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Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Big Boy Bloater - Loopy

Big Boy Bloater has been around the block a few times.
From playing to a handful of people in a bar to standing stage centre in front of thousands (sometimes in the same week) he has been there and bought the t-shirt multiple times.
And as expected from someone with that much experience tucked under their belt he knows the lay of the land when it comes to providing a performance.
Similarly he also knows how to transform the live buzz that he can so effortlessly create into a studio tour de force with the evidence of that plain for all to hear on his latest outing ‘Loopy’.

Giving his band a holiday for this release we are given an insight into the big mans roots, and with each song it sounds as if it has been honourably and delicately dragging each one out of the primordial blues swamp and giving them a careful brush down before then putting them through their paces prior to finally giving them a smack on the arse and sending them out into the world to upset or excite people all over again.

Kicking off with the cover of Bear Cat he manages to keep one eye on the authenticity angle and the other on just letting it all hang out.
It’s quite simply a master-class on how to take a song from the fifties and ease it into the present.
The power and the passion in the song is still kept perfectly intact and as a riposte to Big Mama Thornton and her Hound Dog it’s an affectionate slap that compliments the Rufus Thomas original.

For many starting an album with this would just herald a downward slide as where can you go from such a high, but this isn’t a wet behind the collar artist and as said someone who knows what they are doing so there’s no real danger of it being the schoolboy error of starting off with the killer punch and then following it with some half hearted swipes.
Instead what we get is ‘Every path has its puddle’ that originally appeared as a full band effort with Imelda May providing backing vocals, but this time the sleaze notch is turned up to stun and it’s existing in the space between Little Willie John and Peggy Lee’s ‘Fever’.

With two songs down and another eight to go it’s easy to get a bit carried away, but thankfully there’s not one moment that kicks in as anticlimactic, and instead the train just keeps a rolling all night long.
Not that this song is on it, but if anyone is looking for another good cover to get their teeth into then by track six there’s Alligator Wine that is more Screaming Jay Hawkins than Jeff Buckley and while the latter’s version is nothing to sniff at it’s in how Big Boy Bloater delivers it that the magic lies.
In fact instead of calling the album ‘Loopy’, as it’s mainly been recorded using a loop pedal, he could have called it ‘I don’t drop the ball………….ever’, and not been embarrassed at the boast as it’s rooted in fact.
Saying that it's highly recommended really does fall short of covering how good this is.
So as it is nearly x-mas get on it as it's doubtful that anyone would be disappointed in finding Big Boy Bloater in their stocking, but then again all the ladies say that. ;)

You can pick the album up just now, along with his back catalogue in NHC Music Glasgow or preorder it direct from his website here. 

And if you want to see the man himself there's some dates left for this year and more arranged for next.
Thu 11th Dec - NEWCASTLE
Fri 12th Dec - NORWICH
NORWICH - The Talk, Oak St
Sat 13th Dec - LUTON
The Bear Club, Millyard, LUTON
Tue 16th Dec - LONDON
Team Rock Xmas Bash - + Bonfanti & Bryant
Thur 22 Jan - BALHAM)
Bodeans, Balham
Fri 13th Feb - BEDFORD)
Esquires - more info soon
Thur 19th Feb - READING
More info soon
Thurs 5th March - LONDON
The Garage, Islington
Fri 6th March - BRISTOL
The Thunderbolt, 124 Bath Rd
Sat 7th March - SHOREHAM
Ropetackle Centre, Shoreham
Fri 13th March - WINCHESTER
The Railway, Winchester
Fri 20th March - NEWCASTLE
Cluny 2, Newcastle
Sat 21st March - GLASGOW
Sleazy's, Sauciehall St, Glasgow
Sun 22nd March - KENDAL
Bootleggers, Kendal
Thur 26th March - BIRMINGHAM
Roadhouse, Birmingham
Fri 27th March - SHEFFIELD
Greystones, Greystones Rd, Sheffield

And finally here's some footage I shot at at NHC Muisc where Big Boy Bloater kindly played an acoustic in store.
Pretty raw and just from an old digital camera, but it is what it is. 

Tuesday, 2 December 2014

Have Mercy Las Vegas - That's Life

People love little genre tags.
Alt-folk is one.
Anyone who plays acoustically and likes the sound of the fiddle and mandolin are often bundled together and pushed into a box that is already full to the brim of guys wearing tweed, sporting bushy beards and refusing to wear socks.
It’s not really fair though.

The folk fraternity is in reality a broad church.
It’s a very large umbrella that people can shelter under as they experiment and co-exist happily next to each other.

So basically the point is that no one should take the quick glancing Mumford and Sons overview and dismiss those who are ploughing that particular field, because if they do then they are apt to miss out on how good Have Mercy Las Vegas are.
As here they are - with their debut full length - delivering a confident antidote to the stadium stomp of what some may perceive modern day folk to sounds like.

With a nuanced understanding that the past is just the foundation for the future they are melding the traditional with the modern in a far more effective manner than many of their peers.
Much of the original material revisits the sound of Scottish band The Humpff Family, and yet that’s entirely coincidental as when I mentioned it to band member Stephen Scott he was unaware for their existence.
His ignorance of them actually ties in neatly with how they are really a product of the same environment rather than looking to pay homage to a particular sound.  
And sound-wise there’s no real down side.

From songs that would lend themselves to soundtracking a hoe-down to more introspective moments that are evocatively emotional the band are consistently delivering a quality performance.
With a recent local television appearance drawing some well deserved attention to them, a slew of live dates that will further cement their reputation, and work already done on a follow up release it is already looking as if 2015 could be this bands year.

So I shouldn't really need to say that grabbing a copy of ‘That’s Life’ now and telling everyone that you were there first will make you the smug King or Queen of Smugland when every one else catches on, but there you go. I sort of just did.    

