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

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Fascinating Things : Issue 58

For those of us born in the latter half of the last century, and growing up in the mad musical world of the 70s and 80s it is chastening that a lot of our musical heroes are moving on to the great gig in the sky in 2016. There have been many tributes over the last month or so, and I suppose I should get use to this happening. One such tribute is from the mighty Periscope, who has been somewhat quiet of late, who has worked with Monica Ward to release a cover of Bowie and Eno’s “Heroes”. It has the usual excellent Periscope wall of sound treatment and they do make a good job of honoring Bowie’s passing and legacy.

Following the very recent arrival of their ‘Questions’, single Southampton’s (UK) Circle Of Reason are now back with their latest video single titled ‘Colours’. Showcasing another metallic and emotive rock track, ‘Colours’ is an epic anthem taken from the bands forthcoming album “Faith Or Theory”.

Manon Meurt, one of the foremost shoegaze groups from Eastern Europe, who have played alongside The Raveonettes, The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, LSD and the Search for God, and My Bloody Valentine,  report that  their debut EP will be issued on white vinyl in May thanks to Canada’s Label Obscura. Here’s a taster.

The Battles Of Winter release new single and video ‘Love’s White Thread’ on Ruby Music on 27th May. ‘Love’s White Thread’ is the first release from the forthcoming album “At Once With Tattered Sails”. A great bass line on this and great layers of vocals and guitar.

Russia’s Sounds of Sputnik is releasing their single ‘Light Scheme (Fran Ashcroft Remix)’ from their debut LP ‘New Born’ feat. Ummagma, which also gets a re-release in early May through hallmark U.S. shoegaze label Moon Sounds Records. UK producer Fran Ashcroft, widely known for his work in the psych rock scene, has also worked with Damon Albarn (Blur) and Lords of Acid. The single comes with a new video, produced and directed by Latvia/UK experimental filmmaker Dariy Karyakin and featuring actors Nadine Andreeva and Egon Skakun.

Brighton’s (UK) post-punk fuelled alternative rock outfit Come The Spring release their official video for their latest single ’24’. Featuring live footage of the band showcasing their renowned high energy performances, 24 is taken from their REVIVE EP available through UK independent label Engineer Records. Having formed in late 2012 from the ashes of cult-following UK rock bands, Come The Spring members bring their vast experience and creativity to produce emotionally charged and anthemic songs. Consisting of Sam Craddock (Vox), David Gamage (Guitar), Simon Goodrick (Guitar), Mark Wilkinson (Bass) and Jamie Donbroski (Drums), the allies of uncompromised guitar driven rock have previously shared stages with the likes of Green Day, No FX, Texas Is The Reason, Braid and many more.

On the trail of their recent single ‘It Was Nothing’, Canadian synthwave duo Meter Bridge have announced they will be releasing their latest EP “Filter / Kite” through WEATNU Records. It includes three tracks – Filter’, ‘Kite’ and a Mind Veneration Remix by Mark LaFountain. Sound wise ‘Filter’ is very reminiscent of Severed Heads which got my attention straight away.

Check out Johann Kloos’s new one “Behind The Net Curtain”, which includes his usual eclectic mix of material and is as always well worthy of your attention.

Some news snippets:

  • Dylan Carlson is to officially self-release “Falling With A Thousand Stars and other Wonders From The House Of Albion” on 25th June. It is a solo album which is described as ” …..droning 6 and 12-string guitars, reinterpreting traditional old English and Scottish folk ballads into sombre instrumental pieces”.
  • Chester-based alt-electronic act, The Ladder  release their new single, “Down” on May 30th  via York label, Anonymous Records. The Ladder are production duo Addz Vindicare [vocals, bass, production] and Danny Ryder [synths, vocals] – ‘Down’ as a track moves The Ladder beyond the trappings of pure industrial-EBM, and incorporates elements of shoegaze.
  • Southern Lord has confirmed the impending release of Total Destruction (1999-2006) the collected discography of now defunct thrash rockers, Asschapel.
  • Zublue are a high energy three piece Garage Rock band from Essex, UK. Influenced by the likes of Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Foo Fighters and Sonic Youth, the band’s debut EP ‘Change the Channel’ is an angst-ridden examination of a modern world controlled by the media. Well worth a listen say I.

