>Glorious sunshine means no proper blogging today. Instead have these sensational videos of some amazing artists performing from Mellow Johnny’s Bike Shop at South by Soutwest festival. One day I’ll chuck in teaching, save up my pennies and finally go to the best festival not called Glastonbury.


>A night to remember

>At the outset of writing this blog I was conscious of avoiding turning it into a Ryan Adams fan-boy site. I recognise today that I am danger of going the same way with The Head and The Heart so I will keep this entry short for that reason.

On Monday night I had the privilege of seeing them make their debut performance in our green and pleasant land in a small venue in North London. The night itself didn’t seem particularly promising as the support bands both exhibited the kind of faux-Mumford and Sons that has become the hallmark of the current folky scene. If the two support bands had been around ten years ago I have no doubt they’d be playing forgettable garage rock and dressing like The Strokes. Here it was a case of grandpa jumpers and ‘oh how intense we are’ facial expressions. The first band we only caught the end of but they looked and sounded like a bunch of public schoolboys whose guitars were too small for them ‘having a go at this band lark.’ The second band promised to be a step up but were undermined by their own self delusion. In their minds it was clearly a moving, awe inspiring set to stir the emotions – they were wrong. They were boring. I found myself far more engaged in pointing out attractive members of the audience to my friends like a Sky Sports night on the town. The saving grace was their lead singer looking vaguely like a fresh faced handsome Johann Cruyff which at least provided something worthy of comment. So after a lot of shoe gazing and a surprisingly good final song the support shuffled off.

It is a rare occasion that an artist I have grown to love are still at the level of setting up their own equipment. The band themselves do not look particularly remarkable, yet once they started their charisma was undeniable. The atmosphere in the room changed dramatically and the ‘pin drop’ effect took over. I sensed a genuine sense of wonder from the crowd which perhaps concerned the band who’s effort to instigate melodic clapping fell flat as people appeared just too engrossed in the music to become reactive. We were admiring a show with no intention to form part of it, but even this changed as the gig progressed and a deeper connection was made. The biggest initial difference between TH&TH compared to their warm up acts was a sense of joy. It was like a revelation that it was okay, and positively encouraged, to smile and enjoy the music. Each of the three vocalists have gorgeous and contrasting delivery; incidentally I would dearly like to see Charity given more opportunity to take the lead as so far her unique delivery is underused. I’m not going to list the songs played and rate them individually as you can listen to their existing tracks yourself and make your mind up. It is fair to say the Lost in My Mind and Down in the Valley were as incredible as hoped for and goosebumps were sustained for long enough to be medically dubious. However a greater joy was new songs I was hearing for the first time which were as warm and inviting as last year’s album which I adore so much. The set was an absolute triumph and it was well worth the uncharacteristic Monday night trek to the big smoke.

I am loathe to tip them for big things for fear of jinxing them as I have many others before (My Vitriol, Kinesis, and Thirteen Senses spring to mind). It might be that the rest of the world don’t fall for this band in the way I have but I will always have that night in North London.

A few related links can be found here:
Hear Ya
Sound Cloud album preview

Published in: on 29/01/2011 at 11:23 am  Comments (1)  

>Albums of 2010

>Well I’m watching National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation so it must be almost Christmas. As is the spirit it seems only right I give you my ten albums of the year two thousand and ten. You can enjoy a selection of tracks from these albums on the following Spotify playlist Albums of 2010 (listenwithdanger.blogspot.com). You can also download a selection of tracks from this list, and other standouts from 2010, using the following link http://rapidshare.com/files/438527450/Listen_with_Danger_2010_Best.zip. Here goes…

10. The Lady Killer by Cee Lo Green

Check out if you enjoy: Prince, Michael Jackson, Outkast

Good because: A welcome slice of funk in a year heavy on melancholy.

Even better if: If this was limited to the best ten tracks it could’ve been a real contender for #1 spot.

Stand out track: Bright Lights Bigger City

9. Interpretting the Masters Volume 1: A Tribute to Daryl Hall and John Oates by The Bird and The Bee

Check out if you enjoy: Hot Chip, LCD Soundsystem, Rilo Kiley
Good because: Impossible to keep still to, rightly places pop melody at the core of dance music.
Even better if: Some tracks seem to end a little weakly with a rushed fade out so greater attention to closing the deal would be well received.
Stand out track: Heard It On The Radio

8. If Shacking Up Is All You Want To Do by The Roadside Graves 

Check out if you enjoy: Ray Lamontagne, Gomez, Bruce Springsteen
Good because: Simple, rootsy whisky soaked tales of America. The Dude would like this.
Even better if: It was five tracks shorter, quantity over quality leaves the album a little bloated.
Stand out track: The History of Lilies

7. Nice, Nice, Very Nice by Dan Mangan

Check out if you enjoy: Willy Mason, Ray Lamontagne,
Good because: shows a tremendous flair for infectious choruses.
Even better if: Showed a little more variation, follows a similar template throughout
Stand out track: Sold

6. God Willin’ & The Creek Don’t Rise by Ray Lamontagne and The Pariah Dogs

Check out if you enjoy: Otis Redding, Neil Young, Creedence Clearwater Revival

Good because: Strikes a nice balance between the majesty of Ray’s voice on slower numbers and rootsy, uptempo stomps.

Even better if: It may well be that some tracks are slow burners but there does feel like a trio of fillers lurk on this record.
Stand out track: Are we really through?

5. Tiger Suit by KT Tunstall

Check out if you enjoy: Kings of Leon, Beck, Willy Mason

Good because: Shows a progression on previous albums with a willingness to experiment whilst still delivering classic songwriting.

Even better if: A predictable result of an experimental approach is that the album doesn’t hold together.
Stand out track: Golden Frames

4. High Violet by The National

Check out if you enjoy: Wilco, Interpol, Editors

Good because: A vocal seemingly born to haunt the foreboding, paranoid tone of this album gives Berninger the chance to provide his finest performance to date.

Even better if: The first half of the album (opener apart) is lacking in pace and results in an already slow burning album taking far too long to ignite.

Stand out track: Bloodbuzz Ohio

3. Broken Bells by Broken Bells

Check out if you enjoy: The Shins, Gnarls Barkley, Gorillaz

Good because: An unlikely collaboration between two of the most innovative interesting characters around could easily fall a little flat under weight of expectation – this doesn’t.

Even better if: In a way it is so consistently good it can wash over you, it lacks a stand out track which hooks in your consciousness. A very harsh criticism admittedly.
Stand out track: The Mall and The Misery (hard to choose – see above)

2. I Speak Because I Can by Laura Marling

Check out if you enjoy: Johnny Flynn, Mumford and Sons, Joni Mitchell
Good because: Proves immune to trends and contextual influence, could have been written in any era.
Even better if: Hard to criticise anything but would hope for some variation on future releases.
Stand out track: Darkness Descends

1. The Head and The Heart by The Head and The Heart

Check out if you enjoy: Mumford and Sons, Fleet Foxes, Laura Marling

Good because: Beautiful heartfelt collection of classic song writing. Incredibly simple but utterly magical.

Even better if: It was longer! It goes against everything I believe in but leaves me demanding more!

Stand out track: Down in the Valley