The Ups and Downs and Ups of a Rock and Roll Band…….

The perversity and downright awkwardness of the rock and roll biz, together with the occasional glorious wonder that emerges from it, has been perfectly embodied, reflected and demonstrated in three gigs featuring Kill Pretty over the last fortnight. This trio of musical events perhaps sums up the year for me in respect of “Aural Endeavours” and places to see artists perform in the Greater Manchester area, and in this instance just beyond in the Lancashire Hills..

What is clear is that the appetite for live music in local pubs and clubs appears to have rapidly deteriorated as 2012 has unfolded. I don’t suppose the weather has helped and the combination of bone chilling temperatures, and more rain than is absolutely necessary to make the flowers grow, must deter people from venturing out into the night. However it is profoundly disappointing to see only a few hardy souls at these gigs.

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Tim Lyons of Sandells

Friday 7th December saw (The) Sandells and Kill Pretty at the Crescent public house on the Crescent (naturally) in Salford. It’s a damp night but the “gangs all here” including several noteable faces from the post-punk scene of the late 70s , and a lot more faces from the current Manchester music scen(e). It’s gratifying that some people do make the effort to come out of Manchester City Centre on a Friday night to see two bands that have, in one way or another, dominated my listening through the year.  Another band – Belter from London – have broken down on the way up the M6 so consequently the two remaining acts get to do longer  sets.

The concert room at the Crescent is relatively full as Sandells invite us into their unique and hypnotic world of Kraut-punk…..the band are in fine form moving effortlessly between “songs” and collective improvisation. The extra time for the set allows the band to stretch out and explore new areas. Kloos, Lyons and Benson seem to have developed a telepathic understanding their aural soundscapes are refreshing and new, but also reverential/referential to the music that has influenced them. It was all a bit Ornette Coleman meets Damo Suzuki round at Michael Rother’s place for a jam and a good time.

This is my 11th Kill Pretty gig this year and tonight they are wonderfully anarchic and a little bit heavy. New song “Back Passage Boys” seems to borrow a riff from Tony Iommi and is full of the usual Moss baleful intent. The band has consistently moved the set list around over those eleven gigs and there has been significant development in the last 12 months from the power punk pop of the Shangri-La gig to this more overtly assertive approach. The whole thing revolves around Josh’s lead bass and MJ Leigh’s drumming with Dutton Senior creating waves of Sonic Youth like guitar noise as the palette on which Moet paints his word pictures. The collective view from the band was that it was bit loose this time around but generally good fun as an enthusiastic crowd join in with some serious moshing around. The down sides are broken guitar strings and broken bass strings that litter the set. Josh ends up using Tim Lyons bass after snapping one of his own strings.

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This man looks nothing like Arthur Lowe

Onto the following night at the Blue Cat Cafe in Stockport – a place I have always reckoned as a great venue for live music, but has gone down seriously in my estimation since this event.  A double shift with MJ Leigh playing a set with Kill Pretty and then The Blimp. Well that’s the theory. Unfortunately Kill Pretty  are struggling with the monitors and the owner thinks Chris’s guitar is too loud. Chris explains he is on notch one on his volume and that turning down means turning it off – the owner still thinks it is too loud and the band decide that they cannot continue. A great pity because the sparse crowd that were there seem to enjoy what is played. Messrs Moss and Dutton decamp into the night obviously at odds with the “man” whilst Mr Leigh stays behind to play with his other band. The only observation I would make was that two songs from Kill Pretty is significantly more satisfying than whole sets from a lot of other bands I get to see. Why it was felt that Chris’ guitar was too loud when The Blimp were at a similar volume is a complete mystery to me. It may be that a band with the power and intensity of Kill Pretty was just too much for a small venue of this nature. Anyway it may be closing soon so the point is moot.

The Blimp are just as good as when I saw them a couple of weeks back, better in fact. The “General” is still snapping guitar strings at an alarming rate and goes through two in the one set this time around…..we get the rare appearance of “50 CC No Silencer” which Mike has never played before. and a brand new song, which again Mike has not played. “Wonga” makes an appearance as the staple tune when the guitar is being restrung, and it’s good to hear “Art Job”, “Snowglobe”, and “Rifleman”. The band move from power punk mania, through psych/kraut to Zappaesque almost jazzy workouts. This lightens the mood somewhat after the earlier shenanigans.

