Saturday, 30 April 2011

Live Review: Mazes, Spectrals and Best Coast at The Queen's Social Club, Sheffield

It may be possible to come up with a venue that's more stereotypically Sheffield than The Queen's Social Club but you'd be hard pressed to think of how. A working men's club that's recently been hosting proper gigs, it still has signs up informing parents that is their responsibility to keep their children (that is under 14 year olds) under control during the bingo. Appropriately it looks to be a full house tonight, and who can blame the Steel City for wanting in on this fantastic line-up – it's so good that someone of the standard and draw of Mazes is opening!

But what an opening act. Taking to the stage as a three piece, with guitarist Jarin having to sit the tour out they've a great dynamic. Looking every inch the slacker kids the sight of three guys just playing straight up fuzzy guitar pop completely unpretentiously is one hell of a sight to behold. The crowd respond really well with cheers much louder than one might usually expect for an opening act. On their third song they play 'Most Days' and it's sublime. Mazes are the band that we've so many others to be. The Vaccines who've had to slog at it. Let's Wrestle with that bit more spark. The only real problem is that they don't play for long enough. Still it's more than safe to say that they've won a few more fans in Sheffield and that their star will rise from here. If album A Thousand Heys doesn't appear on plenty of end of year lists then we might as well all pack this in now.

Second support are Spectrals, who're possibly the band who least look like a band ever. The heat of the venue soon makes them shed their jackets however and singer Louis Jones comments on how his complexion (he's very ginger) isn't suited to the temperature. Interacting easily with the crowd Spectrals play a solid set of old fashioned pop music that wonderfully showcases their talent. With hints of Phil Spector they could quiet easily challenge Last Shadow Puppets for retro pop supremacy. Playing songs from forthcoming album Bad Penny they're certainly ones to keep an eye on.

Still, it's Spectrals bezzie mates that most of the audience is here for – Best Coast. Despite coming from the other side of the world (Spectrals from Wakefield, Best Coast from California) there's a kinship between the two groups in their love for retro pop. But where the former replicate theirs on stage true to record Best Coast ramp up the volume for a garage rock fuzz-fest.

Anyone who follows the Best Coast twitter will be aware that Bethany Cosentino has a reputation for being a bit of a brat. Tonight in fact they open with 'Bratty B' from last year's phenomenally successful Crazy For You, but from the evidence on display tonight it's a reputation that's completely undeserved. Her easy going charm and sarcasm means the whole crowd warms to her instantly. She's fun, funny and an excellent pop star. The album's title track is the moment where everything gets into full swing for the group and it's clear that they've enough songs at their disposal even this early in their career to continue to climb.

'Boyfriend' is dispensed with fairly early on in the set, and it's clear that the whole room knows the words. Proving that it's not just the Bethany show, Bobb cuts a great figure on stage providing the melodies to underpin his more glamorous bandmate's gritty guitar thrashes. It's at this point that KPL regrets standing right next to the Stage Left stack. It's really loud and with the heat in the room somewhat disorienting. Still, Best Coast are used to the heat, Beth constantly swigs from a glass of cider that rests on her amp and at one point borrows some sunglasses from somewhere for song. Although she may be the only person in the world who can get away with wearing shades indoors she decides against it when the tint means that she's no longer able to see the dots on her guitar.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest cheer and crowd excitement of the evening is during 2009 single 'When I'm With You'. It's delivered with such aplomb that it's physically impossible to not smile. The mainly female front row are dancing like crazy and are joined by Spectrals keyboardist for the fun. Along with a couple of newbies it sees the end to what's a surprisingly long set. It's neatly half 11 when Best Coast leave and KPL is shattered. Shattered but very happy.

Excellent gig. Excellent venue. Excellent lineup.

If Mazes, Spectrals or Best Coast come through your town you are under strict instructions to go and see them.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Album Review: Guillemots - Walk The River

Released: 18th April
Label: Geffen

With the idea that the songs on Walk The River should sound as though they'd sleep walked onto tape, Fyfe Dangerfield couldn't have set out a more clear mantra that Guillemots third album was not going to be Red Mk. II. The allusion of course is to this record being more of a follow up the the life-affirming Through The Windowpane, and in many ways this is the case. But unlike either of these previous two records, Walk The River sounds completely like a band of four people fleshing out ideas in a room and relying on the instruments at hand.

