The Cabin Girls were… accommodating

m.t. scott’s Austeresque tale of a failed lion tamer, who becomes a Punch and Judy man on the Titanic, dominates a six track release from German Shepherd Records,   Scott, of Staggs and then solo work fame, has created another musical play  which describes some sort of journey between apparent failure and unexpected redemption, and a lucky escape.

A sideways trip to Hamlet (the play) country, and a tales of suburban life and holidays in Scotland , is couched in an orchestral soundscape which incorporates a variety of fascinating sounds and musical motifs.

I find him to be completely unique and rather fascinating….

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Blaney – A new chapter

“It’s like writing a book – many people start it, but don’t finish it. We did it.” – Ed Blaney

You get a sense of a long-desired renaissance from Ed Blaney. The title of the new album from his band Blaney “The Severance”, the follow up to last year’s critically applauded “Urban Nature”, implies a change, a break from the past, and a positive future direction.

Is it a that difficult second album or is it something new entirely?

When asked about this Blaney is candid:

I think it was a bit of both, ‘ leaving it all behind, a cleansing of the mind is’ a line from The Severance. Indeed it is a total break away in many aspects, that was the whole idea and in the new songs you will hear and feel a sense of freedom, there’s a nice rawness, a complete coming together of the people involved. It was very spiritual for me and it worked a treat with the band. We all got and understood the concept of ‘ The Severance ‘. I have few regrets about my past musically but I felt it was time to escape from it.

Blaney is justifiably proud of the first album which garnered countless positive reviews. He found a new set of fans, and shocked a few people, with an album he describes as “a gathering of the ghosts” where a few past demons were exorcised and a strong platform for future endeavours was built.

Ed Head Shot

A proud son of Salford, Ed Blaney’s first musical venture, the band “Trigger Happy”, was co-opted into The Fall in 2001 and Ed’s own musical career was put on hold for a while. However, the last few years have seen successful duo collaborations with Smith, the rebirth of Trigger Happy, a number of other successful projects, and eventually last year the emergence of the Blaney band. Much of Ed’s time in the last few years has been taken up with the creation and management of the highly regarded Salford Musical Festival which is on hiatus this year as Ed concentrates on this new album.

Whilst Ric Gibbs remains on drums the band has seen a change since “Urban Nature”.

Blaney says “The last ‘ line up ‘ was kinda cobbled together as a “mates” thing just for the 12 or so gigs we did, it was a good thing for what it was but was never gonna be a permanent fixture as a band.”

The new bass player is Lian Pienaar, and on guitar and piano, is long time Blaney associate Sophie Labrey, best known as a drummer, previously with Girl Peculiar, Shuttleworth and Shoshin, she also played on “Urban Nature. Indeed Ric, Sophie and Ed had planned this “second phase” of the project before the release of “Urban Nature”.

“The Severance” was recorded in Berlin, where two of the band members are based, heading away from the constant distractions of Salford/Manchester and embracing the multicultural vibes and the creative attitude of the German capital were key elements in that choice. The idea of recording in Berlin came about after a few beers, Ed and Ric had a chat about it and Sophie was asked to look into it as a viable option. In the past Blaney has not always enjoyed recording in UK studios finding their corporate feel restricted creativity and did not allow band members to relax into the creation of the album

Blaney says ….” In Manchester band members have the option of going ‘ home ‘ when things were starting to happen creatively, being distracted by day to day things. Being right out there in Berlin, almost in a blind sense. really worked, considering probably 7-8 of the songs were written over there in the studio. I followed my instincts and all the signs were pointing to Berlin. I don’t think we could have landed on our feet the way we did in any other studio or city in the world, it was that good. Everything we had discussed came to be, the idea of going over with no instruments and just the title song of the album sounded like a great idea to us, crazy in some ways but also perfect. Tito who owns the studio is an incredible person to work with, we hit it off straight away over emails. He listened and understood exactly what we were looking for. The studio itself was an old 1950’s cinema previously, it had so much history I could feel and was a really brilliant space to be creative in. Having been there on 6-7 trips since February, the locals have got to know us and have took to us too, it was a really great experience indeed”.

