Brian Jonestown Massacre – Sheffield Leadmill

We arrive at the Leadmill at 7.20, the doors open in 10 minutes time and a few of the hardcore fans are already outside, lining up for the drug-fuelled rock ‘n’ rollers, Brian Jonestown Massacre to wow them from their very crowded stage. Last time I saw them (which was also the first time I’d witnessed one of their famous live shows), they played for 3 hours, had a heated argument between most songs, Anton Newcombe the troubled creative genius of the band argued with the crowd, and each song with the slightest error was repeated to strive for live perfection. We expect the very same entertainment tonight in Sheffield. “We’ve heard people in Leeds say you guys can’t do rock n roll … I know differently… you are rock n roll Sheffield!” Joel Gion steps off the tour bus followed shortly after by Anton, their swagger into the Leadmill tells the early arrivals in the queue that they’re up for this one! Time for a quick drink up the road before URF, who are supporting BJM, take to the stage.
URF are well suited to supporting Brian Jonestown Massacre, lots of big hair, psych rock and a synth player that has centre stage with some mega dark looks, and wet slicked hair. They play through their 30 minute slot excited to be in town, “This is our first time playing Sheffield… we’re nervous as fuck!” The nerves didn’t show and the band sound great. Similar characteristics to BJM with pounding bass, jangle guitar and the addition of an amazing vocal! That woman can command a stage and rock the guitar at the same time. I saw them in the crowd during BJM later and they probably cant believe their luck playing along side one of the biggest drug rock psych experts in the world, BJM. ‘For the Ride’, Their Debut EP is out now, there’s a few hundred people from Sheffield looking out for that one!
They’re referred to as the biggest 60’s revival band since the 60’s and are fully authentic. BJM fronted by, Anton Newcombe have been knocking out album after album since the late 90’s, if you want an insight into where they’re from check out ‘DIG!’ on youtube. It’s 1hr 46mins of pure BJM along side their sponsors in the music industry, A&R and their long time recording buddies The Dandy Warhols, well worth watching.

Anton swaggers to the stage, wearing a deerstalker, parka (underneath he has a white TSHirt that says ‘Eat Shit.’ in huge red letters), filming the band and then the crowd to a rapture of cheers and applause. Joel has his trademark grin on his face and his eyes ready for the performance are nearly bigger than his sideburns. Anton stands off to the side and Joel centre stage ready for percussion duties. There’s a tension to the band, those new to the BJM stand almost look nervous due to Anton’s pursuit of perfection and that shows half way through the set, “I’m driving this car and you’re in the baby seat! You dig?!” Just one of the instructions Anton comfortably dishes out to uncomfortable receivers. He doesn’t care, it’s his world, those along for the ride know what he’s like if they don’t like it (and many have had enough in the past) they can move along.

Joel has a presence on the stage as Anton’s pacifier, friend, psuedo arch enemy and beat master. He’s glued to the spot with his rhythm and occasional vocal being a clear backbone to the band as a founding member and the rest of the band are surrounding them with 9 members on there at one point. It’s a massive sound!
The songs come from PISH, Anemone, Forgotten Dreams and each of the tracks has at least a 30 second – 2 minute setup time before the song starts, this setup is all part of Anton’s zero-tolerance of mistakes, and imperfections. “I need to make sure the reverb is right on this before we begin. I was high for the entirety of this album and I want this guitar to sound like drugs.” Anton oozes pride with his music and they’ve never held back in the amount of mind expansion over the years, “Oh yeah a bit of advice, if you’re high when recording make sure you’re sound engineer understands drugs, my sound engineer on this album was straight and trying to explain the sound to him was impossible. Someone who has never done drugs should not try and mix an album that has been recorded when high. It’s like asking a square to contemplate the shape of a pineapple” The crowd laugh with admiration for his honesty, wit and amazement for the music, Anton strums his guitar and checks in with those on stage who all clearly understand drugs, “Does that sound like drugs to you?”
Anemone receives a huge cheer right from the first note and tambourine, and it’s favourite of mine and most of the crowd, with a few crowd surfing as a way of showing appreciation and it seems like each guitar hook is held slight as if to draw the crowd in even more. BJM are amazing performers, naturally delivering on their terms, there’s no perceived fakeness and they are stronger together, although Anton’s volatility has nearly left him going it alone a few times I’m sure. The band wait for Anton, are lead by Anton and also lead Anton “it’s 23 past… what do you want me to do?!” – this is marking the end of the night and the band curfew was 23 minutes ago, the rest of the band are looking at him and probably wanting to suggest what happens next, they hold back and let him do what he wants. A way into ’23 past’ the feedback continues and Anton jumps onto the drums continuing the feedback into an improvised extension to the set with drums and synths, more reverb and further entertaining the remaining crowd.
This is the second time I’ve seen them and it was twice as good as the first, I’m still playing catch up on lots of their music and I’m looking forward to the next live BJM experience.

