Monday 31 October 2011

New Reviews

Catch up with all our new reviews on the main Leicester Bangs website:

This Weeks Big New Releases:
Florence + The Machine - Ceremonials
The Beach Boys – The Smile Sessions
Lou Reed & Metallica - Lulu
Manic Street Preachers – National Treasures
Bush – The Sea Of Memories
V/A – Movement: The Peel Sessions 1977-1979

New Reviews:
The Damned – The Chiswick Singles… And Another Thing
TapWater – Too Dark To Blink
Pumajaw - Demonmeowmeow
Mikal Cronin – S/T
Hard Country – S/T
Dead Voices On Air – Michael And The Angels Fought
Bravo Johnson – Come taste The Sun
Maria Taylor - Overlook
Ike Moriz – Charade
Mark & Deb – Between Stop & Go
Tim Ryan O’Kane – The Monsters Kiss
Robin DeLorenzo – Wanna Fly

Classic Reviews from the Leicester Bangs Print Archive
David Bowie - Earthling (1997)
The Jayhawks – Sound Of Lies (1997)
Engine 88 (1997)
White Town (1997)

MJ Hibbert Newsletter & Free Single:

The Last Working Day Of The Month, Issue 80
(MJ Hibbett & The Validators FACT, October 31st 2011)

Hello everyone - we've got a free download single, a video, album delays and some gigs to talk about this month, so let's get going shall we?

Saturday 5 November - The Chameleon, Nottingham
The return of The Validators, with August Actually, HotMIM and Burly Nagasaki.

Thursday 10 November - The King & Queen, London
A 'Moon Horse' special at Totally Acoustic, with support from A Little Orchestra.

Friday 11 November - The Brixton Windmill, London
Supporting Lazarus Clamp

Wednesday 16 November - The Portland Arms, Cambridge
'Moon Horse' with Model Village
tickets here:

Monday 28 November - The Prince Albert, Brighton
'Moon Horse' with The Lovely Eggs
tickets here:

Check for more information.

The 'Dinosaur Planet' albums arrived last week... and looked in a right old state, so I've had to send them back to the factory to be done again. Annoyingly this means they WON'T be available this month as promised - sorry for the delay but after all this time and effort I want to make sure they're PERFECT. I hope to have them ready to buy this time NEXT month, but in the meantime...

We're very VERY happy to announce the release of our brand new FREE download single, 'Theme From Dinosaur Planet', which is available NOW, HERE:

It's an edit of the album's lead track which a MARVELLOUS VIDEO featuring loads of artwork by the wonderful Mr John Allison. Direct links are: - video on YouTube - song on Soundcloud

As ever we'd be EXTREMELY grateful to anyone who can mention, tweet, or just generally GO ON ABOUT it for us!

Moon Horse is back on the road again - we had a GRATE night in Cardiff last week and we're in London, Cambridge and Brighton this month. We're doing a few more gigs in January and February next year, so if you'd like to book us to play near you get in touch! All dates are at .

Christmas is a-coming and we are making exciting PREPARATIONS - we'll have one, maybe TWO songs for you this year! More news on this next time, when we've actually recorded them.

One of the stars of 'Dinosaur Planet', Mr Chris T-T, has just released the songs from his Edinburgh show 'Disobedience: Chris T-T sings AA Milne' as an album on Bandcamp. It's ACE - have a listen, HERE:

And finally, our friends at Dandelion Radio are once again running the Official John Peel Festive 50, where you can vote for your favourite tracks of the year. Voting starts tomorrow and runs to the end of November, HERE:

What's that? Why yes, I do believe free download singles ARE eligible, why do you ask?

And that's about enough for this month - thanks for listening, and see you next time!



Laura J Martin album and dates:

Laura J Martin

releases much anticipated debut album
‘The Hangman Tree’
- out 23 January 2012 on Static Caravan -

On 23 January 2011 Laura J Martin is to release her eagerly anticipated debut album ‘The Hangman Tree’ on Static Caravan. Armed with a flute ready for wrangling, mandolin and a loop station, she sings over her loops and beats; songs inspired by subject matter as disparate as Japanese folklore to real life sentiments and characters. The album, which features the vocals of Euros Childs, shows her wonderfully eccentric folk-driven wonkiness in all it’s glory.

With a vocal style reminiscent of Bjork, Bonnie Dobson and Kate Bush, Laura hails from the suburbs of Liverpool with influences that ricochet between Serge Gainsbourg, Wu Tang Clan, David Bowie and Herbie Mann. Mining the strange, darker underbelly of folk with untold layers of intrigue, she flits effortlessly between flute, mandolin and xylophone, as well as using looped vocals and instruments to great effect. There’s an otherworldliness to the off-kilter, psychedelic feel of her music, which made her an ideal choice to support the likes of Misty’s Big Adventure, Scout Niblett, Buck 65, Hannah Peel, Bonobo, Little Dragon, Singing Adams and Jonny (Euros from Gorkys and Norman from Teenage Fanclub’s band), with whom she appeared as both guest and support.

- and announces Nov / Dec UK dates ...

Nov 3rd – The Harley , Sheffield
Nov 6th – The Bedford , Balham
Dec 14th – Jazz Cafe, London
Dec 15th – Symphony Hall , Birmingham
Dec 17th – The Adelphi, Leeds

Saturday 29 October 2011

Classic Reviews from the Leicester Bangs Print Archive

David Bowie – Earthling (RCA)
For a man who intends to float himself on the stock market this year, “Earthling” could be considered an incredibly reckless album to release. Guaranteed to alienate older fans that remember the classic ‘70s records, and the difficulties involved with a fifty year old attracting a new audience among younger listeners, Bowie could have been taking a huge chance with this eclectic mix of past and present.

Fortunately, “Earthling” mixes “Low” and “Heroes” era atmospherics with drum ‘n’ bass rhythms to produce the most startling album since 1980’s “Scary Monsters”. Hopefully we can forget all about the dreadful cack of the mid and late ‘80s, the “Tin Machines” and the “Tonights”, and instead let David Bowie take care of business.
LB (1997)

The Jayhawks – Sound Of Lies (American)
Hands up everyone who thought we’d seen and heard the last of The Jayhawks. With the departure of Mark Olson the general consensus was that they wouldn’t record again, but they’re back with what’s proving to be a fine album.

The first side is classic Jayhawks. Gary Louris is in great voice, and the harmonies with Karen Grotberg add a whole new dimension to the band. With one quality song after another, it’s good to hear them back again and on top form.

The piano led opener “The Man Who Loved Life” provides the perfect start, before “Think About It” and “Trouble” begin kicking in. The latter reminiscent of CSN’s “Our House”, though nowhere near as annoying. Other highpoints include “Big Star”, “Haywire” and “Dying On A Vine”

Some songs do miss Olson’s voice but “Sound Of Lies” is still a great record from a great American band.
LB (1997)

Engine 88 – Snowman (Caroline)
San Francisco’s Engine 88’s follow up to their critically acclaimed debut album “Clean Your Room” is an exciting slab of strictly off-centre power pop. Askew lyrics abound – the opener “Ballerina” and the single “Seconal” wander into the territory once held dear by the Pixies before they lost the plot, but Engine 88 are no copycats. Next single “Manclub” sees to that. It sounds like nothing else, a cross-dressing, anti-fridge song that’ll leave you with a smile on your face and your finger on the repeat button.

