30 December 2013

My Top Albums Of 2013

Queens Of The Stone Age
'Like Clockwork'

'Holy Fire'

'Silence Yourself'

Pity Sex
'Feast Of Love'

Palma Violets

Primal Scream
'More Light'


Johnny Marr
'The Messenger'

Julian Cope
'Revolutionary Suicide'

The Dillinger Escape Plan
'One Of Us Is The Killer'

Frank Turner
'Tape Deck Heart'

My Bloody Valentine

Billy Bragg
'Tooth & Nail'

Playlist Of Tracks From The Albums

15 December 2013

Therapy? Troublegum Anniversary

Therapy? have announced some UK shows to celebrate the 20th anniversary of their stunning second album 'Troublegum'. Released on Feb 7th 1994 on A&M Records the record has, to date, racked up sales of more than 1 million worldwide and is considered by many to be the work of Therapy? at their creative peak. Troublegum reached Number 5 in the UK album charts and includes the singles 'Screamager', 'Nowhere' and 'Die Laughing'. The band will play Troublegum in it's entirety at each anniversary show plus some of their other songs from that same era.

Album Tracklist
1. Knives
2. Screamager
3. Hellbelly
4. Stop It You're Killing Me
5. Nowhere
6. Die Laughing
7. Unbeliever
8. Trigger Inside
9. Lunacy Booth
10. Isolation
11. Turn
12. Femtex
13. Unrequited
14. Brainsaw

Tickets are now on sale and can be purchased

For updates and further info go to

7 December 2013

DVD Review: Magnum Live In Concert

'Live In Concert'

When Magnum released their melodic prog-rock debut album ‘Kingdom Of Madness’ in 1978 punk rock was still the dominant force musically, and socially, throughout the UK. It was a time of contrasting differences, of that there is no doubt. Magnum’s eclectic fusion of keyboards string arrangements, flutes, guitars and drums was in layered contradiction to the ferocious underclass anthems that roared from the streets around them, actively distracting the entire nation, spawning a  generation of DIY creationists who busied themselves breaking down barriers with their new found liberating freedom of expression. Magnum, with their own, equally consequential music though were more than capable of holding their own among the catchy, frenetic 3 minute punk songs as a career lasting an incredible 40 years should prove.

In the years that followed Magnum contributed in sending rock music a step forward in its evolution with a number of inventive and critically significant albums like seminal masterpiece Chase The Dragon and the immaculately creative Vigilante earning them a deserved recognition throughout the UK and parts of Europe. As their popularity grew so did their touring schedule - and extensive European jaunts followed with many dates frequently gaining sold out status around the continent - most notably in Germany, UK and Sweden. In 1992 the band played a flawless, atmosphere charged gig at Birmingham Town Hall, their home turf, in front of the loyal and the clearly devoted. That evening has been captured perfectly with all its glories untouched and unspoiled on this live DVD recording. Highlights are, undoubtedly, the sterling performance of their most popular songs like Days Of No Trust, All England’s Eyes, Midnight, When The World Comes Down and On A Storytellers Night.

1 December 2013

New Single: Violet Skies

Debut single from  22 year old South Wales singer/songwriter Violet Skies is out now on Awk-Ward Records. The song 'How The Mighty' was produced by Axel Kacoutie (MNEK associate) and is available as a free download at this link....http://emailunlock.com/iamvioletskies/violet-skies-how-the-mighty

 Violet Skies Facebook

29 November 2013

EP Review: Billy Liar

Billy Liar
All I've Got

Music’s darkest glories can be found, conceptually, in the lacerated disorder of emotion. From the bones of misery comes uninhibited self deprecation acted out by assorted protagonists in cameo lyrical snapshot roles representing the author at their very lowest. Such affected heartache claws all of us in turn thanks to our effrontery for intimacy. Consistently unguarded when at our weakest brings its fair share of wounding which is perfect subject matter for our most bitter narratives. Billy Liar’s traumatic episodes are documented like emotional postcards in the ragged acoustic folk/punk poetics of his songs. Once again the complexities of ingrained human instinct are at the heart of the matter in the pessimistic love song All I’ve Got, written about wanting to be with someone who is already in a relationship with someone else. Although the personal intricacies of the situation may have been a minefield of harrowing sorrow - the music could never be. His despair is brilliantly tuneful and brimming with an effervescent  hop skip jump energy and it’s that, that pairing of adoration and pain, that brings a soaring childlike bewilderment and maybe that’s the beauty here, the true sense of definition. The song is easy to enjoy and feels infinitely warmer than anything else he’s released up to now. It comes with groovy ‘ahh ahh’ harmonies and a chorus so buoyantly countrified it deserves to have a line dance choreographed around it. There is even a great little video of the song where he gets to fall into the arms of all the girls! This is a song that deserves to be heard by everyone for no other reason than that they’d really like it if they did..cos he’s a dedicated follower of passion.

18 November 2013

New Music

Honeyblood are the Glasgow two-piece comprised of Stina Tweeddale (vocals, guitar) and Shona McViccar (drums). The band recently signed to FatCat Records and released their debut 7" single 'Bud' / 'Kissing On You' on the 4th November 2013.

Big Ups are very pleased to announce their debut LP, Eighteen Hours of Static, due via Tough Love Records on January 13th, 2014. This is the blistering track Goes Black from the album.


The first single from LVL UP, on a split 7" with PORCHES. out November 26th on Birdtapes and DDW.
LVL Up on Bandcamp


A Lily is the solo project of FatCat Records operator James Vella. This track is from A Lily's new EP, Lupa, out now on Know Thy Neighbour/Agoo Records.
A Lily Homepage

7 November 2013

Pussy Riot

Independent Distribution announces the UK DVD release of PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER, out to own from 25th November.

