Sic Transit Gloria Hamsters

Sunday

Not a day for normally venturing out into the world of rock and roll but it’s Ian Keith Moss’s 60th birthday party and he has put a musical spectacular on in Ashton under Lyne  by way of celebration so we can’t really miss this one can we?

I meet SD in the Eccles Cross for a “loosener” and then we hop on the tram. Fortunately the Metrolink system takes us more or less door to door. It’s a 55 minute journey so it gives me and Mr Doyle time to catch up on things and do some forward planning for future gigs.  There’s also a chance to look out at the surrounding areas. I recommend people take the Ashton line as it’s a good psycho- political-geographical journey which emphasises the embourgeiosement of  Manchester city centre and juxtaposes it with the clear lack of investment in the doughnut around the heart of the metropolis. Once you have sailed past the chrome and glass of the core and the  glittering spires of the “emptyhad” complex you begin to see the stark reality of life in the suburban towns. It’s like stepping back 40 years to boarded up shops, tired streets and grim vistas. The only glimpse that we are in 2017 is the shiny metrolink stops/transport interchanges and the occasional Aldi (substitute cheap supermarket chain of your choice).

The tram stop is about 10 minutes away from the venue and we scout out potential eating areas on the way. The venue is The Witchwood, a concert room next to a pub, that has seen many a band over the years but at the moment, looking at the posters inside, seems to cater for any number of tribute bands, a microcosm for the state of the music scene perhaps?

There is an air of mild panic in the air when we arrive. Bands have not turned up for soundchecks and it eventually turns out that tAngerine cAt have broken down in Wales so will not be able to make the gig. I settle on small bottles of Budweiser for the afternoon as it’s going to be a long gig with many bands.

Matters commence with a rare appearance of 50% of the Prick Jaggers with Patriq accompanied on this occasion by the birthday boy in an exemplary performance of the legendary “Lou Reeds Supper Club”.

PJs
The nearly Prick Jaggers -Picture by Victoria Egan

Quick phone calls have facilitated a substitute for the absent tAngerine cAt and Dylan Cosmic Blue arrives to provide a four song set of some covers and a couple of his own tunes. He gives an assured performance and warrants further investigation at some future point.

The end of the Hamsters as a live entity is built around four songs – the band is represented by Mr Moss, Mr Williams, and Mr Rowlinson with the redoutable Mr Peak filling in on drums.  They have had one rehearsal but they still manage to perform a brand new song (well a reworking of John Joanne) and conclude with the appropriate “Stupid Songs”. I feel a slight tinge of sadness that it is all over and head to the bar for some more Dr Budweisers patent laughing medicine. And so passes the glory that was the Hamsters! We will never see their like again.

Hamsters last ever
Mr Doyle photobombs the Hamsters – Photo by Victoria Egan

The ex-Fall band members spotting game is commenced and we reach a reasonable score of three with Ms Baines, Ms Adamson and Mr Archer in the house. Perhaps more notable is that three of the four horsemen of the radio apocalypse are in the building with the fourth member due shortly.  Poppycock cannot play for reasons far to complicated to go into so their slot is taken by poetry readings from Una Baines and Louise Woodcont. Next up we have the rather marvellous Factory Acts who coincidentally played a similar gig at the Bank Top Tavern on Ian’s Birthday a few years back. They have come on in leaps and bounds since then of course. Of particular importance is Susan’s growing stage confidence with her hand gestures and delivery adding something new and exciting to the mix. The stunning “AWG” is delivered with some venom and the closing “Leave The World To Us” has chart hit written all over it, if only the music industry had any common sense. One of the best, if not the best, Salford based band at the moment.

Factory Acts
Factory Acts – Photo by Victoria Egan

Back out to the beer garden for more “Bud” and a growing sense that I need to have something to eat before the blood alcohol levels get too excessive. So it’s an executive decision to miss part of the Four Candles set while I grab a rather delicious mushroom pizza from a local takeaway. I catch the opening “Horse”, I miss “Lenny Bruce”  and more, while I’m getting the pizza, but i’m back for the exceptional “I Hate Basket Weaving”.  I’ve seen them before, and I will definitely see them again, so it’s not a great wrench having missed a portion of the show. They are Ian’s best band to date and they get better and better. One punter opines “I don’t normally like prog rock but I like this….” which makes me chuckle , they certainly transcend genres and deliver something that the scene in Greater Mancunia needs which is something new and different.

4cs
Four Candles – Photo by Victoria Egan

More beer – fortunately now being absorbed by the pizza, and I settle myself at the back of the room near the sound desk as my tired old legs are feeling their age. I haven’t seen Ill for some time and certainly not since they have brought Tamsin Middleton into their ranks. The perfect band to end the day, a few keyboard problems slightly disturb the flow, but a stellar performance was delivered with stunning rhythms from Whitney and Fiona being the stand out part of the Ill experience. Tamsin’s guitar adds a new edge to the sound as the power through an excellent set with singles “Space Dick” and “Kremlin” whipping the crowd into a frenzy. Another band that delivers a unique sound, Manchester should be rightly proud of what it has to offer at the moment in terms of musical diversity.

