Leeds & West Yorkshire Music Magazine
Leeds and West Yorkshire
Sunwolf Allusondrugs Becky Owen Canaya
Contents 5 6 10 12 14 18 22 24 26 32 38
Editorial Sunwolf Allusondrugs Becky Owen Bridewell Taxis Canaya Metal! Bong Cauldron Reviews Live When House isn’t your home
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CONTRIBUTORS Scoot M Salt, Rob Wright, Greg Elliott, Matthew Carrington, Mike Price, Matt Brown, Catriona Chadderton, Steve Walsh, Tim Hearson, Danny Payne, Cactus, Rob Fearnley, Elliot Ryder, Rosie Ramsden, Oscar Gregg, Ellie Treagust, Steve Jarvis, Will Nixon, Katharine Hartley, Adam Chester
COVER PHOTOGRAPHY Chris Walton of The Bridewell Taxis By: Scott M Salt
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Editorial … And before we knew it, it was 2014. The calendar flipped over, the Asti corks flew, the resolutions were made and promptly broken and all proceeded in a manner repeated for time immemorial. But at Vibrations Towers, where rust never sleeps, it is no time to rest on one’s laurels or bask in triumphs past; a new year means new music, and new music means new magazines, new writers, new photographers, new designers, new bands… new, new, new. An emaciated, brittle limbed and bristle headed figure hauls themselves upright, looks up with two watery poached egg eyes and says ‘is it time? Can I rest?’ and a voice from the darkness says ‘no, you must work. The good people of Leeds need our herald, our fanfare to the melody of the city.’ The figure moans, pain etched on its face. ‘So,’ it croaks, ‘we looking at a mid March release then?’… Happy new year readers! Now we’ve got the stupidity of dry January out the way, followed by, ironically, the wettest February ever, it is time to get this year started properly and get back out there, listening to music, going to gigs, picking up instruments and generally making musical mischief for the man and, though I daresay say this every year, I think it’s going to be a good one. You’ve got to be positive really, especially about the state of music in Leeds. I know of at least four major bands in Leeds who will be having albums out this year, the first bands have been announced for Live at Leeds, Beacons and… well, it’s early days for Leeds Festival, I’ve fallen in love with at least two bands by the time you read this and by golly the seal’s hardly been broken on the year. I mean, I admit, I’m having trouble writing this editorial, but… there you go.
One of the reasons I feel so positive about the new year, and here I am giving you a bit of personal advice for you to ignore or take at face value, is that I do not make resolutions any more. Arbitrary expectations made on yourself at the height of a drunken extravaganza are hardly going to be life affirming or helpful. Better to set your goals when a) you’re sober and b) when you have a context to set them outside of a party. Enjoy the party, leave the recriminations for later. It’s also why I think that the whole self-flagellation theme of January is counter-productive. It’s cold; it’s dark; you’re miserable – why make life worse by adopting a monastic lifestyle for the worst months of the year. Just… let it go, get this bit of the year out the way and THEN take a big wet bite out of its arse. Oh BTW, you might notice some changes about this issue – we’ve got some new members of the Vibrations family – Scott Salt has stepped into the shoes vacated by Bart Pettman as photo editor – Welcome aboard, make sure you wipe those shoes on the way in, we did too many Leeds Festivals together for the souls… sorry soles to be clean – and we have a new designer, James Link. I am sure you will make them feel welcome, and I look forward to working with them in the future. God, I’m sounding corporate, I must be tired. We’ve also got a bit of a metal theme going as well… might have other themed issues this year… we’ll see how it goes, eh? Right, I’m off to go and do one of my three favourite things. Catch you in the pit! ED 2014
Sunwolf Sunwølf – Howling Mad Riffheads ‘Say kids, what do you want to listen to?’ ‘I want hardcore and ambient.’ ‘But that’s two things!’ ‘But mum, what about Sunwølf?’ ‘What, the ones with the tricky character in their name.’ ‘Yes, them. Greg Elliott interviewed them for Vibrations and their pretty full on.’ ‘Okay then… do you think they’ll forgive me for using this parody of a Kinder Surprise ad?’ ‘No mum, they will not…’ Talk about prolific. Leeds twopiece Sunwølf released their debut LP Beyond The Sun two months after their formation in July 2012 and followed-up with a second, the exceptional Midnight Moon, barely six months later. ‘‘It was a bit of a creative peak for both of us,’ ’ multiinstrumentalist Matt recalls wistfully over a restorative coffee, his band mate Dom being otherwise engaged on this dreary late January afternoon. ‘‘We’re both really proactive. It might mean we jump the gun sometimes – I’ll say to Dom that I’ve written a song and he’ll want to record an album the next week – but I’d rather be like that than one of those bands that’s been together ten years and recorded one EP.” 6
The duo first came together when Dom recruited Matt as a touring guitarist for Ten, the Leeds-based experimental collective which he still leads. Though appreciative of the delicate ambience which is Ten’s stock-intrade, Matt began to feel frustrated by its shortcomings as a live spectacle – he wanted to pursue a darker, riff-oriented sound rooted in the kind of ‘‘horrible hardcore’’ he’d cut his teeth on. He was pleasantly surprised to find Dom receptive to the idea of a new project in which they would be equal partners, and that would attempt to mesh Ten’s avant-garde influences with a heavier approach. The results have been compelling. The first few tracks on Midnight Moon suggest a competent post-metal band with a nice line in repetitive, hypnotic riffs - but this turns out to be only a fraction of what Sunwølf are capable of. The structure of the album seems to be trying to fool the listener into thinking they have the band figured out, before immediately subverting those expectations. Quickly traversing a range of styles, the two-piece prove just as at ease being folksy (‘In Earnest’) or exploring a loose, semiimprovised feel (‘Glacier River’) as they are at delivering crushing heaviosity (‘Sellanraa’). Was this an intentional piece of misdirection? ‘‘We didn’t have a preconceived idea of the sort of music we wanted to make,’ ’ says Matt, ‘‘we just let things happen. We occupy quite a weird place really, ambient, stoner - it’s hard to categorise. We’re pretty versatile – in November last year we played two gigs in Leeds on the same night, an ambient one at the Fox and Newt then a second one to a full-on metal crowd.’ ’ I’m interested to know how they find straddling these different worlds, the hardcore scene in Leeds having always struck me as rather tribal. How has this constituency in particular reacted to a band that operates only partially within the parameters of what they might expect? ‘‘It can be quite intimidating showing up to a gig like that,’ ’ Matt acknowledges, ‘‘at the Fox and Newt we’d been making these ambient soundscapes and Dom had his xylophone and maracas – when we got to the second one I was like ‘leave those in the car – we’ll get lynched!’’’ He laughs. ‘‘I suppose it is a bit of a clique - there’s that Brew Records [DIY label, late of this parish] sort of sound, which isn’t really my cup of tea. On the whole though people have been pretty positive - we haven’t found it to be a closed shop by any means. Ultimately we’re not interested in satisfying people’s expectations; we’re making music to please ourselves. We’re totally selfish in that respect.’ ’
both really proactive. “ We’re It might mean we jump
the gun sometimes
Sunwolf: left Dominic Deane, right Matthew Carrington
Perhaps Matt’s most significant undertaking with Sunwølf so far has been a four-week foray across Europe last summer, in the company of Brighton duo A Hundred Black Kites. With apparent foresight Dom opted to stay at home, leaving the drummer from AHBK to fill-in and thereby avoiding the high-speed brush with death that overshadowed the conclusion of the tour. As they were leaving Dresden, the party’s vehicle aquaplaned and ended up on a crash barrier on the autobahn. ‘‘We got out and just kept looking at each other, shell-shocked,’ ’ Matt remembers grimly. ‘‘It was pissing down and some of us didn’t even have shoes on. One of the lads had to go off on a stretcher in a neck brace. It was pretty surreal.’ ’ This, as it turned out though, was only the start of their troubles the cost of recovery financially crippled both bands and left them stranded in Germany. An online appeal for help was launched and complete strangers immediately began buying band merchandise and sending messages of support. ‘‘I was totally blown away by it,’ ’ says Matt, ‘‘it almost went viral at one point. We had all these do-gooders in the US who were like [adopts fake American accent] ‘Oh my God, we have to help out these guys from England’. Interest in the band went up a hundredfold.’ ’ There was even some rather lurid coverage in the Yorkshire Evening Post, mention of which draws a derisory snort from Matt. ‘‘Bloody vultures. Who knew all we had to do [for them to pay attention to us] was be in a car crash?’’ Cometh the hour, cometh the tour driver – in this case a heroic figure named Olly – although he didn’t give the best first impression. ‘‘I called him up and he was in Berlin, shitfaced,’ ’ Matt recalls, laughing, ‘‘bearing in mind what had just happened to us!’’
