Sunday, 19 May 2013

Top 10 Episodes: How I Met Your Mother


As the 8th season of How I Met Your Mother came to an end recently and we finally caught a glimpse of the titular mother character, it seems as good a time as any to take a look back on the finest moments of the often comical yet equally heart-warming show.

1. Come On (S1, E22)My very favourite episode for the perfect way in which it contrasts Ted/Robin's eventual hook-up and Lily/Marshall's tragic breakup. The final 5 minutes of Come On are the very reason I love How I Met Your Mother- a perfect, genuinely moving pay off that defines the trademark blend of humour and emotion the series is renowned for. All to the sound of Bloc Party's ''This Modern Love'', another aspect that the series always had right with its excellent soundtrack.

2. The Playbook (S5, E8)The ultimate episode for the show's breakout character as Barney attempts to deal with his breakup from Robin by taking out his playbook and executing some of his finest swindles, scams and hoodwinks in hilarious fashion. Highlights include The He's Not Coming, The Don't Drink That, The Lorenzo Von Matterhorn, and of course, The Scuba Diver. Legen-wait for it-dary.

3. Slap Bet (S2, E9)A verified classic of the series as we are introduced to Robin Sparkles- the Canadian's secret teenage pop star alias. Her rendition of ''Let's Go To The Mall'' and the group's reaction is undoubtedly one of the show's best moments.

4. The Platinum Rule (S3, E11)This is probably the definitive example of  the shows brilliant editing techniques as Barney attempts to convince Ted not to date Stella (who would later leave him at the alter) by providing examples of the gang's most awkward relationships and their inevitable endings.

5. Spoiler Alert (S3, E8)Another great group episode as each of the characters flaws are exposed- Ted's correcting, Marshall's singing, Barney's catchphrases, Robin's word over usage and Lily's loud snacking makes for a great episode that ends with a nice moment as Marshall gets his lawyers degree.

6. Girls Vs. Suits (S5, E12)
The show marked its 100th episode with a captivating musical number by Barney as he attempted to choose between his two favourite things in the world. Meanwhile, Ted dates Cindy, who can't seem to get over her roommates habit of stealing her boyfriends, which it turns out she would be doing once again later on down the line as she is revealed to be the future Mrs. Ted Mosby and mother to his children.

7. How I Met Everyone Else (S3, E5)A trip down memory lane for the gang as they recollect how each of them came to know each other. Hilarity ensues as we take a look at Ted's first meeting with Barney, Lily and Marshall which causes problems between our main character and his crazy new girlfriend ''Blah Blah''.

8. Perfect Week (S5, E14)Another excellent Barney episode as the notorious womanizer goes for the ultimate prize- a perfect week long string of hook up's that is almost thwarted by Lily last minute. Ted also has a problem with a student in class who goes by the name of Poo.

9. Life Among The Gorillas (S1, E17)STEAK SAUCE! Marshall's work buddies make this episode their own as they taunt him for not being one of their kind. In turn Marshall enlists Barney to teach him Reservoir Dogs style how to become a bro. Elsewhere Ted is struggling to stay in touch with long-distant girlfriend Victoria while Robin is realizing her true feelings for Ted.

10. Okay, Awesome (S1, E5)Every series has that moment where it all clicks into place and starts to make sense. Okay Awesome was that for HIMYM as the gang visited a city centre nightclub only to realise in their own individual ways that they weren't as young and suited to New York nightlife as they thought anymore.

Rabbit Or Duck: Ten More Favourites That Didn't Quite Make It
The Pineapple Incident (S1, E10)
Swarley (S2, E7)
Ten Sessions (S3, E13)
The Naked Man (S4, E9)
Benefits (S4, E12)
Three Days Of Snow (S4, E13)
The Window (S5, E10)
A Change Of Heart (S6, E18)
Farhampton (S8, E1)
The Time Travellers (S8, E20)

For more TV articles from Heavy Metal Mouth, check out my Top 15 Breaking Bad Episodes.

Or for music news and reviews, check out my Top Albums of 2013.

