Wednesday, February 29, 2012

God Damn...damn good

Oooooooh this is good. Damn good. Six legged Black Country blues grungesters God Damn unleash their debut 7 inch single (that’s what we like to see, keepin’ it old skool) with a special launch show at The Numa Bar (Little Civic) on March 17th. Cunningly titled God Damn it lures you in with some neat scuzzy guitar and pounding drums before unleashing some truly testifying vocals, neatly blending Sabbath worthy riffs with a little prog/grunge guitar noodling and filthy feedback to create the kind of track Josh Homme would give up his motorcycle collection for...and that’s some collection he’s got there. It’s the sort of tune that makes you want to rip out your small intestine and play it like a guitar. It’s the soundtrack you want playing when you quit your job and run off to become a mercenary. And it’s currently one of the most listened to tracks on Satan’s very one iPod. Fact. Hell yeah!

God Damn is out on limited edition vinyl through Distorted Tapes and the band’ll be tearing a new roof off the Numa Bar on March 17th.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The almost regular weekly new music roundup thingy

I’m still feeling a bit delicate after the frankly apocalyptic Pulled Apart By Horses show from last Monday night, so I nice slice of country soul from Phantom Limb’s just what Doctor Music ordered. Wow, imagine if there really was a ‘Doctor Music’ eh? I reckon a good dose of music would do much more good than most of the pills, creams prescribed. Conversely certain types of music (and their originators) would be much better off shoved where the sun don’t shine rather than inflicted on the general public.

Anyway...ahem... let’s forget about shoving anything up your bum and listen instead to Phantom Limb’s Gravy Train, a fine soulful slice of country.

Sticking with a bit of a coutry-ish twang here’s Brother from The War On Drugs, Dylan-esque vocals soundtrack a distinctly dark and disturbing video. Trust me, it’s a grower.

Blimey, who’s been putting stuff in Paul Weller’s Horlick’s eh? After, in my humble opinion, one dull record after another, Mr W seems to have got his mojo back. 2010’s Wake Up The Nation was a blast of fresh air and now he’s ‘at a dangerous age’ he’s pulled out his best single in years, with enough of a nod back to his mod origins to keep the diehards happy but also with a distinctly ‘now’ twist.

Next up Aussie experimentalists Pond have just released this rather fine trippy piece of dreamy psych...stick with goes nicely bonkers towards the end...oh...and stay off the brown acid maaaaan. that The Professor from Mamas Gun? Yep. One of the nicest blokes in music (or anywhere for that matter) in his other role as part of the Neil Cowley Trio. This track reminds me of a more mental version of the kind of cool, hip and happening tunes that Vince Guaraldi lay down for those Charlie Brown cartoons in the ‘60’s. Cooooooooooooooooool.

And last, but by no means least, Goodnight Lenin (currently on tour with the bewitching Beth Jeans Houghton and the Hooves of Destiny, have just released the vid for their classic Wenceslas Square track. It’s totally yummy. TOTALLY.

Goodnight Lenin - Wenceslas Square from Prime Objective on Vimeo.

PS: You can catch both the Lenin and the Houghton at the Hare & Hounds next Wednesday 29th February. Leap year-tastic.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Read all a-tout it...

Despite attempts by Viagogo to get an injunction Channel 4 showed its The Great Ticket Scandal last night and, whilst most of us knew that these sites were dodgy, for genuine, ordinary music fans the scale is truly sickening. Folders full of credit cards for staff to use to buy up tickets, deals with venues and promoters to secure all the best seats (for which the venues/promoters then get a kick back), 'brokers' who have inside teams working at major venues to scoop up as many tickets as's a wonder any 'normal' people get in to anything these days. This whole thing is really easily stamped out but there seems to be very little political will to do so. I've written about this before and in the intervening years the whole thing has got so much worse. Two tickets to go and see Madonna at Murrayfield for £800 anyone? Bargain. I'd expect several nights in bed with Madonna for that. She'd have to decorate the kitchen too and change the busted lightbulbs in the living room...and even then I'd want change. I'm not sure what sickens me most about the whole thing really. Take your pick. There's the fact that music's being treated like an extension of the stock market, the blocking out of younger/poorer fans, the sad rows of workers in these touting sweat shop earning minimum wage whilst their morally corrupt bosses rake in the millions...or the poor ( deluded fools who stump up 20 times the face value of a ticket to go and watch...Coldplay. Sigh.

