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Wednesday, 13 August 2014

NHC Shop

As some readers will know I am involved in a new venture.
For those who don’t know what I am talking about I will explain.
We, and I say we as it isn’t just me, are opening a record shop in the west end of Glasgow.
Well it’s not strictly just a record shop as apart from the vinyl and the CDs we are selling books, DVDS, Blue Rays, Merchandise and gig tickets.
The shop itself is really an extension of the New Hellfire Club, a natural next step from the website, podcast, fanzine and promoting of gigs and I am very pleased to be up to my neck in this.
So I hope that explains the lack of content being added to the blog.
We have all simply been run off our feet getting things ready.

Times are indeed a changing.

Now a bit more about why I am doing this.
Well apart from the obvious of why not, it is because like so many others I have always felt a degree of dissatisfaction with the employment side of my life.
There have been many positives in what I do as a day job, and I have worked with very many lovely people, but deep down it isn’t what I feel that I am naturally inclined to gravitate towards.

It’s like that instant association thing when someone asks you to say your dream job, no thinking, just say it fast.
If anyone was to do that with me then what would fly from my lips is not what I currently do.

It would be the word “music”.

I want to be involved in music.
I want to swim in it, breath it in, feast on it and exist within a world of swirling notes that will carry me forward in my life.

And now as middle age wraps its arms around me I have this opportunity and I am not going to let it slip past.

I am going to make that leap and sweat blood to make a success of it as if I don’t now then when will the opportunity arise again?

The words “shoulda, woulda, coulda” will not be part of my future conversations.

This is it.

So wish us all luck, and more than that come and see us.
I think the majority will be surprised at what we are doing as we are looking to be more than just a record shop.

If you do want to pop along then you can find us in the hidden lane in the west end.
The shop is tucked away in a corner at Unit 4, 1103 Argyle Street.

We are open from the 18th of August, but on the 23rd and 24th (Sat and Sun) we have six acoustic performers on each day to entertain you as you browse.
There may even be wine.

Oh okay. There will be wine. J

More information can be found on our facebook page.

Friday, 8 August 2014

We love you to. Mwah.

Dear everyone that put their name to the lovebomb letter.

Yes, that’s you David Aaronovitch, Jenny Agutter, Sir Ben Ainslie, Kriss Akabusi, Roger Allam, Kirstie Allsop, Alexander Armstrong, Sir David Attenborough, Steve Backley, Baroness Joan Bakewell, Frances Barber, Andy Barrow, John Barrowman, Mike Batt, Glen Baxter, Stanley Baxter, Martin Bayfield, Mary Beard, Sarah Beeny, Antony Beevor, Angellica Bell, Dickie Bird, Cilla Black, Graeme Black, Roger Black, Malorie Blackman, Ranjit Bolt, Helena Bonham Carter, Alain de Botton, William Boyd, Tracy Brabin, Lord Melvyn Bragg, Jo Brand, Gyles Brandreth, Rob Brydon, Louisa Buck, Simon Callow, Will Carling, Paul Cartledge, Guy Chambers, Nick Cohen, Michelle Collins, Colonel Tim Collins, Olivia Colman, Charlie Condou, Susannah Constantine, Steve Coogan, Dominic Cooper, Ronnie Corbett, Simon Cowell, Jason Cowley, Sara Cox, Amanda Craig, Steve Cram, Richard Curtis, Tom Daley, William Dalrymple, Richard Dawkins, Dame Judi Dench, Jeremy Deller, Lord Michael Dobbs, Jimmy Doherty, Michael Douglas, Simon Easterby, Gareth Edwards, Jonathan Edwards, Tracey Emin, Sebastian Faulks, Bryan Ferry, Ranulph Fiennes, Ben Fogle, Amanda Foreman, Sir Bruce Forsyth, Neil Fox, Emma Freud, Bernard Gallacher, Kirsty Gallacher, George Galloway, Sir John Eliot Gardiner, Bamber Gascoigne, David Gilmour, Harvey Goldsmith, David Goodhart, Lachlan Goudie, David Gower, AC Grayling, Will Greenwood, Tamsin Greig, Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, Lord Charles Guthrie, Haydn Gwynne, Maggi Hambling, Mehdi Hasan, Sir Max Hastings, Stephen Hawking, Peter Hennessy, James Holland, Tom Holland, Tom Hollander, Gloria Hunniford, Conn Iggulden, John Illsley, Brendan Ingle, Eddie Izzard, Betty Jackson, Sir Mike Jackson, Howard Jacobson, Sir Mick Jagger, Baroness PD James, Griff Rhys Jones, Terry Jones, Christopher Kane, Sir Anish Kapoor, Ross Kemp, Paul Kenny, Jemima Khan, India Knight, Martha Lane Fox, Baroness Doreen Lawrence, Tory Lawrence, Kathy Lette, Rod Liddle, Louise Linton, John Lloyd (journalist), John Lloyd (producer), Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Gabby Logan, Kenny Logan, Sarah Lucas, Dame Vera Lynn, Margaret MacMillan, Stephen Mangan, James May, Davina McCall, Sir Ian McGeechan, Heather McGregor, Andy McNab, John Michie, David Mitchell, Lord John Monks, Lewis Moody, Michael Morpurgo, Bill Morris, David Morrissey, Philip Mould, Al Murray, Sir Paul Nurse, Andy Nyman, Peter Oborne, Sir Michael Parkinson, Fiona Phillips, Andy Puddicombe, Lord David Puttnam, Anita Rani, Esther Rantzen, Sir Steve Redgrave, Derek Redmond, Pete Reed, Lord Martin Rees, Peter Reid, Baroness Ruth Rendell, Sir Cliff Richard, Hugo Rifkind, Sir Tony Robinson, David Rowntree, Ian Rush, Greg Rutherford, CJ Sansom, June Sarpong, Simon Schama, John Sessions, Sandie Shaw, Helen Skelton, Sir Tim Smit, Dan Snow, Peter Snow, Phil Spencer, David Starkey, Sir Patrick Stewart, Sting, Lord Jock Stirrup, Tallia Storm, Neil Stuke, David Suchet, Alan Sugar, Graeme Swann, Stella Tennant, Daley Thompson, James Timpson, Alan Titchmarsh, Kevin Toolis, Lynne Truss, Gavin Turk, Roger Uttley, David Walliams, Zoë Wanamaker, Robert Webb, Richard Wentworth, Sir Alan West, Dominic West,  and Kevin Whately.