Saturday, 18 May 2013

Heavy Metal Mouth's Album Of The Year: 2000-2013

It seems to be a badge of honour these days to mourn the death of modern music among the current generation of listeners who've convinced themselves that they'd rather have lived in the 60's, 70's or 90's (nobody wants to live in the 80's) for the sole purpose of immersing themselves in the music scene of that time be it the hippy, hard rock, or grunge style that was dominating the airwaves throughout their respective decades. Well I'm here to argue otherwise, and tell you that I'm proud to be a product of the times that have produced the following albums and acts since the millennium year.

From the turn of the century, we've been bestowed with many a musical talent. The likes of Radiohead, Blur and Oasis continued their already established success while we were introduced to some of the biggest names in the world today with acts such as The Arcade Fire, The Strokes and Arctic Monkeys beginning to dominate after their impressive arrivals on the world stage. Each year has produced a range of outstanding albums, so let's take a look at the very finest as we count down the Albums Of The Year 00-13.

2000: Kid A- Radiohead

In 1998, a documentary was released entitled Meeting People Is Easy that followed Radiohead on the road during their Angels & Demons tour in support of the universally acclaimed OK Computer in 1997. It exposed the mental and physical strain of a world tour in a way that had never been witnessed onscreen before- Frontman Thom Yorke suffered a complete mental breakdown as he struggled to deal with the band's newfound success and for a short time it seemed possible that we'd never hear from Radiohead again.

So how exactly would the band respond to an album that many have labelled since the greatest of all time? Well, if you're Radiohead, you just create another, only this time you completely reinvent your sound and simultaneously create and perfect and style of music that would be dominate the next century of music, right to the present day. A mind-blowing electronica masterpiece that began the century in style and has dominated it since.

Best Tracks: Everything In Its Right Place/Idioteque/Motion Picture Soundtrack

Honourable Mentions: The Marshall Mathers LP- Eminem, Agaetis Bryjun- Sigur Ros, We Have The Facts And We're Voting Yes- Death Cab For Cutie

2001: Discovery- Daft Punk

The opening four song combination of ''One More Time'' to ''Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger'' that kicks off Discovery is as impressive a foursome you'll ever hear in music. With Thomas Bangalar and Guy Manuel de Homem-Christo's second album, the duo redefined dance music with their blend of disco, synth and house and they have remained kings of the genre since, despite their failure to replicate the sensational dance classic that is Discovery.

Best Tracks: Aerodynamic/Digital Love/Something About Us

Honourable Mentions: Is This It?- The Strokes, Amnesiac- Radiohead, Gorillaz- Gorillaz, Vespertine- Bjork

2002: Turn On The Bright Lights- Interpol

 It's been a whole ten years since we were first introduced to Paul Banks, Daniel Kessler, Carlos D and Sam Fogarino on Turn On The Bright Lights but a decade later, it sounds just as relevant and innovative as it did back then. The release of Interpol's debut was met with universal praise, introducing a new generation to the sound of post-punk as sculpted by the likes of Joy Division and Echo & The Bunnymen. The fact is though, that Interpol are a far different band than most would have you believe to Joy Divison or any of their predecessors. To compare the two is futile and insulting to the NY four piece because Turn On The Bright Lights has become a classic in it's own right, one that stands alongside Closer, Ocean Rain or The Queen Is Dead and in my opinion even surpasses them.

The beauty of Interpol's work and the reason they've always been so enjoyable live is the apparent simplicity of their work, but the fact is it took real creative and technical genius to achieve something as epic and glorious as Turn On The Bright Lights. Ten years on and for my money there hasn't been a finer album since, and I'll be surprised if I'm not saying that again in another ten.

Best Tracks: Untitled/The New/Leif Erikson

Honourable Mentions: ( ) - Sigur Ros, Sea Change- Beck, Lifted Or The Story Is In The Soil Keep Your Ear To The Ground- Bright Eyes

2003: You Forgot It In People- Broken Social Scene

2003 was a year filled with impressive debuts- The Postal Service influenced a generation of synth pop dreamers with Give Up while Fever To Tell announced the arrival of The Yeah Yeah Yeah's punk pop in style. This was Broken Social Scene's second following Feel Good Lost, a mostly instrumental, post rock effort that is extremely enjoyable in it's own right, but You Forgot It In People felt like the true arrival of Canadian collective with it's flawless blend of indie rock and baroque pop.