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Those who enjoyed “Urban Nature” will love “The Severance”. As with the first album it’s a good mixture of swagger meets sensibility, but it is much more accessible, and those who think they know Ed Blaney and his music are in for a bit of a shock, albeit a pleasant one. In terms of subject matter there are both autobiographical and political elements. Reflection on growing up, how things have changed not necessarily for the good, society wise, learning from past mistakes in love, and at the same time, keeping a positive fresh approach. All of these spill out of the tunes with typical Blaney enthusiasm.

Self-belief, spirituality , escapism, new beginnings, realism, forgiveness and understanding are all key themes of the albums’ title track.

Ed says …”….in the track ‘ The Arrival ‘ which is a funny upbeat song, we basically stick up a nice two fingered salute to any doubters about my persona”.

Wandering around Eccles on my daily perambulation with the I Pod blasting out the new album I got a real buzz from the positive vibe bursting from the ten tracks on the album From the pulsing bass of “Happy Return” which builds a tension that releases with a punk chorus and kicks the album off with a statement of intent, this is joyous stuff.

The album captures not only the raw energy of those early Clash records,  but also the Manchester pop sensibility of 10cc, and the unbridled joy of 90s Madchester. Once in a while the Greater Manchester conurbation gets back to what it is good at, making perfect pop and rock music, and this is a perfect example of that long held tradition,

All of the tracks move on from the excellent benchmark set by “Urban Nature” but there are several absolute classics that stand out.  My favourite is “Blackpool” a glorious piece of writing and an indication of the potential of this band. The glam rock bounce of “Feel The Rain” and the soul-pop strut of “Bin Liner” are refreshing,  there’s a tendency these days to make pop music too complicated and too muso, those two tracks prove you don’t need to do that,  you can get down to the elements that make good music great, strip back, get back to basics, and deliver, that’s a winning formula. Title track “The Severance” sums up the thinking behind the album in a perfect pop/rock tune.

There are a couple of interesting variations in the mix with the dub reggae version of “Thinking Of You”, originally a garage rock tune on Urban Nature, which should have people making shapes in a live setting. “11007 days old” dials things down with a plaintive pastoral feel and a nice mid album relaxer before things build to an explosive conclusion. An emotional recollection of days past with memories of childhood. The delightful “Tessa” is pop magic, “The 11th Man” is an excellent driving rock song, and the sheer joy of closing track “The Arrival” spills out the speakers and sums up the positive nature of the album…….the only thing to have a word with Ed about his lack of appreciation of cricket!

The album will be launched at a gig at Posh Teckel Berlin on 23rd November.

A home town launch will follow at The Castle,  Oldham Street, Manchester on Thursday November 30th.

The album is released on Friday November 10th. (CD/Vinyl ). You can order it via http://www.Blaney.co or grab it at HMV,  Amazon and all other good record stores. I think you should it’s bloomin’ marvellous.

Blaney Gig

THE BAND MEMBERS

Ed Blaney
Ric Gibbs
Sophie Labrey
Lian Pienaar

LINKS

FACEBOOK

WEBSITE

Somewhere between something and the other

So much music I get sent, and I get sent a lot, tends to be bland and cloned. It’s as if there’s a factory/laboratory somewhere in a nameless city/town/village (delete as applicable) where the “magic formula” that made Busted “successful” is applied to fifteen year olds to turn them into avatars of that inane indie guitar thang. The guitars all sound the same. the vocals all sound the same. the chords are inevitably major and all predictable. I guess there is a human capacity for some to mimic/imitate what they like and try and replicate it in the hope of some sort of career coming out of it. Some have the mystery element of being able to turn it into something new and interesting. Others are merely copyists and either pass it off as new or end up in tribute bands. Nothing to get too hung up about I guess but a reason why my radio shows tend to feature stuff, in the most part, that doesn’t sound like anything else, hopefully.

I’ve also been around long enough to realise that some things are cyclical and styles tend to come back so you may not have heard it before but I have.

There’s a lot about Havania Whaal that you will have heard in other bands but they have a knack of altering/subverting/enhancing what has gone before them. Which is why they get my attention.

