Benign Astringency

The Junta is having technical problems. The truculent sound engineer can handle guitars, bass, drums etc but can’t seem to be able to cope with/entertain techno/electronica. Soundcards are not working and the AV laptop has developed deadly embrace. Notwithstanding that The Junta powers through 30+ minutes of old, new and cover material, the latter being a very interesting version of a Rammstein tune. Some of the crowd like it but this is perhaps this is not the ideal place for The Junta to ply his trade. The track “Ron Jeremy” stands out (obligatory Carry  On joke time), and gets a least one lady up off her seat to throw some shapes (she will reappear regularly throughout the evening). In addition, at least one new fan has been made as he comes up to congratulate Monty towards the end of the set. Some thoughts on current technical limitations of The Junta live setup are discussed in the car on the way home. Can’t help feeling he would better placed playing in a sweaty techno club in Manchester or Ibiza rather than in a pub in Oldham Town Centre?  Regardless of my musings, I admire his boundless enthusiasm in the face of uncooperative gremlins.

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Stepping back slightly. I seem to have spent most of my day on the tram network. It’s given me chance to listen to the new Lancashire Hustlers album (which is excellent) and to chill to Enrico Pieranunzi playing Fellini film scores. Eccles to Oldham takes longer than I anticipated due to the long wait at Cornbrook for the Rochdale Connection. For an early Saturday evening, the carriages seem extremely full. Late shopping commuters perhaps. By the time I get to Oldham (….. she’ll be rising etc) it’s dark. Ominously a gaggle of police officers join the tram at Freehold and there are one or two worried glances around me. The much-troubled network has suffered from an “unprovoked attack” violent incident recently. There is a claustrophobic feel to the King Street tram stop. Fortunately, there is only a short walk from the tram stop to the Bank Top Tavern where The Junta. Four Candles and Drink and Drive are playing.

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Four Candles have been somewhat busy recording the important second album, I’ve heard most of it. It will confound, impress and delight many. It’s certainly different from the first one. Tonight there is a subtle change from what was seen at The Peer Hat in January in that is delivered like a sledgehammer to the head. Phil has ditched his electric drum kit which seems to add a huge punch to the overall sound. Mr Moss appears intent on ridding himself of several demons this evening. His mojo has returned with vengeance. The crowd becomes enthralled, Mr Moss becomes more animated and manic. The reciprocal exchange of energy between band and audience builds to a huge climax. The impressive new tracks – Stranger Things,  You Can’t Be What You Pretend, Chastity Belt and a massive C33 dominate the old favourites. The hypnotic guitar figure of “You Can’t Be What….” is glorious, the impressive “Angels, Not Angels” will not be on the album but is a stand-out on the night. The crowd love it. People are dancing, Mr Moss becomes even more animated his shirt becoming soaked with sweat as he drives the band on. It feels like the edge of chaos, it is intriguing. These guys need to gig more and build the audience they deserve. “Stranger Things” with its consideration of dark political arts is a track which is both apposite and demands your attention.

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What can I say about Drink and Drive? A Hometown gig will clearly bring their already large fan base out. The pub fills, people dance. Starting off with “Itch-Scratch Cycle” they demonstrate their intent. Powering through 15 tunes they cover most of the latest album, they try out a new one, and they dig up some much older material. The Adult Pig Suit makes its semi-regular appearance conjuring up memories of Peter Gabriel with a foxes head at the Oval in 1972. Both humorous but also oddly worrying. The band leap between the jaunty Country and Northern of “Dakota Hotel” to the full-on punk rancour of “Recession Man” with ease. “Spring Time For Drink and Drive” and “Greg’s Fault” are most impressive. If you want to fill that huge “Fall-Shaped” hole in your gigging life you should see this band. Whilst the manifestos and content are significantly different from “das gruppe” the underlying intent is the same. Repetition plays a huge part, and the juxtaposition of that with complex and far-reaching lyrical content, a benign astrigency of complex metaphors and rhythm, creates a dark matter heavy mass of emotive music which draws the listener toward it with an irrepressible gravitational force. They remain German Shepherd Records biggest success to date and they ought to be getting national recognition for what they do.