Especially you Kevin Whately, but maybe not you John Barrowman.

First let me apologise as I have no clue whatsoever who many of you are, but that doesn't matter.
I thank you for your timely and compassionate intervention.
I am sure that you have all thought long and hard about the future and each and every one of you have very clear reasons as to why you want us Scots to remain as part of the union.
We feel the love, we really do.
Just ignore those people who are saying that you have no right to an opinion because so many of you are rich, oh so very rich, and very often don’t live in Scotland, or even the UK, or have much of a clue about what it is like to be scrambling from one pay day loan or benefit cheque to the next.
These people are just tired, partially ground down and lashing out.
You all have the right to an opinion regardless of whether you hold it while lounging on a beach in Barbados or sharing it with a friend over a meal in a VIP area in a five star restaurant.
So feel free to express them as you wish.

However, and this is just a small thing, a little favour that you could maybe consider doing.
Could you maybe, just maybe, find some time in your busy schedules to add your name to another letter?

This one could be addressed to David Cameron and you wouldn’t even need a stamp to send it as some of you are close friends and I am sure next time you see him you could just hand it over.
I mean there’s no rush anyway.

Here’s the deal though.
In this letter could you all collectively ask why there are food banks in the UK, why the rich are getting richer off the backs of the poor who are most certainly getting poorer, and maybe casually throw in a request for him to sort out someone that the nation can get behind to investigate all that disgusting child abuse stuff.
If you really want to you could even mention something about the NHS dying from a death of a thousand cuts.

It’s just that I think that it is possible that you have put the cart before the horse when you asked us to stay with you.
Although not literally because I am sure none of you want us Scots turning up on your doorstep with our suitcases full of Irn Bru, haggis and shortbread asking where your nearest deep fat fryer is.

What I mean is that if there were no food banks because no one was going hungry, that the wealth of the nation was shared a bit more fairly, and that we could see justice being done not just in the child abuse cases, but in all the things that the politicians seem to get up to, then it is possible that we would agree that we were better together and feel no need to look to forge ahead with an independent Scotland.

It’s just a thought, and I am sure that given a moment you will see the worth in it.

PS. Can you have a word with John Barrowman about his accent? Life is hard enough.

PPS. Oh, and I didn't notice Rod Liddle in there. Rod Liddle who said "The only reason any people remain in Scotland is on account of the very cheap alcohol in supermarkets, plus a ready supply of heroin for when the alcohol runs out."
He is also the guy who offended so many with his cheap racist shots surrounding the Stephen Lawrence case.
So while we love the rest of you I think you can keep Rod.
The Scotland many of us want is a pretty inclusive one, but you have to draw the line somewhere. 


