Tag Archive | "Radiohead"

Easy Star All Stars – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (July 6, 2016)

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Easy Star All Stars – Rescue Rooms, Nottingham (July 6, 2016)

Posted on 11 July 2016 by Joe

Theoretically it shouldn’t work, some of the pop world’s most era defining, critically acclaimed albums covered by a reggae collective from the environs of New York. No way is that ever gonna work. Radical reworkings of complex multi-layered songs re-imagined in a laid back chilled vibe would surely be folly, or at least a major own goal.

Easy All Stars

Easy Star All Stars

But this ever evolving line up of musicians and guests, going by the name of Easy Star All Stars, have been proving naysayers repeatedly wrong with their tremendously entertaining covers of classic albums such as Sgt Pepper, Dark Side of the Moon, Ok Computer and most recently Thriller.

Tonight’s show was billed as Radiodread, so I was naturally expecting the full on Radiohead set, but it transpired this was a greatest hits package covering all their back catalogue.

The band themselves are full of character. There’s the towering looming figure of Shelton Garner Jnr on lead guitar, one minute quietly playing rhythm, next tearing up the place with some searing solo as on Pink Floyd’s Time.

There’s a devastating duo horn section who literally blow us all away. The fantastically named Ras I Ray on bass is a wonderfully sensuous bass machine of a man laying down constant earthquake threatening lines. Meanwhile, a drummer and keyboardist keep up the rock steady rhythm in fine styleee.

But the focal points are Kirsty Rock on glamourous vocals and some sweet harmony, and the immensely likeable Ruff Scott, also on vocals as well as rapping and general encouraging the crowd to go nuts duties.

They are as likeable a bunch of folks you would ever wish to meet and their enthusiasm is contagious.

The set mixed it all up, from a surreal version of the Beatles’ Lovely Rita to a sublime take on Michael Jackson Beat It. Pink Floyd’s Money proved to be a great singalong and the Radiohead material, especially Paranoid Android, Electioneering and High and Dry (which by the way was some kind of genius), were transformed into something strange, otherwordly and affecting. Breathe and Time by Floyd were re-landscaped to play with your head and your dance moves.

For the encore they invited Ben Willis, one of  the vocalists from tonight’s very fine support band Shanty to come back and join them for a version of Karma Police, it was needless to say utterly brilliant.

These guys are no mere novelty act, they genuinely love the music they cover, it’s just a bonus that they are incredible musicians with big personalities in their own right.

The assembled brethren at Rescue Rooms tonight experienced a beautiful thing and acknowledged the fact by dancing till the cows came home, well, half past ten anyway.

Go see them, it’ll be the most fun you’ve had since it stopped raining at Glastonbury. Please come back soon guys, we need something to cheer us up in these austere times.

Words by John Haylock, pictures by Arthur Hughes


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Jackson Scott – Melbourne

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Jackson Scott – Melbourne

Posted on 13 September 2013 by Joe

With Melbourne, lo-fi wizard and college drop-out Jackson Scott has done his homework. His debut album offers a heavy dose of hero-worship. Laying down the tracks directly on tape, using a four track and doing pretty much everything himself, emulates Beck or John Linklaus.


It’s not hard to see why. Scott recalls that “I remember riding in the baby seat listening to Nevermind – maybe listening to a junkie sing pop songs subconsciously influenced me as a four year old.”

At it’s worst, this album lays on the morose mimicry too thickly. Evie sounds like Scott’s put all of Radiohead’s in a blender and produced a sonic smoothie with an aftertaste of Paranoid Android and Karma Police. It’s not bad, just … too familiar perhaps?

Never Ever is a fat dopey psych rock wedge that’s so reminiscent of Syd Barrett you can almost smell the patchouli. Elsewhere the album feels like a more listenable Neutral Milk Hotel.

Sandy is the most emotional song on the album. As with much of the album, it’s still vocally deadpan, but it explores the recent Sandy Hook high school massacre in a way that makes the hairs stand up on the back of my neck.

At his most poppy Jackson Scott’s That Awful Sound fuses a Monkees like vocal with yet another  Radiohead tune. Doctor Now is poppy in a different way. It’s like a morose heroin hit. Comforting and frightening. Uplifting and saddening.

Together Forever is all anthemic distortedly kaleidoscopic guitars and slacker lyrics. Its a fusion that works. It hints a little at Slowdive or early Boo Radleys.

It’s hard to tell whether Melbourne is a work of creative genius or Jackson Scott is a master forger. Either way he shows talent.

I think it’s an admirable debut, but a definite crowd-splitter. After my regulation three listens-through I still couldn’t work out whether I thought it was madness or genius. I’m now up to my tenth listen and I’m still not sure. But I am still enjoying it.


by Rob Finch


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25 Incredible Gigs (1979 – 2013)

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25 Incredible Gigs (1979 – 2013)

Posted on 09 September 2013 by Joe

What makes a great gig? We are looking to compile a list of your best ever gigs via the comment box in this article and to get you thinking our contributors have taken a stroll down memory lane to revisit some of their favourite concerts.

Flaming Lips, Greenman 2010

The Flaming Lips’ explosive Greenman 2010 set. Pic by Arthur Hughes

For some of our writers a great gig is simply being in the right place at the right time, when a band at the peak of their powers performs at a stellar venue. For others it is one of their first tastes of live music, while for others it has been seeing musical history being made. Judging by the responses from our writers going to see the The Flaming Lips, almost anywhere and at any time, is also a sure sign of a gig’s greatness.  So stand up, get your lighter and mobile phone out and settle into a feast of great gig memories. Look forward to reading about your gigs.

