Wednesday 31 July 2013

Review: Bayou Black – Whiskey & Cigarettes

Bayou Black – Whiskey & Cigarettes (Independent)
A couple of years ago we reviewed Bayou Black’s debut EP “Strangled Up In Vines”, and we were very much taken with the band’s melodic prowess and their gritty way with a hook. Since we last touched base with the Austin, Texas band, they’ve had more than their fair share of drama. Guitarist Tony Kountoupis underwent neck and spinal surgery midway though the EP’s recording process, and drummer Jeff Brickley moved out to California, and doesn’t appear on the new songs at all.

Released in June, “Whiskey & Cigarettes” is their new four-track collection of original material, and they hit their stride immediately with opening cut “Dead & Gone”. Its musical mélange of literate songwriting, a catchy chorus, and robust, rootsy guitars, brings to mind a host of much-loved artists, from Tom Petty and Marshall Crenshaw, to Iron & Wine and Jay Farrar. It’s a fine start.

They continue with “Look in Her Eye”, and it’s considerably more reflective than its predecessor, though no less appealing, and “Get Back” rolls along with an easy rhythm and uncomplicated, feel good vibe. They end with “Sorry”, where their Beatles’ influence comes to the fore, and guitars and narrative collide, creating sparks aplenty.
Phil S.

Tonight at The Musician: Blues 'N' Trouble + Guano

Blues 'N' Trouble
Wednesday 31st July
£7adv £8door
plus Guano
Led by top UK Blues singer and harmonica player Tim Elliott, award winning British Blues band Blues 'n' Trouble have forged an international reputation over almost 30 years as a hard driving, good time Blues and Boogie outfit.

Now sporting a retooled and rejuvenated line-up incorporating Tim Elliott (vocals/harmonica), Sandy Tweeddale (guitar/vocals), Angus Rose (keyboards/guitar), Rod Kennard (bass) and Andy Munro (drums), Blues 'n’ Trouble are heading for 30th anniversary celebrations with the fire and swagger for which this top British blues band has always been renowned.

Remember; always check with the venue before travelling:

Tuesday 30 July 2013

Review: The Light Hearts – This Fine Line

The Light Hearts – This Fine Line (Independent)
Before Connecticut siblings Brian Kiss and Suzanne Vick joined forces in The Light Hearts, both were established performers in their own right. Kiss is a soulful singer-songwriter with touring experience under his belt with Hot Rod Circuit, and the classically trained Vick won awards with her acclaimed debut solo album “The Brightness Of Orchids”. Their Light Hearts project should augment both their reputations.

They begin with the title track; Kiss takes lead vocal, and it’s an instant highlight. The positioning of Kiss’ rootsy acoustic guitar and vocal alongside Vick’s haunting keyboard, blurs all sorts of genre lines, and creates a unique perspective from the off. It’s followed by “Not the One You Want” – again Vick’s melancholy keyboards add depth and weight to the arrangement, and this time they divide the vocals, taking verses in turn. Singer-songwriter Seth Adam joins them on “Jane” to provide vocal support, but it’s the gentle, unhurried guitar groove they generate that most impresses.

Recorded live in the studio over a weekend in March 2013, the duo wrote all the songs on “This Fine Line” (apart from a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather”), played nearly all the instruments and co-produced the collection with local producer Kyle Ryan. Their hands-on approach to all aspects of their album is to be applauded, and simultaneously, their stripped back approach to their music does much to enhance their songs. I hope it’s an aspect of their sound that isn’t lost on future recordings.
Tony S.

Tonight at The Musician: The Chickenhead Lounge

The Chickenhead Lounge
Tuesday 30th July
feat. The Most Ugly Child, The Outwoods County Riders and The Ruby Doos
Folks we go country and a bit old timey. Opening the night are close part harmony trio ’The Ruby Doos’, expect contemporary and classic songs with a retro twist, ranging from early bluegrass through 50#s harmony swing and heartbreak ballads.

Next up your very own Chickenhead promoters and resident band The Outwoods County Riders. Armed with a sack full of new songs, the boys offer their version of countryfied Americana as only they can.

