Archive for February, 2017

Sunday 5th March get yo ass down the Star Inn, Guildford

February 25, 2017

… for this…

https://www.facebook.com/events/941026996031194/993057994161427/

Should be a good ‘un, and anyone who gives a shit about alternative music, noisy guitars, noise rock, blah blah f’ing blah, should support it if they can.

Princess and Slug13 rock.  Not gonna bother checking out King Ghidora or Blackdroid in advance… if the Leafy Incline guys are putting them on then they’ll be worth checking out.

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Nova Twins, IDKFA, Moper – Jasta 11 Promotion at the Star Inn Guildford 25th February 2017

February 25, 2017

First on, Moper.  The first time I saw them, under their old moniker, I wasn’t overly impressed.  “Overall interesting, not bad, lots of potential… but not my thing right now.  I’d be more than happy to turn up at a gig and find out they were on the bill, but I wouldn’t go far out of my way specifically to see them” was what I said.  Since then I have made an effort to listen to them online, grown to like them and bought their records.  I judge the bands I see by pretty high standards, but I do try to like local bands, try to give them a chance, give myself every opportunity to grow to like a band so I can go and enjoy gigs locally.  Fucking glad I did with this mob, and it was hardly a chore.

They describe themselves as “abrasive and noisy post-hardcore”*.  Yet again my [lack of] knowledge of the multitude of genres and sub-genres over the last 25-30 years lets me down… but I think I can say for sure that Steve Albini and Shellac are influences.  Drums vary between rocking fairly hard, and, perhaps more often, odd time signatures.  Add some really nice bass and a Johnny’s guitar / vox and that’s them.

Johnny has a really nice voice that suits the music.  The guitars can be noisy, abrasive, scratchy and nasty, but more often than not stripped-back and beautiful is as appropriate a description.  Very few bands I have ever seen have taken the volume right down and have had the audience in near-as-damnit-silence… in fact I can only think of one off the top of my head… and the band that managed it (more than once in various times I saw them) were a semi-acousitic / cello / percussion three piece who played their entire set pretty quietly, and had fewer people in the room than Moper did.  And the band leader can boast a major-label solo deal and at least one ToTP appearance as a member of a band on his CV.

It’s hard for me to really judge how good they are – I just don’t know the competition well enough.  But I really like the balance they get between abrasion and beauty… and I have a feeling it’s their balance relatively in favour of beauty, in contrast to most bands doing a similar thing who favour noise, that makes me like them.

Go buy the wonderfully titled new album, “An Altar of Nothing, Erected for No-one”.  I did, and I have NO REGRETS.

I think Moper think they’re depressing, but for me there was only one band on the bill that made me sad.  They came on second.  I am opinionated and capable of making very quick decisions about whether a band is brilliant or not.

I liked the bassist’s MC4 T-shirt.

I like stuff that is relatively new, relatively different.  I have no issue with bands using sequencers, electronics, whatever, live… but dance music is VERY hard to do live.  And more than that, what’s the point?  The best dance music I have ever heard is drum and bass, techno, electro and tech-house.  The strengths it has are watered down by even the merest hint of live instrumentation.  It is meant to be pure and precise.

IDKFA are sort of a 90s rave band I think, probably with some more modern pop-dance / EDM influences too.  It is not my type of music on any level whatsoever.  If I wanted to listen to dance music I’d be in a dark basement club with a DJ, or I’d be at home sticking on Underground Resistance 12″s.  Sorry.

[There is a risk that as this review continues a certain inconsistency of thought will become apparent].

Finally Nova Twins.  Slightly odd that only 4 nights earlier, in the  same venue, I saw a similar-ish 3-piece set-up.  Drums, vocals, and a bassist doing most of the music… the only fundamental difference in set-up was Revelry’s singer just sings, Nova Twin’s singer (actually, vocalist is much more accurate) plays a bit of guitar as well (though not on every song).

To a large extent my criticism of IDKFA is their melange… I’d rather my dance stripped down, simpler, more pure of sound and ditch the live bass and drums cos they can only take away from the precision, they cannot possibly add anything.  Nova Twins are a wonderful melange.

I kinda thought they sounded like Red Hot Chilli Peppers was a starting point, and that they’ve basically taken the intersection of rock, pop and maybe metal, and then infused it with a bit of hip-hop, drum and bass, grime (which is basically drum and bass plus hip-hop, plus a bit else isn’t it?) whatever else.  “We don’t call ourselves rock or grime” they said to the NME.  No they’re both.

