as huge as Wiley’s, it really says something when an album such as Godfather can do him justice.

9/10

Japandroids – Near To The Wild Heart Of Life *

While it may not be as groundbreaking or solid as their past releases, Japandroids have avoided falling into the pitfall that many bands do after taking a break of half a decade away with their third record Near To The Wild Heart Of Life. There are some obvious complaints: there’s a clear lack of witty lyricism from King and it feels far too polished, not a granule of grit to be found. That’s not to say that what is on display isn’t ambitious as the American punk act do all they can to push themselves out their comfort zone and bring new life to a genre many have said is stagnant. Dig beneath the surface and you may find the rock record that you’ll be comparing every subsequent release this year to.

7/10


EPs

David Bowie – No Plan *

Ever wondered what it would sound like if David Bowie had written a James Bond theme tune? Then look no further than No Plan, an EP that marks what would have been the artist’s 70th birthday. Featuring the aforementioned Bond-esque Killing A Little Time as well as the beautiful title track, No Plan manages to display all different facets of Bowie’s musicianship, reassuring all that his legacy will live on.

9/10

Cabbage – Young, Dumb And Full Of… *

Acting as a compilation of all the band’s work thus far, Young, Dumb And Full Off…demonstrates the prowess and sheer energy that Manchester rock outfit Cabbage possess this early in their career. Not just a release full of sad romantic songs about girls, Cabbage touch upon a wide array of political and social matters such as the monarchy, NHS, Austerity and a certain tangerine president with whimsy and appeal, making Cabbage not only one of the most exciting bands in the UK but one of the most aware too.

8/10

Boosegumps – on the way to meet you*

While certain seconds on this EP would give you the feeling that this Heeyoon fronted project had been recorded in a bedroom then swiftly left in the loft for a few years, this only adds to the utter enchantment on the way to meet you offers. Concluding track Happy embodies this EP’s message, with the lines “I am so positive/ I am so happy/ I tell myself every day/ I’m starting to believe me,” being both relaxing and resonant. Lasting only a brief few minutes, Boosegumps EP is very much like its artwork: alluring, soft and calming, full to the brim with positivity.

8/10


Singles

Sleaford Mods – BHS 

With their follow up to Key Markets set to drop in March, Sleaford Mods dropped another tease as to what to expect from English Tapas. BHS, which is clearly in reference to the now defunct UK chain of stores, takes a stab at the 1% and offers the politically aware alternative that Fat White Family constantly slated various other indie rock acts for. On top of that, the rather stripped back drum machine and guitars gives the track the serious vibe needed to carry the duo’s message across and does so wonderfully.

FKA Twigs – Trust In Me

It may have only appeared in the latest Nike ad for what feels like a few seconds but it’s truly a testament to FKA Twigs that this brief amount of time is all she needs to make an impact. While details on her upcoming album are scarce, if the vocals are as beautiful as they are here and the instrumentals just as jarring, unsettling yet alluring then it’ll no doubt be one of the best releases of the year.

Father John Misty – Pure Comedy

Father John Misty’s latest eponymous cut off his upcoming third LP Pure Comedy is a relatively simple piano ballad that holds no punches when discussing its subject matter, delivering some particularly beautiful and thought provoking lines like only Misty can. With 2016 being infamous to say the least, it’s a relief to see that something can come of it and Pure Comedy is sure to be one of many pieces of art that stands as a reflection of what has been and a glimmer of hope of what is to come.

Joey Bada$$ – Land Of The Free

Dropping around the time of President Trump’s inauguration, Joey BadA$$ has undoubtedly provided the best political track of the year so far which touches upon topics of mass incarceration and racism, delivered witfully such as the line on his first verse “Two A’s, Three K’s in AmeriKKKa”. Finish that off with some killer production from Kirk Knight and you have yourself a track that cannot be slept on. 

Mac DeMarco – My Old Man

Making sure to leave fans with more than enough music to keep them content until the album’s release in a few months time, DeMarco dropped the reflective title track My Old Man. While not as stripped back as This Old Dog, My Old Man incorporates some simple synths that, in the context of the album’s concept, shine through as utterly delightful, showing that less can indeed be more. The lyrics, which are usually DeMarco’s strong point, are as touching and introspective as always, in no small part due to the different way he went about writing this album.


