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

Salford Music Festival 2016

Dear reader it’s that time again, the last week in September, when I wax lyrical about the utterly wonderful Salford Music Festival. . Now in its’ seventh year this grass roots, no nonsense event, is part of the musical life blood of the city in which I live. Often overshadowed, in entertainment terms at least, by our noisy neighbours in Manchester, this Festival plays a big part in redressing that imbalance and puts Salford firmly on the map, where it deserves to be.

The difference between any other festival that you might care to join in on is that it is absolutely free for punters, no wristbands, no overpriced beer or food, and no tents. Ed Blaney’s desire for the events to be free is a key driver for the popularity and success of the three day celebration of music. And the added benefit is there isn’t a tribute band in sight.

The Festival has been stripped back to three days this year, Thursday 29th September to Saturday October 1st, and centres around the Chapel Street/Blackfriars area close to Manchester City Centre, and the peoples republic of Eccles and the delightful village of Monton, just five minutes up the road from where I happen to live. This more compact and focused approach makes this years Festival feel more important and vibrant than ever.

And of course I have a direct interest in that I am looking after two nights at the Eagle Inn – Friday and Saturday.

So what can you expect?  Well all the gigs are listed on the Salford Music Festival website so I encourage you to go there, but here are a few of my highlights from the three days……

THURSDAY

The ultra talented Tamsin Middleton (Mr Heart) has a solo show at The Crescent at 8:30pm followed by ded.pixel and The Kingdom

The excellent Salford Arms has Duke and the Darlings, Wintergreen and Crimsons

Bobby Peru close the night at the always  excellent Wangies in Eccles with support from The Comics and Sioux.

FRIDAY

The beautiful Sacred Trinity Church is the main stage for a headline concert featuring local big new things Cabbage, the excellent Blaney, Sound of Thieves and Jess Kemp

The Eagle Inn has the first of two German Shepherd Nights with The Junta, Bouquet of Dead Crows, The Scissors and Kit B.

Highly regard all female trio Liines play The Crescent.

SATURDAY

The second German Shepherd stage at the Eagle features Taser Puppets, Poppcock, JD Meatyard and West Coast Sick Line.

Highly regarded Death to the Strange play The Crescent.

A packed day at the Salford Arms sees seven acts on between 5pm and closing time.

Milton Keys duo The Rusty G’s play Wangies.

Y Key Operators with guest bassist John “The Junta” Montague play the Blue Bell in Monton.

Here are some examples of what to expect over the weekend. I hope to see you at the Eagle for what promises to be an excellent weekend.

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Fascinating Things : Issue 64

Straight into it this time around, there is just so much going on……………

Psychedelic dirt rock unit, Sonic Wolves,  which comprises current and past members of Ufomammut, The Hounds Of Hasselvander, Pentagram, and Rogue State,  release their debut full-length, “The End Comes”, on Taxi Driver Records in late July 2016. The eight-track offering follows the band’s first single, “He Said,” released as a limed edition seven-inch in conjunction with Record Store Day 2016.  Formed in Alessandria, Italy in 2012 by bassist Kayt Vigil (Rogue State, ex-The Hounds Of Hasselvander, ex-Pentagram) and drummer Vita (Ufomammut, Rogue State) initially under the name of “Tsutar”. In December 2014, the band recorded their first demo at Ampire Studio in Pistoia, Italy. At that time was Vigil on bass/vocals, Vita on drums and Stefano Tocci (Deaf Eyes, ex-Incoming Cerebral Overdrive) on guitars. By Spring of the following year, the eight-track “WolfWitch” was released and just a few months later, Paolo Melotto (ex-Psyconauts) joined  on lead guitar and vocals, followed by Diniz (Temple Of Dust, Mexican Chili Funeral Party) on rhythm guitar.

PROMO PHOTO 2

The sound of the band is a mix of heavy, gritty rock, with elements of metal and psychedelic influences. Here’s a taster of ‘He Said’ which was recorded and mixed by Stefano Tocci at Ampire Studio, Pistoia (Italy), and it’s a “radio edit” version. The extended track will be included in the upcoming full length. I’ll be featuring a track on the Sonic Attack  #168 on July 25th.

