Search This Blog

Sunday, 27 February 2011

Lux Lives 2011 - Bar Bloc (Glasgow)

When someone tells you that they are playing a gig in honour of Lux Interior of the Cramps and all the proceeds from it are going to a charitable disaster fund then there doesn't seem any good reason not to offer some support and attend.
Then when they add that it will only cost £5 and the first fifty people will get a free CD it starts to sound like an opportunity that can't really be missed. In fact it sounded too good to be true, but sometimes fact is stranger than fiction and it was indeed true.
Eleven bands were going to be doing three or fours Cramps, or associated songs, each between 10 pm and 3am in Bar Bloc in Glasgow, and like a true Cramps devotee I wasn't going to miss it.
Kosher Pickle were the first band of the evening to step up and pay homage and did so in true psych garage style. Resplendent in blonde wigs a la Brian Jones - except for one who had drew the short straw and was wearing a Doris Day styled one - they ripped through “You got good taste and Garbageman.”
Refreshingly enough they managed to avoid doing straight covers and instead warped the songs with a sound that was sort of reminiscent of the British invasion. Nicely done.
Straight on their heels The Bucky Rage put the shambles in shambolic with a raw beating up of Strychnine and then a take on The Crusher that could only have been made better if they had some Mexican midgets to throw about.
Although I have been accused of claiming that everything can be improved with the addition of some Mexican midgets in wrestling gear so maybe that's not saying too much.
Louise McVey & The Cracks In The Concrete took things down a different path after that with some imaginative re-workings of Bikini Girls, Flamingo and TV Set. I've seen them once before and left unimpressed, but this time with the punk attitude turned up a notch I was left thinking that a reappraisal may be due. Nicely impressive.
Everything was moving pretty fast by this point and without wasting any time a guy by the name of “The Charles Randolph Rivers Slim Rhythm Revue” decided that it was time to up the ante and delivered what would be the best set of the night, and one that included quite possible the best cover of Green Door that I have ever heard. Forget the chart friendly Shakin Stevens cover as this was how it should be played.
Throughout his short set I kept hearing a fleeting glimpse of something familiar, but for the life of me I couldn't grasp at it until right now. It was that Charles Randolph Rivers is similar in style to the very talented Dan Sartain, not so much as a soundalike, but more so that they share an attitude in how they sell a song to an audience. Things got a bit more raucous after that when The Acid Fascists brought their idea of what aggressive garage rock should sound like to the party. Elvis Fucking Christ hammered by in a blur, before giving way to a pretty muscular Strychnine that sounded nothing like the earlier version that The Bucky Rage played, and then as a finale Shortnin Bread was given a real hard adrenaline shot to the arm. It's a sweaty vain popping throat stretching set that could be filed under R for relentless, and I'm definitely going to have to check them out again sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately the night took a little dip after that when The Bastard Suite made some self indulgent swipes at Pussycat Kill Kill, Psychotic Reaction and All women are bad, although they managed to redeem themselves by shaking The Gun Clubs “For the Love of Ivy” about a bit.
Filthy Little Secret were unfortunate to be the band to hit the stage just as about half the audience decided that they had enough for the night and headed for the door, then it got worse when the vocals dipped so low in the mix that it would be difficult for anyone who had never seen them before to tell if they were any good or not.
I have, more than once, and I can assure anyone wondering that they are actually a very good band, and this was hinted at in the last song when the vocals were finally balanced out.
Not the ending to the night that I envisioned, but over all the quality and passion of the bands who played was there for all to see and I'd had a blast.
There was still another couple of bands to go, but this was now 2am and I was flagging. I would have probably toughed it out, but with another all-dayer on in the morning and a thirty mile journey home I capitulated and said my goodbyes.
All in it had been a night of new discoveries playing the music I love for a very worthy cause and barring famine, pestilence, floods or other dire apocalyptic scenarios there's a good chance that I'll be back next year to do it all again.

Nightmarchers/Dan Sartain - Captains Rest (Glasgow)

Not a new review, but just something I found on my hard drive and I don't want to lose it.


A couple of nights ago KelC and myself went to see the Nightmarchers supported by Dan Sartain in a small club/pub in Glasgow.
The NightMarchers for those who are unaware are John ‘Speedo’ Reis’ latest offering.
His previous bands have been in no particular order Rocket from the Crypt, Hot Snakes, Drive like Jehu, and The Sultans.
Looking back it seems that all of these bands, and others that he has fronted, have been geared towards expressing different facets of his talents with the common thread simply being his vocals.
Because of this his fan base can be as wide and varied as his oeuvre itself.
It’s common for someone to like one band he has helmed, but dislike another. Although it’s more common that others, like myself, will happily give anything he does a spin on the old turntable and are rarely disappointed with any of the projects he turns his hand to.
However there is a slight difference with this band in comparison to the ones of the past. This time out, instead striking for pastures new, The Nightmarchers come across as a culmination of all that has went before. It’s the best bits of the previous bands used as a template for an all new project and it’s potent stuff.
There is nothing fancy about them.
What they bring to a gig is high octane bar room rock and roll that will blister the paint from the walls and shake the foundations of any club they play.
Before they did though we were treated to the wonderful Mr Dan Sartain.
Standing with his guitar clutched to his chest and singing into a 50’s styled microphone he looks every bit the rock and roller, but he’s quick to smile and is comfortable enough to take some requests from the audience. Some he plays, one he does a snatch of as he forgets the latter verses, others he says he needs a band for.
It’s all intimately enjoyable.
His voice is crystal clear and he plays a melting pot of styles. It’s the blues, it’s country, it’s rock roll, it has its finger in every flavour of pie you could imagine and the whole time it is still punk rock in attitude.
Midway through his set he is joined by Jason Kourkounis the drummer of the Nightmarchers and then for the next song John Reis fills in on bass. It becomes apparent that the Nightmarchers aren’t going to have a gap between Dans set and their own when bassist Tommy Kitsos joins them onstage and John Reis picks up his guitar.
Sure enough it’s a seamless change when Gar Wood then joins them and what we are now seeing is The Nightmarchers with Dan Sartain accompanying them rather than the other way around.
Everything gets louder, faster, dirtier and sweatier.
It’s a very mixed crowd and there is a bit of swaying about, but this sort of music is designed to elicit more than is given that night. It’s too primal for swaying. I’m uncomfortable and want to let loose, but instead I hold myself like a coiled spring hoping that someone in the crowd will let go first and then I can throw caution to the wind and join them.
Unfortunately the touch paper is never lit and I’m too self conscious to do it myself.
The band appear oblivious though and continue to push themselves ever harder.
Reis himself is a born performer. He grimaces like popeye, slashes his guitar through the air and leads the band upwards and onwards every step of the way.
In an era that rewards lip synching mediocrity spawned from reality talent shows this is the polar opposite. The rawness is tangible. This is what live music is about. I don’t want to go and see a band that I can damn with faint praise. I want a band to excite me, to send shivers down my spine and to make me feel like I’m sixteen again. I want to come away from a show struggling to express my admiration, and this is what The Nightmarchers provided me with that night.
Check them out here www.myspace.com/thenightmarchers and Dan Sartain here http://www.myspace.com/dansartain

Friday, 25 February 2011

El Diablo and KelC Presents

Aye it's a bit of self promotion.
We have just confirmed that Glen Matlock and his Philistines will be playing for us on the 18th of March while Devilish Presley will be following them on the 19th.
So a weekend of rock and roll fun and frolics for Ayrshire is about to kick off.
That's the good news. The bad news is that the Kirk Brandon gig is still up in the air due to his recent health problems.
We continue to wish him all the best and those who wish refunds just need to give me a shout, or alternatively hang onto the ticket until a rescheduled date is confirmed.

Glen as everyone knows is a Sex Pistol, and in my humble opinion the partially unsung hero of the band. While the plaudits mainly go to Lydon for his lyrics it is a fact that without the music to back them up then they may not have had the same impact. One goes with the other hand in hand. His time then and now with the band has brought him fame, but unfortunately cast a shadow over everything else he has done. His work with the Rich Kids is beyond criticism in my opinion and his solo outings, or work the the Philistines has always punched the buttons for me to.
I suppose I could start on a long list of other artists that he has worked with but instead I will say that it is like a whose who of the rock glitterati.
So I'm personally very pleased as a fan that he will be coming along to entertain us.

