Monday, October 31, 2011
Gigs don't always have to be sweaty, rufty-tufty affairs as Jamie Harrison shows this month. His album launch - for the rather fine "Get Under The Carpet" - is at the genteel and bijou Art of Tea in Didsbury along with Rozi Plain and This Is The Kit. Of course if you want to get over-heated and strain your neck or legs, there's plenty of choice for that too. As ever a mixtape [54 mins / 62 MB] of bands playing Manchester this November to help inform your gig-going decision-making - link in the post below this one.
Mcr Gigs In Music November: 2011 Mixtape
Bos Angeles Beach Slalom [2.35] (17 Nov Trof Fallowfield BUY TICKETS)
Bass Drum of Death Heart Attack Kid [5.12] (7 Nov The Castle BUY TICKETS)
Jeff The Brotherhood Diamond Way [7.40] (12 Nov The Castle BUY TICKETS)
Jamie Harrison The Bear [9.16] (20 Nov Art of Tea BUY TICKETS)
Golden Fable The Golden Hour [12.36] (3 Nov St Philip’s Church BUY TICKETS)
Twin Sister Bad Street [17.19] (7 Nov Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Stevie Jackson Man of God [20.59] (4 Nov Academy BUY TICKETS)
Cashier No.9 Lost At Sea [25.07] (9 Nov Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Okkervil River Our Live Is Not A Movie Or Maybe [29.26] (20 Nov Sound Control BUY TICKETS)
Gardens and Villa Spacetime [32.36] (10 Nov The Ritz BUY TICKETS)
Duologue Get Out While You Can [36.52] (6 Nov The Castle BUY TICKETS)
Widowspeak Harsh Realm [39.34] (27 Nov The Castle BUY TICKETS)
Thurston Moore Circulation [43.44] (30 Nov The Ritz BUY TICKETS)
Siskiyou Twigs and Stones [46.42] (9 Nov Night and Day BUY TICKETS)
Lanterns on the Lake You’re Almost There [49.49] (27 Nov Deaf Institute BUY TICKETS)
Liz Green Hey Joe [54.19] (12 Nov Kings Arms BUY TICKETS)
And not forgetting:
1 Nov Baxter Dury Ruby Lounge / 1 Nov Baby Dee Anthony Burgess Foundation / 1 Nov The Chapman Family Sound Control / 2 Nov Chairlift + Trailer Trash Tracys Sound Control / 2 Nov The Travelling Band Academy 3 / 3 Nov Steve Earle & The Dukes Academy 1 / 3 Nov The Miserable Rich St Philip’s Church / 4 Nov Empire Signal Ruby Lounge / 4 Nov Mad Colours + Peace Signs + Dinner Party Fuel / 4 Nov Money Sacred Trinity Church / 4 Nov Lana Del Rey Ruby Lounge / 4 Nov DOOM The Ritz / 4 Nov Electric Soft Parade Deaf Institute / 4 Nov Magazine Academy 1 / 4 Nov Empire Signal Ruby Lounge / 6 Nov Josiah Wolf Kraak / 6 Nov Vessels Night & Day / 6 Nov Washington Deaf Institute / 6 Nov My Morning Jacket + The Head And The Heart Academy 1 / 6 Nov Throwing Muses Academy 2 / 7 Nov Acid Mothers Temple Ruby Lounge / 8 Nov Ane Brun Deaf Institute / 8 Nov Nils Frahm Band on the Wall / 9 Nov Agnes Obel + Martin Henry John Ruby Lounge / 9 Nov Dog Is Dead Sound Control / 9 Nov Givers Academy / 10 Nov North Sea Radio Orchestra St Philip’s Church / 10 Nov Misty’s Big Adventure MoHo Live / 10 Nov Stephen Malkmus + Girls The Ritz / 10 Nov Kate Walsh Band on the Wall / 11 Nov New Villager Ruby Lounge / 11 Nov Islet Deaf Institute / 11 Nov Fountains of Wayne Club Academy / 12 Nov St Vincent Sound Control / 12 Nov King Krule Trof Fallowfield / 12 Nov Young British Artists + Younghusband The Roadhouse / 13 Nov Charles Bradley Band on the Wall / 13 Nov Washed Out Sound Control / 13 Nov The Dum Dum Girls FAC251 / 13 Nov William Fitzsimmons Deaf Institute / 14 Nov Anna Calvi Manchester Cathedral / 14 Nov The Antlers Sound Control / 14 Nov Trophy Wife Deaf Institute / 15 Nov Cake The Ritz / 15 Nov David's Lyre Deaf Institute / 15 Nov Bellowhead Academy / 15 Nov Yuck Academy / 16 + 17 Nov Wild Beasts + Braids Manchester Cathedral / 16 Nov Portugal The Man Deaf Institute / 16 Nov Wire Academy / 16 Nov KMFDM Club Academy / 17 Nov Fear of Men Trof Fallowfield / 17 Nov The Moons Ruby Lounge / 17 Nov Alabama 3 The Ritz / 17 Nov Hyde & Beast Deaf Institute / 18 Nov The Babies Kraak / 18 Nov The Besnard Lakes + Suuns Deaf Institute / 18 Nov Neon Indian Night & Day / 19 Nov Cults Ruby Lounge / 19 Nov The Dark Lights Night & Day / 19 Nov The Experimental Pop Band + Becca & The Broken Biscuits Gullivers / 19 Nov Shabazz Palaces Deaf Institute / 19 Nov CW Stoneking Academy / 20 Nov The Fall Royal Exchange Theatre / 21 Nov The Field and Walls Deaf Institute / 21 Nov Josh T Pearson RNCM / 21 Nov Gillian Welch Apollo / 22 Nov Jesse Malin & The St Mark’s Social Ruby Lounge / 22 Nov Folks Deaf Institute / 23 Nov Sam Lewis + Ash Mountain The Castle / 23 Nov Mariarchi el Bronx Sound Control / 23 Nov Fanfarlo Deaf Institute / 24 Nov Wreckless Eric and Amy Rigby The Castle / 24 Nov Fixers Night & Day / 24 Nov Zola Jesus + EMA Academy / 24 Nov Wild Palms Trof Fallowfield / 25 Nov Jesse Rose Trip Night & Day / 25 Nov Marcus Foster Deaf Institute / 27 Nov Little Dragon Ruby Lounge / 29 Nov My Tiger My Timing The Castle / 30 Nov Das Racist Ruby Lounge / 30 Nov Little Barrie Deaf Institute
Posted by The Archivist at 8:36 a.m.
Wednesday, October 26, 2011
Pity the poor opening act. A hot upstairs room at Dulcimer was filled with the hubbub of chat rather than the quiet appreciation of the solitary musician kicking off tonight’s triple bill. Those paying James Kelly some attention were richly rewarded however. Since I saw him last (at this same venue) he’s added some gorgeously soft and wistful melodic tunes alongside his furious finger-picking and gravelly blues hollers. Definitely worth catching live.
The last time I saw Gabriel Minnikin he looked more like a Hells Angel biker spoiling for a fight – white vest, heavily tattooed biceps and forearms, aviator shades, stern black cap. Tonight rather than menace he looked slimmer, softer and was clean shaven – rather than growling menace he conveyed laid-back conviviality. And rather than sparse bluegrass tonight’s set was unashamedly honky-tonk country (“here’s a country song” joked Gabriel; everyone got the joke). Backed by a four piece band – the Walton Hesse rhythm section, Chris Hillman (not that one) on pedal steel and a cowboy-booted guitarist called Adrian – the set included a John Prine cover and a duet with Jo Rose. Mancunian Americana out in force tonight and to excellent effect.
