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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Live review - Tame Impala

Brixton Academy, London, October 30th 2012

Bad tidings from psychedelic central - Tame Impala are a yawn live. 
The set was chock full of great songs - 'Solitude Is Bliss', the glam stomper 'Elephant', the genius of 'Feels Like We Only Go Backwards', 'Lucidity', 'Desire be Desire Go' - but after the initial rush of seeing them in the flesh it all rather fell flat.

The impressive but cacophonous sound they make is just too much to fully enjoy over an hour plus. I can only conclude that manufactured reverb + natural arena reverb = a bit of a mess. There was no life to the music - from the first note to the last the sound remained the same. And annoyingly the prog-iness of the songs are more apparent in this setting than on record, where the pop melodies still dominate. What's more the dancing light backdrop was a sixth form attempt to be cool. Surely they can afford a decent psychedelic lightshow to accompany their performances these days?

It is great news that Lonerism is being embraced by so many people. The songs deserve it. The endearingly humble Kevin Parker spoke about this being the biggest show they've ever done, and later on stating "This is going so much better than I expected". Funnily enough, I didn't share the sentiment...I can't even put it down to a bad mood, for I was laughing and joking as I entered the building. So in spite of two albums of stunning brilliance I remained strangely unmoved last night. Was it just a bad gig with bad sound, or is it that they're perhaps (whisper it) a one-trick pony? I must go figure.

Phil Istine

Record Review – John Zacherele

Monster Mash/Scary Tales
It's been reissued just in time for Halloween. Everyone knows 'Monster Mash'. It still remains thee Halloween record and kitsch novelty doesn't come thicker than this. Philadelphian rep actor John Zacherele cashed in on the craze for the mid-60s TV screenings of the classic ’30s and ’40s Universal horror flicks, intoning delightfully macabre verses in mock Boris Karloff accent over Cameo Parkway's house band. A one trick pony, but a majestic one.

Host a frat party tonight and make this the soundtrack to your ghoultivities.


Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Record Review - The Good The Bad

From 034 to 050

The Unsigned Records CD/LP/DL

The Copenhagen trio with the penchant for naked ladies and numbered songs are back with their third album in as many years. Instrumental flamenco surf is how they roll, and the formula remains almost the same. But there's progress here - the sound of fellow Danes Baby Woodrose seems to have crept into the production, and the pace has definitely slackened a bit. The lead guitar is still in Joe Satriani wigglesome territory, but done with panache more akin to a King Louis than the Italian-American baldie.

What you get here is seventeen short tracks (some only thirty seconds long). There’s no highlight here, just a barrage of classy beat instros, though a nod must be made to the backwards phasing touch of psych on ‘040’ and the heavy beats/xylophone experimentation of ‘044’. But mostly the effects are non-existent - this is high-fidelity primitive music. It’s refreshing to listen to pure guitar music with no PR bullshit. And it’s not just the duelling guitars that excel: drummer Johan has a style that is so natural it might as well be the sound of a cantering horse in a Spaghetti Western. From 034 to 050 just might be their most comfortable, accessible-sounding LP yet. If soundtracky twangy surfy RAWK that is sensual and highly melodic is your bag then you’ll fall for this big time.

Phil Istine

Monday, 29 October 2012

Record Review - The Stampletons

Early Tapes

Allow yourself to fantasise, for one surreal moment, that The Beatles were Belarusian and that the ’60s had swung to Minskibeat, not Merseybeat. It may sound like the kind of absurd plot The Comic Strip could have concocted for one of their dark TV satires, but if The Stampletons had their way, this is how history would be re-written.

For anyone eager to hear how four guys from Belarus (Europe’s only remaining Soviet-style dictatorship, kids) pay homage to the UK beat scene circa 1964, this is too good to miss. Formed in Minsk in 2009, The Stampletons have concocted a strange brew that’s part Freddie & The Dreamers on downers, part Californian surf band still finding their feet (and frets). 

The music’s charm lies in it’s ramshackle naivety, and if they stick at it they could end up as big as The Beatles – in Belarus at least…

Chris Twomey

Record Review - The Hi-Risers

Hang Around With You

Make no mistake: The Chesterfield Kings ain’t the only good rock ’n' roll band out of Rochester, New York. The Hi-Risers have been doing their pre-British Invasion thing for several years, and Hang Around With You nicely carries on their lively, oft-tongue in cheek pop oriented rock which calls to mind everyone from Buddy Holly to The Bobby Fuller Four to The Everly Brothers… and of course, The Beatles.

