Fascinating Things : Issue 64

Straight into it this time around, there is just so much going on……………

Psychedelic dirt rock unit, Sonic Wolves,  which comprises current and past members of Ufomammut, The Hounds Of Hasselvander, Pentagram, and Rogue State,  release their debut full-length, “The End Comes”, on Taxi Driver Records in late July 2016. The eight-track offering follows the band’s first single, “He Said,” released as a limed edition seven-inch in conjunction with Record Store Day 2016.  Formed in Alessandria, Italy in 2012 by bassist Kayt Vigil (Rogue State, ex-The Hounds Of Hasselvander, ex-Pentagram) and drummer Vita (Ufomammut, Rogue State) initially under the name of “Tsutar”. In December 2014, the band recorded their first demo at Ampire Studio in Pistoia, Italy. At that time was Vigil on bass/vocals, Vita on drums and Stefano Tocci (Deaf Eyes, ex-Incoming Cerebral Overdrive) on guitars. By Spring of the following year, the eight-track “WolfWitch” was released and just a few months later, Paolo Melotto (ex-Psyconauts) joined  on lead guitar and vocals, followed by Diniz (Temple Of Dust, Mexican Chili Funeral Party) on rhythm guitar.

PROMO PHOTO 2

The sound of the band is a mix of heavy, gritty rock, with elements of metal and psychedelic influences. Here’s a taster of ‘He Said’ which was recorded and mixed by Stefano Tocci at Ampire Studio, Pistoia (Italy), and it’s a “radio edit” version. The extended track will be included in the upcoming full length. I’ll be featuring a track on the Sonic Attack  #168 on July 25th.

Boston-based thrashing hardcore punk band, Panzerbastard, release four new tracks on July 15th via their “MotörHeathen seven-inch”. Released by  PATAC Records, the new one follows a barrage of EP and split releases since their 2006 formation.

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“Here you go, motherfuckers,” says bassist/vocalist KPanzer of the seven-inch, “….the latest sonic assault on decency by the kings of motör-core. Forged in a dark, smelly, room in the deepest, darkest bowels of Boston, your intrepid, dirtbag heroes internalized three years of misfortune, betrayal, underachievement, and general disgust with the human race to puke forth the four slabs of sonic offal now known as MotörHeathen. We are the bastard sons of Motörhead, Discharge, Venom, and Cro-Mags, on a mission to ruin your life.” There you go….and very good it is too.  A couple of tracks will be on Sonic Attack #167 on July 18th. I’ve nothing to embed from the new one so here’s the most recent release prior to this new one.

Conceived as a three-piece jamming out simple stoner blues rock heavily rooted in metal, The Company Corvette deliver wall of sound hard rock.  They have recently completed their third full-length recording, “Never Enough”, which is released on August 5th  It’s heavy riff-laden, psychedelically inclined, occasionally laid back, mostly loud, stoner rock with above average use of fuzz and wah. The band likes to think of their two earlier releases as “glorified demos”  with the new album being a huge step forward for the trio in virtually every department. I agree.

the company corvette live

There will be a couple of tracks from this release on Sonic Attack #180 on August 8th – pending that here’s a taster.

Sanford Parker is the well regarded producer and electronicist behind some of metal’s most exploratory outfits, breaking new territory in his work as a fixture of Buried At Sea, Minsk, Corrections House and Mirrors For Psychic Warfare, and featuring on and producing numerous records from respected names . His trademark atmospherics shift between the nuanced to the crushingly direct, including elements of industrial, cold-wave and power electronics to give bleak, brutalist clout to his work. Now, Parker is striking out on his own with “Lash Back”, a full length record of mechanical, dystopic, beat-driven menace. Due out on the My Proud Mountain label on July 22nd, Lash Back is a marked departure from his metal legacy, retaining some of the hallmarks of his impressive work to date but moving towards bands Perc, Youth Code and Pharmakon. It’s a most enjoyable listen with a lot of sonic variety. Sadly I have nothing I can share at this stage so you will have to wait until Sonic Attack #168 on July 25th.

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Two years in the making, The Night Watch release their second album, “Boundaries”, a single thirty-six-minute piece on July 15th. The Canadian progressive instrumental quartet features guitarist Nathanael Larochette and violinist Evan Runge of Musk Ox. Sonically it’s a close relation to early God Speed and Silver Mount Zion but with a busier string sound which comes out of Vivaldi via Klezmer. You can pre-order here and I will podcast a portion of the piece on Aural Delights #190.

Cover (large)

And to conclude in a shameless act of self-promotion for our record label here’s a list of July gigs for the turns we look after…..

