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Wednesday, 27 November 2013

Buckcherry/Hardcore Superstar/Venrez - Glasgow ABC (26/11/13)

Over in the US Venrez have done the slow burn of gig after gig that ultimately allowed them to increase their stock in the eyes of the rock world and secure opening slots for Alice Cooper, Slash and Fuel.
Now here they are back in Europe looking to raise their global profile as part of the Buckcherry/Hardcore Superstar double header.

It's however a tough call on a Tuesday night in Glasgow with Nickelback and Kid Congo in town looking to draw elements of the rock crowd to their shows - and the early start probably caught a few people on the hop - but they band are now very obviously seasoned pros and took it in their stride as they delivered a fine set of material plundered from both their albums.
While Buckcherry and Hardcore Superstar lean towards being party bands - and you can understand the fit there - with Venrez we get something a good bit more cerebral without the band having to limit the power of the music.
There's a firm thread of rock and roll history that ties everything they do together.
With the grunge movement we seen punk acts looking to embrace the rock world and now here we have Venrez taking that grunge vibe back full circle and applying it to the classic rock sound.
Individually the band all pull their weight and the one word that springs to mind about them is solid.
The band are solid in what they do.
Very often in the music business it's all about being in the right place at the right time, and if Venrez manage to get onto the soundtrack of a hit film, or find one of their songs being used in a global ad campaign, then the next time they hit the UK it could be as a headliner in their own right.

Hardcore Superstar have never done it for me.
On paper they sound just like a band that I would gravitate towards, but on the rare occasions when I have checked them out they left me cold.
Prior to the show Steven Berez of Venrez told me that he had similar reservations, but from the first night they played together he was instantly converted as there's a great deal of passion and hunger in their performance, and he was right.
When people describe a band as one who take no prisoners then Hardcore Superstar are the sort of act they are referring to.
Every trick is pulled out of the bag and they go at it relentlessly hard.
It's true that it's all been done before, but put them on a stage and that criticism is left in the rear view mirror as they press down hard on the peddle and hit the road leaving nothing but the smell of burning rubber in their wake.
There's no pretence that they are anything other than what they are and that's quite refreshing.
I might even buy an album now.

Buckcherry are as mentioned a party band.
Grab a keg of beer and a Buckcherry CD and all you need to add to the mix is people to get the party started.
It's not rocket science and there's nothing that intelligent about it all, but it is fun.
It would be easy to pick at the sexist overtones of pretty much everything they do, but it's a show, and like a bad taste joke we can choose to participate knowing that it's not real life.
Once that attitude is snatched at then it's easy to let yourself get swept away with it all
Highlight of the night from them was the rendition of Crazy Bitch that started off with The Rolling Stones 'Miss You' that morphed into there own song, albeit a very different and extended version that took the song in a whole new direction, and for me fleshed it out to spectacular effect.

I only really went to see Venrez, but enjoyable sets from Buckcherry and Hardcore Superstars were a bonus that I didn't really expect.

Tonight it's NWOBHM stars of yesteryear Raven and Girlschool.

It's going to be interesting to see if there are still enough leather and denim hordes to welcome them to Glasgow.

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Les Frites Petites Vol 1

Back in the eighties there was a kids programme called 'Why Don't You?' that strangely asked young viewers to turn off their television sets and go and do something else less boring instead.
That oxymoron was the catalyst to the space/time continuum folding in on itself that led to George Lucas deciding that making some Star Wars prequels was a good idea, but on the plus side it also subconsciously cemented the DIY concept into the heads of some West Lothians who have now dubbed their loose collective of artists as the small fries, or Les Frites Petites, and self released a very impressive compilation that showcases all their talents.

Starting off with adullboy with his expertly balanced take on remembering the eighties that juxtaposes the care free attitudes of being a kid at the time with larger worldly issues it sets the bar high, but the fantastically named Wullie Mammoth isn't backwards about coming forwards as he takes the baton and runs with the looped 'The Factory part 1' that then gives way for Combie with his revitalizing of the indie guitar sound of Britpop with 'I kissed the Sun'.
Three tacks in and as locally birthed compilations go this one hasn't managed to put a foot wrong, and Lovers Turn To Monsters doesn't intend to let the quality dip on his watch.
Introspective singer/songwriters are pretty much ten a penny, but with 'Skeletor' being put up for consideration it would be churlish not to create some space for Lovers Turn To Monsters to shine in.
Ryan Morcombe could shelter under the same wide umbrella term of acoustic troubadour, but with each artist revealing their own individual take on what that is, all he does is expand our understanding of how inclusive that one man, or a woman, and a guitar sound can be.
There's a wealth of approaches that can be taken, and pretty much any style of song can be framed with just a guitar, and similarly The Boy With The Lion Head extols the virtue of 'the same again, but different' ethos that's embedded in this release.
With Craig Weir there's a home taping demo element creeping in, but that's not to say that he's posted in a less than worthy track for inclusion.
If we imagined that everyone did a session on a specific day then it just sounds like Craig is the guy who couldn't make it and had to record elsewhere and was out of the loop with the project.
Ross Mitchell on the other hand delivers at the other end of the spectrum with a fully fleshed out 'New York' that could be a Bruce Hornsby out take
Brian Gatens takes it back to a more simplistic approach with 'Only Been A Week' and draws attention to his own strengths as a vocalist with a warm delivery of the song.
Kick The Hornets Nest are the first band who instill a bit of a punky vibe into the compilation with what sounds like a song that's been stripped down from being originally a heads down rifftastic splurge of guitar driven US styled pop punk with a bite.
I would hazard a guess that Electrolite took their name from REM, and if that is the case then it's no surprise that the Georgian band hover like a ghost over the song, but along with them there's something of Morrissey in there to.
It's a potent mix and as they are the first full band playing electrically the songs stands out and draws the ear.
Taking on the closing track Andy Robertson finishes the first volume with a very accomplished take on the celtic folk sound that cements his name as someone that those who gravitate to that style should file away as worthy of further investigation.

