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Friday, 30 December 2011

Event: Happening the clubnight, London, Saturday January 7th

The fun never stops round here you know. The first Happening of the year is on Saturday January 7th and we have has three kick-ass garage bands ready to blow yer January blues away..

Live on stage...

Then resident DJ PHIL ISTINE and guest DJ STEVE COLEMAN will spin your world via ’60s/’70s dancefloor psychedelia, garage, beat, and general rock’n’roll wondermints!

@ The Drop, below The Three Crowns, 175 Stoke Newington High Street London N16 0LH
8.00pm-4am, £6 entry. Buses: many. Train: Stoke Newington (from Liverpool St)

‘Happening’ has now established itself in London as the grooviest place to sample the delights of the Shindig! universe. The leading magazine for ’60s and ’70s music, in conjunction with Sweet but Deadly Promotions, have made a corner of Stoke Newington, The Drop, their own little subcultural haven, inviting the best band’s and DJs to stoke the sonic fires. Come meet, greet and party with like-minded souls ’til your head explodes with delight!

Record Review - The Mobbs

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

Record Review - Thee Eviltones

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.

‘Eyes’ kicks off with Madmanroll’s fuzz riff that draws you in, and the chorus has another riff, this time on organ...and wow, it if isn’t all just delivered with panache and passion to release a garage-surf-punk-psychobilly mash-up that calls you back for more. They were even generous enough to throw in a cover of one of the best dark Stones cuts, ‘Paint It Black’, for seemingly no other reason that it sounds a hoot to play. Jimi Struselis voice is central to the appeal of In The Shadow Of The Beast, as he alternatively speaks, sings, sneers, and screams. He never lets up, and nor do the shit-hot rhythm section. The band have clearly learnt their chops and delivered the rock goods. Go get this album, then go seem them live. Both will darkly brighten your world in 2012.


Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Live Review: Steeleye Span & Friends

Barbican Centre, London, December 19 2011

In my Slade review (see below) I pointed out that their 1975 hit ‘Far Far Away’ was the first single my parents ever bought me, at the tender age of two. Apparently it was one of only two songs capable of making me shut the fuck up and stop crying in my pushchair: the other was Steeleye Span’s 'All Around My Hat'. How coincidental, then, that I should be seeing both bands one night after the other this Christmas. It almost seems like some strange portentous foreboding harbinger of something, although I’m buggered if I know what.

It makes sense, though, because Steeleye have always been there, beckoning me to return to them again and again, and while they’re still wont to still take risks, push the envelope and do challenging things with electric folk music, there’s something reassuringly familiar about seeing them once a year on stage: a bit like visiting an old relative you know you’ll be welcomed by, but being taken aback each time by their new décor and the way they’ve had their garden done. They also radiate, and have always radiated, a warmth which has been sadly absent in the music of their contemporaries Fairport Convention (though I still admire them) for maybe two decades now- a warmth which glows consistently throughout tonight’s performance. Or maybe that’s just the lights.

Actually maybe it’s because attending a Steeleye gig is still, even in 2011, like being invited to a wassailing banquet in a mediaeval castle stocked with flagons of fine ale, freshly farmed food and nubile serving wenches whilst “antiente sayges“ unravel tayles of murdyrr, mysterrie and myrrth. Or at least in my head it is. In reality we’re in a postmodernist theatre in EC1, and it’s pissing down outside. But the minute violinist Peter Knight plucks the pizzicato intro to 'Seven Hundred Elves' and Liam Genockey thruds the backbeat into life, the fantasy takes over. These days there’s less pressure to play newer material, allowing them to play the entire Now We Are Six album in full: an interesting choice, especially as it features three tunes which still split the vote to this day (the title track, which consists of three riddles set to music, and covers of 'Twinkle Twinkle Little Star' and 'To Know Him Is To Love Him'), but all three work in this setting, particularly the latter, where rhythm guitarist Pete Zorn replicates David Bowie’s legendary sax solo from the original (Steeleye’s that is, not the Teddy Bears) beautifully, and Maddy Prior’s vocals reach enough otherwise untapped heights of soulful rockiness to make you wish they’d explored the route further.

