An Amazing Weekend Of Music Feat. Crocodiles, Camera Obscura, Mariee Sioux and Final Fantasy @ Various Locations Across Cardiff

When four bands that you really rate highly play your home city in the space of a weekend it’s bound to be good. I just wasn’t expecting it to be this good. Cardiff has in the past been a bit quiet in terms of live music but a recent influx of new promoters has seen a whole load of awesome bands playing here, and the brilliant shows that I was lucky enough to see this weekend are testament to their efforts.

First off we saw Crocodiles at Clwb Ifor Bach on Friday night, who I was pretty excited to see after downloading their album a couple of weeks before. Riding on a wave of hype, the band attracted a fairly sizeable crowd for the bottom floor of a small club. I knew the band only features only 2 members and was naturally expecting a drummer and singer / guitarist. Instead the band make good use of a drum machine and loop pedal with both members playing guitars and singing. The wall of sound they created was pretty cool and evoked a Jesus & Mary Chain vibe that sounded brilliant in the intimate surroundings. They also have a really cool electronic edge which mixes in perfectly with the drones and swathes of guitar feedback they play. Although they only played for about 40 minutes, the band really made an impression and I look forward to seeing them again soon.

Crocodiles

I’ve been listening to Camera Obscura’s latest record My Maudlin Career a lot recently so it was a pleasant surprise when they were announced to play a free festival in the centre of Cardiff. The crowd was absolutely terrible, which I guess is kind of inevitable at a free event which also featured bands like Kids In Glasshouses and The Zutons but the band held their own and played a set full of jangly melodies and pounding rhythms. The band seemed to enjoy playing despite such a disinterested crowd, proclaiming themselves to be “Dr. Who nerds” as well as joking around when messing up a song.

Camera Obscura

French Navy was probably the best received song of their set and the crowd seemed to warm to them slightly as they played on. In hindsight they were an odd choice for such an event; an obscure twee-pop band at a commercialised free event hosted by cheesy radio DJs but they still managed to give a good account of themselves. They thanked the crowd for watching as they walked off and my friend quipped ” I like how she said watching, not listening”, which I think was a fair judgement of the reaction they received.

As Camera Obscura finished me and friends drove to the other side of town to catch the Mariee Sioux & Final Fantasy show. I had been really excited about this for a while, with the venue being a renovated church with stunning acoustics and stain glass windows.

I think there was another support act but Mariee Sioux was the first artist we saw. Sitting on the stage with just an acoustic guitar, Mariee played a gorgeous set of finger picked melodies combined with her incredible voice, pitched somewhere between Laura Marling and Joanna Newsom She seemed very shy and thanked the crowd repeatedly whilst sipping from a bottle of wine, yet her shyness did not seem to affect her playing. Her final song which she dedicated to a late friend who was supposed to accompany her on her trip was incredibly touching and received a rapturous response from the audience, wrapping up her set perfectly.

Mariee Sioux

As Owen Pallet took to the small stage of the venue the crowd hushed and the lights dimmed as he tuned up his violin and introduced himself. The venue itself seemed pretty much custom made for an artist like Final Fantasy, with the stage being framed with ornate carvings that seemed to suit Owen’s complex melodies perfectly. I’ve read of Final Fantasy using projections on stage in past sets but not at this show, eschewing even a backdrop and performing in front of just a plain black sheet at the back of the stage.

Final Fantasy

Instead of performing with a setlist, Owen seemed prepared to play what he felt like playing or just asking the audience, which was cool. Everyone was sat down on the floor and there was a really lovely communal atmosphere as he worked his way through the set. I liked the mix of material he played, ranging from He Poos Clouds and He Has A Good Home to some tracks of the new record as well as a cover which I really enjoyed. I found myself constantly astounded at the sheer talent of this guy. Not only is he an incredible violinist, he sings like an angel and is also an accomplished pianist which when combined produced a spectacle of genuine brilliance.

Final Fantasy

After about 50 minutes of playing Owen announced that he was being forced to finish his set due to the licensing laws of the venue. This is where things got really fucking cool. Instead of finishing the set in the venue he performed a further four songs in a car park opposite the venue with the audience crowded around him! It’s funny how quiet 200 people can be in a carpark if they’re trying to hear Final Fantasy play, with the only other sounds coming from the occasional passing car.

Incredible.

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The Dodos – Time To Die

The Dodos

Yeah, this album leaked a while ago and you’ll probably be able to find it elsewhere but I think it’s a good record and MY BLOG = MY RULES. You may be familiar with The Dodos from their previous record Visiter which through a pretty good Pitchfork review brought them a good deal of attention. Time To Die is in my opinion equally as good and despite lacking some of the energy of previous works sees the band hone their songwriting to perfection, resulting in some really sweet tracks. There’s something almost Beatles-esque about the dreamy melodies present on this album whilst their is also a percussive side reminiscent of the band’s contemporaries such as Grizzly Bear. With a cult following already cemented I can see this being the record that really starts to see them increase their fan base.

Lovvers – EP

Lovvers

You may remember me posting this band’s EP entitled ‘Think’ a month or so ago, it was pretty sweet right? This was the bands first release and showcases a much rawer and abrasive sound compared to the later releases. I really like this band because of the frenetic quality of their recordings which is shown very prominently on the four tracks on this release. It might hurt yr ears, be careful.

