Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Indietracks Compilation 2014

This weekend it's Indietracks, simply one of the loveliest festivals around, and as is traditional they've put together a compilation featuring pretty much every band on this year's bill. You can download the whole ruddy thing for just £2 with all profits going to The Midland Railway Trust, hosts of the Indietracks Festival.

Tickets for the Festival itself (£72) are available here too!

Here are a few vids to get you in the mood...

Friday, July 18, 2014

Kiran Leonard / The Shalfonts / Tom Peel @ Hare and Hounds, Wednesday 16th July 2014

Hailed as a genius in the making when his track Dear Lincoln and its accompanying album Bowler Hat Soup was released last year the then 17 year old Kieran Leonard was even touted as a spiritual heir to the relentlessly inventive Frank Zappa. Hmmmmm. Would tonight’s gig be more a case of Hot Rats or cold turkey though?

First up though, and rather brilliantly mis-billed as Top Peel on a sign downstairs directing gig goers to the right room, Mr TomPeel. Top Peel’s not a bad nom de plume for him actually, given his ability to move, amuse and, just occasionally, bewilder audiences...often all at the same time. Tonight was indeed, ‘top’ Peel though, with a first half of acoustic numbers including the thought provoking Salt and Pepper (you’ll never look at condiments the same way) and the sweetly yearning love song to Laura (Half French dontcha know). Act II saw Peel wrestle with a series of increasingly improbable musical props, beginning with a relatively modest Tascam Four Track (‘liberated’ from a school cupboard) and culminating in one of those portable TVs with a built in video player (via a reel to reel tape recorder strapped to his front) showing a film of Tom’s headless dancing bod. Quite how he manages to do all this whilst still carrying a tune and dancing around without rupturing himself is, quite frankly, one of the wonders of our time. Endlessly entertaining no matter how often you witness it tonight he really was on Tom...whoops...top form.  

Next up, The Shalfonts, fronted by the exotically accented (well Norwegian sounds pretty exotic compared with Castle Bromwich) Bryn Bowen. He’s a star this bloke, putting in the kind of bug eyed, head thrashing performance, punctuated with laconic pause laden between song ‘banter’ that makes Jack Dee sound upbeat. There’s a healthy dose of US alt rock to many of their tracks, a little early REM here, some prime era Pixies there plus perhaps a touch of anti-folk hero Dufus (aka Seth Faergolzia) in Bryn’s vocal delivery and ‘giving it all ya got’ performance. Plus they’re signed to a record label called Giant Manilow, what’s not to love about that eh? Check out Netman and Bird from brand new album Grant Mansions for a decent slice of Shalfonts pie.

Shoeless and wearing odd socks, one of which sported a large hole revealing a couple of his toes, Kiran Leonard looks like the kind of dude who’s happiest spending all of his time playing music (as opposed to shopping for new socks say), which is something he seems to have been doing since he popped into the world a mere 18 years ago. This would explain tonight’s set which gleefully plucked stuff from pretty much every musical genre in history, plus a few that Kiran himself is no doubt working on in his bedroom. Eclectic’s too narrow a word. Just as you think you’ve got him nailed down as a post punker, he goes a little proggy, then folky...no jazzy...no rocky...no synthy...agggghhhh! It’s no good, labels just won’t stick to him which has to be good thing, right? Maybe we’re seeing the first signs here of an access all areas (of music) generation who’ve grown up with a pretty much limitless ocean of tunes and aren’t afraid to show it? Live Leonard’s vocals are every bit as 21st century schizoid as the music, veering from the soaring beauty of Jeff Buckley to the gutter sneer of Johnny Rotten and on to the grizzled growl of Beefheart, sometimes all in the same song. This evening Dear Lincoln got an airing, thrashier and rawer than the version that’s wowed the 6 Music crowd it still came across as one of his more commercial tracks, as opposed to Oakland Highball, an everyday story of a bloke abducted by aliens, shown the horror of the world projected into a chalice of water and then returned to earth only to top himself unable to bear what was effectively the weight of the world on his shoulders. It sounds even nuttier than that in reality, the sort of thing that Beck may have come up with during an acid trip party with Arial Pink. It’s the epic Geraldo’s Farm that steals the set though. One of the more coherent examples of Kiran’s genre splicing it’s underpinned by a simple repeated synth motif that somehow holds everything together as Leonard and the band (all of whom are seemingly equally fine musicians) spin off in all sorts of directions like a musical catherine wheel. One for the beard strokers, head bangers and prog munchers to unite over. 