Six months on from their last Manchester gig, it was good to see Singing Adams back in town as they can be depended upon to give a great show – even if in a smaller and by now very sweaty venue. Surely we can stop with the references to Steven Adams’s previous band now? Singing Adams can – and continue to show the signs of moving on. As well as songs from this year’s “Everybody Friends Now” album and a B-side, there were also three new songs, one getting only its second ever airing. The band opened with a trio of slower-paced numbers; which also allowed them to get the measure of the crowd: a strange mix of ages, some quite immobile, others more animated plus “drug clapping guy” to contend with. The playing was dependably assured and slick and songs from an album that has only been out six months already feel like old friends.
What also makes Singing Adams gigs such a warm-feeling-inside experience is the none-too-serious banter and self-deprecating moves alongside the super-catchy tunes: singing the first lines of ‘Giving It All Away’ in quasi-pub singer mode amongst the crowd, encouraging singalongs (‘One Hand of the Wheel’) or ecstatic screaming (‘Injured Party’), responding to some surreal heckling (“glass her!”) and of course despite being told not to, mentioning the football or using the C-word on stage.
By the end of this 80 minute set the highly jocular mood nearly proved too much to pull it back for final moving tribute to the singer-songwriter Thomas Hansen with ‘St Thomas’. But they did (“this is for a friend of mine who is dead” helped) and what a fine tribute that song is. There was a hint at the end of the night Singing Adams will be back in January. Let’s hope so. Dependable. Dependably brilliant.
The Set List:
Posted by The Archivist at 7:00 a.m.
Monday, October 24, 2011
When Jacob Romero’s voice is at its most audible on this record (say ‘Good People Are So Sure They Are Always Right’) you could be mistaken for thinking he’s an adenoidal finger-in-the-lughole folk balladeer (further reinforced by said song turning out to be a tale of bloody despatch). But these vocal moments and folky allusions are few and are misleading pointers to the overall sound of Trips And Falls – although murder and mystery prevail. The Montreal indie band possess the twitchy lofi minimalism of Flying Nun’s Tall Dwarfs with occasional bursts (as on opener ‘I’ll Do the Dishes, You Do the Laundry’) of de-tuned Sonic Youth guitar noise. For the most part clipped guitar lines, tight restraint and bittersweet disdain carry the day - as well as impressively convoluted song titles. ‘Is That My Soul That Calls Upon My Name’ is a doom-laden jagged shuffle of existential doubt as dark and introspective as its title would suggest. The slow-burn of ‘That Is A Big Door’ is more hopeful in its controlled drift and rippling drones: “take your time, just let me know when you’re ready...it only hurts for the first time”. Well more hopeful.
The claustrophobic moodiness is lightened in part by the almost faux-naif observational dark humour behind Romero’s precise, straining vocals plus the sweetly sung – and utterly charming - counterpoint of bassist Ashleigh Delaye in duets such as the mutual Dear John note that is ‘This Is All Going To End Badly’ or the playfully jangly bickering of single ‘Marginally More Than Mildly Annoying’. The latter is the most light-hearted if not downright funny moment on the record - and curious but timid listeners should start with this (free download) and its plaintive boy/girl plea to “please kill me slow”. But these duets can also turn nasty as ‘That’s What She Said’ shows – a weary, mournful slump of the shoulders that brings the record to a bitter finish.
This is the band’s second album, “a little less weird than the first” according to UK label Song by Toad Records. I haven’t heard “He Was Such A Quiet Boy” so I can’t be drawn on comparative weirdness but even despite its stare-you-down earnest intensity “People Have To Be Told” is also curiously compelling and refreshingly follows its own path. As the band say ‘Why Should Now Be Normal?’.
Trips and Falls - This is All Going to End Badly by Song, by Toad
Trips and Falls People Have To Be Told [BUY]
Posted by The Archivist at 8:10 a.m.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
If you followed the weekly ‘Ghost Thursday’ videos the band released recently you may have noticed that amongst the pet hamsters, mechanical diggers and dog-walking, when Ghost Outfit do appear, predictably, they are donning white sheets. Literal interpretation and a penchant for dressing up aside, the hand-held, DIY style to the videos (some self-directed) is mimicked in the songs: noisy, often abrasive home-recorded tunes bashed out with shaky, rough edges left intact (see this January's mixtape for an earlier, melodic moment ‘I Was Good When I Was Young’). For their debut official release, on Salford’s Sways Records, the duo of Jack Hardman and Mike Benson are still planting their flag firmly in the lo-fi noise camp but this double A-side single shows Ghost Outfit striking out to some fresh territories.
