All posts by HalfEdgeMedia

Regular writing and podcasting about music

…….fuzzed out, lumbering cheerlessness……

Denver doom metal duo, IN THE COMPANY OF SERPENTS, release a three track set on December 21st titled Merging In Light.

The follow-up to the band’s 2013-released Of The Flock EP, which The Sludgelord commended for thrusting forth, “thirty minutes of some of the most impure, indecent and coarse noise that these ears have heard,” and Hard Rock Revolution called, “heavier than damn near anything you’ve ever heard,” carries on their wall of metal approach with three tracks of fuzzed out, lumbering cheerlessness. Produced, mixed and mastered by Dave Otero (Cephalic Carnage, Catheter, Nightbringer, Primitive Man, Cobalt, etc.) at Flatline Audio in Denver, Colorado, Merging In Light delivers an in your face mass of unforgiving metal loveliness.

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The release features artwork by renowned illustrator Sam Turner, (Sleep, Speedwolf et al) and will be released independently on limited 12″ colored vinyl with an etched B-side. The two ouroboros serpents forming the Vesica Piscis symbol on the front and back cover will be done in UV spot gloss on the jacket, so it will have the appearance of glossy black against matte black. Additionally, 100 of the 500 records pressed will have a haze of black set against a milky, semi-translucent white, and will also come with a printed slipmat available. The remaining 400 will be white vinyl.
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IN THE COMPANY OF SERPENTS was started in early 2011 by vocalist/guitarist Grant Netzorg and drummer JJ Anselmi. The two got together through their mutual adoration of Earth’s The Bees Made Honey In The Lion’s Skull. Later that Spring they recorded a four-song demo in a friend’s basement studio. Shortly thereafter, Anselmi left the band on amicable terms, and Joseph Weller Myer (Royal Talons, Whilt) has been drumming ever since. In May of 2013 Myer and Netzorg entered the studio to record their follow-up, Of the Flock, which was subsequently mixed and mastered by Billy Anderson. Of the Flock was self-released on vinyl on Halloween of 2013.

The  new offering from the band  is one of the best metal releases of the year and perversely comes just as it is rumbling to a close. It is a breathtakingly good – intense, unforgiving. compelling and down right excellent. Highly recommended.

Merging In Light will be released independently on December 21st, 2014 via the band’s official BandCamp page at THIS LOCATION

http://www.facebook.com/InTheCompanyOfSerpents

http://www.inthecompanyofserpentsdoom.bandcamp.com

ICOS_LP_Insert1[photobyTravisHeacock]

Best of 2014 – A Summary

I usually do podcasts associated with the “best of the year” but frankly I have not got the time this year, and in any event most of the material can be accessed from the existing mixcloud shows and are best heard in the context of what was going on at the time of broadcast. This years Christmas podcasts will feature the ongoing selection of excellent new music which has been sent to me.

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It’s been a strange year, I started off doing one thing and ended up doing another – the latter of which has been far more rewarding. There have been a few disappointments along the way but these have been far outweighed by the good bits. The highpoint has been working with Moet on the German Shepherd project which whilst being artistically rewarding has proved frustrating in respect of getting the music out the masses. We have plans for the new year which should deal with that.

PH GL

These little exercises in reviewing the year also help my increasingly failing memory which I am not surprised is suffering given the vast amount of music that has reached me.

And I have to thank the people in the various promo companies and the individual artists and bands who furnish me with a wealth of new material each week.

A special thanks to all of the people who contributed to the Salford Streets Project which raised much needed money to help the homeless in Salford.

Susan from Factory Acts

So here is my top 50 personal selection for 2014 – it is a mixture of albums, ep’s, singles and unreleased material…..