I’m not entirely sure if they’re playing the tracks in their original order or that of the recently re-recorded CD (a bit of both, methinks) but dark, brooding murder ballads like 'Edwin' and 'Thomas The Rhymer' sound perfect in any order, with Rick Kemp handling the long-absent Bob Johnson’s vocals as if he’d been doing it from the off, while 'Two Magicians', which will be known to any Current 93 fans reading this as “Oh Coal Black Smith” is an absolute delight, boasting possibly the most difficult yet simultaneously the most infectious chorus in folk and a breezy cheerfulness that masks yet again its subversive, shamanistic nature. He wrote some deep lyrics, that “Trad Arr” bloke. On the rockier numbers, new lead guitarist Julian Littman (yes, Britsploitation buffs, he of Hammer Horror Black Carrion infamy) manages to imprint his own personality on that by-now-standardised folk-rock fuzz riffage which Steeleye are probably more responsible for than anyone else.

Having a new lineup but no new material to plug also means the band are able to stretch out and dig more deeply during the second half, but first, there’s the curious interlude of the Acoustic Strawbs: one would have thought it might have made more sense to have them on at the start, but the “middling” effect proves successful. Messrs Cousins, Cronk and Lambert (the latter still one of the country’s most underrated guitarists) bestride their strange engagement like the seasoned professionals they are, and there’s a new resonance in their fingerpicking tonight, particularly on the solos to 'Autumn” “Ghosts' and 'Lay Down', but, despite remaining high on my personal list of fave bands, they lose major points for delivering practically the same set they’ve purveyed in their acoustic incarnation for about seven years now (even to the point of the inter-song banter that seems so meticulously rehearsed you’re searching the stage for the autocue) and for two of them being woefully out of time with each other during an otherwise beautifully strident 'New World'. Still, playing the same seven songs night after night must wear on the artist eventually: maybe time for a little variation, chaps? You’ve got 45 years’ worth of classics to choose from. The response to the rarely-aired single 'The King' from 1981, on which Maddy reappears to duet with Cousins, would seem to confirm this, as it’s by far and away the highlight of their 45 minutes.

While the Span’s second outing also features a few hardy perennials we’ve all come to expect ('The Lark In The Morning' and the inevitable '…..Hat' among them) they’re performed with such impassioned gusto they still feel new, especially with founder and folk titan Martin Carthy joining the ensemble for several numbers. I defy anyone, no matter how cool they may think themselves, to not sing rumbustiously along with the latter when presented with it at full volume. Ironically the one he doesn’t stick around for is 'Cold Haily Windy Night', which he first brought to the band on the superb Please To See The King album in 1972, possibly because the band have, in Kemp’s words, “nailed a riff to it”, but the reworked version’s near-metal gallop is, by all means, a bit of a belter - as is the ominous, rumbling prog-jazz of 'The Bonny Black Hare'. It features enough Mahavishnu-like fiddlage from Knight and shrieking of its ribald lyric from Prior to scare the crap out of the assembled pensioners. Now that, Mr Munford and your bloody Sons, is folk-rock. Watch and learn.

Steeleye Span have never been cool , either as a name to drop during the acid-folk revival of ’03-04, or at their commercial peak in ’74-76 (maybe because they had a commercial peak), and when they veer annoyingly toward the safe and staid end of their genre, as on 'Two Constant Lovers', which, even prefaced by Knight’s wry Sarf London humour, is too close to MOR for these ears. It can jar somewhat, all the more so when compared with the eerie brilliance they’re otherwise capable of. But what makes them still so enthralling after 40 years is that they clearly don’t give a shit. That and the fact that at their best they’re untouchable masters of a timeless craft. This music is older than the hills, and will still be around when we’re all gone, as the final closing harmonies of perhaps that most overlooked of Christmas singles, 'Gaudete' reiterate. One of rock’s more unique standalone moments, it never fails to chill the spine or moisten the eye. I’d love to hear the locals attempt that one whilst carol-singing. If the structure of tonight’s show leaves no room for similar favourites like 'Sheep Crook And Black Dog', 'Long Lankin', 'Royal Forester, the fuzz-fest that is 'Alison Gross' or the ever-pertinent 'Hard Times Of Old England', rest assured that they’ll all be back. And so will I.


