Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Handsome Dick Manitoba Throbblehead Figure Announced:


Handsome Dick Manitoba Throbblehead Figure Announced

Pre-orders open now, shipping February 2012

Handsome Dick Manitoba, King of New York and fearless leader of The Dictators, has been promoted to throbblehead status!

This figure capturing Richard's signature modern day look is limited to 1000 numbered units, stands at 7 inches tall, and is made of super strong polyresin.

Don't mess with Manitoba as he stands proudly representing the Lower East Side. He's accurately sculpted right down to the weathered Dictators leather jacket and searing glare.

Currently, you can him out on his own radio show, "The Handsome Dick Manitoba Radio Program" in Little Steven Van Zandt's Underground Garage, on Sirius - XM Satellite Radio(Ch. 21), Mon.-Fri., 8pm-12am (ET). You can also drop by his World Famous Rock and Roll Tavern, MANITOBA'S located at 99 Ave. B, NYC (Btwn. 6th & 7th Streets).

Link to Purchase:
http://www.aggronautix.com/products.cfm?productid=45

Manitoba is the twelfth person to be polyresinated by Aggronautix. In May of 2009, the company launched with a highly popular G.G. Allin "1991" figure, which was limited to 2000 numbered units.

All Aggronautix figures are now available for purchase on
www.aggronautix.com or www.seeofsound.com and will also be available at many independent retailers, comic shops, tattoo parlors, etc via distribution by MVD Entertainment Group - a company specializing in music-related distribution since 1986.

Follow Aggronautix on Facebook here: http://www.facebook.com/Aggronautix

Jonquil announce album and dates...


Jonquil Reveal Details on Forthcoming LP, Point of Go

Releases First Single "It's My Part"

"[Jonquil] just puts a smile on your face and makes you feel good." - KCRW

"although all the songs have a timeless quality, it's tracks like "Fighting Smiles" and "It Never Rains" where the group's faint, retro-tinged sound really shines." - NYLON

"This Oxford, England group's jangly guitars and a bit of danciness prop up the band's anthemic songs, .. if you like the beach party vibe, stick with Jonquil." - American Songwriter "Band To Watch"

Oxford, UK-based quartet Jonquil announce their forthcoming full-length, Point of Go, set for a February 21st release with Dovecote Records (The Futureheads, Hooray For Earth). The album follows their recently released split 7" single with Solid Gold Dragons (Jonquil bass/trumpet player Sam Scott), and their radiant One Hundred Suns EP, celebrated for it's upbeat tempos and creative integration of afro and indie-pop. Fronted by Hugo Manuel, who also performs under the solo moniker Chad Valley, the quartet recently returned stateside for CMJ '11, following a phenomenal US spring debut where they performed three sold-out New York sets in 48 hours.

Point Of Go emerges as a glimmeringly positive step in a new direction, a record that is, in their own words, "far more poppy and accessible" than anything they've previously written. Recorded over a six-week period in a farmhouse studio it takes the band's summery flourishes and intricate guitars, and strips them back to a set of immediate, direct pop songs. With influences rooted firmly in the past - from Fleetwood Mac to The Smiths, Chic and Earth, Wind and Fire to Arthur Russell - the quartet's LP is an exercise in classic pop sensibilities held up by a modern backbone. Point of Go will be released in the rest of the world by Blessing Force; a growing community of artists, musicians and writers in Oxford (UK) that involves the band's other projects Chad Valley, Pocket House and Solid Gold Dragons.
Jonquil in Concert

12/15 - Corsica Studios - London, England
12/17 - O2 Academy - Oxford, England

POST-PUNK ICONS BITCH MAGNET RE-RELEASE THEIR CRITICALLY ACCLAIMED THREE ALBUMS


"Searing post-hardcore punctuated with bruised introspection that stands a mile high above most of its kind... Bitch Magnet anticipated the emergence of what would become known as 'post rock'." Mojo

Temporary Residence Ltd. is proud to present the remastered and repackaged reissue of the legendary Bitch Magnet’s seminal and critically acclaimed three albums –
Star Booty, Umber, and Ben Hur on 13th February 2012. The deluxe 3xLP/3xCD package includes all three albums, plus more than a half dozen rare and previously unreleased tracks, a total of 34 songs, remastered from the original, restored analogue master tapes.

The reissues will include five previously unreleased early versions of key Bitch Magnet songs recorded nearly a year before the sessions for the band’s landmark second album Umber: “Punch and Judy, “Joan of Arc,” “Big Pining,” “Joyless Street,” and “Sadie.” Those five songs were newly mixed with John Congleton (Explosions in the Sky and St. Vincent) in October 2010. The reissues also include a rediscovered 'louder' mix of Umber’s classic lead-off track “Motor” - an artefact the band had forgotten about until Mike McMackin, who recorded Umber, unearthed it from his personal archives.

Two non-LP tracks recorded during the sessions for the final Bitch Magnet album Ben Hur, “White Piece of Bread” and “Sadie,” are also included on the reissue. All of these tracks, as well as the band’s three albums, were remastered from the original analogue tapes by Alan Douches at West West Side Music. Both CD and LP reissues contain over 50 rare Bitch Magnet photos, posters, and flyers.

Bitch Magnet was formed by guitarist Jon Fine and bassist/vocalist, Sooyoung Park at Oberlin College in 1986. Drummer, Orestes Morfin joined shortly thereafter. Upon the release of their debut, Star Booty, in 1988, the band garnered rapturous reviews and established itself among the top tier of America’s independent music underground. The band’s reputation grew with subsequent tours of the US and Europe and the release of Umber (prominently included by Mojo magazine on its list of “Lost Albums You Must Own”) in 1989 and Ben Hur in 1990. The latter two have been frequently cited as a key inspiration for what would become known as “post-rock,” a term that continues to baffle and amuse the band.

Along with their contemporaries in Slint, in the years following its breakup, Bitch Magnet has been recognized as a significant influence on generations of aggressive and musically complex bands, including Don Caballero, Mogwai, Rodan, June of 44 and Battles.

“Probably more than any other band, Bitch Magnet sent me in the direction I took with the music I have tried to make,” said Battles’ Ian Williams, whose band’s invitation to play at All Tomorrow’s Parties coaxed Bitch Magnet out of retirement.

After performing at All Tomorrow’s Parties in Minehead on 10th December, Bitch Magnet will co-headline The Garage in London with a reunited Hot Snakes on 13th December. You can also catch Bitch Magnet at the Lexington, London on the 12th December.

TRACK LISTING:
LP / DISC 1 (Ben Hur, plus extra tracks)
Side A:
Dragoon
Valmead
Ducks and Drakes
Mesentery

Side B:
Lookin’ At The Devil
Gator
Spite y Malice
Crescent
White Piece of Bread*
Sadie*

LP / DISC 2 (Umber, plus extra track)
Side A:
Motor
Navajo Ace
Clay
Joan of Arc
Douglas Leader

Side B:
Goat-Legged Country God
Big Pining
Joyless Street
Punch and Judy
Americruiser
Motor (louder mix)**

LP / DISC 3 (Pre-Umber recordings and Star Booty)
Side A:
Punch and Judy**
Joan of Arc**
Big Pining**
Joyless Street**
Sadie**
Carnation
C Word

Side B:
Sea of Pearls
Hatpins
Knucklehead
Circle K
Polio
Cantaloupe

(*: non-LP track. **: previously unreleased)

http://twitter.com/bitchmagnet
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Bitch-Magnet/127645200609689

ELVIS COSTELLO SAYS "DON'T BUY MY OVERPRICED BOX SET"


COSTELLO SAYS "DON'T BUY MY OVERPRICED BOX SET"
Elvis Costello has advised his fans not to buy a box set of his music being released by Universal, because he objects to the price it's being sold for, which is currently £212.66 on Amazon. Indicating that he has been in dispute with his label over the price of the box set release for a while, Costello called the current price point "either a misprint or a satire", and urged fans not to buy the release.

Meanwhile a statement on the singer songwriter's official website recommended: "If you want to buy something special for your loved one at this time of seasonal giving, we suggest, 'Ambassador Of Jazz' - a cute little imitation suitcase containing ten re-mastered albums by one of the most beautiful and loving revolutionaries who ever lived - Louis Armstrong. The box should be available for under one hundred and fifty American dollars and includes a number of other tricks and treats. [And] frankly the music is vastly superior".

Nice.

SONIC YOUTH "ENDING FOR A WHILE"...


SONIC YOUTH "ENDING FOR A WHILE"
Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Ranaldo has said that he is unsure about the future of the band following the announcement last month that co-founders Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon are to divorce. Speaking to Rolling Stone, he said that the band's recent South American tour dates, which began shortly after Moore and Gordon announced their split, "are certainly the last shows for a while".

Ranaldo told the magazine: "[The news of the divorce is] not as sudden for me as it's been in terms of the press and what not. Actually, the tour went really well. It really didn't affect it all that much. It was a pretty good tour overall. I mean, there was a little bit of tiptoeing around and some different situations with the travelling - you know, they're not sharing a room any more or anything like that. [But] I would say in general the shows went really well. [Though] it kind of remains to be seen at this point what happens to the future. I think they are certainly the last shows for a while and I guess I'd just leave it at that".

He added: "I'm feeling optimistic about the future no matter what happens at this point. I mean, every band runs its course. We've been together way longer than any of us ever imagined would happen and it's been for the most part an incredibly pleasurable ride ... I'm just happy right now to let the future take its course and I guess I'm kind of thankful that I've got this other project that kind of came about on its own. It wasn't kind of like, well, 'Oh the band is ending for a while and I've got to figure out what to do'. It kind of naturally happened in the course of things so that was a nice way for that to come about".

