The Telescopes, Flavor Crystals, Sterling Roswell – London Fields Brewery, 22nd September 2016

September 24, 2016

The gig was a microcosm of my greatest loves and pet hates in music.  Not a bad venue, shame that East London = hipster = we must serve pale ale = we must not serve anything else.  Seriously, the whole pale ale / IPA thing… yeah, I can see why the odd place would specialise.  Yeah, I can see why places would serve it… but why do places think IPA = we must not serve anything else, after all what if the hipsters accidentally bought a stout or a more traditional English bitter and simply EXPLODED?  Anyway, I dunno what I’m on about really, the venue had some alright-but-expensive-tasting, expensive lager… it was their bar round the corner that had less choice on tap.

Anyway.  Sterling Roswell.  Former Spacemen 3 drummer.  The Darkside alumini.  On vox and guitar with a drummer and keyboardist.  Slow start, pretty weird songs, really simple guitar parts, sounded OK.  But as the set progressed it got better and better.  The cover of Girl by Suicide was great.  I can’t really describe it.  A band who clearly have their musical roots firmly in the pre-shoegaze world.  It would probably be fair to call it 60s psychedelia that has taken numerous 70s influences… and kept progressing.  Last 3/4s of the set I really enjoyed.  I’ve never loved the Darkside but I bought the records back in the day and sure as hell like them.  Spacemen 3 are up there in the two best bands ever.  I have to hang my head in shame at my failure to follow Sterling Roswell’s career over the last 20-plus years.  To be put right.

Flavor Crystals.  The first thing to make clear is that I enjoyed the set, would happily see them again and would probably enjoy their records.  But they just don’t excite me.  I will file them in a box marked “Ride, Slowdive, Chapterhouse and all the other bands that get tagged shoegaze and couldn’t easily get tagged anything else”.  They take MBV as a template and layer sound.  Great, I like that sort of thing.  But you can make so much more interesting psychedelia…

The Telescopes are, with the aforementioned Spacemen 3, the other half of my Top Two favourite bands of all time list.  I haven’t seen them for a while, which makes it even harder to know what to expect.  Back when I first saw them live they were a 5 piece.  For the last 15 or 20 years they’ve been Stephen Lawrie and Jo Doran, then more latterly Stephen Lawrie and others.  It can be anything from One Unique Signal acting as Lawrie’s ‘Scopes and playing the old songs pretty faithfully, to Lawrie and Briget Hayden on their hands and knees with a mass of FX, guitars and assorted weird shit to play with.  Tonight it was a five piece band including Lawrie on vocals as usual.

How here’s where my review just steps up a notch in competence.  I might have been a bit pissed.  I might have been simply blown away by the music to obscene proportions.  But they played for however long and it was just the most incredible psychedelic, heavy, feedback-driven sonic mayhem imaginable, to the point that I genuinely don’t remember hearing a song I knew.  Definitely heavier and more full on than when OUS fulfilled the role.  Online the next day there is a clip of them playing a track from their first album (and the one that means most to me) – how the absolute fuck can I see a band I love, enjoy them massively and not recognise the songs?  There really isn’t much more to say, they are awesome after all this time.  Still.  They continually re-invent and change and push new boundaries, yet come back to many of the same musical themes and songs and keep an old fan like me interested.  I just cannot speak highly enough of them.

Oh yeah, Stephen Lawrie solo acoustic.  That’s another string to his bow – these songs sound just as great played on a single acoustic guitar.  Genius.

Bridget Hayden

One Unique Signal

The Telescopes

Sterling Roswell

Flavor Crystals

Joe Nichols – Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off

September 14, 2016

Oh no Joe…

The Tuts at Undercover

September 12, 2016

The Tuts experience of Undercover was a long way from good.  You can read about it on their Facebook page.

Dr Lucy Robinson’s piece here is geat –

Your Punk Politics Will Be Privileged…

I am quite deliberately not going to talk about what happened on this blog.  What is without question is that the organiser is ultimately responsible for the whole event and security in particular, and part of being responsible for a whole event is planning for all of the things attendees might do.  The second thing that is without question is that The Tuts singer-guitarist was left bruised and the whole band very upset.

Even in the hypothetical situation of an full independent investigation [as if] placing significant blame on the band – a hypothetical situation I have no reason to believe is true – the promoter still has lessons to learn.  By definition.  That to me is a big part of what makes the whole story so depressing.  The Facebook comments – many of which could be taken word for word from ‘Derailing for Dummies’ [an essential read for anyone who doesn’t wish to be an arsehole unnecessarily] – are depressing to put it mildly.  But perhaps what is worse is the fact that I get the sense that the lessons of Hillsborough have not been learnt – certainly not by the commenting public.  Bear with me.

