Thursday, 29 September 2011

JONATHAN WILSON… supporting Wilco on UK / Euro dates:

Exciting times for Bella Union's rising star JONATHAN WILSON… Amongst his rapidly-growing fanbase are Jeff Tweedy and the guys from WILCO who have invited Jonathan to join them as special guest across their European tour. The tour begins in the UK in late October before the guys head off to Europe for three weeks of shows. As a result Jonathan has rescheduled his London headline show, shifting the date from the 9th November to after the Wilco tour finishes, and performing at Hoxton Bar & Grill on Monday 21st November… Upcoming UK live dates/info below…

Monday 24 October – GLASGOW – Concert Hall (supporting Wilco)
Tuesday 25 October – MANCHESTER – Academy (supporting Wilco)
Thursday 27 October – BRISTOL – Colston Hall (supporting Wilco)
Friday 28 October – LONDON – Roundhouse (supporting Wilco)
Saturday 29 October – LONDON – Roundhouse (supporting Wilco)

Monday 21 November – LONDON – Hoxton Bar & Grill (£11.50)

Review: Ike Moriz

Ike Moriz - Breathing Dreams (Mosquito Records London)
We don’t get to hear many South African artists. Ike Moriz is based in Cape Town, as is his record label, though its name suggests otherwise. A little online research indicates Moriz is something of a star in his home nation, and listening to “Breathing Dreams” it’s not difficult to understand why. For a start, there’s his voice. Pitched somewhere between David Bowie and Jack Bruce, Moriz takes hold of his material and dominates its tones and nuances with his utterly distinctive chords. It’s powerful and compelling, and is completely in tune with the drama of his songs.

And the songs are so ambitious. Produced and arranged for maximum impact, Moriz leads a huge band of musicians (14 are mentioned on his website, plus the South African vocal troupe Brothers With Voices) who take on genres as varied as glam, indie, alt. rock and pop reggae. Highlights are plentiful: “Atlantis” is keyboard driven with Moriz’ croon leading the way, “Still” is pristine, grown-up pop, the sort of thing Paddy McAloon did with Prefab Sprout during their heyday, and “(The Journey Of The) White Baboons” brings sunnier rhythms to bear. “Whatever” rocks gloriously and “Peace Dream (Upupha Ngoxoio)” includes the fore mentioned Brothers With Voices, and what a wonderful noise they make.
Rob F.

Review: Bob Bucher

Bob Bucher – Solo (Independent)
Born in Philadelphia, PA, but now resident on the Normandy coast, Bob Bucher is taking advantage of modern technology to get his music out into the world. His self-contained singer-songwriter approach is ideally suited to a life in the French countryside, where finding band-mates, studios and a producer can be troublesome, to say the least, but one man with a guitar, a bag of songs and a computer can make music and (hopefully) find an audience.

His comfortable pop style should make friends easily enough. Bucher has a voice that’s easy to like and his songs are guaranteed to induce a smile or two. “Hey Old Friend” has got a nice ‘70s feel to it and he nails the high notes. “Old Fashioned Coffee House Blues” is just that, a gentle shuffle with plenty of natural, noble vibes spilling out. There’s no scarcity of uplifting tunes and honest-to-goodness sentiment on “Solo”, and there’s only one track where he’s not wholly convincing. On “Nashville 144” he claims he wishes was back in the country music capital, but we know he doesn’t mean it. It ever a man sounded happy in his surroundings, it’s Bob Bucher.
Simon M.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Review: Rhythm Hawks

Rhythm Hawks - S/T (Independent)
New Zealand’s Rhythm Hawks sound like they’re channeling Cream, Hendrix and Iron Butterfly. Not a sound or style you instantly identify with New Zealand bands, but that’s probably my fault for being brought up on Flying Nun Records, and by brother’s love of all things Crowded House. Halfway into the their debut 7-track EP and I’m thoroughly converted to the new way of thinking. Their heavy blues and a raggedy rock moves may invite comparison with some of the true innovators and psychedelic legends of the late ‘60s, but the Wellington quartet are more than up to the challenge.

There’s no room for filler on an EP, and here the Rhythm Hawks don’t disappoint. Kicking off with “40 Miles”, singer Shanti Costar informs us he’s got a devil on his tail, a girl on his mind, tired feet and needs his bed. It’s classic blues imagery, but fresh and primary, and the band play it tough and loose. If I had to choose just one track, and it’d be under protest, then it’d have to be “Shake N Shout” – an unholy alliance of fundamental Stooges and heroic groove – essential listening for longhairs everywhere.
Rob F.

Review: Valley Of The Dolls

Valley Of The Dolls - No Shame (Dancing Stick Productions)
Named after Jacqueline Susann’s famous novel about three young women finding fame, fortune and ultimately drug-fueled self-destruction, I’m sure the four women who comprise Valley Of The Dolls - Jill Myhill (lyrics and vocals), Bev De Schoolmeester (bass and backing vocals), Ayala Liran (guitar), Vasoulla Antoniadou (drums) - would settle for the first two out of the three. Their debut album, “No Shame” marks a promising start.

Their alt. rock stylings nod respectfully to a number of bands, from The Runaways and Blackhearts to post-punkers like The Slits and The Go-Go’s. Indeed there’s even a hint of Belinda Carlisle’s power-pop pitch in Myhill’s voice, especially on the more immediate, radio friendly material. Not that there’s much here that going to cause the average radio programmer many problems. Myhill’s songs are accessible and fresh, and the band provides plentiful hooks for the listener. The title track has become an instant favourite, its insistent bass line and Liran’s guitar swoops providing maximum thrills. They’re just as good when they’re slowing things down on “Shake Some Action” (not the Groovies song) or the refined “Touch The Water”.
Rob F.


Sonic Youth have confirmed that they will release a new compilation of some of their songs selected by various celebrity fans. Entitled 'Hits Are For Squares', the album will also feature one new composition, 'Slow Revolution'.

