Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Crystal Castles Release Official ''Plague'' Video

Crystal Castles have released an official video for the lead single from their as yet untitled third album. You can check out the video in full here:


New single ''Wrath of God'' is also due for release today and the third album is set to drop in November.

UPDATE: ''Wrath of God'' -

And here's the cover of Crystal Castles (III) which was announced over Facebook in the past few minutes. It's due for release on November 5th. The band are also set to begin a UK Winter tour on 22 November.

October in Music: Muse, Bat For Lashes, Paul Banks

September at Heavy Metal Mouth saw us review two excellent albums in The xx's ''Coexist'' add Grizzly Bear's ''Shields''. So what does October have in store? Here are just a few reasons to keep reading next month.

The 2nd Law - Muse (1st October)

The release of Muse's sixth studio album has been received with a certain degree of apprehension from the English trio's fan base following claims it has been influenced by the dubstep genre and would be ''radically different'' from what has come before. This might not be a bad thing however; their last release in 2010, ''The Resistance'', was a largely overblown effort that most likely resulted from Matthew Bellamy's inflated ego, so a new direction and reinvention might be the answer to regaining the kind of acclaim that followed ''Black Holes & Revelations'' in 2006. I'll remain skeptical for now, but a return to the head-melting space rock we all know Muse are capable of would be most welcome.


The Haunted Man-Bat For Lashes (12th October)

Fresh from a well received set at Electric Picnic, Natasha  Khan's latest release in set to drop in Ireland on October 12th and there's good reason to expect more of the trademark dream pop soundscapes that saw ''Fur & Gold'' (2006) and ''Two Suns'' (2009) receive praise from a wide range of critcs. If lead single Laura is anything to go by, we're in for a treat again.

Banks - Paul Banks (22nd October)

In my own experience, I've found that the decision to release a self titled album post debut means one of two things; either the band has created an album that they feel best represents them as a whole and defines their sound, or they've simply run out of ideas. Unfortnately the former was true of Interpol with the release of the eponymous fourth album in 2010, which saw fans and critics alike disappointed and eventually resulted in a hiatus for the post-punk outfit.
So here comes lead singer Paul Banks again with a new release under a new name- his own. The title of ''Banks'' and his ditching of the Julian Plenti alias suggests a record that may be of a more personal nature than the enjoyable but not outstanding ''Julian Plenti is... Skyscraper'' in 2009. It's anyone's guess whether Banks will deliver another ''Intepol'' or something closer to ''Turn On The Bright Lights'' but I know that the outstanding early work of Interpol alone means that ''Banks'' deserves to be heard.

For reviews of all the above and more, stay tuned into Heavy Metal Mouth next month.

Bad Day for Green Day: Billie Joe Armstrong off to rehab

Billie Joe Armstrong, lead singer of pop punk veterans Green Day, is set to join the ranks of many spoiled rock star brats before him and head to rehab following his much publicized on-stage meltdown in Las Vegas at the iHeartRadio Festival last Friday night. The frontman became agitated  when the band were allegedly instructed to wrap up their performance early.

Following the hilarious outburst, which included gems such as ''I'm not fucking Justin Bieber you motherfuckers'', Green Day  have released a statement which goes as follows: "Billie Joe is seeking treatment for substance abuse. We would like everyone to know that our set was not cut short by Clear Channel and to apologize to those we offended at the iHeartRadio Festival in Las Vegas. We regretfully must postpone some of our upcoming promotional appearances."

One could consider the whole incident bad timing considering Green Day have just released the first of a planned trilogy of albums which is set to be released in full over the next 3 months. Whether their touring schedule is to be affected remains unclear, but for now appearances on Jimmy Kimmel Live and The Ellen DeGeneres Show have been cancelled.

Watch the rant in full here:

Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Killing Them Softly - A Review


Killing Them Softly is a new release from acclaimed yet unprolific director Andrew Dominik, the man behind gritty 2000 biopic ''Chopper'' and the critically lauded ''The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford'' in 2007. The huge gap between both previous films is unexplained, which is curious considering the wide praise both received. So upon Dominik's return to filmmaking 5 years later with Killing Them Softly, a gangland thriller which sees him reuniting with Brad Pitt, it would be natural to have high expectations.

