Wednesday, 16 March 2011

Atlas Sound

In May 2010 I went to a music festival - ATP Curated by Pavement. It was awesome, and there were many highlights and I'd like to share one. I'll tell it as I recall it, but I am starting to doubt myself some now! :)

Saturday evening, the main band Pavement played for 2 hours. I loved every second of it. It was exhilarating. I had only heard of the band a few years ago, some years after they had broken up. So for me, I thought I had missed the chance to see them, and that was one of the reasons it was a special weekend.

Anyway, Pavement played on Saturday about 8-10pm, and later we went to see Atlas Sound who was on at about midnight. Atlas Sound is the solo project of Bradford Cox, who is known for his work in the band Deerhunter. This show was a real treat. It was his birthday, and the crowd sang 'Happy Birthday' to him, as he did a cute little dance around the stage <3 and told us his mum would be really pleased to see how nice we were to him.

He shared with us a story from his youth. Of trying to learn the guitar, hanging out in town with friends and getting high, trying to impress someone he liked, and getting turned off when he learned of the dude's music taste. He had learned 'We Dance' by Pavement, and failed to impress his love interest.

Anyway, he shared this song with us, that we had already heard that night, played by Pavement, the band responsible for it. And it was a seriously cool moment.

I'd like to add that the Youtube user who uploaded this video is a hero. He/she always seems to upload great quality videos of the bands I saw at ATP.

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Ogre You Asshole

I once heard that other than Modest Mouse, there aren't really any bands who sound like Modest Mouse. However, someone had a band up their sleeve; their ace in the hole. They posted links to a few albums by a Japanese band called Ogre You Asshole. Now, I know, more Japanese music but it's what's on my mind right now! I promise more English language music will come.

Anyway, Ogre You Asshole were introduced to me as having a Modest Mouse-y sound. This was incredibly appealing, because Modest Mouse were and still are my favourite band. Isaac Brock's voice is utterly fantastic, kind of unique, and Ogre You Asshole don't have him singing for them. Even if they did have a voice like that, they're Japanese, so I'm not listening to lyrics which is a big part of my enjoyment of Modest Mouse songs. Musically though, I can see what they meant! Yes, indeed.

According to wikipedia the band are heavily influenced by Modest Mouse, who played an interesting part in naming Ogre.
"Arata Nishi saw Modest Mouse bassist Eric Judy on the street near the Hot Lab live house after a gig in Matsumoto during their Japan tour in May 2001. He asked Judy, who was drunk, to name their band. He replied 'I can't' before writing 'Ogre You Asshole' on Nishi's arm." They also credit Fugazi and Talking Heads as influences.

BUT! Ogre You Asshole are fantastic in their own right, so enough of their influences, have a listen.

While I am here, let me also briefly mention Toe, a post-rock band from... what? Japan? Yes, Japan. The drummer is off the hook. Check 'em.

Monday, 14 March 2011

Keeping it on topic - Japan

I did say that the blog would vary in content and not just be music. I thought I would tie in my post on Japan with some of my favourite music from the country. I am terrible at genres, but these bands sounds great to me - whatever they are!

Mono are a fantastic band. They're described as post-rock, influenced by shoegaze and classical/contemporary classical. Honestly, just instrumental rock covers it to me. They played at a 2008 All Tomorrow's Parties festival curated by Explosions in the Sky, which I almost attended. I didn't know the band at the time, and I'm regretting not going to that festival more and more.

Mass of the Fermenting Dregs are a shoegaze band with good, high energy sound :) I desperately want them to visit England.



I'm sure everyone is aware of recent events in Japan, looking around the internet it's fantastic to see the support offered to the people effected by the earthquake. Whether that support comes from the emergency and aid services, or from the regular folk who are wishing the Japanese well.

There has been a lot of discussion on the nuclear power plant which was only 40 miles from the epicentre. (40!!!)
I cannot claim to understand the current predicament they're facing, but I am told that this facility is 40 years old, and the safety features installed by the nuclear engineers are fantastic. I read a very interesting post on reddit by user rynvndrp.

"After scram (complete shutdown), about 5% is still there and that level reduces in half every 15 minutes. So for a 3000MW thermal reactor (like this one), 150MW is still there after immediate shutdown, 75MW 15 minutes later, 37.5MW 30 minutes later, and so forth.
In a Boiling water reactor of that model, there are 3 cooling pumps in series (one for the cold feed and two after each hot feed loop). During a scram, those pumps must be shut off so that you don't get vibrational feedback (which could break a pipe). However, in the core is designed such that there are jet pumps (16 in parallel on the standard design) on the wet stream loop. This jet pump has no moving parts but can circulate the some water regardless of what the pumps are doing. Further, there is an single emergency main pump on the main loop that can push the full coolant load. This pump can be driven by any one of several diesel systems or a battery backup.
If all of this fails, you then start to depend on the cold water back up re-condenser. In a BWR, underneath the first reactor containment, there is a large torus shaped area that is filled with a large amount of water. You can drop the steam from the reactor into this ring. The steam recondenses and reduces pressure. With the jet pumps, you can push the cold water into the reactor. This system can prevent first containment failure but doesn't prevent core damage.
Then there is a second level containment. The design based accident for this reactor is assume a main coolant pipe dissappears (double guillotine break), all of the coolant flushes out and there is no way to cool down the reactor. In this case, 600MW post scram level will melt the reactor and possibly damage first containment, but second containment can hold the total heat produced post scram. You also have a coreium (term for molten core) catcher that catch the core, mix in a huge amount of radiation shield, and reduce the temperature.
What is happening: Earthquake happens, core is scrammed because something might break. When the scram happens, main pumps turned off, emergency main pump turned on. However, the diesel generator doesn't work, maybe damage in earthquake, maybe something else. They turn on the battery system. It can last 4 hours, which is enough to reduce core power to 10kW. However, it is hot in there and 10kW is still enough to continue to make steam. So the water level (which tells you how much steam has been made) is dropping. They can go to the recondenser if they need to, but the recondenser doesn't rule out core damage (not melting, but material warping and oxidation) which would be expensive or impossible to repair. So for now, they are bringing in new coolant so they can prevent expensive core damage.
They are NOWHERE close to the design based accident, and there is very little worry about containment failures. They are doing the evacuation because there isn't the safety factor they want, not because they are anywhere close to a radiation leak."

I am not up to date with the recent developments at the facility, but it's a fascinating read about the intricacies of the safety features.

Sunday, 13 March 2011


Everyone loves Battles right? Their most well known track is Atlas from their album Mirrored. It has been featured on adverts and probably in tv shows. Listen here

I highly recommend you go out and buy Mirrored, or try to see the band live - they're fantastic.

Battles sort of split up last year, announcing the departure of member Tyondai Braxton. BUT! They're still going! The group have announced a new album, Gloss Drop. Due for release June 2011. Here's a new track to start the hype

Explosions in the Sky

Explosions in the Sky have a new album: "Take Care, Take Care, Take Care." As of 14th March the album has leaked to the internet, but I believe it is due to be released officially April 26th!

Take Care, Take Care, Take Care:
01 Last Known Surroundings
02 Human Qualities
03 Trembling Hands
04 Be Comfortable, Creature
05 Postcard From 1952
06 Let Me Back In

You can hear a track from the new album here: Enjoy! I'm looking forward to it.

Having seen them live once before, I'm looking forward to seeing them again. They will visit England twice in May - 17th in Manchester and 19th in London.

Expecting the new Strokes album - here's a new track

People are anticipating the release of the new album by The Strokes. Both in the sense of the official release, and when it will leak to the net.

Here's the new 'Under Cover of Darkness'