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The XX – I See You ALBUM REVIEW

Incorporating all the talents each member brings to the table with new innovations to their well established bittersweet formula, The XX return from their hiatus sounding just as refreshing as they did back in 2009.

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Soft spoken and introverted, the international success of The XX back in 2009 was somewhat an anomaly due to how much they differed from similar UK acts who managed to make it across the pond with braggadocious attitudes and face melting riffs. Comprised of Oliver Sim, Romy Croft and Jamie ‘XX’ Smith, the indie rock outfit seemingly came out of nowhere with their bittersweet soft melodies to win the Mercury Prize Award with their eponymously titled debut and become one of the most talked about acts of the late noughties. Most of this no doubt came from how the band managed to accumulate their hype, refusing to appear on their covers despite the fact that Sim is male model handsome. In an interview back in 2010 with The Guardian, Croft proclaimed that “We’re very keen not to be…flash” and the band has not went back on that promise, still adorning black clothing that many would describe as suburban goth.

Having influenced various other UK acts who have tried to replicate the act’s sound, most of the time very poorly (here’s looking at you London Grammar), it would have been so easy for The XX to stumble into the pitfall of maintaining the status quo much like they did with their atmospheric yet somewhat repetitive sophomore record Co-Exist. Thankfully, though, the London band have managed to shake up their well-established sound on third LP I See You which, in Jamie’s own words, makes the record their most expansive and outward looking to date.

From the first single off of I See You ‘On Hold‘, it’s painstakingly clear that The XX have all brought their own merits to the table and tried to innovate on them further with the biggest plus to the formula no doubt being the spotlight shone on Jamie XX far more than the act’s previous efforts, in no small part due to his stellar debut record In Colour. The sublime sampling of Hall & Oates is utterly captivating and displays Smith’s, as well as Rodaidh McDonald’s, wonderful production capabilities, giving the song a funky rhythm which makes it one of The XX’s most lively tracks to date, something of an oddity in the act’s discography but a welcome change nonetheless. On Hold not only displays the evolution in sound but a further refining of the lyrical content provided by Sim and Croft with the topic of ambiguity tying it beautifully to the sampling, resulting in one of the most cohesive pieces of music to come out of 2017. 

This is, of course, totally overlooking opening track ‘Dangerous’ which makes it immediately evident that while the themes of lost love, relationship woes etc. are all still very much apparent, the way in which they’re delivered, at least sonically anyway, are extremely different to what The XX have done before. Beginning with some isolated saxophones and trumpets followed up by a lone, soothing and alluring bassline, Smith brings it all together into one bubbling cauldron that never feels like it’s trying to do too much at once but never feels as minimal or stripped back as their debut was.

Something that’s worth discussing is the vocals, provided by Sim and Croft, that are as pleasant as always but seem to stick out more considering the step forward in terms of production and sound. While they never sound abysmal or even sub par, only one track, that being Performance, manages to display that three records either vocalist is attempting to anything different with their voices. As mentioned, though, both Sim and Croft manage to do their jobs well and even show glimmers of chemistry on tracks like Say Something Loving which features some added production by Croft, showing that she provides more than just a good set of pipes. 

the-xx

While there are many changes that are apparent on I See You, what’s utterly remarkable and something that should be commended is the fact that The XX are simultaneously pushing themselves out of their comfort zone while staying true to their humble roots. The sampling on display and subsequent alterations to the sound make it feel like an R&B album more than an alt rock one but the emotional voices that manage to project both passion and insecurities feel so quintessentially XX. There are tracks that feel like they could have been ripped straight off of their debut like ‘Performance’ while others like ‘Dangerous’ and ‘On Hold’ feel like they’ve landed from a parallel universe where the band are far less timid.

I See You shows reminiscing, acceptance and strength, feeling like the most solid chapter in The XX arc but leaving room for the inevitable follow-up to build upon the now strengthened foundations.

