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Saturday 25 August 2012

The forgotten victims.

Over the years I have worked and socialized with what must be literally thousands of people.
The vast majority are what we would all label as normal.
Whatever normal actually is.
They have their good days and their bad days.
We all do.
We all deal with these highs and lows in life in different ways, but in general we all muddle through.
Just get from one day to the next as best we can.
Thankfully, as I have said, this has been my experience of the majority.

Sadly there are a minority of people who struggle at times, and because they are struggling they make the lives of those around them difficult.
Sometimes we can deal with it as long as there's a time frame to it.
It's easier to let their unhappiness wash over you when there's that light at the end of the tunnel.
Other times there's no light ahead and their bad days are relentless.
It's a horrible existence for them.
On paper, and in conversation, it is easy to say that these individuals need some help and we should exercise some empathy and patience.
It's true. We should.
That of course is easier said than done though.
Right now I know someone who is receiving multiple telephone calls on a daily basis from an individual who is very obviously unwell.
While this woman that I know has never given me the impression that she lacks empathy, it is apparent that she is creeping ever closer to the end of her tether with the situation.
I don't mean that she is going over the edge herself.
Just that the strain is never ending and she must just wish for it to stop.
There's been unsubstantiated allegations made about her, her business and more.
The police have been called and the matter is now in their hands as far as I can tell.
I sincerely doubt that the woman who is being harassed wished to involve the police, but her options were limited so what could she really do?

Another friend is on the receiving end of some unwanted attention from a man she knows.
No matter how often she has clearly stated that a relationship is not what she wants, and no matter how often others have told this man the same on her behalf, it isn't managing to sink in.
It's entirely possible that the police will have to be involved in this if it continues as it seems likely to.
Now once again we could rationalize this persons behaviour, and even have a degree of sympathy for him, but we aren't the ones on the receiving end of his inappropriate displays of affection, or threats of self harm if he doesn't get the attention he considers he deserves.
If we were, then can we honestly claim our cups would be runneth over with sympathy for him?

Then there's the people who can never maintain relationships with people.
I've seen two examples of that lately.
One was from a person who is a musician.
They have had many many projects on the go, and every single one ends acrimoniously with threats being issued.
Every single band member that they have worked with are touted as the best musician they have ever been professionally involved with.
Then a few weeks later they are the back stabbing spawn of Satan.
Now when it happens once then fine, when it happens twice it's less so fine.
When it happens three times, four times, every time.
What then?
After a while who is the common thread?
Who is it that really has the problem?
Then when you accept that it is the individual, and not everyone that surrounds them, you have to think about the truly awful things that have been alleged about all these ex band members and how much stress these broadsides have elicited.
It seems obvious to me that the people who the finger of blame is being pointed at are also victims in this case.
Of course we should expect that support should be provided, but who to?
It seems that the person who has the difficulty working with others needs support, but should those who have been on the receiving end of their threats and abuse be left unsupported?

Similarly there's someone else I know who displays the same sort of issues.
It's never ever their fault.
Everyone is against them and Machiavellian plots surround them.
Of course no one is actually out to get the person at all.
Most people are mature enough to make it clear that while they may well have an issue with certain actions and behaviour, that this is as far as it goes.
Sort of a hate the sin and not the sinner situation.
Yet from my point of view this individual regularly fails to accept that there may be some truth to the accusation or allegation of wrongdoing, and they would rather lash out and claim that others are conspiring their downfall than entertain that they themselves could be the problem.
Unfortunately there are some who I would say misguidedly support those who are reluctant to accept responsibility for the actions they put in motion, and these people then sort of allow the negativity that harms everyone involved to continue.
They extend the misery and put a mutually beneficial solution outwith the reach of everyone whose lives are impacted by what is going on.
It's all very dramatic isn't it?
Most of us are aware that very few people have the time or inclination to plot another persons downfall.
This is real life and not a Hollywood script.
No one should be supporting anyone in believing that they are being plotted against. 

So while I would strongly advocate that anyone who has some issues should be supported.
I would add that maybe we should try hard not to pander to their issues and therefore inflame situations.
We should also at the same time reserves some empathy for the people who are often being worn down by the unwanted attention from those who are clearly having a difficult time dealing with their own lives.
After all they could be described as the collateral damage of an internal conflict inside the head of another.
Are we really giving them the support they deserve?

Happy Birthday Lisa Vermin

This was supposed to be a review of the Distorted Truth gig in Pivo Pivo, but my evening didn't really go as planned.
So instead if I was to keep a diary then I suppose this is what I would have filled it with.

