Vibrations Magazine Leeds and West Yorkshire February 2013 Free
06 14 16
18 22 24 34 40
Department M Rodina
Submotion Orchestra How to be a Band Reviews
One for the Road
Editor Rob Wright - firstname.lastname@example.org Design Ben McKean & Niall Hargrave email@example.com
Contributors Neil Dawson, Bart Pettman, Steve Walsh, Rob Wright, Mike Price, Matt Brown, Emma Quinlan, Ben Rutledge, Mat Forrest, Cactus, Alex Wignall, Tom Bench, Oliver Deans, Paddy Gunn, Amy Walker, Thom P. Smith, Tim Hearson, Jack Sibley, Greg Elliott
Picture Editor Bart Pettman - bart @vibrations.org.uk
Cover Photograph Department M by Bart Pettman
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Live Editor Tim Hearson - email@example.com
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Editorial What I’m trying to say in my own inimitable incongruous way is that there’s never been a better time to support your local whatever – shop, bar, venue or the like. It’s good for the soul and good for the community... in fact, it makes you part of the solution, not the problem. I’m just recovering from the Brudenell Social Club’s first beer festival and let me tell you
It’s also never been a better time to support your local media – I know you love us, don’t worry, I’m not going to have a go at you for not showing the love. No, what I’m going to do is give a big shout out for Mr Alan Raw. He’s been representing for the local music scene on a Thursday night for a good while now and has even let yours truly and a bevy of Vibrations groovers wax lyrical on his weekly programme now and again... without calling security. Suffice to say, he’s a good egg. He’s also a fighter, and has recently rescued the Introducing programme from the reign of terroresque cuts that BBC regional programming has been experiencing, though not without injury – it’s been moved from Thursday to Saturday and has been cut down from three hours to two – but the point is it is still there, still keeping it live and still keeping it local. So c’mon people now... smile on your brothers... etc. And listen to BBC Introducing on a Saturday (or iplayer if you do go for that going out thing)... and buy me a drink. An IPA would be lovely... EdBert, 2013
Words by Robert Wright
It’s not all good news though; as I write this, HMV are looking very likely to go into administration. I know it’s a chain, but it’s the last of the big music stores to fall before the all-conquering Amazon. It also means another gaping hole in the high street, something that already resembles Shane McGowan’s mush after a month of eating and drinking nothing but granulated sugar and coke. I guess this economic climate is like the twilight of the dinosaurs – the big boys are going down hard. On the bright side, the smaller shops and the independents are hanging in there like the hardy mammals that eventually became the human race – Crash and Jumbo are still there, OK Comics is alive and kicking, Travelling Man still provides a regular nerdgasm for me. There are even some new kids on the block like Candy Hero, who sell... candy, amazingly.
that I felt very righteous indeed... until the next morning, when I felt like I’d been drop kicked in the head by a red kangaroo wearing steel toecapped DMs – curse you IPA for your tastiness!
Postscript: at the time of proofing, HMV is sort of out of the woods, but sadly we have lost two other great institutions – Scheerer’s Music and The Stool Pigeon – as well as Dock Street Market and Empire, not to mention Joseph’s Well; hard times indeed, and a harsh reminder that if we don’t keep up the support, we will lose out. Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow, but soon, and for the rest of our lives...
So Christmas and new year have been and gone, we are more than halfway through the dark and those of you who’ve obtained gym memberships in haste will probably be back on the ciggies and drink in time for giving them up for Lent. Bowie’s got a new one, Suede’s got a new one, Pulp’s got a new one, I’m expecting Mother Vulpine to reform any minute... might not hold my breath for that. Something old, something new... wait a minute, that’s weddings, but it seems to be very 2013.
Dial M for Melodiousness
In the summer of 2010, in a corner of the Brudenell Social Club, the members of the popular music combo known as Grammatics called time on their tenure as one of Leeds’ most promising bands. In the winter of 2012, Rob Wright sits in the very same corner, facing one of the personae dramatis, Owen Brinley, as he innocently sups a pre-Christmas Guinness. I hope this isn’t a jinx. “Rest assured, it will be difficult to split up with myself with this project,” he says with a smile, “I’m hoping even I can’t ruin it.” Owen, though hardly old by any standard, is a Leeds music veteran, first through Colour of Fire, then Grammatics and lately of Stalking Horse, but has, by his own confession, never made it to a second album. With Department M, a project of his making named after a fictional government department from the film ‘The Lives of Others’, he hopes to rectify that. Department M’s beginnings lie prior to the demise of Grammatics in the songs that Owen was writing in his bedroom, ones he thought ‘wouldn’t fly’ with Grammatics: “it was just too much of a deviation and I was tired of trying to convince people the direction that I’d want to take them – when you have four or five people in a band, you have to do a lot of convincing when you’re the sole songwriter.” Despite that, he held onto them, waiting for the right moment to come along for them to ‘fly’.
Grammatics splitting up turned out to be that moment, but it was James Kenosha who persuaded Owen to record them in their raw state. According to Owen, it was quite a revelation to have such creative freedom, unfettered by band diplomacy and even such trivia as whether the song was finished or not. “The creative process was the recording of the song, there wasn’t too much thinking that went into it,” he says, “I was saying to James that I had ideas but I hadn’t finished them and he said ‘don’t finish them, just bring them to the studio and do it’. He motivated me into going into the studio - I think that if he hadn’t done that I would have spent a lot longer out of the studio.” The result was an album’s worth of material, ready to roll... but all in good time. Owen is in no hurry to release an album, preferring a
‘wait and see’ policy. In fact, though Department M has been about conceptually since December 2010, its first gigs were only in October 2012, the first in York and the second supporting Stalking Horse in Preston. Their Leeds debut came in December 2012, in front of a capacity crowd and a who’s who of the Leeds music glitterati at Nation of Shopkeepers. “I was really happy that people still cared,” he says almost bashfully. His onstage line-up is pretty stellar too, with Lisa Webster (Menace Beach), Tommy Davidson (These Monsters) and... Wu. “Wu does a Wu role where he can do whatever he wants.” The set up is mainly keyboard, with Owen concentrating primarily on vocal duties. “One of the things I wanted to avoid this time was doing too much onstage – with Grammatics I had a stressful time on stage because too much could go wrong.” True to say, I can’t remember a time when Grammatics weren’t beset by ‘technical difficulties’ of one kind or another. “I didn’t want to play too much guitar and sing at the same time, I just wanted to do one thing well rather than ten things not so well. I’ve still got quite a lot to do, but they’re not difficult tasks I’ve got, it’s just pressing a button at the exact right time.” He takes a moment to think about what he has just said and laughs. “Which is actually harder than it sounds.” Soundwise, Department M harken back to the electronic eighties, but it appears this is as much necessity as engineering. “We have a lot of analog synths, instruments that were released around that era. But I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t influenced by 80s music. My way in with electronic music was that, when I was growing up, my dad was a roller disco DJ. I’d go to the disco at the age of three or four and he’d play stuff like the KLF.” It’s amazing how the music we hear when we’re very young can be so influential on us. Owen nods at this. “One of the things I love about electronic music is the purity of the sound and production,” he says passionately, “electronic music just sounds so much better over a big PA in a nightclub. It hits you, it’s almost like rock music, it has a band of frequencies that is quite narrow a lot of the time... sonically, electronic music packs a bigger punch in a lot of ways. If you listen to something like the Human League or Depeche Mode, there’s quite an economy to how many things they put on the record. QOTSA for instance would be trying to fill the sonic palette...” As well as being in various bands, Owen has DJ’d on and off for the last ten years, but has recently had to give that up due to hyperacusis.
Photography by Bart Pettmann
“I’ve had tinnitus for about ten years but recently I’ve had hyperacusis as well,” he admits. Hyperacusis is a condition which makes you extremely sensitive to certain bandwidths of sound and can make everyday life a very painful experience, never mind gigs or discos. “A lot of people who develop hyperacusis go and sit in sealed rooms for the rest of their life and completely try to avoid noise, but that wasn’t really an option for me.” So how does a musician deal with something that makes listening to music an agonising experience? “A lot of people on line were saying ‘you don’t have to give up music’, just a lot of people do really quiet acoustic stuff, but for me it was the opposite; I was determined to make louder music because of it, incorporate bits of horrible punishing noise, because to me that seemed like a way of beating it, that was my therapy against it – i’m gonna do this album, I’m not gonna give into it, it’s not going to sculpt what I make in the way it wants to.” So basically, be a stubborn-arsed bastard. He laughs. “It’s probably not medically advised as the route to go down, but one of the things you do have to do with hyperacusis is reacclimatize, you need to get your sensitivity down by hearing sounds which hurt. For me it’s war, because I had a period where I was quite afraid of sound. I do suffer the consequences of listening to music loud, but I’ve started to do it again and I enjoy it again.” He still has to wear ear defenders on stage, but the fact is he’s still on stage. So, he’s back – what now? “I think I’d like to release [the album] on a label – having been involved with a couple of DIY releases... and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if I had to do it that way having had experience of doing it, but first I’d like to try and find a label to do it just so I can concentrate on making music.” It sounds like he’s got some
interest too. “There’s a couple of labels that are interested in trying to do a single, which is all I’ve been trying to achieve at the moment. I’ve just started now sending little bits and bats out, speaking to a couple of people about management and getting a record out and starting to think about doing a lot more gigs. All of a sudden it’s gone from nothing to... gaining a bit of momentum...” I ask him about a tour, but from previous experience, he’s a bit reluctant. “To be on the road you need to be earning £200-250 a show otherwise you’re losing that much a show – there needs to be, and I hate to say it, a bit of hype. It’s got to be sustainable. The way things were ten years ago, management and record labels were just chucking money at everything and anything, but now if you can’t cover costs and if you don’t have a trust fund it’s impossible...” But you’re pretty happy with where you are and where you’re going? “With the four of us having been in other bands, we’ve got history... but at the same time it feels like you’ll be supported by the Leeds scene... everyone’s very supportive of each other. I still think that despite the fact that there are a lot of heavy bands in Leeds, we’re still quite abrasive in a way... it’s not as if we couldn’t play on the same bill as a lot of these other bands... I still think I have plenty of potential to completely fuck this up, but I think the main thing I’ve learned is not to expect anything, not to take it so seriously...” And with that, we stop talking about music and start talking about beer. Which is something to take seriously. To listen to ‘pHARMACY’, Department M’s latest track, go to http://deptm.bandcamp.com/, or go and see them play with Menace Beach this March, when they’ll also be releasing their debut single on Hide and Seek... and be sure to ‘like’ them on Facebook... it’s just friendly...
