Thursday, May 18, 2017
Just when I was thinking that Mr G. Reaper was being remarkably well behaved this year Chris Cornell, grunge figurehead, passed away suddenly last night after a gig at just 52. My knowledge of his output is pretty slim but Black Hole Sun is an absolute 100% gem isn't it eh? RIP.
PS: Here's an equally great track from Audioslave...
While we're on the subject of all things queer (see Joss Stone bit below) cop a listen to current single from queer punksters PWR BTTM (quite possibly not suitable for work...). Wise words so I've posted a version with the lyrics on too...altogether now...'curse that mother fucker...'
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
Although she only played three songs I can’t let Joss Stone’s appearance at Exeter Pride 2017 go unmarked. I’ve seen her a couple of times now, the first way back in the early noughties at Glasto when she was being hailed as a new queen of soul, the second...rather unbelievably...at The Rainbow in Digbeth. In the intervening years she’s sold the odd 14 million records or so and ditched major label backing to pursue her own thang. Whilst that’s no doubt more rewarding artistically and spiritually speaking it’s probably reduced her public profile somewhat, in turn depriving a lot of potential new fans from one of the best white female soul voices around, but there we go, you can't have everything eh? Anyway on a lovely chilled out Saturday afternoon in Exeter she was on fine form with mini set closer Right To Be Wrong (no footage sadly but the clip below gives you some idea) reaching the parts that few female (or male for that matter) reach these days.
PS: Dodgy photo of Joss sporting pink hair taken using Lady B's mobile.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
Good grief, can it really be 10 years since Kate Nash released Made Of Bricks? Her last album, the Riot Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl-tastic Girl Talk (2013) failed to make the impact it deserved but new single Agenda brings back some of that Made Of Bricks era quirky pop gloss with a little MIA flava thrown in for good measure and, let's face it, it's pretty much made for those BBC election broadcasts. If only eh?
Anyway if you've forgotten how good Made of Bricks was here's the big single Foundations which was only denied the number one slot by that ruddy umbrella song. Criminal.
Tuesday, May 09, 2017
Dug out my slightly battered vinyl copy of Carmel's classic album The Drum Is Everything last week and blow me down with a brass section it sounded amazing, even with more scratches on it than grooves. Wasn't it John Peel that once defended his continuing love of vinyl itself by saying something like "Well, life has scratches too"? If it wasn't him then it should have been.
Anyway, Carmel had a cracking voice and sound back in the 80s and this prompted me to look her up again. Turns out she released something new as recently as 2015 and she was still in fine form. Bugger all since then sadly, her website's vanished and her Twitter account has gone quiet so who knows what she's up to. Another much underrated artist though in my humble opinion.
Friday, May 05, 2017
Blimey, what the hell happened to Paramore? I'd always had them down as ever so slightly angsty Emo rockers but their new single's remarkably chipper, even if it is called Hard Times (you can take the Emo out of the band...). Apparently half the group left a while ago so that might explain the pretty radical change in direction, whatever the reason the pop whore in me thoroughly approves.
PS: To utterly destroy any shred of credibility I may once have had I'm still addicted to Katy Perry's current single too. I blame old age...
Wednesday, May 03, 2017
From one bunch of musical mavericks (The Day Ends) to another. Every once in a while I'll stick up some Bobby Conn in the vague hope that the rest of the world will wake up to him but so far they're clearly too busy downloading endless Ed Sheeran tracks. Anyway, seemingly out of the blue Conn released a new track last week, a typically twisted genre mashing epic that's right up there with the brooding classic King For A Day. What's that? You've NEVER heard King For A Day? Oh dear lord...
Please, please, please do your ears and soul a favour right now and get stuck in to this dude's back catalogue. You're welcome.
Brief clip from The Day Ends set in Kings Heath last week and it looks like they played another blinder with Miles donning not one but two guitars for the pounding panting ear melting climax. If I've said it once I've said it a thousand times (probably quite literally by now) but The Day Ends really are one of the most exciting, inventive and confrontational (Miles has probably had 'run ins' with more people than I've had hot dinners...and I've had a lot of hot dinners) bands on planet earth. So there.
