Thursday, 30 August 2012

NASDAQ funded by Gay Whores

Nasdaq were on fine form as usual at the Gay Whores basement on the 29th day of August, celebrating the release of their new two song CDR EP with a performance that seemed all too short as usual. Before they went on there was some rap playing which prompted me to encapsulate the situation at hand in a rap of my own much to the amusement to everyone I rapped to:

"These guys ain't shit
  There's pennies on the floor
    I'm goin' upstairs to find me a whore"

I'm not really down with the gangster rap vernacular so I didn't need to rhyme ho with flo as this would have not adequately described what I had observed. Nasdaq quite literally are not shit, or I would not waste time and words on them. In fact Ed Troup the bassist plays in most of the best bands in Manchester now: Nasdaq, FTSE100, Burnst, Wode and Plank! Dan the guitarist plays in so many combinations they are into double figures.

Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Wode Conquer Fat at the Mill

I had a very good weekend at the Fat Out Fest, where I witnessed 32 performers bring the noise to two stages in Islington Mill. It was great that it was organised so that no bands played at the same time. The only downside was the obscene number of drunk people talking and shouting too loud whilst Jarboe was singing, with only a guitarist to accompany her. I think she might have even cut her set short becasue of it! Have some respect for the artsts and save your blather for after the gig loudmouths.

I nabbed Mugstar's setlist after they played a stormer and this was what was written:

Tech Knowl
Floatation Tank
Bethany Heart / Star

Here's a clip of Braitain's most psychedelic band in action

Here are the lucky seven bands I enjoyed most each day:

Saturday 25/8

1. Wode
2. Khuda
3. Jarboe
4. Alex Macarte
5. Queer'd Science
6. Arabrot
7. Klaus Kinski

Sunday 26/8

1. Mugstar
2. Charles Hayward
3. Kogumaza
4. Black Octagon
5. Apatt
6. Alex Tucker
7. Our Man in the Bronze Age

I guess if Jarboe had performed to a more respectful gathering or just been louder then I might have liked her best on Saturday. I certainly enjoyed the CD of hers I bought, "Mahakali." Kogumaza had only five copies of their excellent album on and I got one. I also bought the beautiful silver embossed one side etched Enablers 10" "Now You Can Answer My Prayers" from  both of whom make up two third of Black Octagon.

Read more about most of the bands at

Friday, 24 August 2012


The post office is "Modernising."
From my perspective this means:

They no longer deliver packages with CDs. These are either ALL lost or stolen.

They do not frank 90 per cent of stamps.

They deliver many letters to the wrong addresses.

I blame the Tory Scum Austerity Con.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

Mission of Burma "Unsound" album review

Fire records seem to be signing great bands who used to be on Matador: Bardo Pond, Bailter Space and Mission of Burma. If you've never heard Mission of Burma before then this album probably isn't the best place to start. Have a listen to ‘That's When I Reach fo My Revolver’ from their debut album (or is it?) ‘Signals, Calls and Marches.' If you like that you'll like this as they have never really flagged on quality on any of their albums, however this one is a little different in that they've experimented a little with their sound. My only negative criticism is that at thirty-five minutes I could do with a bit more Burma. I guess I could just dig out my double vinyl 'Let There Be Burma' album (on Taang!) and listen to it for the millionth time to reaffirm that it actually exists. This album, released during their long hiatus is as good as any of their others and seems to be perpetually ignored by those who count albums; 'Unsound’ is described as their fifth studio album in the press release. Presumably they haven't counted 'Signals, Calls and Marches' as it was originally only six songs (but is now expanded to ten on remastered CD). They definitely haven't counted 'Let There Be Burma' which seems to get written out of history music journalists and press releases alike due to the crime of being mostly songs not released until after Mission of Burma spilt in 1983. I think the band might not be happy with the recordings which are purported to be demos, but they sound just fine to me. It's a shame as it includes some of their best songs, some of which also appeared on the live album 'The Horrible Truth About Burma' which I'd choose as my favourite from their first life (1979-83).

