Archive | May, 2016

Papernut Cambridge – Love the Things Your Lover Loves

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Papernut Cambridge – Love the Things Your Lover Loves

Posted on 27 May 2016 by Joe

Being just a school boy during the early 1970s Ian Button missed out on fronting his own psychedelic glam pop band on Top of the Pops.

A few decades on, undaunted by being born in the wrong decade, he’s been making up for lost time by enlisting his friends to help create his own 1970s poptastic act called Papernut Cambridge.

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While their debut album was an ode to surburban life and straddled influences across a number of decades, last year’s Nutlets covers album firmly rooted the band in the 1970s through loving tributes to the tracks of Alvin Stardust and Hot Chocolate among others.

Now the former Death in Vegas man and crew, including Ralegh Long, Darren Hayman and Robert Rotifer, have gone further by creating their very own 1970s chart hits that never were. It’s hard to listen without imagining Button, black-dyed hair and dressed in leather jumpsuit, coo-coo-chooing his way through the tracks. Full of fuzzed up guitar riffs and stomping rhythms there would have been plenty to satisfy the charts back in the day, especially the album’s title song and its best pop tune Radio.

There’s a nice nod to Eno-era Roxy Music too on Mirology, and the last paisley swirls of the 1960s psychedelic pop scene are also evident, most notably on the tongue-twistingly ever-so-English St Nicholas Vicarage. Who knew there were so many words in the English language that rhyme with vicarage? This wouldn’t look out of place on an album by another of our favourite exponents of psychedelic pop – XTC’s Dukes of Stratosphear.

While the attention to detail in recreating the sounds of this golden era for British pop is a huge plus, what really marks out the work of Button’s crew is their heart. On their previous album the track Nutflake Social had a wonderful community spirit to it. Here the sense of sociability and community is still there, especially as the band are introduced on final track We Are the Nut. These timeless messages of love and friendship are hard to fault. Now all Button needs is a time machine to secure that coveted Top of the Pops appearance.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

Papernut Cambridge – Love the Things Your Lover Loves is released by Gare Du Nord Records.

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Indietracks 2016 Q&A

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Indietracks 2016 Q&A

Posted on 25 May 2016 by Dorian

Indietracks is one of our favourite festivals and after a year off (and we missed it!) Neon Filler will be back this year to enjoy their 10th birthday.

We caught up with husband and wife Nat and Andy Hudson, two of the festival organisers, to ask them ten questions about ten Indietracks.

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1. Let’s start with the obvious question. Why have an indie pop festival at a heritage railway?

Nat: Indietracks was actually first started in 2007 by a guy called Stuart Mackay, who used to restore trains at the Midland railway, and we’ve all gradually become involved since then. He originally started it as a fun way of bringing his own favourite bands to the railway after seeing other music events being held there, starting with a one-night event and then eventually turning it into a weekend festival. To be honest, I think the respective worlds of indiepop and steam trains intertwine perfectly, and I can’t imagine it being held anywhere else now!

2. The festival is celebrating it’s 10th birthday this year. Is anything special planned?

Andy: Yes, we’ve a few things planned – I’ll let you know about a couple, and we’ll keep some a secret. Firstly, we’re screening a documentary about Indietracks made by the acclaimed film-maker Jeanie Finlay. Jeanie’s previously made some great films including The Great Hip Hop Hoax and Sound It Out, and her Indietracks film is beautiful, funny and heart-breaking. We’re also going to have a 10th birthday disco on the Sunday night, playing some of our favourite songs from the last 10 years of the festival and hopefully sharing some cake around. One of the other ideas will be spectacular if it works, but we’re keeping it a surprise!

3. What are the 10 best performances you’ve seen at Indietracks?

Nat: Argh, it’s too difficult to say! I’d struggle to put performances in any kind of order, but sets I’ve enjoyed in the past include La Casa Azul, The Go! Team, Euros Childs, Darren Hayman, The Wave Pictures, Camera Obscura, Allo Darlin’, Stars of Aviation, The Hidden Cameras and Haiku Salut.

4. What 10 acts would be your dream guests at future Indietracks?

Andy: Kenickie – every year for the next 10 years! To be honest, we’ve always managed to book tons of our dream guests – Saint Etienne, The Aislers Set and The Spook School headlining is a dream line-up for us this year. And we’re still pinching ourselves that we’ve booked people like Helen Love, Teenage Fanclub, The Pastels and The Go! Team in previous years! Just as importantly though, our dream line up in future years will be finding the next new fantastic indiepop bands – we want to find the next Allo Darlin’ or the next Standard Fare. So, alongside Kenickie, my 10 dream guests would include 9 amazing artists that I’ve not heard of yet!

