Friday, December 22, 2017
As has somehow become the tradition at Baron Towers I trawl the internet to find a suitably funky Christmas mix for everyone out there who's a little bored with the Now That's What I Call Christmas tape that gets dug out every year. This year some generous soul called Bill Brewster's come up with the goods. Whatever you're doing have a cool yule y'all!
Wednesday, December 20, 2017
Thursday, December 14, 2017
If Davids Bowie and Byrne had a love child and he hooked up with LCD Soundsystem the result might well sound like this little belter from Artificial Pleasure. The bloke in the video looks like he's having the kind of day I used to have when I worked in the wonderful wibbly world of advertising too. Ahhhh, happy days. Ahem.
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
The more I hear this track the more I love it and watching the delightfully intimate video for the first time today has well and truly cemented things. You know what, I reckon I'd enjoy a weekend with Kurt and Courtney and friends, not sure what they'd make of me but after a beer or three I'm sure it'd be sweet. Hell, I'd even get up early to make the breakfast...continental of course.
PS: The vid kind of reminds me of this little beauty from Thee AHs (Caution: contains bums and a nipple or three).
Monday, December 11, 2017
Remixes. Some suck, some don't. This one, sending Dua Lipa's New Rules whizzing straight back to the mid 80s, falls firmly into the latter category. The leg warmer revival starts right here.
Wednesday, December 06, 2017
Sadly these days if a track doesn't grab me in roughly 2 seconds when I'm whizzing through the dozens of music channels I'm off to the next one in search of Wham's Last Christmas vid, so kudos to Aussie rockers (no one mention the cricket please) Tonight Alive and their current single Temple. It's a bit Pink-ish, it's a bit Paramore-ish and it's got the kind of singalong arms in the air chorus that's deceptively tricky to nail without coming over all Coldplay (now there's a horrible thought).
Tuesday, December 05, 2017
Lemmy left us for that great bar in the sky on December 28th 2015 and just two weeks later Bowie joined him so there's a strange kind of synergy to the 'head's cover of Heroes as we nudge closer to the two year anniversary of both their passing. This track got little radio play when the album that spawned it, Under Cöver, came out in September so there's a fair chance that you might not have heard it but there's something rather moving about Lemmy's delivery. It might just be my overactive imagination but you get the sense that he knew he was on his way out when he was singing it, although to be fair Lemmy was on his way out for roughly 60 years...
Thursday, November 30, 2017
I've been looking for this track for a few weeks now after hearing it on 6 Music a fair bit. Amazingly the panel on 'Lammo's' Round Table thingy slagged it off saying it sounded a bit derivative before spunking themselves into a frenzy over some dull as ditch water grime nonsense. Bah, humbug (it's nearly December, we can talk like that now). I've been a bit of a fan of all things Jurassic 5 since hearing their first EP in much missed Brum record shop Plastic Factory (RIP) back in the day and Chali 2Na's latest collaboration with Krafty Kuts is right up there with their very best. Enjoy!
PS: Here's some old skool J5 just in case you missed it back in 1997! Twenty years ago? Seriously? Good grief I suddenly feel ancient...
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Always on the look out for something a little different from the past, present or future (yeah, I'm just like Mystic Meg) I came across (steady now) gay punkers Handbag in a well thumbed copy of Mojo magazine. As with many bands it seems as though the 'bag were pretty much shafted left right and centre by the music biz but the ruddy brilliant glam punk of Super Star Car Crash surely deserves more than the paltry 351 views it's currently got on You Tube?! Good grief. Play it loud. Play it to your mates. Play it to Auntie Julie at Christmas.
Thursday, November 23, 2017
In just a few weeks time it'll be 17 years since Kirsty MacColl was effectively murdered by a speeding powerboat in Mexico driven by, well, let's just say that money talks...or maybe it doesn't in this case eh? Anyway, I heard this track on 6 Music yesterday and bugger me backwards it sounded great. And where did it get in the charts way back in 1989? Top 5? Nope. Top 10? Nope. Top 20? Nope. Try number 43. Seriously people, there were 43 better tracks than this in the charts in March 89? Good grief. Anyway lyrically and musically I think this track's aged better than most of that era which makes her loss at the age of just 41 when she was, if anything, going from strength to strength, all the sadder.
