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Thursday 31 July 2014

Hans Chew - Christie Connor-Vernal King Tuts Wah Wah Hut - 29/07/14 (Glasgow)

Innis & Gunn in a can?

Why did no one tell me about this?

Initially I was entertaining some dark thoughts about this new release being kept a secret from me, but then when my change was handed back over the bar I realized that friends were keeping it quiet in an attempt to steer me away from financial ruin.

In these recession hit times the four pound price tag (nearly $7US) is something that my meagre income is not up to carrying the weight of.

As the barmaid took my money I had a flashback to when the Solid Rock CafĂ© wet the bottom of a two glasses with some Mount Gay rum and took ten pounds from me for the privilege. 
I nearly cried that night, and as I sipped on my expensive Innis and Gunn I could feel tears welling up again as I grieved for the loss of hard worked for mullah from my wallet.

It’s been an emotional week I guess.

Anyway on the upside I was in good company, and the prospect of seeing Christie Connor-Vernal with a full band backing her, and the headliner Hans Chew, was enough to balance out the bad karma that was lurking behind the bar waiting to take the shine off the night for unsuspecting patrons.

Once relocated to venue proper that is upstairs the night could start in earnest though, and it most certainly did as Christie and the band opened with As good as I am.
The studio version, while impressive, pales in comparison to the live rendition.
It’s not that the band and Christie were pulling their punches while recording it, but instead that with a quality sound - and an audience to play to that were obviously supportive - the whole performance is taken to a different level again.

After another couple of songs were aired from the session I started to get the distinct impression that there was something quite cinematic about the experience.

That what we were seeing reflected the Hollywood rock and roll fantasy.

It’s Christie starring as the up and coming artist who is paying her dues along with her band in small bar rooms, and from the quality of the music on display it is easy to see where the story is going, and of course the credits will assuredly roll on a triumphant stadium show.

However the thing with these films is that they can’t start off revealing anyone really paying their dues, and from the first song the standard is set at a level that is maintained across the whole movie.
After all they have a soundtrack release to sell.
Consider Kris Kristofferson and Barbara Streisand in “A star is born”.
Beyonce Knowles in “Dreamgirls”,
Or even Neil Diamond in “The Jazz Singer”.
All of these movies have musicians at the top of their game pretending to be starting off, and it is in this way that the set reflects that as the quality of the bands performance is out of sync with the surroundings.
It’s a set that is already at the point of being featured as the end credits roll.

It just seems that as a whole this is a band that should literally be already jetting about from festival to stadium and it is only in catching them live that this can be understood.

On the rare occasions when I witness a band taking the music to this degree of professionalism, paired with a solid chunk of passion, then it honestly begs the question why label representatives are not out the back of the venue slapping each other in the face with chequebooks with the last man, or women, standing getting to sign them.

Someone out there somewhere isn't doing their job if any band this talented is not being supported in achieving their dreams.

As for Hans Chew it was a bittersweet first meeting.

The bitter part was all about the amount of people flooding from the venue prior to them starting to play.
Something that had nothing to do with Hans Chew either, but everything to do with the usual myopic engagement with live music from the public.
People just generally stick to what they know, and as Hans and his band are a bit of an unknown quantity here in the UK then the majority simply weren't looking to take the time to get acquainted.
It would be easy to say it is their loss, but it isn't.
It’s really our loss, our collective loss, because every time this happens the artists at the level Hans and his band-mates are at have to consider if it is worth returning to these shores from the other side of the world.
They have to think about the costs involved, the time away from their family and friends, and then weigh it up while asking themselves if the fan picked up in this bar here and the two in that club there is really edging their careers forward in any meaningful way.
The brutal angle on that is if it’s not, then it’s not, and it isn't worth doing.

The sweet part was as you have probably guessed the music, and oh how sweet it was.
The band simply refused to let the dwindling crowd take anything away from what they do.
With a Hans Chew show no one is getting short changed.
You paid to hear some great music and that’s what you are getting.

It’s actually rare to see a band so attuned to each other.
I don’t know if it comes from practice, a natural ability, or a combination of both, but there are points in the show where it looks as if the band becomes lost in a high velocity jam session with each other.

Sometimes when that happens I can appreciate that the musicians are skirting with disaster and there’s an added appeal as everything could jump the rails at any second, but Hans Chew aren’t like that.
Instead it’s a fluid and organic performance that takes everything to a peak, and then pushes on beyond that and as every peak is reached and you think they can’t take it to another then they gleefully do leaving other bands in the dust.

Of course on stage Hans is the focal point, and maintains control throughout, but this is a real band and not a one man show.
The musicianship on display hammers that point home.
The rhythm section of Jesse Wallace on drums and Ricardo Ortiz on bass don’t simply provide a beat, a foundation for the songs to be built up from, but rather they play their instruments as part of the fabric of the songs and provide additional shading to everything that is being played.
I've seen many drum solos and like the majority of non musicians they leave me cold, but Jesse doesn't just beat at the skins and hit everything in sight.
When he goes into his solo it’s a musical part of the show in itself.

Similarly Dave Cavallo on guitar is no slouch.
You want some bottle neck slide with the soulful keyboard flourish?
Not a problem sir.
You want a punky thrash to compliment some honky-tonk tinkling?
Have some of that and here’s a side order of the blues to go with it.
Meanwhile with Hans stomping, growling and howling through everything from soul and jazz to country and juke joint rock and roll it becomes glaringly obvious that they are collectively providing a joyous noise that covers every base imaginable.
It’s a smorgasbord of aural delights with something for everyone.
A one stop shop for real music fans to indulge in.

At one point as they tucked their heads down and powered on I was thinking about a celebrity death match between the Doors and MC5 with it coming to a points finish.

At another I was considering Dr John playing at 3am in a piano bar.


That could be a one word review for it.

To take it back to an earlier point about the lack of an audience.
If this is what you get in a room with barely anyone in it can you imagine what it would be like if the band could feed off an ecstatic crowd and they and the audience build on that flow?

At the end of the gig it would have to be classed as a natural disaster zone as it wouldn't just be the roof of the venue taken off, but every roof in a five mile radius.

Oh I do so hope they come back.  

Tuesday 29 July 2014

The Wiseacres.

