Thursday, 26 April 2012
True Loves Stories
They have a tune called 'Paul Weller', songs co-written with Swede garage royalty Jens Linsdberg, consist of four burlesque girls and classify themselves as "High Heeled Garage Punk To Drive You Nuts". Think The Pandoras, The Brood, Thee Headcoatees, The Sires and so on... nope, Voladoras don't rewrite the rule book. Their melodies rarely click and it's as one dimensional as the image of a beehived girl dressed in a black leather catsuit. But then, if that is what you want. That is what you get.
Sounding more like The Runaways, Cramps and ’80s and ’90s fuzz garage than the more purist fare, True Loves Stories is a fun, schlocky ride of teen abandon, cheap liquor and bad girls that blends The New York Dolls' take on girl groups with a dash of ’70s punk attitude. And yes, they do look every inch the part.
Jon 'Mojo' Mills
Wednesday, 25 April 2012
A mysterious slice of delta blues from the heart of The Cotswolds. That's right, Shindig! reader and dapper mod Nick Buckle really is Stroud's answer to Howlin' Wolf. This one track 45 is as authentic as it comes and could easily have collector's scratching their heads.
Jon 'Mojo' Mill
Thursday, 19 April 2012
London, Camden Underword, April 14
Okay, so I’ll have to declare an interest. I can’t submit a review of Tin Spirits, the headliners of this Saturday night prog showcase event, without admitting a past link to one of their members – former XTC guitarist Dave Gregory.
XTC, you see, were one of a handful of bands who shaped my adolescent music education, and I’m proud of the fact that I not only picked my influences wisely, I eventually persuaded them to let me write up their history, resulting in Chalkhills & Children, a humble biog about a group whose value never seems to diminish.
It’s somewhat ironic that back when me and my Devon mates were discovering "arty" new wave bands like XTC, we were simultaneously looking down our noses at the provincial rock fans' firm favourites: Genesis, Floyd, Supertramp et al (whilst secretly hanging on to a few albums, of course).
If Tin Spirits ever went through such a painful and confusing transition, they’ve clearly made a full recovery. Call them prog if you like, but the definition seems a little amorphous – their music could also be described as jazz-influenced heavy-rock, going where it wants, when it wants, sod the rules. Isn’t that sort of what XTC were about?
Before going further, I should mention I completely missed the first two bands of the evening, The Reasoning and Sanguine Hum. And catching the last 10 minutes-or-so of Panic Room, I rather regretted my negative preconceptions of modern-day prog. Entering cautiously, expecting to be confronted by a Rick Wakeman-inspired witches coven, it was a pleasant surprise to encounter instead the uplifting, melodic sound of Panic Room, who are fronted by charismatic (and dare I say sexy?) singer Anne-Marie Helder.
Dave Gregory’s appearance on a live stage took a moment or two to sink in for me. In 1982 I had tickets to see XTC at Hammersmith Odeon, but was duly refunded when Andy Partridge ordered his troops to withdraw from live action... permanently. That meant the only line-up of XTC I ever saw live was the powerpop version featuring Barry Andrews on keyboards in February 1978 (at Barnstaple Chequers!).
Four years later, by the time of English Settlement, XTC had morphed into a very different beast, of course. That ambitious Top 10 double-album (which included their only Top 10 hit 'Senses Working Overtime') displayed a maturity and splendour which elevated them high above their new wave peers. Its 12-stringiness and pastoral imagery was more closely aligned to the anglo-eccentricities of folk-rock than their Roxy Music-via-Devo origins. This suited Gregsy who relished a growing reliance on his musical dexterity because, unlike Partridge and Colin Moulding, he didn’t write songs. He lived to perform, which is why he was hit hard when the plug got pulled…
These days, Tin Spirits are just one of Dave’s "regular" bands with a new album to promote (their debut Wired To Earth was actually released a year ago, but has since been re-mixed and re-released at their request). Another, Big Big Train, you’ll be hearing from soon.
When they formed in 2008, Tin Spirits – also featuring singer/bassist Mark Kilminster, guitarist Daniel Steinhardt and drummer Doug Mussard – saw themselves as a prog tribute band, primarily. They then introduced their own songs into the set, which now sit impressively (and incongruously) on the album alongside covers of 'Back In NYC' (Genesis) and 'Roundabout' (Yes).