DandD

The night has been great. At one point during the D and D set Ben makes a remark about a lack of places to see live music in the Town Centre. Free entry tonight and a reasonably good turnout. No tribute bands. Seems like a winning formula to me. Two good gig weekends in a row for me.  One wonders why impressive new live music is suffering when the quality was as good as it was tonight. Landlords should be happy to fill a pub and sell lots of ale etc. It’s a conundrum.  The journey home is long and convoluted as for some reason the M60 is closed between junctions 6 and 12, I get home at 2pm, tired but pleased. The psychedelic carpet in the Bank Top Tavern seems to be imprinted on my retina.

BTT carpet

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Best of 2016 # 2 – Gigs

Having spent quite a lot of the year in and out of medical facilities for one reason or another the number of gigs attended has been somewhat constrained but having said that much improved on 2015 when I spent a good deal of the time in a plaster cast. In the most part the gigs I did attend were all great. There were a couple of bad evenings caused in the first case by an idiotic club owner and in the second case by a less than perfect sound engineering job, it is not my habit to name names, so I won’t, all I would say is that bands deserve more.

Ones I sadly missed due to ill health and diary clashes

  • Robert Forster
  • The Triffids
  • Kim Salmon

Here are the highlights in no particular order, apart from the top four gigs.

  • Manchester Jazz Festival – just a general message to say it was much improved this year with some fascinating bands seen especially in the performance space in Manchester Central Library – the price of the beer in the Festival Village is obscene though!
  • Soft Machine at The Band on the Wall – OK so we sat in the bar for most of the second set drinking and chewing the fat about music but the first set was pretty memorable and I realised a long held ambition to see this band.
  • The Junta at Night and Day – kabuki, mime and beats with El Generallisimo cooking up a techno storm.
  • Aidan Cross & Johann Kloos, Poppycock, Taser Puppets and West Coast Sick Line at Dulcimer, Chorlton. A fun packed night with a storming set from the Westies and a slight hiatus while Mr Maxwell found his guitar.
  • Moff Skellington, Mr Mouse, Loop-aznavour at The Fenton Leeds – a remarkable evening with a sparse audience but excellent performances from all three protagonists only somewhat ruined by the inability to get out of Leeds via the motorway necessitating a circuitous journey home via Harrogate
  • The Eagle, again, for the debut of the much anticipated new band lead by Ian Moss Four Candles , Cambridge rockers, stripped down to acoustic duo  for the night, Bouquet of Dead Crows, all the way from Modena Italy Saint Lawrence Verge, and to close the night the ever excellent Poppycock. A rather special evening.
  • Sam SmithGenevieve L Walsh and The Madding Crowd at The Moston Miners Club – a great set from Sam, memorable poetry from Genevieve,  and an epic set from The Madding Crowd.
  • The Junta, Bouquet of Dead Crows, The Scissors and Kit B at the Eagle as part of Salford Music Festival. Barnstorming sets from all four bands – we need to do this again.
  • Taser Puppets, Poppycock, JD Meatyard and West Coast Sick Line as part of Salford Musical Festival also at The Eagle – one of our most successful nights with a good crowd, fine performances, and a stellar set from Mr Meatyard.
  • Blaney album launch at Pacifica Cantonese. A great album and a memorable album launch with the added bonus of it being five minutes from where I live. It’s been a good year for Ed and he deserves the support he is getting at the moment

and the top four, who all happen to be Australian for some strange reason……

4.

The Necks live at the Band on the Wall – a special performance from an amazing trio of musicians. Unique and breath-taking music bereft of ego and full of invention.

3.

Harry Howard and the NDE with Poppycock at The Eagle – exploding keyboards and horrendous traffic conspired against us but Poppycock were the best I have seen them all year and Harry and co were exceptional given they had a stand in rhythm section with only a couple of days rehearsal.

2.

