Of words and music……..

Six weeks since the last post on here. Not good!

To be fair to myself we have been rather busy with a number of gigs and three albums released in one day last Friday. Plus I’ve been catching up on my reading, which is a discipline that has been neglected, what with one thing and another. It is important, I think, to keep the mind stimulated with both the written word, as well as listening to music.

The content this time around includes a rainy night in Bury and covers in the main the latest release from Dave Graney and Clare Moore, in between several books, a lot of music and the first glimmers of Spring amongst biblical rain events.

This is in no particular order in terms of time, more a series of thoughts which may, or may not, be related.

So i’ll be hopping around the time line.

The latest offering from Dave Graney and Clare Moore struck a chord, a mental note if you would. This time last year when I was stood in the corridor outside the gig room at the Eagle trying to convince a passing punter to watch the visiting aforementioned Antipodeans, I was struggling to codify what the “Graney” sound was all about within the narrow strictures of genre. “Err sort of blues, rock, country and jazz all rolled into one” was my miserable attempt to describe what Dave & Co are about. The revelation on listening to Dave and Clare’s latest “single” release ‘How Long Does The Raunch?” was more of a literary than a musical one. But you need to listen to it first to appreciate what I am about to expand upon.

Dave calls is “jazz pop” or more mysteriously “Bolan Jazz” in the Cockaigne Records blog. On the surface it’s an amalgamation of jazzy chords and circular Reich leaning marimba and vibes, with an off kilter bass line, the trademark Graney unconventional song structure and words that hang between street jive and the complex text of say Samuel Beckett, or Thomas Pynchon, or perhaps more closely John Cowper Powys, or Paul Auster. And there was the revelation, and synchronicity, and serendipity for me, that listening to Graney/Moore is the aural equivalent of reading any of those aforementioned writers.

Mark E.Smith once used the phrase “Scientists and their bloody childish reading habits”  (ten points to the reader who can get the song that line comes from) and to some extent that sums me up, at least for half the time. I’m Just as happy these days reading Auster or Pynchon as I am reading Martin Scott’s Thraxas books, or Malcolm Pryce’s Louis Knight books.  Being trained as a scientist, before I realised it wasn’t for me, I recall that there was above average chance that the sort of books, or more often than not the comics (Marvel, DC etc) , that myself and my  contemporaries were reading back then, would be pulp crime or SF or fantasy works, rather than deeper and more complex prose. So for a good chunk of my adolescence I was reading “easy” stuff of a non-literary nature, there was not  the academic discipline in the school/university curriculum  to train a growing mind in both the scientific world and its  literary equivalent, unless you count the very odd “German for Scientists” course I was shoe horned into t Uni!  No wonder this fledging scientist reverted to the latest Michael Moorcock for some light relief after ploughing through some dense prose on the Tricarboxylic Acid cycle or the structure of DNA.  A change in career was the damascene journey from the pulp of my youth to later years when the artistic side of my brain was allowed to flourish

As an aside, one of the key way stops on the way to the literary  Road to Damascus thing for me  was a book from the Bloomsbury press called “M.H. Zools Good Reading Guide to Science Fiction & Fantasy” (1989) and specifically within that tome a series of very good and informative  reading recommendations, most notably the entry on Phillip K. Dick who I had been focusing on around the time it was released. The structure of the guide is quite helpful in that it gives a brief biography of an author, lists their key works and then extrapolates further reading from other authors that has some congruity with the subjects work. In the PKD list was a book by Paul Auster called ‘The New York Trilogy’,  alongside ‘Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas’ by Hunter S. Thompson, and ‘The Naked Lunch” by William Burroughs. All three of those authors would be key actors in the developing shift from the simple to the complex in my home library. A short listing on page 56 of Zool entitled “The Edge of SF”  included ‘Gravity’s Rainbow’ by Thomas Pynchon, alongside Borges, Marquez, and Wolfe. Pynchon also appears in a list entitled “Theatre of the Absurd”, and also in the Kurt Vonnegut list of alternative reading. In one respect the Zool could be seen as a clever marketing ploy to get the reader to go out and spend all their money on books. It worked on me, and there was a sustained period in my mid to late 20s when the book collection grew exponentially, Picador press being one of the main benefactors from my hard earned wages.

