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Thursday, 22 September 2011

Events – Happening Club October with The Fabulous Penetrators

*HAPPENING Saturday October 1st*

Live acts:
the most testifyin’ mess of mothers you could possibly meet. They graduated from being Paloma Faith’s backing band into East London’s most wanted. Vaudevilles been left behind and their rocking debut brings sonic blasts of penetrating heaviness wherever you look.
They’ve heard Captain Beefheart, The Sonics, Little Richard, MC5, ZZ Top, The Cramps and a ton of other first-rate losers and taken those riffs back to whence they came. From their gut to yours, with love.

primordial surf trash from Scotland!

London's "Psyche Surf Pop" quartet. These 3 guys and a girl are going places, but tonight they start here!

DJs Phil Istine, Charlie Salvidge (Toy) and guest Rich Hero (B-Music/Wolf People tour DJ) will spin your world via ’60s/’70s dancefloor psychedelia, garage, beat, and general rock’n’roll

‘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!

@ 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)

Live Review – The Black Angels

Pic: Tanya Falconer
London Scala
September 19 2011
Success like this for underground music must breed a wonderful confidence. The Texan psychedelicists have quadrupled their London audience in a year from whenst I last reported. And all that touring, whilst it may have just dented their edge (I definitely saw signs of

fatigue on stage this evening), has certainly made them heroes of sorts. The cerebral, religious atmosphere – the place was in near silence before and during the show – meant no distractions and the music could transport. Their krautrock rhythms came to life in this
old cinema, whereas they frustratingly remain hidden in layers of reverbed guitar on record. 

Playing assortments from all three studio albums, plus a couple of recent B-sides, the band pleased everyone. They are the sludgy Doors, the hypnotic Elevators, the battle-worn
Spacemen, the backwater Velvets... and yet they are still all their own. Many have tried with these influences and most have never outgrown them. Tonight I think TBA showed they have. Finishing with their most ferocious number 'Telephone' Alex Maas states "It took us a
while to warm to you London, but we love you now" –  and the feeling on this evidence is mutual.
Phil Istine

Film – The Last American Hero

Second Sight

With a screenplay based on Tom Wolfe's landmark 1965 essay of the same name originally published in Esquire magazine and later re-printed in the collection The Kandy-Kolored Tangerine-Flake Streamline Baby which in turn was based on the true life story of Junior Johnson – nominated as one of Nascar's All Time 50 Greatest Drivers – The Last American
Hero is a pedal to the metal, gas-guzzling, tyre-smoking rags to riches tale from the depths of America's rural South.

Long before True Grit, The Big Lebowski and The Fabulous Baker Boys like an apprentice King Midas on the make the young Jeff Bridges was in the habit of landing himself leading roles with a number of highly respected directors early on in his career. Witness his performances in Peter Bogdanovich's The Last Picture Show, John Huston's Fat City,
Robert Benton's Bad Company and Michael Cimino's Thunderbolt And Lightfoot and now, released on DVD in the UK for the first time, the vastly under-rated yet eminently watchable The Last American Hero which likewise belongs to the youthful Bridges' glittering string of
early ’70s successes.

Directed by Lamont Johnson a veteran of such classic US TV series as Have Gun Will Travel, Peter Gunn, The Twilight Zone, Naked City and The Defenders, The Last American Hero was originally released in 1973 and stars the fresh faced Bridges as Elroy Jackson Jr (aka Junior
Johnson) the hero of the title with the action transposed from Johnson's glory days on the motor speedways during the ’50s and ’60s to the late ’60s and early ’70s. From playing games of cat and mouse with the local sheriff while delivering loads of bootleg moonshine from his
father's illegal still along the back roads of his native North Carolina the film plots Junior Johnson's unstoppable rise through the ranks of local demolition derbies, the provincial stock car circuit and on to the holy grail of the exhalted ranks of Nascar racing.

With Bridges memorably supported throughout by an excellent cast which includes Gary Busey, Ned Beatty, Valerie Perrine and Ed Lauter, a sprinkling of suitably high octane race action and a soundtrack featuring the late lamented Jim Croce ('I Got A Name'), The Last American Hero authentically brings to life both the sleepy backwoods of smallville USA and the all action world of stock car and Nascar racing during the late ’60s and early ’70s. Sticking with the retro motorsport theme for the moment all self-respecting petrolheads also should make a point of tracking down Heart Like A Wheel Jonathan Kaplan's 1983 biopic of
’60s and ’70s drag racing queen Shirley Muldowney starring Bonnie Bedelia, Hoyt Axton and, interestingly enough, the elder Bridges brother Beau.
Grahame Bent

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Live Review – John Grant, The Royal Festival Hall, London

The Royal Festival Hall, London. September 8th.