The result is an intimate, subtle record that's made purely for headphone pleasure. A personal experience that doesn't make any grand statements or aim for any pop charts. Songs such as 'I Don't Feel Amazing Now' and 'Sometimes I Remember Wrong' are tender moments for the bruised and broken. Their soaring melodies as soothing as long baths to aching limbs. The former is destined to be buried in mixtapes to lovers in tough times, whilst he latter creates a masterpiece out of nine minutes of sound. MC Lord Magrão pulls textures out of his guitars and pedals whilst Grieg hammers his drums and Fyfe's croon pulls through the shoegaze haze tugging at the melody until for a finale everything sweetly collapses in on itself.

But with an album that's so clearly a grower and that reveals more of itself and its depths with every listen there's bound to be moments that make little sense at any stage. Early on in the listeners relationship with Walk The River 'I Must Be A Lover' jarrs against its more intimate surroundings by sounding like a lost artefact from the Red sessions. The big beat and “oh-oh-oh-oh-oh”s betray it to be a distant cousin to 'Clarion' and the nearest this record has to offer to the family friendly pop star of Fly Yellow Moon. Still, Guillemots being Guillemots there are some pop moments that do work. Both 'Ice Room' and 'The Basket' bring in new ideas and help to anchor the album, interjecting amongst the more woozy songs with tracks that would be more recognisable as singles.

Missteps are easily forgiven with Guillemots however, as for every plodder like 'I Must Be A Lover' there's a moment of lyrical dexterity that showcases the romantic dreamer we love Fyfe Dangerfield to be. 'Tigers' opens with the lyric “I came close to giving up,” a standard sentiment that's delivered with such open honesty that it can't not impact. Meanwhile 'Inside', a song that resembles Elbow down to the delicate jazz-like percussion, features the bruised and tired line “I drove all night to beat the morning.” and is sure to appeal to people who're at low ebbs and need that moment to take stock.

But to pull out songs from Walk The River seems somewhat arbitrary and not something the listener is likely to do at such an early stage in their relationship with the record. Playing through as a whole it's in the feel and swells that occur across songs that really fulfil the emotional objectives and likely gave play to the opening idea. Not quite as much of a mood piece as a film score or instrumental record it still bears some of these hallmarks. After each listen a new facet of sound or instance of beauty on the record reveals itself, and with Walk The River being such a new record it seems unlikely to stop giving or revealing any time soon.

So, although Walk The River is certainly not perfect or quite up to the heights that the band achieved on their first record there is no dobut that it will continue to grow into itself at it's own pace. That Guillemots have created a record that can do that is an achievement in itself and a credit to the band. If you were disappointed by Red and always wondered what a second album from Guillemots might have sounded like had they continued down the majestic path then here is your confirmation.

Tuesday, 26 April 2011


You'll remember that a couple of weeks ago I wrote a few words about why I think that Pris are so bloody wonderful. Well as a follow up frontlady Cat got in touch and offered KPL some email interview time. With Pris being the sort of band that you love even more every time that they do, say or release anything an opportunity like this was not one to be missed.

Here's what Cat had to say for herself..... And she's right. The world does indeed need Pris right now
So then, Pris. What's the story - how did you meet etc?


I like your list of influences on Myspace. Is there anything else that makes Pris tick? And what do the individual members bring to the table that're outside of the core Pris-ness?



You've got a very strong visual aesthetic that fits right in with yr music. Did they both develop separately or did you construct around the other?


A few years ago there was a few bands around such as The Pipettes and The Long Blondes that deliberately eschewed the traditional male rock canon. Was there any such ideological concept in the formation of Pris' identitiy?


Do you see yourself as having any peers? With the popscene having fractured massively there doesn't seem to be anyone else in the same ballpark as you right now.


It's only the three ladies in Pris that appear in yr promotional photos and videos. Does drummer Sam stay out deliberately or is there an ideological/stylistic reason?



Who's yr favourite Pop Star at the moment and who's yr fave of all time?




What's next for Pris? Is there any recording or national touring planned?


Any message that you want to get out there?


Monday, 25 April 2011

Track Of The Week: Dananananaykroyd - Muscle Memory

Bananananank Hols
Bananananank Hols
Bananananank Hols

Watch This!
Watch This!

