Thursday 31 October 2013

Review: Rough Age – Before It Comes Apart

Rough Age – Before It Comes Apart (Independent)
Colorado three-piece Rough Age describe themselves as a pub rock band, which probably means they perform a lot of bar gigs and play music that entertains on a basic level – nothing wrong with that. The original pub rock bands, which were mostly London based, played a variety of styles, from rambunctious R&B and country-rock, to proto-punk and power-pop, and paved the way for bands like The Clash and Sex Pistols. Though I don’t expect Rough Age to be the precursor to another musical revolution, they do mix a number of roots and rock styles on their debut long-player “Before It Comes Apart”, and parade more than enough good-time vibes to keep the most maudlin drinker happy-ish.

Their influences are drawn from both the initial UK scene – artists like Elvis Costello, Graham Parker and the Rumour, and Rockpile – and also US songwriters such as Springsteen and Zevon. Add some harder-edged alt. rock bands like Gaslight Anthem and The Hold Steady and you’re getting warm. Of course, it’s the quality of their own material that’ll ultimately mark them out from the pack, and in songwriter (and singer/guitarist) Nathan Archer they’ve struck gold. Opening number “Adelita” displays subtlety and detail, and builds angsty menace one chord at a time. “Al Jazeera” is almost jazzy by contrast - without sacrificing one iota of guitar-pop appeal - and “Summer Skies” opens their sound in much the same way early records by The Police found space. Special mentions also for the Costello-esque “Chemistry” and the contemplative “Flammable Parts”.
Phil S.

Tonight at The Musician, Leicester (31/10): The Young'uns

Greenbird Promotions presents

The Young'uns
Thursday 31st October
plus David Gibb & Elly Lucas
After bursting onto the folk scene 3 years ago, The Young ’Uns have become one of the most popular, entertaining and sought after live acts today.  With bags of charm, talent, and an abiding enthusiasm for traditional song, Sean Cooney, David Eagle and Michael Hughes bring freshness and dynamism to their arrangements of close harmony songs, both with and without accompaniment.  Think Coope, Boyes and Simpson with attitude!

David Gibb and Elly Lucas are former Young Folk Award finalists and are rapidly making a name for themselves with both their own songs and their original takes on traditional material.

Remember; always check with the venue before travelling, or grab a ticket direct from the site:

Danny & The Champions Of The World UK and Ireland dates

Danny & The Champions Of The World UK and Ireland dates:

13 Nov - Old Oak Bar, CORK
14 Nov - Whelans, DUBLIN 
15 Nov - The Goats Toe, BANGOR
16 Nov - The Sky And The Ground, WEXFORD
17 Nov - Cleeres, KILKENNY  
19 Nov - Caroline Social Club, SALTAIRE
20 Nov - Pivo Pivo, GLASGOW 
22 Nov - Town Hall, STORNAWAY
23 Nov - The Greenhouse, DINGWALL
24 Nov - The Cluny, NEWCASTLE
25 Nov - The Basement, YORK
26 Nov - Rugby Club, RIPON
27 Nov - What's Cookin', LEYTONSTONE
28 Nov - The Bullingdon, OXFORD 
29 Nov - The Donkey, LEICESTER 
30 Nov - The Palmeira, BRIGHTON
01 Dec - The Maze, NOTTINGHAM 
03 Dec - The Railway, WINCHESTER 
04 Dec - The Fountain, HASTINGS

Jane Austen 'definitive' portrait to be sold

A painting described as the definitive portrait of Jane Austen is to be sold at auction in December.

The watercolour, which has rarely been seen in public, has remained in the Austen family since it was created.

Estimated to fetch up to £200,000, it was commissioned by the author's nephew, Rev James Edward Austen-Leigh, in 1869 to accompany his biography of the author.

An engraving of the painting will appear on the new £10 note from 2017.

The portrait was based on the only confirmed portrait of Austen made during her lifetime by her sister Cassandra.

Austen-Leigh did not think his aunt's depiction was a true likeness however, so commissioned Maidenhead artist James Andrews to create a more "satisfying version" based on his own memories.

In his biography, titled Memoir of Jane Austen, he described her as "a clear brunette with a rich colour".

"She had full round cheeks, with mouth and nose small and well formed, bright hazel eyes, and brown hair forming natural curls close round her face...she never was seen, either morning or evening, without a cap."

Dr Gabriel Heaton from auction house Sotheby's said Andrews' portrait - which became the accepted image of Austen and spawned many reproductions - was "part of our cultural history".

"This is the most important likeness of Jane Austen ever likely to appear on the open market," he said.

"The painting was commissioned for the first full-length biography... which was crucial in transforming her from a novelist into a national figure.

"The portrait gave readers an image with which they could identify and which even seemed to embody the character of her work."