Classed as one of those shoulda woulda coulda bands The Wiseacres just fell short of snatching at the next rung on the ladder of success on their first stab at making a go of it in the music biz
The reason was all about public tastes moving on rather than them setting a foot wrong though.
It’s the time old tale of boy meets girl, likes girl, sees another girl and leaves the first girl behind.

The public are of course fickle bastards.

The difference between other acts and The Wiseacres though is that they decided not to end the story there, and with a fresh album released they have managed to not just revisit the past, but use the intervening years to ensure that they didn't stall themselves into a musical rut.
With Sharon Bain at the vocal helm for much of it the references to Debbie Harry and a slew of late eighties indie power pop chanteuse are unavoidable, but the band doesn't sound like any particular one, and certainly not Blondie, and that keeps it all very interesting.
In addition the occasional male vocal lead from John White can take us into Velvets and Jesus and Mary Chain territory to, and it is in this broad range of influences that are being touched on that the band can manage to take a great deal of essentially disparate parts and weave them together to create a cohesive whole.
Pretty damn impressive, but don’t ask me how the actually do it because it’s probably a secret that if I knew and revealed then certain death would be on the cards.

Maybe this time around that elusive rung on that ladder of success is hovering within reach again.
If they manage to get a grip on it then it would be well deserved, but as with the first attempt that is going to be something that is down to public support.

So get listening, get buying, get going to see them in action as I don’t want to be writing a where are they now article down the line.

Sunday 27 July 2014

Has anyone seen John Lydon and Katie Hopkins in the same room at the same time?

It would be very easy to take umbrage at the things that John Lydon says here.
Especially if you are a fan of both The Clash and The Ramones.
However Lydon is the self styled king of outrage and this is his stock in trade.
A mature consideration of what he has spouted can only lead to the conclusion that it is done with the intent to bate, and he clings to the delusion that this carries some worth to it.
Here he is gaining some media traction as his nonsense partially goes viral while simultaneously being unaware that people are laughing at him and not with him.

His comments are ludicrously ill thought out, and to a degree disrespectful, but through repetition of this sort of vapid missive there is literally is no shock value any more.

Who cares what he says.

It's Lydon.

Instead of being offended most now see him as akin to an aged relative with an incontinence problem.

The first time he shits himself everyone screams in horror, and then it is a talking point for some weeks, but a few years down the line when the odour that heralds yet another evacuation of his bowels reaches you there is no shock or horror.
All you do is lift a weary eyebrow and shout to his carer that he's filled his continence pad again before moving on to continue doing what you were doing in the first place.
It's really just become another day in the life of ol' shitty pants and no one is surprised or shocked any more.

And that's really all this is.
Lydon opening his mouth and once again releasing some words that have the value of the contents of an incontinence pad.

It could be funny if he shook it all up a bit, but he is lost in inhabiting the persona of the cartoon stereotype that he designed for himself.

It's actually a rather sad and pointless rut he has managed to create for himself to languish in.

PS - For those who reside any place other than the UK I should explain that Katie Hopkins is a talent void mouthpiece who the media trundle out to boost ratings of daytime televisions shows as she is hardwired to open her mouth and spout similar bollocks to Lydon.

Friday 25 July 2014

If this is the drug of a nation then it's a mind numbing sedative.

In my place of work there is a television.
That may sound like an excellent feature for the workplace, and as so many people don’t have this luxury I expect that they are feeling a bit envious about my revelation right now.

Go on admit it.

There’s a bit of you thinking that you would love to have a television where you work.
You could keep up with world events, be partially entertained during breaks, and it would provide a background noise that could conceivably cover the sound of your soul being crushed as you work slowly, but steadily, towards the end of your shift, or life depending on which comes first.
There really couldn't be much of a downside to having one hanging on the wall or sitting casually in the corner offering a window to the world could there?

The reality doesn't match the picture that is painted in your head though.

In the main where I work it is about eighty percent 4Music that it is tuned into.
Over the course of a twelve hour shift that translates to maybe three hours of Pharrell singing Happy and the rest is made up of either Rhianna songs, songs that feature Rhianna or people who are trying hard to sound like Rhianna.
In fact it is entirely possible that Rhianna owns 4Music and she is throwing Pharrell a bone because he is a mate and she eases in a few soundalikes just to massage her own ego.

I can look at the clock and it's five past four.
Six songs later of the videos on a loop that are assaulting my senses and I can look at it again and in some very strange and fucked up way it’s only seven minutes past four.
I can’t explain how that happens, but it makes a twelve our shift feel like it is really stretched over a week.

Sometimes to create a moment of respite I will manage to change the channel.
I don’t really care what I change it to as long as some variety is tossed into the mix.

I never do it if anyone is actually watching it though.
I'm not that rude.
Instead I do it when no one else is there.
If there is literally no one in earshot, or anywhere near the room at all, I lunge at the remote and stab randomly at it and then breathe a sigh of relief.
Occasionally I will admit that I even just turn it off and relax in the momentary silence.

Yet without fail as soon as a colleague enters the room and it clicks with them that the television is no longer on 4Music then they automatically reach for the remote and the muzak is back on.

Rhianna has brainwashed them.
From now on the Barbadian songstress should really be called “she who must be obeyed”.
It doesn't really make much sense, but I am toying with a theory that one by one she is assimilating people and they just haven’t managed to get around to me yet.
I wake up screaming sometimes from a nightmare where scantily clad RnB maidens close in on me singing “Gooble Goble Gooble Goble” while bald headed rappers in wife beaters accompany them with rhymes of “We accept him one of us, Huh, Huh, Yeah”.  

One thing that really is a headfuck for me is that once the channel is changed back to 4Music then more often than not the person will then leave the room again. 

I mean seariously. WTF! 

After multiple hours of this mainstream dross blaring in the background I can feel raw.
My life is just hour after hour of being assaulted by waves of inane salty shite that I am simultaneously being drowned in and abrasively scoured by.  

As mentioned it’s not all 4Music though.

Sometimes it’s “the only way is Essex” or “the real housewives of New Jersey, NY City, Orange County, Beverly Hills and Atlanta”.

What theses shows have in common is that they all feature narcissistic bullshitters whose first world problems are elevated to a level of importance that is mind bogglingly arrogant.
Someone failing to turn up at a charity event can be such a personally crushing incident that you could believe that it had been carved into a Mayan calendar as a portent that signals the end of days.  