Oooh, that tingles my pop buds. Nom Nom Nom! I just want to roll around it it. Yeah! More, now! Please!

I think I'm trying to say that I really really like this song. It's very good and I think that the brand new album from Dananananaykroyd will be one of the best of the year.

Friday, 22 April 2011

Sounds Of The City: Sheffield

Overall it does seem as though Sheffield's been a bit quiet over the past couple of years. But as this week couldn't be headed by anyone other than the mighty Arctic Monkeys it seems right to cover some of the other underground rumblings that are afoot.

So today then we look to the first compilation in a series looking at British cities that has decided to focus on the Steel City that I've been calling home for the entirety of my adult life.

Firstly there's two things that you need to know about the Sounds Of The City compilation:

1) This is not a genre focused mix. There's every chance that you won't dig everything that's on offer, but also every chance that you might find something new that tickles yr pop-buds.
2) It's for a good cause. All of the proceeds are going to Cash For Kids, a charity helping disabled and disadvantaged children in South Yorkshire and North Midlands

Opening the 10 track CD/Download set is Wooderson whose indie rock takes a dollop of influcence from post-hardcore and features zipping and rattling guitars-aplenty. Although at times it can feel somewhat unrefined there's more than a hint of raw potential that signifies that better things aren't far off.

Already very much there however are Screaming Maldini, the name that piqued my interest in the compilation. Their epic jittery pop is essentially perfection and even if you pass on the Sounds Of The City you absolutely must listen to 'The First Raindrop'. If you do however chose to check out Maldini through this, you'll come across a variety of different acts that have as much chance of surprising you as they do being completely not yr thing.

Take Renegade Brass Band for instance. Socially conscious brass funk/hip hop collectives aren't something that crops up every day in our indiepop circles, and as much as in the back of yr mind you'll be aware that they're a little crusty, there's a tenacity and vigour that they pursue their vision with that's highyl admirable. 'Take No Chances, Make No Changes' says pretty much everything there is to know about the angle that they 're taking so make of it what you will.

Back on the pop front The Heebie Jeebies and Skeletons & The Empty Pockets go for a left of centre take on indie rock. The former go for an intricate and delicate jangle, whilst the latter bring a darkly creeping quality into their lo-fi track 'In The Woods'. Both are worth a listen and both could end up delighting.

Unlinke Pudge, whose contribution 'Fuckin Yes Mate' delivers on all that the godawful title promises. Like The Enemy doing pop-punk. But even worse. It's scrappy chav rock. The only positive is that it's short. Whilst sticking with what one might expect from the Sheffield music scene, Alverez Kings deliver 'Fractured Bones & Reputations'. Whilst it's memorable and will utterly delight those who miss Milburn etc it does nothing to entrance those who expect a little more from their guitar pop.

Not to put you off, there's another couple of treats that could mean that Sounds From the City is worth a purchase or at least a listen. Pirouettes' 'A Crass Minagerie' is a delightful combination of delicate flecks of Foals like guitars and build-up to shimmering climaxes that wouldn't have sounded out of place on Bloc Party's early material. Trophy Wives meanwhile kick some ass with 'Weez Breakin' Yo' Legs'. Their breakneck post-hardcore may at times sound like it was recorded in a tin can, but with the powerhouse drums and guitars fuzzed up nicely KPL is giving them a preliminary thumbs up.
So there you have it. A sampler of what's going down in Sheffield at the moment according to Sounds of the City. It's enough to convince that the Steel capital is far from musically bankrupt and accurate enough to remind that it's not all rosy. Still, it's for a good cause and there's some fine selections...

Sounds of the City: Sheffield is released on April 29th and will be available to buy from

Thursday, 21 April 2011

Jack Rabbit - Sheffield's newest hot property

It's a fact that Sheffield's not as hot as it once was, but nonetheless it's a city where it's possible to go out on any given night and catch a gig. So, last Friday that's what Keep Pop Loud went and did.

And ruddy good job we did too.

Opening for NME hyped duo 2:54 we caught a hot and very young five piece called Jack Rabbit. Now, if we're honest that's not the strongest name in the world but that's easily forgotten about when watching in the flesh. Astounding for only eight gigs old (in the full band incarnation) they played tightly and easily overcame the glitch that meant the first third of their opener had to go off vocal-less.