‘Where’s The Life Of The Party’, ‘The Doctor’s Wife’ and the aptly titled ‘Jump Start’ will mentally transport you to The Cavern circa ’63, the cheeky ‘Watch The Monkees’ gleefully lifts from ‘Last Train To Clarksville’, and ‘I’m In Love With My Record Collection’ is definitely a sentiment with which we can all identify.  

Throw in the countrified ‘Silver Saddle Motel’ and the harmony-infused ballad, ‘All The World Can Be’, and Hang Around With You is 360 degrees of fun! 

David Bash

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Record Review - Levek

Look A Little Closer

Thank your chosen deity for unassuming visionaries such as the Floridian David Levesque – Levek, to you and I. While we may revere Art Garfunkel, granular lo-fi thumbprints and open road ethno-forgeries in equal measure, it might never have occurred to us to pop these ingredients into the same flan case. 

Look A Little Closer, Levek’s debut album, flickers with an intermittent spark: when it hits the spot, which it often does (‘With A Slow Burn’, ‘Girl In The Fog’, ‘Canterbury Bell’), you find yourself willingly ensnared by the roseate lattice of fingerpicked acoustic guitar and attractively unassertive vocals, and start making favourable Elliott Smith comparisons. Then again, ‘Can’t Buy This Love’ and ‘Solemn Feeling Forever Healing’ are uninvolving, forgettable and rather mannered interludes. 

It’s a clear win on points though, taking the attractive High Llamas-via-Sergio Mendes bossa bait of ‘Terra Treasures’ into consideration. Imagine an altogether less smug and endlessly punchable Jack Johnson, perhaps...

Marco Rossi

Record Review - The Jigsaw Seen


Like their 2011 offering, Winterland, Gifted is a song cycle held together by the loose theme of the cold winter season and Christmas (but neither are Christmas albums per se). The LA-based long-timers visit a lot of places over a short time span here.

There’s a rave-up driven by the Bo Diddley beat, a Pet Sounds-y instrumental, some pastoral pop that’s reminiscent of XTC’s Mummer and Skylarking, a nicely-done cover of David Bowie’s early song ‘Sell Me A Coat’. ‘The More You Change’, a semi-rocker and the best song on the set, is Dwight Twilley Band meets The Posies. Dennis Davison’s voice is so similar to that of America’s Dewey Bunnell that I keep expecting them to launch into ‘Sister Golden Hair’! 

Musically the album is consistently pleasing and there’s some clever word play in the lyrics. If there is a flaw, it’s that some of the vocal melodies fall a little flat.

Brian Greene

Record Review - Seven That Spells

The Death And Resurrection Of Krautrock: Aum

This is the Croatian band’s ninth album but their first for the venerable Sulatron Records. Mixing up psychedelia and krautrock with shades of metal, the majority of the material is as dazzling as solar radiation.

The album kicks off with the miracle riffing on ‘In’ – a huge ascending guitar structure that signals the demented heavy psych intent of the band. This segues into the centrepiece of the album, ‘Aum’ – 19 minutes of pure kraut mayhem. Thereafter the LP takes a boisterous turn with the noise-rock of ‘Zero’, which eventually gives way to the more metallic sounds of the last two tracks.

 Though I’m generally a big fan of heavier material I found their more forceful stuff less engaging. The first half of the record, with its involving and inventive guitar and rhythm structures is extremely cool. The sub-pornographic artwork however, is not.

Austin Matthews

Record review - Troubled Horse

Step Inside

Troubled Horse’s only release prior to this, a single on Crusher Records, was a superb slab of wax – reminiscent of early Witchcraft in its melodic doomy early ’70s vibe. However, much like with Witchcraft’s recent album, this LP suffers with an overly punchy production job that turns their previously retro vibe into in-your-face rawk stylings.

That’s not to say there’s isn’t much to admire on this album – ‘Another Man’s Name’ is a storming slice of boogie rock with a claw hammer delivery. Elsewhere there’s the anthemic ‘Tainted Water’ and an oddly cheesy ballad, ‘All Your Fears’. However I just can’t help but feel that much of their original charm has been unfortunately stripped away – there’s none of that bassy mid-range warmness that made their earlier material so appealing.