Dave Graney and Poppycock & Franco Bandini at the Eagle – a long held desire to catch Dave and Clare live was at long last realised. Most of the band were full of germs but still managed to deliver a set packed with classic tunes from across the Graney songbook. The added bonus of seeing Malcolm Ross play the guitar as well.

and my gig of the year….

1.

Dave Graney at the Betsey Trotwood, London – a memorable journey to the capital despite a dodgy knee. A pleasant afternoon drinking with Bob and Jeff in some fine ale houses. A fantastic set from Dave, Clare, Stu and Malcolm covering even more of the Graney songbook topped off by a great tribute to Prince.

DG 2 BT

Salford Music Festival 2016

Dear reader it’s that time again, the last week in September, when I wax lyrical about the utterly wonderful Salford Music Festival. . Now in its’ seventh year this grass roots, no nonsense event, is part of the musical life blood of the city in which I live. Often overshadowed, in entertainment terms at least, by our noisy neighbours in Manchester, this Festival plays a big part in redressing that imbalance and puts Salford firmly on the map, where it deserves to be.

The difference between any other festival that you might care to join in on is that it is absolutely free for punters, no wristbands, no overpriced beer or food, and no tents. Ed Blaney’s desire for the events to be free is a key driver for the popularity and success of the three day celebration of music. And the added benefit is there isn’t a tribute band in sight.

The Festival has been stripped back to three days this year, Thursday 29th September to Saturday October 1st, and centres around the Chapel Street/Blackfriars area close to Manchester City Centre, and the peoples republic of Eccles and the delightful village of Monton, just five minutes up the road from where I happen to live. This more compact and focused approach makes this years Festival feel more important and vibrant than ever.

And of course I have a direct interest in that I am looking after two nights at the Eagle Inn – Friday and Saturday.

So what can you expect?  Well all the gigs are listed on the Salford Music Festival website so I encourage you to go there, but here are a few of my highlights from the three days……

THURSDAY

The ultra talented Tamsin Middleton (Mr Heart) has a solo show at The Crescent at 8:30pm followed by ded.pixel and The Kingdom

The excellent Salford Arms has Duke and the Darlings, Wintergreen and Crimsons

Bobby Peru close the night at the always  excellent Wangies in Eccles with support from The Comics and Sioux.

FRIDAY

The beautiful Sacred Trinity Church is the main stage for a headline concert featuring local big new things Cabbage, the excellent Blaney, Sound of Thieves and Jess Kemp

The Eagle Inn has the first of two German Shepherd Nights with The Junta, Bouquet of Dead Crows, The Scissors and Kit B.

Highly regard all female trio Liines play The Crescent.

SATURDAY

The second German Shepherd stage at the Eagle features Taser Puppets, Poppcock, JD Meatyard and West Coast Sick Line.

Highly regarded Death to the Strange play The Crescent.

A packed day at the Salford Arms sees seven acts on between 5pm and closing time.

Milton Keys duo The Rusty G’s play Wangies.

Y Key Operators with guest bassist John “The Junta” Montague play the Blue Bell in Monton.

Here are some examples of what to expect over the weekend. I hope to see you at the Eagle for what promises to be an excellent weekend.

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Fascinating Things : Issue 66

July already, where is the year going?

There’s some exciting things coming up over the next few months including a brand new Van Der Graaf Generator album which I have naturally pre-ordered and a raft of gigs associated with our little record label including a show case event at the Eagle in Salford on 12th August which will feature, all the way from Modena Italy, the sensational Saint Lawrence Verge , the debut of Ian “Moet” Moss’s new band Four Candles (who look very promising from rehearsal recordings) , from Cambridge an acoustic set from the exceptional Bouquet of Dead Crows, and the remarkable Poppycock  as headliners. The Italian boys will be travelling down to Cambridge the following day for a gig at the Corner House with the Dead Crows and a visit from The Junta. We also have a presence at The Eagle on the Saturday with an EP launch from Rose and the Diamond Hand  and a guest appearance from the very talented Alana Bondi.