Partly inspired by hearing how vital Wire sounded third time around, Mission of Burma kicked into a second life which was perhaps more unexpected than any other contemporary bands on the US underground except Black Flag or Husker Du. Unlike those bands it wasn't animosity that led to dissolution, but guitarist Roger Miller's shot hearing. He always wears industrial ear protectors when they play, and the first time I saw them at All Tomorrow's Parties they had perspex barriers around the drum kit to shield him from Peter Prescott's exuberant barrage.
If you’re going to reform a legendary band, it’s important to enhance the legacy and not despoil it by being worse. Mission of Burma’s gigs showed they still had the fire if Roger’s ears could avoid burnout, and their aptly titled 2004 album ‘ONoffON’ confirmed they were if anything in better shape than before. Perhaps not surprising as Peter Prescott and relentlessly drummed and hollered in the excellent Volcano Suns before switching to guitar for Kustomized whilst Roger Miller pursued numerous quieter, more experimental avenues. Bassist Clint Conley was relatively dormant until he formed his tuneful Consonant with members of The New Year not long before the urge to be Burma took hold again. This was a very good thing, as the chemistry between these three musicians ignites much more explosive reactions than any of their other musical forays.

If I was pushed to choose a favourite Mission of Burma studio album I’d go for their second reformation triumph ‘The Obliterati.’ Their fourth album second time around, ‘Unsound’ shuffles the cards and opens some new avenues to keep them excited, exciting and engaged. I’d be quite happy for them to endlessly repeat their winning formulae, but clearly this would bore them and inevitably feed back into a less exhilarating musical ride. Bob Weston of Shellac, Rachel’s and Volcano Suns stepped into mysterious fourth member Martin Swope’s shoes in recent times and also produced ‘Unsound.’ They hadn’t used trumpet before, and since Bob played that instrument for Rachel’s (RIP Jason Noble) it was easy for him to blow a little brass seamlessly into the mix. Roger Miller wrote a couple of songs on bass rather than six string guitar and the first concise number ‘Dust Devil’ (which has nothing to do with the Butthole Surfers song of the same name) grew from an acoustic guitar improvisation. They also seem to have used a lot more effects on the vocals; on ‘This is Hi-Fi’ Roger sounds as if he’s singing underwater! If lyrical themes emerge one could be obsolete and retro technology, at least this is suggested by song titles ‘This is Hi-Fi’, ‘Second Television’, ‘7’s’ (old seven inch singles?) and ‘ADD in Unison’ (suggests analog/digital but probably is actually meant to be attention defecit disorder). The lyrics are far from obvious and are very intriguing. What are ‘Sectionals in Mourning’? I guess I’ll have to ask Peter Prescott one day! A couple of songs also namecheck something none of us can do without, except John S. Hall, because he’s different like that: water. If there’s a pop hit it’s the fifth song ‘Second Television’ sung almost inevitably by Clint, with a chorus of shouting Peters never far away. How does he always manage to sound like at least three singers at the same time? That song has sensibly been offered as a free download by Fire records so who needs radio DJs? Now Peel is dead they are mere obsolete censors superceded by the ever expanding internet. No one could possibly sing the line “Crashing through the waves” with more appropriate vigour than Peter Prescott (on ‘Part the Sea’). By the penultimate tune he’s not only seeing “Things that cannot be” but trying to refute ‘What They Tell Me’ which seems to be something about little green men. Meanwhile Roger Miller fell into the water but didn’t see no signs and told no one goodbye (‘FellĂ H2O’). By the next song ‘ADD in Unison’ he is rescued from drowning just in time to get everything back to front and end with ‘Opener’ falling over himself to demand, “Forget what you know!” Forget what you read and get all of Mission of Burma’s albums, even the ones they pretend don’t exist! Just don’t call this their fifth studio album while I’m around.