Friday, November 17, 2017
I do love a bit of disco so when Scissor Sisters burst onto the scene back in the early noughties I was all over them like glitter on a ball. We were lucky enough to see them in a pretty small venue and had a natter with Ana and Jake afterwards and they were as lovely as you'd expect them to be. The first album was an utter disco classic and they went on to release three more before going on hiatus back in 2012. Until this year that is. Back in June (yep, I'm right on the case with this one) they released a new single called Twerlk. I think there's a dance to go with it but I have trouble standing up these days let alone mixing a swirl, twirl and a...er...twerk. Anyway, as well as being a perfect Friday banger it was released to help raise funds for the victims of the PULSE nightclub shooting back in 2016, so that's two reason to Swerlk yourself silly.
PS: Just in case you don't feel like dancing Scissor Sisters have that covered too...
Wednesday, November 15, 2017
Not sure if any of the ladies involved in this are actually goats but who cares when it sounds this good? It's a bit 60s, it's a bit Riot Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl (goat or otherwise) and the video appears to show the band beating someone to death (probably a man...men deserve it right...all men...bloody men...being all manly and stuff...) before setting fire to them. Men...so much cheaper than coal.
Thursday, November 09, 2017
As I'm spending tomorrow painting the kitchen this track's been going round and round in my head pretty much all day. It's another fine example of those oddball 80s records that really shouldn't work - bloke who can't sing much, very basic synths and a pretty downbeat subject (although...spoiler alert...there's a happy ending) - but somehow just do. This particular clip features an early appearance from the late, great Kirsty MacColl too.
PS: Just in case you have no idea who Jona Lewie is you'll probably be hearing a lot more from him over the coming weeks as he hit the big time with the even more downbeat Christmas classic Stop The Cavalry which reached number 3 in the UK charts and number 2 in Germany...
Monday, November 06, 2017
Take a little Slits, add a little Rage Against The Machine, stir in just the merest hint on The Knack's My Sharona and voila, you've got Ecca Vandal's latest single Price of Living. For some inexplicable reason it's only had 4,091 views on You Tube, no doubt a plug on The Aid will get that number soaring right up...ahem...might even hit 4,093 if we're lucky. Anyway, great track, play it loud and...er... smash stuff.
Thursday, November 02, 2017
The continuing (I Am The) resurrection of vinyl continues with news that Sainsbury's (yes...that Sainsbury's) is setting up a record label and global sales of vinyl records are expected to (ZZ) top $1billion this year. One pressing (Robert) plant in the Czech Republic that saw production (The) fall to just 350,000 discs in 1993 is pressing an incredible (String Band) 30 million records in 2017, okay so it's still a drop in the (Billy) Ocean compared to how things were in the 1980s but for a (DJ) format that has its (Misty in) roots in the 1880s it ain't too shabby (Road)...I'll stop with the puns now.
Apparently almost 50% of people these days don't play their purchases (!) but at least people are actually buying a physical thing which has to be good news, right? Regular readers will know how much of a personal bugbear the almost unlimited access to 'free' music is to me. It's all far too easy for it to become a background soundtrack to life rather than, for the 40 minutes or so that many albums last, the sole focus of life itself but there we go. Of course we'll never go back to the days when listening to music involved a bit of effort but let's hope that, at least once in while, we can set aside an hour or two to, in the words of that nice Mr Timothy Leary, turn on, tune in and drop out.
Wednesday, November 01, 2017
Fresh footage has emerged from the recent CPM Connection and The Day Ends shindig Under The Same Roof 2017 and, as you'd expect, it's all cracking stuff. The new line up of The Day Ends spit out a mash up of Black Country blues, psychy guitar and Miles Perhower at his petulant best whilst The CPM Connection warm the cockles that other bands just can't reach (kudos to The CPM Connection's Ben Love for some quality moshing during The Day End's set too!).
Friday, October 27, 2017
Well, it's that time again. I don't always post a Friday 'banger' but I feel like we all need one this week so here's perhaps one of the ultimate end of the week tracks, the disco-tastic Thank God It's Friday. Play it loud and dance around the office/house/cell block (I know my audience) in yer pants.