Move on seven days and up the M61 and across the M65 to Blackburn for an Anti-Fascist Awareness event at the Sir Charles Napier. A fine establishment with a great concert room on the first floor which has a couple of very interesting murals featuring scantily clad fantasy maidens and a Conan type figure flexing his muscles and magical powers. Four bands this time around with Kill Pretty headlining. First up are Corned Beef who hail from Clitheroe and describe themselves as punk/ska/hardcore – I enjoyed the majority of their set which had a lot of variety and was impressed with some of the less obvious material they played – some very interesting chord sequences were in play. I guess the only observation is that the variety of genres of music they play is a tad confusing – but I did like the slower more measured stuff a lot. I shall be checking out their album on Bandcamp on the back of this performance.

The mural at the Sir Charles Napier
The mural at the Sir Charles Napier

Next up are The Sanity Clause who deliver old style punk of The Clash ilk with some venom, great hooks and an honest attitude. They hail from various parts of the M65 corridor. I caught them at the Salford Music Festival in October and they improve on a second listening. They are very tight and they get some of the audience dancing.

Third on the bill are Addictive Philosphy  who are from Derby and comprise the interesting line up of trumpet, twin guitars, bass and drums. My immediate reaction to the band was this was a ska version of Fucked Up – they describe themselves as “slow rocksteady into ska and punk finishing with thrash” which is pretty aposite. The variety in the music is pretty compelling and the use of trumpet in this setting is remarkably fresh, and more importantly, it works. They will require further investigation I feel.

Finally it’s Kill Pretty. 

Of the three gigs mentioned in this review this is by far their best performance. It’s the best sound the band have had over the three performances and I think that allows them to deliver a more polished and , dare I say it, professional set. Highlights are the second ever appearance of the excellent “Devil Resides” and the increasingly potent “Super Soaraway Sun”. Having seen the band 13 times now I have to say this is their best performance to date with all of the various elements falling into place to create a barrage of sound which is unmistakably unique, extremely varied and immensely satisfying. About half way through the set I started to get the buzz I got when I saw The Fall at the Band on the Wall in May 1982 – this is a band you can invest your time and energy into. I like bands that make me think and this group both energise me and stimulate me mentally. A truly fantastic performance and this is the last gig I shall be attending in 2012 a rather wonderful way to finish the year.

20121208 JD1

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The Last Salford Music Scene – 30th October 2012

On 22nd February last year (2011) I inherited Jon Coupe’s mantle of producing a Salford Music themed radio show – seemed sensible to me to have a radio show about Salford music on a community radio station in Salford….bit of a no-brainer really.

There had been a lot of debate at the station amongst a few of us about wanting to feature more Salford music on the programmes. Tony Thornborough, Becs Marshall, Ian Rothwell, Eddie Mann, Eddie Legge, Zac and Paul, Monty and SD were all doing their part in promoting new music in the city but it seemed to me we could go a bit further and increase the percentage of airplay given to local bands. I mean does anyone really want to hear the Stone Roses and the Happy Mondays again and again when there are excellent bands like AAAK, Mr Heart, Suzuki Method, Lipsticks Traces, Positronik, Death to the Strange, Saturday Morning Cartoons et al who deserve airplay and more exposure?

So 88 episodes later it’s all coming to a close for a number of reasons far too complicated to waste your time on – all I will say is that one reason I am quitting  is I was becomingly increasingly frustrated at the inability to further increase the amount of music from local bands and singers on the station. So i’m off to do it somewhere else…..

