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Feb 3, 2013

London gigs diary: 4 February – 10 February

Brooklyn’s Young Unknowns play their first ever London shows this week, starting Tuesday.

American touring bands seem to be a prevalent theme this week – New York’s Young Unknowns, Portland’s Unknown Mortal Orchestra, Los Angeles’ Lord Huron, Astoria’s Foxygen are all in town playing shows, as are Dinosaur Jr. and Darwin Deez. Liverpool’s quirky electro pop purveyors Wave Machines headline Scala on Wednesday night to promote their second LP, and that same night the very promising Palace head up a bill at Bethnal Green’s Sebright Arms. Those who are yet to catch KHUSHI at either of their first two shows have another chance this week when they play Old Queens Head on Thursday. That same night WALL plays a sold out gig at Hoxton Hall, and Isle Of Wight supergroup-of-sorts (and recent PIAS signings) Champs play support to Lord Huron at Old Blue Last. The annual NME Awards gigs kick off properly this week, with Foals at XOYO on Thursday being an obvious highlight, and a first chance for many to see them play tracks off their new album “Holy Fire” in a live setting.

Monday 4 February

Dinosaur Jr. (US) + Cheatahs + Death At Sea @ Electric Ballroom (NME Awards)
Foxygen (US) @ The Lexington
Glitches + Landshapes @ Sebright Arms

Tuesday 5 February

Young Unknowns (US) @ Buffalo Bar
The Divers @ Barfly
Unknown Mortal Orchestra (US) @ Cargo
Velvet Stream + Lauren Aquilina + Jay Brown @ Queen Of Hoxton (ASCAP)
Noah + James Bay @ Notting Hill Arts Club (No Quarter)
China Rats @ Old Blue Last FREE
Gabriel Bruce @ Hoxton Bar Kitchen (NME Awards)
Delphic @ XOYO (NME Awards)

Wednesday 6 February

Palace @ Sebright Arms FREE
Young Unknowns (US) @ Cornershop FREE
Wave Machines + Golden Fable @ Scala
Veronica Falls @ Rough Trade East
Black Black Hills @ Notting Hill Arts Club (Death2Disco) FREE before 23:00
All We Are @ The Windmill

Thursday 7 February

KHUSHI @ Old Queens Head (Wagon) FREE
Foals @ XOYO (NME Awards)
Lord Huron (US) + Champs @ Old Blue Last
WALL @ Hoxton Hall
Jade Hopcroft @ Bar Music Hall (Smashing Blouse) FREE
Maria Minerva @ The Shacklewell Arms
The 1975 + Findlay @ McClusky’s, Kingston (New Slang)

Friday 8 February

Amateur Best @ Rough Trade East (18:30)
Young Unknowns (US) @ Old Blue Last FREE
Lord Huron (US) @ The Lexington
Two Door Cinema Club + Bastille + Swim Deep @ O2 Academy Brixton
Troumaca + Babeshadow @ Koko (Club NME)

Saturday 9 February

Lord Huron (US) @ Rough Trade West (14:30) FREE
Lola Colt + The Wytches + Joyland + Goldsoul @ The Dalston Victoria
JP Cooper @ Sebright Arms (Communion)

Sunday 10 February

Father Sculptor + All We Are @ Hoxton Bar Kitchen
Darwin Deez (US) @ Rough Trade East

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Feb 1, 2013

Interview: Milo Greene

Los Angeles’ Milo Greene are one of the most exciting new bands from the US we’ve stumbled across in the last twelve months or so (check out our “Introducing” piece here). Their easy-on-the-ear, harmony filled, almost MOR sound has drawn comparisons to the likes of Local Natives and Fleet Foxes, and in “1957″, they may well have their very own “Sun Hands” or “White Winter Hymnal” in the locker as they prepare for a busy 2013 – a year which will see them spend a lot of time on the road, both in the US and abroad, promoting their debut self titled LP, which was released in the UK via Fierce Panda last week (it came out in the US last July).

Since their inception in early 2010, things have moved apace for Milo Greene – a major label deal with Chop Shop / Atlantic the following year ensued, leading to performances on Late Night With David Letterman, Conan O’Brien and at Chicago’s Lollapalooza – as well as their own, well-received headline tours. Their first ever UK jaunt is about to conclude tonight at Camden’s Barfly, where they’re set to play a Music Week Breakout event, and I’m sat in the dimly lit downstairs bar with Graham Fink and Andrew Heringer – two of the band’s four singers and multi instrumentalists.

“We were all in other bands, and got together to write some music – and to be creative, and have fun again”, says Andrew, about how it all began. “There was stuff happening (with the other bands), but a couple of us felt like it had got into a certain rut”.

Hellbent on making the new project a surefire hit, Graham informs they spent over a year honing their craft before playing live: “We wanted from the first show to come out of the gate the best we possibly could be”, carrying onto say it wasn’t until March 2011 that this happened, in LA. Says Andrew: “We wanted to get rid of the barnacles from our past, and start from the beginning making sure everything was a certain quality”, giving the whole project a very cathartic, cleansing feel – visible in the uplifting nature of their songs. The band signed their record deal not long after, perhaps justifying their measured and calculated approach.