The "other project" Ranaldo speaks of is his solo album 'Between The Times & The Tides', which will be released through Matador in March.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

ART BRUT ANNOUNCE BULL & GATE RESIDENCY


ART BRUT ANNOUNCE BULL & GATE RESIDENCY
Following news of the Bull & Gate going up for sale, Art Brut are to take up a short two night residency at the Kentish Town venue to mark the tenth birthday of its flagship promoter, Club Fandango. The band will be joined on 8 Dec by party guests including Keith TOTP and his Minor UK Indie Celebrity Allstar Backing Band, while No Cars and The Brute Chorus will support on 7 Dec.

A portion of a statement issued by Art Brut's Barnaby Fudge reads thus: "It has come to my attention that some in the intersphere consider Art Brut to be less than politically minded. They are considered a party band, letting the events of the day wash over them like a drunk asleep in a gutter. Well, I am here to tell you that our merry band are not so oblivious! The voice of today's youth has not gone unheard!"

He goes on: "We refuse to sit idly by and watch Club Fandango celebrate a birthday without a residency-size truckload of Art Brut fans causing chaos, booze fuelled funstruction. The madness has gone on too long!" Hurrah!

Tickets (priced at £11 per night, or £18 for both) and full live listings for Club Fandango's tenth anniversary season can be found here: www.clubfandango.co.uk/news.php?id=551

DRC MUSIC PLAN ROUGH TRADE SHOWCASE


DRC MUSIC PLAN ROUGH TRADE SHOWCASE
Members of DRC Music, the Damon Albarn-led collective of electronic producers and Congolese musicians, are to present a "unique collaborative performance" at London's Rough Trade East on 6 Dec.

As previously reported, Albarn and a cast of producers - not least Kwes, Actress and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs - recorded DRC Music's debut album, 'Kinshasa One Two', in the Democratic Republic of Congo working with local singers and instrumentalists to raise funds for Oxfam.

With the first line-up announcement expected on Thursday, details are currently scarce. You can, however, procure a free wristband guaranteeing entry, and keep track of future additions to the bill, at the Rough Trade site: www.roughtrade.com/site/instore.lasso

Smith & Burrows - Funny Looking Angels


Hello ,

‘Funny Looking Angels’
An Album for Christmas, released 28th November 2011

What started as two friends popping into each other’s houses and then home studios, putting down an idea here and a melody there developed into a set of songs with a Christmas theme, then a theoretical album, then, following help from their friends on additional instruments and as backing voices, a real album with a release date and a title.

Tom Smith of Editors and Andy Burrows once of Razorlight and now I Am Arrows have been friends for years, classic drinking buddies whose pub visits frequently ended with them at either’s house talking about and listening to favourite songs or setting the music world to rights. Both share a love of the classic Christmas songs and a fascination with the idea of Christmas records of the past, good and bad. Feeling that the innocence of the Christmas song had been lost in commercial plans and TV-sponsored drivel, the plan to make a traditional Christmas record - the kind of album that goes on after Christmas lunch for a singalong and a slump on the sofa as the wintry weather peeks through the windows - took on a life of its own.

‘Funny Looking Angels’ is above all a record born out of friendship. A mix of original tracks and covers chosen because they remind the protagonists of Christmas in direct or oblique ways, the album features vocals from both Tom and Andy and an eclectic choice of cover versions from Yazoo’s ‘Only You’ and Black’s ‘Wonderful Life’ (which they performed together some years previously) to The Longpigs ‘On and On’ and cult Birmingham band Delta’s ‘Funny Looking Angels’, which also gave them their album title and is an affectionate nod from Tom to his formative musical years in the city. The album also features a guest vocal from rising star Agnes Obel, already a major name in mainland Europe, in duet with Tom on the closing track, a sumptuous version of ‘The Christmas Song’.

The album is unashamed in its use of classic Christmas style backing vocals and strings, jingle bells and lyrical references to winter and Christmas. It is a record to enjoy in the purest sense, to listen to with friends over the holidays, to put on when everyone comes back from the pub, a soundtrack to the winter break. It is neither a naked grab for a hit nor a tongue in cheek joke. It is two friends and two very capable musicians trying to restore a sense of the community and joy of the season.

http://www.smithandburrows.com
http://www.playitagainsam.net/

BUZZCOCKS TO REUNITE WITH HOWARD DEVOTO


BUZZCOCKS TO REUNITE WITH HOWARD DEVOTO
The Buzzcocks will perform with co-founder Howard Devoto for the first time since 1977 next May, according to Louder Than War. Devoto formed the band with Pete Shelley in 1975, but left after the release of their debut EP, 'Spiral Scratch', subsequently forming Magazine.

According to LTW, Devoto will now join The Buzzcocks at the end of two upcoming shows, one in London and one in Manchester, and play with them on all four tracks from 'Spiral Scratch'. The dates are as follows.

25 May: Manchester, Apollo
26 May: London, Brixton Academy

A message from Sid Griffin about two December gigs:

Friends,

We have recorded seven tracks with the legendary John Wood (Fairport Convention,
Nick Drake, Pink Floyd, Squeeze, John Cale, Beth Orton) manning the desk and
will finish this album in progress in March. The Coal Porters are extremely
pleased with the results and we hope to have the album out in May or June. Any
ideas for a front cover shot let us know!

Due to so many of the band leaving town for the holidays we are only playing
two, yes...count 'em, two December shows:

3 Dec Sat 2011 The Green Note, Camden Town, London 8:30pm
support our pal Immy & her cool team at The Green Note…this is our usual
Christmas Show!, Gemma White on fiddle this one gig too)
106 Parkway
Camden Town NW1 7AN
ph: 020 7485 9899
email: mail@greennote.co.uk
www.greennote.co.uk/

10 Dec Sat 2011 Forest Arts Centre, New Milton, Hampshire
Old Milton Road
New Milton, Hampshire
BH25 6DS
onstage 7:30pm
ticket phone line: 01425 612393
www.forest-arts.co.uk

Both will sell out for sure so get your tickets NOW if you can!

The Coal Porters are playing a wedding in December, one Christmas office party
for a mid-sized (but very green and consumer-friendly) corporation and a benefit
gig in early January so we are not entirely idle besides the above two gigs.

Finally, in answer to your questions, I won't be doing my third and final Dylan
book in my Bob Trilogy until my little boy gets a bit older and I have some
time. I am very happy about Million Dollar Bash still selling so briskly and my
still seeing Shelter From The Storm on the bookshelves and with Amazon et al.

Oh, one other small but interesting thing: the CSNY tribute CD which is coming
out of Scandinavia in fall 2012 now has the participation of both Graham Nash
and the Fleet Foxes. Yes, I mention this as the Coal Porters will be on it with
a previously unreleased version of the Manassas track The Fallen Eagle.

No comment on the photo of me in Mojo magazine's second Mojo '60s special
edition on that fine decade of music.

All the best to you and yours,

Sid Griffin
Coal Porters World HQ
London, England

Sean Taylor December News:

Hello All

It’s Sean Taylor. November was a good month for me with great gigs in Nottingham, Cornwall, Ascot, London, and Manningtree.

My new album has just been mixed and is about to be mastered, it will be released in March on SGO Records via Proper Distribution. The album was recorded in Austin, Texas and features amongst other things a duet with country singer Eliza Gilkyson.

This month I have a few more shows, including three this week;

1. Thursday 1st December– Ropewalk (Barton Upon Humber) with Matthews Southern Comfort. The Ropewalk, Maltkiln Road, Barton upon Humber,North Lincolnshire, DN18 5JT – Music from 7.30. http://www.the-ropewalk.co.uk/

2. Saturday 3rd December - The Milton Rooms Market Place Malton North Yorkshire YO17 7LX
http://www.themiltonrooms.com/ 01653 600 048
3. Sunday 4th December – Trades Club (Hebden Bridge) Holme Street, Hebden Bridge, Yorkshire, HX7 8EE http://thetradesclub.com/?page_id=2134

4. Saturday 10th December – St Donats Arts Centre (Glamorgan) St Donats Arts Centre,St Donats Castle,Vale of Glamorgan, CF61 1WF www.stdonats.com/ 01446 799 100

See you on the road

Peace

Sean

www.seantaylorsongs.com

www.facebook.com/seantaylorsongs

www.twitter.com/seantaylorsongs

www.youtube.com/seantaylorsongs

www.myspace.com/seantaylorsongs

Mary Lorson (Madder Rose) to release new album - 6th February 2012‏


Mary Lorson and the Soubrettes are fronted, not surprisingly, by Mary Lorson (vocals, guitar, keyboards, percussion), who began her career twenty years ago as the lead singer of the noisepop band Madder Rose. Lorson has since steered the jazzy artrock group, Saint Low, scored several films with Billy Coté, and collaborated on numerous dramatic and musical projects. For her latest record, BurnBabyBurn out 6th February on MLS Records, Lorson has dressed her rhythmic guitar and piano-based compositions with subtle banjo and standup bass support, provided by Amelia Sauter (bass, vocals) and Leah Houghtaling (banjo, tenor guitar, vocals).

Soubrettes were hard-working comic actresses of the vaudeville era. The band that bears this moniker is the latest avenue for Lorson’s creative explorations, much of which have been informed by her musical play-in-progress, Freak Baby and the Kill Thought, about vaudeville wild woman, Eva Tanguay. “Tanguay was the first iconic, self-defined, out-of-control American female star. She was to Sarah Bernhart as Janis Joplin was to Helen Hayes; enthralling but dark and kind of crazy. So the music I’m writing for the play is trying to express that visceral intensity in aesthetic terms we can understand today. It’s a challenge.”