AD Submotion Orchestra
See You Later, Alli-hater...
Would you believe that Castrovalva are into art and don’t like violence? Apparently so, but don’t press them too much about their cousins... Emma Quinlan met up with twothirds of the Fight Before Christmas winning Castrovalva boys to discuss the band’s hopes, dreams and how they’re going to be the planet’s next gothic icons… “I think we’re going to take over the world. I think we’re going to be the next Marilyn Manson.” It’s a bold statement to make and one that some people might find slightly odd. Do they honestly want to be the next Marilyn Manson? “I kind of do a little bit…why not?” Welcome to the wonderfully wacky world of Castrovalva, or at least two thirds of Castrovalva anyway (“Leemun lives in Birmingham,” explains drummer Dan regarding the singer’s absence). We meet in Nation of Shopkeepers, where Dan, who is joined by bassist Ant, informs us that he is actually doing this interview during his lunch break. Just like the rest of his band mates, Dan also has a normal and mundane job, so they can continue to make music. “We only really work just to fund band stuff,” says Ant, “as long as I can get by in life and make some music that’s all I care about.” Dan nods his head in agreement, clearly on the same wavelength. However, it’s not just the same wavelength that Ant and Dan are both on; they’re also on the same payroll. “We work at the same place,” Ant tells us, “I’m on different shifts.” Is this how you met? “No, that’s even weirder, we already knew each other.” At one point they even used to live together, which begs the question, are they not sick of each other by now? “No, I could never get sick of him,” grins Dan. “I’m too nice.” How modest of you, Ant.
Both hailing from Leeds, Castrovalva first began as an instrumental two-piece in 2007. Leemun was added to the band as a permanent fixture in 2009, after he guested on the bands first album. “He kind of bullied his way on to a couple of the songs,” jokes Dan. “Yeah,” chuckles Ant, “He used to do vocals [over our songs] and just send them to us.” It’s a unique way of getting noticed, we’ll give him that. However, for all those wannabe singers out there who think this sounds like a good idea, Leemun wasn’t just a cheeky stranger that fancied being in the band; the boys already knew him too.
“We used to run a DIY record label called Salt The Wound and the reason that we knew Leemun was because we signed the band he was in before Castrovalva. We put a vinyl out by him,” reminisces Dan, “He does his own graphic art stuff as well [so] when we did our first EP, we asked him to do all the graphic art.” This was when Leemun executed the final phase in his dastardly plan. “I’d gone round to check some proofs of the art when he said ‘I’ve just recorded vocals for all your songs’ so I was like alright, cool.” What happened after that? “We put one out on that CD and then when he was in the area he’d just come to a gig and start improvising,” adds Ant, “Then he just ended up in the band.” Not many bands have a story like that. When asked this question, most acts are all ‘we knew each from school’ or ‘we put an ad out.’ However, this is what makes Castrovalva so different from a lot of the artists out there: they don’t do things the traditional way, a point backed up by the story of how they decided on their name. “Why did we decide on a name?” asks Dan, “...because originally we decided we weren’t having a name.” Come again? “We picked a name just because we wanted to do one gig,” answers Ant, “That was that weird improvised gig that we just messed about with.” Apparently, in 2007 these two decided to play a gig at the Packhorse, with the intention of it only being a one-off. In reality the gig actually served as a breeding ground for Castrovalva. “When we started, [our sound] was all about weird soundscapes and weird noises,” explains Ant, “it was like weird noise loops [with] bass and drums sometimes.” Then came the gig and Ant and Dan saw the new dimensions that could be added to their music. “There was like ten minutes where we just decided to use drum kit and bass and that was the best part of the set, so we decided to start using more drums and bass,” Dan adds, “then it just became a proper band.” Again, the birth of the lads as real artists isn’t exactly a conventional music fairy-tale, but why the duo actually chose Castrovalva as a name is a little less obscure.
Their title came about not because of some crazy dream or epiphany in the night, but because of the boys combined love of art, in particular MC Escher, who’s painting they named the band after. “Yeah [we] love art,’ says Ant, “I love Escher, I think at one point my walls were covered in Escher pictures.” Some people don’t make this connection, however. “It’s nothing to do with Dr Who, stresses Dan, “We get asked it every time someone talks about us.” Noted. So what about their music? Well, apparently Castrovalva’s sound comes under the genre (according to their Facebook page) ‘Noise Hop’. What in gods name is ‘Noise Hop’? “Yeah we just made up a genre,” laughs Ant, “[It’s] catchy noise…noise you can dance to.” After hearing Castrovalva this actually, in a strange way, kind of makes sense, but where exactly did the term come from? “I think someone in an interview a long time ago,” explains Dan, “…called [us] a mixture of noise rock and hip-hop and they kind of just put noise hop.” They thought, “it was funny…so we kept it and it kind of stuck.” When it comes to influences, the band “…all listen to similar stuff but we also listen to different music too. We all listen to weird and loud stuff.” Seeing as the band themselves could be described as ‘weird and loud’ this comes as no surprise. As for artists the boys enjoy, “Blood Brothers, The Mars Volta, Dillinger Escape Plan, Glassjaw, Everytime I Die…then there’s like hip hop stuff as well like grime.” Dan refutes this allegation. “No, you like grime. I fucking hate grime. I just can’t stand it.” Anyone else get the feeling Dan might not like grime? “He doesn’t like all those aggressive London lads,” laughs Ant. “I’m a delicate northerner,” smiles Dan, “I don’t like all that aggressive southern stuff.”
It’s a good job Dan lives in the north then, where that particular music genre is often heard of but very rarely seen. What is seen here in Leeds though, are plenty of experimental bands, many of which Castrovalva share a record label with. Having joined the independent label Brew in 2009, Castrovalva have been surrounded by many other home-grown talents such as Hawk Eyes and Humanfly. Out there the competition is fierce but Castrovalva don’t see their label mates as threats. “I think we’re all varied enough to not have to really worry about competition. Plus we’re all really good friends with everyone that’s on Brew so it’s more like a little family,” explains Dan. When someone else gets recognition or gets rave reviews, apparently the rest of the bands on the label don’t writhe in jealousy; in fact they’re genuinely pleased to see the others doing so
well. “It’s like your cousin getting married to a really fit wife,” Ant tells us, “…so even though you fancy his wife, you’re just happy for him.” Nice analogy. Castrovalva themselves have had a few ‘babes’ in their time, especially in 2010, when they released their second album, “We Are A Unit.” Coming out to rave reviews, the English music press lapped up the album and gave Castrovalva a platform on which to build. Last year they brought out their third album, “You’re Not In Hell, You’re In Purgatory My Friend” and this year they plan to release another batch of music, this time in the smaller format of an EP. “We’ve got the EP and we’re talking about doing another tour around May time so that’s probably when we’re going to try and get the EP out.” After that the boys will look toward the festival season. “We’re going to try and do as many festivals [as we can] so we don’t have to buy tickets,” jokes Dan, “I just want to play them all. I’m willing to play everything and everywhere.” Unfortunately, this marks the end of our conversation with the witty Castrovalva boys; one of which will now have to get back to his day job. Before we leave though, any final words lads? “Haters are gonna hate, Alligators are gonna alligate and Jamaicans are gonna Jamake.” Okay Ant. “I do apologise, Dan you have to take over now.” Dan shakes his head, “I don’t think I can follow that up.” Neither do we. ‘You’re Not In Hell, You’re In Purgatory My Friend’ is available from Brew Records for you to get your ears around it. I advise it.
The Catwoman and the Queen
Mike Price first stumbled across laid back duo Rodina, whilst taking in a Cool Acoustics gig at the Hyde Park Cellars back in the tail end of 2009. Whilst their material sounded pretty good in its stripped down form, it was only after lead singer Aoife Hearty presented him with a copy of their debut album ‘Over the Sun’ as a parting gift that he realised, upon savouring the rich sun drenched urban sound emanating from his speakers on the drive home, that he’d perhaps found something a bit special. Since then they’ve gigged all over the place and Mike has been lucky enough to witness a belting full band set at 2010 Limetree Festival. There have also been several stateside shows and then last spring, Aoife and Joe even performed ‘Silvermine’ for Her Majesty the Queen when the Royal party visited Leeds on the Diamond Jubilee tour, making friends in high places indeed.
How did you get together with Christian Wolstenholme? We were introduced by a DJ promoter who had heard Rodina and recommended collaborating with Christian. We sent some piano and vocal parts to a few songs and then were sent back some mixes and we were really impressed with the results.
Following the release of the splendid experimental ambiance contained within second LP ‘Rodina and the Wolf’ our heroes have been busier than ever, their songs even getting decent airplay time on the radio stations that matter. Despite all these frantic comings and goings, Mike managed to catch up with Aoife in the run up to Christmas and see how all things Rodina were going.
How did Christian’s arrival affect how Rodina and the Wolf came together compared to Over the Sun? The music changed direction from Over the sun; instead of using a live band we just produced songs with a “remix” approach. Christian uses beats and effects that create a darker more haunting Rodina. He loves attention to detail and creating soundscapes – that’s why there are lots of little sounds and hidden textures.
When did you and Joe first start playing together? We first started writing songs together back in 2007 - we then started performing in a few little gigs, then decided to make an EP, which turned into an album and so it just carried on from there. What were the first tunes you learned together? I wrote (the words to) a song very early on called ‘Always Had a Dream’. Joe and I then made the music for the song together with guitarist Johnny Flockton. They were quite jazz influenced songs off the first album and this really set the tone for everything we were going to do.
Did you get nervous before playing live for the Queen? It was amazing to see her get out of the Rolls Royce and then sit right in front of us. But I’d say I was only as nervous as some other gigs - The Queen gets most of the attention really.
How does playing in the US compare to the UK? Usually American audiences seem to be more open to different kinds of music. One gig we played at the beginning of last year was a big venue that had both Dubstep star Katy B and meters funk legend George Porter Jr on the same night. People were passing between the two rooms throughout the evening where What artists/bands have influenced your music? as in the UK I don’t think those types of audience would I like down tempo, world music and jazz, so not mix - Also in the UK we tend to play smaller jazz venues necessarily mainstream stuff - people like Chris Connor, as that’s how the scene tends to pigeonhole the music. It’s Yasmin Levy and The Fureys. I also like more ambient music such as Massive Attack, Zero 7 and there’s also Jeff great when you play a gig and everyone listens regardless of what style they think it is. Buckley.
