Solo Thievery

Kindest of Thieves

Serial Mothers and Terminal Hunchbanks

I Tunes

That Chris Fox can write a mean tune, play a mean guitar, and has a very good voice is in no doubt.

That he has graced the local musical stages over the last few years in two great bands – Para Zali! and The Kindest of Thieves is also in no doubt.

So how should we feel if he strips it all down to solo acoustic guitar, and vox recorded in a seriously reverbed room – no drums and no bass?

Well – surprisingly enough – we should feel very satisfied.

In this context, although Fox readily admits the recording is “very lo-fi and stripped” (two ribbon microphones and an acoustic guitar) , the quality of the voice and the song-writing comes through strongly.

And maybe this album  is Fox’s “Nebraska”, a career defining moment which shakes him away from the original sleazy blues feel of the first band, and the indie pop, rock n’ roll, and, rockabilly sensibilities of the second band. He sounds like he is redefining himself here – there’s a bit of growing up going on and the mature nature of the lyrics and feel of the songs perhaps signals a future direction.

Chris says of this set of songs…..” It seemed like all 7 songs really seemed to tie in to the same concepts which were Families, Loveless Relationships, and trying to fix relationships that are beyond saving. I’ve thought a lot about families, as at this point in my life I can’t ever imagine having children of my own, and this thought has unsettled me greatly. I’ve focussed on saving relationships because when I observe people in love, I always ask myself if they can really be as happy as they appear. This was the first time ever I’ve written songs that aren’t solely autobiographical.”

For my part I found this to be a very compelling set of tunes – I would maybe like to hear songs of this quality given a good recording session to bring out the nuances of the material – but maybe they would lose something if this was to happen – perhaps it’s the simplicity of the recording technique that brings out the best in his writing?

Probably best described as a mini-album – half way between an EP and a full album – it’s 21 minutes 30 seconds well spent.

Recommended.

Salford Music Scene – 13th March 2012

On this weeks show ( you can hear it here):

1 The Centrals Lack of Love Demo Track
2 Premise Beach Hold Me Now Single
3 John Herring I Haven’t Got A Clue It Starts Again
4 Emma Elisabeth If I Could The Coldness of Winter
5 The Kindest of Thieves Go To Town On Me Ever The Optimist
6 Easter Pages Innocence Man
7 Beyond Recognition The Illusion The Illusion
8 White Cliff You Know Demo Track
9 Today They Are Older Anger is more useful than despair Demo Track
10 Mandrake The Old Church Chapel Demo Track
12 Glass Ankle Without You Here Demo Track
12 John Herring Moments Like This It Starts Again
13 The Fall Impression of J Temperance Grotesque After The Gramme

Salford Music Scene – 6th March 2012

Another slice of the increasingly exciting music scen (sic) around the Salford and the North West…….

Starting with another cut from the great new EP from Warrington’s “Kindest of Thieves” – as reviewed elsewhere on this blog – moving swiftly on to an excellent band from Manchester called The Centrals. Next up the ever glorious Mr Heart –  one of the three bands playing at SCRs gig at the Kings Arms on Thursday night…..then a nice taster from the soon to be released album from John Herring (listening party for the album on Friday Night at the Kings again!).

Then the second band playing on Thursday – Kill for Company – utterly chuffed that they are featured in the NME website with a vid filmed by fellow SCR DJ Tony Thornborough, and then the excellent new single from the stunning Ninetails – and very good it is. Then the bill toppers for Thursday – Whipcord – it’s their 150th gig!  You’ll be sorry if you missed this august point in the bands history. Moston madness from the gorgeous English Mutts is followed by surf reggae genius from the always inventive Kit B.

Another John Herring track is followed by some rock from a great Manchester band – Beyond Recognition – and then a quick trip west up the M62 for a great Liverpool band called White Cliff.

Matters conclude with a track from the very excellent new album from Easter – “Innocence Man” – a stunning debut! – and a bit of Fall magic from 1980.

