Author Archives: HalfEdgeMedia
To commemorate the 25th Anniversary of Hillsborough, Salford based punk-rap collective Class Actions have released a mixtape entitled ‘MCR Says JFT96’.
The mixtape features a number of Class Actions tracks relevant to Hillsborough such as ‘Rip Up The Sun’ and the anti-Thatcher track ‘M is 4 Maggie’ as well as a selection of tracks by sympathetic Greater Manchester based artists, including rapper Intoxikie, Stephen Sarson, The Bacillus and Drink and Drive. The aim is simple, raise awareness of the disaster amongst Manchester based artists, and, send a clear message of solidarity to Liverpool and the Hillsborough victims. City rivalries mean nothing when human lives are concerned. MCR says JTF96!
Class Actions Frontman Aslan AK says:
‘At the time of Hillsborough I lived very near Liverpool so I remember the tragedy very well. 96 people lost their lives and the establishment helped by the evil Sun newspaper added insult to injury. I am proud to have promoted the truth about Hillsborough through Class Actions as well as getting other artists on board to fight for justice. Everyone regardless of what city they live in must support the Hillsborough victims. Justice For The 96!’
Download MCR Says JFT96 now from www.classactionsuk.com
The Prick Jaggers
The Golden Ass
Released : 18th April 2014
I don’t normally hand over or share my reviews with other chaps but in this instance, when I asked the erstwhile Eon Morse for a brief set of words about this album he came up with a description which I felt needed to be included……
There was something almost clandestine about The Prick Jagger’s , the way they existed outside the conventional systems , rarely playing conventional gigs preferring to play instead in the more intimate setting of someone’s home where as an added bonus they would cook you a meal and partake in the vine with you , very appropriate behaviour for students of Dionysus, the fact that the cd edition of this album corroded and became unplayable after a while , it felt as if it had devoured itself , I was lucky enough to play obsessively my copy of the Golden Ass before it ceased to share it’s pleasures , when you listen you’ll hear why I was so captivated , the music here is brim full of ideas , of wit and wisdom in equal measure , it has an energy that makes me happier with life.
People like lists , so here’s a small list of my favourite ‘ Manchester’ albums in no particular order:
- 10 cc – Sheet Music
- The Fall – Hex Enduction Hour
- World of Twist – Quality Street
- Buzzcocks – Times Up
- The Prick Jaggers - The Golden Ass
It is that good!
Listen , buy , tell a friend , let the world now , this album deserves to be ( in terms of sales) the ‘ Tubular Bells’ of the modern age …..
A fascinating perspective, and as someone who has listened to Mr Morse’s views on music in general, and the Manchester scene in particular, I have to say this does mark this album out as something special.
And, you know what, he is completely right. This is another one of those hidden gems of the rich history of Manchester music. On one hand bitingly witty, caustically humorous, and playful, on the other hand heading straight for the jugular to point out the idiosyncratic behaviour of modern Britain. Balancing a pungent approach to electronica, with a slightly alien approach to what was described elsewhere as “country and northern”.
Patriq Gannon and Robert Jones take the anticipated norms of music flip them over and both surprise and delight with the variety of material, the subject matter, and the overall delivery which veers between a concert in your living room and a chat in the pub with your mates with a musical backing. Any album that name checks Stephen Hawking, Lou Reed and Sisyphus is OK by me and demands to be heard. Gannon’s delivery is uniquely northern and special. The whole thing is something special.
And as they say……..
The Prick Jaggers were once the new Olympian bards of rock and roll. They were the voice and promise of the counter culture, they who shat in Hank Marvins shoe. The guys who put three chords into bed with electronic discharge. Who sailed into 2002 and disappeared into a haze of substance abuse. Who emerged to find Shergar! They were written off as has-beens by the summer of 2005, and suddenly shifted gear, releasing their debut album The Golden Ass in March 2006.
Two fallen men stood upright before you. How is it that they came to stand? Such burdens did these men carry on their shoulders! Yet these beacons of the Overman walked on the stage before your purty lickle eyes.
G E Pennyfather’s Recording Artists, The Prick Jaggers.
Available from German Shepherd……www.germanshepherdrecords.bandcamp.com/
Released : 31st March 2014
Out of the ashes of the recently expired Whipcord comes Beat Vermilion. Retaining the same line-up of Duncan Purcell (bass), Gary Porter (drums) and Nick Barry (guitar and vocals) for this recording the band have moved to another phase in their musical career. Porter recently left the band.
