Wednesday, 25 July 2012

Review: Andrew And Noah Band - S/T

Andrew And Noah Band - S/T (Great Bear Records)
It’s always exciting to come across a genuinely new sound, and although the Andrew And Noah Band are operating in recognised genre, namely Americana, their whole approach to their oeuvre is refreshing and original. So what do they do that’s so different? Well, it’s a combination of things. Brothers Andrew and Noah VanNorstrand write the core of the material, and apply a myriad of interesting influences, from Cajun and Celtic, to jazz and swing, together with the usual country comforts. A quick perusal of the list of instrumentation they employ adds to the draw, and a trio of vocalists all contribute to the fun.

Of course, none of this would matter if they didn’t make a great noise, and they do. The group has evolved since their 2010 debut, and the addition of Chris Miller on soprano, tenor and baritone saxophones and Dana Billings newfound predilection for various keyboards - organ, Wurlitzer, Rhodes – raises the bar. Indeed, the band as a whole all seem on top form, hitting their groove instantly on opening number “Buy for Me the Rain”, with saxophone, accordion, mandolin and guitar trading licks. It’s a perfect start, and one they’re reluctant to relinquish, as the following track “I Got It Bad for You” is just as intensely good, though cut from a completely different cloth. “Pilgrim” was the single and it moves like a classic rocker, dragged through a country back road, and  Fields a Burning” uncoils itself over nearly nine minutes, telling its tale of wrongdoing and redemption, while strings, reeds and keys keep the tension at boiling point. Faultless.
Rob F.

Andrew & Noah Band: Andrew & Noah Band

Tuesday, 24 July 2012

Review: The Hoodoo Hounds - S/T

The Hoodoo Hounds - S/T (Independent)

From Clemson, South Carolina, The Hoodoo Hounds first got together in 2005, recorded a couple of demo discs, but this self titled collection is their first bona fide album release. Fronted by Walt "Hoodoo Harry" Ligon, they utilize both the sound and the style of The Blues Brothers, updating the sound a little, though obviously drawing on many of the same influences. Ligon possesses a fine blues voice that will surely draw comparison to Howlin Wolf, Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) and even Tom Waits. It’s the sort of growl that gets you reaching for your pint mug in case the floor starts moving. He shares the vocals with Matt Huddleston, and the contrast between their two styles adds considerable light and shade to the proceedings.

The record begins with “Crossroad Blues”, a killer riff accommodates a succession of blues motifs, from black cat bones to mojos and, of course, a midnight meeting at the dreaded crossroads. It sounds clichéd and it is, but the band lay down such a groove, it’s nigh on impossible not to be swept along by their enthusiasm. I think my favourite is “Millennium Blues” where Ligon drawls, rasps and shouts over gurgling keys and a finely picked guitar, though the rest of the band are hardly shrinking violets, and whenever they hit their stride, a smile is never far away from the listener’s lips.
Rob F.

The Hoodoo Hounds: The Hoodoo Hounds

Review: Paper Memory - Through Old Iron Trees

Paper Memory - Through Old Iron Trees (Independent)
When it comes to musical inspiration, nothing works quite as well as a good ol’ fashioned love story. Paper Memory is really just one man, Australian singer-songwriter-musician Derek Goodreid, and his album is inspired almost solely by love. Of course there are complications, and in this case they’re mostly logistical. You see, Goodreid fell in love with, and eventually married Heidi, a Norwegian, so when songwriters talk about journeys – as they’re often inclined to do - in this case there really was a physical voyage to undertake (8618 miles from Fremantle to Oslo – as the crow flies).

Willfully understated; even the album launch was held in the couple’s Oslo living room, Goodreid takes his musical leads from songwriters such as Elliott Smith and Bon Iver, where words with meaning are underpinned by melodies that attach themselves to sympathetic brain matter. Joined on the recording by his wife and assorted friends, there’s a sense of togetherness present throughout the album, especially where Heidi sings with her husband on tracks like “The Difference” and the delightful “Fear Not”. It’s definitely an album to be enjoyed in a single sitting, where the stories can run together and sometimes merge, and I’m sure I won’t be the only listener on the look out for a second installment.
Rob F.

Paper Memory: Through Old Iron Trees

Monday, 23 July 2012

Live art invades Tate Modern's Turbine Hall...

The latest art installation in Tate Modern's Turbine Hall in London will see choreographed performers mingle with the gallery's visitors.

These Associations by British-German artist Tino Sehgal has been rehearsed behind closed doors for several months.

It will consist "purely of live encounters between people", incorporating dance, conversations and singing, the gallery said.

Chris Darcon, director of Tate Modern, described the work as "anarchic".

