Anyone here like the Real Estate? If you’re not familiar they’re New Jersey combo and to my ears sound like a mix of Teenage Fanclub, The Byrds/CSN, Television, Aztec Camera, High Llamas, early Prefab Sprout and Felt. They frequently cite The Feelies as an influence – who I’ve never heard and perhaps I should (anyone care to advise?) Anyway the new one from them ‘In Mind’ is excellent, in spite of being their first without Matt Mondanile (who is a mighty fine artist in his own right and is now focusing on his solo project Ducktails). Been listening via ‘streaming’ and It sounds like a keeper to me so I feel compelled to go and purchase it from my local Indie shop tomorrow on an expensive piece of plastic – we’re due a long, hot summer – this will be on heavy rotation regardless.
I’ve no real problem with Record Store Day – I can’t say I’ll be camping out overnight with the eBay scalpers for any of this year’s offerings but ultimately it’s a bit of harmless fun. Nevertheless let’s have a but of harmless fun at RSD’s expense as we once again play…Record Store Day Bingo. Eyes Down..see how many you can spot:
1. Re-issue of album that is coming out later this year but in a different colour
2. ‘Bonkers’, ‘nutty’ and ‘totally loony’ collectors picture disc of a tune you can pick up in a charity shop for 5p. “What will they think of next ” etc…
3. More scrapings from the bottomless pit of shite bootlegs from Ozit / Dandelion (See pic)
4. ‘Exclusive’ debut release by a band literally nobody has ever heard of
5. Multiple ‘exclusive’ releases on different labels by same (dead) artist
6. Mega limited edition of 500 copies of something that would be lucky to sell 5 any other week
7. Dr Who
8. er…Nine Live albums by the same artist
9. “Official” reissues that the band have no knowledge of
10. Another Various Artists Mod/R&B/Soul comp
Datblygu are one of those bands who have always been on my radar thanks to Peel, and from bands they influenced like Gorky’s and Super Furry Animals but I found myself properly digging into their back catalogue recently and it’s intriguing and wonderful. I’ve no idea what the lyrics are but that doesn’t really bother me – I get the general gist of it. The music is really minimal – think Young Marble Giants and The Fall, and the obvious latter day comparison is the backing tracks SpaceBarBloke from Sleaford Mods writes for his band but there is also that certain something that (without wishing to patronise) I hear in a lot of homegrown Welsh music that’s just a tad more otherworldly and Psychedelic but very subtle. There is lots of Datblygu stuff on YouTube and on Spotify etc, but if you get grabbed by it and you want to support Datblygu you can get most of their back catalogue CDs and some Vinyl at a very reasonable price from Anskt Music c/o Ankst.net
I’ve been a casual fan of Japan over the years, I own Tin Drum, David’s first LP and a couple of compilations but I’ve never really dug into the history of the band. I knew they had a pre-history as a sort of glam/trash band but that was it. So this was quite an intriguing read. Reynolds traces the history as school friends, and details the very slow rise to fame through the late 70s/early 80s. It’s fair to say Japan were not an overnight sensation, signed to the deeply unhip Sansa label they were a confusing proposition – looking like the New York Dolls but musically someway between the Alex Harvey Band and Chic. For years they were, somewhat ironically, big only in Japan. Once success arrived their were huge rifts within the band which are detailed here. They eventually hit upon a formula of elegant, stylish synth pop but perhaps were more influential than successful and seemed to quit just as they were on the verge of breaking.
It’s fair to say they weren’t the most rock of roll of bands in spite of their early image, so don’t read this expecting tales of hellraising » Continue Reading.
This is a trailer for a forthcoming XTC Rockumentary (cannily featuring Mr Partridge debunking the whole idea and Derek Smalls as a celeb Talking Head). Apparently this was posted briefly before being pulled but here is the cat that was briefly let out of the bag. Looks a pretty low budget affair and was wondering if anyone other than Andy was going to get a say until Colin Moulding pops up near the end. Andy Partridge bucks the general trend of most musicians in being extremely engaging, enlightening and funny in interviews but I hope they can get Dave Gregory, Barry Andrews, Terry Chambers and co to add their twopenneth. There’s definitely room for such a thing to be made, not sure who is involved but I daresay if they launched a crowdfunding campaign they would smash it given XTC’s worldwide cultdom and raise enough budget to get all the footage they need, with enough spare to pilot a Space Shuttle to get Martians opinions on which was the best LP.
