Friday, 25 April 2014

April Gig Explosion!

April 2014 could be the busiest month for Manchester gigs I have experienced. Some nights there are as many as four good gigs to choose between!

These are the ones I made it to so far:

3 Therapy? / Lonely the Brave @ Academy 2

4 The Taskers / Vanity Pages / The Folk Remedy @ The Eagle

6 Robert John / dbh / Race to the Sea @ Band on the Wall

8 Lorelle Meets the Obsolete / Spectres / Mistoa Poltsa @ Gullivers

9 Stephen O'Malley / Aluk Todolo @ Deaf Institute

10 Lumerians / Boogarins @ Band on the Wall

11 Bridget Hayden / C Joynes / White Death @ Hotspur House
11 Blue Angel / Dead Rabbits / Underground Youth @ Dry Bar

13 Mike Watt and the Missing Men / Superfast Girlie Show / Buzz or Howl @ Ruby Lounge

15 Gallon Drunk / Mowbird @ Academy 3

17 Carlton Melton / Mind Mountain / Horrid @ Kraak Gallery

18 Buoys / Bad Grammar / Tribal Fighters @ Kraak (Groves also played but I missed them as the gig started so early)

19 Desmadrados Soldados de Ventura (E) / Sex Hands (E) / Yerba Mansa (E) / Mistoa Poltsa / Pins / Brown Brogues @ Soup Kitchen
19 Irma Vep (E) @ Night and Day
19 Dinner Party (E) / Holy Mountain @ Common
(E = band featuring Edwin Stephens)

21 The Ex / Championlover @ Soup Kitchen
22 Nightingales / Politburo @ Kraak
23 The Body / Arabrot / Esoteric Youth / Trojan Horse @ the Roadhouse
23 dbh / Irma Vep / Dave & Otto @ Kraak

I wrote reviews of  Therapy? and Gallon Drunk and the two gigs I attended on the 23rd.

Another Pointless List of Records

Between Saturday 19th April and Wednesday 23rd April 2014 I acquired and listened to and enjoyed the records and CDs listed below.

These I bought at gigs:

The Ex - How Thick You Think / That's Not A Virus 7"
Getatchew Mekuria and The Ex and Friends - Y'Anbessaw Tezeta 2LP
The Ex - Pokkeherrie CD
Esoteric Youth - The Burden of Living 7" (one of the last five copies)
Moe - Oslo Janus CD (actually the bassist of Arabrot gave me this EP by her other band when I was chatting to her after their Roadhouse gig)
Desmadrados Soldados de Ventura - Striiide LP
Sex Hands - Season 1 CDR
The International Hotpants Romance (Ooweeooo, I saw your CD in the bargain bin!)


Ultravox! - Systems of Romance
The Great Nina Simone
Red Sparrowes - Every Red Heart Shines Toward the Sun
Black Sabbath - We Sold Our Soul for Rock'Roll
Rolling Stones - Beggars Banquet
Rolling Stones - Got Live If You Want It
Jenny Owen Youngs - Batten the Hatches
The Bad Plus - These Are the Vistas
Minus the Bear - Menos El Oso
Retisonic - Levittown
Asian Dub Foundation - Facts and Figures

Plus a box full of CDs I haven't had time to listen to yet...


Bardo Pond On Top!

On Record Store Day Saturday 19th April 2014 I bought and listened to and enjoyed these records:

1. Bardo Pond "Looking for Another Place" LP (Three Lobed)
I hope for your sakes there are still a few of these beauties left in the shops. The second Bardo Pond RSD LP features another two gigantic sprawling cover versions. This time round the classics to get the joyful transcendent transformation are "Ride Into the Sun" by the Velvet Underground and "Here Come the Warm Jets" by Brian Eno. Right now these sound to me like the two best cover versions ever recorded by any band in the history of everything. Even Nirvana covering The Wipers is not as fine as this.

2. Mudhoney "On Top! Live" LP (Sub Pop)
A recent live set from a US radio broadcast finds Mudhoney kicking out the jams with the wit and wisdom of those who like it small; there were only a thousand copies and only 215 made it to Europe. I bagged the very last copy of this in Piccadilly Records so you've got no chance loser.

3. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion "She's On It / Jack the Ripper" 12"
This monstrous LOUD two song twelve inch is as hot rockin' as the best of the Blues Explosion. A tenner for two songs is a bit steep unless they are as great as this. Makes a whole lot more sense than the old man I saw buying the Stranglers' "Peaches" 7" for the same price who had no intention of actually listening to it. There is something sick and wrong about consuming environmentally damaging vinyl records and not listening to them. One of these days the city will flood and all your collectable crap will be reduced to worthless flotsam. What will you do when the sea comes back? What if there's no way of turning back? Have you got enough time?

4. Glenn Jones "Welcomed Wherever I Go" 12" (Thrill Jockey)
Three fine examples of Glenn Jones' lovely guitar instrumentals; two live recordings and a fabulous never made public before out-take. The music explains exactly why Glenn is welcomed wherever he goes and why Thrill Jockey is the best record label in the world.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

Thalia Zedek Band "Six"

Thalia Zedek Band "Six" (Thrill Jockey)

Thalia Zedek recorded six songs for her sixth major studio album since the temporary dissolution of her previous band Come, so the reason for the album title is obvious. Thalia's songwriting has always burnt an emotional torch that illuminates the darkest places. "Fell So Hard" is a directly personal song, addressing the intensity of feeling in two relationships, her first lover and last lover. "Julie Said" is even heavier, a lament for a dead friend that could almost be a lullaby for graveyard sleep. The mood remains steadfastly downbeat with no noisy finale like her previous album "Via." Since then there's been a change of drummer, but you'd hardly notice. Two tunes dispense with the Band's bass, piano, viola and drums. The instrumental "Midst" and the apocalyptic finale "Afloat" find Thalia alone with her guitar. The gently powerful "Afloat" was written just after Hurricane Sandy's destruction of the New York studio where she recorded "Via" but its lyrical imagery stands as strongly as a metaphor for emotional isolation: "And now we all know how far we can float, And now we're all islands." Since recording the album, Thalia's performed a full band version, but the fact that this solo rendition is the album's highlight shows just how superlative her songs are. David Michael Curry's viola and Mel Lederman's piano always accentuate the melancholy, but Thalia can easily stand alone. In the past she's covered Bob Dylan and Lou Reed songs, but unlike them she's never released anything remotely forgettable. There's a cover song here too, Freakwater's "Flathand," and it comes as no surprise that it's the weakest track. The only genuine negative criticism that could be levelled is over brevity; "Flathand" is an older recording so perhaps it would have been cool to have included "Searchlight" from a now out of print Australian tour CDR and her cover of the Animals "House of the Rising Sun." But then "Six" would not have been six songs.    

This review appears in the first issue of "Que Vida."

April Records

This is the new music I enjoyed listening to so far in April 2014:

Aluk Todolo - Occult Rock 2LP (mind altering instrumental mayhem)
Gallon Drunk - The Soul of the Hour LP (their best album yet signed by 3/4 of the band)
Mike Watt - Hyphenated-Man LP (signed "Loves the Fall")
Lorelle Meets the Obsolete - Chambers CD

Therapy? - A Brief Crack of Light
Lumerians - The High Frontier
Satelliti - Transister
Superchunk - I Hate Music

A Winged Victory for the Sullen
Boston Spacechips - The Planets are Blasted
Sunn O))) - Flight of the Behemoth
Lou Reed and Metallica - Lulu
Giant Sand - Cover Magazine
Giant Sand - Long Stem Rant
Giant Sand - Purge and Slouch
Iggy Pop - Nuggets

Hoping to get the Bardo Pond records store day album later.

