january 2011 overview

The latter weeks of December 2010 and January 2011 have proved to be particularly busy in respect of new music and unsigned bands coming my way. I’m struggling to find space in the radio show to fit them all in and whilst my chums at the 9 O’clock Alliance at Salford City Radio are assisting by picking up on some of the tunes I am still wading my way through a pile of MP3s and albums that arrive on a daily basis. It’s difficult to see how I can fit them all in and I need to give some thought to how some of the better acts can get some exposure.

An opening observation after all this listening would be that “rock is not dead” – I read an article in some inky newspaper somewhere that “comedy” and “wintendo” (Sic) had replaced “rock” as the new “youth” obsessions. This type of narrow thinking tends to obscure the fact that a lot of people over 25 (say) still listen to music and have the disposable income (even in these times of belt tightening)  to spend on it and there are an awful lot of musicians out there keeping the rock sub-culture alive.

So here is a quick canter through the material that has come in the last eight weeks or so (and which has not got a “big” review on this blog) – of which, as I say, there has been a lot….i’ll pick up on the more recent stuff in the February overview.

Skankadelia – from Leicester and Salford play an up tempo pop ska which is immediate and catchy. All excellent musicians and with a front woman with a marvellous voice they have been away for a while but they are back with a plan for world domination and they have the songs to do it. Brimming with great melodies, choruses and hooks they are destined for something great if they get the breaks.

Bill Davro – are from Warrington and play sharp indie pop songs – they have a current sound but they don’t copy the London groups of the moment and have set themselves aside from others of that ilk. I don’t normally listen at length to music which follows current fashion as it all tends to get a bit samey but these guys have a certain something that requires listening.

John Snow Band – are from Norway and manage to meld a great guitar sound with pop idioms which transcends into indie rock. They have good control over light and shade in their songs which gives a great cinematic feel. They are recording an album at the moment which I certainly am looking forward to listening to.

GlassHeads – hail from Wigan and play driven dual guitar tunes – and are well worth a visit to their My Space page to listen to their current single “The Error of Your Ways”.

Andy Hay – sent me a couple of his songs.  He writes beautiful tunes and self produces his stuff at home on “£200 gear”  you wouldn’t know it given the quality of the recordnigs, and he has a great voice and plays well. I am anticipating a CD with some more music which should be good based on what he has sent me so far.

Glass Ankle – have been getting a lot of exposure lately- they were in the Metro paper the other day – not suprising really, marvellous tunes and a good acoustic/folkly/indie feel….

Robin James – has a unique voice and a style which manages to grab elements of early Nick Drake and push them into a dreamy psychedelic landscape…..

The guitar wizardry of Apparently We Fly is right up my street. Somehow they can grasp Marr like picking and put it in a math-rock agenda. Almost like the offspring of a coupling between something post-punk and post-rock with a bit of genetic tampering around the edges. I’m blissfully ignorant of what might have inspired this sound but regardless of that I love their brashness.

Secret Garden Gathering are a 5 piece band from Liverpool formed in 2010.   Their sound is somewhere between the realms of Indie, Folk and Psychedelia. Comparisons have been made to Jefferson Aeroplane, The XX, Fleetwood Mac and The National.

Danny Short has sent me a copy of his limited cassette only release “Darkened Corridors of Winter” which combines his more experimental sonic stuff  with his melodic pop side into something rather special indeed. I aim to play some of this during February.  His new album “Love has gone” is due soon.

Nick Warren sent me the latest single from Spencer Cloud and the Range Brothers an absolutely breathtaking piece of garage rock – with an amazing vocal from Mark Range. Hopefully 2011 will see this band get the exposure it deserves. It’s called “Hypnotise” by the way!

Guile are from Manchester and make a wonderful racket – their “Alone on the West” song is simply marvellous.

Albums which have tentative recommendations and  which I intend to play on the show eventually are listed below. They are in the pile to be listened to again which seems to be growing a little to quickly for my liking:

  • Baton Rouge – Fragments D’Eux Memes
  • Braids – Native Speaker
  • Covenant – Modern Ruin
  • Ducktails – Arcade Dynamics
  • Glassjaw – Our Colour Green
  • Iron and WIne – Kiss Each Other Clean
  • James Blake – Echoes
  • Mogwai – Hardcore Will Never Die
  • Sey Hollo – Growth
  • Social Distortion – Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes
  • Talib Kweli – Gutter Rainbows
  • The Decemberists – The King is Dead
  • Wire – Red Barked Tree

Hopefully I will get round to reviewing these in the next few weeks.

