There have been various comments from many of us on here about annoying dickheads at gigs and how to deal with them. Before Christmas I went to see the wonderful My Darling Clementine at the Kitchen Garden Café in Birmingham. This is a lovely venue and not known for a raucous or unruly audience, in fact, far from it. In the second part of the set they had a segment of Elvis Costello referenced songs. Lou was at the keyboard for a beautiful version of A good year for the Roses. Midway through she stopped singing and to a couple no more than 5 yards from her who were apparently in a disagree en t with each other: ‘ I am respecting a serious musician here. At the risk of embarrassing myself will you please shut the fuck up’. Not sure if the please was actually there but it did the trick. The male of the couple abruptly left. Fair play to Lou and the rest of the gig was great.
The end of year charts talks of an Afterword list but nothing seems to be happening so I am taking the bull by the horns and posting mine here. You can either read and disregard or join in, feel free to entertain us all with your own choices:-
(Top 20 only)
1) Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Ghosteen 2) Angel Olsen – All Mirrots 3) Santana – Africa Speaks 4)Michael Kiwanuka – Kiwanuka 5)Buddy and Julie Miller – Breakdown on 20th Ave. South 6)Lukas Nelson and the Promise of the Real – Turn off the news (Build a Garden) 7)Delines – The Imperial 8) Purple Mountains – Purple Mountains 9)Edwyn Collins – Badbea 10) Jesse Malin – Sunset Kids 11) Bonnie Prince Billy I made a place 12)Allison Moorer – Blood 13) Ebba Forsberg – Take my Waltz 14) Fat White family – Serfs Up 15) Chris Forsyth – All Time present 16) Felice Brothers – Undress 17) The Comet is coming – Trust in the life-force of the deep mystery 18) Yola – Walk through Fire 19) KoKoKo – Fongola 20) Oh Sees – Face Stabber
I had to leave out Bruce and Leonard – both good » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
As an ex smoker I remember Cigarettes after sex – sorry I had to get that one in. An intriguing name for a band that’s for sure. Didn’t know much about them and the reviews I read likened them to Mazzy Star. To my ears I would say more like Yo La Tengo or even Khurangbin. A woozy sound with trance like vibes but highly melodic and extremely addictive.Singer Greg Gonzalez sounds quite feminine in parts as he has a breathy voice.Opener Don’t Let me go and third track in Heavenly became instant eagworms that got multiple spins – a really lovely sounding album, the songs all seem about relationships in different stages and some odd lyrics referring to someone ‘drinking a slurpy in a peach baseball cap’. American bands seem to be the ones doing something new these days – not sure where they would be categorised but quite poppy in their melodies. Although a new release this was recorded in 2017 in Mallorca so it is hoped they may have more new material they are working on.
What does it all *mean*?
a conventional four piece of guitar, keys, bass and drums » Continue Reading.
Every once in a while I see a gig that completely surpasses my expectations. This gig on Friday night at the lovely Union Chapel was one such gig. I really like this band but on record it would be easy to misinterpret the stately pace of most of their songs as something that wouldn’t translate to the live setting. That couldn’t be further from the truth. The music is surprisingly intricate – it is their skill as musicians that makes it appear less so. In lead singer Amy Boone they have a voice that is so pure yet so soulful that comparisons to Dusty Springfield are inevitable. The difference being the lyrics of Willy Vlautin. He is one America’s best young novelists and he brings a cinematic experience to the songs. Peopled by losers, petty thieves, heartbroken and down and outs there is always something interesting happening. I particularly like the songs where keyboardist Corey Grey doubles on trumpet which lends a melancholy air to songs when needed which given the subject matter is quite frequent. Drums were from another member of Richmond Fontaine Sean Oldham. Richmond Fontaine were probably too austere at times » Continue Reading.
