Archive | August, 2016

Greenman Festival – August 2016

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Greenman Festival – August 2016

Posted on 30 August 2016 by Joe

If you go north toward Winterfell then take the second left at Hobbiton you will eventually come across a sleepy Welsh town called Crickhillow,  on the outskirts of which is a large natural mountainous basin surrounded by lush verdant trees and grasses, with a topping of seemingly permanent hill mist.

Every year in August many tribes of music loving humanoids converge upon this site  for four days. It is called Greenman and this year marks its 14th year since inception. It is here that the assembled thousands gather to listen to various music, laugh, sing, drink beer and generally go bonkers whilst dressed in the traditional garb of silver glitter, green face paint and  horse masks.

This year you could revel in the subversive sleek synth pop of the Wild Beasts, luxuriate in the glow of Laura Marling’s beautiful songs or even get down to some council estate rock with the Fat White Family. The Greenman is always eclectic, this year even more so.

Friday

We adopt the let’s just have a wander and see what transpires approach. First band of note were The Miracle Legion, American underground REM types from back in the day. Lead singer Mark Mulcahy, despite looking like an extra from The Revanant, proved to be a focal point. They provided a bouyant set of likable rock-lite.

Miracle Legion

The Miracle Legion

The always ridiculously rammed Chai Wallah tent played host, as always, to some of the most diverse music of the weekend. On the Friday we enjoyed Sam Green and the midnight heist, who blew everyone away and at one point dropped a version of Cream’s Crossroads, which was stunning.

Ex-Drive By Truckers guitarist Jason Isbell gave us some Neil Young-esque guitar soloing and Floating Points were superb in the Far Out tent with a set of clinical beats and effective use of lighting.

Jazz sensation Kamasi Washington, despite an overlong soundcheck, played more notes in his first number than everyone else all weekend. This was an intense sax improv overload that left people stunned. Early 1990s indie royalty Lush brought us back to reality with some lovely dark pop, and yes of course they did Ladykillers. Miki still gorgeous alert.

You know you wonder sometime about Sound and Vision? Well, tonight you shouldn’t because we had a hugely popular midnight Bowie disco. We danced the blues under the moonlight, the serious Welsh moonlight.

Not to be outdone, down the hill local hero Charlotte Church was shaking her booty with her band and ripping up the walled garden with a set of covers. The home crowd loved it. Almost catatonic now I curse myself for missing Vessels.

Saturday

Saturday roars in like a  sexy dragon and proves to be a day of wonders. First and foremost a new band called Fews were awesome, so full of energy with their dynamic in-your-face guitar abuse. They were  emotionally taken aback by the crowd’s love.

Fews

In an effort to chill out, an hour in the presence of Ryley Walker was called for. Walker seems to channel those west coast vibes, as previously witnessed here last year by Jonathon Wilson, but he has his demons. You sense them just below the surface of his lovely music, his voice reminiscent at times of Tim Buckley and even a little of the late John Martyn. Breathtakingly emotional songs each hung drawn and quartered. He was astonishing.

Jagwar Ma on the other hand just want to take you higher, in their case with a set of uplifting, delerious dance music. If floating points are the ying of disco, Jagwar Ma are the yang.

Michael Rother was a real coup for Greenman. This man and his late friend, Klaus Dinger, were a German duo who  under the moniker Neu ! radically changed the course of recorded music. Their early recordings were primitive, thrilling experiments in relentless rhythm and textured sound that slowly drip fed through into the mainstream, influencing Kraftwerk, Bowie, Eno, and probably half the bands here this weekend. He was adored by a crowd whose jaws were were in dropped mode for the entire set.

John Shuttleworth

John Shuttleworth

From the sublime to the slightly ramshackle with Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeros. Their set was wonderful, especially their version of John Lennon’s Instant Karma, and their most well known tune, Home.

Sheffield’s finest top light entertainer, the ever dependable John Shuttleworth provided Saturday’s chuckle quotient. His track, I Can’t Go Back To Savory Now, will live long in the memory (unfortunately!)

