Mumford and Sons’ Believe ★★★

I don’t even know if I believe…everything you’re trying to say to me’

GIMMICKY, LOST, and full of predictable, cliched lyrics, it is not a great start to the Mumford and Sons new album.

Don’t get me wrong, I am a Mumford and Sons fan. Take a trip down memory lane and our ears are blessed by the seemingly revolutionary sounds (in the UK at least) of a take on American folk music; banjos, pianos, guitars, cellos, violins allowing for the band to play with iconic musical stars such as Arcade Fire, Beirut, Johnny Flynn and the Vaccines. Famed for their trademark songs containing soft acoustic beginnings that crescendo into an explosion of wonderfully collaborated acoustic sounds, their newest song ‘Believe’ shows a deviation away from their norm…and what a disappointment.

There is a risk for an artist to become a one-trick pony if they don’t experiment with other genres. But what if that pony’s trick is so magnificent that people love watching it over and over again, like listening to Billy Joel’s ‘We Didn’t Start the Fire’ on repeat, or watching any Liam Neeson film – they are good at what they do and people enjoy them consistently. Artists establish themselves based on their mastery over a specific and focussed genre. Mumford and Sons’ charm was created through their mastery of folk, Marcus’s unique voice and the very fact that electricity did not feature in their songs.

‘Believe’ strips Mumford and Sons of their previous appeal. Indeed, the surge of artists and bands who have donned a ‘no-electric’ approach to their music might have spurred Mumford and Sons to adopt the electric guitars and relatively synthesised voice in a bid to differentiate themselves; however, the band had produced two very good albums with just raw instruments and vocals, and are famed for it – why change? I am not anti-electric and I feel, when done well, it sounds great – the likes of Radiohead, Dire Straits and Led Zeppelin (the artists who inspired Mumford and Sons new sound) all create inspirational music based on the electric guitar. However, this first song of the (former?) folk band hasn’t hit point, either lyrically or musically.

The band have said that they were always leading towards an electronic approach; but Mumford and Sons are going to need a hidden gem in the Wilder Mind album in order to prove that they can make the genre work for them.

A band established and famed for folk music taking a turn to electronic is a massive risk. This first song hasn’t worked well for them, but with an entire album still to come, lets hope the originality, charm and intricacies of the former Mumford and Sons can come into the fore.

 

Neighbourhood Noise guide to Field Day

(header and feature photo courtesy of Carolina Faruolo) 

I KNOW we are still in February, and whilst we don’t like to wish away our time, the sun is beginning to peek through here at the Neighbourhood Noise HQ and we can’t help but get a little excited for what is promising to be a musically magical Summer 2015, kicking off with London Field Day Festival.

Field Day 2015 tickets have been released and the line-up is the best yet. Amongst the clutter of UK festivals, Field Day is set to be the haut monde’s favourite. It’s the weekend in the summer where everyone who lives in Hackney and the surrounding E8 neighborhoods descend on Victoria Park – if you’re from these parts of London, then make sure to buy a ticket to Field Day, if not for the line up, then for avoiding a massive case of FOMO when you smell other’s sweet ciders, see the splash of colour on the streets outside, the cycling dj’s on London Fields, and the incredible music erupting from Victoria Park.  If you’re from outside of this hipster membrane, the charm of Victoria Park and the incredible talent gracing it will certainly draw you in.

The first day of the weekend doesn’t hold back. Caribou, Ben Klock, Kindness, not to mention FKA Twigs are to name a few that are playing on Saturday 6th June. These are serious acts. Caribou stormed last year (see our Pitchfork Paris review) and is headlining Saturday; Brit nominee FKA Twigs is also performing and judging from her recent performance at the Roundhouse, she is one seductive R&B act that we are extremely excited for. Along with the coolness of Kindness and the sisterly London trio Jagaara, what we are most looking forward to are Berghain residents Marcel Dettmann and Ben Klock. These two are reigning the techno scene and if you haven’t been fortunate enough to experience their set at the Berghain (what with the inverted and sporadic entry requirements of this Berlin powerhouse) then you are in for a rare electro treat here.

***Caution*** –  deciding whether to party on through the night with the many DJ’s playing after Saturday’s daytime line-up, not to mention the surrounding after parties, is at your discretion and fully advised…if you can hack doing it all again the next day…

For, Sunday 7th June, Field Day’s line-up is looking just as good, if not better than the day before. Usually, the Sunday has been a bit of a ‘take it or leave it day’, and although Sunday has always been the more chilled day of the festival, being on form this year for the 70’s inspired Allah-Las would be recommended. We’ve been desperate to see them live for two years and to much avail we have not been so fortunate. Hearing they were playing at Field Day though has got us revved up for the Sunday with ‘Worship The Sun’ being one of our favourite albums of last year. It’s sun driven, hazy, dream-like style has progressed even further in this album; although still preferring their first self-titled album ‘Allah-Las’, the second album does not disappoint, and to see this live, slightly hung-over, on a music high and, hopefully, with the heat of the sun beating down, this sounds like an ideal way to spend our Sunday.

