Monday, December 09, 2013
Original member of Dexys Midnight Runners and an integral part of the new line up Pete Williams issued his debut solo album (See) last year. Ruddy good it was too. Now, with a note book bulging full of new songs and a band ready to leap into action he's signed up with Pledge Music to raise the funds to record the follow up. I'm a big fan of both the man and the model. For the uninitiated Pledge Music gives musicians the chance to offer a series of goodies to fans in exchange for cash (essentially plugging the gap left by the absence of record labels). These goodies can range from something as simple as a copy of the new album right through to an intimate acoustic gig with pledges starting at just a tenner. Anyway, click on the video above and cop a listen to the man and his music...
...then you can pledge right here!
Friday, December 06, 2013
With an album that’s gone top 10 pretty much everywhere that matters, several Glastonbury appearances (including showing up during Primal Scream’s set at Bobby’s request) and somewhat bizarrely a slot on The Andrew Marr Show with Cammo (boo...hiss...he’s behind you etc) in attendance, 2013’s been a pretty good year for Californian sisters Alana, Este and Danielle Haim (FYI it rhymes with ‘time’ not with ‘lame’). It’s not been an overnight thing though. Danielle and Este were in The Valli Girls way, way back in the early noughties before starting Haim in 2006 so they’ve clearly paid their dues. Before seeing if all this translates to their live show though first up opener Saint Raymond (aka Callum Burrows). He’s apparently had something called an iTunes Single of the Week this year. Not sure who decides that kind of stuff, probably a computer programme somewhere. Anyway he’s also received the attentions of ‘Zane Lowe’ too. Nasty. I’m sure you can get cream for that. Vocally there’s the occasional touch of the Bugg’s about him in places (no surprise as, like young Jake, he also hails from Nottingham...clearly something of a breeding ground for hip guitar toting dudes). He’s a likeable enough soul with two or three particularly strong tracks, Everything She Wants, Bonfires and Young Blood (due for release in early 2014) which has a decent shouty chorus and a vaguely Vampire Weekend-ish feel that you can see going down well with the crowds at V...when they’re not throwing pints of piss at each other that is.
I’d underestimated how popular Haim had become. Their appearance produced the kind of reception normally reserved for visiting deities. One or two of the girls up on the balcony seemed in grave danger of leaping off into the arms of their heroines...a pretty appropriate reaction really considering the first number was Falling. One thing you quickly notice about Haim is that the vocals are a lot rawer live than on record. That’s actually no bad thing as the second thing you notice about Haim is that these girls can really play. If that sounds a little patronising it’s not meant to be. Watch the video for Falling though and there’s zero evidence that they can do anything other than flick their hair around sexily and wear hot pants. In reality the three of them can...cue review cliché...’really rock’...ahem. Danielle (Rock Haim) in particular could well have slotted right into Joan Jett & The Blackhearts and it’s pretty clear she’s the driving force behind a lot of tonight’s best moments. And there were a heck of a lot of them. Falling, classic 80s sounding power pop, is followed up by The Wire with more of a new wave feel. Not for the first time all three share vocal duties and although they all have their own distinct sound they can still bring the kind of harmony that only comes from having inhabited the same womb at some point.
Ignore anyone who says Haim are like Fleetwood Mac. They know not of what they speak. If you’re looking for influences Pat Benatar meets Wilson Phillips is perhaps a lot nearer the mark. Of course they give the Fleetwood Mac crew some ammo by covering Oh Well, although that sounds bugger all like the Fleetwood Mac that most people know and love.
It’s a ruddy good cover too, dirty primal blues delivered with a menacing swagger. Baby Haim (Alana) is on vocal duties for this one, “I can’t sing, I ain’t pretty and my legs are thin” she sneers, gesticulating at a shapely pair of pins. Oh well (as it were) she got one of ‘em right.
“Let’s go fucking crazy guys, I want to see you go nuts” yells Este, as if the capacity crowd needed any encouragement. Honey and I and Go Slow pass by pleasantly enough but it’s My Song 5 that reignited the night, adding a mental dubsteppy element underneath Danielle’s punk blues riffs.
Listen to this and you can hear something fresh developing, whether they choose to follow that path is up to them but dubstep blues rock...now that’s a concept.
“You’re the best people eva” shouts Este. Awww bless. We try. The crowd’s ongoing rapture is rewarded by Don’t Save Me which get’s the biggest reception of the night so far. A bouncing Baby Haim seems as excited as the audience. Again this version fizzes with an energy that’s possibly understated on the record, Danielle’s choppy guitar playing in particular lifts it out of comfortable MOR territory. Just in case they were in need of some energy after that someone throws a sweet on the stage and Este bravely/unwisely pops it in her mouth and eats it. Let’s hope the hand dryers in the loos were working tonight eh? Urgggh. Forever ramps up the atmosphere another notch with Danielle in particularly throaty form. The band asks for the lights to be turned up and a thousand hands are in the air. For some this is clearly the ‘Haim’ of their lives.