Their Bandcamp bio says:

Havania Whaal is a three piece noise pop band from Portland, Oregon that formed in a musty basement during the cold winter months of 2012. Drawing inspiration from a large spectrum of artists like Joy Division, Sonic Youth and Cocteau Twins, Havania Whaal’s sound has been described as “stargaze pop” by two girls in Olympia.

They have a big sound for a three piece and in no small part the three voice attack and Noelle Magia’s full poly-rhythmic drum attack make up the major part of the wall of noise which emerges from their new one “Elaborate Minor Crisis”. Paul Billy Sobeich conjurs huge layers of shoegazey/sonic youth noise from his guitar, The trio is expanded on some tracks with effective additional violin tracks provided by Melody Wilbrecht.  Caroline Jackson holds it together with some pungent bass which locks seamlessly with Magia’s rhythms.

This is an album which explores several angles of the same overall sound, which feels like something like some other stuff you will have heard, but also manages to emerge in other directions into areas which you will not have heard before. It’s definitively American, it’s plain daft in places, “The Party” feels like a Thurston Moore laconic ramble through a Bongwater track with a no wave bad attitude nibbling at your ears. Other parts are plain shoe-gazey in a Cocteau’s stylee. Sometimes, on “Chambers” particularly, Sobeich channels Ian Curtis, which is slightly incongruous, and in particular said track heads in an early goth direction  before sounding like it has leaped, kicking and screaming, from the back entries of Northampton in the 1980s. “Spiral Out” is particularly memorable juxtaposing a poppy Liz F verse with a punky Coathangers chorus. Closer “Dylan McKay” is as relentless a closer as any band would sell their souls to Jools Holland for.

All in all it’s a damn good set of tunes. Click on the thing below to see how to get it.

Havania Whaal

Robert Ford takes to the stage…….over and over again

The toilets smell of damp mops. The building is Tardis like. The beer is in plastic glasses……..

Sunday afternoon in Hull had proved entertaining, a psycho-geographical ramble around the old town with it’s beautiful pubs, and abandoned venues where Pink Floyd etc etc played. A maze of a journey takes us from one pub to another. The early days of October are blessed with no rain and warm sunlight, things feel good. But still there are reminders of the grim impact of Tory rule, even in the European city of culture there are rough sleepers. Not as many as Manchester but numbers aren’t the issue, the fact there are people on the streets damns, once again,  the current administration.

The rock and roll moment is when we leave the Travelodge and are making our way to Hull old town when we spot Clare and Georgio behind Debenhams taking in the afternoon air. A brief conversation and see you later…….

Roll back two days. Dave, Clare and Georgio have been in Europe, with Patrizia occasional playing bass. I wonder how Levenshulme will feel to them after Spain/France. My journey from Eccles is aided by the new Ron S. Peno album which Cam Butler had sent earlier in the week, it’s not Died Pretty, but it’s pretty damn good. Add to that the new one from Go Go Sapien which makes me happy and brings a broad grin to my face with its quirky pop moves.  Somehow Aussie music feels much more legitimate than what we get fed by the so-called mainstream in the old country.

Fred’s Ale House is an excellent venue for this type of thing. A few days earlier SD and I had seen three excellent sets from Vocal Harum, CP Lee, and Barry “The Fish” Melton”.   I arrive early and wait for the bands to a load-in.  SD is at a wedding in Stoke so Victoria is helping out on the door. Dave, Clare, Malcolm and Georgio arrive and we catch up with a chat about cricket, Aussie music, and the aforementioned Mr Melton.  As the drum kit is assembled Dave strums a few chords on his acoustic,  I guess it’s “Mind Full Of Leather” from “Kiss Tomorrow Goodbye”, but it turns out it’s one of Malcolm’s songs. They have had two days rehearsals in Edinburgh and the soundcheck sounds tight. Time for a pizza before the proceedings commence.

An almost sold out crowd is treated to the raw enthusiasm of Uke Punk, the rebirth of Poppycock with a new line-up, and Graney & Moore’s pop-up band featuring Malcolm Ross on guitar and lap steel and Georgio Valentino on bass.  Bob is up from Northampton, Brad is down from the foothills of Ben Nevis, and for once I am running a gig which is nearly sold out. As it is with these things a combination of running the door and people wanting to “chat” to me means I don’t really get to see the bands properly but it sounds good to me when I do get a chance to listen.

