So let’s be clear from the outset, this is shameful nepotism of the highest order, but I can’t find anyone else willing to review it so I may as well take up the cudgels and have a go. Given I have a rather thorough inside perspective on this compilation, as I actually compiled it, I am in a position to be both honest and accurate, and perhaps somewhat effusive. If I am breaking some sort of record industry kayfabe by doing this so be it, but German Shepherd was set up to be doggedy (pun intended) independent, and to operate outside of the norms of the music biz, so in that spirit here goes.
Set up in February 2014 the label was originally intended as a vehicle for the work of co-owner Ian Moss, who had vast library of unreleased material he wanted to share with the world. Once word had got around about the endeavour other like minded souls expressed interest or were dragged into the inner circle of the label.
The manifesto is very simple, if the music that is offered to the label is sufficiently different and does not ape current trends and fads then it will probably find a home in the German Shepherd kennel.
21 months in and the chance to mark the milestone with some of the current and future artist on the label. Requests were sent out and a delightful pot-pourri of styles and genres emerged.
For German Shepherd virgins and, for those DJs who need accurate information(you know who you are), here’s a run down of all the tracks and the artists.
Loop-aznavour – theremin toting Loop, also a member of the remarkable Adventures of Salvador. offers a single from earlier in 2015, a remarkable distiller of styles and influences Loop is a captivating live performer and a consummate songwriter. From – Bury, Greater Manchester.
Pearl Divers ; the first band I ever “discovered” in radio land they have been through many line-up changes since 2009 but always centre around leader Carl Lingard. The tune on the album is a radical -reworking/second cousin to the bands “I Love The Music” – mixing Barryesque chords with a cold war soundscape one could, and should, argue that this would be a far better Bond theme than the odious one being used for the latest movie. The band are currently working on an album. From – Eccles/Irlam, Greater Manchester.
The Get – we love this band. They are great live, they write memorable songs, and they have a unique, sometimes unashamedly ramshackle sound. From – Bournemouth, Leigh on Sea etc, down south somewhere
Bouquet of Dead Crows – some folk will have been surprised about this band being on German Shepherd, one of aims is not to be complacent around what we are about, dealing with any preconceptions of our mode of operation by throwing a curve ball in every now and then. On first hearing, Bouquet of Dead Crows are conventional rockers, on deeper exploration the nuances emerge, from Toni Cooper’s excellent vocals, through the great rhythm section, to the multi-guitar talents of Neil Bruce. This is a band with a lot of depth. A single and cut from the new album “Of The Night” due out soon. From – Cambridge, east of Northampton.
Poppycock – working with Una Baines and her collective of musicians is always a pleasure and she offered up a live recording of the band from The Crescent in Salford. Recorded by Jim “Jedi” Watts, thus perpetuating the “every other musician you meet in Manc-land used to be in The Fall” myth this lovely tune first appeared on Una’s The Fates “Furia” album. From: Manchester.
Franco Bandini – the buzz about Franco’s recent release of the label “2014 was a bad year” is increasing daily. Perhaps slightly less dark than the tracks on the EP this offering is from the same sessions and indicates his ability to create an epic sound. We predict great things. From – Atherton/Manchester.
IKMRAO – the two label owners don’ t consider themselves to be musicians as such, they play with words and sounds and sometimes it comes out as music. Always making a point whenever they can this one has a much needed dig at the scenesters that hang around in clumps reeking of their own self-importance. From – Ashton Under Lyne/Eccles, Greater Manchester.
Captain Black – once a member of the aforementioned Pearl Divers and the main writer behind the much missed Positronik, Captain “Jeff” Black is adept at creating perfect pop tunes, and this is a sublime example. From : Swindon/Manchester
The Junta – it’s obligatory to say “aah yeah” or “shabba” at this point. Also once in Pearl Divers but now in Kit B, John “Monty” Montague brings an encyclopaedic knowledge of electronica into play for his tunes. Also a DJ on Salford City Radio Monty is a very busy chap. From : Salford, Greater Manchester.
Staggs – probably the most fascinating duo on the label in that they continually create tunes that both amaze and confound. Main vocal man Michael T Scott has a wonderfully acerbic outlook on the world at large. Music man Ridley is able re-invent well known sounds and turn them into something new. Staggs Disco is from one of their releases before they joined German Shepherd. Deserving of international acclaim I reckon. From – Newcastle Upon Tyne,
Passage of Time – sounds influenced by 1969 Miles Davis together with more contemporary electronic textures. The closest thing to jazz on the label. From – Eccles, Salford. Greater Manchester.