"Tino Sehgal's piece has managed to fill this vast space with life and energy using nothing but the human body and social interaction as its medium," he added.

In previous years, the Turbine Hall has been filled with vast, eye-catching works of art - from giant spiders to towering mounds of ceramic seeds.

But Sehgal, the 13th artist commissioned to fill the space, does not trade in physical works of art.

Trained in both political economics and choreography, he enlists live participants to create performance art tailored to the exhibition space.

His previous works include This Is Propaganda (2002), in which people dressed as museum guards chanted, "This is propaganda/You know/You know", and sang the names of works of art as visitors entered a gallery.

This Is New (2003) required a museum employee to call out headlines from the day's newspaper.
"Our culture is hung up on and overemphasises what can be derived from material objects," he told The Guardian last week.

"[But] the 21st Century is not about accumulating material wealth like the 20th Century. It's already eroding. I'm not against material things - I just don't work with them."

For his Tate exhibition, which opens to the public on Tuesday, Sehgal will direct the action, reacting to the movements of people in the Turbine Hall.

At times his performers will be "almost indistinguishable" from the public, the gallery said. At others, there will be "a clearly defined and constructed situation".

"These associations can be perceived quite differently from the elevated position of the bridge, or gallery windows, as opposed to the floor of the Turbine Hall, where visitors are potentially swept up in the movement and dialogue of the piece."

New works for the Turbine Hall are usually unveiled in October, but Sehgal's piece was brought forward to coincide with the Olympic Games and the London 2012 Festival.

Tate curator Jessica Morgan said the work would "paint a picture of London", although Sehgal has said the work was not directly influenced by the Games.

Source: BBC

Review: Fallon Cush – April

Fallon Cush – April (Independent)
Fallon Cush, though ostensibly the vehicle of Australian singer-songwriter Steve Smith, effortlessly tap into the pop traditions of Crowded House, Marshall Crenshaw and The Jayhawks. Which is to say Smith writes perfectly crafted hook-laden songs, and his regular band supply an animated, always appropriate, roots-pop backing. I’m sure that’s an over simplification, but isn’t that the joy of great pop music; Fallon Cush make the process sound effortless, and the listener reaps the benefits.

There 2011 self-titled debut grabbed plenty of headlines and found itself on plenty of year-end best-of lists. I’ll be amazed if “April” isn’t just as successful. Its charms are many and will surely appeal to anyone with an appreciation of great tunes, grown-up songwriting and an insatiable desire to join in on a chorus.

Just about everything here would sound perfectly at home on a quality radio station, but I must mention a few tracks in particular or I won’t sleep tonight. Opener “It's a Line” sets the scene with lush Hammond organ underpinning a melody which could have been lifted from an early Be Bop Deluxe album, but retains an earthiness which connects on every level. “Forever After” is ambitious and marvelous, and tips its cap to both Gary Louris and Jeff Tweedy, while “Honey Honey” is quite simply a perfect example of rural, honest-to-goodness, country-pop.
Rob F.

Fallon Cush: April

Friday, 20 July 2012

Review: Jo Little - Till The Blue Skies Come

Jo Little - Till The Blue Skies Come (Midnight Kitchen Records)
With online media, social networking and the rising popularity of music downloads, things have definitely got easier for artists who don’t live and work in North America or Europe. Jo Little, a New Zealander, is a case in point. The Dunedin native has her music for sale in most of the usual places, and wherever we are, we can hear her songs via the wizardry of Facebook and Bandcamp. Of course, the negative is a massively overcrowded marketplace, but no one can seriously argue that choice is a bad thing, and while we’re getting the chance to hear artists of Little’s quality, surely it’s a no-brainer.

“Till The Blue Skies Come” is her third release and continues her exploration of country-folk and acoustic soul. Arrangements are kept sparse and quite stripped back, allowing her captivating voice and emotionally resonant songs centre stage. Highlights come thick and fast. The marching guitar of “Sleepwalkers” clashes perfectly with Little’s words, and “Five of Swords” brings to mind the acoustic grunge of Kristin Hersh. “Into the Darkness” repeats the process to even greater effect and the title track is faultless and engaging folk-pop, which seems to have roots that stretch back to the ‘60s and ‘70s. The album ends with the utterly charming, though all too short “Leave This Town”. Fans of Gillian Welch and Iris DeMent would do well to take note, and listen without too much delay.
Simon M.

