Sunday, November 30, 2008

Manchester Gigs in Music: December 2008 Part One

'Tis the season of blatant consumerism and over-consumption with a nod to a dying and irrelevant religion. Bring back paganism I say.

If you read some of the coverage, music in December is all about reformed 80s and 90s acts hitting the arenas (Pogues, James, New Kids etc) or Rat-Pack-at-Christmas evenings. But if you look a little deeper you will find some more interesting gigs across town - but be quick they start to dry up by the third week of December. Bah Humbug - and roll on January.

'Allo Darling Emily (8 Dec Fuel BUY TICKETS)
The Voluntary Butler Scheme Tabasco Sole (19 Dec Klondyke Bowls Club BUY TICKETS)
Abe Vigoda Dead City/Waste Wilderness (3 Dec The Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Stereolab Daisy Click Clack (17 Dec Academy 2 BUY TICKETS)
A Place To Bury Strangers I'll Know I'll See You (4 Dec Roadhouse BUY TICKETS)
Herman Dune My Home is Nowhere Without You (13 Dec The Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Vivian Girls Where Do You Run? (10 Dec The Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Last Harbour The Bookseller Song (19 Dec The Ruby Lounge BUY TICKETS)
Jolie Holland Mexico City (2 Dec Ruby Lounge BUY TICKETS)
Sophie's Pigeons Say Play Sway (19 Dec Klondyke Bowls Club BUY TICKETS)
Ben Kweller The Rules (4 Dec Ruby Lounge BUY TICKETS)
The Hold Steady Slapped Actress (10 Dec Academy BUY TICKETS)
The Wedding Present Shatner (6 Dec Academy BUY TICKETS)

Download link in Part Two below

Not forgetting these:
2 Dec Nouvelle Vague Academy / 3 Dec Eli 'Paperboy' Reed & The True Loves - Ruby Lounge / 3 Dec RTX Star & Garter / 4 Dec Zach Hill - Sacred Trinity Church / 5 Dec The Beep Seals - Ruby Lounge / 5 Dec At Swim Two Birds Royal Exchange Theatre / 8 Dec The Bees - Roadhouse / 11 Dec Edgar 'Jones' Jones - Academy / 12 Dec Alabama 3 - Academy / 13 Dec iLiKE TRAiNS - Ruby Lounge / 14 Dec Joan As Policewoman - Academy 2

Manchester Gigs in Music: December 2008 Part Two

The link here. [49MB ]

Thursday, November 27, 2008


Having missed Radar Bros in April when they were due to play Manchester last (here) I thought that was it for 2008. But this late-notice gig not only made up for the disappointment but was a gem, a real highlight of the year.

I arrived to catch Dan Haywood's New Hawks mid-set. Six musicians including two fiddle players, four of the band wearing hats (bobble, peaked, woolly and furry) so there's no doubt this is folk music. But of quite a curious variety. Psyche-folk yes, but with added oddity - lyrically and in delivery. Went down well with a small but clearly partisan crowd. You can hear more and buy their EP here.
And without any ceremony and catching the small crowd almost unawares, Radar Bros took to the stage. This is the first gig I had seen at Dulcimer, a bar in Chorlton a few miles out of the city centre. I knew it was going to be intimate but the upstairs room felt full with the 30-40 people there. It made for a fantastically cosy atmosphere with great sound.

Live the three piece band have the same warm charm and slow-motion rhythm found on the records - with an occasional emphatic drum beat or distorted guitar chord to give a slight edge but never jarring. In this setting, the band on a carpeted riser at one end of a small room, it was like a group playing in your front room - and just magical.

Not sure I got this all right but the set list went something like this
Shovelling Sons
Lake Life
When Cold Air Goes To Sleep
Rock of the Lake
[something here?]
Brother Rabbit
A Dog Named Ohio
On The Line
Shifty Lies
Still Evil
Breathing Again
You And The Father

There was a frenzy of activity around the small merchandise table afterwards, with the small crowd buying up back catalogue CDS plus silk-screened posters, T-shirts and even some CDR pressings of the first EP which I picked up. You can get the T-shirt here but you'll have to wait until the next tour to pick up the rest - but Jim suggests a return to Europe could be as early as next Spring.

Tonight was promoted by Matthew at Reverence. Dan Haywood suggested people like him were rock 'n' roll: unsung individuals promoting - at their own expense no doubt - bands out of love. If tonight was anything to go by, long may it continue and please give Matthew your support for future gigs. The Reverence mailing list is here.