Boston-based thrashing hardcore punk band, Panzerbastard, release four new tracks on July 15th via their “MotörHeathen seven-inch”. Released by  PATAC Records, the new one follows a barrage of EP and split releases since their 2006 formation.

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“Here you go, motherfuckers,” says bassist/vocalist KPanzer of the seven-inch, “….the latest sonic assault on decency by the kings of motör-core. Forged in a dark, smelly, room in the deepest, darkest bowels of Boston, your intrepid, dirtbag heroes internalized three years of misfortune, betrayal, underachievement, and general disgust with the human race to puke forth the four slabs of sonic offal now known as MotörHeathen. We are the bastard sons of Motörhead, Discharge, Venom, and Cro-Mags, on a mission to ruin your life.” There you go….and very good it is too.  A couple of tracks will be on Sonic Attack #167 on July 18th. I’ve nothing to embed from the new one so here’s the most recent release prior to this new one.

Conceived as a three-piece jamming out simple stoner blues rock heavily rooted in metal, The Company Corvette deliver wall of sound hard rock.  They have recently completed their third full-length recording, “Never Enough”, which is released on August 5th  It’s heavy riff-laden, psychedelically inclined, occasionally laid back, mostly loud, stoner rock with above average use of fuzz and wah. The band likes to think of their two earlier releases as “glorified demos”  with the new album being a huge step forward for the trio in virtually every department. I agree.

the company corvette live

There will be a couple of tracks from this release on Sonic Attack #180 on August 8th – pending that here’s a taster.

Sanford Parker is the well regarded producer and electronicist behind some of metal’s most exploratory outfits, breaking new territory in his work as a fixture of Buried At Sea, Minsk, Corrections House and Mirrors For Psychic Warfare, and featuring on and producing numerous records from respected names . His trademark atmospherics shift between the nuanced to the crushingly direct, including elements of industrial, cold-wave and power electronics to give bleak, brutalist clout to his work. Now, Parker is striking out on his own with “Lash Back”, a full length record of mechanical, dystopic, beat-driven menace. Due out on the My Proud Mountain label on July 22nd, Lash Back is a marked departure from his metal legacy, retaining some of the hallmarks of his impressive work to date but moving towards bands Perc, Youth Code and Pharmakon. It’s a most enjoyable listen with a lot of sonic variety. Sadly I have nothing I can share at this stage so you will have to wait until Sonic Attack #168 on July 25th.

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Two years in the making, The Night Watch release their second album, “Boundaries”, a single thirty-six-minute piece on July 15th. The Canadian progressive instrumental quartet features guitarist Nathanael Larochette and violinist Evan Runge of Musk Ox. Sonically it’s a close relation to early God Speed and Silver Mount Zion but with a busier string sound which comes out of Vivaldi via Klezmer. You can pre-order here and I will podcast a portion of the piece on Aural Delights #190.

Cover (large)

And to conclude in a shameless act of self-promotion for our record label here’s a list of July gigs for the turns we look after…..

  • 1st July –  Taser Puppets with Joiner [Germany] Gareth Icke  at Dublin Castle Camden , London
  • 2nd July – The Scissors play  Bar Hill Festival, Bar Hill, Cambridgeshire
  • 9th July – The Electric Cheese, West Coast Sick Line and Pearl Divers play Dulcimer, Chorlton
  • 14th July – Poppycock and Rose & The Diamond Hand play The Thirsty Scholar. Manchester
  • 15th July – The Junta plays Night and Day Cafe. Oldham Street, Manchester
  • 15th July – West Coast Sick Line and Poppycock play Aatma, Manchester with Bobbie Peru
  • 17th July – Bouquet of Dead Crows play an acoustic set at Corner House, Cambridge
  • 28th July – Kit B play The House Party at Kendal Calling
  • 30th July – The Scissors play Portland Arms, Cambridge with The Machismo’s and Moonstrips

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Manchester Rains Supreme

Kit B

Weird Water

German Shepherd Records

25th March 2016

With this new three-track EP Manchester band Kit B follow their well regarded “Be Your Own God” release from 2015 with a bit of a stunner.  This is their first outing with German Shepherd Records and is a digital only release.