Joy Division, Assembly Rooms, Derby, October 1979

Joy Division were the support for The Buzzcocks and played in semi darkness, four stark immobile Mancunian stick insects. It was loud, brutal and threatening, then Ian started doing his mad dancing during She’s Lost Control; some people laughed, we hated them for laughing as for us here was something new. As Shadowplay echoed around this architectural monstrosity we looked at each other and realized punk was over, something had eaten its corpse and was spitting out blood, Ian was dying for us and nobody had noticed. (John Haylock)

Fugazi, Zap Club, Brighton, November 1989

Back in the late 1980s the now closed down Zap Club regularly booked up and coming alternative bands from the US. The legendary and superb bands I saw at this sweaty damp venue, nestled into the old fisherman’s arches on the seafront, included Mudhoney, The Lemonheads, Rollins Band, Teenage Fanclub and Hole. But for me the best of the bunch was Fugazi. I was tucked up just to the side at the front of the packed venue, half on the stage as lead singers Ian Mackaye and Guy Piciotto, together with the precision rhythm section of Joe Lally and Brendan Canty, powered the band through a remarkable set. The timing was shortly after their first EP Margin Walker had come out and before 1990’s Repeater. Breathless, exciting and superb. (Joe Lepper)



Faith No More, Reading Festival, August 1990

In many ways this wasn’t an ideal gig. Sat between Nick Cave and The Cramps on the bill Faith No More were a bit of an oddity. The 1990s were also the decade when Reading was at it’s least “Rock”, it was the most “indie” of all the festivals during this period. The sound quality was also terrible, something that Reading was often guilty of, and a bootleg cassette I picked up some years later sounded pretty terrible. But it was my first real full-on festival rock experience and it seemed pretty wonderful at the time. The band arrived on stage to billowing smoke and an orchestral soundtrack (2001 perhaps?) before launching into a breakneck version of ‘From Out of Nowhere’. They rocked, they sneered (a snatch of New Kids on the Block in the middle of ‘We Care A Lot’) and front-man Mike Patton (replete in a kilt) scaled the stage scaffold. That was how to do it, something that The Pixies failed to emulate with a phoned in headline slot on The Sunday. They clearly already wanted to call it a day. (Dorian Rogers)

Nirvana, Astoria, London, October 1990

Friends at university told me that Nirvana were the next big thing. They played me Bleach, their only album at the time, and I was quite impressed even if it did sound like a Mudhoney rip off act. Turns out my friends were right, live they were sensational and across the 19-strong set Bleach’s tracks and Cobain’s vocals were filled with a passion I hadn’t grasped before. We were also treated to two new songs, Lithium and In Bloom, both destined for their forthcoming album, 1991’s Nevermind, which catapulted them to legend status. This was one of those great, ‘I was there’ moments in music history. (Joe Lepper)



Julian Cope, The Event, Brighton, September 1995

This gig happened at a point where Cope’s popularity (he had a top 40 hit with ‘Try,Try’Try’ from his then latest album 20 Mothers)  was slightly out of kilter with his overall trajectory, having been dropped by Island a few years earlier. It may have been at the beginning of the end for Cope as a popular recording artist, but it was an exemplary live performance. Three sets were played that night involving 39 songs in total, the first being heavily drawn from his most recent albums and including a host of excellent cuts from Peggy Suicide. After this the band left the stage and Cope treated us to a set of solo acoustic numbers, chatting jovially and taking requests from the audience. And as is this wasn’t enough the band returned to the stage and treated us to a full greatest hits set featuring his best known songs both solo and with the Teardrop Explodes. Everything sounded great and at that moment he seemed like the best live performer in the world. (Dorian Rogers)

Neil Young, Phoenix Festival, Warwickshire, July 1997

After an eternity of soundchecking and with a minimum of fuss Young tore into Hey, Hey, My My. It was akin to being in the eye of a screaming tornado of sound and unbelievably it got better with Sedan Delivery, Why Do I Keep Fucking Up, Cinnamon Girl and Down by the River all having their entrails ripped open and fed through sixty thousand watts of amplification. It was guitarmageddon in a cowboy hat as he carried on, nailing acoustic versions of Sugar Mountain, Heart of Gold and Needle and the Damage Done. Forty six  bottles of Evian water later I remember encores consisting of Like a Hurricane, Dangerbird, Rockin’ in the Free World and of course Cortez the Killer. My review in a word – legend. In another – goosebumps. (John Haylock)

Oasis, Cardiff International Arena, December 1997

My first ever gig – this is where it all began. The excitement, anticipation and the immortal feeling of being 15 years old and experiencing your musical idols for the very first time. I remember hearing ‘The Boys are Back in Town’ over the loudspeaker before the large curtain at the front of the stage suddenly opened and the band launched into ‘Be Here Now.’ The volume of those guitars hit me in the chest like a sledgehammer (in the best way possible) and, with that, I was born as an Oasis fan, gig goer and music fan for life. (Scott Hammond)

The Flaming Lips – Various, 1999-2012

Bowlie Weekender, Camber Sands, April 1999 – On the main stage were Divine Comedy, on the smaller stage were The Flaming Lips. Their album Soft Bulletin had just come out and I’d only heard the name not the music before. But as soon as lead singer Wayne Coyne took to the stage, bashing away at a giant gong with his giant personality and tiny, passionate voice, I knew this was no ordinary live band and the Divine Comedy could do one. The Flaming Lips didn’t even need animal costumes and giant space balls back then to be great. (Joe Lepper)

The Flaming Lips, Greenman 2010, pic by Arthur Hughes

The Flaming Lips, Greenman 2010, pic by Arthur Hughes

Bristol Academy, January 2003 – My 18th Birthday night saw a busload of mates journey to see The Flaming Lips at the peak of their powers. Peerless pop conducted by Wayne Coyne’s all-engrossing showmanship. (Matthew Nicholson)

Greenman Festival, Wales, August 2010 -They were totally mindmeltingly awesomeballs. The grandiose epicness of the music married to the everything but the kitchen sink pyrotechnics of a stage show was so out there it would have put the big bang to shame. The power of live music to make you love this beautiful world, this, ladies and gentlemen is what it’s all about. (John Haylock)

Primavera Sound, Porto, June 2012 -I was excited when they were announced as part of the Primavera Sound festival lineup in Porto, but wasn’t prepared for the utter elation I felt seeing them live for the first time. They’re one of the best live acts ever – the colours, the spectacle, the songs – it all makes for a surreal, psychedelic explosion of music, complete with dancing girls and glitter cannons. I defy anyone to come away from a Lips gig feeling anything but on top of the world. (Patrica Turk)