Often the best and most exciting music's being made by brand new up and coming bands playing in pubs or smaller venues up and down the country for the price of a pint. These are generally tout free zones. For now. If Viagogo, Seatwave and the other pop pimps aren't wiped off the face of the earth will this always be the case though?

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Pete Williams @ The Glee Club, Tuesday 21st February

Why does a guy with so much obvious talent take so long (30 odd years) to record and release his debut solo album eh? Life, with all of its varied ups, downs and side to sides seems to be the culprit. The benefit of waiting three decades or so is clear when you listen to the songs though. Here’s a man who’s been through the mill a bit, personally and professionally, giving the songs on his awesome debut album, See, and tonight’s performance the kind of emotional depth that just can’t be faked.

That voice is equally rich and, if there’s a hint of Kevin Rowland there that’s not really a surprise, I’m guessing the two of them influenced each other back in the day. You can’t ignore the Dexy’s influence of course, and why should you? Pete was clearly a key member of the original line up and he played an even bigger role in the band’s 2003 comeback tour (he’s poised to do the same in the latest incarnation of Dexys). The passion, emotion and soul that made that band so great burns every bit as brightly in Williams.

Predictably the gig had sold out. It deserved to. I was expecting great things from the show but from the opening bars of Reconsider This I found myself mouthing a silent “wow” to no one in particular. Backed by a band of equally accomplished musicians (including members of both Richard Hawley and Imelda May’s bands) Williams and co unveiled the fruits of their labours. From the regret laden Reconsider This through to the organ driven soul shuffle of Questions and on to the last chance saloon anthem Until We Empty Off This Bottle (with echoes of the great Jacque Brel’s Ne Me Quitte Pas) it was a frequently emotionally raw soundtrack to life and all its battles. Highlights popped up behind every note but the jazz tinged Are You Listening? a son’s acknowledgment of his dad’s influence on his life, achieved that rare trick of being genuinely touching without descending into schmaltz. That’s a skill few writers or performers possess. There’s a touch of the classic torch singer to Pete’s performance, that expressive total commitment to the moment, and watching it you could almost see 30 years of pent up frustration fly out of him.

He’s been sitting on these songs for so long that every word fizzes like a newly poured glass of Champagne, oh alright then, given the down at heel feel of much of the material maybe Cava’s a better bet. You get the point though. I’ve seen performers half Pete’s age struggle to muster such passion out of their songs and this from a dude who has every right to be more than a little jaded with the whole shitty music biz. This gig and the album it showcased revealed a seriously great artist who’s been living in the shadows for far too long. With Dexys gearing up for the biggest come back since Lazarus it would be a real shame if we had to wait another 30 years for the next instalment.

Believe the hype. See Pete live in Sheffield (28th February), Manchester (29th February) and at the Hare & Hounds on Friday 13th April.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Pulled Apart By Horses / The Computers @ HMV Institute, Monday 20th February

In 1781Túpac Amaru II, leader of a Peruvian uprising against the Spanish, was sentenced to death. The chosen method of execution? To be 'pulled apart by horses'. It failed by the way, they ended up decapitating him, a fate that nearly befell several members of the audience this evening for altogether more pleasant reasons (if there can be a more pleasant reason for decapitation). Yes, tonight was one of those joyful gigs when a sizable number of the crowd decide to lose all sense of reason and thrash about like that head spinning girl in the Exorcist. The cause of all this insanity was one of the more explosive bills on the tour circuit at the moment, The Computers and Pulled Apart By Horses, a double dose of mentalness that frequently threatens to separate your ears from the rest of your body.

Like that big metal mallet thing that chefs use to tenderise meat The Computers begin the assault with their radical reboot of the rock n’roll dream (a neat version of Surfin’ Bird neatly makes the connection for anyone in any doubt). Now with added keyboards, bringing a touch of Jerry Lee to proceedings, lead singer Alex and his band of merry mental men (dressed as ever in their distinctive all white outfits) goad the Monday night audience into action, swiftly whipping up a mini mosh pit at the front. “We’re going to get you turgid and stiff and ready to rock with Pulled Apart By Horses” screamed Alex, part punk rocker, part demented southern preacher. An incendiary rage through their biggest track to date, Teenage Tourette’s Camp, ensures that it’s mission accomplished. Variously balancing on the barrier at the front of the stage, precariously perched on top of the organ or seemingly floating above the crowd on a sea of sweat drenched hands, he’s the perfect frontman and when he divides the crowd into two halves before initiating a mass mosh off the ensuing mayhem sees blood spilt and bones jarred to within an inch of fracture. Showcasing an album knocked into shape with the help of their musical hero Mr John Reiss (aka Rocket From The Crypt’s Speedo) and honed by an impressive number of live shows The Computers are at the top of their game right now.