Tamsin and Whitney
Tamsin and Whitney of Ill – Photo by Matt Davies

And so it’s all over by 8pm. A wonderful days music and a more than perfect way to celebrate the milestone birthday of one of the key, but unsung, figures in the musical firmament of this metropolis.

Thanks to the fourth horseman for the lift home.

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Another rush of blood to the head

There’s one thing I suppose can agree with the older Gallagher sibling on, and that’s an increasing dismay in my soul that the Guardian has someone become the place to go to get some sort of barometric reading on the state of the music industry.

The one e-mail I get weekly that is guaranteed to depress me is their Friday uttering called “Sleeve Notes”.  I don’t trust where they stand on politics these days, and generally the only things worth reading in the “newspaper”  are Owen Jones regular trenchant analyses on the state of the UK (although to be honest I do prefer his video blogs), and Steve Bell’s always important cartoon, so why should I trust them on music?

Skimming through this weeks offerings, aside from the rest of Noel’s increasingly bizarre comments I wonder who is taking in the recommendations made by the so called “tastemakers” that write for the paper. What the hell is “tastemaker” anyway? Surely you listen to music and don’t lick it?

I’ve got a fairly wide window on the state of music generally, both at grass roots level and infinitely wider due to the vast amount of stuff that I get sent, but also through regular scouring of the internet. It is a tad lazy to suggest, as Noel G does, that there is nothing good out there. There is, listen to my podcasts!

However Noel is right to assert that some bands, and it’s usually the ones that the established industry promotes, tend to fit a Guardian formula. The tired old regurgitations of established monied bands that the Grauniad seems to rely upon set a very poor benchmark. The establishment music industry is fundamentally a lazy construct, it promotes a handful of artistes and pumps the life out of them. The Guardian “news” that Beyoncé and Noel Gallagher feature on new Coldplay album, the return of Phil Collins, and the mention of  Wynton Marsalis, never my favourite jazz musician, only serves to reinforce my increasing concern that the sanitised view of the biz promulgated by this and other “established” organs of news is yet another example of the fourth estate failing in its responsibility to seek out new life and new civilisations, to boldly go where no music journo has gone before. I hanker after early Sounds and Wire where the likes of Mick Middles would travel to Bolton on a cold and foggy night to see Hear and Now and The Fall.

The perfect Gallagheresque  irony, of course, is that the whole Sleeve Notes thing starts off this week with the beatle (sic) browed son of Burnage’s music manifesto this week. Kanye West? I don’t think so Noel.

Anyway I’ll stick with the Fifth Estate, it’s more honest, I don’t agree with everything it says, but at least it’s not focused on a finite group of increasingly boring so called industry leaders, and yes, Noel is one of them now.

And whilst I am having a moan I might make ask the question is there anything strictly “new” these days? Perhaps it’s my age but I sometimes feel that “pop” music is on its third or fourth generational cycle of re-inventing itself.

There are exceptions, for example, Courtney Barnett remains the most refreshing thing to cross my ears this year with her unique vocal style, mesmeric word play and basic approach to rock, but she is a jewel in a haystack (to mix my metaphors) of revisited trends,

Take for example the Dead Ghosts album “Love and Death and all the rest” , the Vancouver-based garage rockers have recently reissued their 2010 self-titled debut through Burger Records, and this new one will be their third. Don’t get me wrong, it’s reached my “yes I’m going to feature it on a podcast” list, but aside from the spidery slacker blues of opener “Another Love”, it does to tend to sound like a lot of other bands of this ilk, The Dead Boys come to mind as the progenitors of this sound, which in turn I guess is derived from early Zimmerman. Not bad overall though if you like lo-fi bluesy stuff.

What is “synth-punk” I hear you ask? Well, it’s a rather noisy concoction dreamed up by Dublin band Cyborg and Droids, Their eponymous bandcamp release was brought into the world in January of this year. Further research reveals, of course, that there is a burgeoning “synth-punk” scene and I have only just scratched the surface of yet another miasma of bands pursuing a particular musical line. This one tends, on the most part, to be badly recorded, the vocals are so lost in deep reverb as to render any understanding of what is being espoused as meaningless. Mostly it’s a dense wall of unforgiving feed-backing guitars, and what appears to be a basic organ sound fed through distortion fx. Mike Ratledge was doing the latter forty plus years ago so there’s nothing new in the approach. Where the synth bit comes in is beyond me, It’s OK but it doesn’t quite make the playllst.

