Tuesday, June 28, 2016
Soooooo great to see Brum's very own KIOKO knocking 'em dead at Glasto on the ruddy telly. I've been watching this lot in various incarnations for about 10 years now (pretty sure they were still at school then...I...er...was a little older). They've gigged like crazy over the last decade, kept at it and now, hopefully, it's all finally paying off. We need proper crowd pleasing life affirming br-ass shaking bands like this in our lives right now and in there's any justice in the world - which clearly there is after Iceland rightfully whooped the England football squad - KIOKO'll be on the Pyramid Stage next year. Failing that maybe they could replace the England football squad...hmmm, now there's a thought.
Thursday, June 23, 2016
Loving this right now, yet another awesome Welsh musician that floats my cwch (that's the Welsh for boat by the way...at least I hope it is). With a little Deep Purple, a little Roxy era Bryan Ferry and some Gorky's Zygotic Mynci thrown in for good measure it's a little odd pop gem. I daresay he's playing festivals and touring all over the place in support of critically acclaimed album 2013, yep, here we go but predictably there's no Exeter date...balls.
Monday, June 20, 2016
Sad news over the weekend with the passing of PM Dawn's Prince Be at just 46 years old. For an all too brief period PM Dawn were a refreshingly different hip hop outfit trading in general blissed out positivity and good time vibes (and we could sure as hell do with some of them right now) as opposed to pointless posturing with...ahem...'bitches' and 'bling'. Although he'd been ill for some time, suffering a stoke and losing a leg to diabetes, 46 is no age at all (I should know) and it's yet another sad loss to the musical world this year. Anyway here's another trio of classics but pretty much all of their back catalogue's worth a listen:
Friday, June 17, 2016
You might not thank me for this but I’ve just been introduced to the world of Richard Cheese, an American lounge singer who covers a bewildering range of songs/genres and who’s so far clocked up 20 albums of the stuff. I find these kind of cover versions endlessly fascinating (see also PostmodernJukebox), especially the ones that somehow seem to reveal some other angle to the lyrics (or actually make the lyrics intelligible), although maybe that says more about the way that my mind works than anything else. Anyway, here's a trio...a platter if you will...of Cheese’s best bits. Enjoy.
Tuesday, June 14, 2016
Every time I see the statistics it still shocks me so they’re worth repeating no matter how often you’ve seen them...the biggest cause of death in men aged 20-45 is suicide and 78% of all suicides are committed by men. Shocking, right? You could probably write a dissertation on the reasons and this little blog isn’t the time or place for it but one thing’s pretty clear, talking about the shit that’s driving you towards ending it all is, at the very least, well worth a try. There are plenty of stories of men and women being talked down from tall buildings or rushed into hospital to have whatever they’ve swallowed pumped out of them who then, with lots of help and support, go on to live the kind of happy and fulfilling lives that they deserved in the first place. I’m not judging by the way. I get it. I understand that sometimes things just seem pretty hopeless and suicide seems oh so much more appealing than trying to claw yourself out of whatever mess you’re in...or think you’re in. The trouble is though (as many wiser souls than me have observed) suicide’s a very permanent solution to what's generally a temporary problem. There is help out there though. If you’ve got mates talk to them. What’s the worst that can happen? If you don’t feel like confiding in the people you know and love then try the Campaign Against Living Miserably (CALM), a wonderful website and phone service dedicated to preventing male suicides. It’s a charity of course, the Government’s too busy spending millions on referendums, but one way you can help and get something cooler than a penguin in a deep freeze is by buying this ruddy awesome Till Deaf Do Us Party Records compilation. There ain’t a duff track on there but I can particularly recommend The St Pierre Snake Invasion, Classically Handsome Brutes and Happy Accidents. Suicide sucks, this comp doesn’t. It’s simple. Buy it. Thanks.
Monday, June 13, 2016
Monday mornings eh? Eh? Eh??? Who needs ‘em? Thankfully this landed in my ears via that lovely Mr Facebook and it’s practically guaranteed to shake off even the mightiest hangover/impending feeling of dread/ soul crushing sense of despair (delete as applicable...if you’ve got all three seek immediate medical attention or just head for the nearest Spoonies). Fresh from the clearly fertile loins of new Black Country trio Balaban and the Bald Illeagles it’s a neat blend of rock and post punk with a gutsy vocal and lyrics dripping in righteous anger. Bonus points for slotting in the word ‘nuances’ too, when was the last time you heard that in a song eh? Exactly. Anyway, play it loud, play it often. This is a good ‘un.
Thursday, June 09, 2016
Apparently originally conceived as a "fake girl band" (I'm assuming it was the band that was fake not the girls) for an art project Dream Wife worked so well that the trio decided to try it for real and the resulting stuff has a neat pop/riot grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl feel to it. This little number's probably the pick of the bunch so far. Reminds me a little (just a little mind you) of pre-makeover Fuzzbox...
Tuesday, June 07, 2016
Ahhhhhhhhhhh Dodgy, we go back a long, long way me and Dodgy. Way, way back in fact to the days they used to play The Hibernian in Stirchley in the early 90s before hitting the big time with a string of absolute pop classics. Music has that incredible power to drag you back to a particular time and place and (cue grainy sepia tinged footage) I only have to hear the opening bars to Staying Out For The Summer and I’m driving along in our old VW Polo in the bright sunshine in 1995 listening to a mixtape (remember them?) on the way to our first Glastonbury (back in the days when you could still buy tickets from HMV in Brum the weekend before...seriously).
