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Thursday 31 January 2013

Sort it tout.

Tickets for The Who in Glasgow available from StubHub UK
one day before they go on general sale.

I'm not the sort of guy who has much change jingling about in my pockets.
I never have been.
Money and me have never really been that close.
It often prefers to spend time in other peoples pockets and bank accounts and steers clear of being seen in my company.

The most I have ever had in savings has been a few hundred quid, and something always comes up that snaffles that away.

It's just the way it has been. I'm not complaining.

For a while now I have been salting some cash away for a rainy day though, but today I thought that I would just throw caution to the wind and buy a couple of tickets to see The Who in the Glasgow SECC.
I love them, and I haven't seen them before, but I wasn't really looking to buy them for myself.
They were going to be a gift for my son.
He loves the whole sixties era, and chances like this don't come around often.
It would have been a great memory for us both.

So at £140 plus a booking fee I wasn't really looking on it as a couple of gigs tickets, but more a night where we could share an experience together.
At that price it's really a tad more than I could afford for a rock show, but like a great deal of parents it's a price I would pay to put a large smile on my sons face and give him a night that would live on forever in his memory.

It doesn't look as if that's going to happen though.

I was aware that presale tickets were made available through Ticket Soup, the official outlet, so I signed up to see if I could get a good seat by getting a jump on all the people who were waiting patiently for the public sale.

I was kidding myself on though.
All that appear to be available are at the fringes.
£70 each to look at the very side of a stage, and get a fraction of the view available elsewhere.
I'm sure people jumped in earlier than me and are sitting quite happily with their tickets already winging their way to them, and that's great.
I have no issue with other fans getting in their early and grabbing a seat, but I'd really like to know how many tickets have went to seatwave, viagogo and the other legalized touts.
Viagogo already have them on sale for £103.98 and Seatwave at £104.95.

A few weeks ago when Pere Ubu tickets went on sale for MONO in Glasgow they were still available for the face price of £18.00 from most outlets, but Viagogo already had one up at £136.
Yes that's right. £118 more than the asking price of a ticket that was still available.

Meanwhile the StubHub will 100% guarantee you a ticket for the Who if you have £198.99 to spare.

Now most of us who consider ourselves music fans are well aware that some of these companies where focussed on by Channel 4s Dispatches, and they were shown to indulge in using multiple credit cards to make multiple bookings, and many more practices that we would consider immoral.

Yet since they were outed for being little more that legitimised touts in February of 2012 what changes have we seen?

Did the government step in and clean them up?
Did the venues attempt to address the problem?
Did any artists come out and emphatically put their foot down?

If you answered no to any of the above then give yourself a gold star.

I'm going to be very frank here.
I'm not so much disappointed as very fuckin' angry.

As ticket prices rise, and most of us on modest incomes are starting to see them creep ever further away from what we can realistically afford, it's a real kick in the teeth to see them be snapped up before a general sale just to reappear with the original price doubled, trebled or more.

I'm not going to give up on taking my son to see The Who, although it is now very doubtful that it will happen, but if I am going to pay an arm and a leg for tickets I'm not going to be handing my hard earned cash over to these bastards, and neither should anyone else.

It just feels criminal.

I'm utterly disgusted.

It's Grim down south.

I'm not a fan of Radio 1.
It's decades since they aired any shows that I would be interested in listening to.
I can live with it moving on though.
The old making way for the new so to speak as it's the natural progression of things.
You can't halt time.
Everyone is aware that the shows that they air aren't really looking to draw in a 40 something who describes himself as music lover, and that's as it should be.
As the BBCs flagship radio station it's remit is to aim the content at a younger, and far hipper, audience.

But is that working for them?

This morning I read an article that was highlighting how the big hitter in their schedules that is The Breakfast Show has lost 500,000 listeners since the younger, and slimmer, Nick Grimshaw replaced the older. and cuddlier. Chris Moyles.
Half a million listeners gone in a year.
If every listener was a tenner then the programmer would be on the deck of the ship shouting women and children first.

The figures were already on the slide prior to Mr Grimshaw taking over, but his arrival did nothing at all to put the breaks on, and people are still apparently jumping ship at a rather alarming rate.
I would hazard a guess that the powers that be looked at the slight decline under Moyles and thought a fresh voice would attract a younger audience as maybe the bright young things weren't engaging with him any more.

They were probably right about the younger audience looking for their kicks elsewhere, but they were lost to their ipods and breakfast television rather than another radio station.
So what they were left with was Grimey Shaw grating on the nerves of the listeners who where either commuting to their work, or just about to indulge in their first dip into the corn flake bowl.
Not an attractive option for anyone out of short trousers.

On the plus side they are stating that there has been a rise in the 15-25 age group listening in.
The 15-25 group sounds like a holiday package booze cruise, but I digress.
Nearly a quarter of a million all in is what they say, but if they are down half a million, but gained a quarter then doesn't that mean that they actually lost three quarters of a million listeners and then clawed back a quarter?

