Fascinating Things : Issue 70

A bit of a long gap between this blog and the last one – mostly due to being busy organising gigs and releases for German Shepherd . We are doing two stages at this years Salford Music Festival, on Friday 30th September and 1st October,  and there’s been a touch of fettling required due to various unforseens. It’s all settled now and we have four bands on the first night – The Junta, Bouquet of Dead Crows, The Scissors and Kit B, and five bands on the second – Rose & The Diamond Hand, Taser Puppets, Poppycock, JD Meatyard and West Coast Sick Line. The line-up is very attractive and it’s free so i’m hoping a few will turn up at the Eagle Inn in Sunny Salford. The major issue at the moment is the great amount going on in Greater Mancunia and the challenge is to get those hardy souls who like cutting edge music out into the night to watch the bands. There may be further antipodean adventures later in the year, but i’ll keep my powder dry on that one. Anyhow the cricket season is nearly over which means I should have some spare time. One more match to go………

So, as I have not done anything on the blog for a couple of weeks, things have mounted up. Of necessity therefore here are some brief notes to whet your musical whistle……

Et Tu Brucé return with a new video for “Laska”, which is on their eponymous album. A band which manages the clever balancing act between a recognisable sound and being innovative without resorting to genre cliches and industry cloning. A delightful tune well worthy of a listen.

Following the release of their self-titled debut album in 2011, and 2014’s Mutations, Obake are back. Their third LP, entitled “Draugr”, signals both a return to the origins of the band “and a purification of their sound” whatever that means. It is  released on October 28th via Rare Noise Records. No material as yet but I will share on receipt.

Cardiff’s Slowly Rolling Camera have announced the release of a new one called “All Things” on 4th November…….soulful vocally with some interesting stuff going on behind it by the sounds of it….one to watch out for I would venture.

Cinematic post-rock, a bit Sigur Ros but less ethereal, is the order of the day from Floating In Space. New album “The Edge of Light ” is out on October 14th, You get some glimpses of the  content here below. A rich confection of sounds…..

So the promo on this next one says “Honesty comes in many forms, with DUNT, it’s a clattering blow to the consciousness via an Edinburgh-based genre-melding punk/speed metal four-piece.” My immediate reaction revolved around what the hell the drummer was up to in the video…..i’m not sure on this one, i’ll leave you to make your own mind up, i’ve never been a big skate punk fan….but it will get some airplay on one of the podcasts.

Graney and Moore are back with a new one, as part of the “one release a month” project for 2016, and it’s a bit special. When DG goes for the jugular on “political” issues he does it with some style and class. The object of his ire on this one is fairly clear and more power to his elbow for that. Musically Dave and Clare never fail to disappoint and the variety of material in this run of singles has been pretty damn fine. I love the cover image ……..

Talking of matters Melbournian, a plea to the chaps at Witch Hats to release their latest album “Deliverance” in digital or indeed CD form so that those of us who don’t do vinyl can have a copy. Unless I am missing something I can’t find a non-vinyl version anywhere.If you aren’t blown away by the opening track “Weekend Holocauster” then I fear for your mortal soul.

And to conclude our diversions in Melbourne, shoe-gazers, Bloodhounds on My Trail, have a new single out called  ‘Over The Wall’ via Texas-based Moon Sounds Records. Reverb drenched stuff which has a timely autumnal feel. Vocally it touches on Barney Albrecht in my head for some reason. Real wall of sound stuff.

Back to the nothern hemisphere and northern britain and I am contractually obliged to advise you of the release of a new one by Moff Skellington, his 31st album. Moff’s been making Mark E. Smith look like a bit of a slacker of late, with his fourth album this year. Sublimely titled “The Gloating Mustards of Error” the bard of Abstercot is in fine fettle exploring, as he does, that strange place between dreams and reality embodied by Eddodi. I live in eternal hope that the rest of the known universe will eventually catch on to what this guy is up to, his unique use of language and musical instruments deserves recognition in an “entertainment” business stuffed with tribute bands and industry clones.

Sofia Härdig‘s new one appears to be about maps and car parks at least in video terms. Musically it sort of hovers between Banshees and PJH, the promo people aim to draw a Sonic Youth comparison which I don’t get, and a Pixies comparison, which I sort of get…..good stuff

The promo says “Newcastle based alternative five piece Bernaccia mix choral and tribal rhythms together with sweeping soundscapes and neo-psychedelic guitars. September 2016 sees the release of their next single “Angel””. I say,  the revolving door of post-punk, pre-goth, pre-shoegaze comes around again with a nod towards the noir cinemania of say Crime and the City Solution, and one or two other things of that ilk, it reminds me of a cold November night in a half empty Hacienda in 1983 , you know before youth culture finally cottoned on……said track is featured on the most recent Aural Delights Podcast – see how I slipped the shameless self promotion there whilst you were not looking…..?

