All entries for Thursday 11 October 2007

October 11, 2007

Offbeat – Warwick's Indie Music Society

Offbeat Logo


Offbeat (www.offbeat.org.uk/forum) is Warwick University’s premier ‘alternative/Indie’ music society. Offbeat functions as a safe haven to all those students whose taste in music is not of the ‘mainstream’ variety. Joining Offbeat will give you the chance to meet with like-minded individuals who share your passion for the music you love. Offbeat does this by organizing socials, where members can mix, mingle and build friendships over shared loves. All genres are welcomed, but fans of Indie, Punk, New-Wave, Electro, Psychadelic, Folk and Post-Punk will find themselves particularly at home. The more obscure and different your taste is, the better. Both through discussions on the forums (www.offbeat.org.uk/forum) and chats in the ‘real world’ (normally over a pint or two) Offbeat members introduce and recommend all sorts of different music to each other!

Offbeat’s socials have become somewhat legendary, and offer students the chance to appreciate good music in great surroundings. In the past, Offbeat have used the Graduate Club (located above the Graduate Bar) to stage themed discos, where the members get to DJ and decide what tunes go on the playlist (so, less Bump’n’Grind, more Paranoid Android!). Previous successful disco nights have included a John Peel tribute disco (yes, we played Teenage Kicks twice!), an all-Radiohead night and an all Smiths and Morrisey disco (with much gladioli swinging and effervesce posturing). We plan to continue that this year, so keep an eye on the website (www.offbeat.org.uk) for more details!

Offbeat is also a keen promoter of live music, and usually tries to stage at least one gig a year, with either the cream of the local crop (such as Honeytrap - www.myspace.com/honeytraponmyspace David Bowie's new favourite band!) or Indie legends, such as Darren Hayman (former Hefner) who played for us at Coventry’s premier indie nightspot ‘Taylor John’s’ (http://www.myspace.com/thetinangel). This year, we gave away a free CD to all new members, packed with the best signed, and un-signed, bands on the local scene such as chart heroes The Ripps (www.myspace.com/theripps) and NME hopefuls, The Sequins (www.myspace.com/thesequinsspace). If you didn't get one, sign up to the forum, and I'm sure we can get a CD to you.

Offbeat is a constantly evolving entity, and keen for new members and new ideas. Please sign up online (www.warwicksu.com/organisation/4200). As a member of Offbeat, you will be entitled to discounts on the Universities new club night, Electric City, gigs and discos, organized by or in conjunction with the society. You will be put on a mailing list and receive regular updates as to what’s happening in the indie/alternative world, in and around campus. Being in Offbeat is a great way to make new friends and to discover some great music- join us now and discover the alternative campus!

http://www.offbeat.org.uk/forum

[/shameless plug] 


Scouting For Girls – Scouting For Girls

Title:
Rating:
1 out of 5 stars

Liam Gilligan

Hot on the heels of other summery indie pop bands such as The Hoosiers and Air Traffic, are “Scouting for Girls”, releasing their self titled first album. Following their top 10 single “She’s So Lovely” – a track which sounds just like The Feeling – if they weren’t quite so posh.

These guys have achieved the perfect formula for being just another band that becomes a local radio favourite, the type of band your mum would enjoy on the drive home from work. They’ve got catchy, piano driven songs that make you smile and think “that’s nice”. However, herein lies the main problem, since every song on the album follows this formula, it gets tired and repetitive very quickly.

It doesn’t help that all the songs on this album link back to the same old subject – girls. Songs about girls who have dumped him, songs about girls who have boys, so on and so on. Repetition also sits in every single song; with lead single “She’s So Lovely” being the worst, with the entire chorus being one line repeated seven times.

This album is cheery and probably perfect background music for the summer, however it's still unchallenging, bland and really just shows how lazy bands have become while still being able to achieve success by hopping onto the “remotely Indie” pile. This is probably one for your Mum.



Idlewild – Scottish Fiction : Best Of 1997 – 2007

Title:
Rating:
3 out of 5 stars

Thom Kirwan

This new release from Scottish Indie-rockers Idlewild contains 17 tracks spanning all 5 of their LP's but sadly nothing from the 1998 "Captain" EP.

Every Idlewild album so far has had a distinctive sound to it, so the non-chronological track order provides an eclectic and enjoyable experience, especially when the album moves from "When I Argue I See Shapes" from their debut LP "Hope is Important" to "Love Steals Us From Loneliness" from 2005's "Warnings/Promises", where the change in Roddy's voice is so profound that it makes you wonder if they replaced him with a lookalike folk singer somewhere between the two albums. Similarly the production qualities and styles vary so wildly you would be forgiven for thinking you were listening to a Various Artists album rather than hearing a band evolve over the years.

Listening to Scottish Fiction alone you would never believe that Idlewild started off as a punk band with Roddy screaming down the mic, and this is where my only criticism of the album lies. Even though you can immediately tell which era each song is from, the songs that defined the punk/folk periods of their career are missing, omitted in favour of the singles from each album.

So overall whilst this is a great introduction to Idlewild you need to dig a bit deeper to see the whole picture, which is a shame as some of their finest moments have come from the depths of each album.


David Ford – Songs For The Road

Title:
Rating:
4 out of 5 stars

Phil Brown

David Ford is one of those gems from the troubadour scene with the Glengarry-esque ethic of ‘Always Be Touring’. The past year has seen him make his way from Northampton to Texas, conscientiously acquiring as many fans as he can fit into earshot along the way. When he returned from the States for his traditional ‘Milk & Cookies’ Christmas gig in Lewes, it was with the poise and gravitas of a songwriter ready to raise his game, and this latest release, Songs For The Road is the perfect pivot about which to achieve this.

