PS: I could only find one picture of them...if you're the photographer and you object to me using it I'll gladly take it off...don't sue me...I don't have any money...it's all good PR anyway right?
Sunday, August 26, 2007
My god...the sun is out. It's warm. There are wasps and stuff. Ice cream vans tinkle in the distance mixed with the steady bass beats pumping out of of 1001 modified Renault Clios...yes...it's Summer! I don't know about you but I'm going to get out and enjoy it...well I might end up sitting inside Atticus (cool bar in Bearwood that's hosting an 'Acoustic' day) drinking continental beers but that's just me. Anyway, before I do that here's a late Summer treat in the form of Flamboyant Bella...an up and probably coming band from Hitchin, which is, I believe, near Cambridge. The girl sounds like Sophie Ellis Bexter when she was in The Audience (before they split and she went all dancefloor assassin), the bloke sounds a bit like one of those very trendy young London blokes who are probably called Patrick something. Together with the rest of the band they make a rather ace pop / folk / indie noise. Standout tracks include Absolutely Wankered and My Skies. They are playing the Bar Academy in Birmingham (October sometime....probably on a Sunday...balls...I'll miss Antiques Roadshow...'I bought this diamond studded skull from a car boot sale for 10p in a box of bits. Is it valuable?' ...bastards agggghhhhh!!!). Enjoy.
Thursday, August 23, 2007
Aaaaaahhhhhh...DeVotchKa. Watching them live is kind of like being wrapped up in a some kind of weird fantasy world...a little Mexican, a bit Russian, a touch gypsy, a snatch of classical music here and there...a bit of rock even, some of that ooompah ooompah stuff (probably Bavarian...yes that sounds convincing). It's all blended together and served with as much emotion as an audience can handle on a Tuesday evening (or any evening for that matter). There aren't many bands that can get the tears welling up inside, anything with Chris Martin in obviously, but for all the wrong reasons...they're normally caused by the pain of banging my fist into the side of my head...sorry Chris...I'm sure you're a lovely fella. Anyway, I digress, DeVotchKa are, for me, one of the few bands that seem to connect on THAT level. Even before watching the magical Little Miss Sunshine (which DeVotchKa soundtracked) the music had that cinematic, other wordly quality (yes, I used the phrase 'other worldy'...I am a wanker) and, even stood in the rather unromantic confines of Mr Academy's Bar, they still made me tingle. Anyway I'm going to stop gushing now. Pour yourself a bottle of red wine, turn out the lights, maybe get a bit naked (I'd shut the curtains first obviously) and stick on DeVotchKa...it's like all the shit don't matter no more.
Sunday, August 19, 2007
After gay Germans and chav Yorkshire rap came mad Canadians. After catching the bonkers Dandi Wind at Rootsville and seeing Crystal Castles I'm convinced that the people of Canada are in the middle of some sort of glorious electro breakdown. Just take the influences section of the Crystal Castles My Space page 'murder, blank looks on girls and knives'. Which is actually a pretty acurate description of the band itself. Musically they sound a lot like Lene Lovich trapped inside a broken 80's arcade game (just listen to Alice Practice...there...see?), actually the visual show is a bit like that too. They've got one of those strobe lights that you can adjust the timings of, just so you can make sure that every single member of the audience has some kind of fit. Predictably I rather liked it all, but then I like gay Euro disco so what do I know?
Like I said last week this was never going to be a gig for chin strokers (cock strokers maybe), but it was fabulous fun darlinks. The Hot Spunk legend continues to grow like a giant throbbing schnitzel. Despite a few technical hitches (blamed on 'dodgy English CD players') the Spunk were on fine form tonight. Great adlibbing between songs, a brilliant version of I Like Boys (with a much better Pete Burns take off than on the recorded version) and a particularly Sexy Cock. Quite why I'm so drawn to gay Euro disco is a bit of a mystery to me...
Anyway, from faux German campness to fake chav superstar MC Devvo. Backed by the mysterious Marley (who looked like he was wearing one of those fake rasta wig hat combos, but was later seen wandering the club sans hat but with with very real dreds) he delivered all the hits -Crystle Meffin, Donny Soldier, Euronob...and the somewhat dubious Fuck 'em Young. Of course it's all a charming spoof, but I'm sure that one of two of the audience actually see Devvo as their very own Eminem. As Devvo himself would say 'You're a dickhead...a dickhead...hang on I'm sorry...no...you're still a dickhead'.
