Monday, 25 February 2013

Brits 2013

It's February yet again, so it must be time for my annual Brits rant.

Thankfully, the award itself was looking more presentable than last years thanks to an overhaul by Damien Hirst and his famous colourful spots.

But in terms of entertainment, the Brits was bland and frankly rather boring.

Sure, Muse kicked off the whole thing in unprecedented style and bombast, and Taylor Swift had plenty of jaws dropping as she owned the stage and set pulses racing with a large scale take on recent single Trouble, both performances took advantage of the award shows monumental stature within the industry, but aside from a mesmerising turn from Ben Howard, the other live sets seemed to be lacking somewhat.

And it certainly wasn't just the artists on parade that left more to be desired, James Corden's abysmal presenting was completely devoid of any charisma, instead playing a good puppet, smiling and mugging for the camera.

Where was the impulsiveness of years gone past, where was the risk that saw Brit-Pop era award shows postponing broadcasting until a day later following the unplanned onstage antics of Jarvis Cocker, Brandon Block and Ronnie Wood?

There is nothing exciting about a polished smooth machine that runs perfectly, why do you think the biggest talking point of last year was the abrupt interruption of Adele's acceptance speech over any other winner or performance?

But where ITV's coverage was lacking, ITV2’s picking up of the baton backstage proved to be the perfect antidote.  Rizzle Kicks' amateur red carpet interviews from earlier in the evening had been replaced by sozzled revelry, an extremely loose approach to scripted questioning and disastrous attempts to read the autocue.

Co-host, Laura Whitmore, seemed panicked by the young pop duo who had clearly enjoyed far too much of the evenings hospitalities, but little did she know that the relaxed atmosphere of post-award show chitter chatter mixed with a free-flowing table service had caught celebrity guests completely with their guard down, resulting in far more honest entertainment, seeing stars as we very rarely do... drunk, witty and very funny.

It was car-crash telly, especially when Robbie Williams reduced .... To tears with his kind words and commandeered the strangely free-form interview, and I doubt Rizzle Kicks will be invited back in the same capacity next year, but we caught a rare glimpse into the real back-slapping culture of the music industry.

So next year, lets run the risk of uncertainty, lets see some more unpredicted behaviour, and lets have an award show that is worth discussing for more than just the predictable winners.

Sunday, 24 February 2013

UNX - Divide By Zero

I have never claimed to be, and likely never will be, a true connoisseur of metal music.

I fail to find the subtleties that are inherent in lurching, monster riffs and screamo vocals, yet when UNX, an Enfield band that I have witnessed the very earliest moments of, approach me to cast an ear over their debut EP, then I am overjoyed to have their raucous machinations bellowing out at me from my iTunes.

The brief intro that opens proceedings is the calm before the storm, a slow atmospheric build that precedes an EP of unrelenting intensity that once deciphered and decoded reveals an internal anguish and sense of alienation that has surely fuelled angry young men across the ages and is befitting of a vocal delivery that is akin to primal scream therapy and music that exists as a pure form of raw expressionism, a release of pent up energy and suppressed aggression.

Consisting of three full length tracks, and further buoyed by three other tracks of audio diversions, Divide By Zero clocks in at under thirteen minutes, hardly out staying its welcome, and is rounded out by UNX's crowning achievement, I Think Therefore I Am.

Bringing itself to a natural conclusion, the EP closer feels like what the band have been working towards. Lyrically, it is the strongest and most memorable track on the release, taking thematical threads that have run through earlier tracks, Severance and Incision, yet it feels musically more progressive than those tracks that have come before it, with epic chiming guitars ringing out, whilst incorporating a woozy and unsettling use of experimental sampling.

As the first chapter in the UNX story closes, I hope that this is a prelude of things to come, encompassing more diverse styles into the established heavy rock template and providing Enfield's proud lineage of metal bands with a brand new standard bearer as it marches ever onwards.