Best Tracks: Anthems For A Seventeen Year Old Girl/Lover's Spit/I'm Still Your Fag

Honourable Mentions: Hail To The Thief- Radiohead, Give Up- The Postal Service, Fever To Tell- The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Earth Is Not A Cold Dead Place- Explosions In The Sky, Transaltanticism- Death Cab For Cutie

2004: Funeral- The Arcade Fire

Funeral was born out of the loss of several family members for The Arcade Fire in a short space of time- Win and William Butler lost their grandfather, Regine Chassange's grandmother passed away while Richard Parry's aunt also died. But out of the darkness came the light as these combined tragedies paved the way for an album that many proclaimed the best of the decade. There will never be another Funeral, despite the countless number of acts who've tried to imitate it since, because the sheer passion, heart-on-sleeve emotion that is captured so vividly within these ten tracks cannot be recreated. Funeral's message is one of triumph in unity, and it couldn't be more fitting for the Canadian nine piece, each of whom combine with a startling range of instruments (violin, viola, double bass, cello, xylophone, glockenspiel, French horn, hurdy-gurdy, mandolin, accordion and harp are all used) to create this tender masterpiece. A one of a kind, lightening in a bottle classic that will never be matched again.

Best Tracks: Neighbourhood #1 (Tunnels)/Wake Up/Rebellion (Lies)

Honourable Mentions: Talkie Walkie- Air, The Milk Eyed Mender- Joanna Newsom, Soviet Kitcsh- Regina Spektor

2005: Silent Alarm- Bloc Party

Mostly white album cover with winter image of grey tree line in distance, captioned "BLOC PARTY." and (much smaller) "SILENT ALARM" below it.

It was extremely difficult for me to ignore Conor Oberst's double release of I'm Wide Awake It's Morning/Digital Ash In A Digital Urn this year, but Silent Alarm just about pips it for the influential significance that is carried right through to this day from Bloc Party's debut record. The lyrical beauty of Kele Okerere, Russell Lissack's unique guitar skills and the outstanding rhythm section of Moakes and Tong resulted in a thrilling, mature, relevant and challenging album that examined modern youth in Britain. Perhaps the most striking thing about it all was how experienced Silent Alarm sounded- these four twenty something's sounded as though they'd been playing together for thirty years and they consciously combined the themes and sounds of past decades of classic British bands from The Cure and The Smiths to Radiohead and Blur while adding themselves to the legendary line up with this instantly classic debut.

Best Tracks: Like Eating Glass/This Modern Love/So Here We Are

Honourable Mentions: I'm Wide Awake It's Morning/Digital Ash In A Digital Urn- Bright Eyes, Late Registration- Kanye West, Has A Good Home- Final Fantasy, Akron/Family- Akron/Family

2006: Whatever People Say I Am That's What I'm Not- Arctic Monkeys

While Bloc Party were following in the footsteps of bands such as Radiohead and U2 with their penchant for intelligent indie rock, Arctic Monkeys were recreating an entirely different sound with their brand of thumping garage rock as they followed in the footsteps of Oasis and The Stone Roses. Whatever People Say I Am... was a flawlessly skilful debut bursting with unapologetic attitude, and if you even thought for a second that this was style over substance, listen to Alex Turner's brutally honest, often hilarious lyrical wordplay on tracks such as ''A Certain Romance'' and ''Riot Van'' which showcased the Yorkshireman's wry intellect. And it all sounded so very effortless.

Best Tracks: The View From The Afternoon/When The Sun Goes Down/A Certain Romance

Honourable Mentions: Ys- Joanna Newsom, Yellow House- Grizzly Bear, The Eraser- Thom Yorke

2007: For Emma Forever Ago- Bon Iver

We all know the story: heartbroken from a failed relationship, frustrated by lack of success and the break up of failed indie act DeYarmond Edison, and suffering with a severe bout of mononucleosis, Justin Vernon retreated to his father's cabin in the Wisconsin woods to ''hibernate'' for winter. The result was this spellbinding, majestic piece of acoustic music that encompassed the burning emotions (disappointment, regret, guilt, heartache, vulnerability, loss, anger, insecurity, grief) inside the songwriter all within 39 minutes. It has been said that the cabin plays as much an instrument throughout For Emma as guitar, bass or drums and to a large extent this is true; the listener is pulled inside Vernon's world in this cold, creaky space for these 9 songs, swallowed whole into the absorbing soundscape that is created by the atmospheric setting.