It's actually rare to get a DIY compilation that could be described as all killer and no filler, but here's an exception to the rule.

Free here.

Sunday, 24 November 2013

MinkyTiger preview

Occasionally people are very kind and I get the opportunity to have a wee sneak preview of works in progress.
It's like a little perk of the job, and a welcome one.
The latest that I am privileged to lend an ear to is the five tracks from a couple of local (Ayrshire) heroes - Minx McKay and Tiger Todd - whose latest vehicle for their songs is going under the moniker of Minky Tiger.

Starting off with 'Faster Carz' the duo deliver what sounds like a mash up homage to the era when indie guitar pop ruled the college airwaves.
Floating along there's a heavy REM influence that's pretty much in your face, but less obvious is among other thing hints of Mercury Rev and The Divine Comedy that keep popping up.
It's a well balanced track as it stands, and thankfully it never dips to the level of being little more than a nostalgia trip, and instead it comfortably holds its own while tipping its hat to the past.
Quality wise they claim it to be short of the finished product, but it's solidly a good few steps ahead of plenty of material that I hear week in and week out and could be released as it is right now.
Next 'Nascar Drinking' follows it and delivers a shot of blues that as the name suggests would lend itself to a sunny afternoon breathing in nitro, knocking back rye whiskey and hitting on the hotty wearing the Daisy Dukes.
It's a wonderfully evocative song, and once the winter months are behind us I can see myself dusting it off and bringing it along so that it can provide the soundtrack to a day of drinking with buddies as the sun warms my face.
'Richard Canady' marks the halfway point and sounds like a track that Paulo Nutini would give is right arm to record.
The only difference would be that he would look to get a whose who of late sixties/early seventies artists to join him in the studio with their involvement ensuring a huge cross over appeal.
In the right time and place with the support of a label with deep pockets it could very well be a hit that ended up boring the pants off everyone when it was picked up to advertise some imported beer.
Voting Day follows it, and has elements of The Faces filtered through the indie country rock of Kings of Leon with the added bonus of a twist that is purely Minky Tiger.
It's a bit of a stand out, but the closer that is 'Suicide Buses' is the killer tune in the pack.
With just acoustic guitar and vocals for most of the song it stands as a towering testament to their talents as songwriters.
At the moment it's no clear if these songs will remain as they are or even appear with the same titles.

In early 2014 they could appear as an extended ep/mini album or be part of a debut album, but it's pretty safe to say that the wait is going to be worth it.

Friday, 22 November 2013

Calling all you rockers.

The foundations of Glasgow could well be pounded to dust over the course of next week as it's packed full with touring bands who RAWK.

That's the trademarked RAWK, and not the lower case rawk that falls short of being able to really describe the all men play on eleven sort of thing I'm talking about.

On Tuesday (26th Nov) there's Buckcherry who have Hardcore Superstar and Venrez opening for them in the Garage.
Last time Venrez were on these shores it was opening for LA Guns, but since then stateside they have been touring with Alice Cooper and more recently Slash.
These guys are not your usual opening act, and the tour is just another move to raise their profile over here. So if you are the type who rarely makes the effort to check out a support band then don't make that mistake this time.
Don't be the person who says I shoulda, woulda, coulda when they break through.
Instead be the person who bought the t-shirt and roared their approval from the first song to the last.

Then it's a case of no rest for the wicked as Raven and Girlschool bring their NWOBHM revival tour to King Tuts Wah Wah Hut on Wednesday (27th Nov).
Also on the bill are Glasgow band Purple Valentino (Interviewed on the prior update).
Yet another support that you really should make the effort to catch.
When people claim theirs nothing good on the musical horizon they are the sort who haven't seen Purple Valentino.

Wednesday is thankfully a day to catch a breath as you will need it for Friday (29th Nov) when Michael Monroe and his band roll into town to promote their latest album.

It really doesn't need to be said that they don't intend to take any prisoners, and those who seen them open for Motorhead in the Academy, or when they played The Garage, are well aware that these guys never ever phone in a show.
I've seen the set list from a few dates over the last few weeks and if we get half of them then we can count ourselves lucky.

So seriously take care of your liver over this weekend as it may just have to go above and beyond the call of duty as we storm into these shows.

Glasgow. Are you ready to rock?

Silly question.

When is Glasgow not ready to rock?

In conversation with Purple Valentino

The band certainly couldn't be described as new kids on the block, so do you want to give us a run down of the prior projects that led to the formation of Purple Valentino, and then how they led to the formation of the band?

(Dougie) Ha ha yeah you could say that.
It’s pretty cool being in a band that is this happy, and where things happen because the people involved all like each other and are all involved in the process of making the music, which we all love.
How did it start? Me and Scott (bass) and Marc (guitars) knew each other from years gone by when we played in a band called The Jades which was a mishmash of all sorts of genres but was never really that serious. Also in that line up was Mo, the original Purps drummer. He left for New Zealand last year, and then we found Glen to replace him.
Many years before that, Marc and I played in a sleazy glammy outfit called Far Gone.
We made a mini album in the early 90s which I’d love to hear again.
It was called Taste for the Bizarre, and I really think it would still sound current.
A lot of our writing, especially Marc’s is drawn from that time.
The studio where we recorded it had a fire and our master tapes which were stored in the basement were all destroyed by the resultant flood. If anyone has it, I want a copy!
(Marc) yeah that was a real shame. Those were great days, although we were really fucking poor! The Purps story was really started by Dougie and Brian, who used to sing in the band before he was deported to South Africa. We tried to find someone to marry him but nobody would, which was strange cos he’s a right good looking boy!
So Dougie now sings.
These past few years, I’ve been making lots of demos on Qbase etc, and playing and singing everything. I’ve never stopped writing.
(Dougie) so we found ourselves at the start of 2013 without a drummer or a singer.
Glen is an accomplished percussionist who had never played in a band. When he came for audition we couldn’t believe what an amazing noise he could make with an electronic kit.
That drum kit is a key part of our sound, and always will be.
Then we decided that we wanted to add another dimension and went looking for a fiddle player.
So we got Danny in for a jam, and his chops quickly added a kind of celtic undertone which again will always be a Purps characteristic. And with that, the line up was born.
We went straight into the studio and recorded Stay, Homesick (which we wrote with our pal Debbie Murray) and a slowie called Life Aint a Disco.
That was back in June, but I still think that those 3 songs define the band as it is today.
I wouldn’t change anything about those recordings, and that's the first time I’ve ever been truly happy with every aspect of our recorded music.
(Danny) Prior to joining the Purps, the biggest gigs Id played had been……ceilidhs! Still great music and a good time but a different scene yknow?
Uni and work got in the way of playing and then Dougie tracked me down on facebook and asked if I wanted in.
An even more interesting way to finish of the weekend where I had seen Rush and Muse within 2 days.