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

The Jesus and Mary Chain - Barrowlands 23/11/14 (Glasgow)

The nights of every riot being a mini revolution may well have been left behind by The Jesus and Mary Chain, and similarly the late appearances and early finishes as a statement of truculent defiance are gone to, but there is no denying that the power has not diminished in the near thirty years since they gave the world psychocandy.

Live they still exude a great deal more raw menace and primal emotion than any band that they spawned in their wake.

They still push everything to the point of brutality and then touch you with the butterfly kiss.

Very often you never really know if you should swoon or duck when in their presence.
Yet for the iconic Barrowlands Ballroom crowd - on the second night of a couple of sold out dates - it is very obviously the former, as amongst the maelstrom of feedback and fuzz there is an innate understanding of how far is enough, and how far is too far.
Symbiotically the audience by and large get it, and they do indeed swoon when they aren’t being buffeted by the force of the hurricane performance.
The volume could of course lend itself to some jumping to the assumption that a degree of intimacy could be lost, but they would be wrong.
No matter how distorted they push the levels of their sound to, regardless of the amount of feedback applied, they are fully aware of when to apply pressure and when to release it.
And therein is probably where the magic of the Jesus and Mary Chain lies.

In the intervening years between the release of psychocandy and the present we have seen many words having been written about it.
Some to raise it up as an iconic watershed album, and others to dismiss it as a short sharp burst that outside the first flush of excitement doesn't stand up to a heavy critique.
The latter would argue that the band are mere musical magpies that picked up the shiny shiny from the Velvet Underground, Phil Spector and Suicide and ran with it, but when they do this it just draws attention to how they have missed much of the point.
It’s not about the separate influences, but the melding of them.
They simply fall short of grasping that the sum of their parts should never be the benchmark that the band are judged by, and instead that the focus should always be firmly angled towards the whole.
If they could embrace that then it would be difficult for them to deny that the whole is a wondrous layering of noise that often builds to a cacophonous release that pushes for an emotional response rather than anything else, and it did partially change the direction of where music was heading.

And even if that is still beyond their grasps then the testament of the live shows themselves casually evidences that those who do consider them a pivotal act and laud them as such are probably right.

It’s doubtful that anyone who was bathed in the strobing light show in the Barrowlands could disagree as the Jesus and Mary Chain delivered on every single promise that was made in 1985.

It’s very obvious that the Reid brothers and co are not looking to take any prisoners on this tour.
So it’s probably best to just put your arms up and surrender now.

Easier to just go with it rather than resist.

Next year people will look back and claim that the album and the anniversary tour were equally as important in the bands career.
So don't miss them.

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Then we win

This is a public service announcement sans guitars.
We have always wanted to say that.
This is the season for bastardising Clash lyrics.

So let’s get right down to it.
We would like to take this opportunity to extend our gratitude to the person(s) who carried out the act of petty vandalism which was tearing down and smashing our shop signage.

The reason that we are thankful is that they have just highlighted to us - and everyone who will become aware of what has happened - that we are incrementally winning the hearts and minds of the artistic community, and public, by promoting ethical practices over the lust for accruing filthy lucre.
If we weren't then it would have been easier to just leave us to wither on the vine due to lack of support.
That the decision has been made to do something about us - with this being a rather pathetic opening salvo fired across our bows – just draws attention to our minor early day successes in the many positive ventures we are undertaking.

This is simply an advert for NHC now.

So once again thank you.

Of course we could be accused of being paranoid, and some could claim that this incident is simply a random act of vandalism.
In isolation we would happily accept that, but with the ongoing removal of our posters, while those around them are left untouched, and the fact that it was our signage removed, while other businesses were left alone, says a great deal and we no longer consider that we are adding two and two together and getting five.

Also there is one other thing we would like to state, and that is that we don’t for a second consider that the person(s) who would carry out such a petty act of vandalism is/are linked to any other record shop.
Record shop owners and those who work in them are all fundamentally passionate music fans and appreciate that there is enough room for everyone.
Not for one second should anyone consider that we suspect any of our peers of doing this.

Thank you for taking the time to read this, comment on it, or share it.
We are of course happy to answer any questions posed.

The NHC team.

Monday, 17 November 2014

Fire & Ice - Rank Berry, Soul Remover. 12 and 13 Dec.

 As someone who has been kicking about on the fringes of the music scene for a number of years I will admit that when I hear the words 'showcase gig' I usually internally translate it to 'ripping off young talent by promising them the world gig'.
It's easy to do as nine times out of ten that is exactly what they are.
No movers or shakers are ever there, no one is going to sign anyone up, and the deal is always that the bands have to sell tickets.

However there is always that one out of ten who are the genuine deal and the Fire and Ice event is that rare beast.
I know this to be a fact as being co-manager to Rank Berry I am aware of all the ins and outs of participating in the event.

It's all pretty simple really.

Turn up and play and dependent on how good you are then you can possibly secure a slot on the Wildfire festival bill.

That's it.

It's not about how many people an act can bring to the show, but purely a case of the organizers being able to get a feel for how a shortlisted bunch of quality acts can cut it live.

Of course the band can sell tickets if they want, but don't have to.
If they do they can get a cut (a fair one) and even if they don't then if the night is a success ( and why wouldn't it be) they will get something.
It was wonderfully refreshing not to have to negotiate a deal as all the angles were covered very professionally from the start.
Even better was getting an email with every detail you could think of included.
Load in times, soundchecks, equipment that will be on hand.
It was all there.

So hats off to Dave Ritchie and his team for providing an exemplary example of how putting a gig together should be done.

I love bullshit free arrangements. :)

Tickets for the gig are £6 per night, or £10 for both and you can get them from here.