Production, courtesy of Tim O’Heir, is spot on throughout, and if the band isn’t careful they’re going to have a huge hit on their hands. A “Doolittle” for the ‘90s, perhaps?
LB (1997)

White Town – Women In Technology (Chrysalis)
You really wouldn’t wish the tag One Hit Wonder on anyone, but after listening to this album a couple of times, there’s really not too much here to inspire. Apart from the hit “Your Woman”, everything sounds remarkably dated in that horrible ‘80s way.

The sad thing is, you feel that the results could have been different had Chrysalis not rush released the album quite so quickly. A lot of the ideas seem to be sound; they just needed to be worked on a bit more thoroughly. Instead there’s a feeling of work in progress, of under-realised potential struggling to be heard. It almost sounds like a demo.

If Jyoti Mishra’s sound reminds me of anyone it’s the Magnetic Fields’ Stephin Merritt, though Merritt’s albums always sound fleshed out and complete. I hope the hit curse doesn’t spell the end of White Town. There is potential.
LB (1997)

Review: Dead Voices On Air

Dead Voices On Air – Michael And The Angels Fought (Lens Records)
Dead Voices on Air is the pseudonym used by Mark Spybey. In the past 20 years he has collaborated with many artists including members of Faust, Can, Throbbing Gristle and Swans. “Michael and the Angels Fought” is his 15th release under the Dead Voices On Air moniker.

Spybey sees himself as a non-musician and is known for his primitive approach to music making, where his early works were improvisations using his collection of instruments and toys. Here the five pieces (some are sub-sectioned by silences) are more studio-focused and are edited heavily. This approach allows Spybey and his host of multi-continental collaborators to segue from ramshackle spiritualism to strung out ambience seamlessly and blend European tradition and passionate vocals with spectral distortion and “Pulse” even features some impressive throat singing.

The sonic moods created are always otherworldly but can be uplifting and exquisite, ghostly or ghastly, dense, dark, or even horrific.

Review: Bravo Johnson

Bravo Johnson - Come Taste The Sun (Stone Junction)
Is this an invitation one should accept, even if it toasts the lips and crisps the tongue? If we don't take it literally we must assume that he’s referring to his music, which might possibly be a little brash on his part, a trifle over-confident. The question is, does it live up to the invite?

Indeed it does. It won’t burn you, even in the weirdest, most absurd or wildest circumstance. This isn’t an album that comes at you full tilt, roasting you as if it had been unleashed from an inferno. It’s far too mellow for that, like Neil Young at his most engaging, CSN at their prime and gentle best (though without any harmony vocals, as Bravo Johnson is, er, just Bravo Johnson), it’s a groove cut from the rock of Laurel Canyon - pun intended, and proud of it. Bravo Johnson has discovered the late ‘60s / early ‘70s vibe, dissected it, and with consummate ease (everything about the album is pure consummate ease) pasted his own words and musical picture all over it. He flies his own flag, and it’s a colourful array of rainbow delight. It has golden sunshine flowing through it, from start to finish.

I have now started to look for his earlier album “The Crooked And The Straight”, from the comfort of my rocking chair, of course, with the ease of the pioneer who has found a place on his newly built porch that is bathed in gentle, fading, evening sunlight, and wants now to create another spot in which to quietly slumber.
Kev A.

Review: Maria Taylor

Maria Taylor - Overlook (Affairs Of The Heart Records)
I’ve recently been listening to the un-evolved Maria Taylor. I didn’t know that it was her I was listening to, as I‘d not discovered the fact that she was an integral member of the band Little Red Rocket (two of their CDs were languishing on my shelves, I checked them out, saw that Ms. Taylor was part of the band, and the wheels started turning). It was the very day this album came through the letterbox, which furthered the coincidence. No, I don't believe in them either, so I got right down to it, a direct comparison to 'Who Did You Pay', the 1997 debut album by LRR, and this brand spanking new bunch of ditties.

Well, in between there’s been (and still is) Azure Ray, a duo with Orenda Fink, who was also a collaborator in LRR. So, from indie girl rock squall, with occasional songs of a more hazy and gentle nature, to gentle balladry, with occasional squalls of guitar, as on second track, "Matador". (Alas, as much as I love the gentle balladry, I do so wish that there was more of Browan Lollar’s wigging out on here, as he’s responsible for 'all kinds of guitar and awesome crazy solo' on the "Matador" track. In fact, he features on all nine songs, and his guitar work is pretty good to say the least, but on no other track does he sound so incendiary).

Back to Maria Taylor, then, who is well into a solo career, this being her fifth album under her own name. To be honest, after hearing “Overlook”, I can live without the two LRR albums. Maria Taylor has changed her musical approach considerably over a decade and a half, firstly with Azure Ray, then with her solo work, and all for the better. The lovely build up on "Along For The Ride" is imbued with a fragile intensity that threatens to melt away into nothingness. However, this is not unique on this album. Melt away is exactly what this beautiful music appears to do, all of it. I listened to all nine songs and time evaporated, the songs finished almost before they started, and the 33 minutes they lasted can never be enough. This is the best work I have heard from Maria Taylor, but there’s just not enough of it.
Kev A.

Review: Mikal Cronin

Mikal Cronin - S/T (Trouble In Mind)
There's a guy called John Dwyer who is credited with playing flute on the opening track, "Is It Alright", though you almost give up on him, as it’s nearly three minutes in before he makes his entrance. Anyway, the proceedings up to that moment are a wee bit frenetic, so you think it can't possibly fit in, but what do I know? When the flute does finally arrive it relegates the rest of the backing to a stand-in role, and it ups the ante to frantic. Still, it works, and the whole number sets a deliberate tone for the album. "Apathy", that follows, is a giant misnomer, and "Green & Blue" is a glorious mélange of skuzzy and moody playing, digging down below to produce three and a half minutes of indie-prog, which if it didn't exist before, it does now.

So, Mikal Cronin, who has apparently been struggling with a variety of personal problems, decides the best therapy to clear out the cobwebs in his mind should be musical. Well, whether or not it’s cured him, I’ve no idea, but it must certainly have cleared his cerebrum of snags, and niggles, and mutant moments as they’re all on here! He’s transferred his thoughts to lyrics, whilst simultaneously prescribing the inelegant (but oh-so-perfect) music. Half-baked this is not, but you need to prepare to be swept along in the noise swirl that lashes out in all directions, taking no prisoners, disturbing the peace in every direction, with snatches of early ‘60s pop one-second, late ‘80s underground snarl the next, and then they come together, and magically co-exist... just.

This is music for folks who want to freak out, and not worry about the consequences. It’s possible you may hear some California sunshine in here, and a bit of Glasgow downpour, too, but you’ll certainly wake up somewhere else, and I can’t guarantee what the weather will be. Not that that actually matters, as it’s going to be throbbingly marvelous wherever you wash up.
Kev A.

Review: Pumajaw

Pumajaw - Demonmeowmeow (Bedevil Records)
"The Mazy Laws", the track that opens up this complicated box of songs, is a difficult listen, unless you’re into the avant-garde mix of vocals as viscous as the best motor oil, and a backing that varies with the pace, from electronic trance to buzzsaw guitar, sometimes all together. The limited lyrics are intentional, I suppose, so that Pinkie Maclure can savour the words before focusing on projecting them at you, the listener. So, an eight-minute opener for starters, either brave or foolish or both, but certainly ear-catching, whether you like it or not. "In The Outlands" follows, and is far more conventional (almost a ballad), but still allows for Pinkie to flow all over the song. Her bewitching vocals are again surrounded by twitchy loops of sound that serve the purpose admirably, bringing out undertones that are as obvious as they are obscure - see if you can nail it down, then!