Suitably battered and bruised (literally in some cases, I helped one dude drag the remains of his leg outside to recover) Pulled Apart By Horses crank the volume up to 11...then go one louder. LOUD YOU SAY? YOU WANT LOUD? COP A LOUD OF THIS YOU MUTHAS! It’s the vocals that really get you. Each blast a fresh assault on bloodied eardrums. Kicking off with I Punched A Lion In The Throat (I daresay the lion was too deafened to care by this point) the mosh pit exploded into life and didn’t relent for the whole gig, occasionally disgorging its victims, dead eyed, sweat drenched souls who looked on the edge of death. That’s the point though. This isn’t just music to listen to, it’s music to your ears, eyes, throat and vital’s the soundtrack to an explosion of energy, anger, excitement, fear, friendship and hate. It’s the noise you hear in your nightmares and dreams and, for the impressive number of pitters, it could just have been the night of their lives.

As the sonic assault rolled on we got a touching glimpse into life offstage. Lead singer Tom’s a Brummie and they’d all been round to his mum’s for a Sunday roast. Awwww bless. Just as we were seeing them as nice, quiet boys he followed it up with an admission that they’d then gone out on the lash until 4am. Now that’s more like it. Four years into their existence and with a new album that’s (by their own admission) several furlongs ahead of their first there’s some impressive musicianship going on, with some surprisingly complex sounding guitar bits buried deep beneath the noise. The album’s standout track, the demonically explosive V.E.N.O.M, sent the pit of shredded bodies into a fresh wave of flailing, a forlorn looking ‘Do Not Crowdsurf’ poster pinned to a wall looking increasingly ridiculous as a merry go round of soaking wet teens flew over the barriers into the waiting arms of security...only to repeat the whole journey moments later. With a fine mist of sweat now hanging over the audience and a cougar’s wet dream of bare-chested young men on the edge of melting Tom was carried deep into the pit. Amazingly he made it out alive to finish the set. As the encore faded (don’t ask me what it was...I was quite deaf by then) guitarist James literally dived in and was never seen again. I guess it’s what he would’ve wanted.

Easy listening it ain’t, and be prepared to lose your hearing/limbs/lunch, but for sheer raw energy and giving it 100%, Pulled Apart By Horses are simply a breed apart.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Outfit / Swim Deep / The Mighty Young @ The Rainbow, Saturday 18th February

So what’s the state of music like in 2012 then eh? Discuss. I guess to a certain extent it depends on your age. Try as you might it’s impossible to resist the lure of the stuff that appealed to you during those formative years (13-18) and as you grow older you’re actually legally obliged to start moaning about whatever’s in the charts. The truth is that there’s a lot of crap around right now...but then again there always was. It’s only years later with the benefit of distance that we’re able to conveniently filter out the rubbish and bask in the warm glow of the good stuff. I mention all this because tonight’s gig was a perfect example of that ‘good stuff’ featuring a trio of bands that might well be operating under the radar right now but who each prove that, for all the musical effluent out there, 2012 has plenty to offer.

The night kicked off with Birmingham trio garage rockers The Mighty Young. It’s raw, it’s loud and by satan’s todger it’s grrrrrreat. Birmingham may well now officially be The Home of Metal but it’s equally a sweaty slightly soiled hotbed of garage rock too and The Mighty Young are a welcome addition to the likes of John J Presley, The Castilians and that whole darn awesome Coldrice collective. Some truly impressive guitar work, rust tinged vocals and suitably loose n’fluid drumming got down and dirty in a blistering half hour of joyful noise. Mighty fine.

From garage rock to slacker synth with another local support, Swim Deep. Joy Division, Velvet Underground and M83 collide in one gloriously atmospheric mash up. A couple of girls just in front of us seemed to know every word to every song and it’s not hard to imagine Swim Deep’s bloodied and bruised romanticism piercing a million teenage hearts. Take a listen to their standout track so far, Isla Vista, a brooding anthem replete with Hooky basslines, mumbled vocals and a defiant ‘Okay!’ shout out in the chorus and you’ll see what I mean. A (breast)stroke of genius.