Explaining the decision to join German Shepherd bassist John “Monty” Montague said “I’d say probably the same reason why I went with rhe label for my solo work with The Junta  …the community of like-minded musicians, it’s a great and varied collective, and it’s always great to bump into the GS roster at live gigs!”.

This new collection from Kit B demonstrates the usual mix of bright airy indie Manchester pop/rock with clever lyrics, a dark sub-text, and, as usual, great production techniques. You can tell they are from Manchester but they don’t sound like the usual raft of Manchester bands, they have a unique quality and approach, which is in the great tradition of the city.

Opener “Weird Water” demonstrates a desire to explore new structures starting with a jazzy drum beat, underlying a picked guitar with sprinklings of keyboard adding a bluesy counterpoint before the song moves into an tempo indie rocker with trademark bass from Monty, great keyboards from Mike Powell, and some interesting little production tricks.

Second up “It Always Rains” is pure Manchester pop, complete with melodica, jangling guitars and rich keyboards. Cusick juxtaposes strong and bright melodies with morose lyrics to create a perfect tension. Very atmospheric and the perfect soundtrack for the “Rainy City”.

Finally “Fabrik”, which feels like a coda to the preceding track, develops into a beautiful ballad, brittle, fragile and understated; which then changes up to a powerful driven piece of music. The maturity in the writing and the development of the band is brought into sharp focus.

Explaining the three tracks lead vocalist/guitarist Danny Cusick explains:

Weird Water – was a mantra chanted by a drunken friend of mine after copious amounts of Joseph Holts’ beer and the resulting aftermath of such outrageous behaviour.

It Always Rains –  is my anti Coronation Street rant, when the wail of the signature tune strikes up I slump into a “northern slate grey sky depression” and hope I live to see the street catch fire and disappear from our television screens forever.

Fabrik – which is the German translation of Factory, is really my attempt at a sea shanty, I’ve been recently reading the history of English pirates and Fabrik is the result.

Cusick also says of the EP  “When I write songs I don’t like a straight forward narrative and just try and give a flavour of the subject I’m trying to convey.”

With a couple of gigs planned for the Spring and Summer the band are well worth checking out – you can see them at the German Shepherd showcase at Dulcimer, Chorlton on May 15th and a Friday Night Slot at this years Kendal Calling Festival.

The band is

Danny Cusick – Guitar and Vocals,
Mike Powell – Keyboards,
John Montague – Bass, Melodica
Pete Slater – Drums

Current listening

Danny – I don’t tend to listen to a large amount of music, I listen in short bursts. I think if you binge listen in the end you miss the nuances and subtle ideas that may be hidden in the songs. The last tracks I listened to were,’Gentleman’ by Fela Kuti, ‘Williams Blood ‘ by Grace Jones and ‘Let it Rain ‘ by Tom Waits.

Mike – Gil Scott-Heron – Pieces of a Man, Walker Brother – Nite Flights, and for up to date stuff I am loving new Primal Scream single and the new Taser Puppets EP on German Shepherd.

John – Currently going through my Bowie phase and collecting his studio albums, new stuff I would say Cavern of Anti-Matter and Polica, both good albums.

Peter – Currently listening to Roots Manuva . Cavern of Anti Matter and revisiting Tago Mago by Can

Weird Water cover art

Fascinating Things : Issue 50

Aahh, 50 issues of things that fascinate, so how to mark this auspicious occasion? How about some new stuff  you probably don’t know about but you really ought to be aware of?

Number : One

Who? : Two Car Family

From?: Leeds

Notable Facts? : Includes Andy from Flies On You (although he has just announced he is stepping back from the band) and Mave from Chumbawamba

Sounds Like?: Epic grandeur indie with Nash & Young vocal harmonies

Number : Two

Who? : Saint Lawrence Verge

From? Modena

Notable Facts? : First international release by German Shepherd Records “Ashram” due soon…..

