Monday, January 30, 2012

Capital Sun / The Tone Thieves / The Chris Whiting Band @ The Rainbow, Saturday 28th January

Slowly but surely...well, slowly at least...I’m getting back out there into Gigland and tonight returned to my old stomping ground (I attended pretty much every one of the weekly 444 club nights a few years back), The Rainbow, which always manages to seem both further away from ‘town’ and closer to it all at the same time. I reckon they keep moving it to avoid sniffy post-yuppie types moaning about all the noise it doesn’t make any more after they were forced to seal up all of the windows, doors, gaps in the floorboards etc and fit little woolly booties on the local pigeons just in case the sound of their feet on the roof disturbed someone’s ruddy beauty sleep. Gah! Good grief.

Anyway... tonight a trio of local acts kicking off with The Chris Whiting Band fronted by (go on...guess?) singer/songwriter Chris Whiting. Starting off the set with a song called No One Wants To Listen to Us is a brave move but it’s a great track, rollicking along at a decent pace. It’s perhaps typical of Chris’ self deprecating wit too, something that was regularly punctuated by the drummer’s ba-dum-tish (a drummer incidentally who had a moustache to die for...made mine look positively pedestrian) throughout the between song banter. Chris has got a neat line in lyrics though, stuff like stalker anthem Camden Town in particular shows a natural ability to inhabit other characters...unless he really is a stalker...hmmmm. No, I’m sure he isn’t...seems a lovely chap. Set closer please Forgive Me “I met a chum in a bottle of rum...” could almost be a modern retelling of Squeeze’s Up The Junction, which ain’t a bad tune to share a bed with eh?

Next up The Tone Thieves who were formally (...some of them at least) Hearing Aid favourites LP45. Jazz shags funk in a series of compromising positions whilst giving rock a handjob before collapsing in a sweaty heap on the’s that good. Kicking off with Confidence (literally and metaphorically) there’s an energy and sass...yes...sass to their performance that’s all too rare these days.

Being as old as time itself it reminds me a little of the jazz funk revival back in the ‘80s (touches of Working Week perhaps here and there) albeit with a rockier edge that’s more evident in the live show than on the recorded stuff I’ve heard so far. Blessed with two vocalists, Simon (higher and louder) and Murray (deeper and quieter) they’re able to tackle an impressively wide range of material from full on rock outs (yeah...grrr) to more reflective tracks with ease. Perhaps most impressive of all though is the polish that they all have, a lot of this stuff has a degree of complexity that musical nerds like me really appreciate. That being said they neatly sidestep the trap of being too ‘jazz’ for a wider audience perhaps more familiar with the works of Miles Kane than Miles Davis. Impressive stuff. Ones ‘tone’ watch.

Finally Capital Sun, tonight celebrating the launch of their brand new single, Forgotten Songs. Brum’s got arguably the richest rock heritage on the planet with the holy trinity of Zepplin, Sabbath and Traffic all having started out or honed their act here. Whilst not as heavy as this trio Capital Sun nonetheless follow in this grand tradition with their pleasingly infectious brand of more acoustic rock. The new single perhaps wouldn’t feel out of place on a Manics album whilst B Side, D.O.C, has a mellower feel, shades perhaps of System Of A Down’s Lonely Day. Elsewhere the band dabbled in a little jazz (The Ballad of Rocky Lane) and some Mersey Beat (The Wild Song) neatly enriching their musical palette (what the hell am I going on about here...”enriching their musical palette”...what is this, Mojo Magazine?!). Influences – and musical palettes – aside lead singer Glen was in particularly fine voice this evening and the set had a suitably celebratory feel with a clearly devoted fan base lapping up every track. Nice one Sun.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Listen up...

Time for a few more tracks currently getting a spin at Hearing Aid Mansions and this week's selection's a real kick in the teeth for anyone who keeps trotting out all that guff about how music was "better in my day". With the exception of the mighty, mighty Classix Nouveaux that's complete cobblers of course. Check this out...and yes, it is the scary bald man singing all the high bits too.

