Wednesday, 28 March 2007


These guys are (in band-terms) my homies:

They are Rival Joustas and if you've ever spoken to me in the last year or so about my favourite music, then theres a good chance I've mentioned them. The reason they are my homies is that they are a band I have made a conscious effort to support by attending their gigs whenever possible (I estimate that I've been to about 6), buying their merchandise (they produce a nice t-shirt) and most recently, turning up to be in the video for their debut single 'The Masquerade' which was released for download at the beginning of this week and comes out on CD and Vinyl format on 23rd April.

Being in the video was an interesting experience, involving (as you may be able to see) dancing around in the background at various speeds whilst wearing a Zorro-style white mask. I turned up for the video shoot on my own and as such was somewhat dismayed to find out my company largely consisted of small rabbles of 16 year olds, many of whom had that 'emo-and-unapproachable' look.

Luckily I discovered a fellow non-teenager, a guy called James who was a few years older than me, and who was genuinely one of the coolest and most interesting people I have met in recent times. We spent the rest of the day chatting about the phoenix-nights-style feel of the venue (a social club full of grumpy old gits), music, The Bret Easton Ellis book Im reading, career prospects and life in general. It turned out to be a good day.

Anyway, about the band. I could wax-lyrical on Rival Joustas until the sun came down (or up, if I started at night) but at this point I can't really be bothered as its late and this post was more intended as a promotional post for the new song. You can listen to your music for yourself rather than read my interpretation of it, so instead I'll just say here that I think its very very good. You really have to see them live to capture the full experience though (this is what got me hooked), to see singer Thom's madness on stage (which usually ends up off-stage, into the crowd). They're touring lots as a newly-signed band so have a look on their myspace page to find out when they're playing close to you.

I shall now leave you with a few choice tracks selected from earlier EPs/demos to give you more of a flavour for their range of talents. I predict big things for Rival Joustas in 2007. So make sure you're there before the big sweeping masses.

Download 'The Masquerade' on itunes

MP3: Pinch - Rival Joustas
MP3: Experiment - Rival Joustas
MP3: Clarity - Rival Joustas

Tuesday, 27 March 2007

'Feels like spring has wandered in'

It has been a beautifully warm and sunny day here in St Albans. I went for a run earlier and then, feeling utterly refreshed sat outside in my garden (featured in the pic above) to soak up some rays on this glorious day of days. That feeling of warm sunny weather finally arriving is like no other, and as such I think it deserves its own soundtrack.

So what better excuse for my next post than some sun-soaked tunes to get you in the mood for these warmer times?

First off, these two simply contain the essence of sunshine in their very bones:

MP3: Young Folks - Peter, Bjorn and John
MP3: Play the Hits - Hal

Ska/punk can also be very good for making you happy:

MP3: Good Thing - Reel Big Fish

A track that makes me want to be somewhere sunny, (possibly strutting down a sunny road somewhere?):

MP3: Jackie big tits - The Kooks

I discovered these guys from a very recent post on Neils Life, and one of their tracks 'crazy' is very fitting for this post. They are The Icicles (think Magic Numbers but with more female members and even sweeter harmonies as a result). Oh yes make no mistake, this is very happy music.

MP3: Crazy - The Icicles

...And if by this stage you're not feeling positivley giddy with joy after listening to the music then you really need to lighten up a bit!

Sunday, 25 March 2007

Enter Shikari are not the only talented band to come out of St Albans

Enter Shikari appear to be one of the most hyped-up bands predicted to make it big in 2007, and the surreal thing for me is that about three years ago my then-band Shrinking Violet went head-to-head with them and several other bands in the Youth Matters battle of the bands competition 2004 - in our mutual hometown of St Albans. I knew a couple of the guys from the band, Routon and Chris as they ran a promotions company at the time that had sorted our band out with a gig in the past. I was never really sure if I liked their music back then and still haven't really made up my mind. What I will say is that they're very professional about it all and they do seem to be doing something original with all the trancy-electronics so my hat goes off to them in that respect.

MP3: Johnny Sniper - Enter Shikari

Enter Shikari's recent success has put St Albans on the map it seems, and having grown up here I feel obliged to tell you all about some of the other talent we've harbored here in recent years..

To begin with, theres The Legion of Filth, a truly original experimental, psychadellic, folk-rock band who have been described as 'Crosy, Stills and Nash on acid'. They're immensely talented at putting together trippy harmony-rich acoustic songs and are simply one of those bands which everyone should at least hear! 'Ground Dust' is a superb example to showcase their range of talents, named after their EP of the same name.

MP3: Ground Dust - Legion of Filth

Next it would be appropriate to introduce Nick Stephenson who is one of the core members of Legion, but also an accomplished singer/songwriter as a solo performer. Nick has been doing this for years before Legion were formed and has made his art into a fine craft. He's also a great bloke! 'Drink up and say goodnight' is Nick at his rawest and best in my opinion. You can really imagine him belting the song right at you in the front row of a pub.

MP3: Drink up and say goodnight - Nick Stephenson

Taking a very different turn of direction now, as I am duly obliged to mention Dexter's Fish, the band who won the aforementioned Battle of the Bands competition in 2004 (yes that's right, beating Enter Shikari!). They did this by providing delicious slices of perfectly written ska/punk about sunny weather and the usual teenage exploits in a refreshingly humourous fashion. Although technically still together with a different line-up, they don't appear to have any shows by their myspace page but this may change of course. Satisfaction Guaranteed is everything that was great about Dexter's Fish.

MP3: Satisfaction Guaranteed - Dexter's Fish

A few shorter entries now but some equally worthwhile music nonetheless. New Jacuzzi made some very interessting noise back in the 2003 battle of the bands (which led to them winning it), and although I don't know if they are still together 'Napoleon' is a sublime slice of guitar-pop which demands your attention.

MP3: Napoleon - New Jacuzzi

Flatline were a hardcore band also around this year, and although I don't know if they're still together, the dreamy electronica of 'Rome wasn't built in a day' showcases their talent even if not in their usual style.

MP3: Rome wasn't built in a day - Flatline

Violet Delight, were the last band to get big out of St Albans. You might remember their single 'I wish I was a girl' which got to number 23 in the charts about the transexual aspirations of a teenage boy. Whilst they were ultimately a one-trick band (seen by their short-lived life span) an early demo recording of their anti-chav/townie song 'everyone knows' captures a great youthful energy, whilst being very funny in the process.

MP3: Everyone knows - Violent Delight

Suzy Hope are a band deserving of a quick plug too, they're a new band made up of ex-members from Dexter's Fish and Violent Delight and knock out some very catchy pop-punk tunes. They're on tour at the moment too..

MP3: Another Day in Hell - Suzy Hope

..And finally, I couldn't resist but post a Shrinking Violet track recorded live at the Alban Arena for the 2004 battle of the bands final. 'Searching for realisation' was a band favourite to play. Listen out for the inital problems of bass player Simon breaking a string before our final song, and the cheers I get for my short guitar solo near the end! 8-) (also there's harmonica action!)

MP3: Searching for realisation - Shrinking Violet (please excuse the shocking quality, the recording was ripped from a video camera recording..)

(and for those interessted, we came 4th out of 6 bands in total and Enter Shikari came 2nd).