On the same day, the band will also release their 1991 tour documentary, '1991: The Year Punk Broke', on DVD. As well as live performances by the band themselves, it also features footage of Nirvana, The Ramones, Dinosaur Jr and Babes In Toyland. If you feel so inclined, you can watch the trailer here:

And here's the tracklist for 'Hits Are For Squares':

Bull In The Heather (selected by Catherine Keener)
100% (selected by Mike D)
Sugar Kane (selected by Beck)
Kool Thing (selected by Radiohead)
Disappearer (selected by Portia de Rossi)
Superstar (selected by Diablo Cody)
Stones (selected by Allison Anders)
Tuff Gnarl (selected by Dave Eggers and Mike Watt)
Teenage Riot (selected by Eddie Vedder)
Shadow Of A Doubt (selected by Michelle Williams)
Rain On Tin (selected by Flea)
Tom Violence (selected by Gus Van Sant)
Mary-Christ (selected by David Cross)
World Looks Red (selected by Chloe Sevigny)
Expressway To Yr Skull (selected by The Flaming Lips)
Slow Revolution

Review: The Chicago Kingsnakes

The Chicago Kingsnakes - Blue Mosaic (MusicKing Records)
Their first proper album since 2003’s “Grass Roots”, though they’ve busied themselves over the intervening years touring the world with Byther Smith and playing shows with Junior Wells, Jimmy Witherspoon, Cash McCall, etc. When added to the fact that Kingsnakes leader, guitarist-vocalist James Anderson, has played with everyone from Buddy Guy and Albert King to Son Seals, James Cotton and Koko Taylor, It’s probably safe to assume that The Chicago Kingsnakes are some of the best and most respected blues players around.

That’s certainly the impression I get from listening to “Blue Mosaic”. Their style, unsurprisingly, is Chicago blues, and they play it slow and heavy, and tight and upbeat, and whatever way they play it, they play it well. Opening number “Take Your Time” is measured and intense, and highlights all their strengths, primarily great musicianship. When they’re aiming to get feet moving on tracks like “Blues Gone Uptown” and the Sonny Boy Williamson(esque) “Lefty” – the latter with harmonica courtesy of Nelson Keaton – they sound like the ultimate blues bar band. It’s another track, “So Cold in Chicago”, that I find myself returning to. Another upbeat number, it’s what they used to call a toe-tapper, but it’s a bit more than that, and seems to be stuck on repeat.
Simon M.


Thurston Moore has announced that he will tour the UK in support of his new solo album, 'Demolished Thoughts', later this year. The dates include a performance at London's Union Chapel, and will finish with an appearance at ATP's Nightmare Before Christmas. Tickets for the headline shows go on sale on Thursday at 9am.

Tour dates:

27 Nov: Dublin, Button Factory
28 Nov: Glasgow, Arches
29 Nov: Leeds, Brudenell Social Club
30 Nov: Manchester, The Ritz
2 Dec: London, Union Chapel
3 Dec: ATP's Nightmare Before Christmas

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Lanterns On The Lake: UK dates...

Lanterns On The Lake

Tuesday 1 November – NEWCASTLE – The Sage (£10)
Wednesday 2 November – LIVERPOOL – Leaf Café (Music Week)
Thursday 3 November – SHEFFIELD – The Harley (£6)
Sunday 20 November – HERTFORDSHIRE – Attic (£7)
Tuesday 22 November – LONDON – The Lexington (£8)
Wednesday 23 November – BRISTOL – The Cooler (£7.50)
Thursday 24 November – BIRMINGHAM – HMV Institute (£6.50)
Friday 25 November – NOTTINGHAM – Bodega (£7.50)
Saturday 26 November – LEEDS – Brundell Social Club (£7)
Sunday 27 November – MANCHESTER – Deaf Institute (£7.50)
Tuesday 29 November – GLASGOW – King Tuts (£7)
Wednesday 30 November – EDINBURGH – Electric Circus (£7)

Review: Signe Tollefsen

Signe Tollefsen – Hayes (Cavalier Recordings)
Educated in the UK, Dutch-American Signe Tollefsen relocated to The Netherlands in 2004 a to study music at the Amsterdam Conservatory, and almost instantly began to attract attention as a writer and singer. An American tourist passing through the Dutch city invited Tollefsen (at his expense) to Los Angeles to record some songs, and from those sessions, her self-titled debut was conceived and released to considerable acclaim. She followed that with “Baggage”, a six-track collection of covers (check out her version of Portishead’s “Glory Box”), which too was met with glowing reviews.

“Hayes” is her third release and was recorded with Ralph Timmermans from the band Mindpark. The pair share production duties and play the majority of the instruments. It was obviously an arrangement that suited both parties, as it’s an album that oozes confidence and ambition. The sound is quite dark and dense, with a cinematic, noirish quality that is mysterious and quite sexual – which is reflected in the artwork, an image that could pass as a John Alton still.

It’s an album that reveals itself gradually over several listens; it takes time to become fully aware of the quality of Tollefsen’s songs amongst the gypsy rhythms, stark strings and spectacular double tracked vocals. Try and hear “Drunk Orchestra” where it appears a host of fallen angels have been employed to provide backing vocals, or the stuttering strings on “Where You Been” and you’ll know exactly what I mean.
Rob F.

Archers of Loaf: UK dates...

Archers of Loaf
first UK shows in ten years!
December 9th - ATP Festival, Minehead Butlins
December 11th - Cargo, London


Cults have announced that they will play a string of UK tour dates in November, ahead of their appearance at ATP's Nightmare Before Christmas festival.

The dates are as follows:

15 Nov: London, XOYO
17 Nov: Bristol, Thekla
18 Nov: Nottingham, Social
19 Nov: Manchester, Ruby Lounge
9 Dec: ATP's Nightmare Before Christmas

Monday, 26 September 2011

We Were Promised Jetpacks: Dates

We Were Promised Jetpacks: Dates...