However, it’s with the third track, "Tallulah", that it all starts to get terrific. Although this has familiarity written all over it, the Gothic overtones meld the vocal to the guitar work of John Wills, and you get a ghostly, ethereal track that haunts you for long afterwards. "The Safe Inside", is a lament beautifully sung and put together, with ringing guitar, choral effects, and a slow driving beat that chugs along at just the right tempo, and it needs every second of the seven and half minutes it’s been allocated.

Hard driven and uncompromising, "Mask", with its metronome drumming and lyrics to match (“Coal black, coal black... The earth is black between our backs... While oysters slip down wealthy throats... We're tossed aside by hairless girls and careless boys...”), kicks off the second half of the album with great appeal. It’s followed by the sinuous lament "Chinny-Chin-Chin", which has the supplementary appeal of an accordion (squeezebox?) adding a seascape sound. It would be unfair to refer to both "Your Arms, Your Doors" and "Tumbledown" as maudlin, but after surviving this long that’s the first impression you get when listening to them. My point is that such an uneasy listen as this whole album is, it might be pertinent to actually listen to it in two halves. I‘ve done both now, and actually enjoyed both methods. So, three listens in the last two sentences - that should tell you a lot about this strange and uneasy, but at its best, quite beautiful music.
Kev A.

Review: Robin DeLorenzo

Robin DeLorenzo - Wanna Fly (East West Music Inc)
This is DeLorenzo’s latest CD “Wanna Fly” officially released in 2011. She brings to the table a plethora of musical experience that can’t be questioned. Her background: DeLorenzo hails from New Jersey area and is no stranger to the Music Business. She obviously knows what he’s doing behind the glass in a studio environment.

I always listen to the first piece very, very carefully. It’s what the artists has personally chosen to be the first piece of music to hit your ears. I have to say I was extremely impressed with the opening track "I’d change for you” an upbeat number which possessed my full, unadulterated attention. To be honest: I expected a sing songy pop rock record that was extremely predictable and compatible for a mass audience. What I discovered was quite the opposite. The whole CD is wonderfully simple yet full of what I would call positive energy, with music that appeals to all the senses. She reminds me a bit of Bette Midler. There are both fantastic and entertaining moments on “Wanna Fly” which gives the sound a very uplifting and marketable feel. There were some entertaining moments throughout, but also a few pin drop moments as well. From top to bottom “Wanna Fly” is an extremely polished sounding production with amazing sound quality, legendary musicianship and top of the line musical compositions. If I had to pick one word or phrase that best describes DeLorenzo it would be “Genuine Article.” She holds nothing back and is totally being herself.

The most amazing thing about Robin DeLorenzo is her X-Factor. What is X-Factor – it is the passion within and this is nothing that can be taught in a textbook. You either have it or you don’t. De Lrenzo appeals to both advanced and novice listeners alike. This is harder to do than it sounds – and shouldn’t be strived for, rather it should come just naturally. DeLorenzo has proven herself worthy of praise with her latest string of songs. There’s nothing more dangerous than a hot female artists armed with a voice, a song, and a one-way ticket to your heart.
Adam Taylor

Robin DeLorenzo: Wanna Fly

Review: Tim Ryan O'Kane

Tim Ryan O’Kane - The Monsters Kiss (Independent)
This is O’Kane’s latest CD “The Monsters Kiss” officially released in 2011. He brings to the table a plethora of musical experience that can’t be questioned. His background: O’Kane hails from Brooklyn area and is no stranger to the Music Business. He obviously knows what he’s doing behind the glass in a studio environment.

I always listen to the first piece very, very carefully. It’s what the artists has personally chosen to be the first piece of music to hit your ears. I have to say I was extremely impressed with the opening track "Lullaby” certainly a dynamic number which possessed my full, unadulterated attention. To be honest: I expected sing songy pop rock that was extremely predictable in nature – very compatible for a mass audience. What I discovered was quite the opposite. The whole CD is wonderfully simple yet full of what I would call dark energy with music that appeals to all the senses. It reminds me a little of King Crimson, Peter Gabriel. Fish and Big Blue Ball There are both fantastic and melancholy moments on “The Monsters Kiss” which gives the sound a much complex yet marketable feel. There were also some entertaining moments throughout but also a few pin drop moments as well. From top to bottom “The Monsters Kiss” is an extremely polished sounding production with amazing sound quality, legendary musicianship and top of the line musical compositions.

The most amazing thing about Tim Ryan O’Kane is his X-Factor. What is X-Factor – it is the passion within and it’s nothing that can be taught from a textbook. O’Kane appeals to both advanced and novice listeners alike. This is harder to do than it sounds – and shouldn’t be strived for, rather it should come just naturally. O Kane has proven himself worthy of praise with this latest string of songs. There’s nothing more dangerous than a musical savant armed with a guitar, a gift and a one way ticket to your psyche.
Adam Taylor

Review: Ike Moriz - Charade

Ike Moriz – Charade (Mosquito Records London)
Inspired by Stanley Donen’s 1963 movie “Charade” (with Audrey Hepburn and Cary Grant), Ike Moriz’ 2010 release employs Latin arrangements to a collection of jazz vocal standards, as well as a smattering of latter-day pop songs. As always Moriz is in good voice, and with pianist A. McPike on exceptionally fine form, “Charade” is an album to cherish. Although, there is a question mark regarding one song selected, namely Stevie Wonder’s “I Just Called To Say I Love You”, a composition widely regarded as the artistic and critical nadir of Wonder’s illustrious career. Having said that, Moriz’ arrangement makes the most of it, though when compared with his takes on the Mancini / Mercer title track, or Joseph LaCalle’s “Amapola” it feels decidedly pedestrian – as it always was.

But let’s not worry about that. CD players are programmable for a reason, and there are 14 other tracks to be enjoyed. One of the real pleasures of hearing Moriz apply himself to the easy listening songbook is the particular timbre of his voice. So when he sings incredibly well known songs such as Irving Berlin’s “Let's Face The Music And Dance” or Norman Gimbel’s “Sway”, we feel no need to draw comparisons with other versions by Nat King Cole or Dean Martin, simply because they sound so different. The album ends with a refined version of Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars”, a fitting conclusion to fine, mellow album.
Rob F.

Review: Mark & Deb

Mark & Deb - Between Stop & Go (Independent)
Mark and Deb Bond have been musical collaborators for nearly twenty years and a couple for well over a decade. The bands they’ve been involved with include Wildheart, The Larry Mitchell Band and Acid Bran, but now it’s just the two of them, and “Between Stop & Go” is their debut release.

What quickly becomes clear when listening to their record is they don’t sound like a duo. The production is smooth and fully realized, their blues style is commercial and radio-friendly, and it’s artists like Steve Winwood and Eric Clapton that come to mind. Mark is a terrific guitarist, delivering a series of perfectly weighted solos to augment a sound that Deb anchors with layered keys. They both sing, though Mark generally takes the lead.

If they sound grown-up, it’s because they are, though that doesn’t mean they’re not having fun, and their obvious passion for what they do (and each other) is evident throughout “Between Stop & Go”. Fans of the two artists mentioned above will find much here that they’ll connect with, but to whet the appetite try to track down and hear “Down To The Hollow”, it’s just about a perfect distillation of what they do. Failing that, “Don’t Let Me Go” features a great vocals and guitar by Mark, and the epic “Good Times” will undoubtedly turn heads.
Rob F.