Sounds Like? Post-punk prog with a Morricone twist, lots of changes and dynamics

Number : Three

Who? : Kit B

From? : Manchester/Salford

Notable Facts?:  There are two DJs in the band. New EP out next week.

Sounds Like? : It comes from Manchester

Number : Four

Who? Mammifer

From? Seattle

Notable Facts? New album out on April 1st.

Sounds Like?: Minimal meanderings through a dreamscape. Tangerine Dream meets Sigur Ros at a shoegaze party.

Number : Five

Who? John Kaada and Mike Patton

From? : Stavanger and Eureka

Notable Facts? New album out on Ipecac on April 1st

Sounds Like?  Cinematic Horror Movie Soundtrack

Fascinating Things : Issue 42

Part two of this weeks rush of new material…..

Neurot Recordings have announced a full-length collaborative debut between apocalyptic doom duo, The Body, and grindcore/harsh noise outfit, Full Of Hell, this March. Fittingly titled “One Day You Will Ache Like I Ache”, the album includes eight new offerings along with two bonus tracks.

2015 was a busy year for SUNN O))). Following the recent release of  “Kannon” – their first full length album since 2009’s “Monoliths and Dimensions” – a series of European appearances, culminating in their curation of four days at Utrecht’s Le Guess Who? festival, news has emerged that their live album DØMKI RKE will be re-released 5th February 2016.

Kannon, in its earliest incarnation, was inspired from live compositions of SUNN O))); elements of which were present at DØMKIRKE. DØMKIRKE was recorded at the Bergen Cathedral in Bergen, Norway during the Borealis Festival in 2007. The four-song double album was initially released in September 2008 and is available on vinyl only, with one track featuring on each side of the records. This performance features intrinsic members of SUNN O)))’s line-up, including Attila Csihar (vocals), Tos Nieuwenhuizen (Moog), Lasse Marhaug (noise), Steve Moore (organ, trombone) with Greg Anderson (guitar) and Stephen O’Malley (guitar) vitally remaining at the centre of the SUNN O))) constellation.

Sunn 00000
Artwork by Tania Stene

The sixth Black Market Karma album “The Sixth Time Around” is now out and is very good……

Ritual Productions follow up their signing announcement of Helsinki’s primitive elementalists Horse Latitudes with the first insight into the sound of their forthcoming full-length, “Primal Gnosis”, by way of an album trailer. The Finnish four piece are known for their slow, primordial and powerful music, combining suffocating doom, black metal and hypnotic psychedelic repetition.

The near seven-minute trailer offers sonic snippets of three songs – ‘Incantation’, ‘Spirals’ and ‘New Dawn’. The dark ambient textures and solemn, sombre moods are cut with pummelling bass lines and howling. Very atmospheric.

Beauty Sleep, a new 3-piece from Belfast have been drawn to my attention. Born at a local house party, the three musicians bonded over spelling naughty words on a fridge magnet crossword. Made up of Ryan McGroarty, Cheylene Murphy and Aimee Williamson, the naughty words led to musical discussions that required further investigation, post-hangover. The hashtag says “dreampop”, and it’s one of those annoying ones that your forebrain says you shouldn’t be liking but your hindbrain says keep listening,

‘Facepunch Transport Layer’ sounds like a name Mark E.Smith would have come up with in around 1982 and is the appropriately-titled first single to see public release from Black Shape Of Nexus’ impending fourth LP, “Carrier”.  The best description is probably slightly unhinged, and rather flippin’ marvellous, a bit like Arthur Brown with a motorik bass line. Unfortunately it’s one of those occasions where Soundcloud hasn’t got an embed option but you can listen to it here. I recommend you do.

photo credit: Bernhard Hoell
photo credit: Bernhard Hoell

Conny Ochs‘ forthcoming third solo album, “Future Fables” – set for release in late February via Exile On Mainstream – has been trailed, Interesting stuff. Future Fables will see release through Exile On Mainstream on February 26th, 2016. Preorders have been made available through the label, on both CD and LP

Mamiffer (the duo of Faith Coloccia and Aaron Turner) forthcoming LP, “The World Unseen”, is officially confirmed for release via SIGE Records on 1st April. Here’s a snippet from the album, Ethereal and dreamy with a hint of GSYBE, Sadly no embed again  but have a gander here.