However Rank Berry will have them in a few days and if you want one for the Friday night just get in touch with us at Rank Berry.
For the £6 we are going to throw in a copy of the debut ep as well.
We are pretty damn cool aint we?
Also pop along to the NHC and you can pick tickets up there with no booking fee. (Same deal with the ep included)

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

The Courtesans - 1917

As the fodder that is classed as mainstream chart music continues to run as fast as it can towards its own lowest common denominator destruction it sometimes feels like it is already over late for some heroes, or even heroines, to ride in to save the day, but with the Courtesans latest album (not that lot from some crap reality television show) maybe they have arrived just in time to snatch a victory from the jaws of the apathetic industry that is eating its own tale.
Initially they open up as an electro pop fans wet dream, but one with a bit of an industrial edge.
It’s that double whammy of the tap followed by the hook that’s as bruisingly good as all solid aural assaults should be, but then just as you are looking to snatch a breath before the next round commences the album starts to move into well grasped James Bond theme song territory.
It’s surprising, even a bit discombobulating, but it works well.
Very well in fact.
With huge lush David Arnold styled arrangements the Courtesans are not looking to merely pay homage to the material, but rather give it a run for its money, and at points they can even be heard edging ahead.
No mean feat in itself.
At times it is very easy to get lost in the music and start to drift along with it as it flows around you.
Close your eyes and the music fills your head with the iconic imagery of parts of the female body languidly and erotically drifting past.
It’s powerful stuff, and pretty much all encompassing in how it can envelope the listener in its embrace.
With headphones on it emulates what I suspect floating in an isolation tank would be like.
It provides a release from not just your surroundings, but encourages you to allow yourself to become mentally detached and allow yourself to be immersed in sound.
Even when they step away from the original material and embrace a cover like Venus in Furs it is all just so cinematically evocative that you can’t help but consider that this is exactly what people should be getting pushed towards them rather than what is currently the mind numbing norm.

If there is to be a revolution in music then The Courtesans are fine flag bearers for it. 

Monday, 27 October 2014

I think I just blew my chances of getting a good reference.

In the aftermath of the resignation of Johann Lamont it would seem that there is one thing that those sitting on the sidelines watching can all agree on.

And that would be that there is certainly no honour in politics.

The knives are most certainly out, and as the politicians sniff the blood in the water and gleefully line up to stick them in the backs of those who were their esteemed colleagues a matter of weeks ago, the public are once again losing more faith in not just the Labour party, but the political system in itself.

While much of the focus in the press has been on allegations made by Johann that she had little say in any decisions made, that she was ignored when she did speak up, and over the bedroom tax that she was actively told to keep her mouth shut, the public consensus seems to be that in general she was not allowed to make a cup of tea without Ed giving her the nod.

Yet with that being taken on board there is one question that few are looking to ask.

That being how did Johann Lamont manage to reach this level in her political career?

She admits herself that she had little impact on reforms and that Scottish Labour is treated like a branch office by Westminster.
It is something that most knew, and yet she took the job.

So while we are told that we should look to get the best of the best into political office, that leadership qualities are sought after, and so much more, it would seem that in reality - just like many others who climb the career ladder - that their success has little to do with any noble ideals, professional abilities or those leadership qualities mentioned, but instead are rooted in being able to do what they are told without questioning it and in addition an ability to shaft others without their conscience being bothered.  

My personal impression of Johann was that she was an ineffectual communicator, rather socially inept, and a game player who was out of her depth in the position she held, but at the same time I also have to consider that maybe that was exactly what those above her wanted.

Simply a puppet that would act as a mouthpiece for those pulling the strings, and one that could carry the can for any pr disasters that may come from their decisions.

Does that sound vaguely familiar when we frame it in the context of our working lives though?

Considered as the bigger picture how often do we all see this playing out in workplaces all over the country?

There are two colleagues going for a managerial position.
One has a good relationship with their colleagues, a solid work ethic and very often is running things in all but name.
Meanwhile the other is a sleekit untrustworthy manipulative snake who has made appearing to work while doing nothing of note an art form.
How often is it the latter that is successful in the pursuit of the position?

And why is this?

Well to answer my own question I think that it is a reflection of a catch 22 situation that operates.
Every single time a business promotes such an individual then they provide them with a degree of power, and as they rise in the organization they participate in the promotion of the person who fills the vacuum they leave behind them.
So at this point they could break the chain of ineptitude and advocate putting the best person for the job into the position, but then if they did then the underling would highlight how crap they were at theirs.
End result is that more of the same gets a toehold on the bottom rung as it is more advantageous to just promote yet another sleekit untrustworthy manipulative snake who has made appearing to work while doing nothing of note an art form, but one that is actually just a bit less intelligent.

Meanwhile the noise of the starting pistol that is the catalyst for the race to the bottom to begin rings ever louder in our ears.

Is it possible that this workplace issue is one that is reflected in the political world?
The touted replacement that is Jim Murphy could lend weight to the argument that it is.

Is Johann really just an example of a social problem that is rarely challenged?

Something to think about isn't it? And if that is an accurate overview then maybe we should ask ourselves where it is all going to lead us?

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Ginger Wildheart interview

But it's not here.

I participated in the interview on a moonlighting job with the New Hellfire Club, although moonlighting doesn't really describe it as I spend more time hanging around the NHC than here of late

Anyway. Here's a link.

With just a clickety click of the mouse and as if by magic you will be knee deep in the words of Ginger, and they are rather good words.
There's news on the forthcoming tour and a project with Chris Gordon of Baby Chaos.
Yeah, It's pretty darn good.
Even if I do say so myself, and I just did.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Mike Read - Relax

It’s commonly known that most religions promote very similar stories from what are often just different angles.
However none of them mention the portent of doom that surely heralds the end of days that is ‘UKIP Calypso’ by Mike Read.
You would think that an all knowing deity would have at the very least given us a heads up about this truly horrific brain fart penned by a man who was once a DJ for the BBC in the seventies.
We have War (everywhere) Famine (South Sudan) Pestilence (Ebola) and Death (everywhere), but where is the mention of Mike Read?