Amy’s vocals are great, and I think I’d argue her overall stage prescence is even better.  Georgia’s bass is doing so much and my mind would have been considerably more blown had I not seen someone else pull off something similar so recently, albeit to a much lower standard. Could maybe give her a bit of criticism for being a bit light on the sub-bass, but when that kicked in, wow, props to the sound system at the Star as well to be fair.

I do not like rock-dance crossover acts.  Nova Twins are and they aren’t.  There’s no mess, no crossover because it’s all so seemless.  I could see them pretty damn high up the bill at a big festival.

* [Typo inspired ‘joke’].  In what style did William Shakespeare’s successors write pretty intense and slightly alternative plays?  Post-bardcore.  Sorry.

“rich backgrounds / your rich fucking backgrounds”

February 24, 2017

Annabel Allum is someone I’ve been aware of for a while… much more interesting than the typical acousticy-folky-singery-songwritery shit you hear, but then again how excited can I really get by someone who is basically acousticy-folky-singery-songwritery?

Anyway, this new song is alright as it goes, nice… grungey and angry…

https://www.thelineofbestfit.com/new-music/discovery/annabel-allum-rich-backgrounds

Why am I posting this?

February 24, 2017

I really don’t know.

It could be the video, which in some ways, when coupled with the song, is scary as fuck.  It could be the sub-Beatles outfits.  It could be because it is the best band name ever.  Or maybe its just a nice tune.  Fuck knows.

Vinyl Staircase

February 22, 2017

Why do bands use fucking soundcloud?   I detest that after playing a song you consciously choose to listen to it selects some random crap. From a band’s point of view it is terrible too.  I press play on Vinyl Staircase and now have a subconscious association with some other random shit band that played afterwards.  Do not use fucking soundcloud it’s fucking shit.  FACT.

https://soundcloud.com/vinyl-staircase

Bands.  Use bandcamp, FFS.

Not fucking soundcloud.

Next point of order.  Definitions.  OK, so I’m wasting my time here, but they’re important to me.  Their facebook page says “Shreddin’ central” as a genre at the minute.  The website shows –

“Rays of gleaming psych guitars chime over stamping drums and gorgeous lyrics” – NME
and
“Like Syd Barret fronting Sonic Youth” – The Boston Globe, Bands To Watch

They are playing Portsmouth Psych Fest.

Maybe I’m nuts but to my mind for a band to be psychedelic it has to make mind-twisting music.  Vinyl Staircase are not psychedelic from what I’ve heard.  I don’t think of “psych” music as psychedelic, but I probably should.  I think of psych as 60s garage with a hint of psychedelia.  Not sure they’re 60s-y enough or garage-y enough to be my warped definition of psych either.

That said their take on rock / guitar music is certainly a little psychedelic, it certainly nods to old 60s bands more than most modern bands do.  And how many of the old psychedelic bands were genuinely psychedelic?  I’ve just listened to a bit of old Lost and Found and psychedelic wasn’t as psychedelic as it should have been.  Actually, maybe the truth is that psychedelic music now has to be much more psychedelic to sound psychdelic to 2017 ears, compared to 1960s ears.

Vinyl Staircase are kinda Dreampop as well (not to be confused with Shoegaze, an entirely different thing).  Or is that more bullshit, I’m now listening to a track of their from Dorkfest and I can’t decide whether it is more dreampop or shoegaze, which probably means they’re near as damnit the same thing.

Why am I so fucking obsessed with labelling and putting in boxes? WTF is the point?

Do Vinyl Staircase disappoint me because they’re not psychedelic enough?  Or did I persist with them more than I would otherwise, because they told me they were psychedelic before I heard them, so I was wanting to like them?  I think the latter, followed a bit by the former.

I want to like them.  I do quite like them.  Check ’em out online, there’s a fair bit on youtube.  Go see them live, I will do.

If I were to be asked for my advice I would say “get weirder, get more of a 60s sound, or maybe more of an odder modern sound.  Get heavier.  Bigger riffs.  More repetition, more drones, more hypnotic.  More fuzz.  More tremolo.”

And one more thing, here’s a link to an article in the Quietus.  This is an article written by someone who appears to know something.  Vinyl Staircase should read this.  Everyone should –

http://thequietus.com/articles/16119-what-is-psychedelic-music

Top 10 Current Local Bands – Guildford and Surrounds – February 2017 (pt 2)

February 22, 2017

Moper, ex-SBB… are a band I’m still trying to get my head around 9 months (or so?) after seeing them live.  I’ve bought 3 albums.  They are dark, they place a massive barrier between the audience and themselves… but they’re gnawing away at me, I want to understand.  There’s a bit of Future of the Left about them, maybe.  Drawing me in.  Let them get to work on you… it might take a while but if your soul is pure, if a little haunted, then you’ll get there like I hope to.  Star Inn, Guildford, Friday, will to be there.

