Posts Tagged ‘Bear In Heaven




We bring a genuine element of surprise to today’s recommendation.  We recently went to see Bear In Heaven play at a gig last week and, to our surprise, Nullifier were supporting.  We had heard whispers about this band late last year among the music circles, but we never investigated them and certainly hadn’t seen them live.  It was equally surprising and rather satisfying to find out they were from Brighton.  However, the biggest surprise of all was found in their live set. Not only is the music punchy, energetic and forcibly packed with melody and hooks, but it’s played with an octopus of a band onstage, consisting of eight, (yes eight!), members.  Among this giant band we noticed (a totally unnecessary) two bassists, two drummers, two keyboard players and even the vocals were shared around, but admittedly it all created a playful, frenetic atmosphere.  We got in contact with the main singer, Jim Morrison, (!), and he explained that there’s only really two of them writing and developing the songs, bringing together the various arms when playing live, including members from Lonely Ghosts, Help She Can’t Swim, My Device and Pope Joan.  Jim described their sound as “a kind of surf-psych-synth-pop with globules of harmonic energy“, which is all very true, but if we compared them to the likes of The Infadels, that might helpfully put you in the right ball park, although there’s perhaps signs of a little more depth found here.  It’s noisy, but in a good way, energetic, wild and free, like all good time bands. Just like their live sets, it’s all totally irresistable, seducing you straight from the outset.  They recently completed work on their mini album, Most Evil, which will be out on One Inch Badge Records at some point later in 2010.  In all honesty, sometimes we have to trek long and hard through the musical landscape in order to uncover bands that we consider good enough to make it onto The Recommender, so it was a joy on this occasion to simply walk into the room and have this awesome group bowl us over.  Surprises really don’t get much sweeter. (MB)

Find them here:          Myspace

Hear them here:         NULLIFIER – THE SCHEME OF THINGS



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A Local’s Perspective – By Olivia Gable

Well everyone, it’s that wonderful time of year again.  The time when everyone who cares about new music at all is talking up the happenings of this past SXSW Festival and speculating on its aftermath.  Lucky for you, we’re doing our best in this post to be a one-stop-blog for band highlights, photos and anecdotes from SXSW 2010.  So if you couldn’t make it this year, at least we can pass some of the joy on to you here from our humble experiences there.  This year in Austin, I took on the role of the official, one-girl embassy for The Recommender.  This was my fourth SXSW, as rather conveniently, Austin just happens to be the place I also call home.

For those who aren’t familiar with the Austin-based festival, every, and I mean EVERY, available club, bar, coffeehouse, vintage store, museum, park, walkway, car park, toilet and alleyway becomes a performance venue, some more ramshackle than others (*Cough* Purevolume‘s broken stage).  Most of these are free ‘unofficial’ parties and shows open to everyone, badge or no badge.  Covered below are some of the ones I made it to…



These guys did a nice job of kicking things off Thursday at Mohawk for the Billions Corporation party.  They had a tough crowd at 12:30 in the afternoon but managed to keep everyone’s attention.  Maybe it’s because they sound so huge live!  I’m sure every sound technician at one point or another has wondered if an audience can in fact be crushed by bass.  This show’s tech was clearly a man of action.  It was hard not to be distracted from the band’s percussive prowess and ringing vocals by the walls of bass closing in on my internal organs. Still, if I had to die by crushing, I’d want the culprit to be something as good as Lovesick Teenagers. They also win my Most Amusing Photo award for this gem:

BearInHeavenFunnyTR.jpg picture by odelaybradford

BEST LARGE BAND:   The Bewitched Hands on the Top of Our Heads

It really was a pleasure to catch this French sextet rocking it out at the France Rocks Austin party.  And that’s not only because when I stumbled into the club to catch them I discovered there was free food (tacos, of course), champagne and beer.  Food mecca!  After chowing down, I listened to them weave their lovely melodies and marvelled at their cohesion as a large band.  “Could three guitarists really be necessary?”, I wondered.  The answer is…probably, but that’s mainly because during their choruses, no one singer or guitarist can be picked out.  They all contribute to the resulting lush soundscape.  Their first EP will be released in early summer, but to hear them before that you can catch them live in their upcoming UK tour or listen to their excellent contributions on Yuksek‘s debut, Away From the Sea.

BewitchedHandsTR.jpg picture by odelaybradford


I really just went to see her because I thought she’d put on a good show.  She performed at the Knuckle Rumbler Lounge party at Peckerheads (ordinarily a frat/college bar).  First of all, this girl is tiny.  Secondly, she knows how to dance.  Watching her footwork and dancing to her bass-heavy songs as she rapped over them put a huge smile on my face.  She is so full of energy that it’s infectious.  This show ended a run of performances she’s made at SXSW, but she still managed to get a somewhat reluctant crowd to Shake it to the Ground.  Don’t just go see her because of her association with MIA and Diplo, do it because she’s got some sweet moves, and she’s willing to teach you.  Who knows, she might just pull you on stage as she did with one The Recommender’s favourite bloggers, Sheena Beaston.

