Archive | August, 2012

Watchet Festival 2012

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Watchet Festival 2012

Posted on 31 August 2012 by Joe

The Watchet Festival on the north Somerset coast near to Minehead always has an eclectic line up, with this year being no exception as new bands, some familiar faces from the indie rock circuit such as Miles Hunt weirdly rubbed shoulders with The Wurzels and The Cheeky Girls.

Patch & The Giant...among the best new acts at the event

Take the first day for example, we started in the  Croissant Neuf tent where we were treated to a powerful set from female fronted metal band Zoltar, and by the end of the evening we were watching seminal 70s pub rockers The Blockheads, with their cheery post Ian Drury take on the cockney rock singalong. Classics such as ‘Sex and drugs and rock n roll’ went down well with the crowd.

On the second day it was time for a guilty pleasure of seeing former MP Lembit Opik’s favourite band The Cheeky Girls with their euro-pop proving a world away from the likes of Zoltar the previous day.  After a grey start to the day the weather improved as well, which was perfect for the ska of 360.

Among our highlights from the older acts performing were Miles and Erica from The Wonderstuff, and Tom Hingley, that’s right the chap from The Inspiral Carpets, who was performing here with his new band The Lovers. Newer acts that caught our eye included Patch & the Giant (pictured above), a north London based alternative folk act that have only been going for a year.

Words by Ryan Perry, Picture by Mathew Danby

 

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At The Edge Of The Sea 2012

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At The Edge Of The Sea 2012

Posted on 28 August 2012 by Dorian

At The Edge Of The Sea is David Gedge’s pet project. His annual mini-festival, in its fourth year, that (alongside the Holmfirth sister event) allows him to put on his favourite bands, his friend’s bands and play two sets of his own. These sets, the first with Cinerama and the second with The Wedding Present, book-end seven hours of music in Brighton’s Concorde 2.

Cinerama

Cinerama

Arriving at the venue you are treated to a fez wearing saw band playing in the bar (a make-shift second stage for the afternoon). It is an interesting opening and one that certainly catches your attention, even if the music is unlikely to be to everyone’s taste.

Drink in hand and ready in the main stage area it isn’t long before “The Boy Gedge” (as John Peel affectionately referred to him) makes his first appearance with Cinerama. The short sweet set doesn’t go down well with everyone but suited me down to the ground. The widescreen pop sound and songs from their early releases reflect the original Cinerama feel, before they essentially morphed back into The Wedding Present. It feels like a part-time thing, the act only play at this event once a year, but it is a lovely start to proceedings. The members of the band will become more and more familiar as they crop up in multiple acts throughout the day.

The Evil Son

The Evil Son

Through the afternoon there is a real variety of music on show forcing you to switch quickly from stage to stage. The folk-prog of Das Fenster features a surprise appearance by former House of Love and Levitation guitarist Terry Bickers. The Evil Son feature members of Cinerama and the Wedding Present and play a nice early 90s influence indie-rock sound that reminds me of the (largely forgotten) Drop Nineteens. Yaz Bebek (complete with band members rushing straight from the other stage) play an enjoyable and unusual jazzy Turkish pop set.

The bands throughout the day confirm Gedge’s later statement that probably nobody but him would like every band that played, but I would be surprised if anyone didn’t find something to like and nothing was less than interesting.

Nightmare Air

Nightmare Air

Anyone wanting to hear something that little bit noisier would have been delighted by Nightmare Air, a band playing their first ever gigs outside the US. This three piece had a huge sound and the three boards of effects peddles showed that this band was all about the electric guitar. The set was a lot of fun and the overall sound was brilliantly overblown. The only downside (and an inherent risk at a music festival) was that the sound mix was not right, with the vocals far too loud. This made them sound cartoonish when they should have been part of the wall of sound.  Not a band I imagine listening to in my living room, but a band I would definitely recommend seeing live on stage.

CUD

CUD

Former Gene front-man Martin Rossiter’s set is probably the only bad bit of organisation all day, proving far too popular for the cramped bar stage. Unable to squeeze in I take the time to peruse the well stocked merch table, and flick through the “Tales From The Wedding Present” comic that is on sale. I even get the opportunity to chat to David Gedge himself, who proves to be a friendly and accommodating figure, clearly enjoying the day as much as the punters. Rossiter sounds in good voice and goes down very well with the crowd that made it in to see him.