  • 1st July –  Taser Puppets with Joiner [Germany] Gareth Icke  at Dublin Castle Camden , London
  • 2nd July – The Scissors play  Bar Hill Festival, Bar Hill, Cambridgeshire
  • 9th July – The Electric Cheese, West Coast Sick Line and Pearl Divers play Dulcimer, Chorlton
  • 14th July – Poppycock and Rose & The Diamond Hand play The Thirsty Scholar. Manchester
  • 15th July – The Junta plays Night and Day Cafe. Oldham Street, Manchester
  • 15th July – West Coast Sick Line and Poppycock play Aatma, Manchester with Bobbie Peru
  • 17th July – Bouquet of Dead Crows play an acoustic set at Corner House, Cambridge
  • 28th July – Kit B play The House Party at Kendal Calling
  • 30th July – The Scissors play Portland Arms, Cambridge with The Machismo’s and Moonstrips

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100 not out

Various Artists

100

German Shepherd Records

30th October 2015

100

So let’s be clear from the outset, this is shameful nepotism of the highest order, but I can’t find anyone else willing to review it so I may as well take up the cudgels and have a go. Given I have a rather thorough inside perspective on this compilation, as I actually compiled it, I am in a position to be both honest and accurate, and perhaps somewhat effusive. If I am breaking some sort of record industry kayfabe by doing this so be it, but German Shepherd was set up to be doggedy (pun intended) independent, and to operate outside of the norms of the music biz, so in that spirit here goes.

Set up in February 2014 the label was originally intended as a vehicle for the work of co-owner Ian Moss, who had vast library of unreleased material he wanted to share with the world. Once word had got around about the endeavour other like minded souls expressed interest or were dragged into the inner circle of the label.

The manifesto is very simple, if the music that is offered to the label is sufficiently different and does not ape current trends and fads then it will probably find a home in the German Shepherd kennel.

21 months in and the chance to mark the milestone with some of the current and future artist on the label. Requests were sent out and a delightful pot-pourri of styles and genres emerged.

For German Shepherd virgins and, for those DJs who need accurate information(you know who you are), here’s a run down of all the tracks and the artists.

Loop-aznavour – theremin toting Loop, also a member of the remarkable Adventures of Salvador. offers a single from earlier in 2015, a remarkable distiller of styles and influences Loop is a captivating live performer and a consummate songwriter. From – Bury, Greater Manchester.

Pearl Divers ; the first band I ever “discovered” in radio land they have been through many line-up changes since 2009 but always centre around leader Carl Lingard. The tune on the album is a radical -reworking/second cousin to the bands “I Love The Music” – mixing Barryesque chords with a cold war soundscape one could, and should, argue that this would be a far better Bond theme than the odious one being used for the latest movie. The band are currently working on an album. From – Eccles/Irlam, Greater Manchester.

The Get – we love this band. They are great live, they write memorable songs, and they have a unique, sometimes unashamedly ramshackle sound. From – Bournemouth, Leigh on Sea etc, down south somewhere

Bouquet of Dead Crows – some folk will have been surprised about this band being on German Shepherd, one of aims is not to be complacent around what we are about,  dealing with any preconceptions of our mode of operation by throwing a curve ball in every now and then.  On first hearing, Bouquet of Dead Crows are conventional rockers, on deeper exploration the nuances emerge, from Toni Cooper’s excellent vocals, through the great rhythm section, to the multi-guitar talents of Neil Bruce. This is a band with a lot of depth. A single and cut from the new album “Of The Night” due out soon. From – Cambridge, east of Northampton.

Loop-azznavour
Loop-aznavour

Poppycock – working with Una Baines and her collective of musicians is always a pleasure and she offered up a live recording of the band from The Crescent in Salford. Recorded by Jim “Jedi” Watts, thus perpetuating the “every other musician you meet in Manc-land used to be in The Fall” myth this lovely tune first appeared on Una’s The Fates “Furia”  album. From: Manchester.

Franco Bandini – the buzz about Franco’s recent release of the label “2014 was a bad year” is increasing daily. Perhaps slightly less dark than the tracks on the EP this offering is from the same sessions and indicates his ability to create an epic sound. We predict great things. From –  Atherton/Manchester.

IKMRAO – the two label owners don’ t consider themselves to be musicians as such, they play with words and sounds and sometimes it comes out as music. Always making a point whenever they can this one has a much needed dig at the scenesters that hang around in clumps reeking of their own self-importance. From – Ashton Under Lyne/Eccles, Greater Manchester.