Nevertheless Olly came good in the end, showing up the next day to drive Sunwølf and their tour mates home. ‘‘It turned out he had a gap in his schedule and where he lived was flooded, so it was either fill sandbags for a week or take us back,’ ’ Matt explains. ‘‘It was a fourday round trip and he didn’t want any money for it. It restores your faith in people.’ ’ You might think such an ordeal would dampen one’s enthusiasm for touring, but apparently not. ‘‘I’d definitely [go back],’ ’ Matt tells me, ‘‘people seem to get us more in Europe and you’re treated so well. In the UK promoters can be a bit ‘Get on, get off, see you later’, whereas in Europe they’ll hang out, get to know you a little bit, and, by the time you leave, you’re friends. We’d like to tour here but it costs a fortune – you get paid fuck all, you have to buy your own food, find a place to stay. Everything’s such a hassle. One time we weren’t even paid enough to get out of the car park. When it’s not a career thing - when you’re not trying to get ‘exposure’ – it becomes more important for it to be a positive experience, even if there’s more dogs than people at the gig.’ ’ Sunwølf are currently having a break, or at least what amounts to one by their standards - studio time to record their third album is booked for April. Along with this comes a different way of working, says Matt. ‘‘I used a lot of archived stuff, so to speak, on the first two albums – so now I’m a bit like ‘Shit, what next?’ I thought Midnight Moon was really strong and I want this one to be better. We’re more organised, more calculated now we’re demoing a lot, so by the time we get to the studio we’ll be laying things down rather than starting from scratch.’ ’
One thing that’s certain is that Sunwølf will continue to defy simple classification. They’re determined to evolve, to be an amorphous project unbound by the strictures of genre – with a singular goal of making interesting, engaging music. Their status as a two-piece is actually more of a logistical choice than an aesthetic one: ‘‘I like the simplicity of there just being two of us,’ ’ explains Matt, ‘‘one phone call and everything’s sorted. I’ve been in a band with five other guys and it was a ball ache – and that was when I was eighteen. I’m a bit of a control freak - I know Dom and I are singing from the same hymn sheet, but if we brought in anyone else they’d need to do exactly what I say!’’ He laughs. At the same time, their restless creativity - not to mention a somewhat puritanical streak - may force the adoption of a different approach. ‘‘I’d love to tour with live strings,’ ’ admits Matt, ‘‘Dom and I play a few instruments each and you run out of limbs after a while. Triggering so many things off a sampler feels like a compromise’’. As some of the more melodious tracks on Midnight Moon suggest, the duo are also increasingly interested in the ‘art’ of songwriting - Matt is considering singing lessons, although he leaves open the possibility of bringing in an outside vocalist. There’s just enough time before we part ways to ask about that rather Scandinavian looking name - an invocation perhaps of the elemental sweep of Norse mythology, mirroring Sunwølf ’s own grand musical ambitions? ‘‘No, we just thought it was cool,’ ’ says Matt, with a mischievous grin, ‘‘I like the idea of so many people struggling to find it on the keyboard.’ ’ Listen to Sunwølf on http://sunwolfuk.bandcamp.com/ or get in touch on that there Facebook Greg Elliott
Leeds & West Yorkshire Music Magazine
Vibrations is always looking for new writers and photographers. Contact email@example.com for more information.
Allusondrugs – Peaking Experience Being a Southerner, I thought the name was a piece of appalling grammar. Turns out it’s an admission of intoxication. Ah well. Mike Price caught up with the new chemical brothers for a chat about… you know… music and stuff… Introducing yet another fine band from the seemingly endless West Yorkshire production line…I give you Castleford fuzz metal five piece, Allusondrugs. This Irn-Bru loving quintet were formed in the Calder Valley town during the second half of 2012, with the last 18 months spent frenetically gigging away, showing enough promise along the way to have been asked to appear on BBC Introducing in West Yorkshire (Radio Leeds). The lads have also managed to secure the services of local fledgling label Clue Records, (NARCS, Forever Cult, The Witch Hunt, Galaxians) in a deal struck back in August after head honchos Scott Lewis and Steven Langton invited Allusondrugs to a rehearsal. The rest as they say is history and judging by the other bands on the roster, Clue have a keen eye for a talented outfit with the fruits of this union appearing next month in the form of a debut 3- track single and an EP in the pipeline after that. Shortly after getting into bed with 10
Clue, they put out a download release, ‘Plasters’/’Chemical On’. If that isn’t enough to satisfy your appetite, you can also download a 5-track pay what you want ‘Demos EP’ featuring early incarnations of their live staples including the relentless ‘Stir’ and the riotous grunge of ‘Ted, What’s the Porn Like in Heaven?’ presumably an ode to a dear departed friend who is presumably enjoying his celestial copy of Men Only (showing my age). Chatting with all five band members, firstly at Nation of Shopkeepers, and then again on the evening of their barnstorming recent gig at The Library, part of Independent Venue Week (with BBC Radio Leeds’ Alan Raw in attendance) front man Jason (Vocals) Drey (Guitar), Damian (Guitar, vocals, samples) Jamal (Bass) and Connor (aka Sergeant Bash, Drums) all come across as very down to earth, as we discussed important topics ranging from tungsten carbide drills to the importance of sheep farming. Not surprisingly, most of the band members have known each other for quite a while, with Jason and Drey (originally from Croatia but now with a Yorkshire accent as distinct as Geoffrey Boycott) cutting their teeth in local live outfits such as Candid Squash,
Savage Daffodils and Swirly Eyes from their teens onwards. As is the norm, some of these incarnations went by the wayside and in the resulting flotsam, four of the five component members of Allusondrugs came together at the start of autumn 2012. The fifth member, bass player Jemal (originally from Devon), joined the band a year later and the gigs haven’t stopped since. Add to that another bunch of dates in the spring including an appearance at this year’s Live at Leeds, and there must be a better than even chance of them appearing at Beacons or Leeds Festivals this summer. Drey is especially looking forward to Live at Leeds as it will be his first time at this festival. When it comes to new material, the bulk of the song writing duties, tend to be divided between Jason and Damien, although Drey is keen to point out the fiercely egalitarian nature of the ensemble, adding that all the songs are fine tuned and finished by all band members together, particularly when recording the songs together live. So far the band estimates they’ve about an hour’s worth of original material with some songs being shelved then revisited later. Jason implied that there is also plenty more material at their disposal but they resolutely refuse to do any covers.