Friday, 23 December 2011

Live Review: Slade

Koko, London, December 18

Sometimes, in the course of this journalism lark, you take advantage of your position to attend shows that, as a fan, even if earning twice my current salary you probably wouldn’t shell out twenty squids’ worth of your hard-earned for. And tonight, I suppose, is one of them. Let’s be honest, there’s not that many people, outside the hardcore fanbase and a few casual Xmas nostalgia-seekers, who would push out the sovs on a cold, overcast Sunday to see Slade, minus Noddy Holder and Jimmy Lea, especially starting at 7.15 pm and finishing by 8.45. Even if it is all in aid of the Lords’ Taverners.

All such considerations taken, though, I’m glad I got off my arse, got my boots on, got down, and got with it, as tonight Slade were far better than I or anyone else had a right to imagine, and exceeded several of (if not quite all) my expectations. True, they’re never out of work, and have been playing in this incarnation now for the best part of 17 years, mainly abroad where they’re warmly welcomed. Also, speaking as one who watches the Stranglers every year without fail, who promoted Sweet twice with only Andy Scott remaining from the original band, and continues to this day an association with the Holton-less Heavy Metal Kids, I’m not, obviously, averse to the idea of classic acts with new lineups. But for some reason, the thought of a Noddy-less Slade always seemed a little beyond the pale. That is, until they hit the stage…

The minute Don Powell begins thumping the intro to 'We’ll Bring The House Down', after which Dave Hill appears, hat and silver cape in place, holding his Firebird aloft and peeling out the riff, and Mal McNulty (their vocalist for some 8 years now) screams “WOH-O-O-OH-OH!!” , things begin to fall into place, and then it dawns on you: you’re watching Slade. Not a tribute band (which I’ve seen enough of in my time) but Slade, or at least as close as you’re likely to get barring some miracle capable of dragging Holder out of comfortable DJ semi-retirement. Koko isn’t exactly full tonight (fair enough, those stage times would have put most people off) but the 500-odd attendees go suitably nuts, and with due cause, as when they put their mind to it, as on the booming, cavernous 'Take Me Bak Ome' the fist-punching onslaught of 'Lock Up Your Daughters' or the ultimate arm-waver 'Far Far Away' (your humble scribe’s very first single, bought for him by his Mum at the tender age of 2!) , Slade are great.

Tue, when they don’t, they’re uncomfortably sloppy- 'Everyday', whilst still inducing similar singalong hysteria, is played a little too slow to keep the adrenalin up, and Hill unnecessarily fluffs an otherwise perfect, tub-thumping, fiddle-scraping rendition of 'Coz I Luv You' by pausing in the middle to make the audience sing accapella - something that doesn’t happen in the original and is therefore a little pointless, not to mention confusing. Luckily, they pull together and get it back again, and when they do, the effect is simply colossal. Plus, when fully on fire, even during lesser-known '90s material like 'Red Hot' and 'I Hear You Calling', it’s impossible to not recognise this man as the unheralded guitar hero of 70s rock he truly is- even if he does belong nowadays to some nutty religion that has as much to do with rock and roll as Abu Hamza does with a kosher Shabat.

Powell, a man who nearly perished in a hideous tree/car window/head interface many years ago but thankfully lived to tell the tale, is no slouch either, and while I may wish he’d shuffle like he used to on 'Gudbuy T Jane' and 'Mama Weer All Crazee Now', he still pounds the skins with the power of a mammoth, his hair flailing the way it did at a million sold-out theatres between 1970 and 1975 and several in the '80s too. With so many hits to choose from, it’s great to see the less obvious 'Bangin’ Man' in there: needless to say, there’s no room for psych-era obscurities like 'One Way Hotel', 'Pouk Hill', 'Knocking Nails Into My House' and 'Shape Of Things To Come', or, indeed, my all-time favourite from 1976, 'Nobody’s Fool'. But be honest, you wouldn’t expect there to be, and if they avoid that era entirely, then there’s no chance of the dreadful 'Dapple Rose' either, so be thankful for small mercies.

“AAAAALWRAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIGHT EVERYBOOOODY!! LET YOOOOUUUUR HAAAAAAAAAAAAAAIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIR DOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOWWWWNNNNN” yells Mc Nulty, and suddenly we’re at the climax: a pounding 'Get Down….' (the song that singlehandedly turned a zillion suedehead soulboys into heavy rockers) followed by the arm-linking sway of 'My Oh My', which in turn gives way to a triumphant 'Cum On Feel The Noize' (prefaced by another ear-splitting vocal intro, of course) and inevitably leads to that song- you know, the one they always play on the radio this time of year. It may be cheesy now, but after all these years and God knows how many overplays, it never loses sight of its Beatles/Bee Gees influence (lest we forget, it began life as a Toytown popsiker entitled Buy Me A Rocking Horse') and there, in that hall, played by two of the people who originally recorded it, it regains every inch of its former resonance.