Olafur Arnalds & Nils Frahm‘s double CD of “Collaborative Works” gets tagged as “classical” when quite clearly it is not. The 100 minutes of music on the two discs is best described as “ambient synth explorations”, and yet again, there’s a lot of this sort of thing about and deciding what is good, mediocre, or bad is difficult. There’s nothing particularly offensive about it, it rumbles along in its’ only way, developing organically, but you will have heard, if you were old enough or a student of electronica, Tangerine Dream doing this in 1973-ish with their releases on Virgin, “Fluff” Freeman was always featuring them on his excellent Saturday afternoon show. It’s a tad more glitchy than Froese & Co., giving it that modern edge, but generally i’ve heard others do it better, and with a few more surprises thrown in.

Ty Segall is a busy chap isn’t he? It does feel like he has something out every other week. The second, and double album, from his power trio with Chad Ubovich and Charile Moothart, Fuzz, feels familiar to me. Being brought up on a diet of Taste, Sabbath, Stone the Crows listening to this takes me back to my mid to late teens listening to music round friends houses. It’s clearly influenced by early 70s progressive blues rock. I’m not sure Segall’s voice works in this context. You really need to have the psychotic edge of a John Osbourne to be able to do the upper register voice in with such bass driven riffing and Ty doesn’t quite have the menace that the comes from being brought up in the heart of the Black Country. There’s nothing new or different here to warrant giving it air space. I suppose if you haven’t heard this sort of stuff before it would be quite a revelation to you but i’ve seen enough Phil Mogg in my time to file this under “i’ve heard it all before” pile.

The fifth Wavves album, I assume given it’s called “V”, is packed with that annoying american power pop punk, all constipated guitar chording, over busy drums, and big choruses. “Is it the 1980s again?” I thought when listening to it. It’s got some very good reviews in the usual places so what the hell would i know? Well, I guess I know I have heard it all before and I’m wondering why the record industry is so conservative that it continues to pump out stuff like this?

Joan Shelley‘s new one “Over and Even” bridges the atlantic with an easy mix of english folk idioms and americana. A good comparison would be Bert Jansch’s “LA Turnaround”. All of her back catalogue is available on Bandcamp, including the Maiden Radio recordings and collaborations with others. It’s a pleasant listen and lovers of that folky country sound will lap it up. The title track is particularly good.

The Bedroom Legends (Ubertino from Flies on You and his mate Richard) have done an excellent remix of Factory Acts Animal Spirits track. Matt and Sue are using it to promote the Ladyfest gig at Islington Mill, Salford next Saturday (which is now sold out).  I’ll be podcasting it in a couple of weeks and it will be on an Analogue Trash sampler in due course.

Telekinisis are from Seattle, they have a new album out called “Ad Infinitum” which caught my ear on first listening. There’s a sort of Jonsi from Sigur Ros feel to the vocals in places, and the music is uncluttered and unfussy electronic pop with a touch of OMD dynamics and LCD Soundsystem bravado, the sort of tunes they use on glossy US TV shows to cover some of the visual exposition. There are one or two clever little touches and although there is a slight feeling of deja vu with some of the songs it is a good listen with a suitably epic “set the arpeggiators” to stun pop feel.

I’ve got mixed feelings about crowd-funding, I can see the sense of it in the context of a conservative industry which does not facilitate the release of left-field music. I recently contributed to the release of two Magic Band DVDs so i’ve not got a complete distaste for it, and the release of Fenster‘s “Emocean” album/film was released through the process. The wacky electronic madness of the album feels like it ought have been brewed up by The Residents. The band is self titled “psychedelic pop band” based in Berlin who to some degree look and feel like a playful version of The Flaming Lips. The album feels like mutant elevator music.

Five volumes of “Psychedelia” released by Northern Star Records gives you more than you would ever need as a sampler of the genre. Starting in 2006 and running to 2013 the label collects rarities, borrows heavily from their own catalogue of other releases, As a direct descendent of Nuggets and Pebbles the first volume alone includes tracks from Electric Prunes, Silver Apples, The Hiss, The High Dials, Floorian, Lovetones, Pioneer 4, The Telescopes, Brian Jonestown Massacre, The Fuzztones, Snowdonnas, Stevenson Ranch Davidians, The Electric Mainline, Snowdonnas, The Black Angels and many, many more. Their website is well worth checking out. Even the ever busy Periscope makes an appearance on Volume 5. As a potted history of the so-called “Third Wave” of Psychedelia it’s a must have set of releases.

Finally this time I feel I must draw your attention to a new album from Moff Skellington called “Scribnalls”. It is released on German Shepherd Records on 20th November. If you have not heard of Moff before you clearly haven’t been paying attention to my perorations on music over the last six years. I am a fan and I want to share my joy on hearing this music. Scribnalls was a live audio-visual Eddodi lantern extravaganza which was first performed on 22nd August 2014 as part of The Queerwolf’s Closet held at The Kings Arms, Bloom Street, Salford. As Moff explains “Scribnalls, in terms of art, was an attempt to evoke the vitality and atmosphere of doodles, casual graffiti or simple drawings whose creators never considered them anything more than an aid to some explanation or other. Often just simple line drawings on a plain background or perhaps penknife marks etched into a burnished desktop, these images for me have always had such power that in studying them air starts to move around them and colours suggest themselves. The situations described in the drawings were intended to be elemental”. The album is unique as usual, words, grammar and syllables are twisted around in a surreal melange as layers of unique instrumentation act as fractured and sometimes dissonant accompaniment. It is another vital part of the man’s excellent body of work and gives warning of a further two albums which will follow soon.