The Junta
The Junta

Captain Black – once a member of the aforementioned Pearl Divers and the main writer behind the much missed Positronik, Captain “Jeff” Black is adept at creating perfect pop tunes, and this is a sublime example. From : Swindon/Manchester

The Junta – it’s obligatory to say “aah yeah” or “shabba” at this point. Also once in Pearl Divers but now in Kit B, John “Monty” Montague brings an encyclopaedic knowledge of electronica  into play for  his tunes. Also a DJ on Salford City Radio Monty is a very busy chap. From : Salford, Greater Manchester.

Staggs – probably the most fascinating duo on the label in that they continually create tunes that both amaze and confound. Main vocal man Michael T Scott has a wonderfully acerbic outlook on the world at large. Music man Ridley is able re-invent well known sounds and turn them into something new. Staggs Disco is from one of their releases before they joined German Shepherd. Deserving of international acclaim I reckon. From –  Newcastle Upon Tyne,

Passage of Time – sounds influenced by 1969 Miles Davis together with more contemporary electronic textures. The closest thing to jazz on the label. From – Eccles, Salford. Greater Manchester.

Rose Niland and Mark Corrin
Rose Niland and Mark Corrin

Ion-Morph with three albums of the man’s spoken word releases on the label it would have been remiss to exclude a performance. The featured tune is a reworking of an old song and a hearful paean to Manc-land. From – Ashton-Under-Lyne

Moff Skellington – a genius, an iconoclast and a dealer in optical creosote. Moff creates music which defies description other than to say it hangs precariously between The Residents, Tom Waits, Pere Ubu, The Fall and Hank Marvin. His wordplay is completely unique, the aural equivalent of Salvador Dali.  As I may have said before, on many occasions, my crusade is to get him much more exposure and recognition. From – Abstercot

Rose Niland – we love Rose. She has a magical voice, she writes breathtaking tunes, and her words are memorable. Soulful, psychedelic and bluesy. From – Manchester

Monkeys In Love
Monkeys In Love

The Electric Cheese – captivating alternative rock with a unique sound. This trio is gaining a growing reputation as a must see live act. From their first EP with the label.  From – Chorley, Lancashire

West Coast Sick Line – Dusty Moonan, another genius, a man who can write memorable songs. The band has recently undergone a line-up change and the track on the compilation is an indication of things to come perhaps, a more powerful more rock oriented sound. New album “Europee” is imminent i.e. when they get out of the pub. From – Deganwy, North Wales

Monkeys In Love – a special band, they have been with the label from the start, helping and supporting. The track on the album is, dare I say it, one of their best yet. A remarkable live act and a lovely bunch of people. From – Manchester.

The track-listing

  1. Loop-aznavour – Ed’s Place
  2. Pearl Divers – Smoking Gun
  3. The Get – Say You Love Me
  4. Bouquet of Dead Crows – Just A Little More
  5. Poppycock – Ceaseless Effort
  6. Franco Bandini – Side B
  7. IKMRAO – Art
  8. Captain Black – Lost All Sense
  9. The Junta – Carnival 80
  10. Staggs – Staggs Disco
  11. Passage of Time – Round About Now
  12. Ion-Morph – Manchester (Slight Return)
  13. Moff Skellington – Potato Pickers
  14. Rose Niland – 5 Times
  15. The Electric Cheese – Gold Divers Under The Ice
  16. West Coast Sick Line – Best Lost In Translation
  17. Monkeys In Love – Installation Song #1

The album is a digital only release, is priced at £5, and all proceeds will go towards the Emmaus Homelessness Facility in Salford.

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Bouquet of Dead Crows

The Freedom To Choose

KIT B

Be Your Own God

Self Released

26th September 2015

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KIT B emerged a couple of years back from the dissolution of Manchester underground favourites The Hidden Gem, a band that deserved a lot more attention than it got.  KIT B ought get all the attention they deserve with this EP. The second self-release from the band,  introduces new drummer Peter Slater (who had a stint with John Peel favourites Blackpool’s Vee V V, who in turn emerged from Tunnelvision and the seaside punk scene), and delivers four new tunes plus two remixes (by the alter-egos of two of the bands’ members).

Debut EP  “This Picture” has just re-emerged on Bandcamp and I suggest you start there to familiarise yourself with their output.

This is high grade Manchester alternative popular music. Lead man Danny Cusick has demonstrated over the years that he can write excellent lyrics and melodies, there is literally a whole albums worth of unreleased material by the band that has not seen the light of day. That collection of tunes amply demonstrated the potential of the band. The new collection builds on that legacy and moves the band on as a writing and performing unit. All the songs are co-credited to the four band members.