RyeRyeDanceTR.jpg picture by odelaybradford


These guys are the perfect example of the whole point of SXSW.  You think, “Oh I have a few minutes to kill, I wonder what this band is like”. Then voila! You stumble into a fantastic show.  Their Myspace doesn’t really do them justice to be honest.  The keyboards and bass roar at you live, while the guitar rips high, whining melodies through the air.  Their abilities as multi-instrumentalists were on show too, as between songs they switch to keys or toss guitars and bass between one another like it’s nothing.  They won over the crowd so much that people begged for an encore (encores aren’t standard at SXSW’s 30 minute sets), so they unexpectedly closed with a cover of The Stone RosesI Wanna Be Adored and we all drifted away for a few dreamy minutes.

SolidGold2TR.jpg picture by odelaybradford


I went to see Mike Diaz at the Poptarts Suck Toasted blog’s party in a crappy club at the end of my longest day.  It was during the evening, when the ‘official’ SXSW showcases were happening, so very few people were there.  A few moments into the first song, which I recognized from his chlorine-dipped summer haze of an EP, Sunndreamm, everything went wrong.  The speakers made an ungodly racket and went silent.  He waited patiently for things to get working again.  They briefly did, but a few seconds later it happened again.  He did his best to salvage the evening, but he knew it was over.  Still, I heard someone who’d been raving about his album mutter that maybe he just isn’t very good live.  At least for us, he has much better luck in the studio.


In retrospect I think the reason I eventually got to see them was because I’d actually given up trying to.  Friday was a general day of failure, so I wasn’t expecting anything to work out.  Overall three of their SXSW shows were late, cancelled or rescheduled.  I finally ended up seeing them because I stuck around after folk artist Lissie‘s performance, but they were still half an hour late.  My patience paid dividends though.  Despite the crowd not fully appreciating the set, for reasons unbeknown to me, I still loved seeing Claire Evans’ model poses and Jona’s crazy energy.  He danced around so much during a choreographed part that one of his braces snapped and was dangling for the remainder of the show.  However, I think we can blame Claire for the crazy cold weather the next day.  She should never have said it “was great to be somewhere as nice as Austin after being in Canada’s freezing temperatures”! I think the city took that as a challenge, which it won.

YACHTTR.jpg picture by odelaybradford

SADDEST TO HAVE MISSED:   Washed Out with Small Black

This one kills me.  I tried so hard to see this set with both artists playing together at the tiny, dingy Lovejoys, for the I Guess I’m Floating party, but in keeping with ‘Failure Friday’ as I dubbed it, the set was incredibly late.  This year’s SXSW overall saw way more late shows than ever before, which meant in some cases all plans were out the window.  This particular show was going to be over an hour late, and I’d already been waiting in that extremely loud bar for three hours.  Eventually I couldn’t take it anymore.  So I logged it away as ‘Biggest Disappointment’ and left for brighter horizons.  Luckily YACHT’s groovy dance tunes made up for missing them.


It’s impossible to mention every awesome person I met or every band I wanted to see but couldn’t.  That’s part of what makes this festival so unique and impacting.  People get more time with each other, whether it’s over free breakfast tacos and beers, or just in the street.  There are so many wonderful brief encounters that can change entire plans for the day.  Here’s a wrap up of all the little memorable moments and aspects I can, well, remember…

FromHypeMWindowTR.jpg picture by odelaybradford


Catching bands I never expected to see (Rye Rye, Solid Gold, YACHT, and yes, even GWAR).  Having my city once again transformed by thousands of new faces, smells (mostly good), and sounds.  All the free drinks and food that as strangers we were able to bond over.  Exploring clubs and bars in my own town that I didn’t know existed.

PastePartyCowboyHatsTR.jpg picture by odelaybradford


Using Twitter to find people I’ve never met nor know what they look like.  It worked some of the time.  It’s astonishing how Mike (Recommender’s editor in the UK) managed to introduce me, whilst he was online, to people in real life, via his connections on Twitter.  That wafting smell at Red River and 6th.  Yeah, you know the one.  Discovering that, despite careful planning, I can in fact go a whole day without seeing any of the acts I planned to and the experience is just as rich for it.  Trying one last time to save ‘the day that wouldn’t be’ and having the universe tell me bluntly, with a kick to the head, “It ain’t happenin’, Honey, just go with it.”  Watching a t-shirted town in the midst of Spring transform into a blustery winter wind tunnel overnight; in mid March no less!

Street2TR.jpg picture by odelaybradford


Meeting some of the great people from Hype Machine, Mewbox, Strangers in Stereo, and  Chatting with the silly guys from Bear In Heaven totally made my week.  Watching friends get excited about seeing Sean Lennon like it was John Lennon himself in the flesh.  The constant accessibility of bands was awesome.  To simply be able to say, “hey there, you have a minute?”, and suddenly find yourself stumbling through Frenglish with an adorable drummer or two.  Meeting folks that are from all over the world who are just gushing about Austin.  It truly makes me proud to live here.