Indeed, BurnBabyBurn’s eleven tracks show an eclectic writer and producer at work. Tied together thematically by Lorson’s interest in American culture and attitudes, her arrangements are sober, whimsical, layered, spare, damning and forgiving.

Journalists have hailed Mary Lorson’s voice as an “ever-evolving expressive instrument” and a sound that “lingers in the mind like the smell of a candle which has been blown out.” On BurnBabyBurn, Lorson helms the ship with attitude and authenticity.

www.marylorson.com

Monday, 28 November 2011

A note from the Nunkie Theatre Company...


Dear Friend of Nunkie Theatre Company
Seasons Greetings to you all.
Now, start packing your bags for the Black Pilgrimage…
NEW SHOW for 2012
In the second half of next year, to mark MRJ’s 150th birthday, I will be touring a new show based on Count Magnus and Number 13. Let me know if you have any ideas for venues – the itinerary won’t be confirmed for some time yet. I’ll be in touch when I know more.
BARGAINS
If you’re still looking for original, high-quality gifts for the haunted antiquarian in your life, then bargains are still available until midnight chimes on Christmas Eve:
A Pleasing Terror and A Warning to the Curious DVDs are £10.99 each inc p+p; £20.99 for the pair.
Curious Creatures: The Shorter Horror of M R James [a double CD] is reduced from £16.99 to £11.99 inc p+p.
Two Strange Tales by Lucy Boston [single CD] is reduced to £5.99 inc p+p.
Curfew and other eerie tales, by Lucy Boston [a book] – a very few copies still available for £19.99 inc p+p.
To avail yourself of any of these offers simply reply to this email and we’ll arrange payment. Nb Prices will be slightly higher for postage outside the UK.
TOURING
Details of opportunities to see the three existing shows between Jan and July 2012 will be up on the website very soon. There's good news if you live in or near Bedford, Swindon, Hastings, Hayes, Winchester, Huntingdon or Bristol.
Best wishes,
Robert

Best wishes,
Robert

The Musician, Leicester. December listings...


http://www.themusicianpub.co.uk/listings_dec11.html

Highlights:
1st Wreckless Eric & Amy Rigby
8th The Urban Voodoo Machine
9th Dan Baird & Homemade Sin
10th Simon 'Honeyboy' Hickling
14th Boo Hewerdine
18th Nine Below Zero
23rd Diesel Park West
27th El Pussycat & Kingsize
31st New Year's Eve Party

http://www.themusicianpub.co.uk/listings_dec11.html

Pinemarten: Album Out Today...


Pinemarten
If You Thought There Was Any Doubt
Album Out Today

“Orchestrating piercing rays of gleaming synths, the anonymous Chesterfield resident pours sophistication and summery elegance.” Abeano
“Writes the type of tracks to put your palms on your jaw, glaze your eyes and clean your brain to.” The Fader
“Forges a wonderful style of dreamy pop music that’s Scandinavian to the touch, all synthetic and breezy.” The Recommender


Today sees the release of Pinemarten's debut album 'If You Thought There Was Any Doubt'. The album is available to buy now via Bandcamp, with a select number of CD albums still available to purchase alongside digital download.

Having built up a reputation online with several lauded EP releases, as well as remixes for the likes of Jewellers, Sun Glitters and Museum of Bellas Artes, ‘If You Thought There Was Any Doubt’ is Pinemarten’s most potent statement of intent yet. Sporting his trademark, bouncing synthesizer riffs throughout, the album strikes a brilliant balance between upbeat pop-laden tunes and laid back romantic gems.

Featuring the recently released 'Don't Let Me Be Denied' and 'Change Your Mind', Chesterfield's native dream pop enigma shows no sign of being deterred by the album format on his debut offering. 'I Want To Show You Loving' is a sheltered pop hit, whilst the likes of 'Breathe' and 'When You're Lying There' show there is a still a lip-curling riff around every corner. At once hopelessly romantic and emotionally resolved, 'If You Thought There Was Any Doubt' belies the youthfulness of its maker and proves to be a gem of unheralded, underground pop.

Stream / Buy via Bandcamp: http://pinemarten.bandcamp.com/

Wild Beasts: Extra Dates...

WILD BEASTS ANNOUNCE 2012 TOUR
Having just wrapped up a weekend's worth of sold-out shows in London, Cambridge and Brighton, Wild Beasts are maintaining live momentum with news of a few 2012 dates. As for the choice of venues, they're all places the band haven't yet visited since releasing their acclaimed album 'Smother' earlier this year.

Tour dates:

11 Mar: Warwick, University
12 Mar: Norwich, Waterfront
13 Mar: Colchester, Arts Centre
14 Mar: Exeter, Phoenix
15 Mar: Falmouth, Pavillion
16 Mar: Cardiff, Coal Exchange
17 Mar: Liverpool, Masque Theatre

CAST: NEW ALBUM CONFIRMED FOR FEB. 2012


NEW ALBUM CONFIRMED FOR FEBRUARY 2012

15 years after the release of their million-selling debut ‘All Change’, Cast will release their new album ‘Troubled Times’ on 20 February 2012. The album includes lead single “See That Girl”, which will be released on 19 Dec, 2011.

Originally formed in 1992 from the ashes of two of the most legendary and lauded guitar bands of the time, The La’s and Shack, Cast released four albums (three of them top 10), and had ten top 10 singles ,The second album also went platinum

During that time, Noel Gallagher described watching the band as “a religious experience”, and at release ‘All Change’ was the highest biggest selling album of all time for Polydor. After the band’s split, Power released three solo albums, and has played intermittently since 2005 with the reformed La’s.

A decade later, and the original line-up of John Power (guitar/ vocals), Liam ‘Skin’ Tyson (lead guitar), Pete Wilkinson (bass) and Keith O’Neill (drums) have reunited with original producer John Leckie (Stone Roses, Radiohead, The Fall) for ‘Troubled Times’. The reinvigorated band have produced an album full of the anthemic, melodic and beautifully written songs for which they have always been loved by their fervent fanbase.

John Power says of the reformation:

"Getting back with the band and working with John Leckie again after all these years apart was just how I envisioned it when I started writing the songs for this album. Then it was all about putting into words what it was I was feeling, about all the things I was seeing all around me and troubled times is what we found"


The release will be preceded by a handful of show this December, followed by a full UK tour in early 2012.



Tracklisting:-

01. Bow Down

02. Troubled Thoughts

03. The Sky’s Got A Gaping Hole

04. See That Girl

05. Not Afraid Of The World

06. Silver And Gold

07. Bad Waters

08. Hold On Tight

09. About A Girl

10. Brother Fighting Brother

11. Time Bomb

12. Tear It Apart (All Over Again)


Announced live dates:-

Thurs, 15 Dec: Middlesbrough, Empire - http://www.ticketweb.co.uk

Fri, 16 Dec: Dunfermline, Glen Pavillion - http://www.ticketweb.co.uk

Sat, 17 Dec: Coventry, Kasbah - http://www.seetickets.com/Event/CAST/Kasbah/597351

The Twilight Sad: Dates / Album...


FEBRUARY 2012 DATES ANNOUNCED
New Album *NO ONE CAN EVER KNOW* released 6th February.

Coming off the road last week, The Twilight Sad are ready to announce fresh dates for February in support of the forthcoming ‘No One Can Ever Know’ album – details below.

Meanwhile the disco-motorik propelled ‘Another Bed’ is released as a single on 20th February.

LISTEN HERE: http://soundcloud.com/fatcatrecords/the-twilight-sad-another-bed/s-qle7m

February2012
9 Thu UK GLASGOW Grand Ole Opry
10 Fri UK MANCHESTER Ruby Lounge
11 Sat UK SHEFFIELD Queens Social Club
12 Sun UK BIRMINGHAM Hare and Hounds
13 Mon UK BRISTOL Fleece
14 Tue UK LONDON Cargo
15 Wed UK NOTTINGHAM Stealth
16 Thu UK LEEDS Brudenell Social Club

Already flagged by the widely leaked ‘Kill It In The Morning’ and first single proper, ‘Sick’ ‘No One Can Ever Know’ marks a sonic shift for The Twilight Sad. Freshly inspired by a listening diet of Caberet Voltaire, Liars, Magazine, Autechre, Banshees, Fad Gadget, PiL and Can, a synth-heavy sound characterizes ‘No One Can Ever Know’, a record thematically akin to the Manics ‘Holy Bible’, Depeche Mode’s ‘Violator’ and Nine Inch Nails’ ‘The Downward Spiral’.

Under the guidance of ‘anti-producer’ Andrew Weatherall the band experimented with vintage analogue synths - borrowed from Ben Hillier – to work on the core sounds they wanted, finding inspiration too in the distinctive production style of innovators like Martin Hannett and Conny Plank. For the first time the drums were also recorded separately utilising a lot of synthetic effects which allowed for the easy manipulation of the sounds and samples later in the process. Stylistically, the guitars tend to refract John McGeogh (Magazine/ Banshees) or Keith Levene (PiL) rather than the 'wall of sound' approach that defined The Twilight Sad’s previous recordings.

www.thetwilightsad.com

Lyrics - James Alexander Graham
Music - Andy MacFarlane
Drums/Programming - Mark Devine
Produced by The Twilight Sad
Anti-Produced by Andrew Weatherall
Engineering, Mix & Additional Production: Jim Anderson

Recorded & Mixed in London, January - March 2011

Ken Russell: British Film Director Dies At 84...


