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

Advertisements

Fascinating Things : Issue 69

After a busy week curating our German Shepherd showcase at the The Eagle in Salford, more of that later,  I now have time to concentrate on reviewing new music that has come my way over the next few days.

First up, over to America for Troup, based in Los Angles, but with a UK connection as the lead singer is from Wales and the drummer is from near Liverpool. They recently released the title track from their forthcoming EP, “Mercury and Gold”, which, with it’s classic melodic rock vibe is well worth a listen. This is quality stuff and leader Alex Troup has a unique quality to his vocals which sets the band apart from others in the genre. One to watch I think.

There’s a lot of lo-fi dream pop coming out of Northern Ireland at the moment. Some of it good, some of it not so. This is one of the better examples from Beauty Sleep

The first year of House of Mythology label continues to be a busy one with the impending release of The Stargazer’s Assistant new four-track  full-length album, Remoteness of Light, set for release on 26th August. The latest album reveals an expanded line-up for the group, featuring David J. Knight (Shock Headed Peters, UnicaZürn) on treated guitars and FX, Michael J. York (Coil, Cyclobe) on pipes, FX and field recordings along with the originator of The Stargazer’s Assistant, David J. Smith (Guapo, Cyclobe) on percussion and sampled atmospheres. Sadly the tracks are far to long for podcast play but I may attempt a radio edit so I can share the music,  Here’s a trailer for the album

New Model Army have  unveiled their official video single for ‘Winter’ and deliver news of their forthcoming album release of the same name. Returning with their first full studio album since their acclaimed “Between Dog and Wolf” kick-started a creative renaissance in 2013. This album saw the band receive the best critical response of their career and top 30 chart positions in UK and Germany, their first in over 20 years, while Matt Reid’s 2014 documentary feature film “Between Dog and Wolf: The New Model Army Story” drew further interest to this most unique of groups. “Winter” will be released on August 26th on the band’s own Attack Attack label via Red Essential in the UK and via earMUSIC worldwide. Formats include special bookpack CD, double gatefold vinyl, download and streaming.

Last Friday saw the latest in a series of showcases for German Shepherd Records at The Eagle in Salford. 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. Fortunately Rick Sarko was on hand to capture some of the night so I can share the vibe with you. The general feedback on the night was excellent with the Italians blowing people away with their ultra tight playing and epic performance. The showcase returns as part of Salford Music Festival on 30th September and 1st October again at The Eagle.

 

Fascinating Things : Issue 66

July already, where is the year going?

There’s some exciting things coming up over the next few months including a brand new Van Der Graaf Generator album which I have naturally pre-ordered and a raft of gigs associated with our little record label including a show case event at the Eagle in Salford on 12th August which will feature, all the way from Modena Italy, the sensational Saint Lawrence Verge , the debut of Ian “Moet” Moss’s new band Four Candles (who look very promising from rehearsal recordings) , from Cambridge an acoustic set from the exceptional Bouquet of Dead Crows, and the remarkable Poppycock  as headliners. The Italian boys will be travelling down to Cambridge the following day for a gig at the Corner House with the Dead Crows and a visit from The Junta. We also have a presence at The Eagle on the Saturday with an EP launch from Rose and the Diamond Hand  and a guest appearance from the very talented Alana Bondi.

Anyway enough of this manic self-publication here some new things that might pique your interest……

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez  of At The Drive In/Mars Volta fame is to release a series of solo albums via Ipecac Recordings, with the first release, Sworn Virgins, available digitally on July 15. The previously unreleased albums were recorded from 2008 to 2013, while Rodriguez-Lopez lived in Zapopan, Mexico and  El Paso. The titles will be released on a bi-weekly basis with the first spate of albums running through the end of the year. Each album will see a digital release with a limited number of physical copies (CD) available on Rodriguez-Lopez’s various live outings. Following the initial run of releases, a limited edition CD/LP box set will become available.

Photo credit : Robin Laananen

Pixies have  announced a new album, “Head Carrier” which is available for pre-order at http://www.pixiesmusic.com. ‘Head Carrier’ is released on September 30th, 2016, on
Limited Edition Box Set, Heavyweight Vinyl in Gatefold Sleeve, and CD Digipack.  They have also announced a new continental European tour for November 2016 with UK dates to be announced very soon. Here’s the single ‘Um Chagga Lagga’.

It appears that Indie is making a comeback, did it ever go away I ask myself. with the new single from Blush. It has all the intensity of The Wedding Present with a transatlantic vocal shtick which sticks in the mind.

