Saturday, 30 June 2018

July gigs in Manchester

Sunday 1: Robert Aiki Aubrey Lowe, Susie Ibarra and Yoshimi O @ Soup Kitchen

Tuesday 3: Carson Wells & Please, Believe! & Neiman @ Peer Hat

Friday 6: The Cosmic Dead & Cattle @ Soup Kitchen

Friday 6: Seeds of Doubt & Rodents & The Birth Marks & Secret Admirer & Handle @ Fuel

Tuesday 10: Vital Idles & Wurms @ Marble

Thursday 12: The Noise Upstairs @ Fuel

Thursday 12: Mr Airplane Man & 39th and the Nortons & B-Positives & Jeuce @ Peer Hat

Friday 13: Anti-Trump demo Albert Square 5pm with DJ Dave Haslam

Friday 13: Akne & Beige Palace & Wait Less & Rickerly @ Fuel

Friday 13: The Breeders @ the Ritz (sold out)

Saturday 14: A Tilted Birthday with Kintsuku & Nick Alexander & Poet and the Loops & Rickerly & Tacetmusic & Ux & Work @ Peer Hat (starts 3pm)

Friday 20: Kuken & Slumb Party & Unpaid Intern @ Fuel

Friday 20 Ministry & Chelsea Wolfe @ Albert Hall

Friday 20 Belly @ the Ritz

Saturday 21 Sylvain Sylvain & ILL & Adventures of Salvador @ Aatma

Saturday 21 Liines @ Deaf Institute

Thursday 26 Locean and a showcase of the cinema of transgression @ Dulcimer, Chorlton FREE

Thursday 26 Pet Crow & Unqualified Nurse Band & Careering @ Marble

Saturday 28 Tim Jauncy (plays Grant Hart) & Look Back Bores (play the Fall) & Poppycock & Drink and Drive @ Peer Hat

Saturday 28: Flower Corsano Duo & Bilge Pump & Andy Abbott @ Todmorden Golden Lion (not Manchester)

Sunday 29: Damn Teeth & Strange Friends & Bleach Boy @ Fuel

Sunday 29: Archelon & Glarus @ Marble

Tuesday 31 Cynthia’s Periscope & Mutabase & Glowing Brightly @ the Castle

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

June Gigs in Manchester

These are the gigs I’d like to go to in Manchester in June. At least these are the gigs I know about. There might well be other good gigs happening that I haven’t heard about yet. If I’ve listed a gig here then I like at least one of the bands playing at the gig. Obviously there are bands I haven’t heard yet, and bands I don’t like, so this is never going to be a definitive gig guide. Put any of these gigs into a search engine and you’ll probably find a lot more information about them. Now go to a gig.

Friday 1: Claw the Thin Ice & She the Throne & Careering @ Aatma
Friday 1: The Distractions & The Sandells @ Kings Arms
Friday 1: tAngerinecAt & Cinder Well & granola suicide @ Fuel

Saturday 2: Dorcha & Adrena Adrena & Godspeed You! Peter Andre @ Soup Kitchen
Saturday 2: The Maitlands & Jungfraus & Blanketman @ The Castle

Sunday 3: Robocobra Quartet & Handle & Acid Marko @ Peer Hat

Monday 4: Flatworms @ Soup Kitchen

Tuesday 5: Shatners Bassoon & Adrian Northover, Phil Marks, David Birchall @ St Margarets Church, Whalley Range

Thursday 7: Factory Acts & Patchwork Rattlebag & Ethereal & Code:Marla & entha @ Peer Hat

Friday 8: Witch Fever & The Slumdogs & Saintts @ Peer Hat
Friday 8: Slut Magic & Playacting & Great Ghosts @ Fuel