Friday 28 October 2011

Review: Hard Country

Hard Country - S/T (Independent)
From Murphy, Texas, Hard Country came together in 2004, founded by brothers Bryan and John Joyner. Their take on the country-rock tradition is rooted in fine songwriting and roots rock guitars, and they’re rough enough ‘round their edges to give the impression they’re happiest letting rip on a rowdy barroom stage. Which isn’t to say they struggle to replicate their enthusiasm and fervour under studio conditions. In fact, the opposite is true. Their debut is vital and raw, and a throwback to a time when Texas was renowned for country bands who knew the Stones and Faces as well as Merle and Hank, and a national scene which included Jason and the Scorchers, True Believers, The Blasters and The Long Ryders.

It’s a consistently good set. The songs are memorable and they nail their choruses. Greg Deans and Eric Tamblyn (guitar and bass, respectively) both supply harmonies on the vocals, and the band sound tight, though never slick. Needless to say, there are a few standout songs which deserve an extra mention: opening track “Better Life” could have been lifted straight from Zippo’s legendary “Acres For Cents” compilation, “Anymore” is classic country blues ‘n’ booze, and “Ain’t No Pat Green” laments their lack of guitar skills, but misses the point spectacularly. When they slow things down on “Forever In Your Arms”, they impress just as much.
Rob F.

Rival Sons dates:

Nov. 04 - Nottingham, UK - Rock City
Nov. 05 - Glasgow, UK - King Tut's
Nov. 06 - Manchester, UK - Academy 3
Nov. 07 - Wolverhampton, UK - Slade Rooms
Nov. 10 - London, UK - Islington Academy

Louis Gallant Interview

Read our Louis Gallant interview on the main Leicester Bangs site:


The Rapture are to follow in the Converse-clad footsteps of Graham Coxon and Everything Everything, having booked a free show at London's 100 Club - which is sponsored by the sneaker brand - on 1 Nov. You can secure tickets for it here:

If you'd rather pay to see the band, their six-date UK tour begins tonight at Bristol's Thekla.


The final studio album from soul legend Etta James will be released by Verve Records on 14 Nov it has been confirmed.

Called 'The Dreamer' and her first new album in five years, it will feature covers of Otis Redding's 'Cigarettes & Coffee', Ray Charles' 'In The Evening' and Guns N Roses' 'Welcome To The Jungle'.

James will formally retire after this LP comes out, and a statement from the singer says: "I wish to thank all my fans who have shown me love and support over all these years. I love you all".

There have been legal squabbles among members of James's family in the last year regarding the healthcare the singer is receiving, with James reportedly battling both dementia and leukaemia.

Thursday 27 October 2011

Review: The Damned

The Damned – The Chiswick Singles… And Another Thing (Ace)
The Damned were only signed to Chiswick Records for a couple of years, but it was a successful collaboration, resulting in two albums, the exceptional “Machine Gun Etiquette” and the ambitious but flawed punk-prog epic, “The Black Album”. The singles from the period, collected here (with extras) show a band more than willing to experiment, and a group of individuals all mixing different influences into the pot.

Kicking off with their Chiswick debut “Love Song”, who can forget the manic pop thrill of Algy Ward’s planet rumbling bass intro as first witnessed on Top Of The Pops (circa 1979), as Dave Vanian distorts and disfigures the traditional love song into something brilliantly perverse and intentionally hilarious. Typical line: “I’ll be the rubbish, you’ll be the bin”. “Smash It Up” (banned by the Beeb, of course) encouraged just that, “I Just Can’t Be Happy Today” and “The History Of The World (Pt 1)” indicated they were at their pop songwriting peak, and “There Ain’t No Sanity Clause” is simply the best punk Christmas song ever.

The b-sides throw up some long mislaid gems. “Noise Noise Noise” is fabulously rough ‘n’ ready, but instantly loveable. Their cover of The Sweet’s “Ballroom Blitz” unmistakably features Lemmy on bass and not forgetting the just plain brilliant “Rabid Over You”. Add to those many delights the CD debut of the complete “Friday The 13th” EP, and you’ve another fantastic and essential Damned release from Ace. Well-done chaps!
Rob F.

Review: TapWater

TapWater - Too Dark To Blink (Independent)
TapWater are a six-piece Americana group based in Portland, Oregon, slowly but surely building their reputation through a series of well received releases and a busy concert schedule. Such is their growing status, their latest album, “Too Dark To Blink” has attracted various high profile guest turns, including several members of Los Lobos. Indeed, Steve Berlin produces and plays saxophone and melotron. Not two instruments that are naturally associated with an Americana band, but when you consider that frontman Rudy Slizewski also contributes steel drums, xylophone, trombone and marimba, and other listed instruments include lap harp and flugelhorn, it’s probably best to chuck those stereotypical expectations out of the window.

Thanks to Berlin’s production (and the band’s experience) it’s somewhat remarkable that “Too Dark To Blink” doesn’t ever feel cluttered or clumsy. The sound is full and rounded, and the variety of instruments is beautifully judged. When the steel drum makes an appearance on “Drownin' Without Love” it’s a genuine moment of joy, and they repeat the trick on “See Ya Maria”, though it’s mixed gently with lead guitar. Tracks like “Frankie Leigh” and “Big Belly Blues” make comparisons with early Wilco and The Band fully justified and the short but very serious, almost classical, “With My Curtains Closed” indicates a band willing to take on anything, and able enough to prevail. Recommended.
Rob F.

Review: The Scandalmongers

The Scandalmongers - Dangerous Kids (Independent)
There’s something intrinsically right about The Scandalmongers’ “Dangerous Kids” record. They’ve great songs, plenty of hook-crammed tunes and the decency to refrain from over-cooking their creations. Instead, raw talent replaces studio slick, and the band’s passion for their material shapes a sound that’s both urgent and very exciting.

I’ve noticed on various websites comparisons to Ben Kweller, Elvis Costello and The Hold Steady, and perhaps it’s the early recordings of the latter that they most resemble, though it’s nothing overt, more an ability to marry the thrills and spills of raggedy punk guitars with big melodic pop songs. It’s the sort of thing that when done right can result in mass public acceptance and workers at CD pressing plants enjoying abundant overtime.

If you’re on the lookout for a few gems to restock your iPod, then opening cut “Gasoline” with its choppy chords and John Doe-fronted X ambience deserves a place on all the most discerning playlists, as does the post-punk tilt-a-whirl they’ve named “Go”, and the exceptional title track; a killer chorus and wild, rhythmic guitars merge to outstanding effect. For those who crave the heady musical buzz that only an album purchase can satisfy, my recommendation is ‘jump right in, sharpish’.
Rob F.

Review: Josie Beck & Robert Dean

Josie Beck & Robert Dean - Twilight Folk (Independent)
Josie Beck and Robert Dean are a couple of acclaimed singer-songwriters and performers, and “Twilight Folk” is their debut as a duo. It’s a mix of country, folk and pop and fits neatly into the contemporary Americana genre, with its homey back porch style and easy way with a tune.

Beck earned her music spurs recording demo vocals, playing in bar bands and a stint as DJ on a country music station. Dean is an established New York-based singer-songwriter. Together they sing their songs, harmonizing to good effect and pick out a pair of interesting songs to cover. Neil Young’s “Harvest Moon” is a perfect ode to love, old and renewed – they almost pull it off. Springsteen’s “Thunder Road” get’s stripped back to its base elements, and Beck’s lead vocal is astounding. Dean’s voice is gravelly and fragile, but when they sing together, its flaws are wholly forgivable.