Frontlady Olivia-Roseli Neller is clearly the focal point for this group, her very strong, distinctive vocal and charismatic performance leading the way for the crisp, shoegaze influenced indie rock. But, as we saw thanks to the glitch, even when the vocals are taken out of the equation there's still a spark and widescreen sensibility that ensures the bands creative success either way.

Whilst at this stage in their musical endeavour it's impossible to lump too much praise on the group, what's certain is that we'll be hearing a lot more from them. They've an EP recorded, which contains many of the highlights from their short live set including the cinematic 'Atlas' that you can grab a listen to on their Facebook page.

Now, let's see an image of the group in action:

(that was taken from their Tumblr I've resized it badly)

The next Jack Rabbit gig is at The Harley in Sheffield on May 22nd. You really should go as it's a fantastic little venue, and there's something in Jack Rabbit that you could really love

Tuesday, 19 April 2011

Album Review: Grouplove - Grouplove

Released: 7th February
Label: Canvasback/Atlantic

There's no shortage of West Coast American bands at the moment who are lazily strumming but none of them are as good as Grouplove are at their best. You'll have already heard 'Colours', the lead track from the Los Angeles based five-piece's debut mini-album and will therefore be familiar with the fact that they take this slacker sun-kissed template and imbue it with an an edge that hints at so much more than we're used to from the kids of American privilege.

Instead of recalling the laid-back vibes of a singer-songwriter, the acoustic guitars are played like post-punk instruments of acression. The drum rolls pas between ears and there's sense of hippie euphoria that runs completely contradictory to the sonic assault. It's moments like this that hint at the talent and potential in the group that might otherwise be lost in the summery feel.

'Naked Kids' opens with the line “Cruising on the highway with my friends, top down / And we're all on our way to the beach”, and even though you don't doubt that there's some genuine sentimentality or nostalgia behind the reminiscing you get the impression that there's an element of sarcasm. It's as though they know the conventions of this bleached Americana so well that subverting them comes easy for them. Still that doesn't change the fact that the harmonies are gorgeous and the paced guitar make us all pine for the sun and sand.

With measured drums and spacious production, 'Gold Coast' recalls the sadly dormant Shins. The male-female vocal harmonies of Christopher Zucconi and Hannah Hooper ensure that, despite a less obvious chorus, the track retains a vocal hook and promises to be one to be chanted back at the band as they do the rounds over the summer festivals. The fade out helps to disguise what would otherwise be a somewhat jarring move from 'Gold Coast' to following track 'Getaway Car'. Where the former maintained a sense of space, the latter has a drawled vocal and drum machines at the fore. It's much more lo-fi than the previous Grouplove moments but still reaches for the sky. Again, even if it doesn't work quite as well as the best tracks it retains the groups's edge in a cluttered scene.

Like 'Colours', 'Don't Say Oh Well' is one of the Big tracks from the record. Almost like Fleetwood Mac going punk, it's giddy melodic and full of energy. An album full of tracks like these two smashes could well be one of the great records of the year, even if it would lack in variety. Try sticking on 'Don't Say Oh Well' and not wanting to bounce around the room whilst grinning like a berk, I bet you can't do it.

Grouplove closes with the campfire chant of 'Get Giddy', and it's this very of the moment feel that makes us not only want more but feel confident that they've more to give. There's plenty of ideas across these 20 minutes and the band are very likely to create an excellent debut album proper this year. If they land it on a summer that's anything like the spring we're currently having in the UK then they're certain to get a leg up and the chance to be pretty highly regarded.

Monday, 18 April 2011

Track Of The Week: Arctic Monkeys – Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair

This was inevitable wasn't it really. I mean c'mon! Regardless of all the press that Arctic Monkeys have (deservedly) got over the years they've somehow managed to become one of the world's biggest bands whilst giving as many of their fans as possible the middle finger.

You don't need me to write about Arctic Monkeys. Enough people do that already, but they are track of the week so Suck It And See.

I was lucky enough to pick up this from Record Store Day (along with the British Sea Power double 7” and Broken Bells EP) despite living in Sheffield. I'm pretty sure that's because everyone expected that 'Don't Sit Down 'Cause I've Moved Your Chair' would sell out immediately no one asked for it (and this meant that despite me being mid-way down the queue I still manage to secure a copy). Maybe this means that they need writing about because nobody is, because eveyone expects that everyone else is. Who knows?

