Thursday, July 20, 2017
Add N to X, Arab Strap, Catatonia, Idlewild, Space, Bis, Mistys Big Adventure, Everything Everything, Ten Benson, King Adora, Islet, O Children, Acid Mothers Temple, Editors, Pull Tiger Tail, Doll and the Kicks, Miles Hunt, Off The Cuff Festivals...the list of great bands and entertaining nights I've had at The Flapper goes on and on. Sadly it looks as though one of Brum's best loved venues of the last 20 years or so might be going the way of so many small venues these days. Ruddy flats. I despair, I really do. It happened in London and now it's happening in Brum. Rip out the heart and soul of the City in exchange for rabbit hutch sized flats that can be flogged for a fortune to poor sods who won't be able to afford to go out - even if there were any venues left - 'cos they're paying £2000 a month for their mortgage. Agggggggggggghhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!
Anyway, there's a petition to stop this madness right here. Please sign it. Thank you.
Monday, July 17, 2017
Having had a little hand in putting on a few festivals in my time I know just how much hard work, planning, money...more hard work...blood, sweat and tears goes into them, not just on the day itself but the many months beforehand too. So even before getting on site I was stuffed full of admiration for the organisers of Snooky Fest for getting to this stage.
Pretty soon it became clear they’d nailed it too, from the lovely handpainted signs all on the way into the site through to the mix of stalls, number of loos (oh so important for a festival), security and sound (big up to the sound dudes who did a cracking job all day). Atmosphere’s key at a festival and Snooky Fest just felt right from start to finish. In between the crowd were treated to a wonderful mix of music from the main stage’s opening act Brother Of The Walrus’s funk filled classics packed set right through to Eventine’s brilliantly eclectic mix of covers climaxing – in true festival style – with some fireworks.
There were many highlights but personal picks of the bunch were Keir and Seven Cities, the first coming from Bristol the second...well...apparently they’re from some place called Dawlish. Past single Troubled Mind’s a blues rock belter with Muse-tastic guitar solos and enough punch to make Royal Blood sound positively anaemic.
They’ve got a good half dozen equally strong songs up their sleeves too though and with Black Sabbath now seemingly on a permanent sabbatical I’d like to think that Seven Cities could soon be filling their stadium filled hole. A seriously impressive performance.
They’ve got a good half dozen equally strong songs up their sleeves too though and with Black Sabbath now seemingly on a permanent sabbatical I’d like to think that Seven Cities could soon be filling their stadium filled hole. A seriously impressive performance.
Equally strong but adding a touch of soul and even gospel to the rock mix was Keir. Imagine if Freddie Mercury and Prince had got it on, the resulting lovechild might well have sounded a little like this. Good grief he’s good. Prowling the stage, raising his hand to the heavens and beating his chest like a man possessed during set highlight Squeeze Me Keir’s already a star, trust me, and once the rest of the world catches up you’ll be seeing him on the Pyramid Stage at Glasto.
Other highlights? Oh go on then...deep breath...singer sonwriter Cloudi’s cover of Lana Del Rey’s Blue Jeans, Datura’s sax-ual cover of Horace Andy’s Skylarking, Wax Cylinders Reef-ish West Country rock, Ten Bob Notes Socks and Sandals ska smasher, Sarah Yeo’s West Country meets West Coast Roadie, Ollie Stephens giving Gregory Porter a run for his money on Don’t Lose Your Steam, N.U.M.B’s marvellous mashing up of reggae, hip hop and dub, the punky, spunky Bunny Boilers getting the kids united Sham 69 style, Vivid Vague bringing a little Slits-ish attitude via self penned track Dolly and Eventine’s riotous Uptown Funk. Thanks also to Ventons Cider for keeping us suitably refreshed (ahem) throughout the day with some of the finest pints this side of, well, anywhere.
It would be remiss of me not to mention the whole purpose of Snooky Fest and that’s to raise dosh for The Snooky Trust which helps out people with physical illnesses between the ages of 18-40. We’ve not been in Dawlish long but it’s clear they do some ruddy great work and hopefully the profits from this year’s inaugural Snooky Fest will go on to help many more people and – fingers firmly crossed – bring this wonderful heart warming, booty shaking, good time vibe filled event back next year.