To conclude, following on from the  recent “Bath White” EP by 50FOOTWAVE , a further release from indie music legend Kristin Hersh, renowned for her solo work and as frontwoman of  Throwing Muses. Called ‘Wyatt at the Coyote Palace’, the double CD and book combination releases in the UK on October 28, 2016 . Ms Hersh is on tour in UK and Eire during November landing at Gorilla,Manchester on November 13th for those of you who live around these parts. I’ve asked for a review copy of the new album for which I wait with baited breath….

Kristin_Hersh_3_color_-_photo_credit_Peter_Mellekas
Credit : Peter Mellekas

Fascinating Things : Issue 69

After a busy week curating our German Shepherd showcase at the The Eagle in Salford, more of that later,  I now have time to concentrate on reviewing new music that has come my way over the next few days.

First up, over to America for Troup, based in Los Angles, but with a UK connection as the lead singer is from Wales and the drummer is from near Liverpool. They recently released the title track from their forthcoming EP, “Mercury and Gold”, which, with it’s classic melodic rock vibe is well worth a listen. This is quality stuff and leader Alex Troup has a unique quality to his vocals which sets the band apart from others in the genre. One to watch I think.

There’s a lot of lo-fi dream pop coming out of Northern Ireland at the moment. Some of it good, some of it not so. This is one of the better examples from Beauty Sleep

The first year of House of Mythology label continues to be a busy one with the impending release of The Stargazer’s Assistant new four-track  full-length album, Remoteness of Light, set for release on 26th August. The latest album reveals an expanded line-up for the group, featuring David J. Knight (Shock Headed Peters, UnicaZürn) on treated guitars and FX, Michael J. York (Coil, Cyclobe) on pipes, FX and field recordings along with the originator of The Stargazer’s Assistant, David J. Smith (Guapo, Cyclobe) on percussion and sampled atmospheres. Sadly the tracks are far to long for podcast play but I may attempt a radio edit so I can share the music,  Here’s a trailer for the album

New Model Army have  unveiled their official video single for ‘Winter’ and deliver news of their forthcoming album release of the same name. Returning with their first full studio album since their acclaimed “Between Dog and Wolf” kick-started a creative renaissance in 2013. This album saw the band receive the best critical response of their career and top 30 chart positions in UK and Germany, their first in over 20 years, while Matt Reid’s 2014 documentary feature film “Between Dog and Wolf: The New Model Army Story” drew further interest to this most unique of groups. “Winter” will be released on August 26th on the band’s own Attack Attack label via Red Essential in the UK and via earMUSIC worldwide. Formats include special bookpack CD, double gatefold vinyl, download and streaming.

Last Friday saw the latest in a series of showcases for German Shepherd Records at The Eagle in Salford. The debut of the much anticipated new band lead by Ian Moss Four Candles , Cambridge rockers, stripped down to acoustic duo  for the night, Bouquet of Dead Crows, all the way from Modena Italy Saint Lawrence Verge, and to close the night the ever excellent Poppycock. Fortunately Rick Sarko was on hand to capture some of the night so I can share the vibe with you. The general feedback on the night was excellent with the Italians blowing people away with their ultra tight playing and epic performance. The showcase returns as part of Salford Music Festival on 30th September and 1st October again at The Eagle.

 

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

 

Fascinating Things : Issue 59

Still buzzing from my adventures in London last week it has taken quite a while to catch up on things and there is a pile of stuff to share with you so I will dispense with the usual sermon and get on with it…..

Described as the “New Wave of British Punk” The Jacques, from Bristol. aren’t, they might be the new wave of glam or pub-rock, but it most definitely isn’t punk. Anyway they pen a good tune and once you get by the annoying narrative bits there is something good going on here. Reminds me of the Heavy Metal Kids or something like that. It’s out on 20th May and they play Dot to Dot Festival in Manchester on the 27th, and a load of other Dot to Dot Festivals elsewhere after that, as well as Kendal Calling.

Since the release of their debut LP, “Manifest Decimation”, Power Trip have been playing and touring ceaselessly with international names like Lamb of God and Anthrax, and a comprehensive list of the best operating in the hardcore, metal and punk underground. With their trademark reverb-drenched old school attack that brings to mind Cro-Mags and early Sepultura amongst others, they are a band for lovers of loud and fast punk metal. Their new record, “Nightmare Logic” is due out on Southern Lord this year.

