Archive | March, 2017

Tallinn Music Week Preview (March 27 – April 2, 2017)

Tallinn Music Week Preview (March 27 – April 2, 2017)

Posted on 22 March 2017 by Marc Argent

We are taking a detour east for our next festival review when we drop by to visit Tallinn Music Week, the annual event held in venues across the Estonian capital.

Now in it’s ninth year, TMW offers a mixture of established artists and emerging talent from Europe and beyond. Here’s a look at five of the acts we are particularly looking forward to seeing.

C Duncan

C Duncan

Mercury nominated Christopher Duncan has already made great strides since his 2015 debut album Architect. We are looking forward to finding out how his lush lo-fi bedroom recordings sound in Tallinn’s Hall of Cauldrons – stripped down piano performance or full ensemble? We shall see.

HOPING TO HEAR: Say

Albert af Ekenstam

Albert af Ekenstam

Swedish singer songwriter Albert af Ekenstam will no doubt pull in the crowds for two performances during TMW. If you were describing his sound to a stranger you’d probably name-drop M.Ward, Mark Kozelek, Bon Iver and Phosphorescent. Fans of Estonian indie favourites Ewert and the Two Dragons will be out in force, hoping Albert will perform Falling, which was co-written by the Swedish singer and features on their album Good Man Down.

HOPING TO HEAR: Walking

DAGAMBA

DAGAMBA

Latvian band DAGAMBA will be making the short trip north to Estonia to blow away audiences with their unique ‘power strings’ performance. Classical instrumentation clashes beautifully with rock, pop and world music.  Discovering DAGAMBA is like discovering you have a third ear.

HOPING TO HEAR: Prokofiev the Knightrider

Flamingods

Flamingods

Flamingods are a five-piece multi-instrumental band from Bahrain and the UK. Their live shows are reknowned for their experimentation and exploration, encompassing a variety of world music styles and cultures. One of their two performances will be at Tallinn’s busy central shopping centre Viru Keskus, where we hope to witness the place come to a standstill and attempt to identify some of the instruments on show.

HOPING TO HEAR: Anya

Mart Avi

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There’s no shortage of exciting new Estonian artists at TMW with over 100 homegrown artists performing during the event. Mart Avi’s experimental electronica has already received critical acclaim in his homeland, with his third album sandwiched in second place between David Bowie and Nick Cave releases in last year’s Eesti Ekspress albums of the year. The album Rogue Wave is expected to be showcased on the opening night of Tallinn Music Week. Avi’s eery baritone voice will provide the focal point to Eno-esque soundscapes filled with chopped up samples, horns and droning sirens.

HOPING TO HEAR: Seasons have changed

For more information about Tallinn Music Week visit their website here.

Preview by Marc Argent

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The Oysters 3 – Glee Club, Nottingham (March 12, 2017)

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The Oysters 3 – Glee Club, Nottingham (March 12, 2017)

Posted on 14 March 2017 by Joe

Here is a scary statistic – the Oysterband will be forty this year.

I know, astonishing isn’t it? Our favourite left leaning folk rock band (apart from The Fairports obviously) have been on the scene for four decades.

In that time their line up has remained relatively stable. You’ll not find any Fall like weekly line up shakeups with this band. Yes, they’ve had their fair share of collaborators and fellow folky royalty drop in along the way. June Tabor and Eliza Carthy to name but two.

But always at the core are the crucial three of John Jones, Ian Telfer and Alan Prosser as well as Ray ‘Chopper’ Cooper and Dil Davies, who for this tour are otherwise engaged.

oysters

Their setlist is a rich brew of old and new.

There’s tracks from their earliest days, such as When I’m Up I Can’t Get Down, We Could Leave Right Now and All The Way For This, from the albums Holy Bandits and Deserters, which took the crowd back to the heady days of an emerging and very exciting Cooking Vinyl label.

Then their more recent forays into the minefield of contemporary folk also get an airing, with I Built This House, Uncommercial Song and a corking performance of The Wilderness, in which John Jones’ singing was immense.

The songs in tonight’s show are punctuated by anecdotes, reminiscences, jokes and general banter as the trio take it in turn to chat informally to the audience and offer insights and thoughts regarding each number.

The collective musicianship on display is a joy to behold as Jones’ rich and resonant vocals wring out every ounce of passion on tracks like A River Runs Through and especially on Kay Sutcliffe’s Coal Not Dole, which features the lyrics:

There’ll always be a happy hour

for those with money, jobs and power

they’ll never realise the hurt

they cause to men they treat like dirt

With those incisive and sadly still applicable lines it silences the room. We take a breath, then the whole thing segues perfectly into an incredible Another Quiet Night in England. It was spine chilling in its delivery and execution.

Prosser’s superb fretboard skills are abundant and regularly sublime. He is such an underrated guitarist and as for Telfer’s beautifully evocative violin, he is an undoubted master of his chosen instrument, making it seem an effortless task to evoke such haunting sounds. We almost forgive him for those trousers (red checked bondage trousers, i’ll say no more)

Collectively they all come together to create an acoustically immersive toe tapping time.