Finally, continuing the synthy theme, Outfit, tipped for great things by The Fly...the magazine that is, I’m not taking musical pointers from bluebottles...not anymore anyway...not since convincing me to buy that Justin Bieber album...bastards. Anyway Outfit formed in Liverpool last year, rapidly developing a bit of a reputation as kings of downbeat danciness. All bands need that signature single to break through and Outfit have it in the magnificent Dashing In Passing, a mutant low key funk/synth hymn that quite frankly sounds like nothing else around right now. The fact that they’ve got a stash of equally strong tracks in their wardrobe came as a pleasant surprise. Lyrics clearly matter to this lot and opening number Vehicles could well give Morrissey a run for his money “Put buildings over you. I’ll stand alone in velodromes and listen to the answerphones ring true”. Hubba...that’s some nice lyrics there. The whole track’s stuffed with ‘em too, add the perfectly complimentary twin vocals that haunt most of their songs and sparse keyboards and you’ve got a perfect post millennial soundtrack. Dashing In Passing was as sublime and glorious live as it is on record, the sound of souls melting, hearts splintering and tears staining a thousand inner city concrete paving slabs. Just in case you were ready to label Outfit as dons of the downbeat though tonight’s set was...well...yes...I’m going to say it...pretty darn funky in places too. It’s a surprising mix but it’s one that works brilliantly, the perfect combination of the heart breaking and the ass shaking. I’m always hesitant about bigging up new bands too soon in their career but what the hell, Outfit are special and, whether they go on to be massive or not they’re one of the reasons to be cheerful about the state of music right now.

Friday, February 17, 2012 Birmingham...TOMORROW!

After posting a track that's as old as time (see below) just to prove I've still got my finger on the musical pulse...or close to it at least...the hotly tipped Outfit play The Rainbow, Digbeth, tomorrow night. If you need a reason to go just listen to Dashing In Passing. I know...good innit?

Tickets here!

Television - Marquee Moon...all 10 minutes 41 seconds of it

Sooooo good to hear the full version of this on 6 Music today. 6 Music's kind of become my default listening choice recently and the fact that they were happy to play a track that lasts over 10 minutes without talking all over it is as good as reason as any for continuing to tune in. And it's a darn good excuse for me to post up the full version too. Enjoy.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Love, love me do...

Okay, so I'm too late for Valentine's Day...whatever...did you send me a card? Exactly. Anyway this week saw two love related musical happenings. First up Jack's back, yep former White Stripe and Raconteur Jack White slid out this little beauty. "I want love to roll me over slowly..." don't we all deary? I'd settle for love making me a cup of hot chocolate to be honest but each to their own. It's got a bit of Doors feel this one, Doors meets 60's era Tina Turner. Sweet combo.

The other big love news was the debut gig by ex-Gallows dude Frank Carter's new outfit Pure Love. He's gone from this... this...

Blimey. Not all of the new stuff's slow like this one but this is the track that probably showcases the 'new' voice best of all and, well, I'm impressed. Musically the new band's got both feet in the fairly traditional rock camp but if anyone can bring something fresh to the table it's Frankie boy. Seems he's actually in love now too if a recent Tweet's anything to go by he may even be engaged. Awwwwwww bless. Ain't love grand eh?

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Now We Are Weekender...indie pop a go go

I do love the smaller festivals and if the death (temporary or permanent) of The Big Chill is another sign of the public's fatigue with the MEGAFESTS then so be it. This year there's a fine looking local (Midlands local) addition to the early festival season in the shape of the Now We Are Weekender.

Taking place over the weekend of the 7th & 8th April (so it's indoors...thank the lord) at West Brom's The Public Arts Centre it's an indie pop fan's wet dream, featuring as it does Misty's Big Adventure, Art Brut, The Lovely Eggs (any band with John Shuttleworth in the video - see above - gets my vote), The Bombergs and loads of other bands that'll earn you at least 1000 cool points down the wine bar/pub/bus shelter/wherever it is that you hang out.

Tickets for the whole ruddy weekend are a very reasonable recession busting £15 or a tenner for the first 50 early birds...blimey.

