All posts by HalfEdgeMedia

Regular writing and podcasting about music

I Will Have Always Have Been Here Before

Dave Graney & the mistLY

Play mistLY for me – live recordings vol 1

Bandcamp

23rd February 2015

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One can assume from the “vol. 1″ part of the title that this is the start of a series of releases of recordings made by Dave, Clare & Stu with appearances from Stuart Perera and Mark Fitzgibbon on some tracks. Given the quality of this release one would hope so. Another milestone in a now legendary and very productive career.

Dave says “a collection of live recordings from shows over the last few years. Shows in Adelaide, Newcastle, Katoomba and Melbourne. Featuring different instrumentation and approaches to songs. Recorded on a hard disc recorder sitting in the rooms where we played. No direct feeds from a desk or mics on any instruments, just a stereo track from somewhere in the ROOM. No overdubs attempted. It’s all here just as it happened.”

There’s a fine mix of recent and back catalogue material here with a good nod towards Coral Snakes era tunes. The “audience” feel of the recordings does give a sense that you are actually there in the room enjoying the laid back ambience of the proceedings. The arrangements are both fascinating, effortless and rich giving a new life to a lot of the compositions. The sequencing of the material allows for a seamless listening experience, in some instances the transitions between the songs are little works of art in their own right with a feel of the tone poems of Miles Davis on “Get Up With It” in one instance.  The occasional witty inter-song commentary is worth the price of admission alone.

The highlight for me is a funky stroll through a complete reconstruction of “The Stars Baby, The Stars” which takes an already excellent song to a completely new place.

Many artists tend to try and replicate their album music on a live setting so that the audience gets an almost carbon copy of what is on their dansette/I-phone. Dave stands resolutely apart from that methodology and continually re-invents his work. In the same spirit as the Graney & Moore release “Keepin’ It Unreal”  from a few years back this is an excellent 64 minutes of quality music. Lovers of studio perfect audio capture will probably get hot under the collar about the occasional lack of fidelity, if they do they are missing the point completely.

Roll on Vol.2. say I.

Giles, Grey, Lorimer, Hunter and Bremner

Flies On You
etcetera
Self-released
6 March 2015

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There is an altogether angrier and louder start to their second album with fearsome scabrous vocal and guitar from Andy and Doug of Flies on You from the get go,  and it might have you thinking that the band are bringing more the same,  however nothing could be further from the truth. This new one is a package of many different parts.

Those of you who hang around these pages, or indeed listen to my podcasts, will be aware of the fuss that has been made about these chaps. For those not aware of Flies on You they describe themselves as a “DIY Leeds Post Punk Duo” with the emphasis on the DIY part and an insistence on an independent focus and approach. They have built a reputation with limited live appearances, which is to be remedied soon, and some heavy promotion via community/local radio together with  other domestic and international radio play and press reviews both on and offline, plus specific appearances on BBC Radio 6 Music and radio shows in the United States. In successive years, Flies On You tracks have featured in the end-of-year “Festive Fifty”, voted for by the listeners of Dandelion Radio, the station whose mission is to perpetuate the legacy of John Peel.

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They are Andrew Watkins and Doug Aikman. Andy and Doug formed Flies On You in 2011, intent on playing enthusiastically demented punk-rock, but soon found their post-punk and electronic influences creeping in and affecting things. They released their debut album, “Nothing To Write Home About” in September 2012. 2013 saw the releases of the “Session EP” (originally recorded as a session for Mark Whitby’s Show on Dandelion Radio) and “Josephine Remix EP”, 10 re-interpretations of an audience favourite, which I contributed a track to.

So what we have here is 15 tracks – two of which have had preview exposure (Katie Hopkins In Human Form and Can You Smell That Burning Noise) – varying from the brittle edges of anarcho-punk (Hangdog), via post-punk pop (People Like Pete) , french pop (Ugly Cousins) through dub reggae stylings (Roofspace), spoken word sections (Thank You St Francis)  to full-on punk ranting.  The variety is more obvious than with the first album, the songs are generally however just as short, in that they are perfect little nuggets of compressed musical energy bursting with ideas both lyrical and musical – “Our Little Secret” being  case in point with its varying elements and mix of chiming guitar and terrace vocalising.

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There’s a quirky “only from the North” feel to this, but with nods towards more southerly things like The Soft Boys, XTC and an On-U sound dynamic.  The excellent “Method Actor” and “Swine Hero” sound like a hyperactive version of Wire, if they had been brought up in Headingly and gone to Leeds College of Art. The collective experience of the two protagonists is distilled into a heady mix, the polemic is strong in parts, Action Stations being the most obvious, but couched in subversive pop melodies which aid in delivering some serious messages in a unique way. The album feels like the great Leeds team from the 1970/1 season – the culture and flair of Giles, Grey and Lorimer mixed with the venom of Charlton, Bremner, and Hunter et al.