Support comes from Manchester based The Bleachés (pronounced Bleeshays…obvs) -who look barely old enough to be in the venue. They’re clearly in thrall to the Brian Jonestown Massacre, they’re a bit ramshackle but in a good way….they get a proper psychedelic, garagey racket going and they whip up some nice choppy guitar riffs that should stand them in good stead. I like them and they look cool.
I last saw Novella in a support slot and they really grabbed me, so I’m pleased to see them headlining in their own right in support of their new LP ‘Change of State’. The new LP makes up the majority of the set and while I really enjoyed their debut, which has a more shoegazey/Lush feel to it, the new one really hits home and is highly recommended. I guess the most obvious reference points are Broadcast and Stereolab in terms of the mixture of Neu/Can style rhythms and analog electronics combined with choppy guitars and political lyrics (the new LP is a response to Br**it and Tr**p – sample lyric “Tunnel through the borders…Tunnel through the borders” – Yeah!).
What strikes me is how much » Continue Reading.
Yes I know …I’m really not sure about that band name either but put that aside because ver ‘Journalist really are worthy of your attention. I’ve only heard a couple of songs on the radio and caught the very tail end of them supporting another group a while ago and vowed to catch a full set by them. At the mic is the striking Jo Bevan, who has the mic lead draped around her, powerful of voice and full of twitchy, kinetic energy. She’s flanked by two guitar blokes with eyeliner on (of course) – ace guitarist Robert switching between a none-more Johnny Marr Rickenbacker and a rather lovely 12 string, and Bassist Simon who shares my fondness for polka-dot shirts so that’s good enough for me- and at the back is Caroline on drums who brings a certain post-punk urgency a-la Wire or Joy Division. They’re a mighty force indeed. Most of the material I believe was from their forthcoming album ‘Grow Up’ which promises to be cracker. Standout track I think is ‘Resolution’ but they have plenty more where that came from. A cross between The Smiths, Savages and a bit of » Continue Reading.
Top Bass-botherer and one-man Steely Dan – the great Thundercat has a new album out, and here’s the ‘single’ from it. I heard it first on the radio and found myself thinking it would be nice to hear Michael McDonald join in – so imagine my surprise when the man himself actually does pop up to take a verse…albeit not before yer actual Kenny Loggins has grabbed the Mic. I’m not always a big fan of lots of guest vocalists and ‘feat’s but…wowsers! I’ve heard better tunes from ver ‘Cat to be honest but nevertheless this is a sizeable addition to the sum of human happiness if you ask me.
The mighty Pugwash have a Kickstarter campaign to fund their next LP. The band have a long history with the Word magazine and of course played one of the first ‘Word in your Ear’ gigs at the Lexington a few years ago. That was a very memorable night where I met quite a few of you for the first time (as well as the great Dave Gregory from XTC who played a couple of tunes with them that night).
If you’re not familiar with the band -well they’re basically kindly filling the gap in joyful pop wonderment left by The Beatles, The Kinks, The Move, Madness and XTC – if that grabs your attention go and check them out on your streaming media of choice and come back and argue the toss if yr not convinced.
I did a bit of record shopping yesterday and couldn’t resist the (incongruously titled) 12″ Live on a Hot August Night by Crispy Ambulance on On the Factory Benelux label (apparently relegated to Factory’s overseas sub-label as Tony Wilson wasn’t keen). It’s classic Factory – beautifully packaged – a bit cold, a bit trancey and a wee bit psychedelic round the edges. It has prompted me to compile a Factory/FBN playlist and would love to hear others faves or suggestions of some of the more neglected output from 86 Palatine Road. The quality control was a bit erratic (Adventure Babies anyone) but aside from You Know Who there is much to enjoy in the catalogue and some of it has weathered very well indeed I reckon (and thanks to James at LTM/FBN a great deal of it is still ‘in print’) Give this a spin.
(I also want to toss in the suggestion of a FAC-cast as a possible future Afterword Podchat if anyone’s interested…)
One of the reasons I retired from Admin duties on this site was to free up some time for my career in rock and pop..so just to let you know I’m using my spare time productively! My band are called Nightdubbing (and yes, that name was inspired by the great Leee John and co!) which is myself and my longtime DJ partner in crime Carl. The first LP is ‘Frontline’ – it’s a dancey electronic kind of thing, there’s a bit of everything in there really – bit of Britfunk, House, electro, a bit of Disco, a bit of post-punk funk industrial horn parping and even a bit of ghostly Boards of Canada style spookiness. We love it – and we’ve had a couple of great reviews including one in the new edition of Electronic Sound magazine and Piccadilly Records in Manchester have made us a Pick of the week and given us an amazing write up “A modern classic” they say..and who am I to argue. Anyway if you fancy a listen it’s up on Spotify and Apple music » Continue Reading.