More information about Rod Liddle in the comments section. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Post referendum apocalypse warning.

Thursday, July 10, 2014 2:02:00 pm The snp is polluted with nut cases and zealots, they have kept their mouths shut and followed salmond when he was telling them he would deliver freedom from the hated English. Even these morons are starting to realise that the game is up and there will be an ugly reckoning between the 'fundies' and the salmond lackies. It should be pretty awful and hilarious.

To quote a bit of this, it is in fact “pretty awful and hilarious” isn’t it?

It was written by a Councillor called Terry Kelly who represents the Labour party.
Until yesterday his infamy had not reached the darkest corners of Ayrshire and I was unaware of his existence until he contributed to a thread that can be found on the facebook page of Cathy Jamieson (Labour MP)

Since that pleasurable experience I have enjoyed dipping my toe into the mouth of his madness.
Okay then, that’s not strictly true.
In the interests of full disclosure I have to say that no one is looking for a toe job from this guy.
Figuratively, or literally.
It wasn’t the nice experience comparing it to a toe job may have led you to believe.

Anyway I found that gem of reason that I opened with on his blog.
The blog itself is a weird and wonderful place where rants flow and debate is strangled at birth.
In its totality it really provides a prime example of how some people can slip through the net and achieve a position that carries with it a certain degree of power.
I am aware that I could easily be accused of cherry picking a comment that shows Terry in the worst possible light, but that’s not the case.
Honest guv.
In fact if anyone does consider that then please do jump over to and print off some of his missives including the comments and pin them to your wall before finally throwing a dart at them.
No matter what one you skewer I can assure you that it will be enlightening, but remember to wipe your feet on leaving after taking a walk through the psyche of this guy.

However let us commence with breaking down the example of his razor sharp wit that I have provided.

“The snp is polluted with nut cases and zealots.”

Personally I am a socialist and for much of my adult voting life I have supported Labour, but as a rational individual, or I at least think I am, I am aware that unless it is a party of extremists who promote hate from the fringes the reality is that none of the mainstream parties are polluted with said nut cases and zealots.
There will always be a few who slip past as Terry highlights with his being a member of Labour, but similarly a few do not reflect the attitudes of the many.
So that’s pretty much bollocks right there.
If this fella genuinely believes that then he has no ability to fairly assess others as he obviously paints with the broadest brushstroke available.

“they have kept their mouths shut and followed salmond when he was telling them he would deliver freedom from the hated English”

The silence is so deafening that people are sick of it and begging for more referendum talk aren’t they?
The claim that anyone is blindly following Salmond is equally as bogus.
It is also a rather blanketing remark as is expected.
Is it really the case that everyone voting yes is an SNP supporter who idolises the first Minister?
The answer is of course not.
The yes support is made up of all political persuasions, and only those who are blinded by their own limited understanding of this fact continue to hang onto making such ridiculous claims.
Should we even consider the “deliver freedom from the hated English” part?
It’s really beneath contempt.
I certainly don’t hate the English and I know no one who claims that.
It’s true that we see some who claim to hate them ranting occasionally, but we are safe in the knowledge of knowing that they are quite frankly a minority that are best ignored as they bring nothing of worth to the table.
Apart from that it isn't freedom that people are looking for.
It’s the opportunity to determine our own futures as a country, and if that is delivered it will come from a democratic vote.

“Even these morons are starting to realise that the game is up and there will be an ugly reckoning between the 'fundies' and the salmond lackies.”

More name calling and calling into question the intelligence of those not singing from the same page of “Songs that Terry taught us”
Who are these fundies and the Salmond lackeys to?
What is this ugly reckoning he speaks of?
From other comments he has made it would appear that it is English pensioners that should fear for their lives if the vote goes to the union as those who are looking for the yes vote to be carried will vent their apoplectic rage at them.
Hyperbole much?
Seriously, this is the level that this clown is stooping to, and I will repeat that he is a councillor.
It doesn't really matter that he is a Labour one.
His party affiliation has little to do with his ranting.
(Although it does seem that even UKIP are happy to jettison anyone of their people who make similarly ludicrous assertions and it does beg the question why Labour haven’t picked up on this guy and considered him a liability.)

And finally “It should be pretty awful and hilarious”

So we are to surmise from his that people being at each others throats would be awful?

Finally something I can agree with, but also “hilarious” though.

I have a problem with this bit.
Is this guys bitterness blinded him to the point that he considers post referendum violence is something that would be funny.