Radar Bros.
Auditorium [BUY]

Radar Bros.
The Singing Hatchet [BUY]

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

TONIGHT IN MANCHESTER: Stanley Brinks (ne Andre Herman Dune)

Another excellent anti-folk night at Tiger Lounge tonight:

Stanley Brinks is the adopted moniker of Andre Herman Dune. founding member of....Herman Dune. One of the most consistent and exciting songwriters of the last decade, his Stanley B material is simple, amusing and intelligent with nods towards Trinidadian Calypso and Jonathon Richman.
A legendary figure of the NYC Antifolk community, Ish Marquez incorporates the rhythmic power of Nuyorican Roots with 50's soul vocal harmonies and 70's punk energy into a sound and style that is wholly original. He is one of those rare performers who look as though it's his last moment on earth every time he picks up a guitar.

Tickets here

Stanley Brinks [BUY]

Ish Marquez [BUY]

Or if the sound of this starts you gagging, how about this from Hey Manchester! as an alternative:

Wednesday 26 November, 7.30pm Mint Lounge, 46 Oldham Street
Following last month's crowd-silencing performance by Olafur Arnalds, we return to Mint Lounge - a criminally under-used live music venue - with Mercury Prize nominees Portico Quartet. This London-based band play jazz, but not as you know it - no old men with pointy beards doing 10-minute improvised drum solos here!
Centred around the distinctive sound of the hang (a flying saucer-like steel drum), they invoke memories of Philip Glass and Steve Reich's minimalism, plus they also remind us of post-rockers Do Make Say Think. Q hailed their 'danceable chamber jazz soundscapes' and Straight No Chaser called them 'a band who make experimental and adventurous music sound wonderfully accessible'.

Tickets here

Wednesday, November 19, 2008


"Live music and animation bleeding together in a contemporary vortex of psychedelic sight and sound" anyone? Well just 'Clinic' would have got me there. 'Clinic' plus 'The Deaf Institute' made it a must. And if the evening didn't live up to the extravagant billing, the gig itself was well worth the trip.

The support was Threatmantics from Cardiff. They are a three piece (drums, guitar and viola) that combine a dirty, pounding garage-rock with macabre drones and tense vocals. Easy to see why Domino have signed them (their mini-album came out a few weeks ago) and why they are supporting Clinic. They may have a name drawn randomly from a bag of Scrabble letters but definitely worth taking time to listen to. I picked up one of their vinyl singles Sali Mali which included this sketch of the band. Says it all really.

Earlier this evening, I had shown Daughter 1.0 and Daughter 2.0 the Clinic video If You Could Read Your Mind. They enjoyed the magic tricks initially but once the vocals kicked in they got bored, stopped watching and started searching You Tube for Alesha Dixon on Strictly Come Dancing. Rock music is wasted on youth.

Given the strong and imaginative visual aesthetic in that video I had high expectations for the gig. But the 'award-winning' animation by Clemens Habicht was frankly a let-down and best glossed over. This may have been partly where I was standing - close to the front and so looking up at the band, rather than taking in the whole - but it just failed to make any impression. Ah but the music ...

Delivery is always no-nonsense at a Clinic gig and this was no exception: minimum of chat, no fannying about, all the effort on the exceptionally well-drilled playing. Each time I see them I am staggered at how good the playing is - the drumming and the variety of rhythms, sounds and percussive effects knocks me out each time. The set-list covered huge ground - from early singles like IPC Sub-Editors Dictate Our Youth and Monkey On Your Back to six songs from the latest album Do It! plus a superb performance of Distortions (my first time hearing it live).

Tonight's outfits: the obligatory surgical masks plus loose fitting and open-necked cream shirts with an embroidered front section. Fetching.

Remaining tour dates here. DO NOT MISS OUT.

And The Set List:

Funf [BUY]

Do It! [BUY]

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


The news from Night and Day: Budvar is back on sale but alas it is a purse-breaking £3.80 a bottle. But the really important news is that tonight N&D presented the first night of the autumn James Yorkston tour with support from The Pictish Trail and Rozi Plain.

Rozi is from Bristol but aesthetically and musically she is definitely part of the Fence Collective. She sounds like a homely, folksy version of Scout Niblett - but without the confrontation and angst. Mr P was agnostic but I enjoyed the simple, short and affecting songs she played. She nearly lost the crowd with an extending tuning up session but was then pleasantly surprised by how quiet and patient everyone became when she eventually started playing again. Her album on Fence came out last month (see here).