Sunday 10: Mike Donovan & Irma Vep & Aldous RH @ Gullivers

Thursday 14: The Noise Upstairs @ Fuel
Thursday 14: Drahla @ The Castle

Friday 15: Denim and Leather & Polluted Brain & I’m 6 @ Soup Kitchen

Saturday 16: ILL & Mold & Glove @ Deaf Institute

Friday 22: Seven Sisters & Ascalon & Aggressive Perfektor @ Peer Hat

Saturday 23: Bobbie Peru & The Sandells & The Empty Page & Drink and Drive & Diagonal Science & Monkeys in Love & Flea & Four Candles @ Peer Hat
Saturday 23: King of the Slums & SPIRIT:level  @ Night and Day

Sunday 24: The Ex @ Soup Kitchen

Tuesday 26: John Macedo, David Birchall, Andrew Cheetham & Andie Brown @ Peer Hat

Wednesday 27: Owte & Cynthia's Periscope & JFrisco & k1square & TOOM @ Fuel

Friday 29: Slow Crush & Pijn @ Soup Kitchen

Friday, 11 May 2018

Gigs in Manchester in May 2018

Manchester gigs I recommend during the rest of May:

Friday 11: Cassie, Cynthia’s Periscope & Aughra @ Fuel

Saturday 12: Damo Suzuki, The Common Cold & lots of other bands @ White Hotel (starts 5pm)

Tuesday 15: Grey Hairs, SAVAK & Salt the Snail @ the Peer Hat
Tuesday 15: Circuit des Yeux & Matchess @ Soup Kitchen
Tuesday 15: Kaputt, Bunny Hoova & Handle @ Fuel

Wednesday 16: Miki Yui  & Lee Patterson @ Islington Mill
Wednesday 16: Birdstriking, Jungfraus, Blanketman & Respectfulchild @ Peer Hat

Thursday 17: Mary Ocher & Politburo @ Peer Hat
Thursday 17: Father Murphy & A Sun Amissa @ Eagle Inn
Thursday 17: Jim Ghedi & dbh @ the Castle

Friday 18: Easter, dbh, Playacting & DTHPDL @ Peer Hat

Saturday 19: Matana Roberts & Kelly Jane Jones @ Portico Library

Sunday 20: Josh T. Pearson Band & Erika Wennerstrom @ Gorilla

Monday 21: Screaming Females & ILL @ Soup Kitchen (sold out)

Monday 21: The Levitation Room, Goa Express, Freakout Honey & The Big Peach @ Peer Hat

Tuesday 22: Radar Men from the Moon, Stupid Cosmonaut & Schoolhouse @ the Star and Garter

Wednesday 23: Cocaine Piss & Threads @White Hotel

Wednesday 23: Father Murphy & Sophie Cooper @ the Golden Lion in Todmorden, FREE

Thursday 24: TV Smith (of the Adverts), Harvey’s Rabbit, Joe Smith @ Aatma

Friday 25: Circle & Trojan Horse @ Rebellion

Saturday 26: Mold, Luxury Apartments, The Starlight Magic Hour & Posa @ The Eagle Inn

Sunday 27: The Bonnevilles & Bones Shake @ Eagle Inn

Tuesday 29: Sloth Racket & Birchall,Cheetham, Webster, Wilberg & Alex Spence @ Peer Hat

Wednesday 30: May the Night Bless You with Heavenly Dreams & Kerry Devine & We Are UX @ Fuel

Wednesday 30: Author and Punisher @ Rebellion

Thursday 31: Blue Orchids @ Peer Hat has been cancelled but you can go upstairs to Aatma instead

Thursday 31; Freakgenes & The Birth Marks & Leather Party @ Aatma 

Wednesday, 9 May 2018

ILL “We Are ILL” (Box Records)

This is quite a long review so if you’re eyes are tired from googling and booking your face here’s a one word version: brILLiant.