Thursday, 16 August 2012

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks Manchester Deaf Institute August 3rd 2012

What really went on there? I only have these excerpts. By the time Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks appeared on stage in front of the avian wallpaper there was no room to move as the floor was packed tight. Sun Ra Arkestra sold out their gig at the Deaf Institute too but I'm certain there were fewer people there. Judging by his comments between songs Stephen Malkmus holds the Deaf Institute in high regard, and it has many good points as a venue. It's a pleasant room to be in when there's a lower body count and the sound is always good even though none of it is coming from the wall of blown stereo peakers that line the wall behind the bar. The problem was really that the band are popular enough to play larger venues so some fans will be left out or scalped by touts. They've played two more spacious venues, the Ritz and Academy 2, since their previous visit to the Deaf Institute. It's also distracting when people have to squeeze or shove past to bar or toilet, especially the bigger people, or when overly enthusiatic drunks start shouting in you ear like they're at a football match and try to dance like a lobotomized Bez, but fortunatey such incidents passed by quickly in my area. The heat had taken its toll on Stephen Malkmus' plain blue hirt which was soon drenched in sweat as the quartet bounced perkily through a set comprised largely of new songs which will presumably be on their next album. Most memorable of these was a song ending in a humourously short hyperspeed hardcore dash and a dark moody keyboard led song in the encore. Bearded drummer Jake Morris also got to sing lead on one of the encore songs, and another future favourite had the word "constellation" in the lyrics. One lucky heckler shouted for '1% of One' from 'Pig Lib' and bassist Joanna Bolme shouted back, "You got it!" just before they did it epic justice. The only 'Mirror Traffic' songs I recall were 'Tigers', 'Senator' and 'True Grief', the last of which got a few excited girls tying to move about before they politely realised that they couldn't and had to be content with a new dance, the tinned sardine. Stephen Malkmus dedicated one song to "All the Manchester musicians like Rod Stewart..." Luckily his Jicks play enough of that fine fine music for him not to have to concern himself with a career in comedy. Initially I thought they hadn't played any Pavement songs, but Tom Long of Easter was at the gig and pointed out correctly that the first encore number was "Speak, See, Remember," the song that gives fourth album "Terror Twilight" its title. I hadn't listened to that album in a long time, and that song also fit in very well with the Jicks' new materilal, thus it passed me by!

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

That Fucking Tank

TFF quite metaphorically bulldozed Kraak Gallery last night! I love the amount of rhythmic noise they spew out with just drums and 6 string bass. They trashed Springsteen "Dancing in the Dark" with punk rock love hammers but we could all still see them due to the miracle of The Electric Light. The one man "Exile on Main Street" Guns or Knives played before them, sandwiched between two pop punk bands, Gnarwolves and Young Attenboroughs. No naybores complained and the police were not called.

The gig was put on by

Right now I am enjoying Ty Segall for the first time

Lee Ranaldo, Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 7/6/2012

Approaching the Brudenell I mistakenly thought Lee Ranaldo had started very early but quickly realised it was the first support band who'd pretty much finished their set by the time I was inside. Close up they proved to be rather more bland and ordinary but having missed most of their set it seems unfair to pass judgement.

Next the experimental noise duo with the memorable name of the Piss Superstition leant over their tables of gadgets and summoned up a progressively louder continuously fluctuating dronescape. Julian Bradley used to be in Vibracathedral Orchestra, who I first saw supporting Borbetomagus in a Leeds pub. Two of them played on "Radical Adults Lick Godhead Style" on 'Murray Street' and made a album with Thurston Moore so there's a Sonic Youth connection. Sonic Youth also covered "I Was Right" by Saccharine Trust and the other Pisser had a Saccharine Trust T-shirt on. Their set might have been helped by a visual element either lights or film, as two blokes fiddling with knobs isn't much of a spectacle. Towards the end as the drone got heavier it began to remind me of the end of Sonic Youth's greatest Geffen album song "Mote," an approprate way to herald the man who sang it.