Anyway enough of this manic self-publication here some new things that might pique your interest……

Omar Rodriguez-Lopez  of At The Drive In/Mars Volta fame is to release a series of solo albums via Ipecac Recordings, with the first release, Sworn Virgins, available digitally on July 15. The previously unreleased albums were recorded from 2008 to 2013, while Rodriguez-Lopez lived in Zapopan, Mexico and  El Paso. The titles will be released on a bi-weekly basis with the first spate of albums running through the end of the year. Each album will see a digital release with a limited number of physical copies (CD) available on Rodriguez-Lopez’s various live outings. Following the initial run of releases, a limited edition CD/LP box set will become available.

Photo credit : Robin Laananen

Pixies have  announced a new album, “Head Carrier” which is available for pre-order at http://www.pixiesmusic.com. ‘Head Carrier’ is released on September 30th, 2016, on
Limited Edition Box Set, Heavyweight Vinyl in Gatefold Sleeve, and CD Digipack.  They have also announced a new continental European tour for November 2016 with UK dates to be announced very soon. Here’s the single ‘Um Chagga Lagga’.

It appears that Indie is making a comeback, did it ever go away I ask myself. with the new single from Blush. It has all the intensity of The Wedding Present with a transatlantic vocal shtick which sticks in the mind.

Hovering somewhere between Ray Davies, Dylan and The Byrds Glasgow’s The Echo Session have a new single. ‘But I’m Scared’ out. It is a live studio recording from the Echo Session vaults, mastered by Dave Cook. The single will be available from all the usual digital outlets, including the Flowers in the Dustbin bandcamp store. It’s seven years since their last single apparently.

Having burst wild-eyed from the stalls of a buzzing monthly club residency in deepest Hackney and with a lot of interest for debut single ‘Shakin’ Like the Leaves on the Trees’, blues-tinged tearaways Mollys Daggers are gearing up for the release of their debut album “Prima Materia” alongside 2nd single ‘Zin-uru’. It kicks off sounding like Rory Gallagher, which is fine by me, and a welcome respite from the Mumford clones that litter my in-box of late. Expect to hear cuts from the album on Aural Delights Podcast over the next few weeks.

If my Tardis was working (sadly the temporal synchro-mesh is off line) I’d be hopping over to the Corner Hotel in Melbourne round about now to catch Dave Graney ‘n’ The Coral Snakes. I’ll have to make do with the excellent PBS radio session from a couple of days back which was stuffed with classic Snakes tunes like Warren Oates. I’m pleased to be able to share this video from the session. What a band!

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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Fascinating Things Issue 01

 This is the first of a semi-regular magazine format blog of new music that comes my way and gets featured on my podcasts. You will find a wide variety of music types here and hopefully something that piques your interest.

Chelsea Wolfe is set to release her newest full length album, Abyss, August 7th on Sargent House, here is the single release from the album :

Dead Rider have a series of European tour dates on the horizon in support of their new 7″ single New End b/w Uncomfy, and the  full length Chills On Glass which Drag City released last year.  UK dates are 17/6/15  London – Shacklewell Arms, 18/6/15 Glasgow – Bloc+
19/6/15  Edinburgh – Sneaky Petes, and 22/06/15 UK, Bristol -The Exchange.

In the year of shoegaze’s comeback, Ear to Ear Records presents you a free download international shoegaze compilation, involving 30 bands from 16 countries. In the words of Creation Records co-founder Joe Foster, this is as “an unprecedented spread of hope and art”, which has been embraced by members of such shoegaze pioneers as Swervedriver, Slowdive, The Telescopes, Brian Jonestown Massacre, and Swallow.

The Melvins  released The Bulls & The Bees/Electroretard split on Ipecac Recordings, on 2nd June. This 13 song album features both releases on one CD.

Fresh from a BBC Radio 6 Music debut on 6 Music Recommends with Tom Ravenscroft, and a live appearance at Song By Toad’s , Andrew R. Burns & The Tropicanas“Paradise Palms Song by Toa d Dingus Rock Slop Fest” the ‘Dreamslop’ ep was released on Sunday 31st May, and is available from itunes and all major digital stores via Flowers In The Dustbin records.