Field Day has always had some sort of musical legend grace their Sunday stage and this year it is none other than the singer, poet, artist and style icon Patti Smith. This remarkably talented and inspirational lady has been on our all time list of artists to see and thanks to the genius programming, Field Day is fulfilling one of our dream gigs. From listening to her music, mimicking her style, reading her memoir at least once a year “Just Kids”, words can’t describe how momentous it will be for us and every local artist to see her live. This is a woman who hung out with Janis Joplin, co-wrote with Bruce Springsteen and received musical advice from Jimi Hendrix. She lived in the artistry hustle of New York experiencing the beat, hipster life that us artists now aspire to. She is literate, informed and passionate about her craft and the message she delivers and she will be showcasing this all on our very own doorstep.

Step down please we have a winner. Neighbourhood Noise’s Field Day 2015 coverage begins now.

 

Anticipation: 9/10

Follow us on twitter: @neighbournoise1

Like us on facebook: Neighbourhood Noise

Neighbourhood Noise guide to Pitchfork Festival Paris 2014

SATURDAY 1st NOVEMBER – PITCHFORK FESTIVAL’S closing night in Paris. Having previously hosted the likes of James Blake and Belle & Sebastian the two nights before, along with some amazing pre-parties (most notably, Kindness), neighbourhood noise were graced with an equally impressive line-up: Foxygen, Jungle, Jose Gonzalez, Tune-Yards and – act of the moment – Caribou.

An unusually hot summer’s day of chilling in the bars of Le Marais created a perfect and surreal setting for this Autumnal festival. Hopping off the metro, the lights of Pitchfork at the Grande Halle allured a rush of excitable and alternative festival goers – this was to be a festival that would exceed all expectations.

IMG_1285

The venue was overwhelmingly grand. With two stages placed at either end of the hall, people were dancing their way over from one act to the next, with no wait in between to stop the mood – it was neat, tidy and run to precision. In between the two stages, merchandise was being sold, but not just standard tour stuff, (although you never can ignore a tote saying you were at a Parisian hip festival) but antiques such as old French vinyls that intoxicated Pitchforkers were rummaging through. As if that wasn’t enough, there was a playground with swings, a large twister board, stalls offering jewelry, clothes, hats, beard trims and a do-it-yourself party mask construction stall.

Before paying any attention to the music, the artistic atmosphere of the festival alone had got the crowds buzzing. The music, in fact, became an added bonus to an already fun-filled festival. Movement, the Australian band, pleasantly surprised us with their slow heavy bass and impressive, faultless vocal performance; but, there was an obvious distraction in the crowd, who were itching to see Foxygen on stage.

Foxygen are famed for their energetic performances, but we certainly felt exhausted from watching (and trying to keep up with) Sam France’s energy. A little contrived, his performance was reminiscent of Mick Jagger and Freddie Mercury – it was flamboyant and attention grabbing but that is about as far as the comparison went. France’s voice was lost through all the movement and we found ourselves watching and listening to the backing singers to decipher what song he was actually singing. He was fluttering around the stage, kicking his legs in the air and then occasionally picking up on the song.

IMG_1280

Without a doubt, he is a mesmerizing character and has real charisma – working the crowd was definitely not a difficult feat – but as big Foxygen fans, it was a shame that we had to strain to hear the song through France’s wild and unnatural performance. Let’s face it, if you have to sit on the amps to catch your breath, maybe it’s not a bad idea to just stand and sing sometimes. Having enjoyed their last album, ‘We Are The 21st Century Ambassadors’,  playing “San Francisco” on repeat, there were high hopes for their latest release “…And Star Power”. With its take on modern psyche rock through wonderful harmonies and well written lyrics, Foxygen still have an album that we continue to love, with “Could’ve Been My Love” slowly becoming a neighbourhood noise favourite this year. It was just a shame that the focus wasn’t on the music but rather France’s theatrical performance.

A quick interlude from Jose Gonzalez – not sure why he was placed so late – and the night was back on form with fun and groovy performances from Tune-Yards and Jungle. Big on Radio 6’s playlists this year, both did not fail to provide. It is hard to not move to the beat of both and they certainly put everyone in a good stead for Caribou who was next to follow.

Opening with “Our Love”, the crowds went wild, bobbing up and down to the contagious beat that Caribou has infected everyone with this year. The simple yet spellbinding sounds Dan Snaith creates is one to put you in a good mood, breaking out smiles on usually unbreakable faces. The addition of balloons pouring out above certainly added to the electronic experience, but then who isn’t a sucker for a little kitsch in the early hours of the morning? Caribou is an electronic-lover’s dream to see live and if given the opportunity, make sure to catch him.