All in all an excellent second full length well worthy of your attention.

Forthcoming gigs:

28/03/15 Leeds Brudenell Social Club, supporting BRIX & THE EXTRICATED (ex of The Fall)

17/04/15 Preston New Continental Club, supporting EDWARD TUDOR-POLE

25/04/15 Oldham Bank Top Tavern, in the company of several other bands for JEFF-FEST

LINKS

fliesonyou.co.uk

fliesonyou.bandcamp.com

twitter.com/fliesonyou

facebook.com/fliesonyou

Fraternal Greetings

Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
Brothers of the Sonic Cloth
Neurot Recordings
16 February 2015

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Tad Doyle is back with just under 45 minutes of insanely heavy noise and it’s rather marvellous. His new trio release their eponymous album with a great degree of anticipation from waiting fans of the big man’s work. This powerful trio of musicians, with Tad on guitar/vocals, veteran bass player Peggy Doyle and drummer Dave French (The Anunnaki)  bring together the worlds of punk, hard rock and metal. Recorded at Robert Lang Studios and Tad Doyles’ own Witch Ape Studio in Seattle and mixed by Billy Anderson, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth’s self-titled full length consists of five epic songs, with two bonus tracks on the CD.

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Comparisons with Tad and Hog Molly (Doyle’s previous bands) reveal a definite shift from the more up tempo grunge of the early 90s to a more cinematic metal oriented package, although the intensity of Hog  Molly does carry over. There are some surprises as well with the Morricone flecked intro to “Unnamed” , although generally the emphasis is hugely fuzzed chords/riffs delivered over slow tempos with throat shredding vocals from Doyle.

A deeply cathartic listening experience Tad demonstrates he has lost none of his legendary intensity, indeed it could be said he has upped it several notches.

Highly recommended for lovers of loud and unforgiving rock with a liberal dose of metal.

See Stephen Play

ZX+

Fruits De Mer Releases

S Evans

When he is not assisting partner Mary Joanna with her musical ventures Stephen Evans continues to make fascinating music with his excellent ZX+ project. Stephen sent through two CDs worth of material the other day and mighty fine it is too.

The first CDs worth of material will be released as part of the Fruits De Mer members club package under the broad heading of “Games for May”.   Stephen has   an album coming out this year and he says  “a lot of these songs are ones that didn’t make it on the album, some are covers and some are off the older albums”.  The first CD comes as part of a “goodie bag” tied in with a gig at the Half Moon Putney on May 24th – more details here. The second CD is for the Fruits De Mer event “The 13th Dream Of Dr. Sardonicus – the Fruits de Mer Festival of Psychedelia” – which runs from 7th-9th August, 2015. Stephen says there are T Shirts as well!

As a statement of the ZX+ project to date it makes for great introduction to Stephen’s work covering the wide range of styles his music encompasses. Tracks from the excellent 2013 album “Sickly”,  the initial 2010 ZX+  release,  plus a number of covers including an excellent version of the Floyd’s  “Jugband Blues” and The Rolling Stones “She’s A Rainbow”  plus some brand new songs which all go to make up a collection of psychedelic, indie, experimental and altogether unique sounds.

The albums will be featured on the Aural Delights podcast in a fortnight.

DISCOGRAPHY TO DATE

Albums

ZX+ – ZX+ (2010)

ZX+ – Sickly (2013)

Singles/EPs

ZX+ – +Planets (2010)

ZX+ – ZX+ E.P. (2010)

ZX+ – In A Cover World (2010)

ZX+ – The Crazies (2014)

 

 

Biscuits, Retaliation and Social Media in the First World

Monkeys In Love

Take the Biscuit

VPL Records

9 February 2015

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The third full length release from Monkeys In Love leaps out of the speakers, grabs you by the ears, and shakes you about a bit, until you are leaping around in untrammelled abandon to their unique and rather memorable take on popular music.

Two years in the making, the collection of 10 songs is well worth the wait since the excellent “Will Pet And Cuddle You”. The overall feel of the collection is best described as “joyous”. The attention to detail in production, in essence why it has taken so long to get it out to the masses, makes for their best recorded work to date. The individual elements of the quintet’s musicianship is allowed to shine and Steve and Laura’s vocals have never been clearer.

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As usual with the band the styles are mixed up  and we get everything from driven post-punk, through psyche fuzz, a touch of krautrock, via lounge jazz to dreamy french pop sounds. More importantly, and as ably demonstrated by the opening title track, there is fully formed “Monkeys In Love” sound which is both infectious and unique, combining a number of disparate elements to deliver a refreshing sound.