But I digress. So, the revelation after listening to  “How Long Does The Raunch?” was that Graney & Moore were the musical avatar that took me on the same journey as Beckett, Pynchon, Powys and Auster et al. did from a literary perspective. It started to some degree with ‘Dandies Are Never Unbuttoned’  from “The Soft ‘n’ Sexy Sound” by The Coral Snakes, continued in “Heroic Blues”, and “The Brother Who Lived”, and reached a critical peak with “Fearful Wiggings”. It also emerges amongst the thirteen songs that have been  released over the last year and will be brought together in a CD collection called “Let’s Get Tight” soon. Graney & Moore as a whole requires concentration, attention and commitment because they step outside of  the conventions of structure and language of “rock and roll” in the same way that Auster, at his best, defies the structural norm, and that Beckett uses language in a completely different way. As an aside and a coincidence I am currently reading Auster’s novella “Travels In The Scriptorium” which has a bit of good Old Sam about it.

Speaking of “rock and roll” leads me to a trip to Bury several weeks back to catch Adventures of Salvador. Some months back an over zealous sound man ruined my first live exposure to this band so I was pleased to accept SDs offer to see the four piece again, this time in their home town. As is usual at this time of the year the level of precipitation, coupled with an “incident” on the Metrolink network , mitigated against a stress free journey into Manchester. We met in an overcrowded Moon Under Water, grabbed a quick meal, and then hopped on the Bury tram at Victoria station. A quick pint on arrival amongst the distracting gaggle of some sort of hen do and then into the compact basement venue of the Blind Tiger  to catch AOS. The revelation is Ollie Nicholson’s drumming which is exceptional and which adds to a musically very competent band with great songs and a style that teeters between power pop, post-punk and mutant country blues. They are highly recommended and very entertaining.

I may have mentioned before I try to stay away from rock biographies as they tend to end up depressing me, and more importantly, breaking the fourth wall between the rock and roll world and reality, bringing all that glorious hope and vision back to the mundanity of day to day existence. I could not, however with all conscience, duck out of reading Robert Forster’s semi-autobiographical book “Grant and I”, given the importance of that band in my own personal musical history. It arrived via the Book Depository from the other side of the planet at the end of last week and I devoured it within three days. The speed of reading is in no small part down to the Forster writing style which is measured and clear. He takes you back to his youth, the formation of the band, the relationship with Grant and Lindy and through the trials and tribulations of one the key Australian bands of the late 20th Century. In comparison with the scattered fanzine like structure of David Nicholls book on the band there is a more coherent narrative, although there are giant leaps in the  time frame in some parts. What is missing for me is perhaps a better understanding of how songs were crafted. What is clear is the propensity of the wider music business to completely miss out on the opportunity to promote good quality material, and the importance of the more grass roots elements of the business in helping bands like The Go-Betweens to survive. It struck a chord with our work with German Shepherd records. The sad part of the tale comes towards the end where the impact of a rock and roll life style way heavily on the two main protagonists and their health, and like David McComb, how alcohol eventually snuffs out the genius of Grant McLennan far too early.  It made me want to go back and listen to the music again, which is perhaps the more important legacy, especially the suite of solo albums that the two produced between the two main phases of the band.

The three aforementioned releases from last Friday are worth a mention, if only as part of a heavy handed form of marketing. The first thing to mention is the compilation called Cambridge Calling Volume One. A more detailed piece on the background of the album and the bands involved can be found here. Suffice to say it is an eclectic mix of the bands that make up the music scene in the city and more volumes will follow in due course. All proceeds for the this first release will go towards the Arthur Rank Hospice in Cambridge. Many thanks go towards Dave Hammond for his hard work in pulling this together and allowing us to participate in the project.

Out of the above and again with thanks to Dave Hammond for providing an introduction we also had the pleasure of releasing the latest album by Keltrix, who appear on the album above. Dave provides an excellent review of the album in Sounds On-Line so I won’t event try and emulate that. What I will say is that this album fits perfectly within the German Shepherd ethos. The ability of Sharon and Keri to take a traditional musical form and merge it with modern electronica, dance and techno, and their capacity to bring in guest producers to transform their sound is notable and remarkable. Keri’s voice is unique and Sharon’s lead instrument, the violin, fits well with an entirely modern musical framework. There are some exceptional songs here and it is an early candidate for album of the year for me. This band deserves to be heard by more people.