FLOW is the new album from the Belgium based quartet Drifter, co-led by Finnish pianist Alexi Tuomarila and Belgium saxophonist Nicolas Kummert, who won huge praise and acclaim across Europe and Australia as the Alexi Tuomarila Quartet in the early 2000’s.

Inego are named after the Spaniard hell-bent on avenging the death of his father in the 80’s cult classic ‘The Princess Bride’ . The band released their ‘What Are You Waiting For?’ in May . Recorded at Magic Garden Studios and produced by Gavin Monaghan and Joe Murray. The Band play The Headlander Festival in Stockport on June 20th .

The Junta returns with a four track EP on German Shepherd Records on June 12th. Entitled Hydra the music inspired by the Marvel Universe baddies and the Agents of Shield TV Programme. A follow EP with remixes  by Night Operations, Captain Black, Space Museum, Passage of Time and The Junta himself will follow in July.

Austin, Texas’s Sungod have released a fantastic two track EP of their signature psych drone krautrock – highly recommended

Southern Lord have announce the signing of Montreal trio BIG|BRAVE. The three-piece play  long-form out-rock that ventures in to different directions – at times mournful and unsettling – “their music plays out in to moon-bleached grunge where serene vocals crumble over scraping guitars bled of melody.” A new album is penciled in for a late summer release, recorded with Efrim Menuck (Godspeed You! Black Emperor/Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra) at Hotel2Tango. This will add to a growing discography comprising their debut EP An Understanding Between People (2013) and the debut LP Feral Verdure, which they recorded at Paradise Studios with Jon Boles, and self-released in September 2014. There’s high expectation of great things to come.

nTTx is the new project of Gord Clement (former singer/songwriter in Atomzero). His new music is a melodic, vocal driven form of EBM, with some synthpop and disco influences. The new single is titled ‘Falls Beautiful’ with a b-side cover version of ‘New Dress’ (Depeche Mode). The single is now available as a free download to the public via his bandcamp page . It will also be available through iTunes, Amazon, and most streaming services.

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I Just Want Room To Live

You know we just might well be at the beginning of something rather special here.

By here I mean Salford, or more specifically The Crescent Pub, on The Crescent (naturally). For those of you who don’t know the place it perches on the edge of the A6 going into (or out of) Manchester overlooking the loop in the River Irwell. It’s where Marx and Engels sat and chatted about life, politics and other important things many years ago, and it is where a long awaited venue for cutting edge music is emerging.

Tony Thornborough and Steve Nicholson
Tony Thornborough and Steve Nicholson

Tony Thornborough, Steve Nicholson, Jim Watts and Gerry the landlord are a formidable partnership. They have taken the empty shell of the previous concert room, have completely turned it round, literally speaking, the stage is at the other end! But more importantly there is a decent sound system and mixer, a sound engineer in Jim Watts who knows what he wants and knows how to get it, and a promoter in Tony Thornborough, who together with his side-kick Steve Nicholson, with the vision to actually create a venue that works for the musicians and audience. Add to that ambitious plans to create a bar area in the concert room, open up the rear to the beer garden and make the whole thing more accessible and user friendly and you have all of the ingredients for a very bright future.

Jim Watts and SD
Jim Watts and SD

The concept is relatively simple and the ingredients that make it work are so easily realised. Drum Kit, bass and guitar amps, and microphones are provided on site, the bands will not have to pay to play, and the pub has an excellent range of quality beverages, and food, at reasonable prices. It’s a five minute bus ride out of central Manchester, walking distance from Salford Central and Salford Crescent rail stations, and a fifteen minute walk from Deansgate if you are feeling healthy. If you are in the car there is ample parking around the back of the venue.