You have been kicking about for a few years now, and the impression I get is that you want to steadily build a solid fan base first and foremost rather than make a big splash. Is that accurate, and if so is the paying your dues aspect of the music business something that you consider is important?

(Dougie) yeah I would say so, but the spread of music is changing so much in that when you make a record these days, you can stick it on the internet and it’ll either be ignored or someone will pick it up and love it, so you need a bit of luck alongside the dues paying.
We love playing live, and we are fortunate enough to have a great manager who picks gigs for us that are likely to be busy so more and more people will hear our music.
But yeah, if you want to be heard, you need to play live and you need to do lots of it.
We’ve been courted by an indie label recently who love our recorded music but they say we don’t play enough shows. So far that reason, right now, we will play anywhere.
(Marc) defo, starting from the bottom and building a fan base is part of the whole experience.
It’s what our heroes did, and we will do the same until we are too old and fucked to continue! Let me be clear : we love this shit.
(Danny) Nothing bugs me more than these X Factor guys who go from being on Tesco’s tills one day to No1 the next. They can usually sing but few can play anything. I certainly would rather have a loyal local fanbase and longevity than instant gratification today and becoming yesterday’s news.

If you were to cast a critical eye over the music scene in Glasgow what would immediately jump up as the main issues in your experience?
(Dougie) that’s easy. Pay to play is a bit of a problem, and it’s always been there. Some venues we will never play because of that policy.
It’s ok for bands like ours but if you’re a bunch of guys who have just left school and you need to punt 50 tickets to your mates who are equally skint, then pretty soon that’s going to become a pain in the arse.
We love Glasgow though, it’s the beating heart of music in Scotland.
(Danny) I have to second pay to play. It’s just not fair on the kids. (Marc) Um, dunno. Experience......not sure on this one.
We’ve not played the Barrowland yet. That’s the best rock n roll venue in the world so it’s hard to be critical of a city which is host to such a revered gig.
Having said that, someone stole my gear when we were unloading for a gig in Glasgow. I only turned my back for a second and the flight case with all my bits was gone. Me and Glasgow fell out of love that day. It was a short tiff though.

The band have steered clear of being stuck with a genre tag, and instead you state that you just want to make quality music. I can see the benefits of that, but also the downside as some people really are only looking to be signposted towards a genre. So if push came to shove would you be comfortable with embracing a reputation for being a melodic rock act as a gateway term?

(Dougie) I would say that we are a melodic rock band for sure. And if I was asked to state any one strength of this band, it’s that we know how to write an infectious killer chorus, in fact at one point I did consider doing some ghost writing for a song agency. So yeah, melodic rock. With the addition of Danny’s fiddle though it almost takes us into celtic territory. Let’s call it Melodic Cock!
(Danny) As much as I cant stand genre tags (apart from good music and crap music), I would have to agree on melodic rock. That is to say that what we have done so far is melodic rock, who knows where things will go.
To be fair though, I reckon the best genre tag would be Epic Rock, cos that’s how we feel right after we play!
(Marc) I dont care what people want to call us, if they like us. There’s too many bands about that take themselves far too seriously and are precious about what genre they fit into. I don’t care.
The main thing is that our music is enjoyed by some people.
If that continues to happen, as it has been this year then I’m really happy.
We all understand the importance of remaining humble.

Now that I have mentioned melodic rock it would do you all a disservice not to mention that there are some glam rock undertones to the material to. Now of course some will cringe at the term glam, but it's more the street level punky vibe that's going on. Sort of a mix of the Dogs D'Amour and maybe a poppier take on Andy McCoy and Nasty Suicides adventures as the Suicide Twins. Is that fair enough?

(Dougie) Christ is it that obvious!!? I adore every aspect of McCoy and Suicides writing, particularly in their projects away from Hanoi Rocks. I’m pretty sure that comes across loud and clear in my writing too.
There’s a song on our last album called This Alchemy that echoes Hanoi’s “Tragedy” shamelessly. Sorry guys, just couldn’t help it!
(Danny) Is it wrong if I admit I have no idea who they are?! I’d agree with the glam undertones though. For me true glam is Ziggy era Bowie, Sweet, Slade, etc. While maybe considered poppy in the 70s, relistening to some of Sweet’s stuff, theres some heavy stuff there and like us, catchy tunes and lyrics.
Slade always had that street punk vibe too to me, even after abandoning their skinhead look. Plus they also had a fiddle so I would be bias wouldn’t I?!
(Marc).....sure is, those guys played a huge part in my musical upbringing. I once shared a drink and a cigarette with Nasty Suicide in the Cathouse one night. He was subsequently ejected from the premises. I’ll tell you about that another time!

Do you think that sometimes people are missing that element in the music?