Some days you have to look at the flow of humanity and question where we are going.
Underneath Central Stations Guinness record breaking glass ceiling you could be forgiven for thinking that in the vast expanse of space it would hold a microcosm of the whole world.
All of the weird and wonderful could press shoulders with the everyday and the mundane.
Yet when I arrive all I can see is predominately three different groups of people.
There's the nine to fivers looking worn down and killing time till they can get home and shut the world out.
Wage slaves of which I am one.
Then there's the people who have fallen through the cracks of society and are looking to find something to get them through the night into the next day.
It could be fifty pence for a cup of tea, or a couple of pounds that they can put towards whatever their chosen oblivion provider is.
Hanging about, and adding sizeably to the throng, are the tribal kids.
Look at us! We are all so different in our uniformity.
There's nothing wrong with their naivety.
They're just filling time between the innocence of youth and the reality of adulthood.

Is this really it though?
Between birth and death is this really all we can be?
Of all the sparks of electricity firing inside our heads and carrying ideas and dreams from one place to another is this the sum of our efforts?

Thank fuck FOPP was still open and its array of what is the end product of creativity could distract me for a while and lift me from the edge of the pit of despair that I sometimes hover over.
The box set of War Child seven inch singles I picked up was the perfect dark cloud buster.
Fifteen singles featuring artists covering a classic with the original version being on the b-side.
Now that what I call a result.

Kelly set her sights on the limited edition metal box set of AC/DCs Black Ice album and quickly secured one.
A nice purchase that if I was flush with cash I would have grabbed myself.
I'm sure that some would ask why a man of my age would want a CD that comes in a metal tin with some stickers, a plectrum and a large flag?
I would ask why a man of my age wouldn't want one?

Wetherspoons provided a cheap meal for us in the gap between the shops closing and the gig starting.
It really is the poor man's version of dining out.
My southern fried chicken wrap with chips is as exotic as my finances stretch it seems.

The gig wasn't really a normal gig at all and instead was doubling up as a surprise twenty first birthday party for Glasgow punk Lisa Vermin.
I'd like to say I know her, but I have only ever spoken to her maybe twice in passing.
Lovely girl though, and it was heart warming to see that people care enough for someone to make the effort to arrange a whole gig just for them.
No one does that unless the person is rather special.
Lovely really, and a good example of what the punk scene should be, but often isn't.

Met a young guy at the gig.
He had the punk uniform of tartan bondage trousers, sleeveless band shirt et al, but I was pleasantly surprised when we started chatting and he revealed himself to be open minded in general about music and life itself.
It was refreshing to meet someone of such tender years who fundamentally got what punk is.
He could learn some old dogs some new tricks.
He works down south on yachts because it's the job he wants and feels passionate about.
I suspect no one will steam roller him into fitting a tidy box to suit their expectation.

Buzzbomb were as good as I expected them to be.
Between the three guys in the band they can vocally cover anything you want. From melodic pop punk in the style of The Ramones to some bone crunching rock.
It's all down with a great deal of energy and the covers of Sonic Reducer and Halloween were given a bit of a slap and delivered at 100mph.

My enjoyment of them was impacted on a bit by a growling stomach pain that was becoming increasingly distracting as they played.
When they finished I made a bee line for the toilets and lets just say that is anyone has the number for the Chernobyl clean up crew then can they pass it on to Pivo Pivo.
It's entirely possible that my anus looks like a gunshot wound.

I could have left the gig at this juncture, but big Kyle Thunder of Filthy Little Secret and The Bucky Rage had told me I really need to see Alkotron so many times that I felt obligated to hang about.
I'm glad I did.
Starting off with an instrumental in the vein of the Shadows, albeit a Shadows without Cliff and featuring a thumping bass line.
After that it was a case of all bets were off.
Sometimes it sounded like JJ Burnell on bass and David Gilmour on guitar.
On a couple of songs I was taken back to the leafy glades of Glastonbury where out of my face on Gorbachovs I'd dance to extended dub reggae jams bathed in strobe lights.
Mental stuff.
There's really no point in trying to pigeon hole the band as that's not what they are about.
Their whole set just screams an appreciation of music.
It's an aural magical mystery tour of excellence.
Highly recommended to the open minded.

Then my guts started to issue a four minute warning again and after another major evacuation I decided that leaving was a better idea that ruining Lisa's party.

I have no doubt that Splinter and Distorted Truth would have continued the evening in fine style.

Friday 24 August 2012

Kirk Brandon Acoustic Set - Pivo Pivo Glasgow - 21/10/12

After some messages flew back and forth I am now pleased to confirm that the one and only Kirk Brandon will be doing a special little acoustic set for us all in Glasgow.

This is the second bite at the cherry for me as I had previously booked him to play in my home town of Kilmarnock, but unfortunately that was when Kirk fell unwell and the tour was cancelled.

It was a massive blow at the time as Spear of Destiny were about to go out on the road in support of their album, and his health issues, while unavoidable, served to throw a spoke into the wheels of progress for the band.