That no one is really looking to burn the world down if a no vote is the outcome is neither here nor there in this.

What is important is that we have an elected official that participates in spreading nonsense like this.

He claims to be a supporter of equality and opposes discrimination in all forms.
He is quick to flaunt his socialist credentials to.
And yet much of what he posts verges on hate speech.
If you aren't with him and his views then you are against him and in his opinion you should step out of his way.

Do we really want individuals like this representing us?
It doesn't matter what party it is.
Should the quality bar be lifted?

I certainly think so. 

Thursday, 31 July 2014

EK.Decay - No Hope

With the siren wailing as a warning that EK.Decay’s début is here it’s a fine a start to some nuanced modern punk rock.
Everything always comes full circle and it is with that turn of the wheel that these punks have struck at a time when their delivery and lyrical anti establishment howl is now as relevant as it ever was.
In a world that often feels as if it is falling apart around us the band aren't looking to let anyone off the hook, and with misanthropic salvos, the bankers, politicians, the imperialistic USA and the divisive factions that are on the rise are targeted and firmly outed as those who nurture the roots of evil.

Of course there’s partially a stereotypical angle being explored on some of the material like “Smash the System”, but I could argue that there’s never been a generation that didn't need a voice calling them to arms and question everything around them and that message never really gets old.

Another huge plus is that it’s not all punk by numbers across the breadth of the album either.

With the band looking to incorporate a more rock influenced guitar sound that takes the listener away from the tired old cul de sac that many punk acts seem to get stuck in it makes a refreshing change from the more common fare.
After all it’s 2014 and not 1980 and wasn't punk really about pushing at the edges anyway so what’s wrong with some guitar workouts?
Didn't Saint Joe once utter “you’re my guitar hero” at Sir Jones once anyway, and if it’s good enough for the Clash it’s good enough for me.

I digress though.
Apart from a more rock influenced guitar approach the band are open to tackling some weighty subjects like suicide in a manner that befits it.
There’s no faux heart wringing and tear inducing schmaltz, and befitting of a mature punk band they instead intelligently and emphatically deliver a song that is emotionally raw, well balanced, and will undoubtedly touch people who have experienced the loss of a family member or a friend.
Being able to do that is really at the heart of what EK.Decay are, and it is with this keying into the world around them from the personal to wider social issues that they can engage, and engage like fuck.

Once the final track comes to a close all you can do is ask for more please.

Hans Chew - Christie Connor-Vernal King Tuts Wah Wah Hut - 29/07/14 (Glasgow)

Innis & Gunn in a can?

Why did no one tell me about this?

Initially I was entertaining some dark thoughts about this new release being kept a secret from me, but then when my change was handed back over the bar I realized that friends were keeping it quiet in an attempt to steer me away from financial ruin.

In these recession hit times the four pound price tag (nearly $7US) is something that my meagre income is not up to carrying the weight of.

As the barmaid took my money I had a flashback to when the Solid Rock Café wet the bottom of a two glasses with some Mount Gay rum and took ten pounds from me for the privilege. 
I nearly cried that night, and as I sipped on my expensive Innis and Gunn I could feel tears welling up again as I grieved for the loss of hard worked for mullah from my wallet.

It’s been an emotional week I guess.

Anyway on the upside I was in good company, and the prospect of seeing Christie Connor-Vernal with a full band backing her, and the headliner Hans Chew, was enough to balance out the bad karma that was lurking behind the bar waiting to take the shine off the night for unsuspecting patrons.

Once relocated to venue proper that is upstairs the night could start in earnest though, and it most certainly did as Christie and the band opened with As good as I am.
The studio version, while impressive, pales in comparison to the live rendition.
It’s not that the band and Christie were pulling their punches while recording it, but instead that with a quality sound - and an audience to play to that were obviously supportive - the whole performance is taken to a different level again.

After another couple of songs were aired from the session I started to get the distinct impression that there was something quite cinematic about the experience.

That what we were seeing reflected the Hollywood rock and roll fantasy.

It’s Christie starring as the up and coming artist who is paying her dues along with her band in small bar rooms, and from the quality of the music on display it is easy to see where the story is going, and of course the credits will assuredly roll on a triumphant stadium show.

However the thing with these films is that they can’t start off revealing anyone really paying their dues, and from the first song the standard is set at a level that is maintained across the whole movie.
After all they have a soundtrack release to sell.
Consider Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Streisand in “A star is born”.
Beyonce Knowles in “Dreamgirls”,
Or even Neil Diamond in “The Jazz Singer”.
All of these movies have musicians at the top of their game pretending to be starting off, and it is in this way that the set reflects that as the quality of the bands performance is out of sync with the surroundings.
It’s a set that is already at the point of being featured as the end credits roll.