Hovering somewhere between Ray Davies, Dylan and The Byrds Glasgow’s The Echo Session have a new single. ‘But I’m Scared’ out. It is a live studio recording from the Echo Session vaults, mastered by Dave Cook. The single will be available from all the usual digital outlets, including the Flowers in the Dustbin bandcamp store. It’s seven years since their last single apparently.

Having burst wild-eyed from the stalls of a buzzing monthly club residency in deepest Hackney and with a lot of interest for debut single ‘Shakin’ Like the Leaves on the Trees’, blues-tinged tearaways Mollys Daggers are gearing up for the release of their debut album “Prima Materia” alongside 2nd single ‘Zin-uru’. It kicks off sounding like Rory Gallagher, which is fine by me, and a welcome respite from the Mumford clones that litter my in-box of late. Expect to hear cuts from the album on Aural Delights Podcast over the next few weeks.

If my Tardis was working (sadly the temporal synchro-mesh is off line) I’d be hopping over to the Corner Hotel in Melbourne round about now to catch Dave Graney ‘n’ The Coral Snakes. I’ll have to make do with the excellent PBS radio session from a couple of days back which was stuffed with classic Snakes tunes like Warren Oates. I’m pleased to be able to share this video from the session. What a band!

Italian Adventures

Saint Lawrence Verge

Ashram

German Shepherd Records

a2848385287_16

Saint Lawrence Verge were formed in Modena, Italy, in 2012.

The first line-up of the band consisted of Hatsya (vocals, guitar, synths), Mart (guitar, synths) and Acrux (drums). The current line up was completed in 2014 with Nauthiz, who covers the bass guitar duties.

The band say “The key purpose of the Saint Lawrence Verge project is creating,  where that ‘Creation’ is conceived as an expression of our visions, lives and feelings.” 

The name of their first, self-produced,  album was “This Is The Way” and consisted of 8 tracks “drenched with an obscure, dreamlike mood” . It was recorded in 2013 and released in 2014.

In 2015 they recorded a promo named “The Ladder” consisting of two new tracks and including re-arranged versions of two songs previously featured on “This Is The Way”.

On 22nd April 2016, with the support and help of German Shepherd Records, Saint Lawrence Verge new full length will be released, entitled “Ashram”. This is the record labels first release by a band from outside the UK.

The band play what they describe as “trip-rock” which, in essence, combines a strong post-punk ethic, with elements of cinematic progressive styles, in the spirit of Italian composers such as Ennio Morricone, and the rich legacy of that countries rock output. As with most German Shepherd releases it is completely different from what has been released before by the label. The decision to release the album to some extent reflects the label owners love of early 70s prog like Van Der Graaf and Peter Hammill , cinema soundtracks and jazz.

32

From the bands promo……

“Ashram” is our sophomore effort, ten songs of trip rock recorded and mixed at Orion’s Lair and Inferno Studios, and then mastered at Sage Audio.

The “Ashram” is a community gathered for mystical purposes, and the album is an intermediate result of the spiritual research channeling through Saint Lawrence Verge.

The cover artwork represents the Roots, the Ladder and the Branches; we come from Cosmos, find ourselves here and rise the Ladder until we reach the Cosmos once again.

The first three songs of “Ashram” are about the Roots, or what lays behind us as historical origin (Wings of Oblivion), metaphysical origin (Nest of Lights) and genealogical origin (Equinox).

The Ladder – our present, visible and reachable existence – inspired the next four songs, each one treating a different type of awareness: Nature and Elements (Struggle Fundamentals), Animals (And in the Black, Them), Humans (Ivory of the Peaks), Means for Other Forces (Ashram).

The expression of this point of Saint Lawrence Verge’s journey is then completed by the last three songs, which are reflections, dreams and mystical abductions about the Branches, the threshold of the Unknown, the road onward (or backward?) to Cosmos. “Black Woods” is about our private and immediate future perspective, “Past Lives in One” is about the relation between Time and Life, while “Cursed Among the Furthest Lights” is a swirling, bleak possession of hostile and far dimensions.

“A call from above to our sleeping cells
to let us ascend out of trembling shells,
We rise from black dwells;
little more than corpses of higher spells,
sidereal currents will overwhelm us,
among the stars our bodies will be crushed.”