Devilish Presley playing the next night is the icing on the cake. Everywhere they go they hit the stage and take no prisoners and there is no doubt that they will be providing more of the same when they return to Kilmarnock.
They are simply one of the most exciting bands I have seen in a long time and along with bands like Tragic City Thieves and Filthy Little Secret I am forever at a loss as to why they aren't getting the kudos that they so richly deserve.
I'm sure readers could add more to that list.
This time they will be out promoting their forthcoming album and it's going to be interesting to hear the new tracks live.
Can anyone tell that I'm excited?
The supports in place are really all top drawer acts in their own right as well.
Tragic City Thieves will be playing with Glen Matlock in Kilmarnock and then again the next night in King Tuts in Glasgow. Filthy Little Secret will play both Glan Matlock and Devilish Presley shows and Billy Liar will join then for the Saturday along with The Paraffins as well.
Still one more to be added, but fingers crossed that it will be local talent Zoe Lewis.
If anyone is interested in going to any of these gigs then just give me a shout. A guaranteed good time will be had.

31 Songs

31 Songs – Nick Hornby.
Due to being described as too personally introspective to be a collection of reviews - and at worst a bunch of half hearted comments on much loved and lesser so songs - I've always skipped past this whenever I've seen it.
I guess it being damned with faint praise was a bit of a turn off, or maybe I just didn't want to join the ranks of the disappointed Nick Hornby fans as I do actually like his fictional novels.
As a music fan of a certain age I can slip into his stories like a worn and comfortably warm coat and that will no doubt be down to being able to draw parallels with the characters that he populates his books with and my own life.
Now that I've digested it though I can safely say that I don't harbour a hint of disappointment at all. I can do a bit of soul searching and try and find something negative to say, but apart from disagreeing on a personal taste basis when it comes to some of the music I'll find nothing.
Right from the start 31 Songs doesn't pretend to be anything it's not. It's simply a rambling and unpretentious insight into what certain songs mean to him. There's a distinct lack of snobbishness throughout that for me was a refreshing change.
Within the little essays he asks what is wrong with pop music. The answer is nothing much, and he is right. I've always said this. If a song makes you feel happy, sad, excited, introspective or elicits any other emotion from you apart from hate, well maybe even hate, then it has worth.
Even if it doesn't do anything for you, then maybe it does for someone else and due to this it still has worth.
At the most I suspect we can only ever say that I don't personally like that and not that it is rubbish, although we can all be guilty of saying it.
Obviously Nick Hornby puts the point across in a more erudite fashion than I could.
It's maybe something that more of us should think about.
Little bits of it have also given me some fantastic points to argue with my son about.
He is forever asking what's your favourite Stones song, Clash album, Desert island disc and then painting a look of abject horror on his face when my outrageous opinion doesn't mirror his own opinion.
I mean he just can't understand why I would take a Hanoi Rocks album to the island when there's Creedence Clearwater Revival albums to consider.
It doesn't matter how often I say that it's down to personal taste as he just doesn't get it.
He also finds it difficult to accept that when asked why I maybe love a certain song that I can't explain why and in this book there is little glimmers of how to word the actual stance of “I just don't know, but does it really matter.”
I don't know why I love my son and daughter. I can't really explain it at all. All I know is they fill me with pride and even sometimes with heartache, but like many parents I would lay down my life for them. I hurt for them when they are down and I could sing and dance when they are ecstatically happy about something. Don't ask me why though because it isn't something that can logically be explained away. It just that way because it is that way and music can be the same and I'm not sure why I never thought of that until Nick Hornby drew attention to that sort of angle on it.
Why do I like Springsteen more than Dylan? Well I could waffle on for hours providing reasons, but at the root of it is that I prefer Springsteen because....well because I do.
There's a mention of Suicide in it that also reflects what I had recently thought about them. There was a time that they had an impact on me, There was a brutality that appealed. A fuck you to the world that came across as exciting in a way, but when I seen them support Iggy and the Stooges all I could think was that this was painfully awful, and why the hell would anyone want to submit themselves to such a degree of aural punishment.
In its totality this is a little book that doesn't even attempt to de-construct the individual songs, but instead celebrates why the can have an emotional connection to the listener and in doing so I personally found it hugely entertaining.
There's more to it than I've just touched on, but like the music I'm sure it will draw different opinions and maybe work as a catalyst to even more thought on the subject, but the best thing I can probably say about it is that I enjoyed it because........well I just did, and isn't that enough?

Sharing music

I've been asked what my policy is on upping material to be downloaded on the blog.
Well to call it a policy is a bit grand, but in short if it's deleted, in the public domain or a bootleg then I consider it fair game as it is not on the market and therefore is a non earner for the bands or artist.
The exception is when a band provides links themselves or gives permission for specific tracks to be used.
So you're not going to see the latest chart topper here, or a leak of a soon to be released album or song.
If any member of a band or an artist has an issue with a specific link then I don't have a problem with them getting in touch and asking for it to be removed.
I've also decided that anything that is upped will be there for a month and then replaced with something else.

Thursday, 24 February 2011

The Duel - I'm on to you.

The Duel – I'm on to you
What's that saying? Always a pleasure and never a chore?
Well that sort of sums up my relationship with The Duel. I've yet to hear anything by them that hasn't impressed, and unlike many other bands waving the punk flag you can always be assured that they're going to pull something a bit different out of the bag, and now that I come to think about it this is probably why to my mind they are one of the very few bands that could currently be described as a real punk band.
Isn't the whole ethos of punk about the celebration of self expression and foregoing the enforcing of boundaries on what you wish to do?
If that's an acceptable, albeit loose, interpretation then when you listen to The Duel you would probably agree with me.
They made a quantum leap in sound and style from their début “Let's finish what we started” to their sophomore release “Childish Behaviour” and from the evidence on the “I'm on to you” ep it looks like they are going to do it again on the forthcoming “All aboard the crazy train”.
The title track is awash with retro new wave keyboards that sound like they could have been sampled from the soundtrack of some glossy eighties thriller, but that's as far as the comparison could go as the meaty guitars and throaty vocals, while coming out of leftfield, really give it a whole new persona as a song. Personally I would have liked it to be a bit faster and I expect a live rendition will tick all the boxes, but that shouldn't be taken as a criticism as this is as fine an introduction to the band as you could ask for.
Meanwhile track two “Jump” is maybe a little bit musically bi-polar, but casually infectious with it. A bit like Betty Blue. You know there's something wrong there but you would embrace the madness anyway if you know what I mean.
At times it verges on a laconic conversational vocal delivery before the tempo quickens and it yelps into life and although you get the sense it shouldn't work there is no doubting that it does. The guitar work late on in the track deserves to be highlighted to as it's another prime example of how the band will not work within the framework of what is expected.
EP closer “Loneliness” is probably the track that will leave fans slack jawed though.
It sounds initially like Johnny Thunders has sat aside his guitar and forsaken it for the piano to give added emphasis to the cold and raw lyrics. There's a beautiful twang to the guitar when it does come in and over all the richness of the music complements the emotional delivery where Tara sounds racked with memories. Especially as the song fades out where in my best Lydon impression I could say “she means it maaaaaan”.
A glorious return and now I can't wait until the album proper gets its release.

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/THE-DUEL/39258382929
http://ffruk.com/
http://www.myspace.com/theduel