Where does he go from here? Anywhere he damn well likes. Old gits are constantly bemoaning the lack of genuine musical innovators, freaks and weirdos these days and, to be fair, they’re/we’re often pretty much on the money but you get the distinct sense that Kiran and co really could develop into the kind of band we’ve perhaps not seen since Zappa’s heyday. The Grandsons of Invention anyone?        

Thursday, July 17, 2014

This is what we're like...B-side Brum song listing revealed

Well the votes are in, the debates have been had and a virtual album of Brum’s best musical moments compiled. At a star studded launch in Birmingham’s Glee Club here’s the selection that was unveiled:

Apache Indian – Arranged Marriage (1992)
Hailing from Handsworth, Birmingham, one of the earliest UK artists of Asian origin to make an impact on the singles charts.

Joan Armatrading – Love & Affection (1976)
Only UK Top 10 hit for award-winning singer songwriter, who settled in Birmingham as a small child.

Black Sabbath – War Pigs (1970)
Opening track from the band’s second album, Paranoid.

Broadcast – The Book Lovers (1996)
Title track of EP from Birmingham indie electronic band, a favourite of the late John Peel.

The Spencer Davis Group – Gimme Some Lovin’ (1966)
Number two hit written by Steve Winwood, Spencer Davis and Muff Winwood and since covered by the likes of The Blues Brothers and Olivia Newton-John.

The Devils – Barbarellas (2002)
Electronic pop band formed by two of Duran Duran’s original line-up, Nick Rhodes and Stephen Duffy, the track tells the story of the Birmingham club where they played many early gigs.

Dexys Midnight Runners – This Is What She’s Like (1985)
Twelve-minute track from the ‘comeback’ album Don’t Stand Me Down.

ELO – Mr Blue Sky (1977)
Number 6 hit taken from the album Out of the Blue and a favourite of Birmingham City fans.

Felt – Primitive Painters (1985)
Cocteau Twins singer Elizabeth Fraser guests on this mid 80s indie favourite.

Fine Young Cannibals – I’m Not The Man I Used To Be (1988)
Top 20 single by trio formed by singer Roland Gift and two ex members of The Beat, Andy Cox and David Steele.

Soweto Kinch – Jazz Planet (2004)
Live favourite by Birmingham-based jazz sax player and rapper.

Laura Mvula – She (2013)
One of the standout tracks from Birmingham-born MOBO winner’s debut album, Sing To The Moon.

Musical Youth – Pass The Dutchie (1982)
Multi-million-selling number one hit which is a cover of two songs, Gimme the Music by U Brown, and Pass the Kouchie by The Mighty Diamonds

Ocean Colour Scene – The Day We Caught The Train (1996)
Number four hit from the band’s second album, Moseley Shoals.

Jocelyn Pook – Red Song (2001)
Haunting track from Solihull-born composer best known for her score for Stanley Kubrick’s Eyes Wide Shut.

The Specials – Gangsters (1979)
Debut single by ska revival favourites from Coventry and first release by the newly created 2 Tone Records.

Steel Pulse – Handsworth Revolution (1978)
Title track from their debut album, which reached number 9 in the UK charts.

The Streets – Turn The Page (2002)
Opening track of Birmingham-born Mike Skinner's debut album, Original Pirate Material.

Torqux feat. Lady Leshurr – Blazin’ (2013)
Rapper/singer from Solihull who collaborated with duo Torqux on this track from their debut EP.

