Sunday, May 31, 2009
Malcolm Middleton Red Travellin' Socks (29 June Night & Day BUY TICKETS)
We Were Promised Jet Packs Quiet Little Voices (16 June Night & Day BUY TICKETS)
King Creosote Nothing Rings True (9 June Ruby Lounge BUY TICKETS)
Broken Records Nearly Home (17 June Roadhouse BUY TICKETS)
Wavves Beach Demon (24 June Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Teeth Mountain Ghost Science (10 June Star & Garter BUY TICKETS)
Jonquil Whistle Low (11 June Kro Bar BUY TICKETS)
The Wave Pictures Strawberry Cables (19 June Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
A Hawk and A Hacksaw Kertesz (22 June Ruby Lounge BUY TICKETS)
Dan Deacon Padding Ghost (2 June Club Academy BUY TICKETS)
Deerhoof Milk Man (29 June Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
The Joy Formidable Whirring (5 June Ruby Lounge BUY TICKETS)
The Horrors Sea Within A Sea (1 June Ruby Lounge BUY TICKETS)
M Ward Shangri-La (29 June Club Academy BUY TICKETS)
And not forgetting
3 June NLF3 Retro Bar / 5 June On Itz Head Night and Day / 6 June Almost There - The Concert Waterside Arts Centre / 8 June Diane Cluck Deaf Institute / 10 June Bear Hands Ruby Lounge / 14 June Roger McGuinn The Lowry / 17 June Sun Araw + Pocahaunted Islington Mill / 18 June Baskery Academy 3 / 18 June Acoustic Ladyland Mint Lounge / 21 June The Thermals Ruby Lounge / 22 June Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby Night and Day / 24 June White Denim Ruby Lounge / 26 June Joe Gideon and the Shark Academy 3
Plus 4-6 June is Unconvention "a music conference for the grass roots of the industry" centred in Salford. The music programme:
4 June Un-Convention 2009: Everything Everything + Kyte + The Loose Salute
5 June Un-Convention 2009: Magic Arm + Arthur Delaney + Kazams + Gallops + DJ Mark Brown
6 June Un-Convention 2009: Sisters Of Transistors + Arch Nazards + I Am Kloot + Whip DJs + Dognoize
Live music tickets £7.50 per night or £18 for three nights BUY TICKETS
Saturday, May 30, 2009
At the mundane end (in terms of formats) is the new Malcolm Middleton single "Red Travelling Socks" which I bought last week on 7" red vinyl single. It's not an innovative format, in fact quite retro. It may not be as convenient as a download but it feels like a proper purchase. I now OWN something. At the other end of the vinyl spectrum is the new Iron and Wine obscurities compilation "Around the Well". As well as CD you can buy this on TRIPLE VINYL with an mp3 download code. This combines the convenience of the digital with the sheer indulgence (very 70s prog-rock) of 3 LPs. In April I took advantage of the Record Store Day deal at Drift Records to buy three of their CDs for £10. One was Thirty Pounds of Bone's "The Homesick Children of Migrant Mothers" which came in a printed brown envelope with a red wax seal. It felt criminal to be breaking the seal but you don't get that kind of emotion or experience from a plastic jewel case.
Then this from Fanfarlo: "on May 25th, a beautiful, limited special edition of our album Reservoir will be available from Rough Trade. It will come in a foil-blocked, linen-covered box full of illustrated lyrics".
It IS gorgeous. But it's also bloody inconvenient. The DVD case-sized box doesn't fit in my CD racks, the postcards are beautiful but I don't want to undo the bow holding them together, the actual CD is buried beneath everything else. Will it become "Ebay gold" as Rough Trade claim, especially now this limited edition has all sold out? Who cares - it is such a lovingly put-together package I'm not selling mine for anything.
Finally there's the new compilation from Alcopop Records. "Alcopopular 3" is "13 delicious exclusively (as yet) unreleased tracks from the likes of Pulled Apart by Horses, Apples, Paul Steel, Unicorn Kid, Stagecoach and many more". More importantly it comes with a treasure map in a bottle!
"This physical glass bottle (all prettily Alcopopular) will arrive complete with ye olde map – leading you to the digitally downloadable booty that is these tracks... Alcopopular 3 costs £5 for the full map and bottle experience, or just £4 to have the MP3 download link emailed straight to you, if (for some reason) you don’t think your music collection is lacking a bottle and treasure map format". How could you say no to this?! And only for an extra pound?