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Bowlie Weekender, Camber Sands, April 1999

This is my second entry from this excellent festival, which was curated by Belle and Sebastian and kick started the All Tomorrow’s Parties events. Watching Jon Spencer’s trio for the first time  made me feel like a 1950s, Tennessee teenager at an early  Elvis gig.  I’d heard of Spencer’s band, I heard the odd track on CD, but nothing could prepare me for the incredible performance of dirty rock ‘n’ roll from this incredible front man, Judah Bauer and Russell Simins. To this day the most exciting live act I’ve ever seen.  (Joe Lepper)

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Jon Spencer Blues Explosion

Radiohead, South Park, Oxford, July 2001

A wet homecoming night in which my favourite band headed a stupendous line-up (Humphrey Littleton, Sigur Ros, Supergrass, Beck) and delivered a heavyweight set of alt-rock anthems. (Matthew Nicholson)

Guided By Voices, ULU London, September 2003

This was the last time that Guided By Voices played in England, and possibly the only time that I’ll ever get to see them play. Bob Pollard’s famous hatred of travelling and their aborted ATP show in 2012 give little hope of a UK gig any time soon. Many people are stuck on the “classic” line-up of the band, but this gig featured the twin guitars of Doug Gillard and Nate Farley and they sounded pretty amazing to me. Blasting through a set that drew heavily from the then-current Earthquake Glue album we were treated to dozens of oddities and classics with fan favourites ‘Game of Pricks’, ‘I Am A Scientist’ and ‘Echos Myron’ getting a  particularly enthusiastic reception. This is a band that works hard playing a huge set (around 45 songs on this occassion) with an encore that lasted longer than some acts entire back catalogue. Legendary. (Dorian Rogers)

Guided By Voices

Guided By Voices

Roger Waters, Hyde Park, London, July 2007

As with many 16 year old teenage boys, desperate for intellectual stimulation and strange sensations, I was drawn to the minimalist soundscapes and sixth form philosophy of Pink Floyd. Listening to Dark Side of the Moon while staring at the ceiling and broodily muttering about the evils of Money was heaven to a tubby pubescent teenager with few social skills and no girlfriend. Seeing Roger Waters make a rare performance of the entirety of Dark Side of the Moon at this central London park, arms wrapped around fellow Floyd Fanatics, was made all the more luscious as the moon came out and he sang the final refrains. (Conal Dougan)

Monsters of Folk, Cardiff Coal Exchange, November 2009

An intimate gig in front of a seated audience, the supergroup played for a whopping 2 hours and 45 minutes. Playing the MOF album in its entirety along with a panoply of Bright Eyes, M Ward and My Morning Jacket tunes, I couldn’t quite believe I was bearing witness to two of my all-time musical heroes (Conor Oberst and Ward) on stage in this tiny space in Cardiff Bay. Costing less than £15 a ticket and with only 300 people in attendance, I truly blessed the world for its lack of taste. (Scott Hammond)

Blur, Glastonbury Festival, July  2009

Watching a reformed band  on the heritage rock scene can offer be a sad experience. Not so when Blur decided to reform for a run of gigs that included a show stopping set at Glastonbury. They played everything you hoped they would but it was Tender that provided the real spine tingling moment and, indeed, the mass singalong. (Matthew Nicholson)


Pulp Brixton Academy, London, September 2011

Growing up in Australia, Pulp were a band that I thought I’d never get to see live. But then, as so many do, they reformed and toured. They’re the songs from my teenage years and seeing Jarvis up close and personal was a girlhood dream come true. Nothing compares to hearing and seeing your old-time favourites performed live and it was a terrific moment of past-and-present excitement all rolled into one. Jarvis is still my hero. I even have his face on my tea mug. I’m 30. (Patricia Turk)


Pulp, Brixton Academy, 2011. Pic by Patricia Turk

Field Music and Stealing Sheep, The Fleece, Bristol, February 2012

Sometimes gigs are just perfect in every way from venue to support to crowd to stage banter. Field Music’s musical talent is well known on record, but live their mixture of King Crimson prog rock with the jerky pop of XTC is even more incredible. Here they were on top form, rattling out 23 tracks, from their back catalogue and to promote their then latest album Plumb.  They were funny  as well in between songs and just about the most engaging band you’ll ever see. To top it all the support act, Liverpool’s Stealing Sheep, left the packed crowd at this legendary venue in awe with their blend of folk, hippy chic and surf rock. The best support act I have ever and probably will ever see. (Joe Lepper)

Field Music, The Fleece, Bristol, 2012

Field Music, The Fleece, Bristol, 2012

Django Django, Bestival, Isle of Wight, September 2012

The highlight of an astounding festival, featuring knock-out gigs by De La Soul, Stevie Wonder and The XX, was a small tent performance by Django Django. With the speaker volume tempered to make later headline acts more of a spectacle, the crowd was pulled ever closer to the stage to be immersed in their folktronica rhythms. The crowd joined to become a single amorphous beast, embracing each other to shift body weight and crouch for the peak of Default. Jazz fags and rum punches were merrily shared with trucker women and inebriated Glaswegians as the best weekend of my life got off to the perfect start. (Conal Dougan)

First Aid Kit, Moles, Bath, September 2012

Enjoying a pre-gig pint in a quiet pub adjacent to Moles, I suddenly saw the young Swedish sisters emerge from a neighbouring building and casually walk towards the venue completely without regard from anyone passing by. It was almost like they weren’t brilliantly talented, precocious songwriting prodigies or something. I got to the door, handed over my £10 ticket and was astonished to find that the 220 capacity venue hadn’t yet sold out. I then found my standing space just 10 feet away from  Klara, Johanna and those gorgeous vocal harmonies. (Scott Hammond)