UK/Eire dates are:

  • 26/05 – Cardiff, The Bunker
  • 27/05 – Birmingham,  Concrete Fest
  • 28/05 – Dublin, Fibber Magees
  • 29/05 – Belfast,  Warzone Centre
  • 30/05 – Glasgow, Audio
  • 31/05 – Leeds,  Temple Of Boom
  • 01/06 – London, Boston Music Rooms

And this is what you can expect to see….

Rude Audio includes Mark Ratcliff (arrangement, production and keyboards), Amanda Greatorex (vocals and lyrics), Eucalypta LV (guest vocals), Lamis Harper (piano and keys), Tony Shea (guitar and ostrich guitar), and Owain Lloyd (mixing desk and lyrics), who just finished up a tour with Paul Weller and began a new one with Stereophonics. Their new EP  “Rudest” is out on June 7th and is very good indeed….

San Francisco’s Kowloon Walled City, radical distillers of sludge and post-hardcore, are heading out on a European Tour for the very first time this August/September; they will be supporting  Minsk. This is an excellent chance to witness a band who over the last decade have refined their sound through a series of excellent releases. Last year’s “Grievances” LP, released in October via Neurot Recordings, was their best to date echoing the early menace of Slint albeit in a more unforgiving framework.  As things stand there is, sadly, only one UK date at Underworld in London on September 3rd.

La Malinconia delle Fate, by the post/experimental/heavy/progressive/instrumental duo SDANG, made in collaboration with La Fornace Dischi, Dreaminggorilla, Taxi Driver Records and Totem Schwan is now available via Bandcamp. Groovy head-banging stuff!

Mamiffer (Faith Coloccia & Aaron Turner) tour across Europe this summer, in support of Turner’s band SUMAC. This tour supports  Mamiffer’s new LP, “The World Unseen” (SIGE Records) and sees the bands travel across Germany, Denmark, Belgium, the UK and Portugal. UK dates are 06/07/2016 – Bristol, The Fleece  and 07/07/2016 – London, Underworld, both dates with Janne Westerlund.

Le Butcherettes are returning to Europe for a headlining tour this autumn, in support of their latest offering “A Raw Youth” which saw release last September via Ipecac Recordings. On 13th May  they released a Digital Deluxe version of “A Raw Youth” with four bonus tracks. The bonus tracks include an acoustic version of “Shave The Pride” and “They Fuck You Over”, a b-side featuring King Buzzo (Melvins) titled “We No Owe”, and a live cover of Miley Cyrus’ “Wrecking Ball” which was recorded at Rough Trade in Brooklyn.

UK/Eire dates are all in October

  • 14th, London, The Black Heart
  • 16th, Birmingham,  Hare & Hounds
  • 17th, Cardiff, Clwb Ifor Bach
  • 19th, Dublin, The Workmans Club
  • 20th, Belfast, , Black Box
  • 21st, Glasgow,  King Tuts
  • 22nd, Manchester,  Night & Day

Ask For Joy presents the new single “Cherry Popsicle” from the 7-track LP ‘New Private Window’. A mainstay on the U.S. shoegaze scene, this is Ask For Joy’s 9th release, featuring walls of shimmering reverb-drenched guitars, endearing vocals and expansive harmonic melodies. Founded in 2005, Ask For Joy is the solo project of multi-instrumentalist and producer Aaron Rossetto. Based in Austin, Texas, artists like himself and Ringo Deathstarr are putting this city on the shoegaze map. Combining the fuzzy warm shoegaze of Slowdive with the raw sonic power of bands like Jesus and Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine, Ask For Joy offer a slightly heavier version of the genre.

Middlemist Red is a psych-rock band from Budapest, Hungary, founded in 2012.
Evermore is the band’s first single from their second upcoming LP. There’s a good mix of space rock vibe in here as well, alongside the nods to early Floyd and a touch of post-punk in the vocal area.

 

 

 

Game of Mating

 

The Mind Sweepers

Mating Game

German Shepherd Records

15th April 2016

TMS-Mating Game Artwork for GSR

The Mind Sweepers were formed in 2014 and consist of Paul Winter, vocals/acoustic guitar, John McInally, lead guitar, Jack Trainer, bass guitar/harmonica, Gareth MacIntyre, keyboards/backing vocals, and Bryn Thorburn, drums.

All of their material is original, and they have enjoyed relative success with regard to securing gigs in their local area of South West Scotland, and farther afield with gigs in both Manchester and Glasgow. Any fees secured from playing live usually go into paying for studio time and they are slowly getting their first studio album recorded.

Their songs are drawn from life, usually affairs of the heart, and observations on contemporary life. The lyrical content of the songs aren’t PC, and they are adult in their subject matter and language, as Paul Winter says “you can only write about what you know after all”.

