Archive | July, 2013

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Indietracks 2013

Posted on 30 July 2013 by Joe

Here’s a short film Neonfiller.com’s Joe Lepper made of his time at Indietracks 2013. No words, thought it best to use the excellent track Tut Tut Tut by The Tuts, one of the highlights of the event. Thanks so much to The Tuts for letting us use their track.

Set at the Midlands Steam Railway Centre, Derbyshire, the event spans four stages: an outdoor stage, a train shed, a steam train and the station chapel. The clip below features a host of bands including The Magic Theatre, Bis, Camera Obscura, Owl and Mouse, Enderby’s Room, Fever Dream and of course The Tuts.

 

 

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Ralfe Band – Son Be Wise

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Ralfe Band – Son Be Wise

Posted on 29 July 2013 by Joe

My son, be wise, and make my heart glad, that I may answer him that reproacheth me….so sayeth proverbs 27.11. Is that what the title of this new Ralfe Band album refers to?

Well, I don’t do reproachethness, but I do like a nice tune written by Oly Ralfe.  This is his third studio album, not including the soundtrack to the film Bunny and the Bull. No radical departures, no sidesteps into dubstep, no sudden collaborations with Radiohead, no, just more quirky folky hanky panky, perhaps a little more fleshed out than previous outings, but refreshing nonetheless.

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Oly has such a distinctive timbre to his vocals, which is not immediately lovable, sounding parched and remote but repeated exposure reveals complexities and compassion, he makes everything sound like a confession, and then he throws in a fabbo wobbly chorus to die for, Barricades, Ox  and Hidden Place, all display his skills perfectly, there’s also sullen beauty here in the form of Magdalena and especially the heartfelt Kings and Queens, ditto Dead Souls. Ladder, with it’s lonely piano and yearning lyric is a distinct highlight, perfectly suited for a little bit of navel gazing.

Oly is taking kitchen sink dramas into the countryside and giving them some warming broth. I suggest you would be wise to join him.

8/10

By John Haylock

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Godney Gathering, Somerset (July 20, 2013)

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Godney Gathering, Somerset (July 20, 2013)

Posted on 29 July 2013 by Joe

After a full week of heat the likes of the south west rarely sees, this year’s Godney Gathering was packed.

Event organisers Mike and Sue Daniels must have breathed a sigh of relief after the cruel wet weather of last year, which flooded its Somerset farm setting and forced an eleventh hour location switch to an indoor cattle market  nearby.

In addition to some beautiful weather this year’s event was also a far larger affair, with the main stage supplemented by two other stages, The Jaywalk Stage, sponsored by nearby Street guitar shop Jaywalk Guitars, and an acoustic tent. This trio of venues proved perfect to enable the festival to showcase some excellent local acts as well as its more well known headliners, such as The Blockheads.

Godney Gathering Logo

In keeping with our aims of promoting music near to our two bases of Somerset and Brighton, as well as showcasing new talent we decided to concentrate on the local and emerging acts at the event.

Up first on the Jaywalk Stage were local Glastonbury band All Us Authors. Who straight from the get-go provided Godney with a powerful indie rock performance, gathering a decent sized crowd right from the start. Over at the acoustic tent next we saw Lee Rahn from Street, who played a great set, bringing in a good sized crowd of local fans, friends and family.

The Young Aviators, one of the highlights of last year’s Godney Gathering, were back at this year. They put in an electrifying and energy fuelled set on the Jaywalk Stage, seemingly bringing most of Godney in to watch them.

A highlight of my night was local ska/rock band Shoot The Moon, having previously played the first ever Godney Gathering they were better than ever, getting the whole of the Jaywalk  tent bobbing along to every song.

Headlining the acoustic stage was Nick Parker, the Street based singer songwriter who spends much of his time touring Europe and instantly filled the acoustic tent. With his big voice and engaging stage banter, he played a brilliant acoustic including tracks such as Never Been to Dublin Before and Metaphor.

Now in its third year, the Godney Gathering appears to be getting better ever year, with good value in every department from acts and even the food. Godney will hopefully soon make a deserved bigger name for itself as one of the best one-day festivals the UK has to offer.