Anyway, back to the future. First up, The Cast Of Cheers. Sadly there's no Frasier Crane in the line up, instead you've got one glorious mash up of Battles, first album era Foals and a little early XTC (one for all the granddads out there). Top marks for the simple (but no doubt monumentally time consuming) vid too.

Next up, the new sound of Scotland (well, one of them is from Scotland at least), Django Django. With bits that sound like a robot having an epileptic fit, bits that sound like the Kings of Leon having a warm up and the kind of catchiness that should frankly be illegal (you'll have kids gathering in parks listening to this rather than downing gallons of White Lightening, you mark my words) it's as good a reason as any for stopping the devolution.

London's We Have Band have been floating around for a while now(makes them sound like pooh...they're not...honest)but with new single Where Are Your People coming off like Depeche Mode getting it on with Bronski Beat I reckon their time has come brothers and sisters.

I've only just come across this one, Trogons...Contina, it's been out a few months but given its distinctly '60's vibe (shades of the B52's too) I guess timing ain't an issue right?

Last up, The Phenomenal Handclap Band with their particular brand of twisted disco.Studio 54 meets Sun Ra...sort of.

PS: Just in case you're the only person who hasn't seen this Ferris Bueller teaser yet relax, it seems as though it's just going to be a commercial or something super lame like that. Arse.

I reckon the world really needs Ferris Bueller's Next Day Off though. Can't you just see Ferris with two ex wives, five kids and a prostate problem desperate to escape some some dead end office job? Hmmmm...just me then. Oh well we'll always have the original...

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Pete Williams...Dexys, Loves and Rock n' Roll

My hood, Bearwood, has been home to more than its fair share of celebrities, from Julie Walters to Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie…in fact the entire band can often be found arguing over the last pots of yoghurt – three for £1 – in Heron Foods to this very day. That’s why they keep falling out. Fact. Anyway, one Bearwood name we’re all about to see (and hear) a lot more of over the coming year is Mr Pete Williams, original bassist with the…and for once I'm not exaggerating…legendary Dexys Midnight Runners, who’s not only been recording the band’s first new album in a quarter of a century or so but has also just released his debut solo long player (long player…hey how old school am I eh?). And it’s really rather special. I was quite frankly delighted beyond belief therefore when he agreed to give an exclusive (well, pretty exclusive…it's also appeared on We Love Bearwood too) interview! So settle down, pour yourself a cup of something (tea, coffee, meths…the choice is yours):

(1) Hi Pete,your new album comes out very soon. What’s it called and when’s the release date?

It’s called “SEE” and was officially released on the 8/1/12. (EDIT: you can get it on

(2) How would you describe the album?

“A smorgasbord chaffinch of great bustard proportions, catering for those choughs of a particular arctic skua or cormorant frame of mind.” Chuck Paudermilch (Upper Gornal Pigeon fanciers and bantam breeders Gazette). So say the Press, and who’d argue with them eh?...It’s quite a personal record, my take on where I am now as a Black Country father, looking back and moving forwards, referencing places I’ve been and stuff that I’ve been through, accepting that I’m now in my fifties, learning to reach out and accept the things that bring me joy.

(3) I love the track ‘Reconsider This’. What are your favourite songs from the album and why?

Thanks for saying so, it’s hard to say, some of these songs have been with me in one form or another for many years, I do like “Are You Listening?” There’s a very light feel on it, which underlies the subject matter of my sometimes turbulent relationship with my Dad. It features trombone, clarinet and banjo with the rhythm section swinging sweet and hard! Very happy with “Black” a quick look back at my time living and starving in Santa Monica and East L.A. Richard Hawley’s guitar on this is razor sharp. My long time mate and collaborator Fred Skidmore plays overdriven Hammond organ on “Until We Empty Off This Bottle” like Ben Hur controlling his chariot.

(4) This is your debut solo release, why have you waited until now to record and release it?