Wednesday, October 25, 2017
Met up with one of much missed Birmingham band Troumaca last night down here in sunny Devon (talk about a small world eh?) and it sent me scurrying off to You Tube to watch/listen to some of their best tracks. Very sadly the band's guitarist Geoff Foulkes passed away just over two years ago but the music well and truly lives on. Enjoy.
Monday, October 23, 2017
Went to a record fair on Saturday for the first time in ages...with predictable results. Bought a couple of bags full of vinyl to add to the mountain of the stuff already spilling out all over Baron Towers. Ahhh well, you can't take it with you. Picked up some mighty fine buys too, including a copy of Zappa's Hot Rats featuring the naggingly addictive Peaches En Regalia. After listening to this track via a laptop or on CD for years the vinyl version's a ruddy revelation.
Snaffled a couple of early Now That's What I Call Music albums (Volumes 2 and 4) for a £1 each too. Being officially old I can remember when Volume 1 came out, apparently this November sees the release of Volume 98. Good grief. Anyway, here's a personal favourite from Volume 2, Matthew Wilder's Break My Stride, altogether now"The road behind was rocky, but now you're feeling cocky...". Is it just me or does he look a little like a lost Chuckle Brother?
Thursday, October 19, 2017
Mention of Kenickie on Lauren Laverne's 6Music show this morning sent me scurrying off to You Tube for a little Punka. Still a cracking tune 21 years on (21 years!!!). You know what, the early to mid 90s was a pretty good time for female fronted bands, from the whole Riottttttttttttttttttttttttt Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl scene through to the Britpop pack (Echobelly, Bis, Lush, Sleeper, Elastica, theaudience, Catatonia, Salad etc). All well worth a spin if you don't remember them from the first time around. Good grief I'm old...
Tuesday, October 17, 2017
One of my musical heroes, Marc Almond, is in the news for having the audacity to tell a couple of 'ladies' sitting and chatting loudly in the front row of his gig in Ipswich to basically shut the fuck up (these may not have been the exact words but that's the gist of it). Good on him that's what I say. The first time I saw him live way back in 1988 at The Powerhouse in Brum exactly the same thing happened during a particularly impassioned performance of In Your Bed (and that was a sweaty 'club' gig as opposed to a seated posh do). I've never understood people who not only pay to get into a gig but then stand at the front and talk. I mean...what...the...actual...hell?! Nowadays there's a new spin on this age old problem, people standing at the front surfing the web on their ruddy shitty 'smart' phones, turning round with the back to the band and taking crappy selfies to show what a great time they're having. Quite frankly the lovely Mr Almond, and any other performer who has their show interrupted by these utter arses, should have the automatic right to leap from the stage and decapitate the offenders with an axe. Harsh but fair I'd say. Respect the performers putting their hearts and souls into the show, respect your fellow audience members who may well have spunked a huge chuck of their disposable income to be there and finally respect yourself by ACTUALLY LISTENING TO SOMETHING OTHER THAN YOUR INANE CHATTER. Ahhhhh, that's better.
PS: Here's Wilco's Jeff Tweedy attempting to tackle the same problem...
Friday, October 13, 2017
'wood you believe it, on Sunday it'll be two years since we left Bearwood and Brum. TWO YEARS! Given that I was born and raised there and spent 42 years in the place inevitably I still miss it and its people, although judging by the number of friendly Brummie accents you hear down here in Devon half of Birmingham's population's seemingly decamped to the South West.
Anyway, the last time I lived away from Brum (before this one) was my 3 year stay in Brighton during the student years (oh so many baked beans) and when I did venture back I'd often listen to the first Voice of the Beehive album, Let It Bee (on cassette, naturally). Somehow, no matter how long the journey took, the track Just A City always seemed to be playing as that familiar skyline came into sight. So, two years since I last left, it seems entirely fitting that I give it another spin.
PS: How good were Voice of the Beehive? Jangly pop perfection. Incredibly this track stalled at number 42 in the charts. Criminal!