It’s clear from the outset that this is going to be a seriously loud and uncompromising affair. The driving pulse of “Stolidly Built” kicks things off in a riot of joyous riffage and some serious guitar abuse from Mr Barry. The preceding combo always had the unique capacity to meld seriously heavy rock music in with great melodies and they haven’t lost that ability. Matters continue in the same vein with “Ephermerun” with vocals ranging between tortured scream and mellow (ish) melody on the chorus. It then gets seriously heavy with “Waiver Another” with it’s relentless riff and ear-worm chorus. Closer “Frozen Heart of Gold” comes across like “Lark Tongues In Aspic” period Crimson in bed with Motorhead, namechecks the band, and batters the listener into submission. Lyrically the four pieces offer an interesting impressionistic/symbolic approach – there is no direct narrative but more a series of abstract statements which adds to the overall intensity of the music.
I asked Duncan why Whipcord had finished “Well, we decided to called it day with Whipcord because as much as we loved them and it, we got tired of playing the same songs and tired of the name, it was becoming a bit of a cabaret thing. Although it was direct and suited the sound, it wasn’t as faceless or as mystical as Nick wanted it to be. Given the Zeppelin, King Crimson, Fugazi and Rudimentary Peni love in the band, he wanted the us to be that little more enigmatic, with only artwork and music being the face of the band. We are lifers so giving up wasn’t an option. Considering everything and our chequered history of being predictably unpredictable (and that will continue), I think it was something we needed to do and we took it as far as we could. Also during the hiatus our drummer decided to retire from music and started a new life in Liverpool (although on board with the idea at the time), pretty much cemented the brand new challenge even more. Luckily he managed to stick around long enough to record the EP.”
The EP is self recorded, Purcell explained “…….using primitive micing techniques. We only used 4 mics in total because drums don’t seem to sound as natural nowadays as they did on the records in the 60′s and 70′s so we did TRY to recreate that sound. We’re no experts so It was totally trial and error…..”
The band are currently writing new material and hope to be playing their first gigs in the summer.
I shall be featuring the EP in the Sonic Attack podcast over the next couple of weeks. Those of you who loved Whipcord will find something here to enjoy I think. The band, despite retaining the same line-up for this recording, seem darker and more intense which to my mind is a good thing. Highly recommended!
GREY SKIES FALLEN
The Many Sides of Truth
Release: 29 April 2014
New York City-area metal quintet, GREY SKIES FALLEN, is preparing to unveil their mammoth sixth release this Spring, with “The Many Sides of Truth”.
Formed in 1997, GREY SKIES FALLEN has kept a constant flame burning since inception, their brooding and scathing blend of black, death and doom metal continually morphing and evolving. With a revamped lineup since previous releases, the band now prepares to release their most diverse and honed works to date with their sixth official release.
The fourth collection of works the band has recorded with Keith Moore at his Audio Playground in Patchogue, New York, the album packs a wealth of crushing cross-genre metal dynamics into a thirty-eight minute, zero-filler album, as always self-financed by the band directly. While the band’s previous two releases — 2012’s Introspective and 2010’s Along Came Life — were digital-only releases, The Many Sides of Truth will see traditional physical CD and LP pressings. The vinyl release will feature black, colored, splattered, and limited glow-in-the dark versions, and alternate green cover art, with both versions of the cover artwork and layouts having been created by Travis Smith. The album also features the band debuts of guitarist/vocalist Joe Sanci and bassist Tom Anderer.
GREY SKIES FALLEN:
Rick Habeeb – guitar, vocals
Joe Sanci – guitar, vocals
Tom Anderer – bass
Craig Rossi – keyboards
Sal Gregory – drums
Joseph Higgins – cello
Audrey Selph – viola
Johnny Grill – vocals
“The Many Sides of Truth”
Recorded between September and December 2013
Mixed and mastered: January 2014
Recorded and mixed at Audio Playground
Engineered, Mixed and Mastered by Keith Moore
Produced by Grey Skies Fallen and Keith Moore
The Aural Delights View : Unashamedly cinematic, beautifully produced, and, with structures which suggest progressive rock elements, this is a great listen and has sufficient contrast within the content to grab this listeners attention. The band balance elegaic quieter sections with full on rock elements very well indeed. Impressive!