In the US shows the term real that is loosely tagged onto the location is seriously an issue that should be looked into by trading standards.
There is nothing real about any of it.
From the poorly scripted situations that are played out to the actual people.
There is nothing real at all.

There is so much plastic surgery work done on the ladies who feature that when any of them die then there is no chance at all of their corpses being considered biodegradable.
Forget burying them.
Just bulldoze them into some landfill and in future generation some archaeologist will unearth one and this era will go down in the history books as the one where we finally managed to create sex cyborgs as tests will conclude that what they found is fifty-one percent organic, forty seven percent plastic and the remaining two percent being made up of traces of alcohol and coke.

As for the UKs Essex version it only takes five minutes of listening in and it becomes apparent that they have been getting botox injections straight into their cerebellum.
If you threw a glass of water in the face of one of them then it would take three days for the brain to register it, another four before the facial muscles got the message and yet another three before they reacted.
If any of them are on a celebrity television show and you see them flinch then that’s them reacted to something that happened ten days previously.

The strangest and scariest thing about all of this is that apart from people watching these shows voluntarily there are some who aspire to be like the people who are featured.
They look at the spray tans, the wealth, the days of meeting up for lunch and think “I want a bit of that”, but the pay off for it seems to be that they have to become an empty vessel whose head is where ideas go to die.

I catch five minutes of them and immediately think that each and every person on them has been at the crossroads and sold any sort of compassion, empathy and common sense they had to the Devil in exchange for an easy ride in life.

Now that you know what is on offer with a television in a workplace can you honestly say that you would want one now.

The only thing worse would be sport on all day.

Tuesday 22 July 2014

Sonic Templars - HAC - Irvine (18/07/14)

With Sonic Templars easing ever closer to releasing the “weapons of mass distrust” ep this live outing in support of Culann in Irvine was the ideal opportunity to get a taster of the material live to see how hard it was going to kick.

In the past there’s been much said about them wearing their influences on the sleeves, and while comparisons to Radiohead and MUSE have not been unfounded, there’s undoubtedly a beautiful brutality to the music that Sonic Templars creates that allows them to push in directions that their musical heroes haven’t explored.
And it is this harder edged delivery that they have in place that allows them to be considered as something more than the sum of said influences.
With the music often building up to a wall of sound with harmonies layered over the top, it is not unusual to feel that everything is moving towards a point of aural destruction, that the song will peak and then fall apart into a mess of crashing chords and screams, but instead just as they reach the cusp of that they effortlessly maintain control, and then it’s a joy to behold them reigning in the power to redirect it all back onto safer shores.
That they can do it so often highlights that it is no mere fluke, and instead is the result of deliberating plotting the pace, and with that they reveal themselves to be a band that has a nuanced approach to song writing that many other acts should rightly be envious of.

So with that in mind was the show going to deliver on more of the same of which there would be no complaints, would they slip back a bit or could they take it to another level?

For those there it is the latter that they experienced.

With the addition of guitarist Stephan Crawford on board to share vocals the band have moved forward not just one step, but leaped ahead and begun to lay out the framework that should allow them to garner the beginnings of plaudits from further afield, and to draw to them a fanbase that could allow them to venture from the small pool they currently reside in to dipping their toes into a much larger one.

With tracks from there previous two outings making the cut into the set you can hear the progress made with songs such as Sweet Deceit from Minds in Transit and Mephistos Minions from BreakingSilence ripping the guts out of their studio versions and leading me to consider that a full length album recorded by the band now could do with some earlier tracks being revisited to be partially reimagined.

It is however on the newest material that the band really takes it up a gear and there’s a hunger in the delivery that screams that there’s plenty of fuel in the tank, and in many ways this new release is really just the beginning.

With a headlining launch on the horizon in Glasgow it is a show that I am comfortable in recommending.

Photograph provided by Mark Hickey. 

Friday 18 July 2014

One small step for the NHC

And so it begins...

The first step on a journey that will lead to who knows where.
With a property now being secured and a lease about to be signed it is with much excitement, a bit of trepidation and a whole lot of “is this really happening” being said, that we can proudly announce that the NHCs dreams are about to become a reality because very soon the doors will open on our own little store.
Yes. You heard that right and we shall announce the exact location very soon.
From the store we shall be selling a range of new and used CDs, Vinyl's, Books and DVDs.
This will be at the core of what we do, but it’s all really just there to provide a foundation that will allow us to financially fund having a place from where we can support the artistic community as a whole.
And how will you do that I hear you ask?

Well that answer is that if you are currently unsigned and going down the DIY route, or if you are running an independent label, then we want to sell what you have.
We have looked at multiple options of how to do this and we consider that the best is that you sign up quarterly to us for the princely sum of £3 a month with an introductory offer of three for two which means it’s just £6 you give us and then we sell anything you have at the price you say and you get it all.
Yes. You heard correctly.
If you want to sell a CD at £6 then that’s how much it is.
T-shirts, cassettes, vinyl single and albums?
Whatever you say it is to be then that’s exactly how much it is.
We shall stock it in the shop and online for £3 a month with no hidden costs.
Hell, if you have tickets for a gig to sell then give them to us and it’s in on the deal as well.
No booking fees either.

Of course it is at this point that anyone in a band, who is playing solo or has a label, is asking why they should give us this £3 when other shops will stock their CD for free?
Well the answer is that we all know that when you do that the shop then makes an addition to the cost so that they can get a cut.
For a small act that is trying to carve themselves a niche that additional cost can be the thing that stops a curious music fan from investing in their release though.
We are removing that part of it, and we will also promote your release with online reviews and even by personal recommendations to customers.
For example if someone purchases a Bob Dylan book from us and you are the Celtic Dylan then we will assuredly tell them that they should lend an ear to your release and play them a track off it.
So for £3 you are having two outlets for your release (Store and online), a review, possibly an online interview, and people who will pro-actively try and sell your music to people.

Not bad.

Even if we do say so ourselves.

Also we will be looking to keep the ball rolling with the friends of NHC group with which, for a one-off donation of £10 for a year will receive 20% off any purchases made from our own stock, and get a pre-heads up of one week for any live instore signings, acoustic shows, and special days and nights-meaning you get first chance to snap up limited tickets and spaces! For a mere tenner a year it's a great deal.
Currently we already have a rather large amount that will excite those who like to trawl through the record and book stores to find a bargain and if a canny shopper considers that they will be in often then that £10 donation could be a solid investment with the bonus of it also helping us fund other projects in the pipeline.