So who were the approximately 750,000 that have walked away from the Breakfast show in the last twelve months?
I'll hazard a guess and say it was mainly people over twenty five.
The rise of listeners to Chris Evans on Radio 2 by virtually a million seems to lend credence to them not leaving radio, but instead that they simply migrated to another show that airs on what used to be Radio 1s poorer cousin.
Remove the happy clappy spin from the BBC about attracting a younger audience to Radio 1 and behind it there must be a sigh of relief that the migrating listeners didn't wash up on the shores of another radio station that wasn't sheltered under the BBC umbrella.

This has got me thinking though.
If Radio 1 lends itself to being number one, as in the best, then wouldn't it have lost it's crown to Radio 2 by now.
Maybe if the BBC treated the stations like football teams then we would see radio 1 being relegated in the league tables with Grimshaw and his team having to look at a drop in their wages to reflect their newer and less lustrous position.
If the BBC really want to give the people what they want then that's the majority, and it would seem to be that they are all on Radio 2 now.

Jim Dead - I'm not lost

Jim Dead has the American folk blues.
It's not that he's depressed thinking about our colonial cousins, but instead that he's picked up on the country trails, the swirling mud of the Mississippi, and the vast expanse of the desert skies and can't shake it.
That he has written this album under the slate grey, and often rain dispensing, clouds of the west of Scotland is as impressive as it is strange.
He hasn't just been able to mentally transport himself to the other side of the world to write his music either, because now that it has been birthed he is also looking to give you a ticket so that you can join him on his journey.
All you have to do is close your eyes and listen.
Then as if by magic you are there with him.
A stranger in a strange land emulating their customs to such a degree that you can't see where the join is in the fabric.
Quite simply put 'I'm not lost' is on par with anything that comes out of the states with the authentic tag attached to it.
While the genre itself has spread far and wide, and it isn't unusual for artists from all over the world to dip their toe into the americana sound, it is maybe still that wee bit rare for it to be done in this apparently effortless fashion.
Rock solid from start to finish.
A Celtic Connections star in waiting for sure.

Jim Dead Website.

Wednesday 30 January 2013

From my cold dead hand.

There's something different about the reaction to the latest madman who ran amok and killed school kids in the states.
This time the gun control advocates are not being brow beaten into silence, and it looks as if finally something is going to be done about it.
The NRA are obviously drip feeding hysteria to the masses as expected, and there's no doubt in the minds of the men (mainly men) who own Kalishnikovs and such, that if they have to give up their weapon of destruction that the USA as they know it will cease to exist.
There will be no more mom and pop stores, the recipe for apple pie will be lost, and Mexicans illegally living within their borders will no doubt relish the prospect of wiping their arses on the constitution in public.
Of course from a rational viewpoint that's just nuts, but there you go.
That none of this will happen doesn't matter, because as it exists in an unwritten future the gun lovers are leaning towards proudly stuffing their chests out and claiming that it might.
So just in case they want to hang onto their big guns and rifles and protect their family, their friends, and by extension everyone else that exists within the US borders.

This is how the debate is being played out, and it's this that I want to focus on rather than the gun control issue itself.
The gap between the reality of a situation and the perception of it.

I have seen many arguments in defence of just leaving things as they are.

There's the invasion one.
We need to protect our homes from invaders - and this can be from gangs stalking the suburbs looking to rape and pillage to full on attack from New World Order troops who have a quota to fill for the FEMA camps.
Now is any of that reasonably going to happen?
Okay there are some issues about home invasions and we shouldn't gloss over that, but how is a semi automatic assault rifle stored under lock and key in a metal cabinet going to be of any use if one minute a family are sitting eating their dinners off their laps while watching television, and the next their home is full of criminals who have relied on a blitzkrieg approach to rob them of everything they can grab, including the assault rifle.
It's a straw man position that can easily be dispersed on the wind.
Unless the whole family were going to take turns on guard duty around the clock - and preferable two at a time - to protect their home then the ownership of such a weapon is not going to do a damn thing.
So if we can mainly discount all of this as BS then why is it being put forth as a reasonable reason for maintaining the right to own semi automatic weapons?

Similarly the statistical arguments keep making an appearance.
X% of people die in car crashes each year. Are we going to ban them next?
X amount of people die jogging a year. Should we ban that?

There's deliberately no effort made to differentiate between one young man heading into a built up area and with extreme prejudice opening fire on children, and a tire blowing out on the highway, or someone with an unknown health issue dropping dead when out on a jog.
It's apples and pears logic.

Then there's the more people die slipping in the bath than from shooting sprees per calendar year claim that may or may not be true.
Well okay then, but how about legislating that all baths must have a non slip surface and we will get that number down?
Meanwhile let's all try and remember when we have all turned on the television and felt our hearts sink at the news that multiple children went to school only to slip in the bath and die.

Now the reality is that very few people are asking for guns to be removed from private ownership at all.
Most are perfectly sane and appreciate that guns can be a useful tool, and there's no issue in people owning them.
Then there is also an acceptance that as a leisure pursuit some people may wish to head off to a shooting range and fire off a few clips to.
Apart from some fringe elements very few people calling for gun control want to take that away from individuals.