There’s been a bit of confusion in some quarters about the band name – with people who haven’t heard the music, perhaps naturally, assuming MG is a solo artist. “In college, we created the Milo Greene name as a booking agent. For years we would Email venues as Milo Greene, and he would get us gigs”, Andrew reveals, clearing this up for us. Graham chimes in: “It’s funny – it ranges from confusion to frustration to upright anger, that we’re misleading people”.

On the subject of the debut album, I asked if there were any particular themes running through it. “There’s a nostalgia that carries over a lot of it. I think because there’s so many of us that are writers, the lyrics come from a lot of different places”, Graham informs. As far as musical inspiration is concerned, I suggest Local Natives and Fleet Foxes, as well as Wilco and Sufjan Stevens (who they are currently both covering in their live set – “Chicago” and “Shot In The Arm”), which they both agree on. Andrew adds: “I think a lot of our influences go back to what our parents were listening to – Crosby, Stills Nash, Fleetwood Mac, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones. I think there’s a whole generation of music that’s coming back right now.”

Whatever this musical formula entails precisely, it’s certainly been a popular one to date. Was there a particular tipping point perhaps, when the band got the feeling they might be in the game for the long haul? “Really early on we got picked up to tour with The Civil Wars”, Andrew suggests. “We’d been a band for two or three months, and somehow they caught wind of our music. I think that opportunity to go and play for 2000 people in all these North American markets, as a launching point, you can’t really beat”. “That tour built a real foundation”, Graham adds.

On the response to their maiden tour of the British Isles, Graham informs me this too has been a trip to remember: “The shows have been incredible. The fact that some of them have been sold out is pretty crazy to us”, with Andrew adding Glasgow was particularly memorable, for the crowd’s silence, during the quieter moments, if nothing else. And it’s not only the shows that have been great – “The truck stops are certainly better – you get some really nice vegetables from Marks Spencer”, Graham declares, suggesting such variety is not so commonplace back in the States. “There’s not quite so many healthy options!”.

Aside from “lots of touring”, as you’d very much expect from a buzz band with a great album on general release, more specifically the guys tell me they plan to be back in the UK before too long, perhaps in May. Later on that evening, Milo Greene play a unsurprisingly accomplished set to a room full of Thursday night revellers upstairs at the Camden institution that has seen many a US household name pass through their over the decades, with the grand finale of “1957″ being a real head-turning, “I was there” moment. And at this point in time, given what’s gone so far, it would take a very brave man to bet against this originally fictitious booking agent adding themselves to any such illustrious list.

Milo Greene’s debut self-titled album is out now. Order from Amazon or iTunes.

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Jan 27, 2013

London gigs diary: 28 January – 3 February

THUMPERS launch their debut single, “Dancing’s Done”, on Thursday at Trinity Centre.

Plenty on this week, as usual – straight away Monday night serves up two free shows in Dalston, Dems and Only Real, that are worth your attention. Akira Records’ debut singing, Reuben Hollebon, plays for them at Old Queens Head on Tuesday night with some promising acoustic artists in support – notably Allman Brown. Wednesday night’s particularly busy, with 2008′s best band Smokey Angle Shades making their comeback proper at The Shacklewell Arms, and JAWS, who released one of our favourite tracks of last year (“Toucan Surf”) headlining a free show at Old Blue Last for the Hello 2013 series. The KIDS night at St Moritz is also worth checking out, with La Shark and Norther Irish brother-sister duo Southern on the bill. THUMPERS launch their paradYse released debut single with a BYOB gig at Trinity Centre, E8, on Thursday evening, with Music Week Breakout offering a blockbuster lineup over at Barfly, including Milo Greene and KHUSHI. Canadians METZ (Sub Pop) headline two nights at Birthdays on Friday and Saturday, and if you can’t get into that you could do much worse than head over to The Borderline to see a bill comprised of four up-and-comers on the indie/folk circuit on Saturday evening. And that’s not to mention the return of Communion on Sunday.

Monday 28 January

Dems @ Birthdays FREE
Only Real @ The Shacklewell Arms FREE
The History Of Apple Pie @ Rough Trade East
Biffy Clyro @ The Borderline (XFM)

Tuesday 29 January

Reuben Hollebon + Matt Belmont + Allman Brown @ Old Queens Head (Akira)
The Ruby Suns (NZ) @ Sebright Arms
Goaler’s Daughter + Good Dangers @ The Lexington

Wednesday 30 January

Smokey Angle Shades @ The Shacklewell Arms
La Shark + Southern @ St Moritz (KIDS)
Troumaca @ Birthdays FREE
Malpas + Hollow Giants + Prisms @ Bull Gate (Club Killing Moon)
JAWS + Superfood + Crash And The Coots + Deathbeams @ Old Blue Last FREE
Tropics @ The Waiting Room

