Tag Archives: indie

2014 – The best of the best

Another year has nearly come to a close so it’s high time I got sorted and posted my ‘best of the year’ lists.  This list is MUCH easier to do with the help of Last.fm – if you don’t have an account then I suggest you get one!  I’m a big fan of stats and music, so I’m on there regularly checking which bands I’ve been listening to more than others.  The ‘top artists/top tracks’ isn’t exactly a true reflection of what I like the most, but it’s a pretty good guide.

So without further ado, here’s the listicles.

TOP 25 ALBUMS OF 2014

  1. The Courteeners – Concrete Love.  I was never a big fan of these guys until photographing them at Shepherd’s Bush last year.  Found it hard to not listen to this album at least twice a week since it was released.
  2. The Heartbreaks – We May Yet Stand a Chance.  Another corker from these guys, just missing out on the top spot (it was a REALLY tough choice).
  3. Interpol – El Pintor.  Did not expect Interpol to be in my top anything this year!  They’re back and as good as they’ve ever been (as good as their early stuff anyway).
  4. The Wytches – Annabel Dream Reader.  Finally got to listen to an album from these guys after banging on about them all through 2013.  Did not disappoint.
  5. DZ Deathrays – Black Rat.  These guys make me proud to be an Aussie 🙂
  6. Royal Blood – Royal Blood
  7. Eagulls – Eagulls
  8. Johnny Marr – Playland
  9. The Orwells – Disgraceland
  10. Morrissey – World Peace is None of Your Business
  11. The Family Rain – Under the Volcano
  12. Maximo Park – Too Much Information
  13. The Amazing Snakeheads – Amphetamine Ballads
  14. Manic Street Preachers – Futurology
  15. Sleaford Mods – Divide and Exit
  16. Wampire – Bazaar
  17. Bass Drum of Death – Rip This
  18. Liars – Mess
  19. Howler – World of Joy
  20. White Lung – Deep Fantasy
  21. Death From Above 1979 – The Physical World
  22. Temples – Sun Restructured
  23. Hookworms – The Hum
  24. Perfect Pussy – Say Yes to Love

Honorable mentions: Meatbodies – Meatbodies and Cheatahs – Cheatahs

TOP 25 TRACKS OF 2014

  1. Absolved – The Heartbreaks.  An easy number one this year.  Incomparable.  These guys know how to write a pop song.  If they had a bit more exposure it could have been a Christmas number one!
  2. Leave This Island – Maximo Park.  Another band from the 00’s coming back this year with some brilliant stuff.  This track will always remind me of my birthday in Edinburgh at the start of the year.  Lovely stuff.
  3. How Good It Was – Courteeners.  Summer in one song.  Hard not to sing along to.
  4. Continental Shelf – Viet Cong.  This is why you don’t do your end of year lists until at least mid-December.  Only heard this track about three weeks ago and it’s been an earworm ever since.  Formed from the ashes of Calgary band ‘Women’ (who were also brilliant), no doubt their album is going to be in my top 10 next year.
  5. Easy Money – Johnny Marr.  Is this not the most catchy song you have ever heard in your life?!  Pretty much.
  6. Anywhere – Interpol
  7. Reflective Skull – DZ Deathrays
  8. Where’s Your Car Debbie – Slaves
  9. Come on Over – Royal Blood
  10. So Now You Know – The Horrors
  11. Mess on a Mission – Liars
  12. XXX – The Bohicas
  13. Money – Life
  14. Tied up in Nottz – Sleaford Mods
  15. Trainwreck 1979 – Death from Above 1979
  16. So Oh – The Charlatans
  17. Here it Comes Again – Amazing Snakeheads
  18. Nerve Endings – Eagulls
  19. Dirty Sheets – The Orwells
  20. Let’s go to War – Manic Street Preachers
  21. Istanbul – Morrissey
  22. Cockeyed Rabbit Wrapped in Plastic – Slug
  23. Bad Attitude – Wapire
  24. Lawman – Girl Band