Either way, the latest single from the Sheffield lads is as superbt as anything else that they've ever done. Still top of their game! Smart, riffing and eloquent. Name another band who can fulfil all three and still sell our arenas.

As if there was any doubt.

Fucking brilliant end effortlessly cool.

Normal indiepop service will resume tomorrow.

Friday, 15 April 2011


As you can probably tell, I've been busy trying to catch up on reviews these past two weeks and therefore may have slacked a bit when it comes to bringing you ace under-the-radar DIY pop bands. Luckily for you it's been worth the wait and I finally get to write a few words about why Pris are the next awesome thing.

For fans of Ramones, Kenickie, The Long Blondes, early Manics, Elastica and The Clash these girls (and boy) make for a fantastic lo-fi glam-punk racket. Now it's still very early days for the band and they're still very much unsigned but from the material they've got on offer I can guarantee that you'll love them. Even if they hate you.

We Hate You by I Love Pris

If that wasn't enough for you, it should be reassuring that Pris have the look nailed. It's that budget glam of The Long Blondes, that we all so miss from pop music. The combination of vintage shop polka dots and leopard print with sass, pout and killer haircuts. Of course, if Pris didn't have the tunes to back this look up they'd just be a bunch of fashionistas. Pris do have the tunes though, so if 'We Hate You' wasn't enough to convince you to keep an eye on these ladies (or go and see them if yr lucky enough to live in London) then check out 'Guessed You Would Be Depressed' for an example of their britpop-bubblegum.

Guessed You Would Be Depressed by I Love Pris

Or even the '50s girl-group inflictions and do-wop influence of 'Icon On A Motorbike'.

Icon On a Motorbike by I Love Pris
If Pris don't get yr pop senses tingling then I'm afraid there's something seriously wrong with you. If they're not the best unsigned band in the country then there's one hell of a hidden treat out there. Ladies and gents; this is the band that we've been waiting for.


Thursday, 14 April 2011

Album Review: Young Knives – Ornaments From The Silver Arcade

Released: April 4th
Label: Gadzook

Young Knives have never been a band to fuck about. So let's get straight to the point: on Ornaments From The Silver Arcade they have gone completely and unashamedly pop... and it's completely fucking brilliant.

Opener and lead single 'Love My Name' could lead you to think that all was business as usual with it's chugging post-punk guitar and mightily snappy rhythm but it's the only time here that you could accuse the band of sounding much like Young Knives of old. That's not to say it's unrecognisable though, Henry Dartnall is an anchoring presence with his unique vocals and the Knives trademark arch humour is still present even if the tone is less scathing.

The House Of Lords penned 'Woman' is a fine example of the fuller summery pop sound that Young Knives have developed for Ornaments. It's bouncy melody, soul groove and “la-la-la-la-la-la-lala” backing vocals almost obscuring the subject manner of transsexualism. With the clean guitar lines you could even mistake a Vampire Weekend influence if you didn't know any better.

It's not just the pop nuances that are newfound in the artrock heroes, they've loosened their ties and have a sense of optimism. On 'Everything Falls Into Place' they even manage to turn some lyrics about cheques bouncing and paperwork piling up (seriously is there anyone else but Young Knives who sing about this stuff?) into a chorus that's epic and hopeful. Likewise 'Human Again' looks past the self-inflicted pains of the night to the morning when it's all brighter with a musical sense of space and some handclaps.

It's something of a miracle that Young Knives have managed to add so many new elements to their sound without sacrificing this sense of space or obscuring their post-punk origins. Recording in LA, whilst letting the sunshine in, has given them a wider range of toys to play with clearly and across the record we get extra percussion (in the form of bongos), synthetic basslines, keyboards and backing vocals provided by some female singers. Even with these elements Henry's guitar is never obscured and the melodies shine through without any bombast whatsoever.

Most have already picked out 'Sister Frideswide' from the rest of the pack as the highlight from Ornaments. And there's very good reason for this – It's one of the very best things they've ever done. The tale of a tempted nun is told through XTC like musical turns and a chorus that's epic and glorious. It's not only future single material but it's the sound of the summer for fans of artpop and possibly one of the great tracks of the decade. Mind-blowingly fantastic!