Independent record labels can get in on the act too, any record labels, from anywhere on the globe, wanting us to stock music and merchandise from ALL the bands they represent can do so, for the small fee of only £6 per month. For that price (Less than a couple of pints of lagers) we will stock a few of each cd they have, any vinyls/tapes, Tickets (minus any extra handling fees) get some release posters up, flyers on the counter, a mention on the board of  labels we support, airplay on our popular weekly podcast, your items on our online shop and a chance of a review on the blog, and we can even chat about arranging album signings and stuff for them instore. Same deal as before, paid 3 months upfront, and every penny from every sale goes right back to the label. Good deal right? No hassles, no hidden charges, just one wee payment, and you can also be sure that every single penny we make goes right back into the very scene you are part of, making it bigger, and better for everyone involved! Oh and for the record, any bands who donated to our HUB fund campaign at the end of last year, will get this deal for stocking items free for the first six months(for labels) or year (for bands), as well as whatever pledge we have to give you too!

More details for how you can get involved, help us out with what we are doing, or how to sign up to stock your stuff with us, will be live online over this weekend, so stay tuned for that! This is the first big step for us so get in on the ground floor while you can, things are just about to get interesting.

Callum Baird - Better Off Alone (A Love Song to Scottish Independence)

Monday 14 July 2014

A Socialist Utopia

A socialist utopia.

Let the words hang there for a second.

Let them bubble up one at a time and fill your mouth.
There it is. Now push it out there.
You got it. Keep going.

They are three little words that seem to be gathering pace in the Scottish independence debate.

Yes voters all think a socialist utopia is on the horizon say the no voters.
Yes voters are deluded if they think a socialist utopia will be delivered say the no voters.
Only the deranged think that Scotland could ever be a utopian state with socialist values say the no voters.

There is one problem with this though.

No one is actually using those words apart from no campaigners, or no one I know on the yes side of the debate.

So I can appreciate that if you support independence that when I asked you to shape your mouth to deliver them that they may have felt a bit strange hanging about there on your lip.

It’s really like one of those situations where someone shoves the words so often into your mouth that after a while you think you just might have actually said them, but deep down you know you didn’t

For the record, I am a socialist and I want independence, and yet I have still to hear anyone at all on the yes side of the fence say that this socialist utopian future is on the table.

In my experience the only time the words are used by an independence supporter is when they ask someone in the no camp who it was that actually said this as their main reason for voting for independence.

There is never a solid reply either.

Of course people like me do want to see a rise in socialist values in a post independent Scotland, but no one is bandying about the idea that a utopian paradise will be created.
We live on a planet where capitalism runs rampant and our future will be framed in the context of working within that system.
Everyone I speak to who is looking to vote yes is aware of this.

We speak about improved taxation laws that will close loopholes and have major international companies pay what they are required with their contributions then being a cash injection that can be inwardly invested.
We discuss the introduction of a living wage leading to people being more prosperous and once again investing locally through how they spend.
We consider that more money spent means more opportunities for businesses and more employment and then instead of keying into what seems to be a race to the bottom we start building from a solid foundation.

If businesses consider the long view rather than the short one then they can see that this offers them a degree of longevity that they may not have if they keep looking for maximum returns on a minimum investment.

We want our country to push that message.

Basically we are all intelligent enough to know that independence is not going to be emulating that moment in the Wizard of Oz when everything goes from black and white to Technicolor.

We fundamentally understand that.

We are also not shy in discussing issues surrounding nationalism.
Will there be a future sectarian problem?
Is immigration something that we should be concerned about?
Will the minor instances of racism that we have flourish in an independent Scotland?

These are just the tip of the iceberg discussed, but we do debate them.
What is heartening for me is that whenever an issue is raised people look for solutions.
They aren’t ducked or swept under the carpet.
We talk, and we talk, and we argue and then we talk some more.

Everyone is aware that it is a very large decision that we are being asked to make and it has many angles to be considered, and in general I think that those who I converse with consider their views in the context of the magnitude of what is being asked.

And while I am on the subject of misconceptions being promoted, similar to how the Better Together campaigners use language like “a socialist utopia” to give the impression that many of us are head in the clouds dreamers they also cast out the Braveheart freeeeedom memes that may as well have see you jimmy bunnets stitched to the head of a Mel Gibson who is waiving a shortbread tin at his Sassenach enemies.

I mean really?

The anti English sentiment is a fanciful slur on the people of Scotland.
Are there idiots who hate the English?
Of course there are.
We haven’t cornered the market on idiots though and those who do spout that sort of rubbish are not representative at all.

I know what I am voting for.
I could say that I am open to be swayed, but the quality of the Better Together supporter’s level of debate doesn’t make that look very likely as many still seem at the stage of spreading misinformation and chucking their toys out the pram when anyone disagree with them.

Bring on the rational debate please and raise the game a bit as like others I am now bored with it.

Sunday 13 July 2014

Melisa Kelly - The Sweet P Sessions

Music should carry with it an emotional hit.
If you don’t feel anything then it isn't doing its job.
It’s not often that it overwhelms you though.
It’s a rare beast of a song that can snatch your breath away while raising the hair on your neck and leaving you tongue tied and struggling to articulate just what it is that moved you so much.
The ones that do are of course all considered to be timeless classics.
They are the evergreen songs that garner ever more fans with each generation that they are introduced to.
Artists such as Nina Simone, Marvin Gaye, Janis Joplin, Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder and Billie Holiday all have songs like this that litter their back catalogues, and because of that they are rightly referred to as legendary performers.
And now with the song “Since you've been away” a young woman called Melisa Kelly could be on the cusp of kicking at the door to be allowed into the club that they are all members of.
It would be easy to consider such high praise as hyperbolic, but it literally is the sort of song that urges others to put their reputations on the line for it.
As it reaches the last bars it elicits some very strong feelings.
One being that you have just heard something that is utterly magnificent.
Imagine the moment when the tape stopped rolling on Percy Sledge singing “When a man loves a woman” and how that must have felt.
Hold onto that feeling, and that is it encapsulated in a moment.
John H Hammond who discovered Bob Dylan, Billie Holiday, Aretha Franklin and Bruce Springsteen would rise from the dead to sign this young lady on the strength of this one track.
Anyone that doesn't feel that frisson of excitement from hearing it must be missing some sort of empathic component in their make up.
In a sense you don’t listen to the song, but instead feel it.