Months, if not years of hard work in writing and recording an album that was universally lauded sort of went tits up.

I sometimes think that Kirks career could be described as one step forward and two steps back, always.
Undeservedly it often seems that just as everything is about to come together Lady Luck decides to bestow a wink on the less talented and leave Kirk displaying the fighting spirit that his fans, who I count myself as one, admire.

So here he is again, and I am sure that like me, you will want to welcome him with open arms.

As an aside I am looking for a little help here.
When Kirk was booked to play in Kilmarnock a young woman bought three tickets.
I think she lived in Ayr.
She was the only one who wasn't refunded and I have never been able to track her down.
She was very excited about Kirk playing.
I'm pretty sure that she nurses the wounds of thinking she was ripped off.
It would be great if she stepped forward, or someone gave her a nudge as she, and her two friends, will be guest listed for this one in may of compensation.

Looking forward to seeing everyone at this.


Thursday 23 August 2012

Social Distortion/Dave Hause/Chris Devotion and the Expectations - Glasgow Garage - 22/08/12

For one reason (finances) or another (finances) I've never made the pilgrimage to the big smoke to see Social Distortion.
Their star and mine have never aligned in the heavens, and very often I thought that they would be one of those bands on my 'I really gotta see them' list that I wouldn't.
So when they announced their very first date in Scotland I was all over it.
Tickets were secured and the waiting game was played.
In the run up to it friends from all over the UK caught them playing at the Rebellion festival and the universal opinion was that their performance was drab, slow and misguided.
I'll admit that it was the last thing I wanted to hear.
I'd waited a very long time to see these guys, and a substandard show wasn't something that I was wanting to contemplate.
On the day itself there was a bit of a buzz, but not a lot as the ghost of the Rebellion performance seemed to loom large and cast a depressive dark shadow over everything.

Thankfully it didn't manage to get past the doors of the Garage though, and inside the venue the excitement was palpable.
Chris Devotion and The Expectations were up first and ran through much of the many highlights of there debut album 'Amalgamation and Capital' to great effect.
To call them a support band does them a real disservice.
Instead they're a headliner looking for a larger stage and an audience.
I suspect that they wont be waiting long.
They certainly have the songs, musical ability and attitude to turn peoples heads.
In parts they're echoing the Phil Spector girl band sound as filtered through the Ramones, but with better backing vocals than 'Da Brudders', and at others they're kicking the shit of of a Woody Guthrie cover.
Their whole set is on fire from start to finish.
For an opening act they set the bar very high and I could easily imagine Dave Hause standing in the wings asking himself how he could follow such a performance.

Not that Dave Hause would really have been fazed as he's been treading the boards for a while now. He knows the score and has paid his dues over and over.
It takes balls to stand on a large stage alone with only an acoustic between you and an audience.
There's no band mates to lean on, and no one to carry you.
It's raw and exposed, but Dave has it nailed down.
Like a few others who are rooted in a punk background, but have moved into acoustic blue collar rock, or country, he has an impassioned approach to his material.
It's people like him who are playing what could be described as 'the real deal'.
There's no rock by numbers aspect to it and no attempt to dilute the punk angle on the music.
While some are happy to push punk into a uniformed ghetto it's Dave Hause, Cory Branan and the like who are displaying the real punk ethos of doing what they want and disallowing anyone to limit how they express themselves.
It works to great effect as well.
Everything sounds alive. The veins in his neck are popping and he pushes the lyrics hard.
The audience lap it up.
Especially when he sings his Loved Ones track 'Jane' with the audience screaming back 'alright, alright'.
It's one of those defining moments when everything clicks into place and everything does actually feel 'alright' with the world.
I was in two minds about going to see the Gaslight Anthem later on in the year, but Dave might have swayed me as I'm told he's on the bill to.

Then there was the moment that everyone had been waiting for.
From where I'm standing I can see Mike Ness shaking his arms out like a boxer at the side of the stage, then he's ducking and diving a bit, shadow boxing and throwing punches.
He's was looking good.
Like he had stepped from the set of Angels With Dirty Faces.
As The Beastie Boys regale us with No Sleep til Brooklyn Social Distortion walk onto the stage and it's all business.
I'd previously said that if they didn't play 'I Was Wrong' I would be immensely displeased, but it's the first song of the set and immediately every nagging doubt that the band would fail to deliver vanished in seconds.
They were on fire, and so was the Glasgow crowd.
It not long into the set before you could see Mike Ness visibly relax.
Maybe he'd read some of the negative press about Blackpool and was just a little concerned about another gig that was out of the bands comfort zone that is London.
He needn't have been.
By bringing his A game its a legendary comeback for the band.
While some of the Rebellion faithful claimed they had seen a band on the ropes here was one shaking the lead from their tired legs and going for the knock-out to silence their critics.
The may as well opened by bellowing that tonight no prisoners will be taken.
The effort they put into the show is returned in kind, and all around me voices are raised as they sing along, and it looks like a mile wide smile is tattooed on the face of virtually everyone in attendance.
It's a best of set with a few songs thrown in from the latest album and it's lapped up greedily.
There's very little showbiz flash.
It's really just nose to the grindstone rock and roll. Dirt under the fingernails stuff.
Halfway through the night Mike Ness is drenched in sweat and you can see it dripping from his elbows and splashing onto the stage.
The energy he was exerting could have powered a small town.
It's to the bands credit that they not only made it to the end of the night without collapsing, but returned to deliver the coupe de grace that was Folsom Prison Blues and Ring OF Fire.