Next on the main stage is Cud, and the reunited Leeds act play a set that goes down a storm with a very partisan crowd. I was not a big fan of the band first time round, and they don’t play a style of music that I love, but they play an undeniably great set. The performance is good, the crowd is enthused and the song choices are faultless – all the hits are accounted for with ‘Rich and Strange’ and ‘Only a Prawn in Whitby’ sounding pretty good. A lot of fun.

The Wedding Present

The Wedding Present

Even with all that has come before, this event is all about The Wedding Present and the venue is packed when they take the stage. The first few songs are some seldom played tracks including b-sides, a track from Saturnalia and the brilliant ‘Love Machine’ from mini. This short warm-up completed the main event begins, a full run-through of the 1991 Steve Albini recorded classic Seamonsters.

This is an album that I have listened to on and off for 21 years, and it sounds brilliant on stage in 2012. The wall of bass, drums and guitars blending perfectly with Gedge’s rough edged vocals and tales of troubled romance. ‘Dalliance’ is the perfect opening track and the album flows perfectly from there-on-in up to the epic conclusion with ‘Octopussy’. The crowd response is brilliant and I haven’t heard that much enthiusiastic singing along at a gig in years, especially with the wonderful ‘Dare’.

Once the album set is finished there is only enough time to play one more track, the evergreen ‘You Should Always Keep In Touch With Your Friends’. It is a prefect closer and the crowd are fully aware when the band leaves the stage that it is the end. This is The Wedding Present and they don’t play encores.

All in all this is a brilliant event, a bargain at £18, and one that I’ll happily attend next year. I’m already looking forward to hearing all the songs from the Hit Parade collection in 2013, and the following year the underrated Watusi.

Words by Dorian Rogers, pictures by Nic Newman.

To see more of Nic’s photographs from the day visit our Flickr gallery.

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Dollboy – Further Excursions Into The Ulu With Dollboy

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Dollboy – Further Excursions Into The Ulu With Dollboy

Posted on 24 August 2012 by Joe

Every now and again a psychedelic revival pops its head over the cultural duvet, tie dyes a few clothes, copies a few early Pink Floyd riffs and disappears again in a purple haze.

The best of these revivals was in the 1980s when XTC, with a lot of help from our Top Ten Producer John Leckie, produced two pitch perfect 60s influenced psychedelic albums as  Dukes of Stratosphear called Psonic Psunspot and 25 O’Clock. These two gems went on to heavily influence The Stone Roses and others over the next few years.

The revival has popped back again in recent years and created something of a crowded market. Australian act Tame Impala are probably the most commercially pleasing of the bunch, but while faithful to the spirit of the likes of  Pink Floyd they lack the English whimsy that typifies the genre and in which the Dukes were so accomplished.

Over in the UK, the likes of Voluntary Butler Scheme and Jim Noir are leading the field with lashings of English whimsy as  they combine psychedelia and pop with great effect.

Lurking in the lava lamp shadows of this UK revival is Dollby, aka Oliver Cherer, who were are told has been making music for a decade and used to play Theremin in the band Cooler.  In his latest album Further Excursions Into the Ulu  With Dollboy is certainly making a strong case to be considered alongside the likes of Noir. There’s more folk than pop to Cherer’s take on psychedelia and not all the tracks work, but when they do succeed they feature some sumptuous harmonies, melodies and musicianship.

One of our highlight Seven Again Or Dust finds him “like ghosts on a Victorian verandha with the clock striking seven again, then 10, 11 and 12 and 13.” While the Dukes’ clock goes up to 25, one that goes up to 13 is still fairly impressive in psychedelic circles. The Donovan-esque Alice in Clearwater is another highpoint.

There are also some neat harmonies on display on particular on tenth track A Golden Age, which the Dukes would have been proud of, and like 7 Again Or Dust, it is a track that could almost be a single, well, a single in a strange alternative hallucinatory version of our universe.

Can Cherer achieve the commercial success of Tama Impala or the critical success of the likes of Noir? If this current psychedelic revival can hold out anything’s possible. He certainly has the talent and the musical credentials to battle it out for attention in this crowded retro market.