British film director Ken Russell, who was Oscar-nominated for his 1969 film Women In Love, has died at the age of 84.

His son, Alex, said he died peacefully in his sleep in a hospital on Sunday.

During his career, he became known for his controversial films including Women In Love, which featured Oliver Reed and Alan Bates wrestling nude.

He also directed the infamous religious drama The Devils and The Who's rock opera, Tommy, in 1975.

Film-maker Michael Winner hailed Russell's "duplicity of mind", adding he had made an "enormous contribution" to British cinema.

"He pushed the barriers completely and got away with it sometimes and didn't others, but he made some startling movies," he told the BBC.

"He had an eye for the composition of each image on the screen - a great eye for imagery and then, of course, he had a great idea for the grotesque."

BBC News: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-15917073

Zappa Plays Zappa at DeMontfort Hall, Leicester (27th Nov.)


Zappa Plays Zappa at DeMontfort Hall, Leicester (27th Nov.)
I’d been looking forward to this one for weeks. Young Dweezil Zappa playing his dad’s “Apostrophe” album from start to finish with plenty of favorites tagged onto the end. Through the magic of technology, Frank turned up for a few tunes via a big screen, and father and son traded precise solos and the band played along, making it all look easy. And let’s be honest, Frank Zappa’s music was rarely easy. His mix of weird time signatures, jazz-rock, off-the-wall humour and hard rock attracted a certain sort of ‘head’ and a good proportion of Leicester’s finest turned out last night.

Beginning the show with a fan’s request, an instrumental piece which served to warm up the crowd, they then dived straight in “Apostrophe”, with vocalist Ben Thomas getting to grips with the album’s spoken word style – almost a narrative on “Don’t Eat The Yellow Snow” and “Nanouk Rubs It”. Of course, the success of the recital depends greatly on the album’s centerpiece track, “Cosmik Debris”. Barely over four minutes long on the original record, here they stretch it out considerably with Frank taking vocals and one of the guitar solos and Dweezil taking the other. Honestly, they could have stretched it out for another half an hour without complaint.

“Apostrophe” was concluded and then it was time for the hits (I know, I know). “Inca Roads”, “Peaches En Regalia”, “Muffin Man” and “Cheapnis” all got a spin, with Dweezil offering occasional snippets of info regarding provenance and such like. But it wasn’t a night for talk, and there must be all kinds of emotions coming into play when you’re singing and playing your late father’s songs, in front of him, on screen at least. The band finished with “Dancing Fool” and the crowd got to their feet as one (much to the chagrin of the feisty DeMont stewards, who really shouldn’t be allowed caffeine before a show), and then it was over. We left Dweezil perched at the front of the stage happily chatting to the fans and signing everything that was thrust into his hands. A true pro – just like the old man.
www.zappaplayszappa.com
Rob F.


The remaining shows:
Mon 28th Oxford, New Theatre
0844 8471585 / http://www.newtheatreoxford.org.uk/index.asp?VenueID=103 £29.50

Tue 29th London, Barbican
0207 6388891 / http://www.barbican.org.uk/ £29.50

Wed 30th Bristol, Colston Hall
0117 9223686 / http://www.colstonhall.org/ £25.00 / £28.50

DECEMBER 2011
Thu 1st Brighton, Dome
01273 709709 / http://www.brightondome.org/ £28.50

Friday, 25 November 2011

Classic Review from the Leicester Bangs Print Archive:


Various Artists – “The Singles” (1993-1994) Loverly Music (Loverly)
Loverly Records is a young Memphis label which concentrates on that most beloved of rock ’n’ roll formats, the 7”, 45rpm vinyl single. Every couple of years they compile all their releases onto a double CD and this is what we have here. Though two shiny silver discs wont get the vinyl junkies drooling in quite the same way the individually packaged singles would, the CDs do have a few advantages: the price, the surreal sleevenotes and the convenience of slipping one of these discs into your machine and being blown away by the quality, diversity and sheer exuberance of independent Memphis music for the next 50 minutes.

Loverly is the brainchild of one Mr. Ed Porter, who’s mighty Goosebumps get things going with “I’m The Hungriest Man In The World”, one of the most genuine tributes to the munching stuff since Guy Clark set the glories of “Texas Cookin’” to music 20 years before. James Eddie Campbell wanders ‘round next to extol the virtues of “Lu Ann” - a rockabilly stomp of the old school, which doesn’t pull any punches. The Trey Harrison led Grundies’ “San Antonio” features characters like Bongo Joe and asks questions about birds that would never have crossed Tony Soper’s mind. Nick Name’s contribution of “I Love How You Love Me” and Kris Kristofferson’s “Why Me” both make the hairs rise. With his band New Car Smell, things loosen up considerably, especially on the organ led “Annexation Blues”, the broken down country song “Laughing In My Beer” and the wonderful “You Must Be Out Of My Mind”, which sounds like The Doors circa “LA Woman”, going bad with extra oomph on the side.

Bum Notes get their say next with Yoko’s “Move On Fast” and Butch Hancock’s “Boxcars” (I think I mentioned variety), both of which sound great, before the Greg Hisky Rhythm Method bring disc one to an end with a couple of sticky slices of R&B. “Hangover” is particularly frayed around the edges because, as the notes explain, ‘Mr. Hisky knows of what he singeth’.

Disc two sees all the main protagonists back for more. James Eddie Campbell gets to open with four monster instrumentals, which bring to mind Hank Marvin with a bee up his chute, before Greg Hisky, this time with his Dixie Whiskey Boys, gets it down in the country with a mini Hank Williams tribute; both “Ramblin’ Man” and “House Of Gold” get dusted off to good effect. Trey Harrison’s back next with the old chestnut “Polka Dots And Moonbeams” before the legendary Professor Elixer’s Southern Troubadours apply the kitchen sink method to “Memphis Bedlamite Blues” and “FmHA”.

Alex Greene supplies two great sides in the Beatlesque “Looney June” and the simply magnificent “Mush Mush”. The Brewers get all manic with “Are You With Me?” before calming down with Patrick Sky’s “Too Many Times”. The second disc comes to an end with Loverly’s favourite son Nick Name, again with New Car Smell. “Let’s Just Rock It features the kind of rolling organ that The Prisoners made their own on the London circuit and “Are You Sleepy Yet?” is the perfect kiss goodnight.

So Loverly? Yes, I think they are and I like to think you will too. Tracking this down may take some considerable time and effort – I had to write letters to Shangri-La Records in Memphis* – but it’s well worth it.
LB (1997)

*Edit. Now you can just click a button and buy it, but honestly, that’s nowhere near as much fun.

Steve Ignorant’s Last Supper at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire


Steve Ignorant’s Last Supper at the Shepherd’s Bush Empire
This has to go down with the best gigs I’ve ever attended, though I was so unprepared for it I should have had my credentials (what credentials?) scrutinized to hell, maybe scrabbled, or even scrunched up and made to swallow. So, not worthy of being there, I was one fortunate SOB who witnessed a sad moment in musical history, although I didn’t know it until the show was in full swing. That’s when it hit me. The last ever concert by Crass, although it was sold (and sold out) under the name I’ve also given this article. Steve Ignorant, founder and lead singer of Crass, had with him my friend's son Peter on bass, and his partner, Carol, as the female vocalist. I said "Yes please!" to the chance to go to the Shepherd’s Bush Empire to see this final gig by this peace-not-war, anarcho punk band, who I knew so little about. Peter had offered me the chance to go along, as both his parents were going as well, and I thought "Why not... seeing them onstage together, in a large auditorium... should be fun!"

Euphoria is a word that can only describe the edges of my feelings by the time it was over. Seeing both Peter and Carol performing on stage, in front of a mosh pit that heaved like a sea in a heavy swell. And yet I can’t remember the last time I saw so many smiling faces, even as they went by in a blur. I envied their spirit, their vigour, their communal fellowship, and had I joined in I would have lasted about ten seconds, give or take, er, ten seconds (actually, I would have been diving from the balcony, so I guess I wouldn't have lasted any time at all).

I realised that something powerful was afoot when the first support band got a rousing cheer after each song. I was still coming to terms with the fact that the lead singer appeared to be as old as I was, and, judging by his outfit, a traveller to boot. Nothing wrong with either, and joined in the ovations. I was finally getting the message - this whole show was very, very important to this full house. The second band had a bloke singing who you would definitely have crossed the street to avoid, whether he told you to or not. He had a look about him that said, quite simply, "don’t mess with me". Their final song was an absolute killer, entitled "I Hate The Universe", and despite the title it was the nearest to a melody I heard all night, with a rousing chorus that you just had to join. With a title like that, you just can’t possibly follow it, can you? Well, I didn’t know the power of the man who calls himself Steve Ignorant...

Peter had already told me that the opening number would blow everything away, and he was right. The title? C'mon, this is Crass! It doesn't matter, any more than knowing the names of the support bands! This was mental, built on 30 years of mental, but with a defiant message of opposition that is just as important today as it was when it was first unfurled all those years ago. It’s encapsulated in the band’s banner headline, "Fight War Not Wars".

Besides Peter and Carol there was Prodigy guitarist Gizz Butts, and Spike T Smith (Killing Joke) on drums. The original members had all given their blessings, and once seen, and heard, you could understand why. To say the band looked the part is a huge understatement. They had more 'presence' than Santa could possibly deliver, and the appeal of their authentic musicianship was universally acknowledged. As for Steve, he followed two pretty powerful vocalists who were in the same field as him, but he shaded them both, without question. He referred to himself on more than one occasion as 'old git', but he’s still producing the goods - a badge of honour rather than a put down. I hope that he has new goals in his sight, with this band, and that he drops the 'Ignorant' moniker for one more worthy of him.