Scribnalls Cover

I Just Want Room To Live

You know we just might well be at the beginning of something rather special here.

By here I mean Salford, or more specifically The Crescent Pub, on The Crescent (naturally). For those of you who don’t know the place it perches on the edge of the A6 going into (or out of) Manchester overlooking the loop in the River Irwell. It’s where Marx and Engels sat and chatted about life, politics and other important things many years ago, and it is where a long awaited venue for cutting edge music is emerging.

Tony Thornborough and Steve Nicholson
Tony Thornborough and Steve Nicholson

Tony Thornborough, Steve Nicholson, Jim Watts and Gerry the landlord are a formidable partnership. They have taken the empty shell of the previous concert room, have completely turned it round, literally speaking, the stage is at the other end! But more importantly there is a decent sound system and mixer, a sound engineer in Jim Watts who knows what he wants and knows how to get it, and a promoter in Tony Thornborough, who together with his side-kick Steve Nicholson, with the vision to actually create a venue that works for the musicians and audience. Add to that ambitious plans to create a bar area in the concert room, open up the rear to the beer garden and make the whole thing more accessible and user friendly and you have all of the ingredients for a very bright future.

Jim Watts and SD
Jim Watts and SD

The concept is relatively simple and the ingredients that make it work are so easily realised. Drum Kit, bass and guitar amps, and microphones are provided on site, the bands will not have to pay to play, and the pub has an excellent range of quality beverages, and food, at reasonable prices. It’s a five minute bus ride out of central Manchester, walking distance from Salford Central and Salford Crescent rail stations, and a fifteen minute walk from Deansgate if you are feeling healthy. If you are in the car there is ample parking around the back of the venue.

Patriq Gannon - The Prick Jaggers
Patriq Gannon – The Prick Jaggers

The two nights that German Shepherd records put on there recently are testament to the current developing success of the venue and it’s huge potential to become the premier small gig venue in Salford and more importantly the conurbation core/city centre. Bands who haven’t quite reached the audience capacity to fill the nearby Islington Mill, or some of the medium sized venues in the city centre now have a place where they can play, and in most cases, get paid.

The Junta
The Junta

Last Friday (5th December) saw the first of two nights of German Shepherd artists and some special guests playing at The Crescent.  John “The Junta” Montague kicked things off with a superb set of dance orientated electronica featuring music from his album Art of Glass. John’s ability to fuse 70s/80s electronica with current dance trends creates a maelstrom of laminal synthesis and funky beats. Standouts were the rich textures of “Orca” and the spooky “Devil”. The revelation was the closing tune where “Monty” demonstrated he has a fine singing voice.

Johann Kloos
Johann Kloos

Johann Kloos  was up next with a selection of his psychedelic pop and rock nuggets. For someone who had not played a gig for a year he was in fine fettle rattling through a mixture of melodic songs, psych-punk, and eerie electronica. Variety is the key word in Johann’s music and he amply demonstrated his talent across a range of styles and sounds,

Susan from Factory Acts
Susan from Factory Acts

The ever stunning Factory Acts improve each time I see them. With sure fire favourites like “Thirst” from the new EP, the enviable majesty of Susan’s voice and keyboards, and Matt’s pungent bass and beats, makes for one the most exciting live experiences in the Greater Manchester area at the moment.  The ever excellent “American’s With Guns” needs to be recorded soon and a stunning cover of Grinderman’s “No Pussy Blues” had Susan exorcising her inner Nick Cave. If you haven’t caught them live yet then I suggest you do at the next available opportunity.

The Hamsters
The Hamsters

Unfortunately it was getting late by now which meant I missed the last act of the evening, Una Baines excellent Poppycock, but I am advised they delivered a wonderful set. However I was able to hang around long enough to witness the return of the legendary Hamsters. With his recent departure from Kill Pretty Moet has decided to bring back the band where he feels “the most comfortable”. Nigel Blacklock, Jon Rowlinson and Damien Hughes provided a brutal and unforgiving sound to back up a bellicose Mr Morse. The band kicked off with a brand new tune, a homage to Vince Taylor, and powered through a series of classic Hamster tunes from across the years concluding with a slightly ramshackle but delightful reading of “Drowning” with guest appearances from Lucy Power and Una Baines.

A Teenage Propshaft
A Teenage Propshaft

Before The Hamsters were let loose on the world once more we had the debut performance of The Teenage Propshafts with Monty guesting on bass and Moet on Zen keyboards. Mr Doyle’s energetic performance of “Salford Streets” proved very popular with the crowd and no doubt is a prelude of more output from this artist.

