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Sunday 15 December 2013

Norman Silver & The Gold - War Memoirs

Very often it seems that there is an urge by the wider populace to race to the bottom to get their entertainment kicks.
Especially in music.
We live in an era where the fast food aspect of buy, consume and die is king.
A time where anything of substance is passed over in favour of vacuous dance and rap tracks that are indistinguishable from each other and draw the maximum revenue regardless of quality.
The statement that 'the people get what the people want' rings loud in my ears, but as a salve I am thankful that I can reach out and drop the needle in the groove of 'War Memoirs' by Norman Sills and The Gold.
It is the polar opposite of what the market forces dictate that we should gravitate towards, and all the better for it.
A punk attitude, a country heart and an eloquent turn of phrase are all the ingredients cast into the melting pot, and the result is something that if you added it to the niche of country punk would rise rather effortlessly to the top.
There are however more strings to the bands bow than that though.
While the songs on display would sit well on a play list next to the likes of Social Distortion and the Supersuckers, they would also comfortable sit between releases by fellow Scottish east coasters Goodbye Mr McKenzie and the the west coasts The Humpff family as Norman Sills take on country lends itself to leaning towards the approach that those bands touched on.
The first subtly and the latter far more obviously.
On the surface it seems to have been a long road for lead man Norman Sills to travel from The Newtown Grunts - the punk band that he he cut his teeth with - and what we have here, but once the songs start to bed in the lyrics start to draw the connection together and it all begins to make perfect sense.
There's and earthiness and a dark sense of humour that stems from the past and sits well within the framework of how he is currently looking to artistically express himself.
Fans of old are not going to be disappointed, and anyone who is looking to expand on what they are listening to now may very well be looking for something exactly like this.

180 gram white vinyl is available direct from the band who can be contacted through facebook

Friday 13 December 2013

The itsaxxxxthing gig guide for 2014 so far.

Well after having a little break I guess it is time to get back in the saddle.

Look here. Just to the left. Click on it if you can't read it. It will get bigger.
Yep. It's Duncan Reid who used to swing his bass about for The Boys and very recently released and utterly jaw dropping - in my opinion - power pop punk classic of an album called 'Little Big Head..
You can get it here.
I'm super chuffed to say that he's coming to Glasgow with his Big heads to do a matinee show for us.
Ooooh. A matinee show you say?
Well yes. So it's not going to clash with anything, and so that I can't be accused of misogyny I will add that if any lovely ladies out there want to let their husbands have a solo trip around the stores looking for bargains in the January sales and fancy a pint and a jump about to Duncan while their other half oohs and aaahs over the reduced price sweater in C&As, then you are all more than welcome to pop along.
The guys can come to, but if it's wall to wall with the ladies I doubt Duncan will complain.
In support are a rather excellent bill in my honest opinion.
Media Whores, Party Asylum and Monsterpop.
I think that's what you call bang for your buck.
Facebook invite page.

Then after that you can start saving your pennies up for the Eureka Machines.
Last time they were here in Glasgow the gig sold out and quite rightly so.
With a tour opening for The Wildhearts they won a legion of new fans, and then cemented their reputation with thier own headlining dates in clubs the length and breadth of the UK.

If you missed that then I could say tough titty, but instead I will offer you the hand of friendship and say here's your chance to get a second bite at the boys.

Backing them up are Debrasco, Rank Berry and once again - as you can't get too much of a good thing - Party Asylum.
I would suggest that those interested in attending watch for the tickets becoming available next week and grab them sooner rather than later.
You have been warned.
Facebook invite page

And then we come to the last of the current bookings.
It's the trashtastic DeRellas
Now if you don't know who this band are then I feel a tad sorry about that.
Not sorry as in thinking you are some sort of pathetic loser.
Oh no. Not that sort of poor you sorry.
More just the way you would feel sorry for a blind man who has never seen a sun rise.
More a pity sorry.
So don't leave me feeling like that about you.
Come to the gig. You will love it.

Of course as I've booked them for a show I am going to sing their praises, but I can honestly hand on heart state for the record that if it was someone else putting them on then I wouldn't hesitate to reach deep into my pocket and gladly hand over the cash to ensure that I wasn't going to miss out on seeing them.