The large void which the gangster film genre is currently experiencing this century is easily understood- an exceptional list of films came from it, and since the likes of ''The Godfather'' I & II, ''Goodfellas'', ''Pulp Fiction'', ''Scarface'' and groundbreaking HBO drama ''The Sopranos'', most would feel it is territory that has been covered, sealed and shut. And so 12 years since the millenium, it would seem that with the exception of Martin Scorcese's ''The Departed'' in 2006, we haven't experienced a 21st century gangster classic, leaving the market wide open and perhaps meaning that the timing of Killing Them Softly has been quite shrewd. So, how does it hold up in comparison to what has come before? Well, mostly it doesn't, and mainly because Killing Them Softly takes a very different approach to the crime genre, with mixed results.

Set in New Orleans, the story follows a heist gone wrong, as hopeless criminal junkies Frankie and Russell (played by Scoot McNairy and the wonderful Ben Mendelsohn) stick up a big time card game with disasterous concequences. Wrongly suspected of involvement with the robbery is Markie Trattman, potrayed by Ray Liotta, while professional hitman Jackie Cogan (Brad Pitt) is drafted in to get answers and deal with those responsible for the missing money.
Pitt is his usual self and puts in an assured central performance which holds the film together from start to finish, while Mendelsohn's turn as the despicable Russell is tragic yet hilarious. Another impressive performance comes in the shape of James Gandalfini, who successfully shakes himself of the shadow of Tony Soprano while potraying a heartbroken, alcoholic hitman who seems more interested in drinking himself into a coma instead of the job at hand. Liotta, however, feels under used and Richard Jenkins' screen time is also brief and underwhelming.

While the film is successful in it's stylish, refreshing attitude and contains an undeniably brilliant cast, the pacing of Killing Them Softly is it's main problem, as it fails to ever really lift off the ground and hit full power. Fans expecting action will be disappointed; Killing Them Softly is as laid back as the gangster genre gets, and it's best features are in it's witty, clever dialogue and the underlying political message which is carried throughout in the form of Barack Obama and George Bush's constant radio and televsion presence, which ties in skillfully with the money obsessed criminals in the failing economic climate of New Orleans.

In stark contrast to Dominik and Pitt's last collaboration (which many found to be overlong and impossibly slow), Killing Them Softly is short and sweet at just 97 minutes and doesn't outstay it's welcome, but while some would complain of it's limited running time, there was no need for it to be any longer.

Overall, while Killing Them Softly will never compete with modern crime classics such as ''The Departed'', the unusual style it encorporates makes it memorable in its own right and it deserves to be seen.


Monday, 24 September 2012

''Shields'' Grizzly Bear - A Review

Three years have passed since Veckatimest made Grizzly Bear one of the biggest alternative rock bands in America, and so it was natural that this year’s long awaited follow up would arrive in a wave of frenzy and hype that only confirmed the Brooklyn quartet's increased status.

The progress of Grizzly Bear has been charted through their back catalogue as they continually developed their unique sound over the course of three albums, each one stepping up its game from the last. 2004's Horn of Plenty was essentially an Edward Droste solo effort, recorded with a quirky bedroom lo-fi sound that originally caught the attention of critics and fans alike, leading to a record deal and the formation of a group that included the now familiar Daniel Rossen, Chris Taylor and Christopher Bear. 2006's Yellow House showcased the raw talent of each member as they began to explore each other's styles and laid the groundwork for Veckatimest, the realisation of Grizzly Bear's potential and a record that marked the true arrival of Grizzly Bear as a fully realised indie rock outfit.

So now that everyone seems to have been convinced that the hype is indeed to be believed, it would make sense right about now for a post-success slump, right? Certainly not. Shields kicks off right where Veckatimest left and continues Grizzly Bear's unstoppable form as Droste and co. unleash a variety of tunes over the course of 48 minutes and ten tracks. Opener Sleeping Ute begins with a rocking intro as Daniel Rossen sings over the clanging electric guitars in his Southern drawl, while Ed Droste is introduced on Speak in Rounds, a building acoustic track that recalls Yellow House's Central and Remote. Adelma is an instrumental track most unlike the band; a one minute synth sample that works as an intro to irresistible lead single Yet Again, led by Droste's characteristic aching vocal. From there highlights include Gun-Shy, another Droste track that sounds like a natural single through it's warm, catchy style and the bouncy A Simple Answer. The album closes with Sun In Your Eyes, an always building track that pays off with a sensational climax to conclude Shields in a glorious and definitive manner.