Patriq Gannon - The Prick Jaggers
Patriq Gannon – The Prick Jaggers

The two nights that German Shepherd records put on there recently are testament to the current developing success of the venue and it’s huge potential to become the premier small gig venue in Salford and more importantly the conurbation core/city centre. Bands who haven’t quite reached the audience capacity to fill the nearby Islington Mill, or some of the medium sized venues in the city centre now have a place where they can play, and in most cases, get paid.

The Junta
The Junta

Last Friday (5th December) saw the first of two nights of German Shepherd artists and some special guests playing at The Crescent.  John “The Junta” Montague kicked things off with a superb set of dance orientated electronica featuring music from his album Art of Glass. John’s ability to fuse 70s/80s electronica with current dance trends creates a maelstrom of laminal synthesis and funky beats. Standouts were the rich textures of “Orca” and the spooky “Devil”. The revelation was the closing tune where “Monty” demonstrated he has a fine singing voice.

Johann Kloos
Johann Kloos

Johann Kloos  was up next with a selection of his psychedelic pop and rock nuggets. For someone who had not played a gig for a year he was in fine fettle rattling through a mixture of melodic songs, psych-punk, and eerie electronica. Variety is the key word in Johann’s music and he amply demonstrated his talent across a range of styles and sounds,

Susan from Factory Acts
Susan from Factory Acts

The ever stunning Factory Acts improve each time I see them. With sure fire favourites like “Thirst” from the new EP, the enviable majesty of Susan’s voice and keyboards, and Matt’s pungent bass and beats, makes for one the most exciting live experiences in the Greater Manchester area at the moment.  The ever excellent “American’s With Guns” needs to be recorded soon and a stunning cover of Grinderman’s “No Pussy Blues” had Susan exorcising her inner Nick Cave. If you haven’t caught them live yet then I suggest you do at the next available opportunity.

The Hamsters
The Hamsters

Unfortunately it was getting late by now which meant I missed the last act of the evening, Una Baines excellent Poppycock, but I am advised they delivered a wonderful set. However I was able to hang around long enough to witness the return of the legendary Hamsters. With his recent departure from Kill Pretty Moet has decided to bring back the band where he feels “the most comfortable”. Nigel Blacklock, Jon Rowlinson and Damien Hughes provided a brutal and unforgiving sound to back up a bellicose Mr Morse. The band kicked off with a brand new tune, a homage to Vince Taylor, and powered through a series of classic Hamster tunes from across the years concluding with a slightly ramshackle but delightful reading of “Drowning” with guest appearances from Lucy Power and Una Baines.

A Teenage Propshaft
A Teenage Propshaft

Before The Hamsters were let loose on the world once more we had the debut performance of The Teenage Propshafts with Monty guesting on bass and Moet on Zen keyboards. Mr Doyle’s energetic performance of “Salford Streets” proved very popular with the crowd and no doubt is a prelude of more output from this artist.

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Rob – The Prick Jaggers

Saturday was a more relaxed affair with the more eclectic and esoteric artists on the German Shepherd roster getting an outing. The evening kicked off with a short set from the excellent The Prick Jaggers  who were charming, self-effacing, funny and down right entertaining.  Patriq and Rob were in fine form and I look forward to hearing them live again.

Rose Niland and Mark Corrin
Rose Niland and Mark Corrin

Rose Nilandably supported by Mark Corrin, was spectacular, her unique and compelling vocal style and her, sometimes, otherworldly music transports the listener to dusty Moroccan streets via chill Scandanavian  landscapes to the heart of the blues. Her attention to detail and stage make-up demonstrates that this is artist who demands to be heard and wants to create a lasting impression. One of my missions in the next twelve months is to try and get this exceptional artist a much wider audience.

Modal Roberts
Modal Roberts

And then the force of nature that is Modal RobertsAgain an artist that puts considerable effort into his stage presentation,  this evening Modal appeared to channelling a heady combination of Jack Sparrow and Q from Star Trek The Next Generation, and towards the end of the set, either Marilyn Monroe or Olive from On The Buses,  at least in visual terms. Musically we got the delightfully rude “Full Sore”, a unique rendition of Eno’s “Baby’s on Fire”, a great version of “Derbyshire” and a chilling reading of “Brown” plus a selection of other tunes from his vast repertoire. Marvellous and slightly unhinged.