Directed and produced by Oscar-nominated producer and documentary maker Mike Lerner (Afghan Star, Hell and Back Again) and Director-Producer Maxim Pozdorovkin (Capital), PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER features the three band members who were put on trial in Russia, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova, Maria Alyokhina and Yekaterina Samutsevich for performing a satirical rock song in Russia’s most hallowed Moscow cathedral.  
Filmed over the course of six months, this film tells the incredible story of three young women: Nadia, Masha and Katia; members of the feminist art collective Pussy Riot who performed a 40 second "punk prayer" inside Russia's main cathedral. This performance led to their arrest on charges of religious hatred and culminated in a trial that has reverberated around the world and transformed the face of Russian society forever.
With unparalleled access and exclusive footage, Lerner and Pozdorovkin’s Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer looks at the real people behind their now famous colourful balaclavas.

Moving from farce to tragedy and back again, the film explores how political and religious forces contrived to make an example out of three young artists who dared to challenge the accepted norms of society. With Nadia, Masha, and Katia, Russia's ruling powers got more than they bargained for. Are you a ready for a Pussy Riot?
PUSSY RIOT: A PUNK PRAYER featured as the opening night film at Sheffield Doc Fest, at the East End Film Festival in London and Open City Doc Fest and received its world premiere at the Sundance Film Festival.

Bad Religion To Release Christmas Album.

Bad Religion is releasing a Christmas album 'Christmas Songs' this month. The album features 8 new studio recordings of traditional Christmas hymns and an alternate mix of their single "American Jesus" by Andy Wallace. Co -songwriter and guitarist Brett Gurewitz says "This might be the most subversive album we've done. To me, what the album is indirectly stating is that this music, and thus the world, can be powerful and beautiful stripped of god and religion. These are just really good songs, and a historically non-religious band like Bad Religion can perform them with as much power and feeling as anyone."

The band's iconic vocalist and co-songwriter, Greg Graffin has a personal connection with these songs. Graffin got his start as a singer when he was young boy in a church choir. His instructors found him so remarkable that he received a scholarship to a choir school. And thus, the voice of Bad Religion was born.

In a world still brimming with rampant anti-intellectualism, inequality and oppression, Bad Religion’s signature brand of sonically charged humanist dissent is as relevant as ever.  And this Christmas season, just a little more ironic.

Christmas Songs Tracklisting
01. Hark! The Herald Angels Sing
02. O Come All Ye Faithful
03. O Come, O Come Emmanuel
04. White Christmas
05. Little Drummer Boy
06. God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
07. What Child Is This?
08. Angels We Have Heard On High
09. American Jesus (Andy Wallace Mix)

For more info go to www.badreligion.com

15 September 2013

UK Festival Awards 2013

I am delighted to have been invited to attend this years event - and of course I'll be off down that London like the proverbial bullet. Taking place on December 2 at renowned London music venue The Roundhouse, the events are the best way to celebrate the achievements of the last 12 months, network, and share lessons learned. Regarded as the best networking event for the music festival industry, the UK Festival Awards attracts over 1,000 people to enjoy a whole day of business and fun. Comprising an expanded conference, awards show including delicious three-course meal, free drinks and much more, the UK Festival Awards and Conference is the best way to round off your season and start the next one with success!

Over half a million fan votes were cast last year, making it the benchmark by which festival-goers rate their experiences, and a coveted prize for organisers. Awards include Best Major, Medium and Small Festival, Best Family Festival, Best Overseas Festival, Best Headline Performance, and of course – Best Toilets! Along with its sister events, the UK Festival Conference and the European Festival Awards, the UK Festival Awards is owned and produced by Festival Awards Ltd.

It is the only event which brings the leaders of the contemporary music festival industry together for a day of debate, networking and information-sharing. Incisive panel discussions will present the latest thinking and business insight as well as the chance to review the year’s achievements and challenges.

For all info visit http://www.festivalawards.com/

13 September 2013

Motorhead Announce New Album

On Oct 21st, 2013 Motörhead will deliver their 21st studio album,"AFTERSHOCK" Recorded at NRG Studios in North Hollywood,it is a true leveller, a crushing confirmation of everything Motörhead stands for, marching from the dust storm to deliver 14 belting statements which see Motörhead in perhaps their best writing form for years. There’s swagger, there’s punch, there’s speed and there’s dirty filthy grooves, Lemmy Kilmister, Phil Campbell and Mikkey Dee showing clearly that Motörhead is not simply a band, it’s a genre!

Steal it if you must, buy it if you can!” says Lemmy, who’s pride in the album is so immense that guests to his home and dressing room in the last couple of months have been treated to extremely loud airings of the rough mixes, while Phil Campbell adds, “I really think the variation on the album shows that we’ve dug deep and produced some of our best work for a long time.”

It is,” says Mikkey Dee, “a really, really strong Motörhead album, one that really does define everything this band stands for.”
He’s not wrong.
Because Motörhead are Motörhead are Motörhead…and their Aftershock will be felt worldwide…

Coup de Grace
Lost Woman Blues
End Of Time
Do You Believe
Death Machine
Dust And Glass
Going To Mexico
Silence When You Speak To Me
Crying Shame
Queen Of The Damned
Keep Your Powder Dry

6 September 2013

Dexys: New Album Stream

The new album from Dexys (Midnight Runners) 'One Day I'm Going To Soar' was released this week. Thanks to the generosity of the good folk at Missing Piece Group you can listen to the complete album on the sound cloud player below.