But as with all great albums, the real brilliance must lie in the songwriting and Vernon is abundantly gifted in this respect, exposing himself in vivid detail, word painting images of a broken man with nothing left to lose. Vernon once described the making of the album as ''the most cathartic experience'' of his life, but the real achievement of For Emma is how real it sounds to the listener- you'll feel the pain and suffering of Vernon melting away with his every word and for anyone who knows the feeling, it will resonate deeply for a long time.

Best Tracks: Flume/Skinny Love/The Wolves (Act I & II)

Honourable Mentions: Cryptograms- Deerhunter, Beyond- Dinosaur Jr, From Here We Go Sublime-The Field, In Rainbows- Radiohead, All Of A Sudden I Miss Everyone, Love Is Simple- Akron/Family

2008: Crystal Castles- Crystal Castles

2008 was an excellent year for electronic music with the debut of Atlas Sound and Bloc Party's daring third record Intimacy, but the real success story of the year came from Alice Glass and Ethan Kath, an unlikely duo that created the innovative dance-punk styling's of Crystal Castles on their eponymous debut. Glass' distorted vocal and minimal lyrics combined with Kath's experimental hardcore production works to perfection and has continued to since with the release of the Canadian acts finest album last year in (III).

Best Tracks: Alice Practice/Crimewave/Courtship Dating

Honourable Mentions: Let The Blind Lead Those Who Can See But Cannot Feel- Atlas Sound, 808's & Heartbreak- Kanye West, Intimacy- Bloc Party, The Seldom Seen Kid- Elbow

2009: xx- The xx

It was back in 2009 that we were first introduced to the sensual sounds of The xx and it's not hard to see why xx was such a critical and commercial success; in an age of increasingly complex and layered soundscapes, the simplistic yet evocative sound of the London trio's debut was a refreshing, intriguing change of pace. Their back to basics ethic consisted of a minimal guitar and bass set up backed by the synths and beats of Jamie xx, as Romy Madley Croft and Oliver Sim crooned their way through a series of  sexually charged, romantic tunes. The flawless beauty of these 11 tracks was a captivating examination of love, sex and relationships that the group will never quite be able to replicate again.

Best Tracks: Heart Skipped A Beat/Infinity/Stars

Honourable Mentions: Veckatimest- Grizzly Bear,Two Suns- Bat For Lashes, Its Blitz!- The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Bastard- Tyler The Creator, I Had The Blues But I Shook Them Loose- Bombay Bicycle Club

2010: My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy- Kanye West

A largely lukewarm reception from die-hard Kanye fans followed the release of 808's & Heartbreak in 2008, but as you can see from my picks above, I was a big fan. The polarizing fourth effort experimented heavily with auto tune and ignored Ye's hip-hop roots in favour of a daring electro approach that was negatively received for the most part.

This time around, West was in no mood for experimentation, retreating back to his sample heavy style with glorious success, creating one of the finest rap records of the century in My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy and in my opinion, the best of his career so far. Collaborating with an excellent range of superstars from Rihanna and Nicki Minaj to RZA and Raekwon, Ye made great use of the talent at his disposal while remaining the undoubted centrepiece of the show. Highlights included ''Runaway'', a 9 minute masterful call back to 808's, opener ''Dark Fantasy'' and the shimmering beauty of ''All Of The Lights'' led by Rihanna's outstanding vocal. With West's sixth studio album due out this year, it's hard not to imagine another classic being produced by the icon judging from this material.

