100 not out

Various Artists

100

German Shepherd Records

30th October 2015

100

So let’s be clear from the outset, this is shameful nepotism of the highest order, but I can’t find anyone else willing to review it so I may as well take up the cudgels and have a go. Given I have a rather thorough inside perspective on this compilation, as I actually compiled it, I am in a position to be both honest and accurate, and perhaps somewhat effusive. If I am breaking some sort of record industry kayfabe by doing this so be it, but German Shepherd was set up to be doggedy (pun intended) independent, and to operate outside of the norms of the music biz, so in that spirit here goes.

Set up in February 2014 the label was originally intended as a vehicle for the work of co-owner Ian Moss, who had vast library of unreleased material he wanted to share with the world. Once word had got around about the endeavour other like minded souls expressed interest or were dragged into the inner circle of the label.

The manifesto is very simple, if the music that is offered to the label is sufficiently different and does not ape current trends and fads then it will probably find a home in the German Shepherd kennel.

21 months in and the chance to mark the milestone with some of the current and future artist on the label. Requests were sent out and a delightful pot-pourri of styles and genres emerged.

For German Shepherd virgins and, for those DJs who need accurate information(you know who you are), here’s a run down of all the tracks and the artists.

Loop-aznavour – theremin toting Loop, also a member of the remarkable Adventures of Salvador. offers a single from earlier in 2015, a remarkable distiller of styles and influences Loop is a captivating live performer and a consummate songwriter. From – Bury, Greater Manchester.

Pearl Divers ; the first band I ever “discovered” in radio land they have been through many line-up changes since 2009 but always centre around leader Carl Lingard. The tune on the album is a radical -reworking/second cousin to the bands “I Love The Music” – mixing Barryesque chords with a cold war soundscape one could, and should, argue that this would be a far better Bond theme than the odious one being used for the latest movie. The band are currently working on an album. From – Eccles/Irlam, Greater Manchester.

The Get – we love this band. They are great live, they write memorable songs, and they have a unique, sometimes unashamedly ramshackle sound. From – Bournemouth, Leigh on Sea etc, down south somewhere

Bouquet of Dead Crows – some folk will have been surprised about this band being on German Shepherd, one of aims is not to be complacent around what we are about,  dealing with any preconceptions of our mode of operation by throwing a curve ball in every now and then.  On first hearing, Bouquet of Dead Crows are conventional rockers, on deeper exploration the nuances emerge, from Toni Cooper’s excellent vocals, through the great rhythm section, to the multi-guitar talents of Neil Bruce. This is a band with a lot of depth. A single and cut from the new album “Of The Night” due out soon. From – Cambridge, east of Northampton.

Loop-azznavour
Loop-aznavour

Poppycock – working with Una Baines and her collective of musicians is always a pleasure and she offered up a live recording of the band from The Crescent in Salford. Recorded by Jim “Jedi” Watts, thus perpetuating the “every other musician you meet in Manc-land used to be in The Fall” myth this lovely tune first appeared on Una’s The Fates “Furia”  album. From: Manchester.

Franco Bandini – the buzz about Franco’s recent release of the label “2014 was a bad year” is increasing daily. Perhaps slightly less dark than the tracks on the EP this offering is from the same sessions and indicates his ability to create an epic sound. We predict great things. From –  Atherton/Manchester.

IKMRAO – the two label owners don’ t consider themselves to be musicians as such, they play with words and sounds and sometimes it comes out as music. Always making a point whenever they can this one has a much needed dig at the scenesters that hang around in clumps reeking of their own self-importance. From – Ashton Under Lyne/Eccles, Greater Manchester.

The Junta
The Junta

Captain Black – once a member of the aforementioned Pearl Divers and the main writer behind the much missed Positronik, Captain “Jeff” Black is adept at creating perfect pop tunes, and this is a sublime example. From : Swindon/Manchester

The Junta – it’s obligatory to say “aah yeah” or “shabba” at this point. Also once in Pearl Divers but now in Kit B, John “Monty” Montague brings an encyclopaedic knowledge of electronica  into play for  his tunes. Also a DJ on Salford City Radio Monty is a very busy chap. From : Salford, Greater Manchester.

Staggs – probably the most fascinating duo on the label in that they continually create tunes that both amaze and confound. Main vocal man Michael T Scott has a wonderfully acerbic outlook on the world at large. Music man Ridley is able re-invent well known sounds and turn them into something new. Staggs Disco is from one of their releases before they joined German Shepherd. Deserving of international acclaim I reckon. From –  Newcastle Upon Tyne,

Passage of Time – sounds influenced by 1969 Miles Davis together with more contemporary electronic textures. The closest thing to jazz on the label. From – Eccles, Salford. Greater Manchester.