Ion-Morph with three albums of the man’s spoken word releases on the label it would have been remiss to exclude a performance. The featured tune is a reworking of an old song and a hearful paean to Manc-land. From – Ashton-Under-Lyne
Moff Skellington – a genius, an iconoclast and a dealer in optical creosote. Moff creates music which defies description other than to say it hangs precariously between The Residents, Tom Waits, Pere Ubu, The Fall and Hank Marvin. His wordplay is completely unique, the aural equivalent of Salvador Dali. As I may have said before, on many occasions, my crusade is to get him much more exposure and recognition. From – Abstercot
Rose Niland – we love Rose. She has a magical voice, she writes breathtaking tunes, and her words are memorable. Soulful, psychedelic and bluesy. From – Manchester
The Electric Cheese – captivating alternative rock with a unique sound. This trio is gaining a growing reputation as a must see live act. From their first EP with the label. From – Chorley, Lancashire
West Coast Sick Line – Dusty Moonan, another genius, a man who can write memorable songs. The band has recently undergone a line-up change and the track on the compilation is an indication of things to come perhaps, a more powerful more rock oriented sound. New album “Europee” is imminent i.e. when they get out of the pub. From – Deganwy, North Wales
Monkeys In Love – a special band, they have been with the label from the start, helping and supporting. The track on the album is, dare I say it, one of their best yet. A remarkable live act and a lovely bunch of people. From – Manchester.
Loop-aznavour – Ed’s Place
Pearl Divers – Smoking Gun
The Get – Say You Love Me
Bouquet of Dead Crows – Just A Little More
Poppycock – Ceaseless Effort
Franco Bandini – Side B
IKMRAO – Art
Captain Black – Lost All Sense
The Junta – Carnival 80
Staggs – Staggs Disco
Passage of Time – Round About Now
Ion-Morph – Manchester (Slight Return)
Moff Skellington – Potato Pickers
Rose Niland – 5 Times
The Electric Cheese – Gold Divers Under The Ice
West Coast Sick Line – Best Lost In Translation
Monkeys In Love – Installation Song #1
The album is a digital only release, is priced at £5, and all proceeds will go towards the Emmaus Homelessness Facility in Salford.
Ipecac Recordings are releasing Le Butcherettes‘ third album, A Raw Youth, this September.
Based in Guadalajara, Mexico, Le Butcherettes is the loud and vivacious brainchild of Teri Gender Bender (vocals and guitar), joined by drummer Chris Common (These Arms Are Snakes) and bassist Jamie Aaron. Last year’s Cry Is For The Flies LP (co-released with friend, collaborator and producer Omar Rodriguez-Lopez’s label Nadie Sound) was a superb collection of tracks featuring contributions from Henry Rollins and Shirley Manson.
“The focus of the album is the recurring conflict between minorities (the raw youths) and society: The oppressor and the oppressed,” explains Gender Bender. The band recorded the album at RLP Studios (The Morgue Portable Disaster Unit) in El Paso, Texas, with Omar Rodriguez Lopez once again on production duties, as he has done for both previous Le Butcherettes’ releases (2011’s Sin, Sin, Sin and the aforementioned Cry Is For The Flies). You’ll hopefully be able to hear tracks before the album’s release in the coming weeks, as well as news of their tour plans for both North America and Europe, and details of the heady mix of characters who came together to create A Raw Youth (including the legends that are Iggy Pop and John Frusciante).
James Rooney is a singer/songwriter based in Newcastle Upon Tyne. James’ audible creations sit firmly in the Indie Rock box and over the past decade, James has fronted several bands with highlights including airtime on Tom Robinson’s BBC 6 Mixtape, international radio play and touring across the UK. James is now exploring the experience of being a solo artist with “As You Do” set for release June 22nd 2015.