It just seems that as a whole this is a band that should literally be already jetting about from festival to stadium and it is only in catching them live that this can be understood.

On the rare occasions when I witness a band taking the music to this degree of professionalism, paired with a solid chunk of passion, then it honestly begs the question why label representatives are not out the back of the venue slapping each other in the face with chequebooks with the last man, or women, standing getting to sign them.

Someone out there somewhere isn't doing their job if any band this talented is not being supported in achieving their dreams.

As for Hans Chew it was a bittersweet first meeting.

The bitter part was all about the amount of people flooding from the venue prior to them starting to play.
Something that had nothing to do with Hans Chew either, but everything to do with the usual myopic engagement with live music from the public.
People just generally stick to what they know, and as Hans and his band are a bit of an unknown quantity here in the UK then the majority simply weren't looking to take the time to get acquainted.
It would be easy to say it is their loss, but it isn't.
It’s really our loss, our collective loss, because every time this happens the artists at the level Hans and his band-mates are at have to consider if it is worth returning to these shores from the other side of the world.
They have to think about the costs involved, the time away from their family and friends, and then weigh it up while asking themselves if the fan picked up in this bar here and the two in that club there is really edging their careers forward in any meaningful way.
The brutal angle on that is if it’s not, then it’s not, and it isn't worth doing.

The sweet part was as you have probably guessed the music, and oh how sweet it was.
The band simply refused to let the dwindling crowd take anything away from what they do.
With a Hans Chew show no one is getting short changed.
You paid to hear some great music and that’s what you are getting.

It’s actually rare to see a band so attuned to each other.
I don’t know if it comes from practice, a natural ability, or a combination of both, but there are points in the show where it looks as if the band becomes lost in a high velocity jam session with each other.

Sometimes when that happens I can appreciate that the musicians are skirting with disaster and there’s an added appeal as everything could jump the rails at any second, but Hans Chew aren’t like that.
Instead it’s a fluid and organic performance that takes everything to a peak, and then pushes on beyond that and as every peak is reached and you think they can’t take it to another then they gleefully do leaving other bands in the dust.

Of course on stage Hans is the focal point, and maintains control throughout, but this is a real band and not a one man show.
The musicianship on display hammers that point home.
The rhythm section of Jesse Wallace on drums and Ricardo Ortiz on bass don’t simply provide a beat, a foundation for the songs to be built up from, but rather they play their instruments as part of the fabric of the songs and provide additional shading to everything that is being played.
I've seen many drum solos and like the majority of non musicians they leave me cold, but Jesse doesn't just beat at the skins and hit everything in sight.
When he goes into his solo it’s a musical part of the show in itself.

Similarly Dave Cavallo on guitar is no slouch.
You want some bottle neck slide with the soulful keyboard flourish?
Not a problem sir.
You want a punky thrash to compliment some honky-tonk tinkling?
Have some of that and here’s a side order of the blues to go with it.
Meanwhile with Hans stomping, growling and howling through everything from soul and jazz to country and juke joint rock and roll it becomes glaringly obvious that they are collectively providing a joyous noise that covers every base imaginable.
It’s a smorgasbord of aural delights with something for everyone.
A one stop shop for real music fans to indulge in.

At one point as they tucked their heads down and powered on I was thinking about a celebrity death match between the Doors and MC5 with it coming to a points finish.

At another I was considering Dr John playing at 3am in a piano bar.


That could be a one word review for it.

To take it back to an earlier point about the lack of an audience.
If this is what you get in a room with barely anyone in it can you imagine what it would be like if the band could feed off an ecstatic crowd and they and the audience build on that flow?

At the end of the gig it would have to be classed as a natural disaster zone as it wouldn't just be the roof of the venue taken off, but every roof in a five mile radius.

Oh I do so hope they come back.  

Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Wiseacres.

Classed as one of those shoulda woulda coulda bands The Wiseacres just fell short of snatching at the next rung on the ladder of success on their first stab at making a go of it in the music biz
The reason was all about public tastes moving on rather than them setting a foot wrong though.
It’s the time old tale of boy meets girl, likes girl, sees another girl and leaves the first girl behind.

The public are of course fickle bastards.