Lee's quartet had a short worrisome moment before they'd even struck a note as something wasn't working. Someone shouted to them to tell a joke but nothing funnier than a quick fix happened and we got to enjoy the first song "Off the Wall" which sounded all the more urgent after the wait. With Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley behind the kit it wasn't surprising that this was more of the fire and excitement of Sonic Youth than Thurston Moore's recent mellow dude shows. Bassist Irwin Menken and guitarist Alan Licht didn't move much, concentrating on playing but Lee cut loose some guitar swinging action when not singing. Irwin and Alan stood to my right facing the stage and Lee a little off to the left. The set was the whole of his recent album 'Between the times and the Tides,' although not in the same order, plus a very faithful cover of "Walk On" by Neil Young and the Talking Heads song "Thank You For Sending Me An Angel." The last song was "Genetic," a Sonic Youth song that was always too good for a B-side. I always though that and "Hendrix Necro" should have been on 'Dirty' instead of that daffy DC hardcore cover "Nic Fit" and "Creme Brulee" but now with that double CD remaster they are. People often ask me what was the best gig I've been to. That's impossible to say really, but the most exciting was probably the first time I saw Sonic Youth on the 'Daydream Nation' tour at Kilburn National, and this gig brought back flashes of that excitement, maybe because of the intimate friendly atmosphere of the venue, and perhaps because it was something new but familiar. Thurston Moore knows a cool scene when he experiences it and had highly recommended the Brudenell to Lee. It's a shame Lee didn't do a few more UK gigs, but he chose a great one for his only show outside London. Lee asked us all if we'd seen Thurston there in December and got a few shouts of "Yeah!" I'd seen him at Manchester Ritz and shouted, "You're better!"

Lee gave a little speech about how much Talking Heads had inspired him when he first checked out bands in New York. Before "Shouts" he explained it had been inspired by the Stop Wall Street camps near where he lives in NYC. He showed us the picture on the back of his guitar which had been snaped at a riot in Canada that kicked off after that nation's team lost at ice hockey: a couple were rolling about in embrace whilst chaos erupted around them, a crowd behind a riot suited police agent too close to the foreground for comfort. The picture can also be seen on the insert of 'Between the Times and the Tides.' Lee said it had nothing to do with Stop Wall Street he liked it as a visual representation of peaceful protest.

I thought it a bit strange that people had been telling me Lee's album was like REM as I thought it was closer to Sonic Youth really. His Sonic Youth songs are always some of the best and if a compilation of all his songs from the Geffen years was released it'd be the best Sonic Youth album since the awesome 'Daydream Nation.' He revealed his true influences by covering Neil Young and Talking Heads and when he listed other New York bands who inspired him, such as Patti Smith I shouted, "Television!" to which he agreed. No mention of REM though! "Tomorrow Never Comes" is obviously a homage to the Beatles "Tomorrow Never Knows" and the Stones "Paint It Black" is lurking somewhere in the shadows of "Waiting On a Dream."

When "Fire Island (Phases)" caught out a few clappers with its false ending the band came in again and for a moment I thought they were playing "Lee #2," A song left off 'Goo' which really should at least have been a B-side! I prefer to call that song 'Displaced' and there I had displaced but I'd never noticed the similarity in the riffs listening to the album. "Stranded" is a fragile lovelorn song on the album but they played a full band arrangement which gave it more momentum than the skeletal recording. Although I thought the gig would sell out there were less people than at the Wire and Hot Snakes gigs at the same venue.

After the gig Lee signed albums and talked to the people. There was a vinyl reissue of an album by Plus Instruments, an idiosyncratic electronic trio Lee played noise guitar for prior to Sonic Youth and an album of demos for 'Between the Times and the Tides'. This grooves with the "Remember first thought best thought" lyric of "Genetic" but I prefer the finished album. Two songs are missing from the demos so presumably they were written later. They are played by a trio (no Alan Licht) and have a chunkier feel as if they haven't been played long enough to get the smoother flow of the album. Steve sounds as if he'd only just got the drum parts down, and there are a few lyric changes. I told Lee I thought it'd be great idea to put out instrumental versions of all the Sonic Youth albums and he said they were planning something similar; an instrumental album with string arrangements. He also told me they were working on a double disc remaster of 'Sister' with lots of extra material. They might even go so far as to remix it! I was incredulous at that as I think 'Sister' sounds great on vinyl, although the CD loses all the warmth. Steve was taking 'Washing Machine' cover style photos of T-shirts and snapped my red Hot Snakes T-shirt which I bought when they played the Budenell in December.

Before playing a magical "Xtina as I Knew Her" Lee explained the song was about people he'd known as a teenager and how they'd stayed in the same place and he'd moved on. He said he didn't know why that should be. Maybe it was because he followed his dreams?

This review initially appeared on

There is a great video of Lee's next gig at Primavera here