There just seems to be a great deal of hysteria surrounding the subject, and more of it is coming from gun owners than the families who have lost their children as we would probably expect.

What is really being said is do Americans need to have weapons of a certain type?
Does the guy next door really need to have more weapons in his kitchen than there is in an eighties action movie?
Does anyone who lives in the suburbs actually need a gun that fires rounds that could punch a hole in a tank?
The call for gun control is not a call for gun prohibition, and maybe it's time that such a serious matter was stripped of all the spin and people sat down and rationally thought about what is being proposed rather than what they think is.

Now before anyone state side, or elsewhere, considers this an attack on the US, then I would urge them to read it again.
The point is that often when emotive subjects come up there is apparently a need for both sides to push with big and bold assertions that often have little relevance to the matter at hand.
This is done to sway opinion.
It can be gun control in the US, or economic policies in the UK.
Often a few minutes contemplation can strip much of the bombast from the argument and leave a clearer picture.
Once that is found then a decision that everyone can live with can be reached.
Cool heads are required. Not frothing at the mouth lunatics.
I mean c'mon?
Do people in America really want Alex Jones to be deciding on policy?
Swaying public opinion on pretty much anything?
For his own safety, and that of others, he's a a plastic cutlery and paper plate sort of guy. 

PS : In a conversation about this subject I was told by an American that as I didn't live in the states that I should just shut the fuck up and comment on issues that are UK based.
That's the polite version of what was said.
In response I said that I would once the US took a step back from policing the world and redressed much of their foreign policy.

Tuesday 29 January 2013

The Yard - Alex Grecian

So what do we have here then.
A band of policemen - some experienced, some wet behind the ears - who in the aftermath of the failed attempt to apprehend Jack the Ripper are battling general mistrust from the public, social issues of the time, a brace of cases that may, or may not be, linked, and on top of that lot simultaneously attempting to embrace the new kid on the block that is forensic criminology.
Quite a lot be be going on with.
That's 'The Yard' in a nutshell I suppose.

To expand on that, the premise is actually a very good one, and the debut novel from Alex Grecian is as enjoyable a romp in the crime/thriller genre as you could find.
It's not high literature, nor historically accurate, but neither does it pretend to be.
The authors background of working within the graphic novel world is very obviously openly on display, and with lashings of blood and a bucketful of gore this is a visceral pulp fiction novel that wears its entertainment credentials on its sleeve.
It's one of those 'it does what it says on the tin' novels, and a damn good one at that.

As is the norm with debuts there has however been some criticism.
Not from me I hasten to add.
The main one is that the language that is occasionally used is out of time and place.
Especially the American phrases that have slipped into the dialogue.
The other complaint that rears its head is that the book itself is heavy on the amount of plots that are simultaneously happening at once.
Both are relevant, but forgiveable.
To touch on the first, the author is American, and apart from being geographically on the other side of the world from the subject matter, he has also missed it by one hundred and twenty four years.
I personally consider that enough of a reason for the odd modern Americanism in the prose, and those who maintain that it's a larger problem than it is are probably the anally retentive sort that probably shouldn't be picking this sort of book off the shelves anyway.
The second swipe about the overloading on the story aspect is also an accurate criticism, but I would draw far short at describing it as a problem.

There's of course the introduction to the main characters, and their back stories to be told.
Then there's the main plot where the protagonist isn't a master criminal, but a damaged man who jumps from one crime to another with nary a regard for the consequences of each of his actions, and additionally there are two sub plots that rattle along in tandem with the main tale.
Busy, busy, busy really.
Relentlessly so in fact.
So while it does have a great deal going on I'm not really sure what could have been left out.
Drop a sub plot and focus more heavily on introducing the characters and it would have lost some pace.
A pace that in itself is kept consistent through out, and one that barely leaves any room for the story to take a breath.
I fail to see how that is a problem though.
It just rattles along in fine style.
These small issues are ultimately nothing to really write home about, and instead of being put off I'm already keen to hear what the characters are going to get up to next.
It has been one of those books that I would have loved to have sat down at its conclusion only to immediately pick up the next in the series.

With Detective Inspector Day, Constable Hammersmith and Dr Kingsley already gelling together under the watchful eye of the newly appointed Commissioner Edward, the second book in the series will undoubtedly provide us with a very nice little blood splattered sojourn onto the streets of the nations capital again.
I'm definitely looking forward to it.

(The next book in the series is called 'The Black Country' and will be with us for the summer.)

Stuff I call stuff.

When I'm not doing all the things that everyone else does, and then when I'm not listening to music, reading a book, or watching a film, or going out, or even out out.*
I sometimes do things like this. (If you click on them they get bigger.)
I would have preferred to have posted them in a neat row, but until I figure out how to do that then this is a big long drop down of images.
As you can see most have a political angle to them. Apart from Disco Darth of course.