While having a little google early today I noticed that the guys opened for Hanoi Rocks on the bands farewell tour and I have to say that I did get a tingle in the nether regions just at the thought of that combination.

So there you have it. Three gigs all peculating away.
Tickets for Duncan Reid and Eureka Machines will be on sale from next week from Tickets Scotland, the support bands and of course moi.
That's a fancy word for me by the way.

Monday 9 December 2013


The name conjures up a thousand dreams.
It doesn't really matter if you never played there, failed to see a band there, or even missed out on making the pilgrimage to its hallowed doors to pay your respects to the venue that birthed so many monsters.
None of that matters as its legend cannot be diminished as every single punk fan still owes a huge debt of gratitude to Hilly for opening the doors of his bar to the bands, and fans, who took music off in a direction that few could have imagined would shake the world.
So with a biopic now available we should all be lining up to bask in the cinematic homage to the venue we all know and love, as let's be honest here and say out right that no one could fuck up a CBGBs biopic.
The place is steeped in so many stories that could jump to the screen that it's a sure fire hit, and who cares if it wasn't to be entirely one hundred percent accurate as long as its heart is in the right place.

Oh, but wait.

I just watched it and it is a pile of shit.
There's probably more shit shoveled into its 101 minutes run time than Hilly's dog ever left on the floor.
And on the subject of his dog.
I sincerely hope that the fleas it carried on its back are now being relocated to the pubic area of the director Randall Miller.
You could ask me what is wrong with it, but it would be easier to list what is right with it.
The soundtrack is great.
That's it.
I'm not even going to comment on the official soundtrack release that doesn't feature The Ramones as that's another story, but simply put you are best enjoying this film with your ears open rather than your eyelids.
No one looks like anyone we know, the dialogue is reflective of the venues toilets, and it is like an over long advert for some kids television show.
To paraphrase a comment that the front man of a band - who shall at this point remain anonymous - said to me about another act 'You know it's shit, but it wrapped up in layers of cream to disguise that. It looks good, but dig away at it and it's still shit at the center.'

Now I like Harry Potter. I'm not ashamed to admit it, but Ron Weasly as Cheetah Chrome is just too much of a leap of faith for me, and I have a sneaky suspicion that Rupert Grint knows it to.
The Debbie-alike? Bollocks.
Stiv-alike? More bollocks.
How can you fuck up the Ramones. 
There are cartoons that capture them better than this motley crew of guys in bad wigs and leather jackets.
Television, Talking Heads.....oh give me a break.
I could throw a stone out of my window and hit someone that would be more appropriate to portray these people.
Taylor Hawkins.....Get back to your drum stool and behave yourself.

Do you know how bad this is?
It hovers just below that point where a bad film manages to shake off the shackles of being really really bad and steps up to being so bad that in a perverse way it's good.
It's just at that pinnacle of simply being bad, and fails to smash the glass ceiling of badness that would bring it to cult level bad.

Right now someone is having a bowel movement that is providing them with more pleasure than this would.
In fact a proctologist is probably wrist deep in someone somewhere and as they groan in discomfort is is saying 'shut up or I will put on the CBGBs film and you will know what real pain is.'

I would tell people to avoid it at all costs, but I expect that similar to myself you will be saying that it can't be as bad as people say and you will have to learn from your own mistakes.

Do you know the worst thing about it to?
I might still buy this fuckin' waste of celluloid as there's a bit of the anally retentive punk in me that would feel that I need to get it.
I bloody don't, but the completest urge is strong.
I know I'm going to hate myself in the morning if I do.

It really is an atrocity.
A pox on everyone involved.

You pissed on my dreams.

