Aural Delights – 9th February 2011

This show balances newer signed material with unsigned and attempts to be as varied as possible. The music out there at the moment is a broad church and this should be reflected in the programming of the show.

Social Distortion – they have been around since 1978 and since then have been through any number of line-up changes. Hard Times and Nursery Rhymes is their 8th album.  Essentially it’s American “punk” i.e. a raw garage version of traditional rock and roll.

What?Noise – Tim Harris, Julia Adamson and Chris Nagle developed a fresh dance oriented sound in the late 80s/early 90s. The “Nuance” EP released recently delivers previously unreleased material. Reviewed elsewhere on this blog.

The Happy Soul – as reviewed elsewhere on this blog – the lyrical acoustic bluesy sounds of this artist are well worth a listen.

Sey Hollo – hails from northern Sweden and  is the solo-project of Sebastian Larsson. The music is post-rock played on “rusty guitars and organs”. The new EP is out now.

Fire Suave – a mix of alternative country, acoustic and indie rock, from the 2008 album “Sand Fastened”

Apparently We Fly – an unsigned “post hardcore” band from Derbyshire.

Robin James – born in London, December 1980, with Romany Gypsy and Argentinean roots.  His fragile, yet powerful, voice, and carefully crafted lyrics, evoke early Nick Drake.

Psycho Charger – a NYC trio with drum machine  offering up an interesting mix of styles, a blend of the Cramps and Reverend Horton Heat. From their most recent album “Mark of the Psycho”.

Spencer Cloud and the Range Brothers – a new single from one of my favourite bands of last year.

GlassHeads – unsigned band from Wigan with a new tune

Andy Hay – unsigned singer songwriter who I played on last weeks show

Seven Deadly Sins – scottish band who are well worth checking out – nice sound!

Glass Ankle – excellent Manchester band with a keen sense of melody.

Trevor Sensitive and the Locals – from the new album “Sensitive” the ever reliable and utterly groovy Birmingham style icons.

You can listen to the show through the link below

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january 2011 overview

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

psychedelic breakfast

This is rather good.

Fantastic in fact.

After the Range Brothers – Jim and Mark – had concluded their tenure in “The Snarls” they rang Spencer Birtwistle – who had coincidentally left “The Blimp” and then recruited bassist Mike Cloud to create a new band. A combination of Spencer’s garage and recording whizz Nick Warren’s house was the  studio and with a great selection of songs they have put together a wonderful album. They have been together for about a year and the developing chemistry of the band is evident.

 

There is a mix of hard driving soul-rock, elegaic country-rock, psychedelia, raw blues and pure south-Manc melody.  Nick Warren was clear that the recording concentrated on the getting vocals as a key part of the sound, and the voices are great, but that should deflect from the great musicianship – which starts with Spen’s trademark busy drum sound and a solid bass delivery from Cloud and is completed with the interlocking guitars of the brothers.

 

On the one hand you have quiet reflective melodies, and on the other mid-tempo soulful workouts like the memorable “On my mind again” with a great beat from Spen and surging guitar underpinning a great vocal , and beside that fast paced and well constructed tunes like “National Disaster”, and soaring anthems like “Where did all the people go?”

The influences on this music are pretty apparent with clear nods to some of the key bands of the last 50 years but there is a fresh approach here which derives from the well crafted songs – the beautiful “Stars Fall” is a case in point, with its haunting melody busy rhythms and spacey psychedelic guitars. Mike Cloud’s “Strong As You” is immense,

echoing Buffalo Springfield at their most melodic, but also encapsulating the drama of a Springsteen epic. Jim Range’s treatment of the blues standard “The Train Song” is replete with harp, a distressed blues guitar sound to die for, and a sound that conjurs up the tumbleweed blowing over a dusty desert highway.

Even Nick’s dog – Bert – gets in on the act on the pop-tastic  ”Time to Time”, and “Stars Fall” gets a spacy remix as the closing unlisted hidden track at the conclusion of the disc.

The album’s opener “White Stag” is a stunner and sets the bar for what’s to follow. The band’s signature sound of melody combined with a strong rock sound is instantly memorable.