Surely they could have squeezed him in?

Even if it was just to slip in something that wasn't an allegory, but instead embraced some plain speaking.

A bit of text that really couldn't be construed as anything other than what it was.

A firm mention of him in the bible would have offered a total mind-fuck of clarity to non believers like me.  
How could anyone argue with ‘I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth, and just behind him was Mike Read holding a download link to his song UKIP Calypso.’

Now if that was in Revelations, and it came to pass, then it would be a sure sign that we should all get our affairs in order.

Strangely enough that is also something that we should probably do if UKIP ever come to power to.

I have no idea if it is comedy genius or blind ignorance that a song promoting a party that has issues with immigration is done in a cod Jamaican accent, but I am going to lean closer to the latter.
I have a sneaky suspicion that at no point did this monumental faux pas even enter Mikes head.
Or maybe he knows exactly what he is doing and his next project will be to produce Jim Davidson reading Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech using the voice of his Chalky character. (For anyone under forty you will have to Google that.)

Apparently he is now claiming it was a satirical joke.
People will have to be forgiven for missing the punch line as he isn't really known as a comedian.
In fact his previous crowning glory was an attempt to have the Frankie Goes to Hollywood hit ‘Relax’ banned.
Something that maybe, just maybe, possibly hinted at him being a future UKIP supporter perhaps?

Anyway, half way through listening to the oral offal I decided that I would not rip my ears off and make a vow to lead a life in a void of noise and instead soldier on to the end just in case it did finish with his saying he was joking.
He didn't though.

The funniest thing about this, and it’s only saving grace, is that I could very well imagine that it will be played at EDL/BNP meetings where low browed neanderthals will drunkenly challenge each other to dance under the limbo stick and that footage may be leaked to the world.

Here’s hoping.

It’s at this point that I would normally share the footage of the artist (loose description) that has just been mentioned, but instead just sit back and relax to this, and if anyone offers to play UKIP Calypso to you just respectfully decline and in return direct them to Frankie. 

Update -  Former BBC Radio 1 DJ Mike Read has requested a song he wrote in support of UKIP be withdrawn from sale following complaints it was racist.UKIP Calypso, performed with a mock Caribbean accent, sings the praises of party leader Nigel Farage.
"I am so sorry that the song unintentionally caused offence. It was never meant to, and I apologise unreservedly," Read said.
"I have told the record company to withdraw the single immediately." BBC 22/10/14

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Static Rock/Elvira Stitt - NHC Music in-store - 18/10/14 (Glasgow)

Starting a Saturday evenings entertainment by popping into the New Hellfire Club for a free starter before the main course of a gig elsewhere is always a good idea.

I could of course be accused of being a bit biased in saying that as I am one of the NHC, but I wasn't there working, and instead I had just dropped in to see Elvira Stitt and Static Rock perform acoustically before heading to Broadcast to catch Nashville Pussy in Broadcast.

Having seen Elvira perform once before I fully expected a quality performance, but I didn't expect that the bar would be raised far beyond my already high expectations.
As an artist she has a firm grounding as an eclectic music fan, and it’s obvious on seeing a performance that her broad knowledge forms a solid backbone to what she plays.
In one song you can hear the cadence of a hip hop delivery in the vocals and then she can slip effortlessly into covering a Disney classic in a torch song style.
On paper the two certainly shouldn't work, but it does, and at no point is there a moment that it sounds forced.
Each song simply flows into the next and it is more akin to aural alchemy at play as seemingly disparate sounds are melded together to make a new sound that resonates confidently around the room.
It’s very easy to watch Elvira and consider that this is the start of a journey for her as an artist.
There’s something there that it is hard to pin down and point at as to where the magic lies, but it is most defiantly there.

Four piece rock band Static Rock are a whole different beast again, but what they share with Elvira is that they can also deliver a set that highlights that they can be considered as contenders in the music business.
Playing stripped down - and in that I mean without even having the vocals amped - they could have put themselves in the position of drawing attention to any weak spots that the band are carrying, but instead they showed that they have none.
Strong material, great vocal harmonies and all carried on the back of strong musicianship.
Even with requests of covers from the audience they casually approached them and didn't drop the ball regardless of how wide and varied the material was.
Coolios, ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ had some fresh life breathed into it and in my head I was thinking that with Elvira providing some vocals it would have jumped from being well received to leaving people gape jawed in amazement.
Similarly the stalwart of decades of parties in Glasgow that is Kenny Rogers ‘The Gambler’ was dragged from the mouths of many a drunkard and given an impressive reboot.
Now just think about that for a second.
From original material to covers of hip hop songs and finishing on a country classic.
There are not many that can do that, and yet Static Rock eased through it all unfazed.
Throw them a curve ball and they will knock it out the park.

With a support slot secured to open for Brit-Pop legends CAST in December it looks like Static Rock are on the cusp of getting a firm grip on the next rung on the ladder of success.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

The King Lot - Harleys (Ayr) 08/10/14

There are three reasons why people attend gigs at the club level.

One is to support friends and relatives who are in bands, or who are performing solo.
Another is to catch the stars of yesteryear - as they are very often still excellent - in a more intimate environment now that their hits are largely in the past.
And the other is that they may just get the opportunity to witness a band on the cusp of breaking free from the circuit, an act that are still at the stage of paying their dues, but have that spark that may get picked up on and with any luck jettison them to the next level.

And it is in this latter category that The King Lot are comfortably sitting just now.

As evidenced from their stop off in Ayr - as part of their current hit and run tour of Scotland - the band took their performance right to the edge of what can be accommodated in a club.

Breathing some fresh life into melodic hard rock they have all the hooks needed to secure a hit and enough stage presence to give some of the big guns of the genre a run for their money.
There’s a heavy influence of late eighties, early nineties GUN in the sound, but the trio aren't afraid to add a bit of weight to the melodies and crank it out hard as they drag it into the present.
Push that sound towards the punkier attitude of the Wildhearts and late era Almighty and you are starting to get the ball park feel for it.