Thursday, April 27, 2017
Very sad news from Brum, The Rainbow (picture above from the Monotonix gig there way back in 2008!), one if the city's finest small venues, is set to close next month unless someone comes forward to take it on. Current landlord Lee McDonald took it over 13 years ago and in the intervening years it's played host to some of the best local and up and coming bands around. We first started going there back in the early noughties before Digbeth was 'cool' and to be fair the place was a little bit rough around the edges (the men's loos were always a bit of an experience), but over the years Lee and his team clearly put a bucket load of blood, sweat, tears and money into it. I know very little about the mechanics of running a pub or a gig venue but I'm guessing it ain't easy so to have stuck with it for so long is pretty commendable, especially when the development of apartment blocks nearby resulted in a costly noise abatement order. Yeah, I know, why move to a city centre location and then bitch about a little noise?
Sadly it seems as though live music venues are shutting at an alarming rate these days, either because the building's worth more as a residential development or no buggers bother going there anymore and, with a lot of mainstream music becoming so blandly polished that performing it live is practically impossible/pointless (reducing gigs to nothing more than mere playbacks) I can't see that changing. There'll always be live music of course and there'll always be venues but the days when big cities could boast a good half a dozen or more diverse places to perform or watch music seem to be slipping away. I guess that's progress for you. Speaking of which here's an interesting little interview with The The's Matt Johnson. What he says isn't particularly new but it sums up just what a mess the music industry made of things and how the people who got (and are still getting) royally screwed over are the artists themselves. 20 years ago a moderately successful band could make a decent living, but now? Seemingly not a hope and that's not only bad for venues like The Rainbow but also the soul nourishing cultural broth that, for many of us, make life just that little bit better.
Monday, April 24, 2017
Heads up if you're in or around Brum this Friday evening (April 28th) as The Station in Kings Heath hosts three of the City's finest three pieces for a mere fiver (£3 if you're a student). The Crooked Hooks kick things of at 8-ish, Balaban and the Bald Illeagles seize the baton at 9pm and then The Day Ends set fire to the whole damn thing at 10pm. Boom. More info right here. Be there or be Theresa May's flyaway hair.
PS: Check out The Day Ends' Miles Perhower and CPM's Sean smashing out the beats at last Sunday's Sunday Xpress (tried to embed the video but Facebook's not playing ball for some reason...sucking balls yes, playing ball no. Technology eh?!).
Thursday, April 20, 2017
No post for over a week? Where does the time go eh? Mainly painting ruddy decking and gardening in my case - oh my rock 'n' roll lifestyle - but we won't go into that right now. I did manage to find time to trawl various charity shops and jumble sales though and snaffled a rather tasty Canadian pressing of the classic Bullitt soundtrack on vinyl for just a pound. Bargain. It's the kind of music that makes you feel at least 68% cooler...70% if you combine it with a shot of neat Jack D...which of course I will. Speaking of classic vinyl it's Record Store Day this weekend so if you're Brum based get yourselves down to Swordfish Records (oh how I miss that place) or if you're here in sunny Devon I can highly recommend Phoenix Sound in Newton Abbot. Combine that with a pint or two at the Cider Barn and you've pretty much got the perfect day. There's a wallet / purse emptying 500 releases this year too, half of which will probably end up on e-Bay at vastly inflated prices but there you go, that's capitalism for you.
Tuesday, April 11, 2017
Austria's number 1 queen of oddball electropop, Ankathie Koi, is back with an equally addictive follow up to Little Hell and this time she's sporting the kind of outfit you'd normally only find in some kind of slightly deviant sex club...which of course I know absolutely nothing about. Ahem. Anyway enjoy...both the video and the outfit. I'll have to get me one of them.
Friday, April 07, 2017
Wednesday, April 05, 2017
Syria? North Korea? Spain? The rest of Europe? The odds on some sort of military conflict involving the UK before too much longer seen to be dropping by the day. War, as Culture Club once put it, is stupid but there we go, the human race doesn't seem to have learnt many lessons over the past few thousand years eh? Pop's littered with anti-war classics but perhaps one of the best is Elvis Costello's Shipbuilding. Inspired by the Falkland's conflict almost 40 years ago it's just as pertinent today, even though the British Navy doesn't seem to have any ruddy ships anymore, at least not ones that work. Anyway, whilst Costello's version is good Robert Wyatt's is utterly brilliant. I'm guessing there's pretty much zero chance that you won't have heard it before but just in case you haven't give it a spin.