So yes, Shields is a perfectly good album, but what does it really say about Grizzly Bear after 4 albums and 8 years? Well, first of all, the album firmly establishes the bureaucratic setup the band has always employed and takes it to the next level; make no mistake, Grizzly Bear may have begun as a solo project but this is a band as far away as possible from relying on one man. Ed Droste has always fronted the group but the only real indication of his leadership at this point is the fact that he stands centre and front on stage during live performances. Grizzly Bear was never a dictatorship, but it's never been more of a democracy.

All of this is progressive and vital to the band's success; the vocal style of Rossen is now key to the band’s sound and the often overlooked Christopher Bear serves as the rhythmic driving force behind the music; his steady drumbeat pulsates each track in a way that ensures his presence shouldn't be underestimated. The obvious individual talent of each band member means that Grizzly Bear have a group of musicians easily capable of leading their own projects, but on Shields the band has never sounded more together, as the contribution of Droste, Rossen, Taylor and Bear combine to form an exceptional and unique sound that fans will be hoping they can provide for years to come. The consistency of Shields is evidence that there is a very real reason to expect it.


Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Electric Picnic 2012 - A Review

What a weekend. The hangover has only just begun so with a sore head, bruised body and a severe case of post festival blues, the only thing I can do is look back on one of the best weekends of my life and without a doubt the greatest festival I've ever been to by reviewing my top acts and moments of Electric Picnic 2012.

Friday 5.00 Electric Arena
The Californian five piece have only played together a handful of times since the announcement of their reunion in March of this year, but you could never tell as they stomped through a series of pyschedelic indie rock tunes that warmed the crowd up perfectly for the night ahead. Frontman Jason Lyttle's brief interaction's with the crowd kept the set flowing smoothly and listening the band's finely tuned, positive performance was absolute confirmation that this was a band reunited for all the right reasons. Rumours of a new album have surfaced of late and anyone who was witness to this will be hoping they prove to be true.

Grizzly Bear
Friday 6.30 Electric Arena

Another act who were currently in the process of a return to live performance but while Grandaddy sounded like they'd never been away, it was plain to see Grizzly Bear were currently fine tuning their return to stage. It wasn't a problem for the most part; the band debuted a number of new singles from upcoming album Shields that sounded excellent, and classics such as Knife and Two Weeks kept the crowd pleased, but the rust was showing in certain areas for a band that hadn't played live since 2010 up until a couple of  weeks ago. Ed Droste's charming persona came across well however and he addressed the issue himself, thanking fans for being witness to their warming up and suggesting a future concert in Dublin where the band could ''get more intimate'' with the audience. Sounds great to me.

The xx
Friday 9.00 Main Stage

One of the main reasons I bought a ticket was to see Romy Madley Croft, Oliver Sim and Jamie Smith, but I must admit to being one of many concerned with the idea of xx on the Main Stage out in the open to a huge audience such as this; the ultra mellow sound of the band could have been wasted on a crowd so large, but the set up of the stage and an excellent light show ensured that their inclusion among the headline acts was justified.
Ultimately, the result was somewhat inbetween predictions good and bad as the band played a mix of crowd pleasers from debut album xx such as VCR and Islands, while also introducing tunes from the upcoming Coexist which half the audience seemed to know already. Remixes of Crystalised and Shelter were bold yet refreshing and for the most part, the setlist had been chosen well. However, lack of interaction with the audience gave off a cold sense of detatchment, and while there wasn't a note missed throughout the entire perfromance, something felt off as the audience failed to really connect with the band. While it would be unfair to call this a disappointment, there was definite potential for greatness that went unrealised and the next time the band come to Ireland, I'll be hoping it's within the confines of a club or arena where we can truly experience the intimate nature of The xx.

Sigur Ros
Friday 10.30 Main Stage

You could feel the crowd beginning to grow restless as Sigur Ros delayed their entrance onstage for roughly 15 minutes, but as soon as they walked out everything was forgotten as the epic ambient sound of the Icelandic group overtook the audience in a way no band I've seen has before or since. Frontman Jonsi's voice is somehow even more incredible live than on record and his otherwordly falsetto silenced a stunned crowd from first word till last. Highlights of the set included the soaring Hoppipolla and dreamy Sven-g-Englar, but there was never a dull moment as a transfixed audience hung on to every moment the band were onstage. A truly unique and memorable live performance that will stay with me personally for a long time.