Rose Niland and Mark Corrin
Rose Niland and Mark Corrin

Ion-Morph with three albums of the man’s spoken word releases on the label it would have been remiss to exclude a performance. The featured tune is a reworking of an old song and a hearful paean to Manc-land. From – Ashton-Under-Lyne

Moff Skellington – a genius, an iconoclast and a dealer in optical creosote. Moff creates music which defies description other than to say it hangs precariously between The Residents, Tom Waits, Pere Ubu, The Fall and Hank Marvin. His wordplay is completely unique, the aural equivalent of Salvador Dali.  As I may have said before, on many occasions, my crusade is to get him much more exposure and recognition. From – Abstercot

Rose Niland – we love Rose. She has a magical voice, she writes breathtaking tunes, and her words are memorable. Soulful, psychedelic and bluesy. From – Manchester

Monkeys In Love
Monkeys In Love

The Electric Cheese – captivating alternative rock with a unique sound. This trio is gaining a growing reputation as a must see live act. From their first EP with the label.  From – Chorley, Lancashire

West Coast Sick Line – Dusty Moonan, another genius, a man who can write memorable songs. The band has recently undergone a line-up change and the track on the compilation is an indication of things to come perhaps, a more powerful more rock oriented sound. New album “Europee” is imminent i.e. when they get out of the pub. From – Deganwy, North Wales

Monkeys In Love – a special band, they have been with the label from the start, helping and supporting. The track on the album is, dare I say it, one of their best yet. A remarkable live act and a lovely bunch of people. From – Manchester.

The track-listing

  1. Loop-aznavour – Ed’s Place
  2. Pearl Divers – Smoking Gun
  3. The Get – Say You Love Me
  4. Bouquet of Dead Crows – Just A Little More
  5. Poppycock – Ceaseless Effort
  6. Franco Bandini – Side B
  7. IKMRAO – Art
  8. Captain Black – Lost All Sense
  9. The Junta – Carnival 80
  10. Staggs – Staggs Disco
  11. Passage of Time – Round About Now
  12. Ion-Morph – Manchester (Slight Return)
  13. Moff Skellington – Potato Pickers
  14. Rose Niland – 5 Times
  15. The Electric Cheese – Gold Divers Under The Ice
  16. West Coast Sick Line – Best Lost In Translation
  17. Monkeys In Love – Installation Song #1

The album is a digital only release, is priced at £5, and all proceeds will go towards the Emmaus Homelessness Facility in Salford.

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Bouquet of Dead Crows

Rarified Mixtures and Sad Farewells

A few bits of news before I disappear for a week to watch England play India at Old Trafford – let’s hope the weather stays dry……anyhow…..

The ever prolific Melvins return with “Hold It In”, their first studio album as a quartet since 2010’s The Bride Screamed Murder. Joining Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover for the 12-song album are Butthole Surfers‘ guitar player Paul Leary and bass player JD Pinkus. The album was recorded in both Los Angeles and Austin earlier this year, and shall be released via Ipecac Recordings this October.

Melvins New Album

Bitchin Bajas‘ self-titled new album is according to the promo  “something delicate yet definite, gradually washing over your consciousness. Something pure and natural is happening-within the sound, within the song; in the album and in you. The shifts that come, make changes in your moods and your body temperature. On one hand, it is in many ways the ultimate album; and on the other, barely even an album at all. Where these ideas meet is immediately realised in the come-to-life video for the song, “Bueu””.

Using analog, modular video synthesizers, the video for “Bueu” was created by Nick Ciontea and is the first in a series of videos planned for each and every movement on the Bajas’ self-titled new album. The rest are set for a special, digital-only release of the album, available exclusively from Drag City. Tune in and drop out and watch 12 minutes of trippy visualisations.

Portland’s furious sci-fi punks, Big Black Cloud, are back from the lab with their latest dirty bomb, the cassette EP Lessons In Fuck You 2. Tripling down on their intoxicating rarefied mix of punk, noise, psych, surf, and rock, the agita trio takes a dark trip that drives and swerves like a B-movie soundtrack through threat-level guitar attacks, groovy alien eviscerations, and goddamn-us-all-to-hell preaching.