The Blind Year
2nd April 2014
When I first started doing the radio lark back in 2009 one of the first “new” bands I chanced upon was an excellent New York combo called Renminbi, who I featured at the time. They then morphed into Magnetic Island who also produced some excellent material, and then, as it ever was in the busy world of listening to new music, I sort of lost track of what they were up to. So today, when I got an e-mail from Lisa Liu – the guitarist in the aforementioned - who was introducing her new solo album to me, I was keen to find out what she has been up to in the intervening period.
Her biog on her website is quite illuminating and adds some context:
Lisa Liu grew up in sunny Southern California. At the age of 6, she started taking classical piano lessons and fell in love with Debussy and Brahms. At 13 she picked up the guitar and hasn’t looked back.
In 1999, LL moved to NYC and started playing in various indie/pop/post-punk/experimental bands including Danger, Giant Ranger!, Renminbi, and Le Rug. In 2005, she went back to music school and got her degree in jazz studies from Long Island University, Brooklyn. There, she studied with Robert Aquino, Sam Newsome,Tony Romano, and Carlo De Rosa.
LL has worked with venerable producer Don Fleming, scored a performance art piece for artist Mateo Tannatt, has written and released over 10 albums, and has toured the U.S. and Europe.
Currently based in Brooklyn, NY, Lisa plays guitar, keyboard, bass, and drums. Her current projects include Las Lanas, Magnetic Island, Mixed Doubles, a solo noise guitar project and two jazz projects. Her musical interests vary widely from folk, post-punk, indie, noise, and gypsy jazz to fingerstyle.
Because I hardly throw any music away that I get in, and in order to get some context, I trawled the hard discs for the Renminbi material (2009) and rediscovered the excellent “Surface” EP which sounds as good as it did five years ago – with a nod towards to Sonic Youth guitar/rhythm Lisa’s compelling and warm vocal style stands out as well as her fleet chord work. The Magnetic Island back catalogue proved to be more fulsome with a selection of singles and a debut album (2011) all of which still sound excellent. It was good to refresh my memory of these fine bands.
On then to this new album – Lisa is calling the project Las Lanas and the album is called “The Blind Year”. The trademark Liu song structures and beautiful vocals are still here, but the hard post-punk/rock of the previous bands is replaced by altogether more measured and ambient soundscape. The stage is set with the stunning opener “Lie and Sow” which is a confection of arpeggio finger style guitar rolling under a dreamy vocal from Lisa. Songs are predominantly solo vocal and guitar pieces, with solo vocal and piano or some keyboards added as texture in places. There is an effortless dreamy quality to the material, the recording is warm and natural with a strong positive feel to it.
Lisa cites Elliott Smith, Nick Drake, & Tori Amos as influencers for the album, and specifically the Drake reference comes through strongly – strong guitar work and moody, delicate, and hearfelt tunes. Of the album Lisa says “The album is called “The Blind Year” as a reference to a Chinese year that does not encompass a spring. In 2013, it was the year of the snake and a blind year. The superstition is that when it is a blind year, things don’t go quite right. My album is a response to it.”
This is one of the most delightful albums that I have heard this year and I recommend it to you unreservedly.
The Master Tapes
11th April 2014
After languishing on tapes for 32 years German Shepherd have received the OK to release the remaining six tracks from the legendary Twisted Hand recordings. Drummer Mike Leigh (The Fall, Rockin’ Ricky and the Velvet Collars, Pearl Divers, The Blimp, and currently Kill Pretty) got hold of the Master Tapes a couple of years back and took it upon himself to have them converted to digital.
After leaving the Fall in the early 80s Leigh spent some time with long time Fall fan Peter Claughan and his band in recording tracks. Three were released on the Short Strings EP which is still available from German Shepherd in limited edition vinyl (very few left) and digitally here.
So at long last we have the other tracks from the recordings made in Kilmarnock between 1980 and 1982. The sound is unmistakably post-punk with elements of influence coming from Echo and the Bunnymen, Siouxie and the Banshees, Joy Division, and Magazine, what sets this apart from those comparisons however, is Leigh’s trade-mark busy drum style, and Claughan’s excellent world-weary vocals.
