Death Metal, Electronica, Aural Terror and Manchester Pop

I have to admit I have found it hard to sit down and write stuff over the last few weeks. Apart from the intense heat, there’s been the distraction of several cricket matches to attend, plus the Manchester Jazz Festival –  however the last 48 hours has seen a cascade of new material to talk about so I thought I’d better something down before I get so far behind i’ll never catch up with myself.

Anyhow – first up some exciting news – the excellent Dope Body , from Baltimore, have a new album out on October 21st on Drag City. It’s called “Lifer” and if the preview track below is anything to go by it should be a bit of a corker…..

San Antonio’s black death metal  band, Hod, release their long-awaited new full-length on 9th September  via Arctic Records. Titled “Book of the Worm” , the follow-up to last year’s “The Uncreated Demo”  teaser, which was likened to a “snake eating itself and a bigger snake eating the smaller snake, a kind of infinite and horrifically malign Ouroboros,” was produced by Dennis Munoz (Solstice), features the recording line-up of guitarist Necron, vocalist Vladibeer Reebs, bassist T.A. and former drummer Dennis Sanders and boasts eight blasting tunes  Comments the band, “Finally, it  is finished! Through Hell and back we went to get this completed. Comrades fell. Labels failed. Studios changed. But we soldiered forth with iron determination and it is done. Blood, sweat and sacrifice are the ingredients”. Listening to it on a hot summers night was a delightful experience. Here’s the aforementioned teaser which will give you a sense of what to expect – I will feature a track on next weeks Sonic Attack podcast

After just over a year of waiting Borland have finally released part one of their “Omar” self styled quadrilogy, and it’s been well worth the wait, and is remarkably refreshing. All of the usual Gregg/Breen things are here but it kicks off with a haunting piano ballad which is light years away from their usual output, I say a piano ballad it soon develops into something a little more than that,  with some remarkable tonal shifts, and trademark laminal morphing. After that it’s the usual attention to orchestral detail that sets them apart from the usual purveyors of electronica. Particularly notable is the chilling “Valentine” which manages to balance malevolence, eerie vocal utterances, and delicate tendrils of sound – coming across like a mutant version of Sigur Ros.  As with track one the excellent “Idea Diamond” takes the piano as it’s core instrument and builds a serial repetition of notes under a distant collection of voices – both epic and emotional. I await, with some anticipation,  the remaining three parts of this release.

You may remember radio show favourites Da Mutts who morphed into Boxhead & Gloves , and who released a remarkable concept album called “Soldier” which I featured on the podcasts. Well they are back with a couple of tracks “Naughtiness” and “Parades” – the former a mind-flipping switch in direction into motorik  electronica, the latter more of their usual output, with a delicious piece of Manc Pop which quotes Percy Shelley and reflects the rich musical heritage of the northern capital with echoes of 10cc. I ran into Stan from the band at Steve Hanley’s book launch the other week and I am pretty sure we had a good conversation about what they were up to, but a combination of cider and red wine on the evening appears to have wiped that from my failing memory.

Taser Puppets have sorted out their new line-up, and have a set of mostly new tunes to share in a live setting according the latest reports from Mr Maxwell.  As a bridging transitional type thingy they have released “The Ralph McTell Must Die Album” which features a bewildering array of tunes from across the recent history of the band – mostly acoustic, but notably the excellent “Revolution Wall” which is a blistering piece of pop-psych-garage, and another version of the cover of Bowie’s “Five Years” featuring itinerant troubadour and all round genius Dusty Moonan on guest vocals. Well worth checking out.

I’m slowly working my way through the aforementioned Steve Hanley (auto) biography which is called “The Big Midweek” – it is highly enjoyable, well written, and it does confirm some of my already well embedded views about life inside The Fall. As co-author Olivia Piekarski said at the launch it comes across more like a novel, there are some interesting hitherto unknown revelations which are remarkable in the context of the output of the band. Even if you are not a fan of The Fall the book is well worth a read in respect of understanding the internal dynamics of a band and the balance between “real life” and life in the music business. I am particularly impressed that it does not trade in on nostalgia but instead provides an effective perspective of the world of independent and alternative music over the last twenty plus years.

And finally – the second full-length release from Pig Heart Transpant — the solo works of Jon Kortland of Iron Lung — will be released this September, as a conjoined release between 20 Buck Spin and the band’s own Iron Lung Records. The album entitled “For Mass Consumption”  and is composed of twenty-eight tracks, each approximately forty-four seconds long, each song bearing a four-letter word. Electronic manipulation, no wave guitar noise, abrasive hammering and eerie synthetic ambiance remind me of early Swans on tracks like “Film” or “Pigs,” the pulsing throb of Brighter Death Now and IRM on “Coma” or even Robert McNaugton’s soundtrack work for Henry: Portrait Of Serial Killer on “1970” or “1980.”
Devotees of early Swans, SPK, Test Dept, Bastard Noise, Pharmakon, Godflesh and of course, Iron Lung, will enjoy this one. Again I shall feature this on next weeks Sonic Attack.