Of their own songs, highlights are the driving “Radio Days” and the twangy and utterly lovable “Aching For Always”. Check ‘em out if you can.
Rob F.

Wednesday 26 October 2011


Noel Gallagher (accompanied, of course, by his High Flying Birds) has scheduled a big old arena tour for next year. Said live jaunt will run as follows:

13 Feb: Manchester, MEN Arena
16 Feb: Belfast, Odyssey Arena
17 Feb: Dublin, O2 Arena
23 Feb: Newcastle, Metro Radio Arena
24 Feb: Glasgow, SECC Hall 4
26 Feb: London, O2 Arena
1 Mar: Birmingham, NIA


Held by way of a live lap of honour for her Mercury Prize-winning opus 'Let England Shake', the second of PJ Harvey's sold-out Royal Albert Hall dates is to be streamed online.

The show, which is due to take place on 31 Oct, will be available to watch in real-time in exchange for a mere £2.99. What a treat. Happy Halloween, everyone!

More details on how to sign up can be found here:

Review: The Vegabonds

The Vegabonds - Dear Revolution (Independent)
This debut from Alabama’s six-piece Vegabonds reaches us a full twelve months after its local release, and is more a taster for sophomore album ‘Southern Sons’, due to appear in January. If it’s meant to stir interest in their corresponding European dates (none scheduled for the UK so far) then it works well.

Unmistakably a southern outfit they veer towards the softer, soulier side of the Black Crowes without any attendant loss of energy or substance. Strong vocals, tight rhythms and washes of slide make the album a surprisingly compulsive listen. Singer Daniel Allen provides the bulk of the impressively mature home-grown material with occasional contributions from guitarists Alex Cannon and Richard Forehand. Formed from the ashes of two earlier outfits as recently as February 2009 they have the hallmarks of a band we could hear much more from in future.
Neil B.

Review: Golden Bear

Golden Bear - Alive (C-Side Records)
Straight out of the blocks, the first track, "The Juggernaut", had me transported back in the late 1990s, as The Posies and Built To Spill came to mind, with The Flaming Lips making more than a guest appearance. The following "Promise Not To Tell" confirmed it, with the song cascading down around my ears, filling every corner of the room. A perfect example of no-nonsense, club-friendly indie rock. "The Ruin" has a superb piano opening, and once the sound has built up to a near crescendo, it all calms down, with the piano again to the fore, encouraging the vocals to aspire to greater heights. This is a true highlight, just about steering clear of the anthemic by making the arrangement a tad complicated, and not allowing a chorus to arrive and then be repeated.

However, this young band can’t quite deliver a full album of these delights. This, their second album, isn’t a complete success, and doesn’t fulfill the promise of those superb early tracks. After the very slightly prog "Who We Are" (well, maybe that's just me thinking aloud, as it has a rush about it that just cannot fit the prog tag at all - far too pacey) the music levels off, despite the ardent musicianship. Perhaps the songs aren't strong enough, or the musical ideas were found wanting. They almost redeem themselves with "Wait For The Signal", and actually do make it back to top form with the last track, "Not Tonight", which gives "The Ruin" a run for 'best song / tune' here, again with a piano centre stage, a superbly well thought out track.

This is definitely worth checking out, and I imagine their next might even be more on the money. Still, if I were you, I’d cash in now, and get there before the (possible) rush.
Kev A.

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Review: Van Dyke Parks

Van Dyke Parks - Arrangements Volume 1 (Bananastan)
Van Dyke Parks - though most famous for being co-writer/lyricist on Brian Wilson/Beach Boys’ “Smile” album - is a musically diverse character who’s has been involved with many artists over the past four decades in various capacities: musician, composer, lyricist or producer, as well as a solo recording artist. “Arrangements Volume 1”, as the name implies, focuses on his collaborations in the guise of the arranger, an art which involves taking existing compositions and adapting, adding to, or evolving them into something different yet recognisable. Being Volume 1, this compilation, curated by Parks, starts at the very beginning (a very fine place to start) of his studio career in the 1960s.

What gives the tracks their defining Parks stamp is their playfulness, with plenty of whimsy, mild eccentricity, free abandon, and he adds a wealth of inventive juxtapositions to the musical backdrop, like violin and saxophone on “Alligator Man” or zither and trumpet on Arlo Guthrie’s “Valley to Pray”. The first few inclusions combine sunshine flower power optimism with tack piano led pseudo-music hall and a cranky Heath Robinson inventiveness. The next wave instills a country, honky-tonk feel and then the styles and genres start to rapidly shift.

Parks ventures briefly into the realm of Christianity, before taking a gospel turn with the inspired rendition of Jimmy Cliff's “Sitting in Limbo” by Dino Martin (son of Dean). Onto Calypso with Bonnie Raitt's cover of Calypso Rose's racy “Wah She Go Do”, then a short revert to earlier form with The Mojo Men’s version of Buffalo Springfield’s “Sit Down I Think I Love You”. A flamenco infused “Cheek to Cheek” by Lowell George then leads onto a dose of hard funk from Little Feat, before Parks closes the proceedings with a little Moog music.

Besides the five tracks that Parks performs, and those mentioned above, are inclusions from The Beau Brummels’ Sal Valentino, George Washington Brown and Ry Cooder. It’s a collection that certainly begs the listener to train their ears to what is going on at the edges of the recording. Marvelous.

Review: My Violent Ego

My Violent Ego - One Day You'll Laugh At The Sad Saga That Was (Sometimes Records / Handwriting Records / White Birch Records)
Such a long title, so many record companies, and a long album, too. You can dispense with the first two quite easily (ignore! ignore!) but you won't be able to do that with the music, no sirree. There’s nothing egotistical, nor anything violent, about this startling set of twenty-two songs that stretch ethereal beauty to its limits. It lasts for one whole hour and goes on for eternity. Apparently this is a comeback after eight years, although the music here is all second-hand, garnered from material recorded between 2000-2005, but what material. They have produced a million dollar suit (or suite) from a patchwork of previous outings, a mix of tunes that fill your home and your heart, if you let them. This is shoegazer rock with a vision, bliss-out with a smiling face, MBV guitar meanderings with a direction.

These stripped down songs work because they’ve been nurtured, as if this duo have rediscovered them, massaged the life back into them, and then placed them under wraps... until their time had finally come - and that’s now. Make way in your collection for delights like "What If She Leaves", the sheer beauty in the voice will buckle your knees, "Sleeping Song", "Pesky Fly" (MBV new track, anyone?), “La C'est La Voix" (Vinni Reilly eat your heart out), and eighteen more slices of musical delight. Buy this, and wonder.
Kev A.

Baby Dee album and extra dates:

Baby Dee has added four more dates to her European tour. Dee will now be finishing the tour with shows in Paris, Torino, Rome and Bologna.
25/10/11 The Globe, Cardiff, UK
26/10/11 The Haunt, Brighton, UK
01/11/11 The International Anthony Burgess Foundation, Manchester, UK
02/11/11 Colchester Arts Centre, Colchester, UK
03/11/11 Taylor John's House, Coventry, UK
04/11/11 Cafe Oto, London, UK
05/11/11 Cafe Oto, London, UK
06/11/11 Petit Bain, Paris, FR
07/11/11 Musica 90, Torino, IT
08/11/11 Motelsalieri, Rome, IT
09/11/11 Teatrino degli Illusi, Bologna, IT

"Baby Dee Goes Down To Amsterdam", Baby Dee's new live album, will be available soon on Tin Angel Records.

