Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Funeral Party

Every once-in-a-while a new band comes along that simply blows me out of the water! 

This summer it looks as though California's FUNERAL PARTY are that very band. 

I've been loving this tune for a few weeks and have just managed to see the video. Check it out ...

Tuesday, 11 May 2010

Festival Season is Coming

The UK traditional summer of festivals is almost upon us. 

There will be sell-outs, failures, sunstroke, mud, controversy and scandal each and every weekend between May - September.

A trend that appears to have dominated the UK festival season, for the past number of years, is the newly-reformed bands that stroll right back into the headline spot. Whether this is a good or bad thing, I'm not sure but it seems to be working as a major ticket-shifter! 

In recent years we've seen the likes of Smashing Pumpkins, Rage Against The Machine, Faith No More and even the Sex Pistols put their "personal differences" behind them and get back together for a mutual love of reclaiming the limelight and the lure of a fat wad of cash!

Let's take a look at the pick of this year's festival headliners who may or may not be past their prime:

Fri: U2 - An interesting choice from Evis, U2 could go either way when they headline Friday night. Old classics, stripped down light show & minimal preaching = WIN! / Elaborate stage props, political rants & any material of their last album = FAIL! 

Sun: Stevie Wonder - The soul legend closes the show on Sunday for a safe singalong. Potential goosebumps moments a plenty here.

Fri: AC/DC - currently riding high with yet another greatest hists album cleverly disguised as the Iron Man 2 soundtrack. You know exactly what you're gonna get with the 3-cord giants - Angus Young hoping around the stage dressed as a schoolboy and lots of songs about young girls ... Classic!

Sat: Rage Against The Machine - When Rage reformed to play Reading/Leeds in 08 it felt really weird. For a band so obsessed with their own credibility and self-worth it seemed pretty hypocritical to milk the corporate cash cow but hey-ho. We all know what's happened since then so expect thousands of kids (who probably weren't born when it was first released) to lose their mind and limbs when "that" Christmas Number 1 finally kicks in!

Sun: Aerosmith - Steven Tyler and Joe Perry on stage together again! Could be mind-blowingly ace / could be mind-numbingly dull, it all depends on the song selection.

Reading & Leeds:
Fri: Guns'n'Roses - Okay, this is either gonna destroy every other performance of the summer or destroy what's left of the G'n'R legacy! Mad Axl returns to the UK a lot heavier (physically!) and angrier than ever before! The last time I saw G'n'R live was on the Use Your Illusion Tour at Wembley Stadium. The full line-up was on fire that day and one of the greatest live spectacles I've ever witnessed. So much has happened since then with Axl sacking the entire band and taking 15 years (and $13 million) to record one underwhelming album. I would love Axl to prove everyone wrong by a) turning up on time & b) delivering an earth-shattering performance ... I somehow doubt he'll do either though!

Sat: The Libertines - Not strictly the headline act (the excellent Arcade Fire have that honour) but the reformation that has both critics & fans frothing at the mouth. We all know that Pete & Carl have had their issues but it looks like they may well have sizable tax bills looming as the offer was "too good to refuse" apparently! The Libs were always an amazing shambolic spectacle in small indoor venues so it'll be interesting to see how they cope with that enormous stage in a big field. 

Sun: Blink 182 - The Cali pop-punks close the weekend with a mass-sing-a-long that'll keep the kids (young & old) happy. Anything Travis Barker does is pretty cool with me, the dude's got mad skills!


Come September we'll all know the winners and losers of the festival season. Keep checking in with EBTM for reviews of all this summers action!

Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Best video ever?!

So OK GO are well known for having great videos, but this one has got to a career best. To be totally honest, the song I can't remember for shit. It's all about the video. Apparently the whole video was done in one take and no camera trickery was used. It's absolutely mind-blowing! Check it out!

Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Destine/Eigth Wave @ Islington Bar Academy

Tonight is certainly not a night I would choose to go to. The fact that afterwards I spent more time discussing the fact that 80's legends Kiss are playng at the bigger (but not by much!) Academy venue next door speaks volumes about tonight. It's not that Destine aren't a good band- they definitely are- it's simply that I am far too old to be listening to it.