(Dougie) D’you know, I’m ok with that. I think we all acknowledge that our music is attracting a mainstream audience, for example we have had lots of radio airplay in Brazil recently and when I look at our facebook page, I can’t imagine that most of these new Brazilian fans have even heard of Hanoi and all those other bands that I love.
If I owned a flux capacitor, my first destination would be Sunset Strip 1989!
That must’ve been a fucking naughty time to be living in LA.
(Danny) the glam element or the street punk element? I don’t think the glam element is missing, look at everyone from The Darkness to Lady Gaga.
She’s as glam as they come at the moment. Street Punk? I know it’s still there.
Perhaps not too many bands have hints of both elements. I think that we do.

You recently opened for The Bermondsey Joyriders, and are about to debut at the legendary King Tuts Wah Wah Hut in support to the equally legendary queens of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal that are Girlschool. Are supports like this useful in getting the bands name into the view of the people who you think the music would appeal to?

(Dougie) OMG The Joyriders were such lovely people. I’ve got some cool snaps of Gary Lammin playing my old telecaster. That was a great night, and Martin Stacey told me that our songs were “soooo fahkin tuneful” which was a cool thing to say. He didn’t have to do that.
Support slots like those are essential.
Again, our manager James really knows what he’s doing in that respect. Girlschool I can’t wait for. I still have the tour shirt I bought at the same venue in 1992, but this time around we will hopefully meet them so I’m gonna bring all my vinyl for them to sign.
We’ve got 35 mins to convince people, so it’s going to have to be a hard and fast delivery, with no fucking around, no ballads and no stories.
(Danny) That’s how it’s supposed to roll isn’t it? Back in the day Mott the Hoople supported Bowie, Queen supported Mott, Thin Lizzy supported Queen and so on.
By doing support slots for whoever we can, we get our name out there.
I think we are intuitive enough as a band to adjust it slightly to suit the audience. So for the Girlschool gig we’ll be taking it heavier but we are equally happy to tone it down.
(Marc) you bet, but aside from that its a huge buzz for me getting to play on the same bill as bands I was listening to when I was younger.
They say that you should never meet your heroes but it’s been pretty cool so far!

As is normally people will always bemoan the state of the music business, but it is true that it is changing rapidly and mainstream success is at the moment stretching away from rock acts. What do you think will be the reaction to this? Will there be another golden age of rock? Is it even possible to comprehend that happening? Would you advocate the 'going it on your own' angle that the Kickstarter campaigns allow artists to participate in as an alternative to the age old attract a label template?
(Dougie) Good question. Society is rapidly changing. But a good social media agency can get you on the radio quickly.
Ant Collins from Real XS is a big fan of ours, and we ended up on his playlist cos we were so tenacious about it.
As a genre, rock n roll is completely safe and well in my view.
I think that our music is enjoying a renaissance in that there are loads of bands touring who have been on hiatus forever. I’m really looking forward to seeing Nick Royale and Dregen at the Cathouse in December.
Between them, they have made my absolute favourite records of the last decade.
Whats Kickstarter? * Fan funded project
(Danny) Ian Hunter said that, ‘the golden age of rock and roll will never die, as long as children feel the need to laugh and cry’..
I think there will be another golden age. Things go in cycles.
The current Simon Cowell produced stuff is this generations
Tin Pan Alley. Blues/rockabilly acts such as Imelda May, The Jim Jones Revue, Beth Hart and Joe Bonamassa are all amongst the new trend coming through.
Prog is also going through a similar revival.
The trouble is no matter how good something is, once an act is too popular, a new underground rock movement forms to push out the establishment!

2013 is rapidly moving forward towards making way for 2014. So can you tell us if you have the new year mapped out and what do you have planned for it?

(Dougie) Yeah there are plans for a tour, or probably 2 short tours. We are playing the ABC in Glasgow on 4th Jan and already have work confirmed with Dan Reed, who’s new album I’ve been playing on repeat all year. We’ve just finished filming a video for our single “Stay” which we persuaded the film school at Cardonald College to produce for us. We even got Dave Beaton (drummer from Yashin) to act in it with his wife who is a glamour model. It’s all done in the best possible taste of course! So we will get that out there as soon as we can.
This coming year though its all about hard travelling, getting in front of audiences, as our new pal Dave Sharp (from the Alarm) told us we had to do.
I felt like saying “mate, your poster was on my bedroom wall when I was 16!!”
Thought better of it. But he’s right, it’s all about taking this message to the masses.
(Danny) The same thing we try and do every year, try to do what we do, but better than we did it yesterday!

(Marc) I wanna be sedated!  

Monday, 18 November 2013

Black Sabbath Tickets to be won. (Glasgow Hydro)

It's good to share and my very good friends over at the New Hellfire Club are running a competition right now that is all about sharing.

In exchange for a like and a share they will put your name in a  big hat, and if you are the lucky bugger whose name is pulled out of it then you and a friend will be heading out to see the mighty Black Sabbath in Glasgows brand new venue The Hydro.

The competition will last for ten days and you can enter it as many times as you want.

It started today so it would be a pretty good idea to jump on over to The New Hellfire Clubs page here and get sharing.
Apart from the tickets there are also some runner up prizes to.

All publicity is good publicity......or then again maybe not.

Most regular readers of the blog will be aware that the rare contributors and myself, are never that shy about climbing on soap boxes, mounting high horses, or even shouting random shite from the rooftops.

We - the royal we as it's often just me - have been accused of often sailing too close to the wind, and on a couple of occasions legal action has been threatened by those who know little about the law and like to use big words to censure those who know even less.

However we – the royal we again – rarely go as far as to mention names, and instead prefer to wade in and raise an issue in a manner that allows it to be fitted neatly into a wider debate.

It's a concession to diplomacy that I am sure is appreciated.

Especially by those who will be aware that the debate raised stems from their actions.

Unfortunately diplomacy has left the building in this instance.
(It was tired and needed a moments respite from arguing the case for the least deserving people in the music business.
It did put up some solid arguments before leaving, but now that it's gone I can set them aside and partially slip the kid gloves off.)

