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Tuesday 28 October 2014

The Courtesans - 1917

As the fodder that is classed as mainstream chart music continues to run as fast as it can towards its own lowest common denominator destruction it sometimes feels like it is already over late for some heroes, or even heroines, to ride in to save the day, but with the Courtesans latest album (not that lot from some crap reality television show) maybe they have arrived just in time to snatch a victory from the jaws of the apathetic industry that is eating its own tale.
Initially they open up as an electro pop fans wet dream, but one with a bit of an industrial edge.
It’s that double whammy of the tap followed by the hook that’s as bruisingly good as all solid aural assaults should be, but then just as you are looking to snatch a breath before the next round commences the album starts to move into well grasped James Bond theme song territory.
It’s surprising, even a bit discombobulating, but it works well.
Very well in fact.
With huge lush David Arnold styled arrangements the Courtesans are not looking to merely pay homage to the material, but rather give it a run for its money, and at points they can even be heard edging ahead.
No mean feat in itself.
At times it is very easy to get lost in the music and start to drift along with it as it flows around you.
Close your eyes and the music fills your head with the iconic imagery of parts of the female body languidly and erotically drifting past.
It’s powerful stuff, and pretty much all encompassing in how it can envelope the listener in its embrace.
With headphones on it emulates what I suspect floating in an isolation tank would be like.
It provides a release from not just your surroundings, but encourages you to allow yourself to become mentally detached and allow yourself to be immersed in sound.
Even when they step away from the original material and embrace a cover like Venus in Furs it is all just so cinematically evocative that you can’t help but consider that this is exactly what people should be getting pushed towards them rather than what is currently the mind numbing norm.

If there is to be a revolution in music then The Courtesans are fine flag bearers for it. 

Monday 27 October 2014

I think I just blew my chances of getting a good reference.

In the aftermath of the resignation of Johann Lamont it would seem that there is one thing that those sitting on the sidelines watching can all agree on.

And that would be that there is certainly no honour in politics.

The knives are most certainly out, and as the politicians sniff the blood in the water and gleefully line up to stick them in the backs of those who were their esteemed colleagues a matter of weeks ago, the public are once again losing more faith in not just the Labour party, but the political system in itself.

While much of the focus in the press has been on allegations made by Johann that she had little say in any decisions made, that she was ignored when she did speak up, and over the bedroom tax that she was actively told to keep her mouth shut, the public consensus seems to be that in general she was not allowed to make a cup of tea without Ed giving her the nod.

Yet with that being taken on board there is one question that few are looking to ask.

That being how did Johann Lamont manage to reach this level in her political career?

She admits herself that she had little impact on reforms and that Scottish Labour is treated like a branch office by Westminster.
It is something that most knew, and yet she took the job.

So while we are told that we should look to get the best of the best into political office, that leadership qualities are sought after, and so much more, it would seem that in reality - just like many others who climb the career ladder - that their success has little to do with any noble ideals, professional abilities or those leadership qualities mentioned, but instead are rooted in being able to do what they are told without questioning it and in addition an ability to shaft others without their conscience being bothered.  

My personal impression of Johann was that she was an ineffectual communicator, rather socially inept, and a game player who was out of her depth in the position she held, but at the same time I also have to consider that maybe that was exactly what those above her wanted.

Simply a puppet that would act as a mouthpiece for those pulling the strings, and one that could carry the can for any pr disasters that may come from their decisions.

Does that sound vaguely familiar when we frame it in the context of our working lives though?

Considered as the bigger picture how often do we all see this playing out in workplaces all over the country?

There are two colleagues going for a managerial position.
One has a good relationship with their colleagues, a solid work ethic and very often is running things in all but name.
Meanwhile the other is a sleekit untrustworthy manipulative snake who has made appearing to work while doing nothing of note an art form.
How often is it the latter that is successful in the pursuit of the position?

And why is this?

Well to answer my own question I think that it is a reflection of a catch 22 situation that operates.
Every single time a business promotes such an individual then they provide them with a degree of power, and as they rise in the organization they participate in the promotion of the person who fills the vacuum they leave behind them.
So at this point they could break the chain of ineptitude and advocate putting the best person for the job into the position, but then if they did then the underling would highlight how crap they were at theirs.
End result is that more of the same gets a toehold on the bottom rung as it is more advantageous to just promote yet another sleekit untrustworthy manipulative snake who has made appearing to work while doing nothing of note an art form, but one that is actually just a bit less intelligent.

Meanwhile the noise of the starting pistol that is the catalyst for the race to the bottom to begin rings ever louder in our ears.

Is it possible that this workplace issue is one that is reflected in the political world?
The touted replacement that is Jim Murphy could lend weight to the argument that it is.

Is Johann really just an example of a social problem that is rarely challenged?