To some degree the second track “Circle of Jerks” , previously available on the stop-gap EP from 2013, harks back to previous releases with it’s rolling guitar and “Yes Wave” sound. It moves, in a sprightly fashion, to the defiant “First World Crisis”, which mixes anglo-centric vocalising with swirling synth bubbles and a martial drumming.  Short, sharp and sweet. The also previously released “In Comics Sans” is pure “Monkeys” , Danielle follows Laura’ vocal on the flute, Eamonn works his way through some interesting chord changes and the whole thing is progressive but in post-punk sense . Steve brings in a light keyboard touch towards the end and the guitars get a bit more intense which provides for a triumphant conclusion.

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From here onwards in things get a little more, let’s say, heavy, with a focus on the north London suburb of Stoke Newington before settling down to the jazzy lounge vibe of “Pina Colada In A Can” which continues a degree of conceptual continuity from the “Death Jeans” album (i.e. Gin In A Can). However there are some interesting things going on here. The ominipresent cocktail party chat, the atonal middle eight  sections and coda with viseceral synth sounds and off kilter guitar noises and the collapse into avant garde at the end are excellent.  “47 Baked Potatoes” adopts dreamy french pop and indie chords with a Burt Bacharach sensibility to create one of the high-points of the album. Laura’s delicate vocal on this track is both a revelation and an affirmation of her abilties, both fragile and poignant.

“Confusing Instagram” builds on a riff in the best traditions of English “Underground” music, adds synths in the spirit of the pioneers of electronic music, and deals in stately repetition in hommage to the best of post-punk. The new golden age of social media is both hailed and parodied.

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The revelation of the album comes via the closing two tracks. Monkeys in Love fans are in for a bit of a suprise with the rich and complex “Evil Boots” and the riff-tastic “Prendiamo Il Biscotto In Rappresaglia Seq 3″.   Both tracks are stunning and offer a previously unheard side of of the MIL sound. The last track is part of a sequence of tunes, the first part of which was captured live recently and did not make it onto the album.

 In summary, the Monkeys In Love team have delivered their best work to date, rich, varied, intriguing and exciting.

The band launch the album at Gullivers NQ, Manchester on Friday 6th February with special guests The Hamsters and Taser Puppets. One for your diary.

The album will be available via the bands website.

LINKS

Facebook

Website

Recent Interview With The Band

Solar Engineers

Taken By The Sun
Taken By The Sun
independent
Release: 24 February 2015

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Chicago progressive post metal doom/gaze collective (that’s what it says here), Taken By The Sun,  release their debut full-length next month. The album was recorded almost exclusively live at Electrical Audio (with track “Confessions Of An Opium Eater” recorded at Studio 54 Music Zone), engineered by Sanford Parker (Twilight, Voivod, Eyehategod, Yob etc.) and mastered by Collin Jordan (Eyehategod, Indian, Wovenhand, Voivod etc.) at The Boiler Room, all in Chicago.

The release encompasses a sprawling, eight-track, forty-two minute sonic journey. This is not your typical doom-fest with some fascinating ambient and  post-rock sections starting many of the tracks before building up to the heavier elements. The dominant sound consists of the industry norm of heavy riffs and gravel-throated vocals however the addition of out of genre elements makes for fascinating listening.  Comparisons can be made with the likes of  Neurosis, Isis, Pelican, Rosetta, Mouth Of the Architect, Red Sparrowes, and The Ocean, but this band stands on its own merits. There are some very interesting passages of material to break up the intense stuff and this places this band in the one to watch category. Having said that the intense stuff is very, well, intense.

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Formed in 2011, with the name of the band apparently  representing decay and rebirth, Taken By The Sun is a Chicago metal band rooted within The Windy City’s venue-shaking, riff-worshipping doom and stoner metal traditions.  Recorded live with only minimal additional overdubs, the album is faithful to both the earnestness and the magnitude of the band’s sound. The band comprises William Arroyo, Patrick Auclair, Justin Cape, Mark Cichra, and Kris Ziemlo.

Taken By The Sun will be released independently on February 24th via the groups’ Bandcamp Page.

LINKS

http://www.takenbythesunchicago.bandcamp.com

http://www.facebook.com/takenbythesun

Edinburgh, Melbourne and Brisbane

The Nectarine No 9

Nebraska Falls (Postcard/Shake)

Fried for Blue Material (Creeping Bent)

Dave Graney ‘n The Coral Snakes 

The Mercury Years 1994-1997 (Universal)

The Go-Betweens

G stands  for Go-Betweens : Volume One 1978-1984 (Domino)

The recent news that the Sexual Objects were releasing a one item only album with the added attraction of the purchaser getting the rights to distribute it as they see fit struck me as a suitable comment on the state of the music industry.