Encores of Running If You Call My Name and Let Me Go finished things off and not even a brief fight in the crowd (swiftly diffused by one of the meanest looking bouncers you’d ever want to mess with) could darken the mood.
I expected this to be a decent show, they’ve got some classic pop songs in their belts, they look good and they’ve got that close knot gang mentality that all great bands have at one time or another. But I wasn’t expecting the degree of musicianship, the energy (both given and reciprocated) and the rawer feel that many of the tracks have in their live form. Whether they choose to continue down the radio friendly unit shifter route or go all death metal on our ass (seriously, I can actually see them doing something much, much heavier at some point) is up to them...only Haim will tell. For now though ‘Falling’ in love with this band’s just too damn easy.
Thursday, December 05, 2013
If you're after a break from the pantos Thriller Live (the Jacko musical) is having a mammoth run at the ICC from December 17th - January 5th. The touring version of the West End show it's pretty much Jackson's greatest hits all in one night, from his time with the Jackson 5 right through to his solo albums. Given his sad demise back in 2009 this is as close as you're going to get to the man himself these days and it all looks like ruddy good fun from start to finish. It's a darn fine pressie idea too if you can't face The Bull Ring...
Tickets available right here.
Can't resist posting a little classic Jacko whilst we're at it. Remember him this way...
Wednesday, December 04, 2013
I've not heard much out of my favourite chamber pop band for a while but all of a sudden they release not one but two (count 'em) Christmas themed tunes in the space of a few days. First up is a cover of that low key Jona Lewie Crimbo classic Stop The Cavalry, swiftly followed by an original track, Everything You Wanted.
Profits from the sale of the 7 inch single (featuring both songs) are going to the victims of Typhoon Haiyan and you can buy your copy right here!
Whilst we're on the subject of Christmas songs fellow blogger Russ L's doing a musical advent calendar. Today's offering...Hard Skin with Ding Dong Merrily Oi! Oi! Genius.
Tuesday, December 03, 2013
New wave disco anyone? With influences ranging from Chic to 80s era Bowie (there's definitely a bit of a Bowie vibe in these vocals from time to time) and more recently LCD Soundsystem to Scissor Sisters London three piece Folie Ordinaire are clearly plugged into the good shit.
Newbie Chez Folie proudly wears all these influences on its glittery hot pants, somehow managing to be hipster cool and disco fun all at the same time. Altogether now "La la la la la la laaah laaaaaah".
Friday, November 29, 2013
Well...it does doesn't it? Come Sunday we'll all be tucking in to that little chocolate behind the first advent calendar and panic buying stuffing by the crate load. Ahhhhhh...glorious...don't you just love Christmas eh? Here's another homegrown Christmas anthem for you courtesy of the lovely Layers. It snuck out last year but...in true Christmas single tradition...it's just been re-released. Play it to your gran on Christmas day after she's OD'd on 'egg nog'...that'll wake the old dear up. Ho ho ho!
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Heck, it's nearly December so let's start popping up some suitably festive musical fare eh?
November 15th marked the 45th anniversary of the Birmingham recording company Big Bear Records, now probably the longest-established independent recording company in the UK. Forty five years ago to the day, the first ever Big Bear 45 was released, and the same recording kicks off their series of Revived Forty Fives from the Big Bear Archives.
Here’s the back story from the label itself...
“November 15th 1968 saw the release of the first Big Bear single and not without a whiff of controversy and a touch of skulduggery.
Back then, Big Bear managed Rock Steady Ska band The Locomotive who were flying high with their “Rudi’s In Love” hit on EMI Parlophone. The crucial follow-up was under discussion and band manager Jim Simpson believed that the next single should follow on in similar vein to the dance floor hit, and had already produced a zany Ska 45 version of “Rudi the Red Nosed Reindeer” in readiness.
The suits at EMI were unamused and had other ideas. Hoping to pick up on the emerging Progressive Music trend, they opted instead for the moody “Mr Armageddon”, which inevitably alienated the band’s new-found Ska audience.
Simpson, finding himself with a now-redundant 45 on his hands, did the obvious thing - he set up a record label. Island Records supremo Chris Blackwell offered distribution, and Big Bear Records came into being.
The next hurdle was the band’s name.
Simpson had signed The Locomotive to EMI as a band, so the “Rudi the Red Nosed Reindeer” single was released as by The Steam Shovel, a thinly disguised Locomotive. It clocked up a decent 7000 sales that first Christmas, enjoying several subsequent Christmas re-releases, reaching a total of around 18,000 units.
But it didn’t end there.
Simpson had commissioned the Big Bear logo, which he liked, but wondered if it reminded him of Walt Disney’s Baloo the Bear. Unfortunately, the multi-national Walt Disney company thought similarly [i.e. it was identical] and sent their lawyers into action. Suitably chastened, the Bear was re-invented, Walt was appeased, and Big Bear Records were in business with a logo that has served until today.”