Fascinating Things : Issue 55

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fascinating Things : Issue 39

And so into 2016 by mopping up the rear end of 2015 and running through my top twenty albums of the year.

Theologian’s latest is 70 minutes of industrial noise, buried drum machines, layers of ambience, occasional spoken word, howling guitars and menacing intent. Those bought up on a diet of  early Cabaret Voltaire, Throbbing Gristle and Test Department will no doubt enjoy it. It’s a distracting enough listen to get me through a boring New Years Day afternoon with nowt good on the bad telly-v. Anyway it’s called “Dregs” and you can find it on Lee Bartow’s own Annihilvs Power Electronix label. With Bartow on this release are Daniel Suffering (Whorid, Slavernij) and Dave Brenner (Militia Men, Heidnik), together with vocal contributions from Gretchen Heinel, Faith Ciavarella, and additional percussion  by BJ Allen (Full Scale Riot). (to be featured on Aural Delights Podcast 163)

THEOLOGIAN-Devil's Night 2015-live2 [photo by Gretchen Heinel]
Photograph by Gretchen Heinel
Mark Corrin finished off his ambitious plan to release 12 EPs in 2015 with hours to spare. Number 11 is a remarkable trio of stark improvised pieces from a session in Istanbul.

He has saved the best to last with Number 12, a breezy, bright and compelling trio of electro-pop gems which demonstrate Mark’s more accessible side. A fantastic achievement across all 12 releases which demonstrate considerable variety, invention and quality.

A germ ridden Dr Kloos completes a busy year with a great live album from the Crescent in Salford. Containing some of his “greatest hits” the set, which was recorded on the 6th June 2015 by Jim Watts, is a great summary of Johann’s work to date.

I don’t know about a lot of this so-called “nu folk” stuff. Most of it leaves me pretty cold. This chaps voice has a quality and the lyrics are suitably interesting to grab my ear. He is Jamie Beau and this is the lead track from his debut album ‘Tales of the Earth, Tales of the Sea…’. I am reminded, to some degree, of John Martyn.

Richard J. Birkin, so called “sound artist, composer, live concert performer and creative technologist”, will release his  new 11-track album “Vigils” on March 11th 2016 via Reveal Records, which will be available in CD, LP and digital download formats. Here’s what he sounds like…

And to close my top twenty albums of 2015 starting with my best of the year…..

The Seven Twenty – The Seven Twenty

Courtney Barnett – Sometimes I Just Sit A Think And Sometimes I Just Think

The Holy Soul – Fortean Times

Alif – Aynama –Rtama

Monkeys In Love – Take The Biscuit (couldn’t find anything on You Tube from the album so here’s a classic)

Dave Graney & the mistLY – Play mistLY for me – live recordings vol 1

Moff Skellington – The Corkscrew Tongue

JD Meatyard – Taking The Asylum

Niche – Heading East

Flies On You – Etcetera

Heroin In Tahiti – Sun and Violence

Dilly Dally – Sore

Mammoth Penguins – Hide and Seek

The Lancashire Hustlers – What Made Him Run

Moff Skellington – Scribnalls

Robert Forster – Songs To Play

Dave Graney – Once I Loved The Torn Oceans Roar

Dead Sea Apes – Spectral Domain

The Masterbakers – Clouds Over Happy Town

 

 

 

Fascinating Things : Issue 38

Things tend to slow down at this time of year music wise, if only to make space for all the nonsensical tat that gets offered to willing punters in the shape of “Xmas” frippery.  In the best traditions of Scrooge I tend to try and ignore most of the so called holiday period as possible, it has lost the charm it used to have with the relentless commercialisation and capitalist fervour that appears to apply these days. In any event despite the attempt to ram yet another “christmas single” down my throat from a good number of the promo people I remain steadfastly obdurate and only share with you music which is of value and lasts longer than past 25th December.

