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ISSUE173

JUNE21

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ARCHIPELAGO MT. MISERY PEOPLE FOR FILM LET US EAT CAKE WOMEN IN MUSIC PRODUCTION

RELIABLYINFORMED


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PREVIEWS 4 | HIGHLIGHTS

Our pick of the best events in June

6 | JUNE PREVIEWS

ISSUE173

JUNE21

FREE

RELIABLYINFORMED

Live and in-person events are back on the agenda, and there’s some treats coming up this month, including Komparrison and Lizzie Esau at Independent; Trunky Juno at KU Bar; Kathryn Williams at The Cluny 2; GAST showcase at Base Camp; gigs at The Peacock; In Residence weekend at Sage Gateshead and loads more. Plus new releases from Razmataz Lorry Excitement, Martha Hill, Lanterns on the Lake among others. Culture-wise, check out stand-up comedy from Martin Mor, Simon Munnery and Shoe Cake Comedy; art exhibitions at 36 Gallery, Biscuit Factory, BALTIC 39 and MIMA; plus news of literary events, film screenings and more

INTERVIEWS 22 | JUNE ON THE TERRACE 26 | WOMEN IN MUSIC PRODUCTION

24 | ARCHIPELAGO

Ali Welford talks to the Tyneside alt. jazz trio about their ever-expanding soundworld and honing their gripping and audacious new release

HELLO! We’re back in print at last! If you’re reading this online rest assured we have also printed some actual real-life physical magazines and you can pick them up from countless venues, bars, shops and cultural spaces across the North East. We’re thrilled to be back in the medium we love most, and we’re equally as delighted to continue to bring you the magazine as an online version too, so you’ve got no excuse to miss an edition! Depending on when you’re reading this, it’s been a few weeks since live music and performance returned to our beloved cultural venues. While many will be feeling euphoric at the loosening of restrictions, many others will be nervous and anxious, even if they are tentatively braving public spaces again. You don’t need me to tell you to exercise caution and to treat everyone with kindness and respect, because you’re all lush people, so you’ll find loads of great events wedged into these very pages to enjoy. If going out into the big wide world is still a few steps ahead for you, console yourself with some exciting online performances courtesy of NARC. TV (*clang*), which launched mid-May with a couple of mesmerising sets from Richard Dawson and Twist Helix. Interviews and performances from Mouses and Me Lost Me (Thursday 27th May), Swine Tax and Komparrison (Thursday 10th June) and Cat Ryan and Jodie Nicholson (Thursday 24th June) complete the month’s entertainment, with much more to come in July. Check it all out on our YouTube channel at www.youtube.com/NARCmagazineTV

Editor Claire Dupree info@narcmedia.com Website David Saunders narcmagazineonline@gmail.com Creative El Roboto Advertising Claire Dupree info@narcmedia.com Stay social, connect with us NARC.magazine @narc_magazine @narcmagazine NARCmagazineTV

Cover Image Victoria Wai Contributors Chris J Allan / Paul Broadhead / Mark Corcoran-Lettice / Aja Dodd / Laura Doyle / Lee Fisher / Tracy Hyman / Jason Jones / Beverley Knight / Ben Lowes-Smith / Jay Moussa-Mann / Kate Murphy / Robert Nichols / Ikenna Offor / Michael O’Neill / Nicola Owen / Damian Robinson / Conor Roy / Elodie A. Roy / Dawn Storey / Robin Webb / Ali Welford / Maria Winter / Cameron Wright

28 | NORTHERN TAPE 29 | LET US EAT CAKE 30 | OUT ON THE TOON 32 | INFINITE ARCADE 33 | MT. MISERY 34 | PEOPLE FOR FILM 35 | AMATEUR ORNITHOLOGIST 36 | CATH & PHIL TYLER REVIEWS 39 DEMOS Demo reviews of Katie Grace, Bedsit Manor, The April Bird, Sam Shields and Lizzie Singer of the Lakes

40 TRACKS Single and EP reviews of local artists including Cache-Cache, Bosola, James Leonard Hewitson, Echo Juliet, Sam French, Spell Token, Caitie, Joseph Brown, Heather Ferrier, Templo, No Time For Reason and Shakk

42 ALBUMS VISIT US ONLINE WWW.NARCMAGAZINE.COM

NARC. Magazine, Tel: 07748 907 914 Email: info@narcmedia.com Web: www.narcmagazine.com Published monthly by NARC. Media. Printed by Reach Printing Services, Middlesbrough. Distributed by CSGN All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in whole or part without permission from the publishers. The opinions expressed in NARC. belong to the individual writers and do not necessarily reflect the views of NARC. or its staff. NARC. welcomes ideas and contributions but can assume no responsibility for unsolicited manuscripts, photographs or illustrations

Reviews of new releases from The Mountain Goats, Ten Foot Tom & The Leprosy Crooks, Mt. Misery, Gary Stewart, Wolf Alice, James, Ruth B, Rostam, Haitus Kaiyote, Beartooth, L’Rain, Spellling, Zoee, Blue Orchids, Raoul Vignal, Part Chimp, Kevin Richard Martin and Kojaque

46 MIXTAPE Marie Richardson from Allcalmy Festival talks about some of her favourite songs

Next Issue Out 30th June

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PREVIEWS JUNE’S DIVERSIONS INCLUDE TONNES OF LIVE MUSIC, COMEDY CAPERS, ARTY GOODNESS AND MUCH MORE. ENJOY!

ART & LIT

SATURDAY 5

NEWCASTLE UNIVERSITY FINE ART DEGREE SHOW Marking the gallery’s reopening, students from

ART & LIT

UNTIL SATURDAY 26

ALEX WILLIAMSON Having thrown open their doors in mid-May,

Hartlepool’s gallery continue with their programming of exceptional artists both from around the world and closer to home. The work of Alex Williamson includes a selection of portraits which examine the personal use of social media and how it reflects their private and public selves. Hartlepool Art Gallery www.hartlepoolgallery.co.uk

ART & LIT

MUSIC

TUESDAY 1 TINNITUS TUESDAY Hurrah for the return of Tinnitus Tuesday, the noisy brainchild of Little Buildings’ Allan Scorer who aims to bring some satisfyingly heavy sounds to your week. June’s gig features experimental vibes from black metal duo Penance Stare and death metallers Plague Rider. It may be seated and socially distanced, but it’ll still knock your socks off. Anarchy Brew Co., Newcastle www.anarchybrewco.com

ART & LIT

THURSDAY 3

Newcastle University’s Fine Art degree course will make their debut. Comprised of 56 emerging artists, the exhibition is typically diverse and eclectic, encompassing painting, print, photography, sculpture, video, sound art, performance, installation, textiles and new media. Runs until Saturday 19th. Hatton Gallery, Newcastle www.hattongallery.org.uk

MUSIC

SUNDAY 6

STEVE MASON Part of Wylam Brewery’s Socially Distanced

Supper Club shows, the Beta Band main-man will bring his eclectic sounds to the Palace of Arts. A plate of authentic street food is included in the price of tickets (which are limited at the time of press, be quick!) Also in the series are shows from Alice Russell (Monday 7) and JP Cooper (Tuesday 8). Wylam Brewery, Newcastle www.wylambrewery.co.uk

STAGE

DON LETTS Inspirational filmmaker, musician, DJ,

John James Perangie

UNTIL LATE JUNE QUEERING THE TOWN HALL Part of Curious Arts’ two year

partnership with Middlesbrough Town Hall to develop LGBTQIA+ arts in the Tees Valley, this exhibition will see four local artists’ work adorning the outside of the historic building. Expect to see work by well-known local creatives Keavey Gamwell, Melody Sproates, John James Perangie and Russell Atkinson. Middlesbrough Town Hall www.curiousarts.org.uk

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broadcaster, social commentator and punk and reggae icon Don Letts looks back on his extraordinary life, documented in his autobiography There And Black Again, with reflections on the Black Lives Matter movement and personal insights into his relationships and career, at this book reading, signing and Q&A. Wylam Brewery, Newcastle www.wylambrewery.co.uk

STAGE

FRIDAY 4 CHERRYADE SUPERNOVA The venue’s Takeover Young Writer in Residence, Andrew Finnegan, debuts his play Cherryade Supernova on the last night of the Takeover Festival, which celebrates the talent of young theatre makers. Encompassing themes of friendship and discovering what it really means to be cool, it’s performed by a young local cast. Customs House, South Shields www.customshouse.co.uk

TUESDAY 8 WILDFIRE ROAD Co-commissioned by ARC and

Northern School of Art, this collaborative production from playwright Eve Leigh and third year BA (Hons) students demonstrates an innovative and dramatic piece of new writing, which investigates a possible plane hijacking on a flight from London to Tokyo, where all isn’t as it seems. Also on Wednesday 9th. ARC, Stockton www.arconline.co.uk


WHATS ON

JUNE HIGHLIGHTS MUSIC

MUSIC

MUSIC

SATURDAY 12

RECORD STORE DAY WITH CLUB A’GOGO Newcastle’s original mod club, Club A’GoGo,

THURSDAY 10 PIT PONY/WAVES OF DREAD

Anarchy’s welcome re-emergence on the live music scene continues this month, with a cracking pair of performances from artists who have both received critical acclaim for their latest releases. Expect an energetic and ferocious performance from fuzzy garage rockers Pit Pony, and lush, dreamy shoegaze courtesy of sextet Waves of Dread. Anarchy Brew Co., Newcastle www.anarchybrewco.com

MUSIC

invite you to show off your record store day purchases and check out some vintage merch, DJ sets and live music from Bishop Auckland indie pop band The Thieves among others. Free, running from 10.30am-3pm Prohibition Cabaret Bar, Newcastle www.clubagogo.co.uk

Image by Em Cole

FRIDAY 25

MUSIC

MAXÏMO PARK

MONDAY 21

YES Beloved Ouseburn venue Cobalt will open fully from September, but for now they’re treating music lovers to a celebratory weekend of sonic diversions including club night YES on Monday 21st featuring a collective of local DJs, Friday night dancing courtesy of Cntrl Yrself and Pink Keith and an exciting live music knees up on Saturday. Check their socials for more. Cobalt Studios, Newcastle www.cobaltstudios.co.uk

Having released their new album, Nature Always Wins, back in February, the North East’s indie rock favourites finally get to play a show to officially launch it, having had to reschedule three times. The band play two socially distanced shows (6.30pm/9.30pm) which will be full of their trademark vim and vigour. Tyne Theatre & Opera House, Newcastle www.tynetheatreandoperahouse.uk

COMEDY

COMEDY

FRIDAY 25 CATCH 22 COMEDY CLUB

Ted Hanky

SATURDAY 12 DILETTANTE

The exquisite sounds of Dilettante, aka Francesca Pidgeon, are perfect for the intimate surrounds of Bobik’s. With a loop-infused style which will appeal to fans of St. Vincent, Fiona Apple, Dirty Projectors and Kate Bush, and an art-rock aesthetic, hers is a sound which is constantly shifting and always delightful. Bobik’s, Newcastle www.dilettantesongs.bandcamp.com

FRIDAY 25 THE HANKY PANKY COMEDY CLUB Led by local favourite and ‘weirdly

wonderful’ comic Ted Hanky, Middlesbrough’s newest beer emporium finally gets going with a rip-roaring line-up. Taking the top spot is Newcastle-based comic and writer Mike Milligan, with supporting laughs courtesy of Dawn Rigby, Anthony Grogan, Eddie Fortune and MC Mr Hanky himself. Bier & Beer Bar, Middlesbrough www.bierandbeer.com

Teesside’s celebrated comedy club makes a welcome return to Stockton’s ARC, with a line-up which will please (socially distanced) audiences of cracking North East comics. MC Matt Reed presides over a line-up which includes comedic storyteller Rob Rouse, social media phenomenon Sarah Speare and subversive comic Glenn Wool. ARC, Stockton www.arconline.co.uk

STAGE

SATURDAY 26

SUITCASES

Inspired by the work of Massachusetts-based photographer Jon Crispin, which documented the 427 suitcases belonging to patients at The Willard Asylum in New York discovered in an attic after the asylum closed in 1995, North East-based dance company Hit The Ground Running present a moving exploration of innocent lives lost to mental illness. Dance City Online www.dancecity.co.uk

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PREVIEWS

Lanterns on the Lake by Henri Calderon

MUSIC

LANTERNS ON THE LAKE CELEBRATE 10TH ANNIVERSARY OF THEIR DEBUT ALBUM

Words: Ali Welford For all that events have veered wildly off-script, it’s fair to say the past 18 months have provided Lanterns On The Lake with more reasons for cheer than most. Despite their best laid plans going up in smoke, the period has

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seen the quintet cement a place among the definitive North East acts of their generation, scoring the finest reviews of their career as well as a richly merited Mercury nomination off the back of last February’s majestic Spook The Herd. With their calendar wiped by COVID, the group have also enjoyed ample time for reflection – not just on their recent success, but also the stellar decade which preceded it. It’s an ascent which deserves some kind of souvenir – and this month sees label Bella Union deliver the goods with a handsome vinyl reissue of the cult classic which kickstarted it all – 2011’s magnificent debut Gracious Tide, Take Me Home.

Remastered at Abbey Road Studios, the double-LP package is presented in a deluxe foil-printed gatefold sleeve, and sees the record expanded with five previously unreleased tracks recorded during the original album sessions. Add in a rescheduled autumn tour (which culminates in a long-awaited homecoming at Newcastle’s Boiler Shop on Friday 10th December), and the group’s swelling legions of followers likewise have plenty to smile about for the remainder of the year. Lanterns On The Lake reissue Gracious Tide, Take Me Home via Bella Union on 11th June www.lanternsonthelake.com


OCTOBER HIGHLIGHTS

COMEDY

SIMON MUNNERY @ THE STAND

Words: Cameron Wright Simon Munnery has long been established as one of comedy’s greatest secrets, once you know of him, you can’t escape. For over 35 years the comedy icon has been performing, inspiring and reinventing comedy across the globe, occasionally appearing on TV shows such as Stewart Lee’s Comedy Vehicle or The Alternative Comedy Experience. The

comedian’s career has seen him take charge of acclaimed radio shows, TV series and a litany of brilliant and hilarious tours. The alternative juggernaut has consistently delivered absurd, endearing and satirical shows for decades, yet these traits are never more refined than when he dons the leather jacket and confrontational swagger of his character Alan Parker: Urban Warrior. Delivering scathing anarchism fuelled with retribution and disarray, this parody punk revolutionary has never been more needed. The rebellious voice of a generation has leant his penmanship to NME for years, but the notorious Urban Warrior is at his most untamed when

PREVIEWS

unleashed on the stage. Reaching Newcastle’s iconic venue The Stand on Monday 14th June, Alan Parker is set to become the antidote to a confused, restless political climate. The riotous renegade will deconstruct the wrongs of our world, proving unquestionably that he is the world’s only radical and that our nation needs to hear his truths. Munnery perfectly mocks and respects activism and correctness in this volcanic and satirical masterclass in character comedy. Simon Munnery is at The Stand, Newcastle on Monday 14th June www.thestand.co.uk

Out on the Toon Neighbourhood Events Throughout June, across the North East

We’re going Out on the Toon! Come for a wander with us throughout June as we host a series of free Neighbourhood Events across the region reconnecting artists and audiences in their local neighbourhood with live performances, dance, family story trails, short stories and films, live music, spoken word and more.