By Ryan Perry

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Splendour Festival, Nottingham (July 20, 2013)

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Splendour Festival, Nottingham (July 20, 2013)

Posted on 23 July 2013 by Joe

If ever a name was more appropriate than Splendour for a festival, then I can’t think of one. With it’s beautiful backdrop of the magnificent Wollaton Hall (Wayne manor in the latest Batman movie) and set amid acres of lovely rolling countryside, fields, stables, courtyards and enclosures in addition to a great views of Nottingham from it’s highest point, this park is one of the areas must see attractions.

Kagoule

Kagoule

To utilize it as a venue was inspired, and despite initial concerns from local (dead posh) residents, it is becoming an annual fixture to the local music scene, and this year saw another pop focused, family friendly line up, spread over a couple of stages, with a  relatively diverse bunch of acts set to cater for different generations of fans.

It took until mid afternoon until something special kicked off, a band with the unassuming name of Kagoule, turned it all up to eleven, with a set of arresting blasts of paint stripping three-piece punk rock. From noisy kids to slick middle aged ex- new wavers; Squeeze have come a long ,long way since their days at the forefront of the school of clever English post punk pop. Always a magnificent singles band, they dropped hit after classic hit, middle aged women swooned liberally and dropped their strawberries as they perfectly executed Black Coffee in Bed, Take Me I’m Yours and Pulling Muscles From a Shell. It was so nice to see the band’s songwriting duo Chris Difford and Glen Tilbrook back in the pop saddle again, evidently crazy happy that they are cherished for the institution they so definitely are, oh and the icing on the cake was a great version of an almost forgotten classic, Slap and Tickle.

Peter Hook

Peter Hook

Ok, admission time. The last time I saw Peter Hook live was on the 22nd of October 1979, when Joy Division blew The Buzzcocks off stage in Derby. To see him here tonight with his band, was a tear jerking trip down memory lane. Good god, I thought, as they started with Joy Division’s  Atmosphere. It was middle aged men going apeshit time!

This was then followed by, yes you guessed it, the greatest tune ever in the annals of rock music, my song, and probably yours as well, Love Will Tear Us Apart. But that was merely the beginning of a seventy minute set that then went on to cover everything fantastic that New Order ever recorded, including Your Silent Face, Regret, Senses and Temptation went to another level, prompting a mass sing a long with added hat throwing and pogoing. His finale with Blue Monday was just astonishingly sublime.

Jake Bugg from a safe distance

Jake Bugg from a safe distance

KT Tunstall played some pretty pretty rock ‘n’ roll, Dog Is Dead proved to be merely competent, but Maximo Park caused sparks to fly with a spiky set of jerky pop that caused much silly dancing and teenage girl hysteria. But they couldn’t compete crowd wise with the much anticipated headline appearance from local kid makes good, Jake Bugg. He certainly drew the biggest crowd of the night, but I remained distinctly unimpressed by his lack of  tunes, zero stage presence and  underwhelming voice. Neonfiller photographer Arthur Hughes even remarked that he sounded a bit like Lonnie Donegan At least Lonnie Donegan had at least two great songs, this guy hasn’t got one. We decided to move on and see Ryan Keen on the other stage. Now this guy has it all, a presence, a winning personality, superb acoustic guitar skills and a fabulous voice, very mellow, very beautiful, very laid back. This chap should be on your radar, a previously unheard gem of a discovery. More than compensates for the over priced jacket potato earlier that afternoon. All in all a grand day out, me duck.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes.

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Field Harmonics – Walls

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Field Harmonics – Walls

Posted on 18 July 2013 by Joe

Midlands based electro-popster Robert Glover, who is one half of ambient act epic45,  has delved deep into the 1980s world of Depeche Mode for his latest project Field Harmonics.

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It’s a wonderfully ambient title for an act, and first track Proem is indeed moody in a New Order’s Elegia kind of way, but do not be fooled into thinking this is an ambient album. The mainstream pop of not only Depeche Mode but also the Pet Shop Boys shine through far more brightly. Think cool 80s underground disco rather than techy wallflower pop.

This debut album under the Field Harmonics name really comes alive for second track Happenstance, a wonderful slice of synth pop with echoes of OMD in their early prime. Even Glover’s vocals have that same distinct 80s nasal quality of Andy McClusky. Walls and Kessler follow a similar path, before a  slightly more  ambient diversion with Regret and Voice. The best has been left till last with the final track Everyone, a swirling electropop epic.

