Thursday, February 26, 2015

Run of the Jill - limited edition prints from iconic artist!

It's an old complaint these days but back when vinyl was the dominant format there were some truly stunning album and single covers. One of my personal favourites was this little beauty above. Neat eh? On a whim I did a bit of digging around online a year or two ago to see who'd drawn it and discovered it was someone called Jill Mumford. It turns out that Jill was also responsible for sleeves for The Jam. Siouxsie and the Banshees, The Who, Rip Rig and Panic and XTC along with spreads for NME, Melody Maker and Straight No Chaser. Now you can grab signed and numbered limited edition prints of some of these designs (including stuff for Siouxsie and the Banshees, PiL, Beastie Boys and a great one called The Last Supper of Funk) for just £60-£70 + P&P. They should sell out faster than hot cakes and will no doubt end up changing hands for hundreds on eBay so consider this a bit of a heads up! 


Monday, February 23, 2015

Hallelujah, see the (BC Camp)Light!

Yes Brothers and Sisters, let me hear you say “Hare and Hounds on Monday March 9th!” Let me hear you say “Tickets available from our good friends at Birmingham Promoters!” And let me hear you say “Would you like a double G&T?!” Hell, it’s worth a try. Anyway, if you’ve not heard BC Camplight before you’re in for a treat. Take a dash of Brian Wilson, add a pinch of John Grant and whip in just a hint of Smokey Robinson et voila. 

It’s no secret that ol' BC (aka Brian Christinzio) has seen his fair share of troubled times over the past few years with addictions to drugs and booze culminating in his retirement from the music biz and, I’m guessing, very nearly planet earth itself. Invited over by a fan from his ‘home’, an abandoned church in Philadelphia to Manchester in 2011 he slowly got back into writing and playing again with the first fruits of this creative rebirth being the heart shattering new album How To Die In The North. Highly recommended. 

Friday, February 20, 2015

Indietracks 2015!

Not just a festival more (apologies to the Manics here) a ‘design for life’ Indietracks is possibly the friendliest, loveliest, cutest (insert your favourite superlative here) event around. Focussing on...go on...guess...yep, ‘Indie’ music there’s always an impressively wide range of styles on offer, from fragile folk to thrashy punk and all stations along the way (2013 review here and 2014 review over here).

The first acts for this year’s festival (24th – 26th July at The Midland Railway, Ripley, Derbyshire) have just been announced and I’m chuff chuffed to see that The Go! Team are on the bill along with, amongst many others, Cinerama (David Gedge of The Wedding Present’s side project) and Euros Childs. Keep your eyes glued (not literally, it stings terribly) on the festival’s website over here and while you’re at it snap up an early bird ticket right now for just £68 (available until 5pm on Sunday May 3rd)!

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Xpress yourself...

This Sunday sees another instalment of legendary cult spoken word / music 'happening' Sunday Xpress held at Digbeth's finest The Adam and Eve. Presided over by the larger than life Big Bren there's an open mic slot from 4pm with sets from Giant-Elf Fist and Betty and the Id after 7pm...and the whole ruddy thing's as free as a bird!

Ace City Racers - Different Angle / Wilko

Glaswegian three piece Ace City Racers have just released a rather fine double A side single (’s the future I tells ya). Different Angle has a neat Smiths-ish swagger with a little punk and glam tossed in for good measure whilst Wilko is a bullshit free 60 seconds or so sliver of indiepunk perfection paying homage in both name and feel to the legendary cancer kicking Feelgood bassist Mr W. Johnson Esq. I have a feeling the man himself would heartily approve.

Different Angle / Wilko is out now on DIY Records right here(you can download it too but where’s the fun in that eh?)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Miss Halliwell / The Crooked Hooks / The Nature Centre @ Sandwell Snooker Centre, Bearwood, Saturday February 14th

All across the world couples are sitting opposite each other in some posh restaurant somewhere, paying £40 for a bowl of pasta and the price of a small family car for a bottle of ‘Sham’-pagne. Meanwhile we’re Snooker Centre, downing pints of M&B Mild. Who says romance is dead eh? To be fair there’s a good reason, another ‘local’ Miss Halliwell show, a band I’ve been in love with almost as long as I’ve been married, give or take a decade or so.