Fox Lowe Arts Centre, Leek
Oh the irony. Chip Taylor is a hero of mine and I found out he was doing a short tour of the UK. His Birmingham date at the Kitchen Garden Cafe was on Monday night and I couldn’t go because it clashed with tickets I had for Dawes in London. As it was I couldn’t make the Dawes gig due to work but could have made the Brum date. As it was I had the bonus of a gig in a splendid venue I not been to before but which I will certainly go back to. Lovely acoustics, friendly people and great beer. Chip is something of a legend in my house – writer of Wild Thing and Angel of the morning are enough to have earned him a decent living but variously he has been a professional gambler, an attempt at being a professional golfer and a Whiskey Salesman which is the title of his most recent album. For 79 he looks in good shape. Accompanied by that youngster John Platania at a mere 71 and a Norwegian keyboard player Goran Grini who is a whippersnapper nearer to half their » Continue Reading.
We reached empty nest status in our house last September when our daughter toddled off to University. She came home last Christmas however so having a tree was a prerequisite. This year is different – we are visiting her in London for Xmas eve, Xmas day and Boxing day. We are in early discussion about whether we should actually bother getting a tree – we are leaning towards not bothering as the post xmas Christmas disposing of is a faff. I do however like the ambience and the smell of the pine needles.
Another thing that has surprised me is that the environmentalists have not yet launched a campaign to get ride of real xmas trees. Is that to come or are they not environmentally unfriendly?
What does it sound like?:
Firstly, I confess to knowing nothing about Ebba Forsberg until I bought this cd. Leonard Cohen songs have been with me since I was 15 so I was intrigued plus I liked the cover. Ebba Forsberg has made a name for herself in her native Sweden both as a singer songwriter, an interpreter of others songs and also as an actress apparently. Something I assume our Swedish contingent can attest to. So onto the music – it is absolutely beautiful. She has a lovely crystal voice and the sparse jazzy instrumentation lends itself perfectly to the largely contemplative mood that the songs convey. She has gone for some of the more well known of Lens songs coupled with some lesser known. We get great versions of both Suzanne and Sisters of Mercy from his debut masterpiece but it is the closing Who by Fire that really lights up proceedings. The backdrop is sensual woodwind and keys, brushed drums and largely acoustic and Spanish guitar. All of the interpretations drift away from the originals mostly in a subtle way, occasionally more radically. If I had one criticism it is that she includes Hallelujah which by » Continue Reading.
It has been announced that HMV are planning to open a new concept ‘experiential’ store in Birmingham under the brand HMV Vault. It will sell physical product but will have a permanent stage with regular bands playing, band signings etc and will apparently be the biggest of its kind in Europe. Its brave move and I applaud their approach to trying something different. Proud also that it is in my home city – I hope it works out for them.
As part of the Proms season there was an excellent show on BBC4 last night – a homage to Nina Simone with some extraordinary performances from The Metropole Orkest and Lisa Fischer amongst others. A really great version of Baltimore and Mississippi Godamn. Check it out on BBC iplayer.
The opening track of Oh Sees excellent latest album features an opening riff on a squeaky toy. Is this a first? What other unusual instruments feature on some of your favourite songs. By the way check out the video – its pretty good.
I heard a song from this hit musical on 6Music at the weekend. Loved the song but didn’t know about Hadestown until I googled it. Now I am desperate to see it. Its run in London finished earlier this year. It is showing whilst I am in New York next June but the ticket prices are eye watering. Has anyone seen it and if so your thoughts? Worth a second mortgage or forget about it?
Just an alert that the new Wilco album is £7.99 for pre-order with the Tax dodgers.
What does it sound like?:
A few years back there was a band called Staff Benda Belili who gained notoriety as a Paraplegic group out of the DRC playing instruments made from Cans, Plastic bottles, car radiators etc picked up from the streets of Kinshasa. Kokoko are the latest band to plough a similar furrow although they have added some electronics and some beats. Less organic if you like but no less exciting. Of course the best way to witness them would be in a live setting preferably in a sweaty nightclub in a Kinshasa backstreet. Since this was not an available option I settled for an armchair in my Lichfield abode. How do I begin to describe their music? Firstly the sounds are not easily identifiable yes the percussion is obviously a driving force but are they conventional drums? In most instances not. There is an insistent driving riff with a strong use of repetitive refrains – think if you like an African motorik. Personally I love it. A couple of standout tracks are L.O.V.E, Zala Mayale and my favourite Kitoko. This last track starts off with an unidentifiable plucked intstrument, a nice repeating bass refrain and what » Continue Reading.