So, and to conclude, last Friday. It’s raining again. I meet SD in a Waterhouse pub again, we go for  a bite to eat again, some excellent Asian Street Food on this occasion, and then wander around the back streets of Piccadilly to the bohemian darkness of The Castle. I was wondering for future gigs if we should use The Castle rather than the Eagle but I am more comfortable with the layout of the latter, and it’s general sound and friendliness of the staff. However it is just about right for the musical endeavours of the evening which include Ian Moss, Moff Skellington, and Loop-Aznavour. We get a reasonable sized crowd, better than the last collaboration in Leeds in 2016 in any event. The one person responsible for my introduction to the world of Moff is also in attendance, the smiling Julia Adamson. Ian does a new piece about dogs, Moff performs his new album, and then collaborates with Ian on a new piece called “Predator Fascinates Imbecile”,  Loop does his usual excellent set, and then Loop and Ian perform a couple of pieces including a new version of the excellent “The Wilsons”. It is both challenging and funny, fascinating and thought provoking, and above all entertaining. There will be another in June sometime. Takings on the door allow a small stipend to paid to each of the three performers a rarity for our little cottage industry.

The Moodists – Two Fisted Art

I recently got hold of a double album of rare early Australian garage rock and punk called “Tales from the Australian Underground 1976-1989” which starts with Radio Birdman and The Saints, who I know, and then works its way through a whole bunch of bands I’d never heard of, that is until I started reading David Nicholls’ detailed history of Aussie music “Dig”, occasionally touches on others I am acquainted with, The Scientists and The Birthday Party of course, and, which fills in a huge gap in my musical knowledge. Aside from The Birthday Party, who were what they were, the music is for the most part, fairly similar in that there are familiar elements from 60s and early 70s pop and rock and earlier blues roots in play. However nestled on track 2 of the second disc is “The Disciples Know” by The Moodists. It stands aside and apart from everything else in the collection in its completely unique approach.

I cannot remember when I first heard The Moodists. It would have been around the time that Hex Enduction Hour was occupying most of my listening time. I recall purchasing a selection of 12″ singles and the sole album and jealously reading of Bob and Jeff’s trips to London to see them, supporting The Fall of all people. On constant rotation at one point was the magnificent “Chevrolet Rise” which is up there in my 100 tunes of all time. Bob reported around 1985/6 seeing a new version of the band with Dave in a glittery show biz suit and moving in a different direction, and then they sort of wandered off my radar until Graney and Moore returned as Coral Snakes, White Buffaloes, and Coral Snakes again, but that’s a different story to be told elsewhere.

In 2003 it was pleasing to find out about “Two Fisted Art” a collection which covered the vast bulk of the bands recorded material. A Creation box set in 2016 would collect some rarities but that can be covered in a separate review. The history of the band is covered well in Nicholls’ aforementioned book, they get their own chapter, and rightly so. The Wikipedia entry is informative but I often feel there is more of a tale to tell about this important band.

What we have is music which fits well within the post-punk period, in that it moves on from the spirit and intent of punk, but doesn’t sit in the same camp, in the same way that The Fall, The Birthday Party, and Blue Orchids didn’t. It is completely unique and, sitting here thirty odd years later, it still retains the power to shock, and insists that you listen to it. What you have throughout is Moores’ insistent and busy drumming, a particularly unique bass guitar style from Chris Walsh, which Nicholls cites as a key part of the bands’ success, and importantly, guitar from Steve Miller and Mick Turner which is drawn from the blues, pre-punk, Zoot Horn Rollo, and, whispers of Craig Scanlon. What takes it above and beyond its contemporaries and allows it to retain its freshness are Dave Graney’s stream of consciousness lyrics and abstract vocal stylings, one part declamatory , one part Old Testament preacher in a carnival side show, and two parts rock ‘n’ roll icon.

“Two Fisted Art” is a good collection juxtaposing a disc of studio material with 19 tracks from various releases and the second disc of live versions recorded at the Sedition Festival and the Trade Union Club, Sydney April 1983., The Seaview Ballroom,St. Kilda on 21/12/84. and Dingwalls, London 16/7/85.