Wednesday, 23 February 2011

Festival season

The Arctic Monkeys, Coldplay, Foo Fighters, Beady Eye, My Chemical Romance, Deadmau5, Pendulum, Brandon Flowers, Weezer, Manic Street Preachers, Jimmy Eat World, Chase and Status, All Time Low, White Lies, The View, Jessie J, KT Tunstall, Blondie, Ke$ha, Cast, You Me At Six, Crystal Castles, Ocean Colour Scene, The Saturdays, Eels, Hurts, Bright Eyes, The Streets, The Vaccines, Noah and the Whale, House of Pain, Slam, Imelda May, Josh Wink, Bloody Beetroots Death Crew 77, Miles Kane, Vitalic, Eliza Doolittle, Diplo and Stornoway have all been announced for T in the Park this year and while it's a wide ranging and impressive line up with something that would appeal to everyone I've got to say that I fuckin' hate T in the Park.
Similar to Glastonbury (Another festival I used to love) it has become an event that attracts people who aren't really music fans.
Glastonbury seems to draw the upwardly mobile crowd who slum it for a couple of days to accumulate some cool kudos and simultaneously tick it off on their “Things to do before I'm thirty” list.
Meanwhile T in the Park manages to attracts every waif and stray who fancies a weekend away to get rat arsed/high as a kite, and then drunkenly/spaced ou,t make a tit of themselves and ruin the fun of everyone else around them.
Nothing much wrong with indulging in my opinion, but if you find yourself wandering about and slurring at strangers “I'm gonna schtaaaab yous ya priksh” it's a safe bet that you have seriously over indulged.
It's like the trial of manhood that every young boy from Easterhouse has to brave before they can be classed as a scheme elder.
I clearly remember gazing at the roof of my tent trying to sleep while one group of neds/chavs debated loudly with another group about the merits of what cars to steal.
It was like some retarded competition to be crowned king of the joyriders.
Then there was the chant of eci eci eci, oi oi oi for about an hour or so.
The imaginative ode to ecstacy that must have taken them days to memorise the words to.
That was fun.
Then it was daylight. Fuckin' great eh?
Last year a workmates friend returned to his tent to find his belongings gone and a turd left in the centre of his tent.
Classy.
I'm sure some will jump to say that's not their experience and good luck to them. May they continue to have a hassle free weekend, but it's not for me.
Every year the papers say that it was a great success and virtually incident free, but who wants to kill the cash cow by being too blatantly honest about it.
Another colleague works for the Red Cross and provides free emergency first aid and health care at festivals, but she has declined to work at T in the Park as she says it is like doing a shift on the front line in a warzone.
Stabbing, slashings, overdoses, drink and drug casualties, rapes and sexual assaults never seem to make it to the headlines just the fun in the sun.
Okay, fun in the sun weather permitting.
It is after all Scotland.
This year, as usual I will hopefully manage to attend the Wickerman festival.
I've been every year except for one and in general it has been chilled out and hassle free. There was a couple of years when the music started to lean dangerously close to being heavily weighted to attracting the dance music crowd, but the balance was back last year with a great eclectic bill.
It actually reminds me of the early years when I first started attending Glastonbury.
Another one I would recommend, although I have only been the once, is the Tartan Heart festival, or Belladrum festival if you will.
That's up near Inverness and once again attracts a broad base of music lovers and is pretty much exactly what you would want from a festival.
I had a fantastic time there.
Lovely crowd, eclectic line up and very family friendly.
If I'm unable to get to any of them then I've also been told that the Eden festival is worth checking out. It features most styles, but does seem to be heavy on the Ska/Reggae/Dub ting.
So if you are a festival virgin and think it's time to pop your cherry then I would advise you to check out the smaller ones that haven't lost the real festival spirit just yet and give the big boys a miss, as all they will likely do is turn you off from every attending one again.
Although you can ignore that if what you are looking for is sort of like a stag/hen night in a muddy field with the cast of trainspotting.
If that is your thing then I would actually recommend T in the Park.

Stats

I know it's not the end of the month yet, but I just had a look at my stats and I would just like to say a big thank you to everyone who drops by to have a look at the blog. It makes it a very worthwhile hobby for myself and I genuinely feel appreciative of the interest expressed in it.
I'm honestly blown away at the amount of hits that I've been getting.

Photobucket

I am number four

Teen movie franchises are a bit hit and miss. For every Harry Potter and Twilight that catches the imagination there's a Jumper, Percy Jackson or The Vampires Assistant that fails to make it to a second instalment.
These failed attempts are a parents nightmare. The having to sit through a couple of hours of a story that isn't going anywhere is extremely pointless. Even if they are entertaining enough at the time.
The latest to try and catch the movie goers imagination is the sci-fi tale “I am number four” and after managing to catch a freebie preview in my local fleapit I've got to say that I thought it stood head and shoulders above most of the films aimed at that demographic.
It's had some critical appraisals that damned it with faint praise by claiming it's a sci-fi attempt at poaching the Twilight fans that had put me off to an extent, but apart from the mirroring of the young female lead falling for an other worldly male lead that's about it.
It's like comparing chalk with cheese, and the lazy drawing of attention to this will probably turn off more people than it will turn on.
While one panders to the dewy eyed goth generation and is barely a step up from a promo video made for MTV, “I am number four” easily sidesteps all the many pitfalls and instead delivers a finely balanced action movie that should appeal across the board.
Instead of it being a chore for most parents to sit through the latest must see movie “I am number four” should provide an ideal nights entertainment for all the family.
Similar to the Harry Potter movies its got a strong enough story line to keep you engaged, everyone plays there role well and the action and SFX are well done without being overbearing, or at worst used at the expense of the storyline.
As someone who isn't a fan of science fiction movies I was actually surprised at how much I enjoyed it.
Even though there's nothing that ground breaking about it, and no one is going to jump forward and say that it's Oscar worthy it is very entertaining and sometimes that is more than enough.
As it finished I would have quite happily sat through the second instalment without a break.
Maybe I'm just easily amused though.
Anyway. I'll recommend this one. A grand night out.
Just a shame that it's in the laps of the gods whether we will ever see a second one hit the screens.

Beady Eye - Different gear, still speeding

It was no surprise that after the lacklustre and patchy releases that failed to revisit the earlier glory days of Oasis that Noel and Liam would finally part ways.
Between them they had flogged that horse to death twice over.
It would however be fair to say that in the aftermath of this decision that the majority would have laid bets that Noel would flourish without the swaggering macho council estate antics of Liam reflecting poorly on him. While Liam himself would slip and slide further down the celebrity status list until the only time we would ever hear about him was if he managed to have a swing at the milkman in the early hours after leaving a tupperware party at Kerry Katona's.
Then in his usual cocksure manner Liam announced that he would be back with Beady Eye to blow Oasis out of the water.
Critics quietly laughed and filed his comments away as the delusional rantings of the compulsive braggart. Last orders had been called on Liam Gallagher.
Now with the album being leaked it would certainly seem that quite a few people, including myself, will have to slice themselves a large portion of humble pie as Liam has just released the best piece of work that he has been involved in since “Definitely Maybe” or “What's the Story”.
Across the breadth of the songs this is the best and most varied he has ever sounded.
Still instantly recognisable, but with a bit of added oomph.
It would seem fair to say that without Noel at the helm he has flourished, or more accurately the whole band have, and I'm sure this will raise much debate. Did he run Oasis with an iron rod to ensure it was his vision, or were the rest of the guys happy to allow him to carry the responsibility on his shoulders while they coasted in his wake? Does anyone really care?
I guess we will never know, but it would be safe to venture that the hardcore Oasis fans aren't going to find much to criticize about this as he has delivered exactly what they have been waiting for.
More surprisingly though is that once “Different gear, still speeding” has sunk in I could envision that there could be quite a few more converts flocking to Liam's corner.
On the album itself the ghost of John Lennon certainly casts a very large shadow, and while it would be easy to claim it was a distraction, the real strength of Beady Eye's debut lies in the career defining vocal performance from Liam and the enthusiasm with which the band attacks the material.
This is very, very, good rock and roll.
I suspect that it doesn't really need stating that it's a homage to the swinging sixties with the crossover appeal that you would expect from that as everything that has come before from Liam has been, but it maybe does need to be highlighted that instead of slavishly recreating the halcyon days of the Beatles, the Kinks et al Beady Eye have successfully dragged that era into the here and now and maintained its exuberance more so than Oasis ever did. No small feat in itself.
They're certainly not the first band to attempt this but they are one of the very few to have done so while maintaining a fresh angle on it.
It goes without saying that Beady Eye should be rightfully proud of their début.
Not because it has redefined anything, or even provided us with a new sound, but purely because it will serve to give many of their maudlin contemporaries a kick up the backside while simultaneously showing others that there is certainly plenty of life in the old dog yet.
Fair play to Liam. The ball is now in Noel's court, and if he returns with some Welleresque balladeering then it will be no surprise if he is the brother who becomes yesterdays nowhere man.
All we can do now is wait and see.
As a side issue I'll add that I fervently hope that “Different gear, still speeding” reignites a love for guitar driven rock and ushers in yet another revival of successful guitar bands in the UK, because we could really do with some more of that to shake up an increasingly sterile mainstream scene.

Saturday, 19 February 2011

This land is your land - unless you're a Muslim it seems.

Bit disappointed this evening.
By chance I heard that Darrell Bath (ex UK Subs/Dogs D'Amour/Crybabies/Honest John Plain and more) was playing a couple of shows a hop, skip and a jump away from me in a hotel backing some guy called Micky Kemp.
After a quick search I found Micky Kemps myspace and listened to a few songs.
Not bad at all.
Some nice blue collar americana and at a fiver a ticket it would be a nice quiet cheap evening in good surroundings with some good music.
Then I checked out Micky Kemps facebook page to see if I could find a time when the gig kicked off, and when flicking through some pictures I found his pathetic and hateful views on Islam/Muslims.
Photoshopped images of burning Mosques etc.
That's when the disappointment kicked in as I wouldn't knowingly give a penny to anyone who holds and promotes racist views.

Now don't get me wrong. Everyone is entitled to their opinions, but to slate a whole religion because of a minority of extremists is as ignorant as fuck and that's an opinion that I'm as equally entitled to hold.