First up though The Nature Centre, kicking off with a little Syd era Floyd meets quality indie pop, all wrapped up in lovely Brummieness. Bonus points for calling one song BRMB and including the lyric “You’re not from’re from Solihull” in another track and a special gold star for the lady Nature Centre-ist (I was going to say naturist but that’s something altogether different...) who seemed to be able to play pretty much every instrument under the sun. A worthy addition to fellow Brummie indie poppers Misty’s Big Adventure, The Dollcanoes and Kate Goes (we have a sneaky feeling the lady Nature Centre-ist was/is in Kate Goes too).

Next The Crooked Hooks dished up everything from a little alt-boogie through to prog punk courtesy of newbie Cokehead. Gloriously raucous and ramshackle in places any band that has a song called Walt Disney’s Cryogenically Frozen Head has to be worth a listen, right? Highlights included the string bending genius of Factory Filth, the lyrics ‘punched out’ like some huge great metal pressing machine in a suitably staccato style.  

“With power comes responsibility” intones Miles Perhower, Miss Halliwell’s lead vocalist and visionary, as he appears as if from nowhere sporting what looks like a Mexican wrestling mask and wearing a heavy overcoat. At this point I’d normally witter on (blah, blah, blah) and write a standard review but reading back through my notes, written with the benefit of a drink or three, somehow makes a lot more sense this time...

“Miles – leaping savant, soothsayer, sage, demon and goblin. Band gelling brilliantly. It’s the future. It’s subtle, it’s complex, it’s simple, it’s fucking HEARTFELT. In a world of imposters Miss Halliwell shines the light. EVERY SET SEEMS FRESH. Miss Halliwell wanders the dangerous line between disaster and perfection better than anyone. old woman invades the gig from the bar outside and starts heckling the band...”who invited their nan?” asks Miles. Miss meeting a proper character in a bar. The ranters and ravers that somehow make sense. It’s psych, it’s indie, it’s prog, it’s x and y and everything in between. “Don’t give into the world, Everyone will die someday. Don’t capitulate”. Reach Out (I’ll Be There)...the heart attack cover version...a barfly serenading his world at 3.28 am. “Your life is an illusion. DIMWIT!” true. Miles, the only frontman to put on his jacket and coat onstage before exiting the building as swiftly as he arrived. No encore, none of the ‘hits’, leave us wanting more...and more”.

That, pretty much, is what I scribbled down...or at least that’s what I could make out (I struggle to read my own handwriting at the best of times and there was a lot more swearing in the original version plus some words that look like Russian...hmmm) but perhaps it goes some way to capturing the essence of a Miss Halliwell gig...or then again maybe not. Either way you’ll have your chance to find out at their next gig at The Sunflower Lounge on Saturday March 7th or, if you fancy a weekend away, they’ve been booked to play two nights at The Waterhole in Amsterdam on June 4th and 5th. Failing that the digital release of Miss Halliwell’s ‘Best of’ album, The Perhower and the Gory Years 2010-2014, is out now at all good record probably...or whatever you lovely people use these days.  

Friday, February 13, 2015

Steve Strange RIP

Sad news today about the passing of Steve Strange, one of the driving forces behind the entire New Romantic movement and, by all accounts, a real character in his heyday. He'd been through hell over the years with a drug addiction and clearly that must have been a factor behind his sudden death from a heart attack at 55 but still, gone too soon and all that, just when he seemed to be getting his life back together too. Who knows what Visage (the group he formed with Midge Ure, Rusty Egan and others back in 78) might have achieved if things had worked out but they did leave us with these little beauties (slightly spookily the last vid seems to have been filmed in Egypt where Strange died)...