Allo Darlin

5. Outdoors, shed, church or train?

Nat: If you’re asking me which I prefer, then it’s just too tricky to choose! I’ve seen sets I’ve loved on all of those stages at some point! If I really have to choose though, I really love the church – it’s such an intimate atmosphere in there. Haiku Salut’s lamp show in there in 2013 was amazing.

6. If someone was thinking of attending Indietracks what would you say to persuade them?

Andy: It’s a relaxed and fun festival where you can dance to fantastic bands, ride steam trains and meet some real-life owls! It’s a very friendly festival where we hope everyone feels safe and welcome. And you’ll be raising money for a fantastic steam railway charity!

7. Richard Osman promised to attend. Did he make it? Or do you think he’ll be there this year?

Nat: Haha! He was very kind to me when I appeared on Pointless with my sister-in-law and allowed me to talk on national television about Indietracks which was great, but sadly I’ve not seen him since. He did mention he might come along the year that Allo Darlin’ played but it didn’t happen, and to be honest I can’t imagine it ever happening – he’d probably get mobbed!

8. It is a pretty unique location, what things do you recommend people do when they aren’t watching bands?

Andy: I’d definitely start with a train ride, either on the steam trains or on the narrow-gauge railway that runs through the countryside. We’ve a series of art and craft workshops for both children and adults, as well as discos in the evening. Then there’s the other railway attractions, including a couple of museums, the signal box, restored station and vintage railway memorabilia shops. Finally there’s a nearby country park, a miniature railway and we have an owl sanctuary on site.

9. Campsite or hotel?

Nat: The Golden Valley campsite is fantastic – it has brilliant discos, beautiful surroundings and lovely food. However, although I have to admit that although I camped in 2007 I’ve stayed in the Travelodge ever since then . I’m not a particularly good camper, and after spending the weekend running around I definitely need a comfortable bed to sleep on!

10. Will the owls be there this year?

Andy: Yes!

Owl

Nat and Andy were interviewed by Dorian Rogers

Indietracks takes place at the Midland Railway Centre in the heart of the Derbyshire countryside, and the festival is held on the weekend of 29-31 July 2016. more details, and information on booking, can be found at  www.indietracks.co.uk.

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Darren Hayman – Thankful Villages Vol 1

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Darren Hayman – Thankful Villages Vol 1

Posted on 23 May 2016 by Joe

Darren Hayman is at his best when placing a microscope over the details of people’s lives, their hopes, fears and how their environment shapes them.

The big issues of life, of war and inequality, are also important to him, but rather than tub thumping about them he is more interested in how they impact on every day lives.

Take the third part of his Essex trilogy of albums about the brutal treatment of elderly woman during the 17th century witch trials. It held up a mirror to the modern, shameful treatment of immigrants and others perceived as a burden on society. But of course this was all implicit. What mattered more were the people and the real horrors that befell them. The sound of the hangman’s rope stretching as their feet danced in search of life proved far more powerful than a soapbox rant.

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This latest project emerged from a conversation with his friend and frequent collaborator, Ian Button, whose father had told him of the rare collection of English ‘Thankful’ villages, who were lucky enough to see all those who went to fight in the First World War return. Given the scale of that conflict this is something to be thankful for indeed.

Like a modern day version of Cecil Sharp, the Victorian and Edwardian collector of English folk music, Hayman went out on the road, finding out more about these villages and their current residents as well as painting and recording them on his travels.

Although The Great War is one focus, it is mainly used by Hayman merely as a hook to document rural village life past and present.

There are 54 known thankful villages he is visiting and each will get their own tribute across three volumes.

Here on the first volume, 18 villages are covered starting in Knowlton in Dorset and ending in Bradbourne in Derbyshire. Miles apart, but its residents share the same gratitude that the lives of their grandfathers and fathers weren’t snuffed out on the battlefields of Europe. They also share the same aspects of rural life, where churches were and remain the focal point and local history continues to shape modern life.

When war does take centre stage, it is heartbreaking, as those that returned were never the same. On St Michael, South Elmham, Dolly’s account of her “hard” father’s show of emotion on Armistice day each year as he remembers the horrors he saw, is among the most tender moments.

