Archive for the ‘Noah and the Whale’ Category

My Top 5 for 2009

December 31st, 2009

After 42 shows in 50 weeks, heres my top 5:

#1 - Bobby McFerrin @ Royal Festival Hall
for his playfulness, outstanding performance, and inspirational interaction with the audience.

#2 - Max Richter @ Union Chapel
for his beautiful melancholic music, and perfectionin performance.

#3 - Alex Lloyd @ The Troubadour
for the heartfelt simplicity of his songwriting and performance.

#4 - Andrew Bird @ Union Chapel
for playfully weaving beautiful melodies with little else but himself.

#5 - Fever Ray @ The Forum
for their eye poppingly slick production and dark ambience.

In particular, Bobby and Andrew and a particular Buckley-ish flavour to their shows, with their energy on stage, and musical playfulness. A special mention goes out to Noah and the Whale @ Crisis Hidden Gig, Tori Amos @ The Savoy, Bob Brozman @ The Half Moon, and Massive Attack @ Brixton Academy.


Noah and the Whale - First Days Of Spring

July 20th, 2009

Noah and the Whale - First Days Of Spring Album Cover

I’m sitting at work, listening to Noah and the Whales new album ‘The First Days of Spring’, and I’ve just had to down tools - its so darn good I had to write a quick review of it.

Melancholic, moody and totally Stupefying - its a marked departure from their first album which has always been seen as abit twee in parts. This is clearly a breakup album as most of the tracks revolve around that subject, but I’m glad this album wasn’t around last time I had a break up, or I’d have sat in my room with this on repeat for weeks, and never left the house!

Theres also a definate show of craftsmanship here - they’ve clearly shown their capabilities as musicians with stark melodies, to thoughtful use of instrumentation, including choirs, slide guitar, strings, brass, and even prepared piano.

If your hoping for an album like their debut that you can bounce around to, this album isnt for you. However, if your in an introverted mood, you should really dig it. Its out end of August, so do the right thing - support indie music, and go BUY it!! (I know I will be :)

Download the title track off their new album (FOR FREE!!) off their website (, so do yourself a favour and go have a listen!

Noah and the Whale - Crisis Hidden Gig, 24 June 2009

June 29th, 2009

Noah and the Whale - First Days Of Spring Album CoverThe gig included Jay Jay Pistolet, Wave Machines, and Noah and the Whale (Natw), all playing for a hidden gig at the Freedm Studio (at Camden’s Roundhouse) for the Crisis homeless charity. The studio itself is a small space, perfect for an intimate show. I much preferred hearing Jay Jay Pistolet and NatW in this intimate setting, than the massive Shepherds Bush Empire, filled with screaming/shouting fans.

The last time I saw Noah and the Whale, I wished I’d heard them with Laura Marling still in the line up, but now I realize that her departure has allowed them to evolve away from their first album, into something other than folk. Now I hear twangs of The Cure, Sigur Ros and even Mazzy Star interwoven into NatW’s melancholic melodies and riffs. Since their last London show, I could hear that they’ve now worn in their new tracks, which sound alot more settled and organic than before.

I would offer more of their new stuff, but as I’d prefer you all to go see them and buy their new album in August, I’ll give you a single taster:


ps - you can download the title track off their new album (FOR FREE!!) off their website (, so do yourself a favour and go have a listen!

Noah and the Whale - Shepherds Bush Empire, 6 March, 2009

March 8th, 2009

Noah and the WhaleThis particular friday night I had a choice between 2 bands - one a new favourite (Noah and the Whale) and one an old favourite (My Drug Hell). As the title suggests, for better or worse I did actually manage to make my mind up 2 days before the event. It only took me 3 months - and there was reason for that too. You see, NATW (Noah and the Whale) recently released a pretty impressive debut album, but the exit of the amazing Laura Marling, and their growing cult status (especially with the younger generation) made me double take on whether they’d be worth seeing live. When compared with the dreamy (but less known) power pop of My Drug Hell, it was a tough decision.

This is not to say that I devalue My Drug Hell in anyway, their music will always have a certain charm to me, and I still wish to see them live (its just a pity they dont get out that much). If you dont know who they are, go check them out. They’ll grow on you.

Anyway. Having taken my seat, I was handed a programme. Odd, I thought, but none-the-less read it to discover this was going to be an interesting tableaux of Music and Short Films, presented by Future Shorts called ‘Club Silencio’, in homage to David Lynch, and the parody didnt end there - the presenter, was named Red Velvet (rather than blue), a phone kept ringing, conversations got weirder, and juxtaposition of shots just got more and more Lynch-ian. I enjoyed the shorts, and liked the idea, tho many people standing below got more and more impatient as the show progressed.

Finally, NATW made their way out, seamlessly segueing in from a backing video playing behind them, which was quite clever. It was clear quite quickly that these guys were quite dynamic and love their music, which was like chalk and cheese compared to the last show I saw (Ray Lamontagne) which left me wanting. I know these guys are often referred to as Twee pop (probably because of their quite saccharin pop tunes, and young audience - tho I prefer the term anti-folk), but they really played hard. This became more apparent as they played what must have been the majority of the new album. From my vantage point the audience seemed abit confused about the new music, and cheered loudly when something they new started. This was not suprising, as the new material was quite a departure from the old - the old was at times cynical and melancholic, the new was quite dark and tormented, and definately a break up album. This is not a bad thing at all, as it clearly shows off new depths of their songwriting capabilities, but it will be interesting to see how it goes down with the fans wanting something more bouncy.

From the sound engineer in me, I enjoyed the violin sound very much, it was warm and fitted perfectly with the other instruments - completely unlike the strangled cat that often appears when a violin takes the stage in a band. Each instrument was both well defined and contributed well to the overall sound. They’ve obviously got a good soundie!

I’m looking forward to their new album, and seeing them again in June! Heres a few tracks to whet your whistle:

Noah and the Whale - Blue Skies are Calling.mp3

Noah and the Whale - Mary.mp3

Noah and the Whale - Hold My Hand As Im Lowered.mp3

Noah and the Whale - First Day of Spring.mp3

EDIT: If you’d like to see some video from the night, try Winstons Zen blog entry.