So stand up Tom Hilton of Aldora Britain blog.

You sir are a belter.

In shark infested waters you are a small fish swaggering around like a shark.

On behalf of all the bands, who you have been spamming for months with the offer of an interview feature for a price, I would just like to ask are you for fuckin' real?

Seriously. Are you?

I am aware that some acts have actually taken this guy up on his offer, but I am at a loss to understand why.
The internet is awash with music blogs who are happy to lend an ear to a song and then feature the artists for free.
So why anyone would pay for something that is freely available elsewhere just seems nuts.
Especially when what is on offer looks as if it has been sourced from a back issue of Smash Hits circa 1982.
All that is missing are the 'what's your favourite colour' and the 'who is your celebrity crush' questions.
It's all just so inexcusably bland and half arsed that its needle has crept into the offensive zone.......and although I am loathe to belabour the point people are paying for this.

Did I mention people are paying for this?
Oh I did.
Well get used to it as it's going to be mentioned again.

Now of course the public naming and shaming debate will always be a hot potato, and quite rightly so.
The reason being that people are allowed to make mistakes.
We learn from them.
I'm not perfect and so far I have yet to meet anyone who is.
So a diplomatic heads up should always, and I do mean always, be the first port of call.

Yet that diplomatic heads up has been visited often in this case.

Months ago social media in this little corner of the world erupted in bemused incredulity at the balls this guy had in spamming everyone who has ever lifted a musical instrument.
The reaction was of course very vocal and very public
It ranged from polite refusals from acts to imaginative knock backs that were laden with humour and scatology references.
Way back then it was £1.50 for an interview and the reason there was a cost to it was because Tom wanted to raise some cash to put some gigs on in Edinburgh.*

The reaction to the initial storm of emails sent out was unsurprisingly one of deafening silence from Tom, until now, because yes folks, he is back,

Nothing much has changed though.

Well apart from the cost as it's no longer £1.50 but instead an all new £4.50.
In addition to putting on some shows he now wants the hard working acts he is targeting to pay for some CDs and gig tickets.
Not their CDs or gigs, but just the stuff he fancies.
Factoring in the extra things that he wants to use your money for, and inflation, that's starting to sound like a fair deal isn't it?

By the way that £4.50 is him asking you to pay for a service that is free elsewhere.
That's me mentioning it again just in case anyone had forgotten.

This most recent run of spam to the bands has yet again drawn an obvious response with one being a rather excellent open letter from Paul Thomson of Sound over Silence and The heart o' the run that can be found here if you are on facebook.

I really don't get why after such a shit-storm of a reaction from before that Tom is back, but fair play to the man as he obviously worships at the 'a sucker born every minute' church and it doesn't look as if he is going to give up on attending it any time soon.

Now some will be reading this and thinking that I am a minority voice in opposing this.

I'm not, and below I would like to offer up the comments section for bands to simply add their name and a link to their webpage/facebook page in support of what has been said.
You can even add a message.
In this way maybe Tom can consider it as a list of acts that have no interest in being featured on his blog, and a clear message that at a certain level acts require support from bloggers and aren't impressed at being considered as fair game to make a buck from.

* So far no one knows if any live shows transpired, but I am happy to be shown to be wrong as if that is the case then there maybe is a light in the darkness within this debacle.

Sunday, 17 November 2013

A quick chat with Henry Cluney of XSLF

"Hi Henry. Lets get right into this and clear the decks with some no holds barred questions.

1-There's been some mixed responses to the formation of XSLF, with long time Stiff Little Fingers fans drawing battle lines over what is really a storm in a teacup. One one side we have those who are claiming you guys are little more than a tribute band, and on the other there are those who seem to grasp that the material you play is equally a part of your own legacy and don't see what the problem is. You have explained your position already on social media, but on you go, rattle it out again.

We are not Stiff Little Fingers, and make no claim to be. We never have.
Jakes band are not SLF either in my opinion...but it is an opinion lol.

2-Does it partially confuse you that in some quarters people don't seem to get that?
I suppose it didn't help when Jake posted some less than flattering comments with the 'real slf' line being dusted off. I know from a previous conversation we had that you don't have any sort of personal issue with him, so was it a bit disappointing that he appears to miss the point you were making about there only being one 'real' Stiff Little Fingers, and that being the line up of the debut album?

It does but to each their own I suppose. Jakes opinion is as valid as mine. The real lineup is Jake,Ali,me,Jim or Brian. That's the way I see it.
Jake unfriended me after out of the pram lol.
3-I noted that many of the derogatory claims about the worth of XSLF usually started off with 'I haven't seen them but.....' . Does that sort of line immediately flag their criticism as worthless?

It does. Of course it does. Though to be fair I don't see how anyone can criticize a band they have neither seen nor heard and I suspect most people can see that as a rational take on it..

4-The response to the concept has been pretty much the opposite to that of the response to the live shows. One less than supportive, and the other, from those who have actually seen you, predominately positive. Is the reaction from the fans at the shows something that you use to balance out the more negative responses, as regardless of what anyone says criticism does chip away at a persons confidence, even if it is unfounded, unrealistic and unwarranted?

To be honest people can say what they like.
Its personal preference and I have no problem with that.
I don't let it bother me.
If I did I wouldn't be doing it.
The people who come to the shows are there to be entertained and no one has had any complaints on that score.
That will do me.

5-Health wise how are you feeling. I often think that while people are aware that you were unwell they don't really grasp just how near death you were?

Thanks to the man upstairs I am doing great. Wasn't a fun time though. Lol

6-For many people a very serious brush with death is a wake up call. An experience that acts as a catalyst and allows the person to evaluate how they are living their life and then make changes to it. Is that the experience you had, and if so then what did you learn from it and what have you changed?

