Friday, 30 December 2011
BB Rex CD / download
Northampton might be considered by many to be a cultural wasteland but there’s always been a thriving underground music scene present, throwing up bands like threesome garage power-poppers The Mobbs. This their debut album is heavily indebted to the Medway sound, in fact they went down to noted Rochester analogue studio Ranscombe to record it. Leader Joe B. Humbled is a proper Billy Childish-style Renaissance Man, not only a songwriter but also a poet and painter. His vision is clearly a singular one, and you’ll either get his music and pull it close to your heart or it’ll leave you confused. Opener ‘Gad...It’s The Mobbs!!!’ contains their essence: a penchant for exclamation marks, pre-war English expressions, a put-on posh voice, explosive guitar lines and all of it over in a flash (there maybe 14 songs on this album but it lasts less than half an hour!). The whole thing reeks of energy - I can almost imagine the album has a life inside my computer, kicking a football around and other such larks whilst other band's mp3s sit deathly still.
This is garage-with-no-limits music, with the blues influences most obvious on ‘Better The Devil You Know’ (with it’s lovely harmonica parts), and surf and new wave on the mostly instrumental ‘Pull Yourself Together!!!’. There is a Who feel throughout, though that’s been filtered through a Buff Medways processor to get there. There’s so much great abrasive pop here: ‘I’m Yearning’, ‘Jolly Good’, ‘Muck n Bullets'. If catchy upbeat garage pop is your bag then jump in, you’ll feel like a pig in swill. If not (what exactly is wrong with you?) then I still want you to enjoy this fine effort, so at least try before you buy.
The Mobbs play our London club ‘Happening’ at The Drop on Saturday January 7th, with European dates to follow in the Spring.
Thursday, 29 December 2011
In The Shadow Of The Beast
Dead By Mono CD & LP
Nottingham’s four-piece horror garage-surfers don’t start their debut album the way I expect, i.e. with a lot of fuzz. No, they start it with rainswept flamenco guitar and a deadpan story involving a desert journey for enlightenment that ends with a deal with the devil. It’s funny, trashy and explains not just the album title but pretty much the band too. Once you’ve then listened to a so-so go-go surf instro you’re into the heart of the album, and blow me over if it isn’t some of the best garage-punk songs I’ve heard all year. Seriously, this and The Vinyl Stitches has meant my year in garage has very much finished on a high. ‘Thee Eviltones’ is their signature tune and it’s more infectious than syphilis at a Kings of Leon backstage party. Bouncy rhythms, killer guitar, sneered vocals that are melodic...it’s got all you want in three and a bit minutes. The rocket-fuelled ‘Feel The Fear’ is threatening and claustrophobic, as all good punk should be. ‘Smoke And Mirrors’ has a familiar feel but yet I can’t place it - and that’s usually what good music does: reminds you of a warm emotion without suggesting ideas were stolen. It chorus certainly had me singing along from the first listen.
Tuesday, 27 December 2011
Friday, 23 December 2011
Thursday, 22 December 2011
These days every girl considers herself potential burlesque material. These days every half-wit with an axe thinks they can recapture the retro vibe through Bryl-creem and a swank two-tone ensemble. We are left in dire times. It's this whole old-new-old categorisation walloping it's guilded hand down and diverting us from straight-cut rock'n'roll party time values. Yet herein lie the middle grey, the space where the talented few, committed and bright, stick to their guns in an otherwise flooded market. I'm talking about The Dustaphonics and their new album Party Girl.
Rolling up to the starting line, chassis rumbling and pistons pumping, is the opening number 'Eat my Dustaphonic'. A flat out instrumental surf-stomp number that sets the tone for this vivacious and steamy album. The real standout tracks on this album includes 'Burlesque Queen', in which guitarist Yvan Serrano Fontova (aka DJ Healer Selecta) collaborated with iconic 60's cult actress Tura Satana (Russ Meyer's Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill!) to create this little ditty which speaks volumes for the band and it's mission to deliver prime tunes wrapped up in leather and lace. The title track 'Party Girl' transforms the tone into a scintillating, driving pop number with sizzling catchy choruses and an all-out chequered finish.