Actually I released the 3 track ‘Black’ E.P. in 2005 after Mark Lamarr asked me to send him some of my music, the demo was played on Jonathan Ross’ Radio 2 show for 3 weeks running, his producer mailed me after show 2 and advised me to get a web presence quick (!) because “loads of people want to know how to get the track”. But as for SEE Dean Beresford, my drummer, suggested we visit Axis Studios in Sheffield, he had got to know Mike Timm (who produced and engineered this record ) during his work in Richard Hawley’s band.(Mike is the Live sound engineer for Richard). As soon as I met Mike I knew we would get on, he had an agile, open and experimental mind and shared our vision of the kind of record we wanted to make, he had the ideal studio space (a large oak paneled live room) and ultimately delivered it. Things then just started to fall into place, I grew to really like Sheffield and the people that I met ,they have a very understated honesty and warmth that the best Black Country people have, there’s a similar industrial past and like here, there’s no shortage of hills. I’ve been very lucky and feel extremely thankful and proud of all my friends that have helped me realise ‘SEE’.

(5) Has the current state of the music industry made it easier or harder for you to make your album?

Once we started this CD, nothing was going to stand in our way. Obviously it’s had to have been paid for, and that (through sales) has to be squared. Thankfully we managed to source the initial finances “close to home”. The “major” labels are being eaten up or merged and sold and I haven’t approached any of them with ‘SEE’. It would be good to have had a team of radio and TV pluggers, people to manage my website and online presence 24/7, competent and accurate physical and digital distribution, Art dept and all the rest that a label is supposed to provide. But in all my years having been signed to E.M.I., Warners and Island, in my experience they usually royally balls things up. I’m not saying there aren’t good people with real vision who work in the music Industry just that I haven’t met many, I have met quite a few A&R (pronounced Um and Aah?) men and industry execs who have told me candidly that they don’t really care for music, but quite like the lifestyle. It’s a different process now and the Internet and Digital distribution have changed so much, for so many. There’s so much “out there” and available which can be both a blessing and a curse. Social networking and promotion using Tweets, Facebook, You Tube and Blogs like this can’t be overlooked and are powerful promotion tools, giving fans a chance to be close to artists and bands and vice-versa.

(6) Your album launch is at the Glee Club on 21st February, what can we expect from the gig and do you prefer playing live or being in the recording studio?

I’m looking forward to our run of shows at the end of February, I’m confident these will be the best I’ve ever done. The rehearsals so far sound fantastic, it’s great to have the rocksteady Rhythm twins of Al Gare (Imelda May band) and Dean Beresford (Richard Hawley band) in the engine room driving the whole thing. I’ve played music with Fred Skidmore for close to 20 years and he just gets more exciting, expressive and surprising as a player. I’m also over the moon that Shez Sheridan (Hawley band) and Paul Taylor (Snowboy and Roberto Pla) are with us. I couldn’t wish for better personnel. I don’t want to give too much away or talk anything up but this is going to be a powerful, intimate show. I’ve always loved the recording process, witnessing a track grow. As bassist in Dexys and The Bureau, myself and Stoker (Andy Growcott, Drums) were first to record, before anything else was added the Bass and Drum rhythm track has to be ‘nailed’ if there’s a lacklustre feel there it’s not going to happen. The old adage “you can’t polish a turd” is still true, though in this age of autotune and sophisticated digital FX it’s becoming possible. Overall I prefer playing live.

(7) What was your favourite album or artist from 2011?

I saw this bloke at a great little venue The Hideout at Wishaw this summer also a few months ago at a pretty empty Yardbird I saw this bloke (now being talked up) a really lovely bloke who I chatted with after his set, great songs, he shows real promise. I’m a big Tom Waits fan and his album ‘Bad As Me’ is very good, also ‘Under Branches High’ the debut by these comes highly recommended. My friend Imelda May very kindly asked us to open for her at Nottingham Rock City and She and her band turned in an outstanding performance, they just go from strength to strength.

(8) Who or what are your musical influences?