Pitchfork Paris was mind-blowing. The scale of the festival was nothing we had experienced before. A great line-up, chilled atmosphere, arts and crafts, with a good amount of drunkenness, some silly dancing and an honest, if too serious, game of human twister, it is everything a festival should be. And its in Paris.

neighborhood noise recommends: La Petite Chaufferie – organic drinks, food and electro music for the perfect pre-gig warm up.

8/10

ZABA! Oval Space played host to Glass Animals ★★★★★

‘The last time we played this, the roof fell down!’

GLASS ANIMALS ARE on the cusp of something truly great. Zaba is a good album, their live performance was entertaining and the group (especially Dave Bayley) have a certain panache on stage that will take them far. But they have a way to go to ensure they survive in their self-created jungle.

Oval Space’s roof didn’t fall down for Glass Animals this time. It is too structurally sound. The space perfectly demonstrates why a venue is so important in the overall experience of a live gig. Despite having a surprisingly low stock of cranberry juice (as a mixer I might add), Oval Space contributed to the mystic, cryptic and quirky nature of the Oxford four-piece band through its charming setting, alluring lighting and effortless nature. It isn’t a place that tries to be cool; it is naturally cool, in true Bill Murray fashion. Set at the foot of a derelict gasworks that is now a landmark in Hackney, Oval Space does any band a favour even before instruments are played with the stunning view, the great service and the fact that you are in a 6000 square foot space dedicated to entertainment.

Glass Animals @ Oval Space

We wondered from the fairy lit terrace bar into the main gig room, drawn in by a melodic voice, reminiscent of Lana Del Ray, along with a basey rift. Laura Cope was the special guest, but she acted more as a timid support act. Cope and her band didn’t have much of a stage presence, becoming more of a background, interval artist as oppose to someone who would stand out and make a name for herself. Having said this, Cope has an incredible voice that is complimented by bass heavy music. With such mellow music, live performances are difficult to master, however, after watching Glass Animals, I’m sure Laura has a few ideas of how to ramp up her seemingly shy persona on stage.

9 o’clock hit. A few double gin and cranberries down and we were ready for the main act, not sure of what to expect. Paul Epworth, the man who has worked with Friendly Fires, Bloc Party, Florence and Adele, signed Glass Animals to his record label ‘Wolf Tone’ as his first signing. However, despite this great name backing them, Glass Animals have been closely compared to the likes of Alt J, Friendly Fires and even Vampire Weekend, with many critics claiming Glass Animals to be pretty unoriginal. This gig would help us decide if these critics were correct or not. 9.30pm, and the band emerge onto the jungle dressed stage that represents their tribal, electronic and bass heavy sounds.

From the off, Dave Bayley blessed the stage with his child like excitement, bouncing around in a disjointed form of dance. The band had clearly altered their album, making it more lively for the live audience. The drummer solos were a welcome addition to transform the previously mellow tunes into a dance inducing frenzy, whilst holding the signature sounds of the well-known songs intact – effortless, just like the venue.

The promising thing about this band is the fact that they (with the help of Paul Epworth) have recognised the need for them to adapt their ‘Zaba’ album for a live audience and still make it work. Bayley’s energy on stage gets the crowd moving, and with his modest and appreciative grin throughout the performance, its difficult to not like this down to earth band. Sure, their sound isn’t as unique as we initially thought, but they have hooked people nonetheless, including us at neighbourhood noise.

Glass Animals have the makings of a truly great band, and I reckon their second album will exceed all expectations following this, bluntly put, good debut.

 

 

Look out for future Oval Space events, with our next Oval Space feature covering their Halloween special film screening of ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre remastered’. 

Bonobo: North Borders tour at Rock City, Nottingham

Simon Green contemplating life. Mysterious, like his music.

Simon Green contemplating life. Mysterious, like his music.

Bonobo is testament to the fact that the sci-fi synthetic sounds created by money-whoring artists who dominate the charts today should, and surely will, realise the errors of their ways. The British producer’s fifth album, North Borders delivers Simon Green’s (a.k.a. Bonobo) organic take on down-tempo, easy listening music. What could almost be perceived as an extension to the Black Sands album, North Borders subtlety seduces the listener into a musically induced trance, especially through tracks such as Cirrus and Emkay. In line with the Bonobo philosophy that electronic music doesn’t necessarily have to be electronically composed, North Borders demonstrates Bonobo’s ability to create an intoxicatingly organic sound…especially when live.

This was a performance that has heightened my adoration of the album. A live band that can create a chain of sounds that beautifully intoxicate the listener can only be applauded. Opening with ‘Cirrus’, tracks from Black Sands and North Borders intertwined portraying the development of Simon Green’s visionary music. The luscious voice of Szerdene made the difficult task of taking electronica from a studio to a live stage seem easy; Bonobo’s only point of call were the instrument they were playing live on stage.

This gig demonstrated why Bonobo is one of the most respected and talented musical artist and producer in the world of electronica today. The perfected sounds of the album in studio form were effortlessly transgressed onto a live stage along with an electronic atmosphere and relatively cheap drinks! What more could you ask for?

8/10