First Aid Kit, 2012

First Aid Kit, circa 2012. Pic by Joe Lepper

Tame Impala, Primavera Festival, Barcelona, May 2013

Primavera Festival is renowned for its outstanding sound quality above its atmosphere, with main stage headline sets sounding intimate and personal. Upon arriving early on the first day, however, we really were treated to an intimate gig, with Tame Impala rehearsing their full set to only a handful of us. Frontman Kevin Parker’s remark that “we thought there would be more of you here” came just before we were escorted out by a security team, embarrassed from mistakenly letting us in early. The brilliant set they played later that night to a huge crowd, the balmy sea breeze flowing through Parker’s hair as the band waded through their psychedelic back catalogue, was made all the more magical by having seen them rehearse for our sole pleasure. (Conal Dougan)

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Glastonbury Festival, June 2013

Nestled about 20 people back from the main Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury in 2013 on a Sunday evening I was expecting to be impressed by Nick Cave but not completely blown away by his brilliance. Across his hour long set he provided a masterclass in live performance. The whole experience was made even better by his scheduling just before the Folk-lite of Mumford and Sons. Their eager young fans being beaten back verbally by Cave’s middle aged hardcore fans was great to see. The poor Mumford dears that sneaked through were left open mouthed as Cave showed them how live music should be played. And as if that wasn’t enough,  during Stagger Lee  Cave moved into the crowd and serenaded a female fan dressed entirely in white, who appeared atop a pair of shoulders like Kylie’s ghost rising out of the swamp. (Joe Lepper)

Nick Cave, crowd schmoozing at Glastonbury, 2013.

Nick Cave crowd schmoozing at Glastonbury, 2013. Pic by Joe Lepper

The National, Roundhouse, London, June 2013

When a snap show at the Roundhouse was announced I was more than prepared to spend an hour and half in an online queue to see one of my most favourite bands in one my most favourite venues. It was everything I wanted it to be. The National are a special band of super talented musicians, led by an extraordinary voice in Matt Berninger. The songs are emotional, intelligent and epic, and the gig was intense, driven, amazing. There’s nothing like being part of an audience that adores the band they’re seeing. Spectacular. (Patricia Turk)

Melody’s Echo Chamber, Greenman Festival, August 2013

Propelled by Melody Prochet’s ethereal floaty vocals, the band add crunch and added freak out, I stood there entranced like a good looking deer in the headlights of a pop car, that is until I got so carried away during Crystallized that I became a danger to passing aircraft. They swept me up in a whirling vortex of sound that I keep playing back in my mind like some antiquated reel to reel tape recorder. A week after this gig and I wanted to see them again and again, I want to go to every gig, become an uber fan, have Melody’s poster on my wall. (John Haylock)

Remember to tell us about your favourite gigs in the comment box below.


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Glastonbury Festival 2011

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Glastonbury Festival 2011

Posted on 28 June 2011 by Joe

The Glastonbury Festival is something to be enjoyed and endured, especially the latter when the weather decides to play some evil tricks.

With rain lashing down from Wednesday, when the 200,000 festival goers began arriving, through to Saturday morning the vast  Somerset dairy farm site was soon covered in foot deep sticky mud.

Tough slog though the deep mud

Simple journeys to the third world slum toilets, or to one of the dozens of stages soon became a tough old slog. By Sunday the sun came out, the mud dried but we were faced with further cruelty, blistering heat on vast open fields with little shade.

It’s a true endurance test. But thankfully as a local (I live six miles away) and as a volunteer steward (with my earnings going direct to my local school charity) I was spared much of the horrors the paying public endure, such as the traffic jams and the desperate search for a camping space.

For me I could cycle to and from site and stay in the nicer crew camping area with showers. This made all the difference.

Nowhere to hide from the sun on Sunday

Another important aspect to remember is that it is a festival of contemporary performing arts offering something for pretty much any taste, not just those attracted to the chart acts and bland indie rock of the Pyramid stage line up.

For those like me who are not keen on Beyonce or Coldplay there is plenty more to see. I managed to see some of my favourite gigs without seeing a single Pyramid stage act.

Here’s my Friday to Sunday run down of some of the acts we saw proving that there’s far more to this famous festival than just Beyonce.


With rain forecast and the mud building up I decided to stick to one area for early afternoon, taking in the BBC introducing, John Peel and Oxlyers in West stages. All in tents, creating a better atmosphere and crucially shelter from the rain.

Things started badly with French pop folk act Cocoon whose dull Coldplay-light set in the large John Peel Stage was pleasant enough but uninspiring. Danny and the Champions of the World‘s tired pub rock in the Oxlyers in West also left me deflated.

I sought refuge in the small BBC Introducing tent and thankfully Brighton’s Twin Brother was on hand to provide one of a raft of festival highlights. Just 100 or so turned up to watch their short 25 minute set in this small tent but those that did were treated to one of the UK brightest unsigned talents. The key to their engaging live show was the band’s hub, multi-instrumentalist Alex Wells and  his  deep Lloyd Cole-esque voice. He provided a truly captivating performance on tracks such as ‘Lungs’. His first release is due out in October we are told.

Twin Brother's Alex Wells

Over to Oxlyers in West again for Dry the River who impressed my colleague when they played the Great Escape festival in Brighton in May.  I can see why, they commanded the stage with their fast paced folk rock set. This band is destined for larger stages and the few thousand or so in this medium sized tent were impressed.

As the rain got heavier Oxlyers in West became a bit of a squeeze.  Emmy the Great, aka Emma-Lee Moss and her band, made light of their sudden popularity. “You don’t even know who we are, you’re all welcome though,” she said. The Darren Hayman collaborator delivered one of the best natured sets of the weekend. Her songs such as ‘We Almost Had a Baby’ are bittersweet tracks of love and modern life that have a wide appeal and I expect the rain and the search for shelter will have helped shift a few more CDs for them.

Emmy the Great

Next up for me was the first of the day’s legends; the 1980s band Big Audio Dynamite, formed by The Clash’s Mick Jones.

Despite the rain and the foot deep mud I was more than willing to trudge across site and up a hill to the Park’s main stage, which is set in a slight dip giving it a crater like intimacy.

I stopped off to see The Vaccines on the way, a band I’ve criticised before for being bland without ever seeing live. My feelings were justified as they ushered out their radio friendly electric Mumford and Son’s style hits like ‘Post Break Up Sex’. Their cover of The Standells ‘Good Guys Don’t Where White’ was pretty good though.