Too many and varied to mention but here’s some in no particular order: Bowie, Jacques Brel, Lotte Lenya and Brecht/Weill, John Steinbeck, Knut Hamsun, Jacques Tati, Ludwig Van, Marvin Gaye, Stevie Wonder, Bob Marley, Augustus Pablo,Wes Montgomery, Nina Simone, Federico Fellinni, Willem De Kooning, Holman Hunt, Millais, Arvo Part, Charles Mingus, Gyorgy Ligeti, Laurel and Hardy, Elvis…

(9) Of course you began your career with Dexys Midnight Runners and I believe there’s a new album coming out soon. Is there anything you can tell us about it? What was it like recording with Kevin Rowland again?

Well we recorded together in 2003, Manhood and My Life in England (Mike Hedges produced). Prior to The ‘To Stop the Burning’ tour. But, yes, it’s true there is going to be a new Dexys album released this year. It features meself, Kevin Rowland and Mick Talbot along with some amazing players including Jim Paterson, Neil Hubbard and Lucy Morgan, meticulous in its planning and execution, recorded during 2011, these are very personal powerful songs. Kev’s in fine voice and form and its always a pleasure working with my old mate Mick, All I can say is that you won’t be disappointed, there isn’t a record remotely like this around today.

(10) What do you hope 2012 will bring for you?

Fulfillingness’ first finale.

PS: A slightly longer version of this interview appears on We Love Bearwood.

PPS: Pete Williams plays The Glee Club on the 21st February. Tickets here.

PPPS: It's unmissable.

Monday, January 23, 2012

M83 / Porcelain Raft @ HMV Institute, Saturday 21st January 2012

It’s all a bit Eurovision tonight with headliners M83 hailing from la belle France and support, Porcelain Raft, originally from Italia. Ciao bella! All we need is a cross dressing Latvian and a Danish heavy metal band and we’d be sorted...whoops, there I go airing my private fantasies again...

Ahem. Anyway, first up the rather lovely sounds of Italian composer Mauro Remiddi, now trading as Porcelain Raft. With Mauro on keyboards, sampler, other electronic gizmos and guitar backed with a guy on drums it’s a pretty simple set up, but together they’re capable of creating some truly dreamy moments with Mauro’s accented falsetto and fine collection of effects pedals being a particularly impressive mix. Veering from the swirling sonics of the Cocteau Twins through to the jangly indie guitar of The Smiths and onto thrashier sounds (vague echoes of the Jesus and Mary Chain in places) the ‘80’s are clearly an influence but Mauro neatly updates it with a fresh twist of electronica. Beneath it all though is proper emotion with both Put Me To Sleep and Tip Of My Tongue (charmingly pronounced “teeeep of my tongue”) really capturing what it is that makes this particular Raft something that we could all do with clinging on to in these troubled times. As beautiful as their name suggests.

M83 have also been soothing furrowed brows for years now with 2008’s Kim and Jessie becoming a firm favourite on my own personal ‘chill the hell out’ playlist. I’d kind of neatly pigeonholed them as fine purveyors of dream pop with a bit of a kick but, whilst their set had its fair share of heart melting moments, they were clearly in the mood for a bit of a party...actually make that a rave. Yep, who’d have thought it (not me, that’s for certain) but the live M83 show has real teeth...and I’m not just talking about that weird fox / alien creature that wandered on at the start of the show (what the hell is that?! scared the bejesus out of me...). Even more recent stuff like Midnight City (featuring an awesome sax solo this evening) felt like it’d been in the gym for a while and beefed itself up. Maybe it’s the new double album, Hurry up, We’re Dreaming, that’s given the band the confidence to go out there and really blow the place apart but whoever or whatever’s responsible for the added ‘va va voom’ this current touring incarnation seems a world apart from their more shoegazey early days. And I like it that way. Take We Own The Sky as another example. The subtly speeded up live version sounded like it’s got a rocket up its bum compared with the original, prompting one of the many outbreaks of hands in the air bouncing up and down euphoria amongst the sell out crowd. On top of the musical tweaking Morgan Kibby’s vocals on this and many other tracks undoubtedly play a big role in making the live show something special too. Swiftly moving from sweet n’gentle whispering to full on larynx shredding she’s the perfect foil for Anthony’s more subtle instrument. Set highlight and current single Reunion became one glorious sing along this evening, the kind of truly anthemic moment that Coldplay would sell their souls for, and if I’d had a glow stick (thankfully for all concerned I didn’t), I’d have been waving it in the air like a nut job. Not sure what the last number of the encore was called but it wouldn’t have been out of place on a Justified Ancients of Mu Mu/KLF album. A suitably lively ending for an unexpectedly euphoric show. Quelle surprise!