It is the songs that are perhaps the most important factor here. There are tunes in the collection which have stuck in my head for thirty years – the aforementioned “Chevrolet Rise”, “Frankies Negative” and the glorious “Runaway” and “Double Life”. All of these and many others in this collection shaped the way I listened to music for a long time afterwards. It was possible to use the bass as a lead instrument, Graney’s almost Kerouac like outpourings a manifesto for how to treat lyrics differently, the twin guitar attack which informed the way I approached  the instrument. A truly influential band.

Of great annoyance is the unfortunate revelation that I missed their gig at the Hacienda, which is fortunately captured  on video.   There are also some songs missing from this collection, the perhaps more accessible “Kept Spectre” and the other two tracks from the A side of “Engine Shudder” in particular. Also only “Someone’s Got To Give” is featured from the final EP from 1987.   There’s also video from London in 1984   which can be streamed on Amazon or purchased as a DVD if you search hard enough. Perhaps it will be time one day to collect the whole lot in a box set of some kind?

An important band, unfavourably compared with The Birthday Party at the time, they were as alike as chalk and cheese musically, the only thing that required comparison was the Melbourne connection. As I say, still as fresh today, and still as stimulating as when I first heard them.

Some sort of Discography for the band

  1. “Where the Trees Walk Down Hill” (October 1981) – Au Go Go Records
  2. “Gone Dead” (June 1982) – Au Go Go Records
  3. “The Disciples Know” (1983) – Red Flame/Virgin Records
  4. Engine Shudder (1983) – Au Go Go Records
  5. Thirsty’s Calling (April 1984) – Red Flame/Virgin Records
  6. “Runaway” (1984) – Red Flame/Virgin Records
  7. “Enough Legs to Live On” (1985) – Red Flame/Virgin Records
  8. Double Life (1985) – Red Flame/Virgin Records
  9. Justice and Money Too (August 1985) – Creation Records
  10. Take the Red Carpet out of Town (October 1985) – TIM Records, Time/Abstract
  11. The Moodists (February 1986) – TIM Records, Time/Abstract
  12. Two Fisted Art (2003) – W. Minc
  13. The Moodists – Live in London 1984 (2004) – Peacock Records
  14. Creation Artifact Box Set (2016) – Cherry Red (Creation Singles plus a Peel Session from 10th July 1985)

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The Best of 2016 #3 – Singles and EPs

This one is going to be a little different due to the nature of releases this year. All will become apparent as I meander through things. The nature of what I do on an almost daily basis i.e. putting together radio shows/podcasts and running a record label means that a serious amount of individual tracks come in for potential airplay or indeed for release on the label. So trying to do a definitive list of the “best” is nigh on impossible – if they made it onto the podcast or got released by the record label they are, because they got through that gateway, “better than the rest” so i’ll generalise…..and this is in no sort of order of importance as I love them all with equal fervour……with the stuff at the bottom of the page being the “top of the pops” as it were

The Moss Brothers – various releases by Ian and Neil under various aliases – the work rate of Ian Moss is legendary, add his sibling into the mix and you have a an even faster production line of fascinating music – whether it be Ian & Neil, Sebastien the Tortoise, A Magpie and a Goldfish, or 2 Big Brothers it’s all great.

Taser Puppets : Fossil – their latest EP and first with German Shepherd proved to be their best yet. A health scare for front man Shaun put things on hold for a while but a barn storming set at the Salford Music Festival but them back on the North West musical map.

Alana Bondi : Alana Bondi EP – another artist who battled through health problems in 2015/6 to deliver a remarkable debut EP and stunning video to the opener “Four Walls” plus a run of shows including the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

The Sideshow : How It Goes – a remarkable single, pure pop for now people as Nick Lowe once said. Should have broken through this one and still a mystery as to why it didn’t.

The Screaming Love Collective : Three Singles – proof that repetition in music is still potent as a way of delivering ideas that are fresh.

The Mind Sweepers : The Mating Game – Vicky Middles asked if we could help out with this one and we were pleased to get involved. They call themselves genre defying and they certainly deliver on that score.

Bouquet of Dead Crows : Epicentre – a great collection of alternative versions, live cuts and a remix crowned a great year for the “Crows”  – a new album is in the pipeline and an album of radio sessions is promised for the new year.

The Madding Crowd – a good year, a great EP, an epic EP launch and a sense of renewed promise and hope for this north Manchester band.

Stalagmites : Between City and Cellar Door – back with a bang with a great EP, Brad Lynch is one of the best songwriters Salford has delivered with fantastic lyrics and epic tunes.