So what am I going to be doing? Well this show and the Aural Delights show will be combined into a semi-regular podcast on Mixcloud. I have managed to keep a lot of my record company/promo company contacts despite me giving up broadcast radio…..and there will hopefully be more detail on this blog about the music than there has been hitherto. Also Jon, Tony and myself are bring back the Salford Music Website which you can now see here……

Thanks to all the bands that have contributed music over the last few years to make this show what is has been – extra special thanks to Ding, Tamsin, Toby Jughead, John Herring, The Inflictors (wherever you are!), Brad, Mr Moss, MJ Leigh, The Duttons, Dusty, Shaun, The General, Ken, Toska, Luis, Stephen, Martin B, Tim, Kin, the Borland boys and all the other bands Mr. Breen is in,  Hop Man Jr, Danny Short, Dave Bromwich, Andy & Michelle Quayle,  Mr Coupe  and the other three horsemen of radio apocalypse Tony, Monty and SD.

So for the final show…..new stuff and a bit of a self-indulgence with my favourite local bands – listen here……

  1. Sinister Chuckles – Bottle of Pop – another snippet of pop-punk loveliness from Sad Row studios and the legendary Shaun “Ali Bongo” Maxwell……in this outing he appears to have transmogrified into a thespian……
  2. Kill for Company – Mind Over Mouth – supporting both Twisted Wheel and Mr Heart in two seperate outings this coming Friday – a marvellous band which I am very pleased to have featured on the radio……
  3. Mr Heart – Stones …..from the exceptional new album “The Unspeakable Mr Heart” which is launched Friday Night at The Castle on Oldham Street……
  4. Kill Pretty – Mirror Factory ……. the best live band in the world…..from the new album “Dark Heart”” ……..catch them live you will not regret it
  5. Palomino – Price We Pay – a brand new band from Salford which is what this show is all about…….
  6. Rapid Pig – Flight – from the marvellous new album “Wildlife” …… another band which need to be seen
  7. The Blimp – Miniature – the other best live band in the world ….from the 3-4 EP which we released as a free download from SCR…….saw them last Friday and they were stunning….
  8. Alarms – Man With Gun – another new band – keeping in with the spirit of the show
  9. Journal Keepers – Clearest Day – one of the more recent discoveries and I have to say I’m glad they wrote in – bloomin’ brilliant….
  10. Kingdom Lost – Let’s Stay Together – from the new free EP “Naked from the Waist Down”
  11. West Coast Sick Line – This Ain’t London – not from Salford but we’ve adopted him – the mercurial songwriting talent of Dusty Moonan from his new album “I hope everybody gets nightmares except Kirsty”
  12. The Fall – Reformation – well I started with this back in 2009 so I may as well finish with it…….

So that’s your lot ……. thanks for listening….

Salford Music Scene – 16th October 2012

Stream the show from here

….and this is what I played

1 The Blimp Art Job
2 Factory Acts Senseless (Radio Edit)
3 Skeleton Suite  Sloth
4 Kit B Capo D Monty
5 The Happy Fallen Ground Zero
6 Uncle Paul Anne Sellors Last Chance
7 Dan Solan Hands On Another
8 Naked (On Drugs) Death Dance
9 Kit B Blood In Blood Out
10 Ste McCabe Did You Really
11 Positronik When The Bitch Knows Your Name
12 Streetswimmers Falling
13 Dan Solan We Didn’t Kill Anyone
14 The Fall Idiot Joy Showland

Salford Music Scene Radio Show – 24th July 2012

Listen Here

Tracks played and links to more information……

1 The Blimp Chicken of the Sea 4 – 3  Facebook
2 Doctrines Heads Like Empty Cans ZE  Facebook
3 Crowds Losing Grip Cut Me Out  Facebook
4 The Blimp Regime Change 4 – 3
5 Doctrines Partt III (Jacob Meets The Luvittes) ZE
6 The Ninth Watch Forevers a Long Time Demo Track  Facebook
7 Wooderson Mint Condition Let the Man Speak  Facebook
8 Doctrines Happily (N)Ever After ZE
9 The Blimp Miniature 4 – 3
10 Tape iFear Lets Not Say and We Did  Facebook
11 Joe Thomas Guardian Angel Demo Track  Facebook
12 Da Mutts Papa Mezz (On the Corner) Demo Track  Facebook
13 The Blimp Snowglobe 4 – 3
14 The Fall C.R.E.E.P. The Wonderful and Frightening World of

The Vein Across The Bone……

Imagine a world where all the genres of music you like collide in one band.