RoadBlockTR.jpg picture by odelaybradford


Buried under all the tons of rubbish created by the thousands who came, there remains the pieces of your memories and your hearts that you’ve left behind.  All the more reason to come back next year.  Just tell us when to pull out the taco fixin’s.  We’ll be here and we’ll be ready.    (OG)




We first heard this fella through his Kissy Sell Out-produced tune, Come On Over (This Could Be Love).  We should admit at this point that Kissy seems a little bit of a one trick pony, with the trademark sound he adds to each of his remixes, making them recognisable as his, but ultimately a little same-y.  However, as his twinkling synths danced all over Tinashe’s track, we were intrigued.  Then the vocals kicked in.  Suddenly all the bouncing nonsense seemed to, well, make sense.  It was a tidy marriage, but without doubt the vocals were the star.  Like some kind of tacky biblical parable, we followed that star and arrived at Tinashe.  This solo artist was born in Zimbabwe of all places, via Hackney, looking very much the styled part, whilst having the musical talent to back it up as well as a large enough box of pop melodies to get the larger labels wetting their nibs.  It’s occasionally very light, with that annoying and rather unnecessary vocoder, but thankfully it’s not used too much and overall his urban pop has a genuine authenticity.  It’s early days, but getting Radio One DJs remixing your EPs is always a springy board.  It was pleasing to notice that he’s also entered the odd ‘tip for 2010’ list on some blogs too.  Viewing the video below, with him playing his African instrument, the Mbira, not only is this kind of element unique in today’s pop environment, but relating his African instincts into his talented music may be just the kind of credibility that balances any generic pop pitfalls.  His Mayday EP is out on March 1st and you can catch him live in support of Recommender darlings, Marina & The Diamonds on 29th January and Ellie Goulding on 10th February.   (MB)

Find him here:        Myspace


TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford


Is there something in the water in New York? The rate at which artists are appearing is alarming!  So many of them are reaching our inbox and getting into The Recommender’s famous ‘queue’.  Just check out recent posts about MNDR, Sleigh Bells, Zambri, Theophilus London, MEN, Sensual Harassment etc.  It’s just getting silly now, there’s bloody loads of them!  New York, and perhaps more specifically Brooklyn, has never been short of talent, but never before have they burst through at this wonderful rate.  This must be what the popular blogs, Tastes Like Caramel, Brooklyn Vegan, The Culture Of Me, or Sheena Beaston feel like all the time, it’s like a bloggers paradise!  And so to this tidy little find for you.  If you like your electronic pop to be experimental, but never overdone, dreamy, but never sleepy, then this Yoiker may be about to soundtrack your life.  George Lewis Jnr isn’t afraid to follow his fun button, always creating delightfully enjoyable, melodic tunes, reminding us of bits of Flaming Lips, or Super Furry Animals playing their late night grooves.  It’s all shapely and beautiful, harmonic and clever.  There’s a lo-fi feel to it all, which isn’t surprising, considering Ed Banger‘s innovative Mickey Moonlight has been involved.  This is like the soundtrack to those moments when the drugs still haven’t quite worn off; you’re still smiling broadly and glowing, but firmly rooted to the sofa.  He has a single due out in March, so look out for that.  It seems Brooklyn never runs out of energy, so we are looking forward to what else appears throughout 2010.   (MB)

Find him here:         Myspace

Hear him here:         TWIN SHADOW – YELLOW BALLOON

TinyRedLineForBlog.jpg picture by odelaybradford


Ok, so we’re just going to tell you right now that this band will probably become one of your new favorites, if you’re not already familiar with them.  And now you’ve written that in your diary we can tell you why.  These four lads from Brooklyn (MB – that goddamn place again!) have brought something rather lovely and new to the table.  Their recent full-length, titled Beast Rest Forth Mouth, is a well-crafted, cohesive piece of rock, and it’s only slightly difficult to say without spitting on the person next to you.  It drives you down a wide open highway of psychedelic, swirling melodies and pounding, electronic beats and it enjoyably sweeps you into the sky on a wave of creatively spun vocal harmonies.  True, it came out last year, and it isn’t technically their first album, (nobody can seem to agree if they have two or three albums!), but because it’s miles above their previous work and because they’re about to tour with other Recommender favorites, Freelance Whales and Oh No Ono, we had to bring it to your attention.  This band are going to have a big 2010 and our confident point will be proved as the year develops.  Part of their Spring tour this year will find them at Austin’s famous SXSW music festival, where their reportedly mind-blowing shows will no doubt garner a great deal of attention.  The Recommender is expecting to earn it’s music press accreditation for this giant festival any day now, so we look forward to reporting first hand on their live shows, but for now take it from us, when it comes to the band of the year – all bets are currently off.   (OG)

Find them here:           Myspace

Hear them here:           BEAR IN HEAVEN – LOVESICK TEENAGERS

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CLUB SMITH (Previously known as THE HAIR)


Mike Bradford (MB) - Creator and Contributor (UK)

Olivia Gable (OG) - Contributor (Austin, USA)

Matt Allfrey (MA) - Contributor (UK)

Natasha Ryan - Photographer (New York, USA)