The Parish Church Fire : Locamente – another one where I sit here with a puzzled expression wondering why it wasn’t huge.

Staggs : Adult Loonies and A Rum Do – when I am fed up I turn to Staggs to cheer myself up – the diversity across these two releases is a testament to the skill and inventiveness of Ridley and Scott – punk, electronica and krautrock,  there’s something for everyone.

The Get : The Private Men EP – The Get are remarkable, their lo-fi approach to what they do, their relentless charm and enthusiasm is infectious. A great collection of songs.

Moff and Moss – aside from a remarkable debut album an epic single which dwelt on Mr Crowley and other strangeness. Expect new stuff in the New Year which is development at the moment – it will all become clear at the gig at the Castle in March!

Rose and the Diamond Hand : Universe Is Woman – should be huge, a remarkable voice, an amazing band, and a great live show, add a fantastic debut EP and you have a great year for Rose and co.

and the top three

3. KIT B – Weird Water – impressive song-writing from a great live band who broke into the festival circuit this year and garnered some impressive live reviews

2. m.t. scott – The Broken EP and 13 Queer Street – Michael left the wonderful world of Staggs for a while  to create two collections of aural wonderment. Cinematic in their scope and impressive in their musical depth he is clearly a creative force that requires/demands/deserves  a wider audience. I’ve been lucky enough to listen to these collections develop from ideas into fully formed pieces of aural magic.

1. The Graney and Moore Singles Releases – throughout the year Dave and Clare have released a digital single a month (more or less there will be one in January) in an effort, I believe, to escape the usual routines in the music industry. I can’t decide which is the best amongst any of them, so I’m bringing all ten into a collective number one, but if you were to push me the latest one “I Ain’t Hi Vis” is probably my favourite. The variety across this set of releases is impressive, the trademark Graney wit is in full effect, and musically, as is always the case, they are top notch. Notably there is more than a bit of a jazz tinge than is usual which of course ticks a lot of boxes for me. You can grab them all at the DG bandcamp page.  For the record the releases were:

I’m a Good Hater
This Is the Deadest Place I’ve Ever Died In
I Been Trendy
Drifting Donna Reed
Are You Out Of Your Mind? (Get Back In)
You Need a Kleek, Klook
Rupert’s Pet’s Grave
Matey, From On High
Let’s Kick this Mob Out
I Ain’t Hi Vis

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The Best of 2016 # 2 – Gigs

Having spent quite a lot of the year in and out of medical facilities for one reason or another the number of gigs attended has been somewhat constrained but having said that much improved on 2015 when I spent a good deal of the time in a plaster cast. In the most part the gigs I did attend were all great. There were a couple of bad evenings caused in the first case by an idiotic club owner and in the second case by a less than perfect sound engineering job, it is not my habit to name names, so I won’t, all I would say is that bands deserve more.

Ones I sadly missed due to ill health and diary clashes

  • Robert Forster
  • The Triffids
  • Kim Salmon

Here are the highlights in no particular order, apart from the top four gigs.

  • Manchester Jazz Festival – just a general message to say it was much improved this year with some fascinating bands seen especially in the performance space in Manchester Central Library – the price of the beer in the Festival Village is obscene though!
  • Soft Machine at The Band on the Wall – OK so we sat in the bar for most of the second set drinking and chewing the fat about music but the first set was pretty memorable and I realised a long held ambition to see this band.
  • The Junta at Night and Day – kabuki, mime and beats with El Generallisimo cooking up a techno storm.
  • Aidan Cross & Johann Kloos, Poppycock, Taser Puppets and West Coast Sick Line at Dulcimer, Chorlton. A fun packed night with a storming set from the Westies and a slight hiatus while Mr Maxwell found his guitar.
  • Moff Skellington, Mr Mouse, Loop-aznavour at The Fenton Leeds – a remarkable evening with a sparse audience but excellent performances from all three protagonists only somewhat ruined by the inability to get out of Leeds via the motorway necessitating a circuitous journey home via Harrogate
  • The Eagle, again, for 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. A rather special evening.
  • Sam SmithGenevieve L Walsh and The Madding Crowd at The Moston Miners Club – a great set from Sam, memorable poetry from Genevieve,  and an epic set from The Madding Crowd.
  • The Junta, Bouquet of Dead Crows, The Scissors and Kit B at the Eagle as part of Salford Music Festival. Barnstorming sets from all four bands – we need to do this again.
  • Taser Puppets, Poppycock, JD Meatyard and West Coast Sick Line as part of Salford Musical Festival also at The Eagle – one of our most successful nights with a good crowd, fine performances, and a stellar set from Mr Meatyard.
  • Blaney album launch at Pacifica Cantonese. A great album and a memorable album launch with the added bonus of it being five minutes from where I live. It’s been a good year for Ed and he deserves the support he is getting at the moment