Hal An Tow, Diamonds On The Water and Where The World Divides also feature in their repertoire of fantastic songs being played tonight.

With that corny gimmick of a tune you can whistle to and a big sing-a-long chorus, I’m so glad I went tonight. I had forgotten what an absolute bloody joy these guys are live. No matter what permutation of line up they choose to put on the pitch they are a constant Premier League side.

I hope you appreciate how I didn’t mention A Day Trip to Bangor? Oops.

Words by John Haylock, picture by Arthur Hughes.

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Drive-By Truckers and Eyelids OR  – Concorde 2 Brighton (Mar 04, 2017)

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Drive-By Truckers and Eyelids OR – Concorde 2 Brighton (Mar 04, 2017)

Posted on 07 March 2017 by Dorian

This review is presented in reverse. Typically a review spend a few lines on the support act and then focuses for most on the time on the headliners, but I’m doing the opposite. That isn’t because I’m not interested in Drive-By Truckers or that they didn’t play a great set, far from it, but Eyelids OR are the band who got me out to the gig on this occasion.

Drive-By-Truckers

Drive-By-Truckers

Drive-By Truckers are a band that I’ve been conscious of for a long time, but never really listened to before preparing for this gig, so it is a bit of a surprise to me just how popular they are. The Concorde 2 is a sell-out and this is the night after a packed show at the cavernous Roundhouse, the crowd love them. As a newbie I’m more enamoured with them when they crank up the volume and really hit the guitars, but this is a confident band at the top of their game.

Eyelids

Eyelids

Eyelids (I’m dropping the OR for the rest of this review) in comparison, despite having members who have been playing for decades, are the relative new kids on the block. They are a big Neon Filler favourite but have never played outside the US prior to this tour, most of the crowd don’t know the band. They also have a tricky set tonight with their 30 minutes on stage starting at 7.15, just 15 minutes after the venues doors open.

Co-front-man Chris Slusarenko is chatty from the get-go and wastes no time introducing the band and launching into a brand new song ‘My Caved In Mind’, from their forthcoming album OR. They sound great, the melodies are sweet, the energy high and the riffs burst from the venue speakers. It is a timeless sound, one that evokes 90s US indie rock as much as classic indie UK bands like The House of Love and Teenage Fanclub. It’s a pretty perfect start.

Eyelids

Eyelids

The band loosely alternate between lead vocals with part-time Decemberist’s drummer John Moen being the more reserved of the two. He looks slightly odd with a moustache replacing his former beard but his songs are just as catchy and classic sounding. ‘Bound To Let You Down’ is one of the many songs they play that would have been a radio hit in a more enlightened time.

Three guitars can often be a mess live, but a skillful balance between restraint and the desire to rock out means that they sound great and melodies don’t suffer. On forthcoming single ‘Camelot’ they are joined by Drive-By Trucker Jay Gonzalez who adds some lovely keyboards to the mix.

The band makes the most of their 30 minutes and I count three new tracks and about half a dozen songs from their catalogue in their set. They even manage to slip an extended psyche-rock breakdown into ‘Say It’s Alright’, a song that highlights what a great band they are and how solid the rhythm section is.

So, short but sweet and a great sign of things to come. The new songs sound great and if there is any justice the new album will drop to rave reviews. I’m keeping my eyes open for news of a headlining tour, and a full length set, some time soon.

By Dorian Rogers

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You Want Fox – The Maze, Nottingham (March 5, 2017)

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You Want Fox – The Maze, Nottingham (March 5, 2017)

Posted on 07 March 2017 by John Haylock

Word of mouth from friends and distant cousins from Venus have been going on about Nottingham band You Want Fox for a few months now.

This week I finally got round to seeing them, as part of a four band showcase.

The identities of the other three will have to remain a closely guarded secret as not to embarrass them as You Want Fox usurped their mates with a tremendous, but all too brief set.

You Want Fox

You Want Fox

The Maze is a great little venue and nothing like its names suggest. You couldn’t get lost in The Maze even if you tried. Two bars, two bogs, two rooms and that’s it. It’s like a small cottage crossed with a dolls house, but smaller.

You Want Fox are just two people, Colette Elton on drums and vocals and Natalie Caulton on grizzly bass and vocals. For a duo they make one hell of a racket. That is racket in the good sense of the word, meaning to rock ‘n’ roll your cranium into outer space.

With a fuck you attitude and an easy sense of humour they blasted their way through choice cuts from their 2016 debut album You Can’t Sit With Us.

Live they effortlessly fuse girly pop sensibilities with the rifferama ding dong of say Royal Blood or The White Stripes. It works so well, as the polar opposites of their pretty harmonies collide with the feeling your arse is being savaged by a snarling rottweiler.

Bad Girls (Do It Better) opens proceedings. It’s a statement of proper girl power, Ex- Boyfriend, which follows, is just so much fun, especially with the addition of a ‘fuck off’ in the lyric.