Doctor Kloos is back with a new one which as he says was “Made specially for my first London gig on the 12th December 2015, a nice breezy compilation of latter day Kloos tracks, which is sure to get under your skin. There are physical copies of this on CDR, called “Sounds Like Kloos” with unique individually made sleeves if anyone wants to order a copy, contact me at johannkloos@hotmail.com.”. As supporters of Kloos-mania  we recommend this to you.

And while I’m at it I seem to have completely missed his October release “Carousel” which is very remiss of me…..

The tenth in a series of monthly (mostly) EPs from Mark Corrin is called “Xenomorph” and is a marked change from the previous nine.  Mark describes it as a “……more experimental post-rock / ambient collaboration with David Fox. It’s certainly got some influence from the likes of Mogwai and later era Talk Talk”. As with the rest of the 2015 series there is plenty here to get excited about.

And that’s your lot for 2015. Fascinating Things will be back in 2016 with more news and views about music.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fascinating Things : Issue 20

A biblical deluge of new things in this week so only time for  some short and sharp reviews:

Mammoth Penguins – Hide and Seek (Fortuna Pop!)

The debut album from the new band fronted by Emma Kupa, formerly of BBC 6 Music favourites Standard Fare. Released on 10 July via Fortuna POP!.  A dozen simply marvellous power pop tunes with Emma’s delightful and arresting voice holding the attention for the whole of the album. Lyrically spot on, musically clever, and as it is stripped down to guitar, bass and drums, this is a perfect example of how to write and deliver good tunes.

Dead Sea Apes – Spectral Domain (Cardinal Fuzz/Sunrise Ocean Bender)

Manchester’s Dead Sea Apes have quickly built a fascinating catalogue that delivers fascinating instrumental jams. From the riveting stomp of previously featured ‘Soy Dios’ and ‘Astral House,’ to the enigmatic ebb and flow laden ‘Lupus,’ and straight through to their stunning collaboration with Black Tempest, ‘The Sun Behind The Sun,’ Equally capable of crushing heavy riffing and  mesmerizing ambient space-psyche as heard on last years critically acclaimed ‘High Evolutionary’,  this is a band that gets better with every release. ‘Spectral Domain,’ is their third full length album. From the Lalo Schiffrin meets Cluster spy theme of ‘Brought To Light’, the driving noise juggernaut of ‘Universal Interrogator’ through to the dubbed out claustrophobia of ‘Sixth Side of the Pentagon’, this is wigged space rock of the highest order. Releases on September 28th  in a visually striking sleeve and insert designed by Luke Insect on a purple and clear vinyl swirl be quick though only 200 are available. Nothing available from the album as yet for embeddinhg so here is something from High Evolutionary to whet your whistle.

Minimi Deutsch – Minimi Deutsch (Cardinal Fuzz)

Emerging from the vibrant Japanese psych explosion that has recently birthed Kikagaku Moyo, Sundays & Cybele,  as part of a new wave of acts that are making waves in the West, Minami Deutsch formed in 2014 and quickly went to work on this their debut album. The album is  a product of their source bands while putting a fine new twist on them,  capturing a  motorik sensibility as the band locks into repetitive locked modular grooves.  Source influences are Can, Neu! and La Duesseldorf (the clue is in the name) with added modernist synth swoops and whirls.  Hypnotic repetition with subtle changes leaves this listener wanting much more. Stunning stuff. 28th September sees the release of a 500 pressing on Weissensee white vinyl.

Henry Threadgill Zooid – In For A Penny, In For A Pound (Pi Recordings)

A double CD of a new suite of compositions from the masterly Mr Threadgill.  As usual there is the unique combination of instrumentation that characterises a Threadgill release – alto, flute and bass flute from the leader, and trombone/tuba,guitar, cello, and percussion. Essentially a “stream of musical phrases” developed over six distinct pieces. Each CD starts with a short introduction and then moves two lengthier section, Bubbling with ideas this is typical Threadgill territory,  his complex avant garde structures creating a unique musical palette with passages of manic pointillism sitting alongside measured chamber jazz, which can then transform into Henry’s particular version of mutant jazz rhythms. Not to for the faint hearted but if you enjoy challenging music you should give this a try. Again there is nothing from the album available as yet so here is a live cut from a couple of years back.