Before Destine though, I have to endure the horrible drivel that is Eigth Wave. Apparently an ex member of McFly is within their ranks. Even if this was a good thing (which it's not) it doesn't matter cause they are just shit.

Destine are from Holland. A stumbling block for european bands has always been the language difference. With the exception of a few bands, most never manage to break into the UK. Those that do tend to have a strong metal leaning- perhaps it's a sound that suits Europe? Certainly a pop punk band has never made it through. Destine are very much a pop punk band, sitting somewhere between the radio friendly buzz of Blink 182 and the kiddie pop of McFly. They know how to pen a tune, that's for sure. Each song in their set is like a sugar rush and, more obviously, is played with the kind of enthusiasm lacking from similar UK bands. The kids that are here (75-100) certainly seem to to be lapping it up, the bands slightly awkward English only adding to their charm. So can they make it over here? It's very hard to tell, if they do it will certainly be the first. They have the songs and they are a strong, tight live band. There's no doubting that they deserve a shot. As it always is though, it will ultimately come down to luck and the strength of the team around them.

Record Revival- Summercamp, Pure Juice.

Once again, I find myself on the tube flicking through old albums on my ipod that I haven't listened to in a long time and I stumbled across this little gem.

I know very little about the band. I remember picking up this album years ago after Kerrang got all excited about them. As far as I know, they dissapeared after this. A shame as this album is awesome. Each song is reminds me of moments of my youth. I guess the most obvious comparison is Foo Fighters, but truth be told they are a little more pop than that, sounding a lot like Gameface (another great band worth your time if you haven't heard about them).

The best thing about this album is the shifts in pace, from the slight Melancholy of "keep an eye on you" to the buzzsaw pop of "Nowhere near" and the pounding riff that holds down opener "drawer", there is a sense of identity to each song, not just an album of soundalike songs (all too often the case these days).

Beyond the Foos and Gameface comparison, there is even a definite hint of Beatles and Beach Boys in their sound, particularly in some of the vocal harmonies that bring songs like "play it by ear".

I don't think a band has ever been more perfectly named also. This album is pure summer and has certainly been the soundtrack to many a road trip and BBQ for me. As I said, I have no idea what happened to them. I don't even know if this album is still available, but if you do stumble across it- give it a shot, you won't regret it.

Monday, 1 March 2010

Slamdunk Festival 2010

Slamdunk festival's 2010 line up is gearing up nicely. Last years festival continued the festivals tradition of be an incredibly fun day out packed with great bands both old and new. This year is set to be the same. In fact, it's actually going to be even bigger with a Southern date added to proceedings. Taking place at the brand new Hatfield Uni Campus, could this see Slamdunk taking it's first step towards being the UK's first touring festival a la Warped etc in the UK. Would be awesome if it did!

Now about that line up- obviously there is still a lot more to come, but with headliners New Found Glory in place, things already look good. Sadly The King Blues pulled out a week after announcing, but with a re-formed Capdown also on the bill, fingers crossed they will not be missed too much. Set Your Goals and Four Year strong should add to the excitement for all those NFG fans as well. Beyond that, Breathe Carolina and Every Avenue add to the nu-school pop punk factor thatshould draw in all those day glo kids in.

Beyond Capdown, Out Of Sight are the only UK act on the bill so far, though this will no doubt change in the coming weeks. As for other US bands that are likely to join the bill, it's hard to tell, but I'm sure it's going to be strong as the festival has earned a reputation amongst bands as being a lot of fun and very successful for all who play it.

Looks like it's going to be a good one, so get down.

Friday, 26 February 2010

The Emo revival...

No, I am not talking My Chem or the "emo" genre that the Daily Mail created! Before all the silly haircuts, self harm and eyeliner there was actually something more exciting, and this summer it appears to be having something of a reunion.

With The Get Up Kids, Sunny Day Real Estate, Saves The Day and Hot Water Music all touring over the next few months, it's enough to make you think you have stepped back 7 or 8 years to the heyday of the scene. Back then it was backpacks, centre partings and thick rimmed glasses. Mix tapes, fanzines and an endless run of quality indie labels (Deep Elm, Jade Tree, Revelation to name a few).