There was also a welcomed (by me) nod to the scuzzier element of the glam rock sound as they powered through a muscular rendition of the Love/Hate track ‘Blackout in the red room.’

The only criticism I could level at them was the inclusion of a track that wandered too far into Bon Jovi territory, and in the interest of full disclosure it wasn't that it was a bad song.
In fact if Bon Jovi rocks your world then it may well have been a highlight.
So this was a taste issue rather than one of the band having failed to deliver.

In fact it’s doubtful that The King Lot ever fail to deliver.

As the majority of the world still seems to be hanging on to bland pop being regurgitated it's probably overdue for a guitar rock revolution to kick down the doors.
Maybe if it all comes crashing about our ears then this band could be positioned to be in the right place at the right time to maximise on the demise of current state of affairs.

Here's hoping. 

For further information jump over to their facebook page here.

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Devilish Presley - Electric Ballroom.

Back with a bang is the stereotypical headline that sits atop the many articles that go on to promote a band or artist who have decided to return to recording and touring.
Often the bold print lead in is a debatable one, but when it comes to certain acts you know that you can refrain from taking a pinch of salt with it as they always delivered, and there's no doubt that they will do the same again.

So it is with great personal pleasure that I can say that Devilish Presley are back.

Refusing to submit to genre tags the rock and rollers were for a period of time one of the most exciting live acts to grace the stages of the UK and mainland Europe, and with five classic albums released it was common for fans to scream to the heavens 'WHY AREN'T THEY FUCKIN' HUGE'.

I still ask myself that every single time I slip a disc on.

So now after a very quiet lay off they have resurfaced with a crowd surfing campaign to cover the costs of 'Electric Ballroom', their sixth studio release.

The support for their return has been massive with nearly three quarters of what is required to cover costs accrued in a matter of twelve hours.
Maybe it's true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but who cares as right now they are just over £200 short of hitting their target.

By tomorrow I hope that changes, and this is where you can help.

Just click on the link here and sign up.

It may well be the best tenner that you ever invest in a crowd surfing project.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Shattered dreams, but what's new?

And now here we are in the cold light of day suffering from the post referendum blues, and the news that the vows written on the cover of the Daily Record have already been shredded is being heard across the land.
There will be a debate, but the majority in Westminster who don’t want to deliver more devolved powers will kick it into the long grass.

Who would have thought that would have happened?
I mean who didn't see that coming?
Oh wait. Cameron says it’s still on track.
Does anyone want to join me in holding our collective breath for a positive outcome?
No, I didn't think so.

So would it be churlish of me to ask those who voted no as they believed more powers would be forthcoming how that is currently working out for them?

Then again some people voted no because they didn't want anything to change.

Latest news is that Ed Balls has called for child benefit to be capped if Labour takes Westminster.
It looks likely that the English vote will take us out of Europe when that referendum rolls around.

So over all how is that decision working out for you?

Thankfully pretty much all the parties have said that austerity measures will remain in place so there’s one thing that isn't changing.

Hurrah for that then.

There are of course some people who have managed to get what they wanted.

The politicians for one.
What a no vote did was secure a season ticket on the gravy train for them.
No wonder Labour and Conservative councillors were slapping each others backs and cracking open the champers.
Allegedly Jim Murphy broke down in tears of pure unadulterated joy and screamed “the drinks are on my expense account” to loud cheers of support from a selection of cross party representatives.
Once the clamour had died down it is said that you could hear a large sigh of relief from London based interior designers who make their living from the patronage of Scottish MPs.

Then let’s not forget that the right wing elements got what they wanted to.
Their beloved Queen and country has been saved for whites of a certain religious group.


That’s a personal favourite of mine.
I just loved watching them celebrate at a war memorial by rigidly extending their right arms skywards.
Not sure what it was that it reminded me of though.
You would have thought it was a nazi salute, but they were waving union flags and the location seems to say that couldn't be the case.
I mean war memorial, union flags, Rule Britannia being sung and Sieg Heiling.
One of those doesn't fit so it must have been something else.

Hmmm who else got what they wanted?

I'm not really sure.

Did those who wanted to protect their income and employment get what they wanted?

Only time will tell I suppose, but it’s a harsh fact that if a business wishes to relocated and bump their employees out of a job then this country being part of the UK or not will have no bearing on that.

So maybe we will have to wait a bit and see if they get what they wanted.
Some probably will, but not all of them.

And now here’s the tricky one.

Did the pensioners get what they wanted?
Security in the years they have left to them?

Once again we will have to wait and see how that works out to.
I’ll not be betting on them having a better standard of living or the one they currently have being maintained, but who knows.
In a genetically modified future maybe pigs will also fly.

Off the back of all this there has been some effort made to have people show a bit of solidarity.
There’s a cry for people to refrain from apportioning blame.

Much of it sounds like people realizing that they made a mistake and instead of putting their hands up to it they would rather just not talk about it at all.

I'm not sure if I am entirely comfortable with that.
A portion of my fellow countrymen and women took something away from me and apparently I am just to let it go, or even work with these people to secure something that we had the opportunity of already taking for ourselves.

It’s going to take some time for me to personally get over this.

I think I will reserve the right to point fingers just now.
I think I will reserve the right to still feel a degree of hurt and anger.
I genuinely don't think anyone has much of a right to put a time scale on my grief or to claim that I am over reacting.
In fact how dare they.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

In conversation with Bad Touch

XXXX - From the outside looking in the career arc of Bad Touch certainly gives the impression of living the dream. There’s been many plaudits and a whole bunch of sought after national supports secured by the band.
Obviously none of that falls into your lap though.
So what is the secret? Is it simply a combination of hard work, talent and luck?