The Ruby Lounge, Manchester
The Blue Aeroplanes are one of those bands I’ve always been aware of but never really investigated properly but they’ve hovered in my peripheral vision all these years since I first started paying attention to all things Indie and John Peel in the mid 80s. I had a couple of records and remember enjoying their TV appearances with the combination of spoken word vocals, Wojtek’s excellent dance moves and the multiple guitar frenzy. I got talking to a diehard fan a couple of years ago who convinced me I should definitely see them next time they came to town.
The threat of ‘Snowmageddon’ hasn’t prevented a very decent turnout and from the first bar of the (current) 7-piece line up I know this is going to be good. The imposing, perma-sunglasses wearing figure of Gerard Langley (supposedly the subject of REM’s ‘Losing My Religion’) warns that this won’t be a nostalgia trip and sure enough the set is largely drawn from their new LP ‘Welcome Stranger!’ – fortunately it’s a truly excellent record and the new tunes are just as warmly received as old classics like ‘Yr Own World’ which is » Continue Reading.
Author:Brian Wilson with Ben Greenman
This is Brian’s second attempt at an Autobiography. ‘Wouldn’t It be Nice’ released in 1996 was a rip-roaring read at the time and I remember borrowing it from the library. It was an extraordinary and gripping story – an unflinching account of his horrendous childhood, a dizzying ride to fame and equally dizzying fall from grace and recovery. This was pretty much pre-Internet and I had no reason to doubt that Dr Eugene Landy had saved Brian’s life and that Brian was now as lucid and funny as he had been in 1966 and not only did he make beautiful music he had a real knack with an anecdote. He had emerged from 20 years of sweet insanity with all his marbles intact. Basically a Californ-aye-ay Shane MacGowan but with better teeth.
During the 00s, as Brian properly re-emerged into public life it transpired that the original book was very much (ghostwriter) Todd Gold putting wordy vocabulary and flowery turns of phrase into Brian’s mouth that belied his monosyllabic interviews, using stories from his own research rather than Brian’s own recollections and including an awful lot of praise for Dr Landy and his…ahem..unique approach » Continue Reading.
Mr Partridge is always good value in interviews and here’s an epic two hours of Podmax with Swindon’s potato shaped pop genius. Focus is on the Skylarking box set and the interviewer seems obsessed with the (really not very good) ‘Dear God’ but it’s a great listen all the same. Worth admission for his Sting impersonation, and Todd Rundgren gets a good-natured but merciless shoeing (only fair after the rock Munster dished it out to Andy via Marc Maroon’s podcast). @Colin-h of this parish will be thrilled at Partridge’s choice of Desert Island Disc (clue…it’s not Sham 69)
If you haven’t already do watch the aptly named UB40 documentary ‘Promises and Lies’ on the BBC iPlayer. If you haven’t seen it **SPOLIERS!**
It’s extraordinary viewing – unlike most other BBC4 docs it’s not really a celebration of their music. In fact what is startling is just how good the early stuff is, and just naff it gets as they get into Labour of Love series and basically make it their business to water down classic reggae hits for mass consumption. However, as the music gets slicker and more Cod-Reggae the more globally huge they become and therein lies the problem.
Both sides of the UB40 divide contribute so we hear from the ‘official’ UB40 led by Robin Campbell and then Ali’s ‘UB40’ which now includes Astro and Mickey Virtue who have defected to his side. In spite of global megastardom and years of selling out enormodomes and selling gazzilions of LPs and CDs everyone concerned is in seriously reduced circs. Nobody seems to know where the UB40 millions went and both sides of grown men in their late 50s (brothers and lifelong friends) are at each others throats very publicly over who has the right to be » Continue Reading.
It’s a much derided term but when I were a lad ‘Indie’ meant something. It meant operating outside the normal confines of the music industry, DIY, grass roots and the freedom to make a fearsome racket of your own making – even if only Peel and ten people in Rafters, or Northhampton Roadmenders or the Rayleigh Pink Toothbrush got to hear it. These days it’s a catch-all for any band with a guitar, some ‘vintage’ amps and an aversion to a comb. Hence, just up the road from the venue at the Manchester Enormodome the very popular Blossoms who make claims to be ‘Indie’ (and dearly want to be the next Stone Roses) are playing support to Busted and Robbie Williams at a Xmas extravaganza. You’d never catch Bogshed or Tallulah Gosh doing that would you? Or The Stone Roses for that matter.