Best Tracks: All Of The Lights/Monster/Runaway

Honourable Mentions: CMYK/The Bells Sketch/Klavierwerke EP- James Blake, The Suburbs- The Arcade Fire, Earl- Earl Sweatshirt

2011: James Blake- James Blake

James Blake has never been a straightforward producer like his electronic contemporaries. Unlike say, SBTRKT, Blake falls heavily into the singer songwriter category, closer in many respects to acts such as Grizzly Bear or Bon Iver due to his minimal emotive style. The young Briton first gained attention back in 2010 with a series of EP releases, among them The Bells Sketch, CMYK and Klavierwerke, and while these were exciting, mostly instrumental efforts that marked the arrival of a young talent amongst a sea of similarly minded electro musicians, it was James Blake that set the Londoner far beyond the rest. The key difference here was Blake's distinctive, heartfelt vocal that dominated each track and breathed new life into his promising dub beats, creating a modern electronic classic and announcing Blake's true arrival in some style.

Best Tracks: The Wilhelm Scream/I Never Learnt To Share/Lindisfarne

Honourable Mentions: Section. 80- Kendrick Lamar, SBTRKT- SBTRKT

2012: good kid, m.A.A.d city- Kendrick Lamar

Lamar has been touted in recent times as the next Kanye West, Jay-Z or even Biggie Smalls and it's not hard to see why. Following the release of his acclaimed debut mixtape Section .80, Kendrick dropped good kid, m.A.A.d city in late October to near universal critical approval and rave reviews which compared the Compton rapper to the late Notorious B.I.G for his storytelling style and lyrical ability.

A concept album laden with atmospheric beats and low key production, good kid, m.A.A.d city has been rightfully ranked in several end-of-year best lists in 2012 but I see this as one album destined to stand the test of time and gain classic status as soon as it's old enough.

Best Tracks: Bitch Don't Kill My Vibe/The Art Of Peer Pressure/m.A.A.d city

Honourable Mentions: channel ORANGE- Frank Ocean, Shrines- Purity Ring, Visions- Grimes, Crystal Castles III- Crystal Castles

2013 is certainly carrying some weight already with Tyler's Wolf and James Blake's Overgrown marking recent standouts. With the impending release of Doris by Earl Sweatshirt, Random Access Memories by Daft Punk and Kanye's sixth album, we're certainly in for another excellent year and you can stay tuned at HMM for reviews and news on these records.

Alternatively, have a look at our Best Of Music List 2012. Or for music reviews this year from the site, check out our thoughts on Wolf and Overgrown.

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

City Show Door To Mancini: Where Do We Go From Here?

[Side note: While Heavy Metal Mouth is a music blog most of the time, as a lifelong Manchester City fan I couldn't let this moment pass without my own thoughts, so here goes my once-off football post.]

Exactly one year to the day that Sergio Aguero scored that now legendary title winning goal, Roberto Mancini has been sacked as Manchester City manager. The Italian, who also delivered the FA Cup for City in 2011, was confirmed as gone around half past ten this evening following days of speculation after the clubs collapse in the FA Cup final against Wigan on Saturday. What a difference 365 days can make- Alex Ferguson and the red half of Manchester toured the Premier League trophy across the city today while the Blues watched on in embarrassed silence, perhaps reminded of the days before Sheikh Mansour when this was an all too regular occurrence.

As a Manchester City fan myself, I feel the pain and suffering of my fellow Blues following a season filled with bitter disappointments and second place finishes, but I also ask if it was truly necessary to rid ourselves of the man who made us champions just a short while ago. The answer, for me at least, is a firm no. How quickly we all forget the 35 year trophy drought that plagued this club for decades was ended by the same man who today has been hurriedly pushed away by the club and had fans who celebrated him last season turn their backs as though it never happened in the first place. On the legacy of 13th May 2012 alone, surely Mancini has bought himself time to make amends?

That is not to say it hasn't been an underwhelming season. Second by such a large margin in the Premiership is unacceptable and for the most part is the result of silly draws and losses to clubs lower down the table than ourselves, while the Champions League was nothing short of humbling, however the extremely tough nature of our group must be taken into account with both qualifying teams reaching the semi-final and final in Real Madrid and Dortmund respectively. Underwhelming, yes. Disappointing, yes. Disastrous? No. Targets may not have been met, as the official club statement points out, but we are still building an empire here and it will take longer than a couple of years to perfect it.

As hard as it is to look across the city at the moment, United must be taken as an example of how to succeed long term in football. Stability is a key factor and this has been proven time and time again by Alex Ferguson, who leaves the club next week as the finest manager of all time in the game for my money. United's dominance is down to the stability, unity and togetherness that Ferguson instilled since day one, building for the future and thinking bigger than right here, right now.