06-OCT Thu EDINBURGH Liquid Rooms
11-OCT Tue LEEDS Brudenell Social Club
13-OCT Thu BRIGHTON, Sticky Mike's Frog Bar
14-OCT Fri MANCHESTER, Deaf Institute

December (newly announced dates)
03-DEC Sat NEWCASTLE, Cluny 2
04-DEC Sun BIRMINGHAM, Hare & Hounds
05-DEC Mon NORWICH, Arts Centre
07-DEC Wed BRISTOL, The Cooler
08-DEC Thu DUBLIN, Whelan's
09-DEC Fri LIVERPOOL, Masque Theatre

Underground Railroad: Single / Dates

Underground Rail Road '8 Millimetres' single
released October 17th on One Little Indian

Oct 17, London, Hoxton Bar & Kitchen
Oct 19, Glasgow, King Tuts Wah Wah Hut
Oct 25, Nottingham, Spanky Van Dykes
Oct 26, Leeds, The Oporto
Oct 27, Manchester. Trof Fallowfield
Oct 28, Bristol, The Croft
Oct 29, Reading, The Oakford Social

Mazes: October tour dates.

Oct 3, Leeds, Nation Of Shopkeepers
Oct 4, Manchester, The Kings Arms
Oct 5, Edinburgh, Sneaky Petes
Oct 6, Glasgow, Captains Rest
Oct 7, Newcastle, Dog & Parrot
Oct 8, Lancaster, Library
Oct 9, Nottingham, Spanky Van Dykes
Oct 10, Sheffield, The Harley
Oct 11, Oxford, Jericho
Oct 12, Birmingham, The Hare & Hounds
Oct 13, London, Lexington
Oct 14, Brighton, The Hope



Oct 1st, Nottingham, The Glee Club (double headline with Jim Moray)
Oct 4th, Glasgow, Platform (headline show)
Oct 5th, Newcastle, New Vic Theatre (supporting Eliza Carthy)
Oct 6th, Basingstoke, The Anvil (supporting Eliza Carthy)
Oct 7th, Luton, The Hat Factory (supporting Eliza Carthy)
Oct 12th, London, Slaughtered Lamb (headline show)
Oct 13th, Bristol, Colston Hall (supporting Eliza Carthy)
Oct 14th, Poole, Lighthouse (supporting Eliza Carthy)
Oct 21st, Sheffield, Cathedral (supporting Eliza Carthy)
Oct 22nd, Bury, The Met (supporting Eliza Carthy)

Review: Gleny Rae Virus & Her Tamworth Playboys

Gleny Rae Virus & Her Tamworth Playboys - Beyond Horizontal (Independent)
Gleny Rae Virus has been a stalwart of the Australian roots/country scene for a number of years, as a member of The Junes, Toe Sucking Cowgirls and now with her very own Tamworth Playboys. Some of you may recognize her from your TV screens as she’s recently appeared on Australian television in the reality documentary “Go Back To Where You Came From” which retraced the journeys of refugees back to their homelands.

I hope new found TV celebrity doesn’t detract from her latest musical project, because on “Beyond Horizontal”, it sounds like Virus and her band are onto something special. They straddle the fine line between rambunctious old fashioned country and cool-as-ice rockabilly in some style, augmenting a roaring, good-time feel with some great songs, that are humourous and touching, and never lack instrumental prowess. In fact, opening track “Hot Ready Or Not” feels like it’s settled into scorching instrumental mode, before a vocal appears some way in. Both ways work, and subsequent highlights are bountiful. “Redneck Lovesong” is a genuine rib tickler and “Karratha” is heartfelt and sad, but leaves space for an occasional rueful smile. I don’t think I can sign off without mentioning the two Playboys: Dougie Bull on double bass and Roy Payne on guitar and lapsteel. Both are wonderful musicians with a real feel for the music they’re playing.
Rob F.

Saturday, 24 September 2011

Review: Next Stop: Horizon

Next Stop: Horizon - We Know Exactly Where We Are Going (Tapete Records)
This is the closest I‘ve ever come to listening to a Tom Waits tribute album, and it’s as close as I ever want to come. That despite the vocals being predominantly female and all the songs present being original compositions of Next Stop: Horizon, a Swedish duo comprising Par Hagstrom and Jenny Roos.

Along with their musician friends they have thrown themselves into the Kurt Weill side of Tom Waits' work, and the result is nine tedious tunes that, even if Tom were singing them, would be far too much. That leaves three other songs to be accounted for, two of which are sung by Par. The first is "Ship In A Bottle", with a lonely piano backing, then a choral vocal kicks in alongside, with just the hint of an orchestra, but these melt away to leave the voice and piano to drift out alone into the cold; quite superb. The raging and quite beautiful ballad "One Of Those Nights", again sung by Par, accompanied by a reverb-drenched electric guitar, gives a huge hint as to what this band might achieve if they choose to vary their work. It’s full-on emotion, and creates a sheer wall of beauty, and is the standout track on the album. Jenny splendidly takes up the penultimate “Love Is All”, a near classic slice of anthemic indie pop, with the help of an accordion.

Not enough then to recommend this actual album, but if you get the chance to hear "One Of Those Nights" you might just buy it for this one magnificent track.
Kev A.

Review: Idaho

Idaho - You Were A Dick (
It appears that Idaho is now just one man, Jeff Martin, and this lousily titled album is a gift from him to you and me, though the title is just about the only thing wrong here, so don’t let it put you off. Effortlessly listenable, these 14 short(ish) tracks all have time to be nurtured, grow to a pleasing and genteel climax, and then gently curl up and sleep until the next time you play them. I suppose it is what we should expect from an Idaho album, it’s exactly what they’ve delivered on all their previous records since “Year After Year” back in 1993. Eighteen years after their debut, and six years since their last record, Martin has now pulled out his thumb and produced this peachy set of tunes that meander and flow so peacefully, and gorgeously.