The band’s influences are wide ranging, with Damien perhaps having the most obscure musical tastes. Jemal had an older brother who started playing, so that’s where he got the bug, similarly applicable to Drey whose Dad played in covers bands and, Drey confesses, he is thinking of starting a Queen tribute band... Allusondrugs have become much more involved in the Leeds music scene than in their previous bands, playing lots of gigs, recording material at Greenmount Studios in Armley, and rehearsing here much more often than before. Now the band are making a whole load of new friends, with Drey adding, “the Leeds scene is fantastic and once you’re part of it, even better. It’s a good down to earth working music scene and I feel blessed [to be part of it].” Jamal tells a similar story but from more an outsider’s viewpoint: “Part of the reason I moved up from Devon is because of music. My brother lives in Leeds so, whenever I came to visit we’d go out [to a gig] and I’d never seen people going mad for bands that basically hardly anyone had heard of.”
Recording at Greenmount was a new experience too, as it is a predominantly analogue facility where you record to tape whereas the band had only ever experienced unmastered DIY digital recording beforehand. Nevertheless, they had an amazing time there (sharing studio time with Pulled Apart By Horses) recording tracks live with minimal overdubs despite Drey’s preference for multi-tracking. He did concede that the analogue recordings have a better feel. The intervening months between the two occasions I’ve witnessed the band playing live, have seen them come on in leaps and bounds. At the Hop in Wakefield they were first on the bill, noisy, fresh and exuberant but still a little bit rough around the edges. Fast-forward 6 months to their headlining gig at The Library, taking to the stage following a formidable set from Forever Cult, a band who Allusondrugs admire very much, and you can clearly see a band starting to hit their stride. First with Jason, now the charismatic
front man, putting every ounce of energy into the band’s high octane set, yet still finding time to joke with the audience. He’s more than ably backed up by the twin guitar assault of Damo and Drey, the latter seemingly lost in his own world as cracking song follows cracking song, each a great ball of fuzz including the grunge of ‘Thingio’, the shoegazey ‘Plasters’, the punk of ‘Sunset Yellow’ and the more conventional metal sound of new track ‘Cherry Pie’. Jemal, wearing far too many layers, is content to loon about faultlessly on his bass in tandem with Connor, giving the overall impression of an outfit really starting to gel as a unit. By Drey’s own admission, when starting a band you either do it for fun without expecting to get anywhere or you have a crack at it with the resulting hard work and sacrifices along the way. From meeting Allusondrugs it looks like they’ve taken the second path but kept some of the fun. http://cluerecords.wordpress.com/ Mike Price
Allusondrugs: L to R Damian Hughes, Jamal Malki, Jason Moules, Connor Atack and Drey Pavlovic
Becky Owen Beccy Owen, now on her fourth album, Imago, has been compared stylistically to Tori Amos and Regina Spektor, minus the kook plus the folk. Matt Brown met up with Beccy for lunch to discuss the making of the record, its subsequent promotion and their shared hatred of Beady Eye (not included here). Tell us about the new album – what inspired the songs? Although some of them touch on other things, most of the tracks were written after a relationship that went pretty tits-up. I cherry picked out of about twenty songs the ones which made the most sense to me. The ones I picked seemed to form a complete arc.
There aren’t many albums that are totally linear in that sense - even so called ‘concept’ albums deviate from the arc Yeah, you’re always drawing on all of your experiences when you write songs, even when you think you’re writing about something specific. The thing that makes me know that overall it is about the abusive relationship that I went through is the last song ‘Dead Language’, which directly addresses some of the stuff that went on. When I was putting the record together I worked backwards from that song.
Is that why the album is so sparse musically – there aren’t any full string sections or anything which might obscure the lyrics or meaning of the songs? I guess so – I felt really vulnerable and didn’t want a lot of other people in the room when I was 12
singing. I was also adamant that there would be no other voices on the record because, from a song-writing perspective, another voice brings in another narrative. I wanted to present the songs in a direct way.
It works because when other sounds do come in, like the weird metallic reverb-y sounds on ‘You Keep Flooding In’, they have a really striking effect. That’s my friend Brendan’s invention called the ‘Sauvignon Blanc-ophone’ – a rack of about fifty chromatically tuned wine glasses that we played into my laptop and arranged. That was actually the point at which the album started to take shape for me.
You’re probably bored of talking about this, but how did crowd funding contribute to the making of this record? The way it first came about was from a suggestion from my producer Alex – I basically wanted to raise a grand to put out a CD and he told me to look into crowd funding. I then did a photo shoot with another friend that same day and it turned out that his college had the facility to emblazon any image onto any surface. This let me customize all kinds of paraphernalia with the Imago artwork and offer them as rewards for anyone who contributed. People could also get specially written poems, demos and live recordings. We eventually raised over £3,000, which has allowed me to get the album mastered at Abbey Road.