5 September 2013

The Tragedy Of Celebrity Crossovers: Stars Of The Bargain Bin.

Take popular TV character, get popular TV character into recording studio, release record by popular TV character upon the public and watch the cash roll in. How can it possibly fail? Oh..let us count the ways!

'Mr T's Commandments'

Mr T serves up some advice to America's children via a series of belligerent  rap-stylee songs brimming with specifics and carefully penned lyrics of educational intent and moral instruction. Listen with utter bewilderment as he gruffly barks out an endless volley of backbiting threats and warnings in a woe-betide manner in an attempt to rattle the kids into terrified compliance. When Mr T raps out unhinged venom  like...'if you break the rules, god help you fool' in a no nonsense tone you can almost hear the traumatised gasps of a thousand children...NOT! This is wild hardcore cheese grating gangsta rap straight from the grumpy/impatient underground beats genre...with none of that jibba jabba!

Leonard Nimoy
Ballad Of Bilbo Baggins

The biggest slice of face filling surreal cake you've ever been served up since the perplexing mountain of gob stuffing sponge buns that tumbled from the 'Clint Eastwood Sings Cowboys' album and shut your mouth forever.  Leonard 'Mr Spock' Nimoy launches the unprovoked and viciously damaging mind-karate assault upon the entirety of the world - a musical version of the bullying tactics favoured by crazed loons such as Idi Amin and Sadam Hussein - the outcome is less bloody of course, but the initial attack is no less damaging Feast your eyes and ears upon it and be forever impressed with his skilled use of double-edged versatility as he effortlessly brings 'cringing akwardness' and ' fucking horrendousness' together at the same time.

Telly Savalas
Best known for his role as Kojak the bald, lollipop munching 1970's New York detective - and best forgotten for this wearisome clutter of monotonous trash. - Telly Savalas piggy backing on the strength of his popularity, covers the classic Bread song 'If'..by merely speaking it....The abrasive rasp of his gritty American drawl was once the sound that caused a million female hearts to flutter and skip - allegedly - and they were no doubt the target being aimed at here. With an orchestral arrangement behind him that was clearly made of cheese the desired effect was lost amid the sheer unhinged craziness of it all. A masterpiece  of sheer brilliance and majestic greatness...said nobody ever!

David Hasselhoff
Night Rocker
See - we tolerated the celebrity crossover thing - smiled at some of it - even considered some efforts to be a little bit endearing. We made no attempt to step in because we believed it would all fizzle itself out and come to nothing - it's just a fad they said - it'll soon blow over they said - what harm can happen they said.
Fuck Off!

Patrick Swayze
She's Like The Wind
The handsome man that all the women fell in love with and fantasised that maybe one day they too might 'dirty dance' with the sexy devil! Had he left things there everything would have been just lovely, but no. The greedy bastard wanted more, so much more, and those paid to agree with him....agreed with him. Cashing in on his Dirty Dancing popularity as if 'shameless' was a description yet to be invented. Swayze unleashed this superficial vomit bomb upon the people and earned himself a new title...CUNT. Wade through the diabolical lyrical ocean of sickly treacle and syrup nonsense like the million calorie sugar lava explosion below...and be assured, it gets no better
Feel your breath on my face.
Your body close to me 
Can't look in your eyes 
You're out of my league 
Just a fool to believe

27 August 2013

Frank Turner Tour Dates Announced For Feb 2014

Frank Turner has just announced dates for a UK Arena tour in Feb 2014


The announcement comes ahead of the release of Frank's new single 'Losing Days' (out on September 1) and off the back of his performances at Reading & Leeds Festival at the weekend, where he played as the highest billed UK artist on the main stage.

You can watch Frank's performance of 'The Way I Tend To Be' taken from that set by clicking the link HERE

Frank Turner has had a busy year, even by his own standards. Following the release of his fifth studio album ‘Tape Deck Heart’ in April, he played a sold-out tour of the UK and has been on the road with his band The Sleeping Souls ever since. So far his global tour has taken him across Europe, to the Far East, Australasia and North America.

Tickets go on general sale from Fri 30th August

Thanks to Louise at Partisan PR

25 August 2013

Tiny Paragraphs Of News

I get a lot of emails from PR's announcing new tour dates, upcoming releases and any other update considered relevant enough/important enough/interesting enough...to merit a news article being composed around it. But, apart from a few here and there at an editors insistence, I haven't really ever taken much to do with the 'news item' side of things - and I possibly should do. So as of today I will make an effort to do that. Do not be expecting press release sized news articles - because the exact opposite is likeliest - and what once filled you with jittery anticipation will now torment you with plundering frustration. Ask any psychoanalytic psychologist if that is correct and they shall answer 'yes that is correct' but they shall not just leave it at that because you might remain unconvinced by their monosyllabic reply and that in itself is an internal conflict waiting to happen! No, they shall not procreate such a harm in you - but instead proceed to bolster the harmony of your normality with the informative explanation of how 'internal perception is governed by unconscious complexities and is not spontaneous - so is therefore a contradistinction of the symptomatic derivative' etc etc anticipation/frustration. I digress hugely....so...