A few snippets of forthcoming releases from German Shepherd Records to close….

One half of Staggs, m.t. scott  has a new release.   Pending new Staggs material he has delved into his archive and enhanced a collection of excellent tunes which merge trip-hop, ambient, cinema soundtracks and sprinklings of guitar and piano. Blessed with the usual Scott world weary and sardonic narrative the songs capture a feel somewhere between Before and After Science era Eno, John Barry and european neo-realism.  Entitled “The Broken EP” it will be released on 19th February via Bandcamp and the  usual digital outlets.

Intelligent, emotional and thought-provoking this is one not to be missed for lovers of fine music.

Iron Mouse (formerly Ion-Morph) and Space Museum celebrate the next phase in their partnership with a five track EP “Treatments” released on February 12th. This is their first release under the new name.

The duo’s usual obsessions are in play with tunes about the treatment of mental patients, abusive patriarchs, religion, retro music and cover bands, and politics/duplicity, all wrapped up in layered post-rock electronica.

Here’s a video of lead track “Treatments”,

Salford/Manchester/Chester band Kit B will be releasing an EP  this year.  Featuring “The Junta” aka Monty on bass as well as other local music legends Danny Cusick (The Hidden Gem), Mike Powell (Exchange, Night Operations) and Peter Slater (Vee V V, Tunnelvision) the band deliver cutting edge Manchester indie and are gaining a growing reputation since their self-released EP “Be Your Own God” from 2015. It will feature this track “It Always Rains (On Sunday)”.

In the parallel universe where the folks who run German Shepherd live Moff Skellington is a national treasure, spoken of in the same hushed tones as such notables as Ivor Cutler, Vivian Stanshall, and Mr Fong who used to run the chinese chippy on Lower Broughton Road in Salford (probably the best Spring Rolls in the known universe). In the “normal” world he is steadfastly ignored by the great unwashed mass of Adele. Coldplay and Mumford fans. I firmly believe this must change . “Neither Whiff Nor Spoor” is Moff’s 28th album and continues the tradition of the blend of music, art and performance known as Eddodi. Bringing together such diverse influences as Pere Ubu, Tom Waits, The Fall, The Mothmen, and Captain Beefheart with his own particular form of traditional english music, Moff once again delivers a heady stew of words, sounds and emotions. Simply put there is no other artist in the world who is producing material like this. The subject matter is. as usual wide and varied, and very unique. Here is a preview track.

 

 

 

The Freedom To Choose

KIT B

Be Your Own God

Self Released

26th September 2015

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KIT B emerged a couple of years back from the dissolution of Manchester underground favourites The Hidden Gem, a band that deserved a lot more attention than it got.  KIT B ought get all the attention they deserve with this EP. The second self-release from the band,  introduces new drummer Peter Slater (who had a stint with John Peel favourites Blackpool’s Vee V V, who in turn emerged from Tunnelvision and the seaside punk scene), and delivers four new tunes plus two remixes (by the alter-egos of two of the bands’ members).

Debut EP  “This Picture” has just re-emerged on Bandcamp and I suggest you start there to familiarise yourself with their output.

This is high grade Manchester alternative popular music. Lead man Danny Cusick has demonstrated over the years that he can write excellent lyrics and melodies, there is literally a whole albums worth of unreleased material by the band that has not seen the light of day. That collection of tunes amply demonstrated the potential of the band. The new collection builds on that legacy and moves the band on as a writing and performing unit. All the songs are co-credited to the four band members.

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Opener Montezuma builds from bassist John Montague’s (The Junta, Pearl Divers, Positronik) riff and lyrically is Cusick’s homage to Lou Reed ,with clever references to the VU front-man’s output and history. Cusick’s vocal is his usual mix of tender and fractured instilling an emotional edge which requires repeat play. Keyboardist Mike Powell (Exchange, Night Operations) builds layers of synths to create a rich sound.

