Life’s An Out-take of An Experiment – The Paranoid Style E.P. review

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After releasing two E.P.S in their native America, the Paranoid Style have hopped across the Atlantic to put out their third release ‘Rock and Roll Just Can’t Recall’ on London based Battle Worldwide Recordings.

As with the earlier records the new E.P. dispenses liberal doses of classic rock’n’roll over the course of its five tracks. So you get great tunes, meaty guitars (with added guitar solos) and razor sharp lyrics in the tradition of early Elvis Costello.

Lead track ‘National Sunday Law’ is an intoxicating mix of Blondie and Hüsker Dü whilst ‘Bound To Be Vacant’ is a frenetic slice of new wave pop.

The title track itself is a little more restrained and almost sounds like a duet with Elizabeth singing in two quite distinct registers throughout.

The final track on the E.P. displays the band’s love of a good cover.  ‘Master Jack’ was originally a U.S. Top 20 hit from 1968 by Three Jacks and a Jill and, if the tune’s folk rock origins remain evident, the Paranoid Style still manage to impart a little 21st century heft to the song.

The music is certainly important but it’s fair to say that the words are at least of equal value.

First off, their lyrics just sound pretty damn cool, in the way that, say, the Pixies’ once did. They’re intelligent, witty and occasionally absurd as illustrated by the title track’s “I was a double agent on a submarine/down on the Isle of Wight”.

But the band also understand that the cadence of the words has a critical impact on the music itself.

The one track that I haven’t mentioned ‘New Age Tricks’ illustrates this perfectly with Elizabeth’s calm and considered vocals set against the loping drumbeat and the busy guitars.

The trick works the opposite way too as ‘Bound To Be Vacant’, already taken at a brisk tempo , is imparted with an even greater sense of urgency by its frantic torrent of words.

‘R&RJCR’ is nothing less than exhilarating, intelligent guitar pop from a band that, frankly, make it look effortless. What more can you ask for?*

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‘Rock & Roll Just Can’t Recall’ is released on Monday 2nd March on cassette by Battle Worldwide Recordings. Pre-order it here.

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BWR seem to be a little coy at the moment about streaming the record but if you head here, you can hear ‘Bound To Be Vacant’ courtesy of Beat Surrender.

But, as part of a special MPT media bonanza, courtesy of the band, I can offer you instead the unavailable digitally ‘Charmed By Myself’ from the last E.P., ‘The Power of the Proven System’ and can assure you that it is also fairly representative of the new record.

Additionally here’s a video to go with a slightly rough around the edges live recording of ‘Beyond Petition’, (the original of which can also be found on the last E.P)

And just to hammer the new wave theme to death, here’s a somewhat unusual cover of Graham Parker’s ‘Local Girls’ …

 

Previously on MPT – The Paranoid Style interview to celebrate the release of the ‘Power of the Proven System’ E.P. and cassette.

*Other than a Paranoid Style LP, obviously…

Where Am I Going To Go? – The Mirror Trap live

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The Mirror Trap / Rush Hour Soul / Luna Webster – Buskers, Dundee – Saturday 21st February 2015

It must be a little bit strange being in the Mirror Trap right now.

Twelve months ago they were gearing up to releasing their second LP after a year of being largely ignored by the wider scene in Scotland. Speaking to is this music? prior to the record’s release they seemed a little fatalistic about their prospects.

Even if ‘Stay Young’ turned out to be as excellent as their live shows suggested, it still didn’t receive the wider acclaim that it deserved. But the band received an enormous boost in being asked to support for Placebo on a tour of Russia. In a matter of weeks TMT went from launching the album at a free show at Duke’s to playing sell-out arena shows and becoming an overnight Cyrillic Twitter sensation. That’s a hell of a jump and an astonishing change in fortunes.

Today the band are (literally) preparing to head off for a massive UK and European tour again as support for Brian Moloko and co. But first they had the little matter of launching their new E.P. ‘Silent Men’ at Buskers last night.

I was curious to see what impact the Placebo support has had on the band. Simply put, are The Mirror Trap a better band because of the experience? I’m not sure but only because to suggest so underestimates how good they were 12 months ago.

But the experience of playing on the bigger stages has definitely helped them as performers. Before Russia they were an energetic band on stage but the experience of playing on (and having to fill) those bigger stages means that they were always threatening to escape the cramped confines of the Buskers stage.

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Alongside songs from the new E.P. there were quite a few other (presumably) new tunes in last night’s set. Like the ‘Stay Young’ tunes, all sounded brilliant in the confines of Buskers but equally sound like they have the potential to fill much bigger venues. If there’s been any pressure to come up with new material to match the venues that they’re about to play, on last night’s evidence, it only seems to have had a positive effect on their songwriting.

I’ve little doubt that the coming weeks will introduce the band to a much wider audience and it really will be fascinating to see just how far that takes them.

On taking the stage Rush Hour Soul looked a little familiar to me, but my impression from the set was that I hadn’t seen them before. On checking the blog, that seems to be the case.

They were a perfect warm-up for the Mirror Trap but, for me at least, never threatened to upstage the headliners. After a positive start, they lost me for a couple of songs but picked things up again and finished strongly.

There was a nice fluidity to their playing with the guitar providing plenty of heft. In which light it seemed a little odd to finish with a cover (of Weezer’s ‘Photograph’) which was a little at odds with their own material. Still, on balance, they got the MPT thumbs up.