And they don't leave it there. 'Vision In Rags' contains possibly the best lyric on the record, opening with the line “Sun bleeding through the porridge sky” it's evocative of the English summers and carries itself with an optimistic (that word again) bounce, whilst the closing triplet bring Ornaments From The Silver Arcade to a mighty fine close. The danceable groove of 'Silver Tongue' segues into the Future of the Left style rock of 'Storm Clouds' before they close with the futuristic pop of 'Glasshouse'. After this trio you're mad if yr reaction is anything other than hitting the play button again immediately

Haters gonna hate, but Young Knives are a classic band and are sure to have a heavy influence on the next generations of art-poppers. For fans of proper pop music Ornaments From The Silver Arcade (like its two predecessors) is a MUST.

Tuesday, 12 April 2011

It's all happening at Alcopop!

Yesterday one of our most favourite record labels Alcopop! Records put out a couple of items of really good news. The first of these was that longtime pals (and all round ace band) Stagecoach are due to put out a new single....

… only it's not going to be released on Alcopop!...'s instead coming out on This Is Fake DIY, the home of other KPL faves You Animals and The Victorian English Gentlemens Club.

It seems that there's a bit of a love in going on between these two most brilliant of labels. They're hosting a stage together at The Great Escape festival in May and if you head to This Is Fake DIY you can download a free mixape that includes PoP artists such as Johnny Foreigner and Jumping Ships.

The Stagecoach single, double A side 'Jonah Lomu' / 'Tony Hawk' comes out on May 30th and you can rest assured that we'll bring you a stream/video on here as soon as it lands. In the meantime you can head to DIY and read about the inspirations behind the tracks.

So with all of that, what other news is there from Alcopop!?

Well, they've only gone and signed someone new haven't they. Introducing LightGuides

Alcopop! describes them as “awesome” and “The Xcerts-esque rock with an unmistalable scottish twang”. And what do you know – they're right.

Find out for yourself by downloading their track 'Midget Gems' from here.

Along with Johnny Foreigner and Jumping Ships, LightGuides mark out a distinctive sound for the label that's a fair distance from the indiepop folk that they made their name with. The direction that they're moving in is certainly one where post-hardcore and intricate punk interacts with a giant pop sensibilitiy. It's right up our street at Keep Pop Loud and I think if you've any sense all of the aforementioned will be exactly yr sort of thing too.

LightGuides are due a single in May and a Mini-Album in the summer. Safe to say, we'll be reviewing and featuring those.

Monday, 11 April 2011

Track Of The Week: Copy Haho - Dying Breed

After a lengthy wait Copy Haho have finally announced the details of their debut album.

Yeah, you like that - don't you?

After all, their mini-album/EP Bred For Skills & Magic was a slice of perfection so with this much time to hone their skills we can all expect something really special from the popsters.

In short; the album is self-titled and the artwork looks more than a little bit like this...
In fact that was the artwork. And as you've seen by the fact that Copy Haho are Track of the Week, they've a song available that you can hear. It's called 'Dying Breed' and showcases a more measured sound that recalls Pavement or the more recent material from Los Campesinos! without sacrificing their trademark momentum. The slacker chorus sounds excellent in this period of unseasonable warmth and if the weather's similar come 20th June when the record lands then we could just have The Record of the Summer on our hands.

Hooray for Copy Haho!

Dying Breed by copyhaho

Thursday, 7 April 2011

Album Review: The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart - Belong

Released: 28th April
Label: Fortuna Pop!

Silly NME and their pointless willy-waving backlashes. The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart are back with album number two of classic indie-pop songs, gorgeous melodies and guitar-laden fuzz and (importantly) they're as good as they were the first time around.

Opening with 'Belong' is a strong move, showcasing the move into crunchier territory with an ear-splitting Smashing Pumkins-esque chorus. Kyp Berman's vocal anchors the song, his fey delivery obscuring the lyrics whilst adding to the strong sonic identity of the group. It's brilliantly meaty but doesn't stand far above the quality of the rest of Belong.

For two obvious highlights look to the pair of 'Heaven's Gonna Happen How' and 'Heart in Your Heartbreak'. Both sound as though they've been uncovered from gaudily coloured 7” singles from 1986 or the soundtracks to forgotten John Hughes films. Most guitar pop records never reach the heights presented on these two instantly memorable songs, and yet The Pains have classics and wonderful as this to spare.