Okay lets gets the reason I was here out of the way first. I like Ms Streisand more as an actress than a singer. My wife loves her singing and since she is in her words ‘enduring’ Cambridge Folk Festival with me in August it was only fair I got tickets for one of her favourite singers. We got there halfway through the Kingdom Choir set I must have had my head under a rock because I didn’t know they sang at Meghan and Harry’s wedding – why would I come to think of it? They did a pretty decent version of the Coldplay ‘classic’ fix you and took away the histrionics that irritated me in the original. A couple of other half decent covers and they were not bad as a warm up act. Then came Kris Kristofferson. What can I say? The artist with the best songs on this particular day had the worst voice by some distance. He had Merle Haggards band providing outstanding accompaniment throughout but his voice was shot to bits. A half decent Me and Bobby McGhee but a risible Sunday Morning coming down. Help me make it » Continue Reading.
For some reason this song has been played on 6Music twice that I have heard in the last week. It is an old song I wasn’t aware of and it has wormed its way into my brain to the extent that I need to buy the compilation album that it appears on. No idea why it has something of a resurgence but I am glad I heard it:
What does it sound like?:
I am loathe to even mention the words ‘return to form’ because in my mind his last couple of albums have been up there with the better stuff from his canon of work. Where do I place this? Right at the pinnacle – as good as if not better than Abraxas which is my favourite Santana album. Firstly his guitar playing is to the fore throughout, there is lots of it and it has not sounded better to these ears. The title ‘Africa speaks’ is a trifle misleading as it intimates an African vibe. The truth is this is Latin music at its core with some African influences and very few Western influences. A centerpiece of the album is the longest track Blue Skies – clocking in just over 9 minutes. It has a co write With Laura Mvula who shares vocals with Spanish singer Buika. It starts off in a Coltrane vein and then extends out into some beautiful guitar playing by Carlos. I really like the female vocals, they add a sassiness. The album really ups a gear with two back to back gems Breaking Down the door and Los Invisibles. The » Continue Reading.
Have never been to Glastonbury and confess that the sheer size of it would deter me anyway. However have just seen this years line up – Janet Jackson, Stormzy and Miley Cyrus?? They are either aiming to be wilfully perverse, targeting a different audience or scraping the barrel. Either way it seems to be a shadow of its former self.
Hare and Hounds, Kings Heath
First time have been to a seated gig at the Hare and Hounds but it was a welcome change. Stumbled across this gig by accident a couple of weeks ago and glad I did because Peter Case is someone I have wanted to see for a long time since I heard his debut album in 1986. But first Sid Griffin came to the stage – full of funny stories he definitely has a sunny disposition and a decent back catalogue to choose from. However in my opinion he is better suited to the raucous sound of the Long Ryders. His set covered songs from the Ryders, his solo stuff and also Coal Porters. It was okay but nothing in it to elevate it to greatness. Before the show I had wondered who would headline as Sid Griffin possibly better known over here. 30 seconds into Peter Case’s set all doubts were removed. He was simply brilliant from start to finish. Many songs from his most recent release Hwy 62 and covers by amongst others Memphis Minnie, Leadbelly, Rolling Stones and Bob Dylan. An excellent raconteur he also had the audience joining » Continue Reading.
I first saw Alabama 3 in their acoustic incarnation at SXSW in Austin in 2008. I was bowled over and saw them about 7 times in the next 3 or 4 years which was easy enough to do as they are one of the hardest working bands on the circuit. I bought all their albums including fan site releases. In short I was a big fan and then about 3 years ago I kind of stop following them – they played Birmingham shows but I was absent. I only saw that this gig was on 4 days before the actual show but as it was the acoustic band that excited me all those years back I decided to go. The show perfectly encapsulated what I found exciting about them and what had also made my interest wane. They are ramshackle and that is part of their charm, Hearing We don’t danse to Tekno anymore and Speed of the Sound of loneliness brought those memories flooding back but there was a feeling that they haven’t evolved in any significant way which is a little disappointing.There were a couple of new numbers released sine I stopped » Continue Reading.