Dave and Clare treat us to mixture of old and new with a good selection of songs from “Let’s Get Tight” and a respectable and well chosen series of classics from the back catalogue. Stand outs are a remarkable coupling of “Twilight of the Villain” and “Heroic Blues” which is Dave at his best, unwrapping his career before our eyes. The absolute highlight is a remarkable version of “Robert Ford” which is blessed by Clare’s sublime drumming and deft lap steel from Malcolm.  Even the usually hard to please Mr Moss is impressed.  An impromptu tongue in cheek couple of verses of “Show-business” is an added bonus in a busy set. We get another bonus of two of Malcolm’s songs – “Happy Boy” from the album of the same name, and “My Avenger” which I know from the “Wrong Place, Wrong Time” compilation. Both are excellent. Things conclude with a great version of  “Rock and Roll is where I hide” and punters amble out of the room with big smiles. The other Bob treats me to pint after the gig.

Saturday is mostly spent in the Marble Arch catching up with Bob and Sheila. Arrangements are made for the trip over to Hull and some fine ales are quaffed. Sunday sees a lunch time rendezvous in the Port Street Ale House which has some excellent beer on draft and is a loosener for the two hour journey. On a crowded train we decamp to first class and pay the extra as standing all the way to Hull is not recommended. A good bulk of the journey is taken up with a conversation about Alan Moore’s “Jerusalem” which Bob forensically dissects and of which I make a mental note to purchase once I return home.

The Travelodge on Pryme Street in Hull is modern and well appointed and excellent value for money. I contact Dave Hammond and we agree to meet in The George but as luck would have it we run into him and a couple of friends en route. The aforementioned tour of the city is both entertaining and informative.

Eventually we arrive at O’Rileys, the beer is basic so we opt for Guinness.  As mentioned at the start what appears to a detached house on the Beverley Road, from the outside, turns out to be much bigger on the inside than it is on the outside. The venue has a more “rock and roll” feel to it that Freds, not as big a crowd as Friday  but a very enthusiastic one. Great sound and impressive stage lighting is countered by a distressed floor and a peculiar odour in the toilets. The back of the venue is a gym with a boxing ring and a series of punch bags.

Loudhailer Electric Company kick off proceedings with their enthusiastic brand of rock into folk with Lou-Duffy Howard commanding the stage with her boundless energy and every-present smile.  They play some new songs and take an interesting sideways step into Talking Heads ’77 territory with a funky number. Stand-outs are a strident “Gypsey Race” and an epic closer with “Night Heron” with some excellent violin/guitar interplay.  Lou gives me a copy of the “Cursus” album.

 

I’m still getting to grips with the Canon Ixus I acquired for gigs like this but I manage to capture a few reasonable shots and a healthy handful of videos which I will eventually load up to You Tube. It’s no SLR but it’s better than lugging a bigger camera around when out and about.

I settle stage right, and aim to absorb uninterrupted what I missed on Friday. It’s exceptional.  The two Dr Alimantado references in the Graney/Moore canon make their way into the set. Twilight of a Villain and Heroic Blues are stunning, as they were on Friday.  Wolverine is a signature tune and I never tire of hearing it.  Malcolm plays “As Good As It Gets from the “Low Miffs” album which fits perfectly in with the Graney vibe and also has that unmistakable Edinburgh/Edwyn feel in its’ DNA.  The Godfrey Brothers are feted as Dave introduces a remarkable “A Boy Called Epic”. The set runs for nearly 90 minutes (Grateful Dead length Dave jokes at one point). The crowd loves it. Star Trek is mentioned by Lou in the LEC set (Voyager) and Dave in their set (TOS).  All of this is so effortless, so enjoyable, people in the crowd say “why haven’t we heard of this music before?”.

Monday is a taken up with a tour of some of the tourist bits of Hull, a strange vegetarian breakfast in the station cafe (olives and cucumbers mixed with beans, hash browns and and mushrooms oddly) and then a more comfortable ride back to Manchester. Bob will see it all again in London on Wednesday and Thursday, I am too busy with record label business unfortunately.