Rodina Name a current band/artist that excites you. I really love the song writing, voice and production on the songs of Swedish singer Lykke Li. Who is the next band/artist you’re planning to see live? I’d love to go and see Ren Harvieu - I love the song Through the Night and her classic jazz sound. What are the plans for Rodina during the next twelve months? We’re returning to the US in May and June plus we’ll be playing some summer festival dates in the UK. We’d also like to record a new album with a strings section, plus we’ll keep writing songs. Is there any advice that you would give to other bands starting out? Keep to your own style, stay positive and never get a day job.
Rodina and The Wolf is available from http://www.rodinamusic. com where you can keep up with all their latest by royal appointment goings ons...
If you could be any superhero, who would it be? The only super hero (super villain) I would want to be is Catwoman.....but there can only be one Catwoman and that’s Michelle Pfeiffer...
“Developing the FILMusic strand…is really central to what the Howard Assembly Room is all about. We are particularly interested in exploring the intersections between different art forms. The Howard Assembly Room…has been through many incarnations: variety hall, concert platform, orchestral rehearsal room – and cinema. “The old Assembly Rooms were transformed into a cinema in 1907 during the first flush of film-making, and would have screened silent films during the early part of the 20th century with piano accompaniment. Given this long history, it seems only fitting now for us to explore contemporary musical responses to some of most intriguing films ever made.” There have already been events on the 25th January (the Tippett Quartet play Bernard Hermann) and 8th February (La Belle et La Bette) but the festival continues on 15th February, when we have a screening of Jean Vigo’s erotically charged masterpiece L’Atalante. This is the story of two newlyweds travelling the waterways of France and dreaming of the excitements of Paris, their destination. It is a story of love, despair, jealousy and redemption and though it wasn’t appreciated on its release in 1934, it has is now regularly rated one of the greatest films of all time. This showing is paired with a short concert of French chansons and accordion music. The following night (16th) the Howard Assembly Rooms present the oldest surviving animated fairy-tale, The Adventures of Prince Achmed. Made by Lotte Reiniger in Germany in 1926, it features a silhouette animation technique Reiniger had invented which involved manipulated cut-outs made from cardboard, much like Wayang shadow puppets. It’s a style Reiniger used throughout her long career and will be instantly recognisable to most of us. The story is based on The
If this wasn’t dizzying enough, on 1st March cinema buffs who like their music leftfield will go stratospheric. It’s the presentation of expressionist director F.W. Murnau’s tragic love story Sunrise, with the UK premiere of a live soundtrack by KTL commissioned by the Louvre. KTL is a collaboration between Sunn O))) drone artist Stephen O’Malley and the electronic experimentalist Peter Rehberg. Whereas Murnau is probably best remembered for Nosferatu, Sunrise is generally considered to be the pinnacle of his career and was voted the fifth best film of all time in a British Film Institute critics poll in 2012. Expect a score of dark, intense drones to accompany this story of a farmer who falls under the spell of a dangerous and seductive city woman… Before we see another film, on 14th March there is an interlude for the films of the imagination – a rare concert by guitarist Marc Ribot, best known for his work with Tom Waits. Ribot reimagines film music in a performance which includes pieces from his album, Silent Movies, a collection of never-used film scores and film-inspired compositions.
Words by Cactus
The answer is the FILMusic season at the Howard Assembly Room this Spring. Starting in January, they are presenting an array of films and concerts (some of which intermingle), concentrating on silent classics rarely seen in a cinema and the old and new music for them. Except the Howard Assembly Room isn’t exactly a cinema. But as Dominic Gray, Projects Director at Opera North, says:
Tales from 1001 Nights and the screening is accompanied by a live gamelan (a traditional musical ensemble from Indonesia featuring a variety of instruments such as metallophones, xylophones, kendang (drums), gongs, bamboo flutes and bowed and plucked strings).
The 22nd of March sees the finale of this season and is just as special – The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, a German silent horror film directed by Robert Wiene from a screenplay by Hans Janowitz and Carl Mayer. There are few films more grotesquely surreal than this one from 1920. With its stylized sets made of abstract, jagged buildings painted on canvas backdrops and actors using an unrealistic technique that exhibited jerky and dancelike movements, this film is seriously disturbing. So who better to provide a new soundtrack to this than Martyn Jacques of the grotesquely surreal Tiger Lillies? Mr Jacques is performing the score live, so don’t sit in the front row! 15 February 16 February 1 March 14 March 22 March
L’Atalante The Adventures of Prince Achmed with gamelan Sunrise with KTL Marc Ribot The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari with Martyn Jacques
For more information and tickets, visit http://www.operanorth. co.uk/howard-assembly-room
What links: a love story written by Carl Mayer, the original Nosferatu, a drone/noise/metal band from the USA, a string quartet, a shower, punk cabaret, surrealism, fairy tales, opera, a gamelan and the French New Wave?
Leeds Film Festival
...at the Howard Assembly Room
Formed in Leeds in 2009, Submotion Orchestra have quickly built up a reputation as one of the most exciting live bands to come out of the city, as well as releasing a string of tracks which have found favour with the likes of Radio 1’s Giles Peterson. Unlike most bands who have come into existence in the last couple of years, their musical style remains difficult to define; the band mixes elements of dubstep, soul, avant-garde jazz and electronica to form a sound that is welcoming and approachable whilst retaining all the heavy basslines and relentless, kidney-bothering percussion that you might expect from a band whose producer Ruckspin lists The Prodigy’s ‘Music For The Jilted Generation’ as his favourite album. The band has recently released their second LP ‘Fragments’ and Matt Brown (eventually) managed to catch up with keyboard player Taz Modi for a chat... Can you tell Vibrations readers about the history of the band? Where and when did you meet? We got together in 2009, after Tommy (Evans – drums), Fatty (bass) and Ruckspin (DJ/producer) had collaborated on an Arts Council-funded project at York Minster which combined dubstep, electronica and classical music. The music didn’t turn out to be amazing (in their opinion), but it got them thinking about combining dubstep rhythms and feel with live musicians and a jazz influence. One by one the rest of us came on board - we all knew each other from the Leeds jazz and funk scene and from the College of Music where Tommy, Ruckspin, Ruby (Wood – vocals), Fatty and Bobby (Beddoe – horns) all studied (the band is completed by percussionist Danny Templeman.) It took about 6 months of jamming, writing, and drinking tea but we got a sound established and started to build upon that pretty quickly. Are you all still based in Leeds? If not, how does that work with rehearsing and recording?
Ruby, Tommy and Fatty are all based in London now, but it doesn’t really affect the way we work too much. When we were establishing the sound of the group, we were all based in Leeds and got together regularly to work on stuff. Our first album (‘Finest Hour’, released in 2011) was already out by the time some of us started to drift south so things were getting more regular and it got easier to put time aside to get together. The way it works now is
that we’ll reserve time - anywhere from two days up to a week - to get together in either Leeds or London (though usually Leeds). When we’re together we’ll run new tunes, rehearse a live set, and drink a lot of coffee. We’ve just come back from two weeks in the Brecon Beacons getting stuff together for a third album, which went really well. We hired a little cottage in the middle of nowhere, cranked the amps up and just played for two weeks surrounded by snow and sheep. Very inspiring. How would you describe your sound? What are your main influences as a band? There seem to be heavy dubstep and avant jazz influences but the overall sound is quite unique. We’d hope that certain influences will come through in the music, but overall it won’t sound like anything specific too much. The range of stuff that we individually listen to, and are influenced by, is massive - even between ourselves it can be difficult to find that many common points. But it all goes into the music somewhere. Jazz is of course a big influence - we’re all improvising musicians, and most of us have degrees in jazz as well. But dubstep and electronic music is the other main side of what we do - our producer Ruckspin has his own solo career in dubstep so is pretty well-versed in that. Naturally the live approach will end up making it sound a bit different - nearly everything we do is done live. Can you talk about the new album, ‘Fragments’ - how has your sound developed since the first record? Have you got any favourite tracks (mine are ‘Fallen’ and ‘Coming Up For Air’)? We wanted to get a little further out with the sound on Fragments, and there’s some things there that stretch out pretty far from the first record - more classical and minimal influences, a larger range of instruments and textures. That’s kind of why we called it Fragments. We don’t have a favourite track on it - though ‘Thinking’ is getting some really good radio response at the moment, and ‘Thousand Yard Stare’ has become a live highlight. Generally, the response to the album has varied quite a lot - with the tracks that some people single out as the best being the worst for others. That suits us fine - we don’t really want to do a record that everyone agrees on. It’s a lot more fun if people have differing opinions and varied responses.
Some tracks (such as ‘Fallen’) seem to have a more mainstream, ‘poppier’ sound to me - would you agree and was this a more conscious decision? There are some tracks along those lines, but none of it is calculated any more than the more abstract and experimental tracks are wilfully abstract and experimental. Everything just seemed to come pretty naturally when we were writing and rehearsing, and even the ‘poppiest’ tracks still sound Submotion-y. How did the collaboration with Rider Shafique on ‘Times Strange’ come about and is there anyone you would like to work with in the future? Ruckspin had known him for a while and had wanted to use him on a track. Once we had ‘Times Strange’ down, it seemed to be a really natural fit for his style. There’s a ton of people we’d like to work with, and if we started mentioning them now we’d never stop. There are 7 of us in the band though so that’s plenty of people for the time being. How does the songwriting work in the band - are tracks worked on together or does someone bring in a demo or basic idea first?
It works in two basic ways. Someone - often Tommy, though Ruckspin and I both write whole tunes for the band too - will bring an idea or tune in and the band will workshop it ‘til it starts to feel good. Sometimes that will end up sounding pretty similar to what was originally brought in and sometimes it’ll be totally different. But everything goes through the band filter, and we work through the tunes by playing it together, without exception. The other way is that ideas come from jams or fragments, since we still do a lot of improvising together. Then we’ll structure the jams and start to turn them into something a bit more concrete. On our recent stay in Wales, we did a lot more of this - some people brought initial ideas, but everything was then jammed out, and we’ve ended up with at least 20 totally improvised ideas too.