I can’t quite get as excited over this as other contemporary Swedish acts but it’s undeniably a powerful and melodic record of some distinction.

Austin Matthews

Friday, 26 October 2012

Live Review - Wired Up! London Book Launch

Wired Up! London Book Launch
The Buffalo Bar, Highbury, Friday September 21 2012

Down again into the depths of the Buffalo Bar thrummed the heavy boots, beating the tattoo of a perfect 4/4 tramp, down into the packed and sweaty basement we journeyed for the launch of the hottest pictorial chronicle of 70s sounds around - Wired Up!- to thrill to the rumble of the band on a Friday night.

Possibly the only room in the UK where everyone was au fait with the names of Cock Sparrer and Hector (the latter of which were apparently originally mooted to appear live, but took a proud solace in looking rather amazingly pleased in the crowd), the night kicked off with some splendid DJ sets from one of the organisers of the evening- Tim Orchard - and purveyor of the Purepop blog Robin Wills spinning some awesomely obscure glam, before Leeds’ Cyanide Pills took to the stage. Touting a raw energy channelled through a disaffected powerpop aesthetic, these guys got the room warmed up with neat, stripped down three-chord attacks and a lot of moving around, giving everyone just enough time to catch their breath before the main act.

Italy’s own Giuda delivered a bone-crunchingly heavy sub-punk thwack to the jaw, taking in influences as (ahem) diverse as powerpop, pub rock, and glam, and spitting them out into a tight, crowd-pleasing set of vibrant pummelling stompers. Having seen this group on their previous visit to these shores, I can confidently say that they’re one to watch - their LP is due for release any moment now. A rousing encore from them at the insistence of the audience led us into a night of dancing/rhythmically punching the air/doing dreadful but wildly enthusiastic attempts at the Tiger Feet dance at the hands of the DJs.

Although copies of the actual book were scarce (in a blink-and-they’re-gone style) due to ‘import difficulties’, the bands more than made up for it with a dazzling display of merchandise- the Giuda badges are particular things of beauty that this reviewer, at least, will regret not buying for a long time to come.

Thogdin Ripley

Record review - John Fairhurst

Hungry Blues EP

Fairhurst can sound as mellow as John Martyn or as wild as Captain Beefheart growling at his most deranged – mellifluous as warm golden honey one minute and then dark as the most menacing of thunderstorms the next. But he really does his talking with his guitar, and he sure as hell is one mean picker of the six-string – boy, does he know how to make that guitar sing! 

With some mind-blowing electric blues predominating his latest collection of songs, such as the finger-blistering ‘Up On The Hill’, or the foreboding ‘The Snow Lies Deep’, he’s more than versatile and still finds time to throw in a more traditional sounding number, the shantyish ‘I Don’t Know’.

Fairhurst has to be one of the most charismatic characters on the blues circuit right now and certainly one of the most talented. As such he definitely merits further investigation.

Rich Deakin

Tuesday, 23 October 2012

Record Review - Allysen Callery

Winter Island/The Summer Place

This nice slice of vinyl collects the two EPs by Rhode Island folk artist Allysen Callery, Winter Island and The Summer Place. The pieces work seamlessly as a standalone album and should introduce Callery’s style to the wider audience it deserves.

Graceful as gossamer, Callery weaves intricate folk webs with her intimate voice and understated, finger-picked guitar. Winter Island especially has strands of Joni Mitchell in it, but its heavily laced with a less identifiable ghostly aura. It’s so diaphanous that, for instance on ‘Favourite Son’, virtually every word Callery sings floats off before there’s a chance to even hear it. The Summer Place is a little more lucid – the lyrics are clearer and the music a shade more robust.

While not exactly sounding like Vashti Bunyan, Callery carries her spirit: the rare one that weathers the tender and delicate, making it strong as steel. This is a lovely record from an extremely promising new artist.

Jeanette Leech

Live Review: Rangda + Carlton Melton + Gala Drop

Rangda + Carlton Melton + Gala Drop 
Corsica Studios, London October 18

First up in the intimate Corsica Studios is Portugal’s Gala Drop who combine all sorts of diverse influences into a synthetic amalgam all their own. Mixing up tropicalia, psych, moog-driven spacerock and even hints of reggae they remind me of some of the more festival-styled acts from the mid-‘90s (which is certainly no bad thing in my book). A highly interesting start that sends me scurrying to the merch stand to check out their output thus far. 