Musically, Hayman uses acoustic and electronic instruments across instrumentals and songs that take in folk, soundscapes and soundtrack qualities. The sounds of the villages are also important, with the album recorded on location with post production added on later. On Butterton the village’s background noises even become part of the track’s rhythm. Local church congregations also take part and on Bradbourne the vocal harmonies create an upbeat end to this first collection.

What emerges is one of Hayman’s best pieces of work and possibly his most important, preserving the oral history of the relatives of those who survived the horrors of the Great War as well as paying tribute to the village life they left and thankfully returned to.

9/10

By Joe Lepper

Darren Hayman – Thankful Villages Vol 1 is released on Rivertones. For more information visit here.

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Miracle Legion – Portrait Of A Damaged Family

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Miracle Legion – Portrait Of A Damaged Family

Posted on 18 May 2016 by Dorian

I first encountered Miracle Legion in 1989 or 1990 when a friend played me the 12″ of ‘You’re The One Lee’, a beautiful piece of chiming acoustic pop that immediately became a firm favourite. The band were presented to me as a rival to REM’s crown (the next REM was a big thing at that time) and I expected great things from them. Despite the quality of album that spawned the single (Me & Mr.Ray) and the full-band follow-up (Drenched) the breakthrough success of the band never came, and their more esoteric side was not embraced by the wider public.

portrait of a damaged family

I wasn’t even aware that they released any other albums, so limited was the release of their final album, and I only picked up on the band again some time later when discovering the solo works of singer Mark Mulcahy. His most recent solo album (Dear Mark J Mulcahy I Love You) showed that he is an artist at the top of his game, but also demands that people revisit his legacy. With that in mind it is great news that Miracle Legion’s final album, Portrait Of A Damaged Family, has been reissued and is now getting some of the attention it deserves.

The comparisons to REM have some validity, the jangle pop of ‘You’re My Blessing’ certainly has parallels, as does the low key acoustic sound of ‘Homer’. This certainly isn’t the whole picture though with the band demonstrating a lot of depth to their sound and some real personality that is badly served by their status as a foot-note in the career of a more successful act.

The album succeeds through a mixture of consistency and variety that gets the balance pretty spot on. This is a guitar pop album that could only have been released in the 1990s, and sounds like a unified whole. Within that template however the style, feel and tone is nicely varied and it feels like a band at the start, not end, of their career.

There is some sadness from the fact that the album has been neglected for nearly two decades, with the band’s profile shrinking over the intervening years. This is tempered somewhat by the happiness that the album is available again and a new generation can enjoy the band’s distinctive voice.

Further happiness can come from the good news that the whole of the band’s back catalogue is available via the Miracle Legion Bandcamp which brings all the bands albums (and some EPs) together in one place for the first time. Add to this a string of UK live dates in June and August (we’ll be at the Brighton gig on August 16th) and it is a pretty good time to (re)discover one of the great lost bands.

9/10

By Dorian Rogers

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Rapid Results College – In City Light

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Rapid Results College – In City Light

Posted on 12 May 2016 by Joe

Rapid Results College is such a great name for a band, cemented in modern urban life with tongue firmly in cheek about its pressures, pace and pitfalls.

Their debut album In City Light keeps this ethos going, offering the band’s particular take on modern life from the horrors, quite literally, of dating (The Cautionary Tale of Alphonse Du Gard) to its frantic pace, on the track Rapid Results.

cover

The delivery too is clean and precise, like a freshly swept city pavement early in the morning. This draws out the best in the simple sound of former The Hillfields frontman Rob Boyd’s guitar and vocals, Mike Stone’s (Television Personalities and Rotifer) bass and the drums of Owain Evans.

Knowing that Stone is a fan of XTC it was no surprise to hear the influence of the legendary Swindon act here. This is particularly on Rapid Results, which offers up glimpses of XTC tracks King for a Day on the guitar intro and Towers of London in the middle eight. Another Wiltshire act, Co-Pilgrim, is another point of reference as an act that uses a clean sound to draw out melody.

Rapid Results is just one of many hightlights, which also include the album’s best pop track Any Other Way and the aforementioned The Cautionary Tale of Alphonse Du Gard, where a date, possibly arranged through something Tinder, goes horrifically array.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

Rapid Results College – In City Light is released by Gare Du Nord. For more information click here.

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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity

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King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity

Posted on 11 May 2016 by Joe

King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard are continuing their charge to becoming our favourite Australian band. Their Glastonbury Festival appearance last year left us impressed, then came last their album Paper Mache Dream Balloon, an acoustic rock re-imagining of a 1970s kids show soundtrack, which was as superb as it sounds. Now they are back again, barely having time to catch breath, to unleash a fully plugged in rock onslaught.

