Wednesday, February 25, 2009


"There's not enough beards in this room". Sarcastic observation is one of Ms L's many strong points. In a PACKED if not quite sold-out Deaf Institute, there was certainly plenty of facial hair on display. And when The Miserable Rich took to the stage, four of the five - of course - had beards too. This was a similar set to that at Dulcimer last month but they swapped their "noughties" cover for their "eighties" one so we got The Strangler's 'Golden Brown' instead of Hot Chip. Their brand of acoustic chamber-pop went down well with all in the room - again. On record and live they really are something quite special - seductive and stately and debonair all at the same time. Word from the band afterwards is that album number two - including tonight's final song 'Oliver' - will be out in August.

The Set List:
Early Mourning
Boat Song
The Time That's Mine
Golden Brown
Merry Go Round

The Miserable Rich
Twelve Ways To Count [BUY]

Mark Hamilton, the leader of Woodpigeon, has a beard too. He also is a good foot taller than the rest of his band. This, the beard and the generous-sized woolly jumper give the impression of a high school music teacher leading a troupe of students. Tonight's appearance was the five-person version of the collective - Mark on red Gibson acoustic plus keyboards/melodica, cello, violin and violin/ukelele - and they tended to the hushed, acoustic end of the Woodpigeon songbook.

The set list threw me though. I was expecting this to be drawn from the two albums (now released in the UK on End Of The Road Records) - and the set started with I Live A Lot Of Places, Songbook/The Sound of Us Playing, Emma et Hampus and then In the Battle of Sun vs. Curtains, Sun Loses and We Sleep Until Noon (they do have a penchant for long titles) but then it lost me. I recognised The Hamilton Academicals and Feedbags (and the cover of Abba's 'Lay All Your Love On Me') but the other five or so songs were unfamiliar. One ('Beth Dreams'? 'Beth's Jeans'?) was apparently "written only yesterday". The others I don't think were from Europe-only bonus CD 'Houndstooth Europa' either so I assume are from early EPs or new material?

The band were under a time pressure to complete the set by 11pm "when students will start grinding themselves against each other" for a club night but the performance never felt hurried and the songs were allowed to unfurl at a gentle pace. I could quibble about the short set, the lack of songs from Songbook and the lack of their more up-tempo and elaborate material, but the overall loveliness (no other word for it really) of the band, the music and the atmosphere won me over. So yes the evening had a beard but also a comforting hug and warm smile. It was brought to us by The Red Deer Club and Humble Soul who really should be rather proud of themselves. But yet again I missed The Winter Journey. Which again I hear was a shame.

Treasury Library Canada [BUY]

Songbook [BUY]

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I have felt a connection with Rose Dougall ever since this blog was used as a citation on her Wikipedia page. Having seen her twice before tonight (both in British Sea Power-related support slots) it is good to report both her (and her band's) continuing confidence and the fact she listened to what I advised last time. Namely, she is now foresaking sitting down behind her keyboard meekly but is acting like a proper front woman. Even a bit vampy tonight. And all the better for it even if not musically my cup of camomille.

I spent the first part of Seal Cub Clubbing Club's set as well as appreciating it, racking my brains as to who they were supporting last time I saw them. I think the answer is New Rhodes at Night Day probably 3 if not 4 years ago. Which makes me wonder just how young this fresh-faced five piece must have appeared then. My recollection was arty and spiky guitar pop - a sort of younger brother to The Young Knives say. But tonight they are more diverse in sound, more ambitious and more experimental: if they came from Brooklyn rather than West Kirby it wouldn't be a surprise and they would have critics slavering. Definitely worth seeing again and hearing more.

British Sea Power appear refreshed and fit after their Xmas break. Tonight and tomorrow's gig in Derby appear to be some kind of low-key step into 2009. The set is familiar to anyone who saw them on last autumn's tour and they are as well drilled as ever - but with the odd mistake along the way just to show they've had some time off. Sadly no new songs tonight but given it was Valentine's Day we did get an impromptu cover of Love Me Tender sung by Noble and Hamilton.

I didn't think the sound at the Academy was that good during the support acts - came across as quite leaden and sludgey (and at the quiet bits you could hear the other gig taking place in the second space! Reel Big Fish by the way). But by the time BSP took to the stage the sound definitely worked with not against them. Took a bit of time for both band and crowd to warm up - and if there were no great surprises and the lack of a frenetic ending it was nonetheless highly enjoyable. So. When ARE we going to hear some new songs?