Honorable mentions: Wanderlust – Wild Beasts and Drown the Monster – White Lung

TOP GIGS OF 2014

  1. The Orwells – The Fleece, Bristol.  Expect little and be surprised.  Could not believe how good these guys were live, pushed it as far as they were physically able.  Super entertaining.
  2. The Heartbreaks – The Lexington, London.  Hard not to enjoy a gig by these guys these days.  They have such lovely fans as well – learning the dance moves to the ‘Absolved’ video clip, much to the delight of the band.
  3. Eagulls – Electrowerkz, London
  4. Amazing Snakeheads – Electric Ballroom, London
  5. The Courteeners – Brixton Academy, London
  6. The Cribs – East Village Arts Club, Liverpool
  7. Her Parents – The Monarch, London
  8. Menswear – Queen of Hoxton, London
  9. Manic Street Preachers – Huxley’s Neue Welt, Berlin
  10. Twilight Sad – Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen, London

FAVOURITE PHOTOS OF 2014

This blog wouldn’t be complete without a list of my favourite photos that I had taken at gigs in 2014.  Still pinch myself that I’m lucky enough to get in the pit at gigs these days.  Long may it continue!

Enjoy your holidays if you have any, and I’ll see you in the New Year!

Jx

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Bass Drum of Death/Crows/Yak, The Shacklewell Arms 13 November 2014

Once again The Shacklewell rolls out three incredible bands in one night – how do they manage to get it right so often?!  (I suspect Bad Vibrations had a big part in all of this…)

My main purpose of heading to the gig was to see Bass Drum of Death but decided to head there early to catch Yak.  Knew nothing about them until they started playing, and I still don’t know anything about them apart from the fact that they are remarkable live.  Definitely seeing them again at some stage.

Seeing as Yak were so fantastic, odds on the next band, Crows, would have to be crap, SURELY. Nope, another remarkable band and another remarkable performance.

And then there was Bass Drum of Death.  By that stage the crowd was packed in like sardines and the mosh pit was like a whirlpool, sucking everyone in.  Almost lost my balance up the front a few times but couldn’t stop laughing because everyone was just having way too much fun.  Not the best shots of these guys due to no flash/being jostled constantly, but I gave it a red hot go.

Managed to not break the camera and the 24-70 survived to tell the tale… just.  Black and white shots again because red lighting is just NO FUN when you’re trying to take photos without a flash.

If you can, check out ALL the bands in this post, live.  It’ll be worth your while!

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The Heartbreaks, The Lexington 5th November 2014

The pointy end of the year is almost upon us, which means that, as always, there are a shedload of gigs occurring in November. I didn’t get around to buying The Heartbreaks tickets when they were released as there were so many other gigs going on around the same time, and I’d pretty much seen these guys every time they had toured London.  After much thought on the morning of the gig I decided that I would most surely regret it if I didn’t go along, so tickets were bought and I started to get really, really excited.

Of course after the gig I thought that, had I known how brilliant they were going to be, I WOULD have regretted not going.  The Lexington didn’t feel packed to the rafters up the front, but that’s probably because of your standard ‘Lexington bottleneck’ at the stairs, whereby everyone is too English and too polite to move further into the crowd and therefore stand awkwardly in front of the bar, getting in the way.  We were right up the front so no problems with dancing like a maniac, and everyone was just lovely – singing, laughing, dancing and having a great time.

Call of the night came from a guy standing behind us who shouted “Lovely ol’ job!”.  It was indeed.  The crowd down the front managed to pull out some choreographed dancing during Absolved, and some people were having SUCH a good time that Matthew had to comment on it at one stage – females screaming and all sorts!

I know I say this every time, but it’s shocking that these guys aren’t more well known in the UK.  They have released one of the best albums of 2014 (if not THE best), and I still spin their debut album every few weeks.  They’re all so bloody lovely as well, no airs and graces, humble and very witty.  If I could recommend any band from this year (or the last three years even) that you should listen to right now it’s these guys.  Do yourself a favour 🙂

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Menswe@r at Queen of Hoxton, 9 August 2014

Just between you and I, I was a big fan of Menswe@r in the 90s.  They were easily in the top 5 of my most favourite Britpop bands ever (because everyone loves a list) and I religiously collected their (very snazzily designed) CD singles on import in Australia when I was a teenager.  I never understood the flack they got back then, and I was always proud to say I was a fan.