The Dustaphonics have really mastered a formula between themselves and the audience, a certain aura that follows the band and fans alike. If you aren't captivated by the substance and delivery of these guys, you will surely be pinned to the spot by the powerful chords and curves from front women Kay Elizabeth and Dana. A guaranteed six to midnight.
Thursday, 15 December 2011
Wednesday, 14 December 2011
STONEY CURTIS BAND
Beaverwood Club, Chislehurst, Kent, December 6 2011
Pedestrian blues revivalists. Don’t you just hate ‘em? Playing their substandard, sub-Jimi, sub-Clapton, sub-sonic smug widdly at you rather than to you, with the approval of a squillion chartered accountants who insist “oh, you reeeeelly must get the new CD, it’s absleyexlent. It was only £17.99, but worth it….”, lost in the delusion that they’re doing something new with an ancient music.
I’ve seen a lot of those in my time, even promoted a couple. Luckily, Stoney Curtis isn’t one of them in the slightest - even though, playing in Zone 5, the very heart of chartered accountant land, he so easily could have been . But no, he’s brilliant. Taking all the psychedelic and freaky elements of Cream, Hendrix, the Groundhogs, Robin Trower, Beck Bogert & Appice, Taste and most of all Blue Cheer, but adding to it a slightly more hard rock sound (later on, during the show, he admits to having grown up as a Kiss fan) and jettisoning any of the plodding elements which often so restrict that form of music, he made Chislehurst on a Tuesday evening come alive.
Having actually walked in some 20-odd minutes into the show at 9.55, I obviously missed most of the build-up, but on the other hand, it means I’m serenaded by the most mouth-wateringly throbbing, squalling, wah-wah guitar I’ve heard live in years, backed by a rhythm section that understand the free-form ebb and flow necessary to make this music interesting and free it from the confines of trad-dad rock plod hell. For all that the drummer Jesse Bradman, while technically flawless, has yet to fully embrace the jazz ethos of a Ginger Baker, Keef Hartley or Mitch Mitchell, and still leans a little too close to the precise thump and bludgeon of a metal drummer, but he’ll get there eventually, and that’s what matters: likewise bassist Barry Barnes, with his pre-torn jeans, white t-shirt and high-held pluckage, has the air of a session musician rather than a full-blown bandmember, but all that will change with time.
And as it changes, we’ll also of course be able to watch Curtis himself develop: his last album Cosmic Connection emphasised the trippier, spacier elements of his sound, and featured several expansive experiments in acid blues (some aired tonight) that rank among the most unusual things I’ve heard done with the format in decades, but as far as productions go, it still erred too much on the side of the Formula-One loving Classic Rock reader and seemed afraid to plunge headlong into the murky waters of full head music. Then again, with a talent like his, he could actually go in any direction, as the more pop-rock-sounding 'Mouthful Of Honey', bringing to mind long-forgotten 70s names like Starz, Piper and even Dwight Twilley, hinted. Either way it’s going to be interesting….
He loses marks for the final track, which does in the end degenerate into the kind of meandering blues-jammery he obviously seeks to provide an alternative to (even if its slight jazz phrasing does bring to mind the Dixie Dreggs) and for a pointless cover (do we really need another rendition of 'All Along The Watchtower', even if sped up to pounding-double time with full on fuzz fretwork?) but when he lets rip and allows himself to stretch out, he’s on the verge of greatness, to the point where you could almost be forgiven for thinking the new Tommy Bolin (with the voice of Dickie Peterson) had finally arrived. Well, someone has to assume the mantle. Will Stoney Curtis be the man? Will he stay in Shindig territory or slide across the water into cosy melodic blues rock infamy, boarding the last train to Clarksonville? Stay tuned.
DARIUS DREWE SHIMON
Monday, 12 December 2011
Pentagram / Horisont / Purson
The Garage, London
9 December 2011
Walking into the gig and finding Pentagram lead singer Bobby Liebling meeting and greeting by the merch stall half scares me to death – the bug eyed devilish imp freaks me out more than a wardrobe full of toads. I decline to meet the man – scared that in return for his autograph he might want my signature for some occult pact.
Purson open proceedings tonight. They have some very promising material but little in the way of stage presence. Frontwoman Rosalie is in great voice and has a mean guitar style though she’s stuck out on the side of the stage while the other members look disinterestedly on. The songs sound heavier and have more depth than their rather polite demos, particularly ‘Spiderwood Farm’, though their performance is somewhat flat. Hopefully they’ll improve as time goes on.