Listen here ……

1 Kindest of Thieves Amelia Ever The Optimist
2 The Centrals Saturday Night Shenanigans Demo Track
3 Mr Heart Dynamo The Hide
4 John Herring It Starts Again It Starts Again
5 Kill for Company Tongue Tattoo Singles Collection
6 Ninetails Rawdon Fever Rawdon Fever
7 Whipcord Mistlead Whipcord
8 English Mutts Jimmi Greenteeth Demo Track
9 Kit B Hulmenoid Demo Track
10 John Herring Ghosts It Starts Again
11 Beyond Recognition Who is 67? The Illusion
12 White Cliff Last Time Demo Track
13 Easter Something American Innocence Man
14 The Fall City Hobgoblins Single

Music Diary #36 – 14th February 2012 plus Salford Music Scene Radio Show

I’d been concerned for some time that there was not enough new local stuff to play on this radio show – however things have improved of late and the selection on this weeks broadcast reflects a very healthy scene across Salford & Manchester and the surrounding boroughs (with a sideways trip to Margate to reflect a forthcoming extravaganza at the Crescent).

So the track listing for this show is – and you can listen here

1 Naked Veins Ride EP
2 The Kindest of Thieves Personal Best Ever The Optimist
3 Boomin Chocolate Demo
4 The Christophers Wisdom Single
5 Kingdom Lost Reverence Demos
6 The Fevers Dead Single
7 Death to the Strange Fill Up The Days Album Demos
8 The Kindest of Thieves Bones Ever The Optimist
9 Toska Wilde and Luis Drayton I Am Kathy Kirby EP
10 Naked Veins Second Nature EP
11 The Words Demons Single
12 The Words Siren Single
13 Stolen Mushrooms Miami Demos
14 The Fall Smile Perverted By Language

Pops Love Thing

The Kindest of Thieves

Ever The Optimist

Release Date : Unknown

What once was “Para Zali” and a ‘blues soaked’ dirty sexy sound is now “The Kindest of Thieves” and a ‘pop soaked’ entirely different confection.

What hasn’t changed is Chris Fox’s mellow vocal sound and the lyrics which get a strong “well above average” score from this listener. He also writes a damn good tune.

Whilst I might hanker after the more dangerous sound of the previous incarnation of the band there is charming, and perhaps more appropriate, English sound to this set of songs.

And trying to listen to the band as they are now instead of what they were is the key aim in reviewing it is it not?

So i’m immediately drawn to the airy chords of “Amelia” which reminds me of an amalgam of The Smiths and Orange Juice. There are also echoes of 10,000 Maniacs in structure and I can quite imagine Natalie Merchant having a go at it. A perfect pop song.

The descending bass riff of “Go to Town on Me” will be recognisable to all, and to some degree the blues past of Fox and Co emerges somewhat in this sultry little number which is packed with American musical references but also has Brechtian echoes both lyrically and in the vocal delivery. The key change at the end is perhaps a bit too obvious but generally this is another excellent piece of pop writing.

“Bones” recalls the 10,000 Maniacs reference with its African style guitar-ing which morphs into a para-skanking piece of bubbling rhythm – indeed the band manage to effortlessly mix English indie pop sensibility (think Mozza but with more oomph) with a rich cocktail of other styles.

The ska motif returns with the closing “Personal Best” which manages to sound a little country and western in parts with it’s toe-tapping rhythm and rising riff and jangly chords – I get the feeling this will be stand-out track for you after you have listened to it a few times. I happen to think it is the best piece amongst a collection of four very good tunes.

If I am drawing a current comparison I would point to the work that Mike Chadwick is doing with “Limbs” at the moment – english pop sensibility with transatlantic references but overall in lyrical content and delivery a particularly British pop sound (not in the Brit-Pop sense) more Robyn Hitchcock than Ray Davies let’s say.

Not sure when this is out, or indeed what lable it is on, but I would recommend you track it down when it does come out as its rather fine indeed.

More info and some nice video bits will give you a sense of the EP here .

Pending that release here is an acoustic set from the band with two other songs……you’ll get a sense of what I am on about from these….

Salford Music Scene – 16th August 2011

Featuring :