Rounding off the night we have, from the dust bowl regions of Nottingham, ‘The Most Ugly Child’. Brought together by a mutual appreciation for the revival of old time country and bluegrass music, the group centre around the partnership of singer/songwriters Daniel Wright & Stevie-Leigh Goodison. Influenced by the high and lonesome sounds of Townes Van Zandt, Guy Clark and George Jones, the pair have been likened to some of the great male/female country duos of yesteryear, such as Johnny and June Carter-Cash. Their original material blends seamlessly with old time country classics and listening to Daniel’s own ‘Bluebird’ you could be forgiven for thinking it was penned by the late great Hank Williams himself.

Remember; always check with the venue before travelling:

Las Kellies announce album and dates

In September Fire Records are releasing the new studio album from fiery Argentine trio Las Kellies.

Total Exposure is their fourth long-player and features special guest appearances from the likes of reggae legend Dennis Bovell and The Make Up/Chain and the Gang's Ian Svenonius.

Dub and hip hop influences have been introduced to the raw and wild, post-punk Las Kellies sound, turning them into a something altogether more elegant and sophisticated.

UK Dates:

09/08/2013 UK London The Windmill
11/08/2013 UK Oxfordshire Supernormal Festival
12/08/2013 UK London Shacklewell Arms
15/08/2013 UK Leeds Brudenell Social Club
16/08/2013 UK London Yard Party Festival (Upset the Rhythm)

Review: The Deems – Limes and Forms

The Deems – Limes and Forms (Independent)
Rapidly acquiring a reputation as Harrisonburg, Virginia’s most popular jam band, the talented and versatile quartet play a hip blend of improvised psychedelia, blue-eyed reggae and baggy-funk. I don’t suppose they could be accused of being overly cutting edge, though the musical combinations they concoct sound remarkably fresh, and interestingly, they seem completely at home in a studio setting. That’s not always the case with bands that thrive on stage, spontaneously stretching their songs and finding new angles to explore. Here, each song feels just right. There are no premature endings and the band make plenty of space for individual members to solo – and they play their six tracks in a smidge over 32 minutes, so they’re hardly in a rush.

They begin strongly with “Thinking Go”, where brass and keyboards bolster its easy groove, and the effect is not unlike a heady mash-up of late-period Can, Happy Mondays, and Dutch proggers like Focus. “401k” is probably the closest they get to a pop song, while still making room for space-jazz keyboards and a propulsive beat. They continue their jazzy explorations on “Limes” though this time it’s a fusion sound they go for and the result is dance-floor friendly with a strong vocal hook. The centrepiece track is “Crustache”, a seven-minute workout that comes in several linked parts and features a range of guitar styles – from Jerry Garcia’s feather-light leads to Freddie Stone’s funk - massive Bootsy-style basslines, swirling keys, and a spoken word, proto rap vocal.
Phil S.

£47m investment in six UK heritage sites

Winchester Cathedral has been awarded £10.5m for urgent
conservation works and funding new exhibitions

The Heritage Lottery Fund has announced it is investing £47m in six heritage tourism projects in England and Wales.

The money will go to existing and potential tourist attractions.

They include Winchester Cathedral in Hampshire and the Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery, Powys.

The Heritage Lottery Fund said the grants "will enhance and promote a better understanding of our heritage while contributing to the £26bn UK heritage tourism economy".

Carole Souter, Chief Executive of HLF said more than a quarter of all UK holiday activities undertaken by UK residents now involve heritage sites.

"These projects all offer the public the chance to explore and enjoy our rich and complex history," she said.

First iron-frame

Flax Mill Maltings in Shropshire has received the biggest share with £12.8m being allocated to develop a complex of 18th and 19th Century industrial buildings in Shrewsbury.

The complex includes the world's first iron-framed building, the forerunner to the modern skyscraper. The money will be used to restore the buildings for commercial, community and visitor uses.

Windermere Steamboat Museum in Cumbria has been awarded £9.4m for a new museum on the edge of lake Windermere. The museum will showcase 200 years of boatbuilding in the Lake District and will provide training and apprenticeship opportunities.

The Chester Farm in Northamptonshire, where a complex of grade II and II* buildings are currently at risk, has secured £4m in funding.

The site provides evidence of human activity over 10,000 years.