Horisont are next and blow up the venue. The band look like they’ve crawled out of a Bolton heavy metal bar in 1972 and have a sound to match, recalling ’70s classic rock with hints of doom and psych. Vocalist Axel Söderberg should be a huge star with his easy charisma and blood-curdling scream. ‘Nightrider’ from their debut sounds immense and the tracks from their second album sound better than the first. What more can I say? To paraphrase Victor Kiam: I liked the band so much I bought the t-shirt.
This is Pentagram’s first UK gig in a 40 year career and the band is hugely thankful to the crowd for fulfilling their dream of playing this country. Another lesson in stagecraft is provided by the magnetic central performance of Bobby Liebling, who resembles a horny satyr engaging in some perverted head-banging ritual. They play a crowd-pleasing set full of old favourites like ‘Sign of the Wolf’ and ‘All Your Sins’ – songs that are the basic DNA of all traditional doom metal that has followed. The material from the new album Last Rites sounds as strong as the old stuff too. On record the band are sometimes a dour prospect but they come alive on stage and show their creepy majesty to full effect tonight. An encore of ‘When the Screams Come’ and ‘Wartime’ send the leather-attired crowd home happy – or at least as happy as a doom crowd ever gets.
Friday, 9 December 2011
It Ain’t Human
Halfpenny Records LP / CD
Why doesn’t more rock’n’roll of today sound like this? Liverpudlian’s The Cubical return a couple of years after their debut with another splendorous collection of mutant blues. The brass-aided opener ‘Dirty Shame’ is a galloping beast that relies less on the Mersey and more on the Mississippi. It’s no slouch of an opening and displays just what is so special about this band. The album is a growler (and a grower): vocals, guitars, harmonica all grumble, snarl, roar, and grunt in equal measure. It makes for a pretty singular sound that may not be to everyones taste, but if you do find pleasure in it you’re going to love listening to It Ain’t Human over and over again. Excellence permeates all areas of this record.
It’s a record dipped in The Magic Band but not to the point of parody. Other touchstones are surely Howlin’ Wolf (Hubert Sumlin RIP), The Jim Jones Revue and Nick Cave’s early work with Boys Next Door/The Birthday Party. But don’t go thinking this is an album of bluster and noise: on the New Orleans piano-led ‘Falling Down’ and the acoustic murder ballad 'Paper Walls' their yearning, vulnerable side is forthright. Though this being The Cubical the music still sounds claustrophobic and haunted. Whatever you do don’t file under ‘garage’, for it would a major disservice to such a demented, swampy, and intoxicating piece of work.
The Cubical play the Happening club at The Drop in Stoke Newington on Saturday March 3rd.
Thursday, 8 December 2011
Underworld, Camden, London, November 2 2011
Professional naysayers and cynics will tell you that no band should ever reform. To do so is to trample on a legend, to bring it back to earth from the magic universe in which it floats, to vainly deny the ageing process and a whole load of other bollocks espoused by people, still, 34 years on, espousing the ‘live fast die young’ bollocks. We should all die under 30, to prevent senility and sliding into middle-aged comfort, the very things ‘rock and roll’ is supposed to oppose. The other thing we should never do, of course, is listen to prog of any kind- except Krautrock, because it’s allowed on account of its ‘motorik minimalism’.
Oops, looks like Cressida have disobeyed all the sacred covenants then, by dint of (a) reforming some 40 years after their last gig, and (b) playing unashamedly progressive, psychedelic jazz-tinged rock. Oh, and by being unbelievably transcendentally brilliant. Of course there’s still room for doubt, as some things just can’t be the same all those years on, and I have seen both Dr Strangely Strange and Fleur De Lys be heartbreakingly pants within the last four years. But there are no such worries to be had about Cressida. After a short introduction-speech-thank you to “the new generation of progressive fans keeping the name alive” from drummer Iain Clark, they’re off, never looking back- almost as if those missing 40 years had never happened. And all this after merely two rehearsals. ‘That’ soft yet throbbing Peter Jennings organ sound, played as authentically close to the original arrangement as possible, the educated, professor-like vocals of Angus Cullen, the grinding, full-chord basslines of Kevin McCarthy- all sound exactly as they do on record, only even more alive.