The Set List:
A Wooden Horse
Apologies To Insect Life
Larsen B
Down On The Ground
A Lovely Day Tomorrow
True Adventures
Waving Flags
The Great Skua
Love Me Tender
No Lucifer
How Will I Ever Find My Way Home?
Canvey Island
Spirit of St Louis
Lights Out For Darker Skies/Rock in A

British Sea Power
The Decline of British Sea Power [BUY]

British Sea Power
Do You Like Rock Music? [BUY]

Friday, February 13, 2009


Tonight at the Deaf Institute, the spacey psyche-folk of The Yellow Moon Band with support from Tim and Sam's The Tim and Sam Band and Advances in Mathematics. A perfect pre-Valentine's Day "..groovy...folky pastoral...astral rocking" treat for your loved one. Advance tickets here - only a fiver.

The Yellow Moon Band
Travels Into Several Remote of the World [BUY]

Saturday, February 07, 2009

You'll spend the rest of your life trying to hard to forget that you met the world naked and screaming

...and that's how you'll leave it.

I only came across Titus Andronicus recently; hearing some songs on got my attention. When I walked into Piccadilly Records to find out more, the album was playing. I took it as a sign and bought it without further investigation. I have not regretted this.

In their words: Titus Andronicus is a rock and roll band from Glen Rock. In the beginning, there were only three people in the band. At one point, there were eleven people in the band. Right this second, there are five people in the band. Titus Andronicus formed in the spring of 2005. Titus Andronicus' debut long player, "The Airing of Grievances" was released in April of 2008 by Troubleman Unlimited. And now it's been picked up in the UK by XL Recordings.

This is an extraordinarily good record, brimming with energy, ideas and screaming in equal measure. TA take bits of the underground rock handbook (Husker Du, In Utero-era Nirvana, Fugazi, Sebadoh) add some despairing lyrics sung/screamed in the style of Conor Oberst and some literary readings (from Shakespeare's play of the same name and Albert Camus' The Stranger) to make a joyous, ear-burstingly-loud, ramshackle pure energy-rush of a record.

Titus Andronicus like to scream and carry on at excessive volume. Titus Andronicus like songs which are fast more than songs which are slow. Titus Andronicus think slow songs are okay sometimes. Titus Andronicus never sing about love, only hate. Titus Andronicus have no hope for the future. Titus Andronicus believe only in nothingness. Everyone in Titus Andronicus was born to die. Titus Andronicus crave your approval but will settle for your utter disdain

Utter approval from me. Either 'Titus Andronicus' (on this month's Manchester Music in Gigs compilation) or 'My Time Outside The Womb' will be on my Pick of 2009... but I'll need the rest of the year to work out which 0ne makes it.

My excitement at finding out they are playing Night and Day was short-lived - it's the same night I already have tickets for Woodpigeon and The Miserable Rich. Ah well, there's always Leeds, Glasgow or London

Titus Andronicus
The Airing of Grievances [BUY]

Monday, February 02, 2009


All previous times hearing Brakes songs live (the one with the pineapple; at the festival; Eamon solo) have never been less than excellent. But here's a brief tour (in advance of another one in April?) in advance of hearing the new album (advance song ' Crystal Tunings' is a slow-building, brooding chug rather than the usual short-sharp-shock) on a new label Fat Cat (what does the move signify?). Plus they are playing MoHo Live to which this was my first visit: a recently renovated venue which appears to have been over-hauled within months of opening. Hmmm. And it's snowing in Manchester city centre. It never snows in Manchester city centre...

Arrived to catch the last couple of songs from Sir Yes Sir. Unfair to pass judgement based on two songs but the three piece are clearly in thrall of angular US experimental indie and need a bit of work to get their own identity/sound sorted out. Next up was Airship. Following the under-rehearsed feel of Sir Yes Sir, Airship sounded in a different world: slick, loud and heavy. But for me it quickly paled. They had a partisan crowd in enjoying the set but I felt it was would-be arena-indie that I could do without. Started to miss Sir Yes Sir - especially during the song about a "World Renaissance Smile". Eh?