Johnny Lynch aka The Pictish Trail also had an album out recently - which I also haven't heard. His appearance (scruffy sound man slightly out of breath from lugging a heavy PA) doesn't prepare you for his angelic voice. Again simple, sparse songs played with just (this time) acoustic guitar that are incredibly affecting. His set includes a cover of Hot Chip's Boy From School but his own songs (including All I Own with backing vocals from Rozi and James) are the ones I remember.

My initial disappointment that James Yorkston wasn't performing with his backing band The Athletes was quickly put aside when I remembered what a good solo performer he is. As with the other two performers this is simply stroll on stage with guitar, plug in and play approach. James said how tired he was (his wife gave birth to their daughter Esme just six weeks ago), he claimed he smelled of baby sick and there were a few bum notes and false starts along the way but quality will out. He is an incredibly likeable performer - relaxed, affable, bantering with the crowd - but its the songs and their delivery that floors me.
Whereas the earlier songs were simple, his are more intricate affairs but delivered with an astonishing emotional depth. Old songs like A Man With My Skills and Someplace Simple stood out but new songs like When The Haar Rolls In and Queen of Spain were equally moving. For the last few songs he was joined by Johnny and Rozi including a beautiful rendition of Sweet Jesus. The sound man tried to get them off when he told them they were 25 minutes over time but they still managed to squeeze one more song in.

JY was encouraging everyone to buy merchandise from the well-stocked stall at the back - he needs the money for nappies. Happy to oblige I picked up a copy of the live album from Le Poisson Mouille.

Not only does this man need your support to clothe his daughter, all three artists need your support on this tour. Seeing JY live really is a life-enhancing experience. Tour dates here. And finally JY and The Pictish Trail signed my poster to add to The Archive:

The Set List
B's Jig
[Second Song - missed whilst in shock at the bar over Budvar prices]
A Man With My Skills
Steady As She Goes
Someplace Simple
St Patrick
When The Haar Rolls In
Summer Not The Same
This Time Tomorrow
Queen of Spain
Tender To The Blues
The Lang Toun (sung by Rozi)
Tortoise Regrets Hare
Sweet Jesus
Cheating The Game

James Yorkston
Roaring The Gospel [BUY]

James Yorkston
When The Haar Rolls In [BUY]

James Yorkston and the Athletes
Live At Le Poisson Mouille [BUY]

Monday, November 17, 2008


If you are looking to buy a single today, may I recommend this one? The new (and I think debut?) single by Stars and Sons, recent tour support to Okkervil River.

The Brighton-based band are excited:
We are super psyched to be releasing our song In the ocean through Alcopop! Records on November 17th. It will be on limited edition 7" Vinyl and Matthew Anstee designed some v. gnarly artwork for it. There are also 500 hand painted promos floating about the country, apologies if you got a rubbish one. The fumes drove us to delirium. Matt directed a video for the song. Nick Willis provided some animational magic for the video. And Mike's dad was so 'exited' that he lent us his video camera whilst silently mouthing "get a f***ing job".

This is what Rough Trade shops say:
"named after a song by Broken Social Scene, not surprisingly Stars and Sons sound a bit like that canadian collective, with their chaotic swirl of influences that includes everything from the dream-pop of My Bloody Valentine to the piano-pop of Ben Folds Five and the technicolour extravaganzas of Flaming Lips"

And I certainly will be heading to Piccadilly Records later today to buy a copy. And if they are out, I'll be heading to Alcopop Records direct. And courtesy of the lovely folk at Alcopop here's link to an unreleased version of the song.

IN THE OCEAN (Piano Version)
Stars and Sons
Unreleased [BUY THE SINGLE]

And some live dates for Stars and Sons:
16 Nov Prince Albert w/ Oh No! Oh My! & 4 or 5 Magicians Brighton
17 Nov - Latest Music Bar w/The Blueskies & Paul Steel **single launch** Brighton
28 Nov - Brighton Calling at The Providence Brighton
4 Dec - Water Rats w/ Hockey London
15 Dec – Alcopop Christmas Party @ The Social w/ Sam Isaac London

Saturday, November 15, 2008


You may have noticed that the posts for the Month Ahead for gigs in Manchester for BOTH October and November AND the review of Forever Heavenly with Edwyn Collins at the Deaf Institute are no longer on this blog.