ILL is a very smart name for a band. It sets an agenda: turning the stigma of mental ILLness into a badge of humour and defiance. “You’re putting stress on the NHS,” is the accusation spat back in the very first line of the opening signature tune “ILL Song.” This is the kind of unsympathetic guilt trip a lot of ILL folk are stigmatised with before they kILL themselves.  The guitars scream in protest at doctor’s orders delivered in crazed chants of “Sort yourself out!” and “Take your pILL!”  Punk-disco rhythms get the party started.  The lunatics have taken over the asylum and are making the doctors dance. The rhythm slows to a zombie crawl and dies as the ILL get pILLs forced down them to keep them calm.

ILL are quite frequently described as four women. If you watch singing keyboarder Harri Shanahan’s hilarious sci-fi B-movie spoof video for the second song “Space Dick” you could be forgiven for thinking ILL drummer Fiona Ledgard is a kick boxing interstellar crime fighter and guitarist Sadie Noble was a hologram and bassist Whitney Bluzma and Harri are a pair of blue haired aliens. However they were only acting and no giant cosmic turtles were actually harmed. “Space Dick” is the sILLiest song on the album, concerning sexual harassment and sex(ism) in space. Manic space invader lazer keyboards keep shooting down sarcastic observations about the casual sexism of sci-fi and scientists: “I work for NASA, they sexually harass ya! Fancy some fellation on the MIA station?” The line “Girl you look so foxy when you’re running out of oxygen” is about Sandra Bulloch in the film “Gravity.” I’d imagine kids would like “Space Dick” as it has more rude imagery that their parents don’t want them to listen to than the other songs, and there’s lots of cowbell and lazer guns.

On the cover there are five heads even though there are only four people in ILL. That’s because guitarist Sadie Noble who plays on this album left about a year before the album was released and was quickly replaced by Tamsin Middleton, who also plays in Liines, Mr Heart, JD Meatyard and solo as Tamsin A. The music on this album was recorded in 2015 and 2016 so Sadie played all the guitar parts, and Tamsin was only in time to sing some backing vocals. Sadie still plays in Ten Mouth Electron and Salford Media City and the last I heard was also making solo albums. It’s been such a long wait for an ILL album that the person who sang the first line of the first song on the album is no longer ILL… or maybe they just couldn’t afford the power to keep her hologram running? Whitney is also quite busy with other bands outside of ILL, playing in Diagonal Science and Trancendental Equation.

 “Stuck on a Loop” starts up with a driving bass line quickly joined by circus clown fairground synth and squidgy mangled guitar and typically foot tapping drumming. It would make a great soundtrack to a ride on the Circle line on the Undone Underground.  On the surface it seems to be about obsession, when someone can’t stop thinking about the same thing. It could be about reincarnation. It could even be about the process of songwriting.  It’s actually about the nitrogen cycle. After a manic ride round and around it’s another deranged dance floor filler that decelerates into oblivion.

“Bears” is slower than the first three songs and Whitney sings the lead vocal. Guitars are spidery and scratchy and remind me of eighties Wire at times. Threatening to feed someone to “Bears” is as close as ILL get to writing a ballad. The drILL synth on the chorus creates an evILL atmosphere. The Bears don’t care. According to Whitney “Bears” is about “regaining your inner power when it’s been taken away by dickheads.”

“Bus Shelter” is the poppiest song with a funky bass line and calypso keyboards. Sadie sings what sounds like a political protest about a homeless woman who lives in a bus shelter and gets ignored by all the busy travellers. It’s dedicated to a lady who used to give out leaflets and warn people about freemasons on Oxford Road in Manchester. There’s an obvious homage to The Fall in the chorus chant, “Hit the North.” Whitney recites mostly Manchester place names, making “Urmston” sound especially diabolical. Finally everything falls apart in panic to shouts of “The world is coming to an end” after an apocalyptic synth attack on the shelter. The world doesn’t end; it just gets more violent…

Side Two (if you have a blue vinyl copy) turns darker and to me seemed almost all lyrically about the abuse of women by men. “I am the Meat” is the heaviest song on the album. It could be about the commodification of women’s bodies in the porn industry, however it isn’t. Whitney told me it was written as an angry response to a journalist who described ILL as a “quirky choice of a support act, whilst the meat is the main, male, band.” So it’s actually about being overlooked. The drums and bass bludgeon like butchers’ hammers, keyboards make noise like blood and guts oozing out and guitar sounds like final brain death spasms. Everyone screams! ILL wILL not be a quirky side dish; they are the main course.