The painting will be sold at a Sotheby's London auction on 10 December.

Source: BBC

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Review: Leo Crandall – Letters From The Sun

Leo Crandall – Letters From The Sun (Independent)
Autobiographical information on Leo Crandall is thin on the ground, so I assume he’s chosen to let his music speak for itself. Frankly, he couldn’t have decided upon a more eloquent form. His songs are rooted firmly in various folk traditions, though exact origins are difficult to pin down.

Crandall is a founding member and principal songwriter in the Gonstermachers, a New York quartet with a reputation for dark, experimental Americana, and a composer for film, theatre, dance and art installations. All that experience serves him well when framing both his own songs, and the traditional European folk tunes that appear regularly throughout “Letters From The Sun”.

His rich voice delivers the material with authority and poise, lingering deftly to emphasize lines and give an occasional emotional chill. It’s powerful and moving, and Crandall, accompanying himself on requinto guitar, builds ambience and mood to compliment his words.

The depth and resonance he brings to his vocal performance reminds me a little of the late, great Jackie Leven, and opening cut “Jesus Was a Runner” is sung a capella, and the hairs that live on the back of things, stand instantly to attention. It soon becomes standard procedure. “Crucify the Dogs” is dark and oppressively beautiful, with Crandall showing substantial instrumental prowess, and on “Virginia” he weaves a wintry tale of lost love and rejection.
Phil S.

Tonight at The Musician, Leicester (30/10): Gordon Giltrap & Oliver Wakeman

Doktor Dyper presents

Gordon Giltrap & Oliver Wakeman
Wednesday 30th October
Guitar Legend and the next generation of keyboard wizardry join forces!
Autumn 2012 saw the beginning of a new project for guitar legend Gordon Giltrap and keyboardist Oliver Wakeman and has resulted in a Brand New album "Raven's & Lullabies" out now on Cherry Red.

Featuring a variety of guitars and keyboards, which are their tools in trade, The October 2013 tour will continue the success of their first public performances and showcase a selection of pieces from the album as well as new arrangements of classic material from both of their retrospective careers.

Gordon says “This project will see a return to my “Prog Rock” roots, and the prospect of working with a man considered by many to be one of the best in the business truly excites me! " Oliver adds, "After working with YES, the chance of working with another legendary guitarist was an opportunity too good to miss. I am having a wonderfully productive time working with Gordon and feel we are creating something genuinely unique in our 'Raven's & Lullabies' project. So, with their collective histories and talents to draw inspiration from, be prepared for an evening of beautiful compositions, wit and charm from these two virtuosos.

Remember; always check with the venue before travelling, or grab a ticket direct from the site:

Bill Callahan Euro dates for February, 2014

Bill Callahan Euro dates:

31/1/14 Gateshead, Newcastle-Upon-Tyne, United Kingdom
1/2/14 Glasgow, United Kingdom
2/2/14 Dublin, United Kingdom
3/2/14 Manchester, United Kingdom
5/2/14 Leeds, United Kingdom
6/2/14 Bristol, United Kingdom
7/2/14 London, United Kingdom
8/2/14 London, United Kingdom
9/2/14 Copenhagen, Denmark
10/2/14 Amsterdam, Netherlands
11/2/14 Brussels, Belgium
12/2/14 Paris, France
14/2/14 Cologne, Germany
15/2/14 Berlin, Germany
16/2/14 Munich, Germany
17/2/14 St.Gallen, Switzerland
18/2/14 Bologna, Italy
19/2/14 Lyon, France
21/2/14 Valladolid, Spain
22/2/14 Lisbon, Portugal
23/2/14 Porto, Portugal
24/2/14 Madrid, Spain
25/2/14 San Sebastian, Spain
26/2/14 Barcelona, Spain

John Lennon's first home in Liverpool sold for £480,000 at auction

John Lennon's first home, in Liverpool, has been sold for £480,000 at an auction held at the Cavern Club.

The red brick terrace at 9 Newcastle Road, Wavertree, was where the Beatle lived from birth, in 1940, until he was five.

Auctioneers said a telephone bidder, who wanted to remain anonymous, was the successful buyer after a "bidding war".

The three-bedroom house had been given a guide price of between £150,000 and £250,000.

The property has a rear yard and is a few streets away from Penny Lane, made famous by The Beatles.

Andrew Brown, from Countrywide Property Auctions, said: "There was a lot of interest in the property before the auction from potential buyers who lived in the UK and internationally."

Source: BBC

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Review: Rob Clark – Two Hands On The Wheel

Rob Clark – Two Hands On The Wheel (Independent)
A resident of Boulder, Colorado, singer-songwriter Rob Clark has been a constant on his local scene for the last few years, hosting jams and playing shows wherever he can. He plays his music - for the most part, blue-collar country-rock with a streak of rock ‘n’ roll nostalgia - with enthusiasm and vim, and plenty of talent. He’s been writing songs for 30 years, so there was no shortage of road-tested material to choose from when it came to recording “Two Hands On The Wheel” and it’s an album that plays well, and retains a singular artistic vision, from beginning to end.