Full details, dates and times at

northernstage.co.uk 7


PREVIEWS

Seb Trend, The Captain, 2021 - image courtesy of the artist

ART & LIT

FAKE PAINTINGS @ 36 GALLERY

Words: Beverley Knight New exhibition Fake Paintings unites artists Seb Trend and Jane Millican at 36 Gallery on their productive trek with only the one word, action and notion of ‘painting’ as their stimulus. As part of their process they allowed whatever materials felt right at the time – pencil, ceramic, wood – to enter their hand, disguising the starting point entirely and medium selected. You can usually find Trend firing his ceramic paintings at Ouseburn Pottery, while Millican practises as an artist while lecturing in Fine Art at Newcastle University. For this joint endeavour, which is on display at the Ouseburn gallery from Thursday 10th June-Sunday 4th July, wall-based works are joined by a collaborative installation where the gallery walls were clad in plywood, manifesting a hidden painting within the tracks of the wood grain. Jane exposes their purpose: “What first appear to be quickly executed gestural paintings reveal themselves to be, in fact, slowly made trompe l’œil pencil drawings. Beginning with an examination of painting,

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surface details and the points where fluid colours collide.” Aiming to include the community through local charity partners Tyne Housing, Ouseburn Farm and Chilli Studios, the project will run response workshops and present virtual tours from the artists’ Instagram pages. Fake Paintings exhibits at 36 Gallery, Newcastle from Thursday 10th June-Sunday 4th July www.36limestreet.co.uk

MUSIC

DURHAM COLLECTIVE ROTATE LAUNCH COMPILATION ALBUM

Words: Ben Lowes-Smith Rotate is a collective of DJs and musicians based in Durham, who for the last three years have been cultivating the city’s electronic music scene. Centred around Fabio’s Bar, a typical Rotate night features a variety of genres, from house and disco to UK garage, techno and drum and bass. Rotate grew from a core group of Durham University students who are incredibly enthusiastic about electronic music but recognised how the city lacked ways of

celebrating it. In 2018, the founding fathers of Rotate, Luke Thorne and Callum Traynor, took it into their own hands to cultivate an electronic music scene and community in the city. Naturally, COVID has temporarily put paid to this, but, ever resourceful, Rotate adapted. This year they started a podcast series which airs on radio, ran a mix series, and have now launched their own record label, Rotate Records. Their first various artists compilation, 66 Saddler Street, will promote unseen talent in the city. The name 66 Saddler Street is a nod to the roots of the night (it’s the address of Fabio’s Bar in the centre of Durham where Rotate first brought a focus on electronic music right into the heart of the city). The compilation, released on 18th June, exhibits genres ranging from house to techno to breakbeat and features four tracks from artists located in Durham: Woopsi and Arketype, two former Rotate residents; Antecedent, a French inspired techno DJ and producer; and Tommy 2000, a 17-year-old Durham local who has already begun to make a name for himself in the UK and Irish techno scene. Rotate will host a socially distanced release party at Fabio’s on Wednesday 16th June www.rotatedurham.com


PREVIEWS

Image by Andy Hollingworth

COMEDY

MARTIN MOR & ROB MULHOLLAND @ THE FORUM MUSIC CENTRE

Words: Nicola Owen Hilarity Bites returns to The Forum, Darlington on Saturday 5th June with two comedians performing live before your very eyes, with the unfettered enthusiasm of giggle hungry attention seekers who have been kept in an isolation tank

for several months. Northern Irish ex-circus performer Martin Mor brings his impressive beard to the fray. With over 25 years of experience as a professional performer Martin has established himself as one of the UK’s most popular and in-demand comedians. Combining startlingly original material with bold, energetic improvisation, his love of working the audience, and an inability to remember his script, mean that every show is a unique interactive live event. Rob Mulholland is an extraordinary human piñata filled with comedy éclairs. Rob mixes cheeky audience banter with his intricately

woven, gag-packed stories; adding a touch of the absurd to his askance glance at everyday life. As well as being the official title holder of Yorkshire’s Funniest Non-Musical Comedian he is also 17 feet tall, made of steel and can jump over a Mini Cooper from a standing start. What’s not to like? Check the website for entry details for the basic attendance rules you will have to follow so that you can enjoy a safe night. Hilarity Bites presents Martin Mor and Rob Mulholland at The Forum Music Centre, Darlington on Saturday 5th June www.hilaritybites.co.uk

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PREVIEWS

Joe Snape by Leonie Brandner

MUSIC

IN RESIDENCE WEEKEND @ SAGE GATESHEAD

Words: Claire Dupree Delivering on their commitment to support eclectic emerging talent in the region, Sage Gateshead’s Artists In Residence programme has seen four musicians working to produce some radically diverse projects over the last 10 months, and the culmination of their hard work will be on display over a weekend of in-person and livestreamed shows on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th June. Kenyan-born multi-instrumentalist Rapasa Nyatrapasa Otieno’s work is inspired by traditional East African melodies and his remarkable voice is backed by the Nyatiti, an eight-stringed lyre. On Saturday 19th he’ll perform alongside Frankie Archer (fiddle) and John Pope (double bass) to present work from his new album KWEChE (taboos) which explores the place and role of taboo and how it feels to live away from home comforts, with live visuals designed by Opiyo Okach which react to the music. Also on the Saturday, traditional musician Holly Clarke explores ballad songs and finds unusual ways to perform unique stories. On Sunday 20th, inventive musician Joe Snape brings his extraordinary creations of music,

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light, text and video, often performed on homemade electronic instruments. He’ll present brand new work Action Vibration Volume 1 with 12-piece ensemble Northumberland Radical Fun Group, a contemporary big band put together by Snape and Sage Gateshead to perform ambitious, large-scale works of music with adventurous approaches to genre and form. Also on Sunday, much-loved electro folk experimenter Me Lost Me will showcase some brand new songs written during her residency, accompanied by Faye MacCalman (clarinet) and John Pope (bass), and also featuring live visuals developed alongside her music, continuing her preoccupation with themes around nature combining collaged video footage and 3D modelling. Ticket bundles are available for one more more shows, and gigs take place both in person in Hall One or via livestream. Sage Gateshead’s Artists in Residence perform at the venue on Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th June www.sagegateshead.com

FILM

AWARE @ ALPHABETTI THEATRE Words: Beverley Knight Within a trio of booths at Alphabetti, AWARE sees three short films created by theatre

companies run by and for people with learning disabilities. A household or support bubble of up to six people can experience the shows in a designated slot, running until Saturday 5th June, as it marks the tender reintroduction to live programming from the city centre venue. Hijinx presents The Audition: a short documentary travelling back to the spring of 2019, where thirty neurodivergent actors auditioned for roles in a groundbreaking feature film. The footage captured the audition process and interviews revealing the participants’ unique take on the situation from their minds. Lawnmowers Independent Theatre Company share Retake, Remake, examining cinema representing people with learning difficulties but played by actors without the issues. Reclaiming the works, an ensemble of creators make them their own. They also offer a new story that layers technology to embody representation, ability and ownership. About Face Theatre Company deliver Creation. With intelligent staging and micro-puppetry, this piece interlinks ancient stories of greed, fear and redemption, focused on our current world through music, narrative and magic. Alphabetti are striving to set an inclusive platform for not only the audience and theatre makers but all involved. AWARE runs at Alphabetti Theatre, Newcastle until Saturday 5th June www.alphabettitheatre.co.uk


PREVIEWS

Lizzie Esau by Victoria Wai

MUSIC

LITTLE WATERFRONTS, HARTLEPOOL

Words: Tracy Hyman Little Waterfronts heralds the rebirth of Hartlepool’s Waterfront Festival, serving up a series of eight appetizers before the main festival feast in August. Eight individual little moments of high quality artistic happenings will be delivered to new audiences in both the real and the digital world, each with its own bespoke Tarot design available from each location. A particular highlight is The Mixtape, a compilation of local emerging musical artists which will be broadcast from lamppost speakers every Saturday in June around Church Street as a prelude to their performances at the festival in August, expect to hear tracks from PICNIC, Michael Gallagher, Jodie Nicholson, Mt. Misery, bigfatbig and more. Pick up a limited edition CD (only 250 available from Hartlepool Art Gallery) or seek out the Spotify playlist to listen at home. The Drag Queens gives an opportunity to relive the Waterfront Festivals of years gone by with cabaret troupe Bonnie & The Bonnettes. Pull up a deck chair as they take over Ward Jackson Park on Saturday 5th-Sunday 6th with drag, wigs and pop-up lip sync performances! Choose to immerse yourself in an audio walk along North Gare before turning to focus on The Headland with Tees Women Poets. The Women is a two-part spoken word experience interweaving five female voices, speaking of runaways, families, the seasons, climate change and the women of the Tarot and ancient Hartlepool (Monday 21st and Friday 25th). Or why not take a pilgrimage parallel to The Sea at Seaton Carew beach on Saturday 19th and question the past, present and future along a 1.5 mile path of sandcastles, as they become consumed and destroyed underfoot by the elements. The Spirits is a Heritage walk that lets you

experience the sights, sounds, characters, eccentric traditions, music and even the lost tastes of an ancient community – which may be just a figment of your imagination (6.30pm & 8.30pm, Saturday 26th). While Time is a collection of spoken word pieces delivered directly to camera, exploring how our lives have changed dramatically over the past year; birthdays on Zoom, restrictions and the days just merging together with our usual way-markers cancelled (date/locatio www.hartlepoolwaterfrontfestival.com

MUSIC

KOMPARRISON/LIZZIE ESAU @ INDEPENDENT

Words: Michael O’Neill Over the last few years, Independent in Sunderland have become an utter force to be reckoned with when it comes to hosting some of the region’s most undeniably visceral up and coming talent (don’t let this overshadow their greatest achievement: the infamous Blue Pint), and it’s a refreshing sight to see them getting back to business with this line-up, which acts as a strong reminder of all the absolute brilliance we’ve missed out on whilst gigs were but a fever dream (on that note: the shows are seated and socially distanced to ensure everything remains COVID-secure!) Leading the bill on Friday 18th June is the eclectic quintet Komparrison, who’ve fast built a solid reputation off the back of their taboo-exploring pop-inflected bangers, which have previously seen them play sell-out shows, headline the first MUNRO festival and inject a much-needed dose of poptimism to the scene. January’s release Dancing With Demons made it clear that they know how to craft a hell of a hook, and they’re an utter force to be reckoned with – you heard it here first. Neo-soul singer-songwriter Lizzie Esau supports, bringing with her gloriously vivid self-produced widescreen pop which traverses piano ballads, spoken word, indie pop and R&B without ever

veering into pastiche, with her recent release Haven’t You Heard being a strong testament to her singular talent and absolute mastery of songcraft. Komparrison and Lizzie Esau play Independent, Sunderland on Friday 18th June www.facebook.com/komparrison www.facebook.com/lizzieesau.music

COMEDY

SHOE CAKE COMEDY CLUB @ THE GEORGIAN THEATRE

Words: Nicola Owen The Shoe Cake Comedy Club makes welcome a return to The Georgian Theatre in Stockton on Saturday 19th June with a mix of stand-up and an improvised comedy game. MC for the night, as always, is the naturally funny and entertaining Chris Lumb. As seen on Russell Howard’s Good News and Britain’s Got Talent, Chris is a popular MC on the comedy circuit with his sharp impressions and quick fire wit. The show opens with stand-up David Eagle. Described as “a genuine stand up rookie phenomenon”, David has won several accolades. Aaron Wood and Dawn Rigby also take their turns on the mic. The night’s big event is The Discount Comedy Checkout performed by Chris Lumb, Eddie French and Phil Smith. If you’ve never seen improvised comedy before, you are in for a right treat. All the games are formed and created from your suggestions. It’s very much in the style of Whose Line Is It Anyway but with a modern twist...and normally a lot ruder and riskier too. Why not go along and yell some ideas at these guys and see if they can spin some comedy gold for you? Shoe Cake Comedy Club is at The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Saturday 19th June www.shoecakecomedy.co.uk

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PREVIEWS

Sonia Boyce In the Castle of My Skin 11 June – 10 October 2021

MIMA flings open its doors with a dazzling exhibition of 50 artworks from the 1950s to today. This summer we celebrate one of Britain’s foremost artists, Sonia Boyce, through a sensory exhibition made through play and improvisation. A large sculpture by Boyce, based on the shape of Fool’s Gold, threads through the exhibition, interacting with artworks by 12 contemporary artists and selected pieces from MIMA’s Middlesbrough Collection. Join our Open House summer programme of in person and digital events, making challenges, socials, garden parties, workshops and fun for all ages. Image: Detail of Sonia Boyce, Dada Migrant, 2016-19. Courtesy of Sonia Boyce.

@mimauseful mima.art

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PREVIEWS

Seventh Wave by Neil Bousfield

ART & LIT

NEW LIGHT PRIZE EXHIBITION @ BISCUIT FACTORY

Words: Beverley Knight The New Light Prize Exhibition shines on artists with a connection to the North in the contemporary art world, including local beacons such as Narbi Price, Gavin Watson, Paul Morgan, Maria Laffey, Imogen Perkin, Chris Polunin and Cat Moore. Hosted at the Biscuit Factory in Shieldfield, and taking place from Friday 4th June-Sunday 29th August, the gallery will continue in their mission to champion emerging and established creators through awards. Biscuit Factory’s general manager Rachel Brown comments: “New Light has been dedicated over the past 10 years to raising the profile of Northern artists, and the Prize Exhibition is an integral platform to the promotion of our region in the art world. We naturally share that goal and are very much looking forward to welcoming these artists to the gallery for such an important group exhibition.” New Light development director, Rebekah Tadd says of the display: “We’re delighted to bring the

New Light Prize Exhibition to The Biscuit Factory this Summer. Such an exceptional exhibition of inspiring, contemporary work deserves to be showcased across the region it celebrates, and we’re thrilled to be able to finally bring the show to the North East for visitors to enjoy.” Five prize winners join over 100 other achievers in the UK, and over 125 works, where viewers gain the chance to vote for the Visitors Choice award. Further recognition of the Ouseburn and Newcastle’s bustling scene, this year’s show is New Light’s most generous yet, offering worthy insight into Northern art and other creations from around the country. New Light Prize Exhibition is on display at Biscuit Factory, Newcastle from Friday 4th June-Sunday 29th August www.thebiscuitfactory.com

MUSIC

PRESS ON VINYL LAUNCHES ON TEESSIDE

Words: Claire Dupree It’s not often we bring you stories about new

factories opening in the region, but we elected to make an exception with this one… Press On Vinyl is a brand new vinyl pressing plant based in Middlesbrough, and is the only state of the art, purpose-built production facility north of Luton. This is excellent news for the region’s musicians and labels, as lengthy waiting times for vinyl manufacturing has led to independent musicians and smaller labels waiting several months for releases they’ve had in the pipeline since lockdown began; with big labels taking up time and resources, Press On Vinyl have laid out their plans to only work with smaller grassroots artists and labels, in order to help level the playing field. Proudly boasting of environmentally efficient pressing machinery, a careful eye for detail and a dedicated and highly skilled workforce, the folks behind Press On Vinyl are passionate about the visual beauty and importance of vinyl production. At the heart of all this is a team of ardent music lovers with deep roots in the regional music scene, who promise to dedicate as much care and attention to every release, whether it’s for 100 or 10,000 records. www.pressonvinyl.com