The longest song on the album “Slithering Lizards” is an ominous warning of impending doom: “Hey sisters, they’re coming for you! You’d better lock your door, you’d better stay inside.” As worries build, the rhythm speeds up and the guitar splutters in wildly freaked out spasms. Teeth rot in a granny flat where life is not pretty. This song could work well in a horror film soundtrack. Appropriately it’s about the vile Tory government. 

“Power” is the most emotional song on the album. Harri sounds threatening and vulnerable, desperate and confused. It’s a slow night time crawl, a brain trying to break out of a skull. “All this violence is so perfect.”
“What am I supposed to do with all this power?” sings Harri like her head is going to explode. Maybe write a song? According to Whitney, ““Power” is about a woman embracing her sexuality and being passionate, which scares some people because it disturbs the societal norms of how women should be seen.”

“Hysteria” picks up the pace and ends the album with a floor filling hyper blast for mother liberation. “You have a purpose, a god given purpose… you’re just a birthing machine endorsed by the state / church.” It’s probably my favourite ILL song and this version is angrier, wilder and more hysterical than the previous version they recorded for a three song EP, but not as funny, as the “Push push” refrain isn’t pushed so much and there’s no fake birth dance. It reminds me of “Arabian Knights” by Siouxsie and the Banshees, but Whitney told me she’d never heard that song. The “mother hero” chant is from the mother hero medal awarded to mothers in the USSR. Don’t waste your life looking pretty, getting married and having kids to please the church and state. Go get ILL at the punk disco instead.

Three other songs were recorded by John Tatlock on Box Mobile studio during the album sessions but not included. They were rerecordings of “Kremlin” and “Secret Wife” from earlier EPs and another as yet unreleased song called “Androids Against Asimov” described by Whitney as a ten minute epic with scary time signatures that they haven’t played live. If I have any criticism to make of the album it’s that “Kremlin” would have made a great opening song for side 2, and it’s a shame they didn’t include it. You’ll just have to listen on the internet or find the EP. After you buy the album you cheeky downloader!

You can hear "ILL Song" on the ILL bandcamp:

You can hear "Stuck on a Loop" and "Hysteria" and read the album press release on the Box Records website:

Watch the video of "Space Dick" here:

Watch the video of "ILL Song" here:

Find ILL gigs:

