Dot to Dot Manchester (a.k.a. the day I saw 19 bands in 12 hours)

June 6, 2010 § 2 Comments

Dot to Dot has been running since 2005, but 2010 saw it travel to Manchester for the first time. I’ve always been one to admire the line-ups of one-day festivals, forget about them, and later indulge in a great deal of self-berating as everyone talks about just how fantastic this set was, and how unmissable that performance was. So when the Dot to Dot flyer landed in my lap, I thought to myself “Not this time.” (Perhaps the abundance of spare time due to my prevailing unemployment played a big part in the decision making process, perhaps not, I’ll let you make your own minds up). Either way, a how to link in aline-up that included Wild Beasts, Blood Red Shoes and Beach House was not something I wanted to miss. So off I trotted to buy my ticket and wait for the 31st to come around… « Read the rest of this entry »

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Blood Red Shoes – A Fire Like This

March 18, 2010 § Leave a comment

A Fire Like This is an incredible album. The kind of incredible that makes you excited, makes you grin from ear to ear, and makes you believe in the power of music to lift you from your existential funk. Or, to quote Butch Walker, maybe it’s just me.

I’ve never really paid much attention to Blood Red Shoes before. Not because I didn’t rate them as musicians, or even because I didn’t like the sounds they created. It was down to a sheer feeling of being overwhelmed. I was living in Latin America at the time their debut album, Box of Secrets, was released, and the amount of new music you hear over there is somewhat limited to say the least. When I returned to England, tanned, relaxed and with a strange American accent, I attempted to get a handle on what I’d missed. I remember reading an article (I hate to admit it may have been in NME) about the best bands of the past year, featuring Blood Red Shoes, Vampire Weekend and Lightspeed Champion amongst others. For reasons unknown, I decided Blood Red Shoes weren’t for me, spent a whole lot of time listening to Vampire Weekend, MGMT, Cajun Dance Party, Black Kids, Los Campesinos! and never gave the Brighton duo a second thought.

Now I see the error of my ways. As soon as I heard the first track on A Fire Like This, ‘Don’t Ask’, I knew I was in love. From the rapid rhythm of the drums to the ever-so-slightly-yelling vocals; the simple yet perfect electric guitar riffs to the punkish lyrics, the whole record is polished to a gritty perfection. The band have been placed into many genres by fans and critics alike, but none of them really seem to stick (or, in fact, fit in the first place). They have always described themselves as ‘punk’, in attitude if not in sound, and found that many people were surprised when they listened to their music and didn’t find the lighter indie pop sensibilities of bands of the same time period (see Vampire Weekend, Los Campesinos!). There is definitely something darker and deeper lurking underneath the chant along lyrics that these guys throw out. Whether that be the rebellious mindsets they developed as teenagers listening to Fugazi and Sonic Youth, or simply the cries of a youth that has “heard it all ten thousand times”.

Comparisons to The Subways are far too obvious to be of any use, for while both feature boy/girl vocals, Blood Red Shoes are more like what would happen if We Are Scientists (circa With Love and Squalor) ate The Subways. For me, The Subways always lacked a certain kind of spark that took their music from above-average to towering-above-average. I compare Blood Red Shoes to We Are Scientists not because they sound extremely similar but because they both have that something special that makes their music stand out amongst the bands who surround them in their particular field. A Fire Like This is an album filled with energy and excitement; pent up angst that explodes with exuberance and charm. Miss this at your peril.

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