  1. West Coast Sick Line – The Road To Billinge Hill
  2. Ought – More Than Any Other Day
  3. Dave Graney – Fearful Wiggings
  4. Danny Short – Into Embers
  5. Dope Body – Lifer
  6. Moff Skellington – Marine Sugars (locally glimpsed)
  7. Rose Niland – From Now
  8. Moff Skellingon – Villages of Bicycle Rain
  9. Monster Island – The House of Lancaster
  10. Factory Acts  – Thirst
  11. The Hamsters – Bloody Hell!
  12. The Prick Jaggers – The Golden Ass
  13. Modal Roberts – Motion Blur
  14. Cryin’ Queerwolf – The Main Drag
  15. The Parish Church Fire – Demo
  16. Flies On You – Can You Smell That Burning Noise?
  17. Flies On You – Katie Hopkins In Human Form
  18. The Stepbrothers – Switched At Birth
  19. Luis Drayton – Breeder Queen
  20. Johann Kloos – Carousel
  21. The Shaker Hymn – Rascals Antique
  22. Staggs – When Eartha Kitt Met Pete Tong
  23. KP2 – A Cabinet of Curiosities
  24. Trojan Horse – World Turned Upside Down
  25. Half Man Half Biscuit – Urge for Offal
  26. Johann Kloos – The Light Album
  27. Lachenalia – Acts and Monuments
  28. Dead Sea Apes – High Evolutionary
  29. Peter Hammill – ….all that might have been
  30. Johann Kloos – Dragonfly
  31. Monkeys In Love – Circle of Jerks
  32. Las Lanas – The Blind Year
  33. Johann Kloos – Man On Fire
  34. Modal Roberts – Disco Pharm
  35. Carla Bozulich – Boy
  36. Earth – Primitive and Deadly
  37. El Drugstore – Plague Ship
  38. Taser Puppets – Fuzzy Felt
  39. Dave Graney – In Hell
  40. Moff Skellington – Villages of Bicycle Rain
  41. JD Meatyard – Northern Songs
  42. Peter Hammill/Gary Lucas – Other World
  43. Vic Godard – 30 Odd Years
  44. The Junta – Art of Glass
  45. Positronik – Better Late Than Never
  46. Yob – Clearing The Path To Ascend
  47. Dead Sea Apes – Thermionic Emissions Vol 2
  48. Smilex – La Petite Mort
  49. Blank Realm – Grassed In
  50. USA Out Of Vietnam – Crashing Diseases and Incurable Aeroplanes

As is my way I am already looking forward to 2015 already where some fantastic new things are already in the pipeline including new releases from Moff Skellington, Rose Niland, Monkeys In Love, and many more ….. exciting times lay ahead.

I’ll also trail news of a fantastic new artist called Alana Bondi who we will releasing material with in the new year. Watch out for her she is rather special.

In terms of gigs it has been a busy old year and I won’t whitter on as I have written about the best of them elsewhere on this blog – the highlights for me were Trojan Horse at the Lower Kersal Social Club and the weekend we did with German Shepherd artists and friends in early December. It is my great disappointed that I missed the gigs with West Coast Sick Line this year – hopefully that will be remedied in the New Year.

Rose Niland Album Cover

With 176 podcasts to date , and around seven more to come before the end of the year there is a lot of material to look back on and you can find all of it here.

Mixcloud followers to the podcast have risen from 1610 this time last year to 3084 at the time of writing which I am both surprised and honoured about. The biggest success is still the jazz show which is extremely gratifying. Thanks for all your support.

So that’s your lot for 2014 – see you in 2015!

SB5

I Just Want Room To Live

You know we just might well be at the beginning of something rather special here.

By here I mean Salford, or more specifically The Crescent Pub, on The Crescent (naturally). For those of you who don’t know the place it perches on the edge of the A6 going into (or out of) Manchester overlooking the loop in the River Irwell. It’s where Marx and Engels sat and chatted about life, politics and other important things many years ago, and it is where a long awaited venue for cutting edge music is emerging.

Tony Thornborough and Steve Nicholson
Tony Thornborough and Steve Nicholson

Tony Thornborough, Steve Nicholson, Jim Watts and Gerry the landlord are a formidable partnership. They have taken the empty shell of the previous concert room, have completely turned it round, literally speaking, the stage is at the other end! But more importantly there is a decent sound system and mixer, a sound engineer in Jim Watts who knows what he wants and knows how to get it, and a promoter in Tony Thornborough, who together with his side-kick Steve Nicholson, with the vision to actually create a venue that works for the musicians and audience. Add to that ambitious plans to create a bar area in the concert room, open up the rear to the beer garden and make the whole thing more accessible and user friendly and you have all of the ingredients for a very bright future.

