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Monday 27 June 2011

Homesick Aldo

It's dark, and the moisture in the air is still unsure on whether it should metamorphosize into rain or just continue to lazily swirl as a mist in the pools of light cast down from the street lamps.
I'm a hundred yards from the sanctuary that Jolly's/Dirty Martinis offers the live music scene, and I can hear the howl of the blues.
Not the tired old white man approximation of the tradition sound of the Delta, but the primal dirt under the nails blues of an unsure century.
Something being born, something dying.
A cyclic bastardization that has set up camp in that moment when the past is gasping its last breath and the unsure present feels the presence of the future pressing in.
I push on the door and the sound pushes against my chest.
Scarecrow thin Homesick Aldo leans into his mic.
Sweat drips from his nose.
His lips slide from his harmonica.
He drawls a Shangri-Las laced with Thunder promise that you best believe in love L....U....V, and then the starting gates are behind him as he hurtles along breathing hard into his harp and rattling the bones of punk, sixties R&B and the blues.
Smokestack lighting indeed mother fucker.
Intensely good. Intensely real feeling and refreshingly gut wrenching. (Does anyone go here anymore?)

Friday 24 June 2011

Generational argument help

Over the years certain words and phrases have lost their original meanings and come to be understood in a whole new context.
Gay is the primary example of this.
Care free and happy is now a term to describe an individuals sexual orientation.
Others words have a geographical context.
Fanny here in the UK is a slang term for the vagina, while in the US it's a persons buttocks.
Pants in the UK are underwear, while in the US they are trousers.
Now in my household an argument rages and it surrounds the acronym F.T.W.
To me that has, and always will be, Fuck The World, but my son is firm that it means For The Win.
Now while I will quite happily agree that in modern times it is used as For The Win, and is often easily recognised as that within the context that it is used, I will not back down in claiming that originally it was, and can still be used as, Fuck The World.
My son considers that it has never been fuck the world and I'm a doddering old fool who is displaying symptoms of alzheimers and tourettes.
To clarify our positions.
Mines is that if I seen 'The Dwarves FTW' spray painted on a wall then I would presume that it's fuck the world, while if it was say the name of a football team followed by FTW in the lead up to a cup final I would expect it to be for the win.
His position is that both would mean for the win.
Now I know I'm right, but some validation from others would be nice.
So was it fuck the world, and occasionally still used as such?
Or has it always been simply 'for the win' and nothing else?
Oh. this could be interesting.

Thursday 23 June 2011

Limp Bizkit - Gold Cobra

No matter how bad you think this is going to be it will not prepare you for the full onslaught of shittyness that Gold Cobra is.
On a scale of one to ten on the shit scale this is about a seventy.
Give it a few months and the foundations of charity shops will be creaking under the weight of the deluge of Gold Cobras that have been handed in by the misguided fools who bought it.
The internet will probably break when everyone hits the delete button at the same time to get rid of the download that from here on in will be called the download that we dare not speaketh of.
Initially I was thinking that it doesn't have one saving grace, but as a psychological weapon of terror it could be useful.
Have it playing 24/7 in a warzone, while our own troops are issued with ear plug,s and it would be a bloodless win situation as the enemy capitulated in tears screaming 'please, no more'
We could introduce it into prisons and the rehabilitation results would go through the roof.
The thought of having to return in the future to a cell that has this crap pumped into it on a loop all day every day would be enough to keep anyone on the straight and narrow.
If music had an odour then this would smell like the sewers running out from Mumbai.
It's possible that in the future the word crap will fall out of common usage to be replaced with 'Gold Cobra'
When you lose your job, face eviction from your home and your partner leaves you then friends will say 'hey man. that's seriously gold cobra'.

Arctic Monkeys - Suck it and See

The Arctic Monkeys are a band who are pivotal in my argument about how fickle the music buying public are.
I use them all the time to bolster my point of view that regardless of the talent that a band possesses that what they really need more than anything else is a huge dollop of luck, and to be in the right place at the right time.
I genuinely believe that if they had arrived six months earlier, or six months later, we wouldn't have heard of them on the scale that we did.
They would have remained the big fish in a small pond until the day when they got fed up with trying to break big and split up.
This happens every single week with bands up and down the country.
Obviously people disagree with me, and point to how fantastic their début was, as they miss the point spectacularly.
Of course the début was fantastic.
Have I said otherwise?
The other view expressed is how can I use them as an example while they still enjoy a great deal of success and play large venues.
My response is to ask if they are really as popular as they were in the aftermath of their début, and do the play the same size of venues?
There (is) a downturn in their popularity and the point that I try to push home is that my saying so is not a criticism of the band, but of the record buying public with their consume and dispose, consume and dispose, mantra that is encouraged by the media.
In my opinion 2007's Favourite Worst Nightmare was a damn good album to, as was 2009's Humbug, but how many people bought these albums in comparison to Whatever people say I am, That's what I'm not?
There's that fickle record buying public at play.
The sheeple moved onto the next great white hopes of guitar rock and the wave partially crashed on the shore as less people cared.
Now that's the past and here we are in a present that is giving us Suck It and See and what do we have.
Quite simply put, just another brilliant release from the band.
It's sickeningly good.
While the Arctic Monkeys do have a signature sound due to the familiar vocal delivery, musically they are well placed to to experiment with sounds and forge forward into areas that may not be expected.
There is no pandering to trends, just an artistic need to carve a niche of their own, and this is what will ultimately serve them well.
This will be why the band, unlike others who were thrust into the media spotlight, will survive and continue to move forward.
They may not be playing stadiums in the years to come, but they are not going to disappear only to return in a 'where are they now' article.
Instead if they keep releasing albums of this standard then sometime in the future there will be a critical reappraisal of their work and it will dawn on people that in our midst, beyond the boom and bust of an initial release, we have a band who consistently deliver the goods.
A band who could well be considered a 'great'. A band who don't need the greater public's approval to act as a catalyst for them to make classic albums that will stand the test of time.
Vive le Arctic Monkeys now that the bandwagon has rolled out of town.

Wednesday 22 June 2011

Kitty in a casket - Back to Thrill

There's a neat little sub genre of female fronted bands who straddle the punk and rockabilly scenes with a certain stylish swagger.
While some would write them off as being lightweight I'm more often than not impressed with their pop sensibilities.
Kitty in a casket are one of those bands, and with the release of 'Back to Thrill' they could very well jump to the top of the heap of the genre for a couple of reasons.
One being that the competition like the Creepshow, The Horrorpops and Bridget Handley don't seem to be doing much at the moment.
And the other being that even if they were then they would probably struggle to match the high standard that is on display here.
This is so poptastic that it could have been produced by the Disney corporation, and I say that without a hint of sarcasm, and it's certainly not a critical put down either.
It's just that it's very easy to hear something in what they do that if marketed properly could be the soundtrack for a generation of prepubescent weekend mall rat gothpunks.
In the right time and place then I could imagine the cash tills would ring a pretty tune and I have no problem with that at all.
In fact it would be far more preferable to hear this blasting out from the stores, radio stations and music channels than the vast majority of soulless crap that us over thirties have to endure.
It's slick, it's got hooks a plenty, there's some really catchy sing a long moments and the band can actually play.
That's a big plus in my book.
So while it might be as sugary as a bag full of trick or treat candies, it's a treat that wont rot the kids teeth and I'm loving it.

Buzzcocks - A different compilation

What do you do when a band that you have been a firm fan of for more years than you care to admit throw themselves forward to be considered as recipients for the most pointless release of the year award?
The first option is to just to pretend that you haven't picked up on them releasing anything.
It's called the 'Cut the Crap' option.
Ask Clash fans about it and they will tell you they don't know what you're talking about, but there will be an evasive look in their eye that will tell you a story.
The second option is to quickly mumble an excuse along the lines of you know that it's not really worth picking up, but it's probably just been released to fulfil some contractual obligation.
That's called the 'Metal Machine Music' option.
The third option is just to be brutally honest.
So here I am in a quandary.
Is it really worth making any excuses for this?
Should I make an attempt to justify this compilation being released?
Does the fact that the songs are new recordings make it any more worthwhile a release than just a straight compilation from their back catalogue?
The bottom line is that I don't hate it, but I'm struggling to wrap my head around why it even exists.
I have everything on it.
Most, if not all, Buzzcocks fans will have everything on it.
The most positive I can be about it is to say that they've captured the energy of the band.
At times it sounds like a live recording, but if I want to hear Shelley, Diggle and co live then I'll buy a ticket and bop about down the front with the best of them.
Would it be too harsh to say that this is the sort of album that forty something men will buy from Tescos or Asda to keep in the car with the strict rule that it will only ever get an airing when their wife isn't occupying the passenger seat?
Maybe I shouldn't be so harsh. It's a good mix of the best of the band and the songs are played well, but.......there will always be a but hanging over it.