Friday, March 31, 2017
Friday again. Tempus fugit eh? Back in the (now far off) days when I worked in an office Friday afternoons seemed to go on foreverrrrrrrrrrrr. Fortunately, working in the kerazzzzzzzy world of advertising, we were able to have music on all day and everyday which was obviously a bit of a bonus and it was always nice to end the week with something suitably epic. For a few weeks this was my go to track, Gruff Rhys' 14 minute 40 second masterpiece Skylon. If I timed it right I could pop it on at 5.15 so it climaxed at 5.30. Simple pleasures but to this day it still reminds me of Friday afternoons so that's as good an excuse as any to stick it up here again. Absolutely ter-Gruff-ic.
PS: Just in case you fancy dancing around in your pants after that here's another work place favourite...It's A Rave Dave...
Tuesday, March 28, 2017
One of my absolute favourite bands of all time, Sparks, have just unveiled a brand new single and, despite being a mere 46 years into their career it's right up there with their deranged genius best. Like the band itself it's liable to be a bit of a Marmite track (you'll either love it or hate it) but you're unlikely to hear anything like it from anyone else this year...or next...or ever in fact. First class Maels.
PS: Here's another much underplayed Sparks classic from the archives from the year I had the very great privilege of briefly meeting Ron and Russell...proper gents the pair of 'em.
Friday, March 24, 2017
Perhaps it's an age thing or maybe it's all down to the click click click culture we're all mired in these days but I'm increasingly finding that if a track doesn't grab me by the unmentionables in a second or two I'm off looking for something else like a mangy bloodhound. Who knows maybe I'm missing out on some great stuff but I do like a band - and a track - that makes me want to listen on from the very first second and this latest release from hotly tipped Halifax trio The Orielles does just that. It's worth sticking around for too. Starting off with a bit of a 60s almost Stereolab-ish vibe it morphs into something worthy of The Breeders at their 90s best, adding a little Slits-ish skank along the way. At 8 minutes 2 seconds it's longer than some albums but impressively it still make me click back to the start again. And these days that takes some doing. Enjoy.
Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Snuffling around rather ace local record shop Phoenix Sound in Newton Abbot after a restorative pint and a half in the equally ace local Cider Barn (oh so much cider...) I happened to catch an album playing that caught my ear. Turns out it's by a local artist too, Alice Jemima, who recently signed to Sunday Best a label that generally knows its musical onions. Plying a deliciously laid back vocal with just a hint of a hip hop flava she reminds me a little of much missed (by me at least) hipster band Friends (especially on this little beauty). Hopefully she'll play Dawlish soon - okay I know that's a bit specific but being car-less getting back from gigs continues to be a bit of a challenge - so I can see her live but in the meantime here are another couple of cuts from that self titled debut album. Enjoy!
Monday, March 20, 2017
Appropriately enough given the sad passing of Mr Chuck Berry Esq. last weekend the new one from Goodnight Lenin, Portrait of Youth, both rocks and rolls splicing their alt-country DNA with an almost punk spirit. It's been gestating for a while now but this is perhaps the best example so far of the band's new direction and, as I've been banging on about for the last few years, it really suits 'em. You get the sense that perhaps they're now free from that dreaded 'first album' pressure and just playing for the sheer hell of it which, let's face it, is the best way to play eh? It's out digitally on Static Caravan on March 27th with a live single launch gig at the Hare and Hounds on April 2nd. If you happen to live in Lahhhhndon though you can catch them at The Shacklewell Arms on March 30th. Cor blimey, apples and pears, leave it ahhht you slag etc etc.
PS: If you like this one check out their last single Desire, with added Tom (a)Peel!
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
Is it summer yet? What's that? No?! Oh bugger. Never mind, to put you (yes, you) in a bit of a summer time mood here's the new one from the ska-tastic Kioko. Dead chuffed to see this band going places, a classic sound and a great bunch of blokes too. They're playing the O2 in Brum this Friday as well but it's sold out so I'm guessing you'll just have to press your ear against the bouncer's groin now if you want to hear the show. NB: That's possibly not a good idea...