Had an astute record lable boss at the time been aware of this band and its’ music i’ve no doubt these would have been snapped up sooner. The writing is superb, the playing great, and still sounds fresh all these years later, and Claughan is in fine form. There is a lot of variety between the six tracks and it is great that these have finally been released to the world at large.
The “mini-album” is released a “Pay What You Want” and anyone wishing to donate will be contributing to Mike Leigh’s costs for the conversion of the original master tapes.
After bumper reissues of Pope Adrian 37th Psychristiatric, Cacophony and Archaic, it is now time for what is arguably the outsider punks’ most beloved album to shine. Rudimentary Peni’s first LP, “Death Church” has been remastered and revamped by Outer Himalayan and Southern, returning on 180g black vinyl with the original fold-out artwork and an mp3 download code. Due for release on 12th May – some 31 years since it was originally recorded – and with a gatefold CD version also hitting the shelves. This is a reissue to get excited about; an obstinate and absolute cult artefact brought kicking and screaming in to the present to scramble preconceptions of punk once again.
Death Church was recorded in two days at Southern Studios in April of 1983. It was the band’s ﬁrst long-player, following their self-titled EP in 1981 and the Farce single on Crass Records in 1982. Death Church wore its contents on its sleeve, quite literally. The intricate line drawings of vocalist/guitarist Nick Blinko are dark visions of madness, religion and death…all of which are to be found amongst the lyrics within. Musically, Death Church has been embraced and claimed by every fringe musical niche of its time… it’s the album that brought together the death rockers, anarcho-punks, peace punks, hardcore punks, proto-metallers and art-rockers.
In related news, apparently Southern Records are intrigued to hear the result of the new supergroup in town, Teenage Time Killer (named after a Rudimentary song, and featuring Dave Grohl, Corey Taylor, Jello Biafra, Nick Oliveri, Neil Fallon, Keith Morris, Max Cavalera and others) Exactly how much they will reference the music of their namesake is unknown at this stage.
Anyhow – 21 tracks in 32 minutes is a clear indication of what to expect. It’s an interesting remaster – the drums are a little further back in the mix and seem to have lost a bit of middle, the guitars are louder and Blinko’s voice gets a little lost in the overall sound. It might sound better on vinyl but the MP3 version I have does not sound as good as the original. Disappointing.
Crucial Blast will release “Plague Beasts”, the third full-length from CLOAK OF ALTERING, one of the many monikers/projects of Dutch noise architect, Maurice de Jong, a.k.a. Mories.
Widely known within the darkest recesses of the extreme music underground for his works in Gnaw Their Tongues, Seirom, Aderlating, Mors Sonat, De Magia Veterum and more, with CLOAK OF ALTERING, Mories channels his deep fascination with the more mutated realms of electronically-damaged symphonic and industrial black metal into a brutally fragmented form of mechanized pandemonium. The man’s most twisted COA concepts yet come snarling forth on his Crucial Blast debut, Plague Beasts; seven new movements resulting in a thirty-eight minute blackwarped techno-celestial mindfuck.
With Plague Beasts, Mories/CLOAK OF ALTERING delivers a ferocious affront to black metal form and structure, combining his otherworldly strain of sweeping symphonic black metal with bursts of intense electronic chaos, waves of nebulous synthesizer and spastic rhythmic violence that, at times, feels more like something you’d hear off of a Planet Mu 12″, at times resembling some twisted nightmare version of prog rock keyboard freak-outs, or vintage 16-bit game soundtracks being fused to the gristle and graveyard stink of second wave black metal. More than anything else from Mories, this stuff is closest in spirit to the malevolent necro-industrial and fractured drug-fueled machine-ecstasies of bands like Aborym, Blacklodge, Dodheimsgard, Mysticum, and Abigor. But as with anything that this guy is involved with, Plague Beasts seethes with a deliriously demonic atmosphere entirely its own.
Plague Beasts will be set loose via digital delivery and six-panel CD digipak on April 29th.
Smart Husband Resonator Set
5th April 2014
In which a selection of like-minded individuals explore the wonderful world of STAGGS and re-interpret previously released work. For those of you not in the loop STAGGS are MT Scott, The Riddler, and Kitsy Chaos.