The difference between other acts and The Wiseacres though is that they decided not to end the story there, and with a fresh album released they have managed to not just revisit the past, but use the intervening years to ensure that they didn't stall themselves into a musical rut.
With Sharon Bain at the vocal helm for much of it the references to Debbie Harry and a slew of late eighties indie power pop chanteuse are unavoidable, but the band doesn't sound like any particular one, and certainly not Blondie, and that keeps it all very interesting.
In addition the occasional male vocal lead from John White can take us into Velvets and Jesus and Mary Chain territory to, and it is in this broad range of influences that are being touched on that the band can manage to take a great deal of essentially disparate parts and weave them together to create a cohesive whole.
Pretty damn impressive, but don’t ask me how the actually do it because it’s probably a secret that if I knew and revealed then certain death would be on the cards.

Maybe this time around that elusive rung on that ladder of success is hovering within reach again.
If they manage to get a grip on it then it would be well deserved, but as with the first attempt that is going to be something that is down to public support.

So get listening, get buying, get going to see them in action as I don’t want to be writing a where are they now article down the line.

Sunday, 27 July 2014

Has anyone seen John Lydon and Katie Hopkins in the same room at the same time?

It would be very easy to take umbrage at the things that John Lydon says here.
Especially if you are a fan of both The Clash and The Ramones.
However Lydon is the self styled king of outrage and this is his stock in trade.
A mature consideration of what he has spouted can only lead to the conclusion that it is done with the intent to bate, and he clings to the delusion that this carries some worth to it.
Here he is gaining some media traction as his nonsense partially goes viral while simultaneously being unaware that people are laughing at him and not with him.

His comments are ludicrously ill thought out, and to a degree disrespectful, but through repetition of this sort of vapid missive there is literally is no shock value any more.

Who cares what he says.

It's Lydon.

Instead of being offended most now see him as akin to an aged relative with an incontinence problem.

The first time he shits himself everyone screams in horror, and then it is a talking point for some weeks, but a few years down the line when the odour that heralds yet another evacuation of his bowels reaches you there is no shock or horror.
All you do is lift a weary eyebrow and shout to his carer that he's filled his continence pad again before moving on to continue doing what you were doing in the first place.
It's really just become another day in the life of ol' shitty pants and no one is surprised or shocked any more.

And that's really all this is.
Lydon opening his mouth and once again releasing some words that have the value of the contents of an incontinence pad.

It could be funny if he shook it all up a bit, but he is lost in inhabiting the persona of the cartoon stereotype that he designed for himself.

It's actually a rather sad and pointless rut he has managed to create for himself to languish in.

PS - For those who reside any place other than the UK I should explain that Katie Hopkins is a talent void mouthpiece who the media trundle out to boost ratings of daytime televisions shows as she is hardwired to open her mouth and spout similar bollocks to Lydon.

Friday, 25 July 2014

If this is the drug of a nation then it's a mind numbing sedative.

In my place of work there is a television.
That may sound like an excellent feature for the workplace, and as so many people don’t have this luxury I expect that they are feeling a bit envious about my revelation right now.

Go on admit it.

There’s a bit of you thinking that you would love to have a television where you work.
You could keep up with world events, be partially entertained during breaks, and it would provide a background noise that could conceivably cover the sound of your soul being crushed as you work slowly, but steadily, towards the end of your shift, or life depending on which comes first.
There really couldn't be much of a downside to having one hanging on the wall or sitting casually in the corner offering a window to the world could there?

The reality doesn't match the picture that is painted in your head though.

In the main where I work it is about eighty percent 4Music that it is tuned into.
Over the course of a twelve hour shift that translates to maybe three hours of Pharrell singing Happy and the rest is made up of either Rhianna songs, songs that feature Rhianna or people who are trying hard to sound like Rhianna.
In fact it is entirely possible that Rhianna owns 4Music and she is throwing Pharrell a bone because he is a mate and she eases in a few soundalikes just to massage her own ego.

I can look at the clock and it's five past four.
Six songs later of the videos on a loop that are assaulting my senses and I can look at it again and in some very strange and fucked up way it’s only seven minutes past four.
I can’t explain how that happens, but it makes a twelve our shift feel like it is really stretched over a week.

Sometimes to create a moment of respite I will manage to change the channel.
I don’t really care what I change it to as long as some variety is tossed into the mix.

I never do it if anyone is actually watching it though.
I'm not that rude.
Instead I do it when no one else is there.
If there is literally no one in earshot, or anywhere near the room at all, I lunge at the remote and stab randomly at it and then breathe a sigh of relief.
Occasionally I will admit that I even just turn it off and relax in the momentary silence.