Californians Carlton Melton have grown to be particular favourites of mine over the last year. The long droney jams on their recent LPs didn’t quite prepare me for their live show however, which is swathed in epilepsy-inducing strobe. After a slow start the three piece launch into a cosmic blitzkrieg that culminates with frontman Rich Millman diving into the crowd and handing his guitar to a bemused punter who finds herself participating in a dizzying maelstrom of psychedelic noise. A truly incredible show, like sticking your head in a super collider for half an hour.

After this, Rangda’s more cerebral brand of experimental complexity doesn't strike nearly the same visceral chords. Theirs is music to be admired rather than the kind that inspires devotion. Enjoyable, but not the full-on flailing wyldness that makes Carlton Melton such an incredible live proposition.

Austin Matthews

Friday, 19 October 2012

Record Review - The Deltics

Looking Back

There are many different types of groups in the UK peddling a myriad of ’60s-style sounds these days, ranging from out and out garage punkers, beats, psychedelics, rambunctious rock 'n' roll and R&B gangs, and now there’s also Bristol-based act The Deltics.

These guys come from the middle ground, being neither one thing or the other, choosing to march along a more rootsy-sounding platform that takes in some major influences from the beat/mod era, right up to the likes of, say, Dr Feelgood and beyond, all presented in a sometimes more refined fashion than many of the garage and beat style fraternity. Don't get me wrong – songs like 'Gonna Tell You', 'Here Today' and 'Nightlife' contain more than enough grit and sweat and are all well-played using a battery of authentic instruments and amps (I especially like the fine drumming that's displayed throughout).

Looking Back isn't a bad sounding debut and really shows a group having a total blast doing what they like to do.

Lenny Helsing

Live Review - The Strypes + The Sorrows

Photo of The Strypes by Valentina Vaughan
229, London, Sat October 13 2012

So, is the future of music the past of music? If you are one of the many assembled here watching Ireland's new beat combo (no, I'm not an old person who talks like that, it's what they are) sensation this evening, you may well think so. And you might be right. If you disagree, and some have, it may well be because the Strypes- for 'tis they- play a set consisting entirely of rock n'roll and rhythm 'n' blues standards, thus leading doubters to label them as a mere covers band. Sure, the line of reasoning goes, most of the greatest bands we admire, from the Stones and the Who, through to the Floyd and Procol Harum, started their careers in this way. As did the mighty Dr Feelgood and Nine Below Zero- but haven't we subsequently moved on in the last few decades, largely because of the high benchmark of writing one's own material set by those very same bands? 

On the other hand, says the opposing camp, it's been 50 years since 'Love Me Do', and rock n roll has gone round the block several times only to retread old ground, so maybe the only honest thing to do is to go back to the start and do exactly that? We are, by way of comparison, at exactly the same crossroads that jazz fans found themselves at in 1945, 50 years or so after the genre's inception: some, in particular Lu Watters and the Yerba Buena gang, believed the only thing to do was to go back to the grass roots style of New Orleans and begin again, resurrecting the careers of surviving pioneers, most notably Bunk Johnson, in the process, while others, mainly those taking part in the late night jams at Mintons in New York (in particular Parker, Gillespie and Monk) believed genuinely that new pathways should be encouraged. Applying this criteria to rock, one must beg the question- what more can be done with it? And, more importantly, does anything need to be? I for one can see the thought process at work here- if we achieve, 50 years on, a second beat boom, then technically, there could be another freakbeat boom, followed by a garage or psych revival, which in turn will lead to an organic rebirth of progressive and heavy rock (as opposed to the awful prog-metal twiddly certain other magazines attempt to sell us) and so forth. Another 15 or 20 years of long-awaited, fecund, fertile creativity unseen since around 1978? London, Birmingham and Liverpool to 'swing like a pendulum do' all over again?