The six heritage tourism projects

Knole mansion, Kent - £7.75m
Windermere Steamboat Museum, Cumbria - £9.4m
Winchester Cathedral, Hampshire - £10.5m
Flax Mill Maltings, Shropshire - £12.8m
Chester Farm, Northamptonshire - £4m
Brecknock Museum and Art Gallery, Powys - £2.5m

Source: BBC

Saturday 27 July 2013

Review: Wounded Pickup – Everybody Street

Wounded Pickup – Everybody Street (Independent)
Californian singer-songwriter Tom Haithcock primarily formed Wounded Pickup to perform and record his songs – and “Everybody Street” is the fourth album they’ve released. Taking its title from a Dylan Thomas short story, the literary connotations obviously reference the seriousness with which Haithcock approaches his art, and the emphasis he puts on his words. When coupled with a group dynamic, both Haithcock and his songs retain their central significance, and “Everybody Street” remains a singer-songwriter album at its core.

The players that he’s surrounded himself with allow plenty of room for his songs to make their mark, and Haithcock’s a distinctive vocalist, with an earthy, weathered edge to his voice – perfectly matched to his own material. Songwriters like John Prine and Jerry Jeff Walker spring to mind, artists who blurred the lines between country, folk, blues and rock, and weren’t obsessed with clean lines and airbrushed production.

Listening to the opening cuts on “Everybody Street”, guitar strings are to the fore, and they elegantly sweep the listener along. “Turn My Love Up” is a vibrant, energetic launch track, with a winding slide providing lead, and a song that burrows deep. “Slippin' Away” is a stripped back, classic country tune with a contemporary alternative side, and “Mr. Muir” gets stuck into its narrative with relish. Later highlights include the folk tones of “Underground Arcade” and the stark openness of “So Many Days”.
Tony S.

Banksy's No Ball Games mural removed from Tottenham wall

A mural by street artist Banksy showing two children playing with a "no ball games" sign has been cut out of a wall in Tottenham, north London.

The graffiti, which appeared on the side of a shop at the junction of Tottenham High Road and Philip Lane in 2009, is to be sold for charity.

Janet Cooke, who works nearby, said an "iconic bit of Tottenham" had gone.

The firm managing the sale - the Sincura Group - said it had not been appreciated in situ.

'Beautiful piece'

Events company Sincura Group also put the Banksy mural Slave Labour up for auction in June.

The artwork, showing a boy making union jack bunting on a sewing machine, was taken from a wall in Wood Green, north London, in February.

It had been sprayed on to the side of a discount store just before the Diamond Jubilee celebrations in 2012.

The group's director Tony Baxter said he had been approached and asked if he could manage the sale of No Ball Games.

He declined to say who approached him.

He said the piece, one of Banksy's largest, had to be removed in three pieces.

The last section featuring a girl will be removed later, he said.

'Community landmark'

He said the artwork had been defaced a number of times and people's view of it had been spoilt by renovation work in the area and a "pylon" being placed in front of it with a security camera.

He said it would be restored over six months before being auctioned in spring next year with profits going to charity.

He added: "It's a beautiful piece."

Mrs Cooke, of Cooke Estates, said she saw workers plastering both sides of the wall on Thursday.

"Everybody knew it around here and went to have a look at it. It was a little iconic bit of Tottenham," she said.

"Now it's going to be famous for being a place where a Banksy was once."

Councillor Alan Strickland of Haringey Council said he was "very disappointed" that a "community landmark" had been removed.

Haringey Trades Council secretary Keith Flett said: "The Banksy was an important cultural feature of the area and if it has been removed it will be another indication that local people's wishes come second to the interests of profit."

Source: BBC

Review: Johnny Helm – Banyan Tree

Johnny Helm – Banyan Tree (Independent)
Johnny Helm was born to a musical family in the spring of 1973 in Hartford, CT. Nowadays he’s based in Hawaii, broadcasting and working the desk for various of the island’s top radio stations, and writing, recording and performing his songs. His musical career began in the mid ‘90s, initially in a band playing lots of Grateful Dead covers, before he moved to New York and cut a demo disc with the hope of securing a deal. When things didn’t work out, he upped sticks and moved to Honolulu, got a job in radio, and the rest, they say, is history.