Sunday

Sunday and the weather calms down to a mere gale but the party continues apace. It is not all music at Greenman so a visit to Einstein’s garden is a must. A whole field of fun science for kids of all ages. I am now an expert in Neolithic burial rites.

Margaret Glaspy is my new favourite singer-songwriter, with nothing more than a broken heart, a well struck guitar and a sweet voice, she wowed those present. Her new album Emotion and Math was covered most beautifully and the encore of Somebody To Anybody sent chills down the spine.

Chills down the spine would also cover sets from a virtuoso performance from Unknown Mortal Orchestra and a joyful, crazy Songhoy Blues.

Swedish musician and all round cool looking dude Daniel Norgren, with his  back catalogue of gentle Americana didn’t prepare us for the guitar solos. We were expecting laid back but got Stevie Ray Vaughan and we were definitely not complaining.

The Chai Wallah tent provided Sunday’s highlight, a set from Gypsies of Bohemia, a sickeningly talented band who do the most outrageous cover versions you’ll ever hear. We we went nuts for 7 Nation Army, William It Was Really Nothing and the icing on the cake was the most fantastic version of House of Pain’s Jump Around, which put the crowd in the throes of delerium.

Sadly with the heart rending chorus of Shuttleworth’s Can’t Go Back to Savory now echoing around our frazzled brains we head back to life, back to reality already looking forward to next year by which time it might have stopped raining.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes

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Preview: Together The People 2016

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Preview: Together The People 2016

Posted on 23 August 2016 by Dorian

In less than two weeks Brighton holds the sophomore Together The people festival in Preston Park. The two-day event is similar to London’s Field Day, taking place in a city park without fields and campsites associated with most festivals.

Neon Filler attended the 2015 event, and the enjoyed range of music on offer from the fledgling festival, with Brakes, Public Service Broadcasting and the Super Furry Animals being amongst the highlights.

We’re even more excited about this year as a genuine musical legend, Brian Wilson, will be descending upon the park to play Pet Sounds in full! It is worth noting that the beach Boy’s legends other UK shows are either sold out (London) or cost as much for a ticket as the whole Saturday at the festival (Southend-On-Sea).

Together The People

Sunday brings another act that, although whippersnappers next to Wilson, have been around for 27 years; Suede. The band may officially hail from London but singer Brett Anderson and bassist Mat Osman hail from West Sussex making this something of a homecoming gig.

Across the weekend a wide range of interesting acts are set to play with Gaz Coombes, Songhoy Blues, M. Ward and local favourite Chris T-T being top of our must-see list. Another interesting act, albeit one we approach with some trepidation, is Peter Hook & The Light. The recent works by New Order have been a surprise success so we will see what the bearded bass-player brings to covers of his former bands back catalogues.

Families are well catered for (Lazytown Live is top of our list) and a range of food stalls and other attractions are promised across the site.

Visit the official website at http://www.togetherthepeople.co.uk/tickets/ to get day and weekend tickets.

By Dorian Rogers

 

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Indietracks Festival 2016

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Indietracks Festival 2016

Posted on 20 August 2016 by Dorian

Friday

As with our last trip to Indietracks we underappreciated the length of the journey from the south coast up to Derbyshire. Traffic jams for most of the route meant that by the time we’d pitched tent and set up for the evening that we’d already missed one of the three acts playing on the first evening.

Indietracks

Simon Love was in full flow at Indietracks Festival 2016 when we arrived on site, in the midst of a set heavy on tracks from his most recent album. Love does seem a little distracted, but puts on a  good show replete in white suit shirt and tie. It’s an irreverent, fun, and slightly shambolic set to start the weekend.

Simon Love

Simon Love

The Spook School have established themselves as Indietracks’ stalwarts since I first saw them play way back in 2012. They are as engaging as ever, although the many distractions of the site see me moving from shed to train to bar and back during their set. They’re an intriguing band with a lot to say, quietly spoken between songs and outspoken within them. Although they’re sound is primarily spiky pop punk there is a real variety to the mood. Some songs are really pretty downbeat, but that doesn’t stop them playing ‘The Vengabus is Coming’ as an encore.