What’s most pleasing about this album is the attention to detail in the production. Glover clearly loves the 80s era and has made sure his bleeps and synths conjure it up perfectly. Is there a downside? Yes, but in a good way; at just seven songs it feels far too short. I’m keen for album number two already.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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The New Mendicants  – Colston Hall 2, Bristol (July 9, 2013)

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The New Mendicants – Colston Hall 2, Bristol (July 9, 2013)

Posted on 11 July 2013 by Joe

Placing myself next to a gentleman, ostensibly of equal age with The New Mendicant’s Norman Blake (Teenage Fanclub, BMX Bandits), I ask him what exactly it was that brought him to tonight’s gig – “Teenage Fanclub,” he replies. His answer is unsurprising and in scanning the predominance of audience members similarly just beyond middle age, I feel it likely that it is nostalgia and a love of Glasgow’s cult indie icons, which has fuelled their motives to attend tonight’s show.

Norman Blake (l), Joe Pernice (r)

Norman Blake (l), Joe Pernice (r)

A friendship newly formed in Toronto, Ontario, Blake and his fellow New Mendicant Joe Pernice (Pernice Brothers, Scud Mountain Boys), step on to the stage beneath soft red and blue lighting and the scene is set for a cosy, non-challenging evening of acoustic versions of songs old and new. The duo immediately banter about forgetting their set lists and this relaxed approach very much provides a flavour of what lay ahead.

New song ‘Follow You Down’ leads the way and it is the first of several songs this evening where Blake provides charmingly simple Glockenspiel lines to complement Pernice’s vocal and acoustic guitar. An early surprise in the set is a cover of ‘A Butcher’s Tale,’ a song from The Zombies’ hidden baroque-pop gem from 1968, ‘Odessey and Oracle.’ The first four tracks are met with polite applause before Teenage Fanclub’s ‘It’s All In The Mind’ induces the first nods of recognition and an appreciatively vocal response at the song’s close.

The duo continue to banter in an easy, unselfconscious way between songs and the mood is so laid-back that it is probably just as well that tonight’s gig is a fully seated affair. After new song ‘Sarasota,’ which bears a passing resemblance to Cat Stevens’ ‘Father & Son,’ Pernice tells the story of how Blake’s original glockenspiel had been reclaimed by Blake’s primary school aged son after it was signed by a member of children’s musical group The Wiggles. Blake then reveals the handy colour-coded keys of his new instrument to the audience and, to a chorus of laughter, he performs a light-hearted impromptu ‘Glock’ solo.

A slightly faltering finish to ‘You Was Me,’ and Pernice’s sarcastic lamentation of a song he sold to an American corporation for advertising purposes further adds to an atmosphere akin to two old pals playing for friends in a large living room; introduced sardonically as “A song about coats,” ‘There Goes The Sun’ features more Glockenspiel from Blake and, in playing incrementally quieter at the track’s coda, there is a charming live attempt at replicating the recorded version’s fade-out.

Despite Blake’s bungled attempt at the song’s solo, ‘I Don’t Want To Control You’ is warmly received and, making it back to back Teenage Fanclub tracks, ‘Did I Say’ follows. Seemingly comfortable on their respective chairs, Pernice mockingly undermines the concept of an encore by stating: “Just pretend we left the stage and you guys cheered for 2 more songs.” They remain seated and Pernice delivers the delicately beautiful ‘Cronulla Breakdown;’ written about his wife when they lived in the New South Wales  town. It proved a highlight of the evening and, being plucked from a 2001 Pernice Brothers’ album no doubt unfamiliar to most of the audience, it is the most pleasant of surprises.

