The Cabin Girls were… accommodating

m.t. scott’s Austeresque tale of a failed lion tamer, who becomes a Punch and Judy man on the Titanic, dominates a six track release from German Shepherd Records,   Scott, of Staggs and then solo work fame, has created another musical play  which describes some sort of journey between apparent failure and unexpected redemption, and a lucky escape.

A sideways trip to Hamlet (the play) country, and a tales of suburban life and holidays in Scotland , is couched in an orchestral soundscape which incorporates a variety of fascinating sounds and musical motifs.

I find him to be completely unique and rather fascinating….

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The Best of 2016 #3 – Singles and EPs

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

and the top three

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

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

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

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

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Are you sitting comfortably?

Michael, known for the purposes of this exercise, as m.t.scott, has been sending me the developing elements of this release for many months. Therefore I am well versed in the process that has led to a simply marvellous 22 minutes of thought-provoking and enjoyable music. Those who know and love Staggs will recognise the voice, the acerbic tone, the sardonic wit, the world weary observations of the minutiae of day to day existence. “13 Queer Street” moves inexorably on from “The Broken EP” taking hints and directions from that also excellent piece of work, and building to a modern masterpiece.

There are six songs, all different, but conversely all couched in an overarching atmospheric patina which suggests a post-war living room with a bakelite wireless, or black & white TV,  and the smell of steak & kidney pie and jam sponge & custard a mere breath away. Things are constrained, almost claustrophobic at times, and at the same time stretch to places only promised in the previous release. Whether it be gangsters, a girl in gabardine mac and a head-scarf, distorted crooners, snippets of found sound, a distant saxophone, guitars with lengthy sustain, or brittle string parts, there are so many different and interesting things to listen to here that you find yourself playing the EP on a constant loop.

Scott builds layers of sound to create cinematic experiences, each song a vignette, a short story, but  suggesting a much wider, deeper and more complex tale. The tour de force is the impressive “Touched By A Leper” which comes close to previous subject matter, and  is blessed by restrained saxophone, and understated guitar, together with a memorable set of words. Equally as good is the plaintive “Six Feet Deep” a closing track that begs a follow up release as soon as possible.

Some of the themes and concepts hinted at in Staggs releases come to the fore here, demonstrating Scott’s genius at creating musical constructs. They are more than songs, they are stories, a glimpse of an alternative world, a treasured paperback book which brings back childhood memories, a look through a fractured piece of glass into a different place.

Comparisons are impossible, this is unique. But there is a sense of the shock of the new when hearing Tuxedomoon’s early albums, a taste of Brechtian opera, the word play of Robert Ashley, sunday afternoon kitchen sink dramas on BBC Radio in the early 60s, and post-punk experimentation.

Released on German Shepherd Records on Friday 2nd December, this is one of my highlights of the year.

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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.

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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.