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Opener Montezuma builds from bassist John Montague’s (The Junta, Pearl Divers, Positronik) riff and lyrically is Cusick’s homage to Lou Reed ,with clever references to the VU front-man’s output and history. Cusick’s vocal is his usual mix of tender and fractured instilling an emotional edge which requires repeat play. Keyboardist Mike Powell (Exchange, Night Operations) builds layers of synths to create a rich sound.

Title track Be Your Own God has a typical Cusick more-ish melody which is driven by a chunky Montague bass line and has some delicious break-downs and changes between verse and chorus. The song could go on a lot longer for me, it’s that good. In Peter Slater the band have an excellent drummer who has been able to take on the mammoth task of filling previous sticks-man Tony Ashworth’s shoes.

Vicious Circle, probably the best song on the release to these ears comes across tonally a bit like “Shoulder Pads” by the Fall with it’s staccato keyboard line but develops it’s own identity with a developing melody and a motorik drive from Slater and Montague. For some reason I was also reminded of something from early Yes. (obligatory in-joke prog rock reference!) Again another great song which is over far too quickly.

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(It’s Gonna Be) Alright starts all techno and then morphs into pure pop out of the Hulme massive. Heady nights in the Hacienda or The Ritz are called to mind. Montague’s bass delivers a pungent restless urgency to the song, Cusick teeters on the edge of emotional break-down with a bitter-sweet vocal.

Cusick says “Vicious circle and Alright have been knocking around for a while and a psychoanalyst would probably be able to explain the meaning of the songs more clearly than me. The title ‘Vicious Circle ‘ is the original title of ‘ in the Ghetto ‘ by Elvis, I’m a great fan.The lyric for ‘Alright’ came out in a stream of consciousness and took about 10 minutes to write.

The two remixes reflect the other “jobs” of Montague and Powell.  Monty adopts his Junta persona for techno rework of Vicious Circle, stripped down and stuffed with analogue squelches replacing his own bass line,  he brings a different dance oriented dynamic to the tune. Mike adopts his ambient Night Operations approach to recreate an electronica/dance focused feel to Alright with urgent beats and attention given to the bass and guitar lines, and then a move into OMD territory with a trip down the autobahn at some pace.

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I submitted a few questions via Facebook to the band in anticipation of the EP launch at Tiger Lounge, Cooper Street, Manchester on 26th September. I kicked off by asking, given the large amount of material in the band’s catalogue, why it had taken so long to come out and whether other releases are planned, and why a self release approach had been adopted?:

DC:  Two years to release four songs and a couple of remixes is quite good going for us. There are no plans for the album at the moment but we have new material that we are quite excited about so there maybe a vinyl single towards the new year. We decided not to hawk the ep around the record labels, wejust thought we’d go down a DIY route and not have to suffer the indignity of numerous ‘Dear John ‘ replies.

The EP’s striking cover comes from an idea Cusick had before he even wrote the title song.

DC: I just sent the brief over to a graphic designer I know from Dublin, Donogh  McLaverty, and he worked his magic and produced the great image.

The EP will be available in a an attractive faux-vinyl CD from the band at gigs from their website   and a digital version will be also be on-line in the near future.

The EP will be available to buy at the Tiger Lounge gig and as for other gigs Montague revealed that plans are being put together for an evening with Y-Key Operators and The Electric Cheese.

The support act for the Tiger Lounge gig is newish band The G-O-D which is a side project of Dub-Sex guitarist Chris Bridgett and features the legendary Manchester drummer Simon Wolstencroft (The Fall, Ian Brown).

I asked the band what music they were listening to at the moment.

DC: I’m just listening to a 1970s top of the pops album I bought for 50p from a charity shop,it has a version of PILs ‘death disco’ on it amongst others.Elton John played on a lot of these L.P’s before he got married and became a housewife.

PS: is listening to Lonelady. Slug , Sleaford Mods and The Membranes.

JM:  I’m liking the new Wolf Alive album, and shock horror Years & Years which I bought my wife. Quite good debut album,like it! (you can also hear Monty’s current faves on his radio show on Salford City Radio on Tuesday nights at 9pm).

MP: i’m  enjoying the new Jane Weaver and the Underworld album “A Hundred Days Off” at the moment (you can listen to Mike on Halton FM on Tuesday between 8 and 10pm)

A highly recommended EP and the band are well worth seeing live so don’t miss the gig at the Tiger Lounge.

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