The gorgeous waves and swirling emotions swell around the listener ensuring that even though the choruses are memorable on first listen there's the desire to return to Belong to be swept away by what the band have to offer. Belong sits at the very top of the indiepop pile even before we get to the sumptuous 'Even In Dreams'.

As the guitars crackle, the vocal harmonies go straight for the heartstrings. “Even in dreams, I cannot betray you” may be a somewhat twee sentiment but the earnest vocal delivery is actually more than a little bit affecting. It sits with Ringo Deathstarr's 'So High' as being one of the very best songs of the year. A dead cert for future single release, by rights it should do for The Pains what 'Sweet Disposition' did for The Temper Trap on the (500) Days Of Summer soundtrack such is its obviously cinematic appeal.

Aside from the aforementioned Smashing Pumpkins touch to the beefed up indiepop, POBP@H utilise a wide range of influences and inflictions across Belong that ensure they're far from one dimensional. 'My Terrible Friend' (which has been unfairly maligned because of simplistic lyrics) showcases the post-punk/new wave basslines of The Cure across the fretboard vibrations of acoustic guitars. The spectre of The Jesus And Mary Chain shows it's head too, providing hazier soundscapes between the pop songs. Whilst this has the tendency to obscure the songs and usher the listener into a state of less interaction with the music, it does so with a hypnotic quality, luring you into the sonic onslaught whilst allowing yr mind to drift.

In short Belong is clearly the album that The Pains Of Being Pure At Heart wanted to make. It's nostalgic and melodically sumptuous and ensures that the band have ended up achieving more than enough to make clear the fact that they will transcend whatever anyone chooses to say about them. Indiepop may not be the most canonical of genres, and the frequent naivety of delivery and subject matter will always turn off some, but this is a cult band in the making and you're advised to listen in right now for yr own sake. You wont regret it and may just feel a part of something good

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Live Review: You Animals at The Leadmill and SoYo

Talk about spoiled. Sheffield was treated to two live performances from You Animals - Derby’s finest purveyors of pop - within a few days of each other.

The first of these came in the form of a support slot with Aberdeen’s premier punk-poppers at The Leadmill on Friday night (April 1st). Sadly with Mrs KPL in tow we turned up at the venue in time to catch the opening act of the evening. Sounding and looking more like they should have been playing to a school assembly rather than paying punters, the only thing that can really be said about the act (I’ll refer to them as that as I didn’t bother catching their name) was that the singer could just about carry a tune. Unfortunately the music and lyrics all conformed to Local Band clichés and the set seemed to drag.

It was of course worth it for, what was personally the main attraction of the evening. You Animals had the small stage decorated with a couple of lampshades and ripped straight into superb album opener ‘Theme From You Animals’. Instantly brilliant the energetic sound of the record was brilliantly translated, with frontman Ryan’s eyes piercing out from under his fringe. With the set picking out the quicker songs from their forthcoming album Crimes, Creeps & Thrills all eyes were on Ryan who easily became the focus, with his five bandmates confined by the small stage.

With multiple punters already knowing the words to the songs You Animals closed with the epic album finisher ‘Shotgun Valentine’ and the perfect set was topped off by my picking up of a postcard to find this very site quoted on it. Sadly the gig for KPL ended there. A (rare) visit from a London based friend meant that we couldn’t stay for The Xcerts, so let’s just assume that they were really bloody ace. Because they usually are!

You Animals didn’t leave us long however. The money that KPL put into the merch stand to buy a copy of their album on CD managed to get the band to the next date on their Xcerts tour and from that they graced Sheffield again on Monday (April 4th) for a free show at SoYo. Another show where, sadly, the band on immediately before You Animals did nothing for us. I think they were called The Cartel and were, in short: boringly competent but well versed in Dad rock etiquette. But hey, it was free and it was YA we’d come for. So you’ll be pleased to hear that they even managed to blow their Leadmill set out of the water.

Playing the same songs (albeit in a slightly different order) to those they played a few days previously, Ryan was no longer confined by the boundaries of the stage and clambered across the venue, over sofas, chairs and punters. ‘What A Shame, Lorraine’ and ‘Halfway To Heartbreak’ again proved to be highlights but this time were interrupted on occasion by Ryan hugging, molesting and winding his mic cord around the crowd. A jump from a sofa early on even managed to dislodge a small section of a chic ‘70s light fitting, wich we hope no-one from the venue noticed.