What next? How has your driving ban impact on the promotion of Imago? The idea now is to do as many house gigs as I can. I love them – the crowd funding thing has created a community of people who are into the music and are happy to host gigs. I’m only doing shows where I can play the entire record and it’s helped me to build my confidence back up again. I’d like to make a hip-hop record next. ‘Imago’ (self-released) is available on CD and download now http://beccyowen.bandcamp.com/ Matt Brown
The Bridewell Taxis – Testament to a Scene That Almost Was Late 80s, early 90s, a band emerged in Leeds who were so nearly destined for greatness. Capturing that baggy style, they played with the likes of The Stone Roses, Happy Mondays and Inspiral Carpets. They helped move Leeds on from goth. Yet, due to a combination of accident and incident, they never managed to make escape velocity. They could have been a footnote in the history of music, yet a kickstarter campaign has stopped them slipping quietly away. So what was so important about Bridewell Taxis and what do they mean today? Catriona Chadderton goes on an expedition into her prehistory to find out… “Why do you listen to bands that were around when you weren’t even alive?” This line will be the bane of my life. The Bridewell Taxis, who formed in 1987 and jammed into the night until 1993 (oh just a mere two years before I was born) baring a few isolated incidents, are another example of why that line is so true. In the 1960s if you listened to music your parents listened to you would be so uncool; now, it is completely the opposite. I am forever seeing Joy Division t-shirts worn by young whippersnappers (myself included) as I take the gruelling trudge to university on every form of public transport known to man, hating on the world while reading the Metro. Leeds, when Bridewell Taxis were out and about, had a highly active music scene, with Leeds based indie rockers, The Wedding present (surviving to tell the tale) and others shifting Leeds away from it’s stereotypical ‘Goth Scene’ image. Personally, ‘Goth Leeds’ sounded pretty cool, or maybe that’s just a view point from my mum, because I wasn’t around. I guess this is one of the main reasons for the project, for cluing up people like me. The project which I’m referring to is one that has gather together all the material and treasured stuff of the Bridewell Taxis and re-releasing them through kickstarter via fans and music lovers alike from all those years ago… I’ll stop making you feel old now… The band, which started after a jam session where the band members were introduced to each other, were formed smack bang in the middle of the ‘Madchester’ scene - you know, the term journalist used to clump all the bands from Manchester together because they all had this certain sound – this pains me to say, being a Yorkshire Lass through and through, but it was rather glorious. The Taxis were on the same bill as the Mondays/Roses etc. on a couple of occasions; they had a different brassy, northern soul edge to them which played in their favour. Chris Walton, formerly of the Taxi,s told me that the talent of the bands, the journalists ‘clumsily’ put under the banner of the ‘Madchester’ scene was somewhat overlooked. Chris Walton explains: “we supported the Stone Roses at Leeds polytechnic. I sat and watched them sound check and was totally blown away as first Reni did his drum check, then Mani checked his bass, then John checked his guitar, and all without stopping, once.” 14
The Taxis band manager, Alaric Neville, told me that “they originally felt there was a northern scene, Liverpool, Manchester and Leeds. Only later did the press home in on the Manchester idea to the exclusion of the other cities. Most of [Bridewell Taxis] fans were also followers of the big Manchester bands: Inspirals, Mondays and Roses; plus [Bridewell Taxis] played Manchester venues a lot: the Boardwalk, Hacienda and International 1+2.” So, with the idea of a ‘northern scene’, bands which came out of that scene were followed loyally, almost to the point of the bands being ‘our boys’ - is it the same now? It’s been widely bandied about that guitar bands and small independent venues alike are in rapid decline...but what are we comparing them to – stuff from twenty years ago? This is a completely different time now. It’s the age of modern technology, where things are available instantly, with social media embedded in
everything from the workplace to the home appliance. So, it’s not surprising that things have changed – it’s only natural. Leeds has a very vibrant independent venue scene though; only last month the 360 club at the Library hosted the Independent Venue Week Takeover 2014 (the second year of the takeover) and the crowd was hardly in decline! I asked Dave Simpson, music Journalist for the Guardian who wrote about the Taxis in their heyday (some of which can be found in the booklet which goes along with the project, incidentally) for his views on the band. “They had quite a big impact for a while. For all sorts of reasons it never really happened for them outside the city, but they were unlike most, a proper Leeds band; they all grew up in the city and stayed there. There’s still a lot of affection for them among those who were there at the time and followed them on the journey.” This idea of them being a ‘proper Leeds band’
is another good reason for the project. This project is a statement, and a pretty important one too; that there was a Leeds sound. The Bridewell Taxis were and are still a big deal within the Leeds scene – they’ve become an influence. They’ve shown that you don’t have to be from London, or even from Manchester, to make it ‘big’, even if it’s just within the scene itself. However, Leeds at the moment has many thriving bands, just look at Eagulls (recently appearing on the David Letterman Show) or Hawk Eyes (recently touring with seminal metal band System of a Down)...regardless of whether you listen to or rate them, we appreciate them for what they’ve achieved in Leeds and beyond. The building of Leeds First Direct Arena which attracts BIG names such as Springstein, Cohen and Rieu (plus a cheeky Strictly Come Dancing appearance) has also gone towards demonstrating that Leeds is a thriving centre for music and bands, new and old, big and small.
The Belgrave Music Hall which opened its door in December 2013 has thrived due to its glorious hospitality (and half price pizza) making you feel like you’re part of a community . Which I feel, the Taxis would be proud and delighted with. The project was set up to rerelease all the Bridewell Taxis material which came in three flavours - a 5 CD boxset with unreleased and live tracks for £20, a very limited 6 CD box set and extras for £25 and a deluxe edition for £35 which included an invitation to a private pre-launch party. The project raised £4,156, exceeding their aim of £2,500, at which Jack Simpson, co-founder of Vibrations Magazine, Eiger Studios and one of the masterminds behind the project, was “pretty surprised”. Chris Walton, fellow Taxi man (I don’t think he’ll mind me calling him that) told me his views on the project: “I am really 16
proud to be re-releasing this material now and think the guys behind this release are absolute stars; even more so, the guys who have pledged the money so that this project can see the light of day are amazing. I personally want to thank them all and it’s really not taken for granted. Also, what the fans have done is allowed us to do the release properly, both with the musical content and the presentation. It’s a real credit to both the fans and us so thank you all. I think the benefits will be that the people who buy or pledge the album will be as blown away as we are and maybe a whole new generation could come to appreciate the Bridewell Taxis who knows?”
ethos behind it. Yes, we all have our favourite bands…but what do they mean to a scene? What do they mean to a community of fans? Do they mean anything to the place where they formed? And, do they mean anything in the present day? I think when we’re discussing Leeds bands we’re definitely talking about this sense of belonging to the scene and it being an important aspect to this band. Like I have stressed throughout this piece, the scene is booming, websites crop up here, there and everywhere and yes, this really is an appropriate time to draw a line under the Bridewell Taxis. To say a formal goodbye, and to say The Bridewell Taxis will stay in the heart of Leeds’ music history, for a very long time.
On a personal level, after reading about this project and being of the new generation Chris spoke about, I have really taken an inspiration from what the people behind the project achieved and also the
You can still pick up ‘Bridewell Revisited’ from Crash Records if you’re quick… but I wouldn’t hold your breath for a reunion.
! l ta e M Me and Metal: Long Day’s Journey into the Night The thing about all of us at Vibrations is that we are always changing our minds – not in a bad ‘ooh, I picked the fish, but now I’ve seen the steak…’ sort of way, more the ‘hey! This band’s really good! What a Charlie I’ve been to think otherwise.’ Well, the proof of the pudding is in the telling, as Steve Walsh shows in this personal account of his voyage out of the light… into the world of
I blame Jon Anderson. As a spotty teenager I regarded music as being important, which of course it is, but in my youthful delusions I thought this translated into ‘complexity’, ‘profundity’ and ‘seriousness’. And, so I believed, these traits could only be found in the gilded musical halls of Progressive Rock. Anderson, singer and chief lyricist of totemic Prog Rockers Yes, fed my need remorselessly, employing increasingly extravagant tactics to keep me, and thousands of equally deluded young men like me, scouring each subsequent album for the deep and revelatory meanings that must surely lie within (Ahhh!). Anderson and his crew casually tossed off ten minute concertos (‘Yours Is No Disgrace’), full albums with a mere three tracks (‘Close to the Edge’) and a four track double album based on the revelations Anderson experienced after reading a footnote in the writings of his then favourite Eastern guru (‘Tales From Topographic Oceans’ – a footnote, a fucking FOOTNOTE). It was all deep, really deep. At the same time I was dimly aware of the rumblings caused by the likes of Black Sabbath, Deep Purple and Uriah Heep, but these were primitive troglodytes by comparison, lumbering around in a world of turgid repetition and doom-laden sludge. Music was more important than that, so I persevered. Led Zeppelin were borderline acceptable because they did big stuff. I mean, ‘Stairway to Heaven’ – phew! But apart from Led Zep, Heavy Metal (note the use of the single, all inclusive terminology) was a closed world to me and I was happy to keep it that way.