Pinning down his influences isn’t altogether straightforward, though I imagine artists like Bruce Springsteen, Tom Petty and Steve Earle have provided inspiration as Clark has developed his songwriting skills. He certainly understands the importance of narrative within his chosen genre, and the short stories collected on “Two Hands On The Wheel” twist and turn, and never lack sustenance for hungry imaginations.

Beginning with one of his strongest songs, “Black Thunderbird At Night” is pure-bred Americana, with plentiful references to cars, girls, music and long hot summer nights. It’s a classic combination, which Chuck Berry probably invented and many have imitated, so it’s to Clark’s credit that he not only brings something new to the table, but does so with a song that’s full of hooks, and raises an instant knowing smile. I think my favourite may well be “First One Back to Town”. It’s stripped-back arrangement oozes atmosphere, and Clark is on exceptional vocal form.
Phil S.

Tonight at The Musician, Leicester (29/10): Emma's Imagination

Emma's Imagination
Tuesday 29th October
plus Charlie Jones (Charlie & The Martyrs) and Izzie-Marie Hill
Emma Gillespie, better known by her stage name Emma's Imagination, is a Scottish singer. She first came to prominence after winning the SKY1 TV talent contest 'Must Be The Music'. She has since been signed to Gary Barlow's music label Future Records.

From the beautiful to the bizarre, Emma's songs give the listener a momentary window into her vivid imagination. A raw love and passion for music, now tempered by years of travel, introspection and musical experimentation have resulted in an incredible collection of songs, finally coming to life.

Remember; always check with the venue before travelling, or grab a ticket direct from the site:

Monday 28 October 2013

Review: Wolverton – Horse Head Dawn

Wolverton – Horse Head Dawn (Woodpile Records)
The six-track “Horse Head Dawn” EP is Wolverton’s third release. The multi-generational San Antonio quartet (plus friends) have already released a pair of full length albums since they formed in 2010/11, and they show no signs of slowing down. The core players, Caralyn Snyder, Hills Snyder, Kate Terrell and Jeremiah Teutsch came together through a series of performances, including a gig in a huge penthouse bathroom suite (that’s Texas for you…).

With a list of influences that includes country, folk and jazz, together with the classic late ‘60s San Francisco groups (Grateful Dead, Jefferson Airplane, etc.) and songwriters like Donovan and Richard Thompson, the results were always going to hark back to earlier times, and they don’t disappoint – though, importantly, “Horse Head Dawn” never sounds like an exercise in nostalgia.

Acoustic instruments dominate, and lyrically, a loose, hippy surrealism is present, which encourages the listener to pay attention, and inevitably draws them into a world of natural sculpture, where pop stars are replaced with newer models, and the planet warps and distorts. Standout songs come thick and fast, especially “No Big Deal” and the elegiac “Fresh Mint”, and the combination of boy/girl vocals, gentle melodies and heartfelt sentiments are impossible to ignore.
Phil S.

Review: The Magnumb Opus – S/T

The Magnumb Opus – S/T (Independent)
Columbus, Ohio quartet The Magnumb Opus were initially conceived when, five years ago, singer-guitarists Dan Sulka and Mike Bath attended the Pitchfork Music Festival in Chicago and convinced their trombonist friend Greg Howard to take up the drums. They’ve now released their debut record, an eight-song, full-length album, which tips its hat to contemporary artists like The National and Death Cab For Cutie, but also late ‘70s / early ‘80s post-punk, together with less regimented, folkier rock fare. It’s a pleasing mix of styles, which they play with an easy confidence that suggests they’re enjoying themselves as much as their audience.

Opening cut “Congratulations” is an early highlight, and incorporates all aspects of their sound. Sulka’s vocals seem to emanate from an entirely different time, when the initial wave of Factory bands were omnipresent on the UK indie scene, and in the US, groups like Mission Of Burma were first making waves. Musically, they’re utterly in-tune with today’s alternative sound, and would sound completely at home on one of the secondary stages at Glastonbury, or any of the major British festivals. Indeed, there’s more than enough strong material on their debut to garner that sort of attention.

Apart from the fore mentioned launch track, be sure to track down the magnificent “Mirage”, with its Banshee-esque guitar patterns and ambitious sequencing. Equally good is “New Boxes”, which comes with added pop sheen, and best of the bunch, the outstanding “Ode for a Ghost”, where Howard plays askew trombone, and the arrangement seemingly falls apart at random, and in some considerable style.
Phil S.