8/10


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So far, so good? The XX’s latest tracks REVIEWED

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Having been absent for the best part of half a decade, the return of indie darlings The XX is sure to be one of the most highly anticipated events in the musical realm this year. Their third LP I See You is set to see the band channel a more distinctive sound and a more positive, open and “expansive” concept than their previous two albums. These words are sure to be reassuring for those that thought their sophomore record Coexist did little to build upon what the band had crafted on their self-titled debut. With two tracks being released in the build up to I See You’s release on January 13th, it’s time to review them and see if the London act has put their money where their mouth is.

On Hold

Released late in 2016, On Hold sees The XX show member Jamie XX show off his sampling moves that he exercised perfectly on his debut In Colour while fusing this with light shoegaze elements that the band has dipped their feet into previously. The use of Hall and Oates’ I Can’t Go For That, albeit a sped up and warped edit, gives the song a much-needed burst of energy that many critics of the indie rock outfit have slated them for lacking. On top of that, the song from the duo’s 10th record is a good match due to it sharing the theme of mixed signals that, while being a retread lyrics wise for The XX, makes it feel like a well-thought inclusion rather than just a simple appeal to critics. While the vocals of Romy and Oliver may have not underwent much evolution over the five years since we last heard them on an XX project, both performances do the job and are as alluring as ever.

Say Something Loving 

Incorporating a rather obscure line from Alessi Brother’s self-titled 70’s debut, Say Something Loving is possibly the most uplifting track The XX have ever delivered which is quite a change considering the band are well known for their somber, sometimes depressing sounding music. Full of shimmering pop goodness, the vocals here are more impressive with the clashing of Romy and Oliver being much better suited than anticipated with Romy sometimes touching on some unmarked territory for herself. The love adorned lyrics help The XX to claim that level of intimacy that has made them such a delight to listen to and with their current direction to further shake up their formula whilst still not stripping away this critical element, they may very well be on their way to deliver their magnum opus.


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MOST ANTICIPATED ALBUMS OF 2017

By Liam Menzies (@blinkclyro)

Welcome to the very first post on blinkclyro.com in 2017! Feeling hungover? Full of regret already? Don’t worry, you’ve got the next 365 days to make things even worse.

Having had the month of December to reminisce about the best and worst of the last year in music, it’s now time to get aboard the hype train as we take a look at what albums we, more specifically I, are most psyched about hearing in 2017. As always, my choices are purely subjective and there’ll no doubt be a few albums from my list last year making an appearance seeing as some artists actually want to take time with their music? What a bunch of selfish assholes. Anyway, let’s get this show on the road…

Run The Jewels – RTJ3

Image result for run the jewels 3

ETA: Out Now (STREAMING) / 13th Janaury (PHYSICAL)

Let’s start off with what is undoubtedly going to end up being an album of the year contender: Run The Jewels 3. Whilst technically it did drop in 2016, it was originally slated for a 2017 release and the physical release is set to come out in just over a weeks time so its inclusion is more than deserved, especially since so far RTJ3 is the most polished and politcally charged record the hip hop duo has dropped. Don’t Get Captured manages to approach topics of genrification and police brutality exceptionally with EL-P and Killer Mike’s expert storytelling and flow being displayed. With RTJ2 being my favourite album of 2014, expect RTJ3 to be on repeat for the duration of 2017.

Kanye West – Turbo Grafx 16

NEW YORK, NY - FEBRUARY 11: Kanye West attends Kanye West Yeezy Season 3 at Madison Square Garden on February 11, 2016 in New

ETA: TBA

When you have the late, great Lou Reed praising you then you must be doing something right and the ever egotistical Kanye West looks set to continue his golden run with his new gaming inspired record Turbo Grafx 16

https://twitter.com/kanyewest/status/703447172050788352

With the record set to feature sampling from the likes of No More Heroes and Super Mario Galaxy in addition to hosting appearances from the likes of Kendrick Lamar, Chance The Rapper and Young Thug, Kanye may be set to deliver the oddest record of 2017.