I guess you might have to be a fan already, though, who knows? Maybe a whole new set of fans has been waiting just for this album. Somehow I don't think so, despite the wondrous mood of entrancing melancholia that pervades throughout “You Were A Dick” (well, actually, not quite, as "The Space Between", which occupies the album's mid-point, is unleashed with a spark that rapidly turns to flame, an outpouring of soul, a mini rock anthem. From Idaho... whooda thought it?). Back to the fan thing: Idaho have always been at the forefront of the slow, melancholic, contemplative sound, alongside bands like Red House Painters and their ilk, and they’ve never searched for an audience, it has always found them. These days, for many new music listeners, that’s just too much trouble, and it’s a shame. How much they miss out on, eh?

So, another album of introspective brilliance from Idaho, then, and if you think you don't need it then please think again. This is as necessary as any drug; it won't harm you... and its legal.
Kev A.

Review: Bear Lake

Bear Lake - If You Were Me (Independent)
If I had been the 'You' in question I think I would have tried a bit harder to pull a different rabbit out of this particular hat. That is, if I had the talent, which I don't, but I think that Bear Lake do. I mean, the overall sound isn't half bad, but I could write out a list of new(ish) bands right here, right now, whose recent albums would bury “If You Were Me”, and yet we would only be looking at the tip of my own particular musical iceberg. That list would include Lillies On Mars, Ganglians, Darker My Love, DOM, Miracle Fortress, Scattered Trees, The Dawn Band, Akron/Family, Minor Kingdom, Stereoflower (see review - a cracker!) - all their albums have 'hit my deck' in the past few days, and all have left a bigger mark upon it than this (if I were to mention War On Drugs, and the mark that it left - for 'mark' read ‘CRATER’ - I might have to start writing a whole new review).

However, Bear Lake have created one or two mini triumphs. A glorious indie rock track entitled "High On The Road", featuring a certain Jessica Hernandez, is a real glimmer of hope, as is the pertinent and perky "We Were The Young", which features an underlying anthemic drive that carries you along without letting go, and features a nice guitar break too. And then there’s the relaxed, nigh on acoustic "Sad Bastard", which is a pleasing break from the norm, and worth a listen or three.

The closing "1810" is also a fine song, part gentle reflective voice, part urgent instrumental accompaniment, with a full on orchestra effect helping to build more tension as the song progresses. It’s a neat ending to the album, which almost has you reaching for the repeat button. Almost...
Kev A.

Friday, 23 September 2011

Review: Brian Trudeau

Brian Trudeau - The Light (Independent)
Currently based in the beautiful Cornish fishing village of Polperro, Brian Trudeau’s music CV makes for interesting reading. He’s been on the brink of breakthrough success with a couple of bands before things went awry, and now, after a half-decade long struggle with illness, he’s returned to the fray, solo and independent.

“The Light” is his debut album, a 12-track collection that showcases his talent for getting to grips with subjects that are close to his heart, within the confines of a perfectly executed 3/4 minute acoustic folk-pop song. In particular, the environment causes concern, and both “On Their Own” and “Better Days” clearly spell out his anxieties, but with hooks and robust choruses intact. “Meant To Be” is my current favourite, its vocal barb and naturally looped guitar effect appear utterly addictive.

Throughout Trudeau displays plentiful, though unflashy, guitar skills, and his voice, though a little delicate and fragile in places, is warm and convivial. However it’s his songs that truly shine through and it’s no surprise to read that he’s on the verge of signing a major publishing deal. We wish him well for the future and look forward to his next album.
Rob F.

Review: The Veta Corps

The Veta Corps - My City (Independent)
The second release from the London based trio continues their journey into the heart and soul of UK indie. Their stated influences include Joy Division, Radiohead, Pink Floyd and Sigur Ros, and I think we can safely add The Sound and early Soft Machine to the list without too much fear of contradiction. They don’t take liberties with any of these artists, but instead carve out their own sound, which feels like a natural progression, rather than replication.

They begin “My City” with the title track. Its pure melody and reserved vocal is reminiscent of the moment just before New Order discovered the dance floor, but it’s contemporary and rhythmic, with a delicate guitar line emphasizing the dark pop vibe. Both vocals and guitar are to the fore on “Secrets” and “Real Life”, an intense piece with aching piano, shows a willingness to experiment.

The Veta Corps is a fine band with no shortage of very good songs. With a bit of luck and a smidgen of radio play, I’d expect and hope to see them gracing festival stages next summer.
Rob F.

Review: Williams Ink

Williams Ink - S/T (Independent)
From Denver, Colorado, Williams Ink is a four-piece band with a healthy respect for old school power pop, and a predilection for loud guitars. The resulting sound they make – and it’s a very fine sound indeed – continues in the tradition of Cheap Trick, Weezer and Foo Fighters, rather than the late ‘70s new wave power pop model, best exemplified by bands like the Rubinoos and Cars. So, what have we got so far: big guitars and monster hooks; there are truly worse things in life.

As for their songs, Todd Williams is their frontman and primary writer. He’s adept at nailing both imagery and couplets, and the arrangements are spot on. Opening cut “Last Year” would sit quite happily on a Grant Hart solo record, or one of the later Husker Du albums – it’s an early standout track, and it doesn’t lack company. “Shocked” is just as good, it’s rolling rhythm interrupted only by glam guitars and the sort of sing-a-long verses that Noddy Holder, Noel Gallagher and Dave Grohl would emphatically approve of. “Love You Kiss You” suggests the glam influence doesn’t confine itself to just occasional guitars and “Odds N’ Ends” indicates that when the slow things down and strum acoustic guitars, they’re no less compelling. A first-rate debut album.
Rob F.

Thursday, 22 September 2011

Review: David Bethany

David Bethany - True Love (Independent)
South Carolina singer-songwriter David Bethany has certainly earned his musical spurs. He’s the ex-frontman of The Killer Whales (check out their 1983 album “Emotional Geography” – produced by Jamie Hoover), and he’s shared stages with Bonnie Raitt, Richard Thompson, Johnny Winter, George Thorogood, Stevie Ray Vaughan, and Molly Hatchet. They say variety is the spice of life and anyone who’s been musically involved with such a diverse group of artists must like mixing it up. So it is on “True Love”, where he employs island rhythms, ska guitars, Americana melodies and blue moves. His voice, somewhere between Jackson Browne and John Hiatt, is easy and likeable, and adds some classic ‘70s singer-songwriter flair to a collection of songs that feel personal and real.