UB40 – One In Ten (1981)
Top ten single from band’s second album Present Arms; the title is a reference to percentage of the workforce claiming unemployment benefit in the West Midlands in the summer of 1981.

The Wonder Stuff – Caught In My Shadow (1991)
Top 20 hit from Stourbridge band’s third album, Never Loved Elvis.

You can watch/listen to all the winning tunes right here

No room for Jasper Carrots’s Funky Moped sadly but good to see a nice diverse selection. I’m assuming that the B-side Brum name refers to Brum and some of the places ‘beside’ it, after all how else could you include Coventry’s The Specials or Stourbridge’s Wonder Stuff? Excluding Duran Duran (who've sold the odd 100 million or so records over the past 35 years) is, for a 80s pop fan like me, frankly unforgivable but that’s the nature of lists like this (I got the distinct impression that The Specials' Horace Panter - one of the judges on the panel and also in attendance during the afternoon wasn't a fan...ahem).  

Vix (Fuzzbox) and Dan Whitehouse provided some fine live music during the event too, with Dan covering The Streets track and Vix Armatrading’s Love and Affection plus an acoustic Pink Sunshine. It would’ve been good to hear either of them tackle War Pigs but maybe next time eh? Hopefully if nothing else the national/international media will pick up on the whole B-side Brum story and it’ll focus attention on our musical contribution a little more, perhaps giving a much needed boost to the current generation of bands and artists along the way.

Along that vein here’s my own personal ‘new band’ (most tracks are from the last 12 months or so) virtual Brum album (NB: if they're going to do B-side Brum next year with a different panel selecting classic tunes perhaps they should also do a 'new' B-side Brum compilation of tracks from the past 12 months too? Just a thought...):

Goodnight Lenin – Old Cold Hands
Miss Halliwell – Allegedly Gory
Youth Man – Wide Awake
God Damn – Shoe Prints In The Dust
Chris Tye – Unassuming Start
The Dollcanoes – Us
Elephantine – Porcelain    
Boat To Row – Tightrope
Midnight Bonfires – Exhale
Dan Whitehouse – A Dream That’s Floating Out To Sea
Drakelow – Amber
Call Me Unique – The Wife
Mutes – M.P.D.G
Mistys Big Adventure – The Bigger The Front
Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam – AUTO
Tom Peel – Salt and Pepper
Dead Sea Skulls – I Wanna Buy A Rolex
Table Scraps – Bug
Katherine Priddy – The Old Tree

Bonus track

Dirty Old Folkers - BONUS

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

‘Jazz’ you like it...it’s the 30th Birmingham International Jazz and Blues Festival!

Hot on the heels of the Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival (held in Moseley Park last weekend) comes the Birmingham InternationalJazz and Blues Festival...which is mostly free! From July 18th to July 27th some of the very best jazz and blues artists from across the world descend on various venues across Brum to dish up the good stuff. As ever the programme’s so jam packed with events it’s pretty hard to just pick a few highlights but the Remi Harris Trio and Tipitini are both highly recommended, Spain’s Potato Head Brass Band went down a storm last year and The Magnolia Sisters (Botanical Gardens Saturday 15th, tickets £15) will be Caj-unbelievably good fun. Ex Mike and the Mechanics / Squeeze vocalist Paul Carrack plays the Robin 2 as does (would you believe it?) Steven Seagal's (yes, THAT Steven Seagal) Blues Band. I guess if anyone tries to hijack the venue you're in safe hands. If you get a chance to catch Lewis Floyd Henry too make sure you grab it. How this dude isn’t a HUGE star yet frankly mystifies me...