Monday, February 13, 2012

George Barnett & The Ninth Wave @ The Yardbird, Sunday 12th February

At 6ft 3 (with an unruly mop of curly brown hair adding an extra inch or two) and a ceiling that’s probably not much taller, bouncing up and down might not be the wisest thing to attempt. Somehow the hair’s owner manages to avoid serious brain damage though, even if members of the audience end the set risking their own craniums by quite literally dancing on the tables. Welcome to the world of George Barnett, a 17 year old multi instrumentalist, vocalist and producer recently described by Beardyman as “one talented muthafucka”...and he should know. Given his capacity for playing pretty much every instrument ever invented George (winner of Young Drummer of the Year way back in 2008) and his band take a similarly catholic approach to musical genres, deftly embracing everything from blues rock to piano ballads, ska, boogie woogie...sometimes in the same track. Of course all this could end up sounding like a dog’s dinner, that it doesn’t is down to George’s seemingly instinctive knack for just knowing what works.

The set kicked off with Lone Rose (from his forthcoming album 17 days), one of those tracks that lodges itself inside your brain the first time you hear it, possessing the kind of singalong chorus that screams ‘hit’! Just to prove to the crowd that it ain’t a fluke it’s followed by College Kids, Hendrix meets T Rex meets a genuine 21st century boy...all suitably pissed off with the world he’s been lumbered with. University ain’t for George and who can blame him? End up with a mortgage sized debt and living on the dole? His advice, and a neat chat up line for the ladies too, “Oh...if you wanna waste five years, baby you can do it with me”. Smooth. George is equally at home tinkling the ivories as he is tackling the modern teenage malaise though, with tracks like Bewitched and Masquerade channelling his inner Coldplay and showing an emotional maturity beyond his years.

A challenge to the audience to dance like crazy to win a CD elicits an unusually enthusiastic response, as clear an indication as you’re likely to get that he’s got that magical ability to connect with a crowd too, which, above everything else, is ultimately all that really matters. You can have the tunes, the skills and the lyrics but if the crowd ain’t feeling it you’ve got jack. Any lingering doubts about this were well and truly squished by the last track, No Idea, the one that got an impressive cross section of the crowd on the tables. A slightly bonkers mix of jungle drumming, ska and boogie woogie, its title couldn’t be more misleading...George knows exactly what he’s doing and I’ve an idea that pretty soon plenty more people will too.

17 days is out on Wild Wolf Records on 12th March 2012

Friday, February 10, 2012

Thank Chuff It's Friday...

Hola! Just enough time for another quick round up from the ever increasing inbox of doom before my fingers (and several other extremities) finally succumb to frostbite.

First up, Here We Go Magic, fronted by wig wearing amputee Paul Daniels and featuring none other than Debbie McGee on bass. Or maybe not. Anyway, whoever’s in the band this is as fine a piece of twitchy new wave loveliness as you’re likely to find on a chilly Friday afternoon. Makes me think of Steely Dan collaborating with early 80’s hipsters The Vapours. But then I’m a bit odd. It’s taken from their new album (produced by Radiohead knob twiddler Nigel Godrich) A Different Ship out on May 7th (my birthday incidentally...just saying) from the good folk at Strictly Canadian.

I’m feeling in a mixy mood this week so here’s a belter from Parisian DJ Michael Canitrot featuring a neat mix of tune du jour Gotye’s Somebody I Used To Know. Hmmmm...squelchy.

Oh go on's another one from our Ohio correspondent the Bobby Dazzler courtesy of DJ Snafu. Funkier than a mosquito's tweeter!

Flats release a grand slab of dirgetastic punk in the shape of Foxtrot. They seem to be heading in a grungier direction than before and this track lumbers along like a stoned Gallows. Swwwwwweeeeeet.

Back in the day all girl alt rockers Luscious Jackson released one awesome single after another...most of which were pretty much shamefully ignored. That's the public for you. So they packed it in for a decade. Now they're back, back, back! S'pretty good too.

Last up Outfit with, suitably enough given the temperature, a chilled mix of synthpop, C86 indie and broken hearted soul. The XX meets Scritti Politti...and that’s a great combo, trust me. They’re touring over the next few weeks with a date at The Rainbow (Digbeth) on Saturday 18th. Tickets from our chums at Birmingham Promoters. Lush.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul Festival 2012

It seems a long way off right now, what with the sub zero temperatures and all, but before we know it we'll all be outside downing pints of scrumpy and piddling in bushes. Hmmmm sounds like a Saturday night on Broad Street to me, but nope, Festival Season's just around the corner and one of the newer gems, Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul (held in Moseley)has just released a handful of names from their bill, including Ghostpoet and Soweto Kinch. But here's a track to really get the juices flowing from Saturday night's headliners, Odyssey. Now that's some soulful disco loveliness eh? You've got four months to grow the 'fro and find the flares. No excuses.