I wouldn't even have been bothered if he had slated the fundamentalists as they are fair game, but to tar a whole religion because of a minority of wanks who you can find within the ranks of any religion doesn't sit comfortably with me.
Then there's his views on socialism.
He's not for it.
A guy who covers Springsteen, a fella who owes such a debt to Guthrie who was a dyed in the wool socialist.
What's the score there?
Hypocritical much?
Christ for all I know he might think that "This land is your land" is a nationalist anthem
So that's that gig blown out.
Shame really as I would have loved to have seen Darrell Bath play.

Friday, 18 February 2011

Kid British - Northern Stories

Kid British – Northern Stories.
Kid British are back. A new album is in the can and as a thank you to the fans they have released a downloadable ep for free that features four demo tracks that will act as a taster for what is to come.
Now I'll admit to not being overly impressed before, but after my son raved about them post Specials support slot I thought I would redress my casual lending of an ear to them and see if I was maybe missing out on a good band by not really paying enough attention to them.
This resulted in a grudging acceptance that they had something, but in the studio they weren't really doing enough to grab me with their ska tinged attempt at grabbing a slice of the NME reading generation pie.
Now here we are and I've listened to their new ep back to back twice in a row and I'm not finding much wrong with this at all.
On the evidence here they seem to have went for a more traditional ska/light dub sound paired with some socially conscious lyrics that promises to shake things up a bit.
It's actually been a while since we had a band who could raise the profile of ska and with any luck these will be the lads to do it.
Nicely intimate and thought provoking at the same time. Well worth a punt, especially for free.
http://www.kidbritish.com/

My Chemical Romance

Simply because I'm a contrary bastard and want to give a big fuck you all very much to the anonymous hordes who have been complaining about MY blog featuring My Chemical Romance here's some more.
You didn't ask for it, but you're getting it.

I brought you bullets, You brought me your love. (2002)
As a début “I brought you bullets” certainly managed to raise the New Jersey boys profile to a fairly acceptable level even if it's sonically mired in the time of its release.
It's an album that swims in rather safe musical waters and mirrors the sound of many alt acts that were doing the rounds in that year. Nothing too special at first listen and more an album that would attract some casual interest rather than set pulses racing.
Yet any real criticism has to be juxtaposed with the understanding that it was recorded a mere three months after the band formed. It's the sound of a band finding their feet and when that's taken into consideration the finished product is more impressive than initially thought.
It would also be fair to say that while the arrangements are verging on the bland that lyrically it hints at better things to come in one form or another.
The introspective aspect and delivery is blistering honest at times and smacks more of a real emotional struggle than many of their peers could manage.
The main difference seems to be that MCR were managing to express themselves a little more eloquently than most, even if the music still needed to pay a bit of catch up.
It may be a trip into darkness, but it's a recognisable one and rarely if ever sounds contrived.
As angst ridden pop punk goes it's a decent enough dip into the scene of the time and manages to at the very least maintain enough interest that a follow up would be on the cards.

Three cheers for sweet revenge (2004)
A couple of years later, and with a wealth of touring experience under their belts, their second studio album hits the streets and lends credence to the cliché about being in the right place at the right time.
Tracks like the singles “Helena” and “I'm not okay, I promise” key right into what disenfranchised kids all over the globe are wanting to hear, and sound accessible enough to court mainstream attention that gives the band a real shot in the arm.
It doesn't do them any harm that they then tour with Green Day on the American Idiot tour before doing Warped and then co-headline dates with Alkaline Trio to promote it either.
Everything simply clicks into place with this album.
The musicianship has jumped light years ahead and manages to catch up and embrace the lyrics warmly, while the addition of a cinematic quality shows that they aren't afraid to experiment and expand on their vision of what MCR should be.
This is also where the newly introduced classic rock foundation to their music works wonders with guitars that soar and loop over everything without ever dipping into the worst excesses of fretboard masturbation.
The band from the début are still there, but while that was them learning their craft this is a fully accomplished outing for them where they can stretch their musical muscles.
In hindsight it is easy to see that this is where MCR really begin and it's breathtaking to consider that this is a band who have only been together for around three years.
With this, their sophomore release, they set the self imposed benchmark high and while there are those who doubt that they can emulate the success again, the jump from their début to this in musical terms provides ample proof that as long as they keep reaching for something more then there is the possibility that they can still pull something out of the bag.

The Black Parade (2006)
The past and present collide with the concept album that redefines the term and drags it screaming and kicking into the present. The sounds of Pink Floyd and Queen battle Sgt. Peppers post punk army and the aftermath is a joy to behold.
The Black Parade is the everyman rock album that manages through its strong sense of melodic narrative to jettison the band beyond the confines of the rigid emo/punk template that bound them.
From start to finish it has classic album stamped through it and that it deals with the depressing reflective story of someone dying of cancer makes it all the more alluring in a perverse sense.
The romanticised demise of the lead character in the tale runs parallel to a joyous noise that encapsulates all the cock sure swagger of the seventies rock bands with a modern take on it that allows it to straddle decades of music and therein lies the genius of this.
Here is a band who can meld music to their own vision and create something that is familiar sounding, but also new and vibrant. A balancing act that a high wire artist would maybe shy away from attempting.
The ensuing success of the album verges on hysteria among fans old and new alike, but unfortunately, and undeservedly, the fan base while becoming larger doesn't widen and the take up of acclaim from those out-with the young punk/emo demographic doesn't emerge.
The success is a double edged sword it seems and with every young Kohl eyed prepubescent child of the night that jumped aboard to pledge allegiance to the cause a music fan somewhere decided not to simply because they had, and the preconceived idea of MCR as lightweight rockers was adopted.
Meanwhile the band would go on from one success to another gaining critical acclaim and plaudits from fans and the music press alike with an album that even to this day sounds faultless in its execution.

Danger Days – The true lives of the fabulous killjoys (2010)
After a four year gap MCR came back and in a sideways move went for the jugular as glam trash terrorists proclaiming the end is nigh to a party beat with a punk rock attitude.
Adrenaline and excitement come at you in equal measure while the ghost of an amphetamine fuelled Bowie looms large over proceedings.
The preceding video for Na Na Na is visually stunning with an unintentional nod of the head to Gaye Bikers On Acid populating an intentional Mad Max post apocalyptic future.
A perfect introduction to the album.
Once again it is melodically solid throughout and flirts with the boundaries while maintaining a degree of accessibility that will attract more fans than it turns off.
More in your face than Black Parade and certainly more urgent it still maintains a common thread that is unmistakeably MCR.
This is a band attempting successfully to bring the sound of a pop art counter culture graphic novel to life and it's as thrilling as that may sound.
I'm at the point that I'm not sure what this band has to do to jump from the success they have to the global and cross generational appreciation that they so richly deserve.
Future rock legends in the making is what they are.

Comments that have a degree of worth are welcome. If you like the band or dislike them that's fine, but if anyone thinks that a comment like "fuck that shit" is going to be upped is kidding themselves on.

Thursday, 17 February 2011

Re adverts/links, and even bands featured.

I don't normally make posts like this, but.........
I just received a message from some holier than thou punk ranting on about punk credentials (whatever they are ) and how My Chemical Romance aren't a punk band and then how having adverts makes me a good capitalist scumbag.
I deleted it, but over the last five minutes I'll admit it has fuckin' annoyed me.
So just to make things clear.
Punk for me is about freedom of expression.
That is what it's rooted in and myopic wank stains who think that the genre is limited by a style and a sound can fuck off.
I probably don't have to add this either, although maybe I do, but as it is my blog I'll write about what the fuck I want, feature whoever I want and if I want to accept adverts I will.
Although the links on the right of the page are not paid adverts, but instead sites I like and personally want to promote.
Maybe I should write a manifesto, but then again this is about as much effort as I plan to expend on the matter.
Just a shame I can't name and shame them as they used the anonymous option.
Twat.