All those years working in radio production must have provided invaluable recording experience, and that can be heard throughout “Banyan Tree”, a seven-track EP that plays to his strengths. Musically he sits somewhere between the rootsy AOR of Counting Crows and the new generation of songwriters who broke through post-David Gray – artists like Damien Rice and Ben Howard. Fortunately, he’s a talented songwriter with his own individual sound, one that’s relaxed and easy to connect with, which more than likely reflects his island habitat.

The collection begins with the title track, a clever, unhurried love song, full of natural imagery, and what sounds like a slow pedal steel adding dreamy ambience – a recurring effect. “You Better Give In” is equally laid-back, but here Helm adds some major hooks, and its radio-friendly appeal is undeniable. “Fine” revels in its fuller sound, and while it retains a gentle vibe, it moves forward with purpose, and contains a sublime guitar solo. Perhaps my favourite track is “I Was Ready”. Helm nails the song’s emotional targets, and the arrangement is unexpected and different.
Tony S.

Johnny Helm – Banyan Tree (Live)

This weekend at De Montfort Hall: Simon Says...

De Montfort Hall Presents…

Simon Says…

Weekend Tickets: £20
Saturday Ticket: £15
Sunday Ticket: £8

Gates open 11am Saturday until midnight and 11am Sunday until 5pm.
Music starts at midday Saturday and starts at 11.15am on Sunday.

Simon Says... come and enjoy a weekend of Leicester's best music this summer.

For two days in July we will welcome the best of the local music scene to De Montfort Hall and gardens as part of the hall's centenary celebrations. Showcasing the best of Leicester’s music scene, the line-up has been pulled together by three of Leicester’s most iconic independent music venues; The Donkey, Firebug and The Musician.

With three stages – indoor main hall, outdoor in the gardens and an acoustic stage (all under cover so you won't get wet if it rains!) – and the cream of Leicester’s talent Simon Says… is shaping up to be a top weekend.

Simon Says… see you here soon!

Line up:
Young Knives
Uncle Frank
By The Rivers
Jersey Budd
The Paradimes
Emily Barker and the Red Clay Halo
Grace Petrie
The Simpletones
Chrome Molly
Aynsley Lister Duo
The Kirkland Turn
Joel Owen and the Antoine Band
Pamela Moo
Little Night Terrors
Codex Leicester
David Wyatt
Sally Barker
Diesel Park West
Mahalia Burkmar
Steve Parker
Charlie and the Martyrs
Nancy Dawkins
Mia and the Moon
Martha Bean
We Three and the Death Rattle
Melanie Page
Midnight Wire
The Daydream Club
The Marinuccis
The Natives
Demons of Ruby Mae
Blues Demons
Kevin Hewick

Please note no alcohol or glass will be allowed on site. Our bars will be open serving a range of real ale, cider, beers, wines, spirits and soft drinks. Pints will be priced at just £3. Check out the offical website below for more information.

Remember; always check with the venue before travelling:

Friday 26 July 2013

Introducing: Amber Road

Introducing: Amber Road

Their record: Working Man (Independent)

They say: Amber Road, a mix of heart thumping, melodic, Scottish celtic rock songs and tunes.

Amber Road is a Scottish Rock/Folk band, the members are: Graham Brown, David Lindsay, Mike Horsburgh, Eddie Brown , George Abbott and Davie Hunter.

We pride ourselves on writing songs and tunes that come straight from the heart, with stirring and deep lyrics and catchy tunes, we are all proud of our roots and we invite you to join us and share the stories and themes our songs are all about, from the deep emotional lyrics of "WORKING MAN" to the upbeat patriotic call of "I CAN HEAR THE NATION" you can even jump around and stamp your feet to tunes such as "THE PLASTERED LAIRD" or sway to the sound of "CRAIGS LAMENT"

And a few surprises in between.


Graham, David, Mike, Eddie, George & Davie

We say: Passionate and fiery, Scottish folk-rockers Amber Road have released a six-song EP that demonstrates why they’re firm favourites on their local festival circuit. Unafraid of writing songs with a genuine message, they’re equally adept at wrapping their words within hard-hitting tunes, foot-stomping rhythms and fist-in-the-air choruses.

It’ll only be a matter of time before their popularity soars, so now’s the time to discover them. “Working Man” is a great place to start.

RIYL: Runrig, Proclaimers, Bellowhead.

Amber Road – I Can Hear The Nation