Fat Out Fest 2017 Saturday


I’d helped out setting up the festival for a couple of afternoons before Fat Out Fest began, folding programs, shifting crates of beer and dressing The Bernard, a warehouse venue only used on Sunday. I was also on a bar shift for the first half of Saturday, which tied me to the Caustic Coastal warehouse space. This turned out to be quite fortunate as This Heat drummer Charles Hayward’s new quartet Data Quack happened to be playing there and turned out to be the band I enjoyed the most on Saturday, maybe even the whole weekend. First they had to find their way there and we had to show them the route to their soundcheck. Volunteer organiser Sophie Bee told me to do anything Charles Hayward asked me, unaware that we’d met before. “Don’t worry,” joked Charles, “Anything of a sexual or perverted nature is already catered for!” The funniest question I asked anyone that weekend was directed to the young lady who plays keyboards in Data Quack. I asked Merlin how she met Charles Hayward. “Er, I’m his daughter,” was her reply. Only then did I notice their facial similarity. Data Quack also feature Housewives saxophonist Ben. Their music is a cathartic textured clatter and clang that had me in the moment completely for most of the set when I wasn’t picking up cups and cans. They haven’t released any recordings yet, but told me there are plans to do so. Before the music began we had a lunch break upstairs in Sophie Gardner’s Mother May I kitchen. The tomato based stew was one of the most delicious meals I’ve ever eaten, and the good news is she’ll be selling her amazing vegan gluten free food in the Mill at Sounds from the Other City (April 30) and is available for hire for festivals and events. Later she served an almost as delicious mild curry. The silliest performance I witnessed all weekend was the first one to enliven Caustic Coastal. Lone Taxidermist’s Trifle play light industrial disco, but the focus is on their daft performance antics. Kitted out in dayglo toytown bondage gear, a group of ladies enticed anyone brave enough  to joining in their custard swilling and trifle smearing whilst on the big screen naked butts painted red sat in cream cakes. Eventually they got a bunch of people under a plastic sheet and covered it in trifle. After a quick clean up, a solo Irma Vep sang his blues as he quaffed free booze. Edwin Stevens kept the room enthralled with only guitar picking and almost mumbled singing, a total contrast to the Trifle queens. After the glorious Data Quack attack, Berlin based Japanese duo Group A treated us to some violent industrial beats. Nick Cave once said something about Blixa Bargeld’s scream sounding like a man having thistles torn from his soul and Sayaka Botanic’s distorted violin invokes similar demons. Tommi Tokyo punctuates her bold enunciations by smashing a knife onto a metal bar making a harsh metallic crash or scrape. It proved difficult to tear myself away from their sweet deadly din in time to catch busy drummer Andrew Cheetham in an improvising duo with head Tonk honkster saxophonist Colin Webster in the bed and breakfast space.  Andrew is quite likely the best drummer in Manchester right now, certainly the most individual, and can also be found behind the kit with Easter and Desmadrados Soldados de Ventura. The only seat left in the room was on a sofa right next to the drums, so I got a grand view as he tapped and tumbled around Colin’s high honk factor. In the dark Burrow London progpunk purveyors Teeth of the Sea were down a man but still put on a climactic performance even if they couldn’t reach the heights they did last time I saw them when they soundtracked looped excerpts from the apocalyptic Scottish cannibal punk film “Doomsday.” I’ve seen Sly and the Family Drone play in a house (Anson Corner) and in a tiny Fallowfield bar basement and given myself ear damage drumming along with them so I kept well back when they  infested the Burrow with their raucous racket. With incredible brutal drum and sax duo Dead Neanderthals and their regular collaborator Colin Webster adding to the noise, this emerged as a much more nuanced and structured set than Sly would normally try. What it lacked in chaos was made up for in dynamics and ultra-high honk factor, however Dead Neanderthals didn’t scale the relentless peaks they did in a disused bank vault a couple of weeks before. Back in Caustic Coastal the abrasive industrial beats of Author & Punisher proved the perfect soundtrack to crush empty drink cans to. Maybe it was this that shook the roof apart so that the venue became too dangerous to be used on Sunday! After that it was party time…