Something to think about isn't it? And if that is an accurate overview then maybe we should ask ourselves where it is all going to lead us?

Wednesday 22 October 2014

Ginger Wildheart interview

But it's not here.

I participated in the interview on a moonlighting job with the New Hellfire Club, although moonlighting doesn't really describe it as I spend more time hanging around the NHC than here of late

Anyway. Here's a link.

With just a clickety click of the mouse and as if by magic you will be knee deep in the words of Ginger, and they are rather good words.
There's news on the forthcoming tour and a project with Chris Gordon of Baby Chaos.
Yeah, It's pretty darn good.
Even if I do say so myself, and I just did.

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Mike Read - Relax

It’s commonly known that most religions promote very similar stories from what are often just different angles.
However none of them mention the portent of doom that surely heralds the end of days that is ‘UKIP Calypso’ by Mike Read.
You would think that an all knowing deity would have at the very least given us a heads up about this truly horrific brain fart penned by a man who was once a DJ for the BBC in the seventies.
We have War (everywhere) Famine (South Sudan) Pestilence (Ebola) and Death (everywhere), but where is the mention of Mike Read?

Surely they could have squeezed him in?

Even if it was just to slip in something that wasn't an allegory, but instead embraced some plain speaking.

A bit of text that really couldn't be construed as anything other than what it was.

A firm mention of him in the bible would have offered a total mind-fuck of clarity to non believers like me.  
How could anyone argue with ‘I looked, and there before me was a pale horse! Its rider was named Death, and Hades was following close behind him. They were given power over a fourth of the earth to kill by sword, famine and plague, and by the wild beasts of the earth, and just behind him was Mike Read holding a download link to his song UKIP Calypso.’

Now if that was in Revelations, and it came to pass, then it would be a sure sign that we should all get our affairs in order.

Strangely enough that is also something that we should probably do if UKIP ever come to power to.

I have no idea if it is comedy genius or blind ignorance that a song promoting a party that has issues with immigration is done in a cod Jamaican accent, but I am going to lean closer to the latter.
I have a sneaky suspicion that at no point did this monumental faux pas even enter Mikes head.
Or maybe he knows exactly what he is doing and his next project will be to produce Jim Davidson reading Powell’s ‘rivers of blood’ speech using the voice of his Chalky character. (For anyone under forty you will have to Google that.)

Apparently he is now claiming it was a satirical joke.
People will have to be forgiven for missing the punch line as he isn't really known as a comedian.
In fact his previous crowning glory was an attempt to have the Frankie Goes to Hollywood hit ‘Relax’ banned.
Something that maybe, just maybe, possibly hinted at him being a future UKIP supporter perhaps?

Anyway, half way through listening to the oral offal I decided that I would not rip my ears off and make a vow to lead a life in a void of noise and instead soldier on to the end just in case it did finish with his saying he was joking.
He didn't though.

The funniest thing about this, and it’s only saving grace, is that I could very well imagine that it will be played at EDL/BNP meetings where low browed neanderthals will drunkenly challenge each other to dance under the limbo stick and that footage may be leaked to the world.

Here’s hoping.

It’s at this point that I would normally share the footage of the artist (loose description) that has just been mentioned, but instead just sit back and relax to this, and if anyone offers to play UKIP Calypso to you just respectfully decline and in return direct them to Frankie. 

Update -  Former BBC Radio 1 DJ Mike Read has requested a song he wrote in support of UKIP be withdrawn from sale following complaints it was racist.UKIP Calypso, performed with a mock Caribbean accent, sings the praises of party leader Nigel Farage.
"I am so sorry that the song unintentionally caused offence. It was never meant to, and I apologise unreservedly," Read said.
"I have told the record company to withdraw the single immediately." BBC 22/10/14

Sunday 19 October 2014

Static Rock/Elvira Stitt - NHC Music in-store - 18/10/14 (Glasgow)

Starting a Saturday evenings entertainment by popping into the New Hellfire Club for a free starter before the main course of a gig elsewhere is always a good idea.

I could of course be accused of being a bit biased in saying that as I am one of the NHC, but I wasn't there working, and instead I had just dropped in to see Elvira Stitt and Static Rock perform acoustically before heading to Broadcast to catch Nashville Pussy in Broadcast.

Having seen Elvira perform once before I fully expected a quality performance, but I didn't expect that the bar would be raised far beyond my already high expectations.
As an artist she has a firm grounding as an eclectic music fan, and it’s obvious on seeing a performance that her broad knowledge forms a solid backbone to what she plays.
In one song you can hear the cadence of a hip hop delivery in the vocals and then she can slip effortlessly into covering a Disney classic in a torch song style.
On paper the two certainly shouldn't work, but it does, and at no point is there a moment that it sounds forced.
Each song simply flows into the next and it is more akin to aural alchemy at play as seemingly disparate sounds are melded together to make a new sound that resonates confidently around the room.
It’s very easy to watch Elvira and consider that this is the start of a journey for her as an artist.
There’s something there that it is hard to pin down and point at as to where the magic lies, but it is most defiantly there.