You won’t waste your time if you set aside some time to listen to this album……14 great tracks and not a dodgy one among them!

They play Salford Music Festival on 10th & 12th September and support The Fall on the latter gig.

Copies of the album  and gig details  can be sourced from the band via their My-Space page:

http://www.myspace.com/spencercloudrangebrothers

or you can get it direct from CD baby

cdbaby.com/cd/scloudrangebros

and you can also get it from Amazon

 

 

album of the year 2010……

Always a difficult choice, made even more so difficult this year by the veritable cavalcade of excellent albums released in the general locality of where I reside so in order to fit it all into a 60 minute radio show I opted for concentration on the local stuff, with a couple of notable exceptions.  I make no apologies for focusing on Salford and Greater Mancunia artists as I honestly believe there is some excellent music being made around these parts at the moment.

This is the first of five shows over the Christmas period which will select best albums, single/ep/demo, gigs, session and finally band/artist of the year

So what got left out? – well I thought I’d compile a sort of list of the top 50 ones that have either made it onto shows, or have proved pleasurable listening. What’s been somewhat difficult has been a rush of excellent releases towards the latter end of the year and there are still four weeks of 2010 to go so perhaps I should have done this in January – never mind, what’s done is done. So this is the best of rest. The order and the numbering is pretty arbritrary and I’m pretty sure i’ve left out something which I really like but hey-ho it’s just a bit of fun. More importantly I think is the anticipated arrival of the new Amplifier album which sounds very promising indeed.

I have to thank my partners in radio Mr Montgomery, Mr Doyle, Mr Thornborough, Mr Coupe and Ms Zenner for sharing some excellent music with me throughout 2010 and a special “oi up me duck” to the Great Gibbo without whose diligent exploration of new music I would be less knowledgeable than I am.

Disappointments were the new Elvis Costello – which I thought was a little predictible and frankly lazy….and Darker My Love who I think lost the plot somewhat. There were a lot more vying to get on this list but I decided to go for a healthy mix of styles of genres which best reflected my listening. I’ve deliberately left out the more mainstream artists as they get enough column inches already – with the notable inclusion however of some of my particular passions in Mr Springsteen and Ms Newsom.

So in some sort of order here’s my favourites of the year 50 down to 14.

50. Bullets in Madison – We Became Your Family When You Died

49. Conductive Alliance – Water Glyphs

48. Amurekimuri – Amurekimuri

47. Deerhunter – Halycon Digest

46. Eleh – Location Momentum

45. Eluvium – Similes

44. Ty Segall – Melted

43. The Sadies – Cut Corners

42. The Unwinding Hours – The Unwinding Hours

41. The Spacious Mind – The Mind of a Brother

40. Midlake – The Courage of Others

39. Archie Bronson Outfit – Coconut

38. Amiina – Puzzle

37. Invisible Elephant – The Lights Go Out

36. Joanna Newsom – Have One On Me

35. Stars Make Shapes – These Mountains are Safe

34. Robin Hitchcock and the Venus Three – Propeller Time

33. Red Sparowes – The Fear is Excruciating but Therein Lies the Answer

32. Silver Mount Zion – Kollaps Tradioxionales

31. PVT – Church With No Magic

30. Killing Joke – Absolute Dissent

29. Bruce Springsteen – The Promise

28. Fang Island – Fang Island

27. AMM – Sounding Music

26. Martha Tilston – Lucy and the Wolves

25. Salem – King Night

24. Maserati – Pyramid of the Sun

23. Gazpacho – Missa Atropos

22. Hammock – Chasin’ After Shadows…Living With Ghosts

21. God is an Astronaut – Age of the Fifth Sun

20. Forest Swords – Dagger Paths

19. First Aid Kit – The Big Black and the Blue

18. ZX+ – +

17. The Strange Boys – Be Brave

16. Sakert! – Facit

15. 65daysofstatic – We Were Exploding Anyway

14. Chrome Hoof – Chrush Depth

So i’m down to the top 13 (this is the number of tracks that fits best in the show length – no other arcane reason than this…..)

13. Rob Jungklas – Mapping the Wreckage

I was blown away by the dirtier sound that Jungklas has continued to use since his return from a sabbatical away from the industry. This years album was full of down and dirty blues with some exceptional slide playing.