After months of performing songs from The Queen Of Denmark armed with just a grand piano John Grant finally rewards us with a prestige show at The Royal Festival Hall with Texan stable mates Midlake as his backing band, or as he lovingly refers to as "his boys". Tonights sold out RFH is buzzing with excitement as John takes to the stage accompanied by the aforementioned piano and a violin player to perform a couple of new tunes.

Of the two songs, in ‘You Don’t Have To’ we see Grant true to form, for his lyrical delivery doesn’t disappoint, leaving the subject of the song absolutely no mercy whatsoever. "If you thought that one was fucked up wait until you hear this one," John announces, much to the delight of the audience. For someone who writes lyrics as elegantly sad as John Grant he certainly cuts a jolly persona on stage, very at ease and very personable with plenty of jokey between song banter.

So next up, the reason we are all here, enter Midlake (minus Tim Smith) to deliver The Queen of Denmark album in it’s entirety (although not in song order). From the opening bars of ‘Sigourney Weaver’ to the closing title track they don’t fail to deliver. It’s an epic, faultless performance. Some dreamy harmonies from Eric Pulido sit along perfectly with the richness of Grant’s baritone voice. At times I’m reminded of ELO or even  mid-70s Al Stewart and Gerry Rafferty territory due to the lush arrangements and execution of the songs but easy listening it’s not, in the nicest possible way you understand!

It’s all over far too quickly as the audience rise to their feet for a standing ovation. You can’t help but get the feeling that tonight, along with a couple of thousand others, that you witnessed something quite special. A performance I’m sure that will be talked about for a many years to come. Quite simply it was an outstanding display of an outstanding album by an outstanding artist and his band. Amen.

Tony Clarke

Film – The Death Of Andy Kaufman

Wild Eye
If nothing else the DVD release of independent filmmaker Christopher Maloney's 2008 labour of love documentary proves that the Andy Kaufman industry is truly alive and well a full 27 years after the comedian's supposed demise. First there was Milos Forman's biopic Man On The Moon starring Jim Carey, then came the books Andy Kaufman Revealed! by Kaufman's former collaborator Bob Zmuda and Bill Zehme's Lost In The Fun House – The Life And Mind Of Andy Kaufman and now Christopher Maloney's The Death Of Andy Kaufman continues the fascination with the rumours, speculation and myths surrounding the fate of this most eccentric and unpredictable of American comedians.

According to official records Andy Kaufman died on May 16th 1984 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles from a rare form of lung cancer and was subsequently laid to rest in the Beth David cemetery in Long Island and Christopher Maloney's engagingly low key feature
length documentary sets out to explore the various interpretations and hypotheses regarding his supposed whereabouts that have been concocted over the years since the maverick comedian's alleged untimely demise.

Best remembered for his starring role as the hapless mechanic Lafka Gravas in the cult US TV sitcom Taxi, the foundations of Andy Kaufman's reputation as a comedian and performer were laid during his long stint on the US TV comic institution Saturday Night Live. With director Christopher Maloney a self-confessed Kaufman fan, by turns enquiring, reflective and ultimately melancholic, The Death Of Andy Kaufman is essentially an attempt to get inside the head of the comedian by detailing and examining the theories and counter theories that have grown up around the bizarre life and times of this most controversial of serial pranksters. Famed for his seriously unconventional comedic persona, his alter egos as the small time Vegas lounge singer Tony Clifton and the mysterious Nathan McCoy, his career as a professional wrestler during which he found himself crowned the world's first Inter-Gender Wrestling Champion (having retired undefeated after apparently wrestling more than 400 women), his long-standing Elvis fixation and his career-defining desire to push the boundaries of comedy no matter how close that brought him to the brink of madness, Andy Kaufman is clearly a fascinating subject for any investigative documentary and the backbone of Maloney's film is the detailed exploration of the theory that Kaufman faked his own death in an attempt to pull off the ultimate showbiz stunt with the intention of re-surfacing several years later.

However, the official version of events remains that Andy Kaufman died on May 16, ’84 and to date there's been no concrete evidence that he has returned to claim the credit for his outlandish hoax or has there?

Using a collage of archive TV clips and interviews director Maloney narrates his own personal quest to uncover the truth of the circumstances surrounding Kaufman's death and how far they are consistent or otherwise with the theory that Kaufman did in fact fake his own death. Reports of sightings in Santa Monica where Kaufman was allegedly living as a beach bum during the late ’80s, an apparent encounter in a hotel elevator in Jamaica and testimony that he had
been living as a member of a new age cult in Taos, New Mexico all prove to be dead ends while one of the principal sources of information and continued rumour about the current whereabouts of Andy Kaufman – the andykaufmanlives.com website is discovered to be the
work of a US ex-partiate living in Mexico. 