 *Mickey Flanagan joke.

Adam Ant - Adam Ant is the BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter

When Adam Ant released Cool Zombie I was initially underwhelmed.
Not just slightly, but horribly underwhelmed.
I wanted him to come back and emphatically silence his detractors.
The bar had been set high after some fantastic live dates, but rather than him just missing hitting it I was leaning towards thinking that he had just stayed in bed having an artistic wank leading to him failing to deliver on the promises he had made.
It sounded lazy, random, and unfocussed.
Or that's what I thought.
I'm big enough to admit when I'm wrong though.
I'm not even sure what I didn't like about it now, because second time around I'm drawn to it straight away.
The random influences that it has doesn't sound unfocussed now, but rather cleverly stitched together.
As an opening track to the mouthful of an album title that is 'Adam Ant is the BlueBlack Hussar in Marrying the Gunner's Daughter' it sets the scene well.
Then with each song it just gets better.
By the midway point of the album I was hearing nothing to complain about.
Nothing at all.
As each song opens itself up to the listener it becomes increasingly obvious that what we have here is an album that walks a tightrope above the fans of his Dirk period and his pop icon years.
One slip and he will be in one camp or the other.
No matter where he would land he would leave people in the opposing one disappointed, but there's barely a slip at all, and if he does lean too far towards one fan base or the other he is quick to follow the moment with one that will appease.
Take Darlin Boy for an example.
It would knock your White Sox off, but right in the midst of it is a bit of a twitching nod to the Wild Frontier, and then when it leaves us to make way for Dirty Beast he delivers a track for the fans who have a sneaky admiration for the 'Wonderful' period.
It's all very cleverly done.
The common thread through it all seems to be sex though.
Dirty filthy wonderful sex.
Each song could be an ode to panties, or boxers if that's your thing, hitting the floor.
Even when it's not overtly mentioned the music conveys the rumpled sheets of a liaison where conventional attitudes have been left outside the door.
And this is exactly what we all want from Adam Ant isn't it?
It would be fair to say that with this release Ant Music really is for Sex People.
Horny as fuck, and like it's title, more than a mouthful.

Rockaby Baby! - Lullaby renditions of Red Hot Chilli Peppers

A number of years ago I picked up a CD that had lullaby versions of Ramones songs on it.
It wasn't because I was particularly interested in it, but I was in the grip of a completest fever and I felt that I must have it even if it was horrendously terrible.
It was.
For one reason or another, but probably because I had buried the memory, I had forgotten how much I had despised the bland representations of the songs, and now here I am with a Red Hot Chilli Peppers one in my possession.
I must have done something quite horrific in a past life.
Suffice to say the same feeling of horror has swept over me as Under the Bridge is picked out on what sounds like a random bunch of kiddie instruments that have been found at the foot of the cot.
A lullaby is supposed to lull a child over comfortably into the hands of the sandman, not bore the poor child into stupor.
Usually a child can safely wait until they are in their teens before hearing a parent shout at them to 'turn that horrible noise down......or off'.
It's a bit much to start with that sort of thing before they are even out of their huggies, but this CD has the ability to draw that comment like a protracted scream from the lips of a parent.
By the time Dani California came around I was still awake, but I felt quite ill.
The thought danced into my head on tippy toes that if I bought five of these CDs I could make a nice little mobile with them.
One that could be hung above a cot where it would silently catch the light and cast it in around the room like a cheap poundland disco ball would do.
Then I thought that a poundland disco ball would actually be more cost effective, and as a bonus I wouldn't have to have any Chilli Peppers lullabies at home that could mistakenly find themselves being played.
At the point that I was thinking that in all honesty there was no use to these CDS at all I realized that there was.
They are the ideal final CD to put on at a party if you want everyone to leave.

Monday 28 January 2013

Willis Earl Beal

Very often it is difficult to convey what it is that I love about music.
How do you describe something that just hits you in the gut, that can knock the wind from you, but at the same time can lift the hairs on your neck and plasters a smile on your face.
Is it really possible to put into words why a song can transport you to another place, or snatch a memory from the past that will bring a lump to your throat, a tear to your eye or lift your spirits from the depths of despair until it genuinely feels that you can feel the heat of the sun on your face.
You can try and get it down on paper, hammer it out on a computer screen, but nothing comes close to the reality of how it can be a catalyst to a biological and chemical surge of energy, memories, and more that swirls around inside your head and reaches out to the very extremities of your body.
It's even better when it comes upon you just as you weren't expecting it.
Right at that moment when the needle settles into the groove, the singer lets the song loose on an audience, when you click play on whatever it is that you have from a computer to a tape deck and not forgetting all the mp3 players.
Or in my case today when I clicked on a link and watched this.
Just watch this and then you will possibly see what I mean.
Words don't really cover this and I don't actually have a clue who this is.

