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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Manchester – so much more to be proud of…

Local music, you would be forgiven for thinking it was all about a band from Stockport at the moment, or Oasis/Stone Roses revivalism,  nothing could be further from the truth. There’s a fundamental inter-connectedness at such a local level of course, and there’s so much going on it’s hard to keep up. I’m talking about Greater Salford of course, or Manchester, as it known by the inky press or the BBC.

So let’s start with Salford, as I take you on a short musical tour of the conurbation. Back when I was doing the local radio stuff one of the first bands I chanced upon was called The Souls, indeed we facilitated the release of a collection of early  songs. They became Stalagmites of course and have a new EP out called “Between City & Cellar Door”. Brad Lynch has been a great hidden Salford treasure of a Salford songwriter for too long and hopefully this new four tune collection will get some of the much needed attention they deserve.  There’s a growing strength to the bands’ work and the songwriting is just as strong. I guess you could call it epic indie but Lynch’s tunes are always something a little more than that. You can grab it at:

Spotify: https://open.spotify.com/album/48sz58nJKAO63hyNynRaj6
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/…/between-city-cellar…/id1167317627

Here’s featured track Binary…..

And while I’m at it check out Brad’s excellent solo project “Bedroom Abyss” which comprises two tunes at the moment but promises a great deal more in the future.

North to Moston, and I reviewed the launch of the new EP from The Madding Crowd a couple of weeks back. It would be remiss of me not to mention the actual EP itself, the locally referenced “The 78th Bridge on the Rochdale Canal”. The connected thingy here of course is that the four song selected has been expertly produced and engineered by Sam Smith who appears on German Shepherd Records as Franco Bandini and The Parish Church Fire. The Madding Crowd have always had an epic sound, which bursts out of the North Manchester suburbs with a swagger and bravado, however Sam has moved it up to eleven with this set. The potty mouthed opener, which  will struggle to get day time radio play due to the Ofcom rules, sets the scene, but it’s the massive “January Begins” that hits you like a Roman Reigns spear and slaps you around a bit until you sink into it the sound. Impressive. Sav Patels drumming on “Sinking Low”is an impressive bedrock to a bluesy chunk of pop music with a field hollar chorus, meaty guitar, and silky bass from Claud Corry. Closer “Where’s The Glamour” offers another side of the band and gets props for mentioning Failsworth (an area in north Manchester), there’s an interesting structure which is a more defined “Madding Crowd” sound, which indicates an impressive development and future direction.

Down to south Manchester now and The Speed of Sound who have their debut album “Everything Changes” out now. The connection here is one of the two vocalists is Anne-Marie Crowley, who is also a member of Poppycock, who just happen to be on German Shepherd Records as well. A mammoth one hour sixteen minutes 20 song endeavour it took some time to absorb what is a fascinating collection. It is hard to find a neat little genre box to put this band into, which is always a good thing. They’ve been described as “atmospheric alternative rock” which is partially true but there’s a great deal more going on. The songs are lead by hooky guitar sounds which are both 60s and post-punk in their sound. John Armstrongs’ vocals have a an early Zimmerman edge to them, the lyrics are both rich and complex, and Anne Marie’s vocals add a haunting cinematic feel to the songs. Kevin Roache, bass, and Paul Worthington, drums, provide a sympathetic and driving rhythm section. Lucy Power, also of Poppycock, amongst other things, provides flute on “Little Miss Restless”. You’ll find a lot of good things here, and it’s great to hear Anne-Marie taking the lead role especially on the excellent “The Moment Is Now” which has a great pop feel and sounds like something Dusty Springfield would have sung in her pomp. The variety on this album is impressive, with nods to a Californian sound at times, especially the occasional snippets of Stills/Young guitar breaks,  This album has all of the elements of great Manchester pop as well, you will have to invest time in it, as it deserves to be listened to as a whole, but that time will be well spent. Quality stuff!

One that slipped through the net earlier in the year is the delightful collection from Parent who are essentially Jason Brown, who has of course been plying his trade with Brix and Extricated more recently, and Rachel Kern, who has a superb voice. Comparisons have to be made with Nick Drake in that it’s all about guitar and voice but there’s the superior use of cello, viola and violin which harks back to “Five Leaves Left” especially on the exceptional “You’re Not Broken”. A marvellous collection of acoustic treasures, and looking up their Facebook page it appears that a pile of my chums are already aware of them, I wonder why they didn’t share the information?

And finally east to the rural idyll of Glossop where my erstwhile colleague Mr Moss has been busy with his new band Four Candles and a debut album is in the can. I’ve heard it and it is rather special, but I can’t say any more at this stage or I’d have to ostracise myself. Keep your ears peeled for 2017 especially a gig at Fred’s Ale House in Levenshulme in January with Poppycock (them again) and Patchwork Rattlebag. To dangle a large carrot here’s a fine video from Rick Sarko which includes a number of German Shepherd alumni and features the heady delights of Oldham Street in the city centre.

Until the next time….