So if you want to see where the sea of bland pop punk bands got their inspiration from, then head to one of these shows. Alternatively pick up Saves The Day "Through Being Cool", Hot Water Music "A Flight And A Crash", The Get Up Kids "Something To Write Home About" or Sunny Day Real Estate "Diary" and enjoy.

Now we just need Elliot, The Promise Ring, Boy Sets Fire and Grade to come over and it would be the best summer ever!

Rolo Tomassi

So UK noisniks Rolo Tomassi have just rolled out a nice run of tour dates. The band are set to drop the second album in a few months time and hopes are high for it. Produced by dance guru Diplo, the buzz on this one is big, so keep an eye out.

Even more exciting is that RT are supported by the monstrous Trash Talk and rowdy newcomers Throats, meaning this is going to be one of the most intense live packages of the summer. So if you like your rock with a bit of blood, sweat and beers, I strongly reccomend you head down to a show.

Dates are as follows...

10 Apr 2010 19:00
Academy 2 with Trash Talk & Throats Oxford
11 Apr 2010 19:00
Corporation with Trash Talk & Throats Sheffield
12 Apr 2010 19:00
Roadhouse with Trash Talk & Throats Manchester
13 Apr 2010 20:00
Stereo with Trash Talk & Throats Glasgow
14 Apr 2010 19:00
Rock City Basement with Trash Talk & Throats Nottingham
15 Apr 2010 19:00
Engine Rooms with Trash Talk & Throats Brighton
16 Apr 2010 20:00
The Forum with Throats Tunbridge Wells
17 Apr 2010 19:00
Champions with Trash Talk & Throats Bournemouth
18 Apr 2010 19:00
Clwb Ifor Bach with Trash Talk & Throats Cardiff
19 Apr 2010 19:00
Flapper and Firkin with Trash Talk & Throats Birmingham
23 Apr 2010 20:00
The Underworld London

Festivals of 2010

Well, 2010 already looks like a good year for festivals. The past few years, the market has been horribly over flowing with festivals, meaning few managed to pull together a bill of any quality, let alone anything exclusive.

Already 2010 seems to be different, with most of rocks big hitters making festival appearances. To have AC/DC, Aerosmith, RATM, Iron Maiden, Pearl Jam, Eminem, Muse, Rammstein etc all playing is quite an incredible thing, and that's just the headliners. There's still more to be annouced also. Sonisphere has one more headliner to go (surely got to be Metallica to complete the line up of the big 4 of thrash?!) Not to mention that we haven't heard a peep from Reading Festival yet. Blink 182 have been strongly rumoured as one of the headliners (a pretty sure bet as their tour dates surround the Reading weekend perfectly. Beyond them, there's talk of Foo Fighters and Guns And Roses, but those seem less certain with Grohl firmly in Them Crooked Vultures world and Axl Rose just being an unpredictable diva!

Regardless, this summer is set to be great and I personally can't wait. Last year, Download was a huge success, but Sonisphere was still finding it's feet and Reading/Leeds and pretty much every other festival veered too far down the indie route. This year, it would appear that rock is truly back. Going to be a big one, so pack that tent, sleeping bag and crate of beer and I'll see you in the fields!

Wednesday, 24 February 2010

Kids In Glass Houses UK Tour...

Kids In Glass Houses will be touring the UK in April. Check them out at the below shows. Their new album, Dirt, is out at the end of March. By all accounts it's a step away from the world of rock, and could see them hit far more radio friendly territories. It's a risky strategy, but considering these boys can pen good songs in their sleep, I've a feeling it will pay off.