Formed in early 2013 by guitarist Mik Davis, drummer John Bradford and bassist Neil Short, Monster Jaw draw on over 20 years of touring and recording experience between them. A dynamic three-piece, the band have evolved rapidly from raw garage grunge sounds to a more sculpted, atmospheric style of chorus-driven alternative indie rock. Monster Jaw deliver a very tight, thrilling and often dark stage show, with memorable songs and poetic lyrics. Noted for their intense stage presence and delivery, they have a dedicated international and UK following. Two commercial releases in 2014 – June’s ‘Get A Tattoo’ EP and October’s ‘Losing All My Friends’ EP – both met with critical acclaim from UK press, not to mention airplay and circulation on hundreds of radio stations worldwide, including the BBC. In 2015 – the band released a new set of songs titled ‘Basement Sessions’. This is a project the band feel strongly is all about stripping things back to a pre-digital recording age, creating a warm, authentic sound by using a 25 year old Tascam chrome tape recorder. For this project MJ are currently studying the wonderful sounds and production skills of Steve Albini, Glyn Johns and Phil Spector. To add to their ever growing profile, MJ have played various major UK festivals, such as DV8 and Rebellion. They have also supported the following acts on their UK tours – Black Star Rider (Thin Lizzy), New Model Army, Stiff Little Fingers and Urban Voodoo Machine.
Agalloch bassist/Self Spiller mastermind, Jason W. Walton, has been creating surreal and otherworldly soundscapes for over twenty years. In the ’90s he began working under the name Nothing and released four full-length albums and various EPs and singles. He performed live as Nothing in the Midwest and the West Coast before retiring the name in 2003. Since then, Walton remained busy with other musical endeavours knowing that a return to ambient noise was imminent.
In the summer of 2013, he began the song writing process again by collecting field recordings from places he would visit. He captured the din of humanity on the down-town Portland streets, the rush of ocean waves in Southern California, and the mysteriously comforting monologues emanating from an AM radio. During mid-2014, he manipulated and processed these sounds into disturbingly haunting pieces which would become the basis of his soon-to-be released Mara seven-inch
Walton decided to thematically compose these songs around his struggle with sleep paralysis — a phenomenon in which a person, either falling asleep or awakening, temporarily experiences an inability to move, speak, and react. While creating these tracks he deprived himself of sleep and recounted his episodes of sleep paralysis within the two tracks contained in Mara. During episodes of sleep paralysis, he sometimes feels like he has some kind of spiritual connection or “visit” from lost loved ones.
Shortly after track one, “Alp,” was completed, Walton suddenly lost his stepfather. A few months later, shortly after track two, “Yakshi,” was finished, his dear friend and former Metal Maniacs editor, Katherine Ludwig, passed away. Although these two songs are not about these people, they are dedicated to them making this an intensely personal work.
Mara was recorded at Earth in Sound Studios Portland, Oregon with vocals on “Yakshi” performed by Tanner Anderson (Obsequiae, Celestiial) and recorded at HammerHeart Brewing Company Lino Lakes, Minnesota. Mara was mastered by James Plotkin (OLD, Scorn, Khanate, Khlyst) with design and Layout by Agalloch’s John Haughm. Mara will be unleashed on June 21st, 2015 via Red Orchard Records on limited edition (300) seven-inch black vinyl housed in a deluxe black arigato sleeve featuring silver debossed artwork. Preorders available through http://www.redorchardrecords.com. Each copy comes with a free download code.
Pittsburgh-based cult doom/death collective, Derketa – featuring alumni from Novembers Doom, Penance, Demonomacy, Cattle Decapitation and more — reissue their In Death We Meet full-length via Ibex Moon later this month.
In Death We Meet was initially mixed and mastered by Rickey Budway and released independently in 2012. Remixed by Grave’s Ola Lindgren at Studio Soulless, In Death We Meet redux includes bonus track, “Darkness Fades Life,” a cover of Sepultura’s “Troops Of Doom,” (both recorded and mixed by Matt Schor at The War Room) and thrusts forth a sound that sits at the very apex of devouring, coffin-toned grimness. “This is by far the heaviest sounding recording that Derketa has ever done,” the band asserts. “The sound is massive, the harmonies and drum tones are enhanced… it’s absolutely crushing.”
In Death We Meet is released on CD via Ibex Moon Records with a wax edition featuring four additional live tracks to surface November 6th, 2015. Followers of Winter, early-era My Dying Bride and Paradise Lost and true old school brutality, should apply.