Safely at The Park I plonked myself within spitting distance of BAD (I didn’t spit by the way). As they took the stage, I was struck by how old they looked. Jones like a hundred-year-old Larry Grayson in suit jacket and jeans and Don Letts with grey hairs under his hat and wearing what I can only describe as a school caretaker’s brown coat

BAD's Mick Jones

It was great to hear the old BAD songs though with ‘Medicine Show’ and ‘E=MC2’ outstanding, but there was a sadness in seeing these old men play what seems now like quite dated music. Letts looked like he could do with a nice cup of tea to go with his toasting.

Time for another quick word about the Park. It’s a kind of festival within a festival. Surrounding the crater like main stage is the giant ribbon look out tower, Glastonbury sign, and the wonderfully surreal Rabbit Hole venue, in which characters send you on missions to find vegetables and can even cut your hair.

The Park also plays host to a special guest for two nights. They are usually big and this year the rumours where that Pulp and Radiohead would take to the stage.

Trapped by Radiohead

Tonight the rumours were confirmed and it was Radiohead’s turn. Even though I haven’t really liked any of their albums since Kid A I was swept up briefly by the sense of occasion of this giant of festival rock act playing a relatively small stage. But with the rain lashing down and seemingly half the festival site cramming into the Park it became apparent that not only could I barely see anything, but the sound did not travel well beyond a hundred metres from the stage. As chants of ‘turn it up’ rained down around me I decided to miss this precious rock experience and sought a saviour.

Step forward Billy Bragg. This year Bragg was curating the tented Leftfield stage and his  hour and a quarter headline set tonight in the dry was just the tonic.

“If you want subtle political critique you are in the wrong place. I’m just going to belt them out,” said Bragg as he delivered a fine set of classics like ‘Greetings from the New Brunette’, on his telecaster and acoustic guitar, punctuated with some excellent rants and briefly joined by Badly Drawn Boy for some intricate guitar work.

Billy Bragg

The BNP, public sector cuts, tax evaders and U2, who were taking to the Pyramid stage at around the same time, all came under fire. As Bragg finished a sing along encore of ‘New England’ I decided this was a good way to end the day. I choose to ignore the opportunity to watch the pompous Bono in the rain, even though he was getting barracked by UK Uncut protesters.


Another perk of being local is being close enough to take my six-year-old son for a day. Under 12s go free and we braved the mud to spend most of the day in the Kidz Area. I have mixed feelings about kids at Glastonbury. Watching some of the parents push buggies around foot thick mud or seeing kids my son’s age surrounded by drunks watching the Chemical Brothers at 11pm makes me question why many bring them.

But after a few hours at the Kidz area I can see why. It was a little oasis of less mud (extra effort had been made laying saw dust) and my son was enthralled by the endless rides and entertainment featuring children’s TV stars.

Kidz Field

After my son was safely packed off home in the late afternoon it was time for music again on this  rainless day. With an hour to kill before California act Fool’s Gold were at the large outdoor West Holts stage I popped into the cabaret tent just in time to see Jeremy Hardy, who expertly handled some drunk hecklers and delivered a set that I would expect from an experienced comedian.

After an entertaining set from Fool’s Gold, who expertly combine sunny California pop with African music, it was time for some more legends.

Reformed for this special gig at the Acoustic stage Pentangle were something of a folk super group back in the1960s and 1970s. Featuring the original line up of guitarists Bert Jansch and John Renbourn, singer Jacqui McShee, drummer Terry Cox and bassist Danny Thompson, for a folk fan like me this was a very special occasion.


Even though they’d barely rehearsed together the old magic was still there. Watching Renbourn weave his intricate guitar playing around Jansch’s riffs and Thompson and Cox’s jazz folk rhythms was one of my favourite  musical moments at the festival. They seemed delighted to be there as they swept though tracks such as ‘Hunting Song’, ‘Bruton Town’, ‘House Carpenter’ and ‘Cruel Sister’. This was an experience to cherish.

Glastonbury is all about simple decisions, such as do I give myself a coronory getting to see a band far away or sit tight. The vast size and distances make travelling around difficult and you have to except you will miss some acts. After Pentangle I was faced with a half hour trek through mud to see Battles at the John Peel stage or the easier option of seeing Janelle Monae at the nearby West Holts. I went for the tougher choice after missing Battles before at an ATP Festival.


It was worth the hard slog especially to see Battles’ drummer John Stanier, who took centre stage in a set dominated by the excellent recent album Gloss Drop. Among the highlights was the album’s guest singer Matias Aguayo joining the band for ‘Ice Cream’.


To say the sun came out is an understatement. Suddenly the rain soaked site became bathed in sunshine with temperatures reaching the late 20s. Gigs in tents was once again my priority with the site offering little other respite from the baking sun.

The BBC Introducing stage was my first port of call with the 80s indie pop of the Yes Cadets and Margate surf punks Two Wounded Birds providing two more to add to our ones to watch list. The latter were especially good.

Two Wounded Birds

Ok Go in the nearby John Peel tent was my next destination. I arrived early to see the last half of The Joy Formidable, one of the most hyped up acts at the festival. Even though their epic indie rock was not to my taste their performance was highly impressive. When the festival returns in a couple of years I expect to see them on a main stage line up. Those fans there felt they had seen one of this long running festival’s classic performances.

I love a band that makes a bit of an effort and Ok Go certainly do that. Known for their inventive videos this US pop rock are equally impressive live. With each member dressed in a bright coloured suit.  I was left impressed with both their showmanship and song writing.

Ok Go

Squeeze are the nearest comparison as OK Go  put in for me the performance of the festival, featuring great versions of ‘Here it Goes Again’ (the one with the treadmill video) as well as ‘This Too Shall Pass’ and ‘Sky Scrapers’ from their most recent album Of The Blue Colour of the Sky. It was a masterclass in audience engagement as they invited a member of the crowd up to play guitar on one track and indulged in some crowd surfing.