1 May 2010 20:00
CIA w/ Lostprophets Cardiff, Wales
2 May 2010 20:00
University Newcastle
3 May 2010 20:00
Cockpit Leeds
4 May 2010 20:00
Academy 2 Manchester
6 May 2010 20:00
Leadmill Sheffield
7 May 2010 20:00
Garage Glasgow
8 May 2010 20:00
Rock City Nottingham
9 May 2010 20:00
Academy 2 Birmingham
11 May 2010 20:00
Koko London
12 May 2010 20:00
University Bournemouth
13 May 2010 20:00
Princess Pavillion Falmouth
14 May 2010 20:00
Lemon Grove Exeter

Lower Than Atlantis - Far Q

Wow, talk about change- last time I heard this lot they were very much on the southern rock, ETID bandwagon that a bizarre amount of UK bands seemed to be invovled in. Now they sound closer to alt rock heroes Small Brown Bike or Hot Water Music, and they are a million times better.

From the frantic opening of lead track Far Q, this is an incredible listen. Each song a blend of gruff vocals delivered with honesty and passion, searing guitars and gut punching drums. It's impressive stuff, most obviously when they lock into one of many melodic refraims that will no doubt be chanted back at them at future live shows. The easy charm of songs such as "Taping Songs Off The Radio" deserves to heard by more than just the UK scene kids.

Genuinely, I had little to no interest in this band until I heard this album. It's a complete reinvention that is definitely welcome and if there is justice in this world will seem them making a lot of new friends.

Angels And Airwaves- Love

Man, I did not expect to like this. Ever since Blink fell apart and Tom went off on a mission to save the world with AVA, it's always seemed a bit like the egotistical trip of a rich madman. More than anything, neither of their previous two albums have done anything to appeal to me, seeming to be simply devoid of memorable songs.

Imagine my surprise that I seem to gave this album on repeat. OK, so lyrically it's odd at best, often reeking of someone who has lost touch with reality, but musically it's epic and to be totally honest, at a point where bands are almost expected to deliver meat abd veg rock with no frills and no ego, it's actually quite nice to hear something so grandiose and flamboyent.

The fact that the entire album is free to download and it racked up hundreds of thousands of downloads in a day says a lot about how big this band actually are. I don't think this album will see them grow any more as musically it is much the same as the previous two, but certainly, it will have me reaching for those last two albums to see if I have missed something the first time around.

Enter Shikari/The King Blues/Rolo Tomassi @ Hammersmith Apollo.

The reception Rolo Tomassi are greeted with tonight is polite at best, certainly the biggest cheer goes up when they announce their last song. To be honest, it's not to be expected as their ultra intense and scatty mix of yelping, screaming, crunching guitars and hyper beats is not the most instant of sounds. Given time though, you pull out the intricacies of their songs and discover the moments that make them so great. As a live band they are great- all jolting movements and flailing arms as singer Eva Spence dances around the stage almost trance like. The kids will catch on soon.

The King Blues are welcomed far more warmly. In recent months they have become very close with the Enter Shikari crew, and clearly the fans recognise this. Their set is faultless, from the unabashed joy exuded in songs such as My Boulder to the inspired cover of Bonkers, they play like headliners and the crowd laps it up.

Any fear of Shikari being upstaged are banished at the sight of their immense light show- a set up so big it almost tour the roof off a venue in Blackpool. It's a visual feast, but not one that for a second upstages ES performance. As they rip through a set taken from both albums, it's clear they are on fire. a year + of constant touring latest album "Common Dreads" has given the band time to flesh out the songs from it they play so they fit seamlessly alongside earlier cuts. It's an incredible set to watch, both visually and sonically it is awesome and the band exude energy and charm throughout exampling exactly why four normal guys from St. Albans have managed to come so far. Hats off to them.

Friday, 12 February 2010

Lostprophets/Kids In Glass Houses/Hexes @ Brixton Academy

General opinion is that Hexes put in a great performance. As per usual I am ther late and miss it, but the crowd certainly seemed warmed up.

Kids In Glass Houses are a band about to morph into an entirely different beast. Judging by their move to a sharp indie look and songs that have more in common with Feeder and The Stereophonics than than pop tinged rock bluster of their storming "Smart Casual" debut. It's a process that is clearly still not complete and both band and audience seem slightly unsure how they feel about it. Still, it has every potential to be huge, with the skyscraper sized choruses of songs such as 'Summertime' promising huge things for imminent new album 'Dirt'.