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Fat Out Fest Friday

Didn’t we have a jolly good time at Fat Out Fest. Friday seemed infused with the spirit of Gnod. Maybe it’s because the day before I had tripped out to Todmorden to hear the first date on Gnod’s  tour;  maybe it’s because Gnod are based in Islington Mill; more likely it’s because almost every band that evening had at least one song with the same beat as a Gnod song. Feminist dance maniacs ILL don’t sound very much like Gnod but even they had a Gnodbeat for one song. Keyboard action screamer Hari Shanahan was getting irked with the sound guys and making snide remarks about them as the start of their set got rather delayed due to technical issues. She’d no need to worry as “I am the Meat” got us dancing, “Space Dick” kept us in orbit and “Hysteria” kept manic feet moving. All four ILL women wore elegant cloaks and looked like they might fly off to the planet Venus on Rocket No 9 to party with Sun Ra Arkestra at any moment. Stand out song for me was “Stuck on a Loop” and Tamsin Middleton’s second gig on ILL guitar that I’d witnessed found her stepping away more assuredly from Sadie Noble’s tight punk-funk style. Even before drummer Fiona Talkington and bassister Whitney Bluzma told me they were vibing off my dancing I’d decided they were highly likely to be the band of the day, and they certainly were. However the most extreme music on Friday was spawned by The Bug and Dylan Carlson. Their immense vibrations rattled beer bottles out of the bar fridges and had all the fittings at the back of the room shaking along in impromptu rhythm. It sounded a whole lot better near the front on Dylan Carlson’s side where his slow guitar grind was much more prominent. The air was so thick with sound they seemed distant shadowy figures, enveloped in a haze of audio instigated synaesthesia. The weaker eared amongst us fled the Burrow in fear of permanent physical damage. Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs were the band who brought the party with their Black Sabbath riffing and rutting setting off some stage diving in Caustic Coastal. Their whole set had me thinking of Gnodness, something I’d never thought about them before. No bass trio Mums sounded like Part Chimp Jr, which is fine by me as I love Part Chimp. I did however resist the temptation to have “Part Chimp” tattooed on my forehead. Lake of Snakes played a well paced set with each song wilder than the one before.This was the first Fat Out Fest appearance of saxophonist David McLean, whose honk factor lifted their Touch and Go style raunch to a higher level. With his brother Lewis on vocals prowling about out front off stage this was an attack of the McLeaniacs. Housewives had me confused for a while as there were only four of them last time I saw them. They’d expanded stylistically too, a little less reliant on full frontal assault. Their Gnod factor seemed quite high. The performance that brought in a lot of people just for Friday was that of legendary industrial metal bashers Test Department. Billed as Test Dept Redux, the three of them seemed quite reliant on programmed parts, with mostly percussion played live. Like ILL and Mums, a woman played the drums. They left the Burrow pleased with a little alternative history lesson. Early in the day I Know I’m An Alien and Yr Lovely Dead Moon both delivered different kinds of quirky. The former was a lone long haired dude whose wigged out guitar solos and silly singing could have had him right at home on Shimmy Disc back in the nineties were it not for the quasi-disco beat of his drum machine. In one song he let off a solo that was a dead ringer for Midge Ure in Ultravox. Yr Lovely Dead Moon were a unique group with a young woman telling strange stories amongst a seemingly improvised stream of splutter and stutter. 

Thursday, 6 April 2017

2017 albums I like so far

In the first part of 2017 these are the albums I've been listening to:

1. Bardo Pond - Under the Pines (Fire)
2. Arbouretum - Song of the Rose (Thrill Jockey)
3. Part Chimp - IV (Rock Action)
4. White Hills - Stop*Mute*Defeat (Thrill Jockey)
5. Trans Am - California Hotel (Thrill Jockey)
6. Irma Vep - can't find CD forgot what its called OOPS!
7. Wire - Silver / Lead (Pink Flag)
8. Dead Sea Apes - Sixth Side of the Pentagon (Cardinal Fuzz)
9. Cowtown - Paranormal Romance (The Audacious Art Experiment / Sonic House)
10. Yerba Mansa - Untitled (Deep Distant)
11. Brokeback – Illinois River Valley Blues (Thrill Jockey)
12. Pontiak - Dialectic of Ignorance (Thrill Jockey)
13. Silver Dick CDR
14. Former Bullies - Stranger (Towed By the Ghost / CF)
15. The Jesus and Mary Chain – Damage and Joy

Plus older albums by Helmet, Dead Neanderthals, Russian Circles, Jesca Hoop, Jon Collin, ARC Soundtracks, Thought Forms, Hugo Race, Rolo Tomassi, Colin Newman, Bo Ningen, King Champion Sounds, Aluk Todolo, Black Sabbath, The Wipers, Thee Oh Sees and the Kinks.