Saturday, August 18, 2007
The Brascoes / Escobar / The Vehicles / The Mannequin Republic The Rainbow Digbeth Friday 17th August 2007
The second week of Kamikaze's Club 444 and another cracking line up of local bands. I've said it once (last week in fact) and I'll say it again (right now) 4 bands for £4...by anyone's standards, that's a freakin steal. Okay, economics lesson out the way (£1.50 for vodka and coke or bottles of Grolsch too...why can't the Academy do that huh?) on with the show. Once again I'd not heard a great deal about any of the bands, but that's part of what makes nights like this so great. You don't know what to expect. Think of it as a musical lucky dip...anyway, The Mannequin Republic were first up. They've got a really strong vocalist in Lorien Sankersingh (now that's a name...seriously...that beats yer John Smith's), at times recalling a younger James DB from the Manics. The music's melodic rock (hard not soft - you know what I mean), shades of Red Hot Chili Peppers with a dash of QOTSA in there too. Impressive set. Hot on their heels (Mannequinns have heels see, I don't just throw this together, there's real thought in every word...) came New Wave power popsters The Vehicles (pictured). Catchy choruses, strong riffs (thought I caught a snatch of The Knack's My Sharona in ther somewhere - try saying that after a few vodka and cokes) and the kind of energy that makes you want to stamp your foot on the ground like Weller did in The Jam. Even stronger live than on their My Space tracks I'd say, which is always the best way round. Hot on their wheels (see, I said this wasn't just thrown together) were the hotly tipped (and pretty popular already judging by the sudden swell in the crowd) Escobar. You can pretty much hear every song being sung back at them in stadiums - just listen to Top Of The World - you can hear it can't you? I've read in interviews that they wouldn't like being compared to Oasis. So I'm not going to. Besides, musically speaking, they're not that similar...the kind of feelings that they generate and the following that they potentially stand to gain as a result (they just could be massive) are similar though. I'd plump for The La's mixed up with first album Kasabian as a fairer comparison, but they've definately got their own sound developing too. Performance wise they put on perfect show, loads of attitude, tight as a drum and 'real' accents. I ended up liking them a lot more than I thought I was going to.
Last, but by no means least, we were treated to a great slice of The Brascoes. Older readers (or younger readers with a nose for such things) may remember a record label called Stiff. It was one of those great indie new wave labels of the late 70's, early 80's...home to Ian Dury, Elvis (no, the other one), Nick Lowe, Madness...oodles of good stuff. What the chuff am I going on about? Well, if Stiff weren't (stiff that is...it's gone the way of most indie labels), then The Brascoes deserve to be their latest signing. Tina Do The Splits is a cracking Stiff track. Listening to the selection on their My Space page they've got a much wider range than a lot of new bands though, so who knows how they're going to develop. Personally I love the spikier new wave-ish stuff...Tina Do The Splits...YAY...The Hearing Aid's Record of the week...if The Hearing Aid had such a thing.
So there we have it. Like I said at the start, another great line up of local bands. I'm going to miss the next few 'cos of random stuff and a holiday (San Francisco and Las Vegas since you ask) but you have no excuses (unless you're coming with me...) Friday nights, get yourself down The Rainbow.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Arrived at 12.30 (when the Fest was 'sposed to kick off) and there were less people in the crowd than on the stage. Why do people get to gigs hours late? Why pay your money and miss half the show? It's not as though the organisers rang you up at 12.29 and said 'Surprise! We've decided to start the show in 60 seconds!' The reason why it hacks me off time and time again is because every performer...that's EVERY performer...deserves respect for having the guts to get up there and perform. It's piss easy to go and watch, piss easy to write about it, piss easy to take piss poor pictures (I blame my camera...obviously...), but to get up there...well that takes balls my friends. That's why you'll rarely find me laying into any artist on this humble blog. I'm an observer, not a critic. Some performances I really love, many I like, a few are okay...but I recognise the work that goes into every performance, and for that every performer gets my respect. Here endeth the sermon.
Right onto the Fest itself. For £5 you can't go wrong. The fact that we were treated to loads of good music was a bonus. I won't give you a blow by blow account 'cos you'd probably get bored (I can hear the cheers of relief now) but the highlights included (in no particular order, well, alright then, in the order of appearance):
David Garside - sublime acoustic set, hints of the High Llamas on his 'full' tracks (listen to My Space ...or His Space in fact) and a soft vocal touch that recalls a more confident Nick Drake.