The Strokes - One way trigger

I've went back to this a few times over the course of four days now and I have given it as much attention as it deserves, probably more.
The legendary status of the band will no doubt be encouraging others to do likewise to.
The idea being that if we all keep listening to it then at some point it will reveals its genius.
I wish I had saved myself some time and just wrote it off on first listen as I initially thought I should, but no, I kept looking for that elusive hook.
Something that I could latch onto and feel that I understood where they were coming from with it, and maybe where they were going.
I doubt I would have given the same amount of time if it was a demo sent through from a previously unheard of band, and that's blatantly unfair on my part.
The Strokes name in itself had me picking at it and thinking that I must be missing something.
I now no longer think I have.
It's the emperors new clothes all over again.
There's been many voices raised in defence of the track.
Some giving it the lukewarm 'it's not as bad as people are saying' and other claiming the naysayers 'just don't get it', but really?
I mean really?
Is this the sound of the mighty Strokes?
Now don't get me wrong though, that it doesn't initially sound like what many would expect has no bearing on whether I am impressed or not.
The band can explore any musical avenues that they wish, and I will approach each and every song with an open ear, so my lack of interest in this has nothing to do with the band straying away from a certain sound, and far more to do with my strongly held opinion that it really isn't up to much at all.
I sincerely doubt many would jump to claim it was a great track if it was from an unsigned band who were yet to have a back catalogue that it could be held in comparison to.
It would more than likely be dismissed with at the most a grudging acceptance that maybe there was something in it, but the band would have to go back and try a bit harder.
Of course some people genuinely like it.
I have no idea why though.
It's all subjective after all.
It's just that for me it's akin to a nostalgic look at the eighties with a twist, but a very poor one.

Sunday 27 January 2013

Outstandifold and the Wettygrippers - Bakers - 26/01/13 (Kilmarnock)

Long time reader, first time contributor, so go easy on me.
I'm doing this for a friend - let's call him Willie Bolland, as that's his name – because he told me he was supposed to review the gig, but then he got drunk and went home long before the show started.
He didn't even make it to the doors opening.
A full scale weekend on the lash is now apparently something that he used to do because after a few pints on the Saturday afternoon he was finished.
A casualty of the post lunch bevvy.

By the time The Aboriginals walked onto the stage in Bakers I expect that Willie was either in the land of nod, or watching reruns of Coronation Street with his elderly mother who he still lives with.
He will regret that because he missed a fantastic wee local band.

Getting the ball rolling with a very impressive cover of the Arctic Monkeys 'you look good on the dance floor' that they managed to fill with all the youthful sarcasm that the song deserves was a good start, and while their own material that followed it wasn't quite up there at the same level of quality it wasn't far off it either.
Not far at all, and snapping at the heels of a band like the Arctic Monkeys isn't a bad place to be.
Out of a run of young local bands that I have seen over the previous six months it is these lads who are standing out as being the ones to watch.
There's some second hand post punk thrashing going on that will be picked up from them listening to the Arctic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand I suppose rather than some of the older acts, but then there's also some of the twist that Oasis brought to a more traditional rock attitude that most bands can't seem to avoid any more that gives the whole sound a lot more accessibility to it.
Praise has to be forwarded to the bands front man who carries himself like a rock star.
This attitude, along with a good voice, is the main difference between what The Aboriginals are doing and what their peers are getting up to.
There's no apparent discomfort on stage and it seems obvious that when he steps onto it that he claims it as his own.
Best young band that I have seen in a while.

The Longhorns aren't a young band, and that's obvious as they know exactly what they are doing on stage.
It's a hand in glove performance that only comes from laying down the music over a long period of time with the same people surrounding you.
Each of them know exactly what they should be doing, and when they should be doing it.
A friend said that they hadn't played for about a year, but you wouldn't be able to tell.
The music itself could be roughly claimed to be classic rock.
Not heavy rock, but classic rock.
The sort of sixties rock that delved into RnB and spawned the short lived pub rock scene before delivering punk and then a second wave of mod bands.
It's all there in what they are playing and while that might seem like a big messy pot of influences it's not.
It all makes complete sense and when I was told that this may have been their last gig my heart sunk.
Good bands like this should never retire.
They should keep popping up every once in a while to show the younger guns how it should be done.
They are really everything a good band should be.

Sonic Templars have been taking one confident step forward after another for a while now and all the hard work is paying of.
Very often I've thought that locally there is always one band who will drop the ball in a line up and my attention starts to wonder, but this was by this point three on three as they were hitting it hard.
Plenty of referencing was firing about the company I was in.
Muse got name checked as did Radiohead, but equally so did Blur, Jeff Buckley and some bands from much further back who are described as being Brit legends.
Once again there's a huge pot pourri of influences in display, but again there's nothing jarring about how they are all mixed together to promote what the band are wanting to get out there.
It is very easy to imagine them on a much larger stage in front of an enormous audience.
Club and pub environments are far too restricting for them.
What they play needs a great deal of room to breath in and walls are just a restrictive force holding it all contained in far too tightly.
Put Sonic Templars on before a band like Muse in Wembley and five minutes after them exiting the stage all their merch would be gone and their fan base would have multiplied by a ridiculous amount.
They have a co headlining gig coming up soon with Stonehouse Violets in Glasgow that Mainy from this blog is hosting and I'm not missing it.
The chance to see a full set from them rather than a limited support slot is one that I will recommend to all and sundry.