An interview with the band

25

Q. When was the band formed?

The nucleus of the band formed in 2012, composed of Hatsya & Mart. The following year Acrux joined the band, which in 2014 released “This Is The Way”, our first effort. Then, Nauthiz came in as bass player; “The Ladder EP” was recorded and released in 2015. Now, in 2016, it’s time for “Ashram” to see the light.

Q. Who is in the band and what instruments do they play?

The band is  Hatsya – vocals, guitars & synths – , Mart – guitars & synths, Nauthiz – bass – and Acrux – drums.

Q. Are any of the members of the band in any other groups. or have they played in other groups previously?

Hatsya was in Laetitia in Holocaust and is undertaking – at this very moment – a solo path. Nauthiz was also Laetitia in Holocaust, but has played in a variety of other bands, including Red Pill, Unbirth & Klosteret.

Q. What are your musical influences?

We all have a wide array of influences, but for this project we would mention: Death in June, And Also The Trees, 70s psychedelic rock, Comus, Ianva, Joy Division, Matt Elliott, Pink Floyd, Hexvessel.. but it could be an infinite list!

Q. The album is an interesting mix of styles? How would you describe your style/genre?

Mmh.. trip rock?

Q. I think I here some Sergio Leone/Ennio Morricone influences, is this correct?

An unconscious influence from Ennio Morricone is possible – Sergio Leone is one of the most loved directors in – and from – Italy, so it’s not so unlikely to hear some impact of the musical scores composed by the Maestro. Anyway, it’s really a flattering suggestion!

Q. What music by other bands/artists is each member of the band listening to at the moment?

Right now, for the most part our listening revolves around Hexvessel, Fabrizio de Andrè, Camel, Spite Extreme Wing, The Devil’s Blood, Hood, Directorsound & Nick Cave.

Q. What can you tell us about the music scene in Modena/Northern Italy?

The scene is quite dead, but some bands have survived: Demiurgon, Red Pill, Ataraxia, Jesus Ain’t in Poland, Grumo, Fata, Na Isna & J.T.R. Sickert are all groups from our area.

Q. Where can people find out more about the band?

Facebook 

SoundCloud 

You Tube 

The album can be pre-ordered now.

Fascinating Things : Issue 53

It’s that time of the year, between Winter and Spring, when things go a little quiet. A lot of what has been sent over to me in the last week or so hasn’t made the cut. There are one or two exceptions worth bringing to your attention.

Mr Graney and his mistLY will be over from Melbourne next week, he starts off north of the border and then makes his way down to this neck of the woods for a Marc Riley Session down at Salford Quays on 13th April and then an intimate gig at the Eagle in Salford on the 14th before heading west to the Welsh coast for what looks like a fascinating ATP curated by Stewart Lee. Places are limited to 75 for the Eagle Gig so North West Graney fans are advised to book tickets at the German Shepherd Merch Page. Dave is supported by local band Poppycock lead by Una Baines (ex Fall and Blue Orchids) and a solo set by new German Shepherd star Franco Bandini.

Dave is releasing a series of singles throughout the year the latest one is a bit special. As Dave says “It’s a kind of tribute to lousy gigs, jinxed rooms, bad nights bum crowds. Inspired in parts by a Willie Nelson track from early 2000’s called ‘I never came in here (and I ain’t leavin’)’. The tracks forms around a funky beat that Dave Graney cooked up and asked Clare Moore to drape a string of pearls over. (Over the cymbals- to get the right ambient sound) It follows February’s “I’m A Good Hater” and will be followed in turn by “I Been Trendy” in late April. The plan is to release a track each month. This Is the Deadest Place That I’ve Ever Died In is a “punk funk” stomper recorded at the Ponderosa by Graney and Moore. A video clip comprising a series of photographs by Barry C Douglas aka Barry takes Photos at a ghostly tourist haunt along the road between Adelaide and Melbourne is hear for your listening and watching pleasure.

The forthcoming album from Saint Lawrence Verge is trailed by the release of another track “Equinox” this week. The album will be available for pre-release on April 8th and I’ve an interview with the band to share with you next week. Pending that have a listen….

 

Here’s an exclusive clip of Hiatus Kaiyote rehearsing their track ‘The Lung’ from the album ‘Choose Your Weapon’ ahead of their UK tour this April. This will be the first time they have played this track live. They play live at O2 Ritz, Manchester on 27th April 2016, with support from Jordan Rakei. The show is promoted by Band on the Wall.