It’s impossible to gauge without talking to them whether Cressida’s London of 1969 and 1970 was the refined yet unconventional, slightly hallucinogenic world of velvet trousers, draped rooms and girls both simultaneously beflowered and deflowered we dream of, or whether a grimmer existence forged out of cold-water flats, bombings, strikes and endless police harassment loomed, but all you have to do is close your eyes and you’re there, in the former, utopian ideal of progressive psychedelia. The simultaneously grey and pink streets of the London depicted in umpteen Britsploitation films floats across your eyes as the band also float across 'Winter Is Coming Again', 'The Only Earthman In Town' and 'Asylum', instruments intertwining and interlocking in ever-variable patterns yet never falling too far into the pit of self-indulgence or losing track of that most precious of commodities, the song.
In fact, Cressida’s two albums, arriving as they did just on the end of one era and the cusp of another, with the frilly-collared Mods giving way to the darker, hairier chapter to come could be seen, along with the better-known likes of the Moody Blues, BJH, Caravan, Procol Harum and Soft Machine, together with similarly ‘lost’ gems from Aardvark, Arazchel, Forever Amber and Gracious, to be a watershed in the development of the music loved by many Shindiggers. While outwardly progressive in its thinking and embracing of jazz, classical, baroque and even Latin elements, there is still a definite pop sensibility, as shown on 'To Play Your Little Game', and never, even during monumental epics like 'Let Them Come When They Will' and their defining moment 'Munich' do the band descend into widdly for the sake of widdly: no song seems too long, some even ending abruptly (disappointingly if you like your music on the very edge of experimental, but beautiful nonetheless) just at the point where they may have otherwise taken flight, and several (particularly one ironically entitled 'Depression') have the air, however accidentally, of many a psych club dancefloor hit .
This, of course, is a reflection of their era more than actual intent: had they stuck around in post-Yes 1971, there might have been a whole other story of far greater grandiosity to tell. As it is, part of the charm of Cressida is in the air of ‘unfinished masterpieces’ they convey by presenting their music in the unreconstructedly, unashamedly 1969/70 style in which it was created, relying simply on Hammond and electric guitar (with occasional forays into acoustic and piano) set against fleeting, dextrous beats that traverse the outer ‘cosmic dimensions’ but remain firmly rooted in the streets of London and its surrounding towns. At the start, sure, vocals waver and riffs are disjointed, but that’s only to be expected, and the more they persevere, they nail it- to an ecstatic, whooping, hollering response the likes of which, even if half their families are in tonight, they could never have expected years ago. Talk about a hero’s welcome. Even the normally unflappable Chris Welch is impressed, while fellow musicians who still look to them for inspiration today, such as Lee Dorian and Nick Saloman, stand either side of me in sheer awe.
The question is, where will they go from here? Outwardly healthy, fit, hale and hearty in their early 60s, with only one original member sadly departed and obviously still with a few tunes up their sleeves, you’d hope they were back for good. Their re-emergence also bodes well for other bands of a similar vintage blinking back into the spotlight. I can confirm, though, that Shindig! is a hundred percent behind them. To paraphrase a certain lyric, the pleasure is ours and always will be.
DARIUS DREWE SHIMON
Wednesday, 7 December 2011
Tuesday, 6 December 2011
The romantic soundscapes of vintage Red House Painters are the most obvious influences on these dreamy post-psychedelic love songs. Opener ‘Airborne’ floats into the room with all the warmth of a prodigal son returning from far off lands, bearing gifts and stories of amorous adventures, while ‘Siam’ hints at the proggy ruminations of Japan. Delicate synth swashes cascade over ‘From The Air’ and the production throughout is as crystal clear as that frosty mountain stream glistening in the winter sun on the Hawtin-designed cover. There’s also a nostalgic reminder of the bedsitter folk stylings of Nick Drake aficionado Scott Appel on the winsome tearjerker, ‘Screens’ and the lengthy closer ‘The Love Song of Howard Hughes’ splashes some glitchy, Depeche Mode-styled synth across an expansive lament of lost love and self-exploration anchored by the key lyric, “I travelled the world around and found, in truth, I never left.” Ponder the existential implications of that one as you enjoy this fabulous release from a promising new label (and artist) to look forward to for years to come.