The headline act of the night is already a favourite of mine, and while some bands start off very seriously, but you can't help but see them as a joke, they are working arse from elbow and started off as a joke between mates and ended up through the quality of the musicianship being a band you can laugh with rather than at.
Take an old punk and an equally old fella who fancied himself as a Scottish Bono at one time, add in a youngish glam rocker who is hanging onto an androgynous Motley Crue fixation, and bolster the band with a dreadlocked bassist who may have took a wrong turning on his way to Bloodstock and a young singer/songwriter on drums and what you get is Outstandifold and the Wettygrippers.
These are five individuals who should never be allowed in a room together, but what sweet music they make.
Nothing should work, but everything does.
They are a rock band in every sense of the word.
Rock solid, rock hard and a bit of Rock Hudson to.
They are actually so tight that that they are water tight, and it's rumoured that double glazing companies are looking to sign them up as the next generation of all weather sealant.
The whole joke aspect of them is very obviously only skin deep.
They are far removed from being a parody band and if you removed the visual aspect of them and the in set laughs what you are left with is a very serious sound indeed.
As a hobby band of a sort they are seriously kicking the arses of those who see their band as a career option.
The forthcoming debut album that will be heard without the humour layered over it will be a surprise I expect.

John Kerr

Saturday 26 January 2013

Tegan and Sara - Heartthrob

The image in my head is of top of the pops circa 1981.
There's barely a nod of the head to the pop indie credentials that they have garnered over the years, and truth be known this wouldn't sound out of place squeezed between Bucks Fizz making their mind up and Kim Wilde with her kids from America.
This is Tegan and Sara doing some rather poor choreographed dance moves in front of an audience of girls who are still clinging onto Purdey haircuts, and guys who consider that a sharp suit has to be tailored in a metallic fabric.
If it's supposed to be a homage to that era then they have done a fantastic job in emulating the shiny gloss blandness of it all.
The only thing that seems to reach out and jars with the time is the inclusion of synthesisers that sound like they want to break loose and run free into the arms of Axel Foley.
'How come you don't want me now' is about the most modern sounding song on the album.
Unfortunately it also sounds like they stole it from the wheely bin outside Robyn's flat.
Of course this is the sort of thing that they have been doing for a while but the regurgitating of the past always had a bit of something else to it.
A bit of attitude maybe, but that's not apparent on 'Heartthrob' at all.
All I can hear is eighties pop given a little polish for the present day chart shows.
Heavy rotation is just around the corner I suspect.
Oh dear.
Can we survive it?

Friday 25 January 2013

Friday night footage

I was asked a few days ago if I had any footage from some of the gigs that I have put on through the blog.
I have.
Not that I filmed anything. Full credit has to go to the people who came along and done such a good job.
They are the ones who preserved some great memories.

Here's some Canadians. Lovely people and an outstanding live band. The Wooden Sky.

and equally as lovely, but from New Orleans this time. Hurray for the Riff Raff

Scabies/James/Texas Terri

Pretty much everything from the gig here


Currently I'm not accepting comments on the blog.
The reason being that it has been attracting the attention of one individual and I am not comfortable in giving them a platform to air their views.
So far the anonymous route has been done to death by them, a few assumed names have been tried, and a last ditch attempt was made where they attempted to get comments upped by using names of people that have previously commented.
Blogger has no function for blocking IP addresses so as it is difficult to tell who is actually posting, and I don't want to let any slip through from this person, I have sadly taken the decision to just leave the comments section alone for a few weeks, or until the matter is resolved.

It's a great shame that it has come to this as once again the behaviour of a minority is having an impact on the majority.

Over on facebook there's a itsaxxxxthing page and comments can be made on that. 

itsaXXXXthing on facebook.

Update : 29/01/13
Opened the blog for comments, but unfortunately the same problems were encountered.
The settings of the blog have now been changed and registered readers can comment.
Otherwise it's facebook as mentioned or not at all.

It Girl - Neon Signs

If Factory Records had a branch set up in Glasgow, with the pre 'Sparkle in the Rain' Simple Minds being asked to run it, then 'It Girl' would probably be sound of the Clydeside based label.
They have all the signature sounds of the bands who clawed their way to national attention from the industrial landscape of Manchester, and the additional attraction of maintaining some Scottish roots via the swirling guitars that are layered over the seven tracks that are on their debut.
'Your mother and I' especially sounds like Joy Division meets Big Country, but 'Neon Girl' is far more than a spot the influences debut.
(Although you can have fun doing that as you pick out a bit of Wire here and some GO4 there.)
Instead it strangely feels like music of the moment, and that's probably partially to do with the era we are living in and how it resembles the times when the first post punk bands started to chronicle the world about them in shades of grey, jagged guitar strokes and an exploration of the synthesizer.
Austerity, cuts and social unrest need a soundtrack just as much as a lazy golden summer does, and it sounds like 'It Girl' are looking to supply it.