BT - Things have been going really well for the band over the last couple of years and its difficult to put your finger on why - It's probably a combination of the band constantly striving to improve and write better songs, playing as many live shows as we can, sound management and a huge slice of luck - hopefully opportunities will keep coming and we will make the most of them

XXXX - Is there moments when you are all on the road that the trials and tribulations of the reality of moving from city to city, setting up, sound checking, crashing out and then doing it all again slips into the background and you consider yourself rather blessed to be doing something that you all so obviously love doing?

BT - Touring is without doubt our favourite way to gig as we can focus on exactly what we are doing and get into a good routine - and we want to keep on doing it for years to come.
Obviously as a young band we are going to cities and venues we have never played before and meeting loads of great people who support live music - how could anyone not love it.
We have also been really fortunate to have toured with some great bands and really lovely people - The Quireboys and Bonafide were just the perfect people to help us through our first 2 tours - and having met both The Electric Boys and Tyketto in the past we know that they to are great guys to tour with.

XXXX - In the hardest moments. The nights when everything goes wrongs - as if we are honest every band has battled through them - what is it that keeps you going?

BT - There have been nights where everything that possibly could have gone wrong has gone wrong, and we've thought we've played really badly because we've been battling with equipment constantly going wrong.
But then when multiple people come up to you afterwards and say how much they enjoyed it and that you played really well despite the problems, it makes none of the problems really matter. Because we all love playing and writing our own music and people enjoying the music you've written is what it's all about and the good nights far outweigh the bad.

XXXX - In every band there is that one person who is the take charge type. The one who has an OCD approach to covering everything and the rest turn to and ask anything from “where’s the set list” to “is there a Mexican vegan restaurant near the venue” and they can actually answer pretty much anything. In Bad Touch who is that?

BT - We are all a bit OCD but in different area's. Rob is fussy about the songs themselves, Steve and George about performing and putting on a good show, Seeks about image and artwork, Baileys just too laid back - but does have in built satnav to find the nearest Weatherspoons.- probably the only one with his priorities in the correct order

XXXX - Once this forthcoming tour with The Electric Boys is put to bed what is the next move for the band? How far ahead are you forward planning?

BT -  Once the tour with the Electric Boys concludes we will be looking forward to another short UK tour with Tyketto and several one off gig's and festivals around the country including Hard Rock Hell and Legends of Rock.
In January we are off the Sweden to record our debut album which we hope to be ready for release in the early Spring - the plan is then to tour the UK again to promote the release.
We expect to play several festivals throughout the summer of 2015 - then perhaps tour again in the autumn but beyond this we dont have any plans - just hopes.

XXXX - In the time frame of the band being together you have obviously been gaining an insight into the music business as you have forged ahead.
What sort of advice would you offer other bands?
Is there one specific thing they should avoid, one specific thing they must do?

BT - In the time we have been together the music business has continued to evolve and has become ever tougher for young bands to establish themselves and with the fall off in sales of recorded music there are not many companies willing to take a chance on an unproven band.
Never-the-less there are still young bands such as Heavens Basement making progress so its up to us to work as hard as we can and build up a following around the country and gigging as much as possible is vital.
Advice to other young bands - Go and see as many bands as possible and learn from the best.
Avoid - behaving like you are already rock stars
Must - Write good songs and practice and gig as much as possible

XXXX - As the gig in Glasgow is following the referendum vote for independence has it dawned on you all that Bad Touch could unofficially be one of the first English bands to play in Scotland as a foreign country (I say unofficially as independence doesn't automatically follow a yes vote). In a sense you could be forging the way for others to follow.

BT - We just hope that we won't be cavity searched at the border.
(XXXX. It’s not going to be compulsory, but if you want to put some names forward we can see what we can do.)

XXXX - And finally do you have any messages that you want to pass on to your Scottish fans?

BT -  We've only played in Scotland a few times and every time its always been a great and appreciative crowd, so I'd just say thanks for your support and for making us feel welcome.

Bad Touch will be arriving in Glasgow to open for Electric Boys on Sept 21st and will be joined by Rank Berry.
Info is here.

Five things I have learnt in the lead up to the referendum.

Here are just a few things that I have learnt in the lead up to the referendum vote.

1) We, the people, have taken our eye off the ball for too long.
This alienation, and then disengagement from the political process, has allowed individuals who lack the skills to represent us assume representational roles.
We have people that couldn't spell integrity making decisions on our behalf.
Dishonest rogues, liars and charlatans abound.
Yet whose fault is it that these people proliferate among every political party and hold office in every tier of government?
It’s ours.
The brightest and best were the people who we should have been supporting.
Instead tribal loyalties got in the way, and if we bothered to vote we did so for parties rather than the individual.
It’s been said that pin a certain colour of rosette on a donkey and some will still vote the donkey in, and it’s true.
We should have done better.

2) A wage and an expense account are more important than an ideology.
Every day we see politicians claim to speak on behalf of the people, but strip the hollow words away and what we are left with is protectionist rhetoric.
They want to protect their job, their wealth and their privilege.
They don’t just want to keep their first class ticket for the gravy train, but they want us to pay for it to.

3) A suit and tie and is a serviceable disguise for an idiot to pass himself off as a rational human being.
Consider UKIP.
They should be a fringe party with the amount of nonsensical rubbish they come out with, but put a suit on the village idiot and people listen to him blather on about floods being Gods judgement on homosexuals and respond as if it has some sort of relevance instead of laughing it off as the ravings of a fool.

4) The mainstream media in the UK is beyond being salvaged.
From phone hacking to being the mouthpiece for the political elite they are failing us on every single level imaginable.
Journalists of the present should hold their heads in shame.
Reportage has become infotainment and z-list celebs are as relevant as a child abuse scandal for the red tops.
How did that happen?
They say the people get the press that they deserve.
Is this our fault to? 

5) In the dictionary in Westminster words such as honesty, morals, fairness, compassion, equality and honour have apparently been redacted.