Friday, March 10, 2017
Today sees the release of Hits and Pieces, a career retrospective for one of my favourite artists Marc Almond. I won’t be buying it as I’ve got pretty much everything on there, in some cases several copies in fact but you can never have too much vinyl can you eh? Hmmmm. Anyway, wandering the beach scaring the seagulls this morning this track, The Sea Says, popped into my head and blow me down if this year isn’t the 30th ruddy anniversary of the album that spawned it, the utterly splendid Mother Fist and Her Five Daughters. Quite possibly one of Almond’s finest and most distinctive vocal performances it never fails to remind me - cue sepia tinged memories - of my days living in Brighton and working at 7-Eleven in Hove, a job which necessitated rising at 5am, getting the train from Falmer to Brighton and then plodding the 2 miles or so to work. I’d often walk along the virtually deserted sea front to get there in all weathers, which was both pretty depressing and rather soul stirring (in retrospect at least) all at the same time. Fast forward almost 30 years and I’m somehow back living by the sea again (albeit on the opposite side of the country), thankfully not rising at 5am or working at 7-Eleven this time...
Plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose.
Wednesday, March 08, 2017
Copped a load of Idles on Mark Riley's 6 Music show recently and it's just the kind of shouty bollocks that floats my boat. There's a lot of this stuff around right now of varying quality, quite possibly precipitated by the fact that an awfully large percentage of young people seem to have been totally screwed by the system. Shit happens, I know that, but not having any hope of owning your own home, relying on a zero hours contract just so you can afford to eat and looking forward to a retirement age that may well only kick in once you've received your telegram from the Queen/King/Alien Overlord has got to get on your wick a bit eh? Still they've got Snapchat, Facebook, Tinder, Grindr and a million and one other virtual distractions which is quite possibly why there's relatively little dissent, either on the streets or in the arts, right now. Which brings us back to Idles and their ilk. Sadly nothing in music or art will ever shock the world ever again. It's all been done. Everything. Okay so a few grannies in the Home Counties might raise a eyebrow at Miley Cyrus or any one of a thousand female 'pop stars' who pretty much perform as naked as the day they were born (probably 2001 judging by the age of some of 'em...jeez) but it's almost impossible to imagine the kind of furore that, say, Bowie caused when he put his arm around Mick Ronson, or when the Pistols muttered a 'rude word' on tea time telly or when Boy George genuinely confused a nation over his gender ever again. That being said some shouty bollocks sure beats a lot of the soul sappingly dull but perfectly pleasant mass music that's downloaded by the billion so here's to Idles. They're out on tour starting tonight in Bristol with a date in Brum at one of my old stomping grounds, the Hare and Hounds on the 14th. Why not take your mother along? She'll love it.
Friday, March 03, 2017
It's 1994 day on 6 Music today. That was only a few years ago right? What...23 years ago? Good grief. Whoever says 'time flies' isn't lying. Back in 1994 I was working in the Customer Service department of Birmingham Cable Communications (now Virgin Media), Mrs B was a student (and still two years away from being Mrs B actually) and we were saving to buy our first house together so money was, as Mick Hucknall put it, too tight to mention.
We managed the odd gig though (more than we're managing right now but that's partially down to our location and partially down to...er...money being too tight to mention again) and one of the ones that really stands out from 1994 was the Credit To The Nation gig at Edwards on, or around, the same day that the suicide of Kurt Cobain was announced.
If you ever made it to Edwards you'll know it was pretty compact, more than a little moist when it was full and loud as heck. Opening act Collapsed Lung (at least I think they were) were so loud in facts that they reduced my insides to mush before Credit To The Nation came on and Matty Hanson (lead rapper) paid a quick but heartfelt tribute to Kurt before launching into a blistering run through Call It What You Want. Sadly Credit To The Nation failed to sustain their early promise with Matty hitting the 'erb and subsequent releases performing poorly but 23 years on Call It What You Want still sounds pretty damn good though doesn't it eh?
Friday, February 24, 2017
In what could quite possibly be a somewhat ironic title Laetitia Sadier Source Ensemble recently released this hip little track, the kind of thing you'd imagine playing in the background of some suave and sophisticated underground party in Paris c. 1968. For anyone out there unaware of the delightful Ms Sadier she was a key ingredient in Stereolab (quite possibly one of the most underrated bands of all time) who sadly went on an indefinite hiatus back in 2009. That was then though this is now and her Source Ensemble have an album out in March and a tour in April, details ici (didn't know I spoke French did you eh?).