Here are a few vids to whet your appetite, but you can get stuck in to the full programme right here

Monday, July 14, 2014

Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul Festival @ Moseley Park, Friday 11th – Sunday 13th July

Day One

Despite its relatively modest size Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul has an impressive track record when it comes to booking genuine 100% musical legends and this year two names really stood out, Ginger Baker, arguably one of the most influential drummers of all time, and Mavis Staples who, as part of The Staple Singers helped to both shape and soundtrack the US civil rights movement back in the 60s. More on both of them later but as is traditional there were plenty of treats on the Friday afternoon to justify booking the time off work/ringing in sick/‘working from home’...ahem. Free School (now with added Greg Bird) continued their sonic journey into space, Moroccan born Albare laid down some sublime Latino jazz grooves and Jay Prince kept things nicely chilled with the kind of laid back hip hop that makes Snoop seem hyperactive. Sons of Kemet made an early pitch for act of the weekend with an intoxicating mix of jazz, West Indian rhythms and bowel rumbling tuba. The kind of music that makes you want to rip off your clothes and dance naked round a fire...happily for all concerned I resisted the temptation. Local heroes The Peaky Blinders stuffed more hits into their all too short set than you might think possible (including a cover of Monkey Man, perhaps in anticipation of the Kings Heath Monkey Man’s appearance in a wardrobe busting variety of outfits over the weekend) paving the way for Kraak and Smaak. 

Okay, as names go it might not be the best but this Dutch collective were every bit as addictive, fusing 90s style Euro house and disco beats with some fabulously funky basslines. If Chic had formed in Europe in 1990 this is what they’d sound like. Several hundred dancing festival goers can’t be wrong, this lot ‘kraak-ed’ it.    

Ever wondered what would happen if you kidnapped Prince and made him smoke ‘erb for six months? You’re not alone. Radio Riddler (the side project of Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ Frank and Brian), who may well themselves have sparked up enough joints to keep Howard Marks busy for a lifetime, clearly also pondered this question late one fuggy night and, oddly enough, it actually works. 

It’s perfect festival fare and their reggae-fied versions of everything from Let’s Go Crazy to When Doves Cry were pretty ‘spliffing’.  

Omar’s band may have been detained at a border somewhere but you can’t keep a good Souleyman down and backed by a rather glam looking lady with a laptop he treated the early evening crowd to the truly unique and exotic sound of Syrian rave, perfect for A-ravian nights I guess. Canadian six-piece Soul Jazz Orchestra closed the second stage in fine style with their mix of Latin and Afro grooves that, at their best, came across like the dream soundtrack to some ultracool Blaxploitation movie. Apparently Stevie Wonder’s a fan and that’s as good a recommendation as any.

Day one climaxed with Fun Lovin’ Criminals’ fan friendly, hits heavy set. Huey was in fine motherfuckin’ form (if you’d had a fiver for every time he said ‘motherfucker’ you’d be motherfuckin’ rich). 

From the laid back groove of King Of New York through to the band’s unofficial anthem, Smoke ‘Em If You Got ‘Em and on to the biggies Scooby Snacks, Barry White and last number of the night Fun Lovin’ Criminal itself it was a timely reminder (20 years or so after they formed) that FLC actually have some pretty awesome tunes under their belts and the informal laid back style of tonight’s (‘erb enhanced maybe?) performance certainly made the best of ‘em.

Day Two      

Nice to hear at least one band pay tribute to Tommy Ramone today (his death was announced on the morning of day two), kudos to the Atlantic Players for their hugely enjoyable set of classic soul hits too before The Heels took ska billing on the Second Stage with some rather cool versions of the Mission Impossible theme tune and Billy Jo Royal’s Hush (perhaps best known in its Deep Purple or Kula Shaker incarnations). Day Two was, as is now traditional, curated by Craig Charles who’s arguably doing more to keep the soul and funk flag flying than most. The day before was his birthday and what better way to celebrate than by seeing son Jack Tyson-Charles (mum/actress Cathy Tyson was also spotted in the crowd) blow the place apart as vocalist for Lack Of Afro, Adam Gibbon’s mission to create new soul and funk classics. 