Friday, January 20, 2012

Fierce Festival 2011 – Felix and the Machine(s)

Felix's Machines from Felix Thorn on Vimeo.

April sees another Fierce Festival in Birmingham and one thing that’s already caught my eye/ear is the frankly magical Felix’s Machines, music making sculptures straight out of some kind of dreamy fairy tale. Just beautiful. Isn’t this one of the most amazing music related videos you’ve seen in a while? Felix and his machines can be seen at the Birmingham Symphony Hall on Saturday 7th April as part of its 21st birthday celebrations. Awww bless, will there be cake? And goody bags? And pass the parcel? Awwww go on. Anyway, the Fierce Festival itself runs from 28th March – 8th April. Details here.

PS: Sad news about the cancellation (and end of?) The Big Chill Festival. I only made it to three of them (one pre takeover by Festival Republic and two after) but thoroughly enjoyed them all...even if the 2011 bill was perhaps geared to a more commercial market. Shame though...perhaps the era of the big festivals is slowly coming to an end? What’ll they do with all those portaloos eh? Make nice homes for first time buyers perhaps?

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Meet Team Me

Only just come across this band and track but loving it/them more than Fray Bentos steak and kidney pies. Now that's real love. Team Me is a Norwegian 6 piece that make the kind of life affirming epic pop that I reckon you need in your life right now. That's a massive assumption of could be perfectly happy listening to JLS. Good for you...

Peace of the action

Great to see Birmingham band Peace getting some respect in what's left of the mainstream music press with a Guardian New Band Of The Day slot and a listing in the NME's top 100 bands of 2012 (as if such things really matter nowadays but still, it's good and all that). There's not a huge amount of stuff out there by them yet but you can get a decent idea of their sound with last year's BBLOOD. BBrilliant.

Maybe it's just me but it's getting harder and harder to avoid drowning in the deluge of new bands, new music, new mixes...I reckon Warhol got it the future everyone will be in a band for 15 minutes. Personally I fancy being in a 47 piece all girl funk group that lives in a converted bus in Las Vegas and plays for wealthy business men who shower them with gold (no, not golden showers, that's a different kettle of pee). I can't play, dance, sing or do anything of much use for that matter...and I'm not technically a girl...but I do have a silly moustache, that's got to count for something right? Anyway...Peace...great band, go listen.

Monday, January 16, 2012

SXSW 2012

I've never been to South By Southwest (SXSW)...seemingly the most exciting new music showcase on this or any other planet...but maybe one year eh? If anyone should fancy paying me huge amounts to cover the thing you know where I am. Actually I'd accept small amounts. Scrap that, just get me over there, find me a dumpster to kip in, throw in a bottle of Jack Daniels and a hot dawg or two and we'll call it quits okay? Judging by the videos being uploaded by the organisers there's the usual winning mix of the brilliant and the bonkers, cop a look for yourself at the SXSW Yoo Toob channel.

Here's just a couple that leapt out, first off some Danish art prog from Thulebasen...

...and how's about this then from a freshly re-animated VHS or Beta. That's a nasty case of thrush (1 minute 18 seconds in) you've got there young lady...

PS: All offers of a fully expenses paid trip to SXSW to

Friday, January 13, 2012

Wanna be Sartain something...

Yep, Hearing Aid favourite Dan Sartain's back with a brand new album, Too Tough To Live, and it's all a bit of a departure really, being head bangingly, spit in the eye, hammer a knitting needle through your head punkier than most of his previous stuff. With few tracks making it past the two minute mark there's no excess fat or piffle here, just Ramones-tastic bounce up and down loveliness. As an added bonus he's looked up (not literally...that's his gynaecologist brother, Jim Sartain's job) ex Go-Gos member Jane Wieldin to duet with. Suitably enough, today being Friday, there's also a neat little ditty called Fuck Friday too. Here's a live version from his 2011 UK tour...possibly recorded on a Friday. Hell yeah!