With most of the leads turning up dead ends, the second part of the documentary shifts its focus from the search for a physical person to an attempt to uncover the personality of the real Andy Kaufman and includes an extended interview with Kaufman's brother Michael.

At the close of the film director Christopher Maloney prosaically reflects that although he may no longer be physically around the comedian formerly known as Andy Kaufman is effectively still out there performing by virtue of the speculation and debate that continues to surround his whereabouts. In this respect you could argue that like the maverick joker he was on stage and screen Andy Kaufman has ultimately wound up having the last laugh from beyond the grave.
Grahame Bent

Friday, 9 September 2011

Event – Come To The Sunshine Radio now on iTunes

Come To The Sunshine, turns five this Monday and in that spirit presenter Andrew Sandoval finally opens his archive of shows to the public – they're available for download directly from iTunes

He hopes to eventually make the entire archive of shows (which you can view playlists for here: www.cometothesunshine.com) available, time and bandwidth allowing. However, there are about a dozen shows up now and more to follow in the next few days. So he hopes that you or your friends can get to hear something new, something old or something that inspires.
This coming Monday (9/12/11), Andrew will be on the air from 1 - 6pm (pacific) celebrating and counting down the Top 100 imaginary Come To The Sunshine favourites on www.luxuriamusic.com Join him if you can!
Andrew truly appreciates all of you who have taken the time to listen to these shows over these last five years and or contributed to my delinquency by turning me on to the music that I have played therein. 
...and speaking of time, if you have it to spare, join the Come To The Sunshine Facebook group. Or, follow them on Twitter.

Film – The Panic In Needle Park (Special Edition)

Second Sight

Banned at the time of its original theatrical release in the UK because of its frank depiction of heroin addiction on the streets of contemporary New York, former fashion photographer Jerry Schatzberg's
1971 feature remains something of an unsung landmark of American cinema of the early ’70s not least because it features the first major screen role of one Al Pacino which directly led to the latter being
offered his career-defining role in The Godfather by Francis Ford Coppola.

Located at the junction of Broadway and 72nd St, the Needle Park of the title (otherwise known as Verdi Square or Sherman Square) was at the time an infamous junkie hang out on the west side of Manhattan and the film unflinchingly captures the seedy, hand to mouth world of Bobby (Al Pacino), his girlfriend (Kitty Winn) and their coterie of small time hustlers all desperate to score their next fix. Based on the novel of the same name by James Mills, entirely shot on real locations, captured in muted hues by cinematographer Adam Holender (previously responsidle for the cinematography on an equally epochal
New York feature – John Sclesinger's Midnight Cowboy) and with the absence of a musical score only accentuating the film's gritty documentary flavour, The Panic In Needle Park opens the window on a
long gone down at heel New York of cheap hotels, dingy apartment buildings, fast food joints and pawn shops also familiar from such seminal New York films as The French Connection, Shaft and Mean

Unrelentingly bleak the tale of Bobby and Helen's descent into hell may well be but the remarkable performances from both Pacino whose edgy intensity lights up the screen and the equally superb Kitty Winn whose performance won her the best actress award at the ’71 Cannes Film Festival (where the film was also nominated for the Palme D'Or) make for truly compelling cinema.

This special edition DVD release comes with two documentaries – Panic In The Streets Of New York and Writing In Needle Park which feature revealing interviews with director Jerry Schatzberg (apparently Robert DeNiro was also considered for the role of Bobby), cinematographer Adam Holender and screenwiter Joan Didion respectively.
Grahame Bent

Record Review – Cave 'Neverendless'

Drag City 

Cave’s third album sees them rigidly adhere to the Neu! motorik template to create a listenable, if flawed, work. Across five long tracks they pair space rock with drone-y flourishes to enliven the largely instrumental jams.

Krautish inspiration isn’t the only thing present here though, with hints of slacker-style riffing, Stereolab-type pop influences and noise-rock outbursts. Underpinning the band’s sound is incredibly metronomic drum work played with a precision that makes you first assume they employ a German cyborg on sticks duty.

Much of the album is deliberately repetitive though many of the riffs just aren’t good enough to stand up to such tactics and quickly become tedious. This isn’t a bad collection of songs; it just lacks any spark to truly take it into the higher realms. All in all this makes for a pleasant diversion rather than the head-spinning trip the band presumably intended.
Austin Matthews

Record Reviews – Sungrazer 'Mirador'


Dutch trio Sungrazer are clearly a band in the thrall of ’90s stoner godheads Kyuss and various other desert deities, though that doesn’t make the fearsome noise they conjure up on second longplayer, Mirador, any the less exciting.