Thursday 24 January 2013

I think we may have what you want.

With six gigs already confirmed it's shaping up to be a good year in my opinion. 
While some blogs and promotion companies tend to focus on one genre, and rarely stray from what they know, it's a bit obvious that this isn't how this blog rolls as da kids would say.
(Or if not the kids then Will Smith in his Fresh Prince days.) 
So there you go, a bit of something for virtually everyone. 
Good music is after all good music.
I hope you can see something that you like and attend a show or two or six. 
All the acts appearing come with my personal guarantee that they are all of headlining quality no matter where they are on the bill. 
One gig is already sold out as we can see. 
Lets get the bands the audiences they deserve for the rest.

Rose Parade - Grace (Official Video)

Debut album about to be released.
Launch gig sold out, and lots of people getting hot and bothered about them.
It's going to be Rose Parades year.
Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of fellas.

Glasgow Skeptics - Admiral Bar - 21/01/13 (Glasgow)

I've been keen to attend one of the nights arranged by Glasgow Skeptics for a while now, and this week everything sort of fell into place and I managed to trundle along with Cal Murray to listen in on the talks given by Dr Libby Wilson on voluntary euthanasia, Patrick Harvie on equal marriage rights for the LBGT community and Prof Wendy Savage on abortion rights.

These talks were all to be loosely based around the undue influence that religion has on the political process when it comes to how countries legislate on the matters at hand.

Unfortunately while I did enjoy myself, the twenty minute time frames that were allocated to the speakers fell far short of allowing them to really get their teeth into the areas of their expertise, and I got the distinct impression that all three had prepared specific talks and then had to do a last minute rewrite to bolt on the religious angle.

Maybe that wasn't the case, but for me it did come across as if there had been some confusion about what the umbrella subject was.

However it was far from disappointing, and I don't really want to give that impression at all.

Dr Libby Wilson has literally decades of experience, and in 2009 was actually arrested for her involvement in an assisted suicide was the first to speak.
So what we were getting was a lady who walked the walk and didn't just turn up to talk the talk.
Of interest to me was her comments about the BMA and how they had went from being against euthanasia. to then voting to be impartial on the subject. and then swayed back to their original stance, and I couldn't help but agree that, as mentioned, the stance should have always been an impartial one.
I was particularly impressed that the she dared to speak out and express her concerns about how increasingly more common within the medical establishment are Muslim doctors, and other professionals, and how their influence by sheer dint of numbers is starting to be felt in how policy is being reached.
Only the most irrational would have considered her comments to be Islamaphobic - and I suppose that needs to be said as very often the current trend is to jump forth with a call of having a racist agenda as soon as a perceived negative comment is made - as prior to this she had made no bones about how Christian representatives had often been in her opinion misusing their influence.
As expected the real root of the issue is about the separation of church and state, and that is not about the separation of one belief system from another, but all of them.
This was very clearly put across and I wouldn't want anyone thinking for one second that Dr Libby Wilson was conducting her own Nuremberg rally.
It is a matter that we should all consider.
Regardless of what faith it is we should be vigilant that policies are not introduced to appease one section of society over another.
No matter what that section is.

Next was Patrick Harvie who impressed me no end.
His understanding of the issue at hand was eloquently and charismatically expressed.
Most refreshing was his message that while there has always been opposition by religious groups to calls for equal marriage rights, and more, from the LBGT community, that they have always fell short of swaying the legislators from basing any decisions on common sense.
It would seem that while some of these issues are hot button ones for the press, the reality is that not many people are really that concerned about introducing equality laws (as that is what they are) and those at the coal face politics are aware of this.
Religious groups can shout as loud as they may wish, but to an extent we can all hear that it is bluster and little more.
Maybe a rage at the oncoming light rather than the dying of it.

Last, but obviously by no means least, was Prof Wendy Savage, whose passionate savaging of hypocritically attitudes towards abortion were well received.
When it is stated in plain English the reasons why some countries criminalize abortion it is ludicrously cringe worthy.
Pretty much most of us are aware of some of the nonsensical reasons that are rooted in religious dogma, but to hear the stories of women being allowed to bleed to death as health professionals look on impotently as they fear that they will be incarcerated, or worse, just screams the question what year are we living in.

Due to relying on public transport and that trains were being cancelled frequently due to the weather we headed of prior to the question and answer session so I'm sorry, but I can't comment on that.

As an introduction it was admirable enough so I fully expect that I will be back.

A nice change from rock and roll.

Wednesday 23 January 2013

Time for a cuppa.