7/10

by Joe Lepper

 

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Tender Trap – Ten Songs About Girls

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Tender Trap – Ten Songs About Girls

Posted on 19 August 2012 by Dorian

Amelia Fletcher is probably best known for being the singer in Talulah Gosh, but best known to me for singing on two of the best singles of that last 30 years, The Wedding Present’s ‘Nobody’s Twisting Your Arm‘ and Hefner’s ‘Good Fruit‘. Tender Trap are her fifth band and Ten Songs About Girls is their forth album, released on the excellent Fortuna POP! label.

Tender Trap

I’ve seen the band live a few times, including at the Fortuna POP! 15th Birthday celebrations, and always enjoyed them, but I have never really listened to the band on record. Ten Songs About Girls may or may not be their best album, but it is certainly a very enjoyable starting point.

The opening track, ‘Train From King’s Cross Station’, is a like a cut-up of classic indie-pop. The Wedding Present and The Fall blend in with Fletcher’s characteristically artless vocals and the sweet backing voices of her band-mates.  (I mean artless in a totally  positive way, definition 2(b) in this online dictionary.)

‘MBV’ continues in a similar vein, and what could be more self-consciously indie than a song about My Bloody Valentine? If it was a simple matter of this just being a classic old-school indie pop album that certainly wouldn’t be enough, I have a load of those already. What lifts it up is the quality of the songs here and the quality of the performance by Fletcher and her band. In particular the backing vocals and harmonies are really quite lovely, especially on ‘Leaving Christmas Day’.

On occasion the songs skirt very close to the edge of trying too hard to be cute, ‘Step One’ just about gets away with it despite sounding a bit too much like The Pipettes for comfort but the vocal charm forces them through. The band are much better when then they sound properly lovelorn, like on the superbly fuzzy ‘May Day’. There is a nice variety in sound across the album as well, that song being followed by the indie-skiffle of ‘Ode’ is an effective change of pace.

The album has a satisfyingly tight structure, ten tracks in just over 30 minutes means that it leaves you wanting more, or just to start the album again from track one.

This isn’t an album that will convert an indie-sceptic, it is about as indie-pop as any record you will hear this year. However, if, like me, you love jangly guitars, sweet melodies and three minute pop songs then this album comes highly recommended.

8/10

By Dorian Rogers

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Various – Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music

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Various – Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary Music

Posted on 17 August 2012 by Joe

Rob Young’s book Electric Eden: Unearthing Britain’s Visionary  Music, started life looking at the increasing popularity and electrification of folk music during the late 1960s and early 1970s. But as he delved further back into the inspiration behind acts such as Pentangle, Fairport Convention and the Incredible String Band the book became much more. By the end he’d created an essential guide to British folk music from the 19th century to the present day, with Vaughn Williams and Talk Talk getting as much prominence as the likes of Sandy Denny and Bert Jansch as Young challenged the notion of ‘folk music’ and explored generations of musicians’ search for ‘Albion.’

Universal has now decided to offer a musical companion piece to the book, offering up 36 tracks  across two discs, all chosen by Young and focusing on the 1960s and 1970s folk scenes that started him on his journey.  As a collection of tracks from this era it is one of the best around, with John Martyn, David Bowie and Nick Drake nestling nicely alongside Peter Bellamy, Shealagh McDonald and Dr Strangely Strange.

Among the rarities that will excite fans of this period is the haunting 1971  track Brother John by Bread, Love and Dreams, which features Pentangle’s Danny Thompson on bass. Diana (1971) by Comus, who featured in our Top ten acts of the golden age of folk feature , is another superb edition and sounds more like Souxsie and the Banshees;  showing how folk music has the power to constantly challenge.

John Martyn’s She Moves Through the Fair, which features as a bonus track on London Conversation provides a fine end to the first disc and shows the power of the acoustic guitar to shape folk music.

Disc two has more of a focus on the electrification of folk over this period, with the ridiculously earnest Richard Thompson piece Roll over Vaughn Williams from 1972’s Henry the Human Fly, starting it off. While the lack of any tracks from Fairport Convention’s Liege and Lief is a notable omission, at least this ground breaking act is covered with A Sailor’s Life, from 1969’s Unhalfbricking.  It’s a less obvious choice, but still shows the traditional folk influence that drove the act, as well as Sandy Denny’s role as one of folk music’s greatest ever divas. David Bowie’s rock take on folk on Black Country Rock is a welcome reminder of his roots in the folk scene, even if it is among his worst ever tracks.