Can you talk about your live show - how has this changed over the years and how easy is it to transfer the new tracks to a live setting? Which songs seem to go down best? It’s pretty easy to play most of our tunes live, since they’re all arranged by the band playing live at rehearsals rather than building the tune in the studio. This always means it’s come from live playing and won’t take too much to replicate live. Sometimes there’ll be stuff that’s difficult to do, or instruments we can’t get in, but the general effect and energy of a live band playing usually gets over that. ‘All Yours’ still gets a massive response whenever we play it, but ‘Thousand Yard Stare’ and ‘Blind Spot’ from Fragments are proving to be pretty big ones too. And we like to get new material into the live set as quickly as possible, to keep it fresh for us and the punters too. What have been some of the highlights over the band’s career? We’re lucky enough to have had quite a few special moments in a pretty short period of time. The European gigs are always big ones for us and we’ve had some crazy experiences out in Moscow and Eastern Europe, playing some pretty large gigs. We were lucky enough to get a Gilles Peterson session really early on, which was a great experience and of course did a lot to help out the band’s popularity. Getting to wander around the BBC’s Maida Vale studios, looking in on the old Radiophonic Workshop offices and stuff like that was pretty inspiring. What is the band up to at the moment – have you got anything exciting coming up in the near future? Like we mentioned, we’ve just come back from Wales having written and demoed a bunch of new stuff. There’ll be a third album along in a while, but in the meantime we’ll be doing a lot of festivals over summer and concentrating on the new material. ‘Fragments’ is out now on Exceptional Records www.submotion.co.uk
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“Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now”: the importance of written band agreements
Many of you out there will be in bands, will about to be in a band or thinking about forming a band. First of all, good luck. Realise that’s not much help. Ok. How about a series of articles dealing with some of the essentials and probably not thought about essentials of being a band? Any good? Good. First off with some pearls of wisdom about starting a band is our sonic solicitor, Pete Botts. Oh I wish I knew what I know now, when I was younger... So you’re all best friends now and, in any case, it’s all about the music, man! However, as members of The Smiths would probably tell you, it’s worth taking some time to think about your legal relationship with your fellow band members, preferably before the band is making any serious money. In fact, this can be a very positive and reassuring exercise, helping to clarify issues that may be at the back of all the band members’ minds. It may also stop unwanted tensions from creeping in and, once a written band agreement is drawn up, prevent or reduce future disagreement between band members. As a result of English partnership law, various legal rights and obligations are normally implied when a band starts to write or perform together. Although it is possible to amend many of these by a written band agreement, in the absence of such an agreement the following implied rights and obligations will often apply: 1. All band members are jointly and severally liable. This means that, for example, if your guitarist goes back to the studio and racks up costs by spending hours adding numerous overdubs to your demo, then the studio may sue the guitarist, you or any other band member for any unpaid bills. 2. A departing band member will continue to be liable, even after leaving the band, if the liability arose when he or she was still in the band.
session work or solo/side projects), then this profit must be shared with the other band members. The above list demonstrates why careful consideration must be given to the rights and liabilities of each band member at a very early stage in any band’s career. Further, as every band is different, the rights and liabilities imposed by law are often either inappropriate in the circumstances or require clarification. This explains why many bands choose to enter into a written band agreement and thereby displace the implied rights and liabilities. Additionally, putting aside the excitement and enthusiasm surrounding the formation of a new band for a moment, a well-drafted band agreement can act as a kind of “pre-nuptial” agreement in the event that the band breaks-up acrimoniously or otherwise. However, while it is important to record the variation of implied rights and liabilities in a written band agreement, it is also recommended that a written band agreement is used to help organise the band as a business by dealing with matters such as the following: 1. The responsibilities of each band member (e.g. to arrange rehearsals and van hire, or to update social media pages and profiles); 2. The assets (e.g. musical or recording equipment) which are band assets; 3. The split of band income from live performance, songwriting and other revenue streams; 4. The share of band expenses and how such expenses may be incurred on the band’s behalf; 5. The band decision-making process (e.g. procedures for entering into recording or publishing contracts, or buying equipment) and whether such decisions require unanimity or a percentage majority;
3. Each band member must contribute equally to band losses and is entitled to share equally in band profits. So, in the absence of an agreement to the contrary, the mate who just plays bass has the same entitlement to income as the multi-instrumentalist and songwriting creative force of the band.
6. The appointment of solicitors, accountants, managers or other third parties to act on the band’s behalf;
4. If a band member makes a profit from an activity connected with or competing with the band (e.g.
8. The procedure for dealing with departing or joining band members.
7. The ownership of band intellectual property (e.g. music, lyrics, band name or domain names); and
How To Be A Band
All of the above may seem unnecessarily complicated, especially when all you really want to think about is the creative process and moving your band forward. However, just imagine how much more of an unwelcome and complex distraction it could become once success, money and tensions between band members also form part of the equation. It is therefore sensible to give the rights, responsibilities and liabilities of each band member some serious thought at the outset and draw-up a written band agreement which will help to give the business side of the band sufficient certainty and structure.
For more information on written band agreements or for any other music law advice please contact Pete Bott on 0113 227 9284.Â You can also follow Pete on Twitter (@PeteLawBlacks) for regular music law and music industry news updates.
Albums Hookworms – Pearl Mystic (Gringo Records) Ever seen Hookworms live? A series of blissed out, driving riffs built from an intense wall of guitar noise, and singer Matt Johnson wailing ecstatically about God knows what. It’s a shattering sonic experience that could be the soundtrack to either some kind of life changing spiritual revelation, or the purging of some unfathomable heartache. Well, this album isn’t like that. Well, it is a bit. The opening brace of songs, ‘Away-Towards’ and ‘Form and Function’, are just what you would expect from a Hookworms album after seeing them live. The former fades in and builds over several sections of modulated volume and frenzy to a shattering climax, while the latter starts more aggressively but again ratchets up the intensity before doubling its time and ending in a storm of feedback. Oddly, thereafter the album largely turns its back on this kind of approach. So, of the next two songs, ‘In Our Time’ and ‘Since We Had Changed’, the former is a gorgeous sigh of a song but the latters’ static, enervated lope doesn’t really warrant its seven and half minutes. Part of the problem is that in an attempt to provide a continuous listening experience, three ‘ambient’ tracks have been used to form bridges between some of the songs. Attaching the first of these to the beginning of ‘In Our Time’ means we get 15 minutes of what is essentially swirling ambience, and to say this dissipates the energy set up by the first two tracks is an understatement. The mighty ‘Preservation’ then thundering into view only underlines the effect.
But then, a recording is not a live gig and if feels like the band has sought to produce an album that works as a listening experience in a more domestic setting. What the benefit of closer repeated listens to their songs brings
is the realisation that much of what they do is built on very traditional rock tropes. And I’m happy to report that they’ve retained the impenetrability of Johnson’s voice – a feature that goes some way to defining the band’s unique sound. The band have come a long way in a short time and this sounds like the first careful step along what will hopefully be a long journey. Steve Walsh Humanfly – Awesome Science (Brew) Leeds institution and ardent purveyors of the riff return with their fourth and probably most ambitious album to date. Having garnered attention and critical acclaim with their previous album, ‘Darker Later’, a relentlessly crushing, and yet forward thinking metallic behemoth of a record, the band, in their latest effort display a tectonic shift in direction. They ditch the downtrodden sludgy guitar work in favour of a lighter, more eclectic sound. This comes as a complete shock to the system, with the sheer heaviness and velocity that has come to characterise the Leeds four-piece lost amidst the labyrinth of effects pedals and intricate song structures. With a heavy nod to 70s progressive rock, the record comes complete with a psychedelic album sleeve, unfolding to reveal a collage of kaleidoscopic colours and cosmic shapes. The record sees some of the strongest song writing the band have had to offer so far, at its best sounding somewhere between the accessible yet artistic heavy flourishes of Baroness and the dark and disjointed progressive death metal of Opeth. In other areas of the album, notably in the close of the album’s opening track, ‘Golden Arrows’ and ‘The Armour of Science’, the band’s new obsession with effects pedals and extended guitar solos becomes tiresome and derivative. Occasions where the climax of a song would have previously relied on a monolithic riff now instead revolve around a kind of protometal Zepplin/Sabbath worship. Standout tracks include the second, third and fourth
Benjamin Rutledge David Broad – Never Can Tell Back in the olden days, Benjamin Wetherill, Fran Rodgers and David Broad formed a trad-folk triumvirate called the Folk Theatre Partisans. I am sure we are all aware of Benjamin’s genre defying musical stylings and Fran Rodgers has recently resurfaced to beguile the world again with THAT voice. But whatever happened to David Broad? He released an EP in 2008 and then... nothing. Until now. In that period of time, David has been working on ‘Never Can Tell’, 11 tracks of unadulterated folk which for the most part feels more than five years late. This doesn’t mean that it isn’t good and that I didn’t like it (what’s not to like about skiffly acoustic and regionalised vocals) it’s just that you shouldn’t expect anything ground breaking – Dylan has not gone electric. You can definitely hear his influences– the eponymous opener oozes Guthrie and Dylan, but the simple tale of the stations of love is very James Yorkston and ‘Congress Street’ is very similar to Leadbelly’s ‘Bourgeois Town’ – and he likes to keep things simple – there’s a mandolin in ‘I’ve Got Things to See to Back Home’ and a harmonica on ‘Too Late’ but it’s acoustic guitar or nought in the main – but his lyrics are fairly sincere and varied – he does jolly on ‘She Came Back’, haunting on ‘Unmade Bed’, regret on ‘I’ve Got Things...’ and this is what makes the album more than a museum piece. So I don’t understand why he sticks three traditional American folk songs right in the middle – surely he has more original material that would pack more of an emotional punch than another version
of ‘John Henry’? If it wasn’t for this filler, I’d be tempted to say Leeds was on its way to finding its James Yorkston equivalent but... not just yet. Next time? Bit sooner than five years though... Rob Wright Return to Aljustrel – Tell The People I’m Not Coming Down (Self release) The first thing that is apparent from listening to Tell The People I’m Not Coming Down is that Return to Aljustrel are not afraid to take themselves seriously. The second is they do not seem afraid of ridicule. This is a prog-rock concept album that deals with the politics of power, corruption and the Arab Spring, which on one song, ‘Armed to the Teeth’, seems to veer into 80’s balladry. So, if this album is to succeed, it will be a magnificent victory against the odds and if it is to fail, well, it’s going to be an awful mess. One reason it succeeds is because it eschews bombast and melodrama for gentle melody, harmony and a quite unexpected pop sensibility. The fluttering acoustic guitar introductions do not build to the expected crescendo but stay resolutely understated. Simon Elvin’s delicately unusual voice never moves into histrionics so that subject matter which could have been jarring with another vocalist is set at a more human scale. It is by no means a perfect album, in some places the more obvious genre influences are a little too apparent, but it is an ambitious and brave album. In an era of irony and cool it deals in neither, but irony and cool don’t make a masterpiece and that might just be what this is. Mat Forrest Hey Sholay – ((0)) (Fierce Panda) What a great record. ((0)) is the long awaited first LP from the Leeds/Sheffield indie five piece and features nine tracks of dark-but-uplifting psychedelic pop, slightly reminiscent of a less annoying Arcade Fire with some of the angular riffs of bands like Foals or The Maccabees
tracks. All flawless in their own right and offering some of the most interesting and mind bending audio palettes heard from the band. Also the strongest vocal performance yet by John Sutcliffe; his distinctive style is still a huge presence in the band and now surpasses the guitars as the driving force behind the music. Overall a confusing and for the most part refreshing change of direction.