I think it tells you a lot when you can go to a gig and not worry what the band might play, or who the support bands are. If you were young enough (hardy enough!) you went moshing, and if you were open-minded enough you would recognise the sheer, sad beauty of the occasion. You would leave the venue as I did, with my heart beating just a tiny bit faster, and my feet not quite touching the floor. We were fortunate to be there, Crasstafarians and the rest of us, to share this last great musical supper.
Kev A.

FOOTNOTE: The support bands deserve a proper mention: First up were Paranoid Visions, originally formed in Dublin, in 1981, now with two girl singers as well as the bloke. Next were The Cravats, who formed in 1978, near Birmingham (I DO like the 'near' bit!). The somewhat scary singer is the original man himself, and Cravats’ founder, Shend (or 'The Shend'), and it was interesting to see him making an appearance on the Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant new black comedy series “Life's Too Short”, recently. Respect!

BROADCAST MAY RELEASE ANOTHER RECORD

BROADCAST MAY RELEASE ANOTHER RECORD
James Cargill, bandmate and partner of Broadcast frontwoman Trish Keenan, who died suddenly earlier this year, has said that the band may release another album. Speaking to Under The Radar, Cargill revealed that he is sitting on a number of unreleased recordings made by Keenan prior to her death, which he does intend to work into finished tracks.

"Trish left a lot of tapes, four-tracks and stuff", he said. "The next thing I release with Trish on it will be more like a monument and a tribute to her rather than this obsessive thing I used to have about making albums".

Commenting on that output, he continued: "Trish's vocals are really great. They're a bit more pastoral, almost a bit more like [2003 album] 'Haha Sound'. I liked the lyrics she was writing. They fit the pastoral, folk thing. She'd taken a lot from Lewis Carroll and some of the nonsense verse she was into. I think it might be a bit more like the older Broadcast".

Review: ROIL


ROIL - Frost Frost (Bo’ Weavil Recordings)
“Frost Frost” is the second album release for Sydney jazz trio, ROIL, but the first outside of Australia. Members, James Walpes, Mike Majkowski and Chris Abrahams have been active on the Australian jazz and improvised music scenes for many years. Collectively they have performed with the likes of Jon Rose and Clayton Thomas (Mike - bass) and been members of the Mike Nock Trio (James - drums) and The Necks (Chris - piano).

On “Frost Frost”, the centerpiece track, “Water Servant” picks and feels its way through various musical personalities of melody or intangibility, but as a whole, their improvisations stage a passive / aggressive approach to music making. Some are more minimalist (“Honeydew”) or more melodic ambient passages (“Costume of Melancholy”, “The Absence of Air” and “Frost Frost”) which tend towards the passive, whilst the extended free jazz excursions – like the brooding and acerbic, “Super Victim” – teeter on the aggressive.
www.myspace.com/roilmeaning
www.boweavilrecordings.com
Willsk

Review: Henry's Funeral Shoe


Henry’s Funeral Shoe - Donkey Jacket (Alive Records)
The minimalist pairing of drummer and singer/guitarist in a contemporary blues combo inevitably draws comparisons with the White Stripes and The Black Keys. Given that the latter may be the most dynamic and creative outfit on the planet right now, that should be a daunting prospect for two brothers hailing from the Welsh Valleys. However, there’s little to be ashamed of in what they present on their self-produced debut ‘Donkey Jacket’.

The comparison with the Keys holds good for all the right reasons: slice after slice of electrifying, pulsating, psychedelic swamp blues which override geography or age. With ‘Be Your Own Invention’ and ‘Love is a Fever’ they hit the highway at a formidable pace with songs that stand up to anything their Akron rivals may have put out before ‘Attack and Release’. Not afraid to vary the style and speed they branch out into two convincing raw country ballads, ‘Bottom to Top’ and ‘Heart on Fire’, and supplement their core capabilities elsewhere with impressive guest performances. Of these the harmonica input on ‘Anvil and Chains’ and ‘Mission and Maintenance’ from Van Morrison sideman John Edwards raises both tracks to standout level and introduces real individuality and character into an album that is consistently impressive throughout.
www.henrysfuneralshoe.com
Neil B.

Review: Savoy Brown


Savoy Brown - Voodoo Moon (Ruf Records)
It would be harsh to suggest that Ruf have retrieved Savoy Brown from the ‘Where Are They Now’ file, but ‘Voodoo Moon’, their first outing for the enterprising German imprint, should serve to reintroduce the band to many who remember them mainly from 1969’s ‘Train to Nowhere’.

Always a wildly fluctuating line-up, the current incarnation finds original guitarist and long-term brand-holder Kim Simmonds fronting a collection of younger musicians assembled from in and around his current base of Oswego, New York. The results, it has to be said, are surprisingly satisfactory. The playing is assured, the songs are convincing and the production is both accessible and mature. Vocalist Joe Whiting deploys his smooth (but not syrupy) Robert Cray-esque voice effectively on the new numbers, several of which were co-written by himself with Simmonds; while the axe-man delivers his licks and lines with all due regard to his long experience. There are highlights: ‘Shockwaves’, ‘Natural Man’ and particularly ‘Look at the Sun’ still stand out from the rest after several hearings; but all in all the whole stands as an enjoyable and welcome return.
www.rufrecords.de
www.savoybrown.com
Neil B.

Review: Eliot Bardo


Eliot Bardo - Shadows On The Wall (Last Man Records)
I do like the record company moniker. I get a blurred image of the batsman leaving the pavilion to defend the last wicket, or the loan gunfighter standing firm in the dusty street, the saloon doors behind him. Eliot himself is a bit like the last man, too. He does sound as if he’s alone, without any help from anyone in this big world. On just the second song, "By The Riverside", he’s told us “Nobody really knows you when you got no name... No one gives the man a second look... Do you know me at all... Will you catch me if I fall?...”

His voice is unusual, as he sings a little flat, and has almost a talking drawl at times, but it also has a cracked appeal, in a 'Nikki Sudden' kinda way. It helps that he’s singing all his own words, and the territory he covers is not only familiar to him but also close to his heart… I think. And he goes on to tell us that his life is on the wrong track, and although people offer to help they only care about themselves ("More Enemies"), and the line "I got more enemies than friends" tells us much about his feelings for this world, if only in song. Dour lyrics inhabit almost every breath ("Life Is Beautiful" bucks the trend, though it’s a love song about a girl who looks beautiful when she cries), but their delivery isn’t as downbeat as one might expect, with odd moments of spiky electric guitar, some surging keyboards, and his vocals, with a righteous feel to them, letting us know he can handle it all, that he’ll get by. His best lines are sung in "Trap", introduced by the now trusty combination of clanging guitar and swirling keyboards: “Sitting on the steps of the rest of your life... Waiting for a friend or the rest to arrive... There's no way in... There's no way out”. Such inherent sadness here, deep and desperate thoughts about what the future holds.

He undoubtedly has a world-weary appeal, though he does finish with a song called "Everything Is Going Fine', but if that doesn't work, you’ll have to fall back on that one love song…
www.lastmanrecords.com
Kev A.

Review: Crooked Still


Crooked Still - Friends Of Fall (Signature Sounds)
You might not believe it, but the following paragraph IS TRUE, written as I listened to “Friends Of Fall” for the very first time:

Right from the get-go, I get the impression that Crooked Still have released this to test the waters, and in more ways than one. I think they wanted to know how they sounded on record, and if there’d be any market for their songs. Sure, I could be wrong, they may well be tried and tested marketeers with oodles of experience, who hit on the idea that sounding so young, fresh and immediate might be the way to go. I'll just check the promo sheet that accompanies the EP… ha! What do I know! The joke’s on me! This EP celebrates their ten-year anniversary! I've never heard of them, or any of their music before now. I chose to review “Friends Of Fall” after hearing a few samples that appeared to have such a mix of styles and a rush of energetic divergence – on that considerable evidence, it was a 'must review'.

I never found the time to investigate any further (I just made a note about the 'mix of styles' and then forgot about it), so when it arrived it was totally new to me. All I can say, in my defence, is you ought to try it, and see if you agree that even daisies are put to shame by such a fresh approach. Ten years in the business, and this five piece folk band from Boston, Massachusetts, are as lively as a bunch of newborn lambs, and they gambol along just as freely, albeit for too short a time.

This mixed bag of covers (a Beatles and a Paul Simon), traditional songs, one of their own compositions, and a poem put to their own music could hardly be more diverse, but it suits their style, and their musical savvy. I should have known they knew exactly what they were doing, that they had plenty of experience to cope with the variety. The string instruments melt together in a sweet, harmonic haze, and the vocals of Aoife O'Donovan are almost beyond complimenting, as they’re the perfect voice for this bundle of songs. This is a short but pure treasure. Indulge yourself.
www.crookedstill.com
Kev A.

Hawk Eyes, dates and a new EP...


The Mindhammers EP is Hawk Eyes' latest offering. A collection of new material that is positively alive with raucous energy and invention and a taste of what to expect in 2012 when then their new album drops. This is the band's last release on Brew before they move on to their new home of Fierce Panda.

Previously the band released 'Modern Bodies' in November 2010, mixed by Kevin Vanbergen (80's Matchbox B Line Disaster, The Pixies, Gallows) and mastered by Dick Beetham at 360 Mastering (Black Sabbath, Jeff Beck). Kerrang magazine went as far as saying that Hawk Eyes, "make the manicured chug of all other metal bands seem uni-formally redundant."