LA Guns/Venrez/Tragic City Thieves - Glassic Grand - 21/6/11 (Glasgow

LA Guns are coming to town maaaaaaaaan!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Pretty gnarly huh?
I mean those guys rock duuuuude.
Or the rough translation of that would be that the glam sleaze train was rolling into Glasgow and some people were rather excited about the prospect of hopping on board.
Not me though.
While I don't have a problem with LA Guns - and I was indeed curious to see them play with Jizzy Pearl fronting them – the main draw was that Gypsy Pistoleros and Venrez were the support acts for the tour.
Unfortunately the flamenco rockers, Gypsy Pistoleros, were dropped from the tour after one night because............wait for it...............they were too good.
Now forgive me, but if the band whose name is above the door feel that they are being overshadowed by a support act then it doesn't fill me with confidence that they will deliver the goods on the night.
It's also a bit of a backhanded compliment telling a band that they're too good for a tour.
It's a negative wrapped in a positive.
On one hand it sounds like praise, but on the other you have four guys who have juggled their personal and professional lives around to accommodate going out on the road, and then been left hanging.
It's to the Pistoleros credit that not a hint of animosity about the situation has reared its ugly head about what some would describe as being royally fuckin' shafted.
Okay. When I say some, I mean me.
I think that if the shoe was on the other foot then five minutes after being told that a band I was in was off the tour I would be standing cock in hand pissing in the petrol/gas tank of the LA Guns tour bus, even if I had to stand on tip toe to do it, but then again that might just be me.
With every dark cloud they say there's a silver lining though, and in this case the silver lining to this dirty black cloud was that the venue stepped up in the eleventh hour and procured the services of Glasgow's finest glam terrorists Tragic City Thieves to fill the gap on the bill.
Although they were one man down, with lead guitarist Stu out of the country, there was no evidence on display that they were going to let that get in the way of some good rockin'.
In fact the opposite would seem to be the case.
The awareness that their brother in arms wasn't bending the six strings for them seemed to push the band individually to go above and beyond the call of duty, and it was another blistering set from them.
I've genuinely yet to see them do a less than impressive show.
They've played the shitholes with crap pa's, played to crowds that just don't get them, played with members out of action, played to the three quarters empty halls in support to bigger, but not necessarily better, bands, and they have always delivered.
Never once have I seen them stumble.
Currently they have a fistful of new material that is getting road tested and if they can capture the fire of these songs in a studio then their sophomore release is really going to set the cat amongst the pigeons.
If you could get rock and roll broken down into it's smallest molecular components and looked at it through a microscope, then what you would see is the four members of Tragic City Thieves staring up at you and pulling the finger.
It was the perfect start to the evening and I suspect that if Tracii Guns had seen Tragic City Thieves in action he would have been very concerned about how his band was going to follow on from that performance.
Thankfully Tragic City Thieves aren't on the tour and have no need to concern themselves at being dropped.
Venrez who had survived the support band cull looked confident when they took to the stage and once they got into the flow it was easy to see why.
With ex members of Juliette and the Licks and Alex Kane of Life, Sex and Drugs, AntiProduct, Clam Abuse, Enuff Z'Nuff. Marky Ramones Blitzkrieg on board this is a band who can walk the walk.
Steven Berez on vocals has a rich solid classic rock tone to his voice, but the guitar work and attitude displayed on stage fleshes out the traditional skeleton with some punk muscle.
This mix works very well and allows the band to be imbued with that intangible something that while you can't put your finger on it does separate them from many of their peers.
There's some west coast psych hiding away within the music, but there's also some hints at Seattle's grunge sound.
Mainly in a vocal deliver that occasionally sounds reminiscent of Layne Staley from around the Jar of Flies time.
While not apparently everybody's thing there is no doubt that the talent is there, and Venrez could very well pull something special out of the bag at any moment.
For some reason I kept thinking throughout the set that I could imagine seeing these guys playing on a festival stage somewhere.
Japan would probably be a place to visit as I could imagine that the Japanese rock fans would fall in love with them.
If I was to have one single solitary criticism to make it would be that I would have preferred to see Steven Berez strut it a bit more, maybe swing that mic stand about a bit.
It wouldn't make any difference to the music, but visually I would have liked to have seen a bit more of the inner rock star coming out.
So far so good.
Two out of two band delivered the entertainment promised.
Then LA Guns ruined it to an extent.
They are one of the few bands who rode a wave of popularity many moons ago that I didn't see.
Motley Crue, check.
Ratt, check.
Guns and Roses, check.
Cinderella, check.
Bon Jovi, check.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
I even seen Love/Hate who as far as I recall were pretty much shit hot live.
So even although it's 2011 and we are all well past the glory years I expected that on some level I would feel myself swaying towards some level of enjoyment, even if it was rooted in nostalgia.
The thing is I didn't feel that pull into the past, and what was going on in front of me had very little to do with the present.
Yes, Tracii is a guitar hero, and yes Jizzy appeared to be in fine voice, although it was hard to tell as he was so low in the mix, but the over riding feeling I got was that I'd woken up in a scene from Hot Tub Time Machine.
The view of the past wasn't rose tinted.
It just looked silly, slightly embarrassing even.
It was like looking at a photograph of yourself as a teenager and cringing at what you were wearing.
It felt like this LA Guns were the facsimile of another LA Guns.
They look the same, sound the same, but it's a shadow copy.
The main thing that was bringing me down was the sound though.
The vocals were so low in the mix that Jizzy wasn't coming across as a fully paid up member of the band.
It was so bad that anyone could have been fronting them and you really couldn't have heard much of a difference.
At one point I was thinking that if it got any worse then you would fully expect a front man to have a strop and ask what the fuck the score was.
I doubt Tracii would have been too enamoured with a sound man who turned his guitar down so low, or the vocals up so high that you couldn't hear him.
So to allow Jizzy to work under these conditions is pretty reprehensible.
Maybe on a different night it would be a different story, but it wasn't a different night.
So I gave up and went and spoke to Alex Kane on the merch stand and asked if he wanted to do a quick interview.
To cut a long story short, he did.
So apart from providing an open and frank look back on his career, and what he is up to at the moment, I really have to thank him for giving me a legitimate reason to miss a good chunck of LA Guns.
If I had seen more of them then this review would have dipped to the level of tourettes sufferer showing shocking poor anger management skills.
To sum the show up I guess it would be fair to say that as a band they lived up to the dire Shrinking Violet album that was their last release.

*Please refer to the comments section for further information pertaining to some of the comments that I made in the review.

Sunday 19 June 2011

Just a thought

Remember when teachers, nurses, doctors and lollipop ladies crashed the stock market, wiped out banks, took billions in bonuses and paid no tax? No, me neither.

Saturday 18 June 2011

World War Z in Glasgow

Locally most people know that part of the movie adaptation of the Max Brooks novel World War Z is going to be filmed in Glasgow.
It's caused a bit of a buzz as there's open castings for extras.
Chance of some extra cash and appearing in a movie that stars Brad Pitt seems like too good an opportunity to miss out on.
Sadly I can't provide the time.
I'm sure that will be a blow to the make up department as to transform my matinee idol good looks to that of a decaying zombie corpse would have taken them all of five minutes and gave them an easy shift.
However my partner in crime Kelly has put her name forward for it and just got the email back confirming the date to be there for the casting.
So fingers crossed.
It's one of those bucket list dreams isn't it. Nothing special, but 'appear in a movie', even if it is just a head bobbing about in a crowd scene is a pretty cool one to tick off.
A mate and myself were once approached in a bar by a small effeminate guy who bought us some drinks and asked us if we wanted to be in a film with Sean Connery and Christopher Lambert.
We accepted the drinks (obviously), but declined the parts as we thought it was just an imaginative pick up line.
A week later it was in the paper that they were going to be filming 'Highlander' and we could have kicked ourselves.
C'est la vie.

Friday 17 June 2011

Removal of downloads

Many thanks to the small minded individual who reported this blog for hosting music to be downloaded.
All the files have now been removed by mediafire.
That the material available was either unreleased studio demos, deleted items or live recording seems to be neither here nor there.
The request that I made for third parties with ties to the bands and artists whose material was uploaded to contact me if there had been a legal infringement has obviously been ignored.
There has also been a slash and burn approach to the removal of the material posted.
For instance the Filthy Little Secret recording of them playing in the Captains Rest was upped with permission from the band as was the Ross Gilchrist EP, yet they are gone.
Nice move.
Whoever you are you just shafted some local talent for no other reason than you could.
I would love to be in a position to out this individual as the sad pathetic fool that they are, but as everyone will no doubt guess they prefer to have a go from the shadows.
Nothing new there.