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PREVIEWS

Pensacola Mist

MUSIC

PENSACOLA MIST @ THE GLOBE, NEWCASTLE

Words: Ben Lowes-Smith Alt. pop synth outfit Pensacola Mist are playing a socially distanced show at The Globe in Newcastle on Saturday 19th June. The group masterfully combine 80s nostalgia and modern dark pop with a larger than life, fully customised light show to create an intoxicating live experience. The duo have plaudits to boast about, having received national radio play on BBC 6Music and were the featured live act on BBC Introducing in the North East in early 2021. They’ve so far amassed 45,000+ streams from over 90 countries. Recalling the likes of Suicide, The Cure and the sugary melodicism of the Jesus and Mary Chain, Oliver Payn and Daniel Lee Cox create a technicolour sonic palette using fairly

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rudimentary means (framed by Oliver’s versatile voice) in a way that makes them one of the region’s must-see bands. Their upbeat pop with a synthwave edge creates a truly unique show, blending pre-recorded samples and live instrumentation to create an experience like no other band on the circuit. Pensacola Mist play The Globe, Newcastle on Saturday 19th June www.pensacolamist.com

ART & LIT

TOWN HALL MEETING OF THE AIR @ BALTIC 39 Words: Nicola Owen Opening this month at BALTIC39 in Newcastle is Town Hall Meeting Of The Air, an exhibition and broadcast programme conceived by Tess Denman-Cleaver and Kate Liston. Collaboratively developed since 2018 and throughout current social restrictions, Town Hall Meeting Of The Air looks at how architecture

shapes public gathering and language. Liston and Denman-Cleaver’s text and installation draw from research into ancient assembly sites, abandoned parliaments, radio broadcast history and the experimental and politicised writings of Gertrude Stein. Town Hall Meeting Of The Air uses these starting points, in the context of a global pandemic, to hope for alternative forms of collectivity. The exhibition also hosts work by Anna Barham and collaborators Rosie Morris and Taryn Edmonds as well as James Newrick. Alongside the exhibition, a temporary internet radio station will broadcast a series of live events and archive content including performances of Liston and Denman-Cleaver’s text The Hundreds, a 52-hour marathon broadcast of Anna Barham and Irene Revell’s project entitled ‘They are all of them themselves and they repeat it and I hear it: A yearlong reading of Gertrude Stein’s The Making of Americans’, and recordings of the original America’s Town Hall Meeting Of The Air radio show (1935-1956). www.baltic.art/baltic-39


PREVIEWS

Kathryn Williams by Fiona Pattison

MUSIC

KATHRYN WILLIAMS @ THE CLUNY 2

Words: Michael O’Neill One of the strongest signs that the long-awaited return of gigs is in full flow is the return of Jumpin’ Hot Club, who are getting straight back to business with a socially-distanced evening with the acclaimed and prolific locally-based

singer-songwriter and author Kathryn Williams, at The Cluny 2 on Friday 11th June. Having received regular acclaim throughout her career (including a Mercury Prize nomination for 2000’s Little Black Numbers) Williams’ music has echoes of the rich songwriting and fierce individuality of the likes of Nick Drake, John Martyn and Joni Mitchell. Considering the fact that she has released a vast array of works in the time since 1999’s debut album Dog Leap Stairs, including a staggering fourteen solo LPs (not counting side projects and collaborations with the likes of Bombay Bicycle Club, Carol Ann

Duffy, Ed Harcourt and Laura Barnett) and last year’s acclaimed debut novel The Ormering Tide, there is no doubt that the evening will be a strong testament to Williams’ extensive body of work, and a rare opportunity to the see the artist in such an intimate venue. Having hosted more than 2,000 gigs over the last 36 years, it’s fantastic to see Jumpin’ Hot Club return, and this evening will undoubtedly be a bright light on the horizon as we return to normality. Kathryn Williams plays The Cluny 2, Newcastle on Friday 11th June www.kathrynwilliams.co.uk

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PREVIEWS

Martha Hill

MUSIC

MARTHA HILL RELEASES NEW EP, DOG HEARTED MAN

Words: Michael O’Neill A year on from the release of the marvellous Summer Up North EP, Newcastle-based artist Martha Hill returns with a new collection of eclectic delight, Dog Hearted Man. Set for release on 25th June, Hill’s third EP finds the fast-rising musician expanding on her diverse sound to explore ‘dafter’ territories, with her phenomenal command of songcraft still being front-and-centre. The EP marks a watershed moment in Hill’s ascent as an artist, with the delightful lead single Change receiving its first play by Jack Saunders on BBC Radio 1, and further support from the likes of 6Music (who previously sent two of her singles straight to their A-List), Spotify and The Independent. One listen to the track alone confirms why she’s commanding this kind of acclaim; it’s a gloriously confident slice of effortless melodic grandeur that commands endless listens, tackling the mundanity of everyday life in a fresh and enthralling manner.

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The rest of the EP features the likes of sultry yet tongue-in-cheek Boom, the chilled out splendour of Drive Me Away, guaranteed future banger 151, the soft comforts of 25 and grooving Alter Ego. In support of the release, Hill is embarking on a 10-date tour in October, which takes in Newcastle’s Cluny on Sunday 17th and Middlesborough’s Westgarth Social Club on Friday 22nd. If you have half a gnat of sense I’d consider attending, because if the promise that emanates through every beat of Dog Hearted Man is anything to go by, she’ll soon be commanding far larger venues. Martha Hill releases Dog Hearted Man on 25th June www.marthahillmusic.com

MUSIC

TRUNKY JUNO, MOON WAX & SHAKK @ KU BAR

Words: Ben Lowes-Smith Of the smatterings of socially distanced gigs popping up over June, notably Stockton’s KU Bar is hosting a delicious smorgasbord of local talent

on Friday 11th June which is well worth your attention. Trunky Juno has been making waves with his sun-bleached brand of bedroom pop. His 90s indebted slacker pop recalls Mac Demarco and The Flaming Lips, and he’s been hotly tipped in all the right places. With the pandemic putting paid to his momentum, we’re confident 2021 will be the year his talent really gets to shine. Excellently selected support comes from Moon Wax, who tastefully incorporate elements of house, soul and pop to produce impeccably crafted, danceable bangers. Their new single Blind To Love, featuring Elizabeth Liddle is a Jamiroquai indebted, blue-eyed soul banger. Completing the bill is Middlesbrough rapper Shakk, a prolific talent with a tremendous flow and ear for a beat as showcased best on his recent single Loose Ends. Tickets are available for between tables of one and six people, at a snip of around £7.50 per head. Trunky Juno, Moon Wax and Shakk play KU Bar, Stockton on Friday 11th June www.kustockton.co.uk


PREVIEWS

Image by Stuart Whipps, courtesy of Eastside Projects

ART & LIT

SONIA BOYCE: IN THE CASTLE OF MY SKIN @ MIMA

Words: Tracy Hyman MIMA flings its doors open on Friday 11th June with a dazzling exhibition by one of Britain’s foremost artists, Sonia Boyce. As we re-emerge from the national lockdown, In The Castle Of My Skin offers sensory experiences of visual art,

sound and architecture. Visitors are welcomed to an arena of improvisation and play through a multi-faceted, angular structure based on the shape of pyrite, a shimmering mineral commonly known as Fool’s Gold. Clad in wallpapers made by Boyce since the early 1990s, In The Castle Of My Skin uses the metaphor of skin as a covering, displaying artworks by 12 local and national contemporary artists, including selected pieces from the Middlesbrough Collection. They spill from Boyce’s extraordinary structure, encouraging connections across artworks from different eras. A dynamic five-metre wall painting by Emma Bennett responding to local modernist

architecture is paired with prints by worldfamous Op Art artist Bridget Riley; photographs by Kev Howard show the intricate designs of prosthetic limbs, while Harold Offeh’s Selfie Choreography video invites visitors to explore the exhibition using selfie sticks and cameras. A newly commissioned video by Boyce features skateboarders from Tees Valley-based collective Girls Skate North East (GSNE) and ukuleleplaying skateboarders in Birmingham. Sonia Boyce: In The Castle Of My Skin is at MIMA, Middlesbrough from Friday 11th June www.mima.art

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THE CUMBERLAND ARMS

JUNE On the Terrace

SATURDAY 5TH JUNE THE CUMBERLAND ARMS GARDEN PARTY

AFTERNOON TUNES WITH RETRO DJ LADY KOO (1-4) HOUSE OF THE BLACK GARDENIA WITH ROB HERON & TOM CRONIN (5-8)

SUNDAY 6TH JUNE SISTER SHACK PRESENTS KINTRA * FRANKIE ELYSE AZULA BANDIT & FIERY LITTLE T DJ AWKWARD BLACK GIRL

TUESDAY 8TH JUNE

WORDS ON THE TERRACE IN COLLABORATION WITH ROWAN MCCABE

THURSDAY 10TH JUNE

TIM DALLING AND THE AANIMALS & FRIENDS

SUNDAY 13TH JUNE

THE SHE SHANTIES AND THE WILSONS

THURSDAY 17TH JUNE BECCY OWEN, CALUM HOWARD AND BRIDIE JACKSON

SATURDAY 19TH JUNE

HARAMBEE PASADIA PRESENTS: JOY IS FREEDOM (2 SHOWS 12-3 & 4-7)

SUNDAY 2OTH JUNE THE SUGGESTIBLES!

TUESDAY 22ND JUNE

WORDS ON THE TERRACE IN COLLABORATION WITH ROWAN MCCABE

THURSDAY 24TH JUNE

SUMMER SOLSTICE CELEBRATION

FRIDAY 25TH JUNE THE BAGHDADDIES

SUNDAY 27TH JUNE KISSED

TUESDAY 29TH JUNE FELT NOWT STAND UP ON THE TERRACE

DRINKS * FOOD * MUSIC * COMEDY * POETRY

All events are free email cumbybookings@gmail.com for tickets For more info go to Facebook: /thecumby 18


PREVIEWS

Razmataz Lorry Excitement by Andy Martin

ART & LIT

CROSSING THE TEES

Words: Aja Dodd Teesside’s biggest book festival returns between Wednesday 9th-Saturday 19th June, with a bit of a twist on the usual proceedings. The festival includes workshops and discussions on fiction, poetry, crime-writing, sci-fi and more, with all events hosted online. Highlights will include a contemporary poetry workshop led by Linda France, followed by readings from Manchester-based poet Hafsah Aneela Bashir (Thursday 10th); best-selling crime fiction author Vaseem Khan gives what’s sure to be an illuminating discussion about his work, which encompasses India’s history from the days of the Raj to modern life, while asking ‘how do you fit an elephant into a crime story?’ (Friday 11th); join founder of Writer’s Block North East, Laura Degnan, in a round-table discussion with three eminent writers Linda Green (The Last Thing She Told You), CJ Cooke (The Blame Game) and Carla Barley (The Moss House) (Tuesday 15th); sci-fi writer Gillie Hatton discusses all things fantasy fiction and sci-fi with GX Todd and Claire North (Thursday 17th); and there’s a chance to find out how to commit the perfect crime (or at least write about it) with a panel event from Dr Noir (aka Dr Jacky Collins), William Shaw, Trevor Wood and Neil Pattison (Friday 18th); there’s discussions from award-winning environment journalist Tim Smedley (Wednesday 9th); an online murder-mystery night with Tall Tales Mystery (Monday 14th); and you can join in with tea and chat from Nancy Revell who talks about her Shipyard Girls series (Wednesday 17th); plus budding authors are invited to share their stories in the Crossing the Tees short story

competition. Crossing The Tees takes place online from Wednesday 9th-Saturday 19th June www.crossingthetees.org

MUSIC

RAZMATAZ LORRY EXCITEMENT RELEASES NEW EP, GET BACK TO IT

Words: Laura Doyle Many of us have experienced burnout in some capacity. You know that feeling where activities that would usually engross you for hours suddenly seem like a chore? That. Sometimes the only way to get out of that funk is to take a step back from it all and wait for the inspiration to return. That’s why we haven’t seen much of electro dance one-man band Razmataz Lorry Excitement for the past five years. Kev Dosdale has been a bit too preoccupied with real life stuff to focus on music-making, instead making waves in collaboration with Field Music as their guitar and synth player. But now, with his feet back on the ground and plenty of time at his disposal, he’s got the energy to put his heart back into his solo project. New EP Get Back To It is appropriately titled: it’s a reintroduction to new dance music for those of us who have been out of the scene for the past year. Lead single To The Beat is the epitome of dance music – there’s nowt else to do to this choppy, multi-dimensional dance track than, well, dance, while I Can’t Tell You is a sedately propulsive banger featuring Cornshed Sisters’ Liz

Corney. When we’re out of these woods, these tracks will surely prove to be infectious on dance floors across the North East. Razmataz Lorry Excitement releases Get Back To It EP on 11th June www.razmatazlorryexcitement.co.uk

MUSIC

GIGS @ THE PEACOCK

Words: Dawn Storey It was November 2019 when Barry Hyde (The Futureheads) and Dan Donnelly (Celtic Social Club) took over the reins at The Peacock pub in Sunderland and began to give it a revamp. Now, 18 months on and with the easing of lockdown restrictions, their social media posts are testament to how excited they are to finally be able to welcome people back inside the pub – and for the first time ever during Monday to Friday daytimes. They promise real ales, live music and freshly made food at their Grade II listed building in Sunderland’s Cultural Quarter, and their calendar is already heaving with gigs. In June there’ll be surf rock from the Milk Lizards (Saturday 12th) and blues and Americana from the Oil City Shakers (Saturday 19th), while July sees a rare North East gig from Somerset singer-songwriter Nick Parker (Sunday 4th), a very special 30th anniversary show from Martin Stephenson and the Daintees performing Salutation Road in its entirety (Saturday 17th) and folk punk from Ken and Dan of Ferocious Dog (Saturday 31st). The venue will also host DJ sets including a monthly residency from Loud Not Loud Music Club and a weekly pub quiz. Tables can be booked for food and tickets for live music are available from dice.fm. www.thepeacock.pub

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PREVIEWS

Ashley Paul

MUSIC

TUSK TV JUNE EDITION

Words: Claire Dupree Experimental sounds and sonic adventures continue apace at TUSK HQ, where the North East’s premier proponents of underground culture offer yet more audio and visual delights in the form of their TUSK TV and TUSK Editions programming. Their third instalment lands on Friday 4th June, and will once again feature four hours of free music, interviews and more, featuring performances from multi-instrumentalist and composer Ashley Paul; the raw electronics of Sourdure; prolific artist and MC Ibaaku; Houssam Gania, the celebrated figure of Gnaoua music, which combines ritual poetry with traditional music and originates from Morocco and sub-Saharan Africa and Chinese audio visual artist Gogoj, aka Sheng Jie. A particular highlight will be a series of responses to a recording from popular Yorkshire poet Ian McMillan by Posset,

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Claire Rousay, Charmaine Lee, Luke Poot, Yol and more and there’s also an interview with Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy and Matt Sweeney conducted by local folk hero Cath Tyler. It’ll all be presided over by creative improviser, composer and broadcaster Corey Mwamba. In addition, digital publication/members club TUSK Editions will see a special mix from musical explorer and DJ Christina Hazboun alongside exclusive new music from power trio The Rolling Calf and much more. TUSK TV is freely available via their website from Friday 4th June. Access TUSK Editions or join the members scheme from £7 www.tuskfestival.com