‘Tuesday’ is pell-mell rush of compressed energy, spiky guitars and booming drums – behind the euphoria, it softly sings of cowardice and love whilst giving a poppy bounce to the sound of early Yo La Tengo or Dinosaur Jr or more contemporary acolytes Male Bonding or No Age . Then to show they’re not simply one gear pastiche merchants the companion track ‘I Want Someone Else’ is all slow-burn malevolence and shadow, a sorry tale of obsession and rejection that skulks along with its misery peaking in swelling thunderous cymbal crashes. Like their masked appearance on film, the vocals in both are not quite fully revealed, their just out-of-hearing presence sending me back for repeated listens as much as the infectious, frazzled melodies.
These two songs alone would be reason enough to invest in this release (7” white vinyl or digital download) but if ordered via Bandcamp both come with 13 extra songs from the home-recorded Young Ghosts EP. And for a mere £2 on top of the price of the vinyl you also get a cassette tape of these extra songs plus additional artwork AND a plushy handmade ghost. ‘Tuesday / I Want Someone Else’ is not released until Monday 31 October (Halloween spookily enough) but be advised to pre-order - a very limited edition that is likely to vanish into air.
Ghost Outfit Tuesday / I Want Someone Else [BUY]
Posted by The Archivist at 7:01 a.m.
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Tonight’s support was Sean Flinn and The Royal We who had travelled all the way from Portland, Oregon to accompany Herman Dune on their UK and European jaunt. A good match for the headliner, the four piece combined a downbeat folk-rock not unlike M. Ward (who Sean Flinn passingly resembles physically) with a more edgy, almost new wave rawness. Some of the earlier slower paced songs and then a broken guitar string didn’t help with the continuity but the final two songs – ‘Fossil Radio’ and ‘Patriot Heart’ were particularly impressive.
It’s four years since I’ve seen Herman Dune and they’ve not aged. By which I mean they still inhabit a bohemian midpoint between youth and maturity, between carefree and fucked up, where I find it impossible to put an age on either of the core members David-Ivar Herman Dune on guitar or Néman Herman Dune on drums. The white-washed brickwork and bare stage of Islington Mill suited them to a tee – nothing fancy and a blank canvas for their apparently effortlessly simple songs. But what the intimacy of tonight’s show highlighted was the effort and musical skills behind those songs as well as the deep love and appreciation felt by the crowd for the French band.
Performing here as a trio, the band played a set largely drawn from their last three albums with one foray into 2005’s “Not On Top” - plus a few (older? cover?) songs I didn’t recognise. Whatever era or album they were drawing on, the gig was a series of constant highlights: the infectious chug of ‘Pure Hearts’, Néman’s dexterous drumming or delicately funky bongo playing, the extended intense guitar solos for ‘Your Love is Gold’ or ‘The Long Long Run’ and an acoustic solo rendition of ‘Ah Hears Strange Moosic’ with the crowd providing the backing. From the latter onwards, the communal love for the band was tangible and vocal but it was taken to a higher level a few songs later with a celebratory sing-and-dance-a-long version of ‘I Wish I Could See You Soon’.
David talked of his love of Manchester – buying Northern Soul records or going on a Smiths pilgrimage to Salford Lads Club on previous visits – but the band’s main focus was on playing not talking: a hot and sweaty set that, including encores, was close to an hour and three quarters long. The final song of the main set was a near seven minute version of ‘When The Water Gets Cold And Freezes On The Lake’ – showing even songs about mortality can be life-affirming – then two solo songs performed unplugged on banjolele – a cover of ‘Blue Moon’ and ‘I'd Rather Walk Than Run’. A joy thoroughout – and undoubtedly one of my gigs of the year.