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

My Chemical Romance - Glasgow SECC - 15/2/11

THE FUTURE IS BULLETPROOF

It was a bit of a crap shoot evening where you roll your dice and take your chances.
My Chemical Romance were in the SECC, Imelda May in the ABC and some NME darlings called The Heartbreak were playing in the Captains Rest.
Our mission was to secure MCR tickets, but failing that Imelda May would have been our second choice with The Heartbreak being the band we would have went to see just so that the trip wasn't entirely pointless.
Lady Luck was however on our side for a change and we hit the jackpot after a short haggle with a ticket tout and found ourselves in the sold out MCR show.
As I'm still of the opinion that Danger Days : The true lives of the fabulous killjoys was one of the best releases of last year I had a keen sense of anticipation for the nights entertainment. Especially as I'm also a MCR virgin never having seen them play live before.
Thankfully the anticipation served to blank out the worst behavioural excesses of the hordes of kids who were displaying all the worst traits of children with ADHD let loose in a candy store.
At times it felt like I was being swept along with rampaging Oompa Loompas intent on breaking Willy Wonka's chains of servitude during a coup of the chocolate factory.
Sadly the anticipation wasn't enough to keep me on a high through the support acts sets.
First was Lost Alone who I have already had the misfortune of seeing once before ( http://itsaxxxxthing.blogspot.com/2010/02/night-of-living-brain-dead.html) and I've got to say that they haven't improved.
Although their fan base appears to have swollen considerably considering the response they received.
The young crowd were lapping them up and on the screens at the side of the stage I could see that a circle pit had broken out.
Well either that or two fourteen year olds were pushing and shoving each other and a circle of peers had formed shouting “fight, fight, fight” before the dinner lady came and broke it up.
I've said it before but I'm sometimes unsure how much of the reaction is a genuine response to enjoying the band or a Pavlovian “ I hear the music so therefore I must dance a whoop and a holler” reaction.
As for Lost Alone, well there was a bit less fret board wankery going on, and the bassist has reigned in his compulsion to seig heil the devil horns at the crowd in five second bursts, but I'm still at a loss to understand how such a mediocre indie rock act who pander to the emo/goth demographic can secure such high profile support slots. Truly woeful.
The best bit about their set was Jeff Wayne's War of the Worlds intro, and if your intro music upstages you then it's time to consider another career in my opinion.
Blackout were next and I'd heard some good things about them. All lies it turns out.
Maybe that's a bit unfair though as there's a good band in there trying to get out.
The duel call and response vocals in a light hardcore stylee sounded horribly dated to me.
The soft melodic delivery juxtaposed with the growl is so last decade and while there's not a lot wrong with regurgitating the past it's usually the norm to wait a little while longer before repackaging it for a new audience.
Once again I was the only one marching in time to the band as everyone else seemed to love them.
It may sound a little arrogant, but after the young crowd have a few more shows tucked under their belts they might realize that all this “Let me hear if you're louder than last nights crowd” and “You Scots must be better than the English” is a very poor level of crowd management/manipulation.
By the end of their set I was sick of watching them leaping about like Jedward and one of the singers gobbing in the air and attempting to catch his own phlegm in his mouth.
You with think that after a couple of minutes of hitting the stage, his own forehead and the drummer that he would have called it a day, but no.
Maybe in future he could hone his skills to the point he drowns on his own spit. It wouldn't be a great loss to the music business.
Harsh?
Say that after you've seen him performing like a drunken monkey for a full half hour.
It's a shame really as the rest of the band and the other front man are very good at at what they do.
If they ever drop the blonde cretin I would even consider going to see them again, but until then it's a big no thank you.
My Chemical Romance were left to show us how it is really done and to say that they did so would underplay just how good they were.
Kicking off with Na Na Na they nailed it. Post apocalyptic glam terrorism never sounded so good.
It's a great shame that so many people of my age look down their noses at this band due to a misguided perception of the music they play.
At their root they are a classic rock band with added frills. It's all there if you care to listen.
From the high octane beginning they then rattle through a set that revisits Three Cheers for Sweet Revenge and the high spots of The Black Parade, including a hair on the neck raising rendition of Cancer that was purely vocals and piano.
A song that proves that Gerard Way has the ability to give any singer a run for their money when conveying raw emotion.
Most of their show was however set aside to promote Danger Days, and the new material is solid. Older and more familiar songs struggled to eclipse tracks for the latest album and that's a good sign for the future of any band
A personal favourite of mine Vampire Money sounded like a snot nosed punk anthem writ large in neon. A car crash involving Bowie and the Ramones accompanied by the sound of some honky-tonk piano.
I mean who could resist that? It wouldn't even be fair to say that this was a highpoint as the whole set was the highpoint of the night.
The band themselves are tight and augmented by a couple more musicians who serve to round the sound out and carry over the studio versions into the live arena without losing anything.
In fact they probably add to the originals.
It's literally awe inspiring with the over all performance being pretty much faultless.
Although when I say faultless I wouldn't want anyone to think that it dipped into sterility.
This is after all a live show, and there has to be something else when it comes to playing live.
A note by note take on a song isn't enough. The music has to live and breathe. Force a reaction through it being conveyed directly from band to audience and if you could witness the manic performance of Mama first hand then you would appreciate what I mean.
I was simply blown away by them. I guess that could have been the review. “My Chemical Romance blew me away.” It really conveys it all.
They are so far ahead of the pack musically than most of their peers that it's breathtaking to see them perform.
I've heard, and even participated in conversations where the lack of a future music great is expounded on.
Where is the current generations Beatles, Bowie or Stones?
How long is the shelf life of the current crop of artists in what appears to be a boom and bust scene?
Well the answer is there right under our noses.
My Chemical Romance have the ability to do something very special by pushing the boundaries while maintaining a solid rock foundation.
Their future will be decided by those opening up to them and accepting that their current fan base, and the magazines who feature them, do not truly represent what the band actually do.
In the future I could see them creating a full on Rock Opera featuring an Orchestra and a cast of hundreds. Give it a few years and anything could happen.
As it is they piss all over acts like Green Day and 30 Seconds to Mars who are normally thrown forward as the voices of a disenfranchised generation.
So go on, buy the albums, go to the shows and tell me I'm wrong.


Set List

Look Alive, Sunshine (Intro)
Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)
Give 'Em Hell, Kid
Planetary (GO!)
Hang 'Em High
Sing
Vampire Money
Mama
The Only Hope For Me Is You
Party Poison
Summertime
I'm Not Okay (I Promise)
Famous Last Words
Destroya
Welcome To The Black Parade
Teenagers
Helena

Encore:
Cancer
Vampires Will Never Hurt You

Sunday, 13 February 2011

The future is bright. The future is OMC

The Original Music Collective have recently came into existence in an attempt to promote the rights of artists and bands in the west of Scotland.
Fiercely opposed to the premise of pay to play they have already managed to secure a venue that is willing to work hand in hand with them to create a scene that has a fair division of the profits accrued from bands offering live entertainment.
While this may not be a new idea the people involved have many years of experience in playing at a grass roots level and have the enthusiasm and energy to remould the current disproportinate status quo into something that will benefit all.
So I am very pleased to bring you the first interview from one of the men behind it.
I give you a conversation with Joe Bone.

ElD - Do you want to fill the readers in on what OMC are. Your manifesto of intent if you will?

Joe Bone - The Manifesto Of The OMC if you could call it that is built on the punk do it yourself ethic . Working on a zero budget and building funds through a membership scheme and trying to get some local business's on board.
We will arrange our 1st gig soon promising the bands a min of 50 pounds of GB Sterling when they perform on the night (3 bands one night with a 45 min slot each.)
The night will also be MC'd and photographed. It's as simple as that!
We have fans as well as bands coming on board and they know how much their fiver membership can help to hopefully sustain a successful string of events. Pivo Pivo ( A venue in Glasgow City Centre) have kindly backed us as well by waiving their venue hire fee.
The success of the whole Collective will depend on bands and fans getting on board and supporting the whole concept though.
The Collective is aimed solely at bands playing original music as it seemed that they were the ones who were suffering the most .

ElD - So what was it that acted as a catalyst to nudge you from talk to action?

Joe Bone - Ah now that is not an easy question to answer as it was not one singular event that spurred me to put words into action.
It was more a niggling over the years of seeing bands being totally ripped off.
Second rate boozers full to the hilt because bands were playing and they were walking away with not even a free drink while the tills were being filled by their support.
Bands folding because they had enough digging into their own pockets, band members getting married and the financial burden of being in a band couldn't be sustained within a family budget, all because it was all take take take. They were the talent yet it was them who were folding while others were flourishing.
There is one pub in Glasgow who has been exploiting bands like this for years I will not mention them in case I get sued ... It's THE BOX in Sauchiehall St.
I forgot you can't get sued for telling the truth.

ElD - Currently with the rise of downloading it is very obvious that record labels are losing their grip on the market they had cornered and artists are looking to earn a living/make a success from the live arena again. Yet the venues and some promoters seem keen to hang onto their slice of the pie so to speak and this leaves the actually musicians stuck in a sort of no-mans-land. No one wants to pay for the music and the people putting the gigs on don't want to let the bands in on the action either. While that makes no sense at all does it sound like a fair assessment?