Wooden Shjips and The Lucid Dream

A fair few years ago (about 2008/09) to be exact I was wandering through town and stopped off at Piccadilly records for the usual question to the Music aficionados behind the counter. “What’s good that’s out this week?”… “What do you like?”. I then describe what I’m listening to at the time and I can’t remember what i said but the answer was “Have a listen to Wooden Shjips!” Since that time they’ve been a favourite of mine especially when in the car. The metronomic magic of their rolling mantras are perfect for any journey.

Their new album release just a few weeks ago and ‘V’ has made its way back to Piccadilly Records recommends list with no surprise. My gig club sidekick from last nights gig at Manchester’s, Gorilla said “it’s the best stuff they’ve ever done!” It’s definitely a more mainstream record, intentional or just evolving its earned them some decent airplay on BBC6 of late and also (due to my enjoyment) MCR Live.

Wooden Shjips delivered a blistering set full of perfectly timed beats enchanting vocals and synths/guitar that drew you in even further to the psychedlic visuals beamed onto the entire stage and the first 3 rows of the crowd and with the band having white TShirts on their are a moving projection screen with the visuals centred perfectly on the drums.

Stand out tracks on the new album; ‘Ride On’, ‘Already Gone’, ‘in the Fall’ and ‘Staring at the sun’ with a back section a kin to Buffalo Springfield’s ‘For What it’s worth’ and vocals prominent giving similarities to Beta Band and swirling guitar that LedZep would have taken and John Squire would have sauntered in the Roses.

Every now and again you come away from the gig having enjoyed the headline act and having been blasted away by the ‘support’ act. That was one of those gigs.

The Lucid Dream were otherworldly… a music maturity beyond their years, they’re from Carlisle, and on their Twitter before the gig “it’s sold out, can’t wait for this.” And approaching 8pm Gorilla fills up very quickly. It appears everyone else can’t wait either!. Their set is full of experimental loops and electronic. One of the songs (I find out later it’s called SX1000 when I buy it from their lead singer / song writer, Mike Denton at their merch Stand) is very Acid House and straight outta the 90’s, being very at home in Gorilla, a stones throw from the original Haçienda. There’s a woman at the front completely loosing her shit to it and when I see her later, she was probably one of the first through the doors at Haçienda and one of the last to leave in the late80’s/90’s. Kangol hat, bright yellow jacket and psychedlic tie die. Totally havin’ it without a care in the world. I wonder if she’s a social worker, or primary school teacher by day. After the first song they introduce them selves “we’re The Lucid Dream… and that’s enough talking, the rest of the set is mixed in.” And they didn’t hold back! A good 45 minute set crammed with ‘songs of an era’ my gig club Sidekick suggests one of their tracks wouldn’t be out of place in a ‘Ride’ set. I agree. There are lots of early 90’s psychedelia references in their sound and plenty of electronic loops. If SX1000 is anything to go buy their next album is gonna be diverse and a definite for any music collection. From me, 1×12” and 1xCD to add to the bandfunds. Well done lads!

The Orielles – Silver Dollar Moment

Lofi popsters The Orielles are reviving the 90’s indie sound of Blur, Echobelly, Sleeper and Britpops finest and their love of Pixies shines through everything they do. The band are in good company with Heavenly label mates Hooton Tennis Club, St Etienne and the more psychedelic Stealing Sheep. A couple of years ago Heavenly released a 25 years celebratory boxset and those 25 years have played host to a collection of some of pop and rocks finest including the much anticipated Boy Azooga release that we have marked out as another one to watch this year.
The Orielles are:

Esmé Dee Hand-Halford – Lead Vocals, Bass

Henry Carlyle Wade – Guitar, Vocals

Sidonie B Hand-Halford – Drums

All the tracks are short and punchy leaving you wanting more from each of the following tracks. The band don’t shy from their strong influences of Sonic Youth and Pixies and put a perfect punchy punk british slant on it. Here’s my thoughts track by track:

Mango eases the album in with a brilliant invitation of gently bass and drums and soft vocals from lead singer Esmé. It’s a beautiful descriptive tour of an outing “… Mango juice in the morning…this place looks familiar..” an ode to a place you probably don’t want to leave, you’ve been there before? Swirling organ brings the opening to a chintzy close.
Old Stuff, New Glass again is soothing with Esmé vocal tripping through spacey reverb, like this? Like Stealing Sheep too, I gaurantee. They’re not label mates for no reason, Heavenly A&R know what they are doing. The bass has a cheeky roll to it, also mastered by the lead,
Sunflower Seeds has a guitar feeling of early Roses as an intro and then the pace slows with a spaced out wahwah to dream us through a beautiful middle. Then the pace picks up. Expect to hear this plenty on the airwaves. And the sun filled festival fields will benefit for this on their soundtrack. “I wanna know what is right… talk me through the night…” Dreamy.
Let your dog tooth grow have the drums owning the the intro to this one. It’s another one with sunfilled jangle on the guitar and has a double vocal, Henry the guitarist weighing in with some spoken word on the verse and backing vocals on the chorus. This is a full sound that will be excellent in their live set. If your not at least tapping your foot or swaying your bonce to this you must be a dead. Some great sounds in the middle with synths and guitars leading the way. Sidonie’s skin banging has the drums make this one. The video for this one passes right by our studio in Ancoats… Pass by next time guys 🙂
Liminal Spaces has more dreamy with double vocals from the sisters on this one and the guitar sprinkles it throughout. With some sounds of candles being lit? “… the candles have lit your own mind…” Henry’s guitar jangles through a solo and sounds perfect and wurlitzer, sound effects, synths, a bike bell(?) and repeaters round off a wonderful track.
The Sound of Liminal Spaces is an interlude extending the sound effects from the previous track. As this is part way through is this the bridge to the B-Side of the record? Maybe. I’ll find out when I pick up my copy from Piccadilly Records next week.
I only bought it for the bottle has Elastica sounds as well as Echobelly, with gritty guitar and drums and another epic vocal outing fromthe two sisters, Esmé and Sidonie.
Henry’s Pocket is such a pure simple tune, it’ll have the lads flopping their fringes and the girls punching the hips.
48 Percent has a bassline that Kim Deal would happily put her name too and it’s a punchy one too, backed up by some well placed bongos in the middle.
Borrachero Tree derives a Columbian drink spiking drug and is known for it’s sedative effects, this song has a similar dreaminducing effect. With out the side effects. Maybe “… sitting under the Borrachero Tree gives a similar trip without the intensity. I’m imagining the band playing this tune under it quite happily under a light breeze.
Snaps “… you tell me something new, you think you’re so cool cool cool cool…” The guitar holds this song centred and trashes it into the chorus.
Blue Suitcase (Disco Wrist) is another infectious melody with a flawless guitar hook, steadfast drums, solid bass and a ‘crying baby’ effect through out. The soothing vocals help to trademark their sound and they also lead the final track out. What’s a Disco Wrist i hear you cry? “something we think Nile Rodgers has, from playing his disco riffs on the guitar.”
It appears that all the tracks on the album are definitely worthy of their place on Silver Dollar Moment and considering the band only came about a few years ago after the Hand-Halford sisters met Henry met a few years ago at a house party they’re meant to be in a studio together (and I’m sure on stage too!). If the pictures of the band on the Heavenly website are anything to go by, they look like they intend to enjoy the ride all the way.
The Orielles are on Tour and play Manchester Gorilla Sat 14th April. Don’t. Miss. It!

CODA Vinyl Cafe , Buxton

There are times when you find a new place that you feel right home in , a place to relax and enjoy the surroundings. For many it’s a favourite bar and for some it’s a coffee shop. My new favourite place is the areas newest Record Shop AND café; CODA in Buxton. When sitting in the sofa, sipping a black coffee and a croque monsieur I can see myself there again soon listening to records and chatting about music.

Opened by the owner of Vinyl Planet Neil, he knows a thing or two about music and now it’s got some ace coffee from Buxton Roastery and homemade food with ingredients from the local area. When you see shops disappear it’s an amazing renaissance seeing new record shops opening all over.

The openning today was packed, there’s 4 walls with racks of records boardering and I dived straight into the 7”’s which are right by the door. When a shop is so

It’s in a corner plot in Buxtons ‘northern quarter’ (as one of the many ‘good luck’ cards called it) and it’s spacious enough to comfortably seat I’d say around 40 people so a fair size and it’s already got plenty of records in there so I’ll be dipping in regularly.

The Wax Sack on tour in Buxton

Today’s guests into to Wax Sack include: Ian Brown, the Clash, Eddy Grant, Herbie Hancock, Star Wars, Jonnie Walker, N.F. Porter, Althia & Donna, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Chairman of the board, Bob Marley and the Wailerd… And they’re all in fantastic condition.

Well done team CODA and long may your successes continue! Keep on keeping on.