In reality, of course, Christmas is a bloody horrible time of year, a hideous commercial enterprise designed to drain the West of its money and propagate capitalism, and the future that’s “only just begun” will probably be worse than the past (the sight of tens of shopworn, tired housewives atop the balcony, who at one time were probably the lithe young platform-booted things grooving to the band on TOTP, only serving as a further reminder of our own mortalities) but for 90 minutes, in the confines of Koko’s ornate walls, if you were one of those singing along, or linking arms, stomping boots and yelling “WE WANT SLADE!” at the top of your voice like it was still ’74, you could almost genuinely believe there was a true festive season, and four blokes from Wolverhampton were going to bring it gift-wrapped to you. It wasn’t perfect by any means - it could have been tighter, it could have been later, and, considering we’re dealing with a band to whom ‘noize’ is paramount, it could have been a lot louder - but it was pure, unadulterated fun, of the kind not oft experienced in oh-so-cool Central London. After a whole year of digesting lost prog and psych nuggets, it was great to sing along with some songs I’ve known practically all my life. Just one thing, though - if, as they say, the best rock and roll is catchy and infectious by nature, do yow think that explynes woi soomthing funnoi has happund ter moi accsunt?


Live Review: Michael Chapman

Café Oto, London, December 17

70 years old, and some 45 years into his career, Michael Chapman finally appears to not only be undergoing some kind of career renaissance, but finally receiving the acclaim that should have been accorded him several decades ago as a true pioneer. And about bloody time too: with the deaths in the last three years of John Martyn, Davey Graham and Bert Jansch, people are starting to realise that this gruff-voiced Yorkshireman, alongside his contemporaries John Renbourn, Robin Williamson, Mike Heron, Martin Carthy and Wizz Jones, is one of the last few remaining treasures the acoustic guitar has got. Plus he writes brilliant lyrics. Let’s not mince words, the man is a genius….
Opening his set with a six-minute instrumental (“my Mum used to prefer those”, he quips in the first of many priceless witticisms) may have got the avant-garde cognoscenti of Oto prematurely excited, thinking they might be about to witness a show based around his recent, noise collage-based album, which, after all, did make no.6 in Wire’s albums of the year list) but no, this is Mike’s show, and if he decides you’re going to get songs, then that’s what you get. Quite frankly, I’m relieved- I’d rather hear the warm, pondering tones of 'Shuffleboat River Farewell' and the evergreen, Zep-inspiring 'Kodak Ghosts' than a whole set-full of new stuff anyway, and judging by the rapturous reception the Leeds troubadour gets, he has made the right decision.

Snapshots of his life both preface and permeate each song, giving rare insight into the work of an iconoclastic artist: a humorous vignette about meeting an apparent stranger in Waterstones turns into a quite poignant admission that he didn’t recognise his own ex-wife, and is suffixed by an equally moving (yet never sentimental) song detailing the same. And while he writes many of his songs in similar keys, this creates both an air of connection and a conceptual link, rather than tending towards repetition the way it would do in the hands of a lesser composer. Still, while Chapman’s words may be among the most unique, candid and well-chosen ever penned, and remain my personal favourite aspect of his sound, it’s his guitar playing, possibly even more deft now than in his heyday of '70-'76, that many have come to admire, and they are amply rewarded.

Twirling, swirling, intertwining flurries of notes, endless circular riffs and thrashes of occasional spite merge into one another, while ragtime and blues couple and rub shoulders with the gentlest, most pizzicato finger playing I’ve witnessed on the instrument. The fascination is so intense you could hear a pin drop. This truly is the power of Michael Chapman, and while, like Al Stewart, I’d like to see him play with a full electric band again one day, and revisit some of those tunes, I realise that not only does the budget not necessarily stretch to it, but at this stage in his career, he doesn’t have to: he can manage perfectly well enough on his own, and with more dignity.