Thursday, July 13, 2017
The rain's done one, the temperature's rising and the sun's ruddy well shining too. Oh yes...and it's now just under 48 hours to Snooky Fest! You've missed out on the online sales but there may still be a few physical tickets at Curios in Dawlish or hopefully you can just pitch up on the day and pay £20 on the gate (as with all events there's a limit on numbers so if you want to get in get there at dawn's crack). As well as N.U.M.B there are more than a dozen other acts on the main stage (plus some special acoustic sets), here's just a selection to get you in the mood:
(trust me this dude will be MASSIVE)
As well as the music there's food, booze and stalls plus you'll be helping improve the lives of young people with a range of physical illnesses rather than lining the pockets of Live Nation or some other soulless corporate behemoths! Yeah...rock 'n' roll...stick it to the man...down with skool...start calling 'Snickers' Marathons again etc etc.
Wednesday, July 12, 2017
Mixing up rock, disco and pop and putting on some blistering live shows Men Women and Children should have ended up soundtracking a generation of good times and headlining Glastonbury. For some inexplicable reason the band's record label seemingly failed to get behind their debut album and they fizzled out before the world had the chance to dance its tits off to some of the greatest party music ever made. It's never too late though, play the hell out of their tunes, run up to random strangers and start singing the songs, share this post with at least one million people and maybe, just maybe, the band will get through to as many men, women and, yes...you've guessed it...I'm nothing if not predictable...children that they deserved to the first time around.
Friday, July 07, 2017
Just over a week to go until the very first Snooky Fest so if you haven't got your tickets yet - a mere £20 too - snap 'em up now! You can book online right here or if you're kickin' it old skool and like to have a physical ticket to sniff and rub against various parts of your anatomy you can pop into Curios on The Strand in Dawlish.
There's a great line up of bands, food and drink, stuff for the kids and grown ups who still think they're kids (that'll be most of us then) and apparently even the sun's been booked. Plus the whole shebang's raising money for The Snooky Trust which provides help and support for 18 - 40 years olds with any form of physical illness. Have fun, do good, drink cider...lots of cider...what's not to love eh?
To get you in the mood here's a little vid from someone who's set to be one of the many highlights of the day, Keir, who recently wowed the crowds at Glasto...
Thursday, July 06, 2017
Monday, July 03, 2017
Having learnt our lesson last year we pitched up at just after 9am to ensure we got in on time for the first act. We weren’t alone. Sensible souls even brought some booze with them to help pass the time, one group even had a seemingly never ending supply of sparkling wine and fresh orange but we made do with a plastic bottle full of red and a lukewarm sausage roll. Who says the age of elegance has passed eh?
As the gates opened at 10am and we got in without the 75 minute delay suffered back in 2016 we had a couple of hours to kill before the first band. Pint of cider? Don’t mind if we do (I’ll get to the music in a minute...the day wasn’t just an orgy of alcohol...honestly). First up From The Jam (see, told you) and one of two bands today who are still doing their thang despite the original lead singer being AWOL. Actually in the case of From The Jam the drummer’s not involved either so it’s just Bruce Foxton (from the Jam...see what they did there?) but vocalist Russell Hastings does a damn good Weller (sound and looks wise) and first track That’s Entertainment pretty much summed up the entire set.
Next up Big Country who sadly lost their lead singer, Stuart Adamson, not to another band or solo career but suicide back in 2001. Having reformed briefly in 2007 and then again in 2010 they’ve been through a few line up changes but now seem pretty settled. Some chap called Simon Hough’s on lead vocals and after one or two minor sound issues (far too quiet Mr/Mrs Soundman) he more than held his own against the band’s signature (Hadrian’s) wall of guitars sound.