12. Day for Airstrikes – Into the Comet

Manchester’s post-rock heroes have been away for far too long and this release – which was extremely long in its gestation – finally emerged at various points in 2010 in various forms – they are stunning live and this album effectively captures their work in 2010.

11. Charlie Barnes – Geekk

I first saw Charlie at a Kin gig in late 2009 and was mightily impressed with his song-writing talents and great voice. He did a great session for me in 2010 and released his debut album which is packed with excellent songs.

10. Moff Skellington – Sperm Jingle Harvest

For a man who released four albums in 2010 its difficult to pick one out as a highlight so i’ve done it at random. The other three are equally as good. He is a true iconoclast and a really nice chap. He deserves a much wider audience.

9. Fall Fan Dave and the Lap Top Dancers – Mind Carved Canoe

Another unique and compelling artists. Someone whose music I have been listening to for a few years now and with this his first album delivered a fascinating set of tunes – diverse and challenging music.

8. AAAK – The Collection

After a long lay-off Ding and Paul brought back their pulsating E.B.M. Building Scape Beats back with great danceable tunes with a great industrial feel. A fantastic double CD which remakes their old tunes on disc one, and provides a great history of the early work of the band on disc two.

7. Dave Graney and the Lurid Yellow Mist – Supermodified

The high priest of cool remaking some older tunes in a new setting. Excellent and memorable song-writing and performing of the highest quality.

6. The Blue Orchids – Slum Cavern Jest

The re-release of the last Blue Orchids album which contains some memorable performances from Martin Bramah – in the absence of studio recordings from Factory Star this is an ample substitute. Martin’s reading of Fred Neil’s “Green Rocky Road” is a particular favourite.

5. The Jannocks – The Jannocks

An exceptional debut from a great band somewhat spoiled by their dissolution in the Autumn when singer Tom Warden emigrated to the Antipodes. Some amazing guitar work and a treatise on the use of feedback in rock!

4. Spencer Cloud and The Range Brothers – Spencer Cloud and The Range Brothers

Another great debut from a band which prides itself on great song-writing and strong vocal performances. Mostly recorded in a garage in Marple and a front room in Romiley this is a class album.

3. The Black Knights – Sickle Sell Saturday Night

A blistering first album from the Irlam duo – voodoo trash blues of the highest order with enough chutzpah to blow a hole in anyone’s ozone layer.

2. The Fall – Your Future Our Clutter

Another great album from the Bard of Prestwich who seems to be turning into a heavy metal fan – a wonderful collection of Fall riffs and repetition.

1. The Inflictors – The Inflictors

A stunning collection of fantastic songs from a band that are so tight they make the bottoms of aquatic fowls look like a wide expanse. One of the best debut albums i’ve ever heard. Stunning song-writing, three great guitarists and fantastic rhythm section. The most read review on this blog and album that demands your attention!

 

 

Band of the year 2010?

When I started the radio show (Reformation as it was then) back in 2009 I decided I would try and select one band each year which had caught my attention and I felt needed some exposure . At the time I had other things to fill my day so there was not the chance to absorb newer music – this year has proved different with a lot more material coming my way. With over 300 albums to take in, plus lots of gigs attended, it’s proved difficult to narrow things down to the 14 bands that made it on to the show for “Band of the Year”. Picking the top band was difficult, I sort of had in mind around October time who was going to get the “title” as it were, but there were one or two others who were making it difficult to settle the final order, the hard bit was  leaving out some of the great acts that were runners-up (for want of a better phrase). The solace is, I suppose, that some of them got played during the year, and I’ll be making a conscious effort in the first few shows of 2011 to catch up with some of the great albums which didn’t get anyairing, however that’s proving difficult, as there is already a pile of new demos which have been sent in which deserve some airplay.