Over the two days the music played

Clinging To The Coast
Everything Was Legendary With Robert
A Boy Named Epic
Twilight Of a Villain
Heroic Blues
Happy Boy (Malcolm Ross)
You Need A Kleek Klook
All Our Friends Were Stars
Robert Ford On The Stage
My Avenger (Malcolm Ross)
We Need A Champion
Night Of The Wolverine
How Long Does The Raunch?
I Been Trendy
How Do You Get Out Of London
As Good As It Gets (Malcolm Ross)
Rock `n` Roll Is Where I Hide

As with 2016 Dave and Clare have in all likely-hood nabbed gig of the year…… hopefully they will be back again.

Low Motion Branding and the second revolution

After around a three years hiatus Monster Island are back with a line-up change and two new EPs which follow on swiftly-ish from February’s one off “S.P.G.” single.

The EPs are entitled The New Vernacular & King of the Minglers and are released on August 28th on “made up” label Ballast Records. They are digital only releases.

“in a panorama of partisan land
the king of the minglers idly stands
and pleasures himself by the endless fences…”

The band describe themselves as a “low motion branding disaster” in the “blurb drafted ” for these releases. For those of you who are not aware of them they have been around since 2007 (roughly), which they describe as “an insensible length of time”. Constant member Stephen Waddicor (guitar, vocals) is joined by Wesley Emmison drummer, who came back into the fold earlier this year  (an original member who left for a while) and the surname less Ryan and Brendan (who appear to be from Dundalk) make up the rest of the line-up.

Although none of the above is completely clear and whilst Stephen has said I can send him some questions quite frankly me doing a “Smash Hits” or “Mojo” on the band doesn’t seem quite the done thing, and, I would  much rather they retained at least some of their obtuse anonymity. Suffice to say they are based within the M60 ring  and deliver unique and compelling music which I have whittered on about endlessly on previous occasions – see below for a comprehensive discography which is all available on Bandcamp. In any event most of what has happened recently is written down here  for you to absorb at your own leisure and excuses me from making up some flowery prose to enlighten you.

King of the Minglers

The blurb says:

“king of the minglers stares inwards and sings of physical, mental and spiritual disintegration. It speaks with absolute certainty of anxiety, celebrity, sophistry, lethargy and dentistry.

the new vernacular squints straight ahead through prescription shades and asserts that there’ll never be a more effective rendering of the western alphabet than “badges for the boring”

Just to wander off topic for a moment  I was at the “launch” of the Cherry Red Compilation of Manchester Music (7 CD Box Set) at Piccadilly Records yesterday and it struck me whilst listening to the some of the speakers and chatting to some of the musicians and record company folk that had gathered for the event that it remains my role to continue to reveal/expose/describe bands like Monster Island to you.  It’s also very apparent to me through my other “job” of co-running German Shepherd Records that it is a continuous struggle to get “outsider” music some sort of air-time in a world where there are more bands than ever, and perhaps more depressingly there are more tribute bands than ever. Great music can get lost in the Tower of Babel of Social Media and digital promotion.  Chatting this through with Matt Davies (Factory Acts) and Emily Oldfield (Louder Than War) in Night & Day after the launch thing Matt suggested a plan for a second musical revolution but I had had my second pint of 5% lager by then and my attention was wandering somewhat but I think I know what he means, and anyhow, Emily is writing an article about the new musical movements that are emerging and no doubt she will be far more erudite than I am in describing what is happening. However, I digress, Matt asked me if there were any new bands that he should be aware of and I did mention the new Charlie Marshall album but it strikes me in hindsight  that I should have brought Monster Island to his attention. And in that respect I must point out Monster Island to my other DJ colleagues out there (I am calling on Messrs Cain and Hammond in particular) so that there is at least some exposure to the music in these new releases in other places than the peoples republic of Eccles.