Skid Row are set to release their second single This Is Killing Me from their United World Rebellion – Chapter 1 E.P on November 4th 2013. October and November will see SKID ROW and UGLY KID JOE play a 29 city, 12 country co-headline tour of Europe and the UK. Dates will kick off in England on Oct 22nd and run through Nov 26th ending in Austria. With combined sales of millions of albums, each band will play a full set of the songs fans want to hear. As a special treat for fans, there is also to be a bundle package that includes the songs of 'UNITED WORLD REBELLION - Chapter One' and the bonus tracks on high quality vinyl and an exclusive Skid Row shirt, available only through the UDR Store!

Tour Dates
Tues  22 Oct Southampton, ENGLAND Mo'Club
Wed  23 Oct Rugby, ENGLAND The Vault
Thurs  24 Oct Manchester, ENGLAND NQ Live
Fri  25 Oct Nottingham, ENGLAND Rock City
Sat  26 Oct Wrexhan, WALES Central Station   
Mon  28 Oct Glasgow, SCOTLAND The Garage
Noah And The Whale will release their fourth studio album, Heart Of Nowhere, on September 24th via Caroline Records. The album, recorded at West London's British Grove Studios, is the band's fourth record in five years, and follows 2011's platinum-selling Last Night On Earth
This year’s celebration of Rush continues with the highly anticipated release of a remixed version of the band 2002’s album VAPOR TRAILS. In 2009, two tracks from VAPOR TRAILS (“One Little Victory” and “Earthshine”) were remixed for the Retrospective III collection, setting fans into a frenzy in anticipation of a possible remixed version of the entire album being released one day. Four years later, that day is finally approaching as the remixed album will be available on September 30 from Atlantic/Rhino. "Vapor Trails' was an album made under difficult and emotional circumstances - sort of like Rush learning how to be Rush again - and as a result, mistakes were made that we have longed to correct. David Bottrill's remixes have finally brought some justice and clarity to this deserving body of our work,” says Geddy Lee. Every song has been given a new life, from the fire of ‘One Little Victory,’ ‘Secret Touch,’ and ‘Ceiling Unlimited’ to the melodic musicality of ‘Sweet Miracle’ and ‘How It Is’… these songs have been redeemed. 

The remixed version of VAPOR TRAILS will also be included in the new 7-disc boxed set THE STUDIO ALBUMS 1989-2007, which features every studio album Rush recorded for Atlantic Records. The collection includes the Gold & Platinum albumsPresto (1989), Roll The Bones (1991), Counterparts (1993), and Test For Echo (1996), as well as their covers EP Feedback(2004) and the Billboard Top 5 album Snakes & Arrows (2007). THE STUDIO ALBUMS 1989-2007 features each album presented in a wallet sleeve that faithfully reproduces the original artwork (except for VAPOR TRAILS, which features a reinterpreted version of the original cover) and is available on September 30 from Atlantic/Rhino.

EXHIBITION of rare items
& pop up store

75 berwick st, SOHO, LONDON
   for 2 weeks only
Saturday 7 Sept – Sunday 22 Sept 2013
Store opening times: 12pm – 8pm Monday to Saturday & 11am – 5pm on Sunday


In celebration of one of the most iconic bands to have ever come out of the UK, the first ever BLACK MARKET CLASH pop-up store will open for 2 weeks in the heart of Soho, London. The store opening coincides with the release of The Clash’s 2-disc ‘HITS BACK’ and collected recorded works ‘SOUND SYSTEM’ box, alongside re-releases of all of the band’s seminal studio albums, lovingly remastered from the original master tapes under the supervision of The Clash. The store, which is fully art directed and curated by the band and Robert Gordon McHarg lll of The Subway Gallery, will open for a limited time only, from Saturday 7 September to Sunday 22 September 2013 at 75 Berwick Street, Soho.
The store will open with an exclusive launch party, attended by the band on Friday 6 September.

18 August 2013

Emilie Autumn: Gig Listing

Beautiful, bizarre and brazen sonic seductress and violinist extraordinaire, 
Emilie Autumn wants you to fight alongside her on her upcoming ”Fight Like A Girl” tour.

Each show promises to be an unforgettable adventure, and is never the same way twice. Not a rock show, but a rock opera with a real story to tell, the “Fight Like A Girl” tour will undoubtedly be Emilie Autumn’s most memorable run yet. Whether you’re one of her affectionately dubbed “Plague Rats” or amongst the uninitiated, this is a lavish and powerfully entertaining spectacle that is not to be missed.
Beyond her dramatic vocal performance, which masterfully fluctuates from operatic to filthy industrial and back again (she’s notorious for performing Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody as a nightly encore), she elegantly strikes that effervescent balance between sex, violence, and English literature. Part Broadway, part Vaudeville, part rock concert, part history lesson, and part mad tea party, there is nothing remotely like it anywhere…
It’s more brutal, bloody, and beautiful, “affirms the ringleader with a playful grin. There is more girl-on-girl action and glitter. The corsets are even tighter. It’s become a Victorian Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. It’s a roller coaster ride. You’re going to feel like you’ve stepped into a dark Disneyland, and you aren’t going to want to leave.