I guess people say it’s a nostalgia thing going to see your most loved bands from when you were a teenager and to some extent it is.  When the band you’re seeing has been revived with a new line up and fresh energy, it’s all about going to see a bloody brilliant gig.

The only thing that marred the night was a few ‘lads! bantz! pints!’ guys in the crowd who at their age should really know better, but fortunately that didn’t take away much from the overall experience.  Johnny Dean and the new Menswe@r line up clearly love playing together as they put on a fantastic show and seemed to really enjoy themselves.

My only regret is not bringing a zoom lens with me (for fear of it being confiscated by security!) and having to make do with my 50mm 1.8, which I hid in the arm of my jacket on the way in (don’t try this at home kids).  The shots were all quite close as a result… live and learn!

If you were a fan of Menswe@r in the 90s, or even if you weren’t, I can highly recommend you go check them out if you can.  If you don’t get a chance though, here’s some pics so you can pretend you were there.  Enjoy!

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Teleman, Islington Assembly Hall, 20 May 2014

My first time shooting at Islington Assembly Hall last week, and in fact the first time I’d actually been there for a gig.  Gorgeous venue, and one I hope to go back to at some stage.  They’ve been putting on some great acts recently so I’m sure I’ll be back there before too long.

Teleman were great, very chilled.  For some reason I was disappointed with the shots I took after I left the venue, but when I processed them they seemed to turn out alright.  I’ve been playing around in Lightroom a bit more recently and have come across much easier ways to remove red lighting from pictures where the end result does’t make the artists look sallow skinned and ghost-like!  I had to apply this to some of the Teleman photos and I’m pretty pleased with the results, compared to the originals.

The pics on Shout 4 Music are here, or check them out below.  Enjoy!

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The Crookes, Dingwalls 29 April 2014

For some reason I forgot to post this and it has been in draft for the last month!  So cast your mind back to late April…

I’m in two minds about Camden’s Dingwalls, after one crappy experience on my first venture there (Tribes – horrible crowd, oversold, no chance of getting a drink at ridiculously packed yet understaffed bar etc.) and one brilliant experience following that (The Heartbreaks – amazing crowd, great space for photos in various spots around the venue, brilliant lighting and meeting the band afterwards). It could have gone either way with The Crookes earlier in the week but luckily it fell mostly into the latter category.

Difficult getting a decent shot of the guys from from front of stage as there were two rows of teenage girls forming a rigid barricade that none could pass through – their fans are staunch! I released myself from the throng after a couple of songs to discover that it wasn’t too busy from the side, and the lovely sound guy let me pop through the barrier to get closer to the stage. Nice one.

As I said, the lighting at Dingwalls is pretty decent, so no need for flash. I don’t know why I bothered to bring it really! I used ye olde faithful 24-70mm f/2.8 for the whole gig. Had my 50mm in the bag but didn’t bother using it. HANGING to pick up a 70-200mm f/2.8 in the coming weeks. My time will come, save save save…

Pics of the evening below, enjoy!

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The Twilight Sad, Hoxton Square Bar and Kitchen 1 May 2014

Never would have thought that a band I don’t know too much about would manage to impress me so much in a live setting. Don’t get me wrong, I know of The Twilight Sad, and I bought their first album Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters when I first moved to London in 2009 (I’m an Aussie for those of you who don’t already know!). Never really kept track of what they were up to until having the opportunity to photograph and review their gig at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen last week for Shout 4 Music.

Oh. My. Word.

Haunting. Intense. Bleak. Yelling. Dark. Austere. THE LOT. Complete wall of sound from start to finish. This was their second sold out London date, playing Fourteen Autumns and Fifteen Winters in its entirety and it was bloody lovely. Almost forgot to take photos at some points because it was hard to look away! Just brilliant. I saw on twitter afterwards that the sound up the back wasn’t that great, but from where I was standing it was perfect.

