january 2011 overview

The latter weeks of December 2010 and January 2011 have proved to be particularly busy in respect of new music and unsigned bands coming my way. I’m struggling to find space in the radio show to fit them all in and whilst my chums at the 9 O’clock Alliance at Salford City Radio are assisting by picking up on some of the tunes I am still wading my way through a pile of MP3s and albums that arrive on a daily basis. It’s difficult to see how I can fit them all in and I need to give some thought to how some of the better acts can get some exposure.

An opening observation after all this listening would be that “rock is not dead” – I read an article in some inky newspaper somewhere that “comedy” and “wintendo” (Sic) had replaced “rock” as the new “youth” obsessions. This type of narrow thinking tends to obscure the fact that a lot of people over 25 (say) still listen to music and have the disposable income (even in these times of belt tightening)  to spend on it and there are an awful lot of musicians out there keeping the rock sub-culture alive.

So here is a quick canter through the material that has come in the last eight weeks or so (and which has not got a “big” review on this blog) – of which, as I say, there has been a lot….i’ll pick up on the more recent stuff in the February overview.

Skankadelia – from Leicester and Salford play an up tempo pop ska which is immediate and catchy. All excellent musicians and with a front woman with a marvellous voice they have been away for a while but they are back with a plan for world domination and they have the songs to do it. Brimming with great melodies, choruses and hooks they are destined for something great if they get the breaks.

Bill Davro – are from Warrington and play sharp indie pop songs – they have a current sound but they don’t copy the London groups of the moment and have set themselves aside from others of that ilk. I don’t normally listen at length to music which follows current fashion as it all tends to get a bit samey but these guys have a certain something that requires listening.

John Snow Band – are from Norway and manage to meld a great guitar sound with pop idioms which transcends into indie rock. They have good control over light and shade in their songs which gives a great cinematic feel. They are recording an album at the moment which I certainly am looking forward to listening to.

GlassHeads – hail from Wigan and play driven dual guitar tunes – and are well worth a visit to their My Space page to listen to their current single “The Error of Your Ways”.

Andy Hay – sent me a couple of his songs.  He writes beautiful tunes and self produces his stuff at home on “£200 gear”  you wouldn’t know it given the quality of the recordnigs, and he has a great voice and plays well. I am anticipating a CD with some more music which should be good based on what he has sent me so far.

Glass Ankle – have been getting a lot of exposure lately- they were in the Metro paper the other day – not suprising really, marvellous tunes and a good acoustic/folkly/indie feel….

Robin James – has a unique voice and a style which manages to grab elements of early Nick Drake and push them into a dreamy psychedelic landscape…..

The guitar wizardry of Apparently We Fly is right up my street. Somehow they can grasp Marr like picking and put it in a math-rock agenda. Almost like the offspring of a coupling between something post-punk and post-rock with a bit of genetic tampering around the edges. I’m blissfully ignorant of what might have inspired this sound but regardless of that I love their brashness.

Secret Garden Gathering are a 5 piece band from Liverpool formed in 2010.   Their sound is somewhere between the realms of Indie, Folk and Psychedelia. Comparisons have been made to Jefferson Aeroplane, The XX, Fleetwood Mac and The National.

Danny Short has sent me a copy of his limited cassette only release “Darkened Corridors of Winter” which combines his more experimental sonic stuff  with his melodic pop side into something rather special indeed. I aim to play some of this during February.  His new album “Love has gone” is due soon.

Nick Warren sent me the latest single from Spencer Cloud and the Range Brothers an absolutely breathtaking piece of garage rock – with an amazing vocal from Mark Range. Hopefully 2011 will see this band get the exposure it deserves. It’s called “Hypnotise” by the way!

Guile are from Manchester and make a wonderful racket – their “Alone on the West” song is simply marvellous.

Albums which have tentative recommendations and  which I intend to play on the show eventually are listed below. They are in the pile to be listened to again which seems to be growing a little to quickly for my liking:

  • Baton Rouge – Fragments D’Eux Memes
  • Braids – Native Speaker
  • Covenant – Modern Ruin
  • Ducktails – Arcade Dynamics
  • Glassjaw – Our Colour Green
  • Iron and WIne – Kiss Each Other Clean
  • James Blake – Echoes
  • Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die
  • Sey Hollo – Growth
  • Social Distortion – Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes
  • Talib Kweli – Gutter Rainbows
  • The Decemberists – The King is Dead
  • Wire – Red Barked Tree

Hopefully I will get round to reviewing these in the next few weeks.

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