I'm not sure that I have changed anything. Not a lot gets my goat anyway but at least I'm still me...good or bad. I just appreciate being here.

7-There was some talk of xslf doing some original material. Is this still on the cards?

Yes. We are in the process of putting some stuff together as we speak.
So keep your ears open!!
Still at the early stage though.
8-I see you have UK dates in 2014 already booked. Does this mean that a return to the US is on hold just now?

Yes. I love to play, and the more shows the better. This is where the shows are so this is where I am.

9-In the perfect world what would be the next step?

Just to keep making music and entertaining the crowds we's all a blessing to be doing this so in a perfect world I wouldn't be looking to rock the boat.

XSLF will be playing The Loft (Stewarton, Ayrshire) on Dec 14th.
Tickets can be purchased from The Loft or from RGM in Kilmarnock.
If anyone requires further information then please do leave a comment.

Nul points.

These are difficult times for people, and there are more difficult times ahead.
Yet every single day I am seeing partisan politics getting in the way of solutions.

Right now there will be someone who is looking at a bill and contemplating suicide, someone else will be crying over their failed ATOS assessment, and somewhere a mother will be feeling a degree of burning shame and failure as she looks at her cupboards and knows that she will need to avail herself of a food-bank this week.

None of that of course matters when there is point scoring to be done.
Who cares about the reality of the misery visited on a neighbour when the game of one upmanship is afoot?

Labour is trying to hijack the fight against the cuts cry the SNP.
The SNP support the bedroom tax cry Labour.
Blah blah blah.

All they are doing is giving the impression that while the house is on fire their time is best spent arguing about who gets to hold the hose as it burns to the ground.

It's all pathetically shameful behaviour, and every hour spent gleefully participating in a flaming online war with someone who holds a slightly different ideological viewpoint - but is looking to oppose the cuts to - is a wasted opportunity.

I can't honestly wrap my head around how this needs to be pointed out.

If someone was to offer a credible action plan that would ensure a better future for us all then I am not going to dismiss them because they are wearing a tie of a shade I'm not partial to.

It would be easy to claim that those who enjoy splashing about in the dirty puddles are simply idiots, but they are not.
Most are intelligent people who are instead blinded by their own hate.
They are fundamentally tied to their ideology and unable to rationally consider the bigger picture.

Ultimately this inability to sit around a table – real or virtual – and find some common ground and then work forward to achieve an aim is actually behaviour that benefits those who we perceive to be our enemy.
Why would those in power need to set time aside to consider how to keep the malcontent in check when that person is so busy indulging in in-fighting?

It's doubtful that anyone reading this will see themselves in the criticism, even if they are blatantly participating in it, as very often, like the sociopath, they will rationalize their own actions.

It's all very sad really.

Disappointingly, and depressingly sad.

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Children in need. Tell me about it?

I know I am in the minority here, but I'm not happy with 'Children in Need'.

I never am.

I have many reasons.

One is that we live in an affluent country in comparison to many, and we simply shouldn't have any children in need at all.

Yet no one seems to be asking why we do.

We are donating money to solve a problem that shouldn't exist in the first place.

Similarly we shouldn't have homeless people, mentally ill individuals contemplating suicide due to benefit cuts, abused teenagers slipping through a safety net, elderly folk freezing to death in winter, and much much more.

Should the solution to these issues really be voluntary funded from our individually tightly squeezed incomes?

Haven't we already contributed enough?

When we consider what our tax contributions are used for, are there any of us that wouldn't look at one expenditure and think 'Oh, that would keep a hospice open?'
We already putting cash into a pot that should be used to fund these supports?
Isn't children in need just a second dip into out pockets?

It's a con that we are supporting. It seems to be that we are in fact the mugs that are born every second.

This year a record breaking thirty one million was donated - and while we should take some collective pride in how this has been managed in such a horrible economic climate for a huge swathe of our society - there is a bit of me that thinks that someone is sitting right now at a large table in an office in London and laughing at us.
Meanwhile the same sort of wanker will take our generosity as proof that we have more money that we are letting on.
'Over sixteen million for those in the Philipines, another thirty odd million for this and you say you are skint?'
That will be the angle taken and lets not pretend that it wont.

The truth is that many of us don't have the money.
I didn't have the £10 that I feel was guilt tripped out of me from my daughters school, but they got it.
That's £10 of food, or gas, or electricity gone out of my monthly income.
Now I appreciate that some may say it's only a tenner, and I will freely accept that I am not going to starve or freeze now that it is gone, but others are having a harder time than myself and my heart goes out to those who couldn't find that money and had a kid attending school who was excluded from the entertainment that their peers were providing.
I also feel heart sick that there will be someone somewhere who has put their own children in need to support other children in need.
It's messed up.

What we should be aiming for is Children in Need as a concept to become obsolete, and to do that we need to look at where our money goes and demand that it is spent on what we as a society require.

I am well aware that some will consider that I am a curmudgeon, and a sick one at that.
I mean how dare I tilt at this windmill.
I can already hear the horrified cries of 'think of the children', but I am.
That is exactly what I am thinking of.
I want them to be supported, loved, cared for and nurtured.
I want every single vulnerable person in this country to be looked after.

It's just that when I think about how much cash is running towards the government I also think we can afford to bankroll a caring society.

The system is benefiting a minority.
It's lining the pockets of those who least need it.

Our increasing participation in supporting charities isn't solving anything.
It's just allowing those at the top of the tree to absolve themselves from the responsibility of looking after us all.

It's time to wake up.

(Here's something to think about. If a union calls a one day strike we are told that the impact can be devastating for the company. Yet once a year many companies allow the workforce to down tools to participate in Children in Need. What's the difference in the income loss?)

Cadaver Club/Thunderfuck & the Deadly Romantics/Full Moon Freaks/Hello Creepy Spider (Pivo -13-11-13) Glasgow

Very kindly submitted by G@l.
Much appreciation extended for the words.