There may be something tremendously frivilous or inconvient about these formats - DVD cases, triple LPs, glass bottles? - but also something equally alluring, imaginative, enduring. And you don't get that with a digital-only download.
PUTTING THINGS IN BOXES AND PLACES
The Mighty Baboo [BUY]
WHEN SHE GOES UP
Thirty Pounds of Bone
The Homesick Children of Migrant Mothers [BUY]
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Initial excitement about KH touring after ATP paled into horror when I realised most dates were already sold out. Relief that the nearest gig to Manchester was the only one with tickets still available then turned to intrigue when I found out the venue was Burnley Library. A library? In Burnley? All is (nearly) explained by this being part of Get It Loud In Libraries - a programme promoting music in libraries in Lancashire. Not sure why but more strength to their arm. And I certainly benefitted tonight by the intimacy of the space and the amazing sound quality.
And this literally was a gig in a library. The audience congregated in front of a small riser set up in between the Issue Desk and a bank of microfilm readers. This is not as prosaic as it sounds - above us was a magnificent stained glass dome. About 8.45pm, Kristin stepped on to the stage with guitar - the only one she played all evening with only minimal use - it appeared - of effects pedals either. However the extremes she wrought out of the instrument were astonishing. She started the set with two Appalachian murder ballads which sounds unsettling enough when delivered by this petite, polite, almost hesitantly-shy singer in a pink wool cardigan. But it was the first of her own songs 'Mississippi Kite' which really unsettled: from simple almost emotionless delivery she literally SHRIEKED the chorus and the veins on her neck leapt out. It was chilling. When she finished she smiled sweetly and thanked us all. The shell-shocked audience applauded politely.
And this was the formula for the evening: a mixture of her solo and Throwing Muses songs were interspersed with murder ballads, the raw emotion of the songs matched by the intensity of her delivery. Through out she stood stock-still with a fixed stare, only occasionally swaying trance-like. It was mesmerising. And the occasional humourous story or comment - how she had sliced her thumb when cutting bread, is she allowed to say 'dipshit' in a library? - only heightened the intensity of those songs. One theme to her between-song chat was how much she preferred England to the States: the previous night she had stayed in an idyllic bed-and-breakfast in the shadow of a nuclear power station "it was post-apocalyptic but still nicer than the States". Let's all hope she'll come back and visit again soon.
I got the set-list above at the end BUT it bears very little relation to the order in which songs played or indeed which songs were played. My best-guess is below with "AMB" standing for Appalachian Murder Ballad (the part of her repertoire I need to listen to more)
AMB (in which the female protagonist is killed three times over)
City of the Dead
Me and My Charms
Your Dirty Answer
Hook in Her Head
At the end a small group gathered to meet Kristin and someone presented her with home-made cakes. Damn. I've done that before - why didn't I think of that this time? But without presents she was still happy to sign stuff.
Hips and Makers [BUY or BUY]
Since his days in Appendix Out, I've had an arms-length relationship with AR - checking in occasionally over the years but never calling myself a devoted fan (I only own one of the five albums under his own name). But some of those occasional songs are magical. Here's what promoter Hey Manchester says about tonight:
Our evening-long celebration of folk music features a headline appearance from Alasdair Roberts.... If you're a fan of James Yorkston, King Creosote or Smog, be sure to check him out. We've also invited some of our favourite local folkies to play - Denis Jones, Starless & Bible Black, John Stammers and Sparky Deathcap - plus there's a rare appearance by Londoner Lora Linhares-Marx
It all starts at 6pm (£10 on the door or here in advance) and there's even talk of a BBQ. Sadly tonight I'm heading to Burnley otherwise this would have been unmissable.
SLOWLY GROWING OLD
Farewell Sorrow [BUY]
LASSIE LIE NEAR ME
The Rye Bears A Poison [BUY]
Wednesday, May 20, 2009
His second solo album "Get Guilty" is available on the excellent Broken Horse Records and is an pretty much essential purchase. Other UK tour dates on Broken Horse site too.