It's also been proven by Chelsea that changing managers every time something goes wrong is a recipe for disaster, and their outrageous managerial policy is no doubt the reason that they are contesting for a Champions League place this year rather than the title itself. The sacking of Mancini sets a precedent I don't like, and the last thing we need is to follow in the footsteps of Roman Abramovich, a man who treats his football club like his own personal plaything rather than an organisation that affects hundreds of thousands of fans around the world.

So who comes in now? The bookmakers say Manuel Pellegrini, former Real Madrid and current Malaga coach, yet I fail to see how his credentials outdo Mancini's. Perhaps there's something I'm not aware of regarding the Chilean, but for the life of me I don't get the hype. Pellegrini will wants his own players, his own system and his own staff at the club and that's means one thing- rebuilding. Now we start all over again and try to build a new squad with a new style of play under a new manager and the results are bound to be slow if they are even successful at all.

Outside Pellegrini, I can't see many first rate choices that would serve to comfort me at this moment in time aside from the Special One who is heading back to Stamford Bridge if reports are to be believed anyhow, presenting an entirely new and dangerous challenge for the 2013-14 season also. If somehow Mansour was able to pull the masterstroke of landing Jose Mourinho then at least I could see a way forward, a plan of some sort, and a great deal of hope for next season, but it's highly unlikely and the probability is that we will be presented a new coach with the more or less the same level ability of ability as the one who just left.

It used to be the way that City would take a step forward and two back, and for this the fans have long suffered. But all of that seemed to end last season when that magical moment lit up the Etihad and we became Champions on that glorious day. One year on, and we have most certainly taken a terrible step back.

Tuesday, 7 May 2013

''Overgrown'' James Blake - A Review

James Blake has never been a straightforward producer like his electronic contemporaries. Unlike say, SBTRKT, Blake falls heavily into the singer songwriter category, closer in many respects to acts such as Grizzly Bear or Bon Iver due to his minimal emotive style. The young Briton first gained attention back in 2010 with a series of EP releases, among them The Bells Sketch, CMYK and Klavierwerke, and while these were exciting, mostly instrumental efforts that marked the arrival of a young talent amongst a sea of similarly minded electro musicians, it was James Blake (2011) that set the Londoner far beyond the rest. The key difference here was Blake's distinctive, heartfelt vocal that dominated each track and breathed new life into his promising dub beats.

Two years later, Overgrown has arrived amidst much expectation following one of the most highly acclaimed debuts in recent years. It was difficult to tell which direction Blake would head in this time around- a more accessible, commercially viable record, or one that fell deeper into the quiet contemplation of his first. Thankfully for us, Blake has retained his signature reserved approach and Overgrown is an album that follows much the same path as its predecessor to great success.

The title track opens with a laid back, soothing number that washes over the listener while calmly welcoming them in before ''I Am Sold'' begins a slow build, threatening to explode at any moment but ultimately teasing a climax that never comes. Instead it arrives on ''Life Round Here'', with a menacing synth that creeps up behind the track before confronting the beat accompanied by Blake's calm vocal in one of the albums finest moments.

Next is the major talking point of the album, namely the collaboration between Wu Tang Clan legend RZA and Blake on ''Take A Fall For Me'', which was the subject of much discussion prior to Overgrown's release. Upon hearing that the man behind such classic productions as Liquid Swords and Enter The 36 Chambers was to feature, fans were understandably excited to see what the two could create together, however the result is slightly underwhelming due to the fact that the Wu legend sits out on the production side of things, instead featuring to provide a simple rap. Surprisingly RZA's flow is perfectly suited to Blake's music, and it's an unexpected but well executed collaboration, but one you wouldn't imagine going further than a single track.

Another iconic guest comes in the form of Brian Eno, who shows up on ''Digital Lion'', probably the most intriguing track of the ten and it's no small wonder why with the innovative producer is involved. Blake flirts with trippy experimental arrangements on this and ''Voyeur'', which both serve to expand the Englishman's repertoire and hint at a curious new direction. There is plenty of typical Blake here too though, with ''Dim'' acting as the straightforward piano ballad that always sounds so uniquely gorgeous coming from him (''A Case Of You'', ''Enough Thunder'' among the many examples).