The scene was set there was gonna be a rockin in the crypt tonight.
I must admit I went into this show with a preconceived yet fair idea, I thought, how the bands would sound and where it would all end up. I thought, like so many other crypt type shows I've seen over time, the Stingrytes, The Meteors, Stump, King Kurt etc etc etc that it would end up a wash of unintelligible swirling reverb tails with anaemically pale and thin guitar sounds that would capture what it was like to fall down a rather large deep hole and of course coupled with the occasional riff dotted here and there like a clandestine kiss snatched for fear of discovery..
Oh and finally not forgetting the obligatory primal male rockabilly barbaric YAWP which is really just a grunt come yell.

Well...lets see if I'm right then I thought to myself as I took a seat to observe the first of the acts.

First up were a two piece out fit consisting of Guitarist/Vocalist and Drummer/Vocal Harmony going by the name of...Hello Creepy Spider.!

We were informed from the stage by an awkwardly shy almost introvert young guitarist/vocalist just before they began their set, that this was in fact only their second gig evvvvaaa and that they don’t leave much space between their tracks but that they also hoped we would like what they do.
As you can imagine I wasn’t exactly filled with confidence.
Being only a two piece their stage presence at that point was as expected rather thread bear sparse and I remember thinking to my self... oh ffs here we go I hope you can hold this together kid.

So I relaxed and braced myself for the forth coming disaster that I envisaged was about to befall these two young fellas. The drummer strikes up a four click and...Bang.!!!!

Jeezuz we're right into it.. these kids transformed, as if by magic, before my very eyes filling the whole of stage and the lil shy fella, into one hell of a front man (its just the beginning of their gigging lives but this outfit are gonna be dangerous if they can keep the momentum going).
I felt violated, assaulted and cuddled all at once as they bounced riff after superb riff off of my stone thick head. Their songs were like a finely honed razor crafted with an air of experience that simply belied their years.
I'd even go as far as to say I haven’t heard a band who could write with that degree of originality in a long long time.
Outstanding riffs and extremely catchy melodies.
I wont give the game away by describing every song on their set, but they do a Sabbath esque riffed up and rocking the gaff version of the Bee Gee's Staying alive that is filled with more energy than Tesla’s coils another track this time one of their own compositions 'I dont waana die in a fire' set my grill alight.
If you enjoy loud indie melodic rock n roll extravaganzas get yourself along to one of Hello Creepy Spider shows these lads deserve an audience... You wont be disappointed.

After a short cigaretteing interlude; on returning to my perch I observed what can only be described as a flurry of activity.
Half a dozen blokes in medical scrubs were rushing this way and that with buggy’s filled with stage gear that could be easily mistaken for patients in a 1970's trauma movie. I thought to myself... Oh aye! we're now about to enter the morgue.. the evening had most definitely decided, and without any formal notice to anyone, that things were about to turn just a little bit darker.

And so it had begun.... it wasn’t long before the lead vocalist dawned white rubber gloves and the Full Moon freaks commenced their operation.
As the first note was struck I could have sworn I heard one of our medical team shout Scalpel, nurse I'm going in!
Their first track felt very airy with loads of space for each of the band to express themselves within and took us on a nice little journey past the paediatric Disney pictures on imaginary walls and gently sat us down in our wheelchairs at the end of the corridor ready to be picked up by our ever attentive orderlies.
Their next track achieved precisely that we were taken to yet another wing of the institution that is the R.P.H (Royal Psychobilly Hospital).
I felt like I was being pushed down ever decreasing corridors to finally be received in the great white expansive room with a window. It was medication time and Ratchet hadn’t showed up yet and the Full Moon Freaks...? Well... my mistake... they weren’t orderlies at all they were patients just like me.

I suddenly realised that what I was hearing was far darker than I had first thought might be.
Like Ratchet the Full Moon Freaks track content felt ever more cold, detached and somewhat oppressive and as the final note was played I found I had a notion for a juicy fruit and crashing right through the stairwell door to make my escape.

In short if 60's garage punk, surf, rockabilly and good old rock en rawl is your thing you cant go wrong with the...Full Moon Freaks.

So we're halfway through the crypt of rawk and rawl evening in Pivo Pivo.
A quick visit to the bar to stock up on vital supplies before we embark on the second half of what some might describe as a bit of an endurance test.... While stocking up a voice whispered in my shell like.... You might wanna disappear for a half an hour or so and come back later when the headline act are on...
Turning to face the source I am met with a colossal figure in a rather dapper pinstripe suit and Reactor boots topping off the ensemble with striking white contact lenses..

I've no idea who this fella is or what he's going on about.... Unknown to me at the time but Thunderfuck has just happened to me...!
Out of the corner of my eye I notice The Deadly Romantics are taking to the stage I nod a polite 'excuse me' to my new found monstrously charming companion and make my way back to my vantage point.

The Deadly Romantics strike out with their first number and its immediately clear that these lads know their way around a stage.
Their musicianship well in evidence and tight together as a unit.
Their musical genre and style is a more traditional long haired rock and they know exactly what they are doing with it.
Its certainly not their first or second outing and after the first few bars you'll be tapping your foot even though you might not want to or feel dirty doing it... you will be.

We're only a few bars into the Deadly Romantics set when from out of the darkness at the back of the hall it appeared like a giant pinstripe amoeba dragging its lumbering carcass out of the primordial swamp. On the short journey to the stage the thing somehow grew legs and became sentient. Thunderfuck had arrived.!
It would be so easy for such seasoned campaigners as the Deadly Romantics to become disillusioned, disinterested or jaded by this stage in their career but I can honestly say they hit it with passion and a firmly wedged tongue in each of their cheeks mainly Thunderfucks to be fair but you get the drift.

Each song afterwards was a pleasure not a chore for this observer and were introduced with vulgar anecdotes each adding to the sense of dramatic irony. Like the love song penned for the bar maid.. Down on me... or the reference to their day jobs... Porn Star... I like it when good front men come among an audience but in Thunderfucks case that might actually be literal.