A C Newman
LIKE A HITMAN, LIKE A DANCER
Get Guilty [BUY or BUY]
Tuesday, May 19, 2009
Only one support for this early show: Mazes. This being early afternoon and I had already drunk a few Trof lagers on an empty stomach (being mis-advised of the start time and therefore kicking my heels) I was not best placed to assess Mazes. But. I thought they were great. Mixed melodic power-punk-pop with Stephen Malkmus vocals - given extra blues feel when sung through a toliet roll stuck on the end of the mic - honestly. All delivered by two guitars and drums with minimal fuss or ostentation. As the set when on they got more thrashy/rockabilly/less subtle but still enough for me to have my wallet ready for when their debut single(s) are issued soon.
Deerhunter came on just after 6pm. With sunlight pouring through the skylights of the Deaf Institute. It felt more like a festival appearance than a Manchester gig. Deerhunter are not a band I am that familiar with - I've listened to recent album "Microcastle" in passing - I was more intrigued by the reputation plus the timing/location. The four-piece from Atlanta is led by Bradford Cox and he makes an engaging if geeky front-man early on: cracking jokes about the hour and how he is normally asleep, listing -when challenged - his favourite Manchester bands (Magazine, Durutti Column, Blue Orchids). The band around him are fairly anonymous: bassist Josh appears bemused to be standing on a stage but the second guitarist and drummer are expressionless if not hidden. But after the first couple of short poppy songs - including the title track to the recent release Rainwater Cassette Exchange, available to buy tonight on CASSETTE TAPE - the band demonstrate what sets them apart. Their sound mixes US art-rock with shoe-gaze with an experimental, ambient streak. So soon those short songs give way to longer ones drenched in reverb and echo: My Bloody Valentine go to US college and jam. There are no guitar changes I saw but they must have a shed-load of effects pedals with them to coax such sounds out of their instruments. The set was over in 65 minutes or so but there was enough invention and noise to send me back to listen properly.
I have no evidence for my attendance this evening: no ticket stubs, photos or set-list. But trust me I was there. And I was not ejected at any point.
Rainwater Cassette Exchange [BUY]
Thursday, May 14, 2009
I wrote this short review of their song "Fortune Map" in March and have been fairly obsessed by the song ever since.
And now you can buy it not just on the highly recommended album "Self-Taught Magic From A Book" (released in the UK at the end last year) but as of last month also on seven inch vinyl:
We have two 7" singles out! First up 'The Mystery of Marie Roget/Secret Place' on 7" vinyl. Available from the Angular Shop. And we also have 'Fortune Map' out on a split single with Glasgow's finest Wake The President, released on Lucky Number Nine/Electric Honey Records. Available from Lucky Number Nine Records.
Je Suis Animal
Self-Taught Magic From A Book [BUY or BUY]
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Buy advance tickets here if you are quick.
Noble Beast [BUY]
Live in Montreal [BUY]
Tuesday, May 12, 2009
Liverpool SoundCity! Festival presents a very special show at the Leggate Autopsy Theatre, Victoria Building, Liverpool University with CLINIC & THE SEAL CUB CLUBBING CLUB - EARLY EVENING PERFORMANCE 6pm - 9:30pm. Get tickets here.
And you can try winning a pair of tickets here. Winners announced 16 May so I reckon you have 48 hours tops to enter.
I can't understand how Clinic, who have worn surgical gowns from day one, have not performed in an autopsy theatre before. The band are no strangers to exotic locations: they have just returned from Austria and before that visited Mexico:
A road-trip to Leeds with Mr P was on the cards for next week to see Fanfarlo at the Brudenell Social Club. But this doesn't seem to be happening now. So maybe, all things being equal, we head the other way along the M62?
Saturday, May 09, 2009
Support tonight was Dan Michaelson & The Coastguards. Dan is "the voice of Absentee" and this is his "new project" suggesting Absentee are still a going concern? This project though is a different proposition from that band: the Coastguards play a warm, sedate country, all pedal steel and brushed drums, given a noir-ish feel by Dan's deep, dark grumbling vocals. It's classy if a little unmemorable on first listen (but this might have been because I was impatient for the main attraction). They certainly went down well with the crowd tonight and at the end of the night Dan was doing a roaring trade at the merchandise stall. Their album "Saltwater" is out and available here.