Jim Watts and SD
Jim Watts and SD

The concept is relatively simple and the ingredients that make it work are so easily realised. Drum Kit, bass and guitar amps, and microphones are provided on site, the bands will not have to pay to play, and the pub has an excellent range of quality beverages, and food, at reasonable prices. It’s a five minute bus ride out of central Manchester, walking distance from Salford Central and Salford Crescent rail stations, and a fifteen minute walk from Deansgate if you are feeling healthy. If you are in the car there is ample parking around the back of the venue.

Patriq Gannon - The Prick Jaggers
Patriq Gannon – The Prick Jaggers

The two nights that German Shepherd records put on there recently are testament to the current developing success of the venue and it’s huge potential to become the premier small gig venue in Salford and more importantly the conurbation core/city centre. Bands who haven’t quite reached the audience capacity to fill the nearby Islington Mill, or some of the medium sized venues in the city centre now have a place where they can play, and in most cases, get paid.

The Junta
The Junta

Last Friday (5th December) saw the first of two nights of German Shepherd artists and some special guests playing at The Crescent.  John “The Junta” Montague kicked things off with a superb set of dance orientated electronica featuring music from his album Art of Glass. John’s ability to fuse 70s/80s electronica with current dance trends creates a maelstrom of laminal synthesis and funky beats. Standouts were the rich textures of “Orca” and the spooky “Devil”. The revelation was the closing tune where “Monty” demonstrated he has a fine singing voice.

Johann Kloos
Johann Kloos

Johann Kloos  was up next with a selection of his psychedelic pop and rock nuggets. For someone who had not played a gig for a year he was in fine fettle rattling through a mixture of melodic songs, psych-punk, and eerie electronica. Variety is the key word in Johann’s music and he amply demonstrated his talent across a range of styles and sounds,

Susan from Factory Acts
Susan from Factory Acts

The ever stunning Factory Acts improve each time I see them. With sure fire favourites like “Thirst” from the new EP, the enviable majesty of Susan’s voice and keyboards, and Matt’s pungent bass and beats, makes for one the most exciting live experiences in the Greater Manchester area at the moment.  The ever excellent “American’s With Guns” needs to be recorded soon and a stunning cover of Grinderman’s “No Pussy Blues” had Susan exorcising her inner Nick Cave. If you haven’t caught them live yet then I suggest you do at the next available opportunity.

The Hamsters
The Hamsters

Unfortunately it was getting late by now which meant I missed the last act of the evening, Una Baines excellent Poppycock, but I am advised they delivered a wonderful set. However I was able to hang around long enough to witness the return of the legendary Hamsters. With his recent departure from Kill Pretty Moet has decided to bring back the band where he feels “the most comfortable”. Nigel Blacklock, Jon Rowlinson and Damien Hughes provided a brutal and unforgiving sound to back up a bellicose Mr Morse. The band kicked off with a brand new tune, a homage to Vince Taylor, and powered through a series of classic Hamster tunes from across the years concluding with a slightly ramshackle but delightful reading of “Drowning” with guest appearances from Lucy Power and Una Baines.

A Teenage Propshaft
A Teenage Propshaft

Before The Hamsters were let loose on the world once more we had the debut performance of The Teenage Propshafts with Monty guesting on bass and Moet on Zen keyboards. Mr Doyle’s energetic performance of “Salford Streets” proved very popular with the crowd and no doubt is a prelude of more output from this artist.

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Rob – The Prick Jaggers

Saturday was a more relaxed affair with the more eclectic and esoteric artists on the German Shepherd roster getting an outing. The evening kicked off with a short set from the excellent The Prick Jaggers  who were charming, self-effacing, funny and down right entertaining.  Patriq and Rob were in fine form and I look forward to hearing them live again.

Rose Niland and Mark Corrin
Rose Niland and Mark Corrin

Rose Nilandably supported by Mark Corrin, was spectacular, her unique and compelling vocal style and her, sometimes, otherworldly music transports the listener to dusty Moroccan streets via chill Scandanavian  landscapes to the heart of the blues. Her attention to detail and stage make-up demonstrates that this is artist who demands to be heard and wants to create a lasting impression. One of my missions in the next twelve months is to try and get this exceptional artist a much wider audience.