Thursday, February 12, 2015

JOHN – Homme D’affaires

Whilst Phil Spector famously had his ‘wall of sound’, JOHN have clearly plumped more for a ‘fist of noise’ on new single Hommes D’affaires, 2minutes and 44 seconds of blisteringly paced, throat shredding bombardment. Lo fi cymbals that sound like they’ve been recorded in a lock up garage somewhere give way to the bastard offspring of Motorhead’s Ace of Spades and Sabbath’s Paranoid. Recommended!

PS: No stuffed foxes were harmed in the filming of the video. 

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Pedestrian At Best - Courtney Barnett

Courtney Barnett's back with yet another superbslackerstreamofconsciousness anthem, Pedestrian At Best, that sees her wrestling with the knotty problem of minor fame, fortune and adulation that's deservedly gushed her way over the past 12 months or so. Revealing a rare gift for seeing through the next big thing bullshit she's kind of writing herself off is why she should be the next big thing...and so we go round and round in circles until we all get dizzy and puke on a stranger's shoes. That's my afternoon sorted. Anyway just give it a listen, two listens if you're that way inclined, you won't be disappointed...

Friday, February 06, 2015

Get The Assist In Your Ear...

Walsall four piece The Assist have just released a brand new track, In Your Ear, as something of an amuse-bouche (yep, I’ve been reading food reviews again) for their biggest headline show to date at The Slade Rooms in Wolverhampton (hmmm...wonder if fellow Walsall lad Noddy Holder will be there?) on Saturday February 21st. Bravely negotiating more changes of pace than Lewis Hamilton going through a triple chicane In Your Ear retains the band’s knack for an addictively hooky sing-a-long chorus that’s fast becoming a bit of trademark. For further evidence you can listen to their equally catchy debut single, The Assist...right ‘ear’...oh come on, it had to be done...  

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Spamalot @ The New Alexandra Theatre, Monday February 2nd 2015

There aren’t many meat (or in this case meat ‘product’ related musicals) are there eh? Errr...Okla-ham-a? Seven Pies for Seven Brothers? The Rocky Horror Pork-ture Show? Nope, Spamalot’s the only genuine article and in the 10 years since it was first staged it’s gone on to become a firm favourite here and...perhaps somewhat bizarrely given how ‘British’ the humour is...abroad. Just in case you’ve been hiding under a pile of dead parrots for the last decade it's "lovingly ripped off from" the Monty Python and the Holy Grail movie as well as borrowing from other Python sketches and films too giving its writer, Mr Eric Idle, the chance to shoehorn in the comedy troupe’s biggest ‘hit’ Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life (complete with rousing end of show sing-a-long). There’s a plot of sorts but that’s never really been the point of Python has it? Suffice to say it provides plenty of opportunities for an awful lot of silliness, which is no bad thing on a freezing cold February night in Brum.

Over the years numerous celebrities have played King Arthur, this time the Kingly shoes are filled by the helium voiced ‘King of the Jungle’ Joe Pasquale, possibly one of the more Marmite performers (I’m guessing you either love him or...) to have played the role. He’s pretty much perfect for the part though and it has to be one of the few occasions where that distinctive voice of his enhances every word. Being a stand up he’s not afraid to go a little off piste now and again either, resulting in several of this evening’s best moments and reducing fellow cast members to trembling wrecks. 40somethings will love seeing Todd Carty, forever Tucker Jenkins from Grange Hill, again (okay so he was in EastEnders for a while but Mark Fowler wasn’t a patch on Tucker was he eh?) as the gloriously gormless Patsy and Sarah Earnshaw flipped brilliantly from seductress to OTT diva as The Lady Of The Lake.

There are a few local tweaks to appeal to the Brummie crowd and they’ve updated some of the references in one or two of the songs but other than that it’s silliness as usual with hilarious farting Frenchmen, Knights who say “Ni”!, killer rabbits and even a guest appearance from ‘God’ (Eric Idle on a giant screen...I guess he’s probably at home enjoying a Spam fritter or two whilst he counts the royalties). A ‘spam’ good night out all round.  

Spamalot is on at The New Alexandra Theatre until February 7th when it heads off all over the place...seriously...everywhere...heck, there’s a chance it might end up in your front room. Tickets here!