and a hint of shoegazing thrown in for good measure. Ultimately though, from opener and first single ‘Wishbone’ onwards this is a pop record full of gorgeous harmonies and choruses that come out of nowhere and stick in your head for days (track three, ‘Go Easy Tiger’ is particularly ace in this respect). ‘The Birds, The Clocks, The Bees’ is probably my favourite track at the moment, featuring some cool backwards noises and a more rhythm heavy arrangement rather than the dense guitar lines of a lot of the tracks.
it’s played too straight, too much like someone enjoying the idea. Maybe it says more about me than them, but the music and the band as a whole aren’t good enough to carry it off. When they are good, they are good, but when they aren’t, they leave a bad taste in the mouth.
If ((0)) has a major fault, it’s one shared by a lot of new bands who come across a good sound: lack of variety. Tonally, many of the tracks sound fairly similar and it would be good to see Hey Sholay experiment a bit more with their sound on the next record. Nevertheless, this is a very promising start from a band that seems destined for big things.
The older I get, the more I realise that my instincts aren’t worth shit. With its cartoony cover and quite frankly awful name, I was preparing for Eat Defeat to make me want to eat my own ears. What I wasn’t prepared for was ten tracks of tight as chuff optimistic power punk of a ska metal bent. Pleasant surprise.
Matt Brown David Cronenberg’s Wife – Don’t Wait to Be Hunted to Hide (Blang) This starts off jangly. Nice jangly guitar. A bit of drone. Some good thuddy drums. Some indistinct words repeated and repeated in the undergrowth. A bit swamp rock that speeds up by degrees. Rather nice. And there are other moments on the CD which capture this spirit. The best, ’The Man at the Back of the Woods’, repeats a single line (“tell me, tell me, what were you doing with the man at the back of the woods?”) over music reminiscent of Rocket Science. The variation in vocal tone conveys an array of possibilities matched by the chugging changes in the music. Which seems all good, The rest of the album sounds similar – a voice that reminds me strangely of The GoBetweens, music that’s a melange of indie and swamp rock, with touches of god’s little monkeys and The Men They Couldn’t Hang. They probably sound stonking live. And thematically, they deal in darkness. Which is all well and good, except…
Here’s the problem. A number of songs are about date rape, paedophilia and such like. From the perspective of the aggressor. And while I’ve no problem with someone exploring other perspectives, this has no counterpoint. Whereas someone like Nick Cave can take on the soul of the devil, he never sounds as if this is who he is. But here,
Cactus Eat Defeat – Challenges
From its power punk opener ‘Self Help (for the Selflessly Helpful)’, Eat Defeat do not let up at all. The harmonies, tunes and sheer force is pure Bad Religion/Green Day, but with more pop psychology – take ‘JFDI’ for instance, which clearly stands for ‘Just Fucking Do It’, or the opening shouted slogan of Faithbreaker: ‘One focus, one goal, divided we fall’ – it’s all very empowering on a personal rather than a political level. Motivational, that’s it. But as well as that, it has some from steel to it – proper metal riffs, turbo powered drums and some proper shout-a-longs that harken to Gallows (‘The Independent Thought Alarm’ has some great metal rifing), but also some real goat dance ska a la Mighty Mighty Bosstones (‘JFDI’ throws the whole ska deal at something that sounds remarkably like a bit of Metallica and gets away with it) – you’ll be dancing, chucking yourself around and feeling good about yourself by the end of it all – like Random Hand with less (actually, no) sax. But that name? That has got to go. Rob Wright Feelix – Feelix (Self release) This two-piece South Yorkshire outfit have been knocking around for a couple of years or so and their debut long player, put together at Steelworks Studios, follows in the footsteps of two previous EPs. Kat Eaton and Nick Atkinson have actually known each other since meeting at Secondary School, Kat wanting a guitarist to play along to the lyrics she’d written, and Nick, wanting someone
However, where Feelix perhaps let themselves down is in the recurring lyrical theme of heartbreak and loss. Between them they must have been dumped more times than Adele and it almost seems like they’re trying a bit too hard here. Opening number ‘Change’ is reminiscent of ‘Til Tuesday’, the soaring harmony in the chorus getting under the skin with no effort at all. Next up ‘Forgive You’ smacks of desperation, both of the subject matter as the wronged woman forgives yet another transgression when she should have done one ages ago, a bit like the song really. Thus we have the tone for the rest of the album, all the songs containing nice moments without ever quite pulling it off. Penultimate track ‘Mend My Heart’ probably comes closest. Mike Price Knights – Fables (Self release) This is York/Darlington based hardcore metal band Knights debut album and is as accomplished a start as any band could hope for. The band describe themselves as ‘melodic’ hardcore and while many of the songs are pushing at a more commercial sound, their sense of song structure and arrangement is akin to the approach of more experimental metal bands. And although vocalist Kevin Kendall has a suitably shredded throat voice, he does achieve an odd kind of brutal melodiousness in his largely legible singing. For the most part the band’s sound exploits the brutalist, wall of noise possibilities offered by overdriven twin guitars and bass very well and their songs often sound epic without overstaying their welcome (not many last more than five minutes and the album as a whole lasts just over thirty). In fact, the four songs that form the centre of the album (‘Fables’, ‘Mirrors’, ‘Genoa’ and ‘Sunset City’) all hover around the three minute mark and make for a stunning sequence of hurtling, inventive rock
music. In particular ‘Genoa’ thunders impressively along for a minute or so, then drops into marginally slower section that ends with Kendall rasping “And now I know” over and over, with the last minute of the song made up of only carefully plucked clean guitar and faint ambient whooshing. This kind of near abstract structure provides a pleasing counterpoint to their more conventional tendencies. Knights are probably not the most original sounding metal band, but they have enough ideas and sheer visceral commitment in their playing to make what they do next something to get excited about. Steve Walsh Curry Quiche - Escape the Techno Trance (GMD Records) While there is no lack on energy on Curry Quiche’s debut ‘Escape the Techno Trance’, which barely takes time to catch its breath, it does come dangerously close to losing itself in its eccentricity. It’s hard to tell if the band are taking themselves seriously on album opener ‘A Social Barrier Thing’. In an inexplicable introduction, a cartoony hyped up synth riff is topped only by a ludicrous cowboyesque scream. Rolling of R’s and high pitched ‘Yeehaa’s’ permeate ‘Daze Before the Storm’, somehow adjudged to suitably accompany sombre lyrics such as ‘God bless America for inventing the nuclear bomb/It took away my family and it took away my home’. Indeed, by this point you’re starting to wonder if Curry Quiche have embarked on a practical joke that has gone catastrophically wrong. Fear not however, as in a sudden and welcome change of face, ‘Dry Handkerchief’, surely the highlight of the album, is a treat. The previously garish synths work to compliment the record’s first genuinely credible indie rock moment as warm clean chords chime elegantly. From this moment on the record sustains its previous energy while expelling the elements which had previously over-faced the listener. While the album starts with too many ideas that don’t work, the rest of the album manages with fewer ideas that, crucially, do work. Thankfully, in achieving this
to sing the songs he’d penned. Sounds like a match made in heaven and the eleven tracks on offer here certainly demonstrate an abundance of song writing craft and musicianship, making the overall sound extremely polished.
‘Escape the Techno Trance’ transforms itself into a slightly eccentric yet enjoyable indie rock record. Alex Wignall The State of Georgia – Synesthesia (Pop Crisis Recordings) Following on a couple of years after her debut album ‘Witches’, The State of Georgia (aka Georgina Lashbrook) returns with another clutch of songs, once more with musician friends in tow, most notably Middleman’s Lee Smith, Mi Mye’s Jamie Lockhart and studio whiz not to mention Pop Crisis Records stablemate Simon Graingerboy. Despite assembling a stellar cast, you can only be as good as the songs you’re given and this is where the problem lies. Take for example, the third of nine songs on offer here. ‘The Beast’ kicks off with the line “Our love/Is going to be Olympic/It’s going to murder/The beast in me.....’ and you wonder why it doesn’t really work, despite throwing the kitchen sink at the production with layers of strings, club land synthesizer and distorted vocal. ‘Earth Angel’ is even more bizarre, with its background recording of ‘The Girl from Ipanema’ (presumably being played in a lift) which fades out to be disjointedly replaced by the main body of the song sounding like half of it has been recorded in a telephone box.