Little Sister (pictured) - another delightful discovery, heartwarming folk/bluegrass four piece (three today 'cos their harp player was AWOL in bonnie Edinburgh) who pulled off a brilliant version of old Elvis' Little Sister track. I just have to see the four piece show soon...
Ben Calvert - Forgotten how brilliant this guy is. Saw him last year at the Moseley Folk Festival and the memories came rushing back. Touches of the very best of Belle & Sebastian but with more grit and a slightly darker underbelly. If he doesn't get the fame he deserves expect people to be bigging him up in 20 odd years time a la Nick Drake and Vashti Bunyen. Yes, I think he's that good. Full marks for being the only group to honour Tony Wilson too.
Allies - hints of the Arctic Monkeys at first (no bad thing) before quickly revealing their own, far more interesting identity via some impressive fiddle and squeezebox playing. Ones to watch like a hawk...they're touring with Reverand and the Makers soon, my guess is that they could steal the show and come back headliners.
The Celturian - man that dude has fingers of fury. It's kind of like watching Riverdance...but with fingers...I've seen class guitar performances in my time but, well, that was something else. Just astounding.
Just Us (can't find a link for them) - Classic reggae to lift the heart and soul. Ace version of Night Nurse too. There's not enough reggae in Birmingham venues. Why not? There must be loads of great bands like this out there...it is possible to like the Dresden Dolls and Steel Pulse you know. Challenge to promoters: let's mix it up a bit more eh...or is that just me being a bit too idealistic?
360 - By this point in the event most of Mr and Mrs...sorry Ms...Moseley had naffed off home (hey, I was actually born there...I'm allowed to take the piss) so they missed 360. The organiser threatened those of us who were left to stay for the last band, and I'm glad she did. Shades of The Beat and Madness played brilliantly with the kind of 'get the crowd going' energy that got everyone (me included...there must be some worms with really bad headaches today) skanking to the best of our ability.
So, there we go. All that for a fiver...and you were allowed to bring your own food and booze in too. Result. I decided not to go to Day Two (that's today) 'cos the forecasters predicted a massive rainstorm and, after Glasto, I just couldn't face getting pissed on for 9 hours. Predictably the sun has shone like a big yellow bastard all day long. Michael Fish, Michael Schmish.
Saturday, August 11, 2007
Copter / Beestung Lips / Swampmeat / Velvet Texas Cannonball The Rainbow, Digbeth Friday August 9th 2007
Wow. That's it. Maybe that should just be the entire review. Then you won't have to listen to me banging on about how great last night was. Oh well, I've already started now...too late. Firstly a big congratulations to the people behind Kamikazee Events who kicked off their Club 444 (4 bands, £4 and it all goes on until 4am) in fine style. Are you sitting comfortably? Then we'll begin...with Velvet Texas Cannonball. The name gives you a pretty good hint of what you're in for. Glorious blues rock with moments of velvety softness, then a cannonball of guitars and drum fury (served by a guy with the greatest 'dreads in music)...with a Texas twist. In all seriousness this is a seriously good band. Why the hell hadn't I heard of them before? I guess that's what these night are all about. If you love The Doors, Deep Purple, Cream...that whole late '60's early 70's classic rock era, you'll love...and I mean love...Velvet Texas Cannonball.
Next up were country/rockabilly duo Swampmeat (vocalist Danny is also the drummer in The Big Bang fact fans). The mighty T Bird provides laid back but spot on brushwork on the drums while Danny sings like the bastard son of Buddy Holly and Jerry Lee on a set of tracks that already sound like Sun studio classics. Just brilliant, simple tunes played the way they should be...with heart, soul and a large glass of the hard stuff.
Talking of hard stuff...Beestung Lips. Now here's a band...no, scratch that, make it THE band. Sitting here just a few hours after their set they have to be one of the most exciting, fucked up, mental, sick (in the right sense of the word) bands in the world. Punk is too easy a term to describe the sound. It's more like the noise a group a category A prisoners would make if they were locked in a small room just as the world was about to explode in a massive hail of nuclear missiles...on acid...it's the sound you hear in your head when you're so pissed off you want to rip out your own heart and kick it into space, it's what hell sounds like when there's a really great party going on and Satan's police come round to ask you to turn the noise down...then end up joining in and cranking it all up a notch or two. Vocalist Hetro looks like he was frozen in time (around about 1940) before being defrosted at a Black Flag gig and fed speed. Put Gallows and Beestung Lips on stage together and you'd have enough energy to power the entire fucking planet until the end of time. I loved it so much I bought the t-shirt...and the EP...and the whole fucking thing (sorry, I'm swearing a lot today...bollocks).