In my head I have an image of them all sitting backstage in the aftermath of the show and Mike asking someone to get in contact with their manager and ask why the fuck no one told him about his Scottish fans.
I would be surprised if the miss us out on any subsequent European tours.

An open letter to DF

Hi, How you doin',
Let me introduce myself. I'm Mainy and I do a blog.
It's the usual mish mash of poor writing, in jokes and rubbish that mainstream magazines wouldn't touch with a barge pole, but it does pretty well.
Quite a few people all over the world seem to like it.
Anyway. I was at your Social Distortion gig in the Garage last night.
An excellent show.
Both supports (Chris Devotion and the Expectations/Dave Hause) were as good as any headlining act that has graced that stage in my opinion.
The sound and lighting were spot on in my humble opinion to, the bar staff of the venue were very friendly and all things considered you could argue that this was the sort of gig that could be highlighted to other promoters as how a show should be put on.
So well deserved pats on the back all round.

However there was one very little thing that poured a bit of rain on what was in the main an enjoyable night.
It might be something that you are unaware of.

The problem was that on arriving the security took some flyers off me that I was going to distribute outside after the show.
I was told by the security that I couldn't advertise gigs that weren't DF concert ones.
Now this is where it gets into the realms of the Little Britain sketch where David Walliams utters the line 'computer says no'.
I was initially told that I couldn't flyer for a gig that wasn't run by DF Concerts.
I explained that the flyers were for a blog and not another gig, but that seemed to confuse the guy so he passed the buck to uber-security man who parroted the same line about not promoting other gigs.
I explained again that it wasn't for a gig and he had a look at the actual flyer.
You know the sort.
The kind that don't mention a venue, a band, a date or anything at all about another event.
Just the sort that mention a blog and provide a link for people to find it.
I also mentioned that I was here to see the bands and I would be handing the flyers out after the gig. All 21 of them.
Once again he said 'computer says no'.
Well he didn't.
It was really 'you can't advertise gigs that aren't run by DF'.
So I sort of walked him through what a blog was and he screwed his eyes up and it sounded like some gears were about to go into motion, but sadly they didn't and he firmly mentioned that line again.
Although this time he did say that they could keep them for me and I would get them back on leaving.
I said that was fine, but to clarify the situation asked if what he was meaning was that I wasn't going to be allowed to promote a blog that would feature a review of a DF concert and therefore promote a DF Concerts event.
Do you want to guess what he said in reply?
You know.
I don't really have to tell you do I?

Now don't get me wrong. I don't think for one second that such stringent instructions have come directly from on high to the lowly door man.
What I think is that this was an individual who couldn't make a judgement call on the situation. Someone who likes to know what the rules are and stick to them regardless.
If a fire broke out in the Garage at 9pm and he had been instructed not to leave his post until midnight then I suspect someone would be sifting through his charred remains this morning.
Rules are rules.

So is there any chance you could maybe make that judgement call on behalf of those who find it difficult and possibly pass on that flyers for blogs and such can slip through the net?
It wont have a negative impact on your business.
In fact anyone reviewing music is oiling the wheels of the machine.

I look forward to your response.


PS. As mentioned I loved the actual gig and a flowery praise laden review of the show will be up soon.