What I found particularly puzzling during the year was the large amount of dross which purports to be “indie” music which seemed to captivate a lot of people. What I find irritating is that this material gets airplay to the detriment of genuinely talented artists out there. I was pondering on this the other day and I thought back to the early 1970s when I first started to listen to music properly, and it struck me that there is a definite parallel to those days where “safe” music is the stuff that is selling rather than more challenging and “interesting” music. What is clear is that there a lot more music available so the need for some sort of critical barometer is needed. The return of some sort of DIY Punk ethic which allows wider sharing of  good music is needed. The key problem is there is not a John Peel on the national stations who can act as a champion for these artists. The Nine O’Clock Alliance and Aural Delights at Salford City Radio will do it’s best to fill the great man’s shoes and bring you bands and artists which will challenge the existing moribund status quo.

I’ve posted a list of 50 albums that I liked the most during the year elsewhere on this blog a few weeks ago – that’s now horribly out of date as a number of other bands have been brought to my attention. Was it ever so, and I guess I will always be playing some sort of catch-up. I think, however, the music which has dominated this year has been the return of good garage rock, exciting new electronica, a surge of new psychedelia, and the maturing of post-rock into something more interesting.

Over the five weeks of Christmas Shows I’ve tried to play bands which I wouldn’t have time to get into the final best bands show and I have to give a special mention to Borland who I would have definately played had not their tracks have an average length exceeding 8 minutes which would eat far too much into at 60 minute show – in any event they got a good ten minute airing at the end of last weeks show. Rob and Ian constantly amaze me with the variety of sounds and textures they tease out of Fruity Loops 9 and I look forward to new material from them in 2011.

It was disappointing to see the break up of The Jannocks and the Planets – two great local bands – but other bands have emerged from the remains of those two great bands and you can expect to hear music from them on my show in the new year.

The top 14 sort of picked itself in the end as it was those bands who I found it impossible to leave out. So in the order of being played on the show my artists of the year for 2010 were

Charlie Barnes – Charlie did a great session for me, released his album, and guested on the new Amplifier album (more of which elsewhere). I hope he gets the recognition he deserves in the coming year. His album is called Geekk and is highly recommend.

Craig Scanlon – When Moet of Sicknurse told me he was going into the studio with Craig (the legendary guitarist from The Fall) I nearly fell over – many Fall fans were convinced Craig would never return to the music business and it was great to see him back again. I understand more material is being recorded but we were lucky to get three early rough demos of the material is compiling.

Trevor Sensitive and the Locals – at long last Trevor has started to produce material which he has long promised and his askance look at indie rock (with it’s smatterings of black country metal) and gentle irony provides a welcome respite. An album is due soon and I think he has promised to do a session for me.

Pearl Divers – last years best band had a turbulent year with a number of line-up changes and a strong change in direction. A fledgling EP is slowly making its way through the ether to us. This is a band that I saw a lot of last year and I hope to see more of them during 2011.

The Fall – remain the most important band ever for me and they had a great year, with a fantastic new album. With their most stable line-up ever the group goes from strength to strength.

The Black Knights – one of the most exciting live bands I have ever seen – Gary and Tom’s particular interpretation of the blues is both refreshing and compelling.

Mr. Heart – an exciting trio with a great sound – and the bass player also features later on….

Kristin Hersh – like The Fall I class Kristin as an essential artist. She has dominated my listening this year with her great songs. Check out the new Throwing Muses album.

AAAK – gig of the year, reunion of the year, and another duo which defies logic by making a hell of a noise.

Spencer Cloud and The Range Brothers – an exceptional debut album and great song-writing make this band a must listen.

Monster Island – a fantastic new EP called the Green Room and an approach to music which defies the conventional. Lyrically brilliant and unique.

Fall Fan Dave and the Lap Top Dancers – a great year for Dave and Ian with a fantastic debut album, and then a marvellous EP. Also a great couple of session tracks for the show.

The Inflictors – without doubt album of the year, and pretty damn close to live act, and band of the year. A fantastic band.

and Band of the Year

 

Kin – fantastic live, great musicians who are locked into a mesmerising groove, brilliant song-writing and a totally modern approach to music. Probably the best rhythm section round these parts in Howard and Ding, great sounds emerging from Jonn’s tangle of wires and machines, and a front woman who has a simply amazing voice and plays a mean guitar.  Saw them twice last year and they are simply amazing. Album due soon and if the demo tracks are any sort of indication of the content then it will be incredible.

Click on the link below to listen to the music…….

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