Right...after a much needed calming Strongbow the mighty, mighty Copter shook the stage with a furious preacher's vision of the spirit of rock n'roll ladies and gentlemen. This is a band that needs to be seen live. An instant party that takes you from the streets of Birmingham right into the dirty heart of classic American garage. As a Coldrice semi-regular (RIP the classic Bar Academy Saturday night/Sunday mornings). I've seen them oodles of times and each one is special. That's the mark of a truly great band. And the mark of a truly great night. If 444 can ever come close to repeating a bill like this (and I'm sure it can) this promises to be the kind of night that Birmingham's needed for years. The best local bands, the best local venue, the best local crowd...hell, it was the best of nights.
Just discovered that Tony Wilson - founder of Factory Records, the man 'behind' Joy Division, Happy Mondays, A Certain Ratio and pretty much everything good to come out of Manchester in the 80's has died. At 57. Christ. I know little of the man other than what I gleaned from 24 Hour Party People (the book wot he wrote and the film wot Steve Coogan starred in) and, whilst he seemed to have a bit of an ego (hell, don't we all?) he appeared to genuinely love great music to the point of losing every penny he had funding The Happy Mondays' last great opus. The bit where he agrees to the classic New Order Blue Monday 12 inch sleeve (floppy disc style) even after realising that each one costs a few pence more to produce than they can actually sell it for marks him out as a truly extraordinary character (as well as a pretty shite businessman) too. But I know which one I'd rather be. Rest in peace Tony. Actually, no, fuck it, get up there, start a new label and form a supergroup with ian Curtis on vocals, Keith Moon on drums, Hendrix on guitar and Bob The Bass Thing on, well, bass.
Wednesday, August 08, 2007
Not sure if I've ever mentioned 'the Bookish' here before, but even if I have he's well worth a fresh namecheck as his album Trainwreck/Raincheck is being / has been reissued. The mighty NME even reviewed it today and gave it a 'sitting on the fence' 6 out of 10. Bookish (real name Leo Chadburn) looks - and sounds come to think of it - a little like a young Kenneth Williams (before he went into Carry On overdrive). Musically, well I guess there's bits of ambient stuff going on, bleepy keyboards that sometimes sound like they've been played by a 3 year old on acid (but actually have all kinds of compex musical patterns going on - in my addled brain anyway), oddball samples and lyrics that make you go ooooh (as opposed to Things That Make You Go Hmmmm...big shout out to all you C & C Music Factory fans out there). If you ever get a chance to listen to Fantastic Piss Experiment...then you should do...'cos it's ace. As I can't find it at the mo you'll have to make do with a video of Bookish live...singing Interview. Enjoy.
Some time ago I made the mistake of buying some of those 'in ear' headphones for my iPod (other players are available). They came with three sets of rubber nipple thingies, you're supposed to select the perfect fit for your ear (everyone knows their ear hole size right?), slip one onto each earphone then away you go. Genius. Except I keep losing the bloody things. How? I don't know. Somewhere between ear and tasteful carrying pouch one of them keeps making a break for freedom. Normally I track him down, cowering under a chair or something. But today the little bastard finally got away leaving me with just one good ear. I then had to face my long walk home either listening to stuff in mono or holding the rubberless 'phone in place with my hand (risking piercing my brain with the hard plastic spike that the rubber bit normally slides onto) and probably getting arrested for looking like even more of a looney tune than normal. Crap. Now I don't have the right size of rubber thingy to fit into my ear, so I'll probably have to spend thousands of pounds on expensive earhole surgery...or find another rubber thingy...which will probably cost even more. I chose to walk home in silence in the end...well I say silence, if you can count police cars screaming past, people honking at each other and junkie crack whores trying to scrounge money off me as silence. Arse. Crap. Arse!!!! And relax...
Sunday, August 05, 2007
No, I haven't gone into the porn game. Hot Spunk is a great name for a band and - even if they are pretending to be gay and from Germany - their video is most amusing. I suspect they are from Birmingham...and one of them is called Sam...but I can't find any 'hard' evidence...so, in the meantime, head over to enjoy the video and tunes - pure camp silliness for a hot and sweaty Sunday afternoon. Das is indeed gud.