DL2_05
Rob – The Prick Jaggers

Saturday was a more relaxed affair with the more eclectic and esoteric artists on the German Shepherd roster getting an outing. The evening kicked off with a short set from the excellent The Prick Jaggers  who were charming, self-effacing, funny and down right entertaining.  Patriq and Rob were in fine form and I look forward to hearing them live again.

Rose Niland and Mark Corrin
Rose Niland and Mark Corrin

Rose Nilandably supported by Mark Corrin, was spectacular, her unique and compelling vocal style and her, sometimes, otherworldly music transports the listener to dusty Moroccan streets via chill Scandanavian  landscapes to the heart of the blues. Her attention to detail and stage make-up demonstrates that this is artist who demands to be heard and wants to create a lasting impression. One of my missions in the next twelve months is to try and get this exceptional artist a much wider audience.

Modal Roberts
Modal Roberts

And then the force of nature that is Modal RobertsAgain an artist that puts considerable effort into his stage presentation,  this evening Modal appeared to channelling a heady combination of Jack Sparrow and Q from Star Trek The Next Generation, and towards the end of the set, either Marilyn Monroe or Olive from On The Buses,  at least in visual terms. Musically we got the delightfully rude “Full Sore”, a unique rendition of Eno’s “Baby’s on Fire”, a great version of “Derbyshire” and a chilling reading of “Brown” plus a selection of other tunes from his vast repertoire. Marvellous and slightly unhinged.

Aidan Cross
Aidan Cross

Due to illness the ever excellent West Coast Sick Line were unable to appear and the reliable Aidan Cross stood in. Playing a selection of Bacillus songs plus some new material Aidan’s rich voice complimented the stripped down sound of his acoustic guitar,  the highlight being the wonderful “When Strangers Step in the Bar”. He is working on new material at the moment and the newer songs in the set sounded very good indeed.

Loop-azznavour
Loop-aznavour

And finally, and my personal favourite of the weekend, the brilliant Loop-aznavour.  I was expecting him to be good having heard a lot of his material, he far exceeded my expectations. His mastery of the theremin is wonderful, his songs are memorable and his stage delivery is stunning, channelling anger, frustration and anarchy into a ferocious bundle of energy. With Moet guesting on the marvellous “Justin Beiber Must Die” this was a wonderful way to conclude two nights of genuinely unique music.

Material from most of these artists can be found at the German Shepherd Bandcamp site.

Chatting with Tony Thornborough over the two nights he was keen to describe his vision and expectations for The Crescent as a venue. The ambition and passion to create a performance space for artists is strong and the facilities that are being put in place will eventually create an unenviable live music location. German Shepherd plan to repeat the recent experience again in the new year in partnership with Tony, Steve and Jim. Something I am particularly looking forward to.

Mud, Rubble and Rock n Roll

A rather fine evening (Saturday 28th June) at the Bank Top Tavern in Oldham with a stunning set from Factory Acts, and an admittedly ramshackle but rather joyous affair from Kill Pretty rounded off a busy week musical. Bank Top Tavern is a good venue, and there was a good crowd, many plaudits to Jeff Grainger for organising the whole thing. Highly recommended as a place to watch live music.

Talking of live music there are a pile of gigs coming up if you like the sort of stuff I play on my Podcasts……

Yob
Yob photo credit ©James Rexroad

Yob and Pallbearer are embarking on a tour of titanic proportions this September, both performing in support of their respective new albums. The tour date  confirmed for the Greater Mancunia area is Friday, September 05, at The Roadhouse. They are at the Brudenall in Leeds on the 7th if you cannot make the Manchester date.  For Pallbearer, who recently announced the arrival of their much anticipated new full length Foundations Of Burden (to be released on Profound Lore in August), this marks their first full European tour. The band have said that they are “beyond thrilled” to announce these dates opening for the mighty Yob. Supporting their monumental new album, Clearing The Path To Ascend (which Neurot Recordings are releasing in September) Yob are excited to be returning to the UK and Europe, and both bands couldn’t have picked a better time to share their new material.

Ought have confirmed a tour with dates in the UK and Ireland this November, this follows the recent news of their two upcoming summer festival appearances at ATP’s Jabberwocky and Green Man. Given the praise for their recently released and thrilling debut album, More Than Any Other Day (Constellation Records), this promises to be a great run of shows.  They are playing Sound Control, Manchester on November 18th.

Angry Scousers Corrupt Moral Alter have their debut full length “Mechanical Tides” out on July18th via Season of Mist – they have a string of dates coming up, none of which in the Manchester area – nearest options are 23rd July Maguires, Liverpool and 24th July Packhorse, Leeds. The album is described as a mixture of sludge and punk – looking forward to getting an advance copy to share with you via podcast.

