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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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)

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

Are you sitting comfortably?

Michael, known for the purposes of this exercise, as m.t.scott, has been sending me the developing elements of this release for many months. Therefore I am well versed in the process that has led to a simply marvellous 22 minutes of thought-provoking and enjoyable music. Those who know and love Staggs will recognise the voice, the acerbic tone, the sardonic wit, the world weary observations of the minutiae of day to day existence. “13 Queer Street” moves inexorably on from “The Broken EP” taking hints and directions from that also excellent piece of work, and building to a modern masterpiece.

There are six songs, all different, but conversely all couched in an overarching atmospheric patina which suggests a post-war living room with a bakelite wireless, or black & white TV,  and the smell of steak & kidney pie and jam sponge & custard a mere breath away. Things are constrained, almost claustrophobic at times, and at the same time stretch to places only promised in the previous release. Whether it be gangsters, a girl in gabardine mac and a head-scarf, distorted crooners, snippets of found sound, a distant saxophone, guitars with lengthy sustain, or brittle string parts, there are so many different and interesting things to listen to here that you find yourself playing the EP on a constant loop.

Scott builds layers of sound to create cinematic experiences, each song a vignette, a short story, but  suggesting a much wider, deeper and more complex tale. The tour de force is the impressive “Touched By A Leper” which comes close to previous subject matter, and  is blessed by restrained saxophone, and understated guitar, together with a memorable set of words. Equally as good is the plaintive “Six Feet Deep” a closing track that begs a follow up release as soon as possible.

Some of the themes and concepts hinted at in Staggs releases come to the fore here, demonstrating Scott’s genius at creating musical constructs. They are more than songs, they are stories, a glimpse of an alternative world, a treasured paperback book which brings back childhood memories, a look through a fractured piece of glass into a different place.

Comparisons are impossible, this is unique. But there is a sense of the shock of the new when hearing Tuxedomoon’s early albums, a taste of Brechtian opera, the word play of Robert Ashley, sunday afternoon kitchen sink dramas on BBC Radio in the early 60s, and post-punk experimentation.

Released on German Shepherd Records on Friday 2nd December, this is one of my highlights of the year.

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Fascinating Things : Issue 63

Apologies for the lack of posts recently but it has been a rather busy time with all sorts of German Shepherd Records stuff going on in the background and with some exciting gig news coming soon…..so inevitably there is a backlog of things to bring to your attention, better get straight to it…..

Continuing his run of “one single a month” releases in 2016 Dave Graney is back with Clare Moore, of course,  plus guests Will Hindmarsh and Emily Jarrett  of Go Go Sapien on backing vocals. This one is pretty short for a DG tune but manages to pack in enough cool sounds within it’s 2:59 to satisfy any lover of fine music. It’s undoubtedly Dave and Clare with it’s smoky late night vibe but there’s a freshness to this one indicating yet another variation in direction and development. This run of singles from Graney and Moore has been exceptional, can’t wait to hear the next one….

The new EP from 50FOOTWAVE is absolutely stunning. Rob Ahlers, Bernard Georges and Kristin Hersh are in fine muscular form powering through six new tunes. Kristin’s raw emotional vocals are at their very best and the band delivers intelligent, well crafted tunes. It’s called “Bath White” and you really should listen…..plus a crowdfunding drive has kicked off to support the publication of ‘Nerve Endings’, a book featuring selected lyrics from across her career as a musician and songwriter. For more information on the book and available pledge levels, visit the project page at Unbound: https://unbound.co.uk/books/Kristin-Hersh.

Nefarious Industries release the self-titled debut EP from Chicago-based Mine Collapse ton July 22nd. Formed in the autumn of 2015 by two-thirds of now defunct punk/metal band Arbogast, the new band picks things up where the old one left off, with Aaron Roemig and Mike Rataj continuing a nearly decade-long collaboration.  The sound is characterised by  a heavy, jagged, sludge-punk sound featuring reverb-soaked vocals. At twenty-two minutes, the four-song EP includes of frantic noise rock and doom riffage stacked atop Rataj’s unique jazz-infused pummeling drum style. Influences range from contemporary heavy bands like  Torche, Queens Of The Stone Age, Don Caballero, Boris, and The Austerity Program and old-school nineties AmRep bands à la Helmet, Jesus Lizard, and Unsane. Pre-order now here https://minecollapse.bandcamp.com/releases.

The excellent Yob are embarking on a European Tour in September/October with a raft of UK/Eire dates. The support for the six dates is Black Cobra.

Fri 07/10/2016 – Bristol, The Fleece
Sat 08/10/2016  – Glasgow, G2 Garage
Sun 09/10/2016  – Birmingham, The Rainbow Club
Mon 10/10/2016 – Manchester, Ruby Lounge
Tue 11/10/2016  – Dublin, Whelans
Thu 13/10/2016  – London, The Scala

Here’s a reminder of their remarkable album from 2014:

‘Church of Rock n Roll’ is taken from the album We Are The Ones. The debut solo album from Cambridge musician Gavin Chappell-Bates. It features 12 tracks, including previously released songs ‘95’, ‘We Are The Ones’ and ‘Black Holes’. Other tracks include the aforementioned aggressive adolescent punk of ‘Church Of Rock ‘N’ Roll’, the bright upbeat pop of ‘Dead End Disco Streets’, the shining sentimental ballad of ‘Starlight’, and ‘Refugee’ – a Manics-esque epic tinged with loneliness and loss. The album is the culmination of years of playing in bands, writing songs and gigging relentlessly. Friends, family and fans helped pick the final tracks to feature on the album. It was recorded and produced by James Coppolaro at Mix66 (Okiem Warmann, David Botrill, David Ellefson and Loretta Heywood) and features Rob Gibiaqui on drums (Sergey Lazarev, The Pinker Tones), Anna Scott on cello (Imogen Heap), Prue Ward on violin (The Willows) and the choir Full Score conducted by Ralph Woodward. For live purposes Gavin utilises German Shepherd’s very own Bouquet of Dead Crows. It’s a small world!.

