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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Rotherham Rocks

Rock n Roll Rotherham Album cover artwork.jpg

Seasoned followers of my utterances will know of the charms of Rotherham’s finest Curry Quiche and will be aware of their work to date. As far as I can tell the last time they had something out was the excellent album “1 Seed No Leeches” way back in 2012 and the single “Barry Was A Raver” last year, when an album was promised.

Sadly there is no album but there is this rather excellent six track EP, delightfully titled “Rock and Roll Rotherham”,  which is packed with fantastic tunes, none more so that the opener “You Know It All”. Replete with delightful hooks and ska rhythms, it is a hell of a way to suck the listener for the full 20 minutes of the release.

The band hang rather loosely between pop and rock in the same way that 10cc used to do, and I have to say that there are  obvious comparisons between Manchester’s finest and this band. The songs are all instantly memorable,  hummable and demonstrate the best in English popular music.  The quirky “Paint By Numbers” is quintessential british pop music and should have you hopping up and down to it’s fun-time beats. Things get a bit proggy with the manic “Out in the Woods” which balances driven pop with a theatrical sections and rather special. All in all the EP provides a fine selection of tunes and further cements that groups reputation as producers of quality music.

I heartily commend this release to you. It is out via Mushroom Entertainment on December 18th and I assume you will be able to grab it from all the usual digital outlets. Go on treat your Aunty Gladys with this instead of being boring and getting her the Adele or Clopday albums from Crimbo.

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Self Loathing and other forms of hatred

I guess it’s pretty self evident that if you call your band Fucking Invincible you aren’t after the mainstream market.  Facebook tells me they are a hardcore punk band from Providence, Rhode Island, they were formed in 2012, and, hitherto their discography is:

  • Demo (2012)
  • You Can’t Kill Me Comp (2012)
  • Very Negative EP (2012)
  • Downtown is Dead EP (2013)
  • It’ll Get Worse Before it Gets Better LP (2014)

All of the above are readily available at the Atomic Action! Bandcamp Page.

Atomic Action! , also based in Providence, tell me they have a series of new releases coming over the next months, the first of those being a new EP which is released on December 18th.

FuckingInvincible_web_AngelaOwens
Photograph by Angela Owens

As is the case these days this band is made up of people from loads of other bands, which of course you are now duty bound to go off and investigate, if you didn’t know about them already. These include Dropdead, Daughters, Soul Control, Sweet Jesus and many more, I am advised.

The new EP is called “I Hate Myself And Want You To Die” a further indication that they do not aspire to gather the affection of the One Direction fan base.  It’s a short release at just over seven minutes and packs a lot in to that time frame.

All of the usual hardcore elements are here, impossibly fast riffs and drumming, tortured vocals, feedback and high volume pyrotechnics. What differs from the usual hardcore sound, I think,  is that the band, at times,  offers a slower, martial dynamic in between the fast stuff,  which echoes the original work of Iommi/Butler. It’s  more hardcore than punk, and has a dash of very early metal in there.

I could have done with some of the tunes going on a little bit longer so I could get into the groove a little more.  The fact that I was only half way through writing the review when the whole thing had finished is perhaps an indication of what you are getting for your money. Interesting stuff with a slight twist on the usual genre expectations.

A track from the EP will be featured on Sonic Attack Podcast 134.

Fucking Invincible cover