In theory, it would be nice, although personally I believe the social changes that occurred first time round would not happen now, and would thus render the music irrelevant on anything other than an entertainment-based level. One thing is certain- that encouraging teenagers to start becoming aware of the Stones, the Yardbirds, Downliners Sect, Alexis Korner and thus, eventually, the original black blues artists, and move away from the likes of Justin Bieber and Olly Murs, can only be a good thing. And the Strypes, being as cute as buttons all and having the ability to ensnare their target age group (as well as several menopausal Mod birds who openly expressed a desire to take them home and feed them chocolate. Careful, ladies, you'll end up in the papers) are without doubt the best men (ahem) for the job. And sure, as has been proven many times before, the age of an artist is only relative to their ability, and vice versa. Thankfully, however, the Strypes are musicians and performers of exceptional ability, and in that respect are more than worthy of the current furore surrounding them- the 'Strype hype', if you will. Not only are they electrifying to watch, but they do take songs we are all familiar with (far too familiar in some cases, after years of club attendance!!), such as 'Little Queenie', 'Got Love If You Want It' and current single 'You Can't Judge A Book By It's Cover' and make them sound brand new, fresh and engaging. Normally, when a frontman (the ice cool Ross Ferrelly, in this case) announces "we're going to take things down a little now" before launching into a version of 'Stormy Monday Blues', it would prompt a mass exodus unto the bar, but they even manage to nail that, to the point where it debatably becomes the highpoint of the set.

Again, playing devil's avocado for a moment, one does wonder how much of their style, to say nothing of their extensive shared knowledge of R'n'B, is completely natural and not the result of a hidden parental hand (maybe a member of a long forgotten band himself?) at work, and the well-packaged quality of all their approved YouTube footage may also suggest that, but in the long run, does it matter? Sad though I am to reject the archetypically cynical stance of the music journalist, what I witnessed was not a covers band, a boy band, or as I even jokingly said myself a few months ago, "Blues Idol", but a genuine hot, sweaty, raw, arsekicking live act with a great potential future. As long as, that is, some record company executive doesn't f*ck it up for them and make them go all schmindie on us. Don't forget, we are also only 2 years away from a 20th anniversary Britpop revival, with all the beige Gallagher-ists of the world lined up for the big cash-in, and it could happen. Let's just pray it doesn't. Anyone capable of the sort of brash, cacophonous yet melodic guitar playing I saw from Josh McLorey (also a capable singer and an embryonic Wilko in training if ever I saw one) or the already fully accomplished Ox-like bass runs of Pete O Hanlon- by far and away the most outstanding of the four musicians - deserves to be allowed to develop naturally, the way their obvious idols the Stones and Van Morrison (sonically, they remind me more of Them than anyone else, with or without being Irish) did.

The question of what their original material, which they have apparently just begun writing, will sound like when released has been the cause of much lively debate, but right now, all we can do is judge them on their current merits. And by that token, they pass with flying colours. I won't harp on about their energy, because it's obvious that a band of their respective ages (15-16) would have it, but I will mention that as well as some exceptional harmonica dueting and instrument-swapping, displaying a dextrous versatility I have to admit I didn't expect, and two great lead vocalists, there are also several beatifully organic moments of looseness: I can't quite work out if they're on purpose or not, as I don't think they favour the free-form wigout approach yet, but it's there: the question is, will it be encouraged or will they be taken to task for it and told to practice an extra 8 hours a day on top of what I'm assuming is their usual 10? Hopefully the former. Combined together, I award the four of them the full Darius Drewe thumbs-up, but with a firmly attached "let's wait and see" caveat: the next five years could tell a whole different story, but at the moment, they're loud, fiery, genuine (it would seem) about their intent, and they wanna live M.O.D., and that's good enough for now.

The Sorrows started their career in 1963 playing probably exactly the same covers the Strypes did, and are obviously old hands by comparison: it would be pointless, therefore, to compare the performance of teenagers to men approaching 70, so I won't. Instead, I shall happily report that the Coventry freakbeat pioneers acquitted themselves perfectly (some commented that their performance wasn't a patch on earlier ones, but seeing as I wasn't there, I can't say) by the exact standards one would expect of a recently reformed band, and played with an attack that might be considered as 'belying their ages' but which to me seems perfectly natural for an outfit who helped to pioneer this very genre of music in the UK. 'Car-A-Lin', 'She's Got The Action' and 'Let The Live Live' were all powerful enough to reach the back of the hall: the impact was less on mellower numbers like 'We Should Get Along Fine' and 'Come With Me' but, on moving to the front, it still smashed me firmly in the face. Sure, there's the occasional out of tune vocal or bum note, but there probably was in 1965 as well, and in any case, this sort of music has always been about raw passion - which the band still have plenty of - than technical perfection. Also, find me a band that says they've never dropped one, and I'll find you a band of liars.