Aidan Cross
Aidan Cross

Due to illness the ever excellent West Coast Sick Line were unable to appear and the reliable Aidan Cross stood in. Playing a selection of Bacillus songs plus some new material Aidan’s rich voice complimented the stripped down sound of his acoustic guitar,  the highlight being the wonderful “When Strangers Step in the Bar”. He is working on new material at the moment and the newer songs in the set sounded very good indeed.

Loop-azznavour
Loop-aznavour

And finally, and my personal favourite of the weekend, the brilliant Loop-aznavour.  I was expecting him to be good having heard a lot of his material, he far exceeded my expectations. His mastery of the theremin is wonderful, his songs are memorable and his stage delivery is stunning, channelling anger, frustration and anarchy into a ferocious bundle of energy. With Moet guesting on the marvellous “Justin Beiber Must Die” this was a wonderful way to conclude two nights of genuinely unique music.

Material from most of these artists can be found at the German Shepherd Bandcamp site.

Chatting with Tony Thornborough over the two nights he was keen to describe his vision and expectations for The Crescent as a venue. The ambition and passion to create a performance space for artists is strong and the facilities that are being put in place will eventually create an unenviable live music location. German Shepherd plan to repeat the recent experience again in the new year in partnership with Tony, Steve and Jim. Something I am particularly looking forward to.

Rarified Mixtures and Sad Farewells

A few bits of news before I disappear for a week to watch England play India at Old Trafford – let’s hope the weather stays dry……anyhow…..

The ever prolific Melvins return with “Hold It In”, their first studio album as a quartet since 2010’s The Bride Screamed Murder. Joining Buzz Osborne and Dale Crover for the 12-song album are Butthole Surfers‘ guitar player Paul Leary and bass player JD Pinkus. The album was recorded in both Los Angeles and Austin earlier this year, and shall be released via Ipecac Recordings this October.

Melvins New Album

Bitchin Bajas‘ self-titled new album is according to the promo  “something delicate yet definite, gradually washing over your consciousness. Something pure and natural is happening-within the sound, within the song; in the album and in you. The shifts that come, make changes in your moods and your body temperature. On one hand, it is in many ways the ultimate album; and on the other, barely even an album at all. Where these ideas meet is immediately realised in the come-to-life video for the song, “Bueu””.

Using analog, modular video synthesizers, the video for “Bueu” was created by Nick Ciontea and is the first in a series of videos planned for each and every movement on the Bajas’ self-titled new album. The rest are set for a special, digital-only release of the album, available exclusively from Drag City. Tune in and drop out and watch 12 minutes of trippy visualisations.

Portland’s furious sci-fi punks, Big Black Cloud, are back from the lab with their latest dirty bomb, the cassette EP Lessons In Fuck You 2. Tripling down on their intoxicating rarefied mix of punk, noise, psych, surf, and rock, the agita trio takes a dark trip that drives and swerves like a B-movie soundtrack through threat-level guitar attacks, groovy alien eviscerations, and goddamn-us-all-to-hell preaching.

The band is from Portland, Oregon, and comprises guitarist/vocalist Nick Capello, bassist/vocalist Soo Koelbli, and drummer Travis Wainwright. Formed in 2005, They have released two 7-inches, a 10-inch, two 12-inch LPs (Dark Age and Black Friday), and the Shitty Vibrations cassette. They channels inspiration from sources as disparate as Brainbombs and the Beatles, Dolphy and Mingus, and Italian horror and creature features into unhinged rock ‘n’ roll that hits the high marks and innovation of noise-punk greats like Pere Ubu, Circus Lupus, Dead Kennedys, Cows, and Alice Donut.