Too Tough To Live is out on One Little Indian on 30th January

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Vin Garbutt / Jess Morgan @ The Red Lion, Wednesday 11th January

First gig of the year (for me at least) and, incredibly, the first time I’ve been to the legendary (amongst folkies anyway) Red Lion Pub just on the outskirts of Kings Heath (that’s in Birmingham for all you non Brummies out there). On top of winning the Radio 2 Folk Club of the Year Award in 2006 The Red Lion Folk Club’s been going for an incredible 39 years, almost as long as tonight’s headliner in fact. Yes this evening’s show was something of a contrast with opener Jess Morgan being a relative newcomer and Vin Garbutt being...well...40 odd years into his career. They’ve both got something in common though. Within moments of coming out to perform you can kick back with a smile and a pint of real ale (oh come on now, it’s a folk gig, what do you expect) safe in the knowledge that you’re in for a great show.

When you’re a solo artist, especially a solo folk artist, there’s nowhere to hide. It’s just your voice, your lyrics and your playing. I imagine performing to a hardcore folk crowd like this one could be a little intimidating but opener Jess Morgan showed no signs of nerves. Quite the opposite in fact, performance wise there’s a curl to the lip and stomp of the foot that gives her a little more oomph than the average folkie coupled with a vocal warmth (hints of a slight bluesy edge in there too) and ease of delivery that normally only comes with years and years of gigs.

Perhaps this isn’t a surprise. Jess ain’t taking any shortcuts, instead choosing the traditional route of putting in the hours (and miles) playing oodles of self booked tours here and overseas. Her tales of life on the road in the US and its accompanying theme song, Connecticut (so wonderfully descriptive you could almost smell those stale sheets) banished forever the myth that it’s a glamorous lifestyle, but that’s what makes the difference between a good folk artist and a great one. She’s a fine lyricist too, able to refresh old themes like love and lust in tracks like The Most Of All (who knew that spectacle wearing librarians were sexy eh?) and Eels (no, not the Mighty Boosh version) as well as tackling more personal subjects, such as discovering an ancestor was forced to give up her child in one of the many highlights of her set, Workhouse. Simply one of the most promising new folk voices around...proof that Jess is more.

I’m ashamed to say that I’m a bit of a Vin Garbutt virgin. I’d heard the name (which, according to Vin, pretty unusual) and filed it in my ‘people to check out one day’ pile but that’s a pretty long list by now. I knew enough about him to know that he’s held in high regard by his fans but that’s not always a guarantee of quality. It is in this case though. Part stand up (or sit down in Vin’s case), part one man chat show, part masterclass in folk a Vin Garbutt show is like a night out with your best mate. I’ve never laughed so much at a gig in my life. That includes every comedy gig I’ve been too as well. Like one of the Hairy Bikers' dads Vin’s an instantly loveable character and it’s not difficult to see hows he’s managed to sustain a 40 year career despite little or no major media support.

Okay, so he’s loveable, funny and great company but this is all about the music right? Given the light hearted start to the show I was half expecting that this was what people had come for and that the music element would be some sort of a bonus. How wrong can a poor boy be? Vin’s got unique singing style, he almost seems to chew the words like someone tasting a fine wine (oh alright then...a real ale...) which, given the quality of the lyrics, is a pretty apt analogy. Eyes wide shut and lost in song he’s got an incredibly rich, warm, powerful voice (the equal of Phil Ochs I’d say), the sort of vocal that wraps you up from head to toe in a cosy blanket like an audio onesie. The songs are just so catchy too. Pop has The Beatles, folk has Vin Garbutt. It’s that simple. And he’s that good. Just have a listen to The Kilburn Horse or The Land Of Three Rivers for instance (a brace of love letters to his beloved Teeside), both of which he played during his first set. After just one listen I defy you not to sing along. In the grand old spirit of folk Vin’s not afraid to tackle injustice too though. From Darwin To Dili is a blistering attack on the atrocities committed in East Timor by the Indonesians, resulting in the genocide of nearly 200,000 men, women and children. Blimey. Hardly a subject for a jolly folk singalong eh? Somehow Vin manages to even make this stuff catchy, without losing the emotion or trivialising it in any way. It’s hard to think of another artist that could do that. Extraordinary.