Don Fardon, who must be almost 7 feet tall, cuts as much of an imposing figure as you'd imagine, and remains the owner of a deep, smouldering bluesy yet quintessentially British voice. He doesn't move much, but again, he never did, and in any case, towering colossi don't really need to. Likewise, fellow founder member Phil Packham's basslines are still incredible. That chordal thrum permeates through everything from 'No Sad Songs For Me' through the previously unheard 'Gonna Find A Cave' to their best known number, 'Take A Heart' and forms the very core of the Sorrows sound, and even if he didn't play with them past their first album, it's as if he never left. Drummer Nige Lomas, who joined a little later on, so I'm told, before their second long player (we really are dredging up all the vintage terminology tonight, aren't we?) isn't quite as deafeningly loud as he once was, but again, those throbbing, marching tom-toms couldn't really belong to anyone else by now. Brian Wilkins, who joined much later despite being a veteran of the same Midland beat scene, fits in perfectly, his lead guitar soling genuinely inspired, his occasional lead vocals more than an adequate replacement for his predecessor 
Phil Whitcher and his contribution to the shouted harmonies and gang choruses throughout a decidedly important one.

And let's be honest, who apart from the most ardent fan or anorak wouldn't think he was an original member? Four sexagenarian blokes (and one youngster) in matching band t-shirts and trousers (neat idea, it works) create amply the impression that you're watching the genuine band, and in all honesty, they are. Sadly, they're playing at club level again rather than being accorded the hysteria heaped upon the similar Sonics, but the intimacy of the setting actually works in their favour, particularly for Fardon, who delights in noticing the participation of audience members both young and old. No, he doesn't do any solo material, which is a shame considering how easily 'Take A Heart' could have segued into 'Indian Reservation', but will be performing them the following weekend with DC Fontana somewhere in Shoreditch: to be honest, such inclusion would probably detract from the collective band feel, which is strong, and the final four or five numbers - 'You Got What I Want', 'Baby All The Time', 'Don't Wanna Be Free', 'Teenage Letter' and encore 'Lucille' are more than a treat enough, and are, in all honesty, quite mesmerising, the earlier gremlins having been long since ironed out. Anyone who drifted outside early on actually missed something a bit special.

The Sorrows have more than a little fire left in their hearts, and unlike the Poets, who they played with in this very building last year, are thankfully still here with us to make use of it. Let's hope they're around next year to celebrate their 50th anniversary, as I for one relish the chance to see them again. I wonder if the Strypes will be doing this in 2062? That is, if stadium rock doesn't get them first. We can but wait and see.


Thursday, 18 October 2012

Record Review - The Snails

The Snails

Action Records CD

The debut album by the Grecians heavy/garage rockers is long awaited in some quarters, and certainly takes no prisoners. It comes out the traps with an outrageous fuzz guitar riff of ‘Sidewalks’, which set my pulse racing in next to no time.

They deviate from them on, showcasing a range of sounds. The Dead Kennedys/ Nomeansno style agit-rock is caught up in the guitar DNA on most tracks. ‘Haifa Nights’ take Middle Eastern scales are translates them to blues-wailin’ places. They cover ‘Five Years Ahead Of Their Time’, but alas add little to the original. However they do ‘Gypsy Woman’ and ‘Satisfaction Guaranteed’ to great effect. The playing is great throughout the LP, with the harmonica adding a new sound dimension to familiar musical tropes. I’m not overly sold on the singer’s voice, but you can’t have everything and I think the music is strong enough to compensate. They have some great songs, and there’s plenty of psychedelic overtones completing the mix.

Fuzz fans and blues rockers who like a bit of oomph in their riffs and phlegm in their face should check these guys out.

Phil Istine

Happening the club, November edition

The ‘Happening’ clubnight has now established itself as the grooviest place to sample the delights of the Shindig! universe. The world’s leading, most dedicated magazine for 1960s and ’70s music, the Happening website is the modern day equivalent of Shindig! - an online magazine for retro-classicism-inspired new music, clothes and events. A joint operation in conjunction with Sweet but Deadly Promotions, Happening has become its own little rock’n’roll haven. Come meet, greet and party with like-minded souls ’til your head explodes with delight!