and the top four, who all happen to be Australian for some strange reason……

4.

The Necks live at the Band on the Wall – a special performance from an amazing trio of musicians. Unique and breath-taking music bereft of ego and full of invention.

3.

Harry Howard and the NDE with Poppycock at The Eagle – exploding keyboards and horrendous traffic conspired against us but Poppycock were the best I have seen them all year and Harry and co were exceptional given they had a stand in rhythm section with only a couple of days rehearsal.

2.

Dave Graney and Poppycock & Franco Bandini at the Eagle – a long held desire to catch Dave and Clare live was at long last realised. Most of the band were full of germs but still managed to deliver a set packed with classic tunes from across the Graney songbook. The added bonus of seeing Malcolm Ross play the guitar as well.

and my gig of the year….

1.

Dave Graney at the Betsey Trotwood, London – a memorable journey to the capital despite a dodgy knee. A pleasant afternoon drinking with Bob and Jeff in some fine ale houses. A fantastic set from Dave, Clare, Stu and Malcolm covering even more of the Graney songbook topped off by a great tribute to Prince.

DG 2 BT

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….

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Credit : Peter Mellekas

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

 

How can you get out of London?

Friday afternoon, golly gee……

London town is as hot as Hades compared to the peoples republic of Eccles at 8am that morning. I’m just off the 13:15 Pendolino from Manchester Piccadilly and it’s a slow, and warm, walk from Euston to the Travelodge on Kings Cross Road. I’d forgotten how busy London is, so many people on the pavements, it has been a few years since I have been this far south, you have to be agile negotiating all these bodies. So i’m pleased to get onto the quieter hotel strewn side ways of Argyle and Swinton Streets, there’s always a Salford connection wherever you go (*), and a short-cut to the cool, albeit small, hotel room. The traffic is bad, horns honking, bikes, both motor and pedal, zipping in and out and around. Booking in takes forever, the hotel is full of northern voices, it’s almost like being at home. A quick shower, a fresh T Shirt and then on the mobile to Bob “South” to find out where the Northampton contingent is at. They are at the Craft Beer House but are leaving shortly for the Jerusalem Tavern. Good, it’s hot and I need a beer.

It’s a 20 minute walk to the aforementioned establishment which takes me past the looming Mount Pleasant Mail Centre, several bistros and the slightly fading decadence of the streets of Kings Cross and Clerkenwell. It hits me i’ve walked by at least five rough sleepers in my perambulations from Euston. Lets hope Sadiq Khan’s election as Mayor of London can begin to tackle this.  I’ve noticed more and more rough sleepers in central Manchester lately as well. Mister Cameron says he’s dealing with the Housing Crisis…..but you can’t believe everything, or indeed anything he says, can you?

The Jerusalem Tavern is delightful, I am advised it is in the Good Beer Guide, and Google says it’s “a 1990s pub in a 1720 building with a facsimile 18th-century interior”, can one get by with an exquisite interior I wonder to myself (**). Bob and Jeff are suitably ensconced and a delicious pint of St Peter Ale is acquired for me.  We catch up on several matters, indulge in another round of ale, and then head up to The Crown Tavern for something to eat. A nice plate of Fish and Chips (required Friday food for a Catholic chap) and another pint in the pub which appears to have a fake lawn on the door to the gents. It’s getting near 7ish and the pubs are getting busy.  People aren’t inside the pubs though, they have spilled out onto the streets. A further stop off at The Gunmakers, which only has one ale on, but it’s a good one, and where Bob tells me there is a hairdressers upstairs, and it’s trendy. We chat about village drug dealing scallies,  Josef K and Harmonia amongst other things.

