Thursday, February 26, 2015
Monday, February 23, 2015
Yes Brothers and Sisters, let me hear you say “Hare and Hounds on Monday March 9th!” Let me hear you say “Tickets available from our good friends at Birmingham Promoters!” And let me hear you say “Would you like a double G&T?!” Hell, it’s worth a try. Anyway, if you’ve not heard BC Camplight before you’re in for a treat. Take a dash of Brian Wilson, add a pinch of John Grant and whip in just a hint of Smokey Robinson et voila.
It’s no secret that ol' BC (aka Brian Christinzio) has seen his fair share of troubled times over the past few years with addictions to drugs and booze culminating in his retirement from the music biz and, I’m guessing, very nearly planet earth itself. Invited over by a fan from his ‘home’, an abandoned church in Philadelphia to Manchester in 2011 he slowly got back into writing and playing again with the first fruits of this creative rebirth being the heart shattering new album How To Die In The North. Highly recommended.
Friday, February 20, 2015
Not just a festival more (apologies to the Manics here) a ‘design for life’ Indietracks is possibly the friendliest, loveliest, cutest (insert your favourite superlative here) event around. Focussing on...go on...guess...yep, ‘Indie’ music there’s always an impressively wide range of styles on offer, from fragile folk to thrashy punk and all stations along the way (2013 review here and 2014 review over here).
The first acts for this year’s festival (24th – 26th July at The Midland Railway, Ripley, Derbyshire) have just been announced and I’m chuff chuffed to see that The Go! Team are on the bill along with, amongst many others, Cinerama (David Gedge of The Wedding Present’s side project) and Euros Childs. Keep your eyes glued (not literally, it stings terribly) on the festival’s website over here and while you’re at it snap up an early bird ticket right now for just £68 (available until 5pm on Sunday May 3rd)!
Thursday, February 19, 2015
This Sunday sees another instalment of legendary cult spoken word / music 'happening' Sunday Xpress held at Digbeth's finest The Adam and Eve. Presided over by the larger than life Big Bren there's an open mic slot from 4pm with sets from Giant-Elf Fist and Betty and the Id after 7pm...and the whole ruddy thing's as free as a bird!
Glaswegian three piece Ace City Racers have just released a rather fine double A side single (vinyl...it’s the future I tells ya). Different Angle has a neat Smiths-ish swagger with a little punk and glam tossed in for good measure whilst Wilko is a bullshit free 60 seconds or so sliver of indiepunk perfection paying homage in both name and feel to the legendary cancer kicking Feelgood bassist Mr W. Johnson Esq. I have a feeling the man himself would heartily approve.
Different Angle / Wilko is out now on DIY Records right here! (you can download it too but where’s the fun in that eh?)
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Miss Halliwell / The Crooked Hooks / The Nature Centre @ Sandwell Snooker Centre, Bearwood, Saturday February 14th
All across the world couples are sitting opposite each other in some posh restaurant somewhere, paying £40 for a bowl of pasta and the price of a small family car for a bottle of ‘Sham’-pagne. Meanwhile we’re at...er...Sandwell Snooker Centre, downing pints of M&B Mild. Who says romance is dead eh? To be fair there’s a good reason, another ‘local’ Miss Halliwell show, a band I’ve been in love with almost as long as I’ve been married, give or take a decade or so.
First up though The Nature Centre, kicking off with a little Syd era Floyd meets quality indie pop, all wrapped up in lovely Brummieness. Bonus points for calling one song BRMB and including the lyric “You’re not from Venus...you’re from Solihull” in another track and a special gold star for the lady Nature Centre-ist (I was going to say naturist but that’s something altogether different...) who seemed to be able to play pretty much every instrument under the sun. A worthy addition to fellow Brummie indie poppers Misty’s Big Adventure, The Dollcanoes and Kate Goes (we have a sneaky feeling the lady Nature Centre-ist was/is in Kate Goes too).
Next The Crooked Hooks dished up everything from a little alt-boogie through to prog punk courtesy of newbie Cokehead. Gloriously raucous and ramshackle in places any band that has a song called Walt Disney’s Cryogenically Frozen Head has to be worth a listen, right? Highlights included the string bending genius of Factory Filth, the lyrics ‘punched out’ like some huge great metal pressing machine in a suitably staccato style.
“With power comes responsibility” intones Miles Perhower, Miss Halliwell’s lead vocalist and visionary, as he appears as if from nowhere sporting what looks like a Mexican wrestling mask and wearing a heavy overcoat. At this point I’d normally witter on (blah, blah, blah) and write a standard review but reading back through my notes, written with the benefit of a drink or three, somehow makes a lot more sense this time...
“Miles – leaping savant, soothsayer, sage, demon and goblin. Band gelling brilliantly. It’s the future. It’s subtle, it’s complex, it’s simple, it’s fucking HEARTFELT. In a world of imposters Miss Halliwell shines the light. EVERY SET SEEMS FRESH. Miss Halliwell wanders the dangerous line between disaster and perfection better than anyone. Christ...an old woman invades the gig from the bar outside and starts heckling the band...”who invited their nan?” asks Miles. Miss Halliwell...like meeting a proper character in a bar. The ranters and ravers that somehow make sense. It’s psych, it’s indie, it’s prog, it’s x and y and everything in between. “Don’t give into the world, Everyone will die someday. Don’t capitulate”. Reach Out (I’ll Be There)...the heart attack cover version...a barfly serenading his world at 3.28 am. “Your life is an illusion. DIMWIT!” Hmmmm...shit...so true. Miles, the only frontman to put on his jacket and coat onstage before exiting the building as swiftly as he arrived. No encore, none of the ‘hits’, leave us wanting more...and more”.
That, pretty much, is what I scribbled down...or at least that’s what I could make out (I struggle to read my own handwriting at the best of times and there was a lot more swearing in the original version plus some words that look like Russian...hmmm) but perhaps it goes some way to capturing the essence of a Miss Halliwell gig...or then again maybe not. Either way you’ll have your chance to find out at their next gig at The Sunflower Lounge on Saturday March 7th or, if you fancy a weekend away, they’ve been booked to play two nights at The Waterhole in Amsterdam on June 4th and 5th. Failing that the digital release of Miss Halliwell’s ‘Best of’ album, The Perhower and the Gory Years 2010-2014, is out now at all good record shops...er...no...laptops probably...or whatever you lovely people use these days.
Friday, February 13, 2015
Sad news today about the passing of Steve Strange, one of the driving forces behind the entire New Romantic movement and, by all accounts, a real character in his heyday. He'd been through hell over the years with a drug addiction and clearly that must have been a factor behind his sudden death from a heart attack at 55 but still, gone too soon and all that, just when he seemed to be getting his life back together too. Who knows what Visage (the group he formed with Midge Ure, Rusty Egan and others back in 78) might have achieved if things had worked out but they did leave us with these little beauties (slightly spookily the last vid seems to have been filmed in Egypt where Strange died)...
Thursday, February 12, 2015
Whilst Phil Spector famously had his ‘wall of sound’, JOHN have clearly plumped more for a ‘fist of noise’ on new single Hommes D’affaires, 2minutes and 44 seconds of blisteringly paced, throat shredding bombardment. Lo fi cymbals that sound like they’ve been recorded in a lock up garage somewhere give way to the bastard offspring of Motorhead’s Ace of Spades and Sabbath’s Paranoid. Recommended!