If this is a case of lightning striking once then so be it, but if Melisa can deliver an albums worth of material of a similar strength then a platinum selling career may well be waiting for her.
With the album available on the 14th of July we don't have long to wait to see what happens.
Links to how you can purchase the album will follow.

Link to purchase The Sweet P Sessions

Friday 11 July 2014

Rob Duncan - Daddy's Curse

Rob Duncan (ex of Eddy and the T-Bolts) has just released an album that sounds as if it was distilled from my own record collection.
In many ways it is a fucked up and ragged homage to the US of A.
A debt paid in full to the rock and rollers, the country balladeers, the girl groups of the sixties and the ground breaking New York punks.
A glass raised in honour to all that our colonial cousins have given us.

At times the shadow of Johnny Thunders looms large as Rob tip toes through the glass carpeted and needle strewn gutters of the bowery tipping his hat to his influences, and then without missing a beat he is chasing after a blue collared Springsteen to bellow his admiration at.
And just as you begin to wrap your head around that change in direction there he goes again charging off full pelt in another to snatch at something else, a hint of Neon Boys here, some Guns and Roses there, the Dogs D’Amour of the UK making a sly appearance, a bit of Dylan, a taste of the Ronettes, and it goes on and on.
Like a kid let loose in a candy store you get the impression he wants it all, and he’s making a credible attempt and grabbing everything in sight.

Those who were fans of the releases by Eddy and the T-Bolts will not be disappointed in this next chapter for Rob.
The humour the band were known for still threads its way through the material, and as an added bonus he is also very obviously relishing being able to spread his wings a bit and deliver more than expected.

Next live show

Wednesday 9 July 2014

Sisters of Mercy - ABC - 07/07/14 (Glasgow)

The dark prince of Goth that is Andrew Eldritch is currently on the road and waiving the banner of The Sisters of Mercy above venues across the UK.
As a rallying call in 2014 you could be mistaken in thinking that the flag wouldn't draw the rabid response from the khol eyed children that it once did, but all around me drenched in petula are those who pledged allegiance for life, and meant it.
They stand proudly peackocking in monochromatic shades and resolutely believe that they can capture the halcyon days of their youth on communally tribalistic nights such as this.
And they can.
Slap on the pancake, crimp what is left of the hair and backcomb it to within an inch of Robert Smith’s life, and squeeze into those leathers and Festers yer uncle.

Fuck everyone else as that moment is yours, and why shouldn't it be?

It’s was a Monday night in Glasgow and the summer sun was out, but the city belonged to those who marched to the beat of an alternative drum.

In a sense the whole evening was a rather glorious celebration of a staunch refusal to fit in, and I can get on board with that.
Of course it was in the main people exercising some middle age rebellion, but the world can always do with a bit of that, and while those on the outside can look in and hide smug smiles behind strategically placed hands I think the Goths know exactly who they are and by remaining true to themselves are streets ahead of those sniggering.

So all hail the Goths.

They are still kicking against the pricks, (Biblical quote used by Nick Cave to reveal Goth credentials) and doing it in style.

As the dry ice engulfed the stage and spread preternaturally out to swallow the first few rows in the ABC the dark lord who will stage manage the evening was revealed for seconds at a time and the band kick off with More from Vision Thing and you could feel the tension from the crowd being released.
All previous outings where critics lamented a poor sound are forgotten as Ben Christo and Chris Catalyst lock it down tight and Eldritch shows himself to be in fine voice.

Once they have started there is no stopping them either.
There’s a point early on where a sonic grind is found, a tempo that machine like keeps rolling forward gathering momentum as it does.
While the trio slip in and out of the banks of fog and indulge in painting solid silhouettes as they take a stance to deliver the music the crowd in attendance feel that spark of magic, the connection, being made.
Mid set and Dominion Mother Russia is revealed in all its glory and the hardcore fans take their adulation to a whole new level as the fair-weather hit single fans swoon in delight with them.
The sound in the ABC is crystal clear and lends itself to the epic nature of the material.
The volume is however kept relatively low, but the loss of ear ringing bombast is balanced with a degree of clarity that is welcomed.

Apart from the Chris Catalyst penned Arms that remains unreleased the set is largely rooted in well road tested material that’s familiarity is worn comfortably by the audience who sing along in unrestrained abandon that those who would shy away from the genres shows would find hard to believe.

With the mammoth hit that was This Corrosion finishing the set* no one would have felt short changed, but with an encore of Kiss the Carpet, Lucretia My Reflection and Vision Thing to follow it nearly finished off the cult like following that the band has.

It would have been partially churlish to insist on Temple of Love, even though it was conspicuous by its absence at that point, as it’s inclusion could have been described as too much of a good thing, but just as some caught their second wind the band were back with a second encore that would push things to the edge with First Last and Always, Misirlou and then finally the fan favourite that is of course Temple of Love.
A song that in itself delivered the coup de grace for those who were begging for the release of a delightful petite mort.

*Number seven in the UK charts in 1987 would sell enough to maintain a number one slot for about a year in the present.

Monday 7 July 2014

Here Kitty Kitty.

Alleged Machiavellian plots, alleged blackmail, alleged child abuse involving politicians and celebrities, alleged murders, alleged BBC and NHS involvement, alleged cover ups, and the government security services allegedly leaving their fingerprints in every pie available.

The term alleged is about to get a work out that it has never faced before.

It could all be the plot of a fanciful Hollywood blockbuster, or an unreleased Stieg Larsson novel that was held back from publication as it seemed to be just too ridiculous a tale to tell.
Yet here we are and it looks like the bubble is about to burst on a story that many have been whispering about for a very long time.

To put it into context the Profumo affair that rocked a government in 1961 is quite literally nothing in comparison.
Here was a man who had a sexual relationship with a woman who had also been intimate with a Russian and there could have been the possibility of pillow talk resulting in security concerns.
Once it hit the headlines the sky fell down.
Measure that alongside historical evidence that supports the claim that vulnerable children were being secured to be drugged and abused at parties attended by the politico and entertainment establishment, and that the security services were aware and used the information to blackmail these people, and then consider this is all just the tip of a dirty and horrible iceberg and the mind boggles.

