You don't need a weatherman to know which way the wind blows.

Monday, 22 April 2013


Daughter’s first headline show in the second city, much like their debut album, was a long time coming, but similarly worth the wait.

Main support comes from Bear’s Den, who tick all the folk boxes with a sound that flits between the delicate folk of Daughter’s early EPs and the rousing harmonies of Fleet Foxes. Their short set is well-received and nicely scene-setting.

Bathed in red, Daugher the trio of Elena Tonra, Igor Haefeli and Remi Aguilella soon enter in the unassuming manner that typifies their performance. They begin Shallows without a word, and the crowd follows suit. Not many sell-out crowds are this pin-drop quiet; attentively soaking up every fragile sound. And the sporadic singalongs particularly for Landfill and Youth are almost hushed and respectful, so as not to disturb what’s going on onstage.

Every sound to come from the stage is equally intricate and considered; every string is plucked with care, every cymbol hit with the right pressure, every intonation of Elena’s voice is affecting. Even when things get loud when Igor uses a bow to draw some haunting sounds from his guitar on Love and Still the utmost care is still taken.

Like the titles in their 13-song set suggest (Smother, Human), they don’t shy away from big, melancholy subjects. And a close listen to their lyrics may leave you concerned for singer-songwriter Elena, but tonight she beams with joy, admitting they are overwhelmed to be back playing their own sell-out gig having supported twice in the Institute before.

She even cracks up during Amsterdam after changing the words to Birmingham, and again during Winter, apologising profusely for each, as well as apologising for not ironing her top. It’s a joy to see them come alive onstage throughout, matching their mesmerising craft with genuine chemistry.

With a clearly dedicated fan base and a top 20 album now under their belt, the future is bright for this young band and they’re clearly as excited about it as anyone. Just don’t expect their music to reflect that any time soon.


Tuesday, 9 April 2013


Last night, on the final night of a short UK tour, in a sold out, sweaty and rowdy Hare and Hounds, Jaws gave more evidence that this B-Town lark isn’t just a flash in the pan.

As a Birmingham native, the whole B-Town thing inspires two rather contrasting feelings. It’s great to have some bands to be excited about and some attention at a national level, I just wish they didn’t have to give us a shitty nickname. But I digress.

With a young and restless crowd whipped into a frenzy across four (at least two more than any gig needs) support bands, by the time Jaws took to the stage and burst into Breeze, the whole room was a swirling mass of leaping, shoving and jumping. And the faster Donut only poured more fuel on the fire for the wildly juvenile audience.

A gig shouldn’t be judged on the floor though, and what was happening onstage was quite the opposite. Dressed ready for a trip to Hawaii in the early 90s, Jaws produce their sweet and jangly distortion-tinged pop so effortlessly it borders on lethargic, like they’re chilling on a real beach and not just surrounded by inflatable palm trees.

Looking barely older than the kids throwing themselves around in front of them, the band don’t quite have the showmanship yet (“Birmingham is the best place in the world,” was frontman Connor Schofield’s repeated mantra), but they display the raw materials that should see them match or even surpass their friends and current Birmingham starlets Peace. They certainly have the songs.

And with only a handful released so far, their set was short but sweet; a great-sounding new song and an early song supplementing the six that will make up the Milkshake EP, released on 22 April.

Jaws were hailed as “the undiscovered gems of the Birmingham scene” by the Guardian in December, in a lengthy piece profiling them alongside Peace and Swim Deep. With gems like Friend Like You and Surround You already inspiring reactions as frenzied as those witnessed tonight, they won’t stay undiscovered for long.

Thursday, 4 April 2013

The Knife - Shaking The Habitual

To fully digest a record takes multiple listens. An ambitious and complex 100-minute album complicates this to no end.

And, with 13 tracks – ranging from the 37 second Onyx to the 19 minute ambient centrepiece Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized – the fourth album from Swedish electronic duo The Knife is a bold statement, and one that deserves more than snap judgements. Unfortunately, with its complicity and its intimidating length, it will live or die by such first impressions. So here we go.

First single Full of Fire is a good place to start, as it is the album at its best. A nine minute storm of beats, bangs and bleeps; not a second of it feels overbearing or unnecessary.

Almost inevitably though, that can’t be said of the whole record. Songs such as A Cherry on Top and the aforementioned Old Dreams Waiting to Be Realized disturb and linger with their chilling mood and brooding tones, but they also test the patience, the latter becoming something of an anchor threatening to drown the whole listening experience.

However, the relentless jungle percussion of Without You My Life Would Be Boring and the slow stomp of Wrap Your Arms Around Me, as well as the glitchy twitch of Networking and the punchy buzz of Stay Out Here in the record’s second half, are more than enough to drag the listener through and leave them at the other end smiling.

Lyrically the album comes and goes, with some lines intentionally obscured and others brought to the fore, but when they land, they are provocative and indicative of the intellectual background of the band.

Despite its length, this isn’t a record that outstays its welcome, even if a few tracks may have you reaching for the next button. However, as confounding as it all sounds at first, the multiple listens which at once seemed daunting will soon become compulsory, as this compelling beast infects and controls. Give its near 100 minutes a chance, and Shaking The Habitual just might take you too.