Lessons In Fuck You 2 was borne of demo sessions recorded and mixed by Andrew Grosse of Caravan Recording (Drunk Dad, Tyrants, Tiny Knives) for the next  LP, the record capturing the band in its own anxiety-fueled element, a rollercoaster ride through a collapsing amusement park of overdriven shout-alongs and untethered instrumentals. The recordings, done on location with a mobile unit in the underground lair of the The Fancy Fox, gave the ever-prolific trio a chance to work through a host of new and old ideas. Whether due to the (dis)comfort of their own space, nothing-to-lose abandon, or present states-of-mind, Lessons In Fuck You 2 finds the band in top form: frantic, pissed-off, and sinister as they further explore their own dark territory with off-balance grooves, instrumental street-race sex jams, and wild freakouts, jagged guitar and cracking drums glued together with rubbery bass overlain with can-you-hear-me-now yells.

Big Black Cloud

Los Angeles sludgecore unit, Colombian Necktie  are about to release  their debut full-length, Twilight Upon Us. Named in honor of a song by Big Black but more commonly known as a method of murder where the victim’s throat is slashed and the tongue is pulled through the open wound, the album is  produced by Erol “Rollie” Ulug (Graf Orlock) at Bright Lights Studios, is the sonic equivalent of this violent and visceral act boasting thirteen maniacal tracks of dark, riff-heavy, emotionally stirring audio menace.

Since forming in the Los Angeles in the autumn of 2010, the band — vocalist Scott Werren, guitarists Juan Hernandez-Cruz and Ben Daniels, drummer Ben Brinckerhoff and bassist Alex DuPuis — has earned a reputation for their punishing riffs and maniacal DIY work ethic. Though clearly rooted in hardcore, tracks like the syncopated, sludgy death march of “Play The Game” and midtempo thrash of “Drought,” complete with squealing synths, add a welcome dose of variance to an album that’s uncompromising in its aggression. “We don’t feel like we fit in any one genre, we just kind of slam things against a wall and focus more on how it makes us feel than where it fits in,” Hernandez-Cruz admits. “Our influences range from Cave In and Snapcase to Orchid and Page 99 so we never try to limit ourselves when it comes to what we do stylistically.”

It hasn’t been a painless ride for the members of the band however and correspondingly, much of Twilight Upon Us is rooted in tragedy as evidenced in the ten-minute opus “Kevin’s Song.” “Kevin was a close friend of ours and former bandmate who actually brought the band together. When he passed away, something came over us and we started writing differently,” Hernandez-Cruz reflects. “The tragedy was really heavy because Kevin was just driving to a show in San Francisco and we knew it could have been any of us.” Instead of falling into depression, the band used their friend’s death as the catalyst to the manifestation of Twilight Upon Us.

“So much of the record is about loss and the struggle to try to cope in a city [Los Angeles] that isn’t always forgiving,” Hernandez-Cruz continues. “The silver lining is that this experience brought us closer as friends and musically in the sense that it made us all vulnerable and forced us to really listen to each other.”

Whether it’s the progressive bridge of “Weep For The Future” or ethereal intro to “Sleepwalking,” the bond the members developed over the past two years helped them dig deeper to incorporate elements that they never could have conceptualized in a perfect world. “This record has a lot of pain on it and a lot of unpredictable moments but it also feels good if that makes any sense,” Hernandez-Cruz summarizes, “and listening to this collection of songs, the listener gains the sense that not only are they not alone but that he or she can gain strength in the darkest of moments.”

Twilight Upon Us will be released independently on August 19th, 2014.

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And it is with great sadness I mark the passing of Positronik.  The band has been a key part of my life for the last four years or so and it is regretful that their excellent tunes didn’t get the audience they deserve. MzDee who left some time back continues to work with Blue Zen, and it is has been, I think, the failure to find a suitable replacement for Danielle that has led us to this situation. Monty continues to perform bass duties for Kit B, as well as his solo project The Junta (whose first gig will be at this years Salford Music Festival). Jeff Black is working again with Carl Lingard of Pearl Divers fame. All three of  the latter group of musicians can be heard on the Salford Streets Charity album.