Highlights come thick and fast. The title track makes an immediate impression with its Caribbean beat, hint of brass and a song (and vocal) that should be owning daytime BBC radio. “Scotch for Supper, Cigarettes for Dessert” almost lives up to its title, and features the most restrained and gentle of guitar solos; the sort of thing that JJ Cale would be proud of. “Can’t Hold On” cruises dangerously close to perfection. An organ fed melody releases a country-rock groove, then a wandering trumpet mirrors the tune and takes it off to beautiful new worlds. It’s an inspired three and a half minutes, and will undoubtedly be a massive hit in some as yet undiscovered parallel universe, where such things as genuine soul and tender, heartfelt songwriting are coveted.
Rob F.

Ólöf Arnalds: Mini Album / London Date

Ólöf Arnalds has just announced a special date at St. Pancras Old Church on Thursday 24th November (support from Snorri Helgasson) in support of her new mini-album of cover versions Ólöf Sings (One Little Indian, 7th November)

Ticket links: or

Ólöf also plays Iceland Airwaves, October 12th-16th.

The tracklist for Ólöf Sings:

Close My Eyes (Arthur Russell)
With Tomorrow/ I’m On Fire (Gene Clark/ Bruce Springsteen)
Solitary Man (Neil Diamond)
She Belongs To Me (Bob Dylan)
Maria Bethânia (Caetano Veloso)

A bundle of four further songs plus the Surrender video will be made available on the same day via digital platforms: That Lucky Old Sun, Instants and Sukiyaki originally appeared as b-sides while Ég Umvef Hjarta Mitt originally appeared on the compilation Vertical Integration released on the Second Language label in 2010. (The CD version of Ólöf Sings includes a download code to access these extra tracks and video).

R.E.M. Split (inc. statements)

Band statement:
“To our Fans and Friends: As R.E.M., and as lifelong friends and co-conspirators, we have decided to call it a day as a band. We walk away with a great sense of gratitude, of finality, and of astonishment at all we have accomplished. To anyone who ever felt touched by our music, our deepest thanks for listening.”

Mike Mills:
“During our last tour, and while making Collapse Into Now and putting together this greatest hits retrospective, we started asking ourselves, ‘what next’? Working through our music and memories from over three decades was a hell of a journey. We realized that these songs seemed to draw a natural line under the last 31 years of our working together. We have always been a band in the truest sense of the word. Brothers who truly love, and respect, each other. We feel kind of like pioneers in this — there’s no disharmony here, no falling-outs, no lawyers squaring-off. We’ve made this decision together, amicably and with each other’s best interests at heart. The time just feels right.”

Michael Stipe:
“A wise man once said — ‘the skill in attending a party is knowing when it’s time to leave.’ We built something extraordinary together. We did this thing. And now we’re going to walk away from it. I hope our fans realize this wasn’t an easy decision; but all things must end, and we wanted to do it right, to do it our way. We have to thank all the people who helped us be R.E.M. for these 31 years; our deepest gratitude to those who allowed us to do this. It’s been amazing.”

Peter Buck:
“One of the things that was always so great about being in R.E.M. was the fact that the records and the songs we wrote meant as much to our fans as they did to us. It was, and still is, important to us to do right by you. Being a part of your lives has been an unbelievable gift. Thank you. Mike, Michael, Bill, Bertis, and I walk away as great friends. I know I will be seeing them in the future, just as I know I will be seeing everyone who has followed us and supported us through the years. Even if it’s only in the vinyl aisle of your local record store, or standing at the back of the club: watching a group of 19 year olds trying to change the world.”

The Athens, Georgia band have been active since 1980, and I, for one, will be giving "Document" a spin today, probably with something in my eye.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Review: Miracle Parade

Miracle Parade - Hark! ...And Other Lost Transmissions (Little Record Company)

There’s a lot to like in these 11 songs that vary in pace, space and time. It’s a slow starting album, with the opener "Lost At Sea" unfurling gradually, a quite mesmerizing effect, as it slowly uncoils amongst the waves of sound it creates. The pace picks up with "Sweet Tooth", and the mood shifts to a more buoyant one. Although "Son Son" has little to offer, "Regarding The Haunting At 16 Fairfield" is an acoustic delight (as is the title). The fifth track, "The Dying Physicist", thrusts the listener in amongst the hurly burly after the gentle 30-second opening, as if you’ve come within range of heavy canon. With the almost hoarse delivery of Christopher Pappas racking up the emotion, you’re almost singing along to the urgent words, willing the anthemic chords on. It’s a song that glows brightly, making it very hard to resist.

The songs really are a varied mixture of brittle words and sparky instrumentation, almost all the creation of the aforementioned Mr. Pappas, who is Miracle Parade in its entirety. Neil Young, The Byrds and Judee Sill are quoted as his influences, but I don't know about that. I found listening similar to a trip to the fairground, and choosing to hang around the outer limits whilst you take in all of the attractions, one by one. I didn't much note if any of the tracks reminded me of another artist. On “Hark! ...And Other Lost Transmissions”, Pappas has done the job right. Full stop. That's it, there’s no need to say anymore.

Kev A.

Review: Damien Boggs

Damien Boggs - From The Living Room (Independent)

A thirteen-track collection, of which the first ten were recorded at home in his living room, in a single afternoon – the clue’s in the title, I suppose. There were no edits, no overdubs, and no re-takes. It must have been tempting to go back and clean up the occasional missed syllable or bad note, but I’m pleased he didn’t. “From The Living Room” is one of the most vibrant recordings I’ve heard in a very long time. Though decidedly unfussy, it’s hardly lo-fi. Boggs voice is vividly recorded, and it’s as if he’s playing in your living room rather than his own.