Tuesday 21 August 2012

Hurray For The Riff Raff - Pivo Pivo, Glasgow, 30th Aug

In just little over a week I have the pleasure to be putting on Hurray For The Riff Raff on what is the first night of their headlining UK tour.
I don't think I can really convey how excited I am about this.
Whenever anyone uses the word promoter to describe me I cringe.
I'm not a business man.
The simple truth is that I'm a music fan who sometimes puts on a gig or to.
So the excitement I feel has nothing to do with any money - it's a non profit making gig with the money after my outlay going to cover the cost of Hurray for the Riff Raff, and the rest being split between the supports – and everything to do with my appreciation of the talents of the band.
Since I first heard them there's not a day goes by that I don't listen to them.
Sometimes it is the whole of one of their albums, other days it is just a song here and there as I share them out online as I promote the show.
Whenever I do listen to them I actually feel a bit of a thrill.
There's something primitively enchanting about them.
They just sound.....well real I suppose.
Lacking in the trappings of showbiz.
Part of the attraction is also that on studio recordings it is so very obvious that they are primarily a live band, and I'm literally counting down the days until they arrive.
I just now that on a stage in front of an audience they will push things onto the next level.
Friends have commented about the link with Alabama Shakes and their success (They share a producer), likewise the media attention that the band are now getting (mentions in The Sun, Sunday Times, Mojo and Uncut) as if this has anything to do with why I am looking forward to the gig.
In some peoples eyes it seems like a big deal, and it is, but the main thing for me is that I'm involved in putting on a band that I truly admire. 
The icing on the cake is that all the supports, Little Fire, The Dirt and Matt Scott are all friends.
In my head the night is going to be like a big warm family party.

So far sales of tickets have went very well, and without exaggerating to generate more sales it does look like it will sell out.
I sincerely hope it does.
The band deserve nothing less than a honestly rousing support to start their tour off.
Now listen to this with an open mind and forget what is in or out of fashion. Just listen.

Jaya The Cat - The New International Sound of Hedonism

While some are getting their panties in a bit of a twist about the Tim Armstrong produced Jimmy Cliff album I hope they reserve some of their attention for Jaya the Cat and their 'The New International Sound of Hedonism' release.
While I'm aware that this may upset some, and others will scream sacrilege when I say it, but from my point of view Jaya the Cat have effortlessly pissed all over the efforts of Tim and Jimmy with this release.
Not since I was introduced to The Slackers have I been so impressed with a band who have been delving into the sounds of reggae, ska and punk.
This is a skanking masterpiece, and I don't claim that lightly.
Doctors all over the world should be prescribing it as a cure for depression.
Slip it on and feel the muscles in your cheeks get a work out as a long lost smile begins to reappear.
Hey. What's that?
Yep. It's your toe tapping to the beat.
While it only rarely pushes aggressively it's got a vibe to it that I could see Marley and Strummer kicking back and chilling to.
It's entirely possible that Joe would say to Bob. 'That's the sound of our footprints in the sand' and Bob would wisely nod in agreement as he took a deep hit.
Very often people say to me that there's no good music any more, and when they do it's the name of a band like Jaya the Cat that I throw at them as proof of how crass their statement is.
Do yourself a favour and get aboard this train. You won't regret it and that's a promise.  

Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Americana

With an album that has split opinions of fans and critics alike Neil Young is back with Crazy Horse, and doing what he does best, and that's not giving much of a fuck about the expectations people have of him.
On this outing he's going for reinterpretations of songs by different artists, but not in the style of say Cash on the American recordings, or the slew of artists who followed on from the Man in Black down that track.
Instead Young has dismantled each song and rebuilt it with self indulgent glee.
The main question is does it work though?
Well that's where opinions differ with some claiming it is the worst album he has ever released, and other claiming it to be the best in a long time.
What that tells you is that you shouldn't listen to the opinion of anyone about it, mine included, and just go at it blind and form your own views separate from the cry of the crowd.
My own take on it, and one that is probably rooted in coming from a rock and punk background, is that it kicks arse.
At times it sounds like a boisterous jam session in a garage.
Just a bunch of old guys crackin' open some beers, plugging the amps in and on the count of three going at it with a disrespectful sneer at the neighbours who are disinclined to listen to them.
At other points, for example on Gallows Pole, it sounds like one of them has pushed for them all to get a bit more serious in how they have their fun.
I suspect that even those who are desperately clinging onto a negative view must have a hint of a wry smile on their lips when they listen to 'Get a Job'.
I mean how couldn't you?
Over all, and given some time, I doubt anyone will really be looking to tag it with a 'worst album in a long time' badge, and instead will find a place in their heart for it.
It's already occupying a little corner in mine. 


The Creeping Ivies - Ghost Train.

Credit where it's due.
It was Homesick Aldo who turned me onto these guys and I think I may be eternally grateful to him for doing so.
They're a glorious mish mash of The Cramps, 80's goth and lo-fi garage punk.
When listening to the free Ghost Train ep it sounds like it's a cassette that I've dug up out of a box that lurked at the back of my wardrobe.
A box that was skulking under an old pair of pointy toed Chelsea boots and an old issue of 'Rolling Bones'.
They are going to have to reopen the Batcave Club so this band can shake the cobwebs loose.
Closing track Chicken Voodoo Blues sounds like a 60s Spector produced girl group, but only after they have indulged in a night of drinking tequila laced with acid.
It's a shrieking come down that's exhilarating in its madness