He’s succeeding too with tracks like Holding My Breath coming across as a perfect floor filler and, in true saving the best till last fashion, Recipe For Love sounding like a crate digger’s wet dream.
Next up Alexia Coley looked a million dollars in her red dress, she sounded pretty darn great too. If Amy (Winehouse) and James (Brown) had got jiggy Alexia might well have been their lovechild. As the sun beat down the next few acts took it in turns to try to out sweat each other. I reckon you could measure great live soul performances in sweat, with a teaspoon for those who couldn’t give a damn and a bucket for those who put their heart and soul into it. Myron and E were up first, the kind of old skool vocal duo that for some reason seemed to have pretty much died out with Sam and Dave. Loved the co-ordinated dance moves and the super smooth vocals of Myron (Glasper) coupled with the rawer (and enigmatically named) E’s were blended in soul heaven. Definitely a bucket worthy performance.

Next up Hannah Williams and the Tastemakers gave the crowd a brief chance to catch its collective breath and, as you’d expect from someone who’s supported the mighty Sharon Jones, the girl can sing bringing a rare knack of moving from the sweet and soulful to the kind of gutsy growl that Joplin traded in. Being a lady she didn’t sweat of course but we’ll award her a bucket too. Omar Souleyman may have provided the WTF moment on Day One (in a good way of course) but King Khan and The Shrines outdid everyone with an irresistibly nuts mix of psychedelic soul, R & B and garage punk sung by Armish Khan, a chunky Canadian of Indian heritage who perhaps didn’t do his best to win over the crowd by not knowing where the hell he was. You can forgive him though (I’m guessing him and his relentlessly enthusiastic band of merry men don’t know where the hell they are most of the time) when he puts on a show like this. With larynx shredding shrieks and freak beat tunes it’s like being transported back to some speed fuelled house party in 70s Detroit. 

Can he kick it? Yes he Khan. 

It takes some act to follow that but Cody Chesnutt nailed it. Channelling the spirit of Marvin Gaye but with his own unique feel this dude could well be the most soulful man on planet earth right now. Sporting an army helmet throughout (it’s a look I guess) he blazed through tracks from his crowdfunded album Landing On A Hundred (which should frankly be required listening for anyone with ears) putting on the sort of gig that I thought only existed in grainy footage on You Tube these days. The fact that he was still there signing and selling copies of his album at the merch stand for a good 20 minutes or so after the show tells you all you need to know. Give the man a bucket? Nahhh, the dude deserves a swimming pool.  

Highlight of the whole weekend for me and, quite clearly, many others.

“It’s taken me 50 years to have the best birthday evvvvaaahhhhh!” yelled Craig Charles before introducing the next band. That’s the kind of statement that you’d normally take with a sack of salt but it really was shaping up to be that kind of day and Ibibio Sound Machine didn’t let the side down. With possibly the most diverse band line-up in the world (seriously, there were less countries represented in the World Cup) their mix of West African high life, tribal rhythms, synths, funky jazzy brass and anything else they want to chuck into the mix got more people up and shaking their ass than anyone else. I seem to have accidently invented a dance that lead singer Eno adopted for The Peacock Song too...I say dance it’s more like fanning your hands out like a peacock behind your head but if it takes off I’m happy to take credit for it.

Awooga! Does Craig Charles know how to put together a crowd pleasing DJ set? Hell yes. Something old, something new, something funky...and souly too...if heaven has a clubnight Charles will be the DJ (no trainers though...and Francis of Assissi can do one if he thinks he’s getting in with those sandals). “This was the best birthday I’ve ever had...if I wasn’t sweatin’ so much you could tell I was cryin”. Awwww bless, now that’s soul. Speaking of which Day Two was topped off, cherry on the cake style, with the legend that is Miss Mavis Staples. A mere 64 years into her career she’s still in remarkably fine voice, far better than the last time I had the pleasure of seeing her nearly a decade or so ago in fact. There’s a patina to that voice that speaks of a 10,001 nights on the road, numerous civil rights marches in the 60s and a lifetime of Sundays in church. 