Debrasco - The Joys of Chaos

As a genre the world of rock is pretty bulletproof.
No matter how dismissive mainstream music journalists are about it, or how unimpressed the chart following teens are, the rock acts just keep ploughing ever onwards.
I am sure somewhere someone has written a thesis about it, but for me I think its popularity is rooted in a no frills attitude and how the actual bands main focus is to make music rather than grasp for fame.
That could of course be bullshit, but do you know what isn't bullshit?
Debrasco's album 'The Joys of Chaos'.
That's right.
It sounds like the band are looking to take the eloquent power of Pearl Jam, and the gonzo approach to power pop that bands like The Wildhearts had in spades, and corral them together while sprinkling some punk fairy dust over it all.
It's a tall order, and there are times that they fall short of getting to grips with it, but over the course of the album there are far more hits than misses, and as they are aiming rather high that's not too shabby at all.
At a hefty sixteen tracks they are obviously looking to provide value for money, but maybe a better approach would have been to trim a few songs off it and then issue a ten track album of killer tunes and then use issue two four track eps' leading off with an album track and backed with three songs and in that way it could have been spaced out a bit, but then again that's just an opinion and as they say opinions are like arseholes as we all have them.
So don't let that minor brain fart of a thought detract you away from the band as it's pretty much irrelevant to the sheer magnitude of what is on offer.
What these guys need is a name producer and a few weeks in a top class studio, and I suspect that they are well aware of that, but as it stands this is the sort of album that should if there is any justice draw enough attention to them for that to happen.
It's the advert writ large in neon screaming 'look at me' and if you do then I doubt many would find much to be disappointed about.
In fact I'm struggling to think of the last band I heard that had as much of a crossover appeal as these guys.
From melodic pop punk rock to grunge-tastic anthems they have their finger in every pie and manage to keep it all on track without sounding like an ill stitched patchwork quilt of influences.
Hey. Is that The Dead Boys I hear muscling in on the Yo-Yo's?

Like I said, not too shabby at all.

Wednesday 4 December 2013

Sonic Templars - Lessons in my life

The Computers - Classic Grand Glasgow (04/12/13)

There's not a month goes past that I don't take issue with someone who claims that there is no good music out there any more.
Of course there is.
In fact there's so much of it I can't keep up.
What people really mean to say is 'I expect there is no good music out there any more as I stopped listening a decade ago, and therefore can't express a valid opinion on the matter, but I'm going to anyway as talking about things we know fuck all about is the modern day affliction that I am most comfortable with'.
Sadly those who proclaim that utter balderdash (I'm going to use balderdash more to try and wean myself off from saying utter shite in a thick Scots dialects) are the same ones who will refuse to take a recommendation from you as they feel it's always better to live in ignorance than accept being wrong.
So my thrusting The Computers in their face – in an obviously none sexual way – isn't going to change their world, but in the words of the big man in the vest 'frankly my dear, I don't give a damn' as last night I seen my latest and bestest favourite new band.
All hail The Computers.
These are the guys who show up all those people who sit at bars saying that the supports are never any good ,and never worth levering their fat backsides off a barstool for, as barefaced liars whose opinions are worth as much as Lib Dem election promise (Yep. I'm not forgetting that one).

Opening for the equally fabulous Rocket From The Crypt they got it going on early.
With a firm understanding of why rock and roll always need a little bit of soul attached they plundered the back history of music with a great deal of swaggering panache.
If there is any band right now who could give the Jim Jones Revue a run for their money then it is these guys, and as a fan of Jimmy boy that's not an opinion lightly aired.
There's no holding back from them, and while some people have the chops to deliver a solid show musicianship wise, but fall short in providing a bit of showmanship, you couldn't accuse this band of slacking on either.
From the stage to stomping across the bar to climbing up to meet and greet those at the back of the venue it would be hard to consider that anyone who was there was not impressed.
Studied indifference for the audience isn't their bag.
It's instead one big fucked up take on a fifties hop, but only where the punch bow has been laced with enough amphetamines to cure a narcoleptic.
When James Brown* said that he wasn't comfortable with being named the hardest working man in rock n roll and to find someone else to carry the torch for him I doubt he considered that it would be a bunch of delinquents from Exeter, but there you have it.
The torch is in safe hands.

This is exactly the sort of band who deserve their very own review rather than being tagged onto that of the headlining act.

The Computers....I bow to your magnificence.

*James Brown didn't say that and I made it up.