In fact the dictionary must look like a top secret confidential report with virtually every page only having a couple of words on show. 

Thursday, 4 September 2014

Let's start again.

I have friends in England who consider that us Scots who fervently wish for independence from the United Kingdom are rats leaving the sinking ship.

Thanks for acknowledging that the ship is sinking, and this may surprise you when I say this, but you are right.
It’s called the survival instinct.
To take the analogy further if the rUK is the Titanic then the Scots refuse to be the band who continue to play on.

When we signed up to the union it was supposed to be that, a union.
It was never supposed to be master and servant.
Our wishes, our dreams, and what we aspired to were to be equally taken into consideration, and successive governments defaulted on that.
Have we had some good years?
Maybe some people have. Others most certainly haven’t.
The relationship in many ways has not delivered on what was promised.

Now I will admit to feeling slight pangs of guilt when good fellow socialists state that our abandoning them will leave them under the boot heel of the Conservatives.
However how is our standing in solidarity working out for you right now?

What you need to do is seriously consider the future, and if Westminster isn’t going to even acknowledge the changes you would like to see happen then come and join us.

Help us make a country that you want.

We need you.

We need people from all walks of life to bring their skills with them.
We need your intelligence, your work ethic and your dreams.

Can we do it without you?
We probably can, but the door is open anyway.

Many of us have been looking for change for many years.
We have shared the pain of hitting our heads off that brick wall.
Now the offer is there to come with us and help build something new.
To be part of a dream that could become a reality that will fundamentally change your life.

The analogy of it being akin to the end of a marriage has been used often, but while many of us do want a separation it is with the government that has poorly represented us all.
Between us, the people, it is different.

We do want to leave, but you can come with us.

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Stanley Odd - Son I Voted Yes

Scottish hip hop to the outsider may well sound like an oxymoron, but when they shout never the twain shall meet we can quietly laugh at their ignorance as acts like Stanley Odd, Lusty, Loki, The Girobabies and Hector Bizerk rattle out rhymes that would stand triumphant in any rap battle.

When you really listen to them all you can hear the nascent sound of the punk revolution echoing down the years as their take on social commentary covers ground that the mainstream media dare not touch.

here's to them as they set foot on the ground where angels would fear to tread.
They are out there on the fringes breaking ground and all are worthy of our attention and support.

Saturday, 30 August 2014

1984 - Citizens Theatre.

It has been said that the only culture I indulge in is scraped off the bottom of a yoghurt pot at 3am when I do a hangover raid on the fridge, but that’s a dirty lie as when time permits I don’t mind indulging in a bit of theatre.

In fact the truth is that I love it.

Although I will admit that as a working class boy there’s a bit of me that does feel the need to justify my penchant for a good stage play.

It’s irrational, and of course my rational mind baulks at that revelation, but I can’t help but accept that deep down there is a part of me that still feels that the theatre is not for the likes of a semi literate chancer who grew up in the wilds of Ayrshire.  
In very quiet moments a small voice often whispers that it is for my betters.
My so called betters being those who have basked in an existence that wasn’t one of making ends meet, wearing hand me downs, and instead revolved around chats with mater and pater about the merits of impressionist art over classic realism.

It is silly stuff, and most assuredly not rooted in reality and the voice is of course one that I try not to listen to.

Thankfully it does helps that the Citizens Theatre in Glasgow has always advocated strongly that the tales that are shared from their stage are for everyone, and it is ensconced in one of their seats that the voice that whispers to me is so very often drowned out by the inclusive spectacle of the events that they regularly host.

A prime example of this was provided by the performance of an adaptation of 1984 by Headlong that they currently have running.

I’ve always been pushing that people should read Orwell, and I consider that through the character of Winston that he painted a dystopian picture that is well deserved to be considered as a globally recognized precognisant masterpiece.

Yet this imaginative adaptation by Robert Icke and Duncan Macmillan takes the story, one that has always been darkly alive, and pumps even more fresh blood into it.

By twisting how the tale is delivered by looking at it from a future vantage point as if the fictional account was one that was based on actual events - even if the character of Winston himself is accepted as a fictional one - they allowed us all to immerse ourselves in what could be the equivalent of what could be considered akin to an Anne Frank diary speaking to us from the past.
An example of not what could be, but what once was, and by coming at it from this angle the message of the evils of totalitarianism are writ large, and are then ultimately difficult to ignore when we leave the theatre and consider the present world as it is.

Clever, thought provoking and entertaining.
In fact it is everything that the novel equally is.

While I have often been left enchanted by live theatre this is one performance that I would not hesitate in recommending to literally everyone.
It’s a must see in every way imaginable, or probably a more accurate statement would be a must be experienced event in every way imaginable.


Monday, 25 August 2014


Fame and success are two things that often go hand in hand, but neither necessarily have anything to do with talent.
Some people are famous for doing very little, while others have success dropped into their laps due to being in the right place at the right time.

Talent, hard work and a sense of self belief may well get you far in life, but there are simply no guarantees that come with having any, or all of them, as positive attributes.

So with that said I am sure that pretty much everyone can name a friend who they know are supremely talented in what they do but are not getting the recognition that they so richly deserve.

For me that person is Jimmy Devlin aka Monsterpop.
Apart from being an all round good guy who has been supportive of all the things I do and who can be relied upon to step up when help is required, he is also as mentioned outrageously talented.

Give him a guitar and there’s not a lot he can’t do with it.
Throw a genre of music at him and he will master it.
Ask him to write a song and what he will come up with could sit comfortably on a top selling album.

Yet for one reason or another that success that his talents should provide him with has never materialized.

It’s not that he hasn’t had opportunities.
He’s been a member of a few bands who are much loved and some of them have taken him right to the cusp of wider recognition and then due to factors that are not within his control fell short of reaching the finishing line.