Live Bands:
Debut album ‘If You’re Satisfied You Are Dead’ is out Monday, November 5th! Creating a rock'n'roll noise that's made when MENSA collides with ASBO... "The November Five combine the driving sneer of Earl Brutus, some of the atmospherics of the Arcade Fire if they weren't twig-stroking Canadians, and some very British bombast - in The November Five's hands, guitars do, very much, squall" say The Quietus. "If you like the incendiary music of The MC5, The Stooges, The Birthday Party, Jim Jones Revue or The Cramps then go download their debut single, ‘Closure b/w Flame’, and look out for next single, ‘Awake in a Daze b/w It's Not Enough’, hitting the stores (real and online) very soon. Even better still, go watch then live as you will not be disappointed in the slightest" say Shindig!.

The Hypnotic Eye are a South London-based five piece Flower-Punk band, who play abrupt, slightlydelic garage, haunted by Brill-Building pop & Musique Concrète. The Hypnotic Eye take their name from George Blair’s cult classic horror film. Known for their prismatic dress and engaging performance, the group are fronted by 19 year old, Grace Lightman. The band’s debut-LP “The Optical Sound of The Hypnotic Eye” is complete, but unreleased. An independent limited 7” pressing of “Marianne”, featuring Rhys Webb & Coffin Joe, taken from the album, is available.
A trio living within the dark heart of on the edge post-psychedelia. Dark Bells spin a beguiling web of haunting yet melodic sounds built on the bricks of post-punk with the atmosphere of an act you might have found on 4AD in 1983. Their focus is creating a truly unique sound inclusive of soundscapes. Dark Bells are a band where each instrument works with and around the others creating something unique that sets them aside from anyone else. Innocent at times, truly captivating at others.
Dark Bells

Plus Resident DJ Phil Istine will spin your world via ’60s psychedelia, garage, beat, and general vintage rock’n’roll wondermints!

@ Rattlesnake Of Angel
56 Upper Street, London N1 0NY.
Tube: Angel (4 mins)
Doors 7.30pm. £4 in advance and before 8, then £6 on the door.

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Live Review - The Wicked Whispers

The Social, Sunday October 14 2012

The occasion of the Liverpudlians second appearance in the capital crept up on me and chose to delight me in just the way I secretly hoped it would.

Support for this show was the hotly-tipped local fivesome The Hypnotic EyeBut this was  a rare off night for them, their intense yet poppy flower punk sounds, so complex and beguiling on record, were lost in the shoddy sound that this oddly-shaped concrete bunker could produce for them. Grace Lightman's soul shredding vocals were barely audible, and that frankly was criminal.

The Social dealt with the softer palette produced by the Whispers much more satisfactorily. Michael Murphy's tender voice could be singing you lullabies in Hell, for the dark undertow of love gone bad/unrequited in his romantic pop-sike songs is always evident. I think it's that emotional dialectic that makes them such a special turn. Their 11 song set included all thier known tracks from their first EP and single, plus some unknown crackers that I will no doubt fall in love with more when I hear them recorded. 'Odyssey Mile', 'Dandelion Eyes', 'Amanda Lavender' all got the audience singing along. Those that came out on a cold Sunday night certainly went home warmer. Their short tour still has three dates this week to go...so go!

Also must mention Mr Richard Norris (Time And Space Machine) playing some sublime weirdo/leftfield/psych music from the past few decades throughout the night. He knows his onions well enough he could be French!

Phil Istine

Record Review - The Wicked Whispers

Dandelion Eyes

Electone Records 7" and download

Here is this young Liverpool group's follow-up to last year's rather stunning limited 10" EP The Dark Delights Of the Wicked Whispers.

The WWs love the 60s, can charm and endear with equal measure, but they also aren't afraid to experiment a little out with those kinds of parameters which, in their case, is good news for us. The songs that guitarist and lead singer Mike Murphy compose lend themselves well to that particular form of expression, yet they also seek to attain something more original in the whole song process.

The constant bass figure, alluring organ register and the highly-individual vocal deliberations are all key; solid, integral elements which mark out this piece of flower-tastic pop, of which only 500 were pressed on vinyl. And to take nothing away from the spangle and shimmer of the guitars, and the efforts of the rest of the group, it's those elements that, for me, constitute the Wicked Whispers' highly engaging sound structure; part vintage psychedelic, part modern pop-rock, always wide-eyed with wonder and attractively open minded.