Meanwhile, here in Gorilla this is more like it. No corporate sponsored faux-Indie bollocks in here. It’s slowly filling up with a mixture of groovy young things in skinny jeans, earnest looking students, a few old punks, middle aged gig diehards like me and the ever present Fat Alex (Manchester’s » Continue Reading.
Granada Studios, Manchester
I’ve always been more of a gig goer than a clubber and I’m certainly not one for going out past midnight these days – I prefer to be off the street before public transport shuts down and it goes a bit Pete Tong out there. However, I’m also a long term fan of Rochdale’s version of Kraftwerk, and in spite of the fact that they’re older than me and make fiendishly complicated music that is impossible to dance to they still insist in playing in an after hours ‘Rave’ setting rather than a regular 8-11pm gig. It’s part of their Shtick, and it’s the environment they feel most comfortable in I guess. It gets increasingly incongruous though, as the years pass and we all get older and their music moves further and further away from anything resembling ‘dance music’.
The choice of venue is intriguing though, we’re in Studio 12 at the former Granada TV Studios (future currently uncertain but next year will be the venue for the The Crystal Maze experience – “start the fans please!”) – where The Beatles played their first TV appearance, quite possibly the venue for the » Continue Reading.
Academy 1, Manchester
This gig was originally scheduled for April when Lush had just released their (excellent) new EP Blindspot and were about to embark on a victory lap around the US and European festival circuit. The wheels fell off the reunion however a few weeks ago when it was announced that debonair Bass player Phil King had decided to quit with just 3 tour dates left to go. I wasn’t sure if this gig would go ahead but they decided to call in the help of Michael Conroy (of 4AD Labelmates Modern English) and honour the Manchester gig – so by accident rather than design this has become their farewell performance.
A final, boozy shindig in a Camden venue packed to the gunwhales with ex music journalists and faded 90s hellraisers would have been more fitting. Instead Lush end their career in freezing cold barn in Manchester in far too big a venue a long way from the ‘Scene’ that once ‘Celebrated itself’. I don’t spy any former members of Chapterhouse or Th’ Faith Healers or any former NME/Sounds hacks. Miki later quips that her own daughter has skipped her Mum’s last gig in order » Continue Reading.
It’s fair to say I was no fan of Britpop. Yes I accept it was a ‘thing’, it’s true you couldn’t go anywhere in Manchester without hearing Oasis blaring out of every shop/pub – I saw them live supporting The Boo Radleys(!) and they were very good but I soon tired of them (unlike The Boos who are due a reappraisal sometime). I’ve no great nostalgia for the mid 90s. It annoys the feck out of me every time I hear certain music hacks of the era going on about what a great time it was and how we were all coked off our noggins at the Good Mixer listening to Blur, Pulp, Oasis, Ocean Colour Scene, Sleeper, Mensw@ar and *nothing else* – I don’t know about you but I wasn’t listening to any of that stuff by choice. I got talking to a mate the other day about what we were listening to while studiously avoiding Powder or indeed anything Chris Evans was ‘bigging up’ and I’ve made a playlist of what I can remember circa 1994 to 1997 – so what were you listening to?
The Ritz, Manchester
I go back with these guys, and it’s fair to say they’ve played the long game. 12 years and 6 LPs in, they have never been short of good reviews and plaudits but it’s nice to see this is now also translating into radio airplay, record sales and bums on seats -thanks to the success of ‘Commontime’, their strongest LP to date. This is by far the biggest venue I’ve seen them play, and they make the best of the additional space on stage by adding a percussionist, string players and a horn section. The sound mix is excellent and the songs benefit from the additional instrumentation. FM are perfectly capable of rocking the house with a more minimal setup, but nevertheless it’s a joy to hear the songs in glorious Technicolor with gratuitous Sax and Violins.
The Brewis brothers keep the self-deprecating banter short in order to cram in a set largely drawn from the new LP but bringing in lots of choice cuts from their, already bulging, back catalogue such as Them that do Nothing, A House is not a Home, Measure, A New Town and debut single Shorter Shorter. » Continue Reading.