The (Partial) Set List:
Lay Your Head On My Chest
My Home Is Nowhere Without You
Tell Me Something I Don’t Know
Your Love Is Gold
Not On Top
Ah Hear Strange Moosic
[Once a Friend Once a Beggar?]
I Wish I Could See You Soon
123 Apple Tree
In The Long Long Run
Be A Doll And Take My Hand
When The Water Gets Cold And Freezes On The Lake
I'd Rather Walk Than Run
Posted by The Archivist at 2:30 p.m.
Friday, October 14, 2011
I first spotted this record through the throng at Green Man Festival as Y Niwl finished their set at the Green Man Pub. Initially asking the man holding such a fine looking piece of vinyl where he’d bought it, I discovered he was Mr Recordiau Lliwgar label head himself (rudely I forgot to ask his name) and that he was selling it. Upon seeing the bands on the vinyl compilation, not buying a copy off him was never an option.
“Y Record Goch” is a simple concept beautifully executed: four Welsh bands contribute two tracks each to a 10” double vinyl release. As an physical item alone this is worth owning: the classically minimalist geometric design of the cover that first attracted my attention contrasts with the abstract slash of blurry electric blues inside of the gatefold sleeve, a commissioned piece of artwork by Elfyn Lewis. The whole package oozes classiness and a loving attention to detail.
And then there’s the music: what a great and diverse showcase for contemporary Welsh language music. Y Bwgan (the band unknown to me) offer slowly unfurling post-rock mysticism and sampled (film?) dialogue in ‘Niwl Y Nefoedd’ and chill-wave synth-pop beats and wordless incantations in the equally atmospheric ‘Dali Lawr’. The crunchy, slacker psyche-pop of Sen Segur leans to that moment in late period Brit-pop when it became in swoon to Atlantic cousins like Pavement for the excellent ‘Bloedd 33’(an infectious shouted ‘Oi!’ in lieu of a chorus) and then triumphantly slouches into wonky-pop mode for ‘Temig O Delynor Fflur’.
Cowbois Rhos Botwnnog charge through the reeling hoedown rowdiness of ‘Mae Hi Yn Hoff O Nodio’ before settling into a more sedate, reflective pace for the banjo-and-heartbreak of ‘Cân Y Capten Llongau’. And Dau Cefn deliver mechanical robot-pop geezer rap and synth squiggles for ‘Bish Bash Bosh’ (rhymed with ‘Captain Pugwash’) and a more maudlin slice of spoken word blues for ‘Sbaen’. From dream-pop to DIY beats over four sides of vinyl and 32 minutes – an impressive span.
“Y Record Goch” (‘The Red Record’) is the first in a planned sequence from the label which of course translates as ‘Colourful Records’. You can buy this release digitally but for an extra fiver you get the physical release as well as the digital download – no brainer AND you can add yourself to the Facebook photo library of people holding their purchase. I’ve never overcome my suspicion of part magazine collections (“builds into a handsome collection over 48 issues”) as expensive and unnecessary. On the basis of the first edition from Recordiau Lliwgar, I can’t wait to collect the entire set.
Y Record Goch [BUY]
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Last time I saw Stealing Sheep was at the Cloud Sounds + Red Deer Xmas Party. Then they had just released ‘The Mountain Dogs’ EP on Red Deer Club; today it was announced they had signed to Heavenly Records. And the trio were glammed up like it was, well, Christmas – spangly dresses, head bands and velvet hot-pants.
Of course it’s the music that counts – and as well as a distinct growth in their musical confidence there’s also a darker, more atmospheric, even psychedelic quality to their folk-pop forays as evidenced on latest EP ‘I Am The Rain’. Sadly poor planning meant I only caught the second half of their thirty minute set but it was enough to confirm Heavenly have made a wise move following the group’s support by micro-indies like Red Deer Club.