Weighing in at just nine tracks and thirty minutes in length, Songs represents the distillation of two years’ worth of mid-tour compositions from one of the more masterful members of the British acoustic scene. A notable evolution from the Spartan instrumentation of his debut album, Ford has boldly ventured into more epic territory with this release, padding the timbre of the first three tracks with a full string orchestra and even furnishing the album’s title track with an out-of-character trombone solo.

One can understand Ford’s reasoning for beginning his solo career with a more-or-less ‘one-man-and-his-acoustic’ instrumentation, as he had just split from ‘Easyworld’, a band that retrospectively appears to be David going about his musical business with a couple of teenage Smashing Pumpkins fans playing guitar and drums over the top. However, the effect of his recent readiness to work with a full band has given his sound the added sophistication of a songwriter who can competently write a part for a string quartet, such as opening track Go To Hell, without over-crowding the back-to-basics sound that endeared him to us in the first place.

Stand-out tracks on the album are Decimate, a song that was first composed using a percussion loop created by tapping type-writer keys, and Nobody Tells Me What To Do, a rare celebration of the life of the lonely single man. These are also the two songs that fully encapsulate the important effect of Ford’s use of a full band on his new album. Whilst his voice has always been an astounding hybrid of charm and melancholy with a vocal range to make most pop-stars jealous, and his lyrical ability putting him a cut above your average guy with a guitar and a broken heart, it is hard to listen to Ford’s early work without the strange feeling that you’re just listening to the work of a man in need of a hug. With songs such as Decimate however, we see Ford up the stakes somewhat and vie to make us cry and tap our feet at the same time, hitting us with one of those rare hybrids of ‘heartfelt’ and ‘catchy’.

I would recommend this album to anyone who likes Damien Rice but wish he’d just grow a pair of balls and get over it.


Hard–Fi – Once Upon A Time In The West

Title:
Rating:
2 out of 5 stars

Ollie Smyth

I’ve always struggled to pinpoint Hard-Fi’s appeal. I mean they’re a band with a pretty shabby name and the sort of image that even Marks and Spencer wouldn’t touch.

I’m going to make a conscious effort to avoid the ‘difficult second album’ tag and the fact that Hard-Fi are a rather poor live outfit.

Nevertheless, the boys are back with another forty minutes worth of bold, cocky, and stomping tunes. Suburban Knights isn’t bad at all and is even now a regular feature in Evolve’s ‘indie’ room on a Thursday. It's followed by I Shall Overcome, a song with a pathetic chorus yet a rather charming chorus.

Lyrically there’s no real progression. Richard Archer is once again falling for strangers and then singing about it in a very bitter manner from start to finish.

Recent single Can't Get Along (Without You) being the perfect example. Let’s just hope Archer has some strong friends to see him through his constant heartache.

The perennial Hard-Fi background harmonies haven’t gone anywhere and neither has the brisk guitaring that was key to the success of debut Stars Of CCTV.

My housemate has labelled Television as genuinely the worst song he’s ever heard coming from my room. Jonathan is not a Hard-Fi fan. Unfortunately for the lads from Staines it’s probably one of the more memorable moments from the record.

It’s safe to say, however, that the powers that be at mainstream radio will love this collection of gritty, wishy-washy indie rock’n’roll songs.

In truth it’s the job of the slow ballads, Help Me Please and Tonight, to save the album from mid-top forty obscurity. The band are clearly capable of some thoughtful song writing which will no doubt lend to their accessibility.

Having spent a fair bit of time living once upon a time on a train with this album i hard not to think that the band could have, and really should of, delivered a more convincing effort.

Once Upon A Time In The West is also an incredibly hard album to place in one’s life. It’s certainly not the best going out music; neither are the band suited to library time.

Watch Me Fall Apart is quite a pleasant little song but only goes to further illustrate the tediousness of the Archer anguish.

Likewise, We Need Love, will no doubt soon hold a special place in the hearts’ of middle aged singletons everywhere.

This is a musically competent album and not an entirely bad effort. I know this sounds like a sixth-form Geography report but there’s not an awful lot more to say about this lot. I’ve often wondered if anyone actually missed Hard-Fi during their absence? Anyone?

I’ve since discovered Hard-Fi to be the perfect band to have to perfect shave to.

My copy has already been handed down to my little brother. So thanks, but no thanks.


Sum 41 – Underclass Hero

Title:
Rating:
2 out of 5 stars

Liam Gilligan

I must admit, Sum 41 are a guilty pleasure of mine. I enjoy nothing better then throwing on “All Killer No Filler” and reminiscing to the days when I was a tiny, spiky haired 14 year old.. In reviewing this album, I was hoping that losing their guitarist, taking a political stand and marrying Avril Lavigne had not caused Sum 41 to lose their spark.

Opening track "Underclass Hero" immediately jumps into All Killer No Filler mode, Donning baggy shorts and jumping in the air to something that sounds suspiciously like Fat Lip. The rest of the album though, sounds as if Deryck Whibley has been listening to his pop-punk contemporaries a bit too much. “March of the Dogs” and “Walking Disaster” wouldn’t sound out of place on Blink’s last album, and the political messages that constantly stand out scream “American Idiot”.

The melodrama that accompanies this album drags it down, and while previous album Chuck had slower ballads to intervene and break up the faster songs, this record leaves me waiting to throw my fists in the air and pump my fists.

The most disappointing thing about this album is that while their sound has obviously matured, they’ve lost what made them stand out in the first place, with only tracks like Underclass Hero and King of Contradictions sounding like Sum 41. It's just all been done before, and done better as well.


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