 

Baltimore-based Grimoire Records is preparing the upcoming third album by West Virginia stoner/noise metal trio Rhin for release in May, with “Passenger”. Following their well-received 2014-released Bastard LP, the new album  sees the band delivering just under thirty-four minutes of pummeling new riffery. I’ll be featuring it on the Sonic Attack podcast, however I haven’t got anything from the new album to share so here’s a track from the previous one to whet your appetite.

Stuart Dahlquist and Edgy59 are The Poisoned Glass, they release their debut album via Ritual Productions in April.  On “10 Swords”, intense industrial electronica merges with  unique vocal pyrotechnics to create a unique sound.  “The Poisoned Glass started with the song ‘Silent Vigil’, a twelve-tone progression Dahlquist had originally intended as a tonal bass solo. After experimenting, he felt that the resulting sound was heavier, more despondent and unforgiving than any of his existing projects and sent the rough mix to Edgy, who understood immediately that this music represented perfectly both voices as a unit. In spite of seemingly limiting instrumentation The Poisoned Glass is far from minimalist; ‘the atmosphere is bleak yet tonally dense, a virtual sonic attic-warm but without air, breathles.'”. Pretty intense stuff folks!

Scott Kelly (Neurosis) and producer/engineer/sonic warlord Sanford Parker (Buried At Sea) are a restless pair. This inquietude has culminated in another collaboration. The two work together in Corrections House, a project that also features the talents of Mike IX Williams of Eyehategod, and Bruce Lamont of Yakuza. While Corrections House seem hell-bent on impersonal bludgeon and unfettered terror, the pair’s latest project, Mirrors For Psychic Warfare by comparison – is far more restrained. It is released on April 22nd. It’s a great release, full of dark corners and brooding intensity, very atmospheric  Here is a live taster from last year. Watch out for it on the podcasts!

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 45

It seems inevitable that this will be the year of the Graney. he is over for a short UK (and then French) tour, including a little gig that Una Baines and I have put together at the Eagle in the heart of Salford in April. Dave’s been busy of late, including a new single (out today) recorded by himself and Clare at the Ponderosa. It’s Dave being witty, and ironic, and wonderfully laid back.  I’m still waiting for the second volume of Play Mistly For Me mind you.

Details of the aforementioned gig, which is limited to 75 tickets so if you want to catch Dave, Clare, Stu Thomas and former Josef K and Orange Juice guitarist Malcolm Ross i’d book early if I were you, are on the flier below. Get your tickets here

.dg eagele facebook

While listening to Dave’s radio show I was, as mentioned before, impressed by Jess Ribeiro, i’ve since invested in one of her Bone Collectors releases, which is more alt.country, and I will be sharing that in future weeks, but here is the stand out track from the most recent album recorded by Mick Harvey.

Talking of Mick Harvey, Dave and Clare posted a series of pictures of Mick, David McClymont and themselves working on a single with Georgio ‘the Dove’ Valentino. Intrigued I investigated Mr Valentino and was impressed by his output. If you track him down on the tax averse search engine you can get his excellent “Mille Plateaux” double album for free and also this offering from 2011, which has recently been repackaged

Away from matters Dave for a bit, now then, I’m a sucker for girls with guitars and drums making a lot of noise, and this lot caught my eye in a recent mail-out.  Of course they have been around for ages and I am, as usual, playing catch-up, They  a sister duo from Oklahoma made up of Kelli Mayo and Peyton Bighorse, formed in 2009 after a jam session at the girls’ Halloween party. They describe themselves as “like Babes in Toyland, Bikini Kill, Beat Happening, Regina Spektor, Kimya Dawson and Nirvana”. Skating Polly make a good noise and are worthy of further investigation.

I’ve just received the final mixes for the new KIt B EP which is will be out towards the end of March, called “Weird Water” it’s a remarkably good trio of songs, with the title track being particularly fine. Also arrived is the new West Coast Sick Line album called “Europee” which will certainly surprise some people. I reckon it’s better than Billinge in terms of song writing strength/maturity and variety of content. At the same time I was sent the debut album by Saint Lawrence Verge, called “Ashram”. They are a quartet from Modena in Northern Italy who play an interesting amalgam of post punk and progressive rock with strong cinematic elements. Here’s a live version of one of the album tracks, it’s not the highest fidelity, but you can get a good feel for the music. I guess we will surprise a few people with this release but Ian and I both agree it’s special.

Bubbling away for release is the debut single from The Sideshow which I have posted before but I am minded to include again as it deserves a lot of attention.