Emmy The Great has also moved on since simpler one-foot-in-the-anti-folk camp days. If first album "First Love" had a DIY collage feel to the cover artwork, this year’s "Virtue" has a sequence of sumptuous mise-en-scène photography of Ms Moss with props and allusions drawn from the album – very classy and pointing to the intricacy and layered approach to the music. This was repeated tonight with a four piece band (guitar, bass, keys and drums) that gave a warm, shimmering backing to a mixture of old and new songs.
The gig started with an expressionless solo rendition of ‘Eastern Maria’ before Emmy was joined by band for a first half of largely new songs. The band remained very much in the gloom and background, the only spotlight was on Emmy The Great, and despite her apparent impassivity whilst singing, it was clear who was the star of the show here. It was a muted crowd reception for this sold out show I thought, even a name-check of Manchester as her second home barely raised a cheer. I’ll give everyone the benefit of the doubt and say they were respectfully rapt rather than dead (at least there was no-one chatting which does suggest the former).
As set progressed Emmy loosened up between songs dedicating ‘MIA’ “despite it being about a car crash” to Stealing Sheep and a cover of Weezer’s ‘Island in the Sun’ to the band’s former bassist Mikey Welsh who had died two days earlier. Whilst singing, she occasionally glanced outwards and upwards to individual crowd members, and when freed from playing guitar she would hold her arms out in front of the microphone almost beckoning the listener in. But what really held the attention was her soft-strong, magical voice and these intensely personal songs. The first encore was a solo ‘Canopies and Grapes’ which showed flashes of those anti-folk leanings but overall this was confirmation of Emmy The Great’s new stage of ‘greatness’ and alluring maturity; and an ability to stop hearts and mouths with captivating, emotional performances such as ‘Trellick Tower’. A sublime evening.
The Set List:
The solo encore was 'Canopies and Grapes'
Monday, October 03, 2011
Redlip is a collaborative project “between Northern Ireland’s Flymo Folk purveyor Adam Leonard and Welsh noodler Ash Cooke”. Familiarity with Pulco (aka Ash Cooke) and his “casio outbursts and found sounds” is a halfway house in understanding Redlip (I wrote about the last Pulco album “Small Thoughts” in June). But I’m not sure “Dan and Headless Bill” is an album you can ever understand in a conventional sense. It is not a difficult album to listen to, far from it, it’s the very picture of soothing-on-the-ear, chilled out amiability. But it is also a curveball oddity that defies categorisation. How possibly can you summarise a record that includes recitation of a biographical portrait of folk guitarist Bert Jansch, spoken word description of a Carry On comedian’s on-stage heart-attack, faux-medieval madrigal, acoustic folk devotional and the setting to music of an extract of Ovid’s Metamorphoses?
I repeat this is not a difficult or obtuse record; nor is it wilfully trying to show off its intellect. Instead it is a through-the-looking-glass scrapbook of fragments and collages devoted to curious incidents, tall tales and to real people past or present, all played out over chilled out grooves and easy-going folky ramblings. Although ‘Jansch’ the tribute to the Pentagle founder is a straight reading of a Wikipedia-style entry, others are less obvious or complete non sequiturs. You would expect a homage to great British eccentric and Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band founder Vivian Stanshall to be unconventional but after a brief sample of an interview (in which Stanshall explains to the confusion of his inquisitor that his inspiration is “toads”), ‘Viv’ turns into a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it sixty second instrumental casio-squiggle. Whatever format they take or convention they ignore, all the titles are bluntly specific and accurate – ‘Jaunty Mexico’ is indeed a travelogue about the central American country complete with fielding recording of mariachi band that can only be described as well “jaunty”.
In the same way Redlip never state whether this is a mini-album or a full album (it’s the former), the music never tries to define itself. Imagine a concoction of Lemon Jelly, Ivor Cutler, Donovan and Raymond Scott and you’ll be heading in the right direction. But it’s inadequate to capture fully this droll and soothing celebration of the oddball, the overlooked or the familiar from an unfamiliar perspective. Or as Ovid has it “Enchanted notes, in times of happy peace”.
Redlip Dan and Headless Bill [BUY]
Posted by The Archivist at 7:08 a.m.