MUSIC

GAST: THE COMEBACK @ BASE CAMP

Words: Maria Winter Teesside hip-hop promoters GAST present their first show of the year at Base Camp in Middlesbrough on Saturday 26th June, featuring

hotly tipped rappers Eyeconic, Pure Filth, Jack Craggs, Abi Nyxx and many more. Kicking off with an open mic, 14 different musicians covering a wide range of genres will grace the stage, displaying both a diverse and eclectic range of music suitable for all tastes. To make the night more exciting, We Do Tombolas will make an appearance, giving the audience a chance to win some eccentric things they didn’t realise they needed. Music isn’t the only thing at the heart of GAST’s vision; organiser Adam Sullivan prides himself on creating a safe environment for people to party in – particularly for women. This is an important aspect of any live music event, and Adam notes: “I’ve spoken to venues to see if they can hire women door staff because sometimes women don’t feel comfortable speaking to male door staff about their problems. I’m also offering to pay for transport home for girls who are left stranded to make sure they get home safe.” GAST present Pure Filth, Chemistry, Sullivan, Chad, Eyeconic, Deekz, Abi Nyxx, Jack Craggs and more at Base Camp, Middlesbrough on Saturday 26th June www.facebook.com/gast.teesside


PREVIEWS

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INTERVIEWS

L-R, T-B: The Wilsons, The Suggestibles, Ladies of Midnight Blue by Anna Miller, She Shanties

JUNE ON THE TERRACE

CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO THE CUMBERLAND ARMS’ JO HODSON ABOUT THEIR RETURN TO LIVE EVENTS, THE MEANING OF COMMUNITY AND WHY THE POWER OF THE PUB IS NOT TO BE UNDERESTIMATED One of the things I think many of us can admit to missing over the last 18 months is the comfort and joy our favourite pub brings us. The welcoming smiles of the staff, great drinks, your favourite chair, a nice view; these are simple pleasures, but not to be underestimated. For many of our readers (and, indeed, for this very writer) it doesn’t get much better than The Cumberland Arms in the Ouseburn Valley. The very epitome of a welcoming space, run by excellent people whose hearts are always with their customers and their community, The Cumberland is everything you’ve missed about pubs, and so much more. Owner Jo Hodson’s enthusiasm for their return is infectious; she’s excited to be able to welcome back familiar favourites and

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encourage brand new collaborations thanks to an Arts Council Cultural Recovery Grant. “It has meant that we were able to really look at what we do and how we work.” She explains. “Being part of the wider community has always been something that is important to us and we have so many super exciting plans for the future. The grant has afforded us the ability to work with local promoters and artists to bring life back to the Cumberland Terrace.” Kickstarting a summer of music, comedy, spoken word and much more on the expansive outdoor terrace, familiar faces providing entertainment of all kinds throughout June include retro DJ Lady Koo, who hosts a Hepple Gin garden party on Saturday 5th alongside Rob Heron, House of the Black Gardenia and Tom Cronin; while on Sunday 6th the party steps up a gear in a fantastic


INTERVIEW

EVENTS

L-R, T-B: House of the Black Gardenia by Kayla Wren Photography, KINTRA, Denifari, Awkward Black Girl by Amelia Read

BEING PART OF THE WIDER COMMUNITY HAS ALWAYS BEEN SOMETHING THAT IS IMPORTANT TO US AND WE HAVE SO MANY SUPER EXCITING PLANS FOR THE FUTURE collaboration with Sister Shack, who bring Scottish twin sister violin and DJ duo Kintra, multi-prop swing and spinning circus duo Azula Bandit and Fiery Little T and DJs Frankie Elyse and Awkward Black Girl work the decks. On Thursday 10th Tim Dalling and the Aanimals and Friends provide (to a seated audience) danceable tunes and singalong sessions; tradition lies at the heart of The Cumberland and folk music is ingrained into the spirit of the pub, so a double header from Billingham folk family The Wilsons and female shanty crew She Shanties will be a memorable event indeed on Sunday 13th. A trio of some of the region’s finest songwriters – Beccy Owen, Calum Howard and Bridie Jackson – show off their talent on Thursday 17th; and Cumby favourites Hannabiell Sanders and Yilis Suriel team up to bring a taste of Harambee Pasadia to proceedings with Joy Is Freedom, which takes place on Juneteenth (Saturday 19th – a holiday celebrating the emancipation of those who had been enslaved in the United States) and will acknowledge progress, diversity and commitment to support, learn and grow together, with live performance from Sidiki Dembele’s brand new trio Denifari, Ladies of Midnight Blue and Delightful Squalor. Friday 25th heralds the return of party starters The Baghdaddies – expect Balkan beats, Latin grooves and sizzling brass; while female harmony group Kissed provide some singalong favourites on Sunday 27th. Comedy and spoken word plays a part in the celebrations too; comedy staples The Suggestibles bring witty one-liners and laughs aplenty as part of the Words on the Terrace collaborations with poet

Rowan McCabe on Sunday 20th; Rowan also welcomes Jess Johnson, Tahmina Ali, Kate Fox and many more to the terrace for more wordplay on Tuesday 8th and there’s more comedy from a collection of Felt Nowt stand-up comedians on Tuesday 29th. All events will be run within the current restrictions, and everything is free to access (tickets can be reserved by emailing cumbybooking@gmail.com). Being an outside venue the Summer brings its challenges, so come dressed for the great British Summer time; events will go ahead whatever the weather. “We’ve truly missed planning and organising the fun side of life! It’s great to be back at it.” Jo comments. “After this amazing programme of events in June we are going to be bringing you live music all through the Summer. Bringing our venue outside so you can continue to enjoy live events.” There’s been a lot of emphasis placed on pubs in our wider world lately, but the context perhaps requires deeper thought – what is it that makes a place special and important? Jo has a ready answer: “The Cumberland was once described to me by the wonderful Bridie Jackson as a community centre that also happens to sell really good beer, this has stuck with me as the best way to describe her. Always here, dependable, comforting, caring and a place where you can go however you feel and see the people you need to see! A centre for life!” www.thecumberlandarms.co.uk

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COVER FEATURE

ARCHIPELAGO ALI WELFORD TALKS TO THE TYNESIDE ALT. JAZZ TRIO ABOUT THEIR EVER-EXPANDING SOUNDWORLD AND HONING THEIR GRIPPING AND AUDACIOUS NEW RELEASE IMAGE BY VICTORIA WAI “There’s not so much of a band culture in jazz,” says Archipelago bass player John Pope. “Usually, outfits are led by and centred around the work of one individual, but our set-up is more like that of a DIY rock group.” This statement rings true throughout a conversation which paints Archipelago far from your average act, jazz or otherwise. Although led ostensibly by writer, saxophonist and clarinet player Faye MacCalman, the impression is of a uniquely compatible trio (completed by percussionist extraordinaire Christian Alderson) whose talents and personalities each form an equal, integral cog. All three speak eloquently and at similar length. Certainly, you get a sense of the chemistry which makes them such a stirring live draw, and which in Echoes To The Sky has manifested in a second album as

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compelling and adventurous as any the North East has produced over recent years. “I was really nervous about bringing songs to this band. My background in free improvised music meant that I was used to playing with people who were particularly adverse to that kind of thing,” Faye recalls, on the origins of this connection. “To me, though, improvised music was beginning to develop ‘a sound’ – it didn’t really feel free anymore – so I wanted to explore a different approach which would be more honest to myself. I did worry that John and Christian would be like ‘Ewww! We don’t play songs!’ but once it became obvious that wouldn’t be the case, it became easy.” Of course, this methodology hardly denotes a dearth in creativity. Indeed, whether on stage or in the studio, Archipelago remain a


COVER FEATURE

MUSIC

HOW DO WE MAKE THIS THING ROCK WITHOUT BEING ‘ROCK?’ HOW DO WE MAKE SOMETHING THAT’S INTENSE, BUT ALSO REALLY QUIET?

gripping and audacious outfit; a fluid hub achieving a winning equilibrium between compositional excellence and individualistic flair. It’s a flexible craft which proves lucrative throughout Echoes To The Sky, a brilliant collage of colourful, multifaceted soundworlds bound by an effusive energy which extends the garage band affinity beyond their core ethos. Recorded in Field Music’s Sunderland studio last December, the LP has flowered from three years of tours, rehearsals and lockdowns, along with a resolve to shed the baggage of genre tropes. “There’s ‘a way’ of improvising as a free jazz musician, and in a sense it’s no different to writing a verse-chorus-verse pop song, or playing guitar merely to achieve a particular style,” suggests John. “Thinking of how to use what we have in a way that’s not obvious has become something which we as a band have become really conscious of. I think it’s something that’s grown from this collection of material especially: How do we make this thing rock without being ‘rock?’ How do we make something that’s intense, but also really quiet?” Despite bearing no direct influence, it’s an attitude Christian feels they share with many contemporary trailblazers like Moses Boyd, Nubya Garcia and Sons of Kemet, who are forging fresh paths and drawing the ears of a new generation. “A lot of organisations have been talking over the past few years about branching out and growing audiences – creating some kind of hybrid beast with multiple heads that’ll save jazz – but I think the stuff which has broken through has often been the most organic,” he says. “The music they make reflects where they’re from, the people they grew up with and the things they care about. It’s the most honest stuff which

comes through – it just takes time to come from the bottom up.” While the trio’s core reeds/bass/drum set-up and use of effects offer ample scope for experimentation, the new record nevertheless represents a significant sonic advance on its predecessor, 2017’s Weightless. The digitised squelch of Undercurrent, for instance, exemplifies Echoes To The Sky’s heightened incorporation of electronics, yet it’s the addition of Faye’s voice – on prominently placed tracks Waiting, Wake Up and Burn On – which makes for the biggest development. “I see my voice almost like an extension of the clarinet and saxophone,” she reveals. “I’ve written songs at the piano my whole life, but it’s something I’ve always kept hidden because I felt it wasn’t allowed! I felt conflicted between the music I would play and what was actually coming out when I was writing, but lately I’ve been trying to keep songs in their raw, nucleus form – taking that leap of faith and being a bit more vulnerable.” As Christian explains, it’s a development which can also be traced back to Between Waves, their 2018 project featuring a host of adventurous female collaborators including Rosie Frater-Taylor, Fran Bundey and Faith Brackenbury (who opens the Echoes To The Sky album launch at Gosforth Civic Theatre on Friday 25th June). “Because Between Waves always involved a fourth musician, we had to find that extra space in each piece,” he explains. “It eased the transition, and broke the sense that all three of us had to be riffing and filling space at once. “One thing we’ve found already is that while instrumental music conveys all kinds of emotions and narratives, as soon as you add words people start asking what the songs are about,” he continues. “Lyrics are a more direct route to those emotions, and once they’re in there you’re suddenly dealing with statements, but the electronics can have a similar effect. Once you expand your soundworld, you expand the range of emotions open to you.” “Being able to take those risks comes from being friends and the trust we have in each other,” John concludes. “John’s flanger pedal hasn’t reared its head yet, though,” Christian deadpans. “That’ll be the acid test!” Archipelago release Echoes To The Sky on Friday 25th June through New Jazz and Improvised Music Recordings. A launch show (with live audience) takes place at Gosforth Civic Theatre that evening www.archipelagobanduk.bandcamp.com

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INTERVIEW

FILM

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Images by Victoria Wai


INTERVIEW

THERE NEEDS TO BE A SHIFT IN REPRESENTATION OF WOMEN IN THESE ROLES SO THAT OTHER WOMEN HAVE ROLE MODELS TO LOOK TO AND SUPPORTIVE ENVIRONMENTS IN WHICH TO LEARN

WOMEN IN MUSIC PRODUCTION CLAIRE DUPREE TALKS TO MUSIC PRODUCER LISA MURPHY ABOUT THE RELEASE OF A MINI-DOCUMENTARY ABOUT HER INSPIRING PROJECT ENCOURAGING WOMEN TO WORK IN MUSIC PRODUCTION It’s no secret that women are under-represented in the music industry, particularly in technical roles such as engineering, mixing and production. Music producer Lisa Murphy is determined to level this playing field, and with her Women In Music Production project she worked with four young women to enable them to produce their own music, encourage collaboration and boost their confidence in technical roles. Having come to the end of the seven month Arts Council-funded project, she has released a mini-documentary about the process with the aim of inspiring countless more women to work in the industry. The aim of the project was to raise the profile of women working in music in the North East, specifically in technical roles in recording studios, as she explains. “As a woman working in music production, I felt that there was an opportunity to share my knowledge, experience and contacts with women in the North East who wanted to learn more and access work in this area. The intention was to identify, and hopefully break down barriers, to ‘open the door’ to more women working as music producers in the local industry.” Four well-respected local musicians – Cortney Dixon, Abby Hillyer, Holly Rees and Grace Alexander – worked at both Lisa’s own Production Room studio as well as at Blast Studios. The group were given access to professional equipment, received hands-on practical instruction from Lisa herself as well as guest speakers including Paul Gregory (Lanterns on the Lake), Sam Grant (Blank Studios) and songwriter and producer Hattie Murdoch, and they were able to use their time to work on their own music or record with clients, resulting in music produced for Beth Macari and bigfatbig. Something that comes out beautifully in the documentary is how much the four musicians got out of their experience. They comment about feeling more confident for their future projects, able to carve new careers for themselves after having ‘upskilled’ as musicians, and they enthuse about the safe and non-judgemental space that Lisa provided. “As part of this project, I wanted to share the story of four local music producers who happen to be women and their journey into music production. I hope that by seeing these women and hearing about their work, other aspiring music producers will see themselves in these roles in the future.” Lisa’s a passionate advocate for encouraging inclusive spaces for creatives to practice their art. “Historically women have not been given the same opportunities to access these environments in which

to learn these skills and gain vital knowledge and contacts in order to grow their career. There are lots of historical reasons, some of which I feel we still really need to address. For example: technical jobs such as computing, engineering etc. (all of which feature in music technology) have traditionally been seen as ‘male industries’. Women were simply not encouraged to pursue these subjects. Music producers can work long, antisocial hours and a studio environment can be physically demanding when setting up equipment – all of which were considered ‘jobs for the guys’. There needs to be a shift in representation of women in these roles so that other women have role models to look to and supportive environments in which to learn.” Aspects including the gender pay gap, ‘imposter syndrome’, fewer allies and low expectations of success contribute to the lack of women getting into production and technical roles, but Lisa’s quietly confident about the future and has a message for anyone looking to forge a career in production. “Please don’t be put off! The industry is changing, we are starting to see more women confidently taking on the job role of music producer and setting positive examples in the field. The more that we normalise the image of a woman working as an engineer, musician or producer, the more it will be accepted and the gender gap will narrow.” For those looking to get into music technology she recommends learning to work on music software like Logic Pro, Ableton Live and ProTools, checking out courses and lectures run by the likes of Sage Gateshead, We Make Culture, Brighter Sound and Tees Music Alliance, and collaborating with other music producers to learn together and build a network of contacts and a portfolio of work by recording local artists. “Of course, the ultimate goal is to achieve a gender balance in live performance and in recording studio environments – then we won’t need to create projects to provide access for women in music, as we will be treated as equals and given equal opportunities. We are not there yet, but we are certainly on the journey!” Women In Music Production mini-documentary, created by Bridgelight Media, is available to watch via the project’s website and through their YouTube channel from Friday 28th May www.womeninmusicproduction.co.uk www.productionroom.co.uk