HOWE GELB (GIANT SAND) lunchtime date:


Fire Records Presents a rare daytime appearance by the nocturnal Howe Gelb. In celebration of the conclusion of Howe Gelb's band Giant Sands 25th Anniversary year, Fire Records invite you to a one-off chance to see Howe in an intimate setting with mulled wine. Starting at 2PM

Thurs 1st December, 2011 @ Cafe Oto 1.30 pm

Book before 18th November for £10 Early Bird Tickets!!

Tickets both on the door and online will be £12 after 18th November.
£10.00 - tickets are available from

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy, dates and album:

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
will be returning to the UK for a headline show at London’s Hackney Empire on the 25th of January 2012. Featuring band members (Bonnie - guitar/vocals, Emmett Kelly - guitar/vocals, Angel Olsen – vocals, Ben Boye - piano/harmonium) who also played on the new ‘Wolfroy Goes To Town’ album, this promises be a hell of a night! Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy will also be playing shows in Gent and Utrecht on this run. Shows are as follows:

Monday 23rd January - UTRECHT, NL - TIVOLI

Tuesday 24th January - GENT, BE - VOORUIT

Wednesday 25th January - LONDON, UK - HACKNEY EMPIRE

Support on all 3 shows is "Susanna"

Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
new album 'Wolfroy Goes To Town' released on Domino on October 31st

'he still manages to add great records to his vast legacy, and WGTT is no exception' Artrocker 4/5
'Reflective, warm and moving, once again, the prince proves to be king' Loud & Quiet 8/10

We are delighted to announce the forthcoming album from Bonnie 'Prince' Billy 'Wolfroy Goes To Town' will be released on Domino on the 31st October on LP, CD & digital download. Collaborators on the record include Ben Boye, Van Campbell, Shahzad Ismaily, Emmett Kelly, Danny Kiely, and Angel Olsen.

1. No Match
2. New Whaling
3. Time To Be Clear
4. New Tibet
5. Black Captain
6. Cows
7. There Will Be Spring
8. Quail and Dumplings
9. We Are Unhappy
10. Night Noises

Review: Himalaya

Himalaya - The Reason We Start Fires (Independent)
Be careful not to get this band - Himalaya - confused with world music outfit, The Himalaya Band. Believe me, the music is over 29,000 feet apart. Still, a band name that evokes getting up close to the heavens needs to be backed up by its music. It has to reach an extremely high peak. No worries there, then. Himalaya deliver atmospheric, warped psyche, edged with a touch of shoegaze-cum-stoner rock, and even a touch of 1970's prog, with an audacity that is hard to conjure up, even if you have a track record going back some decades. Yet this is a young band from Brooklyn who are releasing their second album. And yes, they have everything roped down tight, despite the pinnacle they’re on. Take note: the pinnacle that they’re on, not just aiming for.

The music is a mellow treat, as if it’s been soaked in a musical marinade from a variety of decades before being laid out for us to quietly feast upon. Coming from places that have been visited by Pink Floyd in the ‘70s, the Jesus And The Mary Chain, Ride, Slowdive, Spiritualized, Sky Parade, and others, in the decades after, you soon succumb to the blissful grooves from the scuzzy guitars, the tight rhythm section, the hazy vocals; the overall vibe is 'Hey, everything is cool', and you’d better believe it.

It really is a cool record we have here, and I don’t want to stop listening to it yet. When I do, it won't go far from my stereo, as I’ll be reaching out for it, up to it, for quite some time. In a word: gorgeous.
Kev A.

Monday 24 October 2011

New Reviews

Catch up with all our new reviews on the main Leicester Bangs website:

This Weeks Big New Releases:
Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto
Tom Waits – Bad As Me
Muddy Waters – Electric Mud / After The Rain
Howlin’ Wolf – Smokestack Lightning: The Complete Chess Masters (Box Set)
Stacey Kent – Dreamer In Concert
Gary Numan – Dead Son Rising

New Reviews:
Jonathan Wilson
Marc Carroll
Marcus Foster
My Violent Ego
Van Dyke Parks
Golden Bear
Ike Moriz
The Vegabonds

Classic Reviews from the Leicester Bangs Print Archive
Wilco – Being There (1997)
Pigeonhed – The Full Sentence (1997)
Bill Janowitz – Lonesome Billy (1997)
Eels – Beautiful Freak (1997)

Forest Fire dates:

Nov 28th, Liverpool, The Shipping Forecast
Nov 29th, Nottingham, Chameleon Arts Café
Nov 30st, Leeds, Cockpit
Dec 2nd, Newcastle, Cluny 2
Dec 3rd, Middlebrough, Westgarth SC
Dec 4th, London, Hoxton Bar & Grill
Dec 5th, Brighton, Sticky Mikes

Twilight Sad dates:

Nov 13th, Dundee, Doghouse
Nov 14th, Aberdeen, Tunnels
Nov 15th, Inverness, Ironworks
Nov 16th, Edinburgh, Bongo Club
Nov 18th, Glasgow, Sleazy's
Nov 19th, Preston, Mad Ferret
Nov 20th, York, Duchess
Nov 21stst, London, Borderline
Nov 22nd, Oxford, Jericho
Nov 23rd, Leicester, Firebug
Nov 24th, Hull, Adelphi
Nov 25th, Stirling, Tolbooth

Saturday 22 October 2011

Review: Ike Moriz - C'est Si Bon

Ike Moriz - C’est Si Bon (Mosquito Records London)
“C’est Si Bon” is just one of three Ike Moriz album releases in 2011, and the first of two which explores the jazz vocal style of the 1950s, ‘60s and ‘70s. Moriz isn’t the only singer out there recreating the classic orchestral pop of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Tony Bennett, et al, but I bet he’s the only one in South Africa. The fact that it’s just one string to a musical bow that takes in indie pop, London glam and triple-A rock makes these records all the more impressive.

On “C’est Si Bon” Moriz makes inroads into the French language tradition of easy listening and swing - think Charles Aznavour and Sacha Distel. The title track (music: Henri Betti, lyric: Andre Hornez) was originally made famous by Eartha Kitt, though it’s Dean Martin’s 1962 version than many will recognize. Here Moriz accompanies the song with little more than a jazzy piano, which allows his voice and phrasing to shine through - while the keys fill the gaps with some panache. Of the other three French language songs, Charles Trenet’s chanson classic “La Mer” is the standout, though there are plenty of fine performances to enjoy amongst the remaining 11 standards. His take on Robert Wells and Jack Segal’s “When Joanna Loved Me” adds a certain breezy lightness to the song, and the Henry Mancini / Johnny Mercer composition, “The Days Of Wine And Roses”, gets treated equally kindly with the barest of accompaniments.
Rob F.

Review: Marcus Foster

Marcus Foster - Nameless Path (Communion/Polydor Records)
This is Marcus Foster’s debut album, and it is obvious he’s worked pretty hard to get these twelve tracks sounding just the way he wants them. He has a voice that straddles styles almost effortlessly, and he has a 'catch' in his voice when he strains at the leash that always adds to the sound when it emerges ("You My Love", "I Don't Mind" are good examples, but you could almost pick any track).

Self-schooled on his father's collection of Dylan albums he may be, but we’re a long way from his doyen's territory. He mixes his tunes up, but his voice comes on strong on every track, and it’s definitely his voice, not a copy of anyone else. I can't compare it to another, actually, nor can I find a bag to tidy up this music that leaps out at you with a vivacious flare. Do you associate the word 'vivacious' with femininity? Okay, in a word, then, let me say his sound is full on soulrockfolkpassion (listen to "The Room" To really get his 'groove'), all rolled up in a tight instrumental bundle, with a brassy sheen to it.