He may be wearing a lot more these days but Imagination’s Leee John’s still a nifty mover and that vocal’s almost as high as it was back then, especially on a goosebump raising acappela intro to the band’s biggest hit Just An Illusion. Not quite sure what the Storm Troopers were doing in the pit during Body Talk, who knows maybe Darth Vader was a closet disco and soul fan? Good to hear some new material too, apparently Do It Right Now is currently number one in the UK soul chart!? Speaking of ‘Bugger me backwards I never knew that’ moments who knew that Katrina (of ‘and the Waves’ fame) wrote Going Down to Liverpool famously covered by The Bangles? Not me. She informed us that it helped get her and the band signed though and not long afterwards came Walking On Sunshine which managed to get a fair number of the elderly audience (I can say that, I’m almost elderly myself) up and dancing.
I’d forgotten how fast the changeovers were at Let’s Rock once the house band Retrobates were safely installed so I was in the loo when Toyah took to the stage with a rousing Good Morning Universe (it was afternoon but we’ll let her off). Her slightly operatic brand of 80s punk was massive for a few years and despite nudging 60 big hit I Want To Be Free (released on my 11th birthday fact fans) was delivered with just as much snarling screw you attitude as she had as a 23 year old.
Right, how do you deliver a hits packed set when you...er...only really had one hit? Okay that’s slightly unfair but do many of us remember I’m A Man Not A Boy? Anyway, Chesney Hawkes didn’t let that get in the way of things, knocking out a crowd pleasing mix of covers kicking off with Summer of ‘69 and including Mr Brightside and I Predict A Riot before climaxing (steady ladies) with a triumphant The One and Only which unsurprisingly went down the proverbial storm.
From pop gold to a bit of a neglected soul diamond in my humble opinion in the form of Jaki Graham who...wait for it...stepped right up...and delivered one of the sets of the day. Boy that lady has soul and more great songs than perhaps you remember including the aforementioned Step Right Up, Could It Be I’m Falling In Love and Set Me Free. It was her Ain’t Nobody cover (which reached the US Dance Charts number one slot in 1994) that stole the show though. Now that the late great Sharon Jones has joined that glorious soul club in the sky if the Dap Kings are looking for someone else to team up with Jaki Graham should be the first person they call. How about it chaps?
Fellow Midlander (Graham was born in Brum...as was Toyah of course...and me...and seemingly most of the inhabitants of Devon) Hazel O’Connor might not seem to share much in common with Chesney Hawkes but both he and she starred in film pretty much at the start of their careers. In O’Connor’s case it was Breaking Glass, which I can’t recall seeing, but I do remember loving the songs including today’s set highlights D Days and the sultry noir pop of Will You replete with a truly stunning sax solo.
With barely time to pause for breath Jason Donovan set several thousand middle aged womens’ hearts (and quite possibly other organs) a-fluttering again, although rubbing his nipples and repeating the words ‘Grndr’ over and over again may well have got some of the men going too, but we’d best not go into that eh? Ahem. From one pop pin up to another. I had a bit of a thing for Belinda Carlisle back in the day, I think it was that Heaven Is A Place On Earth video that did it but more importantly she put out some truly great pop records, Live Your Life Be Free, We Want The Same Thing (I don’t think you do m’luv but a man can dream), Circle In The Sand and of course Heaven Is A Place On Earth which today started off acoustically before well and truly putting the ‘rock’ into Let’s Rock.
Still with me? Good ‘cos Howard Jones would Like To Get To Know You Well. I have a lot of respect for Howard, he seems a good (vegetarian) egg and continued to write and record new stuff when a lot of his peers traded purely on past glories but at the same time he knows what the crowd at a show like this wants and he duly dished up the hits, albeit with a few tweaks notably New Song’s Powderham Castle / South West specific lyrics and the banging Euro house climax to set closer Things Can Only Get Better.
As a number of the crowd gently stewed in a combination of booze and sun (the weather was most un-festival-like all day) Spandau Ballet’s Tony Hadley joined ‘em sipping from a generous glass of Jack Daniel’s in between playing his own hits and one or two impressive cover version too, opening up with Bowie’s Life on Mars and “For Fred, my friend and inspiration” a suitably bombastic Somebody To Love. I could’ve done without Kings Of Leon’s The One but that’s more down to my lack of enthusiasm for anything they’ve ever recorded or done rather than Hadley’s rendition of it...but still...there are much better songs to showcase Tone’s voice than this one and he saved the best till last. A solid Gold performance all round from one of 80’s pop’s most instantly likeable and down to earth stars.