Since then I’ve seen ‘em in various incarnations (lead singer Nigel left for a while but they wisely reunited in 2007) and venues from the big (Glasto) to the not so big (the basement of The Flapper in Brum). I had the very great fortune to bump into the band’s drummer Math at The Great Escape a few years back too and he very kindly popped us on the band’s guestlist for The Cornbury Festival. What a bloody nice bloke. In fact they all seem like bloody nice blokes, supporting charities and good causes without making a big fuss about it all. Most important of all they’re still releasing some rather bostin’ music too like rock(s)tastic new single You Give Drugs A Bad Name. Enjoy!
Dodgy's new album What Are We Fighting For is out in September on Cherry Red Records and you can catch them live at festivals here, there and quite possibly everywhere over the summer. What's that? You want me to stick Staying Out For The Summer on here again? Oh go on then...
Monday, June 06, 2016
There's not much in the 'charts' that floats my boat right now but that's fine, I'm guessing that the 'charts' aren't aimed at middle aged men in tweed. In a rare moment of boredom I stumbled on this however via one of the dozen or so music channels beamed from the Mr Sky. Pretty good eh? It seemed familiar though but I couldn't think why (that'll be the middle aged thing again). It was only this morning I realised that I'd heard it live four or five years ago in a slightly different form. Voila. Nothing new under the sun eh?
Friday, June 03, 2016
With an output that even gives The Day Ends (see previous post) a run for their money cult US alt rockers They Might Be Giants posted a staggering 52 new songs (that’s one a week in old money) last year via their ‘Dial-A-Song’ service (nope, me neither). Following two other compilations of this stuff (‘Glean’ and ‘Why’) the third instalment, ‘PHONE POWER’ comes out on June 10th. It’s a typically top notch collection of the band’s slightly twisted pop gems like this cutie above (hell, even the video’s cute), I Love You For Psychological Reasons.
Phone Power is out on Lojinx on June 10th on CD (remember them?) and Digital (wot no vinyl?!)
PS: I can't believe anyone hasn't heard TMBG's biggest hit but just in case, and as it's almost the weekend, here ya go. Lovely stuff.
Thursday, June 02, 2016
...and it's all down to these little beauties, a pair of tracks from The Day Ends who pump out awesomeness with all the ease of a drunken tramp vomiting the truth...and several litres of White Lightning...from his...or her...no room for sexism in the world of trampdom...cake 'ole. That's a compliment by the way. First up Bio Section brings some mournfully demented brass to the mental indie prog metal mix then Diddery Pompous plants a naggingly addictive chorus in your brain like some kind of ickle post pop spider laying eggs right slap bang in your frontal lobe. Utterly bostin'.
Wednesday, June 01, 2016
If you grew up from the 70s onwards the chances are you’ll have spent many a happy hour watching Sesame Street, the groundbreaking American kids show that, as well as teaching us all to count with the help of the world’s least scary vampire, also tackled some of the challenges of those tricky years between 5 and 13. Although nothing to do with Sesame Street (at least not officially, although clearly this is a loving pastiche of the show from the enthusiastic delivery of lines to the upbeat melodies and retro graphics on the TV screens) Avenue Q takes this basic template and looks at those even trickier years between 23 and...well...it’s all pretty tricky when you think about it.
Focussing on a young graduate called Princeton and his move away from home to the big bad city the plot should be pretty familiar to any Millennials out there. Armed with a degree he thinks he’s got life made but it turns out that life’s not so simple. Add a little love interest into the mix together with a porn obsessed monster, former Different Strokes child star Gary Coleman (not the real one obviously, he’s a little dead sadly), a busty femme fatale, a closet queen and several other deliciously observed characters and you’ve got the ingredients for one of the wittiest, most irreverent and fun musicals ever staged, packed with addictively catchy songs, smart dialogue and...er...the odd bit of puppet on puppet action.
Unlike most puppet shows the actors / operators are in full view throughout the action – which must be the acting equivalent of patting your head and rubbing your stomach – but within minutes it’s easy to forget they’re there (in the nicest possible way). As if that wasn’t impressive enough several play multiple parts too, notably Stephen Arden (hilarious as Trekkie Monster), Richard Lowe (you can’t help but love his Rod, as it were) and Sarah Harlington (feisty but cute as Kate and sl-utterly wonderful as Lucy) all of whom acted and sang their collective socks off. Although puppet-less the three human stars of the show also squeeze the full comic potential out of their respective roles, Araina Ii as Christmas Eve...or Clistmas Eve as she’d put it (PC this show ain’t but hell, Everyone’s A Little Bit Lacist), Etisyai Philip as the relentlessly optimistic Gary Coleman and Richard Morse as Christmas’ happy go lucky but ever so slightly henpecked hubbie to be, Brian.
Latent homosexuality, porn, racism, homelessness, poverty, suicide, shattered dreams...Avenue Q covers some pretty serious themes but somehow the writers and performers manage to find humour in pretty much everything. The tunes are instantly memorable (I’m still singing ‘It Sucks To Be Me’ a good 12 hours after the show), some of the material makes you think without being too preachy but most of all you’ll find yourself laughing out loud...genuine stomach wobbling belly laughs (see in particular The Internet Is For Porn and that puppet sex scene) in a way that few shows come close to. And if that isn’t your (Avenue) ‘Q’ to snap up a ticket in the next 30 seconds then, quite frankly, “it sucks to be you!”
Avenue Q is on at Exeter Northcott until Saturday June 4th. Tickets right here right now!