Why isn’t he better known? Search me. I’ve long since given up trying to work out why some people make it with little or no talent whilst others, like Vin, operate under the radar for decades. Someone else felt the same way so they made a film about him (Teeside Troubadour), confident that the suits in charge of TV would snap it up. He approached BBC 4, surely the perfect home for such a film, and their response? “Vin who?” Good grief (bearing in mind that he won Best Live Act at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards in 2001 this is even more surprising). Vin genuinely doesn’t seem to mind though. He plays all over the world to a modest but devoted fan base and clearly still enjoys playing to them every bit as much as they love watching him. You can add another member to that fan base now Vin...

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The (Casio)kids are alright...

Sweet as sugar Norwegian synthpop pixies Casiokids kick off their UK tour next week at the Hairy Hounds courtesy of the This Is Tmrw posse.

Support comes from the head nodding / ass shaking combination of Swim Deep...

Isla Vista (Demo) by SWIM DEEP

...and New Carnival...

Ian Curtis by New Carnival


Tickets for the Brum date here for an Antony Worrall Thompson-tastic £7!

Monday, January 09, 2012

Top of my pops...

Watched an episode of Top of The Pops from 1977 the other night. God that was an odd show in retrospect. Where else could you catch a little MOR nonsense one minute, some disco the next then a quick blast of punk eh? I still miss it, even though the show was a bit of a lame duck for the last 10 years or so of its existence at least it was a music show that casual or even non music fans would end up watching...which I can't help feeling was a good thing. Bring it back, that’s what I say. Resurrect Legs and Co, Sir Jimmy (I’m sure those scientists studying that ‘god’ particle thingy could bring him back) and Peter Powell. If nothing else it’s pretty unfair to deny the bands of today the chance to mime along in front of a audience of bored looking teens. Anyway, in the absence of TOTP here’s a few toons currently rocking the charts...well my laptop anyway.

Lana Del Rey - Born To Die

Ahhhh Lana, Lana, Lana...I’d like to watch you eat a banana...or any fruit in fact. Except a kumquat...’cos that just sounds rude. Yes, Lana’s back with another glorious slice of low rent Hollywood glamour. Ignore the haters, who gives a stuff if she’s been airbrushed a little by some big record label...the girl’s a star darlings.

Tennis – Deep In the Woods

There aren’t enough videos of girls murdering their dismembered victims eh? The fact that this pretty gruesome vid’s soundtracked by a some sweet voiced dreamy pop makes it all the more swoonsome.

Pulled Apart By Horses – V.E.N.O.M

Now getting some serious airplay on 6 Music this could be the track that gets PABH over that tricky hurdle from cult act to arena buggering behemoths. Here’s hoping.

Nils Bech - Contemporary Dance (Remix)

Okay, so this track’s a bit of an oldie but the mix is new(ish). Norwegian artist Nils Bech's Great Escape gig remains one of my fave live performances of all time and this track sealed the deal. Crank up the volume and throw some shapes.

Friday, January 06, 2012

Pete and greet...

01 reconsider this by petewilliams

Former / current member of Dexys (Midnight Runners...I think they’ve dropped this bit now) Pete Williams has just announced that he’s releasing his debut solo album in February. Hurrah! Dexys were/are of course one of the best British bands of the last 30 years (no arguing...that’s a there) and Pete played a huge role in their early success. The disintegration of the band and subsequent drug fuelled meltdown of its troubled leader Kevin Rowland have all been well documented, what’s not so well known perhaps is that Pete’s seemingly been busily crafting an album of his own. And, judging by the couple of tracks that he’s popped up on Soundcloud, it’s going to be something pretty darn awesome.