The Media Whores – Pornophonica

Opening up with a track that sounds like James Bond has arrived in town and is in no mood to take any prisoners is a bold move, but 'Affluenza' carries it well while proclaiming loudly and proudly that the band are here.
With their debut 'Starfishing' serving as an impressive introduction they clearly didn't consider for a second resting on their laurels, and instead used the intervening time to write and road test the material that we now have sprawling out and taking up room across the breadth of this album.
It's difficult to pigeon hole the band, and I have a sneaky suspicion that they they like it that way.
One minute they are firmly pounding out a beat in the power pop trenches and then they comfortably ease the listener towards something that is harder edged, a bit dirtier and altogether more meaty.
The only problem is, in the nicest possible way, that as soon as you start to get to grips with that they are off out of the starting gate again and looking to embrace the angular guitar of the post punk sound while adding some harmonies over it all that have no right to be there, but works magnificently anyway.
The whole experience is akin to shadow boxing.
Every single time you may think you have the target in arms reach they have ducked away only to pop up on the periphery and come at you from another angle.
It's wonderfully discombobulating.
A bit of jazz here and a bit of reggae there, and all still sheltering within the broad church of punk rock.
I considered that something special was on the cards, but I wasn't expecting the next step from Starfishing to be such a large one.

One small step for mankind, one giant leap for the Media Whores
Twenty Stone Blatt Records

Revelations Tour - The Mission/Fields of the Nephilim - 02 Academy Glasgow (14/12/13)

When anyone mentions the golden age of Goth then there are a few names that immediately spring to mind.
The Sisters of Mercy are the main one who to this day remain as the golden jewel in the dark crown of the movement, but The Mission - who spawned from the Sisters of Mercy and were originally called The Sisterhood - and Fields of the Nephilim, are both bands who could also be considered big hitters in their field, and equally acts who came to personify the dark character of the sub culture that they lorded over.

By the tail end of the eighties both bands had their teeth in the jugular of a rabid, and ever growing, fan base who seen their heroes as apocalyptic warriors riding in to add some romanticism to their - in the main - teenage angst.

In hindsight it could very well have been a moment in time that would have been left behind, but it's a testament to the bands themselves, and their unwavering dedication to creating music, that here in 2013 they are still relevant, and still entertaining audiences globally.

While others of their ilk are to be found gathering dust in second hand record stores and the 'where are they now' columns of the music press, both The Mission and Fields of the Nephilim are the Dorian Grey's of the scene who are forever present in the here and now regardless of how their back catalogues may look like in the attic.  
So it's no real surprise that they have finally drawn together to play a UK tour in venues that some of thier peers could only ever dream of appearing in.
It's an outing that will I suspect provide their fan base with a wet nightmare as they anticipate the forthcoming dates, and with Revelations coming to Glasgow on the 14th of December it's not long to wait for their dark desires to be met.


Class of 77 Tour - O2 ABC Glasgow - 08/12/13

As sure as night follows day the reaction to what can be called nostalgia tours often draws a negative response.
The voices of the naysayers are raised in outrage at the audacity of their yesteryear heroes still wanting to go out on the road and perform.
Imagine that. Oh the horror.
There's only one problem with that attitude though.
It's got nothing to do with the music.
Absolutely nothing at all.
Instead it's more about preconceived ideas.
The opinion that they guys in the band can't cut it anymore wrestles with the ludicrous attitude that it is nothing more than a cash in.
Like I said, nothing to do with the music.
Strangely enough the people who usually shout loudest are the ones who are happy to go and see a tribute band covering the songs of their heroes rather than the band themselves, or one that features members of it.
I will never understand that, but hey ho, and as 'Da Brudders' would say let's go as this Sunday the open minded are in for a real treat as Glasgow ABC hosts three acts that feature plenty of individuals who provided the soundtrack to what some would call the greatest ever example of a rebellious youth movement that the world ever seen..
One whose global impact can still be felt today. 

Earning his stripes with The Jam, and then Stiff Little Fingers, Bruce Foxton leads the charge with his band From the Jam who not only breathe life into the classics that he performed on, but also deliver some original compositions of their own which highlights that no one is ever really just standing still.

The Blockheads are of course minus their legendary front man, and many years ago I had my reservations about how the dynamic would work until I seen the band perform at The Wickerman Festival.
It was then that I had my mind opened up as to what is possible.
Before the end of the opening song I was converted to the cause, as apart from the sublime level of musicianship on display, the band were very obviously honouring the life of their fallen comrade.
This band do that every single night that they perform to.
Every show will no doubt start with a good percentage of the audience looking to be won over, and ends with fans returning to the fold.