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Line-up changes have held things up for a while for the band. The current set-up, the third version, which Paul hopes is gonna stay together, have been rehearsing since late 2015. Winter says enthusiastically  “We’ve got a good dynamic going though, it’s good fun!”.  Band members have mostly done provincial gigs in a variety of different groups, but only drummer Bryn has played big venues. He was in Spacehopper and Gram Solo, indie acts,  playing “T in the Park” twice.

The band work-ethic begins with Winter presenting a song. He says “We all then break it down and suss how tae play it, technically. Everybody in this band plays, everybody leaves their mark on the song, every song is a sum of every member of the band”.

The first release from the band features two strong statements of future intent. Winters’ rich vocals, sung in a local dialect, are observational, adult and poignant. The band mix of rock and folk is reminiscent of the work of Rab Noakes, Lindisfarne and others of that ilk. Tales of urban life and relationships are weaved into well written tunes. The title track describes weekend courting rituals on any local high street with vivid images of bouncers, too much “yank beer” and post pub violence. The second track “Away We Yi Wumman”, describes an almost feral female stalker, and is underpinned by a great bluesy guitar line. Winters use of local dialect comes to the fore here with unique and memorable language. A third tune,  an alternative acoustic version of the second song,  with former guitarist Andrew McCulloch on lead acoustic and Michelle Jackson McClure on fiddle, makes for a varied and fascinating collection.

As for the future an album is gradually getting put together. Winter explains “….. it’s all dependent on how much we’ve got in the kitty. We like to play wide and far, so the studio kitty usually gets usurped by petrol money tae play in Glasgow/Manchester”.

A band to watch out for, they play  The Bar Stage, Knockengorroch Festival, Carsphairn, South West Scotland on 26th May and on 10th June Rabbies Tavern at the Eden Festival.

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Paul Winter

 

Fascinating Things : Issue 55

A few thoughts to kick off with this time around……

I was reading some comments on Facebook by a semi-famous musician, from the 1980s,  about a specific genre of music, and how much he hated it, and I thought it was pretty mean spirited, he was particularly venomous in his condemnation. It struck me that there is enough intolerance in the world without getting worked up about music. I readily admit there are styles of music I don’t like, there are bands I don’t like, and there are bands where I maybe like one or two things from their catalogue but the rest leaves me cold. There’s an often used phrase in these circumstances “It’s all about opinion”, which for the most part I agree with, however, and this is the nature of social media these days, some numpty makes a nasty comment about something or another and then the rapid flame wolves (sounds like something from Game of Thrones) descend and the initial transgression expands into a full on hate war. This both dismays and annoys. This is why you will rarely see overtly negative comments in these perorations, I don’t see the point in trashing someones hard work and effort, where there is clear evidence that some time and money has been spent in putting music out there, there are exceptions of course, especially some of the more bland things that tend to get pushed by the music industry.

I get sent hundreds of things a week to listen to, and I always aim to write back to the submitter, whose music  hasn’t caught my attention, with my thoughts and an explanation as to why I will not feature it.  I always feel that a two way connection and conversation on these things is important. Sometimes I don’t get the time to respond,  mostly down to the sheer amount of material that comes my way, II know from experience that it is very frustrating to put music out there and get no response at all so I always try to make the effort.

Enough of my ramblings here are some good things that made the cut this week……

Andre Tajchman is a Belgian indie singer, musician, songwriter and producer based in London. This is his third single which has some very interesting and unique elements. Whilst his music embraces some recent trends there is some fascinating innovation here and it is well worth a listen.

Sinderins have a touch of Family about them. Indeed vocalist David Webster has a lot of Chappo in his stunning vocal acrobatics. I’m not normally a fan of the nu-uk-folk style but this is very good and sounds like late 60s/early 70s stuff. The band’s name is taken from a confluence of roads in their hometown of Dundee.

Previously featured nTTX has a new EP called “Objective”.  Of the two tracks I have heard it is very good indeed, combining a synth-pop feel with a harder EBM edge the results are impressive. Watch out for a track on the Aural Delights podcast in a couple of weeks.

And finally, I had the pleasure of attending an excellent gig last Saturday night at Dulcimer in Chorlton (South Manchester). Featuring Aidan Cross & Johann Kloos, Poppycock, Taser Puppets and West Coast Sick Line.  A packed upstairs room saw four excellent performances from the artists. Notable on the night were the incredible vocal harmonies from Poppycock who just get better and better, and the boundless energy of West Coast Sick Line, who topped off a great evening with a stunning set. I’ll have the pleasure of seeing Poppycock again this Thursday when they are performing at the Eagle Inn in Salford with Franco Bandini, and the legendary Mr Dave Graney.

Dusty and Chaimaine from West Coast Sick Line. photo courtesy of Mark Ridings
Dusty and Chaimaine from West Coast Sick Line. photo courtesy of Mark Ridings