Mostly Jazz, Funk & Soul is on 29th, 30th June and 1st July. Tickets right here. Native New Yorkers especially welcome...

Saturday, February 04, 2012

Kaiser Chiefs / All The Young / Club Smith @ The Academy, Friday 3rd February

Na na na na naaaaaa...ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh...The Kaiser Chiefs are becoming a bit of an national institution now aren’t they eh? Four albums into their career they’ve crafted more than their fair share of singalong-a-singles and created the kind of ‘matey blokes’ image that most bands would willingly sacrifice several drummers for. There’s even an ad on t’telly right now with that most traditional of British musical institutions - the brassband - belting out Ruby whilst a cut price Peter Kay dad dances and tries to flog us the t’internet. If you’re looking for further proof of their venerable status tonight’s gig sold out ages ago despite the relatively poor performance of their last album, the underrated The Future Is Medieval. It’s easy to see why they remain so popular though. Perhaps only Madness are as loveable a bunch as this lot and, just like the nutty boys, Ricky and co are simply a classic British singles band. Cop a load of these songs: I Predict A Riot, Oh My God, Na Na Na Na Naa, Everyday I Love You Less and Less, Ruby, Modern Way, Never Miss A Beat, Little Shocks, each one seemingly purpose built for crowds to scream along to. And tonight that’s pretty much just what they did.

First up though honourable mentions to the two support bands starting with Club Smith, who could almost stand in for the Chiefs if they fancied a day off with tracks like No Friend Of Mine having more than a hint of the Kaiser’s about it. Coming on at the unfeasibly early hour of 6.30 can’t be easy but punctual gig goers were treated to an energetic showing of synth tinged art rock. Well worth further investigation, preferably after we’ve all had time for our tea to go down.

Stoke’s All The Young gamely straddle the divide between the full on lad rock of Oasis and the poppier world of the Kaisers with the lead singer borrowing Liam’s shades n’swagger. There’s a pleasingly anthemic nature to a lot of their stuff that’s heartfelt if not particularly original and, with the audience swelling they did a fine job of warming...okay...make that defrosting the frozen masses.

With the room rammed to capacity and the beer flowing faster than Niagara Falls (to be fair a pint of Niagara Falls would probably be a darn sight tastier than most of the drinks on offer) Ricky, Nicky B, Nicky H, Andy and...Simon... received the kind of welcome generally reserved for minor deities. Wire Ricky up to the mains and you’d have enough electricity to power a small northern town. That man must cover a marathon during the average gig. Kicking off with Everyday I Love You Less and Less (paranoid audiences could take that one badly eh?) he begins a relentless routine of mic twirling, mic throwing, mic fact anything that you could possibly do with a mic short of marrying it and having little mic babies. When he’s not narrowly avoiding decapitating himself/one of his bandmates with the mic he’s doing his trademark leaping in the air bit or running around the stage like a loon. It’s an engaging spectacle and one thing you’ll never be at a Kaiser’s gig is bored. After a frenetic Never Miss A Beat the pace slows a little for the metronomic synth driven Little Shocks, arguably one of their more challenging (and rewarding for all that) singles. As if to try to disprove the lyrics our Rick bravely crosses the band audience divide and totters precariously on the barriers for Everything Is Average Nowadays, frequently coming within an inch of plunging headfirst into the already moist crowd. Modern Way, with more than a nod to the Chiefs' spiritual granddads Blur, gets the hands in the air for the first really bit singalong of the night before...shock horror...a new (ish) track, On The Run. “We’ve got to keep on writing new songs” ruminates Ricky “and you’ve got to keep listening to them”. Seems fair to me. Punctuated with ruddy great farts of old skool synth it’s a rant against the seemingly unstoppable Twitter-iffic D-list celebrity culture that somehow passes for civilisation these days.