Late this Summer, Southern Lord will release all of the material from late 1980s Seattle hardcore band, Brotherhood, collecting the influential act’s demos and 7″ releases in one remastered, cohesive anthology entitled Till Death Brotherhood was formed during the West Coast Hardcore surge in the same days of Insted, Bl’ast, Chain Of Strength and Uniform Choice, the members all bred in the Northwest on The Accused, Poison Idea, The Melvins, and with East Coast threads born of SSD, DYS, Corrosion Of Conformity and Straight Ahead all comparatively woven into their sound. A straightedge hardcore band that confronted racism, sexism and intolerance, both in their lyrical delivery and on stage with ill-mannered show attendees, Brotherhood was a rare band of this scene as they were accepted in all of the subgenres of punk rock and hardcore, even receiving praise in the — at the time — very anti-straightedge publication MaximumRockNRoll, as they did in the many adamant straight edge fanzines of the time. This near universal acceptance can be clearly be attributed to the many years each member of the band had spent previous to Brotherhood in bands, publishing fanzines, booking shows and promoting bands as well as their strong desire to buck most trends that came their way and forge something new.

 

The band was founded in Seattle by Greg Anderson in 1987, who recruited former False Liberty drummer Victor Hart, friend Ken Hagel on bass and East Coast transplant and Open Your Eyes fanzine editor, John White on vocals. After years as a singer in False Liberty and Inner Strength, Greg picked up the guitar and started writing songs built upon the aforementioned influences. Following local shows and the opportunity to open for such legends as Youth Of Today, Angry Samoans and Fugazi, Brotherhood began to gain recognition on a much wider scale in the hardcore community. This initial lineup was not to last, as in 1988, Ron Guardipee Of Hateful Youth took over on vocals and Nate Mendel of Diddly Squat joined on bass. Having played many times together in their previous bands things quickly came together for this new and much more solid Brotherhood lineup and in November of that year the Music Bank recording session was conducted. Debuting this new lineup on the Pushead curated Thrasher Magazine’s Skate Rock Vol. 7 compilation Brotherhood soon also released their Of Friends demo, their No Tolerance For Ignorance 7″ on Skate Edge Records and Words Run… As Thick As Blood! 7″ on CR Records, all released in 1988 and 89. Playing throughout the Northwest US as well as a North American tour with (quite possibly the bands biggest influence) Seattle’s The Accused, by the end of 1989 Brotherhood came to an end. Their relatively short-lived run went on to inspire many of the seminal bands that have followed in Hardcore and Straight Edge such as Undertow, Unbroken, Champion, No Tolerance and many more.   Members of Brotherhood have since forged numerous other musical endeavours including, but by no means limited to, Christ On A Crutch, Sunny Day Real Estate, Foo Fighters, Resolution, Digh Down, Burning Witch, Engine Kid, Sunn O)) and Goatsnake.   Southern Lord will release Till Death in deluxe LP and digital download packages in September. A confirmed street date, preorders and more on the album will be made available in the coming weeks.

As Earth make their way through the South Pacific as part of their ongoing tour through Japan, New Zealand and Australia, building up to the release of their tenth studio collection, Primitive And Deadly, we are delighted to reveal the very first audio insight into the album, as an early surprise for the band’s vast international fanbase.  The third of the six movements on the hour-long Primitive And Deadly is the sprawling eleven-and-a-half minute “From The Zodiacal Light,” which you can listen to below. Check out my Earth retrospective podcast here.

Ethereal doom trio, Ides Of Gemini, are preparing to unveil their sophomore offering, Old World New Wave, via Neurot Recordings this September.

 

 Ides Of Gemini features guitarist Jason Bennett, drummer Kelly Johnston-Gibson and the haunting vocal prowess of singer/bassist Sera Timms, also of Los Angeles dark-psych conjurors Black Mare. The follow-up to the band’s 2012 Constantinople debut, which Pitchfork christened “darkly beautiful,” and Terrorizer likened to, “a metallic-filtered kinship to Cocteau Twins and Mazzy Star,” Old World New Wave was recorded at Valley Recording in Burbank, California, engineered and mixed by Chris Rakestraw (Danzig), mastered by Grammy award winning producer, Matt Hyde (Slayer) and boasts the striking hand-drawn cover art of Johnston-Gibson.

 

Comments Timms of the offering, “For Old World New Wave we all really coalesced as a band, and were able to work off one another’s strengths. J came up with the basic concept and musical framework of the album, and Kelly and I gave it form and identity. For me, my own personal musical identity, taste, preferences etc. were eclipsed by the power of the music which worked as an animate force unto itself-so much so that I cannot listen to any of it objectively, or tell you if it’s good or bad, but I can tell you that it’s distinctively Ides Of Gemini

 

Adds Johnston-Gibson of the images surrounding the record, “The artwork is an interpretation of Sera’s lyrical narrative, which carries over themes from Constantinople, as well as symbolic of transformations experienced by us as individuals and inevitably as a band. The minimalist, direct style of the cover and accompanying illustrations is indicative of our energies combined to create one clear, singular force, as experienced through the music, while the visual content has more to do with the story: essentially a conflict between opposing energies leading to destruction, therefore allowing a clean slate for integration of opposites into a resurrected whole.