Wednesday, October 11, 2017
More news from the The Day Ends, this time it's a super special gig THIS SUNDAY (October 15th) in collaboration with The CPM Connection. Suffice to say you won't have heard or seen anything like this ever before and it promises to be quite possibly one of the most life affirming and unpredictable gigs this year...or any year for that matter...and that's a wonderful, wonderful thing. It all kicks off at 6.45pm and entry's on a 'pay what you want basis'. You don't get that from Bieber do you eh?
Here's a little pre gig promo from The CPM Connection themselves...
Monday, October 09, 2017
Still fighting off the flu but now I've added the fallout of a chilli eating competition that I entered yesterday too. Ouch. Happily a new live clip from The Day Ends came my way this morning. The line up may be new but the sound's as epic and confrontational as ever with the semi-shamanic Miles Perhower this time venting his considerable spleen against the world of pop music promoters.
My faith in the band (and its predecessor Miss Halliwell) remains as solid as ever and, quite frankly, we need music like this more than ever these days. With rumours of a new album in the pipework (actually do you mind if we don't talk about pipework...those chillis are wreaking havoc with mine) and plans to get out on the road 2018 could well - finally - be their year. Quite frankly that doesn't really matter anymore. Miles and co have done and continue to do what they hell they like, leaving behind an enviable body of work that will quite possibly outlast even styrofoam. So there.
Wednesday, October 04, 2017
No posts for almost a week but I've got an excuse. The flu. Pretty sure it's 'flu' rather than a mere common cold...mainly because I'm struggling open my eyes let alone anything more strenuous. I wonder if there are any songs about the flu I wondered in my semi-delirious state. Silly question. Of course there is.
Thursday, September 28, 2017
Dropped by a brand new barbers in Exeter (The Roots Foundation) during a bike ride on Sunday and spotted that they sell vinyl too. It turns out they're all from a label called Specialist Subject Records (who may have been based in Exeter at one time but their HQ's in Brizzle now) who seem to specialise in the kind of indie stuff that well and truly floats my boat. In fact one of their signings is Pillow Queens who've had a few plays on 6 Music recently with the rather fabulous Rats.
Here are a few more picks from their current roster. Enjoy!
Monday, September 25, 2017
Very sad to hear of the passing of Charles Bradley on Saturday evening via the always excellent Craig Charles Funk and Soul Show. We were lucky enough to see the 'Screaming Eagle of Soul' at the Hare and Hounds back in 2013 when he was finally getting the recognition he deserved after 40 years or so of damn hard slog and enough personal tragedies to knock most people down for good. The only blessing is that at least he did get his time in the spotlight, albeit too little and too late.
What now for Daptone Records, home of both Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones who passed away less than 12 months ago? Proper soul voices are hard to come by these days, and by proper I mean the kind of voices that have been shaped by decades of club dates and real pain and suffering, which is something that you just can't replicate. I'm sure they're still out there but the loss of both Bradley and Jones leaves a massive soul shaped hole in the universe.
RIP Mr Bradley.
Friday, September 22, 2017
How the heck did I miss the release of a new Morrissey single? Especially one that pretty much sums up my own approach to life these days. "Life ends in death, So there's nothing wrong with being good to yourself" warbles St Moz. Wise words. Just you remember that the next time you're on the verge of denying yourself that cream cake/glass of red/pint of cider/sackful of cocaine. Despite being a bit of a hymn to existential angst Moz's latest is pretty uplifting when you look at it that way, sod it spend a day in bed if you want. Okay I'm not sure Morrissey's inviting us all to spend the day in HIS bed but I can think of worse places to be. Musically it's pretty jaunty too, with a catchy electric piano riff tinkling away in the background before lodging itself firmly in your brain. In fact I'd go as far to say that it's possibly the most upbeat Mozza's been in...well...forever really. Whatever you're doing this weekend bloody well enjoy it.
Monday, September 18, 2017
I know bugger all about Confidence Man except for the fact that they're from Brisbane and judging by this video they're just a little bit nuts. I suspect they also like that Groove Armada 'shakin' that ass' track too as their latest single bears more than a passing similarity to it. Still, it got me moving about on a Monday morning which is something of a miracle after a cheeky visit to Ye Olde Cider Barn over the weekend. So much cider so little time...