New stuff over (for now) the hits continue with Ruby leaving Ricky breathless, giving the audience yet another chance to takeover and sing for a bit. I Predict A Riot whips the frenzy up a notch as hundreds of sweaty blokes punch the air in unison sending flecks of salty spray into the air. Seemingly bored of restricting himself to the stage and barriers Ricky goes walkabout, mounting the speakers at the side of the stage and climbing up to the balcony 20 feet or so above us. That’s where all the posh people sit. Or at least did. Ricky leads a kind of Mexican wave getting everyone up and much as you can dance when you’re standing in a row of seats. Risking life and limb once more he perches on the balcony swinging one leg over the edge as a burly security dude edges nervously closer and closer. From this position Rick watches his boys as a fan “I fucking love this band”. Awwwww bless.

Back on stage (I think he used the stairs) and time for an even newer song, only heard once before in fact. Using a mic that sounds like he’s singing down a megaphone Listen To Your Head is a darker Kaiser Chiefs, with Ricky coming across like a tortured soul during the chorus...all thousand yard stares and chest beating. Blimey. Whether it’s an indication of a more mature direction or just an experiment remains to be seen but it’s a rare glimpse of an extra dimension to a band that most of us have perhaps neatly pigeonholed. Encore time and after Love’s Not A Competition (But I’m Winning) it could only be one track couldn’t it? Yep. OMG as dem yoot would call it. Tired of beating his mic to death Rick takes it out on a tambourine this time as the crowd screams along with the chorus and the sweaty blokes pogoing along in the middle have a collective heart attack. It’s that one great moment that all gigs strive to achieve, getting several thousand people to act as one glorious mass of humanity. That’s the deal with this band. Ricky ain’t the best singer in the world, the lyrics aren’t going to keep Cohen up all night fretting that he’s got competition but for sheer bloody joyful sing yer heart out arms in the air pop the Kaiser’s firmly remain chiefs.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Mo' new music

Some truly brilliant stuff bubbling up from all over the place right now. Here’s the pick of this week’s bulging Hearing Aid how it bulges...

So David Bowie hooks up with Scissor Sisters, Supertramp, Jethro Tull and Sparks, whaddya get? Simple (well as simple as that mix could be), this little beauty from Of Montreal, Dour Percentage. Wow. Why not chuck in the kitchen sink when you’re at it eh? No seriously...why not? Camp glam pomp pop at its very best this track's taken from their new album Paralytic Stalks out February 6th and the band plays four dates in the UK in April...nowt in Birmingham though...oh the shame.

San Fran’s Still Flyin’ release this lovely nibble of a track, Cleat Talking on February 13th...ahhh...just in time for Valentine’s Day. A kind of more chilled out take on Matthew Wilder’s seminal Break My Stride it’s got a neat New Wave meets light Afrobeat vibe. Features the soon to be immortal line “I ain’t no Stephen Hawking, my cleats do all the talking” (cleats are what our American cousins call their football boots apparently).

Nigerian Soul anyone? Good choice. If Amy Winehouse had been born in Lagos rather than London she might well have turned out like Nneka. This track’s a big, bold, brassy ‘tour de voice’ embracing classic soul, reggae, a little hip hop and a whole lotta ooooomph. Love it.

Aussie psych rock next courtesy of Pond and their Fantastic Explosion of Time. Blimey. That’s what you get for living upside down I guess. I’ll have to try it one day. T-Rex-riff-ic! Their new album Beard, Wives, Denim (what more could a young boy want eh?) is out on March 5th. Hopefully they’ll come over to the UK when we’ve all thawed out.

Finally the ruddy lovely Mamas Gun (deliverers of one of my top 10 gigs of all time last year) release their Only One single (featuring Beverley Knight) today. Here’s a totally live version for you ...warms the cockles of your heart right? Well, my cockles are at warmer now anyway...hmmm that might be down to an overheating laptop though...agghhhhhh!!!

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

By George!

Ever keen to give a shout out to new and emerging talent here’s a name to watch out for in the future, multi-instrumentalist, singer, songwriter and (quite possibly) quantum physicist (okay I made that last bit up) George Barnett. Cop a load of this video, George played every instrument, produced the track himself and probably cobbled his own shoes too. Impressive eh? I’ve heard remarkable things about his guitar playing and live show (backed by a full band) too and his recent showcase at the legendary 100 Club in London seemingly went down the proverbial storm. He’s playing a few gigs around the Midlands in February with one at The Yardbird in Birmingham on Sunday 12th. And it's FREE too...yeah baby!