by a computer and sent on their way with a little extra toughness. But despite being, on the whole, relatively pounding, there is plenty of fun here. An IDMish chopped up drum break crashing into the mix with glee always provokes a smile, especially if the track is a chaotic 40 seconds long and named ‘Outdoor Dentist’. A few tracks here take an interesting turn away from battering beats. ‘Slow Order (Video Mix)’ mixes a dramatic choral piece with some wave like sounds and (I think) a slowed down sample of New Order’s ‘Your Silent Face’. Another unexpected highlight is ‘When Eagles Dare’, a melancholy electronic lament seemingly wrenched straight from the circuitboard. Both are strong. Pleasant surprises like these broaden the album’s range, and grant the likes of ‘Penetrator’ all the more impact. Looking for a mixture of various hard edged dance styles, with some quality curveballs thrown in? Download this. Tom Bench Belladonic Haze – Belladonic Haze (Self release)
This hard rocking quartet acquired their moniker from Queen’s 1973 debut album track ‘Keep Yourself Alive’. So, front man Daniel Ingham, accompanied by his band mates Joel Morris, David Ruocco and Sam Armstrong, have been cutting their teeth in West Yorkshire venues for the past year or so and, this eponymous 10-track debut marks their first self penned long player. Unless the version of Synesthesia I’ve been given to listen Recorded in fits and starts over a similarly lengthy to is a dud or I’m suffering from undiagnosed perforated time period, one might be concerned the results would eardrums, The State of Georgia’s second effort sounds prove a tad fragmented and alas, your fears prove well like a rushed, perhaps even half finished project, surprising founded. We kick-off with the somewhat clumsy, riff considering some of the personnel involved. laden ‘Scarlet Woman’, followed by the gentler but no With an album launch party at the beginning of February, more accomplished ‘Fools Game’, indeed is that guitar one can only hope the songs sound much better when actually in tune at the start? Next up is the cowbell infested played live. A bit of a disappointment. ‘Strange’ and the more ambitious 3-part ‘Deborah Anne’ where Daniel treats us to his falsetto vocal. ‘Putting Out’ is Mike Price a bit better but ‘The Land that Time Forgot’ isn’t, despite going all indie in places. ‘She Loves to Argue’ sounds like Various Artists - Teenage Delay (El Perro Rojo something from the Half Man Half Biscuit reject pile, and ‘I Records) See Her Walking in the Rain Again’ leaves me speechless with its bombasticity. Closing number ‘Getting Old’ is Some striking names on this compilation: producers arguably the pick of the album and is a not half bad sea include Shankfist Wreckage Crew; tracks include ‘Buxom shanty thrash that leaves you thinking all may not be lost. Lasses O Sutton’; and one remixer goes by the unlikely Having checked the BH live footage, they seem to create a moniker of DJ Cattlehammer (providing a suitably harddecent racket in a pub full of punters. Nevertheless, in the edged rework of ‘Penetrator’). studio, the quality control needs tightening up.
The sound of much underground dance music is present Mike Price here. Plentiful eruptions of frantic Amen breaks recall Drum & Bass, but other tracks centre on the pulse of techno. ‘Church & State’ has a swaggering hip hop gait to it, and still others appear to live in the electro-house. Either way, most of these tracks sound like they’ve been mangled
SINGLES / EPS Harry George Johns – Post Breakup Blues (Self release) It has been four years since I first encountered Harry Johns, then one half of now defunct blues tinged indie combo The Old Romantic Killer Band. In the intervening years he appeared as Wingman and in Dinosaur Pile-Up, but he’s now by himself on this 6 track EP. Not surprisingly the recurring theme in Post Breakup Blues is of a someone having been put through the mill by life’s up and downs, bearing their soul on downbeat song titles such as ‘Drink Myself to Sleep’ and ‘Tie Your Own Noose’. Don’t let that put you off though as despite the pain and misery, the tunes are pretty decent, certainly the best I’ve heard from Mr Johns, indicating his maturing talent as a songwriter. The sound is a broadly acoustic and indeed fairly bluesy, exemplified by HGJ’s pleading and sometimes growly vocal. Nevertheless there is just enough backing instrumentation in the right places to do make each track work that little bit harder, be it a second vocal track, a bit of slide, or a burst of percussion. Not bad at all. Mike Price John Parkes – Don’t Be Seventeen E.P. (AAZ Records)
Having fronted many bands over the years and with two solo albums under his belt, John Parkes returns with his latest EP, recorded in various venues around the UK. The opening title track sets the mark, with an acoustic guitar and organ flowing under Parkes’ catchy melodies and Dylan-esque harmonica interludes. ‘Fireships’ maintains the power induced by the classic-sounding chords, combined with a lovely running bass part. With love and longing being a lyrical theme throughout, Parkes eventually steps up with a full band for closer ‘My Hit Song’, a “song about a song” that shows his humorous
side as he creates his own anthem for the “fantasists and losers” out there! Well worth the listen, a solid effort from Mr. Parkes. Oliver Deans Three Sheets T’Wind – Break From Tradition Now here is a trend I can get behind – linking bands with booze. Lone Wolf and I Like Trains both have personally endorsed beers and now Three Sheets, a punk folk or folk punk band, are sponsored by The Real Cider Company. That’s the sort of corporate sell out I like. But that’s the only sell out you’ll find here. Instrumentation may be traditional (mandolin and accordion) and melodies may be familiar (that’s part of the beauty of folk and punk – simple enough to be instantly recognisable) but the vibe is pugnacious and infectious. ‘I’m Doin’ Fine’ sounds as much like Bad Religion as it does The Dubliners, ‘Cuddy Shaw Reach’ is like ‘The Irish Rover’ but more ‘Irish Dog-on-a-string’ and ‘Dole Days’ has a great dubby bass line to it. ‘Johnny’s Army’ may be a bit black and white and ‘Old Woolpack’s Yard’ is a bit country, but this is more fun than an Aldi bag full of cheap cider.
Black Wolf Catch – CrackPot Summer Lodge (Self release) The first track I play from Black Wolf Catch’s new E.P. is ‘Uneasy’. It springs out of the speakers with a flurry of new wave guitars and sardonic vocals. Bringing to mind Orange Juice or Vampire Weekend, it’s a really strong track and I sit back expecting more of the same. What I get is a dirty, urgent, thrilling punk track and a slow atmospheric lament. The songs have little in common save immediacy and real craft but they form an excellent statement of intent from a very exciting new band. Mat Forrest abe - Drazz For Junks (Self release)
Alex Wignall Cattle – Cattle EP (Self release) Drum, guitar (in this case bass) and vocal trios are common as colds these days. But to avoid being merely derivative and dull you need a fertile of musical imagination and the realisation that simply filling up all the space with noise doesn’t work. On the evidence of this debut EP, Cattle have musical ideas to burn and, crucially, enough confidence in themselves to let their music breathe. Opener ‘Rockets’ is limber and supple with bass and drums locked together in some superb rhythmic variations, and ‘Pyramid Shaped Hole’ alternates between jazzy strumming and headlong fuzzed up charging, while the shorter ‘Sun Fangs and Wide Eyes’ (“We choose noise to try and keep it together”) is driven by a spiralling, anthemic fuzzed riff. A bloody superb debut. Steve Walsh Sam Forrest – Silo EP (Desert Mine Music) In a schedule that can only be described as “hectic”, Nine Black Alps frontman and record label owner Sam Forrest has managed to find time to release his fifth solo adventure, Silo EP. A constant undercurrent of raw guitarwork and Forrest’s hypnotic layered vocals gives Silo a flowing feel, despite a slow start in choppy opener ‘The World Hates Me’. Standout track ‘Babydoll’ comes out of left-field in comparison, floating rather than punching through the speakers. Described as his “heaviest” solo project, Silo is a definite listen for any fan of Forrest’s day job. Short, snappy and loud. Paddy Gunn audioPORNOGRAPHY – The Pocket Newspeak Dictionary (Self release) This is the first release by audioPORNOGRAPHY, a musician from Leeds producing electronica. It’s quite nice, rattling through a number of styles and tropes. ‘9-17++Facecrime’ starts us off with some rhythm reminiscent of Múm, pleasant gentle beats, before ‘Gin & Cigarettes (Victory)’ takes us into Max Richter territory
– simple piano motifs, light touch glitch and musical tics. ‘An Ode to the Past, Present and Future’ is spoilt by boring drums that drown out the more interesting noises underneath, even if they do swell in string synths and choral effects (I’m thinking early Karl Jenkins – not a nice thought). And the rest is more of the same. But it’s not really that interesting. It is all competently done but feels like a sampler album (“hey, I can do this…”). As if he is trying to find his voice. When he finds it, he appears to have the skill to make it work, but until then, someone else is doing all the things he tries better than he does. Cactus The Halstead Clan – The Halstead Clan (Self release) This father and son duo from Bradford provide one hell of a surprise in this glorious 6-track EP. Kicking off proceedings with the upbeat, skiffle-tinged ‘Tonight’, a proper old school rock and roller complete with Duane Eddy guitar riff, hand-claps, and great harmonies. Anyway. everything comes together very nicely. Continuing in this rich vein, we have the even better ‘When the Wind Changes’ with its expansive Americana feel, particularly with the soaring vocal in the chorus. Indeed one might be mistaken for thinking there’s a female vocal lurking in the background in places, especially on ‘Dreams’, another fine effort. ‘Always the Same’, ‘You and No-One Else’ and ‘Dance around the Fire’ complete the sextet of songs and we even get a lovely woodwind melody in the finale. Such an unexpected joy. Mike Price MonMon – Pop Disaster Noise (Self release) MonMon are living proof that the equation simplicity + ideas = excellence is always true when applied to rock music. MonMon don’t really play anything that’s particularly complicated, but the wealth of ideas, subtle variation in attack and rhythm allied to distortion and the almost aggressive directness of Andie Mills voice and lyrics make them sound like a weird mix of prog and punk, opening track ‘In the Shadow of Olympia’ being a prime example of this. In fact, Mills’s lyrics have become even more abstract and opaque, almost like cut up or randomly selected words and phrases (“I wanna punch him down/I wanna knock her up”) that don’t seem to make much sense but are delivered with such conviction you feel you must be missing something. Tremendous. Steve Walsh
‘Drazz For Junks’, the first effort to be released by bass, drums and more bass trio abe, pummels through its 3:38 running time like a menacing industrial freight train smashing its way through walls for fun. An entirely instrumental affair, ‘Drazz For Junks’ hybrid fusion of math rock and metal influences while interesting, is not for the faint hearted.