The Dollyrots - The Dollyrots

The Dollyrots have always been a bit of a guilty pleasure for me.
Sugary sweet pop punk that would give you cavities if you didn't rinse after use with something with a bit more of a bite.
They trod a tightrope above a split crowd of punk fans on one side and prepubescent teenyboppers on the other.
Personally I never had a problem with this, but now here we are on the cusp of their first pledge funded release hitting the streets, and my preview download shows them as a band who have fallen off the wire and landed on the side of the crowd who live under the shadow of parental guidance, and will discuss the merits of what colour of retainer to wear that will go with their mall bought converse.
All I can hear is Avril Lavigne backed by McFly with Miley Cyrus doing some backing vocals.
Thankfully I got this through before I bought a ticket to see them.
If I had turned up at the gig I suspect that my motives for hanging about in a crowd of under-age girls would be questioned.
If the gig is an over eighteens show then I have no idea who will attend.
I suppose the album is what it is.
I wouldn't break a leg jumping to change the channel if the Dollyrots appeared on screen, but equally I wouldn't feel any urge to remember who they are either.
Very disappointing.
It just sounds like a backwards step for the band.

The Gaslight Anthem - Handwritten

When The Gaslight Anthem first burst onto the scene I felt that their punk angle on Springsteen was a breath of fresh air.
Here was a band who were giving blue collar rock and roll the kiss of life.
The lyrics were as impassioned as the delivery and I fell in love with them there and then.
It wasn't long until I got the chance to see them live and every expectation I had of them delivering was matched, and then surpassed.
The future looked secure.
This band were going to be carrying the torch to a new generation.
Then something went wrong.
The forward momentum began to slow as the next album revealed them treading water.
It wasn't a bad release. In fact it was very good.
The problem was that it was an extension of the previous release.
It could have been the second disc on a double album.
Nothing new was being explored.
When you listen to Sink or Swim and then 59 Sound you can hear this big leap forward.
That's not so apparent between 59 Sound and American Slang, and similarly it isn't there on Handwritten.
It seems to be that the band have a blueprint that is never going to be expanded on from here on in.
If you had a tick box then everything is there again, but it's the 'again' part that is holding me back from total appreciation.
Two albums in from their breakthrough and all I can say is I've heard it all before.

What more needs to be said? Nuthin'

Monday 20 August 2012

On a positive note

Just a quick one.
Once again I've been reading a post on facebook about how musicians are being ripped off by dodgy promoters and rarely financially benefit from providing entertainment to others.
It often seems that everyone profits but them.
I broadly agree with the sentiments and support the efforts of those who wish to highlight anything that will improve the situation.
Yet I often feel that there are many ethical promoters out there who are being tarred with the same brush when it comes to this argument.
So instead of dwelling on the negative how about we offer a solution.
In the comments section please feel free to post the city/area where you are from, and then the promoters and venues who you would recommend.
Lets make a word of mouth recommendation list that can be spread about to help bands, solo artists, the good promoters and excellent venues alike.
Also there is no need to have a dig at the crap promoters and venues as by not mentioning them they are starved of publicity and with every act that is steered towards more ethical promoters and venues we will strengthen their foothold in the music business and belittle the chances of the less than ethical to prosper.
Remember though. Yhis isn't for promoters or venues to promote themselves.
Please keep it to bands.
Mention your bands name to and even contacts if you wish.

I'll refrain from saying who I like and leave it up to the artists to provide a solid list of those who offer a good service.


Sunday 19 August 2012

Do you feel lucky punk?

Well Rebellion, the much loved and equally loathed punk festival is over, and while the blood is still running hot I would think some of my Scottish brethren who were at it will be looking for something to keep the party going.
Meanwhile others who missed it will be wanting to start their own punk party, and there's a couple of good options coming up this week that they should be aware of.
First is Social Distortion supported by Chris Devotion and the Expectations playing in the ABC on Wednesday night.(22nd)
The only chance of a ticket for this is from the touts on the night or a private sale as it's been sold out for a while now.
It's a gig that I'll definitely be trying to be front and centre for.
However if anyone seen them at Rebellion and can't justify splashing the cash to see them again so soon, or if SD aint your thing then this Friday (24th) Phoenix Promotions are at Pivo Pivo in Glasgow with the crackin' line up of Distorted Truth, Splinter, Buzzbomb and Alkotron & Haggis.
It's a mere fiver on the door and starts at 7pm.
Last time Distorted Truth were in town a mates band was having their album launch and I tossed a coin to decide where I would go and they lost lost out on the pleasure of my company.
So I'm looking forward to this chance to take a second bite at them.
Another mate has fried my brain by repeatedly telling me how good Alkotron are so this is going to be my opportunity to either agree or disagree with him instead of just telling him he talks shit without having any real evidence to back that up.
It's also going to be my first chance to see Buzzbomb since they released their latest album.
So bring on Wednesday and Friday as I'm ready.