Very often this blog receives some rather strange anonymous comments
They range from threats to nonsensical paranoid rants.
I've spoken about these comments here and there since the blog started.
Some of the comments have been shared and others have made the journey to the recycle bin, and then onto who knows where after that.
All come from angry people, some are sad and some are funny, but in general I have come to the conclusion that most, but not all of course, are clear indicators of the writers mental health.
They are short and sharp snapshots of how they view the world at that very moment in time.
They are angry, upset and lashing out.
Maybe the comments could be construed as cries for help.
Of course they wouldn't consider that to be the case at all, but as they are attempting to rant on a blog that has a public audience I suppose we could all accept that they are looking for a reaction.
So subconsciously they want to engage in some way.
I really don't want anyone to misconstrue what I am saying here.
I'm not talking about individuals disagreeing with me and coaching a response in a reasoned and logical manner.
That's fine, and I will always have time to respond to that sort of response to an update, even if it is anonymous, but what I am talking about here is the outpouring of bile, as mentioned paranoid delusions, and very poor attempts to create disharmony between people where there is little or none.

A few days ago I had one closely followed by another.
The first was a general dig at the blog, and the second an admonishment of the dig that included a name that would indicate that they knew who the original poster was.

Immediately the question must be asked how they would know who the initial poster was as at that point both comments were languishing in my inbox and hadn't been made public.
So the logical conclusion is that both anonymous posts came from the same individual.

Initially I thought that it was a rather pathetic attempt from someone to draw attention to themselves and their loosely termed artistic endeavours.
After all it is a commonly held opinion that there's no such a thing as bad publicity, just publicity.

Then today I awoke to another missive.

The content of it may as well have been written in neon and left hovering above the contributors head as it very clearly says to me who it is due to past experiences/contact with them.
I wouldn't mention their name publicly because apart from not being able to substantiate the name beyond the shadow of a doubt I wouldn't actually do that to someone who is clearly going through a low ebb at this moment in time.
It would be the reality of kicking someone when they are down, and this is not an attack on them.

However I do feel that this needs to be made public because it brings me to something else.

That something else is about a social responsibility that we all have.
If any of us have a friend who is maybe behaving erratically and lashing out in some way or another, physically or verbally, then we should help.
Just like if we became aware that a close friend was self harming then we would advocate that they visit a professional, then I would urge others to similarly offer that advice when a mate divulges their participation in different behaviours that are a concern.
Even if that's them sharing that they have been indulging in delivering what is little more than manipulative hate mail.
There are consequences to their actions and a real friend would point that out to them.
I don't mean consequences like police involvement, but more so a decline in their mental health until they are seriously unwell.
An intervention is needed for their sake.

I consider that the person who is currently posting to this blog has lost a a certain degree of a grip on what can be construed as normal behaviour.
They are unwell.
They are seeing issues where there are none, attempting to create conflict where there is none, and in all honesty seeing the blog, and by extension of it myself, as a bogeyman that needs to be challenged.

If I was to upload the comments and share them the main response would be a query about their relevance to the posts that they are responding to as there is none.
None at all.

I sincerely hope that they have told a friend, or partner, about what they are doing and equally I sincerely hope that they are taking steps to either get them help, or are pushing them in the direction of seeking some additional support themselves.

I appreciate that some may wish to know who I am talking about, but I'll not be divulging that, and instead leave you with a thought.
If you think you know who it is based on something said by them, or this reminds you of someone that you know, then maybe it is time to have a word with them.

I'm not talking about people having a silly joke of course.
Let your own judgement guide you.

There's help out there.

EELS - Wonderful, Glorious

Reminiscent of the debut from the EELS, it sounds like E has went full circle with 'Wonderful, Glorious'.
That's no bad thing though, as Beautiful Freak is the album that most would consider the artists most accessible, and I suppose there's no harm in reminding people why they were initially drawn to the music all those years ago.
As a timely reminder it certainly does the job, and does it well.
While I've personally been happy to tread in his shadow as he has explored new musical territory, it would be fair to accept that it's possible that others maybe fell away over the years, and if that is the case, then what we have here is an impressive flag being waived at them so that they can find their way back to indulge again in the music that the EELS make.

As with much of the material that E writes it is his prose that drags me in.
As a songwriter he's what I would describe as an A-Lister.
Let's just say that it's a bit of a bald fact that clever lyricism never grows old around these here parts, and there's ample proof of it on each and every song that Everett sings on this.

'Small thinking people with their small thinking ways. I don't have time to hear what they say, this is my world I'm staking my claim. Thanks for the invite, no thanks just the same.'

Yeah that's right. Tell it like it is E.

Some may well be calling it a real return to form, but I would disagree as to claim that would mean that the material preceding it could be considered to be of a lesser quality, and it's simply not.
Instead, it's as I have said, not so much a return to form, but more a return to a certain sound that some can look to engage more comfortably with again.
Now you may consider that what I am getting at is that E and his musical cohorts have went out of their way to do this, but I really doubt it has been a calculated move.
It's more about how when we all go on journeys that sometimes we visit places where we have been before, or that have an uncanny resemblance to a previous stop off point that we know well.
So while all the Beautiful Freak signatures are there that make it instantly recognisable as the EELS, it's a through the looking glass experience to an extent.
The same, but very slightly different, and very very worthwhile.