Title track Be Your Own God has a typical Cusick more-ish melody which is driven by a chunky Montague bass line and has some delicious break-downs and changes between verse and chorus. The song could go on a lot longer for me, it’s that good. In Peter Slater the band have an excellent drummer who has been able to take on the mammoth task of filling previous sticks-man Tony Ashworth’s shoes.

Vicious Circle, probably the best song on the release to these ears comes across tonally a bit like “Shoulder Pads” by the Fall with it’s staccato keyboard line but develops it’s own identity with a developing melody and a motorik drive from Slater and Montague. For some reason I was also reminded of something from early Yes. (obligatory in-joke prog rock reference!) Again another great song which is over far too quickly.

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(It’s Gonna Be) Alright starts all techno and then morphs into pure pop out of the Hulme massive. Heady nights in the Hacienda or The Ritz are called to mind. Montague’s bass delivers a pungent restless urgency to the song, Cusick teeters on the edge of emotional break-down with a bitter-sweet vocal.

Cusick says “Vicious circle and Alright have been knocking around for a while and a psychoanalyst would probably be able to explain the meaning of the songs more clearly than me. The title ‘Vicious Circle ‘ is the original title of ‘ in the Ghetto ‘ by Elvis, I’m a great fan.The lyric for ‘Alright’ came out in a stream of consciousness and took about 10 minutes to write.

The two remixes reflect the other “jobs” of Montague and Powell.  Monty adopts his Junta persona for techno rework of Vicious Circle, stripped down and stuffed with analogue squelches replacing his own bass line,  he brings a different dance oriented dynamic to the tune. Mike adopts his ambient Night Operations approach to recreate an electronica/dance focused feel to Alright with urgent beats and attention given to the bass and guitar lines, and then a move into OMD territory with a trip down the autobahn at some pace.

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I submitted a few questions via Facebook to the band in anticipation of the EP launch at Tiger Lounge, Cooper Street, Manchester on 26th September. I kicked off by asking, given the large amount of material in the band’s catalogue, why it had taken so long to come out and whether other releases are planned, and why a self release approach had been adopted?:

DC:  Two years to release four songs and a couple of remixes is quite good going for us. There are no plans for the album at the moment but we have new material that we are quite excited about so there maybe a vinyl single towards the new year. We decided not to hawk the ep around the record labels, wejust thought we’d go down a DIY route and not have to suffer the indignity of numerous ‘Dear John ‘ replies.

The EP’s striking cover comes from an idea Cusick had before he even wrote the title song.

DC: I just sent the brief over to a graphic designer I know from Dublin, Donogh  McLaverty, and he worked his magic and produced the great image.

The EP will be available in a an attractive faux-vinyl CD from the band at gigs from their website   and a digital version will be also be on-line in the near future.

The EP will be available to buy at the Tiger Lounge gig and as for other gigs Montague revealed that plans are being put together for an evening with Y-Key Operators and The Electric Cheese.

The support act for the Tiger Lounge gig is newish band The G-O-D which is a side project of Dub-Sex guitarist Chris Bridgett and features the legendary Manchester drummer Simon Wolstencroft (The Fall, Ian Brown).

I asked the band what music they were listening to at the moment.

DC: I’m just listening to a 1970s top of the pops album I bought for 50p from a charity shop,it has a version of PILs ‘death disco’ on it amongst others.Elton John played on a lot of these L.P’s before he got married and became a housewife.

PS: is listening to Lonelady. Slug , Sleaford Mods and The Membranes.

JM:  I’m liking the new Wolf Alive album, and shock horror Years & Years which I bought my wife. Quite good debut album,like it! (you can also hear Monty’s current faves on his radio show on Salford City Radio on Tuesday nights at 9pm).

MP: i’m  enjoying the new Jane Weaver and the Underworld album “A Hundred Days Off” at the moment (you can listen to Mike on Halton FM on Tuesday between 8 and 10pm)

A highly recommended EP and the band are well worth seeing live so don’t miss the gig at the Tiger Lounge.

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LINKS

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The Junta

Rarified Mixtures and Sad Farewells

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

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

Melvins New Album

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

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

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

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

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

Big Black Cloud

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

 

 

 

The Time of the Wolf

The first day of February.