He’s not one to complain though.
Instead he will regale you with tales of the tours and television appearances that are humorously entertaining, and not once do they come close to being the “Glory Days” stories that lend themselves to the person claiming “I could have been a contender”.
It is certainly to his credit that the years haven’t left him burnt out and jaded as it has for so many others.
The man is in short a diamond.

In recent years, far from being idle, Jimmy has been offering six string support to both The Snipes and The Red Eyes.
Both of who are considered to be - not to be missed - examples of melodic punk rock at its finest.

And as a project that stands apart from playing in these bands he has his Monsterpop alter ego that allows him to flex his power pop muscles.
.With some kitchen session recording done he time after time drops little nuggets of power pop classics to the world that could have been recorded in the most luscious of studios.
Think Cheap Trick, think Jellyfish, think of any act that that has had some success in writing a hook that digs deep and wont let go and then think Monsterpop.

Over recent months he has journeyed out and made a few sporadic appearances as Monsterpop and played the songs acoustically, but he must be sick of me telling him to get a band up to speed and get out there to do the full electric show.

Anyway, the project and Jimmy are literally that good, and best of all is that you don’t have to take my word for it.

Instead all you have to do is go and listen to him here and after you have done that then jump over to Facebook and show the man some love. 

Oh and here he is just messing about in his kitchen.

No Mean City 2014 (Glasgow)

After last years success the team behind No Mean City are not resting on their laurels and an already sterling line up has been secured.

The Felice Brothers - O2 ABC, Thursday 28th August, 7pm

The Felice Brothers started their musical career performing at family barbeques; and have just released their sixth album. 
Described by American Songwriter as "challenging Americana that never takes its audience, or its influences, for granted", 
Favourite Waitress marks the first time the band ever recorded in a proper studio.

Nick Waterhouse  -  King Tut's, Thursday 28th August, 7pm
Californian guitarist Nick Waterhouse is known for a sounds rooted in rhythm & blues, jazz, and soul. 
On his latest record, Holly, "he hones a had-edged sound, full of nimble guitar licks, taut melodies and precise rhythm" (Paste Magazine).
St Paul and the Broken Bones
He cites the movie Chinatown as his main influence for the album, which is an ode to Los Angeles; and dedicated it to screenwriter Robert Towne.

St. Paul & The Broken Bones - Oran Mor, Monday 1st September, 7pm
St. Paul & The Broken Bones is a seven-piece soul band from Alabama who use vintage technology to recreate a 60s sound. 
After taking SXSW 2014 by storm, their debut album Half a City went to No.3 in the iTunes Chart.

Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin plus Sarah Hayes (Admiral Fallow) - O2 ABC2, Monday 1st September, 7pm
Glastonbury regulars Phillip Henry & Hannah Martin are one of the most innovative acts to appear on the folk scene in years; 
and after winning Best Duo at the BBC Folk Awards 2014, they are very hot property.

Willie Watson -  CCA on Friday 5th September, 7pm
Former Old Crow Medicine Show member, Willie Watson was once described as "Bob Dylan without the nasal whine or pretention". 
Although he did grow up listening to the likes of Dylan, it was a Leadbelly album that got him hooked on the folk style; as a result, 
his expert banjo and guitar playing will transport the listener to another time.

Frank O'Hagan plus Les Johnson & The Shiverin' Sheiks -  O2 ABC2, Friday 12th September, 7pm 
A regular at one of Glasgow's oldest pubs The Scotia, Frank O'Hagan has become one of the city's best-loved singers songwriters. 
He recently supported soul legend Mavis Staples.

Robert Altman's Nashville - Glasgow Film Theatre, Tuesday 16th September, 6pm
Incorporating film into the Festival for the first time, there will be a special screening of Nashville (1975) at the GFT on Tuesday 16th September at 6pm. 
Widely considered as some of Robert Altman's best work, the film takes a snapshot of people involved in the country music and gospel business in Nashville, Tennessee.

Natural Child plus Eugene Twist- O2 ABC2, Wednesday 17th September, 7pm
Rascals of the country scene, Natural Child 'Let the Good Times Roll' with comical lyrics, and a fun laid-back stage show. 
Indie Media Mag sums the boys up perfectly: "the three-man band blends country, rock and blues to make an elixir to cure all your musical ales (Sic)".

The Urban Voodoo Machine plus Dirty Diamond and the Gunslinger - O2 ABC2, Saturday 20th September, 7pm
The Urban Voodoo Machine market themselves, accurately, as bourbon soaked gypsy bop 'n' stroll. 
Urban Voodoo Machine
"The London-based nine-piece inhabit a weird, surreal Noo Orleans world where the ghosts of Dr. John, John Lee Hooker and vaudeville orchestras do battle with stomping rockabilly-style swamprock". (Louder Than War)

Christian Bland & the Revelators plus Al Lover -  O2 ABC2, Tuesday 23rd September, 7pm
Christian Bland is best known as the guitarist for The Black Angels (part of No Mean City in 2012) His solo project, 
Christian Bland and The Revelators highlights his signature sound and his contribution to one of modern psych-rock's biggest and best bands.

Chastity Brown -  O2 ABC2, Thursday 25th September, 7pm
The sound of Chastity Brown is a laid-back fusion of soul, jazz, blues and country. She has been compared to the likes of Tracy Chapman and Nina Simone; 
and Penny Black Music dubbed her last album, Back-Road Highways, "THE soul album of the year".

The Dunwells plus City of Lights - O2 ABC2, Saturday 27th September, 7pm
Leeds lads, The Dunwells, describe their sound as a "unique blend of emotionally driven, anthemic rock, featuring four part harmonies". 
Their influences vary from Foy Vance and Crowded House, to Fleet Foxes and Elbow.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

NHC Shop

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

Times are indeed a changing.

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

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

It would be the word “music”.

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

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

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

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

This is it.

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

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

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

Oh okay. There will be wine. J

More information can be found on our facebook page.