Live DVD Review: Level 42

Level 42

The 1980's was a decade of one-hit wonders, blatant commercialism and preposterous egotists. It spent half it's years with only one eye on the ball, floundering in weary indifference and being culturally overwhelmed by a flood of instantly forgettable synth-pop tunes and narcissistic big hair anthems. It was, without question, the decade that good taste ignored. Of course there were notable exceptions. Level 42 oozed originality and perception, the soulful jazz/funk sound of their self titled debut album towered above anything else at that time,  with its skilled balance of perfectly weighted styles and remarkable musicianship it was a flourishing symphonic conclusion by anyones standards. In 1985 the commercial success of the single 'Something About You' kick started the ascension to super stardom and an entire nation, it seemed, were Level 42 fans. Recorded live at the Town and Country Club in London in March 1992 the recently released DVD captures a dynamic and inspired Level 42 performance. From the roving, funk paced opener 'Hot Water' they rarely miss a beat and are consistently flawless song to song, the shimmering cohesion of the horn section, the solid punctuation of Gary Husband's accomplished drumming, Mark King's unconventional guitar virtuosity and those unexpected flourishes that such clever musicianship conjures up. They unfurl their back catalogue with remarkable style – heartbreak ballad 'Leaving Me Now',  refined pop tune 'Running In The Family', the infectious bounce of 'Children Say' and groovy funk classic 'Lessons In Love' are among them. A wildly jubilant crowd is the true measure of any live performance and the greatest review you'll ever see – as the celebratory ones who filled this venue to full capacity proved. 

14 June 2013

Louise Distras: Shades Of Hate

This is the best song I have heard this year so far, and I've heard so many many songs up to now  Glorious fucking perfection! Especially great is her raw, throat shredding vocal delivery at 1:50, the primitive grit-edged roar breaks to a harmonious 'oooh', and all within a 5 second timescale. A stand-out moment.


3 June 2013

New Model Army Album & Tour

New Model Army, the legendary global underground cult band from Bradford, have announced the title of their hotly anticipated 12th Studio album. The self-produced set was finished earlier this year in Los Angeles with Joe Barresi mixing, (Soundgarden, Queens of the Stone Age, Tool) Whilst New Model Army have always been noted for encompassing a wide variety of musical ‘styles’, the record still marks a major evolution in their sound.
Entitled “Between Dog and Wolf” the album is filled with multi-layered drums and atmospheric musical textures while sacrificing none of the band’s famous passion and song-writing skills. The album is scheduled for release in September.

Lead vocalist and founding member Justin Sullivan said "“After a series of purist ‘rock-band-in-a-room’ albums over the last eight years, we felt it was time to do something a bit different and sonically this is the best album we’ve ever made. The title comes from a medieval French expression for dusk – when it’s hard to distinguish between dog and wolf, friend or foe. That sense of contradiction represents the band very well and there’s also something of this sense of transformation in the album”.

They have also just announced their biggest tour since the 30th Anniversary shows.


1st - Münster Jovel
2nd -  Hamburg Markthalle
3rd - Berlin Huxleys
4th - Hannover Capitol
5th - Rostock Mau
6th - Gdansk B90
8th - Warsaw Proxima 
9th - Krakow Kwadrat
10th - TBC
12th - Dresden Beatpol
13th - Prague Lucerna
14th - Budapest A38
15th - Vienna Szene
17th - Darmstadt Centralstation
18th - Nürnberg Lowenzaal
19th - Stuttgart LKA
20th - Munich Backstage
22nd - Zürich Komplex 457
23rd - Geneve L'Usine
24th - Lyon Kao
25th - Barcelona Music Hall
26th - Valencia Rock City
27th - Madrid Caracol

12th - AberdeenGarage
13th - Glasgow Garage
14th - Leeds Acadamy
15th - Buckley Tivoli
16th - Manchester Ritz
17th - Bilston Robin 2
19th - Cambridge Junction
20th - Frome Cheese and Grain 
21st - Falmouth Princess Pavilion
22nd - Brighton Concord
23rd - London Forum
28th - Larissa Mylos
29th - Thessoloniki Block33
30th - Athens Gagarin205

14th - Nottingham Rock City
19th - Paris Divan du Monde
20th - Paris Divan du Monde
21st - Köln Palladium

Album Review: Buzzbomb


An electric storm of blaring incendiary defiance!

The unrelenting punk-fused rock & roll is a plunging dagger of raw, fevered intensity bulging with the creative muscle of assured perception. It's a straightforward avalanche of sound, slick in it's manner, hungry in its howl, unfaltering in its charge. Buzzbomb are a Frankenstein rhapsody built from the parts of different bands and various genres – a versatility that deserves recognition for the one trick ponies they are far too accomplished to ever be. From within the insubordinate whirlwind of their music comes massive hook-drenched chords (from major to minor) rattling drum beats and shout/chant openings that are adrift on the arterial bleed of clever new wave harmonies and quick-burst punk aesthetics bolstered by a quick/quicker/fast/faster rock speedball. They are hybrids of Therapy? of The Ramones and The Clash of Green Day,The Members, but most importantly, of themselves They are capable of being whatever they wish to be and being twice as good at it anyway.

Stand out moments are plentiful and can be located almost anywhere within seconds of playing the album. The savouring of youth, the heavy drip drip drip of a glorious sense of freedom whirling from every guitar riff, every jagged chord change and every seamless transition that time and again proves them to be masterful creators of their distinct sound. The frenetic opener 'Disconnected' is worth the nod, as is the disciplined instrumentation that marches through their interpretation of Valves song 'It Dont Mean Nothing At All' Infectious old school tinged retro anthem 'Collateral Murder' and the flawless craftsmanship of 'Creepshow' could face anyone's best efforts and trash the greater majority with considerable ease. It's very much all killers and no fillers with Buzzbomb. No epic never-ending-ness songs that would pad out a records length considerably – we leave those tricks to the jaded merchants who lack imagination, moral fibre and fucking credibility – for we know who you are, ok? Buzzbomb occupy the time by launching a tirade of tunes, launching themselves forward, always forward, blasting their way through the cloying mass of dead wood and to the front where this album clearly states they belong. And I tend to agree. This is a band growling with life and pounding with energy and they have the skills to back that up so move out the way and let them through or you'll forever be spinning hopelessly in their slipstream one day.