This live romp through Wired To Earth was an eye-opener for someone like me – whose sole knowledge of progressive rock begins and ends with Procol Harum – because it was difficult to tell the originals from the covers. That’s meant as a compliment. Their tunes are probably impossible to whistle while you work, but in a live context, Tin Spirits’ swooping riffs, complex time signatures and anthemic choruses make for a head-spinning cocktail.
Ultimately, though, those of us with no musical talent, aside from a well-tuned ear, long for something recognisable to make sense of it all. For me, that moment arrived when Tin Spirits finished off with a sparkling version of XTC’s 'Towers of London'. I’d forgotten that it features one of rock’s near-perfect guitar solos – a few seconds of bliss which, 32 years ago, achieved the near-impossible feat of persuading my Devon biker mates that not everything new or new wave was bad. Then, as now, it was played by Dave Gregory… respect.
Monday, 16 April 2012
Gentlemen And Hooligans
Night Of Treason CD
Named after the The Clash’s landmark November 1976 gig, Night Of Treason started life in 2004 as a South coast punk tribute band, belting out cover versions of three-chord wonders from back in the day. Gradually, the band started working their own songs into the set, finally emerging with their debut album featuring 13 original songs.
The band charge with gusto through high-velocity titles like ‘If You Wannit’ and ‘Speed & Glue (& Rock ’n’ Roll)’, flying with chiming guitars, terrace choruses, joined by dashes of Libertines whimsy on ‘What Became Of The Boys Brigade?’ and ‘Ballad Of The Teddy Boy (From Ladbroke Grove)’. With the acoustic lull of ‘Violette’, classic rock ’n’ roll knees-up of the title track and ‘Skate City’’s reggae lilt, all bases are covered for the ultimate old punk’s fantasy set with lyrics for the 21st century (and anti-war message on ‘A Letter From The Front’). Great fun.
Friday, 13 April 2012
Shadowy Newcastle band, Bong, have been prolific across various lo-fi releases in the last couple of years but this is the first time the band have entered the recording studio with a producer for this, their latest release on Ritual Productions.
Wednesday, 11 April 2012
Electric Wizard + Purson
HMV Forum, Kentish Town, London March 31
Purson and Electric Wizard were but two of the artists on the bill at the HMV Forum though the trad doom sounds of both Age of Taurus and Witchsorrow are probably too far from the Happening sensibility to merit a review. That’s not to say they weren’t entertaining with the latter featuring a bass sound so gargantuan and sonorous it resonated through my very viscera and actually made it hard for me to breathe at some points.
Purson have come a long way in a short time since I last saw them supporting Pentagram at the Garage. Now dressed like a Central-European sex cult, the band has expanded to a five piece with keyboard effects filling out their sound. Their set-list doesn’t appear to have changed much but they seem more confident than before as frontwoman Rosalie Cunningham both haunts and prowls across the stage like a Victoriana lost girl. There’s a real air of delicate songcraft in every corner of their goth-prog material, which makes their forthcoming album all the more drool-inducing. They do, however, look like the most pallid and underweight band ever to hit the Forum stage – hopefully their inevitable future success will help afford a few square meals.
If the members of Purson look like a cult then Electric Wizard take it one stage further – inspiring the kind of blind devotion that turns the Forum into an occult rally rather than a rock gig. Hardcore fans use the cover of a furious moshpit to spark surreptitious herbal cigarettes and soon the venue begins to reek of the sweet leaf. Frontman Jus Oborn revels in this lawlessness, lighting his own joint mid-set to show his disregard for any Kentish Town by-laws that might be in force. Quite frankly he should be allowed to - the band having justifiably earned its place in the doom pantheon. Just check out the long brooding intro to ‘Funeralopolis’, the monumental choruses of newer songs ‘Black Mass’ or ‘Satanic Rites of Drugula’, or the fug of old favourites like ‘Supercoven’ and ‘Return Trip’. Across every song in the 90 minute set Jus casts a spell of woozy seasick psychedelia that’s enhanced by the unseemly lighting and endless reels of exploito footage projected onto giant screens from such lost schlock as Hell’s Chosen Few and The Devil’s Wedding Night. New track ‘Legalise Drugs and Murder’ is debuted and shows the band at another high watermark, mixing the anthemic nature of the Black Masses material with the dense sludge of Dopethrone. These creepy crawlers really have the sound and songs that are slowly making them into a British institution. After all – sex, drugs and murder – could there be a more perfect night out?