This situation prevailed for much of the next 25 years. My aversion to Heavy Metal (still) was not affected by Punk Rock coming along and saving my wits and what was left of my youth. I blame this largely on the late 70’s/early 80’s emergence of the New Wave of British Heavy Metal (Iron Maiden, Def Leppard, Tygers of Pang Tang) which, in my defence, sounded hopelessly retrograde to ears newly attuned to the likes of Gang of Four, The Pop Group and Rip, Rig & Panic. The music I explored from the early 80’s onwards included jazz, reggae, classical, electronic, improvised and noise, but it did NOT include any Heavy Metal (op. cit.). By the late 90’s, however, things were beginning to change. I had thrilled to the punky energy of Grunge, but failed to notice the huge sign above it saying ‘Heavy Metal Woz Here’, and I was beginning to take notice of reports about strangely named bands (Earth, Sunn O))), Burzum) dealing in brands of metal (note usage change) I had never heard of. Things were about to change and it took dull coffee table electronica outfit Portishead (no really) to point me in the right direction. Their curation of All Tomorrow’s Parties’ Nightmare Before Christmas in 2007 was
a revelation. On the Sunday afternoon I watched Boris, Sunn O))) and Earth in that order lay waste to not only the entire festival but to what my preconceptions about what metal was or, more importantly, could be. I even found myself appreciating the point of minor band Atavist, a band I would formerly have avoided like the plague. So now things are different. These days I simply cannot get enough of metal in all its glorious, wild variety, be it Death, Doom, Black, Avantgarde, Drone, Progressive (eek!), Thrash, or Speed Metal, although I must confess I’m having a few problems with Folk and Viking Metal, the former because surely it’s a contradiction in (stylistic) terms, and the latter because it’s just, well, daft. And even better, the underground metal scene in this country, including here in Leeds, is just tumescent with superb bands – check out The Cosmic Dead, Conan, Palehorse, Slabdragger, Bastions and Leeds’ own Sloth Hammer, DSDNT and BongCauldron. There are dozens more, and there is a bit of hardcore in there but that’s a whole other story… The curse of this new found obsession is, of course, that there’s 45 years of metal history that I
need to catch up on, a fact which my bank manager is beginning to see as a real problem and my kids regard with some bemusement, but it is now apparent to me that at the moment metal is THE most creative, fertile and adventurous kind of music there is (move over jazz). It seems to me that almost anything is possible within the loose boundaries of what overdriven electric guitars and drums can do – tempo, volume, structure, lyrical subject matter, rhythm, the ‘legacy’ are all up for shaping and reshaping just as the creative spark of the individual or band desires or dictates. When I listen to Black Sabbath’s debut album now, I can see that its eight tracks constitute nothing so much as a blueprint for an entire genre of music that unfolded over the next five decades. And there it was, right under my nose at the time. What was I thinking? Oh yes, ‘I’ve seen all good people turn their heads each day…’… If you, like Steve, are just waking up to the revelation of metal, you’re in for a good year, as Hawk Eyes, Blacklisters and Black Moth are all releasing albums this year (and those are just the ‘mainstreamers’) and this here band, Canaya, are making a bit of noise, proverbially and literally, too. Read on, neophyte… Photo: Dave Vachon by Danny Payne
Canaya – Bad Men Done Good
Just by the station lies a little known rehearsal space. It’s the place where Pulled Apart By Horses was born; where Castrovalva make noise to divide the whole of the Leeds music scene; where Black Moth invoke dark forces and drink Tizer from the skulls of their enemies. Probably. Or not. And it’s probably quite well known too, but these things are irrelevant when it comes to myth building, a myth which now includes the making of metal majesty by Canaya, four men who are terrifyingly… pleasant, actually. And softly spoken. A far cry from the four corpsepainted horsemen of the apocalypse who graced Humanfly’s swansong. Andy, Canaya’s drummeister, laughs at this. “Yeah, we’ve had a few people comment – we might have to do a repeat performance…” 20
Andy, Owen Wilson (“yes, I know”) the guitarist and myself are hiding in the gallery at the back of the White Cloth bar and gallery, nursing pints and hoping we don’t get kicked out of the pristinely corporate space. Nothing like living on the edge. To bring you up to speed, Canaya formed in 2010 from the broken remnants of bands such as Tangaroa, Hot Prophecy, Executive Distraction Tasks and Nerve Engine. They’d all been playing in various other bands for over a decade and decided it was time to stop with the foreplay and get together. “I think this is the first time for us that we’ve got together in the same band,” says Andy, formerly of Nerve Engine, “we’d been gigging together for years, when you think about it.”
Canaya: L to R Owen Wilson, Simon Wright, Chris Wilson and Andy Richards
They haven’t exactly been rushing things, though – in the four years they have been together, ‘Sealed Within the Walls’ is only their second EP. The question is: what have they been up to? “Honing our craft,” says Andy, enigmatically, ”it’s like ‘Chinese Democracy’ how long did that take? Not sure it was worth it…” ‘Chinese Democracy’, that is. Andy is Canaya’s second drummer, who came on board just after the first EP was released. “We went over the old tunes and refined them because Andy has a very different style to what Jamie’s was,” says Owen, “we weren’t rushing things, just getting together, writing songs.” They may take their time over EPs, but it appears that they’ve built up quite a block of material: “we’ve also got another five [tracks] ready to go which we’re in the process of recording right now,” adds Andy, “so we’re taking things step by step rather than just do an album – why not?”
When Andy talks about honing, he’s not being entirely flippant, as Canaya like to get things just right before even thinking about booking a studio: “we just spent time gigging the songs, enhancing them, and before we even started recording those songs they were finished, we just set a date to record them and did it,” says Owen. “It’s a nice process because it’s all in house, but that’s probably why it takes so long, because we’ve all got jobs, but I think what we’ve got out of the new EP is a real honest effort.” He has a look of sincere pride and rare eagerness on his face. “Did you like it?” he asks, nervously. I assure him that I did and he looks relieved.