King for a day. Fool for a lifetime

Every once in a while someone comes along whose levels of ignorance and stupidity cannot be ignored.
They shine like a beacon of ignorance in a sea of empathy.
Derision and disgust follow them whenever they open their mouths and make yet another, misguided at the least, or simply hateful at the most, comment.
Being verbal contortionists they can most often be found with their feet in their mouths.
No that's not a mistake.
I say mouths because they have one for each of their faces.
They are the type of people who make Prince Philip appear to be possessed with a degree of diplomacy that only a saint could attain.
Collectively a group of these individuals congregating together is called a 'tory.
You get a flock of seagulls, a murder of crows and a tory of sociopathic wankers.
The latest of these to step forward and raise the bar is Philip Davies MP.
He's the man who thinks that allowing disabled people to work for less than the minimum wage would encourage employers to hire more individuals who have special needs.
He is right in that respect, but I think the phrasing should be 'by allowing those with a disability to provide their labour at a lower rate than the able bodied we will allow unscrupulous employers to abuse a whole new pool of the countries workforce.'
He's a tad upset at the response he has received.
His reply to the gape jawed disbelief of his opinions is to say 'Left wing hysteria now dictates that you can't even repeat what people with learning disabilities tell you if it questions their shibboleths.'
Yes, of course Philip.
I'm sure that the disabled of this country have been beating down your door to tell you that they are all present and correct to be financially shafted.
Maybe his disabled colleagues in parliament would like to volunteer to do their job for less than the national minimum wage.
I wouldn't advise him to hold his breath in anticipation of them lining up to volunteer though.
If I thought that awarding him a large trophy for being an arsehole would serve to nudge him towards some enlightenment then I would pay for it out of my own rather empty pockets.
Sadly I have a sneaking suspicion that he would just drink champers from it and pay someone from the local day care centre a farthing to polish it.
On a more serious note maybe we should insist that those who represent us have to pass a psychological test before taking their seat in parliament.
A lack of empathy is a sign of a mental health problem after all and we don't want the lunatics taking over the asylum do we?
Or maybe they already have.
Certainly looks like it.

Thursday 16 June 2011

Saxon - Call to arms

If you had asked me in 2001 if I could imagine reviewing a new Saxon album in 2011 I would have laughed in your face.
It's not something I could have wrapped my head around, yet here I am with 'Call To Arms' in front of me.
Now that's a curve ball that I didn't see coming.
For nostalgic reasons I'll admit that I wanted to slip the disc in and hear the Saxon of old.
An exact continuation of the sound that I remember from my youth.
Nothing fancy.
Just pure 100% head banging Saxon.
It would be like finding them encased in amber and then I would smash it to the floor and they would burst forth from the shards as if they were still riding the new wave of British heavy metal.
Instead what I've got is a band who have partially lost their own identity.
They're good at what they are doing - in fact they are very good at what they are doing - but problem is that what they're doing isn't Saxon.
It's a strange mishmash of all the bands that were about when they were enjoying the halcyon days of metal.
It's as if by dint of being one of the few survivors from that era that they feel the responsibility to carry the torch for all their fallen comrades.
So it's not just the Saxon banner they are rallying around, but more so one that represents the whole metal scene of yesteryear.
It's not that here's no relevance to what they are doing. It's just that by trying to be the sound of an era they have diluted their own, and by doing so have actually missed the point because the sound of Saxon as they were was the sound of that era to an extent.
However I wouldn't want to give the impression that 'Call To Arms' isn't without its charms.
It's even got a couple of stand out tracks that have impressed my jaded old rockers heart.
First is 'The ballad of a working man' is a song that many of us could relate to as the world spins ever faster into an unknown future, while then album closer, and title track 'Call To Arms' is a bombastic classic of the genre.
The sweeping strings perfectly compliment the impassioned vocals that Biff provides and I'm not embarrassed at all to admit that I just fuckin' love the song.
Without a doubt there's life in the old dog yet and that's not a rose tinted assessment, but unless you buy this then I suppose you will just have to take my word for it.

The Rapture - Part Deux

The first thing that I do virtually every morning is check what is going on in the world.
I normally start with the BBC's news website and cherry pick the issues that I'm interested in.
Then I jump from site to site getting alternative views on what the BBC is reporting on.
After that I usually return to the BBC and click on their entertainment news section and see who is doing what.
Normally it is a step above the usual tabloid crap about what is going to be aired on the next z-list celebrity's reality television show, but occasionally the subject matter can be dragged down as they try and get with da kids and report on some populist crap.
This morning it was about the début single from Cher Lloyd, being leaked.
People here in the UK will remember her as the contestant on the x-factor.
The one who looked like a Cheryl Cole mini-me.
Well that was the charitable take on her appearance.
I thought she looked more like a crack addled teenager newly recovered from a drug induced stroke dressed by Gok Wan in the dark with cast off clothing from the small fella in that N'Dubz band.
If none of that rings a bell. Then she was also the one who rapped at people like a hoodie on street corner telling you to hand over your fuckin mobile or the English language gets it.
To get back to the point.
Her single has been leaked.
It's called 'Swagger Jagger' and it is as bad as you could imagine it to be.
Here it is here,, but I don't want any fallout over posting this.
It's a rip off of 'Little Donkey' that's been buried under the biggest load of tripe that has been foisted on the public since......well since the last thing that Simon Cowell foisted on us.
I've always considered that people have the right to make an arse of themselves by buying crap like this, but I want to make an exception now.
For the good of the nation this cannot be allowed to be released.
Listening to this destroys braincells.
Think of the Children. THINK OF THE CHILDREN.
This is the noise of a talent vacuum masquerading as entertainment.
Cher Lloyd is allegedly gutted at the outpourings of derision on twitter and such, but what did she really expect?
What did Simon tell her to expect?
I can just imagine him sitting there on his plush leather chair, stroking Sinitta as she purrs on his lap while arranging for Olly Murs to play at Gaddafi's fourth annual Libyan ska-pop fest, when he gets word through that Cher Lloyd is on the line.
Cher - Hi Simon its Cher here, Cher Lloyd innit.
Simon - Hello Cher.
Cher - I was just t'inking.......
Simon - Don't do that dear. We don't want you hurting yourself.
Cher - Wht? U takin' t piss, coz if you iz then I iz gonna go rampage on u.
Simon - What?
Cher - U dnt wanna fck wit me.
Simon - I'm sorry, but we have spoken about this. If you are going to talk in text speak I will have to get a translator in. What is it you want?
Cher - It's my single innit. What's the deal.
Simon - Oh it's done.
Cher - I didn't do no single.
Simon - No. You don't understand. We don't need you to do the single. We just need you to pose for some pictures, learn how to lip sync to it and...well that's about it.
Cher - Will people not notice?
Simon - No. We do it all the time. Look at Cheryl Cole. She's made out of rubber and no one has noticed yet.
Well there was that time that Ashley said in the press about her being unresponsive during love making, but that skipped by unnoticed.
Cher - So no comeback. I just sit back and count the cash.
Simon - That's a good girl. It's called Swagger Jagger by the way.
Cher - Oh what's it about?
Simon - Eh. I'll have to get back to you on that.
Now here we are and the release of the single is looking like the harbinger of The Rapture - Part Deux.
This must be the real end of the world.
A prime example of us all having run out of any genuinely original ideas.
I think I need a cup of tea and a rest in a darkened room to prepare myself for this going on heavy rotation.

Wednesday 15 June 2011

Kid Congo and the Pink Monkey Birds – Gorilla Rose.

What has happened here is common amongst musicians.
They have an idea, and to get to that idea they have to travel from A to B, but sometimes they take a wrong turning and find themselves heading into a town called Selfindulgentwank that has a population of one.
It's a bit of a shithole and no one wants to hang about with them there as all you can hear is variations of 'this is me, me, me, me' getting played.
The last album 'Dracula Boots' was a great return to form and promised so much.
The future looked bright around then, very bright, but Kid Congo has apparently lost the plot and decided to follow it up with some rancid reheated garage bullshit.
Whatever next?
An x-mas album a la Billy Idol?.
Someone needs to shake that talent he has out of him as he's holding it too close to his chest for my liking.
I genuinely hope that this isn't the start of a decline in the quality stakes when it comes to Kid Congo.
The world needs mavericks like him, but not if this is the best he can do.