Around the same time of catching that news my friend Bob Stow wrote me a series of e-mails to me around the subject of catching Dave Graney and Clare Moore in London during 2014. Bob’s always potent writing brought to life three gigs I had sadly had to miss.

Coincidentally towards the end of last week I had been prowling the nether regions of Amazon and I chanced upon some reasonably priced copies of two Nectarine No 9. albums I hadn’t got,  and the recent Mercury Set of Dave Graney and the Coral Snakes albums from ’94 to ’97.  Synchronicity and all that.

Add to that the recent release of part one of The Go-Betweens retrospective which apart from the thee original albums from the 1978-84 period has the early singles on vinyl and  four CDs worth of rare, unreleased material and you have on your hands a wonderful few hours of listening.

I spent a lot of the early 90s working too hard and developing a career and most of my disposable income was spent on the rather large collection of jazz  and music by The Fall which surrounds me as I type.  It was only Mr Stow, and fellow Northamptonian Mr Gibbins, that kept me up to speed with what should have been listening to in the slightly off the mainstream world of rock and pop. Three memorable recommendations from that period were The Go-Betweens “Springhill Fair”, the Nectarines “A C with three Stars” and Dave ‘n’ The Coral Snakes “The Lure of the Tropics” all of which eventually lead to the lifetime appreciation and collection of the work of Messrs Forster, McLennan, Henderson and Graney.

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With Mr Graney’s “Fearful Wiggings” fresh in my mind as one of the outstanding albums of last year I was pleased to receive my collection of albums from Amazon this week, time to bask in the heady days of the latter end of the last century and bring back some happy musical memories.

Of course I really wanted to find a copy of the Nectarines  “Guitar Thieves” or a reasonably priced copy of one of Henderson’s Win albums (£99 for the first one I thought was a tad steep) but I’ve made do with the Canadian imprint “Niagara Falls” which includes versions of most of “A C With 3 Stars” and one or two rarities including a cover of VUs “Inside of Your Heart”. The companion Nectarine disc “Fried for Blue Material” takes the more esoteric element of the debut album and builds on them to create a combination of songs, incidences and impressions. Another hidden gem in Mr Henderson’s impressive canon.

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The Dave Graney box set encompasses three crucial albums from the great man’s career between 1994-1997. The first “You Wanna Be There But You Don’t Wanna Travel” is stuffed to the gills with Graney treasures from the triumphant “Warren Oates” to the exquisite and nostalgic “There Was A Time”  and many more between. The writing. musically and lyrically on the this album is Dave at his very best. The second “The Soft ‘N’ Sexy Sound” was the one that got Dave his Aria and it’s easy to understand why. He moves from the tongue in cheek near-pop of “Apollo 69″ through the soulful “I’m Not Afraid to Be Heavy” to the intense “Scorched Love Affair” to the utterly marvellous “Morrison Floorshow”.  The third album “The Devil Drives” was a strong hint of Dave’s future direction post ‘Snakes, the songs becoming less pop and more unique musical narratives, fascinating in their construction and subject matter. A remarkable collection of music.

It does beg the question why Mercury didn’t go for the whole DG & CS canon and include the outstanding “Night of the Wolverine” and the unforgettable live album “The Lure of the Tropics” – but what would I know I don’t run a record label now do I? (I’m being ironic)  A pity really having all of that in one place would have been great and they could have included the tracks from the Bonus Disc from The Soft ‘N Sexy Sound that are not on Crayfish Palace Royalty disc which forms part of the four piece box set. The set of rarities includes a raft of rare tracks including the nascent version of “Morrison Floorshow” in the form of “It’s Your Crowd That  I Hate”.

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And so to the Go-Betweens.  Now then, I have the bulk of their stuff in one form or another and it’s all marvellous,  but the recent Domino box set does allow the opportunity to hear the complete development of their early work in one place. Particularly interesting is the compact disc of earliest material from 1978/9 and the nascent sound of the song-writing duo that would build into incomparable team that delivered so many fine albums and songs.

The box set includes the first vinyl re-pressings of their first three studio albums in over thirty years (Send Me A Lullaby, Before Hollywood & Spring Hill Fair), all re-mastered from the original analogue tapes.  However it is the rarities and live sets that uncover a band developing from stripped down angular post-punkers into a fully fledged unique and incomparable band.

I can’t think of many bands or musicians who have consistently given me listening pleasure over the last forty years as much as The Go-Betweens, plus Davy Henderson and Dave Graney in their variations incarnations. They rank alongside Beefheart, Zappa, Miles and Trane, and of course The Fall as people who enriched my life.

I recommend all of these releases to you unequivocally, but then I would wouldn’t I?