As the album closes out with ''Our Love Comes Back'', Blake croons his way to the end on top of a soft electronic backing that makes for a perfect closer, leaving you to reflect on what you've heard through its lullaby ending. While it's difficult to measure Blake against others because often he defies comparison, it's striking at times on Overgrown how he recalls Thom Yorke's The Eraser and Radiohead's later era- high praise indeed for an artist only two full length releases into their career.

Overall, while there may have been a great deal of talk from critics and fans alike regarding the sound and direction of Overgrown, you get the feeling that the artist himself didn't have to think about it too much. This album feels like a natural growth at an extremely steady pace and Blake deserves major credit for quietly expanding his sound without taking any giant leaps.

When I first listened to Overgrown a quote came to my mind from another Wu legend, GZA. He was talking about the recording process him and RZA carried out for Liquid Swords, arguably the finest of the groups solo releases, and how they were simply ''on a roll, and it was the perfect time to get in the studio and just do it". The same seems to apply at the moment to Blake with Overgrown marking the latest in a string of consistent first-rate releases, and long may it last.


Monday, 6 May 2013

One To Watch: Punch Face Champions

Formed last year in Dublin by friends Jakub Was, Steve Ryan and Dave Newell, Punch Face Champions are an instrumental alt rock band that have quickly taken the capital by storm with their extreme live shows and heavy post-rock sound. Having spent 2012 playing stages such as Knockanstock and Electric Picnic, the lads are set for a busy summer with their upcoming debut EP release and a whole lot of gigging planned.

I spoke to Jakub and Steve, who filled me in on the plan for summer and beyond.

1. First of all, where did the band name come from?

It was stolen in good faith. We started the band purely for fun, and there is an episode of Parks and Recreation where Andy lists all the names that his band had gone through. PFC is one of them. Dave suggested we call it that, and it stuck.

2. Tell us about how you guys got together.

Jakub and Dave missed playing heavier music and started playing for a laugh, and we’re old friends so I started jamming with them. Des rounded us out after a line-up change. It was at matter of timing. Dave, Jakub and myself have played together in various line ups in the past. This time we got together to make some noise and have some fun. We liked it so we kept doing it.

3. What and who influenced you to start an instrumental band? It obviously seems to be catching on lately with the likes of Explosions In The Sky, Godspeed You Black Emperor and even our very own God Is An Astronaut gaining strong followings in recent years.

We like to snack while we practice, lyrics get in the way of a mouthful of Double Decker. In all seriousness, we never actually intended it to be an instrumental band. Musically, the songs kind of took their own shape in the rehearsal room. After we’d been working on them and building them up to where we felt they had all the ingredients, we decided they didn’t need vocals.

4. Describe your sound in a few simple word choices.

Energetic, heavy, melodic……bang, bang, crash, crash, riff, riff with a few yelps thrown in.

5. What are your plans for summer touring/festival wise?

We’re on the KnockanStockan bill and we’ve applied for some more, when we know, you’ll know, we’ll make announcements on our social media stuff. We’re finishing up our EP so we’ll be busy launching that in a couple months. It’s going to be a busy summer and we’re pretty excited about it.

6. How has your experience been on the touring circuit so far? Best venue to play?

We’re Dublin-based. Whelans, Sweeneys and The Mercantile have been regulars but once we have our EP in hand we’ll be setting our sights on the whole country. We’d love to play The Crane lane in Cork and The Roisin Dubh in Galway to name a couple. Get some shows in the North involved too.

7. How was your experience at Electric Picnic last year?

Electric Picnic was amazing. We played 2 gigs that weekend. On Friday night we got lost and ended up dragging our shit through the mud for 2 hours before playing our 2am slot in the Oxjam tent. The other show was in The Bog Cottage, it was dark and sweaty and full of festival hippies. We arrived at the stage, the house gear was falling apart, everyone was pissed and when we started to play they decided to remove their clothes, it felt like everything could disintegrate at any second. It actually turned out to be one of the band’s favourite gigs ever. Great buzz.