Honestly, it’s an impressive piece – furious, primal, exhilarating, sludgy – sometimes like Kyuss, but mostly like Sepultura in their early days. Owen grins from ear to ear. “It’s great to hear someone mention one of the big bands that started metal for me,” he says, “that’s in our heads, it’s us writing honest music that we love to listen to.” Both Andy and Owen started their metal journeys back in the mid-nineties, when metal was METAL. “I got into heavier rock through my dad,” says Andy, “and then discovered Metallica for myself; then my first big gig was Donnington 95, so I was quite young, but I loved it from the get go – there was something about the brotherhood, the camaraderie, you felt like you were part of something. And in those teenage years, it’s important to feel part of something. And those years of your life, you like to listen to music loud, so for me it was pure outlet.” Owen had a similar path, though via a different route: “I grew up on Motown and light rock, but when I used to hang out with my mates, Metallica was the first thing they gave me and I was completely blown away – I remember hearing Kill ‘Em All and thinking ‘that’s so heavy, I can’t touch it’ - years down the line it’s my favourite album. In my teenage years I was out in the country side playing along to those tracks, those albums, back to back.”
publications … so to get that support from different sources is just reassuring.” More than, I should think. And the EP just seems to gather more support. “Since we’ve had word of mouth about this EP we’ve just had offers for interviews,” says Owen, “not just UK based but from the states, and it’s all happened very quickly, but we’re hearing such good feedback on the recording that we’re just trying to make the most of it – anyone who gives us the opportunity, we want to take it, get our music out there.”
“He still knows every Metallica album,” confirms Andy.
Much as we’d like to chat about Ginger, we’re really here to talk about ‘Sealed Within the Walls’, the new EP. I’ve already talked about their heavy influences, but I can’t help but hear a little bit of, dare I say it, tech in there? Owen denies all. “Great riffs – that’s all we care about, we just want to make the songs as memorable as possible – there’s been so many different forms of rock and metal, like progressive, technical – it’s weird you say it’s technical as I’m not particularly a technical player, it’s just the way I like to play.” So it’s not about labels, it’s about
This is now, though, and today Canaya have been named as Terroriser’s band of the day (as I am writing this, Rock Sound have declared them ‘band of the week’), which is a real recognition of their work, both in Canaya and all the other bands they’ve played in. “We’ve had a lot of support from Terroriser, which is really good because we’re fans of the magazine,” says Andy, “the likes of that and Kerrang and Metal Hammer and then local
It’s not just the press that have been impressed by them either. “Ginger from the Wildhearts,” says Andy excitedly, “he rung us, he’d actually heard our first single and was absolutely blown away by it and he gave me an email and I recorded Si (Wright, the singer) for a few tracks and then that snowballed again, with the Hawk Eyes guys being involved, Si was involved on a track again.” As you can see, Canaya weren’t the only Leeds band to be involved with Ginger’s album: “the fact that so many Leeds bands were on Mutations was just brilliant, and it was real nice for Ginger to take the time and recognise that there’s other people out there – he’s got a huge family network worldwide, but he chose to use musicians from a few new bands.”
songs? “I think the songs are strong, probably the strongest I’ve ever written … I think we’re just putting the things in that people who like metal like to hear.” Pleasing all the people all the time can’t be easy. “It’s four individuals in the band and we’re into all sorts, our roots are from totally different places,” says Owen, “it’s a real combination of four different minds just coming together and bashing things out ‘til they’re happy with them.” Andy can only agree. “We’re all into different kinds of metal – I think that’s evident in some of the sludgier, stonier metal, but we’re being compared to bands at the opposite end of the scale. If anything, I think it just makes it an interesting listen… a lot of difference for five tracks.” They’re also very proud of their artwork, provided by local artist Steve Miles: “we’re big fans of vinyl,” says Andy, “and the artwork has always been part of the package and that’s the one thing that we wanted to get with this EP. We gave Steve a basic concept of what the EP was about, the titles and that and he just went to work. As soon as we saw it, we knew that was it.” “He’s one of a kind that guy,” says Owen, “he just got an A4 piece of paper, sketched it out and sent it through and we were just blown away by the detail that that guy put in on the first sketch.” So, a new EP, national and international acclaim – time for a rest? “EP no 3’s completed, so we’re currently tracking that,” says Andy, “then from the moment we release the EP we’ve got bookings ready and we’re organising the next tour for the end of summer.” It would appear that as well as rust never sleeping, neither does metal. Rob Wright ‘Sealed Within The Walls’ is available now.
Photo: By Benjamin Paul - BongCauldron: L to R Biscuit, Ben and Jay
BongCauldron are a metal band. If you haven’t been paying attention recently you will have missed the fact that using just ‘metal’ as a descriptor isn’t really good enough these days. So to avoid any confusion, I ask the band what style of metal they play. Biscuit (guitar and vocals) obliges, “If you could put it in one thing, it would be Sludge. I don’t think we can really be pigeonholed though….we have songs with Thrash in them, but basically we put in what we enjoy, and mainly it’s Sludge. Or Doom.” Ben (bass and vocals) clarifies, “Yeah, Sludge, Doom….Stoner….. riffs, heavy….” Hope that’s cleared up the situation then. “The thing now,” drummer Jay expands, “is that if something’s slow, they’ll call it ‘Doom’ and then offshoot all these stupid subgenre’s on it because they can’t put their finger on what it is. I think as far as any genre is concerned nowadays which you could call progressive, then Doom’s at the forefront of everything. If you take bands like Space Witch and Sunn 0))), they’re both miles apart but they’re both considered to be in the same genre.” The Leeds trio have just released their debut self-titled EP, which is indeed packed full of the kind of bass heavy, fuzzed up riffage that is predominantly slow or mid paced but occasionally falls into a headlong Thrashy gallop. Is it fun being a metal band in Leeds? “Yeah, its ace!” says Ben. “It is in this one!” adds Jay, before Ben goes a bit deeper: “yeah, everyone knows each other, everyone’s connected because they’ve been in the same bands over the years or followed the same bands.” 24
Ben and Jay play in other band themselves, but Biscuit does not: “No, no… too stressful. BongCauldron’s pretty much exactly the only type of music I like and what I want to play.” Whose band is it? “All of ours,” says Biscuit, “when we write something it’s always all three of us. But sometimes Jay will write lyrics…” a drummer writing lyrics? Ridiculous! Jay - “We are ridiculous!” (laughter). Biscuit continues, “When we started it was more just, ‘how stupid could we make the song titles?’ And that’s kind of stuck the whole time, that keeps it fun. Because there’s no point writing a song if there’s not one part that makes me laugh. That’s what ‘Gimp Jig’ (longest track on the EP) is.” So what is a ‘gimp jig’? “It’s all about getting incredibly smashed on any type of drug, and going on a wonderful date with yer Missus and seeing a lot of stuff happen, until it turns out that it was you that did all of it. That’s the Gimp Jig.” Metal is hugely innovative just now, but I wonder how important it is to acknowledge its past? “Yeah yeah, totally,” chorus all three. I tell them I hear a lot of Black Sabbath in what they do. “That’s the foundation of the whole thing, really,” says Ben. “Yeah,” says Biscuit, “if you don’t like Sabbath, you’re a moron. They invented everything. It’s always going to be there, especially if you play this kind of slowed down, dirty stuff we play. You’ve just got to take that inspiration and make it your own.” Which BongCauldron emphatically do. Steve Walsh The BongCauldron EP is available from Superhot Records (www.superhotrecords.com). BongCauldron support Corrosion of Conformity at Brudenell Social Club, Leeds on 14 March.