Field Music – Open Here

Finding a particular way of describing a piece of music is often difficult and in many cases (as I’m sure you as you’re reading this are also) I’m drawn to what I think the influences for the band are. In some instances that’s near on impossible to second guess.
UK bands always have a place in my heart. I listen to a great song and/or album and try to second guess where the artist is from before it gets googled. When it’s a UK band I’m endeared to it even more, not because I don’t like music from overseas I just live our musical heritage and the local tribe of Sunderland’s finest have stuck together in the past too. Regular collaborations with Maximo Park and Futureheads on a solo level and live performances. Field music are in Manchester in Feb bringing ‘Open Here’ for us all to enjoy.
With Field Musics latest beaut, I’m intrigued by the many Lennon-esque vocals and Beatlesesque melodies with a very obviously affair with the Beach Boys harmonies and a regular sauntering with CSN, then Talking Heads have popped round for a brew at the same time as the Quirkiness of Sparks dialling in on Skype. It’s that varied. It’s sit very well for me and if your earlobes are easily tickled by any of the above then dip in, the waters fine and it’s soundtracked by Field Music.
Track by track:
Time in Joy: this lead track has a heavy hint of the Lennon confident vocal and melody (you’ll know what I mean) and there’s also a distinct bounce to the tune similar to that what Sufjan Stevens is known well for with a teasing wood wind accompanied by the usual back line of drums bass and synths and strings are all over it too. It sounds too much and it isn’t.
Count it up: is an absolute Banger! Cold facts of appreciating the good stuff in life. So many are less fortunate and it’s a fantastic reminder for all that we take for granted. As well as being an epic tune.
Front of House: has the sound of a 60’s inspector clueso Special where the soundtrack is provided by west coat Americana where Sloop John B. The detective is on on a low profile casing of a joint.
Share a pillow: Lennon centric vocals and heavy brass/woodwind backing. This wouldn’t be out of place on ‘the Rock’n’Roll album’ Equally it’s got a Beverley Hills Cop/Pretty Woman 80’s theme tune about it.
Open Here: the title track with heavy Beatles influence and it sounds sublime. The strings set the tone for that influence and the vocals is unashamedly right on the influence. A Theatrical interlude of woodwind gives the furthered soundtrack vibe of the album.
Goodbye to the county: head bobbing in a similar way to count it up. I wonder who took the writing lead on these two it’s pretty similar and completely different. Love the bass it’s got a sharp and punchy plectrum picked Rickenbacker about it.
Checking on a message: “More Cowbell!” Another bluesy punchy tune. Along with ‘Share a pillow’.
No King No princess: this is a brilliant little melody and the brass and female vocals gives it a bouncy quirk which would happily sit with a Disney’s princess dance in a fairytale wood. Aspriationally the lyrics sound like a focus on positive thinking and acheiving what you want in life, against all costs. Good advice.
Cameraman: this one again is channeling Lennon and Beatles double bass, Cello backing with harmonies complimenting a big melting pot of all instruments. The Tons and Bass drum give a military marching feel to it and also tribal.
Daylight saving: is almost Kate Bush weird and Bowieesque and this I think is the combination which gave me the Sparks reference on the intro.
Find a way to keep me: it sounds at first that this is going to be a heart felt solo piece to round the album it then builds to a Piano heavy crashing of waves and a string arranged smorgasbord of everything to love about this album. Brass, strings, piano, woodwind… this album is going to need a decent rider on tour to keep everyone fed and watered.
Needless to say the album has been on loop all weekend since it’s release on Friday. I know it’s only February and I’m gonna throw it out there… Field Music, Open Here one of the albums of 2018.


Every now and again you get these opportunities to see bands that you haven’t seen for a while and then there’s those bands that you’ve seen and they’ve changed names. That’s GRIMM TWINS. They’re back and they’ve got a new edge.

The band have been working the gig circuit for a while and they have a decent following , MASH is packed.

Straight into it with heavy synth and forceful vocals the band are up for the gig and there’s a crowd that are ready to accept.

The set is full of reverb and delay. One guy asks me if I’m gonna start a mosh pit. This cane in the middle of Generation Z with a real punk kick to it.

The Songs:


Generation Z


Moody Blues

Protein Shake

Summer of love

Theme of the GRIMM

My defining moment of the band is when BLEICH1 the front man gives it out “this one goes out to all those with semi-detached houses, with semi- detached lives” love the energy and dissatisfaction of every day life. A desire to communicate and an excellent platform to do it with.

An excellent set and top band and well worth catching.