Rather than the usual 'Soulful Lady', the encore is instead a mournful Latin-based instrumental dedicated to the recently departed Christopher Hitchens, but the patrons of Oto tonight have little to be melancholy about. At 70, Michael Chapman, the man who for years remained best-known for apprenticing Mick Ronson and thus inspiring half the material on The Man Who Sold The World, is finally becoming better known for his own work, but while he seems to show no sign of slowing down (this is his third London gig alone in two months) he won’t be around forever either, so go and see him while you still can. That’s an order- a fully qualified order.


Thursday, 22 December 2011

Album Review: The Dustaphonics

The Dustaphonics
Party Girl
King-A-Ling Records

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.

Hailing from all corners of the globe (France, England, USA, South Africa and Jamaica) they recapture a timeless vibe which feels untouched from today's pigeonholing. With ties to the likes of The Headcoats, The Milkshakes, Ronnie Dawson, The White Stripes, and Billy Childish to name a few they are a well-oiled lo-fi beat machine, with the rev's high and engine running clean. Picture Link Wray driving a green 69' Dodge Charger with Clint Eastwood riding shotgun, hammering down the salt flats - shooters 'a blazing in hot pursuit of Hunter S Thompson with Dick Dale in the trunk. All the while Barbarella and Betty Page are sporting sombreros, swigging tequila and getting freaky in the back. This would be the soundtrack.

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.

Nick Banner

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Event: Lyres back in Europe and London

Boston garage legends Lyres are back in Europe in February for a tour alongside The Sick Rose. Jeff Connolly's long-running outfit play 4 dates in Italy before their first UK show in six years in London on Monday February 13th at 93 Feet East on Brick Lane.

With a sound that takes in The Seeds, The Animals, and Them, the organ-driven sound of these originators adds in psychedelia and blue-eyed soul to give them a unique place in the garage pantheon. ‘What A Girl Can't Do’, ‘Help You Ann’, ‘How Do You Know’...if you go expect to hear all the classics plus more besides! The London show will see support from The Hypnotic Eye, London’s new flower punk sensations. “Sultry organ-led garage” is how Rhys Webb of The Horrors described them recently.

2011 early bird tickets for London are priced at just £8 and available HERE. The Facebook event is HERE. Do yourselves a favour by getting your tickets purchased now!

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Live Review: 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.


Live Review: Simon Finn

Café Oto, Dalston, London
December 10 2011

If a week is a long time in politics, then 40 years is a sod of a long time in psychedelic folk music. Simon Finn, on the other hand, doesn’t look like he’s suffered too badly throughout that period, and in the seven or eight years since his ‘rediscovery’ at the hands of a certain David Tibet of Hastings, and the reissue of his 1971 classic Pass The Distance - which we’re assembled here tonight to see him perform all or most of - he’s been super-active, issuing at least four more studio albums of a comparable standard.

Like Lancashire’s very own Rundgren, John Howard, Finn is evidently making up for lost time, and both have a lot to say about the world we live in, but whereas Howard’s muse bears an often whimsical, sequin-tinted sepia tint, Finn (a man whose hunched, ever-ponytailed, rocking-back-and-forth posture is endemic of his almost bitter outlook) comes from a darker place. A permanently minor-key world of disquieting doomed dirt tracks, rendering him the sort of artist you wouldn’t necessarily want to see if you were already in a foul mood.

In the manner of many of his rediscovered cult contemporaries, Finn’s early songs, such as the wistful ‘What A Day’ and ‘Pass The Distance’ itself often finish suddenly just as they’re about to flower into something truly incredible, or stop short of their full journey: this you could have attributed at the time to working on a low budget without the guiding hand of a producer, but interestingly enough, his more recent material like 'Under Stones' and a sole stab at nostalgic humour, 'Rich Girl With No Trousers', takes a similar path, almost as if he feels such incompletion is a lo-fi ethic he should now cling to for artistic integrity. Or maybe it’s just how it naturally comes out, and he doesn’t even think about it. Perhaps I’m analysing too much. And, all such considerations aside, his is an extraordinarily compelling and beautiful sound, where minimalist structures rub shoulders with some of the most unexpected melodic twists: meaning that even at their most simplistic it’s still a refreshing aural tonic.