Thursday, September 14, 2017
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Here's a quick question. Name three bands that are still producing great work almost 50 years after they formed. Hell, name one for that matter. I've got a suggestion for you. Sparks. Okay so maybe they've had a few highs and lows over the years but generally speaking every album they've ever produced has something great on it and, judging from what I've heard so far, their latest Hippopotamus, is stuffed full of first class Mael.
At 72 and and 68 respectively Ron and Russel show no signs of slowing down, in fact they're off on tour again right now and are seemingly planning all kinds of new crazy shit after that. Ruddy incredible.
Wednesday, September 06, 2017
Slightly country tinged new track from the ever reliable Belle and Sebastian, have they ever released a duffer eh? Nope, I don't think they have. But can it really be 21 years since I first heard their classic album If You're Feeling Sinister. Good grief.
Monday, September 04, 2017
Unless you've been hiding under a rock for the last 12 hours or so (given North Korea's suicidal posturing you might well be best doing just that) you'll know that Walter Becker, one half of the hugely influential Steely Dan, passed away yesterday at 67. Smart, technically brilliant and utterly unique the band's been a Hearing Aid favourite for many a year but even if you've not heard much by them you might well recognise a couple of samples...
...which turned up on...
which you'll probably recognise through...
RIP Mr Becker
Thursday, August 31, 2017
Okay, I'm just going to throw this one out there and you can explore it/him - or not - for yourselves, but have you ever heard of Momus? I've been a casual fan for 30 odd years (odd perhaps being the operative word) and during that time he's produced some of the most fascinating and challenging music the world has ever heard...often to relatively little response (some of his You Tube vids attract just a few hundred hits with is frankly a disgrace...bad, bad, world), although he did have a number 94 smash hit in the UK Singles Chart in 1989 with the Pet Shop Boys meets Scott Walker-ish Hairstyle of the Devil.
Anyway, please check him out, he's a truly fascinating character and if you don't like one or two or, hell, one hundred, of his songs keep on clicking until you do. Trust me, it'll be worth it.
Friday, August 25, 2017
Wednesday, August 23, 2017
Being a bit broke – plus the line up wasn’t really as appealing to us as last year – we’d decided to give Beautiful Days a miss this year but fate in the form of some last minute (very last minute in fact) free tickets had other ideas so on Saturday morning we set off for sunny (ahem) Escot Park. By the time we’d got settled, hooked up with random strangers and old friends for a cheeky pint or six we only managed to catch a few bands. Small and Gold, four sisters from Oxford, were ruddy great, New Model Army were still pleasingly shouty but Sisters of Mercy somewhat divided opinion, partly because lead sister Andrew kept vanishing in a haze of smoke or wandering around the back of the stage like a man looking for his car keys. Still Temple of Love, This Corrosion and Dominion remained mighty fine goth anthems even if I suspect that not everything was being played live. Hmmmm...
Sunday was a lot more fruitful, musically speaking/listening at least. We kicked the day off with ‘the Hendrix of the kora’ N’Faly Kouyate, Exeter’s finest Sound of the Sirens and 2 Tone legend Rhoda Dakar who was delightfully batty, coming onstage with her dress undone, failing to get her logo emailed and loaded on the screen at the back of the stage on time and giving us all her best Bruce Forsyth impressions. Bless.
Hip Hop, Cuba and comedy might seem like an odd combo but The Cuban Brothers (who I last saw playing on the roof of a bus at Glastonbury about 15 years ago) are (back) flipping brilliant. Mixing soul, hip hop and sexy talk they’re that rare beast a genuinely funny parody act who, if they ditched the humour and costumes, could quite possibly make a serious grab for Bruno Mars’ crown (jewels).
As the drizzle slowly but inevitably became a downpour The Lightening Seeds gave the hardy/faithful a greatest hits packed set reminding anyone who’d forgotten them just what a great pop singles band they were/are. We took shelter in our tent though and listened to it all as we vainly tried to dry off before bravely battling through the mud to the Bandstand to catch former Inspiral Carpet Tom Hingley. Arriving to find no one there we feared his set had been cancelled but he spotted me from behind a fence on his way to the loo and cheerily shouted out “Not long to wait”. Thankfully he or the Bandstand crew allowed the growing audience to shelter under the bandstand itself which turned the whole thing into a delightfully intimate gig featuring impressive new tracks from Tom’s forthcoming solo album plus some rather fabulous acoustic version of Carpets classics.