The album’s being launched with a special gig at The Glee Club, Birmingham on 21st February. Tickets here, get in quick.

PS: In other news I believe there’s a new Dexys album coming out this year (with Pete in the line up)...a mere 27 years after their last masterpiece, the criminally underrated Don’t Stand Me Down. This gives me the perfect excuse to post its standout track...This Is What She's Like...all 12 minutes 24 seconds of it.

Thursday, January 05, 2012

Album of the Year 2011...

This is a bit late but given the fact that I practically OD'd on turkey over Christmas it's a miracle I'm still here. So, what was my album of last year then eh? Go on, I’ll give you three guesses. Nope, nope and nope. It was actually a strictly limited edition CDR (just 30 copies in fact) from the lovely Val Denham. For the uninitiated Val's arguably one of the UK’s greatest living artists. Why the ‘art world’ isn’t drooling all over him/her (she’s now transgender) I’ll never know, but that’s life I guess.

Back in the 80’s she provided the covers for a series of my favourite records by Marc Almond and performed in a number of bands (this fact sadly passed me by at the time...I was soooo very young). By chance a few years ago I came across a painting by her on ebay, not expecting that the seller was also the artist. It was though and she very kindly took the time for a chat on the phone when she found out I was a fan. Over the years I’ve bought a few other bits and pieces as finances allowed and last year secured a copy of Val’s latest opus, Bluelands. Val being Val all of the copies are beautifully hand illustrated, making each one a unique work of art in itself. It was the music that really struck me though. In a world in which genuine emotion seems in short supply and true characters are rarer than decent moustache wax (seriously...damn difficult stuff to find don’t you know), especially in the music biz, Val’s simply a national treasure. The genre’s impossible to categorise (the album embraces a wide range of different musical styles) and I’m guessing it’s not going to be for everyone, but give this little beauty a spin and see what you think.

PS: I can also heartily recommend that you rustle yourself up a stiff G&T and spend an hour or two at Val’s website, especially the autobiography and artwork sections. Genius.

Wednesday, January 04, 2012

Jan you dig it...?

Jess Morgan - Pamela by laurenrazavi

January’s always a pretty quiet one for gigs, I guess because most bands are, like the rest of us, trying to sober least enough to play without either (a) falling over or (b) vomiting all over the audience. There are a couple of immediate must sees here in Birmingham though. First off hotly tipped Americana tinged folkstress Jess Morgan supports all round folk legend Vin Garbutt at The Red Lion (Kings Heath) on Wednesday 11th.

Next (and touring the UK...brave souls), the France-tastic M83. Dreamy hushed vocals meet 80’s synth pop. Lush! Cool enough to get the hipsters nodding along nonchalantly but poppy enough to get the rest of us a little moist they play the HMV Institute on Saturday 21st. Il ya beaucoup de la voiture dans la rue! (that’s pretty much all the French I suis desole).

Tuesday, January 03, 2012


...oh...oh...oh dear...feel like I've eaten, drunk and watched a thousand the very least. Ouch. Traditionally this is one of the toughest days of the year I believe, as millions of us prize our bulging bums off the sofa and waddle back to work. As someone who works from home the waddling is minimal, in fact I managed to shuffle from sofa to computer on my bottom like a dog with worms, but for those of you having to brave traffic/public transport/the office for the first time in weeks I'm feeling your pain brothers and sisters. As ever I always find that a little music helps and right now I can think of nothing better than a quick blast of X-Ray Spex. The passing of lead singer Poly was one of the sadder music related deaths last year, coming just days after the release of her big comeback album after several decades in relative obscurity. Balls. As we all heave our collective asses back into action why not crank up the speakers and get the office bouncing around for a few minutes eh? I'm sure the bosses won't mind...just call it a bit of team building or something...just so long as they don't listen to the lyrics too closely.

PS: Oh, Happy New Year too by the way. Normal service will be resumed as soon as the fog of turkey, rum and endless repeats of Only Fools and Horses lifts...that'll be June then.