Brixton Academy has always been my favourite London venue. It has held the biggest names in pop and rock since the 1960′s and a place that isnt corporately cloned by another venue for the satisfaction of it’s clientelle. It’s unique and is a place unchanged since it’s hayday; a place where new talents can leave their mark in history, a place where you can still crouch down amd light a joint and you can still get a pint of luke-warm piss lobbed at your back at any moment. You wouldn’t have it any other way I’m sure.
The xx haven’t stopped since their 2009 stunning debut with it’s minimalist and soulful pop songs. Their confidence has grown, as have the bands onstage chemistry. Romy Madley-Croft and Oliver Sim‘s vocal duelling is simply breathtaking and their voices have blossomed.
‘Coexist“, The xx‘s excellent follow up album has trimmed the fat and produced even more soulful numbers and morphed the indie pop songs into beautiful and unique dance numbers whilst transforming the debut albums tracks into this new aesthetic live. Songs such as “Crystalized” and “Shelter” are given new leaces of life by livening up with loud bits with Jamie XX‘s samples and extremely creative drum sounds, whilst the aforementioned Madley-Croft and Sim deliver more tender moments have been stripped down to just a joint vocal and a guitar.
The band’s opener for the night, “Angels” comes across euphorically poignant and sits as a nice platform for tracks like “Reunion“, “Missing” and “Swept Away” to become the thumping live anthems they were destined to be.
The two most special moments for myself were the awe inspiring transitions of “Fiction“, with it’s irresistable guitar line backed my Jamie XX‘s inspired pips and twinkles, along with the fantastic ‘Infinity’ which swells and boils into the biggest moment of the set with duelling vocals howling over each other to a reverberated morse-code of emotion (along with that awesome snare sound that sounds like a shopping trolley crashing into another shopping trolley.
The diversity of the audience for the night shows how special The xx are and they deserve to go down in history as one of those terrific live acts and I hope this show was one of those events.
Starting off almost by chance as a one-man-project and rapidly growing thanks largely to internet buzz, Passion Pit have finally released their second full length. ‘Gossamer’ proves their ease in churning electro-pop gems such as the super “I’ll Be Alright“, “Take A Walk” and “Constant Conversation” said Mario.
Cougar‘s own Jazmin added that “it may have been a long wait between ‘Manners‘ and this second Passion Pit album, but it was most definitely worth being patient. ‘Gossamer‘ is undoubtedly one of the best albums to have come out of 2012, with brilliant singalongs like ‘Carried Away‘ and a perfect combination of electro pop. Any party that this album is playing, I’ll definitely be dancing“.
Cougar scribe Thom included them in his year run down saying “never dropping it’s optimism and fresh sounding production, ‘Beware and be Grateful‘ was a perfect summer album. Well co-ordinated instrumentation at it’s intelligent best“.
Our boy Thom included them in his year end list remarking that ‘Something‘ ”both echoed late eighties video game sounds with New York hip attitude. “Wrong Opinion“‘s meticulous sound production and “Sidewalk Safari“‘s schizophrenic arrangements mixed with haunting vocals are just two examples of Chairlift‘s effortlessly creative style”.
For over ten years, album after album, Hot Chip have been carving out their unmistakable niche sound. The London outfit seem comfortable in their own skin free from the pressure of having to conform to the latest trends, instead they have produced a synth filled master stroke that nods to their 80s influences without ever sounding contrived. In a world where electro-pop is possibly at it’s peak popularity wise ‘In Our Heads‘ sounds utterly relevant without chasing trends.
Nicole included it to his top 10 explaining that “Striking a balance between meticulous and unrestrained, slightly absurd, yet totally serious. These guys do it right. Often dance-able and unpredictable, you can get lost in these tracks, which makes for a good time”.
Thom added “the music that comes from those boys heads has possibly the widest ranging influences in modern music and to no greater effect than on ‘In Our Heads’. It’s energetic, incredibly emotional and great all round.”
While that album remains an absolute pleasure it did signal a slight detour from the sound we had associated with the Californian 3 piece right from their debut. WHY? have definitely not sacrificed their new found pop sensibilities yet ’Mumps, Etc‘ displays enough bite to be considered a kindred spirit to their 2008 breakout album ‘Alopecia‘.
Thom included them in his top-10 explaining “Sometimes words can carry a track on their own and Yoni Wolf‘s lyrics are the sociological poetry of every thoughtful and intelligent down and out. But this record obviously isn’t a poetry reading and WHY?‘s musicianship on ‘Mumps, Etc.‘ is still as exciting, genre-twisting and gritty as their diamond in the rough debut ‘Oaklandazulasylum‘ way back in 2003“.
“‘Coexist’ is an overwhelming success with a melancholic, bleak landscape of sparse sounds portraying the distance felt between once lovers who share no common ground but a past. Each listen reveals another hidden layer of Romy and Oliver’s longing and the efficacy of the concept is beautifully curated by Jamie’s minimalist but enchanting production” said Cougar staffer Sam.
Thom added that ‘Coexist‘ was that “blissful mix of distant minimalist echoes and frugally dispatched beats. The genius of The xx is that they don’t know they are geniuses, therefore there is never an ego in sight but just a shed load of passion and reverb. “Fiction” and “Reunion” were simply inspiring”.
Mario concluded that “the English trio passed the complicated test of following up on the success of their self-titled début with a record that is perhaps less rhythmical than it’s predecessor but is far more intimate and nocturnal“.