Finally – and after a bit of a wait – Level 42. Not sure if there were some technical difficulties but the set didn’t get going until almost 9.45pm leaving the band with just 45 minutes to jazz-funk the place to bits. Good grief, I reckon Mark King could knock out a 45 minute slap bass solo on his own. On the plus side it meant the set was all killer and no filler Level 42 classics a go go with Livin’ It Up (The Sun Goes Down) soundtracking the sunset (neat eh?), neglected classic Starchild (sung as ever by the falsetto-ly fabulous Mike Lindup) and a Something About You/Lessons In Love medley.
Okay so Let’s Rock Exeter won’t win the award for the coolest festival around, some of the sets are a bit blink and you’ll miss ‘em and maybe Level 42’s set closer Sons and Daughters should perhaps be renamed Grandsons and Granddaughters given the average age of the audience and artists but it’s all bloody good fun, the crowd are generally well behaved (one or two drunken dickheads but that’s life) and for a touch under £50 you’d frankly be hard pressed to have more fun with your clothes on.
Friday, June 30, 2017
Pink Grease one day, Mel & Kim the next. And why not eh? SAW might not be the most fashionable production team in history but they sure as hell knew how to knock up a pop tune or two and Mel & Kim's Showing Out was arguably one of their best. Given that I'll be spending a good half of my weekend watching a load of 80s acts do their thing (sadly not Mel & Kim as Mel passed away in 1990 aged just 23) at Let's Rock Exeter it seems a pretty appropriate Friday afternoon choice too. Whatever you're up to...er...get fresh.
Wednesday, June 28, 2017
Coming straightoutta Sheffield but clearly channelling prime era glamtastic Bowie, T-Rex and New York Dolls with a little extra electro indie cool Pink Grease could also cut the mustard live as their truly incendiary Bar Academy show demonstrated way back in 2005 (I think I've still got some deeply ingrained sweat somewhere near my nether regions from that night). I loved 'em so, somewhat predictably, they fizzled out having barely made a dent in the musical landscape. I'll admit that I've not listened to them for a few years but revisiting some of the 'should have been' hits I'm frankly even more staggered that they didn't really get anywhere. There's a distinct lack of glam punk around right now, mainly 'cos most of the originators have snuffed it, and maybe there simply isn't the appetite for it but personally I'd smear myself in Pink Grease all over again right here, right now (okay, yes I know what 'Pink Grease' is so maybe I wouldn't but you get the picture...actually, hopefully you don't). Anyway, enjoy. The Pink Grease revival starts here.
PS: Pink Grease's lead singer Rory is now in a band called White Witches, also highly recommended. Come on people what's wrong with you?! Enough fucking Elbow and Ed Sheeran. Agggghhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!!
Friday, June 23, 2017
"Don't give up, don't give in, don't let the bastards win", this mantra's at the tattered and torn heart of False Grails' latest, Trench Art, a musical punch in the gut that chews up the best of Motörhead and Gallows into a bloody pulp, takes a quick swig of math rock meths and spits out the remains. Raw, primal and lyrically gut wrenchingly honest it's pretty much the perfect soundtrack to what are, let's face it, some pretty fucked up times. Play it 'til your ears drop off.
Thursday, June 22, 2017
You know what, if we ever needed a revolution it's right now. Trouble is there's no one really up to the job is there eh? I reckon parliament should be scrapped altogether and the House of Commons turned into a giant Spoonies. All those in favour say 'mine's a pint of Old Rosie'.
Anyway, in the absence of a real revolution the lovely people behind Sunday Xpress are back with their own vision of utopia this Sunday (June 25th) - great bands and performers, a platform for talent new and old, a supportive buffoon free audience and all for the bargain price of £0. Highlights include the rather wonderful Matthew Edwards and the Unfortunates and self professed 'Birmingham's least favourite band' Shaun Gambowl Walsh and the Plagiarists.