2 June 2013

Album Review: Scott Walker

Scott Walker
'The Collection 1967-1970'

Together for the first time, Scott Walker’s first five solo albums on vinyl and CD. Cut and mastered from the original tapes and presented with their original artwork, The Collection showcases Scott’s self-written material alongside his much documented interpretations of composers such as Jacques Brel. 

The career of Scott Walker is an assemblage of chapters as diverse as they are plentiful. He has experienced remarkable success and disappointing failure, incomprehension, veneration, obstinate dismissal, philosophic respect and been the receiver of more than his fair share of frivolous conjecture provoked by the reclusive nature of his long periods spent disengaged from society. This inclination to retreat from view is quite likely a consequence of earlier successes and not, as some will have you believe, another enigmatic link in the esoteric chemistry of the man. During the mid-60's he fronted pop trio The Walker Brothers who very quickly shot to stardom with their brooding symphonic pop tunes bolstered by his outstanding baritone vocal. Their biggest hit 'The Sun Aint Gonna Shine Anymore' earned them a fan base bigger than that of The Beatles and they became teen idols overnight. Artistic differences and internal squabbling soon reared into view which sent Scott Walker into a heavy depression and ultimately ended the band in 1967. Scott proceeded onwards as a solo artist and between 1967 - 1970 released 5 albums.

(Sept 1967)
His debut solo album displayed the first real examples of just how good his creative impulse was. A collection of original songs and cover versions which completely broke away from the limiting constraints of The Walker Brothers pop formula, he unravelled a myriad of free thinking concepts and a highbrow lyrical prowess to match. The sweeping wall of orchestral arrangement threading its way through each song varies from bombastic theatre to subtle proclamation. The distinctive baritone croon is achingly perfect especially so on the majestic 'Montague Terrace' and equally impressive 'Always Coming Back To You'  His brooding melancholy picks out each song and dresses it in magnificent finery until they all radiate equally and reinforce the power and sheer proficiency at work. His passion for the work of Belgian singer/songwriter Jacques Brel is given a clear nod here with 3 of his songs 'Mathilde 'My Death' and 'Amsterdam' translated into English and covered by Scott.

(March 1968)
His second solo album, released in 1968, was to become his biggest commercial success so far but without any visible difference that might have set it apart from the rest. He sticks to the same formula of his debut, another collection of covers and original compositions and again the sensual Baroque pop sound of lush melodies and fine orchestral arrangements drenching each part of the record with cascading overtures and elements of brass and strings kept in time by occasional jaunts of drumbeat and scattered acoustic guitar. Once more Scott Walker unfurls his art within the creations of Jacques Brel (Jackie, Next, The Girl And The Dogs) amid a reading of the Bacharach & David song ‘The Windows Of The World' and  a muscular interpretation of 'Wait Until Dark' from the Henry Mancini film. The self-penned inclusions though stand-out from the rest, his almost epic 6 minute creation 'Plastic People' gushes with orchestration across the sometimes perplexing lyrics. The ever flowing tribute to suburban serenity in bizarrely titled 'The Amorous Humphrey Plugg’, cantering carousel waltz 'The Girl From The Streets' and heartfelt lament 'The Bridge'

(March 1969)
The nonchalance and the poetic reflection cloaks the mournful balladeer in his melancholy. Scott Walkers third album bristles with evocative ferment and occasional wretchedness which sees him begin to move on from the variety of styles his previous two albums were built upon. A concerto of cynical contemplation almost, as the man slowly begins to find himself, to finally unearth his true identity from within the confines of his restless expeditions. This album isn't heavy on romance but instead seems to be driven by a plundering need to reminisce for what’s gone, a desire to serenade the past and the ghosts of regret which still haunt the soul searching for closure. His soothing baritone delivery on 'It's Raining Today' is coupled with violin and cello at its middle which further promotes an atmosphere already hypnotic in its depths. A promiscuity lost to advancing years now feels tarnished and shameful, a tale told on 'Big Louise' as, again, the glance backwards is felt    'she's a haunted house, and her windows are broken and the sad young man's gone away'. The meticulous attention to detail has never been compromised and the subtle string arrangements on ‘Two Ragged Soldiers' is just one of numerous little flourishes that constantly build from the back without ever being glaringly apparent. Although this was the first of his albums that contained far more original material than the others he still made room for the customary Jacques Brel eulogy giving it the space of the last 3 tracks – 'Sons Of' 'Funeral Tango' and 'If You Go Away'.

(November 1969)
The fourth album, released in 1969, is an entirely self-penned collection of originals with not a Jacques Brel cover to be seen. On the back cover of the album appears the quote "a man's work is nothing but this slow trek to rediscover, through the detours of art, those two or three great and simple images in whose presence his heart first opened" Again the voice is flawless throughout, soaring, hovering and diving through, between and underneath the music which is equally as volitant in manner traversing through a selection of gernres, profoundly folk, country and soul. A restrained violin/bass guitar backdrop punctuates opener 'The Seventh Seal' while 'The Worlds Strongest Man' gets its identity from the lounge-esqe vocal he spins onto it. Indulgent war story 'The Old Man’s Back Again' unveils a new level of intellectual lyricism when ploughing into the subject matter of the Neo-Stalinist Regime. 'Rhymes Of Goodbye' distributes soul filled pop evenly and with a considerable pastiche. David Bowie and Radiohead have both named the album as a huge inspiration on their work.