The new Felice Brothers album Undress arrived on my doorstep yesterday. There is a song on there called Days of the Years which is just brilliant. Sadly not on Youtube yet but do yourselves a great favour and take a listen. The art of songwriting is alive and well and thriving in the Catskills.
What does it sound like?:
You would think that with probably close on 60 years of guitar driven popular music that it would be difficult to find any true innovators of the instrument. Trailblazers who are questing to find a different angle. Chris Forsyth is one such dude. Where do we pitch him? Tom Verlaine with more guile, Richard Thompson without the vocals possibly even Steve Hillage. He is a strange amalgam of all three but is certainly not short of ideas. Either solo as in this case or with his Solar Motel Band he always has something new to say. On his Solar Motel band album Rarity of Experience he went down the Miles Davis/John McLaughlin route on The first ten minutes of cocksucker blues.On the last album Dreaming the Non-Dream the title track went into dance territory with the title track having Stevie Wonder Echoes. And do to this album – 7 longish mainly instrumental tracks (The occasional voice is an instrument rather than lyrical). All different styles all very pleasant until the penultimate track (Living on) Cubist Time which has a circular motif with a slightly Moorish feel. All the has gone before the final track » Continue Reading.
I have a brand new Mac that I am about to throw out the fucking window. I turned it on on Friday and it didn’t recognise the Magic Mouse. I have charged the mouse up – it should be charged now but there is no way of knowing because it doesn’t light up when being charged. When I turn the Mac on there is a black arrow on screen and no movement of the cursor or anything. I read in the booklet that pressing command,option’,escape key would get rid of the arrow – well they are lying scumbags. It is still there. Anyone have any ideas before I do some damage?
What does it sound like?:
Not sure why the need for this 3 cd release given the number of previous Best of’s that Stevie has. Is it coincidental that former band mate and significant other Lyndsey Buckingham released a 3 cd anthology last year? I think not but it is arguable that Lyndsey was more in need of a reappraisal given his lower profile. Anyway notwithstanding this I think you know what to expect with Stevie – your get the uptempo anthem songs and the first cd starts off at a fair lick with a trio of Edge of Seventeen, Rooms on Fire and Stand Back. that’s three of my favourites out of the way right there. When Rumours was released in 1977 I thought Dreams was the sexiest song I had ever heard. It is present and correct here but over familiarity has dampened its sensuality or I have grown up or both. Has anyone written anything for you? its still a fabulous song and we get a splendid slowed down Rhiannon with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra which is a high point of this set but there was one exquisite surprise for me. The Walter Egan song Magnet » Continue Reading.
I know there are some Stephen Duffy fans on here – get yourselves over to SDE as Pete Paphides has launched a new label. One of his first releases is the Stephen Duffy I love my friends album from 1996 with a bonus cd of rarities/unreleased songs. You can get a signed version and support a noble cause which if successful might help get further Duffy rarities released.
Had been looking forward to this night for a few weeks as big fan of both Glenn and Wilko. The Robin is a venue that supports a lot of tribute bands and some medium size acts. I have been many times before but this was the first night I had been where it was completely sold out.Glenn come on stage promptly at 8pm looking dapper and the picture of health. He engaged with the audience from the off with a few of Squeeze’s top songs Cool for cats, Pulling mussels and Up there Junction. He added a couple of his solo songs and some splendid covers in the form of Oh Well, I hear you knocking and Always something there to remind me. Highlight of the evening however was a brilliant Tempted which was prefaced by a superb electric guitar intro. He is such an inventive player and this was a perfect finale to a fabulous set. Hope to see him with Chris later in year. Then onto Wilko – saw him 2 years ago in Leamington and he was excellent. Tonight he was decidedly average. Going through the motions, not engaging with the » Continue Reading.