8. Tell us about your EP release this summer. When can we get our hands on it?

We recorded the EP in Storm Studio in Portobello, its a 5 track collection of what we think are our best songs so far. We recorded it pretty quickly, just focusing on capturing good energy and vibes. We want it to sound as close to what you’d hear at a PFC show so we didn’t focus on making it perfect, just lively and energetic. It’ll be out soon, we don’t have an exact date just yet, towards the end of the summer.

9. So what's the long term plan lads? Should we be expecting an album in the near future?

Why can’t we just live in the moment bro! Kidding, of course, we’ll definitely have an album some day. For now we’re looking forward to getting our EP out, gigging as much as we can, having fun making noise and seeing how people react to it.

10. Where will Punch Face Champions be in five years time?

Jakub: Probably dead. You can’t have a burrito, a double decker and a bottle of Captain Morgan's every time you rehearse and live to tell the tale.

Punch Face Champions are:

Steve Ryan- guitar and percussion
Dave Newell- guitar
Des Hickey- bass guitar
Jakub Wąs- drums

To listen to Punch Face Champions, you can go here.

Or alternatively for more upcoming Irish acts, check out more HMM Ones To Watch such as Yellowbridge or The Boxing Plot.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Tyler Creates ''Arguably The Most Racist Commercial In History'' For PepsiCo

Picture this: The suits over at PepsiCo sitting around the boardroom and mulling over who to employ as director of their next series of Mountain Dew commercials and settling on the most misogynistic, outrageous, over-the-top rapper in modern music. A perfect fit, right? Surely nothing could go wrong here. Well actually, the shocking result is the most misogynistic, outrageous, over-the-top commercial ''in history'', and Pepsi have no one to blame but themselves.

I mean really, did these people expect a different outcome? The man behind hip-hop collective Odd Future, a group who proudly count rape among their favourite song subject matter, has delivered a hilariously controversial advertisement featuring a goat named Felicia who becomes obsessed with Mountain Dew, beats a waitress, goes on the run from the police and then threatens said waitress when she attempts to identify him amongst a line-up of OF members including Left Brain and L-Boy.

PepsiCo have pulled the 60 second clip after ''being alerted'' to the fact that it could be seen as offensive by its audience, while OF manager Christian Clancy has released a statement on the controversy which you can read below:

"It was never Tylers intention to offend however offense is personal and valid to anyone who is offended," the post reads. "Out of respect to those that were
offended and the ad was taken down. For those who know and respect Tyler he is known for pushing boundaries and challenging stereotypes thru humor. This is someone who grew up on David Chappelle. This situation is layered with context and is a discussion that Tyler would love to address in the right forum as he does have a point of view. As someone who hasn’t had the experience of being discriminated against i choose to respect the opinion of those who have.. what I can speak to is Tyler who represents much more than the current narrative this story suggests. Contrary to what many may discern from this Tyler is the embodiment of not judging others, his delivery may not be for everyone (which is true for anyone who pushes boundaries) but his voice is nonetheless impt to the conversation since his demographic understands what he ultimately stands for and sees the irony of it all. Context may or not help those who are offended and I wholly respect that but for those who are interested I can offer the following and leave the rest to Tyler.

1. This spot was part of an overall admittedly absurd storyline about a crazy goat who becomes obsessed with Mountain Dew

2. The lady in front of the lineup is the waitress from the first spot.

3. The lineup consists of Tylers friends and odd future members who were available that day. (LBoy, Leftbrain, Garret from Trash Talk and Errol)

4. He absolutely never intended to spark a controversy about race. it was simply an again admittedly absurd story that was never meant to be taken seriously.

Again we apologize if this was taken out of context and would never trivialize racism, especially now in America where voting and civil rights are being challenged at the highest level. I can however stand firmly by someone I have believed in since we met only because I know him and i know all of this was never his intent."
In spite of Clancy's apology though, I have to say this works out pretty well for Tyler. Apart from the ensuing publicity he's sure to get, he also stuck it to the idiots at Pepsi who were foolish enough to hire him in the first place, which will delight fans of the rapper. You can check out the third ad of the series here, which see's the battered woman attempting to identify Felicia in the line-up.