Nope, Marcus Foster (an ordinary name for a quite extraordinary artist) does not hold back a thing. Ben Harper comes to mind fleetingly (but only fleetingly), as do the Kings Of Leon ("I Was Broken"), but that may be just the vocals with the latter; still, just from those references, you can see what a diverse set we have here. For a debut artist this guy can certainly go the distance right from the off. He has put together nearly an hour's worth of tunes, not one substandard, and more than a handful that will make you want to listen to them again... and again.

I read somewhere that “Nameless Path” should be compared to Van Morrison's “Astral Weeks”, but that’s somewhat fanciful, however this guy with an MA in Fine Art has sculpted here a really beautiful soundscape, and his direction has to be 'on the up', his destiny to succeed in his chosen field. “Nameless Path” will just lead you there, if you let it.
Kev A.

Review: Marc Carroll

Marc Carroll - In Silence (One Little Indian)
Ah, Marc Carroll. I have created a significant gap in my CD shelving to house anything and everything that he does. If you’re not familiar with this chap's music you really should be. It’s in a class of its own, as he covers the widest of varieties within alternative pop music, and does it blissfully, from sublime acoustic strumming to glorious chamber pop. Marc Carroll is an incredible singer-songwriter, a masterful musician and producer; a great covers artist, a superb orchestrator and a true master of all things in the realm of popular music. As with his music, he himself moves around. Originally from Dublin, he has based himself in London, then again in Dublin, and currently resides in Los Angeles. Yet his music is never restless, always divine.

This latest album is a sojourn into previously charted territory, by which I don’t mean the pop chart, which he’s never troubled, nor been troubled by. Ten of the twelve tracks here are taken from his last two albums, “World On A Wire” (2006) and “Dust Of Rumour” from 2009. In addition you get a cover of "Matty Groves" (a 2010 single release) and "In Reverse", an instrumental track which has only featured on a Japanese CD release of 2002's “Ten Of Swords”. A bit of a strange mix, as it almost ignores his first two albums (“Ten Of Swords” and “All Wrongs Reversed'”. Perhaps he, or his record company, or both, decided to concentrate on his more recent work for a reason only known to themselves.

Well, it hardly matters. If you decide to give this a chance, you will surely be intoxicated by his music that you will hunt down everything else. Oh, and by the way, there’s a new album on the way, so you’ll need to allocate a space on your racks, too.
Kev A.

Review: Jonathan Wilson

Jonathan Wilson - Gentle Spirit (Bella Union)
I’m pretty familiar with Jonathan Wilson's early work with Muscadine, who I remember with affection, having bought “The Ballad Of Hope Nicholls” when it was released in the mid ‘90s. Years later it disappeared from my collection when I lent it to a friend, who still has it (must have thought it was a gift). I think there’s a second Muscadine album, and a live album out there too, but they’re unknown to me. We are talking about some twelve years ago, so just where has he been all this time? Well, he has amassed quite a few friends for starters, and a lot of them appear on this record.

With Muscadine, his slow and sleepy sound (the album title is spot on) could sometimes take its toll, as the music was always heading towards an earnest side, but here, on this second solo album (the first was never released) there’s a variety that allows for a fresh start between him and you. For instance, I have never heard him sing anything like "Desert Raven" before. The glorious production encases and enhances his vocal take, and he carries you back to Laurel Canyon without a hint of effort. And besides the lush strings you get some luscious guitar. This is Allman Brothers hooking up with the Eagles, whilst America holding the reigns in a neutral territory, and it’s delightful. Leading up to this is the gorgeous and beautiful title track, and "Can We Really Party Today", both of which have a full and mellow sound, his acoustic guitar strumming with occasional piano and strings. The cello / piano combination on the latter is a delight, especially when the organ and drums kick in with background chorus - a perfect introduction to lead you up to the mighty Laurel Canyon (song).

So, what an opening three tracks you get, with keyboards weaving in and out, flutes and woodwind, the magical acoustic and electric guitar work, all topped off with sublime strings; and all in the right place at the right time. After this opening 20-minute salvo there are another nine tracks to go, over 45 minutes. So, does the quality dissipate at all? Can he maintain this top-level performance throughout? Or does it go on just a tad too long?

"The Way I Feel" continues that wonderful drift, with some extra superlative organ rushes and guitar slinging, so the drift becomes a less nonchalant sidle, as the instruments strut their stuff. Last track "Valley Of The Silver Moon" completes the canyon feel, and at over ten minutes brings the journey home in some hazy style. Involved arrangements and jams pepper the tracks, becoming free-form at times, which, for me, are all to the good.

I'm not sure if having a previous life as a ‘60s teenager with hippy leanings helps, but I found an awful lot to enjoy here. I expect you will, too; ‘60s hippy leanings or not.
Kev A.

Classic Reviews from the Leicester Bangs Print Archive

Wilco – Being There (Reprise)
Wow! Jeff Tweedy and the boys have made a very special, very ambitious album - a huge advance on their not-too-shoddy “A.M.” debut from two years ago. Without losing their country rock sensibilities they’ve produced a record comparable in parts to “Exile on Main Street” or “After the Goldrush”

“Being There” has so many great songs it’s difficult to know where to start, but the following must get a mention: “Misunderstood” seeps pain and longing before collapsing into the kind of sound-storm others base a complete career around, “Monday” has horns to die for, “I Got You (At the end of the Century)” rocks like it has no idea how to stop and “The Lonely 1” would grace any of the Big Star albums.

So what have we got? Maybe the best American release of the year so far, and a benchmark release for the rest of the genre. I can’t wait to see them again.
LB (1997)

Pigeonhed – The Full Sentence (Sub Pop)
Well, no-one ever said the man couldn’t sing. Shawn Smith has got as fine a pair of tonsils as any chap you’d care to mention. He can also write a song. Listen to the glorious “Buttercup” from the Brad album, or the title track from this latest offering from Pigeonhed, his collaboration with Steve Fisk.

Unfortunately the title track is by far the best thing on this eagerly awaited follow up to the duo’s 1993 debut. This album feels lazy - half-written songs and underdeveloped ideas that funk off to nowhere in particular. You won’t be playing “The Last Sentence” as much as their debut.
LB (1997)

Bill Janowitz – Lonesome Billy (Beggars Banquet)
Recorded over three days, Bill Janowitz of Buffalo Tom has produced the best work, so far, of his career. With rhythm section Joey Burns and John Convertino, the bassist and drummer with Giant Sand, “Lonesome Billy” explores that part of America frequented by saddle-bums and skeletal Longhorn, where tequila is drunk in dark bars and Sam Peckinpah offers the only meaningful direction.

Pedal steel, harmonica and piano weave in and out of these gritty country tunes leaving the taste of Arizona dust in the mouth and a sense of yearning tugging at the heartstrings. It would be nice to think that the rest of Buffalo Tom could be steered in the same direction.
LB (1997)

Eels – Beautiful Freak (Dreamworks)
Strange album this one, or so the man called E would have us believe. The singer, guitarist, main songwriter, indeed main man, tries desperately to come across as the freak if the title, all spoken word hokey wisdom and go-nowhere paranoia, but like the saucer eyed girl on the cover, you can’t help but feel slightly manipulated.