Spook School

Spook School

Saturday

The first full day starts wearily; we camped far too close to the disco tent. Sleeping through a rowdy singalong of ‘The Hymn for the Cigarettes’ isn’t possible. A midday walk around the site followed by an invigorating ride on the miniature railway sweeps some of the cobwebs away.

Beard

Dirtygirl start things off in an “interesting” way, they are pretty ramshackle and don’t seem quite ready. There is a rawness to the band that I appreciate and an honesty to their songs, it isn’t for me. Vaccaciones from Spain are more like it, but also pretty ramshackle I have no idea what they are singing about but I like the sound of it and their senthusiasm seems to drag some sun from between the clouds.

In the Church Wintergreen get an immediate few marks on the obscure instrument bingo-sheet by having an Autoharp and harmonium on show. The bands start is delayed by a lot of tweaking to their set-up, and more endearingly by their violin player still being on the train. Indeed with harmonium and melodic also on the stage they are close to a full house. The band sound pretty good and remind me of a more classically English Efterklang. The only problem is that even with the extended set-up they don’t seem t be able to get the sound set-up quite right. The set breaks down half way through and the band do start to lose the audience a little. One to revisit on record I think.

Wintergreen

Emma Pollock on the other hand gets the sound rust right for her early evening set. The songs from her excellent new album, In Search of Harperfield, sound appropriately punchier live and it proves to be one of the sets of the weekend. Great songs and years of live experience prove to be the magic combination here.

Emma Pollock

Emma Pollock

Although Saint Etienne are the official headliners it is obvious that The Lovely Eggs are the band that the Indietracks crowd want to see most. The crowd is huge and rightly enthusiastic about the duo’s set, They play a nicely dirty take on indie pop punk and the audience goes wild.

Lovely Eggs

The Lovely Eggs

Even though the outdoor crowd is always a bit less rowdy than they are in the train shed, they seem pretty excited about Saint Etienne. They play a pretty great set high on hits, a well chosen selection of album tracks and not too many new songs. There is a lot of comfortable cosiness about them these days, but they are still a pretty great pop band and a fitting end to the day.

Saint Etienne

Saint Etienne

Sunday

Due to the unusually dry weather Indietracks 2016 for me is all be about the open air. So after a brief watch of City Yelps we head out again to get a seat on the grass for Witching Waves. The band play a fairly typical indie punk set, but there is thing wrong with that. They have some really good tunes and their on-stage nervousness is endearing. Wanderlust hits again halfway through the set though as we head for our (only) train based gig. Sadly we don’t get to see the band as some people (cheats!) were already on board and it fills up sooner than promised. Our photographer did get a place so he enjoyed Gavin Osborn and the rest of us had a pleasant train ride. The report came back that he was pretty brilliant, so one to catch in the future.

Gavin Osborn

Gavin Osborn

The Charlie Tipper Conspiracy have nice instrumentation and arrangements but a tendency to be rather dreary, a lot of which is down to the slightly flat vocal style. We go to watch Girl Ray as part of a rare venture indoors and well worth it. Tuneful vocals and catchy tunes are what I’m looking for and they deliver that perfectly.

Back in our place on the grass Haiku Salut seem perfect in the late afternoon and have a very strong sound. The second time Efterklang have come to mind this weekend, plus a bit of the Yann Tierson thrown in. No festival singalongs here but some very beautiful atmospheric music (Possibly the prize for most instrument changes also).

Darren Hayman arrives on stage in power trio format and takes no time to pillory Bill Botting for forgetting a bass strap. It is a well structured festival set and Hefner make an appearance as early as song 2. It is beautiful stuff with a number of recent songs from the  Thankful Villages and Chants for Socialists albums. A sore throat seems to cause Hayman a few problems but performing ‘The Hymn For The Cigarettes’ as the last song shows he knows how to play a festival.