Joe Bone - It's a funny situation this El . I think the reason they are still holding on to their big slice of the cake is the amount of new bands out there. Their eagerness to get a gig at any cost falls right into the lap of these people and because they are new on the scene their family & friends will be eager to come to see them which in itself is a false economy but in true capitalist principle thinking, the money will be taken with no long term thought for bands or music itself.
There is money in the live music scene it's just bands aren't getting any of it. But when it come down to it if you think it's a good gig for your band then do it. If a promoter or venue lays down exactly what is involved and you play and don't like the fact your to blame. And bands always need to remember if you are told you need to sell a certain amount of tickets it's PAY TO PLAY.

ElD – Funny you say that because I had someone once ranting at me because I had offered tickets to a support band to sell. For some reason he had a mental block on the fact that the selling of tickets was not conditional to them playing.
The strangest thing was that they had nothing to do with the band at all.
Anyway, where are you ultimately wanting this to go. The music union doesn't seem to do much for artists so would you be wanting to expand this and offer musicians an alternative?

Joe Bone - Where do we go from here? well no long term plan in place as it will depend on the support from the start to whether we can continue or not.
If it grows there will be other avenues we can explore, but hopefully it will catch on as there is no profit gain to the people running it,
That being myself & Allan Doyle who has put an immense amount of work and time into the project setting up the bandradar website, cards posters etc.
If bands are interested please contact the OMC website and sign up http://www.bandradar.co.uk/index.php/2011/02/03/omc-memberships-now-online/

ElD. - There has been attempts to do this sort of thing before in one shape or another and I've been less than keen to participate as all of them without exception appear to lose focus and end up encouraging a cliquish jobs for the boys attitude that flies in the face of the original intent.
How are OMC going to avoid this common pitfall?

Joe Bone - Keeping it simple, stick by the principles laid down at the start, that being it's for the bands first & foremost nothing will ever compromise that principle and hopefully all will benefit from happy bands playing and doing their best to bring a crowd in full knowing that the whole Original Music Collective lifespan depends on it.

So that's the skinny as they say. I sincerely hope that bands, promoters and fans will get on board with this and ensure that musicians can look forward to a brighter future than what is currently on the horizon.

Alan Bishop (The Red Eyes) /Ross Gilchrist/Barry & Munro - Dirty Martinis - Kilmarnock 11/2/11

What's that saying? When life gives you lemons then make lemonade?
It's something like that.
In my morning after the night before befuddled mind that phrase keeps popping up, but it's apt. When Kirk Brandon fell ill and postponed his acoustic tour we were left with two options.
We could pull the night completely, or find someone else at short notice and make it a free show.
The latter seemed the best option and the guys in Dirty Martinis jumped forward and sorted out a young guy called Ross Gilchrist to fill the bill and that was it done and dusted.
Three acts for nothing, nada, zilch and even gratis as way of an apology to those who had committed to attending the Kirk Brandon show.
It was a nice and relaxed evening from the start. More akin to a party than an actual gig.
It just had that hassle free atmosphere to it with everyone being pleasantly ego free and happy to play whenever and for however long suited.
Alan Bishop of The Red Eyes volunteered to go on first and treated us all to a set of acoustic versions of Red Eyes songs and some punk covers.
“Kids” from their last album went down really well, as did an unrecorded track about the personal price people are paying for the war in Afghanistan.
Alan doesn't often get political, but this was an incredibly moving tribute to those who have lost their lives, the families that suffer that loss and lyrically it doesn't shy away from pointing the finger of blame at those in power who commit young lives to conflict zones without losing sleep over it.
The blatant honesty revealed in the song acted as a catalyst for people to approach Alan later on in the evening and speak to him about how it touched them. As a songwriter he must have been moved himself to know that something he had created could have such a direct impact on people.
It's in moments like those, that make you realize how important music is. How it aids communication and brings people together communally.
It's maybe true that no song changed the world, but on a daily basis they change how you feel and Alan keyed right into that with his set being fun, familiar, and thought provoking depending on where he was taking it.
This was areal revelation for me as I have only previously seen him fronting his Red Eyes and while they have always impressed it didn't prepare me for how good Alan would be on his own.
Ross Gilchrist was also a huge surprise to me. A week ago I hadn't heard of him and even the day before the gig I had only heard two songs, but this is a very talented young man indeed.
Due to having had a lay off for a few years from playing solo acoustically he admitted to being a bit nervy before going on, but he needn't have worried at all.
Instead of dipping his toe back and seeing how a song or two goes he dived right in at the deep end with a full set that went down very well with the increasingly lubricated crowd.
Initially you could be forgiven for thinking that there's a casual lightweight element to his indie rock material, but it's actually pretty deceptive.
There's a bite to it, an underlying strength that slowly reveals itself.
While he doesn't sound like Weezer musically you could take them as a jump off point as an example of how music can have hooks, melody and a wide appeal while still maintaining a degree of credibility, and then translate that over to what Ross does.
He has a great ear for a song, but also an attitude of artistic integrity that commands more respect. It's all very well balanced and probably far harder to do that most of us would appreciate..
As someone who occasionally promotes a gig or two I would certainly have him back.
Local heroes Barry and Munro, who between them have probably been in every great band to come out of Ayrshire over the years, then followed Ross and regaled everyone with a set of punk covers that added to the party atmosphere.
It's not all straight runs at the classics though. There's a jazz influenced medley of pistols stuff, and even a bit of country and western twang thrown in at another point, and while that may sound strange everyone was roaring with approval between the matey heckling that was going on.
The evening could have ended there, but no one seemed too keen on heading home so another guy who I don't know borrowed Alan Bishops guitar and did a few numbers.
Unfortunately while he was good his laid back style wasn't keeping the party train rolling and most people contented themselves in catching up with old compadres and only got back into the swing of things when MC for the night Faither started playing classics from the late seventies and early eighties.
To say that it was a perfect nostalgia trip wouldn't do it justice. He didn't put a foot wrong with the song choices and in no time at all people were dancing like they probably hadn't for a decade or two.
By this juncture of the evening everyone was pretty much slaughtered on the drink, but there hadn't been one hint of trouble.
As last orders were shouted out I reckon we could have went on for another hour or two, but I'll go with the argument that it's always best to leave people wanting more and just say that I had a blast from start to finish.
Dirty Martinis is without doubt where it is at for music in this area.
Regardless of whether it is Kel and myself promoting a show or anyone else I would say that everyone should be out there supporting live music and the venues that provide it.
Everyone who was there on the night would tell you there's no downside.
Great times had by all.

The Red Eyes - http://www.myspace.com/theredeyesglasgow/music
Ross Gilchrist - http://www.myspace.com/drrosko

Friday, 11 February 2011

Free Music For The Masses

Here at itsaxxxxthing we live to share music.
So with that in mind I would love to redirect you to a great site that has provided me with hours of pleasure.

It's the Beatles complete on Ukulele.

It's a project that has been going for a while now and has thrown up some wonderful arrangements of Beatles tracks that have the common thread of featuring the Uke.
About once a week it would seem a new track is added and they are all free to download, and for each there are exhaustive notes to accompany them to.
The artists, recording history, how they picked the songs and how they got into the Beatles is just the tip of the iceberg of info.
Truthfully though you don't even have to be a Beatles fan to dig these songs as most of them use the original track as a jump off point to create something completely different.
Open your minds and give the site your patronage. Few will be disappointed.
Kudos to Steve Conte who pointed me in the direction of this great site, and of course a huge thank you to the people who had the idea and then made it a reality.
http://thebeatlescompleteonukulele.com/

Thursday, 10 February 2011

The Boss Hoss - Low Voltage

While Boss Hoss have been very successful in their native Germany with their Country and Western cowpunk covers of everyone from Outkast to Britney Spears they are often viewed with overt contempt from music fans.
Personally I've never really been sure why.
On a daily basis I could reel off a long list of acts who piss me off, but Boss Hoss wouldn't be on it.
So while bands like Hayseed Dixie manage go from strength to strength and The Baseballs and Overtones grace the UK charts with nary a blink of derision Boss Hoss are still struggling to be taken seriously. (Well as seriously as a band doing country styled covers could be taken.)
Their homeland success has however allowed then to make a living, and even get to the stage of releasing a greatest hits package, but not one that you would expect.
On “Low Voltage” the band decided that instead of treading water with a compilation they would record the hits acoustically with a 30 strong orchestra backing them up.
In doing so they may raise some eyebrows, but with a bit of luck a few converts may be found.
Strangely enough on much of this they sound like Alabama 3 without the beats if you can wrap your ears around that concept.
To be blunt though I'm of the opinion that if the listener can leave the misguided snobbishness at the door that goes hand in hand with the claim of being a “real” music lover then there is much on this album to impress.
More than just a novelty act these guys can play and have an ear for an arrangement that most musicians would struggle to emulate.
While some people would be happy with speeding a song up or slowing it down, Boss Hoss strip them down and then rebuild them in the style they want to put across.
Probably harder to do than most of us appreciate.
The only downside to this is that their lack of popularity over here in the UK will mean that while we occasionally get to see the guys live there will be no chance of catching them backed by the orchestra.
A great shame in my opinion.