Lenny Helsing

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Nuggets 40th Anniversary Reissue


Seminal Garage Rock Collection Originally Compiled By Lenny Kaye In 1972 Gets Remastered And Released As Standalone CD For The First Time Ever In The US
Available On CD And Digital Download November 27, Vinyl November 13

It’s a nugget if you dug it! That small phrase captures the enormous spirit driving one of the most influential rock anthologies ever released, Nuggets: Original Artyfacts from the First Psychedelic Era, 1965-68. Originally released as a double-LP in 1972 by Elektra Records, it celebrated 27 three-minute masterpieces that blazed brightly for a few weeks before fading from the charts.

To mark the 40-year anniversary of Nuggets, Rhino has remastered the collection from the original analog album master and will release it as a standalone CD for the first time ever in the U.S. 

NUGGETS: ORIGINAL ARTYFACTS FROM THE FIRST PSYCHEDELIC ERA, 1965-68 will be available November 27 from Rhino (www.rhino.com) and other retail outlets on CD ($18.98) and digitally ($17.99). The album will also be available as a 180-gram double-LP on November 13 for $27.98.

The idea for Nuggets came from Jac Holzman, the founder of Elektra Records. He explains: “AM radio despised ‘long’ tracks, loosely defined as anything that exceeded three minutes, and this was true throughout the ’50s and ’60s. Even our Doors single, ‘Light My Fire’, had to chop Robby’s incendiary guitar solo to fit the rigid AM formula. It’s what made me think about the snappy, short rock and roll singles that had jump-started AM rock radio, at its beginnings.”

To excavate these hidden gems, Holzman recruited legendary guitarist Lenny Kaye. Looking back on this seminal collection, Kaye writes in the newly penned liner notes: “It’s the songs in the end that make Nuggets so memorable, the lightning strikes of brilliance that move a record past genre into the realm of classic… Given the reins, I just played disc jockey, telling my ear-witness tale of inspiration derived, of desire and belief. Or daring to believe.”

Filled with fuzztone and Farfisa, the album pulses with an eclectic mix of songs by The Electric Prunes, The Standells, The Seeds, The Thirteenth Floor Elevators, The Nazz, Count Five, The Remains, The Amboy Dukes, Magic Mushrooms and Chocolate Watch Band. Along with the music, this new edition of Nuggets also recreates the original artwork, which was done by Elektra Art Director William S Harvey and graphic artist Abe Gurvin. 

Rolling Stones live in London and New Jersey

The Rolling Stones have finally put those rumours to bed by announcing four 50th anniversary shows, in London and New Jersey.

They made a video (see below) and announced it via their Facebook page - two shows at London's O2 Arena on November 25 and 29, and two at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey on December 13 and 15.

They released a statement, in which Mick Jagger says "Everybody loves a celebration, and London and New York are two good places to do it in". Keith Richards elaborated, saying "The waiting is over. I've always said the best place for rock and roll is on the stage and the same is true for the Stones. I'm here with Mick, Charlie and Ronnie and everything is rocking. See you very soon!"

Prices for London are an eye-watering £106-£406 (causing some consternation amongst fans). Tickets for London go on sale this Friday and for New Jersey next Friday. Full ticket details can be found here.

Monday, 15 October 2012

Record Review - Mud Pie Sun

Wooden Circle
Revolving Bell CD

First time I've heard anything at all by these guys. For the uninitiated Mud Pie Sun are a US duo, purveyors of the kind of homespun slightly-delic-ized DIY sounds that seek to incorporate all manner of interesting things for their listeners. Viz a viz bird noises and other extra curricular happenings 
that have been nicely captured to aid in the shading and colouring of their various musical creations and to help fill in the spaces should they be required to do so.

We also have what appear to be some quite electrifying bursts of dentist drill fuzztone on the guitars, and this, meanwhile, is contrasted with an air of the lazy daisies, all laid back, heavy-lidded and tranquil which then can just as easily, suddenly morph off into a bout of fiercely stabbing crescendoes with hectic strummings and almost chaotic drum syncopations. The vocals too are hugely variable in depth and range, both mildly and wildly expressive by turns and bring to mind a sweet, almost Mary Chain-esque touch at times. Oh yeah and they also do a fairly skewed rendition of Gene Clark's unutterably gorgeous 'So You Say You've Lost Your Baby'. Their influences I imagine are as high, wide and variously hued as the palette of colours they've chosen to present this suite of works for us here.

Lenny Helsing