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I’ve not a great deal to say about the marvellous and delightful Luna Webster‘s set other than I enjoyed it a lot. Despite the acoustic guitar, it’s clear from her songwriting that she’s not your typical indie songstress and I’d love to hear these songs with a more extravagant backing.

But for the meantime, as a solo act, she remains an engaging live presence.

The Mirror Trap’s new E.P. ‘Silent Men’ is released on tomorrow (Monday 23rd) and doubtless will be available on their many dates over the next couple of months.

Videos to Buffer – Ash vs The Mirror Trap

Two more new songs via the medium of video.

First off (above) is ‘Little Ease’ by the Mirror Trap with its accompanying video by David P Scott. Taken from the ‘Silent Men’ E.P, released on Monday. It’s the band’s first new material since their breakthrough tour with Placebo in Russia.

TMT are about to embark on another lengthy run of dates with Placebo (including shows at Ediburgh, Corn Exchange (Feb 28), Glasgow O2 Academy (1 March) and Aberdeen, Music Hall (3 March)).

But before doing so they launch the new E.P. with a hometown headline show at Buskers in Dundee on Saturday (21st February). Support comes from Rush Hour Soul and Cool Cat Club favourite, Luna Webster.

Ash seem to have been revitalised by the A-Z singles series a few years back and the first  new song since that time has just been let out into the wild today.

‘Cocoon’ is lifted from their forthcoming Pledge-funded LP ‘Kablammo! and is as energetic a burst of bubblegum pop as they’ve conjured up in a long time.

A short UK tour was also announced today including an Edinburgh show at the Liquid Room on Tuesday 9th June. Tickets for the tour go on sale on Friday but Pledgers can get in on a pre-sale now.

Videos to Buffer – The Big Sleep

It seems an appropriate day to post ‘Valentine’ by NYC’s The Big Sleep. ‘Valentine’ is taken from their third LP ‘Nature Experiments’, which was MPT’s favourite album of 2012.

I’m posting this in the hope that news of the band’s fourth album might not be too far away even if it’s not appeared quite as quickly as TBS’s singer/guitarist Danny suggested to MPT in May 2012.

Another reason for flagging up the Big Sleep is that ‘Chorus of Guitars’ from second LP ‘Sleep Forever’ popped up at random on the iPod recently. As ever, hearing things out of context is more than a little confusing for someone of my advanced years but it wasn’t until Sonja started singing nearly a minute in that I was finally able to tag it as TBS. (I actually quite like the fact that this sort of thing happens!)

As it’s a bit of contrast to ‘Valentine’, and gives you an idea of this fabulous band’s range, here’s ‘Chorus of Guitars’ as a bonus:

Videos To Buffer – We Were Promised Jetpacks

Here’s the new video from We Were Promised Jetpacks.

‘Peaks and Troughs’ is undoubtedly one of the highlights of their excellent third LP ‘Unravelling’. One of my musical regrets of last year is that I didn’t manage to catch the Jetpacks live at all, ptrincipally due to work commitments.

Hopefully there may still be a chance of a Scottish date in the Spring. In the meantime, enjoy the video …

Weird Like Popeye – The Phantom Band live

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The Phantom Band – Buskers, Dundee – Sunday 8th February 2015

If there’s one band in the last 12 months I wish that I’d seen play more often it’s the Phantom Band.

‘Strange Friend’ has been one of my favourite albums of the last few years but, before Sunday evening, I’d actually only seen two shows which featured songs from that record.

It really doesn’t feel like it’s been enough – particularly as the three shows have all been different.

Aberdeen in March combined the hits with an almost complete run through of ‘Strange Friend’ – an almost perfect setlist. Unfortunately it was somewhat undermined by a sludgy sound mix which buried Andy Wake’s keyboards, so important on the album, almost to the point of inaudibility.

By contrast the sound in October at the Pleasance Sessions was fabulously rich, but at just over an hour, the show was a tad on the short side.

Sunday night in Dundee was different again. It was one of the better sounding evenings I’ve experienced in the Doghouse/Buskers building but, whilst the core SF songs from October were retained, the set was lent a significantly different feel as the majority of new LP ‘Fears Trending’ was also played.

The immediacy of the ‘Stange Friend’ material  was matched by a storming ‘Throwing Bones’ to close the set. But otherwise the back catalogue took its cue from  the darker material on ‘Fears Trending’.

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Photo by MPK2

A monolithic ‘Burial Sounds’ was one of the few choices from the debut and it fit perfectly alongside highlights from the new record including the psychedelic ska of ‘The Kingfisher’.

Prominently featured in the set were the philthy electro grooves on the likes of a magnificent ‘Denise Hopper’, regular live stand-out ‘Women of Ghent’ and ‘Into The Corn’ – the only choice from “difficult” second album ‘The Wants’.

As ever the songs, both old and new, remain constantly evolving in the live environment. Oldest song (and encore) ‘Crocodile’ has gained a false crescendo whilst much newer kid on the block ‘Sweatbox’ now boasts a synth intro (which confused the hell out of MPK2!)

Once upon a time, the Phantom Band could be a bit hit or miss live. That can’t be said these days and Sunday was ample evidence that the Phantos have developed into an unmissable live act.

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Setlist

1. Tender Castle  2. The Wind That Cried The World  3. Doom Patrol  4. Local Zero 5. Burial Sounds  6. Sweatbox  7. The Kingfisher  8. Into The Corn  9. Clapshot  10. Denise Hopper 11. Women of Ghent  12. Throwing Bones

Encore

13. Crocodile