Similarly to The Blockheads, Eddie and the Hot Rods were without the shadow of a doubt one of the bands who kicked the doors in and helped lay the foundations for punk rock.
Starting as a pub rock act they pushed that term to destruction with their adrenaline driven live performances, and to this day they haven't taken their foot off the peddle.............not once.
If you want passion delivered at one hundred miles another then this is the band for you.
Get some spotty teenager fresh from the garage looking to take on the world and put them next to Eddie and pull the trigger on the starting pistol and watch him leave them in the dust.

Less than a week to go. So grab your tickets quick.


Monday 2 December 2013

Christie Connor-Vernal - As good as I am

Dregen / Imperial State Electric - Glasgow Cathouse - 01/12/13

People know that Glasgow rocks.
They can't but help realize that as week after week the city hosts quality acts and warmly embraces them all.
We simply love our rock and roll.
Bands have shouted it from the rooftops, and there's been a credible amount of live albums recorded in venues across the city to back up why they just bloody love us.
Yet tonight I am mystified as to why the double header of Dregen and Imperial State Electric failed to draw a larger crowd than it did.
Maybe it's just me, but if you put Dregen and Nick Royale on a bill I would expect that they could very easily fill 250 to 350 capacity venues.
Yet that wasn't the case.
It would be easy to say that this is other peoples loss - as it is - but maybe some questions should be asked as to why such a sterling line up failed to draw an audience.
Answers on a postcard as they say.

Now regardless of the woefully poor attendance it has to be said that both bands didn't pull any punches and the sets they delivered were beyond criticizing.
On a professional level this is the sort of show that musicians aspire towards.
Dregen was on fire and his backing band are hitting the ground running.
With a very impressive solo debut under his belt he's looking to draw attention to the material and doing it in fine style.
It would be easy to just have a quick run through of the songs, but that would probably be too easy and instead everything is treated as an organic entity that is still growing.
Every song that I was thinking I had become familiar with has taken a few steps away from the studio version and are living and breathing beasts that are hungry to take over some unexplored ground.
One highlight of the performance is the blues heavy 'Flat tire on a muddy road', but for me there was a section of the set that surpassed that, and this was when Dregen took the opportunity to introduce the band and as part of that there was an off the cuff bit of guitar duelling between him and Michel Santunione that could be described as a you had to be there moment.
There was nothing really that flashy about it, and neither would be looking to be called guitar heroes based on it, but the natural flow between the two of them was a joy to behold.
Full plaudits have to go to Michel for his over all contribution to the performance and I am sure Dregen will be aware that in this young man he has a perfect foil for him to work with.

The last time I seen Nick Royale was when he was playing with the MC5, so this was a bit of a treat for me to see him opening his UK tour with Imperial State Electric, and I wasn't disappointed.
It's like KISS without the make up.
Full on rock, and unlike Simmons and Stanley, who if we are honest can be a bit hit and miss, this was all killer and no filler.
You can imagine the guys stomping onto a stadium stage as fireworks go off and nothing about that would jar with the music.
It's big, it's ballsy and it's pretty much in your face unashamedly good time rock and roll and sometimes that just exactly what we could all do with a bit of.
I'm embarrassed to say that I haven't kept up to date with the band and I don;t even have their two albums, but give me a day or two and that will be rectified.

It's been a quick week that has encompassed shows from Buckcherry, Hardcore Superstar, Girlschool and Michael Monroe, bit if I was to list them in order of personal preference this one just slips in behind Michael Monroe.

Strange how Buchcherry and Hardcore Superstar can command a four figure audience when this outing very easily left both of those bands in the dust, even though there was nothing wrong with their shows.

Sunday 1 December 2013

Michael Monroe - Glasgow Cathouse - 29/11/13

The lead up to the Michael Monroe show in the Cathouse in Glasgow was rather low key with word of mouth from the fans being the main promotional push.
So it was heart warming to see so many people turn out for it, and I can only imagine what size of venue would be required if there was a real splash of the cash to promote it.
The opportunity to see them in a small venue is not one to be sniffed at though.
It is in this sort of environment that you can feel that they energy that they generate can barely be contained.
It's very doubtful that collectively there is a band right now anywhere on this planet that put so much into a show.
I've said similar often, but there's no other way to frame it.
Right now they are the act who are setting the benchmark that others need to aspire to.