Don’t get me wrong, the album’s okay in a second-rate Beck sort of way. The opener “Novocaine For The Soul” sets the tone and it all ticks along quite nicely. “Susan’s House” is a particularly fine track but overall, it all feels a little strained.

Wackiness should always appear natural, otherwise you’re just one of those sad gits wearing a cartoon necktie for work and pretending you haven’t got a girlfriend because you’re just too busy (i.e. playing Ultimate Doom, learning huge chunks of Simpsons dialogue and masturbating furiously to pictures of Winona Ryder).
LB (1997)

Friday 14 October 2011

Short Shorts

Thom Hell – This Is Thom Hell (Voices Of Wonder)
I’ve often been heard to ask the question ‘who is Thom Hell?’ and now I’ve got my answer. Voted Norway’s Best Male Artist at the Norwegian equivalent of The Brits (The Nors? Probably not), Hell is an old fashioned kinda guy, with an old fashioned sound. His new album indicates a fascination with respectable songwriter types like McCartney, Ben Folds, the Finns, and Elton and Bernie. His songs, their arrangements and the instruments that play them, all hark back to the ‘70s and ‘80s, and do you know what? It’s pretty good. Fans of proper music please form an orderly queue here.
Rob F.

Jay Brown – The Jester (Independent)
A one-man-band, when he’s not playing with the Lazybirds or Shantavaani, Jay Brown seems comfortable on his own, and it suits his rootsy pop songs. I guess it’s probably best to file it all under Americana as there are quite a variety of sounds and styles on “The Jester”. The blues is a definite influence, as is old time country, and I’m sure he’s familiar with more than his fair share of Greenwich Village folkies. Fortunately, his songs stand up to scrutiny, and he brings it all together with a dash of humour and with a smile on his face. Not groundbreaking, but that’s why we’ve got pickaxes.
Rob F.

Steve Moore – Primitive Neural Pathways / Vaalbara (Static Caravan)
Steve Moore, one half of Zombi, has created a double-disc synth behemoth with “Primitive Neural Pathways / Vaalbara”. The first disc feels like a product of the English countryside, as the mood is quite rural and green, and names like A Dancing Beggar and Mike Oldfield seem appropriate. Vaalbara, the second half of the set, is more abstract, with an emphasis on longer segments and satisfies itself with pure noise and drones. At this point it seems natural to mention Klaus Schulze’s “Cyborg” album, which I’m sure will mean everything to a select few.
Simon M.

Roedelius / Schnieder - Stunden (Bureau B)
“Studen” is the result of the cross generational collaboration of Harmonia / Cluster’s (or Kluster or Qluster if you prefer) Hans Joachim-Roedelius and To Rococo Rot’s Stefan Schneider, and created on the proviso that “the music should be quiet – otherwise anything goes”. Void of lyrics “Stunden” (title track presented in three parts) largely centres on Roedelius’ piano with the fragility supported by bass, synthesizers and occasional zither and guitar. The open concept allows the music to take smooth tangents into darkness (“Das Eine”), romance (“Miniatur”), bouncy surrealism (“Single Boogie”), vague and minimal call and response (“Geschichte”) and meditative introspection (“Upper Slaughter” and “Land”).


Television Personalities frontman Dan Treacy is currently in intensive care in an induced coma following surgery to remove a blood clot on his brain. Although the cause of the clot has not been divulged, the NME reports that a police investigation is ongoing.

In a statement to the NME, Treacy's bandmates said: "The band is very much concerned for our dear friend and Brother Daniel at this time, and we are all praying for a recovery".

Formed in 1978, Treacy is the only original member of The Television Personalities still in the band. Although Television Personalities are not as widely known as some other bands formed during the punk era, Treacy's songwriting has influenced many other artists. Most recently he was namechecked on MGMT's second album.

Review: Forest Fire

Forest Fire - Staring At The X (FatCat Records)
This music has such quirky depths you can’t see the bottom. All the songs are unhinged from each other, yet, as a whole, the album exhibits the stability and density of a really good chocolate brownie. This is thoroughly modern music, indie with a capital 'I', and for this genre (of late) it’s a refreshingly new sound.

The whole musical palette is represented here, with guitars going off at different times with different sounds, various synthesizers and keyboards creating minor cacophonies, percussion throbbing and bobbing away, all joining together within a song to create tunes that defy gravity. "Future Shadow' is a good example of this; I doubt anyone can ignore it once it pulls them in, and believe me, it has mighty pulling power. Following on immediately is "The News", which features a glorious saxophone interrupting the jerky, but accessible, musical procession not once, but twice. It appears triumphantly again at the end of "Mtns And Mtns", providing a raw and powerful conclusion.

The final track is an eight and a half minute off-kilter ballad, "Visions In Plastic", which sums up this splendid album for me. It has an almost naive power that blossoms and swoops around almost every note struck, every word sung. If they keep that power intact, that ability to create new musical creations, as their career progresses, they will be revered. I can't recommend this album enough.
Kev A.

King Porter Stomp dates:

Live Dates:

Thurs 3rd - Green Door Store, Brighton
Fri 4th - Hootananny's, Brixton, London
Sat 5th - Bodega Social Club, Nottingham
Sun 6th - The Cumberland Arms, Newcastle Upon Tyne
Tues 8th - Redroom @ The Oakwood , Glossop
Fri 11th - Telford's Warehouse, Chester
Sat 12th - Mello Mello, Liverpool
Wed 30th - Komedia, Brighton
Thurs 8th - Ride Cafe, Plymouth
Fri 9th - The Attic, Bristol
Sat 10th - The Frog and Fiddle, Cheltenham
Sun 11th - The Railway, Winchester
Sat 17th - The Blind Tiger, Brighton

As always, King Porter Stomp will be taking to the streets again and busking their way around the country throughout the tour. To stayed connected with the latest info on the tour and much more, please head to their official website, or keep an eye out over at their Facebook page.

Artist Link:

Review: APB

APB – Jaguar (Oatcake Records)
Time for a confession, I think. I’d started to write this review before I knew anything about APB’s history. I just listened and I hold my hands up, I’d never heard of this trio, and I was three tracks in, and writing about their new wave inclinations. Then I checked them out and discovered a musical history that goes back thirty odd years. Well, they’ve moved on, but they’ve managed to bring their old style with them, impeccably updated with some present-day ideas.

There’s nothing wrong with the opening track, "Cradle To The Grave" sounding as solid as a Scottish oatcake (yep, they’re a Scottish band on Oatcake Records... sorry) and it’s the sort of thing that would pack a pub venue on most nights of the week. I live around the corner from one such place, where you can here loads of 70's rock and punk every weekend. I immediately had a dream of getting this trio down from Aberdeenshire to show the locals what the real deal sound like.

We move towards new wave territory on "Electric Boy", although it has a sound and space all of its own, a song that makes me wonder what they might have sounded like all those years ago, when they were supporting The Clash and The Jam (and James Brown apparently - I wonder what he made of them?). We’re eased towards Talking Heads territory on "First Dance", and possibly Television on "You Give Me Pain". Both are very good, and they only hint at the bands that were their contemporaries, and when the title track comes along, sung by Jim Shepherd (The Jasmine Minks), you have to take your hat off to them.

So, there it is. A look back to thirty years ago, followed by a move forward to the here and now, and we have a mini-album that’s almost as exciting, surely, as the early work they did. But it’ll have to be someone better informed than I about APB will be able to tell you for sure. If you can’t find an expert, then take a chance – it’s worth it.
Kev A.