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Called Nonagon Infinity,  the entire nine-track album is like an extended rock jam, taking in science fiction, monsters and naturally some awesome guitar riffs. At first the tracks are loosely based around the various fantastical things that emerge from the ‘Nonagon Infinity’, whatever that is. Be it robots, a gigantic wasp or people-vultures.

By the end that idea seems to fall away and there’s just some damn fine songs left. Invisible Face is among the best, complete with psychedelic calypso breakdown. The Gamma Knife and People Vultures segment is another and also spawned one of the year’s most ludicrously fun videos.

It’s all designed as a continual loop with the final track Road Train merging back into first track Robot Stop “like a sonic mobius strip” says their press release.

What I like about this band most is their sense of fun but don’t mistake that for parody though. While they don’t take themselves too seriously they are still properly good at the art of creating excellent psychedelic rock.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

For more information about King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard – Nonagon Infinity click here.

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Together The People 2016

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Together The People 2016

Posted on 10 May 2016 by Dorian

Together The People launched in Brighton last year and we had a great time enjoying the 2015 festival with Brakes, Public Service Broadcasting and Super Furry Animals being amongst the highlights. The festival is back for 2016, in the same location in Brighton’s Preston Park, and promises to be bigger and better whilst offering the same great mix of music, food, film and arts.

The first wave of artists have been announced with Gaz Coombes, The Horrors and Songhoy Blues being amongst the eclectic mix of acts confirmed so far. Most exciting of all is that the event has bagged Brian Wilson’s only UK festival appearance this year as he and his band play the Beach Boys’ 1966 classic Pet Sounds. Brian’s band also includes fellow Beach Boy Al Jardine and the show is part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of the classic album.

Together The People takes place on the 3rd and 4th September and full details can be found at www.togetherthepeople.co.uk

See below for the full line-up so far.

Together The People

 

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Picture Box – Songs of Joy

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Picture Box – Songs of Joy

Posted on 10 May 2016 by Joe

One of the most enduring memories I have from living in Canterbury was one night seeing a tall, hooded, ghostly figure walking towards me in a dark underpath from the university into the city centre.  As he approached,  in shadow of a nearby streetlight,  I was genuinely worried.

Luckily though he was no ghost or mutant ‘hoodie’, but a tall, friendly monk, who smiled as he passed me by. This for me sums up Canterbury, a city where England’s ancient, religious past mixes, often incongruously, with modern small city life.

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As well as friendly monks, the Kent city also has a rich musical heritage. Stopping into the Cathedral during a Saturday spent in its record shops I was often treated to its choir rehearsing. The then modern day 1940s pilgrims in Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s A Canterbury Tale enjoyed a similar treat.

Then in the 1960s and 1970s the Canterbury “scene” of Caravan and Soft Machine dominated and in the 1990s  the Acid Jazz scene bands from nearby Medway frequently played in the city.

But much has changed since then. Music venues are in short supply but at least its musical heritage continues through among others Robert Halcrow, self styled exponent of “wonky pop and Canterbury lo-fi”.

As part of the Gare Du Nord stable of artists, which also includes another musical Canterbury resident Robert Rotifer, Halcrow’s latest slice of wonky pop is heavily influenced by the lesser known nooks and crannies of the Kent city, taking in the demise of its speedway team the Canterbury Crusaders, its streets, hospitals and even its pet fish shops.

Best of all though is one of the year’s most surprising and arguably best cover versions. On first hearing Garden Song, I thought it was a fine flashback to the psychedelic pop of Canterbury’s past. It’s actually written by children’s TV legend Matthew Corbett from his days in the 1970s as part of musical act Rod, Matt and Jane on ITV kids show Rainbow. Children were lucky blighters back then to have such musical talent on tap.

Another highpoint is Disgusting. With the opening line “You think its disgusting, but everything smells. I don’t feel well” reminded me St Mildred’s Tannery, which until its closure more than a decade ago brought a truly unpleasant stench to an otherwise pleasant city centre stroll. From the rest of the song’s lyrics it seems to be more about a hangover, but I’d be surprised if Canterbury’s pungent, former landmark wasn’t near to Halcrow’s thoughts when writing this.

This  album is not just a quirky ode to Canterbury’s lesser known landmarks though. Above all it’s a good listen, full of English eccentricity and quality, albeit wonky, pop.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

To order  Picture Box – Songs of Joy click here.

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