Jo Little: Till the Blue Skies Come

Review: Bevel Summers - S/T

Bevel Summers - S/T (Independent)
Bevel Summers got together in the autumn of 2010 when UNC seniors David Hutcheson and Jeb Brinkley both broke up with long-term girlfriends and discovered each others love of writing and performing music. After regular gigging, including a residency at a respected local club, they recruited friends Alex Van Gils (upright bass) and Andrew Magill (fiddle) and recorded their self-titled debut record. Released in the spring of 2012, its upbeat jams and gritty Americana method make it a welcome addition the current thriving folk revival.

Only seven tracks long and clocking in at just over 23 minutes, they don’t have a lot of time to make their musical point, but they do so with strong ear-catching songs and plenty of enthusiasm. Live I imagine they’re an absolute blast; good fun and crowd pleasing, and it’s to their credit that livelier numbers like “Brand New Man” and “Checkin' Out” provide plenty of thrills and lose nothing from their trip to the studio, while more sedate material like “Hold On Baby” and “Dead Drunk” tap beautifully into the place where old time country and folk blues overlap.

So, no complaints from me, and I’m sure they’ve made their growing fanbase ecstatic. They’ve also recently changed the band around and taken on four new members. Hopefully creative sparks will fly all over again, and I’m already looking forward to hearing new songs.
Rob F.

Bevel Summers: Bevel Summers

Review: Sproatly Smith - The Minstrel's Grave

Sproatly Smith - The Minstrel's Grave (Folk Police Recordings)
Sproatly Smith hail from the historically pagan, cider producing West Midlands county of Herefordshire and embrace traditional folk, pastoral English psychedelia as well as incorporating samples and special effects. "The Minstrel's Grave" is the first of three full-length albums released as an open edition, and they look set to set a few solstice festivals on fire this year.

From the outset this amalgam of influences immerses us deeply in Sproatly Smith's world of weird, where "The Mother Said" melds sound collages with Watch With Mother style nostalgic TV scores. The highly emotive, fragile and marvellous whisperings of the (almost customary in folk) female lead vocalist(s) are garnished with wild and widely varied instrumentation which is heavy on finger picked guitar and flutes. Aside the more traditional sounds are the occasional science fictional synthetic blurp ("Death"), a siren's song of musical saw ("The Mermaid of Marden") and twee twinklings set to BBC sound recordings of a village shop. If you can hold your nerve long enough there’s "Elysium", which after descending into a trip of deadly nightshade, explodes into a bombastic romp that would complement the most psychedelic of cop chase scenes.

Highlights "Blackthorn Winter" adds a handful of Fresh Maggots and is flavoured with eastern promise, "The Fabled Hare / Isobel Goudie" Maddy Prior / Alex Harvey medley is a nine minute droned and soulfully strung psych-acid-folk gemstone and "The Blue Flame" holds plenty for fans of Espers and seeps the aroma of Parsley, Sage, Rosemary and Thyme.

News: Looted art returned to Afghanistan

The British Museum has assisted in the return of 843 artefacts to Afghanistan, almost 20 years after they were stolen or smuggled abroad.

The items include examples of the Begram Ivories, seen at the British Museum's Afghanistan 2011 exhibition, and an important sculpture of Buddha.

Both were stolen from the National Museum of Afghanistan during its civil war and ended up on the black market.

The artefacts were passed to the museum for safekeeping, ahead of their return.

The items were seized by customs officials and the Art and Antiques Unit of the Metropolitan Police as they passed through Britain, presumably for sale on the black market.

All the artefacts were identified by experts at the museum.

Other objects - some of which were saved by private individuals - include Bronze Age carvings and medieval Islamic coins.

Neil MacGregor, director of the British Museum, said the pieces' restitution was "the outcome of the ongoing dialogue between our cultural institutions, as well as the support of the authorities, to identify and preserve items from the national collection of Afghanistan that had been illegally removed during years of conflict".

Assisted by the Royal Air Force, the collection left the UK last week, bound for Kabul, via the army base in Helmand.

More than two thirds of the exhibits at the National Museum in Kabul were stolen or destroyed during the 1990s Afghan civil war.

"I'd like to think that anyone would do the same for us if we were unlucky to suffer major disaster or crisis," the British Museum's St John Simpson told The Independent.

Source: BBC

Monday, 16 July 2012

Review: Mama Groove - How Mama Got Her Groove Back!

Mama Groove - How Mama Got Her Groove Back! (Independent)
Blessed with the talents of vocalist Ysabel Gagnon and keysman / songwriter Guy Cardinal, Mama Groove’s debut long player is a white-knuckle rhythm and blues ride from beginning to end. The Québec based group (the songs are sung in English) keep it dance-floor friendly throughout, whilst emphasising Gagnon’s lush, deep soul timbre and, as their name suggests, there’s plenty of groove. Often with bands that concentrate their efforts in getting their audience onto their feet, the transfer to record can be disappointing, but not so here. They’ve recruited guitarist George Papafilys to collaborate on a couple of numbers, and the production and general presentation plays to their many strengths.