Kicking off with Come Go With Me she had us in the palm of her hand from the outset swiftly followed by For What It’s Worth and Freedom Highway from back in the day and I Like The Things About Me from 2013’s album One True Vine, separated by decades but united by the same kind of pride and quest for equality that helped change the world. How many other artists can lay such a claim eh? A stunningly soulful cover of The Weight and the more recent Everything Is Everything (Lauren Hill) continued to brilliantly balance the old with the new before she left us with a truly sublime I’ll Take You There. She sure did...

Day Three

And the Lord sayeth let there be jazz! Day Three’s always the jazziest of the lot and Scottish ivory tinkler Ray Harris sprinkled on the acid with a remarkably upbeat set for midday on a Sunday. I always feel for the early acts and Harris certainly deserved a later slot and bigger crowd. Check out the Latin tinged Where Do We Begin and the bluesy lament of Nothing Like You to hear what you missed. Ortet laid on some nicely chilled and contemplative jazz grooves, perfect for a little beard stroking, before funky ‘Felas’...and lady...London Afrobeat Collective got the hips moving again (their lead singer did things with her hips that would put me in attraction for a month...good grief). Prime Minister in particular was a prime slice of Afrobeat and if you’re looking for an introduction to this most infectious of genres you may well have to go to Africa itself to hear anything better. From Africa to Latin America and Sara Coleman added some ‘ay caramba!’ to the mix with her Brazilian Project before The Heliocentrics left planet earth altogether. 

Imagine Paloma Faith fronting an acid funk band and you’ll have some idea of their sound with set highlight Nuclear War sounding like the sort of track early era Moloko may well have dreamt of recording. It was indeed a “motherfucker”. Reed Bass flew the Birmingham with some neat jazz fusion and great solos, including one from the drummer, perhaps mindful of who was up next...

Ginger Baker may have spent much of the last 50 years or so playing hide and seek with the grim reaper but he’s still here. Just. “There’s a competition to predict when I’ll pop my clogs onstage” he wheezed after one solo “Second prize is a week in Manchester...first prize...two weeks in Manchester”. It’s the way he tells ‘em. Remarkably though he seems to come back to life behind a drum kit, playing with all the intuitive ease of man born with sticks in his hands. 

His current band, Ginger Baker’s Jazz Confusion, has a distinctly Afrocentric vibe, a passion that no doubt dates back to his jams with Fela Kuti back in the late 60s and early 70s and this set fused the two genres perfectly. “I need a piss” he said suddenly half way through and wandered off, returning a few moments later to continue the show. Given that he was once voted the musician least likely to survive the 60s it’s easy to forgive such foibles and, whilst he may not have got the biggest reception of the weekend those in the know recognised they were in the presence of greatness...even if he’d quite possibly smash you in the face with a snare drum if you’d had the snivelling audacity to tell him so.  

The Stevie Wonder-ful Trope revisited that artist’s back catalogue adding jazz to the soul and soul to the jazz before Courtney Pine’s hugely entertaining set won over pretty much every man, woman and child in the place. 

Seemingly capable of playing every tune ever written on his sax (often in just one number too) he’s the kind of dude that could motivate a corpse to get up and dance, underlining just how joyful and unifying jazz can be. For 5 minutes the steel drum backed Liamuiga transformed Moseley Park into some kind of West Indian tropical island and if I was stuck on there with just Pine for company I’d be a happy man.

Young Pilgrims kept the party going on the Jazzlines stage with the kind of brass fuelled mayhem that could well soundtrack a Mardi Gras in New Orleans paving the way for Earth, Wind and...hang on...that ain’t Earth, Wind and Fire. Nope, sadly their vocalist had lost his voice...a bit of a problem given his role in proceedings I guess...but help was at hand courtesy of The Family Stone (minus their original lead singer, Sly, of course who sadly lost the plot rather than just his voice). 

If you were looking to compile the ultimate party album it’s a safe bet that they’d be several Family Stone tracks on there and this evening the band dished up the very best of them, from Sing A Simple Song right through to the spellchecker’s nightmare Thank You (Falettinme Be Mice Elf Agin). 