(December 1970)
The disappointing and surprising lack of commercial success for Scott 4 was a huge impact on the 
confidence Scott Walker had been flying on when making these records and now his creativity found itself wondering where it had went wrong. This, his fifth solo album, feels a little unsettled and imperceptive compared to previous work and, as if to make up for the failed Scott 4, staggers around grabbing at commercialism and settles in the main for playing it safe with a return to the originals/covers formula he had only just ditched on the previous ‘Scott 4’ in a clear attempt to regain the momentum. That said this is still a fantastic album. Orchestrated instrumental ‘Epilogue’ with it's echoing door slams and the voices of children leads us out onto the terrace of a great record, standout tracks include ‘Thanks For Chicago Mr James’ the jazzy zing of ‘Joe’ and the sardonic-wit fuelled ‘Jean The Machine

My landlady said Jean's a commie spy
And each time I asked for the reason why
My landlady said it's a front
She bumps and grinds codes
To an audience of immigrants
The title track, a joyless break-up ballad, is equally as laudable. The 15 track album includes 5 insignificant and easily forgettable cover versions of songs, among them the Michael Legrand favourite (What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life) Classic IV’s (Stormy) and Jimmie Rodgers (It’s Over).  This was to be the last solo album of original material would make for 8 years.

Scott Walker, the epitome of sixties nostalgia - from teen idol to rich voiced baritone crooner. A hugely inventive and massively talented individual with the greatest legacy spread out behind him. Intriguing and perplexing he may be but his songs, particularly the songs of these first 5 albums, are emotive heavyweights still.

20 May 2013

Album Review: Primal Scream

Primal Scream
'More Light'
(1st International)

Just when you least expect it...just what you least expect

Primal Scream sashay into the fourth decade of their career still gloriously unpredictable which, in the most prominent of ironies, is the one thing they’re predictable for. They’ve yet to produce anything which follows in the footsteps of its predecessor, or at least something with less a paradoxical canyon of difference between them. But that’s how they do things, that’s their modus operandi and any attempts to second guess them is as pathetic as it is arrogant. It’s that schizophrenic nature that makes them so compelling – coupled with the fact they have enough backbone to go with their instincts and ideas regardless of whatever commercially damaging consequence might be hurled at them as a result of it. For sure, such transient policies and the fidgeting desire to formulate hybrids rather than pure-breeds hasn’t always spun things in their favour. They are the band who either get it completely bang on and it’s brilliant or confusingly way below radar in the direction of somewhere they imagine it needs to be. If ever they should wish to create an external cyber glutton of doom with blazing sirens, a crunching change of direction every 8 seconds amid ear rattling Russian narrative, looped to constant action replay from start to finish…then create it they undoubtedly would. Depending on the general mindset at the time their musical influences might be lightly mosaicked across a catchy hook laden mainframe of introspective lullabies… or just chucked in, an endless bombardment of acid frazzled experimentation, fragmented and jig-sawed in a heaped carnage of everyfuckingsoundundertheplanet discord. But, as I said, that’s Primal Scream, that is industrious innovation or purposeful liberation or both, plus a million divided by nothing equals everything.That makes no sense of course but it would if Bobby Gillespie were to explain it.

In the earlier years they struggled to get a solid foothold on the first step, the press slated everything they tried to do and then dismissed them as ‘unimaginative’ and ‘directionless’ Of course, as we now know, in Sept 1991 – heavily influenced by the drug fuelled rave scene they had developed a healthy appetite for, they opened up their doors and the galloping house/dance/indie rock & roll majesty of SCREAMADELICA ushered the entire world in. This ever-reaching interplanetary daydream oscillated atop the peaks of an uncharted frontier dripping with planet spinning bursts of jazz utopia and spirit hugging piano that slalomed its way among snatches of sampled narrative harnessed to groove-edged drum loops and interwoven with lazy dub and atmospheric gospel music all gathered up and lashed to a rock and roll substructure and shaped into perfect sense by DJ’s Andy Weatherall and Terry Farley……

just what is it that you want to do?’
‘we wanna be free..we wanna be free to do what we wanna do’

It’s 22 years on now and the loved up romance between rockers and clubbers, the serotonin exhilarator, was a honeymoon period that ended badly when too many scheme bandits, chemical pirates and yattering MC’s edged their way in and built false empires upon the shoulders of a cunted circus….if ever euphoric tactility was destined to be overindulged, here it was. Primal Scream though had moved on long before the ‘three for a tenner’ salesmen came to milk the stragglers. Long before the biting comedown. Long before all of it.Their 10th studio album ‘MORE LIGHT’ is a sprawling 70 plus minutes of material written by Bobby Gillespie and Andrew Innes, comes 5 years after ‘BEAUTIFUL FUTURE’… and with notable changes. Mani has gone back to The Stone Roses and his touring stand-in Debbie Googe (My Bloody Valentine) is also missing which nicely conjures up the proper chance to introduce new, permanent bassist Simone Butler who, prior to this, worked in a guitar shop. Bobby Gillespie is now in his 50’s, still as slender as a pencil line, still with just the mere hint of any hipbone and still (as he was born to be) a bit of a cool bastard. Opener ‘2013’ is an explosive 9 minute guitar encrusted, jazz rock, vintage glamour drenched presentation of impassioned outrage – ‘what happened to the voices of dissent’ he sings, in what feels more allegation than question, as he unleashes this cynical attack upon contemporary culture. It’s a strong opener with enough stamina to safely complete its lengthy duration without showing any signs of a struggle. A shift in direction for the outstanding ‘RIVER OF PAIN’ with its swirling waves of Eastern tinged psychedelia and Bobby Gillespie’s whispering vocal is outstanding enough until things suddenly veer into an orchestral mash up around the midway point before crashing to an end upon atmospheric echoes of percussion and vocals. A stunning example of the things Primal Scream are capable of. They stick with the psychedelic vibe but this time a much more indirect prop, that hand feeds the ambience of vocal distorted despair anthem ‘CULTURECIDE’ rattling with utter despondency and sheer vitriolic heartache – surely this will be what post-nuclear nothingness could sound like? Dragging its jaded, miserable existence behind it like rope, the lyrics are a half rap/half speak announcement thumbing through subject matter from Thatcher to the Neutron Bomb as guest contributor Mark Stewart from The Pop Group wails the single line ‘culturecide’ from his huddled position somewhere deep inside the torment. Energetic and sharp blues/rock tune ‘HIT VOID’ opens out the landscape to ‘TENEMENT KID’ an effortless little display of genius built upon poetic reflection – and if it’s already written somewhere that on this song Bobby Gillespie sounds uncannily like John Lennon I wouldn’t be surprised for two reasons…