They were removed, without any prior notice, by Blogger after they received a DMCA notice

The DMCA is a United States copyright law that provides guidelines for online service provider liability in case of copyright infringement. We are in the process of removing from our servers the links that allegedly infringe upon the copyrights of others. If we did not do so, we would be subject to a claim of copyright infringement, regardless of its merits. See for more information about the DMCA, and see for the process that Blogger requires in order to make a DMCA complaint.

OK so if I was infringing someone's copyright what's my complaint?

Well, several really:
1. MY copyright has been infringed. It may not have been very good writing/reviewing but all the text and photographs taken by me (to which I own the copyright) have been deleted. Without notice.
2. I'm a fan. The purpose of writing here is to share my love of music. I have lost count of the number of times I have been turned on to new music, emerging bands and established artists by bloggers. What is particularlry galling is that some record labels will be PAYING people to do this work. And here is me doing this in my own time and at my own cost.
3. Ethical Posting. What I post is time-limited, low quality mp3s, always with a DIRECT link to buy the CD (I'm still old skool in this respect) from an internet seller like Amazon or the artist's record label direct. It takes time to put these links in; it would be so easy not to bother. And this site carries a disclaimer but more importantly ENCOURAGEMENT to buy the song/album/gig ticket.

So what's my recourse?

Well none. Blogger gives a blanket statement about their helplessness (although they don't seem to be that helpless about allowing bigotry, hate, fundamentalism and pornography on blogs). There is a suggested counter-claim route but (and this is the sinister part) that will have to wait several weeks before it can be initiated because YOU ARE NOT TOLD who is issuing these DCMA notices. They will eventually be published on Chilling Effects but to date I am still in the dark as to who complained, who issued these notices.

So to repeat some comments on this site: if anyone believes their copyright is being infringed PLEASE CONTACT ME and I will rememdy the situation.

I'm not a crusader but frankly I'm pissed off. When I find out which (I'm assuming) major record label has done this it's a safe bet to say I will not be buying any music from them ever again nor will I ever write about their artists. Now it might be a bit extreme to suggest this is THE DEATH OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY but when the majors start to alienate fans in a climate where their revenues are falling already and they don't know how to respond (see here) ... well let's see what happens next.

In the meantime, I received this email from Jack at Alcopop Records:

Hope all's well. Noticed your post reffing Stars and Sons, so I thought I'd drop you a quick email to let you know that this Monday 17th November we're releasing the limited edition (to 500) 7" 'In the Ocean' from the awesome Stars & Sons - and wondered if you might be interested in posting a bit about them, or this MP3 piano version (please feel free to make downloadable if you like) of the A-side that will remain otherwise unreleased?

Below is the press release for the 7", and the MP3 and video link. Thanks lots – and take care!

Jack PoP

Myspace -
Alcopop website -
In the Ocean Piano version MP3 -

Thank you Jack. This goes a long way to restore my faith in parts of the music industry. You may not realise it or you may not feel this, but to me and many other people you and similarly-minded labels are THE FUTURE OF THE RECORD INDUSTRY. More strength to your arm and long way you continue. I know what I will be buying this Monday coming...

More thoughts from David Byrne on the future of the music industry here. And some more links to other enlightened labels and artists making free MP3s available:

Domino Records: a remix of James Yorkston's Tortoise Regrets Hare here.

Anti Records: a ten artist sampler including songs from Nick Cave, Jolie Holland, Mavis Staples, Tim Fite, Man Man and Islands here.

Darren Hayman: three advance songs from his new album Pram Town here

Secretly Canadian: a six track EP of live songs from Danielson from 1999-2006 here

Tuesday, November 11, 2008


I like to think my musical taste is eclectic but I am frequently reminded how narrow it is ("this ALL sounds the same"). So occasionally it is good to go off the beaten track. Like tonight with The Bays:

They don’t make records. They don’t rehearse or prepare their entirely improvised live performances. Their music ranges from ambient electronica to thundering drum ‘n’ bass, touching all points in between. In keeping with this philosophy of uncompromising evolution, The Bays have devised a unique system combining computer software and old-fashioned human communication to incorporate an orchestral ensemble. With The Heritage Orchestra, and a team of guest composers, The Bays will combine live electronica and classical ensemble playing in an entirely improvised performance for this innovative show.