Back at the BBC Introducing stage I found myself in the audience of a live BBC 6Music acoustic session from Super Furry Animal frontman Gruff Rhys. Just three tracks, but all wonderful, especially ‘Sensations in the Dark’ from his latest album Hotel Shampoo.

Gruff Rhys

As I bid farewell to the indie tent area it was over to the main Other Stage for my final two acts of the day, TV on the Radio and Eels. The sun was still beaming down during TV on the Radio’s set and while they delivered a polished performance, even with regular lashings of sun cream and water the heat was unbearable.

By the time Eels came on the sun was starting to set and the band fronted by Mark Everett provided a fitting end to my Glastonbury.  All with  giant beards the band delivered a mixture of classic singles and recent album tracks in a quirky Blues Brothers revue show style. It was a mix that worked well for the stadium sized crowd.


Highlights included ‘Novocain for my Soul’ and ‘Souljacker Part 1’ as well as  tracks from 2009’s Hombre Lobo such as  ‘The Look You Give That Guy’ and ‘Tremendous Dynamite’.

As I cycled home in the dark later that night I thought to myself would I go again when it returns in 2013. Despite being caked in mud, weary and deprived of sleep the answer is still yes.  The festival will still have its critics, some of whom have actually been and experienced the mud rather than just watched it on the tele. But ultimately Glastonbury is so big your experience  is what you want to make it. For me as a music fan it is still an exemplary festival.

8/10 (would have been 10 if the weather wasn’t so cruel)

by Joe Lepper

See Also: Rain and mud greets Glastonbury Festival-goers , Neonfiller’s Best Small Festival Guide2011

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Record Store Day Reviewed

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Record Store Day Reviewed

Posted on 17 April 2011 by Dorian

Heading down to Brighton’s Resident Records at 7.15am I was shocked to see that the queue already stretched to the end of the street. This was a pretty clear guarantee that any items I was interested in would sell out before I got there, so I headed a few streets away to join the long (but significantly smaller) queue to Rounder Records.

Somewhere around 9.20 I entered the shop, and around 15 minutes later I was at the till. By this time a number of the ticked items on my list had already sold out, but I did manage to pick up four of the records I had selected. Now, one quick whinge. Record Store Day is a celebration of the record shop, but also of the record shop customer, so would it have killed the record labels to make the items a little bit cheaper? I know that the items are limited, but the cost of most of them was almost double what you would expect to pay for a similar record normally stocked in the shop. The Flaming Lips box-set was a nice package, and contained their five best albums, but was an eye watering £99. But hey, I guess that nobody is forced to buy anything.

So, on to the records. Here is my first-impressions review of the three singles and one CD EP that I picked up on the day.

Broken Bells – Meyrin Fields EP

The Broken Bells album was one of the best albums of 2010 and Brian ‘Dangermouse’ Burton seems to have developed one of his many excellent partnerships with The Shin’s James Mercer.

The Meyrin Fields EP is an evolution of the sound found on the album. Nothing radically different but the emphasis here has shifted a little and the tracks have more of the electronics, bleeps and sounds that you would associate with Dangermouse, and less of the melodic guitar pop you’d expect from the Shins frontman. This is particularly true of the title track and ‘Windows’ both of which sound like Broken Bells but wouldn’t have fitted in neatly on the album. ‘An Easy Life’ moves back to the more familiar sound and features some strings and effects that recall ELO. ‘Heartless Empire’ mixes cheap keyboard sounds with Jesus and Mary Chain guitar and is probably the song with most in common with the Shins.

In all an interesting and intriguing set of songs which we can only hope is a teaser for another full album lateer in the year.

Radiohead – Supercollider/The Butcher

Just a couple of months after the surprise release of The King Of Limbs Radiohead deliver two new songs ‘Supercollider’ and ‘The Butcher’ as an exclusive 12″ single.

It is no surprise to report that the band haven’t decided to go back to The Bends’ style indie guitar pop for this release, it is very much a counterpart to The King Of Limbs. ‘Supercollider’  is a long mellow track that will be familiar to anyone who has seen the band live at recent concerts, although it was new to me. It is track with precious little drama but as an exercise in atmospheric mood music it is very well executed. ‘The Butcher’ is more interesting with some doom laden piano and echoed funky drumming be the main backing to Thom Yorke’s typically ethereal vocals.

Not a release that will convert any listeners who have tired of the current Radiohead sound, but a couple of tracks that fans of The King of Limbs will love.

Of Montreal

Of Montreal

Of Montreal/Casiokids – Expecting To Fly/London Zoo

I’m not familiar with Casiokids, but I picked this up as I’ll buy anything that the great Kevin Barnes (AKA Of Montreal) releases.

‘Expecting To Fly’ is a production heavy version of the Buffallo Springfield song featuring just piano and some multi-tracked vocals. It would probably be a big disappointment to someone wanting the more histrionic Prince influenced Barnes as featured on his last couple of albums, but is is actually a very effecting performance and makes me wish that Barnes would do an album of more low key tracks to showcase that side of his personality.

‘London Zoo’ starts with a dour organ sound and some synth trumpet before a range of instrumental sounds and some sprightly drum machine kick in. The vocals are high pitched and the (presumably) Norwegian lyrics make it impossible for me to identify the songs meaning, which initially sets up a barrier for me. However, it is a really interesting building sound with a nice bass groove running throughout. Certainly enough for me to give the bands album a try.

Fleet Foxes – Helplessness Blues/Battery Kinzie

I like the Fleet Foxes and their debut album is a joy, and one of those rare albums that everyone seems to like, but this is one of the weakest Record Store day releases. Not on a musical level but as an artifact. It features two songs that will both be on their much anticipated second album one of which is  freely available already and the other has received radio play (and the subsequent illicit distribution). So in terms of exclusivity it is pretty weak, and at £7.99 it is quite an expensive promo. However, I got carried away, and a little flustered in the queue, and I only have myself to blame.