As promised, I’ve finished a job which I promised I’d finish before I exited as Admin of this site which was to create a sort of Afterword Guide so y’all could create an entry for bands, Artists and I guess film makers, authors, comic book series or whatever else floats yr boat. It’s called Afterwiki.
I’ve made a pilot episode -about my favourite band, Wire. Regardless of whether you like what I’ve written or whether you like the subject – Let me know what you think of the format – are the questions right? – could we ditch some, do we need to add some? Let me know, add yr comments here. Ta!
The lowdown on Wire
Wire were bracketed with Punk but in fact they had more in common with Roxy Music, Eno, Art Rock bands like This Heat and a psych-rock edge too. Signed to the Harvest Label, more than one commentator referred to them as ‘The Punk Floyd’.
Wire’s debut album Pink Flag is, on a surface level, the most recognisably ‘Punk’ sounding record of their career. It crams 21 tracks onto two sides of Vinyl and is something of a novelty in having several songs which last less than 1 minute – the shortest being ‘Field Day for the Sundays’ which in spite of it’s 28 second duration somehow feels fully formed. Their M.O. at the time was that when the ‘Text’ (as Wire like to call lyrics) finished, then so should the song -perhaps catching their audience mid-pogo.
Their first 3 albums on Harvest are essential listening. Chairs Missing veers from the absurdist Tiswas/dance-craze of ‘I Am The Fly’ to the pop perfection of ‘Outdoor Miner’. 154 is perhaps their early masterpiece – at one point a Cor Anglais appears and there are nods toward King Crimson, Gentle Giant and Van Der Graaf Generator – » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
It’s fair to say The Orb are going through a bit of late-period flourish at the moment. Following a series of low key releases, and curious but wobbly hook-ups with Dave Gilmour and Lee Scratch Perry, Last year’s ‘Moonbuilding 2073 AD’ saw The Orb return to doing what they do best – extended ambient deep-space exploration in their own sound world. This new release sees them pretty much dispense with beats -In fact this is the most ambient thing they’ve actually ever done. Beats and loping bass grooves do emerge from time to time, popping their head above the melange of samples, melodic loops and crackling Vinyl static but it never veers into full-blown dance tracks like on, say, U.F.Orb. Largely put together from loops and found sounds gathered on their recent tours, they’re also joined by Roger Eno on two tracks and long-time Orb collaborator Youth joins Dr.Alex and Thomas on a couple of numbers too.
What does it all *mean*?
This is a thoroughly delightful listen. Lots of people make music like this nowadays but nobody quite does it like T’Orb. If anything, my only complaint is I’d like it to be » Continue Reading.
..or the Psychfest as it’s known is now a well-established event in the Liverpool music calendar – and an entirely fitting event for a city that has always been curiously steeped in Psychedelia before that even existed as a concept – when the HJH’s made Strawberry Fields they were channeling something that was already in the water > the overgrown boulevards of the once affluent crumbling suburbs, epic Mersey sunsets, the early 60s bohemian art world from which Stu Sutcliffe emerged, the Leylines that converge on Matthew Street, my face among them….kissing the tortoise shell all bound for Mu Mu land….and you know the rest.
Anyway the festival lands this weekend at the Camp & Furnace in the (still quite weird) Baltic Triangle – with the likes of Super Furry Animals, The Horrors, Demdike Stare, Silver Apples, Ultimate Painting, Gwenno, Cavern of Anti Matter and tons more there to bend minds into the wee small hours.
Not sure if there are any tx left but If you are going, do come up and visit the pop-up record shop which is being operated by my pals at Dig Vinyl and I’ll be hovering around “helping” sell records and » Continue Reading.
I know there are a few bands and musicians on here who have put out their own stuff. I’ve got a Vinyl and CD release (which we’ve funded ourselves) sitting in a long queue at a pressing plant but I’m currently looking for a digital distributor to get the music onto Spotify, Apple Music as well as the digital download stores. I’m also looking at how to sort out publishing, and trying to get my head around the complex world of PPL/MCPS/PRS etc.
I’ve seen services like TuneCore and the (rather anachronistic sounding) CdBaby which not only do all that but claim to sort out radio royalties, clawing back the pennies from YouTube etc. I’ve also been looking at State51 who deal with some very high profile acts and labels but also offer their digital services to amateur musicians too, although they don’t do the publishing and royalty stuff. Would be very grateful for any advice and experience from the musicians and band members among the Massive.