Despite this being a fine collection it falls down a little as a companion to the book. Missing are the classical music of the first half of the 20th century and  later ‘folk’ artists Young focuses on, such as Talk Talk and David Sylvian. To include such tracks would have been more in the spirit of the book and created a far more challenging collection.  It’s a minor gripe though as it more than succeeds as a collection from the golden age of UK folk music and opening track, Peter Bellamy’s 1970 rendition of Rudyard Kipling’s Oak, Ash and Thorn, is certainly effective in plunging the listener into the world of British folk music. Similarly Nick Drake’s Voices, a little known 1974 track from this tragic star of the UK folk scene, is a fitting end to the collection, showing how UK folk evolved during the 1960s and 1970s but was still grounded by the traditions of  word of mouth story telling.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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#Tags – Budget Cuts

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#Tags – Budget Cuts

Posted on 15 August 2012 by Joe

#Tags have dropped us a line about their new EP, Budget Cuts, and we’ve been reeled in nicely by their breezy take on these dark days of recession. Recorded in a shed, due to the tightening of wallets across  the band and austerity Britain, they’ve decided to not let a little thing like a double dip get in the way of a good time.

With funk guitar, high pitch vocals and a party vibe they come across as something like an English Ok Go! on opening track Sick of Heels. And just like the Californian band they are clearly influenced by Squeeze, something that comes across strongly on the pure pop of second track I Wanna See You. There are hints of early XTC as well on the final, sixth ska-influenced track Helena.

They’ve already garnered some high profile admirers, including BBC 6Music’s Tom Robinson and BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens, who refers to them as “bang on trend” and with influences of diverse as Prince, The Pixes and LCD Soundsystem we’re more than happy to give them some deserved publicity in such bleak economic times.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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Jamiesaysmile – Day Three

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Jamiesaysmile – Day Three

Posted on 07 August 2012 by Joe

With a big voice reminiscent of indie rock veteran Bob Mould, this first release by Yorkshire based singer songwriter Dan Hayes has given me a welcome lift during a summer of rain.

Across the four tracks Hayes, who here goes by the name Jamiesaysmile, manages to tread on the right side of credibility as a singer songwriter, helped by his honest, enormous rock vocals and a fine set of tunes.

Opener Guilty and Dressed Up and third track Dressed Up In Waves are the two immediate standouts full of nods towards the best of Bob Mould’s solo work, especially the veteran’s debut solo album Workbook. Hayes’ vocals are so similar that its strange not to see Mould mentioned on the accompanying press release, which instead cites Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly, Bloc Party and Biffy Clyro as influences.

There are the occasional rock ballad clichés on track two, Day Three, and final track, Only Works With You, but not enough to detract from what is a fine and promising debut from one of the UK’s most fertile areas for interesting rock music (see our focus on Wakefield label Philophobia Music).

8/10

Day Three is available from Geek Pie Records on a pay what you want basis.

by Joe Lepper

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Oxjam Brighton Takeover launch night

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Oxjam Brighton Takeover launch night

Posted on 07 August 2012 by Dorian

Oxjam is a month long music festival, and our event is just one of hundreds taking place nationwide during October with all profits going to support Oxfam.

One of the Oxjam initiatives are the multi-venue ‘Takeovers’ happening in towns and cities around the country. Oxjam Brighton Takeover is sure to be one of the best as they seek to showcase the best music from the local area on October 21st.

Oxjam Brighton

On Wednesday August 15th they will be launching the event with a gig at Brighton’s Blind Tiger. This will be an opportunity to find out more as well as hearing some great music – you can find out more details on the Facebook event page.

Live music comes from King Mews, Wide Eyed Order, Early Ghost and Tides, with entry a bargain suggested donation of £3.

Proceedings kick off at 8pm and it is sure to be an excellent night of music in aid of a great cause.

by Dorian Rogers

Oxjam is Oxfam’s month-long music festival. It runs all through October with hundreds of events around the UK, all organised by volunteers who know and love their local music scene, all raising money to save lives around the world.

 

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