1: It’s too ‘in your face’ obvious not to have already been noted by the entire world

2: I will never be sharp enough or tuned in enough to be the first person to mention something that hasn’t already been said by someone else. Always the bridesmaid but never the…plagiarist ( please remember that)

On ‘GOODBYE JOHNNY’ there’s a strong hint of lounge-room/faux country etiquette as Bobby Gillespie adopts a crooning style that pierces the cloying mists of a lavish saxophone drenched orchestration in yet another example of versatility personified. Guest vocalist Robert Plant brings ‘ELIMINATION BLUES’ to life, a gospel/blues electro trashed tune with its ‘ah hah’ stoner aura, gutsy lead guitar squall and bone idle harmonies, the song bristles with so many moments of loaded, onboard brilliance. Billowing, trippy layered ‘RELATIVITY’ staggers from crazed jaunt to insane waltz with seemingly good natured spurts of summery feel good music until they turn it on its head and shake out the venom….’you’re fucking next’ he barks from out of the pleasantries as the sound pulses and bangs right through you….you’re too scared to change he snarls, vindictiveness at its most casually acerbic, ghosting every inch of the song. The album ends with the single ‘IT’S ALRIGHT, IT’S OK’ an uplifting rock and roll good time anthem dipped in The Rolling Stones early garage rock and blues sound and further bolstered by gospel singers, catchy oooh lah lah harmonies, cheeky handclaps and a solid guitar pathway. The song is a straightforward enough canter for Primal Scream but, in this environment, the greatest finisher!

Probably their strongest album in years, definitely their most defined, undoubtedly the most consistent and more adventurous For the people out there who had secretly lost confidence in Primal Scream ever pulling another great album from within the corridors of their magic hat minus the rabbits and the doves, the mumbled rhetoric and the endless bouquets of paper flowers to distract us from the trickery, then rest easy….just when you least expect it, just what you least expect. For every generation that never found a culture, every culture without a fashion, every fashion that never found its drug and for every drug scene devoid of a decent soundtrack….this one’s for you, so take it. Take it now!

 Words by Alan Baillie for SUBBA CULTCHA

Album Review (archives) Plastic Toys

Another review hauled from my archives. This is from 2008
Plastic Toys
'For Tonight Only'
(Hill Valley Records)

Emerging from the ashes of Karmic Jera come Plastic Toys. A scuzzbag manifestation that has ferociously violated a plethora of genres so proficiently the bastard offspring is emphatically sexy.

Any record that opens with the line ‘last night I fucked your girlfriend’ had better have the innovational competence to endorse such unambiguous proclamations. This has been achieved rather substantially right here on this debut album by Southampton four-piece Plastic Toys. Think of nearly every hard rock, sleazy, disco havoc, punk philistine reverberation you’ve ever known entangled in a labyrinth of sound and you’re halfway to appreciating how brilliant this is!

The opening line, as mentioned, comes from ‘Devil’ an energetic blast of frenzied rock and roll with its boots firmly laced up and aiming kicks at your head. Rather originally, it’s preceded by ‘Curtain Up’ a composition around one minute long and consisting, in the main, of some endearing piano coincidental with something you’d often find compassing the silent black and white movies of the 50’s. On ‘Let Me Feel The Love’, a fusion of Marilyn Manson discord hand in hand with discothèque smudges, resides a true air punching anthem of a chorus. The synth driven scampering of ‘Still Alive’ and glammed up promenade that is ‘Dirty’ further inflates the versatility in residence on this record. There’s a solid piano beat chaperoned by punchy drumming on ‘The Tragedy’ before a return to some filthy rock and roll on ‘Tonight Only’.

A slice of backward electronica is the protoplasm that floods the life into ‘Freak Among The Freaks’ just as the frenetic stomp of modernistic punk and roll is the animation for the very brilliant ‘Spaceman’. The desperate reiteration of the author on tragic love anthem ‘I Miss You’ with its  grandiose structuring enhancing lyrics like ‘you leave me in silence and I’m scared it’ll never stop’ will twitch even the steeliest of eyes.  Bombastic metal/synth anthemic flavouring on ‘The World Goes Bang’ has a garnishing effect on the penultimate ‘God Damn You All’ then it’s full fat synth and guitars for dessert courtesy of ‘Goodbye’.

We’re only 2 months into 2008 and there shall be many exceptional records still to come but this one has shown enough spirit and energy to be hanging from the tip of the keyboards when the end of year polls reveal who’s cut the mustard!