Back on topic – there are 13 songs lasting just over 40 minutes over the two releases. The band deliver that particular “northern” sound (a matter of some discussion at the Piccadilly Records thing – the consensus was that it was a Greater Manchester Sound I think) which defies genre specificity, and in doing so becomes progressively more interesting. At the heart is Waddicor’s vocal delivery which retains its uniqueness, it is quintessentially Lancastrian, and that adds to the attraction. Regional accents are always far more interesting in music and much more preferable than the constant stream of sub Blink 182 translantic whining that pops through my virtual letter box on a daily basis (and perversely is described as ground-breaking – why “Jason from Hemel Hempstead” would want to sound like Matt Skiba or Mark Hoppus is a constant mystery to me).

the new vernacular

This is interesting music, there will be riffs and structures that you are aware of  and recognise from particular movements, but the band take those elements to create an overall sound which is unique and that I find compelling.  There are contrapuntal lines of music which have a recognisable root in the back of Don Van Vliets head, and there are drum patterns that Klaus Dinger would have delivered 40 odd years ago. There is an insistence and urgency about the music, it is brash and abstract at times, and the words are rich and evocative – the band achieve a creative career high with “Badges for the Boring” from The New Vernacular which gets its genesis in Blakewater Delta Blues. David Thomas and Peter Laughner would no doubt feel that the exceptional “Dig for Victory” was derived in Cleveland with its bubbling and hypnotic beat. At times though the band sound completely unique with tracks like “La Danza” which defy comparison – incomparable riffing and changes. Matters also move in a David Byrne direction with the almost funky “Island Psychosis” that’s until the band completely flip the structure and do their own thing.

Anyhow I’ve whittered on enough, have a listen to the title track of the New Vernacular below, which is rather marvellous,  and tune into my Aural Delights show on August 5th to hear four tracks from a unique and rather special band.

LINKS

Facebook

Blog (contains many of the lyrics)

Bandcamp

DISCOGRAPHY

  1. Swollen Words (2007 but released in 2017)
  2. Sunken Public Squares (2008)
  3. The Anchor (2009)
  4. Soap Factory/Surface Car Park (2009)
  5. #1 Albino Practice (2010)
  6. The Green Room (2010)
  7. Pilot Whales/Secret Shopper  (2011)
  8. Cathedral Steps (2011)
  9. The Retaining Wall (2012)
  10. Amazing Radio Session (2014)
  11. House of Lancaster (2014)
  12. S.P.G. (2017)
  13. The King of the Minglers (2017)
  14. The New Vernacular (2017)

Cowboys, Brollies and Krautpunk

There has been a lot of commentary about Manchester Music resting on its laurels recently. Supposedly bathing in some sort of fuzzy nostalgia as ongoing  bands from the late 70s and early 8os continue to plough a well known furrow, or their contemporaries reappear looking somewhat weathered due to inevitable catabasis but deliver more or less what they were doing 40 years ago. Or perhaps it is that new and emerging bands don’t quite cut it or tend to sound like what has gone before.  Maybe it’s a symptom of the predilection for tribute bands and promoters who know they can turn a fast buck with the latest iteration of musicians who have turned to copying rather than creating. However do not despair dear reader as beneath the veneer of that supposed nostalgia fest or perceived lack of forward momentum is a vibrant scene which demands but rarely gets a larger audience.  Two parts Salford and one part Manchester  (The) Sandells offer hope in a city that perhaps needs a kick up its musical fundament. Their album is called “Forwards!” and never was an album more aptly named.

Turn the clock back some seven years and venture into studio 2 at Salford City Radio on a Saturday afternoon and you will see a station manager pulling his hair out because I have crammed a live band into a very small room to record a radio session. The Sandells viz Johann Kloos (guitar) Tim Lyons (bass, vocals) and Brian Benson (heavily muffled drums) deliver a set of songs – with Dave Thom on guest keyboards. I was on a steep learning curve at the time and I thought I could record a four piece band with three microphones – foolish I know.  I just about managed to capture something and spent three or four days trying to craft something for broadcast that the band were happy with it. That band were and are (The) Sandells and at long last they have released an album which properly captures what I was attempting to record.