Stream of "Dead Man's Hand" here:

http://hawkeyesmusic.bandcamp.com/track/dead-mans-hand

The EP will is available to pre-order now & will be officially released on 12th December

http://brewrecords.bigcartel.com/artist/hawk-eyes

Available on limited TRANSPARENT vinyl with download or download only.

To support the release of the Mindhammers EP, Hawk Eyes will be touring heavily in November with Turbowolf and The James Cleaver Quintet while December a tour supporting Ginger from the Wildheartswill follow after he personally invited the band to join him:
Current November co-headline tour with Turbowolf + The JCQ

15 Nov 2011 Leeds - Cockpit
16 Nov 2011 Glasgow - King Tuts Wah Wah Hut
17 Nov 2011 Manchester - Alter Ego
18 Nov 2011 Sheffield - Corporation
19 Nov 2011 Aldershot - Westend Centre
20 Nov 2011 Southampton - Joiners
22 Nov 2011 London - Upstairs at the Garage

December Tour with Ginger Wildheart and Exit_International (2 gigs in 1 day on 10th December)

Wed 7th - Manchester Moho Live
Thur 8th - Glasgow Garage
Fri 9th - Newcastle Academy 2
Sat 10th - Leeds Cockpit + Sat 10th - Leeds Packhorse 'Big Horse Party'
Sun 11th - Southampton Talking Heads
Tue 13th - Bristol The Fleece
Wed 14th - Buckley Tivoli
Thur 15th - Wolverhampton Wulfrun Hall
Sat 17th - London, Islington Academy 1 **Sold Out**

"Exploding out of the speaker's on this phenomenal debut, it's immediately apparent that Hawk Eyes are a force to be reckoned with" Kerrang! KKKK

"Hawk Eyes will swoop down and rip out your intestines through your nostrils with this opening track to new album "Modern Bodies" NME, On Repeat

"Mixing tech-metal guitar riffs and brutal drumming, 'Modern Bodies' cements their reputation as unrelenting noise merchants" Rock Sound, 8/10

Tracklisting:
1) Crack Another One
2) Mindhammers
3) Dead Man's Hand
4) Eleven Years
5) Hidden Hound

www.hawkeyesmusic.com
www.facebook.com/hawkeyesmusic
www.brewrecords.net
Brew Facebook

David Rovics Tour Commentary:


Hi folks,

Over the past week or so I've been intermittently writing a bit of a 10,000-word recollection of the past 3 months of touring in the US, Canada and seven different European countries. Hopefully it makes entertaining reading, let me know!

songwritersnotebook.blogspot.com/2011/11/recollections-from-3-month-tour.html

And if you want to listen to it instead of reading it, I read it all out loud in one go (I haven't learned how to edit yet), and I uploaded the MP3, all 52 minutes' worth of it, here:

www.radio4all.net/index.php/program/56008

David
www.davidrovics.com

Thursday, 24 November 2011

Review: Ike Moriz - Stardust


Ike Moriz – Stardust (Mosquito Records London)
In 2009, Ike Moriz released his Stardust trilogy, three albums of swing and jazz songs. The “Stardust” album gave the trilogy its name, and featured perhaps his strongest set of tunes. Without doubt most of the titles will be recognizable to fans of the genre, and the famous interpreters of the Great American Songbook, from Nat King Cole and Ella Fitzgerald to the ratpack stars who reigned over the Vegas casinos in the ‘50s and ‘60s.

Vocally, it’s Cole that Moriz most resembles. He has the same gentle burr to his voice, which makes for some very easy listening. He certainly makes short work of Fats Waller’s “Ain't Misbehavin'”, with pianist A. McPike on his usual fine form. The pair are just as impressive on “I've Got the World On a String”, a song that’s been covered by just about everyone, and Moriz’s take stands tall alongside contemporary versions by Michael Bublé and Rod Stewart.

He leaves some of his strongest work for the final third. His “These Foolish Things” reclaims the song for the Riviera crowd after Bryan Ferry’s ‘70s re-invention. “For Once in My Life” is slowed down and we get to feel every word, and the George Shearing / George David Weiss classic “Lullaby of Birdland” gets a subtle new arrangement, I assume courtesy of bandleader Willie van Zyl.
www.ikemoriz.com
Rob F.

Review: Sterling Koch


Sterling Koch - Slide Ruler (Full Force Music / High Tone Music Group)
Sterling Koch is a renowned lap steel guitarist, with a rock solid reputation as both a session player and a solo artist. Blues is his chosen genre, and for his latest album he’s recruited a band of heavyweights including bassist Tommy Shannon (Stevie Ray Vaughan, Johnny Winter) and Grammy nominated drummer Chet McCracken (Doobie Brothers). That’s quite a rhythm section, and they hold the groove down in some style, allowing Koch the space to really play.

There are plenty of standout tunes to be found on “Slide Ruler” and in the best blues tradition; Koch delights in playing, and bringing something fresh and vital to the standards of the genre. He’s also not averse to dropping the odd surprise track into a set, and it’s great to hear Santo and Johnny Farina’s 1959 classic “Sleep Walk” get a muscular re-working. Equally impressive is the first single lifted from the album, a strapping version of Dion DiMucci’s “If You Wanna Rock ‘n’ Roll” - I bet it sounds great on the radio. On Roosevelt Sykes’ “Driving Wheel” Koch gets to show off his slide guitar capabilities to full effect and he’s just as good on Johnny Winter’s “I'm A Bluesman”, where he plucks a fine solo. If you were under the illusion that the lap steel guitar was only for playing country music, head over to Koch’s website, or YouTube, and get yourself a rounded musical education.
www.sterlingkoch.com
Rob F.

Humble Pie Drummer Writes Book:


Best Seat In The House

Drumming In The ’70s
With Marriott, Frampton And Humble Pie

Rebeat Books / Hal Leonard
ISBN: 9781-8884048-13-3
336 pages
Published: February 2012

Jerry Shirley will be most remembered by anyone with the slightest interest in “Classic Rock Music” as the drummer in one of the late ’60s/early ’70s biggest success stories – Humble Pie.

In early 1969 Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton had both become increasingly tired of the teenybopper status they had gained in The Small Faces and The Herd. To break away from the pop format they teamed together and formed Humble Pie. Jerry Shirley was chosen to drum in the new band. He had just turned 17. Along with bassist Greg Ridley, and managers Andrew Loog Oldham and Dee Anthony, the Pie started a six-year journey that stormed the US and defined Arena Rock – bigger sound, bigger contracts, and bigger parties.
Along the way Jerry meets with future legends that make for a star-studded bio and rare glimpse into the rock music industry. Written in his own voice and with a wicked musician sense of humour, the drummer details the vibrant scene that created the explosive sound of heavy-rock.

He explains how sessions were conducted by iconic engineers like Glyn Johns and Eddie Kramer, describes his session work with Syd Barrett (Pink Floyd) and George Harrison (The Beatles) and tells amusing tales like drum shopping with The Who's Keith Moon. What was it like to perform a sold-out show at Shea Stadium, play for 250,000 in Hyde Park, charter a private jet for tour, record the trend-setting live record at the Fillmore East (that spawned the FM radio staple ‘I Don't Need No Doctor’), get hyped for the stage by Dee Anthony, and deal with the drugs and excesses of this inhibitive era of rock? The answers are all here.

Jerry’s account of his professional and personal relationship with the legendary Steve Marriott is particularly noteworthy, as it’s perhaps the most intimate first-hand look to date at the celebrated singer/ songwriter/guitarist, who died in a house fire in 1991.

The 336-page paperback also includes numerous photos; a foreword by Peter Frampton; a “Testimonials and Love Letters” section, with contributions from more than two dozen renowned musicians and music-business executives, including David Gilmour (Pink Floyd), Chad Smith (The Red Hot Chilli Peppers), Kenney Jones (The Small Faces / The Who), Andrew Loog Oldham (Rolling Stones manager / Immediate Records), and Gene Simmons (Kiss).

For anyone who wants to trace the journey from provincial beat band to Immediate Records and then being catapulted into the hallowed halls of British Rock Royalty at the dawn of the ’70s, this book transplants you back to the very heart (and best seat) of these heady, creative and exciting days.

Bill Wells new album


Bill Wells 
releases new album Lemondale out 5 December 2011 on Double Six

http://soundcloud.com/dominorecordco/sets/bill-wells-lemondale-sampler

It is with great honour that Double Six announces the release of Lemondale by Bill Wells on Monday the 5th of December. The recording was a triumph in itself and testament to Wells' particularly fruitful relationship with the Japanese musical underground.

Assembling fourteen musicians for one day in Tokyo, including Jim O’Rourke on guitar, the event was described as ‘a miracle’ by Takuji Aoyagi (Kama Aina) one of the musicians on the record. A remarkable meeting, bringing together musicians and schools of music that would be thought to be incompatible even appearing on a bill for a live event, let alone playing on the same record.

Musicians that had never met and had come from different sides of the tracks suddenly found themselves together in the same recording booth. Tori Kudo, self proclaimed Japanese 'King Of Error' was coupled with virtuoso pianist Satoko Fuji, a classically trained graduate of Berkley Music College in Boston.