I am not King Kong

Taser Puppets

Fuzzy Felt

Cyclotron Records

1st April 2014


I don’t know….you wait ages for a new record lable and then they start turning up like No 13 buses two or three at a time.  First, a few weeks back,  German Shepherd and now Cyclotron Records , which geographically, at least in terms of product, are not that far apart.

The latter, for the moment, is concentrating on the work of Chorley’s Taser Puppets. So we have before us the long awaited “Fuzzy Felt which contains, in its’ artfully designed cardboard cover, five nuggets of TP post-punk pop. Now then dear reader i’ve been living through the various incarnations of these tunes for what seems like an age (but in actuality is only around 12 months) so I know them backwards, forwards and sideways so I think I am well disposed to say that the final product is very well delivered indeed.  And the fact that  I do appear fleetingly saying/ singing/shouting  “get up” amongst a tribe of other ne’er do wells on “The Wrestler” means I do have a vested interest.

And this release comes at the cusp of change with the bass player on this release – Jason Hurley – having now left to form a new band, and being replaced by original bassist “Dancin'” Ste – was it ever so in the world of rock and roll things always changing and evolving.

So we have a fine historical record of the second iteration of the Puppets which contains the danceable pop of “Break Out The Dansette”, the infectious “Information Boom”, the aforementioned “The Wrestler” – a typical Maxwell bitter-sweet tune, and the revelation for me on this release, an exceptional reading of “Leafless In” which is  to my mind is the best thing the Puppets have produced to date. Matters are concluded with an atmospheric reading of  Bowie’s “Five Years” which is full of “Ali Bongo” arch louche-ness.

Cyclotron has also re-released the previous outing “Twisted Pop” which contains four classic Maxwell pop nuggets, and the original single “Misogyny For Wimps” which includes the excellent “Slow Death By Karaoke”.

My only gripe is the staples used in the construction of the sleeve – should have used a Pritt-Stick Shaun!

Apart from that I rather think this is the best Taser Puppets release to date and I suggest you check it out here…..



To Hull And Back……………..

After a disappointing day at the nexus of cricket (a cold cold breeze, heavy rain, and painfully slow scoring) a trip up the M61 to see some “rock and roll” seemed like a damn good plan for a Friday night.

Dusty Moonan
Dusty Moonan

Of course I had forgotten the mysteries of the roundabouts of Chorley and their tendency to draw one Brigadoon like into strange places like abandoned lorry parks (the lorries being abandoned and not the parks) and Aldi Supermarket complexes. Despite a detailed study of Google Maps the additional extra roundabout paradigm had me driving round in circles for a good 15 minutes. However I eventually managed to find the delightfully named “Stump Lane” and then move with some trepidation onto Friday Street and thenceforth to Steeley Lane wherein nestles the excellent public house known as The Railway. I am always somewhat foxed by the pub as it’s never on the side of the street I expect it to be on. This probably says more about me than the topography of Chorley mind you.

The pub is reasonably full and nice and warm on a cold night as the last vestiges of a long winter splutter into the dark sky. There is always a welcoming atmosphere at The Railway and despite the “stage area” being on the direct line of site route between the bar and the Toilets/Smoking Zone it is always a good place to catch a live band or three.

The bill of fair tonight is wandering troubadour Dusty Moonan (Colwyn Bay), the eclectic and rather charming Monkeys In Love (Levenshulme)  and local heroes Taser Puppets (Chorley). After a swift of half fizzy non-alcoholic brown stuff (don’t drink and drive kids especially when you have to negotiate phantom roundabouts)  we are treated to a twenty minute set from Mr  Moonan who is in an affable frame of mind – a couple of his own tunes including the delightful “This Ain’t London” and a few covers including “Trumpton Riots” and “Come Up and See Me Make Me Smile” – during the middle of which Dusty takes an impromptu lager break demonstrated the chaps ability to warm up an audience with his bonhomie and self-effacing performance style. I can’t help thinking that with a full band Mr Moonan’s rather marvellous songs would be something special indeed. Anyway he gets on well with the crowd and receives warm applause.

Colleen McCullough
Danielle McCullough

The first time I saw Monkeys in Love was at the Verge in Hyde last year where their backing tracks didn’t quite make it through the fog of the PA. Fortunately this time the sound was as near perfect as possible. Singer Laura is suffering with a nasty ear ailment at the moment so we were not sure whether she would be able to deliver to her best – however fears were unfounded as we got an excellent performance from the band.

With some of the stand out tracks from the album “Monkeys in Love will Pet and Cuddle You” it’s an excellent set including a marvellous performance of “The Man In The Keith Moon T- Shirt” including some rather lovely flute from Danielle McCullough. The crowd warm to the infectious, catchy and danceable tunes from this unique and impressive band. “Gin In A Can” goes down well (see what I did there) and the very moreish “Owl With Hands” has people smiling. The terrace chant of “Oh Judy” evokes the best of 70s pop whilst managing to be utterly modern.