The whole thing kicks off at Centrala (Unit 4, Minerva Works, 158 Fazeley Street, Digbeth) at 5pm.
Up the workers! Free chips for everyone! Two legs good, four legs better!
Wednesday, June 21, 2017
I really don't like this day. The day when roughly 200,000 people begin to descend on Worthy Farm for five days of fun in the sun. Okay, so normally it pisses it down and when that's not happening some drunk bloke's having a slash on your tent but still, some of the best days of my life have been at music festivals and, having done 10 Glastos, I still get more than a twinge of regret that I'm not heading down there today. Of course I could join the million or so who try to grab a ticket each year and I can remember doing just that when the festival really started getting popular in the noughties but the first time we went (1995, I did a mixtape - awww bless me - featuring some some of the hits of the day, hence the Dodgy clip above) we just wandered into HMV in Brum a few weeks beforehand and picked up a pair of tickets for £65 each. I've not looked for a while but I suspect you're now looking at £250 per ticket with all the ruddy booking fees on top, plus food and drink for 5 days, plus travel down there, plus money for 'shrooms from the dodgy hippy lurking in the hedge, in short Glasto can easily cost £600 a head and that's some serious wonga. It's big too. Massive in fact. And with that comes the problem of getting from A to B to see a particular band. Allow an hour or two and you might just make it. Oh yes, and there's the age old dilemma of two/three/four or more bands that you want to see being on at the same time. Given that Glasto has more stages than toilets (well it certainly felt like that back in the day) you can spend most of the festival just spinning around in a daze. Having said all that...damn, damn, damn...I STILL wish I was there. Bollocks. Oh well, tonight I'll have to make do with a BBQ and a Dodgy CD...I may even wee in a bucket and charge myself £9.99 for a can of Coke for that truly authentic festival experience. If you're going, have a blast.
Friday, June 16, 2017
In the off chance that you've not heard it yet here's the latest from Arcade Fire which, as wiser souls than me, have pointed out sounds a little like the love child of David Bowie and ABBA. Of course these days most of us can get pretty much 'everything now', which as someone who grew up in the days when shops closed early on a Wednesday and didn't open at all on a Sunday (seriously kids), is still something of a novelty. Factor in the internet and I suspect there's very little that you can't get whenever you want it, anything from a suppository through to a thermonuclear missile (one careful owner from new). Probably best you don't confuse the two.
Wednesday, June 14, 2017
Okay, this may be a slightly contentious one as they formed in the 90s, had some success (but bugger all compared to what they deserved in my humble opinion, hence their inclusion here) and are still going today but my blog, my rules. So there. Besides if this gibberish brings just one more person to Misty's door then I'll bend those rules until they shatter like Theresa May's majority.
The first time I saw them was probably very early noughties, possibly even 2000/2001 at The Flapper (and Firkin as it was then) and I fell so utterly in love with the whole kit and caboodle that I ended up buying two copies of their self made debut CD. And for someone as...er...financially restrained - as me that's some praise. Fusing jazz, pop, ska and turntablism (in the early days at least) with that all too rare ingredient X their lead singer - Grandmaster Gareth's - doleful ruminations on love, life and the music biz (amongst many other topics) manage to be thought provoking, catchy and fun (albeit grumpy) which really ain't an easy trick to pull of. And have you ever seen Erotic Volvo in action? You know what, it's often relatively straightforward to compare one band to another but with Misty's...go on...I defy you. Anyway stop reading this and whether you're new to them or have simply forgotten how great they were/are just cop a listen to these gems.
Monday, June 12, 2017
I still can't get used to it you know. Really. I mean what on earth is going on? Not so long ago CDs and DVDs were the shiny future and priced accordingly. Now charity shops can't give the damn things away. 99p seems to be a pretty standard price for CD albums but I've paid as little as 25p for them. 25p. For a CD. Good grief. Anyway in an attempt to dispel any thoughts of possibly the most depressing and pointless election in history I trawled the chazzas over the weekend and came up with a rather tasty Japanese import / export copy of a Shibuya-kei (nope, me neither) pioneers Pizzicato Five album for 99p together with various DVD boxsets, also for 99p, to add to my growing pile of things that I may or may not get round to watching one day.
