Thursday, 12 December 2013

Albums of 2013

As usual Jason at has asked for everyone's twenty favourite albums of the year so here are mine. Thalia Zedek goes first due to more emotional content than other music of similar excellence. Also honourable mention for two five song CD EPs "Last Days of Butterfly" by Stranger Son and "The Ghost List" by Girls Against Boys and the 6 track "Stories" by Chris Brokaw. I could almost be living in the 1990s.

Thalia Zedek Band - Via
Bardo Pond - Peace On Venus
Wire - Change Becomes Us
Melt Banana - Fetch
Califone - Stitches
White Hills - So You Are... So You'll Be
Rodan - Fifteen Quiet Years (compilation / Peel session)
Arbouretum - Coming Out of the Fog
Carlton Melton - Always Even
Low - The Invisible Way
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds - Push the Sky Away
Yo La Tengo - Fade
Polvo - Siberia
My Bloody Valentine - MBV
King Champion Sounds - Different Drummer
The Ex and Brass Unbound -Enormous Door
Mick Turner - Don't Tell the Driver
Pelican - Forever Becoming
Mainliner - Revelation Space
Kandodo - K2O

Plus a few more...

Acid Mother Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO - In Search of the lost Divine Arc
Grant Hart - The Argument
Bailter Spae - Trinine
Mogwai - Les Revenants
Dead C vs Rangda
Lee Ranaldo - Last Night on Earth
Glenn Jones - My Garden State
Sebadoh - Defend Yourself
Fennesz - 17.02.12 Live at the Museum
Brokeback and the Black Rock
Mountains - Centralia
Mark Lanegan - Imitations
Mark Lanegan and Duke Garwood - Black Pudding
Cowtown - Dudes vs Bad Dudes
Desmadrados de Soldados Ventura
DBH - Time Flies
Jon Collin - High Peak Selections
Big Naturals
Guantanamo School of Medecine - White People and the Damage Done
Flaming Lips - The Terror
Iggy and the Stooges -Reday to Die
Chelsea Light Moving
The Fall - Remit

And some CDRs
Mugstar - Centralia
Cleft - Whale Bone
White Hills - Oddity IV Black Valleys

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Shellac Birmingham 25/11

The set for Shellac's gig at the Rainbow Warehouse was something like this, at least as I recall it:

You Came in Me
My Black Ass
Steady As She Goes

The song that starts with Steve Albini singing, "Shoulda buried you in the desert"

I asked Bob the title of this relatively new song after the gig and he told me but I had drunk enough rum to forget what he said. They played it at last years ATP festival and there is a poor quality version bootleg on the net.

Bob answered some questions. I asked what his favourite Wire album was and he replied "Ideal Copy, er I dunno." Someone asked when a new Shellac album would be out and he said within 6 months. After the gig he told me it's be out in 2-3 months and would be called 'Dude Incredible' making it the first Shellac album with a title track.

A Minute
Squirrel Song
Riding Bikes

More questions for Bob. I asked what the new songs were called which is how I know that Riding Bikes is Riding Bikes and the next song was

Fight Song
The Peoples' Microphone ( a new instrumental)
Prayer to God
Dude Incredible

The new songs sounded more energetic than previously which bodes well for the new album.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Carefully Planned Festival Top Ten

My top ten bands from Carefully Planned Festival 3 (19, 20 October 2013),
out of 43 bands, 16 complete sets witnessed.

1. Big Joan
2 .That F*&king Tank
3. The Unit Ama
4. Plank!
5. McWatt
6. dbh.
7. Irma Vep
8. Super Luxury
9. Honey Ride me a Goat
10. Shield Patterns

The Jim Jones Revue 9/10/13

THE JIM JONES REVUE Ruby Lounge 9/10/13

October is usually the busiest month for gigs and this is certainly true in Manchester 2013. No need for some urban festival, I had my own four day live music extravaganza courtesy of entirely unrelated musical evenings at Ruby Lounge and Band on the Wall.
If the eleven bands I saw over those four nights all got into a fist fight its quite likely that the Jim Jones Revue would win. Fortunately that isn't what happened, they're too busy rockin' and rollin' and have the rock'n'roll gang style down. As such they were the perfect band for Ruby Lounge, a venue resembling a mafia strip club. They have the moves and they know they're cool. If your idea is musical heaven is Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds playing toughened up Jerry Lee Lewis covers then the Jim Jones Revue are a band to die for. I wouldn't go that far but I admire their showmanship and Jim Jones' good humour, tempering the machismo of many of their songs. The main set consisted of nearly every song from their most recent and best album "The Savage Heart" (produced by Bad Seed Jim Sclavunos),  the most memorable being the percussive "Seven Times Around the Sun" where Jim and the other two guitarists abandoned their axes in favour of shakers. After the fifties dream ballad "Midnight Oceans and the Savage Heart" which was as close as they came to mellowing out, they were off to towel off some sweat and swig some beer before returning for some singalong requests that had many clapping along, including "Fish 2 Fry," "Shoot First" and "High Horse."