NB: They're playing the Barfly in Brum on August 18th with MC Devvo and Shady Piez...not one for the chin stroking muso...but right up my passage...
Yes, it's true...this is the 100th post. Right, gotta say something important...I feel the hand of history on my shoulder...no that won't do at all...'tis better to have blogged and sucked than to have never blogged at all...hmmmm...nope, that's bollocks too. By a strange quirk of fate this post coincides with a far more momentous one from Pete Ashton. He's been blogging for 7 years! 7 years...good grief. I bet if you added up every post you'd have the makings of an impressive book or two. That's a serious body of work. A Letts Notes kind of word mountain. Dissertation-tastic etc.
I've been mulling over the value of blogs over the last few days, s'funny business really. Here we all are locked in our little rooms tippy typing away, most of what we all write probably only gets read by a handful of people, but then I guess Van Gogh was only appreciated by a select few when he was around...perhaps somewhere amongst the millions (billions?) of bloggers there's a genius trying to get out. Obviously, in my case, he's not trying very hard. The 'traditional' media are all busily trying to make some sense of it too. A lot of the articles are quite snotty, focussing on wannabe celebs and sweet old people who've accidently bought a computer thinking it was a toaster and found themselves on You Tube when they've tried to heat up a muffin. Why do I blog? Hmmm...you want honesty...you want the raw truth...you want me to break down screaming and say that it's a way of coping with the soul destroying annonymity of modern life? Nope. In reality it's all just a bit of fun. I have a mind like a...oh what's that thing called (Bob Monkhouse would be spinning in his grave...if he hadn't been exhumed to star in adverts about bottoms)...so this site acts as a nice little reminder of the bands I've been to see. If people drift by and read something, then check out a band I like and like it too then that's a bonus. I've discovered some great bands that way (Maxi Geil & Playcolt for one...thanks to Pete and his podcasts...they were rather good...see how I managed to make this post sort of about music...kind of...professional eh?). So (in the style of that really annoying Yellow Pages ad featuring a token northern bloke talking over lots of slo mo footage of cake makers and artificial scrotum sellers) here's to all the bloggers, the My Space bands and You Tubers, here's to the Second Lifers, the uploaders and ebayers...(best not to mention the free porn sites...oh balls).
Thursday, August 02, 2007
Second time at the Rainbow in recent months (after not going there for years) and once again I was attracted by the musical honeypot that is 'Chicks Dig Jerks'. After the powercut-tastic Datarock gig this one went swimmingly well. Kicked off in fine fettle (lord knows why I'm talking like this today) by shouty indie punk trio Johnny Foreigner, the swelling crowd (impressive for a Tuesday night) were treated to a full on boy/girl vocal punch up with drums from the very heart of hell (oh I give up this review isn't going to make any sense at all...let's just go along for the ride eh?). JF reminded me a bit of Carter USM tonight or a young couple having a blazing row outside The Dog and Duck. But with music. I like. Current single Yes You Talk Too Fast is class - play it loud and wake up your neighbours from their Coldplay induced coma. Of course I don't know your neighbours...they may be into Japanese Thrash Techno for all I know...in which case I think they'd like JF. So there.
No need for a second support band before the main event...'cos Lo-Fi-Fnk were doubly ace. I've seen them described as a gay Daft Punk somewhere before...probably in one of my cider induced dreams...and that's a fairly accurate description. Gentle Euro accented vocals (Swedish to be precise), classic early 80's style keyboards and some funky basslines all mixed up into a gorgeous fondue of musical loveliness. I thought there were two of them but they now seem to have expanded to a trio, which funked up the live show a notch or two. Change Channel was a particular highlight, but I loved the last one too (something with 'friend' in the title). Fabulous fun...with a capital Fnk.
Now a word on the lovely crowd. Despite clearly being amongst some trendy souls there was none of the attitude that you might expect. Everyone just seemed to be there to have a good time. Even my shameful attempt at dancing failed to attract any derision (as far as I could tell...I was too busy busting some moves not seen since 1982, including my patent running on the spot dance...no I'm not going to show you). So, Chicks Dig Jerks, I dig you (hmmm that's kind of sweet and cheesy at the same time, like chocolate and chedder).