Monday, 7 April 2014

March Gigging Mania

In March 2014 I attended these musical gatherings:

1 MANTIS: Francis Dhomont, etc

2 MANTIS: Trevor Wishart, Kairos, Danny Saul, etc (Martin Harris Centre)

7 Gum Takes Tooth, Bad Guys, 2 Koi Karp, etc (Islington Mill)

8 Electric Electric, Cowtown, Sport, Well Wisher, Plank!, Barberos, Doctrines, Housewives (Klondyke)
8 Locean (Fuel)

12 Thalia Zedek Band, The Franklys, Lily Oakes (Garage, London)

13 The Noise Upstairs (Fuel)

14 Grails, Lilacs and Champagne (Soup Kitchen)

15 Danny Saul, Rosanne Robertson, H, The Digitariat (Eagle)
15 Kurt Dirt (Guts for Garters, Star and Garter)

20 Aaron-Couper, A Belied Guaniko, Chalaque, Firm Friends (Dulcimer)

27 Lightning Ensemble, Stephen Grew, Alphabet (St Margarets Church)

28 Dean Blunt (Soup Kitchen)
28 Mika Vainio, Ninos du Brasil, Evol, Source Direct (Islington Mill)

29 The Stranglers, Nine Below Zero (Big Academy)

Gigs I enjoyed the most: Thalia Zedek Band and the Stranglers

Best band I'd never heard before: Electric Electric

Funniest performance: Trevor Wishart "Encounters in the Republic of Heaven"

Loudest performance: Source Direct (or so it seemed; the Stranglers could have been louder as they played a much bigger venue but I didn't have to keep leaving the room due to punishing volume)

Most boring band: Lilacs and Champagne (Eagles play Tortoise)

Most difficult band to see whilst they played: Grails (Soup Kitchen stage is way too low)

Best drinks: Wildwood organic cider at Islington Mill and Fuel and Old Rosie cider at the Eagle Inn. No toxic artificial sweeteners, no hangover. Westons cider should be sold at all venues.

Best venue: Martin Harris Centre (perfect sound, no talking over the music)

Best heckle: Me shouting, "Its a bloke!" after Danny Saul played the Eagle, quoting Trevor Wishart's brilliant voice mutation piece that hardly anyone else at the Eagle had heard performed at the MANTIS electroacoustic weekend earlier in the month.

No one annoyed me at any of these gigs, not even the Franklys fans talking too loud whilst Thalia Zedek Band played as I stood close enough to the PA and viola amp for it not to bother me.

White Hills & Gnod @ Deaf Institute 21.10.13

Space, the final front ear. These are the voyages of the Starship Gnod, or at least one of them. Every trip is different; that's one of the joys of Gnod. It didn't take much to imagine them being a bunch of sci-fi space pirates piloting their craft into unknown galactic regions with the power of music: Jamie Robinsons projections shifted like vectors on a hyperspace map on the big screen behind the array of consoles high up  on the Deaf Institute stage. A deep moaning drone from Paddy and some longer duration distorted growls and grunts from Marlene and Alex seemed less vocalistaions than extra texture to the mutating technoid stomp'n'stagger that fuels their latest incarnation. Problems for Paddy with a rogue beat dropping in the wrong drive were quickly corrected by chief engine ear Chris, as they set the controls for the heart of the blck hole. Have guitars become too primitive for these beings? Certainly not for White Hills whose primal psychedelia connects the basic rock nerve centres to synaptic super novae. Their first scorching song "Forever In Space (Enlightened)" sums up in it'd title the feeling of spiritual unity that the best music can bring to a gathering of listeners, and was a perfect opener, sweeping everyone along with it's relentless momentum. White Hills are a band wo dress up for the occasion and make an effort to look like they rock. Guitarist Dave W had daubed heavy eye make up on his face and bassist Ego Sensation wore a velvet hotpants suit and they even had their amps covered in glittery material to keep the sound sparkling. With "In Your Room" and "Pads of Light" they delivered a double dose of compact psyche-blast number one hit singles from a parallel existation, followe dby the longer, slower "Song of Everything" where Dave ehorted everyone to open their eyes, minds and hands to take in "The Internal Monologue," the tripped out drone ambience that heralded the title track of their urrent album "So You Are... So You'll Be," a collision of Stooges riffing brutality ans spaced out monotone vocals theat eventually slowed to a backwards drum free guitar crawl like a hungover sunrise. After the most deranged "Daed" I've heard them play they were off for a bit before returning to shred up another old standard "Three Quarters" in extended form. Sadly they didn't play the brilliant closing instrumental form the album "MIST (Winter)" but you can't always get what you want. As the culmination of four days of gigging, including two days of the Carefully Planned Festival, this was perfect.