Matters are drawn to a close with the surreal appearance of the new “costume” – a giant representation of Rod Hull – who appeared to be in need of a serious haircut. Laura is soon out amongst the crowd with a very friendly mini-Emu who tends to nibble the neck rather than grab the groin. Several punters walking into the pub at this point in time must have wondered what they had wandered into – the “Monkeys” grasp of song dynamics, excellent riffing , and instantly memorable melodies together with the theatrical performance values (think 1972 Genesis without the prog and with some punk aesthetic and you are getting close) make them a must see band.

Shaun Maxwell

Top of the bill are the very excellent Taser Puppets – this must be about the fifth time I’ve seen then and they continue to impress and improve. Unfortunately with an early start in the morning I have to slip away half way through the set but the part of it I caught was excellent. With bravura performances of “The Wrestler” , “Wasp”, “Man-Trap” and the stunning “Beautiful Song for The Ripper” the question has to be asked as to why this rather talented trio is not more universally regarded. Despite Shaun having to sit through the set due to his gammy leg he delivered on all levels and Jason and Terry have to be one of the best rhythm sections around at the moment.

So I slip away into the night and along the dark corridor of the M61 and back to the peoples republic having had a rather fine time with some excellent musicians delivering top quality music. As I dodged the lorries en route I reflected on the evening and concluded that the future survival  of music and pubs are inextricably linked, and the longevity of both depends on their mutual co-existence. If The Railway and these three artists are anything to go by then the future is bright. Why would you pay £35 or more in a stadium to watch a distant figure through an overloud PA when you can enjoy the warmth and atmosphere of your local pub with quality artists?

Dusty Moonan has a new album out called “Our Name On The Door” which you can acquire free from Bandcamp. Monkeys in Love’s new album “Monkey in Love with Pet and Cuddle You” is available from their website. Taser Puppets have a new EP out soon called “Fuzzy Felt”.

Monkey Business with Rod
Monkey Business with Rod

The Last Aural Delights – 31st October 2012

To finish after three years and six months on the steam radio our Reverbnation Artist of the Week for this week and last week  and a selection of my favourite artists.

Notable by their absence are Moff Skellington, Danny Short and Fall Fan Dave & The Lap Top Dancers who will in all likelyhood be the subject of a special podcast  in the not too distant future.

Listen to the show here…..

  • The Happy Fallen – Ultrawave – a new track from the ever productive Mr Neale James
  • Easter – Damp Patch – a track from one of the albums of the year “Innocence Man”
  • The Gin Circle – Sinderella Story – our reverbnation artist of the week , a trio from Leicester
  • Factory Star – Incorruptible – one of the best bands around at the moment from the “New Sacral” release
  • AAAK – Regenerate – another one of the best bands around at the moment – stunning at Salford Music Festival – from “Totalitarian Tip Toe” and featuring another particular favourite – Kin.
  • Neuron No – Limonchik – from the “Little Lemon EP” – a band who never fail to amaze me with their musical abilities….
  • Taser Puppets – Wasp – yet another one of the best bands around at the moment – great songs and a great attitude……
  • We Could Be Astronauts – Loose Lips – were our Reverbnation Artist of the Week last week but I neglected to play them – and being a man of my word I am rectifying that omission.
  • The Gin Circle – Lost To Be Found – as above
  • Da Mutts – Albion Summer – an abiding love for this band and their song-crafting skills…..
  • Kit B – Hulmenoid – Danny Cusick is one of our best song writers and here is another example of his abilities
  • Positronik – Don’t Come Crying – this should be in the charts not that tedious N-Dubz crap
  • Toska Wilde and Luis Drayton – Glamoflage – so should this…..
  • Kill Pretty – The Year of 13 Moons – best tune of the year for me, so I thought I would go out on a high

Thanks for listening – Aural Delights will be back in podcast form in about two weeks on –……

Salford Music Scene – 21st August 2012

On this show…..listen here

1 Danny Short Reputation Reputation
2 Cheap Cuts Misery Guts Misery Guts
3 Factory Star Super Real New Sacral
4 Toska Wilde and Luis Drayton Helmets for Men Glamoflage
5 Mount Fabric R.O.C. Threads
6 Trojan Horse Fire Fire
7 The Fierce and the Dead On VHS On VHS
8 The Distractions Too Late to Change The End of the Pier
9 Da Mutts Hear to Die Demo
10 Nine of Clubs Lazy Toad Clubbed Up
11 Social Aneurysm 1984 It’s Time Demo
12 The Outreach Project Twisted Persona The Outreach Project On Heat
13 Veladrome Duke Demo
14 Taser Puppets Wasp Twisted Pop
15 Kill Pretty Breakdown Man Dark Heart
16 The Fall Mod Mock Goth (We Wish You) A Protein Christmas