David Bowie leads tributes to 'master' Lou Reed

David Bowie has led the tributes to US singer and former Velvet Underground frontman Lou Reed, who died on Sunday aged 71.

Bowie's Facebook page said of his "old friend", considered one of the most influential singers and songwriters in rock: "He was a master."

Reed's second solo album Transformer, featuring Perfect Day and Walk on the Wild Side, was co-produced by Bowie.

Reed's literary agent said he died of a "liver-related ailment".

The last tweet posted on his official Twitter account, hours before the news of his death, simply stated: "The Door". The tweet links through to a photograph of a door, with a poster of Reed on it and the words "Papa Loves Baby" scrawled underneath.

Reed's former Velvet Underground bandmate John Cale wrote on his website: "The world has lost a fine songwriter and poet… I've lost my 'school-yard buddy.'"

Other stars paying tribute included The Who, who tweeted: "RIP Lou Reed. Walk on the peaceful side." Iggy Pop said it was "devastating news".

An admitted hard drinker and drug user for many years, Reed had a liver transplant this May after suffering liver failure.

"I am a triumph of modern medicine," Reed posted on his website on 1 June.

But Reed's literary agent Andrew Wylie said the musician, who died at his home in Long Island, New York, on Sunday morning, had not been well "for a few months".

British music journalist Charles Shaar Murray told BBC Radio 4's Today programme that Reed "completely changed the cultural landscape we inhabit".

He said that although Velvet Underground were "spectacularly unsuccessful", The Beatles and Bowie were "huge fans" of Reed, and that he "exercised huge influence on glam rock and punk and everything that grew out of those phenomena".

Mr Murray added that Reed "did not suffer fools... or journalists gladly", adding that "he was not considered a likeable man, except by his closest friends".

He used the "deliberate withholding of charm as a weapon" and "performed to a smallish but loyal audience sufficient in number to sustain a comfortable lifestyle".

Many musicians paid homage to the influence Reed had on their own careers.

Nikki Sixx of heavy metal band Motley Crue tweeted: "RIP Lou Reed. Thank you for your beautiful/dark lyrics/music and stance on life. You inspired me from my teenage years right up till today."

US singer Cyndi Lauper added that she was grateful for "his music and the influence he had on my music".

Tom Morello, of Rage Against the Machine and Audioslave, said: "My intro to Lou Reed/Velvet Underground was Jane's Addiction cover of 'Rock n Roll'. He was a singular, unique talent. RIP Lou and thanks."

Reed's individuality was also hailed by Paul Stanley of Kiss, who called him "a musician, artist and trailblazer who played by his own rules".

The Velvet Underground became renowned for their fusion of art and music and for collaborating with Andy Warhol.

However, the band never achieved commercial success during their 1960s existence, but their influence on music in later decades was widely recognised.

The glam, punk and alternative rock movements of the 1970s, 80s and 90s were all indebted to Reed, whose songs were covered by the likes of REM, Bowie, Nirvana, Patti Smith and countless others.

Music producer Brian Eno once summed up their influence by saying: "The first Velvet Underground album only sold 10,000 copies, but everyone who bought it formed a band."

The group were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996.

US actress Mia Farrow, whose career also began in the 1960s, simply said: "Deepest Gratitude Lou Reed. Peace. "

British author Salman Rushdie expressed his loss by tweeting: "My friend Lou Reed came to the end of his song. So very sad. But hey, Lou, you'll always take a walk on the wild side. Always a perfect day."

US actress Whoopi Goldberg, paid tribute, saying: "The great & amazing Lou Reed has died my condolences 2 his wife Laurie Anderson. Lou was 1 of a kind & this colored girl still says dededede...".

US actor Samuel L Jackson added: "R.I.P. Lou Reed. Just met at the GQ Awards. The music of my generation. Still Relevant!"

British comic and actor Ricky Gervais described Reed as was "one of the greatest artists of our time", while presenter and broadcaster Jonathan Ross said of the musician: "A great talent, a nice man, a sad day."

After quitting The Velvet Underground in 1970, Reed released his self-titled debut in 1972, but it wasn't until the Bowie-produced LP Transformer later that year that he achieved chart success.

Perfect Day enjoyed a revival in 1996 when it was featured in Danny Boyle's Trainspotting, and again a year later when it was re-recorded by a celebrity cast for a BBC charity single.

Ian Broudie from the Lightning Seeds, who sang on the single, told the BBC Reed was able to convey life in New York.

"His lyrics are poetry, really. And he seemed to deal with things that no other writer seemed to really deal with in songs. The Velvet Underground would probably be dealing with drugs, sexuality, everything."

As a solo artist, he released 20 studio albums. His last, Hudson River Wind Meditations, was released in 2007.

Reed is survived by his second wife, the musician and performing artist Laurie Anderson.

Source: BBC