The venue – the recently theatre style outfitted concert room of the Kings Arms, Salford. Which makes for an interesting arrangement for watching rockin’ (teen) combos.

The Cryin' Queerwolf
The Cryin’ Queerwolf

The occasion the second visit by the multi-faceted performer currently known as Cryin’ Queerwolf to Salford. This time a more relaxed, organised and altogether cohesive arrangement than the previous visit,  which resulted in some, shall we say, interesting events and reactions from locals. Those of you who regulary listen to either The Be Reet Radio Show, The Monty Show SD’s Sonic Diary on Salford City Radio – or indeed my podcasts – will be aware of an affiliation of artists around a loosely gathered thrust of what one might call alternative or independent (not indie) music. The bill of fayre for the evening reflects that collective with a well constructed evening of music set before us.

The gangs all here –  Tony and Steve are on the door, Moff and Mrs Moff have come over from Leeds, Matt and Susan from Factory Acts, the pair formerly known as Tingle in the Netherlands,  the still drummer-less Ascension, Joey Mutant, Shaun Maxwell,   Johann Kloos, Ding, Jeff Black, SD and many more. Due to necessary organisational arrangements within the Kill Pretty Empire I am somewhat busy and only have chance for quick hellos to some and no chance to speak to others. I’m also taking snaps tonight so I try to position myself in the most advantageous spot.

The Cryin’ Queerwolf starts the proceedings with the first of three numbers for the evening – elegantly attired with a set of heels that probably need planning permission, the ‘Wolf warms up the audience with Brechtian bravura and bonhomie.

Bruce and Gary of The Get
Bruce and Gary of The Get

First up are Southend on Sea  four piece The Get whose effortless charm, via ever smiling front man Bruce Gordon, wins over the audience. We get “Feral Beryl”, “You’ve Made Your Bed” and “Hit” as well as a number of their other inventive and memorable songs. Gordon, as I have said elsewhere, has a passing vocal resemblance to Jello Biafra and their brand of proto pop punk is passionately delivered. At one point in the set the Queerwolf and the shy and retiring Luis Drayton join the band for a performance of “You’ve Got To Wear A Dress”.  All in all a great set and well received.

In between the sets DJ Monty bring back his “New Order Disco” and pumps out some classic dance floor hits before grabbing his bass and joining Kit B on the main stage,

After a breathless performance of the Queerwolf classic “More Camp Than Kirk” from the ‘Wolf incarnate,  Kit B take the stage and deliver a fantastic set. The highlight for some audience members is the inclusion of the Hidden Gem classic “Loudest Silence In The World”. This is my third time of seeing the band and they improve each time and I remain convinced that Tony Ashworth is one of the best drummers I have seen in recent years. The band needs to do more gigs and get some exposure because they deserve some attention. Danny Cusick’s song craft continues to amaze and now he has a band that can deliver the material live.

Danny and Mike of Kit B
Danny and Mike of Kit B

The Queerwolf returns with his “wife” Tamsin for a delightfully camp delivery of the rascally “She’s My Beard” with some serious dance steps and twerking being delivered by both participants. Tamsin then peforms a short but memorable solo set. There’s a couple of songs I don’t recognise, but an emotional reading of “The Hide” and her use of live looping to create a virtual choir of Tamsin’s is very effective.

Tamsin
Tamsin

Topping bill are Kill Pretty. For this appearance the band have decided to shake things up a bit and Josh plays guitar and Chris bass – a reversal of roles. The fascinating and somewhat impressive thing is that not only does this  work as an experiment but it creates a whole new dynamic for the performance. We get a lot of the new album – “Super Soaraway Sun”, “Wild At Heart”, “Swastika Girls” and the first performance of “Burnley” as well as the staples of “13 Moons” and “Rob A Bank”. The band generates a ferocious energy and creates a memorable live experience. Discussions within the band at the moment reveal a desire to keep the performances fresh and challenging and they certainly managed that on this occasion.

Chris Dutton on bass for this show
Chris Dutton on bass for this show

So all in all an excellent evenings entertainment – congratulations to Fast Lane Steve for all the organisation behind the scenes. Let’s do it again soon!