Grits I rate highly.  Not sure the extent they are something quite alternative trying to take high energy rock on board to make something more accessessible, or the other way round – a fairly mainstream rock band with hints at something quite challenging.  Either way energy levels, catchiness and plenty to keep it interesting to my [Wild] Eyes.  Fucking yes.  Facebar, Reading, Friday, would like to be there.

Who Saw The Light are a doom, grunge, metal, fuck knows what mess of a band and get away with it.  Who knows where they’re going, who knows why, but they have something.  Maybe I misunderstood but one song last time I saw them had its tempo set by a simple rhythm guitar part.  10 seconds in the bassist – whose taking lead vocal on the song – is having a bit of a go a the guitarist for massively reducing the tempo compared to when they rehearse it.  They really don’t appear to give a fuck.  I hope that what I’m seeing is the start of something special.  I fear they’ll get their act together and lose some of their irreverence and genre-spanning melange.  Then again they can certainly play so if they wanted to get their act together they would have probably done so already.

Songs To Punch Nerds To is great and Space Church have a live set that blew me away the first time I saw it.  I hope they keep writing, keep mixing it up.  Trevor’s Head seriously know what they’re doing too, dunno what more to say.

Slug 13 have the massive advantage of playing in a style that I’m a sucker for… though being able to write a top top riff kinda helps too.  Keep writing, keep ploughing that lovely furrow, maybe mix it up a bit too.  Or don’t bother.  Mixing it up that is, do bother full stop.

I love pop music.  Swords of Thought can write a song… but they do so in a nicely noisy way, that reminds me of some great great bands like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.  The Boo Radley’s debut album (which they themselves have kinda written out of history) is called Ichabod and I.  It is brilliant if you like that sort of thing.  Pure pop, combined with a “why use one distortion pedal when you can use 20” attitude (I swear that’s a reasonably accurate bit of paraphrasising from an interview I read back in the day).  SoT remind me of that.

Pensevor deserve their own post, so bugger it, I’m saying nothing for now.

Top 10 Current Local Bands – Guildford and Surrounds – February 2017

February 21, 2017

Top 10 Current Local Bands – Guildford and Surrounds – February 2017

The rules – you must be based in Guildford or not that far away.  I must have seen you play live.  You must have played in or near Guildford in the last year or so.  I have changed part of your name to the word shit to ensure that you don’t get too cocky if you’re on the list, and if you’re not on the list then you don’t get a shit so there’s some consolation.  This list is based on FACTS not my personal opinion.

If you’re on the best of the rest then I wanna see you, or you just missed out, or you haven’t played locally recently enough, or you’re there cos someone I trust rates you, or maybe you’re just so fucking good that I think you’re too good to be judged against other local bands.

Feedback welcome.  Noise a guitar makes I mean, not your replies.

(1)  Penshitvor

(2)  Swords of Shit

(3)  Shit13

(4)  Shit Church

(5)  Trevor’s Shit

(6)  Who Saw The Shit

(7)  Shits

(8)  Shitter

(9)  Victorian Whore Shits

(10)   Typical Shits

Best of the rest – Blackwaters, Tommy Blackwood, Camcorder, Employed to Serve, Eulogy, Gutlocker, Heinous Pianist, Morass of Molasses, Princess, Vinyl Staircase.

Vital Note – Eulogy and Swords of Thought – PULL YOUR FINGERS OUT.

Another thing… maybe, going back 25 years, I didn’t get to as many local gigs as I should have… and no offence you lot but I am not sure any of you come close to touching the genius of Mega City Four and in particular Wiz’s incredible lyrics.  But overall the standard now is so high, it really is.

Xero, Who Saw The Light, Revelry – Noise Theory at the Star, Guildford, 20th February 2017

February 21, 2017

I liked Revelry… bass, drums and female vox.  Heavily Royal Blood influenced, a decent singer who reminds me a little of Beth Ditto (to say “she’s reminiscent” is a compliment, to add “she’s nowhere near as good” is, perhaps, inevitable.  Ditto is GREAT).  They tread a middle ground where you think they are a step to the right away from being very much mainstream, and a step to the left away from being quite alternative.  They rock.  The bassist filled the sound out really well with the help of a pitchfork and no small amount of talent.  Check ’em.  One of the better ACM bands I’ve ever seen.

Who Saw The Light… I was much less shock and awed by them second time around, and there were sound issues especially early on… but overall damn good again… not much to add.  Looking forward to the next time, looking forward to them developing as a band.

Xero, not my thing, sorry.

Shit review, no time, sue me.

