Friday, June 23, 2017

False Grails - Trench Art




"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

This Sunday...Sunday Xpress Revolution Revolution!




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

Staying out for the summer




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

Arcade Fire - Everything Now




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

Great Lost Bands of the Noughties # 3 - Misty's Big Adventure




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

Pizzicato Five - Twiggy Twiggy




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

Vin Garbutt RIP




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

Great lost bands of the noughties # 2 - The Miserable Rich




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.