They begin with “Soul Distraction”, a huge rolling beast of a track with the band doing everything in their power to keep up with Gagnon’s powerful, intense delivery. “Rubbed Dry” displays a jazzier side and “Chill Giver Blues” is a short and sweet, quick-step walking blues that sticks around just long enough to make a big impression. It’s an exciting opening salvo, but there’s no shortage of highlights as the album unwinds, indeed it would be wrong to sign off without mentioning the sultry, elegiac “Black Widow” and the rocking “Don't Give Me No Blues”. All in all, I think I can confirm Mama’s definitely got her groove back, though I suspect it was never really lost.
Rob F.

Mama Groove: How Mama Got Her Groove Back!

News: Springsteen and McCartney silenced at long London gig...

Rock stars Bruce Springsteen and Sir Paul McCartney had the plug pulled on them after over-running at a concert in London's Hyde Park.

Headline act Springsteen welcomed Sir Paul on stage for renditions of the Beatles' I Saw Her Standing There and Twist and Shout.

But their microphones were turned off before they could thank the crowds.

Springsteen had exceeded the time limit for the Hard Rock Calling event after playing for more than three hours.

"It made for a slightly bizarre, anti-climactic end to what had been a fantastic show," said Stephen Robb, a BBC reporter who was at the event.

"The band obviously couldn't tell from on stage that the sound had been shut off.

"It just looked a bit like everyone was milling about on stage having forgotten how the show should end."

'Police state'

Guitarist Steven Van Zandt, a member of Springsteen's E Street Band, was angered by the forced curtailment, accusing "English cops" of preventing "80,000 people having a good time".

"When did England become a police state?" he wrote on Twitter.

"English cops may be the only individuals left on earth that wouldn't want to hear one more from Bruce Springsteen and Paul McCartney!"

According to Westminster Council, however, the decision to end the concert was made by its organisers and not local authorities.

"Concert organisers, not the council, ended last night's concert in Hyde Park to comply with their licence," said Leith Penny, Westminster Council's strategic director for city management.

"Licences are granted until certain times" - in this case 22:30 BST - "to protect residents in the area from noise late at night."

In a statement on the Hard Rock Calling website, the Live Nation company said it was "unfortunate" that the "three hour plus" performance had been "stopped right at the very end".

"The curfew is laid down by the authorities in the interest of the public's health and safety," the statement continued.

"Road closures around Hard Park are put in place at specific times to make sure everyone can exit the area safely."

Speaking on LBC on Sunday, Mayor of London Boris Johnson described the decision to end the concert as "excessively efficacious".

"If they'd have called me, my answer would have been for them to jam in the name of the Lord," he told presenter Kay Burley.

Song request

Springsteen and his band had earlier performed such hits as Born in the USA and Because the Night before an estimated crowd of 65,000 people.

He had also invited Rage Against The Machine's Tom Morello on stage to perform two songs, while singer John Fogerty joined him for one.

Springsteen delighted one loyal fan who displayed a banner urging him to play a lesser known track, Take 'Em As They Come.

The artist said: "Tonight, my friend, this is your lucky night. You're going to hear this damn thing.
"It's a completely obscure track I wrote for The River when I needed some rock songs."

Grunge band Soundgarden appeared on Friday as part of this year's Hard Rock Calling concerts, while Paul Simon will take to the stage on Sunday.

Source: BBC

Friday, 13 July 2012

Preview: Hammer Festival 13-14th July...

Hammer Festival

Hammer has risen from the grave.
Join us at Phoenix for a two-day celebration of all things Hammer, graced with a galaxy of stars! Among the films being shown are Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter, Quatermass 2, Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell, Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde, the stunning new HD restoration of Plague of the Zombies Twins of Evil, and the festival closes with special guest Mark Gatiss (The League of Gentlemen, Sherlock, Dr. Who), presenting the world premiere of the HD restoration of the seminal The Curse of Frankenstein (1957). Stars appearing for Q&As, introducing films and signing memorabilia include Jacqueline Pearce, Caroline Munro, Madeline Smith, Martine Beswick, Caron Gardner and director John Hough plus many more! This fantastic festival celebrates the forthcoming digitization of the Hammer Script Archive by the Cinema and Television History (CATH) Research Centre at DMU. This unique resource will soon be made available for on-line academic study.

Phoenix Square
Midland Street

Box Office: 0116 2422800
General Enquiries: 0116 2422803