His folk-blues style is very much suited to the intimacy of his surroundings and his songs, whether engaged with the personal or the eternal, bleed truth and emotional substance. Maybe that would be lost in a shiny digitalized, state of the art studio, an irregularity that may save Boggs a fortune in coming years.

Before we go any further, I want to make plain that “From The Living Room” is an intense, powerful, beautiful album that should be played from start to finish. If, however, you’re after single tracks to stock your iPod, then you wont go far wrong with “To Bring You Back Home” or “I Go To The Rock”, but do try and hear the whole record if you can.

Rob F.

All The Young: Single / Dates


Release new single ‘Quiet Night In’ on October 10th


21st – Wrexham, Central Station
22nd – Preston, Mad Ferret
23rd – Doncaster, Social
24th – Manchester, Night and Day
26th – Glasgow, King Tut’s
29th – Leeds, Cockpit
30th – Blackburn, Live Lounge


1st – Sheffield, Plug
4th – London, Borderline
5th – Derby, Victoria Inn
7th – Luton, Charlie Brown’s
8th – Stoke, King’s Hall

Review: Noidz

Noidz – Trancemetal Age (Matchbox Producoes Artisticas Lda)

Noidz are based in Portugal but not really, no, they are actually from a far away galaxy 20 thousand light years from Earth. They are 5 humanoid alien creatures (Zork, Zee, Monkka, Zdion and Lunatikka) that have escaped extinction and are now relocated to different countries of planet earth. They have formed a band influenced by human music which is evident in the differing influences found in this CD of just 3 songs – “O Pastor”, “Root Sounds From Earth” and “Blast Waves”.

Their music is a head spinning mix of heavy rock, sampled traditional instruments (including quite a strong use of bagpipes & sitar), Bollywood influences and anything else thrown into the mix – they are like an inter-galactic ceilidhs band! The track “Root Sounds From Earth” feels very much like this with the use of sampled bagpipes and a very repetitive main theme throughout.

There are only 3 tracks on this CD and they give a good summing up of the band at this point – as I listen to it I can’t help but think it’s almost like a Eurovision entry. It’s really interesting trying to list the instruments and influences but it feels like the sort of music you’d listen to early in the morning, in a club, when you’re off your face….

Louisely D’Amore

Enter Shikari: Single / Dates

On Monday 19th September, Enter Shikari released 'Sssnakepit', the first single to be taken from the band's third album.

The single instantly went to the top of iTunes 'Rock' chart, where it still resides at the time of typing this, and currently sits at #30 in the iTunes chart proper.

The video for the track was filmed on a Sunday afternoon with a couple of hundred friends at Dingwalls, Camden Town, and can be viewed here:

Remaining European, UK & Irish tour dates in full -



Tickets and more details:

Some Velvet Morning: Single & Dates

Some Velvet Morning release their new single ‘Don’t Think’ on October 31st through MyMajorCompany. The track will be available as a download and also as a 500 limited edition gatefold 7” single, which will all be hand signed by the band. The song is both brooding and anthemic with echoes of Peter Hook’s trebly bass and U2’s ringing guitars.

They will be extensively touring the UK to coincide with the single release (initial UK south and south east dates below – more to follow):

22nd Sep - Club Fandango Bull & Gate - London

24th Sep – University of Kent

28th Sep - Buffalo Bar - London

16th Oct - Mr Kyps - Poole

21st Oct – Half Moon – Putney, London

23rd Oct - The Cellars - Portsmouth

25th Oct – Fleece - Bristol

10th Nov - The Latest – Brighton

11th Nov – The Masque – Liverpool

8th December – Roehampton University, London

Absolutely Kosher Statement

Himalayan Bear's Hard Times, out October 11, 2011, will be the label's final release.

After 13 years, Absolutely Kosher will cease to release records for the foreseeable future. We’ve got one more album to share with the world before scaling back the operation to just administer our catalog. It’s by a Canadian artist called Himalayan Bear and the album is called Hard Times. No, the irony isn’t lost on me.

We should've been celebrating the label's bar mitzvah this year, but it's not to be. I wish I could tell you there’s a grand plan, a new chapter waiting to be written, but the truth is, we’ve been struggling for years and the only thing on my plate right now is to eliminate our debts and rejuvenate my spirits. We’ve made all sorts of adaptive changes at the label over the last several years, many of them yielding some positive results, but none at the scale and speed we need them to be at.

We have had the benefit of working with some extraordinarily talented bands and musicians over the last 13 years. My gratitude goes out to them for the opportunity and privilege, as well as to my patient, supportive and hard-working staff and interns over the years, the fans who bought our music and the professionals who lent their support. I don’t want any disappointment over the current state of things or bitterness over unrecognized potential to cloud the feeling of how unbelievably lucky I feel about Absolutely Kosher Records and everything that came with it. I’ll close this out with the list of bands we worked with and the hope that you, dear reader, loved a record by one of them and may yet love at least one more. Himalayan Bear’s Hard Times is out October 11 on LP, CD & digitally. You can hear selections from the album here.

60 Watt Kid
The Affair
Azeda Booth
Bottom of the Hudson
Franklin Bruno
The Court and Spark
Rob Crow
The Dead Science
The Dudley Corporation
The Extra Glenns
Foot Village
Frog Eyes
The Gang
Chris Garneau
Get Him Eat Him
Goblin Cock
Jack Hayter
Hello Blue Roses
The Hidden Cameras
Himalayan Bear
The Jim Yoshii Pile-Up
Life Without Buildings
Little Teeth
The Mountain Goats
Optiganally Yours
The Places
+/- {Plus Minus}
The Rollercoaster Project
Summer at Shatter Creek
Sunset Rubdown
The Swords Project
Telegraph Melts
Two Guys
Virginia Dare
Wax Fang
Withered Hand
The Wrens
Xiu Xiu

Cory Brown
owner, Absolutely Kosher Records

For more information, please contact Cory Brown at

Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Review: Tarwater

Tarwater – Inside the Ships (Bureau B Records)

Tarwater are a German duo comprising Bernd Jestram and Ronald Lippok, the latter is also a member of electronic post-rock outfit, To Rococo Rot. “Inside the Ships” marks their 11th album release in a 15-year recording career.