Many questions still lay unanswered for me
I wonder if any of the reports were true about Thunderfuck?
Does he really not see in colour is everything really just shades of magnolia to him?
Does he really have no taste?
Is it true that everything tastes like unsweetened shred-dies?

Thunderfuck isn’t so much a man its more a concept and the Deadly Romantics are the perfect apostles preaching the word. If you see a bill with these chaps on it, rock is your thing and you like a good giggle then look no further than....Thunderfuck and the Deadly Romantics... one instinctively knows when something is right.

By the time the headline act took to the stage its safe to say that the crypt door had been well and truly kicked open and with that the undead seized their opportunity to make our world their stage. So with the defibrillator powered up and ready to go all that was left to be done was spark some life into the creature... Mr Crowe, Boom Chic Chic, Dirge and Draggle or as they are collectively known...The Cadaver Club.!

Power Pop, Pop Punk whatever neat little label you chose to pin on this amalgamation doesn’t do justice to the fervent energy this combo exudes from the stage. I have to state upfront that I have their 'A Fate Worse Than Life' Album and I absolutely love it.
However that didn’t prepare me for how damn good they are live and what a very pleasant surprise that was too.

There’s something about this band that puts a genuine smile on my face.
Hauntingly melodic with more ripping hooks than Hellraiser.

From back to front Draggle (Matty James) whom I'm also familiar with, solo material, in my opinion put in an absolutely outstanding performance on the drums driving the backline with Boom Chic Chic supplying a more sophisticated low end bass than I had first imagined. Dirge the sole guitarist carved out a rhythm/lead style I have seldom witnessed as accomplished and finally Mr Crowe the audiences conduit into the world of Cadaver Club screeched and howled with finesse.

If punky vibes are your thing then the album 'A Fate Worse Than Life' is well worth the download but if they come to a town near you then get down to your nearest funeral parlour and see the Cadaver Club live you wont regret it.  

Friday, 15 November 2013

Brian James and Grand Cru - Chateau Brian

Brian James has been around more blocks than a New York cab driver.
That's a fact.
List the acts he has formed, has been involved with, and then add to the list the artists that he has worked with, and after a while you will realize that in a certain sense he is the oil that has kept some of the best rock and roll machines ticking over for decades now.
The man is indeed a bonafide legend, and I am indeed a fan.
So it's to my great shame that I will admit that I missed the release of the Brian James and Grand Cru album 'Chateau Brian' last year.
I will also admit that until just last week it existed in a blind spot I had.
I didn't know anything about it at all.
I actually just stumbled over a mention of it, and then of course I pounced and managed to get myself one of the limited to 150 vinyl releases.
Money well spent.

I may not be the only person who missed it though so in my opinion it's still worth a mention.

So here's the skinny. On it we see Brian team up with his old mate from their Lords of the New Church days Mark Taylor (Also Simple Minds) and indulge in taking a trip down a less beaten track with some well played out acoustic ditties.
You have your Dylanesque blues squeezed through the Tom Waits ringer, a tip of the hat to the white man reggae of The Clash, and then there's the honky tonk of bar room shenanigans that sound like a drunken Steve Earle holding court getting a look in.
Okay, it would be remiss of me to fail to mention that this is of course a far cry from his stints with The Damned and Lords of the New Church.
However don't let that put you off as throughout Brian rasps his way across the states using his guitar to paint pictures of the Delta, New Orleans and the Irish dive bars of New York city and he does it all in the style of the snapshot.
You could very easily imagine that this release is the result of a late night jam that started and ended with a bottle of red, and that is exactly where its charms lie.
I could suspect that in some ways this was a bit of a vanity piece, but unlike others, where the artists step so far out of the box they feel confines them and in doing so lose sight of who they are, this is one hundred percent Brian and you can hear the relaxed love for what they are doing in the grooves.

If you were to buy it as a completists exercise then you would be missing the point as its a worthy addition to his back catalogue.
Grab a bottle of wine and when it hits midnight dim the lights and pour your first glass and let the record spin.
That's when it will hit home.

Buy it

Another 'because I can' post

Thursday, 14 November 2013

The Quireboys - Beautiful Curse

It's said that familiarity breeds contempt, but there will always be exceptions to the rule, and such exceptions are often prevalent in the world of rock and roll.
Take The Quireboys for instance.
In this bands case the familiarity is something that we are happy to warmly embrace.
Would we really be impressed with them if they were to slip down a side road and throw in a vocal that wasn't a swaggering bourbon soaked one?
How about if the blind horse didn't understand that a nod is as good as a wink when it comes to playing some dirty sounding rhythm and blues?
Seriously folks.
How about a Quireboys album that didn't feature some honky tonk piano?
Would we really be open to Spike and the boys exploring new avenues?
I'll not be going out on a limb if I said we wouldn't be impressed with them wandering into pastures previously unexplored, and the reason for that is because they are one of those bands who simply shouldn't fuck with the formula.
It's not tired, it's not old, it's not irrelevant.
What they do is actually sort of timeless.
They are always going to reach out to an audience.
When you listen to a track like Mother Mary you fundamentally get it.
It's a song that given half a chance could draw reverential silence from a stadium sized crowd.
It could stun a rowdy mess of hollering rock and rollers into submissive communal worship.
In fact if it came out in the late seventies the band would probably still be filling stadia off the back of it.
Yes, it is that good, and it's not a singular anomaly on the 'Beautiful Curse' album as it's all rawk solid.
If the album was a map and each song was a destination then it wouldn't matter where you stuck a pin in it as it's going to be a place that you do want to visit, and not just once, but again and again.
This isn't a comeback as they didn't go anywhere, it's no return to form as they never lost it.
What it is, and I can comfortably say it, is another chapter in an already impressive story, and long may that story continue.
Bloody sublime