This current line up features three of the original members, Jerry Martini, Cynthia Robinson and Greg Errico, with Alex Davis doing a fine job of filling Sly’s boots and together they delivered the hands in the air climax that this year’s Mostly Jazz, Funk and Soul deserved with I Want To Take You Higher inducing the kind of crowd euphoria that normally takes a sackload of illegal substances. Glorious. Earth, Wind and Fire may have been absent but ‘water’ a way to end things.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Oh I do like to be beside the B-side Brum

Attended an interesting debate last night about Brum’s musical reputation, past, present and future at BCU’s rather swanky Parkside site as part of B-side Brum. In case you’ve not heard of it the basic idea is to compile a virtual 20 track album of songs from Birmingham bands and artists to underline Brum’s impressive (but often ignored) contribution to the world of music. Most people would agree that Sabbath deserve a slot, Dexys Midnight Runners has to be in there as has Duran Duran, ELO, Steel Pulse, UB40, Joan Armatrading and The Spencer Davies Group (I'd genuinely love to see Fuzzbox in there too, people seem to have forgotten just what a great and FUN...remember that word?...band they were). More recent contenders include Ocean Colour Scene, Editors, The Streets, Laura Mvula and Peace. Then you’ve got some of the leftfield selections, everything from Broadcast and Pram through to The Nightingales and Felt / Denim / Go Kart Mozart (Lawrence in his various guises) and, personal favourites Mistys Big Adventure and Miss Halliwell. 

Do Guillemots count? After all their driving force Fyfe was born in Moseley. How about The Wonderstuff (hailing from Stourbridge)? Or, if you want to stretch the point, Led Zeppelin (Plant was from West Brom, Bonham from Redditch). You could even argue that Throbbing Gristle’s Genesis P-Orridge, although born in Manchester, was totally ‘shaped’ by his time at Solihull School (that certainly seemed the case when I had the pleasure of chatting to him a few years back...his entire career since then can be seen as one long “Fuck you!” to the place). And that’s really both the challenge and opportunity that B-side Brum faces I guess, where do you draw the line? Answers on a chunk of the old library please.  

Anyway the panel debating Brum’s musical legacy and future – Lisa from Capsule, Vix from Fuzzbox, Matt Everitt from Menswe@r (now on 6 Music) and music critic Pete Paphides, chaired by BCU’s Professor Paul Long – just about scratched the surface of the topic ‘Does Birmingham Music Get The Respect It Deserves?’ which is about as much as you can viably hope to do in an hour or so. The answer’s clearly a resounding ‘no’ by the way, due in part perhaps to Brummies natural lack of ego and laid back attitude compared with, say Manchester’s rather more ‘in yer face’ approach. There were the usual, but still justified, comments on the major label’s London-centricity too, in fact it’s arguably far worse these days given that the old model of selling a physical music ‘product’ (records, CDs, cassettes etc) is screwed and a whole generation of music lovers expect to stream/download anything they want for FREE (QED most labels won’t take risks these days which is why the charts are generally so dull). That leaves playing live, merch (t-shirts, condoms, branded speculums etc) and licensing deals as the only way to scrape a living for most bands now. An argument was put forward by the lovely Mr Everitt that if you’re good enough you’ll get noticed but having sadly seen dozens of great ‘local’ bands fall on stony ground over the years I’d have to disagree. If nothing else B-side Brum will get people talking about this stuff though and I’m looking forward to seeing/hearing the final list next week (July 16th). I’ll keep you posted.

PS: Midnight Bonfires played a great set on the roof (Beatles stylee) after the debate. Well worth checking out...

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Mamas Gun - Red Cassette

Awwwwww, this is lovely. Mamas Gun (one of the best and most joyful live acts around) delve back in time to celebrate the joys of mix tapes with the infectiously catchy summer time jam of Red Cassette. It's a little pop, a little soul, a little disco, a little Daft Punk...and, quite frankly, a whole lotta fun. One for those picnics in the park, BBQs and festival journeys, windows wipe open and hands in the air (4 litre vat of scrumpy optional).