Modal Roberts
Modal Roberts

And then the force of nature that is Modal RobertsAgain an artist that puts considerable effort into his stage presentation,  this evening Modal appeared to channelling a heady combination of Jack Sparrow and Q from Star Trek The Next Generation, and towards the end of the set, either Marilyn Monroe or Olive from On The Buses,  at least in visual terms. Musically we got the delightfully rude “Full Sore”, a unique rendition of Eno’s “Baby’s on Fire”, a great version of “Derbyshire” and a chilling reading of “Brown” plus a selection of other tunes from his vast repertoire. Marvellous and slightly unhinged.

Aidan Cross
Aidan Cross

Due to illness the ever excellent West Coast Sick Line were unable to appear and the reliable Aidan Cross stood in. Playing a selection of Bacillus songs plus some new material Aidan’s rich voice complimented the stripped down sound of his acoustic guitar,  the highlight being the wonderful “When Strangers Step in the Bar”. He is working on new material at the moment and the newer songs in the set sounded very good indeed.

Loop-azznavour
Loop-aznavour

And finally, and my personal favourite of the weekend, the brilliant Loop-aznavour.  I was expecting him to be good having heard a lot of his material, he far exceeded my expectations. His mastery of the theremin is wonderful, his songs are memorable and his stage delivery is stunning, channelling anger, frustration and anarchy into a ferocious bundle of energy. With Moet guesting on the marvellous “Justin Beiber Must Die” this was a wonderful way to conclude two nights of genuinely unique music.

Material from most of these artists can be found at the German Shepherd Bandcamp site.

Chatting with Tony Thornborough over the two nights he was keen to describe his vision and expectations for The Crescent as a venue. The ambition and passion to create a performance space for artists is strong and the facilities that are being put in place will eventually create an unenviable live music location. German Shepherd plan to repeat the recent experience again in the new year in partnership with Tony, Steve and Jim. Something I am particularly looking forward to.

When Nick Cave Met Black Sabbath

The fascinating  debut LP  from iniquitous “occult blues collective”, Dreadlords is released on Not Just Religious Music on December 8th, it is called  Death Angel.

Containing members of Panther Modern and T.O.M.B., and hailing from the Philadelphia and Upper Bucks County areas of Pennsylvania, the band delivers a unique brew of organic traditional blues and crushingly dark Americana, which is intermittently infused with the slight presence of psychedelic black metal and noise experimentation.

On Death Angel, the somewhat elusive band releases thirty-eight minutes of bizarre and unique blues-based odes. Imagine Nick Cave meeting a stripped down Black Sabbath somewhere off Route 476 in a dark wood and you are getting close to the sound. Not your usual metal album this, mixing, as it does, some folk elements and heavy blues.

The album was recorded during the Winter of January 2013 at Satan’s Palace Recording Studios, Cherry Hill, New Jersey, the album features Brian Zimmerman on banjo, Samantha Viola on drums, bells and ritual implements, and J. Gannon on vocals, with guest vocals on the title track by Susan Bones.

Not Just Religious Music was formed by TJ Cowgill of King Dude and home to King Dude, Chelsea Wolfe, Bain Wolfkind and others. The album is out next Monday, December 8th, seeing a digital release as well as 12” vinyl, the LP limited to 500 copies, with 200 on black and 300 on random colors, each including a download code.

Place orders and stream the album in its entirety here.

The subject matter will not find favour with those of a religious orientation but the overall sound and feel of the album is remarkable and an interesting diversion from the mainstream. Highly recommmended!

dreadlords-deathangel

http://www.dreadlords.bandcamp.com

http://www.dreadlordsband.com

https://www.facebook.com/dreadlords.band

http://instagram.com/dreadlords_tomb

http://notjustreligiousmusic.com

http://www.facebook.com/notjustreligiousmusic

http://notjustreligiousmusic.bandcamp.com

A Tad Sonic

Keeping up a long-held tradition of bringing forth some of the heaviest music from the darkest depths of the Pacific North West of the USA, Seattle’s legendary Tad Doyle – formerly of TAD, and Hog Molly – is set to deliver his strongest songwriting and playing to date with his latest band, Brothers of the Sonic Cloth. The band features Doyle on guitar/vocals, veteran bassist Peggy Doyle and drummer Dave French (The Anunnaki).