Darren Hayman

Darren Hayman

I remember Comet Gain but don’t really remember their music, and noting in their set sounds familiar to me. I really like the overall sound, but I struggle to really get into the set without any familiar reference points.

Comet Gain

Comet Gain

Watching the last steamroller can crush of the weekend and stroking the tiny owl do mean arriving late for The Aislers Set. They’re another band I know little of, but I can tell they are a band I would have loved if I had discovered them first time around. It would have been nice to have had a band I was a fan of finishing the weekend, and you can’t fake that feeling.  But on the night they sound pretty great and seem like a pretty decent Indietracks finale.

The Aislers Set

The Aislers Set

So ten down and hopefully many more to come. There is nothing quite like Indietracks and it still holds the prize for being the friendliest and most relaxed musical event of the year.

Words: Dorian Rogers | Pictures: Nic Newman

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Ralegh Long – We Are In The Fields EP

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Ralegh Long – We Are In The Fields EP

Posted on 18 August 2016 by Joe

After his pastoral debut album Hoverance it seems inevitable that singer songwriter Ralegh Long would release a dawn to night collection set in an English country field.

We Are In the Fields takes in a range of emotions and musical styles as the sun rises and sets over a rural landscape. It’s a thoughtful release that for this rural based reviewer seems particularly pertinent. The line on Night (The River) “Down by the river, me, my dog and sky” perfectly embodies my evening stroll by the River Bru in Somerset.

Raleghsmall

Musically, a lot of care has gone into picking the right style to fit the mood. Morning (We are in the fields) channels the English fields of Vaughan Williams with its lovely woodwind and piano arrangement. On Afternoon (The Combine) long time collaborator and ex-Hefner man Jack Hayter saunters into the field with his pedal steel. Long’s vocals and Hayter’s pedal steel worked beautifully on his debut album and do so again here.

For Dusk (Change), Long is found with his acoustic guitar, contemplating in the tall grass as the light fades. Finally, on Night (The River) he has his dog and piano for company as the stars begin the sparkle overhead.

As with his first album there’s a conscience effort to replicate 1970s singer songwriters. Here Bill Fay emerges as the most notable influence. As those who have read Rob Young’s excellent book on the history of English folk, Electric Eden, will know, this type of release, that immerses itself in the countryside, has been going on for centuries. That’s what makes this release not only a fine listen now but also an important part of Britain’s musical heritage.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

Ralegh Long – We Are In The Fields is released on Gare Du Nord Records. More details here.

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Free Swim – Life Time of Treats

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Free Swim – Life Time of Treats

Posted on 04 August 2016 by Joe

Free Swim’s Paul Coltofeanu is a silly chap, that’s why we like him.

His band Free Swim first came to our attention in 2010 when he sent us their odd, but brilliant, debut EP – Two Hands Is Ok, about a busy man’s attempt to graft on an extra pair of hands to help him cope with his many daily tasks. The releases got even sillier over the years with bromance, the escapades of a Chinese dissident panda as well as antique dealer TV sleuth Lovejoy emerging as further subject matter

Free Swim

Over that time Free Swim has also played live with a bassist in a giant Panda costume and, perhaps most surprisingly, ave taken six years to release their debut album.

For this collection Paul has enlisted Free Swim regular and long time friend David Knight, who over their EPs has contributed some marvellous spoken word segments. The pair for years have also arranged “album club” nights where they drink wine and air drum through albums from start to finish. This album is very much in keeping with their friendship, as the pair take in a host of new issues from internet reviewers (I guess, like me), Youtube sensations, the bits of hair that pop out of Beano character Billy Whizz’s head and even Everton legend Neville Southall’s magnificent moustache.

But don’t go thinking that Paul and his mate David are only having a laugh. Care has been spent in production and the music here is excellent, with Paul’s vocals and arrangements deservedly earning comparisons with Super Furry Animals, albeit with a few nods to The Kinks, Half Man Half Biscuit and King Missile along the way.