The recording also brought together instruments as seemingly incongruent and unrelated as a modified electric fan played by Tetsuya Umeda and the entirely unique and heavenly voices of Saya, from Tenniscoats and Kazumi Nikaido, one of Japan's leading contemporary vocalists.
Lemondale simultaneously captures the attendant excitement of a first collaborative encounter and the confidence that comes only from artists at the top of their craft. It is casual and intimate and alive with a charmingly human and playful spirit, of the kind that most music listeners long to be touched by.

On top of working with more exotic musical talent than ever before, Wells is making more beautiful records than ever before. You can hear some tracks from Lemondale here: http://soundcloud.com/dominorecordco/sets/bill-wells-lemondale-sampler and pre-order it here: http://www.dominorecordco.com/uk/albums/05-10-11/lemondale/

Lemondale will be available on CD (DS049CD) and via digital download (DS049D)

London 2012: Elbow compose BBC's Olympic theme:


Elbow are to record the BBC's soundtrack for the London 2012 Olympic Games, it has been announced.

The band, who won the Mercury Music Prize in 2008 for their album The Seldom Seen Kid, have composed a six-minute specially-commissioned track.

Lead singer Guy Garvey said they were "knocked out" to get the role, and the band felt "real responsibility".

The news came as the BBC announced its cultural programmes for the Olympics and the London 2012 Festival.

The Elbow theme will be used by the BBC across its Olympic content. Further details of the track itself have yet to be released.

Guy Garvey told the BBC: "We are knocked out to be involved and it's been quite a challenge.

"We have feelings of real responsibility as we will be the soundtrack to so many images of personal sacrifice and endeavour while the nation roots for and celebrates with Team GB."

The BBC's Director of London 2012 Roger Mosey said Elbow's piece had yet to be recorded. The first bars of it would be aired around the time of the torch relay beginning in May 2012, with the full work revealed near to the Olympic Games opening ceremony.

Red Hot Chili Peppers Release Downloads Of Every Show While On Tour


You can now download professional recordings of each Red Hot Chili Peppers show during their current tour in MP3, true CD quality FLAC and iTunes-friendly Apple Lossless formats. Fans can browse all current show offerings here (link below) with more downloads becoming available on a regular basis.

http://livechilipeppers.com/catalog.aspx

MARSHALL TELLER RECORDS Split 12":

MARSHALL TELLER RECORDS

Split 12" with Gross Magic, The History of Apple Pie, Novella and Echo Lake released 12th December

London launch show and instores announced

Just over a year ago Marshall Teller Records crammed 4 bands on to their first 7” release. Now to round off 2011 they have combined more of their favourite bands not to far from their home in North London, to all be featured on 4 way split 12” record.

To celebrate the release, all four bands will perform across two instores and Echo Lake, The History of Apple Pie and Novella will perform at the launch show on 15th December

Monday 12th December - instore - Rough Trade East, London

6:30pm - The History of Apple Pie

7:30pm - Gross Magic

Tuesday 13th December - instore - 7pm - Kristina Records, London
Echo Lake
Novella

Split 12" launch show - Thursday 15th December - Shacklewell Arms, London

Echo Lake
The History of Apple Pie
Novella
Purchase tickets here // https://birdonthewire.ticketabc.com/events/marshall-teller/

Details on the release//

To open the 12” is the grunge glitter of GROSS MAGIC. With their Teen Jamz EP being scooped up by Fat Possum within months of being on the web, we expect huge things from this band.

“It's an ultra-vivid dream of a version of perfect pop, Bolan's glam boogie recalled via Davy Henderson's Win and put through an Ariel Pink filter” The Guardian

THE HISTORY OF APPLE PIE follows up next. Fresh off tours with The Drums and Male Bonding, THOAP look to keep the 90s guitar band era alive with the aid of woozy girl vocals. Their track TUG a melange of melody and noise as pioneered by Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr and My Bloody Valentine.

“Creating a noise to trump the likes of Vivian Girls and Best Coast as a British mutation of their own game” NME

Flipping the record over you are welcomed by the hazy pop perfection Buired at Sea by ECHO LAKE. London quintet Echo Lake have made quiet the name for them in a very short period of time. February's debut EP - 'Young Silence' - sold out in days, the accompanying video by filmmaker Dan Nixon reached 100k views in a few weeks, print press caught up with the blogosphere and fell in love, and the band toured, with the similarly fast-rising 2:54, for the first time.

“Hypnotic and enveloping Galaxie 500-inspired “swoon-pop” Gorilla vs Bear

NOVELLA close the 12” with a new track, Santiago. Farley new to the world NOVELLA already have tours set with the Dum Dum Girls and 2:54. With their debut single selling out super fast, this will be their second release and Santiago sooths you in with girl group harmonies tinged with a dark undercurrent or jangley guitars.

To celebrate the split record, on the release date the 12th of December ROUGH TRADE EAST will be hosting an instore for GROSS MAGIC and THE HISTORY OF APPLE PIE. The following day the 13th of December, KRISTINA RECORDS will be hosting another instore for ECHO LAKE and NOVELLA.

TRACKLISTING//

SIDE 1.

Yesterdays – GROSS MAGIC

AA. Tug – THE HISTORY OF APPLE PIE

SIDE 2.

A. Buried At Sea – ECHO LAKE

AA. Santiago – NOVELLA

AIR confirm new album, 'Le voyage dans la lune':


‘Le voyage dans la lune’ (A Trip To The Moon) is a pioneering black and white silent film from revered director Georges Méliès released in 1902 that is considered one of the most important works in film history. AIR, the duo of Nicolas Godin and Jean-Benoit Dunckel have just confirmed that this classic film is the inspiration behind their new album, also called ‘Le voyage dans la lune’, which will be released by Virgin Records in February 2012.

The 16-minute film was based loosely on Jules Verne’s ‘From the Earth to the Moon’ and HG Wells’ ‘The First Men In The Moon’ and was the first movie to use science fiction as its theme. The colour version was feared lost but in 1999 a fragile copy was found and the fully restored edition debuted at Cannes in May 2011 with a new soundtrack by AIR. Their new album expands the instrumentals from that screening and features the vocal talents and lyrics of Au Revoir Simone and Victoria Legrand (Beach House).

Says Nicolas Godin on the project: “‘A Trip To The Moon’ is undoubtedly more organic than most of our past projects. We wanted it to sound ‘handmade’, ‘knocked together’, a bit like Méliès’ special effects. Everything is played live…like Méliès’ film, our soundtrack is nourished by living art.”

The three producers of the restored version have agreed to let Virgin release a special limited editoin version of AIR’s album ‘Le voyage dans la lune’. This will consist of the album plus a bonus DVD or digital download of the restored colorised film with AIR’s original film score, strictly limited to 70,000 global copies.

A special three minute extract of the film will be made available for free for one week only on iTunes on December 5, at which time the AIR album pre-order will start.

Dropkick news:


Hi folks.

It's been a wee while since I last sent an update about your second favourite powerpop band Dropkick, so here you go...

For the past few months we've been beavering away in our rehearsal room recording a bunch of new songs, some of which may eventually make it onto our next album sometime next year. We've filmed all the recording sessions too, so you if you want to hear and see the results (or just want to check out what guitars and amps we use), head over to YouTube and search for "dropkick recording" and you should find all the songs without having to trawl through millions of Dropkick Murphys videos. Or if you prefer, just head to www.dropkickmusic.co.uk and you'll find all the links you need. Hope you enjoy the new material - and please let us know what you think of the songs.

Christmas is approaching fast, so if you are struggling for a present for your mother-in-law you could always buy her a couple of Dropkick CDs! We have a special offer available for Twitter followers, Facebook friends and mailing list members only. Basically, you can buy 2 albums for the price of 1. Head to www.dropkickmusic.co.uk/xmas2011 for all the details. Of course if you are feeling festive, you can also still buy last year's Xmas EP "25th December" from our online shop www.tayloredrecords.co.uk. The EP is available on 7" red vinyl or can be downloaded from the usual places. If you buy the vinyl EP, we'll include a CDR of the tracks as well for free. Check out the Xmas video (featuring Alice Marra of The Hazey Janes) here: www.youtube.com/watch?v=CMhmuXQwkGM&feature=channel_video_title

Speaking of The Hazey Janes, we're playing a rare full band gig with them this week. Here's the details:
Fri 25th Nov @ Sneaky Pete's, Edinburgh. Doors 7pm. £5 entry. Supporting The Hazey Janes. Also playing is Riley Briggs (of Aberfeldy) so it should be a top night. If you're in the area, come along if you can.

OK, that's all for now. Hope you have good Christmas and New Year.

Alastair Dropkick.

www.dropkickmusic.co.uk www.myspace.com/dropkickmusic
http://twitter.com/dropkickmusic
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Dropkick/37373050656?ref=ts

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

Wild Beasts Tour dates:


Wild Beasts will play:

Coventry Warwick University (March 11)
Norwich Waterfront (12)
Colchester Arts Centre (13)
Falmouth Pavilion (15)
Cardiff Coal Exchange (16)

Tickets go on sale on Friday (25th Nov.) at 9am (GMT). Available from the usual outlets.

CHIMES OF FREEDOM: Bob Dylan and Amnesty International:


Chimes of Freedom - 75 Newly Recorded Bob Dylan Songs by Over 80 Artists Scheduled for January 24 Release -- Salutes Amnesty International's 50th Anniversary and Life-Saving Human Rights Work

The Collection Features Songs By
* Adele * The Airborne Toxic Event * Joan Baez * Natasha Bedingfield * Jackson Browne * Cage the Elephant * Elvis Costello * Darren Criss * Miley Cyrus * Dave Matthews Band * K'NAAN * Ke$ha * Mark Knopfler * Diana Krall * Lenny Kravitz * Kris Kristofferson * Ziggy Marley * Maroon 5 * Tom Morello * My Chemical Romance * Joe Perry * Queens Of The Stone Age * Raphael Saadiq * Seal & Jeff Beck * Silversun Pickups * Patti Smith * Sting * Sugarland * Pete Townshend * Lucinda Williams * Evan Rachel Wood

(New York) - Two iconic forces that have impacted the past 50 years - the life-saving human rights activism of Nobel Peace Prize-winning Amnesty International and the incomparable artistry of Bob Dylan - are being saluted by 80 musicians who contributed new or previously unreleased recordings to Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International.