Lostprophets on the other hand are a band that know their territory and their sound inside out. They've been doing this for 10+ years now and they simply own the stage. Tonight's show is by no means a best by the band, weighing far too heavily on material from their new album. A lot of the songs that maybe didn't hit instantly on album make much more sense live, and the response to "Where We Belong" suggest the fans love The Betrayed, regardless of the mixed response it received from critics.

You Me At Six/Young Guns/This City

Man do I want to like This City. Song by song I do, but the problem is that over a set, or album, they fall in to one long meandering song, punctuated by yelps and similar jaunty guitar stabs throughout. What their aiming for should work- taking the post hardcore of bands like At The Drive In and Fugazi and adding a pop sheen to it all. Somehow though, it never quite works.

Obviously, I reviewed Young Guns the other day, so will skip the tonight. Needless to say, however, they kill it.

You Me At Six have come a long way. From a youthful pop punk band that commanded. a huge following but was lacking in the musical crunch or critical respect it seemed they yearned to a potentially world beating band with a top 5 album and the love of almost everyone that crosses their path. It's a startling change from day glow tees and simple pop songs to their smarter more dapper appearance and a second album that clearly has an intentional move to more mature waters. More important than this, tonight shows a band that actually perform with the skill and aplomb of many bands twice their age. It's a far cry from those ragged early performances and justifies the bands move from scene leaders to mainstream contenders. 2010 will be a big year for them.

All Time Low/The Blackout/Young Guns/My Passion.

This was the second of a two night stand at Camden's beautiful Roundhouse for the 2010 Kerrang Relentless Tour.

My Passion are a band that, being honest, are just not my cup of tea. I get 100% why 15 year old kids with badly applied eyeliner love them, but I guess I am just too old to by into the goth angst they pedal. Bearing this in mind, I expected to be bored or worse still, dismayed, with them tonight, but truth be told they put in a performance that at least raised my respect for them. They will never be my cup of tea, but I will say that they are very good at what they do.

Young Guns are 100% my cup of tea and tonight they are on top form. Entering to the sound of the venue chanting their name, they own tonight from the start. Ploughing through a set of songs that will soon form their eagerly awaited new album, it's easy to understand why they are the hot tip for 2010.

The Blackout have already done the groundwork and by God does it show. I genuinely don't think there is a tighter, more entertaining live band doing the circuit currently. With a stage show that sees them stepping it up a level too, they are simply huge and leave All Time Low with big boots to fill.

Thankfully, the Baltimore pop punk kings are no novices themselves, and regardless, the crowd is ripe for them, screaming back every word to every song. The first thing you notice is that, actually, these guys are very very accomplished musicians. Unlike so many other bands in the genre, singer Alex can actually sing, and in the brief acoustic interlude he goes ones further and displays a voice that is both powerful and fragile at the same time. Their set is still slightly marred by filler- a problem I feel their albums suffer from to, but with one more album under their belts, there is every possibility of these guys doing a "Blink". If it happens, it would be well deserved.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

Japanese Voyeurs/Sharks @ Camden Barfly

It appears to be a big night for Sharks. Lots of industry are down to catch a glimpse of this hotly tipped band. It's been a few months since I saw them last and they sound like a different band. Not that they were bad before, but it is so obvious that they have obviously focussed a lot on the writing of their songs. In fact, it's recent single Common Grounds that stands out to me as the weakest moment. Again this is not to say that that blistering little number is weak, just that every other track is a brilliant yobby anthem. Definitely keep your eyes on this lot.

Japanese Voyeurs are another hot tip. Sounding like something that crawled out of Seattle in the early 90's, they sit at odds with what most bands are playing right now. No bad thing, especially as grunge is certainly due a comeback. The only thing I struggle with is their lack of memorable tunes. The great grunge bands worked because amidst all the drone and sludgy chugging riffs there were massive memorable songs. On tonights evidence, Japanese Voyeurs are lacking this, but they are young and there is time.

Thursday, 28 January 2010

The Swellers- Ups And Downsizing

I think I may be a little late to the game on these guys and man do I feel stupid for not picking up on them sooner. This album is a belter.