As is usual now the band take to the stage individually and exude a relaxed approach that when Michael joins them is given just one second to serve as a watershed before they all explode into action.
It's akin to a starting pistol going off with the whole band racing for the finish line.
Nothing holds them back.
Got Blood isn't the opening, and is left to midway through the set, but the lyric 'GOT BLOOD IF YOU WANT IT. YOU GOT IT, I'LL BLEED IT FOR YOU EVERY NIGHT. I'LL SPILL IT OUT IN BLACK AND WHITE, BLACK AND WHITE' sums the performance up.
Like the Stones here's a band who will give you everything and spill it all out on the stage.
It's relentless.
The stereotypically named high octane show writ large in neon.
With a mixture of Hanoi Rocks fans bolstered by New York Dolls ones who are drawn to the show due to Sami and Steve participating, and added to again by a fair amount of Lemmy Kilminster fans who were seduced by Michael when they opened for Motorhead, it was certainly a broad church of rock fans in attendance, but all shared an equally high level of appreciation with songs from across Monroes whole career - and some punk covers - hitting the spot and drawing out lustily delivered responses from everyone.

Prior to the gig I had heard some grumblings about Dregens no show as he is promoting his own solo release, but Rich Jones doesn't simply hold the position as a hired gun.
Instead he's the perfect fit.
The replacement cog that slips into the machine and and refuses to let the performance slip from the grasp of the band.
Similar to when Dregen stepped in to cover the departure of Ginger you can't find one criticism to level at the guy.
He's standing shoulder to shoulder with the rest of them and delivering knock out punches in every song.
I could say the same for everyone involved.
Karl and Sami are unflagging.
Steve Contes guitar flourishes and backing vocals provide a dimension that is often missing with other bands, and his song writing contribution on the latest album provides a solid framework for the set to hang on.
As for Michael Monroe. He is the whirlwind holding court. The storm bringer casting a spell over the audience.
As limber as ever he covers every inch of the stage, the space in front of it and the barrier separating the fans from him.
He's Iggy Pop and Mick Jagger all rolled into one, and still he holds tightly to that androgynous sex appeal long after any man has any right to.

Did I say this was the best band in the world just now?
Okay. I did, but it's worth repeating.

During the set - as mentioned - pretty much every part of Michaels career is hit with the exception of his stint as Jerusalem Slim (Don't write them off and seek out the demos of the album).
Hanoi Rocks is of course well represented, but Demolition 23s take on punk rock that was such a welcome blast so many years ago is also all present and correct.
Dead, Jail or Rock and Roll from his sophomore solo release was dusted off and sounds better now than it ever done before, while the material that we could call the Michael Monroe Bands songs featured comfortably with Horns and Halos getting a solid outing.
The covers were of course sublime. A bit of The Damned and Eddie and the Hot Rods is always welcome.

As the performance ended I had two thoughts.
The first was I wonder when we can do all this again, and the other was that it would be pretty cool if they all organized a rock and roll circus tour with the supports being made up from all the members other projects, as Steve Contes new album is stunning, Sami's Mad Juana would work well, Dregen has his own thing and Rich and Karl sprinkle magic over everything they do.

Now I'd pay top dollar for that.

Looking forward to Dregen now.

An open letter about Conflict

Today I had planned on reviewing the Girlschool/Raven and Michael Monroe gigs that I had attended during the week.
Events surrounding the tragedy at the Clutha Vaults bar/venue in Glasgow have however pushed that aside for the moment.

So I will start by saying that I, like so many others, are saddened and upset at what was a horrible accident.
I personally know people who were there, and if I had not attended the Michael Monroe show then it is a possibility that I would have been one of the people in the Clutha.

It's a sobering thought.

In a strange way I also feel a slight swelling of pride by proxy at the reactions displayed by those who were there.
The general public and professionals who responded and put their own lives at risk are to be commended.
It doesn't make much sense to feel pride in the actions of others who we don't know, but it's there none the less.