Sound making is at the fore of their art and many sounds are so far removed from their origins to give fresh listening experiences, yet they urge these along with tripped, hipped and mechanical beats. Their sound forges ahead along a Krautrock continuum that shows respect and a nodding appreciation for their predecessors, without standing on their coattails. The electronic drum sounds of “Radio War” recalls Kraftwerk, “In a Day” grooves along with Can and Neu, “Sato Sato” - lifting its text from DAF’s “Alles ist Gut” - shows influences from a more synthetic post-punk and industrialist age.

“Do The Oz” is a cover of a John Lennon & Yoko Ono B-side from 1971, which showed solidarity for the underground magazine. The tail end incorporates more brass and has a darker, jazzier feel. “Furkan” is like an imagined spaceship ride with a simultaneous ambient and free-jazz accompaniment.


We Are Augustines: Tour Dates (with Glasvegas)

‘Book Of James’ single to be released November 7th
Debut album ‘Rise Ye Sunken Ships’ to be released March 5th 2012 on Oxcart Records

UK tour dates with Glasvegas announced for October:

Monday 24th October - London Koko
Wednesday 26th October - Brighton , The Old Market
Thursday 27th October - Manchester, Club Academy
Saturday 29th October - Sheffield, Leadmill
Sunday 30th October - York, Duchess
Monday 31st October - Glasgow, ABC

The Dykeenies UK Tour Dates (October)

The Dykeenies are back with a brand new album, ‘Canyons Of Echoes’ out on 3 October and are about to head off on tour :

October :

18 - Oran Mor, Glasgow
19 - Ironworks, Inverness
20 - Doghouse, Dundee
21 - The Tunnels, Aberdeen
23 - The Cockpit, Leeds
24 - Temple, Birmingham
25 - Clwb Ifor Bach, Cardiff
26 – Talking Heads, Southampton
28 - Borderline, London
29 - Alter Ego, Manchester
30 – Fubar, Stirling

Review: Anna O.

Anna O. - Comin’ Home (Sunshine Drenchy Records)

It’s no mystery where Anna O. is coming from. She’s cut from the same cloth as Lucinda Williams, Jolie Holland and Eilen Jewell. Indeed, she’s a country singer-songwriter at heart, but can find no reason not to turn up the guitars and rock a little. “Comin’ Home” is her fourth album, and comes after a four year hiatus. Whatever the reasons for the layoff, she sounds urgent and vital on this eleven-track collection.

Opening track “All My Sorrows” sets the scene in some style as she tells her tale of love gone wrong. It’s followed by the title track, the subject remains love and its challenges, but with more positives. “Day Of The Dead” might be my favourite. It’s pure Americana, with a nod to Tom Petty’s Heartbreakers and Son Volt, and the vocal is sublime.

If you were a fan of Anna’s earlier records, or any of the artists I’ve mentioned above, then you shouldn’t hesitate to track this one down. Anna O. is a gifted singer and songwriter, and deserves your attention.

Rob F.


Having announced that their second album, 'Stay Gold', will be released next January, The Big Pink have now revealed that they have tour dates lined up for November. These dates, I would guess, will give you the opportunity to hear some of those new songs. Tickets go on sale on Friday at 9am sharp.

Tour dates:

1 Nov: Glasgow, Classic Grand
12 Nov: Leeds, Metropolitan University
14 Nov: Manchester, Academy 3
15 Nov: Liverpool, Academy 2
17 Nov: Portsmouth, Wedgewood Rooms
18 Nov: Brighton, Digital
19 Nov: Birmingham, Institute
21 Nov: Nottingham, Rescue Rooms
22 Nov: Bristol, Thekla

Monday, 19 September 2011

Review: Stereoflower

Stereoflower - It's Alright, It's OK, Satellite Commander (Walking Horse)

I very nearly didn't add this to my review list. So, on just the smallest inkling, I decided there might be something that appeals, if only a smidgeon. So, on to the player, and wow! There is definitely some appeal, tons of it, in fact. I can see it in the artwork, I can hear it in the music (and the gaps between!), and I can taste it in the air. These four Aussie reprobates (Alexander Peter-Pander, Marko Remarko, Rufus Marmaduke and Doctor Blythe - you read it here first...) have me at their mercy, with their beguiling melodies, croaky vocals, spiky guitars, stuttering drums, and genuine passionate approach to their incandescent mélange of sound and musical genres.

In reality, in the clear light of day, it probably isn't as sparkling a mix as I gave it credit for, but it is surely a special take on all things the Aussie state of NSW has had to offer for a few years, yes indeed. They claim the beast of their music would not stop growing, and they claim it rightly. It is a beast, songs to wrestle to the ground, and then release to see them soar high above you, and descend to do musical battle once more. Yep, I like this a lot!

When I stop drooling and think about it, the appeal is to be mainly found in the myriad of flavours that they have cooked up. Can you remember (from way, way back) a pudding called Instant Whip? Well, that’s what this album does, whips up an immediate psyche storm, but it sounds like Angel Delight!

Kev A.

Review: Illusion Of Depth

Illusion Of Depth - Bourgeois Motel (2 Minute Luv)

Illusion Of Depth is married couple, Barbara and Bruce Gilchrist. Barbara is classically trained in piano, flute and French horn. Here she’s also vocalist and keyboard player. Bruce comes from a rock background, plays guitar and bass, programmes the drums and arranges the songs. Together they make very grown-up pop music, with hints of jazz, folk and classic progressive rock.

Barbara compares her vocals to those of Kate Bush and Tori Amos, and there are elements of both inherent in her style, though she’s far more approachable, and demonstrates a vulnerability that is incredibly appealing. They’re also unafraid to take the listener by the hand and lead them to the dancefloor. “Merry Are The Gods (At Play)” might have a title that suggests something by Yes or Genesis, but it is instead a deliberate ploy to get feet and limbs moving in a synchronized fashion – and very good it is, too.