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Broom

Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin

So, I was walking home today from meeting my friend and these guys came on shuffle on my iPod. I’ve been aware of this band for a number of years, yet never really got into them that much until today, where I listened to both albums as I walked home and realised that they are both pretty damn good. Broom was released in 2005 and is a really cool record of melodic indie rock that although quite twee never veers into the pretentious. I’m kind of quite shocked how this band are still quite unknown because songs like ‘Oregon Girl’ are the types of tracks I could imagine becoming very popular. Oh well, maybe they’ll just stay a secret.

Silver Jews – American Water

American Water

I love Pavement a whole bunch, so it kind of makes sense that I also really like Silver Jews. The band were formed in 1989 by David Berman and featured Stephen Malkmus on a number of albums, including this one. Despite creating solidly brilliant albums throughout their career (they split up earlier this year), American Water is by far my favourite and is perfect for the summer months when the sky is blue and you haven’t got a care in the world. As you would expect from a Pavement related artist, the melodies are consistently breathtaking and the laid back vocals give the record and relaxed feel. Oh yeah, Pitchfork also gave it a 9.9 (!) which although should not be any kind of recommendation probably is.

Favourite live performances?

So, it’s a Sunday afternoon. Sunday afternoons were pretty much created for doing very little so what better to do than compile a list of my favourite live videos from YouTube and post them on my blog? I could go on for a while but to stop things getting boring for everyone i’ve picked 5 of my favourite live videos. If you’ve got any you’d like to share then feel free to leave me a comment.

Radiohead – Lucky. Glastonbury Festival, 1997

I could probably fill this post exclusively with Radiohead videos, but i’m just choosing one. If you’re a fan of Radiohead then you’re probably familiar with their legendary headlining set at Glastonbury Festival over 12 years ago. What makes it even more impressive is that the band have recalled countless times about the massive technical problems they faced due to the relentless rain over the weekend which resulted in their onstage monitors failing. At around the 2:30 mark you can hear Johnny hit a totally bum note, which i’m almost certain must have been due to the fact that he was unable to hear himself playing.This video is literally the sound of a band staring failure in the face, live on stage infront of 70,000 people and somehow managing to triumph before going on to play a set that has gone down in history. Magical…

 

Battles – Atlas. Later…With Jools Holland, 2007

It’s pretty clear from listening to Mirrored that Battles are pretty innovative as well as technically gifted musicians but it’s only on seeing a live performance of them that you can really begin to appreciate their brilliance. This live video of Atlas shows a band at the peak of their game with each member seemingly having a telepathic understanding of the nuances of the music that they are playing, reacting and adapting to each fluctation and note. Watch the video as a whole and each member seems be in their own little bubble yet somehow fitting perfectly into place to create this performance. Nice fingertapping, too.

 

At The Drive-in – Arcarsenal. Big Day Out, Sydney, Australia, 2001

I’ve always considered At The Drive-in as a big hairy timebomb that sounds like it could literally explode at any second and this video shows why. The ferocity and energy in this performance is something else and the fact that that Omar can shred whilst doing some crazy splits dance makes it even more impressive. The band famously left the stage halfway through this set to complain about the excessive slamdancing from the crowd which I think is pretty cool. Aggressive dancing never fails to piss me off at gigs.

 

Nirvana – Smells Like Teen Spirit. Top Of The Pops, 1991.

Anyone who has ever accused Nirvana of selling out should watch this video for proof that they definitely did not. For whatever reason the show’s producers didn’t want the band to play live, only allowing live vocals on the night. In protest the band went about making a total mockery of the performance… Krist plays bass behind his head for much of the song, Kurt sings in a creepy baritone and changes the open line to “Load up on drugs and kill your friends”, take that primetime tv! At a time when record labels tried to flog Nirvana to the masses it good to see that the band were having none of it. If you want an example of ‘sticking it to the man’ then you could do a lot worse than to check this out.

 

Final Fantasy – This Modern Love. Toronto, 2006.

Hands down the most intricately beautiful piece of music I think i’ve ever heard. Owen Pallet turns This Modern Love into a lush arrangement of looped violins which compliment his fragile voice perfectly. I’m seeing him in a couple of weeks and I can only hope that he plays this, because this version is absolutely incredible.


TNDRNSS – Demos

TNDRNSS

Before Nathan Williams was in Wavves and got famous by taking drugs and having “meltdowns” he made music under the moniker of TNDRNSS (Tenderness without the vowels). If you’re familiar with Fantastic Magic which Nathan was also in then you’ll be familiar with the sound; Beach Boys inspired garage pop with drawled vocals that characterise much of the two Wavves records. A glance at the Last.fm page seems to indicate that these demos might have been tagged as unreleased Wavves tracks, which they are not, just to clarify. I was kind of expecting these to be a bit rubbish when I first got hold of them but it turns out that they are actually surprisingly good and easily rival some of the stuff on the two Wavves records.


Welcome…


Thanks for checking out Acid Math!

This blog will hopefully act as a conduit for me to pass on stuff I think is awesome, to you, the music appreciator. There will be new stuff, old stuff, well known stuff and unknown stuff, everything will be good though, you can be sure of that.

Clicking on a picture will take you to a link where you can download said album for sampling purposes

Don't be selfish, consider all these links as means of sampling the artist only. If you like something then go and buy it. Equally as important, support your local music scene, no matter how small. Go and see shows.

I'm always up for linking with other blogs, so get in touch if you want to as well. Any queries? Leave a comment somewhere and i'll get back to you. Enjoy!




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