Elizabeth – Live From Treak Cliff Cavern (Obscene Baby Auction) Andy Abbott. That Fucking Tank and other ball-breaking rock rifferama. No nonsense, heads down, ear-splitting, “how the fuck did he do that?”-ness. Breath-taking. So the prospect of him doing “solo bedroom and field recordings” whets the appetite for sonic mayhem. Which is not what we get. ‘Blue John’ features what sounds like cello, sliding into drones and apparently live drumming on ‘The Stork’, trickles through echoing guitar and stuff to some more conventional rock idiom on ‘Twelve Vein’ and finishes off with ‘Organ Room’ that reminds of Pan Sonic having a mellow day. It’s all quite gentle and, on first listen, appears a bit formlessly ambient. But repeated listens reveal more and it has beauty and calmness. Something to explore slowly. Cactus Viewer – Viewer (Self release) Tim Wright, one half of electro indie duo Viewer has been making music here, there and everywhere for some time now, most notably in a terrific collaboration with Czech singer Monica Naceva. This time, his composition and production skills are complemented by the words and wit of enigmatic front man A.B.Johnson on this 4-track EP, merging slick synth beats with cutting edge streetwise lyrics. Pick of this surprisingly good quartet are opener ‘I Want More’, where special guest Toastie Taylor adds to this super stylish ode to the perils of social media, and the finale ‘All in This Together’, a blistering tirade against the current state of the nation. On the evidence of this, Viewer are certainly worth checking out. Mike Price Eclectic – Knubbler (Self release)
Eclectic is Leeds based musician and producer Geordan Reid-Campbell’s solo project. For recording’s ReidCampbell plays everything but for live gigs he recruits musicians from Leeds College of Music. ‘Knubbler’ is essentially sophisticated electronic dance music (Flying Lotus and Cinematic Orchestra spring to mind) but there are strong undercurrents of jazz and drum’n’bass. Indeed, the live version of Eclectic features extensive instrumentation, including brass and vocals, and as such is not a million miles away from fellow Leeds jazz/
drum’n’bass/grime/electronica outfit Submotion Orchestra. Although ‘Knubbler’s sinuous and supple rhythms are clearly the work of a gifted musician, it does have the feel of a basic tune awaiting some kind of addition or radical remix to finish it off. Steve Walsh Juno – Persistence of Vision (Self release) Juno’s influences are fairly obvious from the first bars. I’d say it’s not Punk, but I think that battle has been lost. If you said Punk to most people under 30, this is what they would think you meant. So, it’s Green Day/Blink 182/Sum 41 and in those terms it’s well done. On the third listen, I even caught myself singing along to the chorus. I think it’s about life on other planets, which is an interesting subject. Perhaps an alien themed prog-punk concept album is on the way. That would be fun lads. Do that. Mat Forrest Formes - Absence of Noise (Self Release) Imagine the scene; you’re sat listening to one of Leeds’ best new up and coming bands. You absorb the mellifluous melodies, the psychedelic undertones and the solitary guitar riffs. This goes on for a while and now you’re waiting for the rise of the unignorable, anthemic ending. You’re waiting… and waiting… and waiting. Then it ends. Amy Walker Both the Mad Things and Elizabeth releases are available as name your price from http://obscenebabyauction.bandcamp. com/ along with a dozen other, mostly free, OBA special releases
Return To Aljustrel/BaT In The Saddle/The Astral Plain @ The Library, Leeds Here at 360 Club, the room is buzzing with excitement and anticipation for what the night has in store. The first band my ears have the pleasure of hearing is The Astral Plain, an easy listening 5 piece alternative rock outfit from Halifax. Mixing male and female vocals over dreamy guitar riffs and melodic bass lines, the experimental concoction floats around the room bringing content smiles to the faces of those who are not too busy fighting to get to the bar. BaT In The Saddle are our next act. With all the conviction of the Gallagher brothers, thankfully not the egos to match, the band look comfortable throughout. Not only confident, they are about as tight at Barry Gibb’s underpants, particularly noticeable three quarters of the way through, when the band purposefully cut out for a second before restarting the ensemble seamlessly, not something every band can do so effortlessly. Definitely ones to keep an eye on. The moment we’ve all been waiting for finally arrives. All six members of Return To Aljustrel just about squeeze onto the 360 stage and still manage to look comfortable. Shoeless frontman Simon Elvin, whose voice is incredibly unique, demands 100% attention throughout as they power through their new album Tell The People I’m Not Coming Down. I’m not sure how performing bare foot can affect music, but it seems to be working wonders for Return To Aljustrel, whose psychedelic offerings are out of this world. The sheer amount of talent this band holds blows my mind and I will come out to see them again and again. Thom P. Smith Druganaut/RSJ/The Black Lanterns/Lizard Tongue @ Gasworks, Bradford
Bradford’s own Lizard Tongue do old school metal delivered in a bit of wooden and arthritic manner, although singer Like Oliver sports an impressive mane whipping and head rolling combo technique. The best tune is their last – a mid-paced grinder that builds on a bluesy bass line with added crunching riffs and works despite (or perhaps because of) sounding much like early Black Sabbath
If t-shirts are anything to go by, The Black Lanterns are a pretty cool, if somewhat schizophrenic, band (Swans and Ruts?). The band’s hardcore howl is firmly rooted in punk and they channel the spirit that drove bands like The Clash and Husker Du, and singer Scott Donny Rogers has the same kind of narcissistic, almost effeminate masculinity that Iggy Pop had (has?). In truth, the band have a pretty derivative sound, but everything is played with such ferocity and utter conviction that they must mean it, man. York five piece RSJ (rolled steel joist – it’s a good support. Geddit?) may look like a raggedy-assed shambles but, after some cheesy pop sample as a fanfare, their fearsomely intense hardcore metal hits the ground at speed and doesn’t let up for the whole set. Most of the audience are at the bar upstairs when they start. By the time they come down, singer Dan Cook has thrown a flight case into the huge space in front of the stage and uses it as a portable extension of the stage to crane menacingly over the audience. Thrillingly belligerent. After all this excitement, Newcastle’s Druganaut prove to be something of an anti-climax and commit the cardinal sin of being both derivative and dull. Steve Walsh Two-Minute Noodles/Beards/Mel O’Dubslaine/ Castrato Attack Group @ Wharf Chambers, Leeds A slight tinge of dirt and peeling paint hangs in the air at Wharf Chambers as Castrato Attack Group regale us with their brand of hypnotic groove and washy feedback. Just the right amount of filth as the room fills up and gets a few heads bobbing. Hard to say if the surf-esque feedback really adds too much to proceedings but CAG are a solid opener nonetheless. I’ve seen electronic improvisation before and it’s a risky game to play if you want people to think you know exactly what you’re doing. Mel O’Dubslaine, MIDI-tastic duo of electronic percussion, electronic clarinet and laptop backing for good measure, did not appear to know exactly what they were doing. There was little coherence to the 20-minutes of Isao Tomita wet-nightmare/horror porn soundtrack we were witnessing. Not to discourage the pioneering spirit, but we mere mortals require a little bit of order amongst the chaos (above a droid occasionally spitting out vowel sounds every now and then, anyway).
Beards followed with their tom-heavy pounding and jagged time signatures combining for a banquet of energetic, geeky, quirk-rock. Substantial levels of shrieky power and idiosyncratic basswork forgive the slight lack of variety and stamina while the self-evident heart and happy-go-sloppy delivery give the whole thing a meat-and-two-veg earthy appeal that cements a smile to your chops.
family ethic, fully competent gypsy jazz provided the real appetiser for the night. The technicality of the musicians is exactly equalled by their feel for true gypsy harmony. It couldn’t be said that the guitarist stole the show but he may have just pipped the others to the post. Though fiddling up and down the neck like a giraffe fetishist, speed was never allowed to get in the way of melody and original licks flowed out of his fingers at lightspeed.
Bringing up the rear, and bringing the manic organ-rock, is Two-Minute Noodles whose drum and organ stylings come off like an intense, dancey Megadrive game soundtrack. Their formula may be simple – 3 to 4 minute organ and drum grooves with right hand embellishment – but it all adds up to some tasty ear candy, mood swinging from the ominous to the downright funky.
Clad in his Bill Monroe t-shirt and sporting a menacing snarl, Beesley took to the stage with a look like he was ready to pull a six-shooter on anyone who crossed him. The band jumped from Rebel-Country to R&B to raw Blues without the time to even think of taking their feet off the gas. A slicked-back greasy sound was compounded by a virtuosic double-bass whose fretboard slap was like a whip to a herd of cattle. Dedicating the night and the album to a lost friend, a step was taken back as a harrowing, mournful version of ‘All the Good Times are Past and Gone’ left us hiding tears behind a raised glass of scotch. After the short interlude, jamming commenced. Bringing out classic hits by the dozen, Dan Beesley and the S.S.S.S.S. gave us more than enough of an example of how the old rules can still work to resurrect entertainment that runs in their blood.
Dan Beesley and the S.S.S.S.S./Belleville/Gabriel Minnikin @ Sela Bar, Leeds Playing soft lullaby-country, Gabriel Minnikin brings you back to a rose-tinted ‘simpler time’ in which worries are cast aside lit by a sunset in a porch-side rocking chair. The addition of the pedal steel guitar seemed naturally set into the warm glow and provided glissando birdsong and whistling wind to the peaceful scene. Overall, this lulled us into a false sense of security not in line with the raucousness to follow. And Belleville exploded. Sharing a considerable amount of members with the headline due to the Gin House
Jack Sibley Racket Ball/Redgrass/The Wind-Up Birds @ The Fox & Newt, Leeds The Wind-Up Birds play first because bassist Ben wants to go see Boris play at the Brudenell, which is kind
LIVE of indicative of the all-round good natured mateyness of the gig. As seems to be the case at the moment, the band whip through a set made up of some of their more bouncy, up-beat songs, leaving the meaty, more serious stuff for another time. As a special favour to someone in the audience, the band even play their Christmas single, ‘Working Christmas Day’ (which is about, er, having to work on Christmas Day), possibly the only time they will play the song live. Now there’s a thoughtful Christmas present. Mixing music and politics is never easy, although it is frustrating that few bands seem to make much of an effort to try it. Hats off to Redgrass then, who are unafraid to wear their socialism openly in their songs. Problem is, it helps to sound like you mean what you’re singing about and, for whatever reason, the band sound listless, under-rehearsed and tentative, more embarrassed than celebratory. The best moment is provided by Paul Whitaker, who has a fine, almost boyish voice and makes ‘Old Grey Men’ a quietly stirring anthem to working class Northerners. Racket Ball have been around the block a few times and despite always putting a great deal of effort into their visual presentation (slide show projections, lab coats, ironing boards as keyboard stands, etc), they always sounded like they just wanted to be The Fall. Something, though, has happened recently. The ironing boards are still there, as is the enigmatic slide show. But the duo has become a trio, and this seems to have punctured the bubble of their sound and opened it out to be a driving, Krautrockian beast that’s just fizzing with its own self confidence. In short, Racket Ball are now ace. Steve Walsh Lone Wolf/Post War Glamour Girls/Menace Beach @ Brudenell Social Club Hard to believe, but it has been two years since Lone Wolf took to the stage at the Brudenell Social Club, when he was touring and plugging his debut album, ‘The Devil and I’, as reassured a debut as you could desire. His follow up, ‘The Lovers’, has experienced a difficult gestation but now officially sees the light of day. He’s got his own beer too, so it’s got to be done really. Various events conspire to prevent me from getting to the gig for the start of Menace Beach’s set, but I do manage to catch the last, a raucous noise reminiscent of the American underground scene circa the nineties. For the sake of a balanced opinion, I will have to catch them another day for a more reasoned assessment. But for now: noisy, messy, screechy, Mudhoneyey.