Shindig!: How did you guys get together?
William Yates (singer): Well all of us, apart from Oliver (organ), are originally from Northamptonshire. Myself and Nicholas (guitarist) are brothers and had always wanted to play in a band together but never found the right moment. Nick, Martyn and Alec (bass) had all met at Northampton Music College. We all coincidentally moved to Brighton in the summer of 2009 and it just happened. Within a few weeks of starting a band Martyn and Alec saw Oliver, who had also just moved to Brighton from Switzerland, playing 'Outside Woman Blues' by Cream and then we had our organ player. It all came together fairly easily.
Shindig!: How would you describe your sound?
Martyn Lillyman (drummer): We started playing pretty straight up 60's music, heavy organ sounds and jams because that was a big common interest for us all. As time has past our sound has matured, we've found a balanced mix of modern & vintage: sixties, blues, folk and there’s possibly also some jazz in there.
Shindig!: What are your live shows like?
William Yates: Our live shows are the most important thing for us, we have songs people can dance to, sing to and also moments you could cry to.
Nicholas Yates: They're energetic with some really intense moments and they are never the same, which I guess is sticking to our sixties roots. We're still waiting for a gig where a piece our gear doesn't fail on us!
Shindig!: Who are you main influences ? Is any contemporary music inspiring?
Martyn Lillyman: The list of influences is endless for all of us, for me, its anything from Charles Mingus to The Doors, the 20's to the 70's. Sly and the family Stone and of course Bob Dylan & The Band!
William Yates: All music is inspiring to me, contemporary music just as much. We love The Bees, Devendra Banhart, Ian Dury and Tame Impala.
Shindig!: What have you put out so far?
We put out our first four track EP in the beginning of 2010 and we are currently doing an online release of our second EP which we recorded at Cold Room Studios Oxford with Mark Gardener (Ride). We also released a few home recorded singles online.
Shindig!: What was the last album you brought?
Martyn Lillyman: She's On The Rise/That's My Woman 7” by Jouis (local Brighton band)
William Yates: The 5000 spirits or the layers of the onion by The Incredible String Band
Nicholas Yates: Hot Tropics by The Growlers
Oliver Patrice: Cry Wilf! by Howlin' Wilf (James Hunter)
Alec Nash: Cliff Richard sings Ultimate Number 1 Xmas Hits!
Shindig!: What has been your favourite band moment so far?
Martyn Lillyman: Playing a gig in Madrid.
William Yates: Festival season.
Nicholas Yates: Having our own studio to record and rehearse in.
Oliver Weder: Our gig on a roof top in the Lanes, Brighton.
- What is your burning desire for the band to do in 2012? What are your plans?
In the beginning of 2012 we are going to release a set of self-produced singles and hopefully embark upon a European Tour. Keep going and reach as many people as we possibly can all over the world...
To hear their latest music visit Soundcloud
Monday, 5 December 2011
THE GOOD THE BAD
From 018 to 033
Denmark’s The Good The Bad treat us to a whistle stop tour of swaggering, earthy rock and roll, soaring guitar solos, crazy staccato rhythm, galloping surf workouts, doomy drums and horns to wake the dead, all careering down a dirt road searching for the right spaghetti western to act as soundtrack to.
Cutting away all unnecessary packaging, eschewing lyrics and concentrating on the vital organs of the music that excites, chills and downright pollutes the blood, our Nordic cholos have delivered a no-frills but plenty-thrills evocation of the sort of 60’s instrumentals you would otherwise have to listen up for in your favourite rep cinema.
Often reduced to short, sharp shocks of guitar, sudden explosive drum breaks, our Northern cousins’ brutal, carry-no-passengers approach to creating their tribute to some of the most untameable music of the decade we all love, augmented by only a scattering of alternately breathy or angelic female vocal. Their refusal to give names to their compositions, only numbers, highlights the succinct nature of their writing.
I’ve probably sold this CD to the surf nuts and soundtrack fetishists among you, but the rest of you should check this out, too. The unholy marriage of Bach-like organ to fuzzy guitar, Mexican horns playing them in, will have you bolt upright in your chair, and the flamenco guitar later on will have you scouring your memory for the name of the Tex/Mex western you swear it appeared in.