King Boy D and Rockman Rock

February 20, 2017

The KLF / JAMS / Justified Ancients of Mu Mu / Timelords were incredible band.  Forgetting the music for one second, as artists they are legends.  I mean that as in the whole package of the band… but also, as, simply, artists, literally doing art.

The Manual.  The incident on the island with some cash.  The K Foundation.  Drummond’s ficition and non-fiction.  The tower in Northern Island.  The Brits appearance.

There are bands / artists that I have total respect for in terms of the whole package.  Most are punk, or were, the KLF came out of punk I suppose too.

Black Flag. Fugazi.  Underground Resistance.  The KLF.

As a pop-dance band they are up there as one of my top 3.  But that’s nothing compared to the rest of what they did.

So, January the 1st this year we got –

Well worth a watch.  Start to finish, no corner cutting.  If you can’t be arsed to watch it then you have no business reading this blog.

Then a few days later –

Can’t wait.

More On Lost in Venice

February 20, 2017

Please don’t use derogatory terms relating to the disabled… I’m on my best behaviour at the moment but if I have a reason to go into attack mode then I will.

http://www.smashedvinyl.com/single-post/2017/02/20/Get-Down-and-Dirty-With-Lost-In-Venice

Just gonna pick you up on a few things from that interview.

What do you guys say to people who doubt the credibility of bands who come from Music universities?

Rob: I disagree with them entirely

Enrico: They’re just snobs man (all laugh)

Rob: I think bands that come from Music Academies are definitely smarter in terms of business

Enrico: Musicians who go to Music universities are definitely sexier

On this point I think that there are two separate issues.  If you think that people are snobs [or idiots for that matter] for dismissing bands because they are from somewhere like ACM without listening to them then I make you 100% right.  There is nothing to say that you can’t be credible and studied your craft.  You can be pure pop and still be credible for that matter.

However I have seen a fair few ACM bands live over the years, and checked out dozens online, and relatively few have caught my ears (Who Saw The Light and Following Foxes stand out… though to be fair LiV are one of the best of the rest).

Bands who are trying to make a career out of it are generally not the best bands.  Working hard, practicing, being driven, nothing wrong with any of those things, but I get the impression that ACM bands do those things to get a career, whereas a band like Iron Maiden did those things because they believed in Iron Maiden.

There is nothing wrong with musicianship, but thinking that musicianship is the answer is wrong.  Some of the best musicians ever could barely play.

My final criticism of ACM bands will come later.

It is somewhat ironic that Rob says “I think bands that come from Music Academies are definitely smarter in terms of business” whilst later on Enrico saysIt was tough because we got signed to this label and they had good thing for us but it just didn’t work out both ways and we got dropped, and we didn’t get the tracks back”.

You’re self described as stoner rock on the Internet.

James: It’s an influence

Enrico: It used to be the main sound, we’d kind of go for that old school Black Sabbath, Led Zeppelin kind of stuff, but then I think other stuff took over like indie

James: It changes, especially in a place like ACM where you’re surrounded by so many different styles, and we all have diverse backgrounds in music

Rob: Yeah, we listen to so many different styles of music that we kind of change our mind to what genre of music we are, every month… We could be jazz, fusion or acid rock tomorrow, who knows?

“Indie” means nothing other than “fucking boring bland guitar music made by arseholes” nowadays.  You never sounded one little bit like an indie band to me when I saw you.

James and Rob nail why so many ACM bands aren’t great.  The Beatles became a great band by locking themselves in a club for months on end playing and playing and playing.  Spacemen 3 became a great band by listening to superb records by obscure artists, stealing bits from them and creating something new that bore little relation to anything else.   A band like Husker Du played as hard and fast as they could until they’d done that for a few years and the band grew and developed in a different direction.  None of these bands thought of themselves as being a particular genre, and then swapped, although they all produced a very wide range of music over their careers.

I believe “We could be jazz, fusion or acid rock tomorrow, who knows?”  That is a fucking massive problem for a band like you.  Most non-ACM bands have a sound.  Maybe its because they can only play one way.  But they have a sound and they work at it, and even if you don’t like it you have to give them a bit of respect for just doing it.  Most ACM bands sound like a bunch of session musicians chucked together, who could be doing something entirely different the next day.  Can I truly buy into what you’re doing when it might be that next time I see you you’re a jazz or fusion band? 

There’s nothing wrong with a multitude of influences, but until you make them part of your sound then you’re not really a band, you’re just a mess, a hotch-potch of ideas, a handful of session musicians who have a band as a hobby.

Ironically Who Saw The Light are actually almost the exception that proves the rule.  They are a complete mess, a complete hotch-potch, but somehow they get away with it.  IMHO.