PS: Apparently the election cost us, the Great British taxpayer, around £130 million to hold, which would buy every single person who bother to vote a pint of Old Rosie and a packet of nuts at Spoonies. I know what I'd rather have had...
Tuesday, June 06, 2017
You may not know the name, or perhaps like me until fairly recently you've heard of him but not heard anything by him, but Vin Garbutt who passed away this morning was arguably one of English folk music's finest. Winner of 2001's Best Live Act at the Radio 2 Folk Awards his live shows were legendary, combining comedy and chat with Vin's pure and powerful vocals and lyrics that - true to some of folk's most potent purveyors - weren't afraid to tackle the social and political issues of the day.
I had the very great pleasure of meeting him after a stunningly good gig at The Red Lion back in 2012 (http://thehearingaid.blogspot.co.uk/2012/01/vin-garbutt-jess-morgan-red-lion.html) and a more humble, genial bloke you simply couldn't wish to meet. He'd already had health problems for a few years by then but he sang with the freshness and passion of a man a quarter of his age and continued playing live until fairly recently. A heart valve replacement op back in April seemed to go well but sadly a full recovery just wasn't meant to be. RIP Vin.
Thursday, June 01, 2017
Oh dear world, what were you thinking when you failed to fall utterly head over heels in love with the glorious chamber pop of The Miserable Rich? I first came across them by accident in a pub in Brighton during The Great Escape after watching Doll & The Kicks (who'll probably get their own entry in this occasional series) and, intrigued by the line up of instruments stuck around to hear what they sounded like. I'm not generally one for blubbing in public - and maybe it was partly the emotion of being in a pub rather than an office on a Thursday afternoon - but within seconds of lead singer James opening his mouth I started to feel distinctly moist in the eye department.
It's the combination of that voice - think a world weary angel with its wings clipped, lyrics - love, life, loss and everything in between and music - lush strings that get right into your heart and soul, that makes/made The Miserable Rich so, so great. Perhaps it's entirely fitting that they didn't make it? Perhaps it's the ultimate example of art imitating life? Whatever, I remain convinced that The Miserable Rich are/were (they're currently on a indefinite hiatus) one of the greatest bands of the last 20 years. Have a listen and if you agree maybe you'll let 'em know eh (https://www.facebook.com/themiserablerich/)? It's the least we can do.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
Do your ears and soul a favour and play this as loud as whatever device you're reading this on can go. Hell, crank it up to 11. Punk, post punk, math-rock and classic rock (think Motorhead on speed) collide with more force than that Large Hadron thingy. You can catch the full on False Grails experience at Muthers Studio on June 16th too. Blood, sweat and quite possibly tears guaranteed.
Thursday, May 25, 2017
Attention Brum based peeps, Sunday Xpress is dishing up another slice/slab of the good stuff this Sunday featuring reggae flavoured punksters Dubrokkaz and Balaban and the Bald Illegals. And...yes...once again...it's all ruddy free. Be there or be Theresa May.
PS: Okay I won't be there sadly 'cos I live a million miles away, but I'll be there in spirit.
PPS: No, that doesn't make me Theresa May.
PPPS: Here's some Dubrokkaz to get you in the mood. For Sunday Xpress that is...not Theresa May...perish the thought.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
If I had £1 for every band I'd raved about but which failed to get anywhere I'd probably have enough to pay the massive onslaught of taxes coming our way whichever of the lame duck political parties gets in. Lord help us all, what a pitiful shower of shite. Anyway, on to more pleasant things. I dug out a copy of the Dogs Die in Hot Cars over the weekend and spank me sideways if it isn't a lost classic. Formed in Scotland back in 1997 they enjoyed an all too brief period of success in the early noughties before several members left the group and they abandoned the second album at demo stage. Still, we do have the debut and highlight Godhopping, the bastard son of XTC, Talking Heads and Franz Ferdinand. Enjoy.
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.