Tuesday 14 June 2011

Phoenix Mayhem compilation CD

I nice little memento here from The Phoenix Mayhem Punkfest night, especially as I couldn't make the Saturday night.
The opening track sets the scene with The Media Whores providing the track 'Indisecretion' from their début CD 'Starfishing'.
It s a song that perfectly highlights their sound while giving a little bit of a nod to The Stranglers.
One listen should be enough to get you at the very least thinking about buying their album proper.
Alkotron were one of the bands that I missed, and not just on this night either.
They're friends of friends and I really should get my finger out and get along to a gig, especially now that I've heard something of them.
While 'Nameless farce' could be the code name that mates use when talking about me to third parties, although I suspect they would drop the f, it is also a pretty nifty little tune.
It would be fare to say that there's a bit of an indie sound to them, but not enough to turn the punk lovers off.
They've got a nice mix of influences with enough originality to make them a band to watch out for.
Charred Hearts. Oh man I'm kicking myself that I missed them.
Mighty riffage and snotty 77 vocals abound and according to those who did see them this is a band that can walk it like they talk it.
Razorblade Smile remind me of a cross between Newtown Grunts and Angelic Upstarts. Not a bad combo in my opinion. Rough and ready, but not without some charm.
Dun2Def are the band that the organizer of the festival Sandie Noone raves about and now I know why.
They're the perfect antidote to the yank pop punk bands that have taken over the world in the last twenty years. Aggressive but still melodic in their delivery they nail what makes UK punk that bit different from any other countries.
The might Fire Exit need no introduction.
This is the last year that they will be playing live so if Timewall, a track that features Knox of The Vibrators tickles yer fancy then you better be quick and catch them at either Rebellion or one of their other forthcoming gigs as this really is the end for Gerry and the boys.
The Liberty Club were the band that I thought sounded great, but had a bit of a problem in creating something memorable to watch, but the proof that they have the potential to be something pretty special is here on 'The War At Home'
In fact once I've upped this I'm going to go looking to see if they have a single or album available.
The Snipes punted forward ' We are the rude boys' for this compilation and similar to The Media Whores contribution it's a song that will give you a very clear indication of what Scotlands best street punk band are all about.
The first stumble comes with the track from The Skudpuppetz.
There song 'Tam the Brick' is just not my thing.
There's no need for me to dish out a critical slating though as there's nothing wrong with it apart from that it's not to my taste. It's very probable that anyone else reviewing this CD could highlight it as a favourite.
Now The Red Eyes are definitely more my thing.
'This is my Life' is one of the stand out tracks from their last album and if the glory years of punk rock, when bands like SLF, the Clash and Buzzcocks ruled the airwaves is what rings your bell then when you hear this you will think you have got tinnitus.
Not to be forgotten The Duel storm in with their song 'Jump' and for those who are going to rebellion this year then this will get you in the mood.
In fact as many of the bands on this compilation are playing in Blackpool you couldn't go far wrong by just picking up a copy of this and hitting repeat on the car stereo/bus as you make your way there for a weekend of punk rock shenanigans.
Ana Trash and the Sociopaths provide their live stand out track 'Kalashnikov' as the penultimate track and if that doesn't get the blood pumping about your body then I'd advice you to get someone to take your pulse just to make sure you haven't tossed off that mortal coil and just not noticed yet.
Closer is Hateful with 'New Messiah'.
Another stand out if seventies influenced punk rock is your thing.
All the bands can be found on myspace or facebook. So on you go and don't be a lazy bastard.
I don't know if this is still available, but if so I'll add details about how to grab a copy and if not I'll hassle Sandie to make it available as any proceeds raised form it would counter the loss she made on the nights.


Mooncake - Zaris/Cast the route EP.

Usually when someone strings words like instrumental, post and rock together I'm the sort of guy who runs to the hills begging for some band to provide a three chords and an attitude antidote, but sometimes, on a very rare occasion, I can get down with something a bit more ambient and find myself sinking into some music that will serve to fill the space around me, maybe smooth the hard edges of life out, sonically knead the tension out of my muscles leaving me feeling just that bit more relaxed.
Russia's Mooncake are the band that are doing that for me just now.
They compose music that can sweep you along on a phantasmagorical journey.
I can close my eyes and feel the music lift me, carry me forward over sweeping landscapes that roll out before me and into cities where I sense that I could reach out and touch the spires of glass cathedrals that have been etched out of crystal notes.
There's a keen sense of architecture to the compositions and huge edifices of sound can be found and explored as long as you can let yourself go.
Mooncake through their music are giving you the keys to the doors of perception and it's up to you if you want to step over the threshold and let your imagination take flight.
I'd advice that you do.
There's a whole world out there that they can lead you to and it is a bright and positive as you can will it to be.

That slippery slope....again.

Oh dear.
Didn't stop until 1979 either.
More than 60,000 Americans were sterilised, many against their will, as part of a eugenics movement that finished in 1979, aimed at keeping the poor and mentally ill from having children. Now, decades on, one state is considering compensation.

In 1968, Elaine Riddick was raped by a neighbour who threatened to kill her if she told what happened.

She was 13, the daughter of violent and abusive parents in the desperately poor country town of Winfall, in the US state of North Carolina.

While she was in hospital giving birth, the state violated her a second time, she says.

A social worker who had deemed her "feeble-minded" petitioned the state Eugenics Board to have her sterilised.

Officials coerced her illiterate grandmother into signing an "x" on an authorisation form. After performing a Caesarean section, doctors sterilised her "just like cutting a hog", she says.

"They killed my kids," Ms Riddick says. "They killed mine before they got to me. They stopped it."

Sterilisation in the UK and Europe

While eugenics is now recognised as a pseudoscience - and after the Nazis, one with murderous consequences - it was once a respectable branch of the social sciences.

The term 'eugenics', meaning "good birth", was coined in 1883 by Sir Francis Galton, an English scientist who pushed the University College London to found a department to study the field.

Sir Winston Churchill once called for forced sterilisation of "the feeble-minded and insane classes".

While eugenic sterilisation never became official policy in the UK - in part due to opposition from the Catholic church - Finland, Norway, and Sweden adopted the sterilisation laws in the 1930s.

Between 1933 and 1945, more than 400,000 Germans were sterilised under Nazi "racial hygiene" laws, according to the US Holocaust Memorial Museum.

Nearly four decades after the last person was sterilised under North Carolina's eugenics programme, a state task force is seeking the 2,900 victims of sterilisation officials estimate are still alive.

The group hopes to gather their stories and ultimately to recommend the state award them restitution. But with public coffers under severe pressure amid a flagging recovery, it is not clear the legislature will agree.

"I know I can't make it right but at least I can address it," said North Carolina state legislator Larry Womble. He hopes "to let the world know what a horrendous thing the government has perpetrated on these young boys and girls".

America's sterilisation movement was part of a broad effort to cleanse the country's population of characteristics and social groups deemed unwanted, an effort that included anti-race mixing and strict immigration quotas aimed at Eastern Europeans, Jews and Italians.

Beginning with Indiana in 1907, 32 states eventually passed laws allowing authorities to order the sterilisation of people deemed unfit to breed. The last programme ended in 1979.

The victims were criminals and juvenile delinquents, women deemed sexual deviants, homosexual men, poor people on welfare, people who were mentally ill or suffered from epilepsy. African Americans and Hispanic Americans were disproportionately targeted in some states.

"In general it was the dispossessed of society," said Paul Lombardo, a historian and legal scholar at Georgia State University and editor of A Century of Eugenics in America.

Sterilisation petitions

An 18-year-old girl, separated from her husband who had "manifested anti-social behaviour"
A black 25-year-old rape victim who showed "abnormal sexual tendencies"
A 16-year-old girl who had earlier been committed to a state institution for "sexual delinquency" and whose aunt "signed consent"
A white married mother of three, whose family had been "finally dependent for many years" and has "a history of inter-marriage with Indian and Negro"
A 15-year girl deemed "feebleminded"; parents reportedly consented

North Carolina Eugenics Board, 25 October 1950

The laws were plainly coercive, scholars say, though some incorporated a veneer of consent - illiterate farmhands given forms to sign, institutional inmates told they would not be released with their bodies intact, poor parents told they would be denied public assistance if they did not approve the removal of a wayward daughter's fallopian tubes.

Motivating the laws, Prof Lombardo said, was indignation at the thought that people who had violated sexual mores would subsequently end up needing public assistance.

"We have in this country have always been extremely sensitive to notions of public stories of inappropriate sexuality," he said.