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INTERVIEW

MUSIC

Artwork by Kate Bradley

NORTHERN TAPE SERIES ELODIE A. ROY TALKS TO STEVEN CHELL ABOUT A NEW CASSETTE LABEL WHICH REVELS IN THE PHYSICAL FORMAT Alongside fanzines, tapes have played a seminal role in the lives of countless 1980s and 1990s musical subcultures and their fans (from riot grrrl to hip-hop). The small objects could be easily duplicated, pirated and gleefully exchanged through the postal network, which is why in today’s modern world the cassette revival may appear a rather perplexing phenomenon. Why are people still drawn to this quaintly unpractical format when songs now effortlessly travel at the speed of light? Steven Chell, the founder of local cassette label Northern Tape, remembers the thrill he felt handling musical objects as a teenager: “I remember bunking off school to go and buy a new CD, having to run to the shop to get batteries, and taking a whole weekend to make a mixtape for a mate.” What Steven treasured most was the feeling of proximity – the definite impression of being closer to the music and to others – which came with listening to physical formats. This romantic attachment has partly vanished with practices of digital listening and file-sharing; in some ways, the limitless ocean of sound has made us bored, detached and slightly callous. There is simply too much, so where do we begin? Making and listening to actual objects may be a way of recreating a more navigable musical world, and of restoring a tangible link between lonely, drifting musicians. With Northern Tape, Steven hopes to bring together artists – and especially electronic bedroom

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MAKING AND LISTENING TO ACTUAL OBJECTS MAY BE A WAY OF RECREATING A MORE NAVIGABLE MUSICAL WORLD, AND OF RESTORING A TANGIBLE LINK BETWEEN LONELY, DRIFTING MUSICIANS

producers – from across the North East. Steven has found inspiration from tapes released by guitar pedal manufacturer based in Oklahoma called Old Blood Noise and Berlin-based ambient label Seil Records. “They’re both really community-focused,” he enthuses. Local electronic label Kaneda Records were also a precious partner throughout, and together they have been involved in running the annual Northern Electric Festival in the Ouseburn Valley. “The idea behind NEF is to give local producers an audience and a means of meeting peers, and helping them move out of the bedroom.” Northern Tape plans on releasing a new cassette every three months. Their debut release is a split; each side featuring a collaboration between local electronic producers. Side A consists of tracks by John Dole and Axuta (aka Sandy Quigley/Xaatu), who met at a Kaneda Records Night, while Side B features Neocia and Spell Token. The two also play together in the band Shamu (their debut album, incidentally self-released on cassette, came out in 2020 and a new EP is coming soon). Kate Bradley (Kosmosis), a student of Fine Art at Newcastle University, drew the artwork: the naive, balloon-like shapes remind me of the movement of waves, clouds and planets. Despite its romance with the material world, Steven explains that he has met many like-minded people on the internet (notably via Instagram) and the tapes will be chiefly distributed through Bandcamp. I can’t help wondering to what distant shores these dainty vessels will travel. And, for those who may not own a cassette player, the postman will deliver the tape along with a download code. Northern Tape releases a split release featuring John Dole/Axuta and Neocia/Spell Token on 2nd July www.instagram.com/northerntape


INTERVIEW

LET US EAT CAKE

LAURA DOYLE TALKS TO COLLABORATIVE DUO WILD LAMB AND SLUTMOUTH ABOUT THEIR NEW EXHIBITION WHICH SHINES A LIGHT ON WORKING-CLASS FEMALE CREATIVES

ART & LIT

Artwork by Wild Lamb No, you’re not mistaken – art galleries are indeed back up and running, ready to welcome visitors. It’s great news not only for cultural consumers, but also for the artists who have been cut off from their traditional means of exhibition. A prime example is North East collaborative duo Wild Lamb and Slutmouth, who have been waiting for the opportunity to unleash their creative ideas upon the region. “I met Paige [Livingstone, aka Wild Lamb] during the first Picasso Baby event at Disgraceland in Middlesbrough in 2019,” explains Bettie Hope, aka Slutmouth. “We got chatting and immediately hit it off. We said there and then we wanted to collaborate.” The feeling really was mutual, as Wild Lamb expands: “We had talked about it, but then COVID got in the way. When she got in touch with me this January, I was so ready to channel all my energy into something fun like Let Us Eat Cake and it just blew up from there.” The brilliant thing about doing something yourself is that you get to make exactly what you want to see in the world. For Hope and Livingstone, their goal was simple: make a space created by working-class women to better represent this culturally underrepresented group. “I totally wanted to tear down the idea of art being a rich white man’s scene, and it was also about making space for people. I know a lot of talented women and working-class people who will not exhibit their work out of nerves or fear that it isn’t good enough. By creating an artistic community to support and encourage people, we’re hoping to give some artists the confidence to take that first step towards building their creative career.” Says Livingstone, while Hope adds: “We are surrounded by such wonderful, talented female creatives in the North East. Since lockdown impacted us creatively

I TOTALLY WANTED TO TEAR DOWN THE IDEA OF ART BEING A RICH WHITE MAN’S SCENE and our creative network, we really wanted to give working-class artists an opportunity to be a part of Let Us Eat Cake.“ You might have caught part one of Let Us Eat Cake, as COVID-19 restrictions made it a digital affair: the online exhibition featured over seventy working-class, female identifying artists and attracted over 1,000 virtual visitors. Round two will bring a brand new set of artwork back into a physical space hosted at Middlesbrough contemporary art gallery Pineapple Black. With a diverse range of artistic formats on display for this project, including mixed media, 3D artwork and textiles, having a venue that could and would facilitate this ambition was essential. Hope explains: “Pineapple Black was the first exhibition that I did out of University, and I think [founders and directors] Bobby [Benjamin] and Stephen [Irving] are awesome. They have really hyped us up, supported us and added to our crazy bouje ideas.” Livingstone agrees, saying: “The PB lads have been great to spot all ideas with, and also let us have free reign of how we want it to go.” While an enforced year away from the arts isn’t what anyone wanted, time to reset and refresh, and to return with fresh eyes and new ideas is no bad thing. It looks like, for Wild Lamb and Slutmouth especially, we’re about to see some very exciting gallery spreads indeed. Let Us Eat Cake is at Pineapple Black, Middlesbrough from Friday 25th June-Saturday 24th July www.instagram.com/letus.eatcake

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INTERVIEW

THE REGION OFFERS THE MOST EXCITING STAGE IN THE NORTH EAST – A DIVERSE RANGE OF PLACES AND SPACES

OUT ON THE TOON CLAIRE DUPREE DISCOVERS AN ACCESSIBLE AND ENGAGING PROGRAMME OF SITE-SPECIFIC WORK WHICH ENCOURAGES COMMUNITIES AND ARTISTS TO COME TOGETHER The next phase of Northern Stage’s re-emergence from lockdown commences this month, as Out On The Toon aims to reconnect audiences and artists. While its title may be slightly misleading (given that events take place across the region, not just in Newcastle), the free to access month-long series of productions promises a wealth of theatrical talent, as 10 North East theatre makers present work in nine local authority areas. As with their previous programme This Is Us, which took theatre and spoken word directly into audience’s homes via online productions, Out On The Toon seeks out its audience on their very doorsteps, presenting immersive live performance, dance, story trails, short stories, films, live music and spoken word to neighbourhoods throughout the North East. Artistic Director Natalie Ibu explains: “At Northern Stage, we’re nothing without independent artists and makers so they’re at the heart of our programme as we go Out on the Toon to meet audiences where they are as many of us step out of our bubbles back into public life. The region offers the most exciting stage in the North East – a diverse range of places and spaces from the many green parks in Newcastle and Gateshead to the residential suburbs of Sunderland and North Tyneside, from rural County Durham and Northumberland to the beautiful beaches in South Shields – and our Neighbourhood artist commissions take their inspiration from those very spaces. We want audiences to know they can rely on Northern Stage to bring them stories, no matter what.” Themes covered within the programme are both universal and close to home. In Mam Tackles The Climate Crisis, taking place in Consett and written and directed by Tracy Gillman, Jackie Lye performs a solo monologue about her attempts to recycle everything, including her relationship with her daughter; audiences are invited to get up close and personal with Rachel Stockdale as she performs an intimate piece of theatre tailor-made for 12 households in North Tyneside – Tub Time: Unplugged is directed by Jake Smith and created in response to Rachel’s favourite past-time – FaceTiming in the bath! Award-winning playwright Lee Mattinson teams up with director Mark Maughan to encourage audiences to consider what we’ve missed most during the pandemic, and what we’d change to make our futures better – in their audio work The

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Weebles the 22 statues that make up Juan Muñoz’s Conversation Piece on Littlehaven Beach in South Shields tell all about what they’ve learned from a year of watching moments of harmony, horror, joy, catastrophe, love and death. Amid the residential streets of Heaton, ‘a case in point’ celebrates the strength and resilience of local women in a dance duet performed with the women of Heaton and created, choreographed and performed by What’s That Dance Company – serving to highlight some shocking statistics around the increased inequality women have faced due to the pandemic (livestream/recording by Meta4 Dance Company). In Sunderland, Theatre Space NE and Sunderland-based writer James Whitman’s Thanks For The Chat crystallises a moment in time, just before the first lockdown, in the form of short films and audio stories tied to relevant locations in the city and available to download to view on location or watch at home. Georgina Lance’s movement-based visual performance Black Femme Priority is inspired by the Black Lives Matter protests, and focuses on the relationship of Black Womxn with nature and movement as a medium for healing and liberation, taking place in Newcastle. In Stockton, award-winning actor Scott Turnbull tells a semiautobiographical tale about growing up in Chewin’ On A Brick, in which hand-made animations and dark humour is shot through with a sense of magic realism; while Verto, created by Teessidebased Queer arts group Bordello Collective, weaves together spoken word, ritual and song in a series of site-specific theatrical interventions along the three main rivers of the North East, and taking place in Hexham, Middlesbrough and Durham. Younger audiences are also catered for in Kitchen Zoo’s Adventure On Your Doorstep story trail in Gateshead; and Orville the Owl nervously embarks on his first flight at Bill Quay Farm. Out On The Toon takes place across various locations in the North East from Tuesday 1st-Wednesday 30th June. Check the Northern Stage website for further details on locations and dates www.northernstage.co.uk


INTERVIEW

STAGE

T-B, L-R: Tubtime Unplugged - Rachel Stockdale, Georgina Lance by Mark Slater, The Weebles, aka Conversation Piece by Juan Munoz in South Shields, What’s That Dance - still of Megan and Jenny by Ellen Dixon

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INTERVIEW

INFINITE ARCADE ALI WELFORD TALKS TO THE SECRETIVE LOCAL MUSICIAN ABOUT WEAVING THEMES OF DREAD AND ANXIETY INTO HIS DOUBLE EP RELEASE

MUSIC

Many NARC. readers will already be acquainted with the artist behind Infinite Arcade – be it personally, through attending events or his series of past projects. For this latest venture, however, he’s adopted a cloak of anonymity – a clean break allowing fresh music to be judged and enjoyed entirely on its own terms. Having debuted this latest guise with twin singles back in February, this month sees Infinite Arcade launch in earnest with another dual release. “I’ve written solo electronic music for about 10 years, but never under a particular moniker, with a desire to release anything or play any gigs,” he reveals. “Eventually last year I gathered six or seven piano-led songs which I wanted to embellish, and also six or seven simpler songs which naturally married dread and pop in a way which felt really genuine to me. When I decided it was time to get some music out in the world again, I thought that releasing two EPs simultaneously would be a good way to reflect those contrasting origins. “Nineteen Ninety-Eight was essentially me fleshing out those piano ideas and experimenting,” he explains of the first release. “They’re very contemplative and melancholic, and I ended up feeling my way through them over the course of a few months as a kind of meditation.” Intimate, elegant and cinematic, this EP’s sound contrasts markedly with the similarly minimal yet far more taut vibes explored on its companion piece: “Everything about The Shield and Sparrow was very purposeful, and demonstrates a sound and direction that’s inherently where I want to take Infinite Arcade – a kind of dread-pop.” This second release has also proved integral in the development of Infinite Arcade’s visual identity – a facet that’s taken on a life of its own in light of the endeavour’s anonymous presentation. “I really wanted to almost use anxiety as an instrument in The

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THE UNDERLYING THEME CONSISTENT THROUGHOUT ALL THE ARTWORK AND THE SONGS HAS BEEN THAT THERE IS SOMETHING ELSE LURKING THAT YOU CAN’T QUITE SEE OR EXPERIENCE Shield and Sparrow, and I think my friend Rachel did an excellent job in capturing this in the video for the single, Sparrow. The sense of longing in I Will Make You Better was also given great service in the video she did for the track. All the artwork for the upcoming EPs – I have a few more in the pipeline – has been done by May Taylor. I really love how she uses bright, bold colours, but can still hide something sinister in them. The underlying theme consistent throughout all the artwork and the songs has been that there is something else lurking that you can’t quite see or experience.” As for those subsequent releases, an apparent penchant for pairs is something he has no plans of discontinuing. “I’ll be releasing two minimal pop tunes I finished last December that I’m really excited about,” he reveals. “They still have that sense of uneasiness that pervades every release, but there’s more hope than usual, and they’re pretty easy-going and bright. I also have a couple piano-led songs written at the same time as those on Nineteen Ninety-Eight which will be released as a pair – but in terms of what I’m working on now, I’m really embracing the blueprint created through The Shield and Sparrow.” Infinite Arcade’s Nineteen Ninety-Eight and The Shield and Sparrow EPs are released simultaneously on 25th June www.infinitearcade.bandcamp.com


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

MT. MISERY

JASON JONES FINDS OUT HOW THE HARTLEPOOL BAND PROGRESSED FROM AN INTROSPECTIVE BEDROOM PROJECT TO LO-FI POP GLORY “When I started making music by myself, before I met the rest of the band, I was a year or so out of uni. I didn’t really know what I was doing or what I wanted to do,” Mt. Misery frontman Andrew Smith explains frankly. The Hartlepool natives are on the cusp of releasing their debut album, Once Home, No Longer, and while the songwriter – sharply articulate and charmingly modest – might once have been jettisoned by the throes of a post-academic lull, there’s no arguing that he and his bandmates have drifted their way towards a record that is as engaging and endearing as the lads behind it. Initially a bedroom project for Andrew, the singer was joined by second guitarist Ste and drummer Lewis after just a couple of fledgling live shows. With bassist Eddie lending a hand onstage, Mt. Misery in its current incarnation was born. For Andrew, it felt like an organic progression for a set of songs that had admittedly humble beginnings. “I had it in my head, maybe, but at the time when I was writing and recording, it seemed quite ambitious to start a band,” he says. “I didn’t really know anyone in my local music scene, so I just thought I could write these songs, record them myself, and just put them out there. That was the extent of my ambition, but it just kept growing from there.” The group’s sound is one of loving craft and aching warmth. Richly