In my case it’s a reality – The Blimp effortlessly merge prog, psychedelia, punk, post-punk and a degree of motorik intensity, plus a touch of jazz.

Their new EP 4.3 is breathtakingly excellent.

The opening “Chicken of the Sea” is a glorious instrumental piece, both evocative and celebratory. Second up is  the manic and speedy “Regime Change” which is pure Blimp dynamic with a thunderous bass riff from Ken and a suitably wacked out guitar solo from The General,  Mike Leigh is at his percussive best, with splash cymbals galore, and a busy driven pulse. Lyrically apposite and utterly compelling. Track three “Miniature” is utterly brilliant with a nod towards HMHB with its culturally relevant listings and a busy nervous rhythmic workout, and a clever musical joke at the end. The band really excel at this high tempo punky stuff.

However all of that preceding – albeit excellent – is somewhat left in the shade by the epic and rather majestic “Snowglobe” – in the same vein as the bands “Rifleman” track, this is sublime. I remarked upon the song  in a review of a debut live performance a couple of years back – and they have captured that live feel in an excellent reading. Sexy and surreal, hypnotic and intense, it channels a  kraut-rock sound through bubbling bass and drums – with a narrative vocal.  The General’s lyrics reflect, to some degree, the aforementioned Rifleman with the use of “ice” as subject matter, but this is altogether more abstract lyrically, which adds to the sense of mystery that hangs over the track.  The stunning middle section with a busy guitar solo, gut-wrenching bass licks, and scattered percussive fills morphs through a funky workout into a surprise ending. Frankly I could have done with another three or more minutes but I guess we’ll get that in a live setting.

No physical release date yet but you can listen in on Mixcloud here 

Highly recommended!

Aural Delights Radio Show – May 2nd 2012

A slight departure from the norm for this edition of the show with a continuation of the preview of some of the acts playing at the various gigs in Salford this week – however there is also lots of new music to tittilate the ossicles, plus some classic tracks…listen here:

1 The Three Johns The World of the Workers Do The Square Thing
2 John Hyatt and Periscope Machine Machine
3 Trojan Horse Fire Fire
4 The Blimp 50CC No Silencer Curse Curse Bang Bang
5 Toska Wilde I Am Your Temptation Cindy Darling
6 Luis Drayton Sex Junk Nazi Furs Pretty Sick/Dub Sick
7 Sinister Chuckles I Wanna Be Batman Blitzkreig Mop
8 Sinister Chuckles Dorian Gray Blitzkreig Mop
9 Sinister Chuckles The Ghost of Marilyn  Monroe Blitzkreig Mop
10 Tuxedomoon In The Name of Talent Desire
11 Doctrines Climbing Yggdrasil-Everybody Loves Ray Kay Bandcamp
12 Vladimir Cold Winter Grasp Single
13 Kill Pretty  Stupid Club In 80 Days
14 Taser Puppets Wasp Single
15 AAAK Crash Big Fist
16 Johnny Cooper Hot Mess Single

Notes in respect of the above

1. A sort of an intro to the following piece – from what I regard as their best release “Do the Square Thing” – they are playing Gulliver in Manc on May 8th.

2. Mr Hiatt of the aforementioned combo working with the ever busy Periscope  – excellent and out now

3. Further promotion of said bands EP launch this Thursday at the Kings Arms

4. Playing at the Hope, Eccles Old Road, as part of Toska’s Salford Temptation – doubt if they will play this one but I like it…..

5. The aforementioned TW and well a bit of a theme tune for the weekend

6. The co-conspirator of 5. above from a forthcoming album this is the pre-mastered version – slightly edited by me for content

7/8/9 Three exclusives of the tracks that will be on sale on the Sunday at The Hope from this bunch of miscreants….from Chorley which has a lot of roundabouts

10. Classic post-punk from one of my favourite albums – a very inventive band who never quite got the recognition they deserved

11. They are back and with a bang – from a forthcoming EP I think – they also just been signed to Alcopop Records.

12. Featured this band last year – this is their recent single – most impressive – hopefully a local promoter will entice them down

13. The ever lovely Kill Pretty with a track from their excellent album (have I mentioned how good the cover is?) – playing Saturday at the Crescent as are….