Friday 17 August 2012

Something wicked this way comes.

I really should be sleeping just now.
I've got a night shift ahead of me and I'm getting past the age of staying awake pre and post working hours.
Yet here I am listening to the new Dollyrots album and jumping back and forth between internet news pages and checking on what has been happening in Russia with Pussy Riot and the UK with Assange.
Both cases have parallels.
While many with a vested interest would claim that to be rubbish, and then ask what some women protesting in a church has to do with the extradition of an alleged sex offender, the reality is that they are pushing a smoke and mirrors agenda.
What they have in common is that both Pussy Riot and Assange have, in the eyes of governments, thrown down a gauntlet in support of freedom of speech and freedom of information, and in return the governments are looking to silence them, while also making an example of these individual in an attempt to frighten us all.
Instead what I think may happen is that both Pussy Riot and Assange will be perceived as martyrs to a just cause.
Most of us can see exactly what is happening here, and we feel very uncomfortable about the move towards global totalitarianism.
What is needed is for more people to become increasingly uncomfortable and add their voices to ours in an attempt to to slow down, or derail, where we are going.

Who could really argue that both governments and business are looking to shaft us all at every turn.
In decades past they maintained an illusion that this wasn't the case by paying lip service to things like human rights and the employment laws.
Both are things that they are increasingly becoming rather open about ignoring.
Look at the evidence of their arrogance.
Michael Gove sold off school playing fields even when his advisor looked into it and said it wasn't the right move to make.
No one seems to want a privatized police force, but it looks like we are getting it even if it is delivered drip by drip.
When people advocated for NHS reforms were they asking for the nurses and doctors contracts to be ripped up and if they didn't sign the new ones then they could leave?
I very much doubt it.
Anybody want to add more?

So very much is going against the will of the people that I sometimes find it difficult to understand why there hasn't been major civil unrest yet.
The Pussy Riot and Assange cases brutally illustrate very plainly that there is a global issue in regards to those in power listening and acting on the wishes of the people.
They don't care now.
Who will put up an opposing argument?
They will wage war without public support, lie and cheat on behalf of their friends in business and more.
That is the unvarnished truth.
It's entirely possible that the faces of Pussy Riot and Assange will be on the placards and flags of the revolution.
It's just a waiting game now.
While the governments are wanting to extinguish the flames of rebellion it feels like instead they are fanning the spark that could set alight the world.

It's going to be an interesting week.

Thursday 16 August 2012

Loose lips sink ships.

First day of high school and my girlfriends daughter has been asked to provide some information for a class project.

Are there any places special to your family (For example, a holiday home, a previous town you lived in, or where your parents/grandparents come from, etc.)
So the translation would be do you have second home, and could give us some info so we can have a record not just of where you are from, or live, but the last two generations of your family to.

How many close relatives do you have? (You can include some of their names)
Or in other words could you add family who aren't immediate. Cousins, whoever.

Who do you take after in terms of looks or nature?
It's for the eugenics file.

How does your family celebrate special occasions? (For example birthdays, Christmas, anniversaries, passing exams, etc.)
Lets see if we can class you as normal while attempting to glean how religious you are and how educated some of your family are.

Ask your parents for a photograph of yourself to use in a poster display. ( Preferably one of yourself alone. but if that is not possible then a good one of yourself with others.)
This is for a harmless bit of fun, although we aren't saying that your image and those in the photograph with you wont used to identify you when skynet takes over. (joke)

It's all a bit STASI isn't it?
Or am I being paranoid?
I mean it's not like they are fingerprinting the kids.

Oh wait a minute. They did do that
A few years ago they took the fingerprints of all the kids in the my daughters class and then sealed the page off with some sort of cellophane as part of a project on crime.
I asked for a meeting and queried it.
I didn't really get an answer that filled me with much confidence as to why the prints were sealed, so I asked for the page of fingerprints to be removed.
They did this and I took possession of the page, but a short while later they managed to get her fingerprints when her mother - who she resided with at the time - gave permission as they were going to be used in the high tech school cafeteria where after swiping your fingerprint the cost of the lunch would be debited from an account.

Now I'm sure I'm not the only one who is uncomfortable with the information that is gleaned about us all from multiple sources on a daily basis.
It really is relentless.
As I said though, I'm not paranoid about it.
I share details daily, but I do want to reserve the right to share what I wish with who I wish.
We are told often enough that we should be very careful with who we give our information to as the details we provide could be exploited.
I fully endorse that sort of common sense advice.
It's just that unlike others I extend it to include authority figures to.
I like my privacy. I like to maintain a degree of control of the information that is out there about me and I think that's normal for most of us.