Chimes of Freedom is Executive Produced by legendary music executive Jeff Ayeroff and Julie Yannatta, who spearheaded Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur - a 2007 collection of John Lennon solo compositions performed by major artists including U2, Green Day, and R.E.M.

The collection is scheduled for physical (4 discs) and digital release in North America on January 24, 2012 through Fontana Distribution. It will be distributed internationally through Fontana International, a Universal Music company, on January 30.

Chimes of Freedom features a stellar and diverse group of artists across the generational and musical spectrum. The performers, including many of Amnesty International's longtime supporters, range in age from teenage pop star Miley Cyrus, 19, to folk music legend Pete Seeger, who, at 92, records Dylan's poignant "Forever Young," with a children's chorus.

The diversity of the musicians and musical genres - from rock, rap, hip-hop to pop, folk, country, jazz and blues -- attests to Amnesty's depth of support in the music community, the universal appeal of the core message of human rights, and the breadth of Dylan's impact on culture. Almost every track on the album is being released for sale for the first time* - except for the title song, Dylan's original 1964 recording of "Chimes of Freedom." Seventy songs were recorded especially for this release - with the addition of a few previously unreleased recordings.

"This album is a powerful fusion of the music community's respect for Amnesty's life-affirming work and for Bob Dylan's enduring brilliance," said Ayeroff and Yannatta. "We are proud to have worked with Amnesty to produce this remarkable project."

In 1962, Amnesty International evolved from a one-year campaign to free political prisoners into a worldwide movement fighting for justice, freedom and human dignity; today the organization has more than three million supporters in 150 countries. In March of that same year Bob Dylan's debut album was released, launching an unparalleled recording career.
"Over the half century, Dylan's art has explored and expressed the anguish and hope of the modern human condition," observed Sean Wilentz, the noted historian, in the album liner notes.

"Bob Dylan's music endures because he so brilliantly captures our heartbreak, our joy, our frailty, our confusion, our courage and our struggles," said Karen Scott Amnesty International's Manager of Music Relations. "His words convey a depth of meaning that few artists can equal, inspiring us and always moving ahead of our expectations. We at Amnesty International are deeply grateful to this legendary musician and to all of the artists who have contributed to this project."

All of the artists, session musicians, arrangers, engineers, producers and recording studios worked pro-bono to support the human rights cause. Almost 30 tracks on the album were mixed gratis by famed engineer Bob Clearmountain. Bob Ludwig and Adam Ayan of Gateway Mastering donated their mastering services. The album cover illustration is by Grammy Award winning artist Mick Haggerty. Eight tracks were produced or executive produced by Martin Lewis, who as co-creator/producer in the 1970s of Amnesty's ongoing "Secret Policeman's Ball" benefit series, instigated Amnesty's outreach to rock musicians by recruiting and producing Pete Townshend, Sting, Eric Clapton, Jeff Beck, Bob Geldof and others. Executive Producers for Amnesty International are Helen Garrett, director of special projects, and Karen Scott, manager of music relations.

Through Chimes of Freedom, Amnesty International seeks to enlist support for its fight against censorship and attacks on free speech - whether involving artists, writers, musicians, political activists or bloggers. In this campaign, Amnesty is fighting for people such as the imprisoned Nobel Prize winner Liu Xiaobo in China, a scholar and human rights defender imprisoned since 2009 for writing about corruption and criticizing China's political system. In addition to purchasing the album at www.amnestyusa.org/chimes, supporters will find actions they can take to help individuals whose freedom of expression is under threat.

The tracklisting for Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan Honoring 50 Years of Amnesty International is as follows:

DISC 1

Raphael Saadiq - Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat
Patti Smith - Drifter's Escape
Rise Against - Ballad of Hollis Brown
Tom Morello The Nightwatchman - Blind Willie McTell
Pete Townshend - Corrina, Corrina
Bettye LaVette - Most of the Time
Charlie Winston - This Wheel's On Fire
Diana Krall - Simple Twist of Fate
Brett Dennen - You Ain't Goin' Nowhere
Mariachi El Bronx - Love Sick
Ziggy Marley - Blowin' in the Wind
The Gaslight Anthem - Changing of the Guards
Silversun Pickups - Not Dark Yet
My Morning Jacket - You're A Big Girl Now
The Airborne Toxic Event - Boots of Spanish Leather
Sting - Girl from the North Country
Mark Knopfler - Restless Farewell


DISC 2

Queens Of The Stone Age - Outlaw Blues
Lenny Kravitz - Rainy Day Woman # 12 & 35
Steve Earle & Lucia Micarelli - One More Cup of Coffee (Valley Below)
Blake Mills - Heart Of Mine
Miley Cyrus - You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go
Billy Bragg - Lay Down Your Weary Tune
Elvis Costello - License to Kill
Angelique Kidjo - Lay, Lady, Lay
Natasha Bedingfield - Ring Them Bells
Jackson Browne - Love Minus Zero/No Limit
Joan Baez - Seven Curses (Live)
The Belle Brigade - No Time To Think
Sugarland - Tonight I'll Be Staying Here With You (Live)
Jack's Mannequin - Mr. Tambourine Man
Oren Lavie - 4th Time Around
Sussan Deyhim - All I Really Want To Do
Adele - Make You Feel My Love (Recorded Live at WXPN)


DISC 3

K'NAAN - With God On Our Side
Ximena Sariñana - I Want You
Neil Finn with Pajama Club - She Belongs to Me
Bryan Ferry - Bob Dylan's Dream
Zee Avi - Tomorrow Is A Long Time
Carly Simon - Just Like a Woman
Flogging Molly - The Times They Are A-Changin'
Fistful Of Mercy - Buckets Of Rain
Joe Perry - Man Of Peace
Bad Religion - It's All Over Now, Baby Blue
My Chemical Romance - Desolation Row (Live)
RedOne featuring Nabil Khayat - Knockin' on Heaven's Door
Paul Rodgers & Nils Lofgren - Abandoned Love
Darren Criss featuring Chuck Criss and Freelance Whales - New Morning
Cage the Elephant - The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll
Band of Skulls - It Ain't Me, Babe
Sinéad O'Connor - Property of Jesus
Ed Roland and The Sweet Tea Project - Shelter From The Storm
Ke$ha - Don't Think Twice, It's All Right
Kronos Quartet - Don't Think Twice, It's All Right


DISC 4

Maroon 5 - I Shall Be Released
Carolina Chocolate Drops - Political World
Seal & Jeff Beck - Like A Rolling Stone
Taj Mahal - Bob Dylan's 115th Dream
Dierks Bentley - Senor (Tales of Yankee Power) (Live)
Mick Hucknall - One Of Us Must Know (Sooner Or Later)
Thea Gilmore - I'll Remember You
State Radio - John Brown
Dave Matthews Band - All Along the Watchtower (Live)
Michael Franti - Subterranean Homesick Blues
We Are Augustines - Mama, You Been On My Mind
Lucinda Williams - Tryin' To Get To Heaven
Kris Kristofferson - Quinn The Eskimo (The Mighty Quinn)
Eric Burdon - Gotta Serve Somebody
Evan Rachel Wood - I'd Have You Anytime
Marianne Faithfull - Baby Let Me Follow You Down (Live)
Pete Seeger - Forever Young
Bob Dylan - Chimes Of Freedom

Review: Andy Billups


Andy Billups - Afton Down (Independent)
Andy Billups is the bass player in The Hamsters (fans will know him as Ms. Zsa Zsa Poltergeist), and “Afton Down” is his debut solo record. I’m happy to admit I had certain expectations when the album arrived in the post, all of which were dashed almost immediately. Known primarily as a blues-rocker, for this collection Billups has utilized a completely different approach. Inspired by the location of the 1970 Isle Of Wight Festival, and in particular by a Bob Aylott photograph (entitled “Afton Belle”) depicting a heavily pregnant hippie girl standing amongst a sea of tents on the site’s Desolation Row, Billups has crafted a record with folk and almost ambient elements, as well as rockier outcrops.

Billups is no singer, and he begins his album with two instrumental pieces, both featuring nothing more than keyboards and programming, and the tracks set the scene with a craggy, rural ambience. It’s a soundtrack for walking on windswept hillsides and uncultivated fields of grass and stone. Apart from a later instrumental piece, the remarkable seven-minute “The Short Score”, three vocalists have been drafted in to give voice to Billups’ words. Ray Brown gets the majority of the songs, and the best of them, “Afton Belle” retains the atmosphere of the earlier instrumentals. My favourite of the trio, Bethan Waters, best nails the folkier aspects of the material and the musicians respond accordingly. Try and hear “Straight Arrow”, in particular.

With The Hamsters giving advance warning of their retirement in 2012, it’ll be interesting to see if Billups can go on and carve out a career as a solo artist. I hope he gives it a go, because as “Afton Down” indicates, not only is he a fine musician, but he’s also not short of ideas. That’s definitely a talent worth cultivating.
www.andybillups.com
Rob F.