The songs themselves are good if unexceptional and lack the impact that the band had when they first appeared. It is inevitable that second time around the band is going to sound more familiar and it means that they have to raise their game more than is on evidence here. ‘Helplessness Blues’ is nice enough but the vocals seem less haunting and the melodies less inspired than on their debut. ‘Battery Kinzie’ is a more upbeat piano lead effort that brings Simon and Garfunkle to mind, it is an enjoyable few minutes and shows that the band want to try something more than just emulate their first album.

By Dorian Rogers


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Record Store Day 2011

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Record Store Day 2011

Posted on 14 April 2011 by Dorian

This Saturday sees Record Store Day hit independent record shops worldwide offering a  range of exclusive vinyl releases. Some items are limited to just a few hundred copies and collectors will be queueing early to make sure to get their hands on a selection of the goodies on offer.

Record Store Day 2011

Record Store Day 2011

The artists releasing records on the day are a diverse bunch ranging from the Beach Boys to Nirvana to Of Montreal to Van Der Graff Generator. For a full list of the records being made available go here.

Probably the most in-demand item will be the Radiohead 12″ which is limited to only 2000 copies. Although not quite as exciting as last years Blur reunion single ‘Fools Day’ it is good to have one of the biggest bands around contributing to the day. I’ll be hoping to pick a copy up along with Nirvana’s Hormoaning EP, a split Of Montreal/Casiokids 7″ and a soundtrack single from the two 1960s Dr.Who feature films.

I’ll be heading down to one of my local record shops, and I’m lucky to have three participating outlets, Resident, Rounder and Ape, all taking part. To see a list of participating shops and find one near you go here.

My advice is to get there early. Last year I arrived an hour early and was in the queue behind the last person to pick up a Blur single. I still enjoyed the day, picked up some nice collectibles, and took part in something that celebrates record shops and anything that gets people through the doors off these increasingly rare institutions has to be a good thing.


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Top 100 Albums (40-31)

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Top 100 Albums (40-31)

Posted on 29 March 2011 by Joe

We are entering the home straight and edging ever nearer the Top 10 best indie and alternative albums of all time.

We have been releasing this list ten at a time every Friday. We hope you enjoy this sixth instalment. The rest of the Top 100 can be found here.

40. Dismemberment Plan – Emergency & I

Pitchfork’s 9.6/10 score followed by the words “if you consider yourself a fan of groundbreaking pop, go out and buy this album right now. Now. Get up. Go,”  perfectly sum up the brilliance of 1999’s Emergency & I. The third album by this Washington DC band is packed full of creativity. As  another of the city’s key bands Fugazi did a decade earlier Dismemberment Plan took punk and pulled and stretched it this way and that.  Songs about growing up, about finding work and love in the city are strewn across the album but it’s the  song construction that is perhaps the most intriguing aspect. Across each track there’s a sense of chaos in the verse that eventually explode into the tightest bunch of anthemic choruses you will ever hear. As Pitchfork said in 1999, what are you waiting for, get out and buy this.

39. Devo – Freedom of Choice


After their punky debut and scatter-shot second album Freedom of Choice showed Devo creating an album with a cohesive feel and a strong band identity. The guitars are still evident (especially on the genius pop opener ‘Girl U Want’) but this is the album where they became a predominantly synth based act. The thumping drums and pulsing synth bass-lines propel the album along at pace and add order behind Mark Mothersbaugh’s vocals and the effects heavy lead lines. Devo are a much more literate band than people give them credit and the lyrical themes of the human experience of life and relationships run through the album. ‘Whip It’, their best known song and biggest hit, looks at the relationship side and the title track explores people’s reluctance to exploit the freedom that modern life has gifted us. Devo are a band whose image and style has served to distract from their qualities as musicians and songwriters, if you want proof that there is more to them than radiation suits and flowerpot hats (or, to give them their correct name ‘Energy Domes’) then give this album a listen.

38.  Blur – Park Life

“For me, Parklife is like a loosely linked concept album..it’s the travels of the mystical lager-eater, seeing what’s going on in the world and commenting on it,” says Blur frontman Damon Albarn of the band’s third  and best album. We almost see what he means. The album does indeed feel like a journey through London, meeting its characters and experiencing their moods, from the synth pop hits of ‘Girls and Boys’ to the whirly gig instrumental ‘The Debt Collector’ through to the soulful ‘To The End.’ Nearly 20  years on it remains one of the finest English pop albums ever released, to be ranked alongside some of the best work of those that influenced them, most notably The Kinks and XTC.

37. Matthew Sweet – Girlfriend

Singer-songwriter Matthew Sweet was following a similar path to Teenage Fanclub in 1991 with his power-pop release Girlfriend, very much influenced by the jangle-pop of The Beatles, The Byrds and Big Star. Backed by an all-star band that featured (among others) Television’s Richard Lloyd and Lloyd Cole on guitar it is an album that is classic and timeless all at once. The melodies on the album are classic pop and work brilliantly against his slightly grizzled vocals, ‘I’ve Been Waiting’, ‘Looking At The Sun’ and ‘I Wanted To Tell You’ all stand out as instant classics. It is also very much a guitar album and he isn’t afraid to let the band rock when it suits, such as on the opener ‘Divine Intervention’ and ‘Evangeline’. It was a big hit for Sweet, despite having been dropped from his major contract prior to its release, and led to a string of successful albums in the 1990s. The 2006 release is worth seeking out for a host of bonus tracks and demo versions.

36. The Strokes – Is This It

Sometimes keeping it simple can be the most effective policy in music. The Strokes did this superbly on their stunning 2001 debut Is This It. Like a dirty punk Velvet Underground this is track after track of hook laden, simple guitar rock. It reinvigorated a genre of indie rock that was looking for a new set of faces and The Strokes were certainly that. With singer Julian Casablancas they were the personification of cool, street smart young punks belting out raw tunes all at around the perfect pop three minute mark. Since then they have failed to capture that sense of youth and energy, with even their comeback album Angles receiving lukewarm reviews. While ‘Last Nite’ is a particular highlight of Is This It, this is exactly the kind of album you can bask in from start to finish, marvelling at how effortless it all sounds.

