Sunday, May 22, 2016

Live: The Underground Youth @ Fuzz Club (Athens, May 20, 2016)

The rise of The Underground Youth’s popularity among indie music fans in Greece is a bit similar to the rise of Leicester City F.C. in the English Premiership. I don’t think that many would expect it, when Craig Dyer’s psych rock band made its Athens live debut in the fall of 2012 at the tiny Six D.O.G.S club that four years later they would be headlining at the Fuzz Club, currently the city’s largest rock venue.

I have to admit that a casual listen to their latest album, last year’s "Haunted", did not prepare me for the intensity of the band’s live show. Thankfully there was the good word of mouth from their previous gig at An Club a year ago and the fact that there aren’t many interesting rock gigs in town lately that convinced me to give them a chance and now I’m at the very pleasant position to testify that the rumors are true: The Underground Youth really know how to rock a stage!

Craig Dyer has said in interviews that he prefers to work alone when creating The Underground Youth’s music, but the added power and intensity that his music projects when performed live as quartet that also includes Frankie on guitar, Max on bass and his wife Olya on the minimal drum set, which she plays standing up bringing in mind the "Psychocandy" era Jesus And Mary Chain, is a testimony to the fact that music can be much more powerful when it is a collaborative effort.

Where their live show really takes off is when first Craig, and then also Frankie and Max, jump off the stage and start to perform among their fans the last songs of their set, true to the punk rock spirit of breaking down the barriers between musicians and fans. The Underground Youth showed us how music can be all you need to communicate with like-minded individuals and made every minute count in a truly memorable 80-minute set where psychedelic rock and post-punk collided to create some wonderful noise!

Among the highlights of their set we have singled out "Morning Sun" (which you can watch below), "Collapsing Into Night", "The Rules of Attraction" and a great cover of Suicide’s classic "Ghost Rider".

The Underground Youth - Morning Sun (live @ Fuzz Club, May 20th, 2016)

The Underground Youth, live @ Fuzz Club (May 20th, 2016)
Another plus of the fittingly rainy night was Echo Train’s performance that preceded The Underground Youth’s set. The Athens rock quintet’s music takes inspiration from ‘60s psychedelia and ’70 progressive rock, and although the latter is not high on my list of preferences, their half-hour set left a good overall impression thanks to the excellent voice and stage presence of lead singer Ren and the dynamic sound of the group.

Echo Train, live @ Fuzz Club (May 20th, 2016)

Sunday, May 08, 2016

Listening Habits 03-04.2016

The five years we had to wait from 2011's masterpiece "Let England Shake" to this year's "The Hope Six Demolition Project" is the longest between-albums period in PJ Harvey's astounding  24-year trajectory. It was certainly worth the wait as the new album may not achieve the impossible, which would be to surpass a record that stands among the best of this decade and is certainly one of Harvey's finest hours, but it does accomplish the next best thing; to be its worthy successor and another fascinating chapter in Harvey's ever-changing, constantly evolving musical career.

As on her previous album, PJ Harvey once again structures her songs as musical documentaries. The focus this time has shifted from the devastation of war and the tragedies it has caused in the last hundred or so years of English history and turns to the harsh social and political realities of today's world. Travels to far and wide places, from Washington, to Kosovo, to Afghanistan, provide the themes for her rock reportage, while the lyrics try to describe the hard facts adopting a journalistic approach. With a body of songs with such a difficult subject matter, the challenging task of the music is not only to convey the sentiments of its creator about the societal ills described in the lyrics, but also to give the artistic strength to the songs to become powerful, moving experiences. PJ Harvey and her stellar cast of musical accomplices have once again succeeded in taking on this challenge and as a result you'll probably find yourself humming along to lyrics like "Here's the highway to death and destruction, South Capitol is its name" or "They're gonna put a Walmart here" like it's the most natural thing in the world.

Our list of favorite albums for Spring 2016 also includes the mighty fourth full-length by psychedelic heavy rockers Black Mountain (another welcome return after a six year period), the third and best effort so far by Boston psych-rockers Quilt, the experimental electro-folk concocted by Thao & The Get Down Stay Down with the help of Tune-Yards' Merrill Garbus who produced their fourth LP, Poliça's politically charged "United Crushers", the third LP by the Minneapolis synthpop group led by Ryan Olson and Channy Leaneagh, the return of Animal Collective and The Last Shadow Puppets, as well as the fine debuts by New York-based indie-rockers Sunflower Bean and Mass Gothic (the new group led by Noel Heroux, formerly of Hooray For Earth). Here's the complete list of our favorite albums and songs for March - April 2016:

Top 12 Albums

1.  The Hope Six Demolition Project - PJ HARVEY
3.  Plaza - QUILT
5.  United Crushers - POLIÇA
6.  Painting With - ANIMAL COLLECTIVE
7.  Mass Gothic - MASS GOTHIC
8.  Human Ceremony - SUNFLOWER BEAN
9.  Everything You've Come To Expect - THE LAST SHADOW PUPPETS
10. Life Of Pause - WILD NOTHING
12. Pool - PORCHES

Top 15 Tracks

1.  Florian Saucer Attack - BLACK MOUNTAIN
2.  Roller - QUILT
3.  Wedding - POLIÇA
4.  The Community Of Hope - PJ HARVEY
6.  Every Night You’ve Got To Save Me - MASS GOTHIC
7.  Wall Watcher - SUNFLOWER BEAN
10. Be Apart - PORCHES
13. I Serve The Base - FUTURE
14. Psykick Espionage - JOANNA GRUESOME
15. Late 20s - BEST COAST

Listen to our Spring '16 playlist on Spotify:

Black Mountain - Florian Saucer Attack

Nothing compares to Prince, though, so here's a little something from his untouchable '80s period - R.I.P:

Prince And The Revolution - Let's Go Crazy