Rock City Angels - The Bobby Durango Interview

Maybe some people read the Classic Rock feature on Rock City Angels in a recent issue.
The “where are they now” article.
To say that it was poorly researched and full of inconsistencies and rumour would be a bit of an understatement.
It would even be fair to say that as a piece of journalism it fell far short of what is normally expected from such an esteemed magazine.
My main problem with it is that anyone who is not familiar with Rock City Angels wouldn't be aware that it was a lazy rehash of a story that has done the rounds for many years without a single attempt to check the veracity of it.
Coincidently just prior to that hitting the news stands I had been in contact with Bobby Durango with an interview request and I can say that the guys an open book in regards to his past and present and this makes the article all the more unprofessional.
So without further ado here he is in his own words setting the record straight.

ElD - It's been a career of extremes Bobby.
I mean at one point there seemed little doubt that you had the world in your hands, but it spectacularly slipped through your fingers, or was torn from your grasp.
In hindsight how do you feel about it all? Do you have regrets? It's common for people to say they don't, but it's also human nature to harbour them.

BD - When it comes to regrets, I'm rather philosophical. I'm a Buddhist, a set of ideals I firmly embraced in the wake of being dropped/quitting Geffen Records. So while it is human to have regrets, it's not especially healthy as regret can turn easily into obsession, "What if I had done this?", "What if I'd said that?", etc.
I've seen many former and current artists on that particular path, (including a previous member of Rock City Angels) and it's not pretty. Were there mistakes made? Sure. But I know in my heart that I did the best I could given my rather limited experience with immoral music execs and larcenous lawyers whose job it is to take advantage of the very same artists they've been hired to help out
Through it all I stayed true to myself and the band which had become an extension of myself and that could end up pissing people off, especially those attempting to control us, but that was my path and I lived and learned. In the process, we created a lasting work of art, a damn good album and entertained thousands of people. Honestly, how could I regret that?

ElD - The original demise of the band is of course well documented. Or the legend of the demise I should say. Were the band really as debauched as is claimed, or were the problems more so in-house record label politics? How wild were those days and was the band and Geffen like oil and water?

BD - To blame the band for being a bunch of drinking, drugging, out of control kids would be a bit disingenuous. That was understood going in. That being said, when it came to business, Rock City Angels were on it. We never missed a show, always performed a professional, engaging set, (unlike some of our better selling peers) and consistently wrote interesting, timeless rock'n'roll as I think our recent, (2010) release on FNA Records, "Midnight Confessions", makes clear. This album is comprised of songs written and recorded for the never released second Geffen disc.
Record label politics made that follow up album an impossible dream. They can blame it on whatever they want, but the truth is our A&R rep. spent far too much label money on the first album in a gamble that it would sell so many records that it wouldn't matter. Problem was, he was gambling with our careers with out any discussion with us on the matter. Our lifestyles were the perfect escape clause for him when the shit hit the fan.

ElD - From the outside looking in it is difficult to understand what Geffen were actually doing. First they bought you out of a deal, but didn't pick up on the original album that was already recorded, then they invested time, energy and cash in you for “Young Man's Blues” before doing the same for a follow up that they then didn't release.
To call that frustrating would be an understatement.
It's as if someone would make a decision and then when it hit the boardroom some suit would laughingly decide to do the opposite just for kicks. Does that sum up their relationship with the band?

BD - Ha ha ha! I can imagine how crazy it all looks from the outside, the truth is actually fairly straight forward, with far more greys than harsh black and whites.
Let's start with the "glam album" that Geffen bought out from New Renaissance for $5000. There's a story going around implying that when we got signed, Geffen turned around and buried this recording, demanding that we stop wearing make-up and cross-dressing, thus changing our glam image, and, most important: changing our musical style! Nothing could be further from the truth. They would have loved us to have remained the same. In 1986 there were quite a few bands that fell into that Hanoi Rocks, neo-glam kinda sound and it would have been a whole lot easier to define and sell us as such a band.
Like, I dug Hanoi, Smack, Dogs D' amour and the early '70's bands like Sweet, but we'd been making that kind of music since '83 so, I for one, was ready to move on to something different, a wild mix of all our influences, punk, blues, glam, soul, power pop, southern rock and more. The target was an album of scope like, " Exile On Main Street". The "glam" album wasn't really an album at all but more a series of cheap demos strung together that didn't fit this vision at all.
In their favour, Geffen Records gave us complete artistic control at first and were behind us 100% in changing direction. Really, there were no significant disagreements until our producer, Jim Dickinson turned his finished work in.
Jim was an absolute genius at helping an artist find and achieve their ultimate vision. As he knew I wanted "Young Man's Blues" to be a sprawling, epic musical statement without pretensions, we worked really hard in preproduction for three months before heading to the studio for another three months to bring it alive. When Geffens' A&R Dept. heard it they freaked out! The general consensus was that the record buying public was too stupid to understand such a work and it needed to be "dumbed down" for mass consumption.
After all the time and energy that had been put into it, we were amazed by this idea. Then we got righteously pissed off. We asked for the album to be released as is. Our A&R rep. said that Jim had to "fix it" first.
As for Jim, he wasn't having any of this. As an artist himself, he refused to compromise, a lesson I never forgot, then promptly left the country for another project.
I was made to watch in horror as music execs with no experience went in to salvage the material by mixing it themselves!
Thank God I had final approval. Crappy, unimaginative mix after mix was nixed by the band before engineer Joe Hardy and myself were finally allowed to finish the album. By the time it was completed and approved, Rock City Angels had been in the studio for a whole year, leaving us way over budget, behind many other bands signed way after us and in a poisoned relationship with our record label. Both parties went through the motions for the next album but the damage had been done.
Before he died, Jim gave me a copy of his version of the album, as far as I know, the last copy in existence, and hoped that one day it might be released. I do my best to promote and sell this version on our various websites. It deserves to be heard.

ElD - How do you personally come back from that sort of brush with fame though? The roller-coaster ride aspect of it. I guess what I want to know is psychologically how bad was it? You were a young man at the time and it must seem like a lifetime ago now, but no one goes through that without picking up some war wounds and battle scars.
I personally can't comprehend how high the highs would be and just how low the lows could be.

BD - Believe me, I remember that whole experience only too well and yeah, there were some tough times but what matters is that I made it through it all and learned a lot. It's what they call "learning the hard way", hahahaha! I really wouldn't have had it any other way though, because, as you say, the highs were so high.
I mean we went from playing 500 seat clubs to 15,000 seat arenas overnight! I'm not going to lie, it's pretty awesome to suddenly hear your band on the radio, see yourself in magazines, t.v., etc.
Everything we had slaved, sweated and fought for, for the last six years... An audience.
Some people thought we had got signed after playing L.A. a few months.
HA! We paid our dues for sure. I dropped out of film school to pursue this dream. A lot of hard work and sacrifice went into Rock City Angels and it wasn't for fame and fortune. Yeah, we wanted an audience but it was really to make the music we wanted to hear that no one else seemed to be doing at the time.
I never deluded myself for a second that we would "make it big". We weren't pretty enough, savy enough or ass kissing enough for that to happen. As far as I know, everyone in the band was in it for the right reasons, a shared vision with the opportunity to make a simple living doing what we loved - making kick ass rock'n'roll that would stand the test of time. We hoped to become a cult band in the best Ramones tradition. Art with integrity. If we happened on a little more success, icing on the cake, you know?

ElD - So if you were to describe yourself in a few words would survivor be one of them Bobby?

BD - You better believe it, baby! I'm a rock'n'roll survivor for sure. Typical Taurus as well; down to earth, easygoing, artistic and bullheaded as hell. When I envision a work, be it a short story, song or album, I'm going to keep at it until it's the way I hear it or see it in my head. I won't settle for less, I'm a complete perfectionist and stay driven and consumed until it's right.

ElD - For us here in the UK you dropped off the radar for quite a while after “Young Man's Blues”. There was the start of some recording in 2001 and then nothing it seemed. It wasn't until around 2007, maybe a little later than that, before anything surfaced and that was a few whispers about the follow up to “Young Man's Blues” being finished and due for a release in 2008. What took so long and what were you doing in the intervening years?