First up we have the City of Leeds saviours of post-punk – otherwise known as the delightfully wondrous Flies On You - who transform “Furious Staggs” from the Weird Kids EP into a manic John Barry-esque experience – albeit John Barry lodged behind a drum machine in an all-night dance party – compelling stuff indeed. I was reminded of “The Persuaders” “The Champions” or “The Protectors” or some other 70s TV show where men wore sharp suits, women wore exquisitely tailored french gowns, they drove Lamborghini’s and were heading to an early grave due to the huge numbers of Capstan Full Strength they smoked. A scabrous sample of Mr Scott’s voice sits uneasily over the zither like Barry twangs as percussive multiplicity proceeds over mutterings and chitterings. Brilliant.
Next up is Bedroom Legends which is/are Ubertino du (or da or de – depending on which quarter of the moon it is) Casale (see my Room on the Floor Podcasts for more of his work) and Richard E Stuart - who take “Staggs Are Nice” and blend in some Jam and William Blake to create a sultry rhythmic confection which hangs between glitchy feathery stuff, more howling from Mr Scott, and resonating synth screams, bubbling basses, constrained sweeps, and other contrapuntal naughtiness. Sexy.
Mave Mills (he of Chumbawamba fame) alters “Ron Was Cool” via a “Sailor’s Knot Mix” from Weird Kids into a Morricone-esque spaghetti western tumble – the first part of which takes us into a cloud of airy pads which morph into a tasteful vocodering of the original melody. Further, and very clever, transformation of the vocal parts layer through to a gentle percussion section where distant guitar sounds propel a slight melody. A lush and delicious realisation.
DJ Capt Mainwaring (who may happen to be Michael T. Scott of STAGGS) takes the 13th Hour (from Mother Natures Bastard Sons) and translates it into a “Houston Funeral Mix”. A punchy bass with the original shuffle rhythm dictates the pace as “found sounds”, which transforms the Syd Barrett-like Englishness of the original into something transatlantic and offers a Texan perspective, as a lonely trumpet plays the last post, before offering a little Gallic intervention from the source. The organic development of this track is exceptional, as bit by bit new elements are introduced. Fascinating.
This is marvellous stuff – the original tunes are pretty damn good in their own right, these re-interpretations are best described as both fun and stunning in respect of invention and delivery.
Around 18 minutes of amazing music, apparently it’s only going to cost you 79p….. so rather than buy that Curly Wurly that’s staring at you from the end of the check out desk at Morrison’s why not invest in this?
I shall be playing the before and after versions on Aural Delights over the next three weeks – the variation and original of “Ron Was Cool” have already been featured here
No doubt you will be able to purchase is from the STAGGS bandcamp page.
1st April 2014
I don’t know….you wait ages for a new record lable and then they start turning up like No 13 buses two or three at a time. First, a few weeks back, German Shepherd and now Cyclotron Records , which geographically, at least in terms of product, are not that far apart.
The latter, for the moment, is concentrating on the work of Chorley’s Taser Puppets. So we have before us the long awaited “Fuzzy Felt which contains, in its’ artfully designed cardboard cover, five nuggets of TP post-punk pop. Now then dear reader i’ve been living through the various incarnations of these tunes for what seems like an age (but in actuality is only around 12 months) so I know them backwards, forwards and sideways so I think I am well disposed to say that the final product is very well delivered indeed. And the fact that I do appear fleetingly saying/ singing/shouting “get up” amongst a tribe of other ne’er do wells on “The Wrestler” means I do have a vested interest.
And this release comes at the cusp of change with the bass player on this release – Jason Hurley – having now left to form a new band, and being replaced by original bassist “Dancin’” Ste – was it ever so in the world of rock and roll things always changing and evolving.
So we have a fine historical record of the second iteration of the Puppets which contains the danceable pop of “Break Out The Dansette”, the infectious “Information Boom”, the aforementioned “The Wrestler” – a typical Maxwell bitter-sweet tune, and the revelation for me on this release, an exceptional reading of “Leafless In” which is to my mind is the best thing the Puppets have produced to date. Matters are concluded with an atmospheric reading of Bowie’s “Five Years” which is full of “Ali Bongo” arch louche-ness.
Cyclotron has also re-released the previous outing “Twisted Pop” which contains four classic Maxwell pop nuggets, and the original single “Misogyny For Wimps” which includes the excellent “Slow Death By Karaoke”.
My only gripe is the staples used in the construction of the sleeve – should have used a Pritt-Stick Shaun!
Apart from that I rather think this is the best Taser Puppets release to date and I suggest you check it out here…..