If there is one sonic complaint, it’s to be found in the woefully cheap-sounding synthesiser strings that the otherwise phenomenally talented keyboardist Maja Elliott seems hell-bent on decorating certain tracks with, providing an unnecessary coat of 90s MOR varnish to Finn’s hitherto timeless rural sunset of broken buildings and gnarled trees. Fair enough, you work with the budget you’re given, but with grand piano work and harmony vocals that exemplary, and violinist Joolie Wood to the left providing a similar mixture of demonic possession and tranquil refinement, we’re in no need of such embellishments. In any case, with both sidewomen, like Simon himself, also functioning as auxiliary members of apocalyptic psych-folk collective Current 93 (an outfit who drew a fair amount of inspiration from Pass The Distance and its counterparts), there’s enough allusion there to that band’s back catalogue, in particular Soft Black Stars and Thunder Perfect Mind, to provide an extra layer should you require it.

Thus it’s only natural that the songs which should resound the most tonight are the ones which influenced two whole generations to form ‘acid folk’ bands, knit their own muesli and indulge in strange occult practices, namely 'The Courtyard', 'Big White Car' and the inevitable 'Jerusalem' – all bearing the mark of Finn’s angrier, more passionate knife-edge. Whether Christian, atheist or just plain cynical, its shrieking, pained lyric never fails to terrify, its unhinged aura still able to make Skip Spence and Maitreya Kali seem akin to AM Gold radio playlist material by comparison. The song gains hate-filled momentum with every chorus until its sudden finish also brings the evening to a close.

My only worry is that it may become a millstone around his neck to the point where he’ll refuse to play it, but with other musicians of a similar age dropping like flies every year, it’s privilege enough to merely see Simon Finn on tour playing anywhere at all, and in seemingly fine (if morose) health. Of all the recent ‘comebacks’ this is one that looks like it could run and run.


Monday, 12 December 2011

Ulysses Xmas single FREE DOWNLOAD

Click here to download single from Dropbox.

Ulysses '(I Wish You A) Merry Christmas' video... it's our #1 seasonal smash

Live review: Pentagram / Horisont / Purson

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.

Austin Matthews

Record Review - The Danvilles 'Women'

The Danvilles

Mike Hindert's (The Bravery) outfit release their second album: simple but layered, brooding and thoughtful, dirty yet elegant, timeless but bold.

The Danvilles new LP Women explores new reaches. It's a more sombre, a far cry from their previous LPs/compilations, but still emanates a particular recognisable sway. Setting the stride with 'Road', a soulful garage blues riff intertwined with a driving primitive beat gives you no chance to back out now. Although before you know it the tune blocks through to a toe tapping, shoe shuffle, and fifties-inspired pop number.

You can't necessarily put any one particular label on The Danvilles raucous movements, as it's constantly morphing throughout the 10 tracks. Sometimes the interchangeable sound can prove confusing, perhaps even distressing. It manages to redeem itself, and then becomes quite clear that this distress is apt - leaving the palette clear to be veneered once more. The real deal sealer would have to be the fantastic use of dark harmonies, and the background wails pulsating throughout. The substance is heavy, riddled with subtle acrimonious lyrics, and caustically acerbic emotions hidden amongst the jangle. Though in saying so, the overall feel is bright and intoxicating. The Danvilles manage to create a graceful ambience that pervades your skin, and up into your cerebral area.

Finishing up is 'Gamble', an epic number comprised of a fuzzy wall and constantly changing
tempo. It's a struggle to keep from going under, and trying to avoid the end of this beautifully tortured echo of an album that has definitely mastered a morose swagger you will continually revisit.

Nick Banner

Friday, 9 December 2011

Record Review - The Cubical 'It Ain't Human'

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.

Phil Istine

The Cubical play the Happening club at The Drop in Stoke Newington on Saturday March 3rd.

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Live Review: Sunburned Hand Of The Man

Café Oto, Dalston, London
December 1 2011

I’ll come straight to the point: Sunburned Hand Of The Man were amazing tonight, a flawless demonstration of all that’s still fascinating about underground American music. The supporting acts, on the other hand, were not. Yet it’s going to be very hard to say this, because it’s difficult to be honest about how bad you found the two opening acts of any bill when you later find them to be members of the very headline act you’ve come to enjoy. However, such is the nature of the ever-shifting, amorphous and constantly regenerating collective that is Sunburned that such an anomaly is perfectly possible. And lo and behold, tonight, it happens.