BD - Whew! All kinds of shit went down after RCA disbanded in '93. I kicked around L.A. for awhile, writing a column for an underground paper and working with a director on a screenplay for Propaganda films.
The film was to be a neo-noir which was perfect for the frame of mind I was in at the time, cynical and dark.
I got even more depressed after I auditioned for a few bands that I liked, only to find I now had a stigma attached to my name that kept folks away. Though I was writing and staying creative, this was a real dark period for me, until a writer friend of mine, (who I respected greatly) turned me on to Gnosis and Buddhist thought through weekly classes.
My frame of mind gradually improved and I began to travel to San Francisco and New York City where I lived with good friends like Circus of Power. On my return to L.A., I ran into a girl I knew from Memphis, one of my favourite music cities. Next thing I knew, I had moved there and was married to that girl.
I soon put together a sort of Memphis supergroup called the 420 with members of Son of Slam, Gun Down Mary and Mama Terra. Outside of Rock City Angels, this was one of my favourite bands, the guitar player, Fred Thompson and I, would get loaded and write dozens of songs in his attic 'till all hours of the morning. I really honed my guitar playing skills at this time as well.
My percussive style of rhythm really inspired a lot of different styles of song writing. 420 was a strong outfit right into the year 2000 when we finally broke up from overambitious musicians trying only to be "discovered". I was well over all that.
DIY was where my head was at.
Not too long after that I joined a band called Hustler that was a little more low key but lot's of fun. I found them through their bass player who I'd worked with in a reggae-punk band I started called "Zebra Bug". Hustler and I worked up some fantastic songs, a few of which ended up on "Use Once And Destroy" after that band broke up.
It was around this time that I noticed people again showing interest in Rock City Angels. The only album available at this time however was the demo's that Anne Bolynne released through her label, New Renaissance, known as the "Glam Album" or "Self Titled". It was kind of embarrassing that this was the only thing representing the band and I decided it was time to show our growth as artists on album.
After a months preproduction, we booked time in Paramount Studio's, Hollywood, and layed down basic tracks in 2001. The band consisted of previous members of RCA and Hustler. I planned to then take these tracks back to Memphis with me and lay down legitimate Memphis horns and B3 Organ. It took six more years of investors falling through and one calamity after another before I was able to hear my dream come to life.

ElD - So “Use Once and Destroy” was finally with us and it revisited a more punky sound than some would have expected, but my main surprise is how an album that took a big chunk of a decade to record can sound so fresh and flow so well. How did you manage that? Did you have to revisit the tracks and keep then in mind as a work in progress, or did it all just fall into a place a bit at a time?

BD - I think the reason it sounds so fresh is the same reason people still respond to Young Man's Blues. The songs and the music itself is timeless and I worked very hard with my partner/engineer, Chris Swenson on producing it in a way that doesn't sound produced. Rick Ruben is the master of that technique and it is surprisingly difficult getting such a natural, "unproduced" sound that could come from any era. Which is why Rick gets the big bucks, ha ha
I always looked at the album as a whole, not piece by piece. I was attempting to adhere to a theme, Use Once and Destroy, and an overall sound with the songs working together to weave a loose story or idea, and for the most part I think it succeeded.

ElD - The use once and destroy title is very powerful. It could be tagged onto anything from relationships, or global economic politics to the disposable nature of modern society. It says something, and the music on it backs that up. It's at times an angry album with a take it or leave it fuck you attitude. Fair comment?

BD - That's a very fair comment and right on the money. I'm actually a little surprised that more people haven't picked up on that. The photo on the back of the album is a major key to this line of thinking. It's a photo of the "lost" tribe found in the Amazon a few years ago. The idea was that this tribe had never had any contact with the western world until this picture was taken, in other words the last true indigenous tribe left on the planet. Various organizations claimed that they would protect this tribe from outside influences, allowing them to remain as they are indefinitely. We all know how that goes. As soon as a natural resource is found on or near tribal lands, that all goes out the window. The tribe is "studied", moved, and their culture all but assimilated or wiped out altogether. They are used and destroyed.
I've seen many bands used by record companies, disreputable managers and lawyers and destroyed. Hell, the planet Earth itself has been used and slowly destroyed. Yeah, as a pro-revolutionary, far left citizen and a feeling, thinking human being, it pisses me off and I don't make music to be a megastar, I do it because I have to.

ElD - Are you pleased with it after the amount of time invested in completing it?

BD - If "Use Once and Destroy" was my swan song, I could die a happy man. There were no compromises, it is a pure statement lyrically and musically and I couldn't be more proud of it. It's the album I've always wanted to make, using all my influences, from the rhythm guitar parts I played to the production techniques I used.

ElD - It's a bit of a nightmare to get a hold of it here in the UK. I ended up picking a used copy up from an internet auction place. Are you having a problem promoting it outside the US territories, getting it out there to people?

BD - I've had a few people overseas complain about that but it is very easy to find all over the world on CDBaby, iTunes and Amazon.com It is also available through FnA Records and soon through our online store.

ElD - I see you have been playing dates locally in the US. How is that going? Are you mainly getting older fans turning up, or are there a younger element starting to pick up on “Use Once and Destroy” and then working backwards?

BD - Yeah, our dates have been a blast! So far we've only toured the southern U.S. but that will be changing.
Our audience is actually a combination of those two plus folks that have never heard of us that end up becoming new fans, which is awesome. We work hard to give the audience a whole evening of great entertainment by playing with bands we really dig, not someone just to fill a slot.

ElD - A basic question, but what's next? Have you been working on new material?

BD - As a matter of fact we are! We are in the process of writing songs for a new album. We're aiming at an end of year release to tie into a European tour we are working on. That would be a real dream come true for me as I haven't been overseas since we worked with Brian Robertson from Thin Lizzy, (you can catch one of our songs on "Midnight Confessions".) in London. We have an incredible fan base in Spain and other countries and I can't wait to play for them, as many have waited years to see us live .
Our new album is going to tackle the themes of vengeance and redemption and is going to be the biggest production challenge I've ever faced. There will be no limitations on instruments, we're going to use whatever we need. I think our audience is ready for the next step and I'm really excited by the prospect of a no hold barred approach to instrumentation and experimentation. It will be a wild ride for listeners for years to come and the kind of timeless, dream inducing music our fans have come to expect with raw blasts of energy.
I also have another project I'm working on in Memphis called the Memphis Fury that I play rhythm guitar and sing in. It's a bit different from RCA in that it's just a big, dumb rock band that's a lot of fun. The band was put together with good friends and musical partners of mine in Memphis, like songwriter Kevin Walker and engineer Chris Swenson. We're working on recording some music as well, so keep on the lookout for that

ElD – Finally if you could set down in stone what the next year was going to be like then how would it play out?

BD – We've pretty much covered it my friend, these are the plans and expectations I have but like anything else in the music industry, it's a crapshoot, anything can happen and often does so we'll just have to see how it all plays out. I'm really excited by all the things happening around the bands "comeback" and new and old friends of Rock City Angels make all the bullshit worthwhile. This cat here ain't gonna stop making a racket 'till they do.


BACKGROUND INFO - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rock_City_Angels
BAND WEBSITE - http://www.therockcityangels.com/
FURTER LINKS - http://www.myspace.com/rockcityangelsmusic
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rock-City-Angels/65406531797

Wednesday, 9 February 2011

PJ Harvey - Let England Shake

It took two and a half years to write this according to Miss Harvey and after a day of listening I'm still feeling underwhelmed. Not turned off, but certainly underwhelmed.
In fact I'm sure she could have found better things to do with her time.
The build up to the release gave the impression that this would be a political exploration of England. An artistic magnifying glass cast over a society living through dark times.
Back then I thought it was a promising hint of what was to come.
Unfortunately the length of time working on it appears to have served to do little more than edge her towards bypassing the woods and focussing on the trees.
It's all over the place. Beyond being simply eclectic.
There's everything, and the kitchen sink here. Post punk indie folk. Call it what you will. Whatever it is it isn't working.
It's main problem seems to be that it is expected to be treated as a concept, a whole piece that should be appreciated in its entirety, and while individually certain tracks are fine, hang them all together and it's a mismatched patchwork quilt of self indulgent twaddle.
If Patti Smith and Enya got together and shouted at each other while playing their albums in the background then that's what some of this would sound like. Other tracks aren't even as good as that.
It's not all bad, but the balance is severely off and there is more negative points coming to the fore than positive ones.
The hardcore fans will disagree, and as per usual slavish praise from the critics will be heaped upon it, but take it from me. It aint that good.
PS. The ironic rip off of surfin' bird doesn't work either.