I am not an expert of the Hillsborough enquiry.  The basics of the situation were that there was a tragedy at a football ground where 100 or so people lost their lives.  The police blamed hooligan supporters.  Eventually – 25 years later – the truth came out – the crowd behaved as crowds behave and the police were found to be at fault for making very bad decisions. Crowds cannot recognise the crush they are part of and all just stop and walk away so everyone is safe – crowds just do not work like that however much we wish they did.  Police can (or at least should) recognise that opening gates to allow a massive crowd into an already crowded enclosed space is extremely dangerous (as evidenced by the outcome).

It seems to me that even if we were to offer considerable sympathy to the anti-Tut side of the argument, the facts are that a promoter and his security team have left the band very upset.  So upset that they are prepared to call him out even though they probably knew that he’d have a load of supporters justifying his behaviour and reminding them to stay in their place and shut the fuck up otherwise they won’t get gigs.

I think that there is a very strong parallel here – even if we accept the Undercover supporters’ version of events, then the organisers still have questions to answer because there is nothing in either side’s account of the story that could be seen as beyond the reasonable anticipation of the organisers.  If MI-5 thought Undercover was a hotbed of terrorism and sent in 500 armed police to arrest everyone I would understand that Mick Moriarty did not have a plan to deal with it.

Someone [female 5’2″ in this case] [alledgedly] drunk and being a bit boisterous is very very predictable at a punk gig.  That person being left bruised and very upset can only really be reacted to in a handful of ways by the organisers.

“We don’t want bruised and upset people at our gigs, so we have to learn from this and see how we can improve our procedures and behaviours next time to minimise the chances of it happening again.”

“We don’t care if our customers and/or bands are left bruised and upset.”

“We do care if our customers and/or bands are left bruised and upset, but only if they’re sober.  Drunks don’t have the same rights as sober people.”

Personally I don’t like the latter two responses.  I hope that Mick Moriarty will come up with his side of events.  No matter what he says I find it very unlikely I will have sympathy with him unless he can show how he is going to learn from this.  It may be that the Tuts have things to learn as well, but “when you get drunk you lose your rights” should not be one of them.

I Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore

September 8, 2016

No Silly!!!!  Not me!  Wild Eye looks GREAT naked and always will.  But Wild Eye is prepared to try to understand how others feel –

Trevor’s Head, Slug13, Nanking – The Star Inn, Guildford, 4th September 2016.

September 6, 2016

Band names, eh?  There is a school of music journalism that believes that the first and by far the most important question you should ask a band is “how did you get your name?” or “where does your name come from?”  I only did this to one band I think – Trevor’s Head.  It’s an unusual band name (aren’t they all?) that I first came across quite some time ago… but only half way through their set that it first occurred to me that it must be a reference to the mighty Trevor Brooking and his diving headed winner in the 1980 FA Cup Final.  I was wrong.  Coincidentally it only occurred to me during Slug 13’s set that Slug can mean something other than “slimy little creature”.

Now that the important stuff is out of the way I’d better quickly deal with the music.

Nanking first.  I loved their second track, which sounded to me like what At the Drive-In would sound like if they were a surf band, and there were plenty of other good moments.  It’s rare to see a drummer attack a drumkit with the sheer force and abandon that Nanking’s stickster did; it’s rare to see a band with such a good bass player.  But they do also sound like a band who are happy to chuck any and all influences into the mix and have fun, whereas if they focused the talent into developing their own sound they’d sound a lot more like a band.  But that ain’t happening – one gig to go, The Lounge in Alton at the end of the week – and Nanking are no more.

Slug13 are in many ways the complete opposite… less likely to pick up work as session musicians, but much more likely to come across as a ‘proper band’, a band who’ve found their sound.  I really liked their set, which to me was proper grunge in a Mudhoney kinda way.  Not that they sounded particularly like Mudhoney, just a proper, old-school stoner / grunge thing, and my personal taste and bias tends to lead me to seeing Mudhoney as the start, middle and end of grunge.  Not heard so much wah from one guitar for quite a while (no bad thing).  If I had one criticism it’d be that I’d prefer the guitars a bit more loose and wild and free… but perhaps that would take away as much as it’d give… and maybe it was just the volume in the venue was a touch lower than it could have been during their set.