From the amthemnic opening riffs of 2009 I was hooked. Very close to Gaslight Anthem, but with a bit more beef, they are a revelation, especially as they are on Fueled By Ramen- I guess their is money in Springsteen-esque, Americana drenched rock these days. Still there's more to The Swellers than this. The band wield a sound that owes as much to post hardcore types such as Hot Water Music, By A Thread and Grade as it does to the Boss.

In opener 2009 and single Fire Away, they have songs worthy of daytime radio play. Sleeper is even better with a chorus that rides on a deliriously brilliant start stop riff.

Undounbtedly set to 'do a Gaslight' in 2010, I guess it's not quite time to throw out those check shirts!

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Brand New/Glassjaw/Thrice

I'm gutted to miss Thrice, especially as I hear more and more people rant about their brilliance and how they stole the show from both Brand New and Glassjaw.

Glassjaw are an odd band. They always have been, and I think they always will be. The problem is, they were once a unified band also. These days there is next to no communication between the band members. This once brilliant and frenetic live band are now replaced with three static musicians and an eccentric singer who seems to be in a world of his own throughout their set. Yes, they play classics, and yes as the musicianship is flawless, but Glassjaw used to possess a pure aggression that left you wanting to scream at the person next to you. Sadly this appears to be entirely lacking these days. Credit to them, even without this vital energy they are still a good live band, but at no point is their set even in danger of getting close to the legendary shows scenesters of old whsiper of. A real shame.

Whereas Glassjaw's time seems to be running out, it would appear that Brand New are going from strength to strength. They can, it seems, do no wrong. The fact that they released the brilliant, yet ultimately massively uncompromising Daisy album last year (the closest thing a band has come to "doing an In Utero" since Nirvana themselves did) and yet be playing Wembley is beyond belief. This bold feat doesn't seem to have dampen their constant decision not to play ball. Anyone expecting a grandiose production would be dissapointed, insteading being met with a typically introverted band and a backdrop of jarring, bizarre and often discomforting images flashed up behind them. It's this absolute unwillingness to compromise that makes me love this band so much, and I can't help but love tonight regardless of the fact that the band seem to play with almost mild disinterest throughout. It also helps that they possess an arsenal of songs that most bands would sell their instruments for. They even dip into their debut later in the set for a few choice "upbeat" numbers.

Undoubtedly many will have left tonight duissapointed, and I suspect I would agree with all theor reason for being so let down, but for me, those reasons only compound my love for the band, leaving me loving every second of their show tonight.

Up In The Air

Man, do I want to hare George Clooney. Successful, good looking talented and, most frustratingly of all, it appears he's also a thoroughly nice guy. The man has a charm that is irresistable. This film also has a similar charm, a fact made clear by the fact you warm easily to a character who is, being blunt, a bit of a dick.

Clooney plays the part perfectly. Brilliantly understated, he never attempts to steal limelight or dazzle, just simply acting brilliantly the role of a man who's job it is to fire people when their bosses are too weak to do so themselves. He's also a man who's aim in life is to fly more air miles than anyone before him, a goal he holds before relationships, family and pretty much anything else in life. Needless to say, over the course of the film, he is forced to question this life and the contempt he dishes out on all those around him. It's within this unfurling of his character that the film finds not only it's warmth but also it's bleakness. It dances from sweet and often hilarious scenes to moments of pure loneliness and biting sadness. Despite the constant shifts in moods, it remains brilliantly watchable throughout and is a true understated treat. Were it not for director Jason Reitman's previous films (Juno, Thank You For Smoking), and the brilliant reviews it's received, I suspect this film would have passed me by. I'm so glad it didn't as it is a brilliantly charming movie that entertains throughout. Make sure you don't miss out.

Lostprophets- The Betrayed

This album became a borderline Chinese Democracy case, with the loyal waiting years for it to arrive. Ironically, the plan was to turn around this album quickly after Liberation Transmission. Cue some often mentioned fall outs with producers and the band decided to DIY it and get stuck in themselves. Credit to them for this- Prophets have never been a band afraid to take risks and make bold steps. Motives and cred aside, is it any good?