That just left The Levellers to polish things off with their traditional two hour set. No matter how many times I hear it One Way still strikes a chord but there was only one song that could cap off the weekend and as What a Beautiful Day climaxed (steady now Cuban Brothers) and the sky lit up with a budget busting firework display, despite the rain, mud and hangover, it really had been.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
I don't often post any personal stuff on here, who the hell wants to know about some 47 year old with a dodgy 'tache and penchant for scrumpy. But today's a bit of a milestone, my 21st wedding anniversary. Way back then 'our song' was Madness' cover of Labi Siffre's It Must Be Love so what better excuse to stick up the original eh? Has a better love song ever been written? Nope. I don't think it has. Good work Mr Siffre.
Inspirational really doesn't do this lot justice...The CPM Connection well and truly ROCK OUT. It's as pure a musical expression as you're ever likely to hear on planet earth and you lucky people can catch 'em live on Sunday October 15th, details right here.
PS: Also on the bill is The Day Ends who've just...literally minutes ago...unveiled a new line up! Here's a slice of prime The Day Ends from a previous incarnation.
Monday, August 14, 2017
It must be a nightmare being a drummer. Just imagine having to haul all that kit around with you. And putting it together and then breaking it down again after the gig? Good grief, screw that for a game. Who knows, perhaps that was partially the thinking behind Omaha's finest Tilly and the Wall who did away with the traditional sticks man/woman and replaced it with...a tap dancer instead. Yep, a tap dancer. It might sound a little odd but it worked and not just in a "Oh, that's a bit interesting" kind of way but a "Hell yes, tap dancing percussion is the way forward people" revelation. At least it did to me, but then again maybe I'm a little odd.
Anyway, it wasn't just the tap dancing that made Tilly and the Wall so great, they wrote the kind of 'screw you world' stomp along indie pop anthems that made you feel like you could scale tall buildings in a single leap and the two live shows I was lucky enough to catch remain some of the most joyful I've ever experienced (see my gushing review right here). They still seem to exist, although there's been no new album for 5 years, quite possibly because their tap dancer Jamie may well have worn her legs down to stumps...
Thursday, August 10, 2017
Heard this on 6 Music today for the first time in ages. I'm ancient enough to remember when it first came out way back in 1987. It meant one thing when I was 17 but at 47...oh boy...it takes on a completely different meaning. Bonus points for the suitably ghoulish video too, sadly prophetic as lead singer Jerry Garcia succumbed to his various ailments and addictions 8 years later at just 53.
Wednesday, August 02, 2017
If it ain't broke don't fix it. It's a philosophy that's served Mr Childish pretty well over the past 40 years and his latest release, Are You Better Than Me, is yet another fine slice of lo-fi garage rock that's pretty much screaming to be listened to on an original 1960's Dansette. Okay, as it's not out yet and you've probably not got an original 1960's Dansette we'll just have to make do with You Tube. Billy would surely be horrified but as he's probably never sullied his soul by using the 'intermess' hopefully he'll be none the wiser.
Monday, July 31, 2017
New week, new music and this one's a bit of a grower. The first half's pleasant enough but stick with it and you'll be rewarded with a damn fine psych pop meltdown. Probably best not to watch the vid before lunch though...especially if you're having Taramasalata.
Friday, July 28, 2017
S'Friday again. Whoop! And what better way to soundtrack the last few hours of the working week (for most of us at least) than a little early 80s Italian disco/house. You could spend several lifetimes trawling through this stuff on You Tube but I've settled for the still rather futuristic sounding Spacer Woman by Charlie, complete with an ever so slightly trippy video. Enjoy.
Wednesday, July 26, 2017
Cop of load of this cinematically epic new track from Dorset based band The Gravity Drive. Pretty much perfect for the next Bond theme in my humble opinion. It's a taster for their new album due out later this year and if the rest of it's this good, boom, there's your Christmas present dilemma sorted. You're welcome.
Monday, July 24, 2017
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.