Anyway. As I will be assisting with homework tonight the answers are going to be rather limited.
It's going to be No, Seven, Both my parents and Usually with a party, in that order.
The photograph will be one that's at least eight years old, blurry and taken from a strange angle.

Lets see what they can get from that.
If there's a request to expand on the information provided I'll mention it on here.

Shifty Presidents

Hip Hop, like most genres of music, has two major threads to it.
One is the public face that is designed for mass consumption.
It's unchallenging, repetitive and has only one purpose in life, and that's to act as a cash magnet.
There's very little heart or soul in the shiny bling heavy MTV targeted hip hop that is promoted globally.
It's a stereotype that feels like it has left its expiry date far behind.
A hollow fast food representation of something that should have some meat to it, but doesn't.

The other is the sound of the underground, and it's there that the beats pump fast and passionately.
Especially here in Scotland where acts like Hektor Bizerk and The Girobabies are ripping up the rule book and casting it in the air like confetti.
In this ever shifting bastard offspring of a loose scene the only thing that you can expect is the unexpected, and strangely enough the latest act to throw his hat in the ring defines this unexpected aspect, as instead of a skinny pissed off wigger from a council estate spitting out rhymes Shifty Presidents hails from Chicago, and prior to relocating to Glasgow has been around the block a bit.
While presently he's more Eminem and Jay Z than the punk upstarts with a fistful of repetitive beat that we are used to, there's undoubtedly some influences from his travels creeping into what he is rapping about, and it's clear from listening to his rhymes that what we have is an artists who is maturing and using his experiences to move beyond simple emulation of his heroes and is edging ever closer to a sound of his own.

This stranger in a strange land soaking up partially foreign influences could be exactly the thing that Shifty needs to push some space between himself and the pool of rappers he has left behind in Chicago, and vice versa it adds a certain flavour to what he does that Scots audiences will only have an experience of from watching the dreaded MTV.
If he can tread that line between where he came from and where he's at, and then forge something from both then there's really no telling where he will end up.
While some may be intent on repeating history this is a young man who has his eye on the prize and is keen to write his own story.
You've got to give him kudos for that.

It's not all praise though.
Nothing is ever perfect, and what I am hearing is an artist on a journey. and some of the destinations he is referencing could be left in his rear view mirror.
The bitches and other stereotypical hip hop phrases and terms that are liberally sprinkled sound dated and should be left in the mouths of the less intelligent rappers out there.
Which he isn't one of.
It just feels counterproductive to pay lip service to something that he could easily replace with a more visceral turn of phrase.
However while that is a criticism it's still clear to see that Shifty Presidents is moving away from that and reaching for a less ghettoised sound, and it's this forward momentum that gives me hope that we will be hearing plenty of good things about him once he has soaked up some more experiences and used them to turbo charge his songs.

Sunday 12 August 2012

Katarina Juvancic & Dejan Lapanja - Selivke

Based on watching Slovenian folk duo Katarina Juvancic and Dejan Lapanja playing a live set I entertained quite a few misconceived ideas of how their debut album would sound.
In my head it already existed as soft strains of acoustic guitar overlaid with vocals, and very little else.
I fully expected some sparse beauty, but instead what I got was an album heavy in accomplished musicianship that effortlessly jumps from gypsy folk to riffing rock.
An album with a real bite to it that has pleasantly, and playfully, slapped the stereotypical expectations that I had out of my head.
On a track like Mene Nema the listener is very easily transported to a New York loft where the song wouldn't have sounded out of place if it had been an artistic statement dreamt up by Lou Reed and Andy Warhol as part of a Velvet Underground session.
Elsewhere there's the flavour of Leonard Cohen in how the phrasing and music co-exists together that is rather evocative.
Then later again, just as you may think that you are beginning to get to grips with what is going on, Katarina playfully wraps herself around a bluesy track like 'Balada o rozki in vrtnen palcku' that conjures up an image of Bjork jamming with the Doors, but only after it has schizophrenically went through some apparent personality issues as a song.
Make no mistake. This is a real musical journey that takes you around the globe as it cherry picks what it wants from every country and era that it chooses to.
It's all rather astounding.
Throughout the very wide breadth of music that has been approached it sounds like the duo have stolen all the instruments that the Slovenian National Orchestra had, and in an act of rebellious mischief used every damn one.
And used them well.
I could make quite a credible argument that this is a punk folk album due to how it has a foundation in folk story telling that has been built on with the attitude of partially rewriting the rule book on how a traditional style should be approached.
However, while I could wax lyrical about how much enjoyment that 'Selivke' has given me, it would be remiss of me not to draw attention to there not being one singular phrase throughout it that is sung in English.
While this may be something that will make an English speaking music fan think twice about purchasing it, I would advocate throwing caution to the wind as my lack of understanding - of what I am told is stories about women – has not been a barrier to the appreciation that I have for the album.