First we’re treated to rhythm guitarist Hush Arbors’ sit-down solo meanderings, none of which manage to grab me melodically in any way whatsoever. Violinist Samara Lubelski, here swapping her usual four strings for those of a strummed variety and also sat in classic introspective pose, is more interesting, as the ethereal, haunting nature of her vocals and the loneliness of her chord structures call to mind Edith Frost or even Linda Perhacs. But both of them did it so much better, and again, nothing grabs you. Is the Sunburned set going to be like this? Have they slid down the road into Americana hell? Please Gawd tell me it isn’t so….

Seeing the aforementioned two people wander onstage as members of the band helps to further raise my concern, but luckily, I needn’t have worried. From the opening shafts of echoing, rattling guitar noise to each twist and turn of the drums, thrumbling along betwixt the propulsive, the doomy and the downright awkward, this was a practical masterclass in how to do space rock 2011-style, with occasional diversions into the ‘free folk’ with which the band first made their name. Taking the swirling, dense topographies and driving attack of Neu!, Les Rallizes Denudes, Miles Davis, early Terje Rypdal, the Magic Band, Hawkwind and the Velvets but adding a more jagged, rural edge, Sunburned often teeter on the edge of the unclassifiable, with special guests Jim O’ Rourke (guitar) and Thurston Moore (guitar and readings from various odd texts, playing the first of three gigs in London that week) lending further credence to this.

Moore, a man who once claimed punk origins and a desire to ‘kill’ prog rock, is in truth anything but, and tonight did not go ‘ning ning ning’ on his axe in the time-honoured fashions of US indie, but instead thrashed and belted a flurry of sonic tapestries from six strings that would have done Chris Karrer or Tony McPhee proud. Such things will no doubt fly straight over the heads of the audience’s hipster-beard contingent, but they probably won’t read this anyway. Enough, though, of the guest star: SHOM have always been, like the Spontaneous Music Ensemble before them, about collective and unilateral improvisation (not to mention pulsing psychedelic energy) and it’s that very cross-pollination of ideas within an hour-long set that I personally find entrancing. After a slow-burning, almost bluesy interlude, violins and pianos come further to the fore, scraping and jarring in a standoff of strings, until the ensemble regain their regularity of pulse and finally erupt again into an expectedly chaotic finale: a one off occasion to treasure, as the next time you see them they’ll be completely different.

I can’t even tell you any songtitles, as chances are they made up what I heard tonight there and then on the spot and it will never be repeated, regurgitated or appropriated by the hands of industry. That’s the beauty of singularity for you. If only I hadn’t been so worn out by the uninspiring earthbound supports (even though within the context of the group, both were exemplary) tonight could have been a perfect, albeit somewhat brief, sojourn into a mysterious universe.


Live Review: Cressida


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.


Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Record Review – Guatafan

Chicas de Oro EP

The second release from this Valencian female trio is as sticky sweet as last year’s debut. The title track is an ’80s-inflected slice of bubblegum synthpop, chock full of percolating casios, pounding drum machines, and huggable vocals courtesy María López. Her partners Laura and Cristina add breathy backing support on ‘La Vida Me Sonríe’, which also sounds like you’ve been chained to the wall at the local video game arcade – all bloops, bleeps, and fa-la-las!

Flip this puppy over and the charming dance pop continues with ‘Examen Sorpresa’, within which I’d swear I can hear the musical accompaniment of chiming doorbells and clanging cowbells. They’re nothing if not inventive! ‘Un Día De Verano’ wraps up this perfect pop confection with more bubbles than a soap bath. Recommended to J-pop lovers and fans of everyone from Nikki & The Corvettes and The Primitives to Canadian cult poppers Tuuli and labelmates The School and Helen Love.
Jeff Penczak

Record Review – Pushy Parents

Secret Secret EP

Judging from their sound (twee pop at its finest) and promotional video, you’d think the average age of the members of this Swedish quartet was about 12. But hiding behind the cute kids are the talents of some of the finest purveyors of Swedish pop on the scene today. This studio-only project features the cuddly vocals of Amanda Aldervall (Free Loan Investments, The Busy Band, The Andersen Tapes), her former Free Loan Investments partner Roger Gunnarsson (The Happy Birthdays, Nixon), along with Daniel Janssen (The Consequences), and a composer/producer identified in the press release as Le Prix (possibly Johan Emmoth).  Together they’ve crafted one of the finest collections of bubbly pop to burst from your speakers this year.