 

Old World New Wave will be released on CD and digitally via Neurot Recordings and on vinyl via SIGE Records on September 15th, 2014. In the meantime, check out the teaser video

And finally, the productive Mr Stephen Evans has sent another tune to me, this time under his ZX+ name, it’s a short, sharp and rather fine tune, he says he has a bit more recording to do and then he will have a new release, looking foward to that ……in the mean time enjoy this one

 

Fluid Cravings…..

Factory Acts

Thirst EP

Analogue Thrash

4th July 2014

And so with some pleasure I share with you, my audiophile friends, the latest release from Factory Acts.

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Factory Acts are a Salford-based post-punk dark-electro duo. They are SoS (aka Sușán Ó Sé) on vocals, synths and analogue digital devices, and Matt Davies covering bass, beats and magic mixes. The duo was born following the accidental creation of a new sound, and a hastily written two song instrumental debut at Salford Lad’s Club. They hit the local gig circuit in 2012 self-releasing two singles, ‘Senseless’ and ‘Fantasy’, both of which have received repeated air play on BBC Introducing Manchester, Ireland’s 2FM, Salford City Radio and numerous internet stations worldwide, and indeed on my podcasts. Since then they have performed live from Manchester to Doncaster, from Leeds to London, taking in Cork on the way. Factory Acts has played the Salford Music Festival, headlined the ‘Pussy-Whipped’ festival in Edinburgh, and played alongside bands such as Manchester legends Kill Pretty, plus Vile Electrodes, Tom Hingley, Ste McCabe, Naevus, The Witch Hunt, and the Jan Doyle Band to name but a few.

Two years after their live debut, Factory Acts release their first EP, Thirst, on 4th July 2014 via Manchester- based independent label AnalogueTrash Records. Featuring four stand-out tracks of analogue-electronics that combine SoS’s esoteric and haunting vocals with the pulsating, otherworldly beats and rhythms of Matt Davies. Having been with the band from the first release, and also having seen them twice live I can attest to their unique qualities, fascinating sound and visually stunning mise en scene experience.

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The new EP moves the band on from the measured chill wave of their early releases to a more up-beat approach which employs more of a motorik/kosmische feel. The key elements are Matt’s excellent bass work, and Susan’s laminal orchestral synthesis, overlaid with glitchy and visceral sounds, and importantly her memorable vocal style. Lead track “Thirst” is a sultry little number with insistent beats and rhythms and probably the most subtle anti-fracking message I’ve heard – glorious arpeggiating rhythms drive the tune and above all it leaves you wanting more.  “Car Crash” kicks in with more arpeggios and then floats into Ralf und Florian territory, albeit with dreamy double tracked vocals – the tune effectively merges post-punk sensibilities (a busy bass line) with the best of electronica. “Flight” ups the tempo further, strips back the synths, and builds around descending motifs – an instrumental, the tune develops organically adding varying parts to create a funky experience with a motorik surge. “Animal Spirits” harks back to the duo’s original releases, has been previously released, and perhaps best illustrates both the capabilities and potental of the group – there’s an other worldly quality to their sound which sets them apart from mere genre pigeon holes.

I took the time to ask the duo some questions regarding the release:

Where was the EP recorded?

It was very much DIY, recorded at home, with the vocals sung in between the barking of dogs and the shouting of neighbours outside the front window! Also mixed by us at home in sections in between busy work schedules. And the magic touch provided by Owen J of Tingle in the Netherlands in his makeshift home recording studio. It’s a miracle we put together in the limited time we had but I guess that does focus the mind somewhat.

Are you planning an album?

We have enough tracks for an album and the EP is, to use Fall-speak an ‘Interim’ (though hopefully not a ‘Remainderer’). We have tracks that we have been playing live for nearly two years which we still have not committed to a studio format. The version of “Animal Spirits” is an updated version of one we released last year, with a bit of tweaking, and additional noises. We are looking forward to be able to get some jamming time as that is where the best ideas come from. Our song, “Americans with Guns”, which is usually well received live, was composed mainly on Xmas Day 2012 after an overdose of mince pies and sherry. It doesn’t take long to write songs but ages to get them in a releasable format.

You are supporting Kill Pretty in Oldham at Bank Top Tavern on June 28th and you are launching the EP at the Eagle Inn, Salford on 5th July – any other gigs planned?

Yes! We are at The Castle, Oldham Street with NINA and U.V. as part of Eclectica on August 1st,  the following day we are part of an all-dayer at the Kings Arms in Salford.  On August 24th are at Bangkok Bar & Restaurant, Princess Street  at an event called “Queer We Are ” which is a Pride Fringe Event, and we have registered for the Salford Music Festival in October. Hopefully we will playing Ireland again as our gig at Crane Lane was a great success when we played in April. We’re always up for playing outside Manchester too, so we are open to invitations.