RICHLY TEXTURED BUT BOLDLY UNCLUTTERED, ONCE HOME, NO LONGER, IS A DELIGHTFULLY REALISED TAPESTRY OF LO-FI DREAM POP, PLEASING IN ITS FAMILIARITY AND FASCINATING IN ITS INTROSPECTION

textured but boldly uncluttered, Once Home, No Longer, is a delightfully realised tapestry of lo-fi dream pop, pleasing in its familiarity and fascinating in its introspection. The album is made all the more impressive by the fact that the band, by and large, recorded the entire thing themselves in Andrew’s home studio, carving and fashioning the ten-song track list wholly in their own vision. Even the artwork was designed by Lewis himself. To finally be on the brink of sharing such an intimate body of work – especially through the prism and fragmentation of a global pandemic – is an understandably surreal prospect for the three-piece. “It’s crazy,” Andrew points out. “But it’s really satisfying, especially because a lot of it we really have done ourselves. We did a bit of recording at a studio in Newcastle, but the majority of it has been done in this bedroom that I’m in now. For it to be coming out and for us to have taken control of so much of that process, it’s really gratifying. We got the test pressings back a few weeks ago, and it’s so exciting. “Something like this, even though it’s quite low-key – putting out music in a physical format through a little label – when I started doing this, that would have been beyond my wildest dreams I think.” Everything Mt. Misery do is tempered by that natural humility, an unassuming decency that is as affable as the luscious slices of alt. pop with which they brim. If ever there was a debut album that could perhaps justify a smattering of immodesty, however, it’s probably Once Home, No Longer. Mt. Misery release Once Home, No Longer via Prefect Records on 25th June. The band play The Georgian Theatre, Stockton on Saturday 26th June www.mtmisery.bandcamp.com

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INTERVIEW

FILM

PEOPLE FOR FILM CLAIRE DUPREE FINDS OUT WHAT’S IN STORE FOR CINEPHILES AS NEWCASTLE’S STAR AND SHADOW CINEMA REOPENS Newcastle’s bastion of independent cinema, the Star and Shadow, are preparing to finally reopen their doors this month. Having dipped a toe in radio broadcasting and film streaming, not to mention commissioning artists to create new work and assisting local groups by sharing their space over the last year, they’re proud to have been able to continue to serve their audiences while their doors were closed, as volunteer Adrin Neatrour explains. “The work of the Star and Shadow to keep on functioning has been welcomed by all in the community. It has certainly helped some people combat the isolation of their situation during the past year.” The venue used some of their downtime to reassess the building’s accessibility and have appointed a new Access Collective to oversee future work. “We have examined issues of the physical access to our space and enjoying our events, and the types of initiatives we need to have in place to make our cinema, our gigs and our protocols open to everyone. We have also built new workshop spaces for community use: a silk screen room, photographic dark room and a green room/office. So the building is much better complemented than before the lockdowns.” With community at the heart of what they do, it seems fitting that their reopening programme has been chosen by their audience. “We are a community cinema, so we decided that the community should lead the way in choosing our re-opening programme.” Says Adrin. “This decision to ask our members and other people with whom we have worked seemed natural to us, because that is how we work.” The month-long People For Film programme kicks off on Thursday 3rd June and continues for four weeks (running Thursday-Sunday),

WE ARE A COMMUNITY CINEMA, SO WE DECIDED THAT THE COMMUNITY SHOULD LEAD THE WAY IN CHOOSING OUR RE-OPENING PROGRAMME 34

featuring a typically eclectic roster of films celebrating diversity, inclusivity and political awareness alongside some edgy blockbusters. The first week’s programming features Ridley Scott’s visually-stunning neo-noir sci-fi classic Bladerunner; coming-of-age gang drama Boyz n the Hood; Lisa Rovner’s enchanting documentary Sisters With Transistors, which celebrates the unsung trailblazers behind electronic music; and Lee Chang-dong’s mystery thriller adaptation of a Haruki Murakami short story, Burning, which will be shown both in the cinema and livestreamed. The following week’s flicks include Juice, a buoyant celebration of hip-hop culture starring Tupac Shakur; sci-fi masterpiece Solaris and the powerfully moving Medicating Normal, which delves into the damage done by the reckless prescribing of psychiatric drugs. The weekend starting on Thursday 17th June will include director Philip Kaufman’s film of Milan Kundera’s novel Unbearable Lightness of Being, a love story full of tension and confusion; Mila (Apples), Christos Nikou’s tale of epidemic memory loss and grief; and voodoo-realist drama Atlantique. The final week will see the sad, funny and powerful Life Is Beautiful; dark erotic fantasy Heavy Metal; Constanze Ruhm’s essay film The Notes of Anna Azzori; and Call Me Kuchu, an intimate documentary about homophobia in Uganda from directors Katherine Fairfax Wright and Malika Zouhali-Worrall. There’s much more in the pipeline over the coming months, and the venue hope to be back to their full programme as soon as they’re able, as Adrin concludes. “Going forward we hope to re-open for gigs and be back in business supporting all the groups in the community who need somewhere for their voices to be heard.” The Star and Shadow Cinema’s People For Film festival runs from Thursday 3rd-Sunday 27th June (Thursday-Sunday) www.starandshadow.org.uk


INTERVIEW

MUSIC

AMATEUR ORNITHOLOGIST CHRIS J ALLAN TALKS TO THE SOUTH SHIELDS MUSICIAN ABOUT FINDING A RENEWED PASSION FOR MUSIC AND INSPIRATION IN UNLIKELY PLACES Appropriately, when Daniel Clifford joins Zoom for our chat about his new music project and upcoming album Birdwatching, he mentions he’s currently staring at some birds flying past his window. It’s apparent his new moniker of Amateur Ornithologist is one he’s fully embracing. Daniel found himself living back in his homeland of the North East at the start of the first lockdown, after spending several years working around the country. While due to the pandemic he may have been back physically closer to his family and friends, he was unable to feel part of the normality of home due to his isolation. So, as many of us did under government instruction, he turned to walking to combat lockdown worries and found solace in nature and birdsong. “Despite the fear and anxiety, whenever I was going on my daily walk and looking up at the birds, seeing magpies dancing in the fields, it was that stuff that made me happy.” While many people set themselves things to learn that never materialised beyond binge-watching most of Netflix, Daniel actually acted on his goals: “I felt I had to teach myself to do something, and what I decided was to teach myself how to properly write music.” After a lifetime of loving music, collaborating on projects at local institutions like The Customs House and working with former bandmate Martin Trollope, now better known as producer Harbourmaster, this hobby to stave off boredom soon developed into a fully fledged musical project. “I sat trying to write songs while at a desk looking over a telephone wire that birds sat on, listening to birds which nested in the eaves of the house; I never stopped hearing them.” With Harbourmaster’s help, and through a combination of remote studio recording and socially distanced sessions at his studio, before the end of 2020 the music began to take shape. Fittingly enough, the album itself is bookended with birdsong, from the opening sounds of seagulls on South Shields beach on lead

DESPITE THE FEAR AND ANXIETY, WHENEVER I WAS GOING ON MY DAILY WALK AND LOOKING UP AT THE BIRDS, SEEING MAGPIES DANCING IN THE FIELDS, IT WAS THAT STUFF THAT MADE ME HAPPY single and summery pop album opener Birds Fly Over Me, to birds recorded on one of his walks on closing track A Labyrinth. While there are moments on the record which confront “feeling lost and directionless in your mid-30s when you’ve lost your direction”, Daniel recognises the positives too, and there’s a feeling of hope which runs through the release. Elsewhere on the album, The Bigger Picture explores having fun while staying in, even in enforced isolation: “it was inspired by the question of how are people going to get through it all”, he reveals. While second single, The Murmuration, shakes things up as a certifiable indie pop bop. Another commonality of lockdown was the act of reaching out to those names in their contact lists who they’d lost touch with, and this proved to be another step in crafting this project. From working with former college friend Lee Morris, who provides the album’s brass parts. to enlisting South Shields-based artist CocoSoShi (aka Kylie Ann Ford, who is another previous bandmate of Daniel’s) to provide his new logo and single cover designs. Throughout Birdwatching Daniel charts a journey through a year lost to lockdown; acknowledging its universal difficulties that still remain, but with some soaring glimpses of hope set to indie floor-fillers. Plus, with more recording on the horizon and aspirations to get a post-lockdown band ready to perform live, it’s clear that Amateur Ornithologist has just taken flight. Amateur Ornithologist releases Birdwatching on 16th June www.amateurornithologist.bandcamp.com

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INTERVIEW

THE BEST DEFINITION OF FOLK MUSIC IS THAT IT’S SOMETHING YOU CAN DO HERE, NOW

CATH & PHIL TYLER

AS THE NEWCASTLE DUO RELEASE A CAREER-SPANNING RARITIES COLLECTION, LEE FISHER CHATTED TO PHIL TYLER ABOUT NOT BEING EXPERIMENTAL AND HOW SONGS DRIFT INTO NETS...SLOWLY

We meet, appropriately enough, at The Cumberland Arms, and it’s Phil Tyler’s first pint in a pub for a long time. (Me, not so much). We’re here to talk about Some Heavy Hand, a collection of rarities and compilation tracks released on the Tylers’ own label, Ferric Mordant. But first, I wondered how lockdown has been? “It hasn’t been too busy, I’ve been working so it hasn’t been too different for me. We managed the odd gig in the middle, when the rules were relaxed. Me and Cath did a Globe livestream gig, which was pretty good, and we had one gig for each of the bands we’re in, just by chance [Phil is also in Yakka Doon and Bad Amputee while Cath is in FRET!], which was quite nice, a reminder that life exists beyond just staying in!” While for a lot of artists lockdown has seen a surge of activity, some health issues that Cath suffers from means that wasn’t really their experience. “That’s why we only put out an album every eight years, it takes a long time. We don’t rush these things, it happens when it happens. That said, we did a digital only Café Oto release [To The Dust, released in late 2020] and we were like ‘oh, we haven’t got any songs! Oh yes we have – there’s one!’. We recorded it at home and sent it over.” The songs on the new collection date back to 2005: “The very first demo thing we did, there’s a couple of tracks from there, recorded with my brother, we guessed at the date. Like it says in the sleeve notes, most of the songs get better as they go along, but a couple of them are quite nice from back then, so we used them.” I was interested in the way the couple find and work on their material, since they don’t seem the types to be found rummaging through the Cecil Sharp library. “If you listen to a lot of folk music, it’s just in your head. It’s never like, ‘we need to do another record, let’s find some songs’. If you wait long enough, they drift into your net slowly, We did a gig a long time ago and in the middle of the set some guy in the audience asked about a song and we didn’t know. At folk clubs, some people do try and show what they know. And I’m happy with people doing that. Like Jeff Warner [American folk song collector], his parents were collectors in the thirties, he did shows that were very informative, very entertaining. But I don’t feel the need to educate when we’re doing trad folk songs.” A lot of their songs seem to mine the connections between English and Appalachian folk tunes. “There’s loads of kind of transatlantic crossover, people make whole albums about it. We don’t really do it

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on purpose, it’s just stuff we like that works. Sometimes we’d like to do a song but we can’t make it work. Or we like the lyrics but the tune doesn’t work, so I’ll use a different one. It’s...well, I don’t want to say organic because that sounds shit, but it’s not thought out in that way, it just comes together. We don’t really write any of our song lyrics, I write some of the tunes.” Such as the version of You Are My Sunshine on the new album? “It’s the second time I’ve done that song, there’s a version on one of my obscure banjo albums that Cath also sang on. And the melody is just something that came out of the guitar one day…often I just make a tune up with no set of words in mind but the meter of it suggests words that would fit. It’s such a creepy song too, it’s not the nice song people think it is.” Another unusual song on the album is the a capella Our Fathers Of Old, a haunting number which is based on a Kipling poem. “The setting is by Peter Bellamy [of the Young Tradition], who was a bit of a Tory I think.” Phil explains. “But he did a lot of Kipling stuff, he reckoned a lot of Kipling poems were supposed to be songs, that they had tunes but nobody knows what they were any more. So he did quite a few Kipling albums. This label called Folk Police did a compilation called Oak Ash Thorn a few years ago with a lot of people like us and The Unthanks on there.” As well as their folk duo, both Cath and Phil have their other bands. “I always thought we would have our own noisy band, but we never got it together. We had a few jams but it never gelled…Cath did do one Bad Amputee gig when our bass player couldn’t make it and afterwards we thought, ‘oh we should do a noisy band’ but she’s too ill really to do more than a one-off stand in.” I was curious about Phil’s thoughts on folk, and the Tylers’ place in it. He says he was always surprised when they get labelled as experimental folk, that they’re just playing folk the way they know how, but admits he doesn’t mind the support from places like The Wire, Café Oto and TUSK that the label has earned them. As for folk, Phil says that “the best definition of folk music is that it’s something you can do here, now.” Cath & Phil Tyler release Some Heavy Hand via Ferric Mordant on 4th June www.cathandphiltyler.bandcamp.com


INTERVIEW

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Festival

7-8 AUGUST 2021 SaTUrDAY 7

SUnDAY 8

DEACON BLUE

fringe fesTival / fooD & drink Terrace / familY acTiviTies

Mowbray pArk, sunderlAnd lAmplighTfeSTivAl.com 38


DEMOS WE WANT YOUR MUSIC!

IF YOU’RE AN UP AND COMING BAND OR MUSICIAN, AND WOULD LIKE YOUR MUSIC REVIEWED IN OUR DEMO SECTION, EMAIL A TRACK TO INFO@NARCMEDIA.COM AND TELL US MORE ABOUT YOURSELF! WORDS: JAY MOUSSA-MANN

DEMO OF THE MONTH

Katie Grace – From The Wildflowers EP

Shimmering vocals, full of feeling, 15-year-old Katie Grace has created the most stunning EP, easily sitting among the very best this month’s demos has to offer. A testament to the challenges of 2020, all four songs were recorded in Katie’s bedroom and mixed from the producer’s own home. The EP has a beautiful balance of style, showcasing just how talented this emerging artist is.