In the living room-like surroundings of SoYo You Animals lamps fit in as much as their punky indiepop stood out, but once again the six-piece demonstrated why it is they’re getting positive press from media outlets across the country and why it is you should really go and see them the next time they hit a city near you.

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

Album Review: Noah And The Whale - Last Night On Earth

Released: March 7th
Label: Mercury Records

When Noah And The Whale arrived with their first hit there was doubts on how long they'd last. Whilst Charlie Fink pondered if his relationship would last for five years (it wouldn't) critics expected NATW to be flash-in-the-pan folkies. One hit blunders. For those that still had thoughts of the kind after sombre pop masterpice The First Days Of Spring Noah And The Whale have iron-clad proof that they're actually a pretty classic band.

Let's get this straight. As pop albums that are aimed at a mainstream audience go, Last Night On Earth is the best one for a very long time. And that's not something I'll say lightly.

You've heard mega-hit 'L.I.F.E.G.O.E.S.O.N.' by now and will therefore have a flavour of what Noah And The Whale are offering with the album. A departure from their folkie roots it matches Fink's character based song-writing with traditional pop sounds and indie rock guitars. Yes, at times it recalls The Kinks or Tom Petty, but the classic melody and soaring nostalgia ensure that it feels very vital.

In fact, reminiscing is the key to the emotive hook across the breadth of the record with 'Give It All Back' being the best example. Recalling childhoods of long evenings and limitless futures it stakes one hell of a claim to being the best song on a very strong album. 'Wild Thing' meanwhile condenses the aural touchstones of chilwave into something that actually achieves it's emotional objectives. Hazy and summery it years for summer whilst looking to the past. The chiming guitar interrupting throughout serving to expand the glistening sonic scope.

For an album that feels very concise and cohesive, deconstruction seems to reveal that everything's been thrown at the wall on Last Night On Earth. 'Tonight's The Kind Of Night' and 'Old Joy' make excellent use of gospel choirs whilst the gorgeous 'Paradise Stars' is a synth and piano interlude of only 90 seconds that re-imagines M83 for warm suburban sunsets. 'Just Me Before We Met' manages to both recall the more tender moments of First Days Of Spring whilst shrugging off the heartbroken persona and 'Waiting For My Chance To Come' is one of the most hopeful moments that's been committed to record in the past few years.

Basically, this is a triumphant album that means three for three for Noah And The Whale. They've created a complete record of anthems that are accessible and universal whilst being warm and intimate. Each song is one to be sang across festivals in the summer heat and to be listened to in the quiet moments at home either in those relaxing alone moments or when cuddling up to yr partner.

Put simply, this album is exquisite.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Track Of The Week: Johnny Foreigner – Johnny Foreigner Vs You (Cursed Version)

As inevitable as Spring following on from Winter, Johnny Foreigner get a Track of the Week with some new material that's premiered on the web this week.

Johnny Foreigner is Cursed is the three-piece's second EP on Alcopop! Records and continues with the labels tradition of coming up with innovative new formats to release music on. Unfortunately (for you), this Frisbee EP (yes, it comes on a goddamn frisbee!) is already sold out, but once it's released on April 18th you should be able to pick up the MP3s from yr usual digital media store.

So, once we get past that delayed 'news' feature we get to the actual Track of the Week, 'Johnny Foreigner Vs You' (Cursed Version)

Johnny Foreigner Vs You (Cursed Version) by johnny foreigner

As you can hear it's a bit of a departure from the traditional JoFo sound, featuring heavily as it does, a piano. But don't worry, they've not gone Keane or something. The instrument is hypnotic and minimally present to provide backing for Alexei's paced vocal and Kelly's haunting backing. It's still very recognisably the band that we love, but is a showcase of a side that we might forget exists. (Although, as the title implies, we may see a 'rock' version of this come Album #3 time.)

But if that's not what yr after from JoFo right now they've made two songs from ...Cursed available to stream from Soundcloud, and the other one ('What Drummers Get') is much more what we're used to from the band, with added drum machine intro. ACES!

What Drummers Get by johnny foreigner