In a similar vein to the above Italian blackened hardcore/metal outfit, The Clearing Path , has completed its debut full-length album, Watershed Between Earth And Firmament, and is finalizing the details for its release this July.
Born from the ashes of ThySolace, the bands sole creator, one Gabriele Gramaglia, took the black metal and hardcore influences of that act into drastically more conceptual directions, in a more ambitious delivery, thriving on the influence of abstract hardcore/punk acts in the vein of Converge, Traged and His Hero Is Gone, and atmospheric/experimental black metal, citing the likes of Blut Aus Nord, Enslaved, Deathspell and Omega. Fully written, executed, recorded and mixed by Gramaglia, the first recording Watershed Between Earth And Firmament is a concept album about spiritual renaissance inspired by the beauty of mountainous landscapes of the Italian Alps north of the creator’s homeland . Mastered by Marco Gervasio and fitted with custom artwork painted by Luca Devinu/Blessend,Watershed Between Earth And Firmament is a dense, thirty-minute release sure to catch the attention of fans of Celeste, Castevet, Krallice, Eleven As In Adversaries and the like. The album will see independent release on July 11th, at first digitally, with physical versions to follow.
Universal Road is the recent album released by Robin Guthrie (Cocteau Twins) and Mark Gardener (Ride). Their former bands’ work ought to give hints as to where a collaboration between the pair might lead, but this remarkable new album has its own chemistry and is an unexpected treasure from these two well established artists. The pairing of Guthrie and Gardener might, at first glance, be expected to deliver a very particular brand of guitar-driven euphoria, however, Universal Road, defies expectations across ten tracks whose diversity is one of the album’s great strengths.
This is a most harmonious collaboration, at times affirming – ‘Yesterdays News’, exuberant – ‘Dice’, reflective – ‘Sometime’, striking – ‘Old Friend’ and quietly epic – ‘Blind’. Gardener’s vocals have rarely sounded better than they do on Universal Road, his layered harmonies are a particular highlight. Guthrie’s lush sound and alluring guitar arrangements and melodies are seamlessly interwoven throughout, deftly accentuating the emotional content of the songs. Effortlessly assured, poised and graceful, this is an album whose many charms unfold and reward over repeated listens.
At a time when fascination with the shoegaze movement of the late ‘80s and early ‘90s is enjoying a revival, whether it be through band reformations—including the reunion of Gardener’s former band Ride—or adulatory documentaries—2014’s Beautiful Noise—it can be easy to acquire a form of nostalgic tunnel vision. Guthrie and Gardener’s Universal Road takes a fresh direction.
Pines are a Manchester/Salford based alternative psychedelic pop band, and they say of themselves – “We want to write music that reflects the lives of ourselves and the people we know. The experiences and frustrations we share as we make our way through our lives. The things that never tire to amaze us as humans are infinitely more interesting to us than fads or topical critiques on individual political figures. I want to talk about life. Our lives, the lives of our friends, we want to talk about love, about disappointment, hope, friends, religion, death, creativity, the ‘search’. The search is important. Whatever you’re searching for, perpetual restlessness can define a person’s life, for better or for worse, that’s what is at the heart of it. We are all running. Running towards something, or away from something.”
The band was formed in late 2014 their first EP “Love Songs From Inside The Sun” is now available. Recorded in spare rooms using limited recording equipment and various different instruments/sound sources, this EP is the culmination of two years refining and building the sounds you hear below. The focus of the project has been to capture a true representation of the music that has inspired the group and the music that they want to hear.
The band are linked over to previously featured combo Moscow Transport sharing some members.
The drummer sent the link below. It’s powerful and punky “Dream Pop” from Manchester. The band is called Hannah – it kicks off with a belting track and continues in that vein.
Epic indie/dream pop with a punky brashness that is most compelling just about sums it up and it comes highly recommended from me.
Billy Vincent’s new album ‘Stand On Me’ hits the shelves on August 28th 2015.
Here’s the promo gubbins. ‘Stand On Me’ tells 12 tales, some taller than others, and some absolutely honest and true. At times it’s a heartbreaking, drunk in the blackness, fumbling for a lighter to burn your bridges record – but it’s as blindly optimistic as it is dark. Co-writers and singers Billy Barratt and David Vincent had this to say about the new album, its title, and the songs therein…
“We thought it important to choose a title that represents the bigger part of the songs on the record, and ‘Stand On Me’ is one of those reassuring statements that if you’re lucky, someone close to you might say to you when you feel like you’re out of options, letting you know you can lean on them and it’s all going to be alright”.