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aural delights #21 – the return of farley

After a run of Christmas “chart” shows, some catching-up and last weeks Beefheart tribute, I realised that I had been neglecting the recommendations of my good friend Farley – erstwhile randonneur and campanologist – who forwards me regular recommendations from his record collection to play on the show. I’ve also been deluged with lots of new music during January from both unsigned and signed bands so i’ve been trying to pick out tracks that would fit well together aurally in the show. I have to thank Tony Thornborough, Stephen Doyle, Monty, Stu Currie, Eddy Mann and Ian Rothwell – fellow DJs at Salford City Radio fior playing the tunes I do not have time to play. Thanks also to Eddie and Gemma Legge for giving Tony the time to play unsigned acts on thier show on Friday afternoons.  As an instance I got a new single from Spencer Cloud and the Range Brothers the other week which for reasons which are to complicated to go into I could not fit into my show so the wonderful chaps at the Nine O’Clock Alliance at SCR have been playing it. And very good it is to! It’s called “Hypnotise” and shows a rawer side of the band’s work – pure rock and roll! I’ll be playing that in a couple of weeks.

Anyway I digress – lets talk about this weeks show. I kick off with a couple of local unsigned bands in Guile and Skankadelia. I’ve been blown away by the quality and variety of material that has been zapped into my in-box via the ethernet in the last four weeks and the two opening tracks exemplify that perfectly. On the show I mistakenly describe Guile as local. They are in fact from Cannock, which is some miles away from Greater Mancunia, but given they’ve played FAC251 in town then I guess we can display some degree of local affiliation. You can read more about them on thier My Space page.

However I can confirm that Skankadelia are “local” in that they all went to Salford University – although like Guile there is a Midlands link to Leicester. The band are getting a bit of a reputation around our radio station and our boss Roland Gent is aiming to get them in for an interview. I am rather fond of their wonderfully upbeat music. Again you can check them our on My Space.

I decided to fit four Farley fumbles into the show – both in order to catch up but also because I felt his next four selections in the pile fitted together well sonically. I’d played “How he wrote Elastica Man” before some time ago. It’s by Elastica featuring Mark E.Smith and friend of the show Julia Adamson, played a big part in the tunes construction. After that another ex-Fall man features in his band Marc Riley and the Creepers.

Next up is Rose Kemp from her new album “The Golden Shroud” which is reviewed elsewhere on this blog. Her marriage of folk and metal is pretty unique and deserves wider attention. The new album from Disappears got a bit of a grumpy review in a recent edition of the Wire but I think it’s rather good as exemplified by the title track. Another local artist is multi-instrumentalst James Hill who goes under the name of Bikini Test Failure. His second album “Fleecing the easily pleased” is reviewed elsewhere on this blog and opening track “Yes we are having a good time now” is a stunner.

Back to Farley for two more tracks – first up the brainchild of singer/guitarist Kevin Barnes, Of Montreal was one of the second wave of bands to emerge from the sprawling Elephant 6 collective. The band’s proclivity for lengthy track and album titles is clearly evidenced by this selection.  The final Farley for this show is the eclectic Penguin Cafe Orchestra from the “Year of the Dog” soundtrack.

At the request of Stephen Doyle my fellow DJ at Salford City Radio i’ve dipped into my extensive King Crimson collection and selected a classic piece of prog rock from the band’s first album. The impressive playing of this band and the stylistic changes from prog to rock to jazz is stunning.

A couple of unsigned bands forwarded tracks recently. Warrington’s Bill Davro have a fresh new sound and more details of the band can be checked out here.  And to prove Salford City Radio is getting an international reputation for playing new music Norwegians John Snow submitted some tracks recently – more details about them here.

To finish the show something via my chum The Great Gibbo who pointed out that the new Steve Wynn album was rather good. He has a new band called The Miracle 3 and the album “Northern Agression” is his best release in a while.

Listen to the show by clicking on the link below.