The band is from Portland, Oregon, and comprises guitarist/vocalist Nick Capello, bassist/vocalist Soo Koelbli, and drummer Travis Wainwright. Formed in 2005, They have released two 7-inches, a 10-inch, two 12-inch LPs (Dark Age and Black Friday), and the Shitty Vibrations cassette. They channels inspiration from sources as disparate as Brainbombs and the Beatles, Dolphy and Mingus, and Italian horror and creature features into unhinged rock ‘n’ roll that hits the high marks and innovation of noise-punk greats like Pere Ubu, Circus Lupus, Dead Kennedys, Cows, and Alice Donut.

Lessons In Fuck You 2 was borne of demo sessions recorded and mixed by Andrew Grosse of Caravan Recording (Drunk Dad, Tyrants, Tiny Knives) for the next  LP, the record capturing the band in its own anxiety-fueled element, a rollercoaster ride through a collapsing amusement park of overdriven shout-alongs and untethered instrumentals. The recordings, done on location with a mobile unit in the underground lair of the The Fancy Fox, gave the ever-prolific trio a chance to work through a host of new and old ideas. Whether due to the (dis)comfort of their own space, nothing-to-lose abandon, or present states-of-mind, Lessons In Fuck You 2 finds the band in top form: frantic, pissed-off, and sinister as they further explore their own dark territory with off-balance grooves, instrumental street-race sex jams, and wild freakouts, jagged guitar and cracking drums glued together with rubbery bass overlain with can-you-hear-me-now yells.

Big Black Cloud

Los Angeles sludgecore unit, Colombian Necktie  are about to release  their debut full-length, Twilight Upon Us. Named in honor of a song by Big Black but more commonly known as a method of murder where the victim’s throat is slashed and the tongue is pulled through the open wound, the album is  produced by Erol “Rollie” Ulug (Graf Orlock) at Bright Lights Studios, is the sonic equivalent of this violent and visceral act boasting thirteen maniacal tracks of dark, riff-heavy, emotionally stirring audio menace.

Since forming in the Los Angeles in the autumn of 2010, the band — vocalist Scott Werren, guitarists Juan Hernandez-Cruz and Ben Daniels, drummer Ben Brinckerhoff and bassist Alex DuPuis — has earned a reputation for their punishing riffs and maniacal DIY work ethic. Though clearly rooted in hardcore, tracks like the syncopated, sludgy death march of “Play The Game” and midtempo thrash of “Drought,” complete with squealing synths, add a welcome dose of variance to an album that’s uncompromising in its aggression. “We don’t feel like we fit in any one genre, we just kind of slam things against a wall and focus more on how it makes us feel than where it fits in,” Hernandez-Cruz admits. “Our influences range from Cave In and Snapcase to Orchid and Page 99 so we never try to limit ourselves when it comes to what we do stylistically.”

It hasn’t been a painless ride for the members of the band however and correspondingly, much of Twilight Upon Us is rooted in tragedy as evidenced in the ten-minute opus “Kevin’s Song.” “Kevin was a close friend of ours and former bandmate who actually brought the band together. When he passed away, something came over us and we started writing differently,” Hernandez-Cruz reflects. “The tragedy was really heavy because Kevin was just driving to a show in San Francisco and we knew it could have been any of us.” Instead of falling into depression, the band used their friend’s death as the catalyst to the manifestation of Twilight Upon Us.

“So much of the record is about loss and the struggle to try to cope in a city [Los Angeles] that isn’t always forgiving,” Hernandez-Cruz continues. “The silver lining is that this experience brought us closer as friends and musically in the sense that it made us all vulnerable and forced us to really listen to each other.”

Whether it’s the progressive bridge of “Weep For The Future” or ethereal intro to “Sleepwalking,” the bond the members developed over the past two years helped them dig deeper to incorporate elements that they never could have conceptualized in a perfect world. “This record has a lot of pain on it and a lot of unpredictable moments but it also feels good if that makes any sense,” Hernandez-Cruz summarizes, “and listening to this collection of songs, the listener gains the sense that not only are they not alone but that he or she can gain strength in the darkest of moments.”

Twilight Upon Us will be released independently on August 19th, 2014.

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And it is with great sadness I mark the passing of Positronik.  The band has been a key part of my life for the last four years or so and it is regretful that their excellent tunes didn’t get the audience they deserve. MzDee who left some time back continues to work with Blue Zen, and it is has been, I think, the failure to find a suitable replacement for Danielle that has led us to this situation. Monty continues to perform bass duties for Kit B, as well as his solo project The Junta (whose first gig will be at this years Salford Music Festival). Jeff Black is working again with Carl Lingard of Pearl Divers fame. All three of  the latter group of musicians can be heard on the Salford Streets Charity album.