‘Everything Flows’ is the final song of the night and, being one of Teenage Fanclub’s most popular tracks, it serves as an audience pleaser to end proceedings. With their places firmly fixed in the history of cult indie-pop, both Blake and Pernice have nothing to prove and it is with nonchalance that they can approach these sit down shows. Perhaps a few of the old favourites would benefit from a full band set up and it’s true that the lack of challenge in such performances will never inspire anything particularly memorable. However, it with ease that one can enjoy these two new but firm cohorts entertaining their friends in this largest of living rooms.

 by Scott Hammond, Pictures by Conal Dougan

 

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JamieSaySmile – Grand Authentic Stage EP

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JamieSaySmile – Grand Authentic Stage EP

Posted on 10 July 2013 by Joe

Following on from his impressive Day Three EP last summer Yorkshire singer songwriter Dan Hayes, aka JamieSaySmile has returned in 2013 with a  new five-track EP. His same Bob Mould-esque powerful voice is the same as it was last year, thankfully. But this time around Hayes has spent a little more time on the guitar sounds, giving the opening three tracks of this bedroom recorded EP a full band, full studio sound.

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There’s also more of a new wave quality to his songs, with the EP’s self titled opener full of twists, turns and crescendos. And while it skirts soft rock in places, it’s a brief flirtation and should be filed firmly under alternative rock. Second track Hide for Miles is a softer, albeit epic acoustic affair that never veers into cliché.

Third track, is a glimpse of something a little more adventurous for Hayes, who has clearly been listening to some National albums over the last year, with its sparse guitar and drumming reminiscent of the Brooklyn band. For those looking to focus on the songs rather than a full band production, Hayes has included acoustic versions of Grand Authentic Stage and Hide for Miles. The later  being a more pleasing listen than the full band take earlier on.

So what have we learnt about Hayes over the year. We’ve learnt he’s got more good songs in him but I’m still undecided whether I prefer the acoustic songwriter or alternative rock version of Hayes. Fortunately he’s pretty good at both on this evidence.

7/10

by Joe Lepper

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Glastonbury Festival – My Return After A Decade Break

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Glastonbury Festival – My Return After A Decade Break

Posted on 08 July 2013 by Joe

Glastonbury, what does it mean to you?  Were you heartily sick of the coverage and incessant media chatter or do you love it? Do you kneel at the church of Eavis? Do you subscribe to the ‘best festy in the world’ theory ?

After a ten year  break because of my self imposed ‘it’s not like it used to be’ policy,  I decided to return for 2013 and found that  in reality it is still utterly wonderful. I had clearly forgotten the magic that lies within those Somerset acres.

Backstage with Robyn Hitchcock

Backstage with Robyn Hitchcock

Of course it’s still too big but where else could you have Liam Gallagher for breakfast, Beady Eye rockin’ up the other stage like it was 1992. He’s still got the arrogance, the swagger, the rock ‘n’ rollness. Wow, if this is the first band on, what other delights await us?

Well…deep breath: meeting the mighty lord of the loud shirts Robyn Hitchcock back stage, seeing new synth lite pop kings Bastille, fairies, pixies, mad grannies, inflatable cocks, Public Image Ltd frightening the kids, pyrotechnic overkill, flames, explosions, lasers, out of control dry ice machines, Harry Enfield dancing to Slim Chance, Malian musicians, the overblown magnificence of Nile Rogers and Chic, Tom Tom Club doing psycho killer, whiskey, and then more whiskey with added Tom Tom Club.

From l-r, whisky, the author, Tom Tom Club's Tina Weymouth

From l-r, whisky, the author, Tom Tom Club’s Tina Weymouth

And there’s more. I also saw Keef Richards, met a tiger woman and her amazing tail, saw Tony Benn, as well some people climbing up ropes.

As if that wasn’t enough, there was also Nick Cave as Jesus, First Aid Kit doing Dylan’s Another Cup of Coffee (best sublime guitar solo of the weekend ), a furiously confident set from Stealing Sheep and the discovery of Haim and Rokia Traore.

Highlights continued to pour down over the weekend including seeing Don Letts DJ set, watching ye olde ex Hawkwind members space ritual doing orgone accumulator and master of the universe, Steve Hillage with System 7 and witnessing the legendary Wayne Kramer in my face doing kick out the jams.

MC-5's Wayne Kramer kicking out the jams

MC5’s Wayne Kramer kicking out the jams

In this seemingly never ending list of experiences that can be packed into such a short space of time I also saw The Staves, Zulu Winter, experienced slowly deflating air beds, aching feet, that smell and meeting total strangers who instead of killing you, like in the real world, wanted to be nice to you. I also got to see  Devandra Banhart do his funny little dance at the Park Stage.