ACID MOTHERS TEMPLE Band on the Wall 10/10/13

Cleft are a duo playing drums and and guitar who must surely be heavily influenced by Don Caballero. The bespectacled guitarist pulled the Jon Nash Cowtown / Devo stance and often looped his pickings with a pedal to multi-track the guitar, which made up for their lack of bassist. As a support to Acid Mothers Temple and the Melting Paraiso UFO they were a pleasant warm up, not that guitarist Makoto Kawabata needs any help raising the temparature with hi pyrotechnic guitar slinging. That's slinging quite literally, as he hurled his guitar and up onto his overdriven Marshall amp to end several cosmic trip-outs with short bursts of feedback. The current five man line up has been stable for a few tours now and this shows in how they seem to unbelievably get better each time around. Co-founder Hiroshi Higashi was there playing keyboards of course, alongside Mitsuru Tabata on guitar, Atsushi Tsuyama on bass and Koji Shimura drumming. Tunes from their new album "In Search of the Lost Divine Arc" built to ecstatic crescendos. Their eternal standard "Pink Lady Lemonade" popped up a couple of times, first time mellow and hypnotic, second time around with Kawabata unleashing his most fiery soloing of the evening."Space Seed Suicide" is a propulsive instrumental that conjures the image of an asteroid hurtling into a sun.

MUGSTAR / HAWKLORDS Band on the Wall 11/10/13

Mugstar, in the same venue the next evening, played a set propelled by similar momentum albeit with less abandoned chaos than Acid Mothers Temple. "Ouroboros" recalls a rocket ship rather than an asteroid, with keyboardist / guitarist Pete Smyth yelling with the horrified glee of a man on a rollercoaster ride to destruction who has just had a dose of universal infinity that has blown his mind. Luckily it didn't blow his keyboard, as happened at their Gullivers John Peel day gig. They were back to their regular four piece formation following a trio performance at Leeds Brudenell Social Club psychedelic all dayer, which allowed Pete the freedom to go a bit wild on guitar, especially on the last number "Bethany Heart Star"which took them closer to Hawkwind than I've ever heard them before. Maybe that could have been a side effect of supporting Hawklords? Pete often switches from guitar to keyboards mid-song, as on the opening track "Sunburnt Impedance Machine." With so much t do it's no wonder he huffs and puffs like the little bad wolf trying to blow the three big pigs' house down. It's funny that despite the fact I've seen Mugstar play more gigs than almost any other British band, I'd never before noticed that Jason Stoll strums the bass Lou Barlow / Dinosaur Jr style, all four strings at once just like a regular guitar. He makes it look so effortless, as does drummer Steve Ashton whose floor tom / bass drum tribalism on "Black Fountain" was so heavy I had to retreat from the stage. Thankfully they didn't crank up the volume to the punishing level they played their previous Manchester gig at Soup Kitchen, and made a few new fans. Later a minor synchronicity kicked in as Hawklords sang, "We are wise to the rhythm of the drum," I turned around to see Steve Ashton, Mugstar drummer standing just behind me.