Flash stayed in the bag (it would have completely drowned out the ambiance/highlighted the dry ice too much) and 24-70mm f2.8 was a permanent fixture. Had a great spot up the front and almost couldn’t get out of the gig because it was like sardines up the back. If I were a big fan of the band I would have rightly been in heaven after that gig.

Review on Shout 4 Music here, and pics of the evening below, enjoy!

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Her Parents, The Monarch 2 May 2014

I’m glad I’m all over twitter as much as I am or else I would have discovered too late that Her Parents were breaking up, and missed their last ever London gig at The Monarch.  As luck would have it I found out on Thursday afternoon that their last gig was going to be the next evening, and as I (kind of) didn’t have anything else on, decided to see them one last time.

The gig was to be expected – hilarious, vigorous, shouty and silly.  Really going to miss these guys.  Do yourself a favour and buy their two albums before you can’t get them anymore.  Luckily I have both on (one) vinyl – considering they were both in my end of year lists for last year and the year before, how could I not?!  Their albums are for when you either a) want a laugh out loud or b) want to punch someone in the face repeatedly.  Music for ALL occasions!

Thanks for the last few years Her Parents, you will not be forgotten.

Pics of the night below, enjoy!

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Traams/Crushed Beaks, The Lexington 30 April 2014

Well well well, Traams eh?  2014’s dark horses!  Gig and a half on Wednesday night, one that I wasn’t expecting to be so blown away by (why? I have no idea…).

Their album “Grin” has been one of those very few albums this year that I’ll continue to revisit when I’m bored of whatever new treasures I’ve recently added to my iPod.  Always a great listen, but live they really put some magic into it.  More live bands like this please!  Energy in buckets and stage presence like no other (the bassist especially, just too bloody cool) .

The gig was wedged between two other gig nights for me (both of which I was photographing and reviewing – hectic) so I didn’t think I would enjoy it as much as I did.  Glad we arrived early as Crushed Beaks were also fab, with yet another ridiculously cool bassist. I wasn’t really intending on taking many, if any photos, but I’m really glad I took my camera along.  It’s always the times when you least expect something awesome to happen…

As I was only taking photos for myself I just popped my 50mm f/1.8 on my camera as it’s light and easy to throw in my bag.  I should use it more often really as it’s a lifesaver in low light conditions, which The Lexington can be at times.  So, SO glad I bought the camera with me!

Pics below for your entertainment, enjoy!

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Johnny Foreigner/Electric Soft Parade, The Borderline, April 2014

It’s been a busy few weeks recently, not so much on the gig photography but more on the day job side of things.  I’ve been looking to move jobs recently and have just landed a new one, so no more running to interviews on my lunch break or before work, all sorted!  Now I can focus more on blogging, facebooking, instagramming and tweeting – the important stuff.

As I mentioned previously I’ve been offered an in-house photographer position with MAMA venues, which I’ve now started.  I’ve recently shot a couple of bands at The Borderline which has been much fun – a nice small venue in an easy location with early stage times – what’s not to like?!  Plus the bands there have been great so far, so I’m hoping to do some more in the coming weeks.  A couple of weeks back I shot Johnny Foreigner there, and just last week Electric Soft Parade.  I’m keeping my eye on upcoming gigs to see what takes my fancy and will grab what I can!  If you know of any bands playing there coming up who would be good to photograph let me know and I’ll see if I can pop along.

A couple weeks ago I had a photo shoot with a lovely band from Southampton called Welcome Pariah, while they were up in Camden for a gig.  We traipsed around the back streets (and telephone boxes!) of Camden on a Friday night and took some group shots of them in various places.  Really easy to work with and just lovely guys all around.  The photos are being used as press shots to accompany their upcoming single (June release date), so will share a few pics of the shoot when that’s all come out.  Exciting stuff, for both the band and me!

Starting my new day job tomorrow (eep!), but honestly have loads and loads of gigs coming up in the next few weeks/months, so keep your eye on my twitter/instagram/blog etc.  Photos of the recent Borderline gigs below, enjoy!

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