  • Suzuki Method : Be Cruel, Be Kind – showcase event Thursday nights at the Band on the Wall with “No Flash” (who I will play on next weeks show) and “China White” and….
  • Rawcuss : John Travolta – the second single…..
  • The Calimocho Club : Roll the Dice – from the new EP “Whoa Whoa Hey Hey” – they play Islington Mill on Friday with “Emperor Zero” and “Pulsebeats”
  • Matthew Petit : Summer Blood – from his EP
  • Kill for Company : Next Time – from the Greenhouse Sessions…..I love this band
  • Ninetails : Pedestrian – from the new EP “Ghost Ride the Whip” pre-order  from http://superstardestroyer.bandcamp.com/album/ghost-ride-the-whip
  • Fidel and the Castros : Lullaby – a demo CD was sent to me some time ago, and I played it then and I thought – this is good I will play it again….
  • The Kindest of Thieves : Fox and the Thief/Sounded Like A Hiss – from the recent recording sessions – I assume these are going to be on the album – slight change in direction from the “Para Zali” days but the raw blues sound is still in there.
  • Hot Vestry : Be The Real Man – from the Dust EP
  • Ninetails : Social Guesswork – as above
  • Kill for Company : Now You Know – as above – and there will be a new tune next week which is rather good as well……you can download these tunes from http://soundcloud.com/killforcompany
  • Limbs : Gameshow Tycoon (What Biscuit) – early version of a Limbs classic…
  • The Fall : The Joke – MES at his acerbic best from the “Cerebral Caustic” album which saw the return of Brix….
To listen to the show click on the link below……

Salford Music Scene – 9th August 2011

Mostly new stuff on this show

  • Humanizer – Arthur Brown Gets Me Down – from the new EP “This Tiny Universe” which came out on Hacienda Records on 8th August
  • Limbs – The Worms Want Blood – a sample track from the forthcoming album
  • The Reveres – The Death of Miss X – the new single part 1
  • Baby Strange – Fair is Fair – from the demo CD
  • Rawcuss – Manchester News – the new single
  • Lee Rice – Lost Without A Cause – a new track from the front man of the recently split Overeasies
  • Kill for Company – To Disappear – another track from my fave new band of the moment
  • The Wonderland Trip – Bring Back The Sunshine – they are around and about gigging catch them
  • Ryko Saints – X is Next – as are they…..
  • The Reveres – Riders From Zero – new single part 2
  • The Sandells – Striptease – a new instrumental from our very own masters of Kraut-Punk
  • Tom Byrne and Friends – Another One Falls – caught this young man with his band last Friday – very impressive
  • The Kindest of Thieves – The Kindest of Thieves – they are gigging also … more newer stuff on next weeks show
  • Baby Strange – My Neighbours A Killer – as above
  • Hot Vestry – Commiserations – another track from the new EP
  • The Fall – Blood Outta Stone – a Beddington-Smith classic from 1990 – originally appeared on the White Lightning/Dredger single/EP
To listen then click the link…..

Aural Delights #19

Broadcast 12th January 2011

The Black Angels – Bad Vibrations – Phosphene Dream

A Great Gibbo recommendation I was blown away by the opening track from the album which is full of menace and has some great shimmering guitar.  There is a great change of pace half way through which morphs into an immense wall of sound.

Trojan Horse – Disciplining the Reserve Army – Trojan Horse

Salford band who make prog-rock music and don’t want to apologise for it! Another fantastic wall of sound affair with enough whimsy in between the serious bits to make it required listening. The rest of the album is just as good and you can get it from Bandcamp. Full review here . My Space link.

Limbs – Julia and Winston – Band Demo

The demise of The Planets has created two Michael Chadwick led outfits, both trios. This one is piano led and tends towards an eccentric type of music hall song-writing complete with Double Bass. Wacky, witty and engaging.

Moscow Radio – Makes No Difference –

Manchester band with a great raw sound. Thanks to Red-Zone music for the demo.

Sakert! – Dansa Fasten – Facit

Vehicle forAnnika Norlin, a songwriter and vocalist who first gained attention of audiophiles for her work in Hello Saferide. Haven’t got a clue what it’s about but it sounds great.

The Kindest of Thieves – Jenna Belle – Siren Songs

They used to be “Para Zali” – Warrington sleaze-blues trio with an immense sound. Webpage.

Corrina Jane – All in My Head – Demo

Bristol based Artist with a fantastic voice and some great tunes.

Pete Lawrie – Fell Into The River – Single

Released on 31st January from his new album “A Little Brighter” which is out in April. Nice country rock mixed with r’n’b.

Limbs – Gameshow Tycoon (What Biscuit) – Demo

Indria – Tum Si Lagi – Different Senses of Love

An interesting blend of traditional Indian Music with dance.

Party Photographers – 21 – Download

Nice garage tune with a full sound – you can download it here.