Tuesday, 24 September 2013

Wire Leeds

A Review of WIRE at Leeds Brudenell Social Club 19th of September 2013

One of the chaps requested I send a welcome dispatch. The contents of the message state area and band: Wire in Leeds. Twenty-three pounds twenty got me there and back again. Doors were quite late opening and support band worth hearing. They call themselves Xaviers; Japan / London prog-punk noise.The first foray in their entirely instrumental set had enough "dugga" and relentless bass drum to make it seems unnecessary for Wire to play "Drill" and when they did later it sounded like Colin Newman had incorporated a little of Xaviers' androgynous guitar user's style into the opening. The most powerful part of their set was when the keyboard user left his machine running and doubled up on drums. "Imagine them with Damo Suzuki!" said my friend afterwards, and they would indeed make an interesting trio to back the old voice of Can. Wire began "Marooned" the slowest song of the night. Did they resurrect this old 'Chairs Missing' song intentionally to tie in with the climate change doom theme of former guitar user Bruce Gilbert's latest real work of culture, "Diluvial" on Touch, or was that just lyrical synchronicity? An extreme change of pace as they dove straight into the hyper-streamlined "Drill," to which I stretched in reply to one of its relentless questions. If this is not an exercise could it be an ally in exile? Now retitled "Doubles & Trebles" this song always told a much more interesting story than its 'Send' era mutation "I Don't Understand." The mood lightened considerably when Graham Lewis re-invented his second wheel again, although unlike their Preston perfomance he didn't need glasses to do so. The first surprise of the night was that they had doubled (but not yet trebled) the new men with the introduction of a bald keyboard user, Tim Lewis, disappointingly attired in a leather coat rather than a newspaper hat. His cultural work was atmospheric and unobtrusive until he proved himself a valuable addition by making that choppy little song about a suicide "(Another) The Letter" the most intense and authentic to 1978 rendition that I've yet heard. "Adore Your Island" used to be the spare one, but obviously can no longer be as Wire have put it to good use as a short respite for Robert Grey's well worn hi-hat, as he bashes dramatic alternate cymbal splashes. They played the most storming "Smash" I've heard, colliding with "Stealth of a Stork" and a crowd pleasing Top of the Pop Arts 1979 "Map Reference 41N 93W" which as far as I know has not been renamed "Canal Cannard" or "An Unrulable Expanse" as that would just confuse the chart riggers. The second new development was the doubling of new songs from the Preston duo to a quartet. The oldest new song "Blogging" is a jolly ditty concerning the internet which might be a bit too plinky-plonky for former guitar user Bruce Gilbert's taste, but he wasn't there upstaging Wire so it didn't matter. A quick scan of his replacement Matthew Simms' setlist revealed others to be currently titled "Swallow" and "Nocturnal Koreans" but the best of the batch was "Harpooned," an ominous chugging beast that closed the main set and could conceivably evolve into a more monstrous form."As We Go" became for one night only 'as we go (to the bar)' at least in my case and "Love Bends" was another song buzzing in these ears in its finest form. One of Bruce Gilbert's criticisms of Colin Newman in Wilson Neate's "Read and Burn" book was that Colin favours plinky-plonky sounds and "Love Bends" employs the most plinky-plonky guitar riff in Wire history. The irony is that since Matt plays it, one can reasonably assume that Bruce probably played it originally in its former throwaway incarnation as "Piano Tuner." It occurred to me that night that "Please Take" could apply to Rupert Murdoch quite aptly, at least that was before I joked to one of the chaps by changing the words to, "Move you're blocking Matthew." This is what a very short person might have said to me as I listened from between the two guitar amps. The big surprise came with the first encore, for which Graham Lewis donned shades and read his European tour diary text from a big music stand. "23 Years Too Late" surely would have not been possible without Tim Lewis and was long enough to replace longtime set climax "Pink Flag." For perhaps the first time in a decade no songs from the first album now remained in the set and tellingly they aren't selling 'Pink Flag' at the art objects table alongside the two subsequent Harvest albums. The second encore sent the "Comet" hurtling at great speed with a violent stop that caught a fair number of premature clappers out. After the most violent "Spent" I've heard from the post-Gilbert Wire, wherein Matt Simms rubbed the neck of his guitar on its amp Sonic Youth style, Tim Lewis switched to guitar and Colin swapped for a baby guitar. Disappointingly they did not do the predictable and kick into "Pink Flag" but instead played out a pedal worrying freenoise coda. Perhaps they should call it "A Sterile Ice Cream" van in memory of Bruce's opinion of the sound of their 'A Bell is a Cup Until it is Struck' album. A quick dash to Leeds station found me on a train sounding like an imaginary Bruce Gilbert / Chris Watson installation. On returning home I listened to 'Science in Action' on the World Service where there was a report on wire microbes that turn sewage into electricity. Then it was time to go to bed.W

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Divine Salford Sex Media Men City Hands Choice

On Tuesday it was No Womb drummer Catherine Flynn's 21st birthday gig at Gullivers and my second gig of 2013. Sadly Float Riverer didn't float in and Gary Kelly was AWOL but MES turned up late and missed me singing along to "How I Wrote 'Elastic Man'" and "Middle Mass." I lost my DIVINE MEN OF CHOICE virginity, enjoyed SEX HANDS' garage rock rumble as much as ever and SALFORD MEDIA CITY were all suited up with more musicians and louder sound than the last time I saw them at the Mill.

Monday, 7 January 2013

Wode Blast Off 2013!

A mighty blast of Wode ( was as good a way as I could wish for to start my gigging year. They played the best they ever have at Kraak on the 6th of January, although it was a shorter set because they were first band on, followed by Burial (who gave me a three song CDR), Terij de Horde and the Great Old Ones. After I'd added to my ear damage once again, Dom from Politburo who also runs Kraak Galery as you probably know, gave me a copy of the new Politburo CD ( which is very nice. They have a CD launch the same night dBh and McWatt play the Britons, but it may well run later so it looks like the first two gigs in one night of 2013!