Packed full of great riffs, particularly on opener ‘Wild Goose’ and instrumental, ‘Octo’, the record also takes numerous exhilarating sidesteps into psychedelia, particularly on the 13-minute opus, ‘Behind’. Here the pummelling riffs are but part of an epic sweep of effects laden guitars conjuring up a particular evocative maelstrom of sound. The vocals are slightly monotonously delivered throughout the album – though fit in perfectly with the overall low-slung menacing mood present on every track.

There’s nothing especially original about this album, but who really cares when your head’s nodding to the rollercoaster riffing and monstrous drumming. Complementing this boisterousness, the quieter passages are hypnotic in their painstaking beauty. Perfect music for both mind and body.
Austin Matthews

Record Review – Piney Gir 'Geronimo'

Damaged Goods

Kansas City's exiled contemporary queen of the heartland returns with
album number five. Recorded in Hollywood far from her adopted homeland in the UK and produced by Rob Campanello of The Brian Jonestown Massacre, Geronimo! sees Piney stepping out without her regular accompanists The Country Roadshow with backing instead provided by a pool of musicians including members of Brian Wilson's band. With its wide range of detectable influences and its finely worked abundance of style Geronimo! feels like a latterday relative of the sort of mid-late ’60s female singer songwriter albums that might have once upon a time seen the light of day on labels like A&M, Liberty or Buddha.

While it's Piney's engaging vocal presence that first grabs the listener by the arm Geronimo! broadens the scope from her justly celebrated country roots by incoporating a more eclectic approach as demonstrated in the contrasting moods of the album's 13 tracks. This at times eccentric jigsaw of sources and
references includes at various points echoes of Jackie DeShannon ('Outta Sight'), what sounds like a previously unreleased backing track from Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band's Safe As Milk
sessions ('Here's Looking At You'), what could pass for Astrud Gilberto lounging out with the forementioned Magic Band ('The Longest Day Of Spring') and the unmistakable chiming resonnance of The Byrds ('WouldYou Be There'). And so it continues on the lovelorn balladry of 'The Gift' and 'Stay
Sweet' the former complete with an exhuberant brass section to the fore on the outro, 'River Song' – a revamped hoedown seasoned with lively flourishes of fiddle and accordion which includes the self-effacing line 'I'm just a girl from Kansas City' and the jaunty 'Let's Get Silly' which gallops along like a runaway square dance.

Arguably saving her best for last Piney signs off with the hauntingly reflective 'Say Goodbye'. It's a tailor made album closer which somehow along the way manages to press into service what sounds like a
passing Mariachi band as the song builds towards its final melancholic climax. Now if a patchwork of styles like this isn't motivation enough to make you want to listen up it's difficult to figure out exactly
what will.

All things considered, with its sophisticated performances and the sheer inventiveness of the songwriting Geronimo! captures the personality of a quite extraordinary girl from Kansas City. Pine on Piney! Pine on!
Grahame Bent

Record Review – The Perishers 'All These Years'

All These Years
Head Records 

Fancy some infectious, well-crafted, indie-pop? Your luck’s in – tonight we’re gonna party like it’s 1989! From the opening notes of 'Spectre', it’s obvious that the long, long wait for this London-based outfit’s third album has been well rewarded. These are songs to put a smile on your face and spring in your step. If you’re looking for something daringly experimental, then continue your search elsewhere – these boys have spent the past two albums in the laboratory and have come up with a formula that works beautifully – which, I suppose, makes this a peer review. There’s the hugely enjoyable no-nonsense, heads-down indie of 'I’ll Deny', 'Springfield' and 'You’ll Never Learn To Leave It Alone', the latter with a solo that wouldn’t sound out of place on a J Mascis album. So far, so good. Then, on 'Mean Old Man', the engaing pop sensibility that The Perishers share with the likes of Teenage Fanclub  meets a rawer groove to superb effect, with powerful drums underpinning guitars that make the blood rush and the spirits soar. The title track showcases a lighter side, allowing the note-perfect harmonies to combine with a melody so infectious it should be in quarantine while 'Two Parter' is a title that could have been dreamt up by the Ronseal marketing department it’s so apt. The first half of this song is textbook jangly indie, a bit hushed, a bit hesitant, before the guitars kick in and the song flies to an optimistic conclusion. All this and, in 'White Skies', the sort of perfect-pop of which Ian Brodie would be proud. Interestingly, an early Perishers video saw the band win over a crowd of OAPs. There’s more than a grain of truth here – this is unashamedly broad music that could, and should, be loved by everyone.
Barnaby Harsent