Opener, Discuss at Great Length Very Interesting Things, is typical Super Furry Animals-style indie pop, that emerges as fully Free Swim when David starts recounting an unhealthy obsession with Southall’s ‘tache.

And so the world of Free Swim opens up with The Slingshot Manoeuvre  in Apollo 13 taking in cosmic guitar chords and Billy Whizz’s hairdo and third track Self Appointed Genius taking aim at people like me, sitting by keyboards, giving hard working bands marks out of ten.

The pair’s air drumming exploits get a nod on There’s Room in My Bass Drum for You and there’s a political resurrection thriller going down in  The British Prime Minister Has A Secret.

Best of all though is Do You Want Some” (Cause I’ll Give It Ya), which recounts the ludicrous rise to fame of tiny builder Gordon Hill who became a Youtube star for flying off the handle for no reason during a football match.

This debut album ends with a trip to hell on A Bit Of Hell Is Worth It For a Lifetime of Treats where gobby Gordon returns to take a deserved place among the demons.

For six years now we’ve been banging on about the glory of Free Swim, who may, or may not be pleased to see that we’ve given them considerably more out of ten than the self appointed geniuses usually dish out.

9/10

by Joe Lepper

Free Swim – Life Time of Treats is available to download for free here.

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Robert Rotifer – Not Your Door

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Robert Rotifer – Not Your Door

Posted on 03 August 2016 by Joe

Not Your Door is a deeply personal album for Robert Rotifer, taking in his present life living in Canterbury, Kent, as well as his past, growing up in Vienna. But with its themes of family and the very notion of home it aims to resonate with many.

As with other Rotifer releases it also has a political edge and the timing of its release, coming after the European political landscape changed when Britain voted to leave the EU, gives its tale of an Austrian who has made his home in England added resonance.

robert-rotifer-not-your-door

The first five tracks focus on his English life, as an artist, journalist and parent. Opener If We Hadn’t Had You is a deliberately non-mawkish look at parenthood that takes in his own sense of wonder and worries of having children while referencing the ongoing aftermath of the war in Iraq, where parents continue to live in fear that each day with their child may be their last.

Meanwhile in my Machine takes in our obsession with technology and its affect on real living. This is a theme that was also touched on in his John Howard and the Night Mail track last year, London’s After Work Drinking Culture.

Elsewhere on the album’s first half, Passing a Van looks at Shrodingers immigrant, who are perceived by Brexiters as a drain on the economy, while at the same time working hard and paying taxes in jobs such as working in care homes. With his fellow Kent residents voting to leave the EU by a whopping 59% you can see why he felt the need to write this track.

On side two Rotifer travels back to Vienna, visiting old haunts and key childhood memories. Falling off a bike in front of laughing workers on The Piano Factory and encounters with skinheads on Top of the Escalator are two such memories that many will have experienced in similar ways.

His incredibly interesting late grandmother Irma Schwager also features on two songs, Irma La Douce and the title track. As a Jewish communist she was forced to flee Austria during the Second World War, fought as a member of the French resistance and then returned home.

Across the album there’s a deliberate focus on lyrical content with instrumentation often taking a back seat. This gives it a folk feel in places, with hints of John Martyn at times in Rotifer’s acoustic guitar work. The sparse production has also meant he has had to be ruthless at times, in particular axing a version of If We Hadn’t Had You, featuring a saxello solo by Canterbury based jazz veteran Tony Coe. This version has been released separately as a single though, to ensure it is not lost.

Also, while Rotifer band members, bassist Mike Stein and drummer Ian Button, appear here, they are used sparingly, hence the album being released under the name Robert Rotifer rather than Rotifer.

While it lacks the energy of Rotifer’s last release The Cavalry Never Showed Up its low key feel works well, especially in capturing how lives are affected by events such as war and most recently the EU referendum.

8/10

by Joe Lepper

Robert Rotifer – Not Your Door is released by Gare Du Nord.

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