Skankadelia – E Minor – Demo

Salford band who have recently started rehearsing again after a couple of years off. They sent me their stuff via Salford City Radio’s Unsigned Page and I was rather smitten with their sound. More in future weeks!

Band line-up  – Vocals – Harriet Bryan, Keyboard – Kat Whitmore, Bass – John Aldridge, Guitar – Liam McGary, Guitar – Ross Asspden, Drums – Owen Schofield

Dungen – Vara Snabb – Skit I Alt

Not  mellowing in their old age,   “Skit I Alt” — roughly translates to something rather rude — finds the band relying less and less on the psych-rock fireworks more  a sophisticated, widescreen version of psychedelia, with folk and offbeat jazz playing as big a role as guitar heroics. Reminded me a little of Jaga Jazzist.

LISTEN TO THE SHOW HERE

ep, single or demo of the year 2010

The Aural Delights Radio Show for December 8th 2010 included my top 15 artists of the year in respect of singles, ep’s or demo’s that had come my way. It’s unfortunate that I had to leave quite a lot out due to the wealth of good material and I should mention demos from Corinne Crabtree, and  Deadly Brotherhood of the Gun, plus The Black Knights – Parade of the Piranhas, the Kingfishers Catch Fire Demo, and Charlie Barnes brilliant “No Offenkk” EP’s  especially as I would have liked to included music from all of them. I might be able to remedy that omission in one of the future shows – but i’m not giving anything away.

So – who were the top fifteen? – first thing to say is that whilst these are ranked – with the exception of the number one spot which won by a country mile – the other fourteen are all equally as good as one another. Right then, enough waffling from me lets get on with it……

15. Borland – released three great EPs called “The Universe Trilogy” – I picked “Fox” from Supernova Lovers as its one of their shorter tracks and it meant I could get more into the show.

14. Danny Short – Dan has had a busy year and has released two great EPs – the first Collected Times 2 was released on Invisiblegirl, and I selected “Make Me Happy” from that. And given the man’s productivity I thought i’d include a track from his latest EP Celebrate the Day which you can get from Bandcamp, and from that I chose the infections Mr It which I think got its first ever radio play on this show.

13. The Hidden Gem – did two great sessions for me during the year and produced an excellent demo EP at Ding’s 6dB studio in Salford. The chosen track is the excellent “Flick of a Switch” a track is memorable live.

12. Pearl Divers – the Divers have had a busy year and took a sharp change of direction about half-way through with a number of line-up changes. The latest set of demos I got from the band will hopefully form their debut EP – Rebirth – I picked the great new track “You Gotta Do It”. They are currently recruiting a new drummer and it’s be hoped that they will be gigging again soon.

11. The Happen Fallen – until recently this new bands output has been created at home by the brains behind the outfit Neale James. Neale has recruited some other musicians and the group will be playing live on 21st December at Night and Day. I chose the excellent “Three Forty Seven” from the debut demo EP which you can get from Reverbnation/Facebook.

10. The Chanteuse and the Crippled Claw – I’ve waxed lyrical about the new single from Adrian Flanagan’s partnership with Candie Payne elsewhere on this blog. Let’s just say “Are You One” is a great piece of pop and deserves the widest possible listen.

9. The Hide EP from Mr Heart blew me away when I first heard it and my admiration for it has not diminished since – the launch party for the EP is at Gulliver’s  Manchester on 16th December. I picked “Boredom;s Device” as I am rather fond of Tamsin’s octave leap at the end.

8. The Dark Reverend Gary Hope of The Black Knights has a good ear for the type of music I like and he pointed me in the direction of Para Zali a week ago. I’m glad he did. Their second EP The Kindest of Thieves is fabulous. Pure sleazy erotic blues and free from Bandcamp. I picked the title track as I felt it was a good showcase from their talents.

7. AAAK have already done well in these shows and I’ve know doubt they will be featuring again. Ding has been sending me new tracks as they developed and this latest one “Everything’s Real” is a belter with more than a little Jamaican influence making it’s way into their Buildingscape Beats.

6. I’ve been an advocate for Darwen’s Monster Island for a lot of the year. I find them to be amazingly refreshing with a clear mission and mandate to play what the hell they like in the way they want to. Their latest ep The Green Room is simply marvellous and I’ve chosen the lyrically superb “Looking for a Leader”.

5. Facebook travellers will be aware of the very productive Periscope who has been sharing his work in progress with us all year. One of the latest demos “It’s just too high” is one of his best so far.