Mash Feb 18

Off the record 2017

Off the record (OTR) is a gathering of networking and learning opportunities for this ein or want to get into the music industry. Artists, PR, events, tech startups, digital experts, Marketing and the all important artists gathered in Manchester’s Northern Quarter for this years event.
Th day gives a packed agenda of industry panel experts for all to learn from and opportunities for Q&A. On to the evening agenda and it’s all about the music – a full run down of the bands are on this Spotify playlist and we picked our top picks here.
First to the stage is Matt Parsons, CEO of Ditto Music ‘The home of DIY musicians’ and he’s getting the audience ready for what is an excellent day of insight from those who have been there, done that and been on the receiving end of! Everyone is scribbling notes like there’s no tomorrow! Matt gets everyone to ask a couple of simple questions – what am I best at? What am I called? He uses examples from his career as head of the music streaming service and label championing so much great new music and as part of his accolade holds the claim to getting Ed Sheeran his first break. “Always be ready to be called up!” Matt tells the story of when Ed was called up last minute (that same day) to replace an act that couldnt make it to Jools Hollands Later that week. Ed said yes. and Ed hit super stardom. No Need for X Factor, Simon Cowell or his mate Louie sheer hard work and “being a good guy”. “Where ever Ed is now he’s always seen hanging out with his equally famous friends… cause he’s a good guy” Great advice… be the good people of music, now need to create an air of mystery, be yourselves and people will be magnetised by your natural personality and charm as well as your love of music and what you do. Matt used a car industry analogy where Chrysler was born from the model T-Ford, knowing what they are good at they went on to grow one of the biggest car companies on the planet. I’m reading Elon Musk’s biography at the minute and he’s another great example… he wants to change the world and relentlessly believes he can do it with nothing getting in his way. Later in the OTR event there are many examples of determination including the Falseheads who brought the panel sessions to a close battling a question of “What’s in store this year lads?” with a very confident… getting closer to headlining Glastonbury. No arrogance, a good bunch of guys and a confidence that they are doing what they love and they are heading for a specific goal. Matt continues to get the audience “fired up” and encourages them to “choose life”, the relevance of this is perfect to all DIY musicians out there… every heard the voice inside your head say … yeah it would be great to play Glastonbury but I’ll never be there… or I’ve not got time to do that around all my other commitments… etc etc… Well as Matt quite rightly piints out it’s your very own psychological self talk and it’s often full of self distructive ‘B.S.’ Turn the volume down on your internal demons and work yourself hard (and Smart!). Matt Breaks down a DIY Musician’s week.. full time job 8 hours a day… “if you’re under 40, you only need 6 hours sleep” he then fills in the gaps with family time, commute to work and results in a 40 hour week that anyone can dedicate to their dream of becoming the next Ed, or Courteeners or Kasabian…. the list goes on of all those that work hard to get there rather than fingers crossed in a queue for a relaity TV show where a million pound recording contract awaits 1 in a million chance artist. Wise words Matt thanks.
I’m sat with Artistic Echoes wordsmith Mike Chisholm and promoter of North West finest acts and Lexi Frances, radio professional. Unlike everyone else Mike takes his notes in the form of poetry which he’s shares with me immediately afterwards. A true representation of how creative and inspiration can come from anywhere and it’s the mix of artists with huge anticipation to getting the right connections at OTR and the love of growing businesses like Ditto music which can make a career in the music industry a reality. “Nobody starts off in the music industry thinking they are going to make a million pounds in year 1!” muses Matt from Ditto. And the reality is it’s harder than ever to make money in music and that’s why working smart is so much more essential – Follow Matt @ceomattparsons he’s got a good head on his shoulders!
The next session is right up my street, it’s all about promotion… self-promotion and ‘Sales’. The panel is steered by BBC6Music’s Elizabeth ALker and has a mix of, Andy Kettle, Steaming Kettle PR, Shakuntla Joshi, Marketing consultant to the music industry, Vistoria Turnbull from our very own Silent Radio and Sarah Jamieson from DIY. ‘Perception is Everything’ is the title of the panel and this follows on perfectly from Matt Parsons welcome session. “What can we be doing to help sell ourselves?” A list of recommendations come from the experts,
“Get the name right of the person you’re sending your email too”

“We don’t have a CD player in the studio so whilst you’ve spend an hour presenting your music… consider the media as well!”