Post War Glamour Girls have been putting it about a bit, but seeing as they have an album out soonish, this is no bad thing. Also having a decent sound for once is no bad thing, and their rock and roll takes on a more subtle, sinister flavour, with more of a Tindersticks
groove than on previous outings. Sonic Tindersticks? Cabaret underground? James voice is deep enough to be subterranean. Anyway, hearing it in a more favourable setting certainly makes it more intriguing. Paul Marshall, veteran of the scene, looks nervous. After two years of absence, if he’s not on tip top form, he’s going to fall foul in front of a capacity crowd. It’s a wonder he doesn’t swear and run. Instead, he strikes up with the title track of his new album, with James Kenosha standing in for handclaps and found percussion, Lins Wilson fulfilling bass duties and Yoni Collier on keys. Starting with the sparsest song on the album is a bold move; there is absolutely nothing to hide behind. Fortune favours the bold, and it sets the tone for the rest of the gig, which sees Paul at his most confident, most exposed and most grateful. There are a couple of tracks from Devil and I (‘Buried Beneath The Tiles’, ‘Keep Your Eyes On The Road’ and ‘This Is War’) but the new tracks shimmer and gleam from the pride and ability of the players. Hell, Paul, even manages to slip in a bit of fretwank and breaks the falsetto out for ‘Good Life’. The crowd are satiated; Paul is overjoyed; the beer has been consumed. Considering the lyrical content of Lone Wolf’s work, this has been a real heart-warmer. Rob Wright Lost in the Riots/Envoys/The Program @ Fox & Newt, Leeds Up first in tonight’s lineup is The Program, a 3-piece with backing track for accompaniment. Unfortunately, it felt a bit like the band were accompanying the backing track and the simple material did little to detract from that. Not that simplicity’s a vice – The Program smack of Maybeshewill and their ilk, but a little surface material wouldn’t have killed. The colourful, psychedelic projections on the back wall certainly helped to boost their appeal and the preprepared signs thanking audience for their attendance were suitably humorous, I could have just done with a little more meat on these ‘safe’ bones. Moody and grungey, Envoys take to the stage with a set of Pelican-esque Post-Metal (Post-this, Post-that). An ear for sultry and atmospheric groove, the group navigate some thoroughly sludgey riffs and passages with great instrumental interplay and subtle dynamics work. Even the use of double-kick could have been branded ‘tasteful’ or at the very least ‘appropriate’. This is a band that do well to tread the boards carefully. Finally, Watford’s Lost in the Riots give us their [relatively] chirpy Post-Rock finale, bounding about on and off stage to their self-made grooves and riffs. Drop a beat here, add a beat there, it’s all very tight and thought out. Hints of Adebisi Shank, aforementioned Maybeshewill and even a bit of the now defunct Cats x Cats x Cats in there and it’s a pleasing blend. Very little to argue with as the final few notes ring out. Tim Hearson
Vessels have been kind of quiet of late, for good reason – kids and other gestations. Tonight sees the unveiling, the birth if you will, of the new Vessels sound at a low key event to a select few adoring fans. It is, accordingly, packed to the rafters and positively throbbing with anticipation. But first, the run-up. Including two ex-members of White Boys for Melodic Dildo Enigma, the sound emanating from People in Jars is a surprise. Frail melodies from Ade, James and Ad, overlay a physically tangible bass from Submotion Orchestra’s Chris Hargeaves, creating a dubby approximation of Talk Talk or former Leeds postrockers, Immune. Quite a juxtaposition. I’m not sure what I was expecting, but a Portishead-folk era Bee Gees was not it. It pleases me. Runners are what would happen if Kraftwerk came from Barnsley... or if Miami Vice was set in Morley... Morley Vice... at least that’s what I think at first. Once over the obvious 80s anachronism though and the four piece (including Cowtownian Jon Nash) transform (more eighties shizzle) with the addition of live drums into a more Egg or Knife like configuration, which is very, very groovy. Guess they found the 1.21 gigawatts to get back to the future. And so, to the main event and the heaving room. After the inevitable fiddling about with various bits of equipment and last minute panics, the furious five somehow find room for all their various bits and pieces, double drum kit and of course themselves and hit it. Synths are in, guitars are out (apart from the resolute bass action from Teff in the corner), beats are four four and for the floor and it is quite simply a rave in a box. It sounds amazing, uplifting,
infectious, happy, hardcore HOUSE. They do throw in ‘Art/Choke’, but this is principally about the new shit, and the new shit is THE BOMB (as Jesse Pinkman would say... I love Breaking Bad). Vessels now make dance music that is so good that it could be French. Vital; fluid. Rob Wright
British Wildlife Festival @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 1-2 March I believe last year we were mourning the loss of the much-loved British Wildlife festival… Well, like the Lazarus/’90s Boyband/Gandalf it is, the old, grouchy bastard couldn’t stay dead. Rejoice and be glad, for all your Leeds favourites will again grace Queen’s Rd for a few days of noooooooooise. Egyptian Hip Hop @ Brudenell Social Club, 6 March These chaps were making some real waves on the grapevine a few years back. Some relative quiet and a debut album later, they’re back in Leeds. Jolly good. Mestisa @ Café Lento, Leeds 12 March An evening of music based on The Motorcycle Diaries the excellent biopic of Che Guevara’s pre-revolution years featuring South American food and extracts from Guevara’s diary. Hosted as part of Café Lento’s charming and friendly regular gig series.
Vessels/Runners/People in Jars @ Wharf Chambers, Leeds
Be it standing in for ‘Horses members when they go stage diving, bassing it up for Lone Wolf or representing as the go to cellist in Leeds, Lins Wilson seems to be in about ten places at any one time - which didn’t make it exactly easy for Greg Elliott to pin her down for a quick chat and a bit of friendly advice about being a rock and roll pillar of the community. Will the real Lins Wilson please stand up? The light that burns twice as bright burns half as long... Katie [Harkin] was one of the first people I met in Leeds and she invited me to play bass with Sky Larkin, which was my first gig since playing in school bands. My last show with them was with Wild Beasts at The Cockpit for the Futuresound competition. It was sad to leave, but Mother Vulpine was more my baby and it was around the time that Tom [Hudson, ex-MV bassist and now Pulled Apart By Horses frontman] and I had got together. Being in that band was intense – a lot of big personalities, a lot of ideas. People wanted a lot out of it and it was a shame how quickly it ended. I think it was a year between our first and last gigs and we did a lot of good stuff in that time. We made a music video and toured with Eagles of Death Metal, which was one of the best experiences of my life. MV was also how Tom and I got to know [future PABH guitarist] James Brown - he released our single and had started managing us before we split. A life lived in fear is a life half lived...
I was literally on the brink of being offered a permanent job with a decent wage when Owen [Brinley] and Rory [O’Hara] approached me about playing cello with Grammatics. It was a scary prospect - I’d never played cello in a rock band before and I hadn’t played in front of anyone for about ten years – but I didn’t have any doubts about what the right decision was. I learnt their album in a matter of months, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. We did a couple of UK tours, the SXSW festival in Texas, an EP and were working towards a new album. I put absolutely everything into it and it was very upsetting when it ended, but I don’t have any regrets – it made me a better musician but more importantly gave me that push not just to settle for the safe option.
When one door closes, another door opens... Being in Grammatics was great because there was this crossover between the beauty of string music and the dirtiness of rock and roll. It also opened a lot of doors for me. I started playing with Fran Rodgers and Paul [Lone Wolf] Marshall around that time; I think I was in three bands at one point! Since then I’ve worked with I Like Trains and Sam Airey and I’ve established a really good working relationship with [Bridlington-based überproducer] James Kenosha, who I do session work for. Lately I’ve been working with Jon Foulger from Duels on a project called Evangelist, about this American guy from the Fifties called Oral Roberts who would sell his healing powers on the TV. He had this really interesting, tragic life that Jon was fascinated by and I’d written these solo cello pieces that fit well with the concept. We’ve got an album’s worth of material and some funding through Sheffield University to perform it, maybe as part of an installation with video. I’m trying to get more into composition so I’ve also been collaborating with Owen on a 10-minute string piece for a contemporary dance project. Plus I’m about to record what will probably be some quite experimental cello on a film score that Paul has been commissioned to write for a Tunisian film called ‘Bastardo’. So, yeah - it’s all happening… Success is 10% inspiration and 90% perspiration... I’m quite an organised person – with MV I was the one booking the gigs, sorting out transport and dealing with the whole practical side. You kind of have to be that way when you’re in a band with a bunch of lads who can’t get their act together! I suppose it’s quite unusual having a practical side and a creative side. I wonder sometimes if I’m cut out for rock and roll at all – I’m a total geek really. The experience of having had actual jobs has paid off though - recently I’ve got involved with Lord Whitney [aka local design duo Amy Lord and Rebekah Whitney] who do everything from building sets for band photo shoots, to installations, to prop making for fashion photographers. They’re ace. I met Bekah when she was helping us out with costume and props on the MV video – she and Amy were looking for someone to project manage and kick their asses into gear and that’s me! Nothing ventured, nothing gained... After what happened with MV it’s only recently that I’ve started wanting to play guitar in a rock band again. I’m not a born songwriter by any means, but it’s something
Wot Gorilla The best is yet to come... I’ve been active in the music scene in Leeds for seven or eight years now and I’m incredibly proud of it. Everyone is so lovely, talented and supportive of each other and I’m particularly grateful to have Tom who believes in the same things I do. Hopefully there’ll be many more exciting things to come… Lins Wilson gets around, so catch up with her at http:// linswilson.tumblr.com/ or lordwhitney.blogspot.co.uk/. And watch out for that solo project...
I’m trying to develop. The idea of fronting a band is quite intimidating if it doesn’t come to you naturally, but I’d regret not giving it a try. Katie says that every songwriter needs someone to bounce ideas off, which has kind of been my role in the past. So it’s a case of finding people I’m comfortable with and who play the way I want them to. As you get older you get more focused about the music you want to make, which unfortunately means that what you’re looking for gets more specific and harder to find. But it’s one of my New Year’s resolutions to make something happen this year. At this point just playing some songs in a pub would feel like an achievement.
Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring Department M, Submotion Orchestra and Castrovalva
Published on Feb 15, 2013
Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring Department M, Submotion Orchestra and Castrovalva