So in addition to the 4 piece improv outfit at the rear of the stage, there was the Heritage Orchestra, a 14 classical ensemble on the forestage, and in between both 2 composers (John Metcalfe and Simon Head) who wrote all the pieces for the orchestra live. These scores were then beamed to flat-screen monitors on music stands in front of the musicians, all held together by the conductor. Just about.

Plus there was the unsung hero of the evening - the person responsible for the live video mixing of images across three large screens which formed a back-drop to it all (every spare space on stage seemed to have a video camera taped to it and pointing at a musician).

It's difficult to convey what this was really like musically - live electronica and classical ensemble does cover it but doesn't get close - but you had no doubt that was 'an event'. The smiles, grimaces and bemusement on the faces of the string and woodwind players and the occasional frantic dash between the conductor and the two composers all showed on this was truly happening in the moment.

It was difficult to know who was leading who: the band or the ensemble? The conductor or the composers? And there were times when the music started to become a sludgey mess but then there were others, the majority, when it soared. The final section which started slowly with repeated sections of churning strings then built into a spacey, pulsating groove overlaid with flute, brass and strings had the seated audience literally rocking their rows. The finish was greeted with a tumultuous standing ovation. The audience wanted more. Most of the musicians just looked relieved.

Remaining tour dates are here.

Thursday, November 06, 2008


I'd picked up some duff information somewhere along the way which had convinced me that Broken Records were support tonight. So convinced in fact, I had included a BR song in the November Manchester Gigs In Music compilation. Ah but you cannot read that post or listen to it can you? See next post for an explanation of why not.

Stars and Sons were in fact the support - sadly arrived only to catch the last few songs. Presumably named after the Broken Social Scene song(?), this is a good indication of their sound - the arty end of the spectrum of US indie-rock. But they turned out to be from Brighton. They have a single out In The Ocean later this month and definitely worth further listening.

Okkervil River came on about 9.15am. There were two downsides to this gig: firstly they played in a thick haze of dry ice that sadly showed the limits of my mobile phone camera. Secondly, it only lasted an hour and forty five minutes. Other than these two gripes I couldn't fault anything about it and would have loved to hear them play into the small hours.

The six piece (two guitars, bass, electric piano, drums plus trumpet/percussion) gave a fairly faithful rendition of songs from across all their albums but showed real care and attention to the sound and the sequencing of the songs as on record. Both slower and faster songs used intricate instrumentation to give them a real depth but with an added urgency and spark live.

Will Sheff at times reminded me of Colin Meloy at his declamatory best, the un-showy showman-songwriter wagging his finger at the crowd or waving his arm as he delivered these mini-melodramas. Other than Will the band were largely immobile (although drummer Travis was singing and smiling along to everything) but this doesn't suggest a lack of passion - both the brooding, reflective ballads and the raucous rock numbers had bags of the stuff. And when they delivered the sparse and atmospheric A Stone with just Will on acoustic guitar with delicate and minimal accompaniment from electric guitar and trumpet it was heart-stopping. One of my gigs of the year: when can we do this again?

The Set List:
Plus Ones
A Hand To Take Hold Of The Scene
The Latest Toughs
Starry Stairs
John Allyn Smith Sails
Pop Lie
No Key, No Plan
A Stone
Blue Tulip
Lost Coastlines
Our Life Is Not A Movie Or Maybe
For Real
Until It Kicks
A Girl In Port
Okkervil River Song

All links below are to MP3s made freely available by the band on the Jagjaguwar website.

Okkervil River
The Stand Ins [BUY]

Okkervil River
Black Sheep Boy [BUY]

Okkervil River
The Stage Names [BUY]

Monday, November 03, 2008


Pelle Carlberg is a new name to me (although three albums into his career after a spell with band Edson) but I came across him after seeing that How Does It Feel To Be Loved? are promoting his gig this Thursday at the Windmill in Brixton. And a finer recommendation you couldn't have.

And tonight Pelle plays Manchester at The Deaf Institute with support from Amida and Jam on Bread. On a quick listen Pelle is part of that fine Swedish tradition that combines 60s girl group pop with warm and melodic indie-pop topped off with heartfelt lyrics. You can download songs at Pelle's website (here) or via (here).

Other UK and European tour dates here.

And coincidentally the record label part of the HDIF operation may have finished their October sale; but you can still buy CD releases from Butcher Boy, Saturday Looks Good To Me and Antarctica Takes It all for only £7.99. Highly recommended and available here.