It was raining today in Manchester after a week of sunshine (ahem). Had Cambridge's finest brought the wet fenland weather with them to match their indie melancholia? Well we can't really blame them for the weather. Or for the 10.30pm curfew due to a club night following (but we can blame the promoter for the latter. Shame on them for charging us full price but cheating us on the running time). Live The Broken Family lose the country-tinged melancholia (in the main) and deliver an energetic, hard-edged indie-rock sound. They are phenomenally well drilled: hats off to drummer Mickey Roman for a stunning performance throughout. Tonight started with a few slower numbers before picking up the pace. The set then took in older numbers including the now traditional audience sing-a-long to "John Belushi" - singer Steven Adams caustic comment: "you all bought THAT album didn't you?". If some of the audience are still hooked on "Welcome Home Loser", 'that album' from 2005, the band aren't with plenty of later songs including seven from the new album.
Steven Adams is a wry charmer of a front-man but tonight he was short on banter given the time constraints. One exception: "if there's a disco afterwards and we stay, we want a roped off VIP area". BFB attempt rock-god swagger but their lack of pretension and even vulnerability mean it is nothing more than ironic wise-cracking. But given the quality of their song-writing and playing they really do deserve a metaphoric roped-off area in contemporary music-making.
Live the anger and bitterness of the songs comes out rather than the melancholy - and the band are never less than compelling in their playing. But overall the evening didn't match expectations - nothing to do with the band or their delivery. But something about the muted crowd, the lack of atmosphere in the Ruby Lounge, being reduced in party size and then the race to beat the curfew meant the whole thing felt rushed and over just as it was starting to hit its pace. However this is also comparing tonight against some earlier, exceptionally good shows. If you've never seen BFB live I'd urge you to do so - remaining tour dates are here.
The Set List:
We nearly didn't get "It's All Over" but the band were given a few minutes reprieve. But we definitely lost 'Please' ('Yourself' presumably).
Thursday, May 07, 2009
Bishop Allen played here about 18 months ago. And in my book that's just too long between gigs even if they do have the excuse of living in Brooklyn. Since that gig Cafe Saki has been renovated/extended/changed and the club venue is now a bar on the ground floor with the band playing in the pool room/conservatory (no really) off the main room. Probably takes about 100 and tonight, a joint promotion from Underachievers Please Try Harder and Football, was decently full if not sold out.
Bishop Allen play an ornate indie-pop with delicate orchestral flourishes and settings. Live they are harder edged but a shiver of excitement did run through me as the xylophone (or was it a glockenspiel?) was set up. Touring Bishop Allen are a five piece - songwriters Justin Rice and Christian Rudd on guitars with Darbie Nowatka on xylophone, melodica, percussion, backing vocals plus drums and bass (sorry no names). Touring to support their third album "Grr...", I knew they wouldn't be playing everything I wanted to hear but seeing the set list before they started I was pleased to see at least some of the favourites there. I only realised the omissions later.
Opener 'Another Wasted Night' from first album "Charm School" set the tone for what followed in the next hour or so: songs delivered in a no-nonsense belt-them-out power-pop style only slowing in pace for the two songs sung by Darbie ('Butterfly Nights' and 'True or False'). There was minimal banter but a palpable warmth and amiability from the band - you get the sense they couldn't be happier anywhere else but playing music live in small, sweaty student bars and clubs.
The set took in songs from all three records (plus one of the 12 'calendar' EPs). Plenty of highlights including 'The Monitor' and 'Rain' but sad not to hear 'Dimmer' and 'Olkahoma' from the new album (picky, picky). Sea-shanty singalong 'Shanghaied' followed by 'Middle Management' worked particularly well to close the main set. They then returned to romp through 'Pentitentiary Bound' and a cover of Fleetwood Mac's 'Second Hand News' (Bishop Allen's songs are better) before finishing with a blinding version of 'Flight 180'. Was it just me or was everyone in the crowd singing along by the end of this? Top stuff. More please and soon.
The Set List:
Another Wasted Night
The Ancient Commonsense of Things
Cue The Elephants
True or False
Click Click Click Click
The Same Fire
Second Hand News
Support was from Amida who I missed and Married To The Sea who I would heartily recommend. They are a four-piece from Liverpool playing intelligent, US college rock-influenced indie-pop with great harmonies and a relaxed confidence that was hugely appealing. And they all swapped instruments for one song which always impresses me. They were selling their EP at the end. Now in the past I have been more than happy to part with two pounds for a no-brand CDR with felt-pen scrawl and photostat cover. But Married To The Sea give you three songs on a professionally pressed CD with a very smart full-colour cover for your two pounds. Lead song 'Great, Now I'm In Love' is worth the admission price alone. Ones to investigate immediately.