Finally Trevor’s Head, who kinda make my last point (or rather second last point) for me.  Another proper old-school stoner / grunge band, though perhaps with a few more modern influences than Slug13, and definitely more of an explicit punk influence, a bit less grunge and a fair bit more stoner.   They were looser and wilder (and louder I think) than Slug 13 and fucking good for it, but you can’t have it both ways.  If anything maybe I’d have preferred a bit more of the solid, chugging consistency of Slug13.

Jeez… solid, chugging consistency sounds a bit like a massive insult doesn’t it, but it really isn’t – its integral to the whole sound / band.  And you know what, the easiest thing to do is chuck some other influence or instrument into the mix.  The hardest thing to do is keep it (relatively) simple.  As I get older I find myself more and more interested in technical, proggy, mathy, post-hardcore music of one type or another.  I love the insane complexity thrown at you hard and fast and loud.  But my real love, and certainly my original love, is music that is much more simple.

Sorry Nanking, stay together if you want more words outta me.  Slug13 and Trevor’s Head are two fine grungey stonery bands well worthy of your attention… I think my vote would have to go to the former (1-0 Slug13), but I suspect that’s to do with my age and shared formative influences as much as anything; gut feel is the more orthodox stoner thing Trevor’s Head have got going on is likely to have the wider appeal (1-1).  But I get the casting vote so 2-1 Slug13, Trevor’s Head lose, review over.

The Tuts – Wonderland Interview

September 4, 2016

Damn fine band, inspiring attitudes.  As they [sort of] talk about there is an issue in the arts – how to reach the audience that would most benefit being exposed to it.  I ain’t their target audience, and I doubt this blog will help them reach their target audience… but I hope that they find their ways.  Update Your Brain indeed.

http://www.wonderlandmagazine.com/2016/08/new-noise-tuts/

Space Church – Songs To Punch Nerds To

September 4, 2016

I’ll be honest, when I first listened to “… Punch Nerds… ” I wasn’t very impressed… it seemed to lack the maelstrom of heavy quasi-psychedelic fury that I’d taken from seeing them live.  On second listen I was absolutely loving it.

a1711313717_10

If a band blows me away with a sonic assault – like Space Church can do live – I’ll just go with it.  But if they don’t then I get thinking, and I like to understand where the band’s coming from, what they’re trying to do.  And – to make this into a a weird geography analogy – whilst Space Church are coming from a country I know and love, their home town is actually a little bit off the beaten track and I’ve never really even been close.  I don’t know the local customs.

Overall I think the three key points to take from the album are these.

(1)  They love Slint, the overall vibe and feel.

(2)  They really don’t give a fuck – musical tangents are not to be feared by Hopkins, Markwick and Nixon.  There is practically nothing about this album what makes me think there is any sort of agenda beyond making the album that they wanted to make.

(3)  Whilst they don’t sound like Sonic Youth they do have that old SY ability to make music which is clearly in no small part experimental, whilst also just ticking along in a really pleasant, easy-on-the-ear way.  A band that sound even less like Space Church who share this ability are Fugazi.  I like Fugazi.  Not that all the music that any of these bands make is easy on the ear, just that they can do it and do it well.

[Author’s Note – Slint are a band I’m only just starting to get my head around, and I am only doing so because Space Church class them as an influence.]

The guitars at the start of Ships are really nice.  Really nice.  They get less nice (but as great if not greater) after a couple of minutes when the drums decide to turn the song upside-down and shake the change out of the guitar’s trouser pockets.  Definitely a stand out track.  If I say I like the first bit best, then the middle bit next best, and the last bit last best it sounds like the song gets worse, but it actually gets better as the minutes pass.  How does that work?!?!?

Punk spirit.  Post-punk at times, definitely, but theirs is a very American sound.  I’m thinking the stomp of Snowballs.  A song that fades out to sitars and trumpets.  Go work that one out.

The guitars at the start (not the very start) of from (Don’t Let) Cuba In are the sort of rock n roll that I have heard described as proto-punk thing that I love, hitting the perfect balance between rocking and falling apart.  Proto-punk?  Do I mean proto-grunge, this kinda reminds me of Flipper?  This song breaks the mould by not completely changing half way through, though it does come close.

Banjo Song starts with nice bass, then drums and a fairly clean, low key guitars, and then spoken vocals.  Then something else happens then there’s one of those guitar lines Phil does that kinda mixes alt with a dollop of something much more classic rock, gives a nod and a wink, and is simultaneously utter class and a total piss-take.