Yet without fail as soon as a colleague enters the room and it clicks with them that the television is no longer on 4Music then they automatically reach for the remote and the muzak is back on.

Rhianna has brainwashed them.
From now on the Barbadian songstress should really be called “she who must be obeyed”.
It doesn't really make much sense, but I am toying with a theory that one by one she is assimilating people and they just haven’t managed to get around to me yet.
I wake up screaming sometimes from a nightmare where scantily clad RnB maidens close in on me singing “Gooble Goble Gooble Goble” while bald headed rappers in wife beaters accompany them with rhymes of “We accept him one of us, Huh, Huh, Yeah”.  

One thing that really is a headfuck for me is that once the channel is changed back to 4Music then more often than not the person will then leave the room again. 

I mean seariously. WTF! 

After multiple hours of this mainstream dross blaring in the background I can feel raw.
My life is just hour after hour of being assaulted by waves of inane salty shite that I am simultaneously being drowned in and abrasively scoured by.  

As mentioned it’s not all 4Music though.

Sometimes it’s “the only way is Essex” or “the real housewives of New Jersey, NY City, Orange County, Beverly Hills and Atlanta”.

What theses shows have in common is that they all feature narcissistic bullshitters whose first world problems are elevated to a level of importance that is mind bogglingly arrogant.
Someone failing to turn up at a charity event can be such a personally crushing incident that you could believe that it had been carved into a Mayan calendar as a portent that signals the end of days.  

In the US shows the term real that is loosely tagged onto the location is seriously an issue that should be looked into by trading standards.
There is nothing real about any of it.
From the poorly scripted situations that are played out to the actual people.
There is nothing real at all.

There is so much plastic surgery work done on the ladies who feature that when any of them die then there is no chance at all of their corpses being considered biodegradable.
Forget burying them.
Just bulldoze them into some landfill and in future generation some archaeologist will unearth one and this era will go down in the history books as the one where we finally managed to create sex cyborgs as tests will conclude that what they found is fifty-one percent organic, forty seven percent plastic and the remaining two percent being made up of traces of alcohol and coke.

As for the UKs Essex version it only takes five minutes of listening in and it becomes apparent that they have been getting botox injections straight into their cerebellum.
If you threw a glass of water in the face of one of them then it would take three days for the brain to register it, another four before the facial muscles got the message and yet another three before they reacted.
If any of them are on a celebrity television show and you see them flinch then that’s them reacted to something that happened ten days previously.

The strangest and scariest thing about all of this is that apart from people watching these shows voluntarily there are some who aspire to be like the people who are featured.
They look at the spray tans, the wealth, the days of meeting up for lunch and think “I want a bit of that”, but the pay off for it seems to be that they have to become an empty vessel whose head is where ideas go to die.

I catch five minutes of them and immediately think that each and every person on them has been at the crossroads and sold any sort of compassion, empathy and common sense they had to the Devil in exchange for an easy ride in life.

Now that you know what is on offer with a television in a workplace can you honestly say that you would want one now.

The only thing worse would be sport on all day.

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Sonic Templars - HAC - Irvine (18/07/14)

With Sonic Templars easing ever closer to releasing the “weapons of mass distrust” ep this live outing in support of Culann in Irvine was the ideal opportunity to get a taster of the material live to see how hard it was going to kick.

In the past there’s been much said about them wearing their influences on the sleeves, and while comparisons to Radiohead and MUSE have not been unfounded, there’s undoubtedly a beautiful brutality to the music that Sonic Templars creates that allows them to push in directions that their musical heroes haven’t explored.
And it is this harder edged delivery that they have in place that allows them to be considered as something more than the sum of said influences.
With the music often building up to a wall of sound with harmonies layered over the top, it is not unusual to feel that everything is moving towards a point of aural destruction, that the song will peak and then fall apart into a mess of crashing chords and screams, but instead just as they reach the cusp of that they effortlessly maintain control, and then it’s a joy to behold them reigning in the power to redirect it all back onto safer shores.
That they can do it so often highlights that it is no mere fluke, and instead is the result of deliberating plotting the pace, and with that they reveal themselves to be a band that has a nuanced approach to song writing that many other acts should rightly be envious of.

So with that in mind was the show going to deliver on more of the same of which there would be no complaints, would they slip back a bit or could they take it to another level?

For those there it is the latter that they experienced.

With the addition of guitarist Stephan Crawford on board to share vocals the band have moved forward not just one step, but leaped ahead and begun to lay out the framework that should allow them to garner the beginnings of plaudits from further afield, and to draw to them a fanbase that could allow them to venture from the small pool they currently reside in to dipping their toes into a much larger one.