Unfortunately there is always an ugly side to any incident like this, and that's what I feel needs to be commented on.

As most know Katie Hopkins issued a tweet about the life expectancy of us Scots, that while it wasn't specifically aimed at the victims of this tragedy, was spectacularly mistimed.
No surprise there really.
The press have also drawn our attention to the police investigation into some tweets of jokes.
Once again that's no surprise.
The starting gate seems to be opening ever earlier for that sort of thing.

I don't feel the need to cover that ground though, and instead I want to address the opinion expressed by Colin of the punk band Conflict.

In the aftermath of the incident he publicly posted this.

I have been advised, asked and even pleaded with not to comment.
BUT, the ONLY good copper is a dead one.
We NEVER forgive-We NEVER forget-NO apologies EVER.

The man is entitled to state his views, and as a supporter of free speech I would never consider calling out for him to be censored, but I do have a problem with this, and that problem is with the unbending fundamentalist attitude that it is soaked in.
There's no room for debate with anyone who holds an opposing view.
No effort to change a persons mind by eloquently defending a position and shedding light on why they are passionate about it.
Instead it is simply the wishing of death on complete strangers because of their employment status.
There's not even any room for making an exception in what was said.
It's a very broadly inclusive comment, and all a bit fascist I would say.

Wouldn't you agree?

It's the jackboot on the throat angle to ushering in a perceived brave new world.
You disagree with me so it's death for you.
That's it in a nutshell, and how illogical is that?

How perversely immature must someone be to cling to that sort of ideology?

Let us cut to the chase. Celebrating death is a rather ugly pastime isn't it?
I can understand how people can look at one individual who has wronged them and feel a sense of relief at their departure from this world, but general sweeping comments are a different story.
To highlight how immature and fascist the ACAB message is all you have to do is swap cop in the 'the only good cop is a dead cop' rant with anything of your choice.

The only good Jew?
Remember that one? Always popular it seems.
How about changing it to black, or child? Or plumber?
There you go.
The only good plumber is a dead plumber.
It's dangerous village idiot thinking.

Unsurprisingly on the thread Colin has his supporters who are mentioning how they have had experiences with the big bad coppers.
The rationalization of the indefensible.
Of course there are less than savoury individuals working in the police service.
As there are in every job you care to mention.
And of course there's much we can legitimately complain about, but in this instance a man and a woman died.

This is when compassion and empathy should come to the fore.

I doubt that there will be anyone who would claim we live in a perfect world and wouldn't welcome change.
Yet to go to the extremes of wanting to excise those who are not singing from the same hymn sheet from the world is an extreme that we have some experience of, and we know it offers no real solutions.

Two people started a shift and didn't come home to their families and friends.
I didn't know them and it doesn't matter.
Two lives were lost.
That's it.
The impact will be reverberating through the lives of those who know them right now.
Today, nor tomorrow is the time to celebrate that.
In fact there is no time when it would be appropriate.

Those who are feeling a little tingle of excitement at the thought of two police officers dying in such tragic circumstances should be setting a little time aside to consider why that is.

One of the most ludicrous arguments put across to defend the Conflict position on this is that the officers are deserving of their death as they participate in the oppression of us all.
Similarly anyone who buys a Conflict album, t-shirt, patch or attends a show contributes to the capitalists system that is in place, and by dint participate in the oppression of us all to.
As do they for pushing their merch onto others.

That will of course be different I suppose.

As for myself Conflict will no longer feature in my life.

I will not even go as far as to advocate a boycott of the band as that is a form of censorship, but I do sincerely hope that they can reap the reaction to their fascist attitudes and wither on the vine.

Conflict. You are dead to me, but not really dead.

I'll leave that sort of wishful thinking to you guys.

Wednesday 27 November 2013

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 26 November 2013

Les Frites Petites Vol 1

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

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

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

Free here.

Sunday 24 November 2013

MinkyTiger preview

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

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

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

Friday 22 November 2013

Calling all you rockers.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Glasgow. Are you ready to rock?

Silly question.

When is Glasgow not ready to rock?

In conversation with Purple Valentino

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Marc) I wanna be sedated!