To top it all off Public Service Broadcasting turned heavy metal before my eyes,  there were sculptures, installations, 13 trillion DJ sets, a fine rockin’ band called Vintage Trouble, Lloyd Grossman playing guitar, more fairies, hardly any rain and lots of love, love love.

Incredible. Simply incredible.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by John Haylock and Arthur Hughes

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Mission Of Burma, The Haunt, Brighton (1st July 2013)

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Mission Of Burma, The Haunt, Brighton (1st July 2013)

Posted on 06 July 2013 by Dorian

Mission of Burma have lived a pretty unconventional musical career. Splitting after only four years and one album in 1983 due to guitarist Roger Miller’s tinnitus they looked destined to be a cult favourite but nothing more than a musical footnote in the history of American punk. However, since reforming in 2002 after an almost two decade long break the band have released four critically acclaimed albums and probably played live more often than in their original phase.

Mission Of Burma

This slightly unconventional career path may explain the rather thin crowd that they face up to on a Monday night in Brighton. They neither quite fit the mould of a new band or a classic come-back act which means they don’t neatly fit into any musical boxes. This does mean that the crowd that does show-up is a pretty partisan set who want to hear the bands songs both old and new.

The band, aided and abetted by Shellac’s Bob Weston (who has taken on the tape loop role since they reformed), play a set that picks songs from across their career including brand new songs as well as singles from their first wave. This is a band that knows how to make a noise, distorted guitars, crunching bass and skin pounding and shouting from drummer Peter Prescott (shielded behind a perspex screen).

As someone who has only listened to the band’s recent albums a few times I did suffer with a lack of familiarity with the band’s songs for most of the set. In the most part the songs are lacking in obvious hooks and the slightly muddy live sound means it isn’t always easy to here the melody and lyrics which meant feeling slightly detached from the band onstage.

When I did let myself get lost in the wall of noise and the energy of the band and crowd this mattered less and I started to enjoy the gig a lot more. And when the band played songs I was more familiar with they sounded pretty great. This does mean that the band are not likely to appeal to the virgin audience but they are unlike to disappoint their loyal fans, and this was demonstrated clearly in The Haunt.

I did feel slightly cheated that the band didn’t play their most famous track, the brilliant ‘That’s When I Reach For My Revolver’, but given their growing post reformation catalogue it would seem churlish to expect them to play every one of their better known early songs.

Mission Of Burma make a great noise and their energy is pretty exciting to watch, but potential audiences might want to invest some time listening to their recent albums before going to see them live.

By Dorian Rogers

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Darren Hayman – Bugbears

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Darren Hayman – Bugbears

Posted on 04 July 2013 by Joe

Back at the turn of the  20th century, music expert Cecil Sharpe began his epic task of travelling England, collecting ancient folk music from those singing in fields, pubs and in their homes. This marvellous collection prompted a raft of folk music revivals since and now sits proudly in the library at Cecil Sharp House in London.

A century on and Darren Hayman’s recent use of the library’s resources would have met with great approval from Cecil.

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Following on from last year’s well researched folk album about the 17th century witch trials of Essex, Hayman has once again plundered England’s folk music and historical archives for this companion piece looking more broadly at the music of the English Civil War.

Taking the original songs as the source material Hayman has assembled a ‘short parliament’ of  hipsters and modern day folk musicians, such as Johny Lamb, David Tattersall and Allo’ Darlin’s Bill Botting, to put his own stamp on  the songs.

The result is a loving and modern take on the chaotic Civil War period, with his Essex and London accent giving the songs greater authenticity.

Where the album works best is where the more modern sounds come through, such as the electric guitar on Hey Then Up We Go and The Contented as well the shuffling rhythm of  Seven Months Married.  The acoustic guitar work on the instrumental Owl  also has  a simple and modern feel to it and proves to be a real highpoint of the album.

With Hayman putting his musical mark on these old lyrics his project is similar to that of Billy Bragg and Wilco with their own take on Woody Guthrie’s lyrics for their Mermaid Avenue sessions. There’s the same love for the original material shining through here as there was on their resulting albums.

Billed as a companion piece to The Violence, Bugbears ends up being a fine album in its own right. Cecil would have been proud.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

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