PS: Just for old time's sake here's pretty much all you need to know about economic theory encapsulated in a remarkably jolly 3 minute pop song from the 'lab. Genius.
Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Ramping the camp and 60's kitsch up to at least 11 Marc Almond’s irrepressibly catchy new single and vid’s a teaser for a solo and Soft Cell ‘best of’ due out in May. Apparently he’s recently signed a major label record deal for the first time in 20 years too so it’ll be interesting to see what he and it (Universal) now do together.
As regular readers will know Almond’s one of the few artists I’ve really stuck with since childhood and if you’re not familiar with his full (and boy is it full) back catalogue it’s well worth spending a month or two exploring, not just the hits but also the more obscure stuff from Russian romance songs via Heart on Snow through to a little light industrial madness with Clint Ruin on the Slut EP. Here’s a little taster of both:
Wednesday, February 15, 2017
So what's that all about then eh? And who knew Darth Vader lived in Dawlish?! Well, supporting 18-40 year olds in Dawlish and Devon with any physical illness The Snooky Trust was set up following the death of the founder’s brother Chris Snook aged just 27. For almost a decade the charity ran a shop in Dawlish which closed down just before we moved here (quite possibly for the best given our addiction for...well...pretty much anything from charity shops) but they’ve just announced a brand new fundraising initiative (hence the vid), Snooky Fest, a family friendly festival that’s taking place at Warren Farm (halfway between Dawlish and Dawlish Warren) on Saturday July 15th from 11am to 11pm! Early bird tickets are a mere £13 right here right now and one of the first acts confirmed are Kier who, judging by this little number, are going to be ruddy marvellous.
I’ll keep you up to date as new names are added but as they’re all local wouldn’t it be great if Metronomy, Muse and Joss Stone popped along eh? Just putting that out there...
Monday, February 13, 2017
Fresh from rather brilliantly winding up Sleaford Mods The Day Ends unleash Bitter Lampooning on an unsuspecting world. It's yet another classic slice of uncompromising but goddamn catchy musical mayhem from the twisted minds of Miles Perhower and co with a sing-along refrain that'll be driving you three shades of bonkers for the next month or so. At the very least.
You can catch 'em, along with loads of other bands (although probably not Sleafords Mods I'm guessing) at the next Sunday Xpress for ruddy free on February 19th at Minerva Works in Digbeth. Be there or Bieber.
Thursday, February 09, 2017
Pointless fact of the day, Jamiroquai was the first act I ever saw, well mainly heard actually, at Glastonbury waaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back in 1995. That was in the days when you could buy a ticket the weekend before, roll up on the Friday and still get a decent spot to pitch your tent. Seriously. My how things have changed, I half suspect there are people already queuing up to get onsite for this year's Glasto right now. Anyway, back to the 'story'. It was the Friday afternoon and we'd just got on site ourselves and I was taking a pre-emptive toilet break (believe me the loos were a LOT worse back then) and all I could hear was Jamiroquai yelling something about legalising weed. Talk about preaching to the converted eh? From what I can remember the rest of the set was pretty good, even from inside the loo. This was his Acid Jazz period and remarkably for Glastonbury the ruddy sun was out too so at that precise moment life seemed pretty sweet. Sadly we were hopelessly unprepared for the following three days having taken no food or booze (I know...) with us and just about enough cash to afford a loaf of bread (this was before mobile cashpoints, contactless technology or any other kind of financial voodoo). Not quite sure how we survived but a steady stream of free Lipton Ice Teas (they were doing a promotion at the time) kept us hydrated as the temperatures soared to a skin searing 80 degrees. Ouch.
A mere 22 years on we've got the festival thing pretty much covered (always take more booze than you think you could ever drink in a million years, peanuts are the best fuel in the world and prepare for anything from flash floods through to a plague of locusts and you'll be fine) and after what seems like an eternity (but was actually just a mere 7 years) Jamiroquai's back with a Daft Punk-tastic new single Automaton. Hmmmmm, wonder what it sounds like from inside a portaloo...?