And so over to the Betsey Trotwood on Farringdon Road to see Dave Graney and the mistLY for the last gig in a five week European Tour. Dave, Clare Moore, Stu Thomas and Malcolm Ross(***) are tucking into a pre-gig meal in the cosy pub. We get one last beer in, have a brief chat with Clare, and then make our way down to the basement venue. I had thought the Eagle (****) was small, but this place is far more compact. It’s full, and very warm. There are a few rock and roll types in tonight. Bob points out that Louis Vause, who played piano on the “I Was The Hunter And I Was The Prey” album, is in the room.

DG 2 BT

 

9:15pm and they are on.

Starting with the autobiographical “We Don’t Belong to Anybody” it’s just Dave, Clare and Stu kicking things off, Malcolm stands at the right watching on. It’s tight. it’s crisp, the sound is amazing, it’s fun, I can’t stop smiling. Dave is the consummate showman, he has a great band, and over the next two hours, with a fifteen minute break, we are treated to a marvellous journey through the “30 Year” back catalogue .

The two Moodists tunes that had been delivered in Salford three weeks ago are there. I was hoping “Chevrolet Rise” might make an appearance but the louche funk-punk of “Frankies Negative” and the acerbic post-punk of “Chad’s Car” make up for that omission. Bob and Jeff had regaled me earlier in the afternoon of that Fall gig where The Moodists were the support and where Dave had an immediate impact on the pair of them (8th December 1983 and two miles to the north west at the Electric Circus for the Fallatalists amongst you).

Coral Snakes tunes also get a good airing including “I’ve Got Myself A Beautiful Nightmare” , “Your Just Too Hip Baby” and the extended version of “Night of the Wolverine” (version number 4 I think with the slowed down memorable coda), plus the usual closer, the breathtaking “Rock and Roll Is Where I Hide”. Dave Graney Show, Lurid Yellow Mist and MistLY tunes all get exposure with “Death By A Thousand Sucks”, “Flash In The Pantz” and a stunning “We Need A Champion” which is introduced with some choice words about Australian politicians. The most recent “solo” album Fearful Wiggings is represented by the apposite “How Can You Get Out Of London” and some interesting comments about Grant McLennan are delivered (it was the tenth anniversary of his death on the date) before laying into Robert Forster , with  tongue firmly in the cheek , via “Everything Was Legendary With Robert”. Two of the latest set of singles “I’m a Good Hater” and “The Deadest Place I Ever Died In” are delivered with the latter being transformed into a very funky little beast in a live setting. I’m sure there were other songs played but my memory is failing me. No doubt Bob will have jotted down the full set list and I can append them to this later on.

Clare is inspirational throughout the gig, she has to be one the best drummers i’ve seen,.moving from tasteful jazzy licks, via funk, into driven rock rhythms. Stu is a stunning bass player, moving through a range of styles with ease. Malcolm adds some exceptional colour to the tunes, whether it be some tasteful wah-wah, spidery lead lines, our jagged post-punk chords. Dave is slick, hip and cool, you wouldn’t want it any other way. The vocal harmonies are spot on. The band is hypnotic. The inter-song banter is irreverent, funny and draws the crowd into Graney world. Dave makes an off-colour remark and Clare gives him the hard stare. It’s just perfect.

The encore is a respectful homage to the recently deceased Prince with Stu taking the lead vocals on a bravura cover of “Sign O’ The Times”. Unexpected and quite special.

And so it’s over. I’d had to move several small mountains to get there, but it was worth it. I don’t go to London that often but sometimes you have to make the effort. I’d enjoyed the Salford gig a lot but my mind was on running the thing and other background stuff so it perhaps didn’t have the impact of this gig. London was something special.

It had been a long day, a quick goodbye to Dave, then Bob and Jeff and then back to the hotel to get ready for an early journey back in the morning. A memorable trip, I wanted to be there, and I wanted to travel.

Hopefully they’ll be back again, soon.

Get a whiff of that antipodean breeze……..

EXPLANATORY NOTES

(*) Swinton is one of the districts of Salford

(**) From the lyrics of the Coral Snakes tune “Dandies Are Never Unbuttoned”

(***) Former Josef K, Aztec Camera and Orange Juice guitarist depping for Stuart Perera on this tour. Malcolm was a member of the Moodists and the Coral Snakes

(****) The venue in Salford where the band played in April – see review here

DG5 BT