The Flaming Lips – Oczy Mlody

Image result for oczy mlody flaming lipsETA: 13th January 

Despite their recent collaboration with Miley Cyrus being one of the worst listens of 2015, The Flaming Lips seem set to return to the glory days of 2002 with their upcoming record Oczy Mlody. Lead vocalist Wayne Coyne described the record as sounding like a drug and second single How is the embodiment of this, sounding like a vapourwave acid trip that reaches the airy heights that the band have previously achieved on Yoshimi Battles The Pink Robots. Any album being built up as “Syd Barrett meets ASAP Rocky and they get trapped in a fairy tale from the future” is one worth being on the radar of anyone with even a tiny incling of interest in music.

The XX – I See You
Image result for the xx i see you  

ETA: January 13th

Being indie darlings since their mercury prize winning debut record dropped in 2009, The XX’s third album I See You has been a long time coming with nearly five years passing since we last heard anything from them. While previously being apprehensive about the band becoming stagnant, it’s a relief to see Jamie XX being given more creative control after his dazzling 2015 record In Colour which is shown masterfully on lead single On Hold, having the classic Jamie XX sampling expertise with Hall and Oate’s I Can’t Go For That making an appearance. With the band stating that I See You will have a more distinctive sound and a more positive, open and “expansive” concept than the previous two albums, it’s hard not to get a bit excited about the band’s triumphant return. 

The Orwells – Terrible Human Beings

Image result for terrible human beings the orwells

 

ETA: February 17th 

While other garage and punk bands such as FIDLAR seem content with spitting lines about drugs and drink at the moment, American rock outfit The Orwells seem to be using their third LP Terrible Human Beings as a maturity stepping stone.  “The whole cute, punk, beer thing—it’s so uncool now,” vocalist Mario Cuomo said in an interview to Spin. “There’s nothing cute about getting head in the back of some parked truck. You know?”. Buddy seems to be the only track that touches on their immature former selves with singles such as Double Feature showing signs of a band who are ready to make their mark this time around, this time not puke related.

Japandroids – Near to the Wild Heart of Life

ETA: January 27th 

Much like the XX, Canadian rock act Japandroids have been kept fans waiting for nearly half a decade with their unique part classic rock, part punk sound finally making a return on Near to the Wild Heart of Life. 2012’s Celebration Rock is one of the most cohesive records of the decade so far alongside Joyce Manor’s discography and the title track seems to be contiuning this trend while tweaking the formula slightly. Singer Brian King has cemented the excitement for many, saying:

The idea of what intensity means is evolving. It doesn’t necessarily mean screaming or jumping around or flailing about or being really loud or playing really fast. In some ways, we’re approaching this like it’s our very first record. We’re removing all the self-imposed rules that led to the songs and the sound of our whole career up until now. When you do that, you can try anything.

Mac DeMarco’s New LP

ETA: TBA

While information on the new LP by the oddball that is Mac DeMarco is relatively thin, its existence has been confirmed with the man himself going onto instagram to say “that’s a wrap motherfucker!”. We haven’t heard a full length piece of work by the canadian artist since his 2014 record Salad Days with only Another One managing to satisfy fan’s cravings. Expect warbled choruses and capoed guitars a plenty when it inevitably drops.

The National’s Untitled New Album

Image result for the national

ETA: TBA

Having been relatively quiet since 2013’s Trouble Will Find Me, Ameircan rock outfit The National have been busy further disecting and rearranging their sound for LP7. Frontman Matt Berninger has stated that it’ll be a huge departure from their last record with reports saying that the band are set to go electronic. Speaking to NME, Berninger said: 

We could probably crank out a great National record in a weekend, but none of us are interested in following up with another record that sounds like ‘Trouble Will Find Me’. That record was a great accomplishment and I’m so proud of it. A lot of songs are going in completely different directions. But that’s a really fun place to be. We’re in the middle of the wilderness, in a rainforest full of really fun noises.

Gorillaz LP4

Image result for gorillaz

ETA: TBA

What better way to finish off this list than with a record many have been eagerly anticipating since 2010. Gorillaz are arguably one of the best bands to come out the UK in the noughties and the Damon Albarn lead project is rumoured to have finished their fourth LP in late october. Not much else is known about the album thoug Gorillaz are yet to disappoint and something tells me that the animated outfit will continue their golden run come LP4’s release.


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