Reviews ALBUM REVIEWS
anger and desperation of James’s voice. The coda says “you strike me as the kind of person who has never made love before, and therefore you are easily satisfied, in general, and with everything”. A scathing world view, on repeat play.
Cactus Post War Glamour Girls Pink Fur (Hide & Seek Records) I’ve seen PWGG girls a few times, got a couple of singles. Cracking stuff. A modern take on late-period Birthday Party but with a northern accent, snatches of Pixies and the Smiths thrown in. But nothing prepared me for this. ‘Pink Fur’ is their first album; this one sounds as if they’ve been making them for years. The sound is ripe and heavy, it has depth and swagger, a robustness that deserves to be played loud. Nothing is wasted – they have no need to embellish anything with tricks and tinkles. Yes, there are samples and overdubs, but nothing superfluous. But what about the songs? They have eight great songs, songs that hook you in, showcasing the pounding drums, twisting guitar interplay, bass that reminds me of Kim Deal, and that voice. Okay, Alice sings too, a beautiful counterpoint to James’s impassioned growl, but James is something else, channelling Nick Cave, Wayne Hussey and, occasionally, ‘Kroyd from Leeds’ Wind-Up Birds. But they are bookended by a pair of songs, ‘Shestra’ and ‘Brat’, that take up over a third of the album and are so outstanding that the rest of it pales in comparison. Awesomely good. A combination of lost love song and pre-apocalyptic nightmare, I can’t get them out of my head (wandering around at work singing “I just want something to talk about that doesn’t involve you” gets strange looks). The two songs are distorted reflections of each other, the former quieter, more hopeless, the chorus impassioned; the latter fuller, maybe more hopeful, the chorus turned into a chorale. Both are twisted in destruction and both showcase the
¡Forward, Russia! Live At The Brudenell (Self release) How does one judge the merits of the ‘official bootleg’? If you’re enough of a fan of ¡Forward, Russia! to want to supplement the other, more premeditated works of theirs you have in your collection by getting hold of this then presumably your main concern is the fidelity of the recording, since you already know the songs. Having made it clear that the sound quality is excellent throughout, allow me to offer a few thoughts on the show the late departed Leeds quartet have seen fit to elevate to canonical status. Just as it was hard not to get carried away by the euphoria that surrounded the band in their mid-Noughties heyday, their one-off reunion show last November was difficult to catch a clear glimpse of through the fog of nostalgia it understandably generated. With no new material to showcase ¡FR! exhibited both their undeniable strengths and manifold weaknesses - a quintessential singles band best taken in small doses, ‘Nine’, ‘Twelve’, ‘Thirteen’ and ‘Eighteen’ still sound fantastic, all melodic exuberance and infectious, flailing energy. Most successful when merely nodding in the direction of other genres, whilst keeping the focus on writing punchy, compact pop songs, the quartet’s limitations were horribly exposed in their attempts to branch out into more ‘worthy’ territory. In most cases the results were long-winded and repetitious, and the preponderance of these failed experiments in the set list means Live At The Brudenell feels interminable at points. It was certainly a treat to hear the high points of ‘Give Me A Wall’ performed one last time, but ultimately this belated
sign-off gives the impression ¡Forward, Russia! had run out of ideas by the time of their initial split.
Greg Elliott (Ed note: this review was written before the ¡Forward, Russia! appearance at Live At Leeds 2014 was announced)
Black Meat Trader Kill Him… Take Her (Self release) Back at the beginning of 2012, an enigmatic artist under the Burroughsesque title of Black Meat Trader sent in a CDR of distilled nightmares set to backdrop of looping rhythms and synth riffs. Imagine our surprise to find that the aforementioned artist has gone into happy house in this, their third release and first full length offering. This is a lie. It’s as pitch black as before. We’ve got more of a concept thing going now though – still an obsession with Baader Meinhoff, but now an added ghoulish fascination with the maniac chimp Travis, who tore the face and hands off the friend of his trainer – in fact, one track of this EP (‘Chimpstory’) is the infamous emergency call made by Travis’ trainer when he went, excuse me, completely apeshit, and another (‘Black Derek’) features the sounds of a similar simian losing it. The looping rhythms and riffs are still there, usually rolling for ten minutes or so whilst the sounds of exorcisms (‘Maleficarumitalia 73’) and demons (‘Demon Pit’) assault the ear and shatter the nerves. There is a relief of sorts in ‘Journey Out to Crucifixion Beach’, but it is the unsettling peace of the aftermath, of drowned cities and extinction level events. It’s a bad trip, an endless nightmare, but… too long. You can only be unsettled and horrified for so long before you become acclimatised to it. And maybe that’s the most terrifying thing of all. Look, this is nasty, don’t listen to this with the lights off and for god’s sake don’t mix listening to this with psychoactives and chimp care, okay?
Reviews Hawk Eyes Hawk Eyes Live in Amsterdam (Self release) I love live music. If you could bottle it, you would. No one has yet. That Fucking Tank came close, but cheated – or so I hear. The problem is that there is too much to put in the bottle… and it all needs to go in. Every. Last. Drop. I love Hawk Eyes and this album is a pretty good representation of what it’s like to be on stage but… you want to be in the pit, dontcha? And that’s what’s missing. So what have you got? A pretty much pitch perfect show - it sounds like it’s mixed straight from the desk though, so it sounds pretty clean, not rough enough for a live gig – it’s a testament to their tightness, really, but it does mean Paul’s voice, which would be awesome in the pit, sounds cracked and pitted in the recording, especially in the otherwise triumphant ‘Bears By The Head’. I mean, the songs are really good and you can hear that Paul has been working on his patter (“It’s an incredible honour for you to be watching us” – you cheeky sod), but you never get the impression of how many people are in the audience, and considering that this was taken from the System of a Down tour, the answer is ‘a lot’ – it would have been nice to have more audience noise to add to the ambience. To sum up, conclude and all that, you can see how good Hawk Eyes have got as a band and what a tight set they have (although I would personally include ‘Sky Spinners’ and close with ‘I Hate This…’ but… that’s just me) but if you want to get a true impression of what Hawk Eyes are all about, you’re still going to have to go and see them. Which you should anyway – okay?