Lurking under the surface are also the allegations surrounding the Dunblane shootings, the murder of Jill Dando, and another that is often overlooked being a case in Scotland surrounding a Hollie Greig.
It's pretty ugly stuff.
All of these, and again more, have been grist to the mill for many years in what is often dismissively described as the tinfoil hat community and now it looks increasingly like the so called conspiracy nuts are about to be vindicated to a degree that most couldn't have imagined.

There must be a collective “we told you so” building up and the truth is that they did.
They told the world often and loudly.
They told the world in the face of condemnation, ridicule and opposition from the establishment.

So I am happy to tip my tinfoil hat in their direction as they deserve it.

For myself, I first became aware of The Elm Guest House stories over a decade ago through an article in a counter culture magazine.
At the time it did seem a work of paranoid fantasy, but with a few hours of searching on the internet I was swamped with information that was often sourced from respected investigative journalists.
It was all too much to comprehend really.
Once you start opening doors then you quickly realize that they all then lead to corridors of infinite length with their own doors stretching out in front of you.
And behind every single one is a dirty secret and a sign pointing to yet another.

Has it always been thus?
The answer is probably yes, and that doesn't make me feel too good.

I was however mainly left wondering at the time how on earth a story this big could remain out of sight of the headlines.
Over the years some major scalps had been taken internationally, with that of Nixon being the most prominent being displayed on the press saddle, so it was hard to imagine that such far reaching news could be suppressed so effectively and yet it was.

Every once in a while something would float to the surface and I would think that this was it.
The thumb holding the dyke in place had slipped and it would just be a matter of days before the weight of the headlines would leave us all up to our knees in filth.

It didn't happen though.

Each time the small news story of a prominent figure being questioned would slip away relatively unnoticed and I would lose a little more faith in humanity.
Often I would discuss these allegations with friends and colleagues and it would be an exercise in shouting into a vacuum.
It’s not in the headlines so it must be a lot of paranoid rubbish is what I suspect most thought.
Last year I posted a comment daily on social media in the lead up to x-mas highlighting the Elm Guest House case.
A few people picked up on it, but in the main it didn't really register.

Even further back when Jimmy Savile was finally outed for the monster he was people still seemed reluctant to fully take on board how far reaching his case was.
The man partied with Thatcher, lunched with royalty, and to do both the security services would have had to have vetted him.
So that begs the question that as we are now aware that there were allegations made, concerns expressed, and reports submitted over the years, then why were these relationships with the powerful allowed to happen?

Questions really do need to be asked.

I do accept that the reason no one wants to look too hard at any of this is probably because they don’t really want to have their understanding of the world about them shaken too hard.
This is a rabbit hole that the world is on the edge of, and we are all about to fall into the abyss.
Upside down will be downside up.
Everything we thought to be true will be challenged.
That’s a rather large and bitter pill for most to swallow and it is no surprise that lips are being held tightly shut as there’s apparently no spoonful of sugar accompanying it.
Yet we do have to swallow it.
Some of our childhood heroes were in fact the child snatcher in disguise.
The truth is that the abuse they carried out eclipses the fondness we may have held for them.

And finally it does look as if the news stories that were previously hidden away and quickly forgotten are out on the loose and looking to lay claim to the big headline though, and I am glad.

We cannot ignore it any more, nor let it be pushed away for any other reason than to protect the guilty.

Some people will finally be allowed to reach for some closure, the brave people who have shouted loudly about all of this will be vindicated, the guilty will have to answer for their crimes, and maybe, just maybe, people will wake up to what is going on around them and actively react to the powerful who are abusing us in more ways than could be listed.

So let’s hope that very soon the government may have to explain why they never acted on the many concerns raised by their own, how they lost evidence and why they have been actively removing articles on the internet.

And this is where you can come into it and participate in shining a light on the endemic evil that exists hand in hand with the powerful by taking seconds to sign a petition calling for a national inquiry.
It’s here, a click away.
It’s time to tip the balance and you can do that.

Additional content added in comments on 09/07/14
Additional content added in comments on 15/07/14

Friday 4 July 2014

Cutting about in the Shire.

I'm a master procrastinator.
Right now I have a number of things to do.
Just a small number, but it has loads of 0’s following it around, and instead of doing them I am sitting here tapping at the keys and wasting time by telling you about my day.
This is like a real blog post rather than one pretending to be an article on a big boys music website.
Sort of a male perspective on the Bridget Jones thing without the weight issues, boyfriend issues, the how much wine did I drink issues, and okay it’s nothing like Bridget Jones as my day exists in Kilmarnock and there’s a severe lack of lawyers and accountants hanging about wine bars around here.

You would have to go as far as, well I don’t know, maybe Prestwick if you want some of that action.

Initially my plan was to embark on a trip to Glasgow, but a serious bout of throwing up that felt like I had turned myself inside out and led to much tightness of my chest and problems breathing put a stop to that.
I suspect it may have something to do with the chest infection that I have.

(See how clever I am there.
I have a chest infection and as soon as I had some difficulty breathing I knew the two must be linked.
Now where’s my doctorate as with that degree of insightfulness I reckon I am ready to doctor up a storm?)

Anyway I decided that instead of wallowing in self pity I would brave the elements and get some exercise and fresh air with a trip into town.

It’s was a bit quiet today and I just wandered about a bit and dropped in on some of the charity shops.
The British Heart Foundation has apparently dropped the delusional opinion that it’s a high street outlet akin to HMV and clicked onto the fact that selling old for new doesn’t mean the cost reflects the original price when it was still in its wrapper.
Instead of three quid for East 17s Greatest Hit the price has tumbled to a mere 99p.
I suspect they are in a price war with Poundland who will re-brand themselves as 98pland in response to their opening salvo.
I left there with a DVD of Thin Lizzy’s Greatest Hits that carried the princely sum of £1.99 on its cover.
I’m quite happy with that.

A few minutes later I found myself reading, but not paying for, some magazines in WH Smiths.
If you haven’t heard of it then it’s like a library for magazines, but without anywhere to sit and you can’t take the magazines away with you unless you give them money.
Remember how Wetherspoons started as a no frills pub chain.
Well it’s like the library version of that.
It’s pretty basic, but alright if you don’t mind standing and reading.