Thursday 31 January

THUMPERS + Plaitum @ Trinity Centre
Milo Greene (US) + KHUSHI + Echotape + Blaise + Kimberly Anne + Leanne Robinson @ Barfly (Music Week Breakout)
Arlissa + Night Engine @ Notting Hill Arts Club (Black Cab Sessions)
Amusement + Carousels @ Old Blue Last FREE
Emperor Yes @ The Slaughtered Lamb
Passenger @ Rough Trade West (13:00) FREE
Passenger @ Scala
Polly Scattergood @ The Shacklewell Arms

Friday 1 February

METZ (CA) + The Wytches + Crushed Beaks @ Birthdays
Indians (DK) @ The Lexington
The Ghosts @ Koko (Club NME)
Amusement Parks On Fire @ O2 Academy 2 Islington

Saturday 2 February

METZ (CA) + Fair Ohs + The Wytches @ Birthdays (2nd night)
Roo Panes + Escapists + Winterhours + Casablanca @ The Borderline
Misty Miller @ Paper Dress Vintage
Tourist + Halo Halo @ The Nest FREE before 22:30

Sunday 3 February

Josh Weller + The Daturas + Natasha Haws + Garda (DE) + Alex Vargas + Lowell (CA) @ Notting Hill Arts Club (Communion)

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Jan 20, 2013

London gigs diary: 21 January – 27 January

Los Angeles’ Milo Greene play their debut London shows this week at St Pancras Old Church.

2013′s now officially up and running in terms of London gigs – this week sees a slew of great shows it’ll be well worth braving the biting temperatures for. LA’s Milo Greene are in the UK for the first time ever, and the buzz around them has been so much they’ve had to add a second date at St Pancras Old Church (they’ll headline there on both Wednesday and Thursday). Thursday night is sure to have many of us scratching heads and throwing dice; highlights there include the exceptional Daughter playing at Hackney Empire, Paul Banks showcasing his solo material at Koko and Cavan, Ireland’s teenage rock ‘n’ roll prodigies The Strypes headlining a free show at Old Blue Last. Elsewhere, The BlackWhite’s promising demos should entice a crowd down to their gig at Notting Hill Arts Club on Tuesday, and the annual XFM X-Posure All-Dayer takes place at Barfly on Saturday featuring a whole host of ones to watch for ’13.

Monday 21 January

Gibson Bull + Norma Jean Martine (US) + Sophie Ramsay @ Blacks (Society Of The Golden Slippers) FREE (GL)

Tuesday 22 January

Blood Red Shoes + Rolo Tomassi + Wet Nuns @ O2 Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Toro y Moi (US) @ Village Underground
The BlackWhite @ Notting Hill Arts Club
Early Ghost @ Power’s Bar FREE

Wednesday 23 January

Milo Greene (US) @ St Pancras Old Church
Ofei + Jade Hopcroft + Alex Burey @ Sevilla Mia (Pull The Plug) FREE (GL)
Syron + San Zhi + Brolin @ Old Blue Last FREE
Findlay + The Death Rays Of Ardilla @ St Moritz (KIDS)
Gentlemen @ The Shacklewell Arms FREE w/ TICKET
Swiss Lips @ Notting Hill Arts Club FREE before 23:00

Thursday 24 January

Milo Greene (US) @ St Pancras Old Church (2nd night)
The Strypes (IE) @ Old Blue Last FREE
Daughter @ Hackney Empire
The Soft Pack (US) + Novella + Primitive Parts @ Cargo
Paul Banks (US) @ Koko
Hudson Taylor (IE) @ Barfly
Emily And The Woods + Ebony Day + Pete Roe + Die Mason Die @ Hoxton Bar Kitchen (Smashing Blouse)
The Wolfnotes @ The Sebright Arms

Friday 25 January

Halflight @ Barfly
Sons And Lovers + China Rats @ Koko (Club NME)

Saturday 26 January

Little Barrie + Wolf Alice + Drenge + Temples + LULS + This Many Boyfriends + Nadine Shah @ Barfly (XFM X-Posure All Dayer)
Burial Club @ Underbelly

Sunday 27 January

My Bloody Valentine (IE) @ Electric Brixton

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Jan 15, 2013

Introducing: The Vestals

South Wales’ The Vestals seem to be the latest in that line of bands who have seemingly appeared ‘from nowhere’. Indeed, as recently as late December, we in these parts were not overly familiar with their work, but now, in mid January, they seem almost inescapable.

There’s probably a good reason for this, and we’re going to suggest it’s the direct fallout from two absolutely mesmerising tunes, which have just been posted online and will make up their debut, double A-side single, which is to be released by our close acquaintances at Killing Moon on 11 February.

It’s dreamy, electro infused indie-pop that will remind many a music fan of why they fell in love with recorded sound in the first place. As for reference points, we can hear everything from early Ash to Placebo to Death Cab, and when this is channeled through some watertight pop writing, the result is a very powerful one. “Perfect Pain” is the big one here, displaying a dab hand around a nifty chorus and an intensity that never once wanes during its 4-minute duration.

Already this year the band have appeared at Artrocker’s New Blood Festival and confirmed a tour with Pure Love, as well as a launch for the aforementioned release at The Social on Saturday 16 February. 2013 is set to be a great year for music by all accounts, with new and ‘returning’ artists alike, and with these guys set to star in the limelight, it just got a little better.

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