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There is more of a motorik/kosmiche feel to the tunes on this release –  do you agree?  Is post-punk electronica a reasonable description?

Yes, suppose there is more of a staccato, electro feel to “Thirst” and “Flight”. I guess most bands are wary of being pigeon-holed for obvious reasons but the music we like tends to have a post-punk electronica mood to it and a lot of the bands we like have themselves been influenced by ‘krautrock’ or whatever one calls it. Our sound is also affected by the available instruments and what we can play – being limited mainly to a bass guitar, keyboards and a variety of drum inputs makes for a certian sound. Even though we also both love ‘guitar’ music, we kind of like the idea there is no lead guitar on any of our stuff as it means we find other ways of making the sounds in the spaces that perhaps non-bass guitars would make. The lyrics are very important to us as well, and we’re not sure how that fits with labels – but they mostly have political overtones, whether it be issues of personal identity or broader movements and these very much overlap. There is a certain ambiguity to them but if you listen careful to the lyrics of Thirst, you might be able to infer some meaning on things which are quite close to home, personally and geographically, without preaching hopefully. On the other hand ‘Americans with Guns’ is the Ronseal of our songs. We can’t wait to record that properly! So, post-punk electronica sensibility certainly and motorik / kosmiche / krautrock if you want! We have also been labelled ‘Witch House’ (whatever that is……..). We are delighted to be part of something special in Salford. We’ve had nothing but support across the board from gig organisers, DJs and friends passionate about music and dedicated to an organic Salford music scene.

So there you have it – the first EP from a very talented and unique band, and I highly recommend it to you.

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Salford Music Scene – 16th October 2012

Stream the show from here

….and this is what I played

1 The Blimp Art Job
2 Factory Acts Senseless (Radio Edit)
3 Skeleton Suite  Sloth
4 Kit B Capo D Monty
5 The Happy Fallen Ground Zero
6 Uncle Paul Anne Sellors Last Chance
7 Dan Solan Hands On Another
8 Naked (On Drugs) Death Dance
9 Kit B Blood In Blood Out
10 Ste McCabe Did You Really
11 Positronik When The Bitch Knows Your Name
12 Streetswimmers Falling
13 Dan Solan We Didn’t Kill Anyone
14 The Fall Idiot Joy Showland

New Stuff – mid-October 2012 or “I should never have had that flu jab” ……

A general round-up as I have not done one for a while…….mainly due to the fact I’ve been busy plus at the moment I have the time as I am confined to the domicile due to the post flu jab nastiness that always besets me at this time of year……anyway enough of my medical nonsense , this is what has come in through the ether lately…..

  • Chelsea Wolfe has released a set of Rudimentary Peni covers – “Prayer for the Unborn” –  as part of Southern Records “Latitudes” series……similarly Bardo Pond have released a set of three improvs as part of the samepromo packshot series…..both very entertaining but Chelsea just about wins the race in terms of content and delivery…..
  • At the same time Chelsea has released a set of acoustic songs called “Unknown  Rooms” which compliments the “Live at Roadburn” album and demonstrates the quieter and more reflective side of her work.
  • Factory Acts are releasing their second self-released single “Senseless” (nice bit of alliteration there) on October 25th and rather marvellous it is too. No one else hitherto has quite managed to mingle electronica with dance and a post-punk feel in such a unique and arresting style. Excellent live and worthy of your listening time I would suggest.
  • The new Godspeed You Black Emperor album “‘Allelujah! Don’t Bend! Ascend!” is immense – well worth the ten year wait ……
  • The new album from Leeds band Me and My Friends is called “Breath A Level Head” is an excellent cornucopia of styles and influences – breathtakingly quirky and highly entertaining.
  • We’ve all been getting extremely excited about Flies on You and their album “Nothing to write home about” which is best described as a “modern post punk primer” packed with ideas and variety and loveliness.
  • In a similar vein Lost Cassettes from Huddersfield have released, on Bandcamp, a remarkably listenable EP called “What We Doing After?”. It’s free so why no have a gander? Punky and full energy – toe tappingly good say I.
  • Lola Dutronic’s album “Everyone’s A Star” is as perfect a slice of electro-pop you will hear all year – and the single Everybody Loves You When You’re Dead has some of the best lyrics i’ve heard all year.
  • Streetswimmers are Lee Goulden, John Hamlin, and Jay Hughes and blend various musical styles together to create a marvellous fresh sound with nods towards folk, rock and indie – check them out on Bandcamp.
  • Skeleton Suite appear to have emerged from the ashes of Hans Island and have posted a couple of tracks to date on Facebook – very good indie sound.
  • Very impressed by Uncle Paul  from Blackpool who have a unique and rather compelling sound – their EP is rather good and takes its’ title from a Fall lyric so they obviously know what they are on about.
  • Kit B  continue to deliver excellent tunes – someone find them a drummer so we can catch them live – the latest two are up to the high standard we expect.