The April Bird – Sunlight and Snowfall

The April Bird describes itself as a messy, home-made project with songs informed by smaller aspects of life, and this delightfully quirky track is wonderfully refreshing. With echoey group vocals behind a vintage lead voice, the music feels like a folk rock campfire. It’s a tiny song, bursting with oodles of energy. According to Dylan Wake, the musician behind The April Bird, this song was “an attempt to make the warmest possible sounds I could in a freezing house with no light while using wine and the music of Teenage Fanclub to keep spirits high.” www.facebook.com/theaprilbird

Bedsit Manor – Burning Now

Ex-Deltasound singer Jonjo McNeill delivers a powerful, driving rock track in Burning Now, which has a 90s vibe designed to lift the spirits. A groovy little bass line runs under charismatic, arresting vocals against interesting guitar riffs and all-out drums. It

Thunder blends acoustic with 80s pop, layers of guitars and synths under gorgeous delicate vocals, with a really catchy chorus. Fly Away is a stand out track for me, with its emotive percussion, lifted by ethereal synth lines and haunting vocals; Katie’s voice is arresting on every track. This EP is very obviously a true labour of love and Katie Grace is certainly a musician to take note of. www.soundcloud.com/katiegracemusic

could be easy to miss the hard-hitting lyrics on first listen but passionate poetry fitting well into world turmoil elevates this song. “The noxious scent of burning dread / Can’t get my clothes over my head”. Burning Now feels like a protest song, with a catchy, head-nodding chorus, the track gets into your bloodstream. And the more you really look at those lyrics… “When all your neighbours lock their doors / No more of their boats on our shores”. The chorus becomes a poignant cry: “Can you feel the love that’s burning now?” www.bedsit-manor.bandcamp.com

Sam Shields – Penny’s Daughter

This is a beautiful tale, delicately sitting somewhere between folk and Americana, I was instantly intrigued by the music and the story. Sam’s easy, gentle voice starts with the words “Penny’s daughter bought Penny’s mother’s house.” Beautiful, sparse guitar picking coupled with rich, husky vocals make this

song one of those rare, pure tracks that instantly wins you over. Sam is a 22-year-old singer-songwriter from Northumberland, and he’s been on the music scene for a few years now. With a voice that is not only lovely to listen to but manages to convey drama in every lilt, he’s an artist to keep an eye out for. www.samshieldsmusic.com

Lizzie, Singer of the Lakes – What Is The Word

What Is The Word has an immediate classic feel to it, reminiscent of a 1960s crime drama soundtrack. It combines jazz with indie pop, and a slightly rocky feel. It is a whimsical song, haunting and uplifting. With strong elements of classical composition, the track features bassy percussion, piano and whispering voices over Lizzie’s soprano vocals. Already celebrated for her career as a classical act and lover of vintage music, Lizzie’s new track is full of catchy hooks and cleverly integrated vocal harmonies. www.singerofthelakes.com

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TRACKS

REVIEWS OF SINGLES AND EPS BY NORTH EAST ARTISTS. WANT YOUR MUSIC FEATURED? EMAIL NARCMEDIA@GMAIL.COM (PLEASE TRY TO GET IN TOUCH 8-6 WEEKS AHEAD OF THE MONTH OF RELEASE)

Image by Harley Kuyck-Cohen BOSOLA HOW SICK I BECAME, RUNNING FROM MYSELF EP Words: Michael O’Neill Throughout its four tracks, How Sick I Became, Running From Myself succeeds at capturing all that is great about melancholy-shot indie without ever collapsing under the weight of itself. On top of a glorious storm of sound, the EP tackles subjects of emotional brevity with an effortlessness that immediately calls to mind the songcraft of Felt, The Go-Betweens and Sire-era The Replacements, whilst wisely avoiding becoming a half-hearted pastiche of that particular school of post-punk. The production is utterly crystalline, serving the intricate melodies and glorious worlds within these songs, allowing the EP to shine as a bold, enthralling, fresh and endlessly-replayable statement of intent from an absolute visionary of a songwriter. Absolutely essential listening. Released: 14.06.21 www.soundcloud.com/bosolauk

ECHO JULIET AFFIRMATION Words: Jay Moussa-Mann Starting with haunting synth pulses and tinkling arpeggios, Affirmation draws you in with mysterious whispers, deep grinding bass and percussion. The track is instantly arresting, building as it goes on. I have been a big fan of Echo Juliet’s music since I first heard a mix in 2020. I always feel like I’m listening to the skill of a classical symphony with everything contemporary and gutsy I love about electronic music. Echo Juliet’s background as producer, DJ and classically-trained pianist sets the stall for her melodic fusion of genres. No surprise then, that Affirmation has been picked up by Wah Wah 45s for release on the first compilation from a new electronic sub-label they are launching called Allison Recordings which showcases up-and-coming producers and music makers. Released: 18.06.21 www.soundcloud.com/echojulietdj

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CACHE-CACHE PANTOMIME Words: Michael O’Neill This marvellous slice of anxious, frenetic neo-soul finds self-described ‘impressionists’ Cache-Cache return with (as they put it) ‘their dressing-up box of musical styles, and melodic palette of multi-coloured riffs in this unseasonal take on a real-life fairy tale’, with the help of jazz vocalist Alice Grace, rapper Ken Masters and flautist Alex Saxon. It’s an utter carnival of sound, which effortlessly shape-shifts from tightly wound Rhodes-driven funk through to complex scuzzy jazz-fusion riffage. The brilliant contrast between Grace’s melodic runs and the frenzied wordsmithery of Masters makes for a delightfully unpredictable trip, with Saxon’s melodies floating effortlessly above it all. In short, it’s the North East’s answer to the Soulquarians, and an utter triumph. Released: 04.06.21 www.cachecache.band

HEATHER FERRIER CIRCLES

Image by Niles Krieger

Words: Kate Murphy This will be unlike anything you’ve heard for a long time. It’s different from the outset, even before you realise it is pure accordion, with not a word spoken. There is something end-of-the-pier about it, not in the sense of flashing and bad magic, but in the rotating colours it creates, like an auditory Ferris wheel, and in the thick swishing feeling it embodies. This swishing is like waves washing in and out on the shore, thickened further by the slowly all-consuming electronic elements that Heather has trippily and delightfully married with it. It seems to build in momentum throughout, and finishes with a brief flourish, the way a clown suddenly ends a juggle. You’ll find yourself snap out of a trance and applaud. www.heatherferriermusic.com


TEMPLO LONELY Words: Damian Robinson Orchestral and theatrical, it’s probably far too obvious to make comparisons between Paige Temperley and Ashley Lowes (aka Templo) and Kate Bush; but that’s certainly an appropriate place to start. Spread out across a sparse, three-minute piano foundation, the core strength of Lonely is its stunning two- and three-part vocal harmonies, making the track a deliberate balance between a lonely/minimal musical base and a busy/collective vocal line. Harmonic, haunting and deeply atmospheric, Lonely is a lovely composition, blending theatrical sensibilities and an interesting performance art-style of delivery. A deliberately visual collective (check out the cover art for Templo) it’d be fascinating to see what video they might create to represent this track. Released: 25.06.21 www.facebook.com/temploduo

NO TIME FOR REASON CRITICAL Words: Damian Robinson If you went into a record store and hunted around the ‘B’s of the Pop and Rock section, you’d probably find the core ingredients of Critical. Take ‘Biffy Clyro’ for strong rock guitars bordering on metal but nudging more towards emo, then add in some ‘Blink 182’ for the track’s driving drums providing a harsh undercurrent of pop/rock and take some of the raw, emotive, language of ‘Bikini Kill’ before finally throwing in some of the overall pop/rock melody lines and production of the ‘Backstreet Boys’ (‘larger than life’ - it’s meant as a compliment) and you’d get this little belter of a track. Raw and emotional, with a strong sense of pop, there’s all of the right ingredients here. Released: 04.06.21 www.notimeforreason.com

SHAKK LIVING PROOF Words: Damian Robinson Taking its hook from, seemingly, the sounds of a mining brass band, there’s something deeply North Eastern about the new one from Middlesbrough rapper Shakk. Supplemented nicely by a well worked out music video, Living Proof digs into the Rocky narrative; following a central character from being down and out before raising to personal glory. Nicely rapped over, Living Proof uses a fairly downtempo set of minimal beats to create enough space for Shakk to talk about the importance of finishing personal challenges and pushing yourself towards your goal. Strong and with an important message, Living Proof bangs hard. Start with the video, as it helps tell the full story. Released: 28.05.21 www.facebook.com/shakkmusic

JAMES LEONARD HEWITSON WAITING FOR A CALL Words: Michael O’Neill The almighty James Leonard Hewitson returns with another phenomenal slab of angular delight. Waiting For A Call is a gloriously frenetic rush of energy, replete with harsh blasts of percussion, gritty bass and urgent synths which brilliantly mirror the tightly-wound, anxiety-soaked urgency of the lyrics, which articulate the restlessness of sitting about, bored out of your skull, waiting for something to come along and free you from the mundanity of the day-to-day grind. The production is absolutely astounding, serving the song with an utter cacophony of sound that builds on the eclectic wonder of 2020’s marvellous full-length Only The Noise Will Save Me. All in all, another stand-out transmission from one hell of a talented artist. Released: 24.06.21 www.jamesleonardhewitson.com

SAM FRENCH INSIDE DREAMS Words: Jay Moussa-Mann Fresh and zingy, this upbeat electro pop tune is instantly catchy, a really uplifting summer dance track. Filled with layers of talking synths, bright guitars and a mesmerising beat, indie pop artist/producer Sam French has created a first-class production. Channelled from frustration, this single proves a positive light can come from a negative source. Bearing hints of 80s electronic pop, Inside Dreams feels refreshingly contemporary, rising to big powerful moments before falling to soft, gentle segments where Sam’s breathy vocals carry the song into another wave. After supporting Scouting For Girls and playing live at the O2 Academy and Sage Gateshead in past projects, Inside Dreams is his first – highly satisfying – exploration into solo music. Released: 11.06.21 www.samfrenchmusic.co.uk

SPELL TOKEN SEASONS Words: Jay Moussa-Mann Climbing piano over ambient pads starts this stunning track with a bang. I absolutely love the unexpected stop before a gathering of gorgeous male vocals harmonise over guitar strumming, and the track soars into the most amazing symphony. Prog pop meets classical meets outstanding musicianship! Spell Token is the solo project of Josh Ingledew, a songwriter and producer from Hartlepool. As well as recording everything himself, he also plays the majority of instruments you hear. Seasons is the first single taken from Spell Token’s upcoming album, with a number of guest musicians playing. We can expect to hear much more from Spell Token this year, with new singles already lined up and a release date for the album on the horizon. Released: 11.06.21 www.spelltoken.bandcamp.com

CAITIE LIVE IT UP Words: Kate Murphy A new carefree take on having time on your hands like you’ve never had before, singer-songwriter Caitie brings us this summery ode to whiling away your days with someone in your thoughts. Gently cushioned by soft, distant steel drums, it drifts along on a tropical breeze, its intermittent harmonies creamy as coconut milk. With its slick beat, and clean, juicy vocals that sound particularly pristine and onomatopoeic on phrases like “icy drinks”, it’s tight and chart-ready, and calls to mind the cool, sugary stylings of Zara Larsson. For Caitie, there is no room for boredom: she takes in the endless empty hours that make up being young in 2021 and does nothing but appreciate them. A breath of fresh air. www.facebook.com/caitiexmusic

JOSEPH BROWN UNREAD NOTES EP Words: Kate Murphy Opening song Parasites instantly raised a smile, for it has that undeniably punk sound of a dodgy mic set-up at an underground gig and the ever-present threat of feedback screech. For all its rawness and its talk of blood-sucking and cockroaches though, it’s nonetheless delivered in a mellow indie drone, adding to its undercurrent of humour. This undercurrent is never more apparent than in third track Resolutions, a funky, stripped-back gem and the highlight of the EP, in which Joseph regales us with an account of a winter walk, telling us of the “slush and snow / which soaks my tatty socks”. It’s told with all the seriousness of a Joy Division song and, at the same time, none of it. It is quite fantastic. www.jjosephbrownn.bandcamp.com

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ALBUMS 5/5 MT. MISERY ONCE HOME, NO LONGER (PREFECT RECORDS)

4/5 Image by Jade Wilson

THE MOUNTAIN GOATS DARK IN HERE (MERGE RECORDS) Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice The start of 2020 found The Mountain Goats, in the wake of John Darnielle hitting a notably prolific and fertile patch of songwriting, gathering to record two separate albums in succession. The first of these, last autumn’s Getting Into Knives, marked a welcome change of direction after a series of increasingly over-thought concept albums, capturing the warm live sound of their current line-up (assisted by session greats like Chris Boerner, Bram Gielsen and Charles Hodges) powering through some of Darnielle’s most direct work in a decade. Decamping to Alabama to record the quickfire follow-up, the already ruminative and elegiac tone of the material was fuelled by the rapid acceleration of external events. Which means a little over a year later, we have Dark In Here – a subtle, often subdued album whose gentle, inviting arrangements find themselves juxtaposed against lyrics concerned with unrecognised lost and frustrated survival. As much as listeners familiar with their work can probably already make a fair assessment of how anticipated or otherwise new Mountain Goats material is in 2021 – and for those unfamiliar, your gut reaction to a song title like Arguing With The Ghost Of Peter Laughner About His Coney Island Baby Review is probably a good signpost – Dark In Here’s continued absorption of a slow soul pulse into their established sound cannily keeps self-parody at the door. Darnielle’s gift for stepping into the feet of troubled and troubling narrators remains in full flow, as on the lurching, anxious Lizard Suit or the mad scientist spiel of The New Hydra Collection, but Dark In Here also stands as an exhibition of how intuitive and surprisingly adaptable a band The Mountain Goats have become as players: in conjunction with Spooner Oldham guesting on Hammond organ and electric piano, The Slow Parts On Death Metal Albums is a gorgeous, semi-autobiographical hymn to isolation and the search for belonging not entirely dissimilar to late era Leonard Cohen. An unintentional memento of a time of crisis that doubles as an exhibition of a band hitting a streak of form, Dark In Here is – quietly – The Mountain Goats at something close to their best. Released: 25.06.21 www.mountain-goats.com

ALSO OUT THIS MONTH Tigercub – As Blue As Indigo (Blame Recordings, 18.06) // Billy F Gibbons – Hardware (Concord Records, 04.06) // Lucy Dacus – Home Video (Matador, 25.06) //Qlowski – Quale Futuro? (Maple Death Records, 04.06) //Japanese Breakfast – Jubilee (Dead Oceans, 04.06) //Hiss Golden Messenger – Quietly Blowing It (Merge, 25.06) // Chris Eckmann – Where The Spirit Rests (Glitterhouse, 04.06) // Hildegard – S/T (Section 1, 04.06) //Marina Allen – Candlepower (Fire Records, 04.06) //Whispering Sons – Several Others (PIAS, 18/06) // Islands – Islomania (Royal Mountain Records, 11.06) //ULNA – OEA (Born Yesterday, 04.06) //Jonny Kosmo – Pastry (Feeding Tube Records/ Dinosaur City Records, 04.06) //Kid Millions & Jan St. Werner – Imperium Droop (Thrill Jockey, 25.06) // Benjamin Francis Leftwich – To Carry A Whale (Dirty Hit, 18.06) // Andrew Hung – Devastations (Lex Records, 18.06) // Drug Store Romeos – The World Within Our Bedrooms (Fiction Records, 25.06) // Max Bloom – Pedestrian (Ultimate Blends, 18.06) // Throwing Snow – Dragons (Houndstooth, 25.06) //Mind Maintenance – S/T (Drag City, 11.06)

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Words: Damian Robinson Remember The Thrills? The band from Ireland who made records that sounded like they’d been written by Brian Wilson? If you can’t then you won’t remember how surprised people were when they realised that the lads weren’t all called Al, Dennis or Carl, or that they didn’t own 409’s, or come from Hawthorne, California. Which leads us to Mt. Misery, because if perfect, blissed out pop songs with glorious harmonies look out of place on a bunch of Dubliner’s, God only knows what people will make of similar sounds coming from a collection from Hartlepool. Don’t worry for a second about where this album was born, or its aspirations, this is a stunning piece of West Coast pop with the warmest melodies you may well hear all year. Perfect. Released: 25.06.21 www.mtmisery.bandcamp.com

4/5 ROSTAM CHANGEPHOBIA (MATSOR RECORDS) Words: Ben Lowes-Smith Rostam. formerly of Vampire Weekend, has been quietly churning out underrated records for more than a decade, giving a modern twist to baroque pop stylings. His second solo record eschews stylistic choices of yore, as we enter Rostam’s love affair with the tenor saxophone. The results are as beautiful and beguiling as ever, with Rostam’s plaintive songwriting shining through, especially on the utterly gorgeous first single The Kids We Knew. It’s a successful exercise in Rostam changing the musical vocabulary he is using while still retaining the plaintive, melodic and melancholic sensibilities that make his music so special. Highlight Unfold You has been in the works since 2017 and feels representative of a personal metamorphosis through all of its gorgeous twists and turns. A real triumph. Released: 04.06.21 www.officialrostam.com


ALBUMS

4/5

3/5

4/5

KEVIN RICHARD MARTIN RETURN TO SOLARIS (PHANTOM LIMB)

JAMES ALL THE COLOURS OF YOU (VIRGIN MUSIC LABEL)