Crystal Castles
Saturday 6.00 Main Stage

Alice Glass is a character. She stumbles onstage, a smoke in one hand and a bottle of Jack Daniels in the other, to a crowd of worshipping fans. Her reputation for on stage antics is justified; as soon as Baptism kicks in she leaps offstage and onto the crowd barrier as a number of security guards (who were terrorized by her actions throughout) follow after her in an attempt to stop her adoring fans from swallowing her right into the crowd. Glass is a controverisal figure no doubt and for many she is either to be loved or hated (a particularly scathing review in the Irish Times on Sunday confirms this) but it cannot be denied that she gets the crowd moving to Ethan Kath's electronic beats like no one else. After 40 minutes of ecstatic dancing to the likes of Crimewave, Celestica and Not In Love, the band storm off stage 20 mins early. There'd have been cause for complaint if it hadn't been such a pleasure.

Explosions In The Sky
Saturday 7.30 Main Stage

The instrumental Texan quartet blasted through a 5 song set with more emotion in their guitars than the words of most acts over the weekend. A humble bunch of lads (they described themselves as 'merely a warm up to The Cure'), they didn't speak two words to the crowd until it was all over, but they didn't need to either. Much like their music, they couldn't have said anything to add to the epic beauty we were witnessing first hand. A particular highlight of the set and festival overall was the aching, emotive sound of signature song Your Hand In Mine.

The Cure
Saturday 9.00 Main Stage

Three hours sounded way too long to many of the festival goers discussing the Cure's upcoming concert on Saturday night, but if you were there to hear Robert Smith and co's performance you surely would have conceded that it was just the right amount of time for a legendary act to create something Irish fans will still be talking about in 10 years time.
Everything you could think of was played as the band's 39 song set consisted of classics such as Inbetween Days, Just Like Heaven and Friday I'm In Love. And just when we thought it was all over, there was still time for an encore consisting of Lovecats, Close To Me and Boys Don't Cry. Smith's voice hasn't changed one bit since the 80's and his passion and energy for the music to this day is astounding. The standout performance of the weekend, and that is really saying something for a festival packed with exceptional performances day and night.

Bombay Bicycle Club
Sunday 6.15 Main Stage

The sounds of BBC were perfectly set to the Sunday evening sun and kicked off a final night packed with singalong performances led by Jack Steadman as tracks such as Always Like This, How Can You Swallow So Much Sleep and Shuffle got fans moving fast. The normally socially awkward group were lapping it up and the feel good atomsphere of the night resulted in easily one of the most enjoyable performances of the weekend. A real crowd pleaser.

Sunday 8.00 Main Stage

Guy Garvey's usual showmanship and enigmatic stage persona came across wonderfully and had fans singing to their hearts content as Elbow belted out a set of favourites including Grounds for Divorce which Garvey introduced with a Freddie Mercury like audience response singalong,
and Lippy Kids which included a backing performance from the Irish Youth Gospel Choir.
However the highlight of the set, and the standout track of the entire festival was yet to come. Everyone who had been waiting on One Day Like This couldn't have prepared for the setting that complimented it so very well; as the sun began to set, strings began to rise and the band produced something so special and emotive that it would have been impossible not to feel the incredible power travelling through the audience at that moment in time as the audience drowned out even Garvey, singing together in unison ''Throw those curtains wide/ One day like this a year will see me right''.
We all knew Elbow were good live, but this exceeded even the highest expectations and served as a fitting closer to an amazing weekend in the sun. I saw audience members with tears in their eyes following it's conclusion, and it was easy to understand why; we had all experienced something truly special.

Top Five Acts

1. The Cure

2. Sigur Ros

3. Elbow

4. Crystal Castles

5. The xx

Top Ten Songs

1. One Day Like This - Elbow

2. Sven-g-Englar - Sigur Ros

3. Your Hand In Mine - Explosions In The Sky

4. Infinity - The xx

5. Baptism - Crystal Castles

6. Just Like Heaven - The Cure

7. Two Weeks - Grizzly Bear

8. Evening/Morning - Bombay Bicycle Club

9. Witness (1 Hope) - Roots Manuva

10. Heart - MMOTHS

So, that was my festival. You all probably have different ideas about what was best but from the acts I saw, there's my own personal feelings and highlights about it all. The one thing I'm sure no one will disagree about is the fact that we all had a great weekend and would love to be back. Bring on next year.