"We exercise that most dramatically when it comes to times in which we think we're spending individual tax money to support people who violate those social norms. It's our puritanical background, running up against our sense of individualism."
Supreme Court approval

The racial context was inescapable as well.

"The fewer black babies we have the better, that's what some people said," Prof Lombardo said. "'They're just going to end up on welfare.'"
An excerpt from an archival document provided by the North Carolina Department of Administration The state eugenics board issued orders to sterilise poor North Carolinians with bureaucratic efficiency

Also implicated in American sterilisation laws was the classical eugenic notion that as with horses, authorities could use genetic principles to improve society through selective breeding.

In a 1927 US Supreme Court decision that upheld the laws, storied jurist Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote: "It is better for all the world if, instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind."

All told, scholars estimate more than 60,000 Americans were sterilised under eugenics laws in the 20th Century.

North Carolina's law stood out for the wide net it cast.

Telling their stories

Most states would only order sterilisation of institutional inmates or patients, North Carolina's allowed for people within the community - typically social workers - to petition the state to have someone sterilised.
Representative Larry Womble, in a handout photo from the North Carolina House Rep Womble says the eugenics programme "borders on genocide"

Of the 1,110 men and 6,418 women sterilised in North Carolina between 1929 and 1974, state health officials estimate about 2,900 could still be alive.

In the decade years several states have re-examined their forgotten legacies - prodded in some cases by newspaper investigations - and extended officially apologies.

North Carolina did so in 2003, but Mr Womble has continued to push for monetary compensation to the victims.

This month, a state task force created by his legislation will hold a public session at which with surviving victims are expected to tell their stories.

The group will eventually make a recommendation for compensation to the governor - $20,000 per person has been suggested.

But the state is facing a $2.5bn (£1.5bn) budget shortfall. The conservative Republicans in control of the state legislature are already poised to slash transport, healthcare and education funds, so it seems unlikely lawmakers will authorise as much as $58m in reparations.
An excerpt from an archival document provided by the North Carolina Department of Administration Some illiterate patients signed an X on forms consenting to be sterilised

"My hope is that the state will recognise that there's never going to be a good time for compensation," says Charmaine Cooper, executive director of the Justice for Sterilization Victims Task Force, the state body.

This is what happens when people don't question those in power.
It's a human nature issue.
Give someone a little bit of authority and they begin to exploit it.
It happens in degrees, but soon gets out of control if left unchecked.
A little corner cut here and there unchallenged leads to an attitude that it's okay to forge ahead and implement ideas without bothering about consulting the people who are allegedly being represented.
Today I learnt that here in the UK there is a private members bill being put forward asking for the 'national minimum wage' to be abolished.
A more honest name for it would a private members bill asking for the legislation that prohibits employees from financially abusing there workforce to be abolished.
Some may ask how I can draw a parallel between US women being sterilized and a private members bill about the national minimum wage.
The reason I can is that none of these things happen in a vacuum.
The little steps I mentioned lead to them.
I don't consider for one second that this private members bill will succeed, but if it goes unchallenged it will be considered as an exercise in testing the waters, and the real attempt will follow a few months or even years down the line.
What comes after that?
What would the next step be?
I'll be honest. It concerns me.
The silence from the majority is seen as backhanded permission for the government to just do as they damn well please, and as I've mentioned before this blind acquiesce just urges us towards a very slippery slope that can lead to simply anything being implemented.
Sterilization of the poor for example.


From the moment punk hit the ground running people have been trying to neatly categorize it.
It's street punk, post punk, punk'n'roll, ska-punk, skate punk, Mongolian nose flute punk, or whatever else they can come up with.
Much of the time the addition of the 'punk' tag is used to describe an attitude, rather than an actual sound, but if there is one branch of the punk rock tree that has thickened over time and become the recognisable noise that the masses will perk their ears up to and say 'that's punk', then that sound is one of heavy metal guitars, huge riffs, occasional solos, driving basslines, pounding drums and a gruff vocal attack covering any anti establishment point you care to mention.
It's stereotypical, much lampooned, and nine time out of ten if you really do need to file it away you could do so under S for shite.
Bands that play it are ten-a-penny.
As with everything there are exceptions to the rule though, and SS-Kaliert are one of them.
By jumping headlong into playing aggressive punk rock with a fist-full of youthful enthusiasm they've managed to drag it screaming out of the mid eighties, where it stagnated, and kicked some life into it.
Their soon to be released album 'Subzero' parachutes straight into the no-mans-land between Exploited, and the harder sound of Rancid, and I fully expect to see any self respecting anti everything sort wearing SS-Kaliert screen printed rag patches this summer, or if they really want to push the boat out then they can paint their logo on the only space left on their leather jacket that hasn't been covered with studs

Monday 13 June 2011

Phoenix Mayhem Punkfest - Ivory Blacks - 12/6/11

There's tumble weed blowing through Ivory Blacks, and in the distance I can hear a noise.
It's a repetitive beat.
It's not the sound of a heartbeat pumping blood around a healthy body, but instead it's the sound of another nail being hammered into the coffin of the live music scene.
This is starting to remind me of 'Groundhog Day'.
Another venue, another poor turn out.
Unless it's a high profile show in a major venue then it's the same old story of bands valiantly battling the Lords of Apathy, and the same sad tale of yet another music fan delving into promoting only to get their arse chewed off.
The Phoenix Mayhem Punk festival is a prime example of this.
Great bands, text book promotion job and a cheap as chips door tax, but it still isn't enough to get people to make that leap from the couch to their local venue.
As a gig goer I'd like to think that my attendance at the shows, the buying of t-shirt and CDs etc is helping keep everything afloat, but I'm delusional.
All I am doing, along with the other people who turned up last night, is fuckin' the dried out coma victim that is the live music scene on this level.
We are the last men, and women, standing.
The ones who refuse to turn of the life support while praying that a miracle will happen and the glory days will return.
It must seem ludicrous from the outside looking in, but the reason we do hang in there is because while others can't be bothered we still get a thrill from watching bands in the clubs and the pubs locally.
We just can't seem to let go.
Enough of that negativity though.
Instead here's what people missed.

The Liberty Club.
Bit of a paradox these guys.
On one hand they sound great, but on the other they look shit.
I don't know if it's supposed to be a punk rock anti fashion statement, but injecting a bit of rock and roll pizazz would have made there set jump up from being damn good to bloody great.
It's getting that balance thing right.
All the bits are in place musically.
The mix of rock guitar and punk rock attitude works extremely well
That side, the most important side, is well covered, but providing a visual show would help the band more so than they may think.
There's nothing worse than a band who are all style and no substance, but a band who are all substance and zero style will struggle to get out of the starting gates to.
It's a harsh reality, but a reality none the less.
Some new threads and moving about a bit could make a world of difference for these guys.
People don't just want to hear a band.
They want to see a band.
As an opening act they fit the bill, but with a tweak here and there and they could easily outgrow that position and do so much more.
The original songs they play hit the spot and their choice of covers is nothing to be sniffed at.
There's a rollicking take on The Newton Grunts homage to Abba called Super Trooper and a ballsy version of Cock Sparrer's Runnin Riot. The latter seeing them joined by Shug O'Neill, currently of The Snipes, but previously a member of Cock Sparrer.
Definitely a band to watch out for.

The Skudpuppetz
First song in and I was thinking it was maybe time I took a walk around the building to kill time until the next band came on. The second song reinforced the idea, but before I got away the third one pulled me in and from then on it wasn't too bad at all.
Strange how that small change of pace and direction can catch your attention.
Initially the Skudpuppetz sounded like they had learnt everything they knew from a couple of Rancid singles and the Ramones song 'Warthog', but once they settled into their set there was a bit of ska thrown in and the sharing of vocals helped shade it all to.
Okay, they have a tendency to go down the vein popping throat tearing one hundred mile an hour punk noise route, but thankfully they aren't as one dimensional as many of their peers can be, and that's important, as without that ability to branch out then they would just be another second division punk band who would wash up on the shores of obscurity.
I wouldn't go as far as to say that they rang my bell, but they didn't piss me off and I didn't go for the walk that I was contemplating on.
A plus for sure.
The talent is most definitely there and I'm sure that fans of harder edged punk rock would lap them up.