Their self-titled debut full-length comes out on February 16th, 2015 via Neurot Recordings. Recorded at Robert Lang Studios and Tad Doyle’s own Witch Ape Studio in Seattle, Washington and was mixed by Billy Anderson (Yob, Sleep, High On Fire, Melvins et al), Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth consists of, with two bonus tracks on the CD edition and fuses the collective and extensive rock histories and experience of its three members in the worlds of punk, hard rock and metal. The threesome’s sound is highly anticipated, described as “splicing serrated riffs through chilling post-punk drumming and hulking compositions that blow soulfully hot and desolately cold”.

Elaborates Doyle of the band’s creation: “After almost fifteen years without putting out a record, much time was spent woodshedding, riffing and writing new material. Brothers of the Sonic Cloth was originally a recording-only project and creative outlet for me playing all instruments on early unreleased demos but I quickly realised that I wanted the music to be played live so I would have to enlist other like-minded players. Peggy was an obvious choice with her enthusiasm and energy that made her an asset right from the start of integrating the band with other musicians. Dave French was a guy we both related to on a musical and deep spiritual level. We had played shows together with our respective bands, Peggy and I in Brothers of the Sonic Cloth and Dave who played bass in his band The Anunnaki.  Dave completed the circle when he offered to play drums and his joining was this last piece that solidified the band. We are very honored and excited to have this release on Neurot Recordings whom with their legacy goes a fierce integrity that we are proud to be a part of.

Brothers Of The Sonic Cloth Track Listing:

1. Lava

2. Empires Of Dust

3. Unnamed

4. La Mano Poderosa

5. I Am

6. The Immutable Path

7. Outro

Preview video below:

Watch this space for more information about this forthcoming release.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Brothers-of-the-Sonic-Cloth/63586406187?fref=ts
http://www.neurotrecordings.com
http://www.facebook.com/neurotrecordings

Fear of Karaoke quelled by Chamber Jazz

So i’m listening to the new Bill Frisell album “Guitar In The Space Age”.

I’ve always liked Bill, a great guitarist with a great self-effacing demeanour, but i’ve got a problem with this album because most of the material on it is covers.

Bill is a talented guy, I have around thirty albums by him and for the most part they are cutting edge, hairs on the back of the neck, listens.

I’ve been fortunate enough to see him live a couple of times, and on both occasions he has been mesmerising. On a particular occasion at the Band on the Wall in the mid 80s he did some things on the fretboard which were simply amazing.

So if he is capable producing such amazing new music why is he doing such bland covers? I’ll admit he plays them well, there’s nothing offensive about the overall sound, but the arrangements are a bit safe and it’s all a bit “coffee table” lite jazz.

Which is confusing as I saw Bill with the rhythm section on this album, Tony Scherr and Kenny Wolleson,  and they were incredible. It was a gig at the Royal Northern College of Music which amply demonstrated how to mix guitar electronics, downtown jazz and acoustic weirdness. The duo’s work with Sex Mob has always proved to be challenging and inventive so I am surprised by the playing on this release.

When Bill does covers and adds a touch of irony, and weirdness, his deconstruction of a Dylan tune, or the oddly off-kilter version of “When I Fall In Love” from the “Have A Little Faith” album , and his unique interpretations of Lennon’s songs on “All We Are Saying” , he demonstrates that  he can do something new and interesting with extant material. His work with Paul Motian on Broadway show tunes is also memorable. And of course jazz has a long tradition of taking older material and re-inventing it.

So why is this new album not chiming with me?

Perhaps because overall I’ve got a dreadful feeling that the nostalgia/karaoke/cabaret fiends have taken over the world of music?

So it gets played once and then filed away and i’ll go back to the other great album with Scherr and Wolleson “East West” or that excellent “Quartet” album  with Curtis Fowlkes, Eyvind Kang and Ron Miles.

Talking of Ron, and conversely, his new album “Circuit Rider”,  which also features Bill Frisell, along with great drummer Brian Blade,  is something that gets played more than once.  Ron Miles has an excellent broad tone and his interaction with Frisell and Blade is breathtaking at times.  The two leads trade lines and colours as Blade provides a bed of percussion to maintain the flow. The music moves from ambient jazz through high-life chords to chamber ensemble  angularity.  Impressively lyrical, very relaxed and, at the same time, inventive,  of the two recent releases featuring Frisell this is the one to opt for.

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