My initial reaction was a disappointment, and even after repeat listens, it still feels like the album starts not with two songs that lack the bombast and instant brilliance that their other albums have had from start to finish. Delve deeper though and there are indeed some little gems tucked away here. Certainly towards the end of the album, things pick up hugely as their band spread their wings and embrace their varied influences. And trust me, those influences are definitely varied. From the dark cold brooding NIN esque closer, to streets of sorrow with it's bouncy Jam sounding verses and right through to the RATM aping Dstryr/dstryr, there is plenty of variety and, given time, there is plenty to love too.

So for a band largely known for their huge choruses and brazen big sing alongs, Lostprophets long waited comeback is easily their least accessible album to date. Admittedly it doesn't quite hit the dizzy highs of their Start Something album, but it does feel like an album that a band have put their heart and souls into and given time it will warm yours too.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

Sherlock Holmes

This had the definite chance to be terrible. Faux Cockney wideboy and loudmouthed yank Robert Downey Jnr teaming up to create a film around a distinctly traditional London hero. Amazingly, it made Jude Laws presence the most reassuring thing about the project.

There was of course the chance for it to be brilliant- RDJ is fast becoming one of the great actors of our time, and Mr Ritchie certainly knows his way around an action movie, so he's more than capable of giving Sherlock Holmes the bobast needed to make sure kids of the 21st Century give a shit.

So how did it turn out- brilliant in fact! Guy Ritchie has toned down his Laaaandan-isms and Downey is utterly engaging as a wise cracking Holmes, and whilst the movie is by no means a classic, it whips along at a good pace and is never short of entertaining.

Most importantly, it also feels like it's just setting the scene, with the scope for sequels left wide open which, as it turns out, is a very exciting prospect.

Spycatcher, The Social Club, Hope And State @ The Amber Rooms, Watford.

Tonight's venue is brilliantly small. A tiny basement in this little pub in deepest, darkest Watford. It's evokes the atmosphere of the DIY gigs I rarely see occuring these days. 40 capacity and 75 people in, it's also cramped, hot and sweaty, but all the better for it!

Hope And State kick proceedings off with a sound that nods heavily to the likes of The Ataris and Gameface. Whilst this is no bad thing, they don't quite have enough memorable songs to make them stand out from the crowds. Hopefully in 6 months time they will have got a couple nailed.

The Social Club have no problem with memorable tunes. Perhaps it's cause I saw Captain Everything (Lew from the Social Club's old band) countless times, but it feels like welcoming an old friend back even though this is the first time I've seem them. Essentially sounding like Captain Everything crossed with Elvis Costello, each song is brilliantly charming and the banter between is hilarious. Keep an eye on these boys.

It's a tough act for Spycatcher to follow, and it feels at first like they may be overfaced. Their opening song hits hard, but lacks the big riffs and memorable moments of many of their other songs. The balance soon shifts though as they fire through a volley of tracks from that cracking debut ep, not to mention new song "I Don't Like People", which is surely a radio hit waiting to happen. Their set is short and punch, but all the better for it, leaving me reaching for my ipod so I can re-visit that ep for my journey home!

Blackhole/Shotgun Riot @ The Purple Turtle

This is my first gig back after the festive period, and it get's off to a bit of a lukewarm start. Shotgun Riot look and move like a great rock and roll band, but sadly the songs just aren't quite there yet. Greatly improved with their new singer admitedly, but where as tonights headliners drop jaw dropping riffs on a regular basis, SGR's set just blends into one. There's promise there, but nothing is hitting quite yet.

Blackhole on the other hand, have memorable songs aplenty. The double edged sword of their relationship with Gallows is sadly starting to work against them I suspect, with people not giving them time of day. A true shame as the do in fact sound nothing like Gallows and more importantly sound utterly vital right now. Singer, Rick is one of the most endearing frontmen around with a self effacing charm that is brilliantly likeable. He's also a livewire, throwing himself into the crowd several times during their set to get the crowd moving. Hopefully, people will see sense and pick up on this band more as they truly are special, and deserve to step out of the shadow that looms over them.