Shades of Grey, which is the highlight of their album, is an utter blinder. It’s just so full of irresistible goodness.

They also perform their new single, the catchy Liar, for the first time live.

If I had some money I’d sign them up immediately to my imaginary record label, ring up Butch Vig to produce the next album, get them on at Reading or Leeds Festival and just sit back and wait for the world to catch up.

They really do have the potential to break out of the restrictive small town insular music scene and cross over into super sexy world domination.

The Haylock kiss of death syndrome will now kick in. You watch, they’ll probably split up next week.

Words by John Haylock, picture by Arthur Hughes

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Bearded Theory 2017 Preview

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Bearded Theory 2017 Preview

Posted on 07 March 2017 by John Haylock

Bearded Theory returns to the festival calendar this year with The Fall, Seasick Steve and Madness among the acts performing.

Screen Shot 2017-03-06 at 17.35.15

Taking place in the grounds of Catton Hall, near Burton on Trent this four day festival is staged between May 25 and 28.

Now in its tenth year the main Pallet stage features Skunk Annansie alongside Seasick Steve and Madness as headliners.

Others performing include Welsh rockers The Alarm, New Model Army and Alabama 3.

Ska legends The Selector, as well as Glasvegas also appear on this main stage,

The Fall are among the pick of the other stages. Mark E Smith’s troops perform on Saturday on The Woodland Stage.

The Fall's Mark E Smith

The Fall’s Mark E Smith, pic by Joe Lepper

The Magical Sounds stage features Megadog Soundsystem on the Friday and on Saturday Transglobal Underground will headline.

In addition, there’s a large kids’ area and a cabaret stage.

For those arriving on the opening Thursday Dreadzone and Don Letts are among those playing.

For the fifth year running we will once again be visiting the event, which last year featured an excellent set from Public Image Limited.

The year before The Buzzcocks were among many highlights.

For more information, including ticket details, visit the Bearded Theory website here.

by John Haylock

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Teenage Fanclub – Shepherd’s Bush Empire (Feb 26, 2017)

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Teenage Fanclub – Shepherd’s Bush Empire (Feb 26, 2017)

Posted on 03 March 2017 by Joe

“It’s great to finish the tour in the European Union,” joked Norman Blake, the genial frontman of Teenage Fanclub, who were in London at the end of a three-week tour of the continent.

As well as classics from their 90s heyday their set also focused on more recent tracks, such as I’m in Love, from their 2016 critically acclaimed album Here.

Of course the 40-somethings who packed out their third sell out show of the past year, have not come to just jump up and down to their new stuff – it’s the oldies they also crave.

Teenage Fanclub

And Teenage Fanclub have certainly got them, with 1993’s Radio, in particular sending the crowd wild. This minor hit of the time is sung by bass player Gerard Love, who of all the band appears uncannily to have not aged. Regardless of perhaps having an unsavoury self- portrait hanging in his attic, his delivery of this sparkling piece of pop, was complemented perfectly by the deranged howls from the guitar of fellow founder member Raymond McGinley.

McGinley takes the lead vocal on the next track from their new album, entreating us to Hold On, kaleidoscopic keyboard and Byrds-esque guitar driven gem.

Blake then takes a star turn for It’s All In My Mind. This 2005 track’s simple lines and lyrical harmonies fade and repeat perfectly to showcase their pop sensibilities.

The new and old tracks continue to blend throughout the first half of their set, with Thin Air, from Here, followed by Verisimilitude, one of the many highlights of their 1993 album Grand Prix.

Teenage Fanclub 2

Also being blended was Blake’s endless switching of guitars. Why one man needs two Gibson Es335s for one gig is beyond me.

Ultimately it is the mix of McGinley’s electrifying lead guitar and the solid rhythm section of Blake, Love and the thumping toms of drummer Francis McDonald that enable them to bring real depth to their mid-paced pop tunes. The guitars give the textures to enrich a series of intelligent and heartfelt vocals to produce music of intense beauty.

Midway through their set, a succession of classic songs sweeps the crowd through the 1990s, from the sorrowful keyboards of Dave McGowan on Dumb Dumb Dumb to the acapella introduction to Did I Say, the band bring sunshine with their sincere, heartfelt, yet uplifting vocals.

Few bands could sing “I Don’t Want Control Of You” with any degree of sincerity and there is something refreshing in their positivity in an age of deep cynicism.

The standout Teenage Fanclub track is left till last as they launch into a reworking of 1991’s The Concept. Its guitars are stark and piercing against the driving beat of the rhythm section. The vocal plaintive and heartfelt.

Returning for four encores and finishing with the aptly titled early classic Everything Flows, Blake sings “I never know which way to go”, a line given added resonance as they head into their 50’s in a band started nearly thirty years ago.

Teenage Fanclub may not be the most ambitious band in the world, but there is a solidity and a craft to their work that has stood the test of time.

Words by Gavin McGarvey, pictures by Carlos McGarvey

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