With tracks from there previous two outings making the cut into the set you can hear the progress made with songs such as Sweet Deceit from Minds in Transit and Mephistos Minions from BreakingSilence ripping the guts out of their studio versions and leading me to consider that a full length album recorded by the band now could do with some earlier tracks being revisited to be partially reimagined.

It is however on the newest material that the band really takes it up a gear and there’s a hunger in the delivery that screams that there’s plenty of fuel in the tank, and in many ways this new release is really just the beginning.

With a headlining launch on the horizon in Glasgow it is a show that I am comfortable in recommending.

Photograph provided by Mark Hickey. 

Friday, 18 July 2014

One small step for the NHC

And so it begins...

The first step on a journey that will lead to who knows where.
With a property now being secured and a lease about to be signed it is with much excitement, a bit of trepidation and a whole lot of “is this really happening” being said, that we can proudly announce that the NHCs dreams are about to become a reality because very soon the doors will open on our own little store.
Yes. You heard that right and we shall announce the exact location very soon.
From the store we shall be selling a range of new and used CDs, Vinyl's, Books and DVDs.
This will be at the core of what we do, but it’s all really just there to provide a foundation that will allow us to financially fund having a place from where we can support the artistic community as a whole.
And how will you do that I hear you ask?

Well that answer is that if you are currently unsigned and going down the DIY route, or if you are running an independent label, then we want to sell what you have.
We have looked at multiple options of how to do this and we consider that the best is that you sign up quarterly to us for the princely sum of £3 a month with an introductory offer of three for two which means it’s just £6 you give us and then we sell anything you have at the price you say and you get it all.
Yes. You heard correctly.
If you want to sell a CD at £6 then that’s how much it is.
T-shirts, cassettes, vinyl single and albums?
Whatever you say it is to be then that’s exactly how much it is.
We shall stock it in the shop and online for £3 a month with no hidden costs.
Hell, if you have tickets for a gig to sell then give them to us and it’s in on the deal as well.
No booking fees either.

Of course it is at this point that anyone in a band, who is playing solo or has a label, is asking why they should give us this £3 when other shops will stock their CD for free?
Well the answer is that we all know that when you do that the shop then makes an addition to the cost so that they can get a cut.
For a small act that is trying to carve themselves a niche that additional cost can be the thing that stops a curious music fan from investing in their release though.
We are removing that part of it, and we will also promote your release with online reviews and even by personal recommendations to customers.
For example if someone purchases a Bob Dylan book from us and you are the Celtic Dylan then we will assuredly tell them that they should lend an ear to your release and play them a track off it.
So for £3 you are having two outlets for your release (Store and online), a review, possibly an online interview, and people who will pro-actively try and sell your music to people.

Not bad.

Even if we do say so ourselves.

Also we will be looking to keep the ball rolling with the friends of NHC group with which, for a one-off donation of £10 for a year will receive 20% off any purchases made from our own stock, and get a pre-heads up of one week for any live instore signings, acoustic shows, and special days and nights-meaning you get first chance to snap up limited tickets and spaces! For a mere tenner a year it's a great deal.
Currently we already have a rather large amount that will excite those who like to trawl through the record and book stores to find a bargain and if a canny shopper considers that they will be in often then that £10 donation could be a solid investment with the bonus of it also helping us fund other projects in the pipeline.

Independent record labels can get in on the act too, any record labels, from anywhere on the globe, wanting us to stock music and merchandise from ALL the bands they represent can do so, for the small fee of only £6 per month. For that price (Less than a couple of pints of lagers) we will stock a few of each cd they have, any vinyls/tapes, Tickets (minus any extra handling fees) get some release posters up, flyers on the counter, a mention on the board of  labels we support, airplay on our popular weekly podcast, your items on our online shop and a chance of a review on the blog, and we can even chat about arranging album signings and stuff for them instore. Same deal as before, paid 3 months upfront, and every penny from every sale goes right back to the label. Good deal right? No hassles, no hidden charges, just one wee payment, and you can also be sure that every single penny we make goes right back into the very scene you are part of, making it bigger, and better for everyone involved! Oh and for the record, any bands who donated to our HUB fund campaign at the end of last year, will get this deal for stocking items free for the first six months(for labels) or year (for bands), as well as whatever pledge we have to give you too!

More details for how you can get involved, help us out with what we are doing, or how to sign up to stock your stuff with us, will be live online over this weekend, so stay tuned for that! This is the first big step for us so get in on the ground floor while you can, things are just about to get interesting.