While there a couple of young guys were standing next to me looking at some Top Gear shit.
Both were in their mid to late twenties, well dressed and had semi-cultured tones.
Probably trainee bank tellers or something like that on their lunch break.
One had a very loud conversational and while standing there he said to his mate at a decibel level that would carry to the back of building “I was pretty drunk and she shoved a cucumber up me”.
For a second I felt like saying “inside voice mate, use your inside voice”, but then he finished the sentence with “and I’ll not be going to any more of her parties.”
I am one hundred percent serious that this is what he said and at what volume.
I didn't mishear him.
So what sort of party was this?
The first part of it could have been a segment on a tv show like “Dates That Went Horribly Wrong”, but this was a party.
When he walked away he wasn't limping so I would hazard a guess that the party was held a few weeks ago.

Then when I left I seen a kid wearing stereotypical emo/skateboarding gear and a t-shirt with the legend “FUCK YOUR OPINIONS” emblazoned across his chest.
It must be pretty cool hanging about with him.
Your cup would be runneth over with scintillating conversations.
Can you imagine being his mum and responding to his question of what’s for lunch with “well it’s a sunny day so I was thinking about a salad” as he screamed back “I DIDN'T ASK WHAT YOU WERE THINKING. WHAT’S FOR LUNCH?”

On the way home I popped into Morrisons and this time I didn't have my “I want to be served by a person” stand off, but I did notice the Suns headline.
No, it’s not about Andy Coulson receiving an eighteen month sentence, nothing to do with Palestine or Israel, and I didn't notice anything about Iraq either.
Instead it’s about the English girl giving blow jobs for a drink in Magaluf.
Only as far as I was aware yesterday it was twenty chaps for a two quid drink and now filtered through the Suns truth capacitor it’s twenty four guys for a four quid cocktail.
Squeezing in the word cocktail is their obvious subliminal attempt to lay claim to a Cock Tale on the cover.
Look, we nearly said a dirty word, wink wink, nudge nudge.
Maybe deep down they want to be the Sunday Sport.

For a minute in Morrisons I also thought about going on a diet and losing a stone or even two, but then I seen fruit salad doughnuts and I have eaten two while writing this.
And that’s about as Bridget Jones as it’s getting.

Thursday 3 July 2014

The Scottish Tour Collective - Pivo - 01/07/14 (Glasgow)

There are many less than savoury characters who are drawn to the music business.
The sort that would rush to the side of a stroke victim in the street screaming “give them some air” and then position themselves at an angle so you couldn't see them rifle the poor persons pockets and bag are equally at home putting on a gig or such.

I have no truck with them.

If they were on fire I would claim my bladder was empty even if I was on the last leg of a legendary pub crawl and carrying enough fluid within that I could have saved the day by liberally hosing down the Glasgow art school in its hour of need.

That being the case, very often people just assume that everyone involved is a shifty eyed loon with one eye on your wallet, and the other randomly rolling about the room looking for other nefarious shenanigans to get up to that could be described as antisocial, or in colloquial terms simply cuntish.
And therein lies a problem, as of course not everyone is like that, and the majority seem to forget, or ignore, all the trials and tribulations that the more ethically minded battle with when they step into the same pool that the sharks infest.

Take my friend Laura Scott for instance.

A few nights ago she arranged as part of a gig swap collective a night for four acts to showcase their talents in the Glasgow city centre venue that is Pivo.
In the days leading up to it one act dropped out and then on the day in question another did the same.
No one ever really talks about this sort of thing.
Often bands offer legitimate reasons, but behind the scenes the good promoters all flock together, and we are all aware of the acts who couldn't play due to a bereavement in the bassists family that apparently was the catalyst for them then to post photographs on social media from a funeral that was obviously held in some nightclub as they expound on their grief by tagging their mates in an image of them downing shots and claiming they are ‘avin it large.

And yes, it does happen.

So with the situation edging closer to the only option being to cancel - and the stress being something that lesser mortals would have a breakdown at the thought of - Laura did what any self respecting promoter would and screamed that the show must go on, and it did.

Drafted in at the very last minute Wes Scott, front man of indie rockers One Last Secret, and partner of Laura, stepped up and played an acoustic set that in many ways saved the night.
Starting off with a song that could slip unnoticed on a Steel Panther acoustic release he put the rock audience at ease and once he had them he led them through some of his own current material, some of his bands older material and then regaled those who attended with a self indulgent cover of Eminem that probably shouldn’t have worked, but did.
As an unannounced addition to the night it was a performance that could have easily sat at the top of the table.
White knights charging in to snatch a victory from the jaws of defeat are always welcome, and it would have done One Last Secret no harm as the name will now be lodged in the heads of a few people who may not have normally considered listening to them.

Glam rockers Deadbeat Ragdoll who are taking baby steps forwards into the live rock scene followed Wes.
A band who are mere months in from forming, and in all honesty may probably still be a month or so away from actually taking to the stage to deliver a solid set.
Kudos do have to be extended to them for being ballsy enough to get out there and make mistakes in public though as sometimes that’s how you push things on.
The plus side is that none of the mistakes on display were game killers
There are parts of their set that they could do with loosening up a bit and others they could do with tightening.
Neither are things that are insurmountable.
Image is of course very obviously something that they consider to be of great import at the moment, but stripping things back a bit and focussing on being able to deliver musically first is always a good move.
It doesn't matter how good anyone looks if they fail to at least cover the basics.
There’s some fantastically shambolic rock acts that have impressed over the years, but the ones who can stay in for the long haul have the music to fall back on, and that’s why it has to be of primary consideration.
The original material will all I assume be works in progress, and within the genre they want to make an impression on they are approaching a light at the end of the tunnel as over all they impressed more than the cover of the Mr Big track that they threw in.

Mr Big are of course a band who I can lay claim to delivering the most passionless, arse numbing and boring gig I have ever attended, and thank fuck the Throbs opened for them and showed how a couple of chords played well and with a bit of attitude can trump virtuosos wanking and fingering the necks of guitars.

The harsh truth of the matter, which is really just my opinion but I am adding some weight to it my claiming it is the truth, is that no one should ever cover Mr Big.
Consider a gent of a certain age dropping his y-fronts to his ankles and looking to indulge in a nostalgia wank to Pans People on Top Of The Pops 2 and up pops Jimmy Saville.
I've been told it’s a passion killer.
Similarly the addition of Mr Big to a set can equally be considered a turn off on that scale.