“Know the answer to ‘Who are you and what do you do’ like it’s your only language… use it a lift when you meet someone in a bar, late at night and if you know it well enough it will be polished everytime”
All this things are fundamentals to sales people and marketing executives across multiple industries and very sound advise for those artists that may not of thought of them. I glance round and for this second session the list continues to give the audience reason to scribble faster, twitter accounts to be lit up with tweets to @OTRMCR and #OTR2017. The insight is coming quick fire and the main thing everyone needs to take away fro OTR this year is a clear defined action plan. “We can learn sales” pointing out that this can be learned skills to compliment and enhance creative ability and reiterates the personality emphasis that came about in the first hour from Matt. Be yourself, work hard and have a plan you will reach your goals.
It was just inside the event that the magic was happening, there was the area just outside the venue which was the spot where everyone was going for some ‘fresh’ air. I get chatting to Jim, a freelance manager and we share stories of why we are there with a shared goal of helping others and building our networks. Then I bump into Jo Singer songwriter from the Travelling Band… travelling via OTR to his next gig date on his tour in Newcastle, he’s got a bag full of records… and we all know the first rule of Gig Club! BUY THE MUSIC. I buy his album (SAILS) on the street and he chucks in a couple of EP’s from his label, Sideways Saloon/Pinhole Soundstudio, including the Album from The Valley of Yessiree, his label EP ‘Pinhole sounds Vol 1’ with Jo Rose & Pit Pony, Barbarisms, A. Dyjecinski as well as the Travelling Band. I’ll feature those on this weeks Plastic Fantastic. Jo asks me why I’m here and a few people around us hear us chatting about MCR live and live music. I get chatting to a staff member from LIPA (LIverpool Instutue of Performing Arts) “you need to be interviewing those lot over there” he said confidently. Next thing there’s a handful of young artists that are quite happy to chat abour their band projects and studies at LIPA.
“We’re showcasing all the bands on 15th and 16th Nov (this wednesday and thursday) you should come along!” The excitment after being at OTR today is at it;’s highest for these youngsters all ranging from first year students to final year. ” Tell me your band names and i’ll check you all out” I suggested to the energetic band of bands. “We’re ‘Monks'” shouted a guy from the back” then followed a list of the next artists who might be getting the ‘Ed call’ from Later with Jools Holland… be ready for it guys! Monks, The Icon, Gravy (with Lois Kyle as lead), Tabitha Jade (“She’s gonna be massive!” say Lois 🙂 ), Sophie Wilson, Yasmin Depp, James Noble and the Misterines. (Hope I got the spellings right!) So there you have it a good list of amazing musical students from LIPA showcasing this Wednesday and Thursday and they are all doing 3 covers and 2 originals each… setup to be a top night out. Next onto Chloë Foy a singer songwriter from Manchester, Elle Mary and the Bad Men (@the Peer hat on friday evening for OTR) and Jake Spicer a singer songwriter from Manchester with his CD in hand and a smile full of OTR enjoyment and Hannah Ashcroft who Ive heard previously and have her EP already after buying it from her when she was busking near Harvey Nic’s. “I like the packaging on your CD Jake” after he gives me a copy to have a listen too “Thanks it’s made out of recycled egg boxes!” we stand and chat and have a laugh and they are all invited to play live on Plastic Fantastic over the coming weeks so keep an eye out (or ear out) for that :).
Across town the Charlatans (Some of the music industries most hardest working!) pop up to do a secret gig as part of their App launch that day. It’s a private guest list only gig and I sneak on the list – you can read all about it here! There’s a feeling of those bands that rose to stardom and popularity through sheer hard work and promoting in the late 80’s before, X factor, before the internet music platforms being across town still drawing crowds through innovation and those who are at the start of their career. “It’s much hard nowadays…” you often hear… or maybe it’s easier due to the barriers of entry being a lot low… recording a great song and putting out an ep is accessible as ever with DIY musicians doing exactly that across soundcloud, mixcloud, labels like Side Ways Saloon and Scruff of the Neck (behind Cassia at OTR this year and those responsible for promoting The Slow Readers Club). Remember turn down the volume on the negative forces in your head being positive, energetic and hatch plan then go out and do what you love, enjoy it and do lots of it.

Ariel Pink – Dedicated to Bobby Jameson

If someone who knows their music recommends an album to you always take up the recommendation. If it’s someone who knows you well and you like that album… they know you better than you think. If it doesn’t hit the mark maybe they underestimated your musical taste. I’m reading Vinyl Adventures from Istanbul to San Fransisco by Tim Burgess at the minute and that rule is generally paraphrased from there and when I was reading it I totally agreed. I’ve had many a recommendation from friends and colleagues and sometimes they’ve work and sometimes they haven’t. In one day I read through twitter that Tim Burgess (author of this rule) paid homage to the Ariel Pink front cover getting a flag made in Piccadilly Records. Then Tomonomonous (MCR’s very own producer and my partner in vinyl on Plastic Fantastic also recommended it, I diverted from Ancoats after my show with no hesitation with a trip to Piccadilly Records before getting the train home.

I’m a sucker for limited edition versions and I love that bands and artists experiment with the formats available… there’s a standard black wax version, blue vinyl (Indies only) version and deluxe edition. As I was buying a few other bits I went for the Blue version to leave my my record tokens for other bits. Tom has recommended it, Tim has shouted about great it is… what Tim and Tom don’t know about music between them isnt worth knowing.