14.  Another band from Chorley (who share a singer with 7,8, and 9 – where do these musicians find the time to be in several bands at onece – I can’t keep up)

15. Mr Ding has been remixing the original AAAK releases and has made them available free of charge from their website – a classic piece early piece of Buildingscape Beats

16. This American gentleman caught my attention recently – impressed by his approach – this is the B Side to this recent single

Salford Music Scene Radio Show – May 1st 2012

On this weeks show a look at the artists appearing in gigs over the Bank Holiday weekend in Salford:

1 Trojan Horse Patricroft Way Trojan Horse
2 Rapid Pig Little Clean Plane Demo Track
3 Salford Media City Two Bob …@Futureworks
4 The Loaded Dice Camera Shy Hurricane Hindsight of a Brand New Soul : Halo of Fireflies
5 Kill Pretty  What About Me Demo Track
6 The Blimp Fake Tan 3
7 West Coast Sick Line Hanging at Picnic Rock Demo Track
8 Toska Wilde and Luis Drayton I Am Kathy Kirby (Outlaw Mix) I Am Kathy Kirby EP
9 Mr Heart Vacuum Head Exclusive Pre-release
10 Taser Puppets Dim Twisted Pop
11 The Words I’m Not Listening Single
12 Sinister Chuckles Tony Thornboroughs Sock Blitzkreig Mop
13 Salford Media City Doing Stuff is Fun ….@Futureworks
14 Trojan Horse Fire Fire
15 Mr Heart Lynchpin Exclusive pre-release
16 The Fall Victrola Time Night of the Humerons

Notes in respect of the above….

1/14. Prog-nouveau maestros launch their new EP “Fire” at the Band on the Wall on Thursday May 3rd. A track from their debut album and the lead track from the EP where Frank Zappa meets Black Flag in a microcosm the “Horse’s” work to date (i.e. it is less than two minutes long when there tracks tend generally to exceed six minutes)

2.  Psychedelia meets Kraut-Rock as the new edition of the “Pig” features legendary local musician Tim Lyons (Sandells, Harvey’s Rabbit, The Things) along with one of the hardest working players on the Manc scene the Hop Man Jr – John Paul Moran. Front man Eoin O’Connor has to be seen to be believed – a real force of nature.

3/13. And starting the night on Thursday the David Jackson lead collective who have just released their first EP.

4. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday Toska’s Salford Temptation comes to Crescent 20 and the Hope Pub. On Friday night amongst others James Stone from The Loaded Dice is  playing a solo set – I was not aware of that when I recorded the show, I thought the whole band was playing. These things happen in radio.

5. On Saturday you can see one of the finest live bands in existence – I’ve whittered on about this lot elsewhere – they are all chums and rather good at what they do…..this will be on a forthcoming series of EPs I think…..get the album  (the sleeve design is excellent 😉 )

6. The chap who drums for 5. also drums for the his lot – another of the finest live bands in existence – one performance is uniquely different from the next due to the stunning showmanship of the General but it is all held together solidly by Ken and Mike – Sunday at The Hope.

7. Also on Sunday at the Hope the indefatigable Dusty Moonan plays a solo set – not sure whether he will be featuring any “West Coast Sick Line” music

8. The organiser and his aide-de-camp performing a new mix of their most recent song – Toska and Luis will be around for all three nights but take the stage proper on Sunday. Flamboyant doesn’t even get close.

9/15. Exclusive new tracks from the excellent three piece are my highlight for this show – I think they have raised the bar somewhat – not sure whether this is from an EP or an album or both but regardless of that the tunes are excellent.

10. Chorley’s finest export of recent times and the lead track from the Twisted Pop EP – they play Saturday at the Crescent……

11. These are playing but I like the single so much I needed to play the B Side.

12.  Chap from 10. takes the lead vocals for this band as well – Sunday Night at the Hope – a tale of hosiery abuse and the affect of progressive rock on the psyche.

16. New single – music recorded in London – vocals and other shenanigans sorted in Salford.