Ana Trash and the Sociopaths
This is one of those bands whose name keep popping up, but until this show I couldn't have told anyone much about them.
In my ignorance I thought they were a female fronted band with the traditional lead and rhythm guitars, drums and bass, but instead it's Ana on lead guitar and the Sociopaths are simply Abi Sociopath on drums.
You would expect that being a duo would limit the sound, make it more minimalistic, but that's not the case at all.
Abi carries everything along with a relentless beat and some nice flourishes.
More John Bonham than Meg White.
In fact she's the frantic eye of the storm that holds it all together while Ana riffs away adding her own little sonic twists on the guitar.
To be honest the first song didn't win me over as I found it too repetitive, but then everything clicked into place.
There's a bit of a Slits attitude to what they're doing.
It's not right out front slapping you in the face, but it's there and it helps that Ana can growl and howl with the best of them.
I suppose that while so many bands play to punk rock stereotypes by thinking that making a racket is all that is required Ana Trash and the Sociopaths actually have it sussed.
The racket has to be in context and have a point. It has to have some form in the chaos.
So while others are still blindly scrambling about in the dark trying to get a clue this is the band that have hit the barn door instead of missing it by a mile.

The Media Whores
yet another fantastic set from the Media Whores.
They initially pulled me in when I seen them supporting Spear of Destiny.
It was at that gig that I picked up a a copy of their début 'Starfishing' and since then it seems to keep gravitating to my stereo.
It's what we in Scotland would call a 'belter' of a release, and the band can play the shit out of it live to.
For some strange reason though the majority of an already sparse crowd decided to grab some fresh air, or nicotine, and buggered off when they came on.
It was a what the fuck moment as like everyone else I think the people should like what I like.
That they should appreciate what I hear in a band and concur that they are indeed bloody great.
How the hell anyone would want to wander off and miss these guys is a mystery to me.
While I had enjoyed all the band who had already played to various degrees I would have to say that I would have rather missed one of them than The Media Whores.
I've got to ask.
What's not to like.
It's sort of a full package deal.
They can all play to a very high standard, they have well written original songs and in their front man they have someone that can drive it all home.
Everything is there.
Maybe they're considered not punk enough by a certain type who think that everything starts and ends with a mohican and a studded leather jacket.
Bollocks to that though.
Just because a band can write well crafted melodic songs and play them well doesn't mean that they're not a punk band.
The Media Whores prove that every time the step onto a stage.
I'd personally highly recommend them to anyone who has a record collection that spans the Jam to Wire.
There's a bit of everything in what they do and it all fits together pretty much seamlessly.
There set was definitely one of the highlights of my night.

The Red Eyes
Glasgow's unsung heroes, and I'm not sure what I can add to what I have already said about The Red Eyes in the past.
How many times can you say that a band are the dogs bollocks?
How many superlatives can I use that I haven't already to describe them?
I'm firmly of the opinion that if they had recorded an album in 1979 then they would currently be on par with Stiff Little Fingers or Buzzcocks.
They're that good.
People can laugh at that, but all the evidence I would need to defend my position was there in front of me on the stage.
Go and check them out and then come back and tell me I'm wrong.
Although I'll probably just ignore anyone who disagrees with me.
Alan Bishop has a fine voice and lyrically and musically the band are firing on all cylinders.
I would love to see these guys get the kudos they deserve.
If they were to announce that they were splitting up and did one more gig and advertised it as such, then they could easily pull in a good few hundred people, but by being the stalwarts of the Glasgow scene people seem to have the notion that they don't have to go out and see them as there will always be another gig.
All I can say to that is I thought the same about The Cramps, and then they never came back, and now there is no chance of seeing them.
Now I know people wont see that as the same, but the Message is that you don't know what you've got until it's gone.

The Duel
All the way from London to Glasgow for a single gig.
You can't knock that can you?
It's that sort of attitude that endears people to the band.
Mechanical problems, equipment forgotten and a police stop in Glasgow all raised their ugly heads, but as usual the show must go on.
So there they were, larger than life, but missing their Korg.
Life had thrown them some lemons and they were making lemonade.
I've got no comparison to make with what the band would have sounded with the Korg in place, but without it they rock.
So I don't think that we were missing anything in Glasgow.
What we got was a straight ahead rock and roll show and while I like the breadth of what the band do in the studio this is what I want to see on stage.
Pumpy has been with the band for an age now and the back beat never falters as you would expect, but the new, to me, guys have really brought something else to the party.
Thanos on lead guitar knows his way about the frets and looks as if he enjoys letting go and getting the notes out there. Meanwhile Chris on bass is outstanding.
I'm not a musician, but even to my untrained ears that some fancy stuff he plays and it all nicely balanced.
Nothing that the band do is overpowering and holding anyone else back in the shade.
It's a well oiled machine, or at the every least they are giving the impression that it is, because any changes they have had to make to fill in for the Korg not being used is unnoticeable.
I see bands all the time and many of them can be filed away into two boxes.
Good local bands who are entertaining and then those band who have that little bit of magic that you know could transfer out to a wider audience.
A friend describes them as hobby bands compared to real bands.
The Duel are of the latter type.
This is their life and not a sideline and they live and breath it.
The only misgivings I had about the performance was the inclusion of the keytar.
I'm not sure about the keytar that Andy has, but that's maybe just me.
The damn things just throw up images of Kajagoogoo and their ilk.
Every time my eyes wandered to that side of the stage I just had to ask myself what the fuck Andy was doing with it.
It's just a visual thing though.
I've got a sneaky suspicion that once the show was finished he headed outside, packed it into the back seat of his DeLorean, kick started the flux capacitor, and arrived back in London ten minutes before he was due to leave for Glasgow.
Never mind all that though.
Did I say they were great?
Do I have to say it.
The truth is they were bloody fantastic, and the cover of the Clash's London's Calling was sublime.
Hopefully it wont be as long until I see them again.

Have to say sorry to the Hateful guys as I had to leave just as they were about to go on.
If anyone else want to submit a review of their set then I'll happily add it.

Saturday 11 June 2011

Stepping Stone #2

Thanks to Dan who posted in the Stepping Stones post for giving me a heads up on the band Venrez.
It was his mention of them featuring Alex Kane (Anti-Product/Clam Abuse/Marky Ramones Blitzkrieg) that piqued my interest, and acted as a catalyst for my fingers to jump forward and dance over the keyboard to see what else I could prise from the clutches of the 'net about them.
So what's the skinny?
Well it turns out that Venrez the band is the baby of a colourful guy called Venrez who in a past life was a rather successful movie producer.
I say past life because he has left that one behind him as he sets forth in the world to realize his teenage dream of being a rock star.
Now if the majority of people decided at the age of 55 that they were going to quit their job and reinvent themselves as a modern day Jim Morrison, then family and friends would be forgiven for rallying round to implement an intervention to save them from the mid life crisis that they were having.
Not in this case though, as instead of just jumping in a van with some mates who were similarly tired of the rat race grind Venrez instead recruited Alex Kane on guitar, Jason Womack on guitar and vocals (Bassist for Juliette and the Licks), Michael Bradford on bass and Ed Davis on drums (Also ex Juliette Lewis and the Licks) and hot footed it into the studio to lay down the début album 'Witches Brew'
They had enough material to do two albums, but the rest of the tracks would have to wait as the band hit all the well known Hollyweird venues and slayed audiences wherever they went in support of the album.
Suitably impressed with how things were playing out the band then returned to the studio and recorded the follow up album 'Sell the lie'.
Fast forward to the present and it's in the can, out of the can, pressed onto shiny discs and available for your listening pleasure.
As I type they are getting ready to lay down the foundations for a presence in the UK by touring with LA Guns and flamenco glam punks Gypsy Pistolero.
This tour just seems to be getting better and better.
As you would expect of someone who is dipping his toe into the scene at 55 he has a wealth of musical influences behind him and a band that can deliver no matter what musical path they want to explore.You can give Venrez a listen on their website here ( and if the sounds are enough to wet your appetite then you can hop and skip about a bit and read a recent interview with the man himself.
The photographs are just gratuitous pics of my kids with Alex and Clair of AntiProduct from back in the day for no other reason that I want to post them.
Some kids squirm in embarrassment when a parent shares pictures of them reclining bare assed on a rug, but mine have to put up with this sort of shit.
Top picture is my daughter Alanna aged 6 and about to sing along to Blitzkrieg Bop with Alex at the Wickerman festivals. Bottom picture is my son Euan aged 10 with Clair Product and Alex make up on. This would have been 2005. he interviewed the band around that time to.