The title track bounces along on the back of an incessant bass throb and tinkling keyboard riff that won’t leave your head for days. ‘Hold Me Tight or Let Me Go’ is a gorgeous slice of vintage ’60s girl group goodness and ‘He’s My Saturday’ is Lulu-meets-Nancy Sinatra channelled through Lesley Gore. Galloping backbeats, thumping, Northern Soul grooves, and Aldervall’s breathy vocals are sure to make this a solid, dance floor fave. Aldervall drops her voice a few octaves for the rousing finale, ‘Dear John’, which ventures into giddy, synth pop – imagine Lush produced by Ian Broudie. A definite candidate for single of the year!
Jeff Penczak

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Record Review – Red Horses Of The Snow

Flashback CD/LP

The inaugural release by this London duo also introduces us to the new imprint from the Islington store of the same name. Mark Burgess and Chris Hawtin have crafted a melancholic, shoegazing masterpiece, full of lush arrangements, endearing hooks, and swaying melodies, all buoyed by heartfelt vocals and intelligent lyrics that Hawtin describes as “geographical de-territorialisation – the contraction of real space in the age of technological acceleration.” In other words, it deals a lot with alienation in the 21st century!

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.
Jeff Penczak

Event: Le Beat Bespoke 8, London

The line-up for London's Le Beat Bespoke festival in 2012 has been announced, and it might just be the best one yet. Certainly it has that
immediate buzz about it, which the last couple had strangely lacked.

April 5th to 8th (in other words, Easter) will see (deep breath) The Jim Jones Revue, The Trashmen, The Pretty Things, Arthur Brown, July, Maxine Brown, The Pepperpots, The Poets, The Sorrows, and Wild Evel & The Trashbones all grace the stage, many of them playing exclusive '60s material only sets. Dirty Water Records will do their usual Saturday afternoon showcase, plus of course there will be the usual array of DJs spinning 60s sounds at the allnighter parties following the bands.

One day and weekend tickets are on sale now (various prices) from 229 The Venue. For more info visit the New Untouchables site.

Feature: an interview with The Peppermint Beat Band

Brighton's harmony rockers The Peppermint Beat Band are winning fans left, right and centre right now. Phil Istine caught up with them.

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

Record Review: The Good The Bad


From 018 to 033

self released Vinyl + CD / Stray Cat Records download

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.


Thursday, 1 December 2011

Record Review - Still Corners

Creatures Of An Hour

Londoners Still Corners have been threatening to unleash one hell of a debut album for several years now – and here it is. Like their spiritual cousins The Soundcarriers, The Hall Of Mirrors and Colorama, the Still Corners sound is an exotic stew of late ’60s psych, driving Krautrock beats, kitsch film soundtracks and more, yet manages to sound very 2011.

This is very much a mood album in that there’s little in the way of hummable tunes here. Rather, gorgeous winsome female vocals flit over the top of dreamy soundscapes. The singles, the shoeygazeyesque ‘Endless Summer’ and powerful ‘Into The Trees’ are obvious highlights, but the band are at their best on more gentle offerings like ‘The White Season’ (which features a wonderful fairground keyboard) and ‘I Wrote in Blood’ (which reminds of me the David Axelrod-produced Electric Prunes albums). My favourite debut album of 2011 – no question.

Ashley Norris

Record Review - Souvaris

Souvaris Souvaris

So good they self-titled it twice, Souvaris Souvaris is the third album by this Nottingham post-rock troupe. While it’s clearly cut from the same cloth as the abstracted textures of their previous efforts, this is sequined and tasselled, too; Souvaris pull out all the stops here and (unlike many in the genre’s canyon) you can imagine this lot cracking a smile every so often, too.

There’s an energetic whirr right from the opener, ‘El Puto Amo’, a glissando suffused with a Neu! insolence and rhythmic energy, while the more measured ‘Mooky’ is slower and considered, emotionally virulent in its aching, potent pauses. But it’s the closer, the nine-minute ‘Irreversible’, which is the real pearl: it evokes the early electro majesty of pre-Dare Human League, also veering towards the artier end of proper disco music, whilst retaining a fierce guitar crunch.

Souvaris Souvaris is like modernist architecture: cyclic, clean-lined and unapologetic.

Jeanette Leech