The Last New Music Show

I had the pleasure of standing in on the new music show on Salford City Radio for the last few weeks as I am leaving the station this week this is my last show……the music can be heard by following the links at Hour One and Hour Two below

The tunes played are

Hour One

  1. The Gin Circle – Just Watch Me (Reverbnation Artist Of The Week)
  2. Stalagmites – City Of Love (Local Artist Of The Week)
  3. Ninetails – Body Clock (Tip for the Top)
  4. Glass Heads – Derelict House
  5. This-Way Up – Disaster Street
  6. We Could Be Astronauts – Look Frank, It’s A Toaster!
  7. Electric Clowns – Yeah She Looks Alright
  8. Miss Lucid – Seduction of Solitude
  9. Dead Sea Souls – Trendsetter
  10. The  Gifted – Break
  11. Suzerain – Frenzy
  12. Limozine – Tokyo 1970
  13. Stalagmites – The Blue Rose
  1. Rapid Pig – To The Mountain
  2. This-Way Up – Animals
  3. Kotodama – Dichotomy
  4. We Could Be Astronauts – Astronaut Blue : Stop Including Me
  5. The Gin Circle  – Drink, Drugs & Prostitutes
  6. Ninetails – Rawdon Fever
  7. Maia – The Grandfather Plan
  8. Band of Skulls – You’re Not Pretty But You’ve Got It Going On……
  9. Mumiy Troll – Love Contraband
  10. Death to the Strange – Bandit
  11. Death to the Strange – Drink and the Devil
  12. The Outreach Project – Twisted Persona
  13. The Tapestry – Rode Your Luck
  14. Kill For Company – To Disappear
  15. Trojan Horse – When The Lights Go Down

Aural Delights Radio Show – 24th October 2012

Listen here

Featured on this show:

Salford Music Scene – 23rd October 2012

Listen here

Tunes played were:

Aural Delights Radio Show – 12th September 2012

On this show mostly new stuff…….stream here

1 Stalagmites The Blue Rose Demo
2 The Universal Leaky Boat Day In Day Out
3 Progress A Secret Everyone Knows Demo
4 At Dawn We Are Kings Anger and Faith Demo
5 My Little Brother Lovers of Life, Unite Single
6 My Shepherd Mouse Things Friends
7 Crying Queerwolf Mr Melty Head Single – Remix
8 Johann Kloos Meadow Demo
9 Moff Skellington Fish Gallon Plastic Eddodi
10 Greatwaves In the Blue Single
11 Right After Wrong Rainy Day Demo
12 My Shepherd Mouse I Am Not Inanimate Friends
13 Markus De Rawkus featuring Jason Carter Be Yourself Demo

Totalitarians Turns

It was raining.

The hard rain that usually fell on the city next to the rainy city.

I pulled my chinos up so the bottoms would not drag in the puddles, and shuffled down the lane to the bus stop.

The 100 bus arrived on time, just – it meandered through the streets of the city, via the Precinct area,  and onto the main road into the other city.

It was diamond jubilee pageant day. Down south they were sailing boats, up here in the north we were playing music.

I got off the 100 at the end of Chapel Street, and strolled past the new developments to Bloom Street and the Kings Arms. It was unseasonably cold for June.

Annoyingly I had missed two of the bands I wanted to see – Zap Zap Zap, and Saturday Morning Cartoons (members of which were eating chips in the vestibule as I approached the pub).

A pint of Unicorn and a chance to see the last couple of tracks by Ben Peel and the Bradford City Wool Band  who got better as the set progressed. Then  the guitar and drum duo of Ruby Tuesday  who like The Calimocho Club and Kill for Company manage to deliver a big sound with just two players. Intense modern blues rock which demands further hearing. Another pint and then a listen to Dear Sherlock  who came over all Muse/Octopus and didn’t appeal so I nipped off for a bag of crisps and  a natter with Mr Jon Coupe who arrived in his usual dapper attire.

Neale James changes the line up of  The Happy Fallen  every time I see them – this time he has Mike Murray (of Easterhouse fame) alongside him and they work their way through some fine psych garage rock. Would really like to see Neale with a full band behind him as I reckon it could be a hell of a thing to witness.

Downstairs for a rum and coke –  and had a chat with Tamsin about the progress of the Mr Heart album – which is nearly ready.

Another line-up change this time for the next band  Stalagmites who are down to a trio with Brad and Alex sharing bass and guitar duties (“it’s easier for us to write the tunes with this line-up” says Brad) – hadn’t seen the band for a while (about a year) so there has been significant change and I confess I did not recognise a lot of the material. Most enjoyable though and I look forward to more from them – Brad is one our better singers and deserves a wider audience and the group certainly create a huge sound. They will be doing some recording at 6dB in the near future.

Downstairs for another rum and coke and a short chat with Doug and Neil from The Ascension and a meet up with Monty, who has arrived fashionably late, and then back upstairs to watch headliners AAAK. This time around it’s a five piece with Howard Jones on drum pads, Neil Rowbotham on guitar, and Tamsin on vocals and hitting things with sticks, joining Ding and Paul. They are launching the new album Totalitarian Tip Toe and are in breathtakingly good form. It translates well to the live setting and the  additional band members bring an added dynamic to the sound. This music is brave, bold and modern – totally in your face and top tappingly good.  Ding remarks that some of us are dad-dancing and wants us to move a bit more – doesn’t he know we are getting on a bit? Selected tracks from the new album, a new tune (whose name I didn’t catch but which was rather fine indeed) and then the return of the excellent “Sharpshooter” to the set list made for an entertaining 30 minutes – I could have done with a lot more frankly as the grooves were exquisite although I did get an Alannah Currie flashback with Tamsin’s moves when she was menacing the drum pad with a stick. If you haven’t caught AAAK live then I suggest you should as they an excellent outfit and deserve a large audience.

Afterwards a quick lager and another rum and coke with Monty and Chris from Factory Star and then home (thanks to Chris for the lift and the sneaky preview of some excellent music) – it had stopped raining by then.

Kudos to Paul Travis for putting on an excellent day of entertainment – sadly there were not a huge number of people there and if you weren’t and you are local then you missed a belter.