Friday 10 June 2011

Stepping Stones

I've been told that I have an enquiring mind.
I've also been told that I'm a cunt.
Neither are worth denying as I've displayed tendencies deserving of being called both.
Maybe one day I'll share a cunt story, but today it's all about my enquiring mind.
Earlier today I thought that I would take a little wander down memory lane and dust off 'Blackout In The Red Room', the début album by Love/Hate.
Blame LA Guns for this. In fact don't.
Blame Gypsy Pistoleros. It's all their fault.
It was them that set me on the glam rock trip in the first place.
In the space of a couple of hours I'd jumped from listening to them, to getting reacquainted with some early LA Guns material - who they'll be supporting on their forthcoming UK tour - to then checking out Jizzy Pearl fronting the band.
So that led me straight to Love/Hate.
The album is still fantastic.
It took me right back to when I seen them playing in King Tuts with the Wildhearts in support.
Although to be honest I barely remember The Wildhearts.
It was after all twenty one years ago.
What I do remember is drinking a great deal, breaking the floor, drinking a great deal, watching a bud cross getting swung about, drinking a great deal and admiring Jizzy swinging from the rafters.
From listening to the album I even went on a hunt and found the tour t-shirt.
There's that enquiring mind jumping from one thing to another.
The t-shirt looks a bit fucked now, but it's worn better over the years than I have.
It's been lying bunched up in a ball at the bottom of a bag for over a decade and still has less wrinkles than me.
In fact I seen a close up of an elephants scrotum on the discovery channel and THAT had less wrinkles than me.
Dirty fuckin elephants scrotums. Grrrrrrr.
Anyway after all that I was looking about the information superhighway (That was the name for the internet way back in the nineties) and I found a Jizzy Pearl website.
It's hasn't been updated in a while, but in it you will find the Love/Hate story as told by Jizzy himself.
I'd thoroughly recommend checking it out. Very entertaining.
It doesn't matter if you're in an aspiring rock band, or just a music fan as I'm sure it will provide a good insight into how great and shite being in a band can be.
It's here.

Phoenix Mayhem Punkfest

Punk festivals are ten-a-penny, but good punk festivals are a rarer breed.
The difference between one and the other is that the ten-a-penny variety are usually just an excuse for a bunch of crusty looking mates to get together and scream 'fuck the police' to their little hearts content.
They're a celebration of the rut that punk got bogged down in, and they do nothing for me.
The better ones are the polar opposite.
The organizers and bands grasp the real punk ethos, and in doing so provide an eclectic mix of entertainment that draws influences from a deeper and more varied pool.
So when word reached my ears that a new Glasgow punk festival was being arranged for a weekend in June I was interested to see how that was going to play out.
Any concern that I had about it being the usual soaps and spikes rabble was quickly put to bed when it turned out that firm supporter of local talent Sandie Noone was the face behind the event.
If someone could be described as the person who knows everyone then it is Sandie.
The Saturday night has a rock solid line up with long term heroes Fire Exit featuring alongside The Snipes.
Both bands, while not sounding like each other, are collectively the sound of Scottish punk rock.
They have that passion that we Scots bring to everything, whether that's a football match, or inventing new culinary delights like deep fried pizzas.
It would be fair to say that some mad but fun drunken mayhem will be certainly guaranteed when they're playing.
Charred Hearts, DUN2DEF, Alkotron and Razorblade Smile are the other bands on the bill.
Out of them I've heard good things about Alkotron and Razorblade Smile.
That's not to take anything away from the other bands.
It's just that I'd be interested to hear these guys play.
Unfortunately I'll not be there.
My Saturday has been scratched off the gig going list.
Yeah. Boo Hoo.
However Sunday is free and in my humble opinion I've fell lucky with that when I look at whose lined up to play.
Hateful. A great band who along with The Red Eyes really should have jumped up a league years ago. Carling should sponsor them and put out a punk rock adverts saying that Hateful don't do bad gigs.
Oh, I mentioned The Red Eyes, check. They're playing to.
What's that you say Jimmy?
While I share you excitement can you just fuck off as your a midget pensioner dressed like a wee school boy and your weirding me out.
The Duel are all the way up from London to play as well.
This just keeps getting better and better.
The Media Whores did a great set supporting Spear of Destiny a while ago and their debut is a crackin' foray into how mature melodic punk should be played so I'm looking forward to getting reacquainted.
I've not seen the remaining three bands Ana Trash and the Sociopaths, Skudpuppetz and The Liberty Club, but I'm in little doubt that at the very least they are going to be interesting to catch for the first time.
So fingers crossed that this is a huge success, and just the first of something that will become an annual event.
Or instead of crossing your fingers you could maybe just go and support the bands playing.
£15 for both days or a £10 for one.
The price of a CD from HMV for thirteen bands. Put like that it sounds like a bargain.
Get in.

Thursday 9 June 2011

Gypsy Pistoleros update

Since reviewing the Gypsy Pistolero album that was frontman Lee Pistolero's recent release (Gypsy Pistolero - (Duende) Last of the Pistoleros) I've been giving myself a bit of a crash course on the band.
Turns out they had three albums and an ep out that were well received in rock circles.
Woooooosh. That's the sound of them going over my head.
I'm sort of bemused how they could have past me by, but never mind that because although I missed the party first time they've recently reformed, started recording and best of all are on the road in the UK with LA Guns.
Here's the press blurb and tour dates that Lee sent me through.
Oh yeah, and click on the tour poster for it to enlarge.

"My Big Fat Gypsy Party album!!!"
To be recorded in August recorded mixed & produced by Mark Westwood (Shadowland,Blanco Diablo, Motorcity Daredevils,I.Q, Ark,) & Nick Allen (Suede, The Libertines, Big Country, Goldfrap, James Blunt)

GYPSY PISTOLEROS -"My Big Fat Gypsy Party album!!
By those Dirty thieving Pistolero rip off bastards!
The covers album!!!

The Rolling Stones-Paint it Black
Hanoi Rocks-Malibu Beach
Crystal Pistol-Rockstar
David Bowie-Wild is the Wind
The Sweet-Blockbuster
The Cult-Wildflower
The Osmands-Crazy Horses
Manic Street Preachers-Slash & Burn
Terry Jacks-Seasons in the Sun
La Bamba-Los Lobos
Dogs D'amour-Last Bandit

This special covers album will be released in November to coincide with a full blown Euro Tour!
More Festival appearances TBA

All enquiries regarding GYPSY PISTOLEROS -

The fat lady is singing.

Well that's it official.
Michael Monroe has announced today that Ginger is leaving the band.
This will come as no surprise to Michael Monroe and Ginger fans.
The issues with the management have been bubbling away for a while now, and it wasn't so much a question of if Ginger would leave, but more so when.
Ginger has commented that it was down to either him or the management, and Michael chose the management.
That's as simple as it gets.
In hindsight I think that Michael may see this as a mistake, but that's just a personal opinion, and only time will tell what the impact will be.
The real parting of the ways will be on the June 17th at Provinssirock.
Now that would be a gig to tuck under your belt.
It will be the closing of one chapter before the opening of another on the 26th in Helsinki.
This is the gig where the band will be supporting The Foo Fighters, and unveiling the new guitarist.
It looks like they want to keep the name under wraps and this live appearance will serve as the introduction.
This reticence to say a name has led to some wild speculation.
Steve Stevens, Todd Youth returning to the fold, Nasty Suicide, Andy McCoy and Richard Fortus to name a few.
I'm going to go out on a limb with a suggestion though.
Lets just say that if I was to write a name on a sheet of paper, fold it up and put it in an envelope saying it wasn't to be opened until the 26th. Then the name that would be in it would be Izzy Stradlin's.
I don't have any inside info and I'm not basing that on rumour.
It's just a hunch.
If this was the case then it would be a promotional godsend for the release of Sensory Overdrive in the US.
Having an original member of Guns and Roses on board will always be a good move for any band looking to push into the US market.
I'll leave it at that regarding the new guitarist though, and either celebrate with a pint if it happens or eat some humble pie if it doesn't

Meanwhile to avoid any sort of further speculation as to the ins and outs of why Ginger has left the band he has been refreshingly frank on Formspring answering any questions put to him.

Here's some of the questions and replies that should hopefully give everyone an overview of where Ginger stands on the change of circumstances..

Are you departing as a friend from MM or is it more like you try to avoid each other?
No, me and Michael will be friends forever. As I will be with all the guys in that band. We became brothers in music after the last 18 months.

Did you have misgivings about the management situation before the guitar auction/Facebook fiasco?
I did, but that was the final straw.

What were the other reasons you left for apart from management
When it came to decision making I was never as much of a chief member as Michael and Sami. This is understandable as they formed the band. I was aware of my position from the beginning, but coming from a position as band leader (with The Wildhearts) this was an increasingly difficult situation for me.

Your thoughts on Sensory O's promotion in Britain?
Appalling. A disgrace and insult to someone of Michael's calibre.

Are you and Michael ok? Honestly.
Me and Michael are 100% okay.