4. Macclesfield’s  The Ascension are a great band and it was a pleasure to receive their latest EP recently – reviewed elsewhere on this blog. “For the Guilty” is an excellent track. They support Mr Heart at the aforementioned gig.

3. Kin have been magnificent all year and the recent sampler for their debut album is stunning.  ”Reptile” finds the band at their inventive best marrying intelligent electronica with powerful post-punk-jazz sounds.

2. Well Wisher are developing a great reputation – their debut EP was packed with great tunes which appear to be able to match post-rock chops with wacky para-pop madness. The originally titled “How to grow a chin” now appears to be called “Tops Off”

and the EP of the year is…….

1. The Unobtainable by Fall Fan Dave and the Lap Top Dancers. A request by my chum Stephen Doyleto Dave Bromwich to cover a Freshies song resulted in this memorable four track release – you can getit from Bandcamp – which includes the exceptional “I can’t get the C Side so I’m going to the seaside”.

….next week “Gig of the Year”

listen again here….

 

the new west coast?

“Para Zali” (pronounced Para-Zarly) are a trash blues trio from that place at the dark end of A57 which lies beyond Cadishead  – the town of  Warrington.

They were sent in my direction by the dark Reverend Gary Hope of  ”The Black Knights” who of course deliver music of a similar ilk – albeit I am not going to compare and contrast the two bands as that would be a bit obvious and silly. The key word is blues here and that’s where the genre specification ends.  Also they are near neighbours – The “Knights” Irlam being a broody crows flap away from the land of roundabouts and megastores……..

However, I digress.

I’ve been banging on all year about the lack of cohones in so much modern music – and here comes the well worn phrase i’ve been using throughout 2010 “its nothing but overblown symphonic indie pop or Elbow/Kloot clones”. I don’t know what strange disease has over taken the minds of A&R men at record lables but so much sounds the same these days.

This EP doesn’t.

It rocks, it rolls and it gets your mojo rising.

It’s loud, brash, full of the blues but it’s also  packed with clever, melodic and well constructed tunes. There are four tracks on their release which is called The Kindest of Thieves.

Let’s say from the outset that I was very impressed by Chris Fox’s vocals. He manages to combine a clear, bluesy swagger, with a rock rasp but punctuates this with screams, howls and moans which are emotionally strong. His guitar work is very good indeed and the bonus is he doesn’t solo for the sake of it but concentrates on the riffs, chords and melodic lines.

Things kick off well with a great riff on “The Only Way” which builds and then transforms into a mammoth ascending thing which then relaxes into a reflective surf guitar section before returning to the original riffing. This is raw, primal and bloody exciting.

If that wasn’t enough to get you moving the manic riffing and four to the floor beat of the EP title track – Joe Lockwood’s bass and James Ashwin’s drums lock tightly to deliver a great sound as Fox goes a little wild – is marvellous. Not sure what the lyrics are about but they are pretty impressive as well with some sort of seasonal imagery in there somewhere.  I think the best word to describe this track is – exciting.

Matters calm down a little for the sultry “Hide Away” which manages to combine a great “late-night” feel which reminded me of  the sound “Robin Trower” achieved on the excellent Bridge of Sighs album or something “The Groundhogs” delivered when they weren’t trying to be a prog-rock band.The closing track –  ”Parasite” is immense – a brain blistering fuzzed up powerhouse of a thing which manages to combine primal metal with an excellent sleazy blues feel.

They described themselves as  ”raw, trashy and frankly erotic” and “hideously infectious”.  I agree, a spot on description of a band which has captured the spirit of primal blues and added their own extra unique feel.

I wonder if the west of the Greater Mancunia hub is slowly morphing into the new “West Coast” – there is such an excellent crop of exciting bands around at the moment that you wonder what is going to come next.

You can download this EP  for free from  Bandcamp …. if you like raw, primal, blues with more than a hint of rock then you will not be disappointed!

While you are there check out their Siren Songs EP and the Live at the Ruby Lounge gig where they supported the aforementioned “Black Knights”.

They have a few dates coming up if you want to catch them live – details are on their My Space page.

They also have a Webpage

Another great release for 2010 – fantastic! This lot will get some serious airplay on the radio in the new year.

PLEASE NOTE THAT THE BAND HAVE NOW CHANGED THEIR NAME TO “THE KINDEST OF THIEVES”