And another thing.  It helps when there is nothing about a band that’s a bit crap.  Individually the guitar, bass and drums are all interesting at worst, superb at best.  I have no idea the range of Phil’s vocal talents – he pretty much sticks an almost spoken vocal style with added yelps and screams… it all works well and there’s ain’t no sign of the dodgy just-about-singer who ruins many a band.

Chlorine is not a song.  It is a bassline, some bonkers drums and a bit of scratchy feedback.  It is also Breaking Bad.  Chemistry teacher plus drugs.

Glue Factory lollops along under some superbly understated by unhinged drumming with some proper lazy guitar noodling, then the spoken word bit, then repeat.  Then the Miami 1980 part… why am I even trying to describe this.

That’s it, not every song can get a paragraph.  In the unlikely even that you really need more going on in an album than I have talked about above then you’ll likely find it in the song that has the most punk and most ambient moments on the album, or the longest song on the album.

Don’t expect pop songs, they are nowhere to be seen in this desolate post-rock landscape.  And it does give a feel of wide open desert, maybe at dusk… which is weird cos really the album is a lot more like a bustling City with all sorts of weird and wonderful (but mainly weird) people, some loud, some quiet, entering and exiting your life in quick succession.

Its overtly yet low-key batshit crazy.  It is fucking nuts, but in a quite understated way.  WTF.

If you like post-rock, or old school US alt-rock, or just weird shit, then buy this record.  And check ’em out live.

Buy it on Bandcamp

Kamikaze Girls – Sad ep

September 3, 2016

Kamikaze Girls released their debut ep yesterday.

Bearded Punk Records

And here’s the first video from it linked directly –

And the second –

Available on tape and 12″ and download I think.  I have the beautiful clear / splatter vinyl 12″ (with download code).  5 songs on the A-side, then the older, cast-iron classic, Tonic Youth on the B.  Get your money out at at its okay to be sad.

To grossly paraphrase Lucinda “we’re not afraid to write poppy choruses, but around that we have lots of fuzz.”  That pretty much nails it.

I can’t exactly put my finger on their sound.  They’re an indie band, definitely a bit punk, but also almost shoegaze in the way they mix waves of distorted guitars with beauty.  The vocals can change from ‘pleasant singing’ to ‘screaming howl’ at the drop of a hat.

They’re Kamikazi Girls, and to love them you have to love pop and you have to love noise.

They remind me of ‘Choker’ by Honeyblood – female vocaled noise pop that should sell hundreds of thousands if there was any sense in the world.  If I had any faith in the music industry or record buying public I’d be wondering whether they’ll breaking through to the mainstream without any real compromise (a la Nirvana) or whether they reduce the fuzz and increase the pop and do it Boo Radleys-style.

I really do love this band.  Forget the noise pop, I love their desire to push ideas to make the world a better place, with mental health being the major theme of this ep.  Hexes – psychosis; Stitches – anxiety; Ladyfuzz – overdose; Black Coffee – addiction; the band as a whole – girl power, feminism.  I hate funerals is the other track.

 

Nachthexen – Nachthexen 7″

September 2, 2016

Linked it a few months back, but it deserve a review too.  Energetic, all-female, post-punk from Sheffield.  Nice.

Great band name – the German nickname (it translates as ‘night witches’) in WW2 for female Russian pilots who flew night missions against the German forces on the Eastern Front.

Great unhinged synths… kinda reminding me of electroclash a bit.  Also remind me of Priests – all angry and ranty female vox over urgent and angular music.  Not pop, but when you write energetic little songs with catchy refrains you hint at pop.  Punk was supposed to break down all the boundaries 40 years’ ago… yet here we are and Nachthexen are pushing boundaries simply by ditching the guitars and employing synths instead.  Pathetic.  Not what Nachthexenare doing, rather that its sets them apart a little doing it.

nachthexenpunx.bandcamp.com

 

 

Scuzz Twittly – Keep Yer Hands Off My PBR – etc

September 2, 2016

Scuzz Twittly.  It has come to my attention that some people have not heard of this man, nay genius.  I have certain reservations about the level of political correctness in the lyrics and videos, but maybe a serious country artist has to sing the unadorned truth and can’t afford to choose his words carefully to please a liberal elite.

This song is just genius –

The title is a million times better than the song… but the guitars…. NICE

It might be the most obvious joke in c[o]untry, but why the hell not –