“A lot of these songs are about that, not letting people you care about crumble and disappear with the rain, it’s a positive thing and we wanted to embrace it”.
This album, however, is not soft or mushy – it’s as aggressive as it is sincere. It’s Americana, dragged through South London… kicking and screaming. Recently signed to Swiss label Deepdive Records, this hard hitting, country-tinged record stretches further afield than the debut album ‘She’.
Covering the UK, Switzerland, Germany and Austria, the band will support the release with tour dates in each region.
Lewisburg is the working moniker for London based singer-songwriter Ali Robertson.
Influenced by acts such as the Eels, Phosphorescent and Ryan Adams he began his musical project in the bars of Williamsburg, Brooklyn at the end of an 18 month around the world trip. Lewisburg subsequently gained radio coverage on LA station KCRW, from The Guardian’s Paul Lester on ‘Absolute’ and his debut single ‘El Celebro’ premiered on UK news and entertainment site Neon Nettle.
An independent artist, he co-produces his material with Olly Betts of ‘The Duke Spirit’ and ‘F.U.R.S’. His new single No Plateau is released next month and is available on all major download sites.
Horse Party formed in September 2012 when singing guitarists Ellie Langley and Seymour Quigley met drummer Shannon Hope at Seymour’s ‘Washing Machine’ clubnights in their hometown of Bury St Edmunds. Inspired by East Anglia’s quietly thriving DIY scene. The trio released a string of singles and EPs on their own Pure Deadly imprint. Summer 2014’s debut album ‘Cover Your Eyes’ saw critical acclaim and airplay.
Horse Party’s new single ‘What I’d Do’will be released as a free download (via http://www.horsepartyparty.co.uk) on Friday 26th June 2015. The band will be cruising around the UK in a battered van throughout the Summer; live dates include supports with Slaves, Levellers and Basement Jaxx.
Emerging from the notorious melting pot of musical talent of Southend on Sea that was home to Danielle Dax, Scroobius Pip, Procol Harum and many more are Apachelux.
A meeting of the minds between Jay Wigmore and Louisa Strachan. Both hailing from the Nirvana generation, long-term stalwart indie drummer Jay met singer/songwriter Louisa at Southend’s Village Green festival last year.
With influences as diverse as Maya Jane Coles to Royal Blood, War on Drugs to Roisin Murphy, Girls Aloud to Smashing Pumpkins, Apachelux’s genre-straddling sound is bound up to a mission of creating ‘dancefloor moments’…that euphoric feeling that makes you grin, jump, maybe even fall in love.
This Time is the debut single from Apachelux, a gorgeous slice of electronic pop music primed to create a dreamy slice of electronic pop, consciously coupling Louisa’s tough but plaintive vocal and Jay’s bittersweet analogue melodies. Alongside the original are remixes from wunderkind Larkebird with a disco-infused house rework that bumps in all the right places; and Spatial Awareness, with a moody, minimal remix for the late night floors.
The latest release from German Shepherd features lavbel stalwarts Ion Morph & Passage of Time in their first collaboration. The four track EP combines musical influences like John Barry, Kraftwerk, Steve Reich, Tim Blake and Giorgio Moroder to create a mystical and magical soundscape. It’s called The Osterburg Variations.
Bourbon Street Beat‘s new single ‘Crossing On a Bend‘ and b-side ‘She’s His Woman’ showcase their signature sound perfectly.
Inspired by bands such as Creedence Clearwater Revival, The Band, The Rolling Stones and The Beatles, as well as Rock’n’Roll legends like Elvis, Buddy Holly and Johnny Cash, each of these influences are apparent in technique and style yet reinterpreted to give Bourbon Street Beat an indie edge.
Iain Hammond (vocals and guitar), Joe Morrison-Hay (bass) and Andy Mackenzie (drums) met at university and formed the band in 2012. Their last EP ‘Knuckles of Brass’ earned them a strong following in Manchester with this release set to spread the word even further.
‘Crossing on a Bend’ was recorded at Blueprint Studios in Salford, engineered by Tim Thomas and mastered by Gary Hadfield.