65daysofstatic review for Songkick.com

65daysofstatic liveI’ve been a fan of Songkick for a few years now and now it seems this online music diary is now branching out into band reviews.

The latest Songkick competition invites music fans to review their favourite live band in no less than 200 words. If you submit your review before 31 July, you could win $500 of festival vouchers.

Still buzzing from the fantastic eighth edition of 2000 Trees, I thought I’d throw my hat in the ring, so here’s my review of the 65daysofstatic live experience:

“For many a rock fan 65daysofstatic have been the gateway drug to instrumental music and their live show plays a big part in that. Whether they are mid-way through a festival line-up, headlining their own show, or a humble support act (as they have been for Hundred Reasons and The Cure), they always create a memorable atmosphere.

The crowd is always hugely involved and it’s well worth getting down towards the front to experience the full force of noise when the bassline kicks in.

Their music is by turns ethereal and rave-inducing, with their 2010 album ‘We Were Exploding Anyway‘ acting as the touchstone of their career. ‘Go Complex’ is a particular live favourite with a dramatic shift in dynamics from the electronic intro to the hard rock outro.

But it is the more drawn out slow-building tracks that leave the most enduring impression, and the full ten-minute version of ‘Tiger Girl’ is an experience worthy of gracing any festival mainstage.

Their most recent full-length release ‘Wild Light’ has more of a cinematic feel to it, and the light show the band brought on their latest tour was stunning and tightly synchronised (although a little oppressive at times).

As an instrumental band, 65daysofstatic don’t have a traditional frontman, but the guitarists do talk to the crowd between songs and bass player Simon Wright acts as the rabble-rouser in chief, ensuring that the crowd always feels connected to the band despite the lack of vocals.

See them now while their tickets are still cheap – they will change the way you think about instrumental music.”

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Jog.fm – for music lovers who run

emergency exit signLike many people who crowd London’s parks, I’m a runner. I also like music quite a lot. So jog.fm is a great site for mixing the two.

Using the very simple idea of matching your running speed to a track’s bpm, it allows you to build up playlists that suit your average pace.

Scientists have actually proven that running to music makes you go faster and for longer, but running to music that is too fast-paced can cause injuries or strains.

Jog.fm seems to fill quite a useful gap in the market and if they could only expand their collection of tracks beyond the slightly limited range on there at the moment, it could become massively popular.

For the record, I find that Dance, Dance, Dance by 65daysofstatic and Race To The Heart Of The Sun by The Automatic are particularly good running songs for running an eight-minute mile.

free representation unit legal charityOn a related note, I am running the Bupa London 10k tomorrow on behalf of the Free Representation Unit. This legal charity provides representation for Brits who cannot afford it otherwise, including workers who have lost their jobs and are not entitled to legal aid. The vast majority of their staff are volunteers, yet they handle over 1,000 cases per year.

Please visit my Just Giving page and donate a few pounds, and you can be sure they will be put to good use.

Top 20 Albums of the Year, 2010

This year hasn’t exactly been a classic for rock music, with pop and hip hop stealing most of the limelight, but nonetheless there have been some hidden gems.  
So, for the fourth year running, here are my top picks for 2010. Don’t take my word for it, please click-through and judge for yourself, via the magic of Spotify and Myspace (or ‘My_’. Most ridiculous rebrand ever…)

1.)    65daysofstatic – We Were Exploding Anyway

This record has to take the top spot this year as it is the most inventive and exciting album released in 2010 by a mile. 65DOS take the best elements of Explosions in the Sky and Pendulum along with a guest appearance from The Cure’s Robert Smith to achieve a sound which will leave you rethinking your opinion of instrumental music.

2.)    The Automatic – Tear The Signs Down

Certainly the biggest re-invention of the year, The Automatic have completely transformed themselves since the arrival of Paul Mullen (formerly of yourcodenameis:milo). After playing a more subtle role on 2008’s This Is A Fix, the Geordie guitarist also assumes lead vocal duties on more than half of the tracks on the band’s latest album, and the result is a highly impressive alt-rock record that deserves to be judged on its own merits, not in light of what this band used to be.

3.)    Arcade Fire – The Suburbs

2010 was the year that Arcade Fire really took off, headlining Reading Festival, completing a UK arena tour and surging up the charts with their third album. The Suburbs is a vast, expansive record, which gets better with every listen, while the interactive video for We Used To Wait is one of the most creative musical projects of the year.

4.)    The Gaslight Anthem – American Slang

For summery nostalgia, you just can’t do any better than a bit of Gaslight Anthem. The New Jersey rockers earned much UK praise with their recent appearance on Jules Holland and lead singer Brian Fallon is easily living up to his reputation as the next Bruce Springsteen with his soulful vocals on The Diamond Church Street Choir and Boxer.

5.)    Jimmy Eat World – Invented

Jimmy Eat World’s seventh record is by no means their best, but still packs plenty of memorable tunes, tender moments and singalong choruses to keep old-school emo fans happy. Teaming back up with Clarity producer Mark Trombino adds a retro edge to this release, as well as the smooth backing vocals from Courtney Marie Andrews on Coffee and Cigarettes, Movielike and Heart Is Hard To Find.

6.)    Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly – Get Cape. Wear Cape. Fly

Once again, Sam Duckworth has created a remarkable album of beats, samples, arpeggios and catchy choruses. Once again he has taken his live show up a level. The truly uplifting Morning Light is a career highlight, yet somehow Get Cape’s third record lacks that extra something special to make it a truly great album.

7.)    Ash – A-Z Vol. 1 & 2

If we ignore the fact that this 26-track project was split into two physical releases, then Ash’s A-Z series as a whole definitely deserves its place in the top ten. Writing and releasing songs of this quality every fortnight is a great achievement, and Russell Lissack (on loan from Bloc Party) gives the band a new edge, but with a bit more discipline, they could have whittled it all down to one of the best albums of their career.

8.)    Pulled Apart By Horses – Pulled Apart By Horses

The Leeds quartet burst onto the scene this year with a debut as mental as it is memorable. I Punched A Lion In The Throat, Back To The Fuck Yeah and High Five, Swan Dive, Nose Dive all hit the spot with remarkable ferocity. Definitely ones to watch in the future, these lads.

9.)    Jim Lockey & The Solemn Sun – Atlases

Cheltenham-based Lockey’s second album saw him recruit a backing band and take the ambition and the intensity up a notch. This release sounds much more professional and accomplished than Jim’s folsky debut, with stand-out track Waitress boasting more tempo changes than you can shake a stick at.

10.)    Weezer – Hurley

Rivers Cuomo just keeps churning out the quirky songs and catchy hooks that have got Weezer where they are. Whilst Hurley has plenty of top tunes, such as Memories and Trainwrecks, perhaps the strains of releasing a record every year have made the Weezer well of ideas run a little bit dry.

11.)    I Am Kloot – Sky At Night

12.)    Vampire Weekend – Contra

13.)    Laura Marling – I Speak Because I Can

14.)    Young Guns – All Our Kings Are Dead

15.)    Taylor Hawkins & The Coattail Riders – Red Light Fever

16.)    Gogol Bordello – Trans-Continental Hustle

17.)    Canterbury – Thank You

18.)    Minus The Bear – Omni

19.)    Jil Is Lucky – Jil Is Lucky

20.)    The Coral – Butterfly House

 
As always, please let me know what you think, if I’ve missed anything off, or you think I’m just plain wrong. Here’s to more great music in 2011, and I leave you with what I think is the best music video of the past year:

Sorry about the advert, but it’s worth sitting through for the video.