Friday, February 03, 2017
Had that kind of a week eh? Me too. What you need in your ears is a little Dream Pop courtesy of Tourists. Whipping up a Reni-ish drum beat with more 80s than a Rubik’s Cube style synths and lead singer Jamie Giles’ come to bed vocals Tourist’s latest offering is a 6minute and 29second epic that’s pretty much guaranteed to send you places you normally need at least 3 pints of scrumpy to get to. Enjoy!
Thursday, January 26, 2017
Just in case you’ve been wondering where I’ve been for the past few days I’ve been on the move again. Ouch. When you’ve accumulated as much vinyl and CDs as I have (plus various other stuff from Bakelite plugs through to old school reports...why?) moving house is one massive ball ache. On the plus side we now have enough room to unpack everything and hopefully thin things out a little/lot on the negative side I’ll now have to wrestle with the thorny problem of whether to keep that entire collection of My Life Story CD singles or not. Oh bugger. Anyway, for no better reason other than the fact that it’s currently sitting in front of me here’s a track from Minor Threat entitled, appropriately enough given that every single one of them in this house needs redecorating, Screaming At A Wall.
Friday, January 13, 2017
Kicking off 2017 the way 2016 ended (RIP George Michael) comes the sad news that Larry Steinbachek, keyboardist with Bronski Beat, lost his brief battle with cancer last week at just 56. Being the age I am (old) I'm pretty biased when it comes to the music of the 80s but come on, Smalltown Boy is a pretty incredible track right? Somerville left the group in '85 (going on to form The Communards) but Bronski Beat and Steinbachek carried on for a while, notching up another top 3 hit with a new vocalist and then teaming up with Earth Kitt for the fabulously OTT Cha Cha Heels. RIP Larry.
Thursday, January 12, 2017
It's rare that I stumble across something that I'm pretty much prepared to bet that you, dear reader, haven't heard before but here's an offering from Vienna's finest Ankathie Koi that I found trawling through You Tube. Coming across a little like La Roux's quirky Austrian cousin this is pretty much pop perfection. The best thing I've heard this year by a mile (okay so it's only January 12th but still). Enjoy!
Friday, January 06, 2017
Will they, won’t they and will anyone really give a fucKLF either way? I’m guessing that few people under the age of 30 will know much about the KLF/JAMS/K Foundation (or any of the other names that Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty briefly traded under) but for a year or two at the dawn of the 90s they were arguably one of the more interesting propositions in pop/dance/art. After selling millions of records they went out in a blaze of ‘gory’, firing machine guns over the Brits audience and then dumping dead sheep outside the event. Not content with this they then allegedly took all of the proceeds from their record sales, a million quid no less, and promptly burnt the lot. I say allegedly as there’s some doubt as to whether they really did but, having met Drummond and brought up the subject (yes I know but I just couldn’t help it) I’m pretty sure they did. Having done all that they then deleted their entire back catalogue and disappeared into the nether regions of the art world where they’ve remained ever since. But now, a mere 23 years after their last significant release, they (in their Justified Ancients of Mu Mu guise) may be about to return. Apparently they placed a self imposed moratorium on any activity 23 years ago (the number 23 may be significant...something to do with Discordianism, a self-declared religion based on the premise that discord and chaos are the building blocks of life and/or The Illuminatus! Trilogy) and now they’re free to return but to do what is, typically for a group that thrives on messing with heads, as yet unclear. One thing that’s certain is that music and art could well do with a bit of a K-ick up the arse right now. Here's a quick reminder of some of the KLF/JAMS's greatest moments.
Tuesday, January 03, 2017
Happy New Year and all that jazz.
Finally got round to watching the Jobriath doc over Christmas and, as perhaps you'd expect, it's a pretty heartbreaking tale. To come out as GAY with a capital G A and Y back in the early 70s clearly limited Jobriath's mainstream appeal and with manager Jerry Brandt hyping him as the greatest thing since...well...ever...the story was unlikely to end well. Perhaps the saddest thing of all though (okay not quite the saddest, that was Jobriath's death from AIDS at just 36) was the revelation that his father ordered all of his belongings, demo tapes, costumes, scores etc to be destroyed before his friends could rescue any of it. Who knows what gems were lost eh? Still at least we've got beauties like this, The Faces meets Queen meets Bowie. Genius.