The music business is a fickle thing – Sandells recorded the album  a while back but matters conspired to delay the release until now. In that time Lyons has pursued the return of The Things with some success, Kloos has continued his remarkable solo career with a veritable deluge of albums and Benson has pursued his artistic endeavours. It was inevitable though at some point that the three of them would get back together to deliver this album, the quality of the music was obvious back in 2010 and has not lost any of its attraction in that extended period of delay. It needed to be heard.

The musical pedigree of the three protagonists is such that something new was going to emerge once they combined and began exploring what they could achieve. The result is described by the band as “Kraut-Punk” which to some degree reflects the content but also tends to underplay what is a remarkable distillation of various genres. Bensons’ polyrhythmic approach is at the heart of the successful delivery of remarkable music. Anchoring the pulse is Lyons enormous bass sound which serves as the punk end of the mix. His vocal dexterity is known of course from The Things and latterly the wonderful Harvey’s Rabbit and with The Sandells he reaches a new level of quality, especially lyrically,  taking a unique set of ideas into the rock idiom. Kloos is of course a master guitarist and great tune-smith and freed of the responsibilities of being the sole front man his delivery and execution are parless.

Two of the tunes from that aforementioned session make it onto the album – the hypnotic “No Way Out”,  and the exceptional “Cowboys Don’t Have Brollies” a title derived from an off hand remark from producer Joe Meek. Missing is the rather marvellous “Girl from Iphigenia” and perhaps the final track of the session “Glissando” finds itself somewhere in between closing tracks “Reach” and “NAC”.

At at time when so called “psychedelic” music is nothing more than watered down AOR copies of things that came out of Haight-Ashbury in the mid 60s how good it is to hear a band that deliver the essence of what that music should be about. Driven, intense and complex it sets an agenda for those who would wish to properly evoke the spirit of  what that music should be but adds that mid 70s punk drive which sets it apart and brings the unique element that hopeful audiophiles wait in anticipation for. I hesitate to bring Space-Rock into the conversation but there are elements of that beast of a genre in here as well but with a relative degree of restraint which means it does not descend into the pomposity that corner of the music world is want to engage in. Both more than all of that all of those elements and more have combined to create a fresh and exciting sound.

An album I have waited a long time for – well worth the wait and more than highly recommended.

The Sandells will be performing ‘Forwards!’ live at Gullivers, Oldham Street, Manchester on Saturday 29th July 2017 with support from Factory Acts and Shaking Chains. Doors open 7.30pm. Entry £5. I shall be there.

DIGITAL CAMERA

Content of an Explicit Kind

Let me say from the outset that The Strays are going to have DJs rushing for the bleep button so if you don’t like blunt anglo-saxon language then you would need to avoid their debut short form  release “Explicit Content” which manages to utilise the f, c and w words in the opening two tracks.

In the best traditions of northern lo-fi electro-punk bands like “A Witness” and “Bogshed” the duo deliver short, sharp, and unambiguous tirades against any number of deserving targets.  This is drum machine driven electro punk delivered in a stripped backed punchy fashion with vocals that betray their northern location, also, The Strays manage (I believe) to be only the second known unit in musical history to use the word “mither” in the title of a tune (the first being The Fall of course).

The stand out track is the rather marvellous “Wind Your Neck In” which manages to use the -ing version of the f-word more times than Sicknurse managed to use in their classic tune “……my Best Friends Wife”.  For the more nervous Ofcom spooked DJs out there you can showcase “TV Dinner”  which has a rightly has a go at the paucity of  talent on current broadcast channels as it only has one “f-ing” in it.

Refreshingly honest and reminding me somewhat of The Ramones in attitude if not style, the band throw a curve ball with the 70s disco vibe of  the closer “Death In The Viper Room” which is the safest for radio but not wholly representative of the rest of the 18 minute 7 song collection.

This release cheered me up immensely in a week of submissions from sub-Blink 182 guitar dominated outfits (the modern equivalent of Four Skinny Indie Kids) peddling vacuous riffs under anodyne vocals. The Strays are well worth less than 20 minutes of your time and the price of a pint to give them some support and to encourage them to continue their attack on the sort of targets that need calling out.

Highly recommended

Thanks to Neil Malcontent ex of The Ascension for bringing this excellent combo to my attention.

Strays