Do you wish you were playing with the MM band at the foos gig?
Yes, I do. If I'd known I was to be replaced right now I would have liked that to have been my final show.

Would you have stayed with the MM band if the manager had been sacked?

So there you go. The times they are a changing.
Interesting days indeed.

Saturday 4 June 2011

Rock to Cure Cancer

There's probably no need to twist anyones arm here to help out a good cause, but if it does need twisted then send me your address and I'll be round in five minutes.
Meanwhile get the kettle on as arm twisting is thirsty work, and while you're waiting for it to boil you could have a look at the items up for auction, maybe get on the phone and sort out childcare or whatever so you can pop along to the gig, or just send a message through facebook and sort out a donation.
Just paste this into your browser to see what's been donated so far.

Friday 3 June 2011

The beginning of the end, or what?

WARNING. This is a rambling rant.

As most friends and acquaintances know I have been in a long term relationship with live music.
It's a classic love affair that has now been going on for just a little over three decades.
We have had our highs and our lows.
Who wouldn't over such a long period?
We have enjoyed nights that I wished could have went on forever, and on others I have wished the evening to end sooner rather than later.
That's sort of normal though.
It would be fair to say that sometimes live music hasn't fulfilled my needs.
Although it would also be fair to say that sometimes hard financial times have led me to pay less attention to live music than it deserves.
We are still together though. Probably in it for the long haul.
But it's difficult just now.
Live music doesn't seem as popular as it once was and I've found myself wondering why.
Initially I was looking for one problem that I could hang my hat on.
One issue that was the big ugly dragon that we could slay before getting on with business as usual, but the more I think about it the more problems are thrown up that need to be considered.
So why does it appear that the public have fallen out of love with live music?
It's a serious question.
Firstly what needs to be addressed is the misconception that everything is fine and dandy.
Of course some will say that they went to see Roger Waters perform The Wall and it was sold out, while others will have taken their kids to see the latest chart topper playing in front of a huge crowd and in their opinion these large scale sold out events would indicate that I'm talking absolute rubbish.
Based on their experiences they could claim that live music is still a much loved and cherished social event.
It's not really true though.
All we can take from that is that huge events with a huge advertising budget and nostalgia sells, and none of that is doing much to bring through new talent.
Everything looks fine and dandy on the surface, but scratch at it and tell me what's lurking beneath?
The current state of affairs seems to me to be like the shiny red apple used to coax Snow White into a coma.
On the outside it is looking fine, but bite into it and it's got a rotten core.
And I would say that it's only a matter of time before the signs of decay make their way to the surface.
Okay, some will ask where the evidence of this decline is.
Well the writing is on the wall in every club/pub sized venue across the whole of the UK.
Venues are closing on what seems to be a weekly basis, and bands are apparently playing to dwindling audiences everywhere.
I was going to do a top ten of problems, but none of the issues deserve to be raised as being more important than another so I'm just going to start in and see where it goes.
How about promotion being an issue?
Piss poor promotion really pisses me off big style.
A few weeks ago I found out that Kid Congo had played a gig in Glasgow.
I would have been there with bells on if I had known anything about it, but I didn't.
One small photocopied A4 sheet of paper blue tacked to a wall doesn't cut it as spreading the word.
I'm not the only person who missed it either.
So that's a case of those booking the bands shooting themselves in the foot.
To an extent it was the same deal with The Urban Voodoo Machine playing a show in Glasgow.
Triple G promotions pulled the show due to a lack of ticket sales.
Yet the only promotion I seen was a single mention on a multiple band flyer handed out late at night to those leaving the Michael Monroe show.
No posters, no individual flyers, and nary a buzz about it.
It seems very basic, but how the fuck do you sell tickets to people who are unaware of the gig taken place?
The proof that they were wrong to pull the gig was evident when the band went ahead and played in a venue called The Bay instead.
Starting from scratch they got a very good turn out for a Wednesday night show that was put on at short notice with a limited amount of promotion available to them.
If Triple G had pulled out all the stops and used their muscle then I would think that a good turnout in the original venue would have been achieved.
That sort of leads on to another problem that has become apparent to me that's linked to the problems of poor promotion.
While spreading the word about the Urban Voodoo Machine show a few clubs and bars told us they had a policy of not advertising gigs that aren't being held in their venue.
Forgive me, but that just tells me that they aren't music fans.
It's all about the money for them.
Let me here you 'IT'S ALL ABOUT THE MONEY'.
Let's just look at how that attitude works on a business level.
If they don't promote other gigs in other venues then why should they be allowed to poster and flyer in other establishments?
So by not participating in promoting music on a wider scale they are limiting how many people hear about the shows that they have on.
I can see how that would make sense.
Oh wait a minute. I fuckin' don't.
It's capitalist dogma.
Each and every one of them wants to corner a market for their own personal gain, and in doing so are fucking it up royally.
Lets be honest here.
As a music lover if you head into a bar/venue and you see a whole host of posters and flyers on the tables advertising bands playing all over the city you get the impression that the owners and the bar staff are passionate about being part of something.
If they limited that to just promoting their own shows then you get the impression that they're not.
There's no point me mentioning any of this as a problem if I'm not going to name and shame the guilty though.
So here you go.
Of the Glasgow venues Box weren't up for it. Maggie May's said no, Cosmopol was another.
The Solid Rock allowed us, but a few days later told a friend no - so I guess it depends who is on shift - and The Captains Rest said they only do CPL shows, and then King Tuts knocked us back to, although we did leave flyers.
On the flip side Nice and Sleazy have a fair policy. They reserve the bar for their own events for posters, but you can flyer there, and the entrance and hallway leading downstairs is available to anyone to promote a show by putting up posters.
The 13th Note were more than happy to allow us to poster as were Mono. So it isn't all bad, but it is a fact that by disallowing the advertising of gigs certain venues are coming across as part of the problem and not the solution.
Of the record stores they were far more positive with 'Love Music, Fopp and Missing records all allowing posters to be put up.
(If anyone wants to highlight others who do or don't allow posters then feel free in the comments.)
Okay, all that I've said has an impact, but what else?
Apathy. I hear it all the time, and yes it's a problem. I'm not sure what the answer is.
Anyone who doesn't go to gigs and claims to love music needs to ask themselves what the score is.
It's down to them personally.
Okay, here's another problem though. Downloading.
No, not the old illegal downloading is killing music debate, but instead I've noticed that many younger people don't buy or even illegally download albums.
Instead they hear one song and download that for their i-phone or mp3 player.
They can have 300 tracks by 300 different artists and that doesn't lead to them wanting to shell out for a ticket to see a band play for an hour.
They just want to hear that one song.
Everything else a band has recorded is unknown waters for them, and they're very reluctant to dip a toe in and see if the water is warm.
I suppose that comes down to marketing though.
The push, push, push of everything now, now, now.
Unfortunately that one track downloaded doesn't lend itself to selling tickets for a gig.
Money is another problem, but I think the perception of the cost of a night out taking in some live music is more of a problem than the actual cost itself.
If, for instance, the last three shows you were at were big events in stadiums or larger venues then you could have paid about £120 for a ticket including your booking fees, your travelling, a drink and a meal, or maybe even more.
An expensive night out, but that sort of thing lodges in the brain and people start to think that going to see bands is an exercise in extortion, but that isn't the case.
I've been to see three bands at £3.
By the end of the night you can genuinely bring an evenings entertainment in at 20 quid.
A few drinks, a few bands and good company.
Maybe the reality of what the smaller scale shows cost needs to be pushed more.
That also leads on to something else.
The fear of the unknown.
Some will look at that and say, but I'm not paying three quid for three bands I've never heard of, but I would say to them that in a city centre pub they could pay three quid or more for a foreign beer that you've never tried before and that beer isn't going to last as long as the three bands playing will.
So once again it's a matter of perceptions needing to be challenged.
Then as pointed out by the guys in the Acid Fascists live music has to compete with everything from the latest x-box game to x-factor on the television.
We live in an era where entertainment bombards us from every angle and live music could just be getting lost in the deluge.
seeing as I'm here and ranting I'll have a pop at Oasis as well.
Since they arrived every young band has a bit of Liam and Noel in them and after seeing a hundred million of them week in week out you start to think 'what is the fuckin' point'.
Rather than being the saviours of guitar rock they simply launched a thousand imitators.
Bands that may have well traded as tributes to a watered down Beatles
Maybe this lack of originality has had a bit of an impact to. Hell I don't know.
I could go on, and on, and on, but instead it's over to you.
I've got the ball rolling on this and I want to hear what else we can come up with.
Problems? Solutions. Whatchyagot?