They’re equally adept at the serious stuff. The rhythmically complex “As Far As I Can See…” is multifaceted and instrumentally rich. “J’s Song” is fragile and lovely, whilst moving sound around in a quite unusual way. For all its intricacy “Bourgeois Motel” remains an accessible, if stimulating, listening experience.

Rob F.

Review: Something Utopic

Something Utopic – Synthesis (Independent)

A modern rock band from Detroit, Something Utopic mix up classic and hardcore punk attitude with contemporary hard rock influences to produce something fresh and powerful. Thoroughly engaging throughout, their hard, energetic sound doesn’t ignore the importance of a well-placed vocal hook, and the band are as funky as they are heavy.

Vocalist Michael Motherwell is neither over-bearing nor pompous, instead welcoming listeners with a tone that is convivial and almost hospitable. So many hard-rock singers feel the need to out-shriek their lead guitarist, but Motherwell’s experience of working as part of an acoustic duo (Something Utopic were originally conceived as an unplugged twosome) comes to the fore, and the results are always musical – if you know what I mean.

It helps that “Synthesis” is littered with fine songs. They kick off with the minute-long “Prelude”, a delicate Led Zep style appetizer, before things get going properly with “Identity Of One”, with all four members taking their chance to stamp their own personality on the music. “Ambition” is all rolling rhythm and soaring vocals, and the titular track approaches epic status, but is over all too soon.

Rob F.

Christopher Livingston Q&A

Check out the Christopher Livingston Q&A here:

Review: Shiny And The Spoon

Shiny And The Spoon - Ferris Wheel (Independent)
Shiny And The Spoon are a folk-pop band from Ohio, led by songwriters Amber Nash and Jordan Neff. They both sing, either alone or together, and their band keeps it loose and organic. They sit somewhere between the stirring country rock of Gram Parsons and Emmylou Harris, and the wordy, sophisticated, pop of Prefab Sprout (see “Steve McQueen”). They take their lyrics very seriously, and it’s all too easy to be swept up in narratives that are emotionally aware, yet never overwrought.

Both vocalists bring distinctive elements to their songs – I assume they’re singing their own songs. Both are in sync with rural-pop guidelines, though the clarity of Nash’s tone brings mountain purity and a Brit-folk heritage to their music which is thrilling in its ability to make those short hairs on the back of the neck stand to attention. Neff is an altogether earthier presence, but grounds their songs, and provides a faithful rustic derivation.

Fans of literate folk-pop would do well to make a note of their name, and if its instant and total gratification you’re after, visit their Bandcamp page and give the album’s title track a whirl. You can thank me later.

Rob F.

Review: Turnbuckle Jones

Turnbuckle Jones - S/T (Independent)
Turnbuckle Jones is the latest project from North Carolina based singer-songwriter Josh Burch. Here, with a full band, he confidently takes on a number of styles and sounds, then underpins everything with some first-rate songwriting and a healthy electric-roots-rock influence. So, decent songs, a varied approach and a fine band to back him - so far, so good.

Burch is an expressive and animated singer, with a rough ‘n’ ready tone that feels perfectly in harmony with his songs. His lyrics, about girls, relationships and the various trials and tribulations they inspire, are different enough to deserve proper attention, and invite comparison to early Wilco and The Replacements at their most frivolous.

It’s an album I’m happy to recommend as a whole, but to capture its essence in a few tracks, be sure to have a listen to the near-perfect fall-apart pop of opening cut “Laser Beams”, then try the banjo propelled “Home”, before settling on the remarkably loose “China”, with its huge, sing-a-long chorus and utterly lovable demeanour.

Rob F.

Sunday, 18 September 2011

Review: King Richard's Sunday Best

King Richard’s Sunday Best - Butterscotch & Marzipan (Independent)
The King Richard’s Sunday Best Facebook page informs us the band’s interests include “Musical avocados, juggling, hypnotic onions and Czechs and balances”. That’s reassuring, just for a second there, we thought they might be a bit strange. Ignoring what they get up to in their private lives, and concentrating instead on their musical pursuits, we’re comforted by an album which is fixed firmly in the new folk-rock movement, a movement best represented by the likes of Mumford and their ilk, though the Atlantan quintet do their own thing in their own particular way.

There’s an edge to their sound, which might best be described as quirky, though fortunately they avoid the many pitfalls that forced eccentricity can attract by writing strong material and performing it with charm and zest. Their vocals are spot on, whether solo or in harmony, and they’ve not forgotten tunes. Big ones mostly, with plenty of barbs to catch unwary ears. They dip into sub-genres at will; “Forests” taps into the freak folk sound, “Bleeker Street” is far gentler. “Black Eyed Susan” employs stringband dynamics and “Valentines” a jazzy shuffle. All in all, a very enjoyable album, and one that’s easy to recommend to all fans of folk-rock and pop.
Rob F.

Review: Calum MacDonald

Calum MacDonald - Songs From The Grove (Outer Blue Records)
Australian singer-songwriter Calum MacDonald is an assured lyricist with the confidence to write about the things he cares about, whether it’s love and regret, or social matters. He does so in a gentle, unhurried style that draws listeners into his tales. On his website he cites mainly contemporary influences such as Bonnie Prince Billy, Bill Callaghan and Ron Sexsmith, but for me, his words, his poetry (the album is bookended by two spoken word pieces) and very occasionally his voice, all bring Leonard Cohen’s early work to mind.

I’m sure it’s a comparison MacDonald wont object to, especially as “Songs From The Grove” is hardly in thrall to any single stimulus and his songs stand up to proper scrutiny. My favourites, “Shaky 48” with its driving folk rhythm and lyrical excursions, the ‘70s West Coast affectation of “Earth” and the borrowed Dylan(isms) of “Feel Like Another Cup Of Coffee” all indicate a singer-songwriter slightly out of time, but that neither detracts from the quality of his verses or listener satisfaction. Have a listen if you get the chance.
Rob F.


And about time, too...