Four piece rock band Static Rock are a whole different beast again, but what they share with Elvira is that they can also deliver a set that highlights that they can be considered as contenders in the music business.
Playing stripped down - and in that I mean without even having the vocals amped - they could have put themselves in the position of drawing attention to any weak spots that the band are carrying, but instead they showed that they have none.
Strong material, great vocal harmonies and all carried on the back of strong musicianship.
Even with requests of covers from the audience they casually approached them and didn't drop the ball regardless of how wide and varied the material was.
Coolios, ‘Gangsta’s Paradise’ had some fresh life breathed into it and in my head I was thinking that with Elvira providing some vocals it would have jumped from being well received to leaving people gape jawed in amazement.
Similarly the stalwart of decades of parties in Glasgow that is Kenny Rogers ‘The Gambler’ was dragged from the mouths of many a drunkard and given an impressive reboot.
Now just think about that for a second.
From original material to covers of hip hop songs and finishing on a country classic.
There are not many that can do that, and yet Static Rock eased through it all unfazed.
Throw them a curve ball and they will knock it out the park.

With a support slot secured to open for Brit-Pop legends CAST in December it looks like Static Rock are on the cusp of getting a firm grip on the next rung on the ladder of success.

Thursday 9 October 2014

The King Lot - Harleys (Ayr) 08/10/14

There are three reasons why people attend gigs at the club level.

One is to support friends and relatives who are in bands, or who are performing solo.
Another is to catch the stars of yesteryear - as they are very often still excellent - in a more intimate environment now that their hits are largely in the past.
And the other is that they may just get the opportunity to witness a band on the cusp of breaking free from the circuit, an act that are still at the stage of paying their dues, but have that spark that may get picked up on and with any luck jettison them to the next level.

And it is in this latter category that The King Lot are comfortably sitting just now.

As evidenced from their stop off in Ayr - as part of their current hit and run tour of Scotland - the band took their performance right to the edge of what can be accommodated in a club.

Breathing some fresh life into melodic hard rock they have all the hooks needed to secure a hit and enough stage presence to give some of the big guns of the genre a run for their money.
There’s a heavy influence of late eighties, early nineties GUN in the sound, but the trio aren't afraid to add a bit of weight to the melodies and crank it out hard as they drag it into the present.
Push that sound towards the punkier attitude of the Wildhearts and late era Almighty and you are starting to get the ball park feel for it.

There was also a welcomed (by me) nod to the scuzzier element of the glam rock sound as they powered through a muscular rendition of the Love/Hate track ‘Blackout in the red room.’

The only criticism I could level at them was the inclusion of a track that wandered too far into Bon Jovi territory, and in the interest of full disclosure it wasn't that it was a bad song.
In fact if Bon Jovi rocks your world then it may well have been a highlight.
So this was a taste issue rather than one of the band having failed to deliver.

In fact it’s doubtful that The King Lot ever fail to deliver.

As the majority of the world still seems to be hanging on to bland pop being regurgitated it's probably overdue for a guitar rock revolution to kick down the doors.
Maybe if it all comes crashing about our ears then this band could be positioned to be in the right place at the right time to maximise on the demise of current state of affairs.

Here's hoping. 

For further information jump over to their facebook page here.

Saturday 4 October 2014

Devilish Presley - Electric Ballroom.

Back with a bang is the stereotypical headline that sits atop the many articles that go on to promote a band or artist who have decided to return to recording and touring.
Often the bold print lead in is a debatable one, but when it comes to certain acts you know that you can refrain from taking a pinch of salt with it as they always delivered, and there's no doubt that they will do the same again.

So it is with great personal pleasure that I can say that Devilish Presley are back.

Refusing to submit to genre tags the rock and rollers were for a period of time one of the most exciting live acts to grace the stages of the UK and mainland Europe, and with five classic albums released it was common for fans to scream to the heavens 'WHY AREN'T THEY FUCKIN' HUGE'.

I still ask myself that every single time I slip a disc on.

So now after a very quiet lay off they have resurfaced with a crowd surfing campaign to cover the costs of 'Electric Ballroom', their sixth studio release.

The support for their return has been massive with nearly three quarters of what is required to cover costs accrued in a matter of twelve hours.
Maybe it's true that absence makes the heart grow fonder, but who cares as right now they are just over £200 short of hitting their target.

By tomorrow I hope that changes, and this is where you can help.

Just click on the link here and sign up.

It may well be the best tenner that you ever invest in a crowd surfing project.