KOJAQUE TOWN’S DEAD (SOFT BOY RECORDS /DIFFERENT RECORDINGS)

Words: Lee Fisher After thirty years and a myriad of incarnations, Kevin Richard Martin started releasing music under his own name in 2019, with an emphasis on a more abstract, granular sound than before. Return To Solaris feels like a logical step for this sound-obsessed soundtrack fan. He was invited by the Vooruit Arts Centre in Belgium (his latest base) to rescore Solaris, a pinnacle of Soviet cinema, and set about securing periodappropriate hardware. The result is both a development of his previous work and yet still familiar as Martin – take the deep, dubby bass of Wife Or Mother or the alienating sci-fi noise of Concrete Tunnels. It’s hard to judge its relationship with the film but as an hour of deep listening atmospheres, it’s unsettlingly effective. Released: 25.06.21 www.phantom-limb.co.uk

Words: Paul Broadhead “We’re all gonna die,” croons Tim Booth on James’ 16th album, but he’s never one to wallow. Instead, we get a melting pot, occasionally flirting with the genius of James of old, like the energetic Isabella and fast-paced, optimistic Beautiful Beaches. Sadly though, ideas seem half-realised, like the forgettable Hush and cringe-worthy Magic Bus. Themes of lockdown alienation run throughout, especially on the title track and whilst Tim’s earned his elder statesman status, lyrics can feel just a little like newspaper headlines, covering topics like BLM and gun control without any real insight or wisdom. Ironically, it’s Wherever It Takes Us which is the highlight; both sonically speaking and for Booth’s likeable rapping, but where it takes James is harder to envision. Released: 04.06.21 www.wearejames.com

Words: Ikenna Offor With its ambitious sprawl and relatable pathos, Kojaque’s filmic debut delivers a mordant paean to angsty ennui and doomed romance through explorations of hometown blues and, particularly, depictions of a tumultuous love triangle. Unfolding over a madcap NYE night, Town’s Dead is infectiously immersive – a motley kaleidoscope of heady sonics, millennial woes (“Can’t afford the rent where my ma done raised me”) and enough trippy flourishes to keep your pupils dilated for days on end. Indisputable bangers like Shmelly and the raucous title track deftly flaunt the rapid-fire precision of Kojaque’s brogued cadence. Elsewhere, the disarming tenderness of both Jinty Boy Blues and Casio attest glowingly to the self-professed soft-boy’s proclivity for unfeigned vulnerability. Taken altogether, it’s no mean feat. Released: 25.06.21 www.soundcloud.com/kojaques

5/5

4/5

4/5

PART CHIMP DROOL (WRONG SPEED RECORDS)

RUTH B MOMENTS IN BETWEEN (DOWNTOWN RECORDS)

TEN FOOT TOM AND THE LEPROSY CROOKS GREATEST HITS (NIL BY MOUTH RECORDS)

Words: Lee Fisher Part Chimp frontman Tim Cedar describes their fifth album Drool as “slobbering, dribbling stupidity and salaciousness”, and I’d happily leave the review right there. Part Chimp are the loudest, greatest, fucked-up-est band most of you have never heard of. They consciously eschew evolution in favour of streamlining their sound into a turbocharged fucking beast. Drool does everything you hope and expect, starting with the lumbering, downtuned Back From The Dead and finishing 40 minutes later with the even more lumbering, downtuned Worms. In between there are two bassists, a guest vocal from Tim Farthing (formerly of Hey Colossus) and a title track that’s one of the best things they’ve ever done. Part Chimp are the only band to still make me headbang and I fucking love them. Released: 04.06.21 www.partchimp.com

Words: Paul Broadhead Ethiopian-Canadian Ruth B’s sophomore long-player is full of lush summery vibes, like the chilled-out aptly titled Holiday, that will be lapped up by anybody lucky enough to get away to more exotic climes this summer. And for those who don’t, there is the title track which is one of the more sincere and – more importantly – timeless lockdown inspired tracks you’ll hear this year. Mostly wrapped in the soft sheets of RnB pop, as on the lyrically strong Princess Peach, Ruth offers up more folksy summer of love vibes on Favourite, whilst Spaceship is just pure and simple pop without any cynical agenda. Whilst rarely deviating from a mid to laid back tempo, this is an assured and accomplished delight. Released: 11.06.21 www.ruthbofficial.com

Words: Robert Nichols A treasure trove from Whitby’s finest exponents of the dark arts of the garage brand; containing full throttle psychedelic rock ‘n’ roll, bruising blues and occasionally refractive folk but spiked throughout with a savage gallows humour. Three-piece Ten Foot Tom make light work of their difficult second album, entertaining with big riffin’ high wire guitar, wrap-around bass and drums but driving a stake through the heart of the matter of white, middle class rock. From the sparkling and sparky opener Ghenkis to bluesy but bruising Boring Rock Song, there is no sense of ‘lyric for lyric’s sake’ or cliché but a few send ups all the same. Sharp as nails, let Ten Foot Tom And The Leprosy Crooks get their claws into you. Released: 06.06.21 www.tenfoottomandtheleprosycrooks. bandcamp.com

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ALBUMS

4.5 / 5

4/5

4.5 / 5

BLUE ORCHIDS SPEED THE DAY (TINY GLOBAL PRODUCTIONS)

WOLF ALICE BLUE WEEKEND (DIRTY HIT)

L’RAIN FATIGUE (MEXICAN SUMMER)

Words: Robert Nichols Fall original Martin Bramah has carved out a real cult classic. His revamped post-punk vehicle has never sounded better since The Greatest Hit soared nearly forty years ago. Archetypal Blue Orchids, featuring big Hammond-type keyboards, doodling guitar salvos and near deadpan vocals are augmented by added psychedelia from electric ukulele. The songs have drama and rage gloriously. Speed The Day races out of the traps with the dark and furious Deeper Than Sin, Bramah twists Chicago’s 25 Or 6 To 4 into sinister waters spilling over into a tortured lament Streets of Flowers, while Meet The Maker holds a mirror to Blue Orchids’ role as one time backing band to Nico. All in all, and a century on, Martin Bramah is still very much alive at the Witch Trials. Released: 25.06.21 www.blueorchids.bandcamp.com

Words: Conor Roy Wolf Alice smash through myths of a ‘difficult third album’ following an impressive visual campaign for the release of the highly anticipated Blue Weekend. Thematically, the record finds vocalist Ellie Rowsell at her most exposed, citing past experiences of love and the role music played in her life to craft songs that truly resonate for her listeners. The result is a coherent and beautiful collection of positively anthemic tracks. Ellie’s vocals are powerful but retain their vulnerability, shimmering over building drums and soaring guitar lines. Blue Weekend is full of ‘main character’ moments for the listener and the band stay true to their M.O, including a couple of grunge gems just to remind us that there’s still some rough among the diamonds. Released: 11.06.21 www.wolfalice.co.uk

Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice Thriving in the spaces between genres and scenes, singer and multi-instrumentalist Taja Cheek has a rare ability to confront and console simultaneously, and on Fatigue, her second album as L’Rain, she pushes her intricate sonic collage to new heights in pursuit of societal liberation and psychic breakthrough. Sweet gospel vocals meet glitchy electronics, which meet percussive free jazz flurries which meet rave-ready airhorns, and all this on opening track Fly, Die. Placing a premium on concision and tight-knit juxtaposition, Cheek’s work is full of kinetic potency (see the sodden groove of Suck Teeth) and ethereal possibility (the densely layered, crystalline vocal wall on Take Two), offering the listener a place of sanctuary whilst still forcing the into moments of wondrous, dangerous calcination. Released: 25.06.21 www.lrain.info

4/5

5/5

3.5 / 5

SPELLLING THE TURNING WHEEL (SACRED BONES RECORDS)

BEARTOOTH BELOW (RED BULL RECORDS)

RAOUL VIGNAL YEARS IN MARBLE (TALITRES)

Words: Mark Corcoran-Lettice More commonly associated with heads-down psychedelic rock and metal-informed songwriting, Sacred Bones might not be the obvious home for Spellling’s enigmatic art pop, but The Turning Wheel suggests that this is an artist happy to row against any expectations or demands placed on her work. Dramatically expanding her sonic palette from fragile synths to grandiose symphonic arrangements, the dichotomy between the surreal and the saccharine Mercury Rev landed on for Deserter’s Songs and All Is Dream is as viable a comparison as any: the precision of Chrystia Cabral’s voice and major key string flourishes may sometimes land closer to the world of Disney soundtracks than is strictly comfortable, but on centrepiece moments like Boys At School and Queen Of Wands, her boldness more than pays off. Released: 25.06.21 www.spellling.bandcamp.com

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Words: Laura Doyle It’s no new trope to use creative outlets as a coping mechanism – and no one is more honest about it than the brains behind post-hardcore monolith Beartooth, Caleb Shomo. Those who say ‘Don’t get angry, get even’ have clearly never suffered from depression; sometimes the only answer is indulgent fury. Beartooth may have started as a casual project, but now one of the foremost outfits in metal offer an outlet for listeners to revel in their own misery, with songs as depressing as they are liberating. Below encapsulates inner turmoil like nothing else, with unrelenting riffs that burst eardrums and vocals that tear straight into your soul. Beartooth don’t offer a cure for anything, but Below might just be the treatment to stem the flow you’re looking for. Released: 25.06.21 www.beartoothband.com

Words: Elodie A. Roy Vignal’s voice – fine and soft as snowflakes – reminds me of French singer Yves Simon; his guitar playing creates a chillingly brittle environment. Everything about this third album is mysteriously rigid. Years In Marble is full of borrowed seasons – every song seems related to a distant, now frozen, source. The wintry atmosphere could be traced back to Nico’s late 1960s records. But the point is elsewhere. Despite its ghostly tones, this is not a revivalist album. Rather, much like US songwriter Sam Burton, Vignal has just begun to discover his own vision of 1970s folk rock – quick and vivid beneath the snow. Though he still seems guarded and uncertain, his discretely brilliant Moonlight Visit could be an indication of where he is travelling next. Released: 18.06.21 www.raoulvignal.bandcamp.com


ALBUMS

3/5

3/5

4/5

ZOEE FLAW FLOWER (ILLEGAL DATA)

HIATUS KAIYOTE MOOD VALIANT (BRAINFEEDER RECORDS/ NINJA TUNE)

GARY STEWART LOST, NOW FOUND (SELF-RELEASE)

Words: Robin Webb A sweet and delightfully sour debut from London musician Harriet Zoe Pittard under the moniker Zoee. Found sounds both musical and domestic form a basic architecture to build her songs, which are delivered with definite quirky Englishness, and an undercurrent of playful off kilter menace. Very much leaning into pop with a creative twist, she uses the sounds of her everyday – train announcers or microwaves – forming them into tunes with delicately sung lyrical insights to her microcosm. There’s a few real standout tracks here: Evening Primrose is lush but unnerving, Microwave frames a perfect pop ditty and record highlight The Loft is sonically experimental and has a glorious free jazz contribution from experimental saxophonist Ben Vince. Released: 25.06.21 www.zoee.uk

Words: Cameron Wright Hiatus Kaiyote jump into an inconsistent world of silky, 90s drum-patterns and neo-soul vocal lines washing over each other. Moving away from the flowing identity of previous releases, Mood Valiant strikes a much more jarring balance as the transitions rocket from the smooth to the explosive. Mood Valiant shows the band leap into action, as the production glows with an abrasive nostalgia. Rummaging through the archives, Hiatus Kaiyote revive troupes from the 90s, many of which were abandoned for a reason. The jazzy percussion either brutally dominates or perfectly ignites the tracks, and the vocals are either insignificant or essential to the song’s sound. There is a phenomenal album waiting to come from Hiatus Kaiyote, but this isn’t it. Released: 25.06.21 www.hiatuskaiyote.com

Words: Dawn Storey The second solo release from a member of Hope & Social this year, Gary Stewart’s gentle Scots accent is at the forefront on this collection of folk pop songs written in 2020 and released after he taught himself how to record and edit ‘on the go’ in lockdown. His delicate vocals become noticeably harsher on Leopard – a tale of new beginnings summed up by the line “I walked in and caught you out”. Thankfully, despite its title, Sadder Day Song brings happier news of a girl who has since stolen his heart, but it’s the brass bursts in the toe-tapping Tailspin and the trip-off-the-tongue chorus of the jubilant Hot To Trot which are the highlights of this DIY lockdown delight. Released: 14.06.21 www.garystewart.bandcamp.com

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MIXTAPE WORDS: MARIE RICHARDSON

I’m Marie, a gig lover and joint organiser for weekend festival Allcalmy, which takes place at Sentry Circle in Northallerton from Friday 25th-Sunday 27th June. We wanted artists to appeal to all ages and tastes, and we’re keen to showcase potential big stars of the future in a small and intimate family friendly micro fest. Each of the acts are unique and we feel truly blessed that they have all agreed to play. The line-up includes Twist Helix, Moodbay, Ceiling Demons, The Space Agency, Sapien Trace, Analogue Blood, Michael CG, Abel Raise The Cain and many more. In addition, there’s yoga, cooking demos, fun disco, fancy dress, fire pits and dance tents, with loads more to be announced. After an awful year of sadness it will be nice to smile again and listen to live music in great company! Tickets cost £35 for the full weekend including camping (day tickets from £10), best purchased via PayPal: cosmicmaz@yahoo.com or call 07591 539459 Here are a few of the songs that inspire me and co-organiser and gig buddy Clive, plus a few favourites from the festival! www.instagram.com/mazzledazzle666

DAVID BOWIE REBEL REBEL Bowie reminds me always of Clive!

THE LEVELLERS MAID OF THE RIVER The Levellers are my favourite band of all time and I never tire of seeing them live, so I love all of their stuff. I chose this as it is a beautiful song, it brings tears to my eyes and brought me out of epression at a very low time in my life.

RUNRIG THE MIGHTY ATLANTIC This song makes your hairs stand on end when it comes to the instrumental part; what a powerful song! The Last Dance in Stirling was their last ever gig and I was proud to be there.

FREE WISHING WELL Anything that Paul Rodgers sings is magic, and this reminds me of my childhood dancing with my sister.

EDWIN STARR 25 MILES I absolutely love dancing to this, it really lifts me up and reminds me of the fab nights I’ve had at local club night Get Hip, It’s a quality boogie tune and it rocks the dance floor!

AMY MACDONALD TROUBLED SOUL Such a stunning song, she is one of my favourite artists. I’ve seen her twice live and she is beyond gifted. This song makes me think of my granddaughter Arya, as it was the first song we both danced to together.

MOODBAY MY THING

TWIST HELIX AMSTERDAM A beautiful album and a lovely track, Twist Helix have got a fab future ahead and live they are electric!

CILLA BLACK MY WORLD Cilla was the first gig I ever went to aged nine, and I cried all the way through this song because she moved me so much.

THE WHO BEHIND BLUE EYES I have to say they are one of the best bands in the world, true legends!

We love this tune and were lucky enough to be asked to appear in the video which was great fun! We can’t wait to see them play Allcalmy as their new album is stunning, a must for anyone who loves the likes of Lana del Rey or the Eurythmics.

DO YOU HAVE A NEW RELEASE PLANNED, AN UPDATE TO INFORM OUR READERS OF OR A STORY TO TELL? WE’RE HERE FOR YOU EMAIL: INFO@NARCMEDIA.COM 46


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NARC. #173 June 2021  

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