Finally, for this issue, the Moss Brothers are back together again creating their left-field alt.pop with “Dark Snow” a dire warning to climate change deniers and self-serving politicians everywhere. With Neil’s wife Gaynor on backing vocals this is a step in a new direction for Ian and Neil. The single is pay what you want and all proceeds will go to Friends of The Earth.

dark snow 1

 

Manchester Rains Supreme

Kit B

Weird Water

German Shepherd Records

25th March 2016

With this new three-track EP Manchester band Kit B follow their well regarded “Be Your Own God” release from 2015 with a bit of a stunner.  This is their first outing with German Shepherd Records and is a digital only release.

Explaining the decision to join German Shepherd bassist John “Monty” Montague said “I’d say probably the same reason why I went with rhe label for my solo work with The Junta  …the community of like-minded musicians, it’s a great and varied collective, and it’s always great to bump into the GS roster at live gigs!”.

This new collection from Kit B demonstrates the usual mix of bright airy indie Manchester pop/rock with clever lyrics, a dark sub-text, and, as usual, great production techniques. You can tell they are from Manchester but they don’t sound like the usual raft of Manchester bands, they have a unique quality and approach, which is in the great tradition of the city.

Opener “Weird Water” demonstrates a desire to explore new structures starting with a jazzy drum beat, underlying a picked guitar with sprinklings of keyboard adding a bluesy counterpoint before the song moves into an tempo indie rocker with trademark bass from Monty, great keyboards from Mike Powell, and some interesting little production tricks.

Second up “It Always Rains” is pure Manchester pop, complete with melodica, jangling guitars and rich keyboards. Cusick juxtaposes strong and bright melodies with morose lyrics to create a perfect tension. Very atmospheric and the perfect soundtrack for the “Rainy City”.

Finally “Fabrik”, which feels like a coda to the preceding track, develops into a beautiful ballad, brittle, fragile and understated; which then changes up to a powerful driven piece of music. The maturity in the writing and the development of the band is brought into sharp focus.

Explaining the three tracks lead vocalist/guitarist Danny Cusick explains:

Weird Water – was a mantra chanted by a drunken friend of mine after copious amounts of Joseph Holts’ beer and the resulting aftermath of such outrageous behaviour.

It Always Rains –  is my anti Coronation Street rant, when the wail of the signature tune strikes up I slump into a “northern slate grey sky depression” and hope I live to see the street catch fire and disappear from our television screens forever.

Fabrik – which is the German translation of Factory, is really my attempt at a sea shanty, I’ve been recently reading the history of English pirates and Fabrik is the result.

Cusick also says of the EP  “When I write songs I don’t like a straight forward narrative and just try and give a flavour of the subject I’m trying to convey.”

With a couple of gigs planned for the Spring and Summer the band are well worth checking out – you can see them at the German Shepherd showcase at Dulcimer, Chorlton on May 15th and a Friday Night Slot at this years Kendal Calling Festival.

The band is

Danny Cusick – Guitar and Vocals,
Mike Powell – Keyboards,
John Montague – Bass, Melodica
Pete Slater – Drums

Current listening

Danny – I don’t tend to listen to a large amount of music, I listen in short bursts. I think if you binge listen in the end you miss the nuances and subtle ideas that may be hidden in the songs. The last tracks I listened to were,’Gentleman’ by Fela Kuti, ‘Williams Blood ‘ by Grace Jones and ‘Let it Rain ‘ by Tom Waits.

Mike – Gil Scott-Heron – Pieces of a Man, Walker Brother – Nite Flights, and for up to date stuff I am loving new Primal Scream single and the new Taser Puppets EP on German Shepherd.

John – Currently going through my Bowie phase and collecting his studio albums, new stuff I would say Cavern of Anti-Matter and Polica, both good albums.

Peter – Currently listening to Roots Manuva . Cavern of Anti Matter and revisiting Tago Mago by Can

Weird Water cover art

Fascinating Things : Issue 38

Things tend to slow down at this time of year music wise, if only to make space for all the nonsensical tat that gets offered to willing punters in the shape of “Xmas” frippery.  In the best traditions of Scrooge I tend to try and ignore most of the so called holiday period as possible, it has lost the charm it used to have with the relentless commercialisation and capitalist fervour that appears to apply these days. In any event despite the attempt to ram yet another “christmas single” down my throat from a good number of the promo people I remain steadfastly obdurate and only share with you music which is of value and lasts longer than past 25th December.

Doctor Kloos is back with a new one which as he says was “Made specially for my first London gig on the 12th December 2015, a nice breezy compilation of latter day Kloos tracks, which is sure to get under your skin. There are physical copies of this on CDR, called “Sounds Like Kloos” with unique individually made sleeves if anyone wants to order a copy, contact me at johannkloos@hotmail.com.”. As supporters of Kloos-mania  we recommend this to you.

And while I’m at it I seem to have completely missed his October release “Carousel” which is very remiss of me…..

The tenth in a series of monthly (mostly) EPs from Mark Corrin is called “Xenomorph” and is a marked change from the previous nine.  Mark describes it as a “……more experimental post-rock / ambient collaboration with David Fox. It’s certainly got some influence from the likes of Mogwai and later era Talk Talk”. As with the rest of the 2015 series there is plenty here to get excited about.

And that’s your lot for 2015. Fascinating Things will be back in 2016 with more news and views about music.