So I departed Fallowfield happy if a little tipsy. After a short bus journey home I crossed the road that leads to Folly Towers only to be hit by a motorcyclist. On a motorbike. He and his bike went skidding along the road and I went flying into the gutter. Both of us were uninjured but were advised to stay prone by the crowd of passers-by who suddenly appeared. This crowd turned out to be plain clothes police. All of them. What had they been doing?? The initial novelty of appearing in what felt like a scene from "The Wire" was short-lived as we then had to wait for an ambulance and then wait longer to be checked over by paramedics. Luckily we both walked away from this. And I now know what the inside of an ambulance looks like.
Tonight should have been an outing for Mrs A but she was otherwise engaged. Shame because in life she is my ears and my eyes. And tonight she would most certainly have stopped me walking out in front of that motorbike. Remember: stop, look, listen.
Wednesday, May 06, 2009
For a first record and a young band they are remarkably mature and accomplished song-writers - more single malt whisky than WKD. Definitely ones to watch.
And continuing the Alcopop-related news, the label are releasing another of their Alcopopular compilations this month and I have just signed up to this venture:
We’re looking for a limited number of people based on Twitter, who fancy getting their reviewer hats on and tweeting reviews of each song (in 140 characters or less) each day in run up to the release.
I've been experimenting with Twitter for a few weeks now trying to work out whether it is fun, fraud or the future. Still unsure. But in the meantime this daily tweeting/reviewing will help me reverse the sad decline from regular to less regular to irregular tweets. I hope.
My First Tooth
My First Tooth and the Rubies EP [BUY]
Friday, May 01, 2009
Here's the usual to help inform decisions: a 52 minute music compilation of some highlights of live shows this coming month: download link in post below this one. Could have easily made another 50 minute compilation there's so much on offer.
Bishop Allen Oklahoma (6 May Cafe Saki BUY TICKETS)
A C Newman There Are Maybe 10 or 12 (20 May Retro Bar BUY TICKETS)
Titus Andronicus Titus Andronicus (25 May supporting The Soft Pack Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
The Broken Family Band Salivating (8 May Ruby Lounge BUY TICKETS)
Jason Lytle Yours Truly, The Commuter (26 May Academy 3 BUY TICKETS)
Mi Ami The Man In Your House (2 May Retro Bar BUY TICKETS)
Deerhunter Nothing Ever Happened (19 May Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
The Pains of Being Pure At Heart Young Adult Friction (22 May Chorlton Irish Club BUY TICKETS)
The Acorn Crooked Legs (3 May Ruby Lounge BUY TICKETS)
Viking Moses Little Emma's Smile (4 May supporting The Pictish Trail Kings Arms BUY TICKETS)
Great Lake Swimmers Palmistry (19 May Dulcimer BUY TICKETS)
Alasdair Roberts Hazel Forks (24 May Dulcimer BUY TICKETS)
Vivian Girls Damaged (20 May Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Phosphorescent Not A Heel (30 May Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
And not forgetting:
5 May Jeffrey Lewis & The Junkyard Club Academy 3 / 7 May M83 Deaf Institute / 10 May Holy Fuck, It Hugs Back Academy 3 / 11 May Experimental Dental School Retro Bar / 12 May Dan Auerbach Club Academy / 12 May Retribution Gospel Choir Deaf Institute / 13 May Andrew Bird Academy 3 / 13 May Melt Banana Satan's Hollow / 14 May The Mae Shi, Abe Vigoda Deaf Institute / 19 May Handsome Family, Liz Green Ruby Lounge / 23 May Akron/Family Ruby Lounge / 24 May Black Lips Academy 3 / 26 May The Aliens Deaf Institute / 29 May Pagan Wanderer Lu Fuel
And then there's the festivals:
Sounds From The Other City 3 May
including SoPhIeS pIgEoNS, Sweet Baboo, The Invisible, Banjo or Freakout and Young British Artists.
Line Up / Tickets
MAPS Festival 1 - 4 May
including Alessi's Ark, Spokes, The Brute Chorus, iLiKETRAiNS and Liam Frost.
Line Up / Tickets
Futuresonic 13 - 16 May
including Philip Glass solo, Murcof, Johan Johansson, Ariel Pink and Crystal Antlers.
Line Up / Tickets
Hungry Pigeon 22 - 25 May
including Karima Francis, Misty's Big Adventure, Nine Black Alps, Ten Bears and The Travelling Band
Line Up / Tickets
Looking forward to a quiet one in June ...