Starting with a very Joy Division sounding drum beat (tips cap to Stephen Morris) and a powerful sound to this, Ariel Pink (Ariel Marcus Rosenburg) from LA and has been writing songs since he was about 10 years old, well practised then. It’s a diverse album and the first track, ‘Time to meet your God’ has a quirkiness that is pretty endearing. On to the second track and it’s a melancholic cheery number (think Smiths, beats and echoey guitars complimenting melody), Feels Like Heavan… is a top stand out track. Half way through listening I’m wondering if he’s popping over to the UK? No signs of that yet but I’ll keep you posted. Next up ‘Santa’s in the Closet’ has another quirkiness about it and the vocals sound a little bit Monster Mash (you’ll know what I mean when you listen to it) and it’s also got some significant Krautrock electronic influences in there (I’ve got a compilation called Deutsche Elektonishe Musik and this one wouldn’t be out of place). The title track of Dedicated to Bobby Jameson brings in some keys and bass roll that would put Ariel Pink comfortably along side the Doors and being from LA i’m sure influence their sound heavily, especially when the guitar solo kicks in… think Soul Kitchen and Light my Fire and you’re with me straight away. My favourite track from the album is the chanty, bass centred, mantra of ‘Time to Live’… it builds into a fantastic tune and has similar Joy Division type drums, with nice rolls helping it to build. Then the Synth kicks in. You can get lost in this one and all of a sudden it goes all ‘Video Killed a Radio Star’, I read that on the review from the Piccadilly Records display case, and agree, good comparison guys! ‘Another Weekend’ is a beauty of a song and is perfectly placed for a beautifully painted Californian sunset (you know that type of sunset we get once every two years in the UK). The psychedelia in the album has a journey which has songs within songs, I love that and ‘Another Weekend does exactly that, with a Flaming Lips likeness. “I wanna be young’ pushes Ariel Pink in the direction of Toro Y Moi that night he bumped into Unknown Mortal Orchestra… that was a big party. ‘Bubblegum Dreams’ with it’s Beach Boys bouncy-clappy-ness would be a brilliant partnership with Panda Bear (animal collective) and would be excellent right next to ‘…candlestick maker’ <makes note for the next Plastic Fantastic psych mix>, after all Ariel Pink started his journey with them on ‘Paw Tracks’.

If there’s one experimental album to buy this year it’s this one, and if you normally stream to listen get it on your favourites and it’ll grow on you just like it has with me. Thanks Tom. Thanks Tim.

Go and buy it.

Full post here too


Charlatans Secret gig – the App launch at Modern English, Manchester

Now there’s regularly times where I’ve found out about a music exclusive too late or I’m in the wrong area of the country. The Stone Roses come back gig at Warrington Parr Hall, I was on the direct opposite side of the country in Hull! Countless limited runs of records only available to the first 50 in store customers and nights out that seem once in a lifetime. When the stars align and one of your favourite bands have a secret gig to 50 people round the corner from where you are you know it’s gonna be a good day.

The Charlatans launched an App yesterday which transforms your phone into a home screen full of exclusive and archives with bespoke icons becoming an essential for any fan of the music AND tech. The app itself was enough to create a buzz with twitter lighting up with retweets screen shots and reviews. Then I hear by accident that the lads are in town doing their thing in one of Manchester’s finest agencies, Modern English. The App is the wizardry of Modern English bringing their previous music industry and award-winning shinanigans with the Foo Fighters, Nightmares on wax, Sony music and the lot goes on. Now they can add a bunch of Charlatans to their success wall.

Shortcut to a few conversations with the right people and A LOT of luck, I’m in and Mike from Artistic Echoes is along for the ride too.

Enter Modern English HQ and up a side door and narrow stair case (the only thing missing from this secrecy and curious fun is it being on the 13.5 floor of Fourways House where the agency are based). We get there with about 15 mins to spare, giving just enough time to grab a beer, and the paella (vegan and Tim Burgess favourite).

As the setup begins it turns out the brilliant Surdevan Creative are filming the whole thing and cutting it (Facebook) Live. These guys are the masterminds behind the visuals you see at Kendal Calling and many live events. The band obviously want this digital launch documenting well.

“Show us your Apps Lads!”

Tim and Mark take the stage with a set of acoustics Charlatans reworks which have become a pop up Charlatans staple over the years. Low on the setup needed and sounding fantastic in their own unique way. I shout up “Show is your Apps lads!” raising smiles and sniggers. Straight into the set list which entertains the agency crowd, full of fans and industry professionals and regardless of background there is an anticipation which only came about around an hour or so before for many. One of those in attendance is Alex (regular bootlegger) “Hey Alex, you recording this?” Jokes Tim “Yep”, smiles the music fanatic and points over at the microphone on the window sill. “But it’s on Facebook live mate!” Jibes the lead singer and drops straight into Different Days.

The full list:

Different days, Impossible, North Country boy, Spinning out, the Only one I know, Man needs to be told, just when you’re thinking things over.