Third on the unbelievably-good-value bill was Ten Bears. 'Hotly-tipped' is a torpedo that has sunk many a band. Ten Bears definitely have something about them and might survive the label. The five-piece play an off-kilter guitar pop with plenty of hooks and quirks without shouting look at us. Some of the outfits (checked shirt, trucker's cap, embroidered shirt) hint at 'country' but this is misleading: I thought they were somewhere between the tuneful end of Pavement and the noisy end of Teenage Fanclub. Not completely won over on first meeting but the wig outs towards the end of the set and the astonishing drumming throughout will make me come back for more. They have a single 'Dirt on the Radio' available on iTunes.

So eventually Brakes. Three of the band arrived - but where was lead singer Eamon? Has he become an indie-diva expecting others to set up his equipment and then prepare an entrance for him? No he's just been waiting off stage wearing a space suit.

Well after my concerns about tonight and a possible new direction, happy to report it's business as usual for Brakes. They may not have played together for four months (so we were told) but as usual the performance was high energy and tightly drilled. And when they did make a mistake, they didn't take it too seriously. You could really sense their enjoyment at playing and performing together.

Only four new songs in the set (new album "Touchdown" due in April) and 'Crystal Tunings' (called 'Oh! Forever' on the set-list) is a slight aberration but a good one and in the context of the rest of the set not too much of an aberration. 'Why Tell The Truth...' is about when Lloyds charged Eamon £75 for going overdrawn by £4 - not quite a credit crunch anthem then but a good dig at the banking system. Short songs like 'Comma Comma Comma Full Stop' and 'Cheney' (with new 'goodbye' ending) were all played twice. Here's the set list - kindly annotated by Alex the drummer to the correct running order (that's drummers for you): 'Spring Chicken' came before 'Cease and Desist' and 'Ring a Ding Ding' was not played (why not?!).

So my misgivings were misplaced - Brakes continue to delight live. Rest of this tour here and they are back on the road in April including a Manchester date at Ruby Lounge on 13 April (Ms N's birthday no less).

The Beatific Visions [BUY]

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Manchester Gigs in Music: February 2009 Pt.1

The shortest month? No time to waste then - get some gig tickets booked! All kicks off with Brakes TONIGHT at Invention at MoHo Live.

The Spinto Band Pumpkins & Paisley (23 Feb Night & Day BUY TICKETS)
Parts & Labor Nowhere's Nigh (17 Feb Star & Garter BUY TICKETS)
Woodpigeon If Only I Were A Painter... (24 Feb Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Ra Ra Riot Ghost Under Rocks (15 Feb Night & Day BUY TICKETS)
Gang Gang Dance Nicoman (25 Feb The Roadhouse BUY TICKETS)
School of Seven Bells iamundernodisguise (27 Feb Night & Day BUY TICKETS)
Peter Broderick And It's Alright (8 Feb Academy 3 BUY TICKETS)
Vetiver Angel's Share (25 Feb Dulcimer BUY TICKETS)
The Black Lips O Katrina! (18 Feb Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Brakes Crystal Tunings (1 Feb MoHo Live BUY TICKETS)
Titus Andronicus Titus Andronicus (24 Feb Night & Day BUY TICKETS)
Robyn Hitchcock & The Egyptians The Yip Song (13 Feb Bury Met BUY TICKETS)

50 minute compilation: download link in post below this one.

And not forgetting:
2 Feb Valgeir Sigurdsson, Nancy Elizabeth Cross St Chapel / 3 Feb The Airborne Toxic Event Ruby Lounge / 4 Feb Glissando Retro Bar / 6 Feb Max Tundra Deaf Institute / 8 Feb Hot Club de Paris MoHo Live /10 Feb Asobi Seksu The Roadhouse / 13 Feb Tim and Sam's The Tim and Sam Band with Tim and Sam Deaf Institute / 14 & 17 Feb Magazine Academy 1 / 15 Feb I Am Kloot Club Academy / 16 Feb Women Night and Day / 18 Feb Tricky Club Academy / 23 Feb Chris Corsan Islington Mill /24 Feb Emmy The Great Ruby Lounge / 25 Feb Bear Hands Ruby Lounge / 28 Feb The Jessie Rose Trip Night and Day

And some more Brakes - click on the title 'Hey Hey' to watch the video for the first single from the new album 'Touchdown':

Hey Hey from INDIAN on Vimeo.

Manchester Gigs in Music: February 2009 Pt.2

The link here [51MB]