Johann Kloos – Flower Bed (Bandcamp)

A retrospective collection of material from 2003-2011 from the ever busy Dr Kloos. As usual it is jam packed full of musical ideas, replete with humorous idiosyncrasies, and damn fine. Johann moves between various genres across ten excellent tracks, one minute a piece of jazz-funk that Jan Hammer would have been proud of, the next atmospheric post-punk textures,  and then motorik driven beats .  This guy has more ideas in his little finger than any Coldplay wannabee that has been signed by a major. This guy should be supported and promoted he deserves the widest possible audience.

Aaron Diehl – Space Time Continuum (Mack Avenue)

Widely acknowledged as a modern master in the aftermath of his acclaimed 2012 Mack Avenue debut, “The Bespoke Man’s Narrative”, 29-year-old pianist-composer Aaron Diehl ups the ante with his 2015 release “Space, Time, Continuum”. Diehl first came to notice on the self-released late ʼ00s albums “Live At Caramoor”, a solo date on which he navigated the stride piano canon with deep assurance; and “Live At The Players”, on which he delivered a program spanning classical music, bebop and the blues. On “The Bespoke Man’s Narrative”, Diehl presented original music drawing on composers like John Lewis and Duke Ellington for inspiration.  On “Space, Time, Continuum”, an eight- track album, Diehl uses the core trio of bassist David Wong and drummer Quincy Davis. Also featured are the iconic tenor saxophonist-composer Benny Golson and baritone saxophonist Joe Temperley, both 85 years young; the 39-year-old underground tenor saxophone giant Stephen Riley; and the rising star trumpeter Bruce Harris, not yet 30. are also featured. The album moves between trio workouts to blues drenched pieces, or sprightly bop workouts, featuring the horns. Beautifully recorded, there is nothing ground breaking here but the playing is exemplary.

Fascinating Things : Issue 19

Hot on the heels of the new Chelsea Wolfe comes the debut album from Myrkur, the Danish one-woman black metal project. Myrkur (“darkness” in Icelandic) burst onto the scene l in mid 2014 combining the rawness of second wave black metal bands like Ulver and Darkthrone with a natural sonic, ethereal beauty, creating a wholly unique perspective on the genre. Now working with producer Garm of Ulver, this album is a bit of a revelation and moves the genre forward by several very large steps.  Both vicious and lovely.

Publicist UK consists of Brett Bamberger (also of Revocation), Zach Lipez (ex Freshkills), David Obuchowski (Goes Cube, Distant Correspondent), and Dave Witte (Melt Banana, Burnt by the Sun, Municipal Waste). Post-punk pre-goth epic tunes swinging wildly between the more baleful bits of Tuxedomoon and the Eldritch excess of Sisters Of Mercy.

The  title track to the  third LP by Seattle’s Black Breath, “Slaves Beyond Death”, has just been issued as a first single as the album nears release through Southern Lord 25th September. Heavy stuff indeed.

The new Girobabies album is due out on 28th September but you can pre-order now, which I recommend you do.

Bouquet of Dead Crows have released the video of the other A of their forthcoming single on German Shepherd, worth watching for the number of different guitars Neil Bruce goes through in one song! They launch the single on the 28th at the Cornerhouse in Cambridge. I’ve heard the forthcoming album which is a bit of a belter, will share bits of it when I am allowed to.

More quirky and idiosyncratic pieces from the ever busy Dr Johann Kloos are revealed on his new waxing “Flower Bed”.  Johann says it is another retrospective collection, I say it is a another fine collection of fascinating,left field, compositions. Salford’s very own Frank Zappa.

The Mammoth Penguins debut “HIde and Seek” is on its way from Cargo Records. It’s Emma Kupa’s new vehicle and the trio did a great acoustic session on Dave Hammonds Smelly Flowerpot show on Cambridge 105  last week. Pending the arrival of the CD here is a live cut of the excellent “Propped Up” from the album. Echoes of early Go-Betweens here for me!