35.  Felt – Forever Breathes The Lonely Word

When Lawrence Hayward (known only as Lawrence) formed Felt he announced  they would release 10 albums, 10 singles and spilt-up after 10 years, and that is exactly what they did. Their 6th and best album, Forever Breathes the Lonely Word, showcases a perfect indie-pop sound, a sound that epitomises the C86 era (although Felt weren’t featured on that particular compilation). You can hear the influence of the band on artists as varied as Belle and Sebastian, The Manic Street Preachers and The Tyde, and their sound is captured perfectly on the 8 songs here.The music is catchy pop perfection, and Lawrence’s vocals and lyrical themes are interesting enough to make it something just a little bit special. Any album that includes a song titled ‘All The People That I Like Are Those that Are Dead’ demands just over 30 minutes of your time surely?

34. Radiohead – The Bends

Back in 1995 when Radiohead were just starting out on their road to stadium pomposity they produced this gem of an album. It came almost out of nowhere for this at the time barely passable indie rock act, who had previously only mustered one half decent single in ‘Creep’.  Clearly they’d been storing up their best stuff for The Bends. From start to finish it is packed with some of the most epic tracks in indie rock as the band revelled in discarding the grunge influence on previous album Pablo Honey and finding their own sound. It is no surprise that John Leckie, who so far is this list’s most prolific producer, was at the helm. He deserves high praise for The Bends, which features highlights including ‘Street Spirit (Fade Out)’ and ‘High and Dry’. The Bends impact on the band also cannot be underestimated. It gave them the focus to produce OK Computer, which is widely regarded as their masterpiece, and propel them to their current position as one of the UK’s biggest rock acts.

33. Yo La Tengo – I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One

By the time they released I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One in 1997 Yo la Tengo were firmly established as a trio with James McNew’s bass supporting the guitar/vocals of Ira Kaplan and the drums/vocals of Georgia Hubley. Yo La Tengo are the quintessential geeks indie rock band and it might surprise new listeners to hear what a varied and playful record this is. The dreamy instrumental opener ‘Return To Hot Chicken’ is followed by the funky ‘Moby Octopad’ before moving to the Sonic Youth meets shoegaze feedback and squalling guitars of the ‘Sugarcube’. The album features the usual selection of cover versions with the Beach Boys ‘Little Honda’ being a particular success. McNew throws in the acoustic gem ‘Stockholm Syndrome’, nicely breaking up the album at the mid-way point. It is an album of so many high points that it is hard to pick a favourite track, so I’m going to sit on the fence and pick two. The organ lead ‘Autumn Sweater’ is dreamy, melodic and evocative, ‘Center of Gravity’ is a lovely piece of kitsch bossa-pop with some great vocal interplay between Georgia and Ira. This album is an example of just how inventive, fun and exciting American indie rock can be.

32. Primal Scream  – Screamadelica

So many  indie bands, from The Soup Dragons to That Petrol Emotion, attempted to embrace dance music and the emerging acid house scene during the early 1990s. But while most failed Primal Scream’s Screamadelica was a shining example of success. With DJ Andrew Weatherall behind the desk for much of the album Bobby Gillespie’s Scottish indie rockers were transformed. ‘Loaded’ and ‘Come Together’ are among the most successful dance music influenced singles, but the album has so much more than simply merging acid house with indie rock. 1960s Psychedelia, gospel and blues are among other striking influences. Among our  favourite tracks is the band’s excellent version of The 13th Floor Elevators ‘Slip Inside This House’. The album deservedly won the 1992 Mercury Music Prize and brought success for the band that has continued to this day despite numerous line up changes.  Screamadelica was re-released in 2011 with a whole bunch of extras that are worth checking out.

31. Giant Sand – The Love Songs

The Love Songs was Giant sands 3rd album and stands as a high watermark for Howe Gelb’s oft-changing desert rock band. The band was made up of Green On Red’s Chris Cacavas on keyboards, future Calexico member John Convertino on drums and former Go-Go (and Gelb’s then wife) Paula Jean Brown on bass. Matched to Gelb’s dischordant guitar and husky vocals they produce a great sound that is constantly walking an attractive fine line between order and chaos. Listeners more used to Gelb’s recent output may be surprised by how rocky and catchy the songs are here. The bar room jazz elements are present but the guitar work wouldn’t be out of place on a J Mascis record. ‘Wearing The Robes of Bible Black’ (a world away from the version featured on ‘Sno Angel Like You) kicks things off perfectly and the songs thunder along nicely right up until the closing track, a wistful take on Lieber and Stoller’s ‘Is That All There Is’. An essential record for anyone who wants to hear how good country rock can sound.

Compiled by Joe Lepper and Dorian Rogers


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Philip Selway – Familial

Posted on 20 September 2010 by Joe

There’s something reviewers all need to get over. Yes, Philip Selway is a drummer in a prolific if pretentious stadium rock band but no, that doesn’t mean we should be shocked he can also play guitar, sing well and come up with some fine melodies.

Many of the reviews about Familial have bordered on incredulity that this baldy sticks man has dared to come up with a pretty good solo album. But Selway is no Ringo Starr and besides he has already been dazzling small audiences with his acoustic guitar playing and songwriting for a while now.

Take Neil Finn’s 7 Worlds Collide project that he has been part of for the last nine years. He has long played guitar on that, alongside the likes of  Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy  to boot, as well as writing two tracks for the project’s 2009 album The Sun Came Out.

Familial follows on from that project, so much so that one of those tracks from The Sun Came Out ‘The Ties That Bind Us’ appears on Familial as well and is one of many highlights.

Overall Familial is folky, charming and good – not surprisingly good, just good. There’s very little trace of the epic pretension of Radiohead. This is back to basics song writing with a man and guitar, with only the occasional bit of drumming and horn section.

Among the best tracks are ‘By Some Miracle,’ a marvellous whispering opener, the laid back ‘A Simple Life’ and ‘All Eyes On You’, reportedly about Radiohead singer Thom Yorke’s stagefright.

Although the quality dips a little towards the end it is still a good, consistent album that’s full of intimacy. I just hope people stop patronising Selway. Sure he’s known as a drummer, but now is perhaps time for him to be considered as far, far more than that.


by Joe Lepper, Aug 2010


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