“This is a massive singalong” Tim prompts just before ‘the only one I know’ and crowd oblige perfectly (myself included, I always think to sing the back vocals and try my own bit of harmonies 🙂 ). “Thanks a lot and … well done!” Looking pleased with what they have achieved with the secret gig “this is someone’s office/studio” laughs Tim.

There’s a short pause with Tim looking at Mark for the prompt of the next tune. “Man needs to be told” I shout and I’m a room full of people Mark and Tim have this knack of making it feel like you’re the only one there. A real intimate show. When Tim answers “yeah we can do that one!” With a nod of agreement and the version to follow is the best I’ve heard (and seen) it.

“It’s a good day”

Tim sums up everything as “It’s a good day”. A secret gig, I found a fully signed live guide at Magma, beer, rum and paella. With the best most intimate Charlatans gig yet!

Off the record – the best of the best

Through the power of spotify we’ve picked up snippets of the bands being showcased for this years Of The Record conference/festival/music industry gathering. You can read more about OTR on our previous blog to preview the event.
“Russ can you pick your favourites from the bands being showcased at the OTR event please” is the request from our head of music, Jess. It’s a tough one considering the curators include Louder than war, Bluedot, Kendal Calling, Scruff of The Neck and Sound City. Each artist is picked on individual merit and when going for the chosen acts that I’ll be taking in I’m hoping they’ll be no clashes on this run down! The event is championed by Elbow’s Guy Garvey, John Robb and communities like Silent Radio, Popped Music and Get into this. It’s set to be very good indeed!.
Here’s some of the bands I’ll be checking out over the couple of days and it might serve as a steer in the right direction for you too. Have a good OTR 2017!
100 fables start the list off with a joy division influenced gritty pop tune, Wake Up. The drums are suitably tinned, the bass sounds low slung and the vocals are cheeky. Reminiscent of Powder, Salad with significantly more punch.
Brooke Bentham delivers harmonies a plenty and a truly melodic groove, heavy on the keys, and an easy to listen tempo with evocative (or is that provocative) vocals. Fantastic range on the voice and I’m interested to sample more from their set.
Byrde are channeling Garbage Shirley Manson with a good wrapping of Cardigans, another fantastic female vocal with a deep groove. Worth checking these out.
Cassia are fantastic and hail from my home town of Macclesfield. Think lofi punk and a laziness to the vocals a kin to Caleb from Kings of Leon (early days), chuck in a smattering of Vampire Weekend and if you’re up for that blend get into their set and sup the brew!
Control of the going pull on a very strong guitar sound, the jangle of Marr which is so sought after and with the technical licks of Squire, cobainesque growl on the lead and you’ve got a very full live sound I imagine.
Eliza Shaddad soft voice and dubbed out drums/bass backline offers a stoner melody that should pound right into your chest with deep tones to the voice and groove on their offering of ‘Wars’. It’ll be interesting to discover more.
FEHM channels Hooky’s bass and editors groove, vocals are haunting and set firmly in the centre of the synth heavy melodies. Another set of jangling guitar to set off the sound. Dark and mysterious. I’m interested to seeing this live.
Jakl stand out on the playlist and their self titled theme of the Jackal shows big range of vocals and quiet loud mix to pull in any music fan.
JW Ridley – gives a nearly spoken word intro with electro heavy backdrop, building into a mixed epic which is like Jarvis Cocker Pulp and more on the dark side rather than cheeky pop.
Koalas – give us an LCD Soundsystem meets Chromatics outlook of dark electro sound. Think Drive soundtrack, Wolf Alice, After Dark compilations (Italians do it better).
Layfullstop – covers the urban beat and spitting rhymes over a traditional hip hop beat. The rythmn feels more left-eye than latifa and in a very guitar based line up it’s a welcome stretch into other genres.
Low Island – give similarities to Django Django and have a brilliant dance groove to their electronic guitar based sound. If their other tracks sound like ‘the Lines’ they’ll be a bouncing floor watching them at OTR.
The Blinders – have been getting a lot of media coverage recently and their stomp into Manchester for OTR when listening to Brave New World gives similarities to Kasabian with a a likeness to the marching metronomic chant and wailing mantras. Sounding great and as a full sound they’ll be one to watch this year.
Sugarmen deliver a fantastic rolling classic melodic rock sound with tints of glam and punk sound – AC is the point of reference and has drops of cosmic synths and repeats. Their set will have a good groove and I imagine more soundtracked surprises.
River Matthews – sound like they can write a hook and deliver it with a deep west mississippi beat. They have a classic sound which is given with a full sound and powerful vocals. This will be received well live and will have the crowd bouncing.
Well, all in all a packed list of great music and it was almost impossible picking out the best of such a good bunch of new acts. Now the impossible but glorious task of squeezing them all in :). On to off the record.