So thankfully some LA Guns was slipped in to wash the bad taste out of our mouths.
A better inclusion would have been a stab at some Phil Lewis fronted Torme, but Deadbeat Ragdoll my not be familiar with that pre LA Guns and post Girl material (damn I know my fuckin’ stuff man) and it’s forgivable.

It will be interesting to catch up with them a few months down the line and see what they can do.
I fully expect that they will have made a solid step forward by then.

Headline act of the evening was Rank Berry.
A band, that along with Laura Scott, I now co-manage.
So in the interests of avoiding claims of favouritism I’ll just say that the praise they received from those who had seen them before bolstered by those who hadn’t was heart warming and gladly received.

I will leave it to others to heap superlative praise on them.

Hamell on Trial - Nice and Sleazy - Glasgow - 02/07/14

This is not a photo of Ed Hamell.
It's an egg
No Ed Hamells were harmed in the taking of this.
No audience members enjoyment of
the performance was impacted on either.
Three songs in and I want to kill the guy standing in front of me.
I mean really kill him.
Two songs in and I was considering choking him out or maybe donkey punching the fucker without indulging in the anal sex part of it.
Three songs in and my head is filled with homicidal rage that storms behind the rictus smile that I am trying to maintain.
There he goes drunkenly swaying to the right obscuring my vision again meaning that I have to compensate with a mirror sway to the left to catch a glimpse of Hamell.
Then he hitches to the left and I pistol whip my head to the right to compensate.
It’s been going on since the punch drunk sleep deprived Ed Hamell took to the stage.

I could move, but on one side is a group of people blocking me in and on the other is a space that would allow me to have the clear view of an amp.
There’s some momentary respite when he bends down from the waist and takes a photograph of his shoes with his mobile phone.
He’s apparently the weeble that wobbles but refuses fall down.
The patron saint of drunks is holding him up.
Look, don’t ask me what he was doing with the phone.
The first time that I would have had a clear and unrestricted view of the stage he distracts me with his strange need to photograph his feet.
Maybe he was focussing in on the laces and he was going to send it to someone with the message ‘look, I tied them myself’.

Meanwhile I can hear the master of the raconteurs conducting a verbal assault on the audience as he thrashes away at his guitar with all of the subtlety of a teenage boy whose hand appears to be super glued to his cock.
When I do manage to see the stage there he stands with his eyes rolled into the back of his head and firing out words of street gutter wisdom like an amphetamine fuelled auctioneer that wants to sell you the truth.
He is magnificently out there on his own, figurative and literally.
The one man show that delivers something that no one else is looking to put out there.
If you are a fan then you will know the score.
It’s the bar fly blues filtered through the bowery punk scene.
The alcohol drenched debauched dreams of Bukowski are punching it out with narcotic reality of Jim Carroll’s New York streets.
There’s some Lenny Bruce delivering schoolboy smutty jokes in there that gleefully challenges the audience not to smile in puerile delight to.
It’s as they say, all good.

Even better would be if I could see him, and at that Halleluiah, he stumbles a foot and a half to his right and stays there.

For maybe a minute there he is.
Hamell on fire.

Then the obligatory mobile phone is raised by another audience member to capture the moment, but instead of holding it in front of his own face he has his arm stretched out and is holding it in front of mine and I have the pleasure of watching the show on what must be a three by five inch screen.
The quality is fantastic.
At a rough guess maybe it has a bazillion pixels.
In fact he holds it aloft for so long maybe I could fuckin count them.
I am so happy for him that he can secure these memories through the latest high tech gadget and store them away to masturbate over at a later date.
Oh wait a minute.
That’s a lie.
I've spent a portion of the night looking at a neck and now I’m watching a miniature Hamell and misanthropy is sitting like a monkey on my back.

Is this really the live music experience now?

The performance itself is a juggernaut one.
Get in the way and he will roll right over you and that is as it should be.
Dance, start a mosh pit, strip naked and swing from the beams and I will cheer you on, and maybe even participate, but please just stop with the mobile phones.
Even apply the time worn everything in moderation rule.
Take a few photographs and enjoy yourself.
Just for the love of God stop and lift your head up and look around you.
While the camera is storing the moment in time you missed it, and so did I, and that is unforgivable.

Meanwhile the show goes on with some tracks from his latest release ‘Happiest man in the world’ added to the set that easily hold their own against the much loved songs from previous outings.
Bearing his soul after the break up of his marriage sees him in a contemplative mood on the material, and unlike that Robin Thicke fella I doubt Hamells ex wife is looking to secure a restraining order on hearing it.
There’s an acceptance of the present that sits well with his casting of his eye on a future that he fundamentally understands will be alright.
The man certainly has a way with words.
There’s no doubt about that.
He is the great communicator.
The machine gun fire of the delivery simply can’t take away the poetic eloquence of the delivery.
Neither can the jokes that he casts out seemingly at random throughout the set.
The stage antics and the jokes are just window dressing hanging around the meat of the performance, and what a performance it is.

When he opens up to the audience and asks for requests it may be akin to voluntarily walking into the lions den, but you could never claim that Ed is anything but fearless.
The broad Glaswegian accents that he is struggling to understand roar out the options with one man making it his life mission to ensure that Pussy is sung.
Ed obliges as expected.
His intro to the song touches on how it came about after watching an episode of the Sopranos and an enthusiastic woman takes it upon herself to educate him on how Alabama 3 provided the theme song.
None of it makes any sense at all to him as she slurs the music lesson at him, but she is undaunted with the communication breakdown and continues as the belle of her own ball.
Ed takes it on the chin, rolls with it and comes back with the knockout blow that is Pussy.
Exhilaratingly is a word used often by reviewers, but it is apt.
It’s an exhilarating performance from start to finish and as we all lean into the home stretch I doubt anyone could lay claim to not having a blast.
Even the guy who took a photograph of his shoes must have had the time of his life.
I mean why not?
He seen Ed Hamell and woke up this morning to find that a record of his feet being at the show is now preserved forever.

Bottom line is that Hamell on Trial is a force of nature that has a bleeding heart attitude pinned to its sleeve, and while he may be out there breaking ground where angels fear to tread it is a damn fact that the world needs people like him to do that.

If this was the sort of review that awarded stars then I’m giving his six out of five.

He’s back later in the year as part of the Edinburgh Fringe.

You know what to do.