Rob Wright Available as name your price from http://hawkeyesmusic.bandcamp.com/ music
myonemanband ADAPTER & BLACKFACE mono-textura (The Adult Teeth Recording Company) This pair of albums is the work of Phill Wilson, a Hull-based musician who makes music by “using a mixture of organic sound sets such as classical guitar, marimba, dulcimer, kalimba, accordion and drums with synthetic textures electronic percussion, beeps, bleeps and hiss”. But that’s not the half of it. ADAPTER starts with a slow two-pulse beat reminiscent of Alva Noto at his gentlest. It is joined by a selection of simple tones blending into chords, then buzzes, crackles and, eventually, piano. The same basic pattern is explored through the remaining tracks (except for ‘Bb Major’, which is noticeably more jaunty, popping along merrily for nearly eight minutes). There are recognisable electronic signatures, including a wonderful Tubeway Army vibe on ‘C# Minor’, but mostly it is a collection of beats and glitch with little melodies and fractions of tunes throughout. It reminds me of múm without the vocals or fullness of sound. This is all very sparse. What is truly amazing is that it is all improvised and recorded in one take, presumably constructed from loops of electronically-generated sound. There are some very realistic sounding instruments – a xylophone and a beautiful mournful cello in ‘E Minor’ – but I can only surmise these are synthesised as no one person could play all of them simultaneously. That he has crafted such a beautiful album on the fly is astounding. mono-textura is also constructed in an amazing way – Wilson has recorded the sound of an open-tuned electric guitar which he has run through a variety of gizmos to create all the sounds on the album (with the addition of brief snatches of his sound diary from around Europe). This palette is limited and the album is less interesting than ADAPTER – once again there are crackles and
pops, but it is mainly shifting wafts of sound that create drifts of atmosphere. Very good, but not as fine as ADAPTER. These albums also form a pair. They are identical lengths and each track has a same-length counterpart on the other album. You are invited to play them simultaneously to get the full effect. Musically, it is like a fuller version of ADAPTER – not different enough to have its own identity. Almost its own remix album. But the result is intellectually staggering when you consider how the sounds were generated.
Cactus Monolith Cult Run From The Light (Future Noise Recordings) If there’s a band out there with a more fitting name I’m yet to find them. Monolith Cult sound EXACTLY like you’d expect them from their moniker. For those who need to be spoonfed their descriptions though, the bands’ Facebook page says it all-Heavy Fucking Rock! Riff after riff of sludgy volume spills out but then, where you expect a coughing fit of a vocal, up pops a classic rock warble of immense quality. Opening track ‘Sold Down The River’ is Kyuss gone doom whilst ‘Blind Watchmaker’ lurches along on a fuzz of guitars and feedback. The best is definitely saved for last though with closing track ‘Suicide & Heroin’ providing some old fashioned, head-down and headbang fodder to contrast the slower tunes. The unexpected and unique vocal/musical combination is in danger of making Monolith Cult a novelty within the UK scene and in all fairness this is about the only thing that might stop them being considered a serious player long-term but on the whole the band have more than enough about them to make even the most cynical of listeners sit up and listen. With members culled from respected artists such as Lazarus Blackstar, Khang and Solstice you’d expect some serious quality and that’s exactly what you get.
Rob Fearnley 27
Reviews Department M Department M (Fierce Panda)
Tomorrow We Sail For Those Who Caught the Sun in Flight (Gizeh Records) Everything about Tomorrow We Sail is big; the band have seven members who play a wide range of acoustic and electric instruments; only one track is less than five minutes long, with two busting the 10 minute mark; the song titles (‘The Well & The Tide’, ‘Eventide’, ‘Testament’) suggest weighty subjects; and the music encompasses a wide variety of musical styles (post rock, folk, prog, ambient, chamber music, minimalism). But this band’s take on big shouldn’t be equated with bombast. Quite the opposite. The seven tracks take their time to make their points, using nuance rather than being glib. It’s rather like spending an hour contemplating the features of a landscape and having an artist gently point out the finer points of what you’re looking at. The band have an instinctive understanding of the importance of space and silence in music, and how to use both to accentuate the delicate melodies, crescendos, changes of key and occasional bursts of noise that are the way points of this particular musical landscape. Despite the length (overall and of individual tracks) there isn’t much on the album that is superfluous and the bands’ attention to detail throughout sprinkles the album with some remarkable features: the way ‘Never Goodbye’’s one note piano fade out morphs seamlessly into ‘December’s chiming guitar in a kind of musical sleight of hand is exquisite, as are Angela Chan and Ella May Blake’s harmonising vocals on ‘Testament’. And in this context, earlier single ‘The White Rose’s simmering rage at some unspecified social, environmental or political crime (“I have seen the ruin that’s coming for us/And now your heads will roll/For you have brought this country to its knees/We will not be silent…) is almost shocking.
Tomorrow We Sail have here painted us a rich and mature musical picture.
Steve Walsh imp Moon Coastal Maine (Philophobia Music) Wakefield-based four-piece imp make a real statement of intent with the release of this, their debut album. A debut album can sometimes pose a number of problems, one being overloading the album with too many tracks therefore drowning out the quality material. However this is not a problem for imp; the fifteen track LP may be a lengthy listen, but by no means is the album filled out with average material. There is a clear quality present within the production on this record as creativity and imagination appears to ooze out of the majority of the tracks. The production on ‘Die!’ seriously grabs the attention; shimmering guitars and gentle vocals lead to a climax that gives a feeling of deliriousness due to the fading vocals and wavy synthesiser. A neat feature on the album are the numerous interludes and instrumentals, but it would be wrong to assume they are there to just make up the numbers. Each of the seven interludes and instrumentals earn their place, most notably ‘Gentle Riffs’ and ‘RIPMK’ epitomise the free spirit of the album and are drenched in psychedelic sounds. As a whole, instrumentally nothing on the album can be faulted and a perfect balance of instruments is apparent throughout. Further plaudits must be awarded for delivering a range of different tempos and song styles across the whole album to hold the interest and attention of the listener.
Elliot Ryder 28
Department M represents singersongwriter Owen Brinley’s spectacular regrouping after the regrettable demise of Grammatics, whom he fronted, to come roaring back with a new project which succeeds entirely on its own terms. Indeed, opening track ‘Visitor’ features heavily processed vocals which signpost just how much of a departure this is going to be - guitars are largely absent from Department M, making way for synths and dense layers of production, but the initial impression of coldness and distance is misleading; this is in all other respects a warm and accessible record bursting with winning melodies and showcasing one of the most distinctive and mellifluous singers our region has recently produced. A yearning, plaintive tone builds through ‘I’ll Fax You An Apology’ and ‘Miscellany’, punctuated by the thrusting bassline of ‘The Second Prize’, whilst the multitracked harmonies of ‘J-Hop’ display a refreshing lack of circumspection in engaging with the innovations of mainstream pop music - although its hard percussive edge and wailing electronics may keep it off the radio. ‘Absentia’ is the undoubted highlight, a pulsing, deceptively simple melody pitching the song up somewhere between Radiohead’s ‘All I Need’ and M83 at their most expansive. As the looped harmonies of ‘Sleepwalker’ lull things to a close, the listener is left contemplating where Brinley’s abundant talent might yet take him. At eight tracks this self-titled release is perhaps more of a mini-album than a debut LP - to say that it whets the appetite hardly does it justice.
FEATURE SINGLE Canaya Sealed Within The Walls (self release)
Reviews SINGLE/EP REVIEWS Canaya Sealed Within The Walls (self release) It has been nearly three years since their first EP, so you could hardly call them prolific but, like the super volcano lurking beneath Yellowstone Park, when Canaya release, it is utterly devastating. A furious fistful of metal, ‘Sealed Within the Walls’ is a testament to a band that take their time over their songs… though their songs are hardly pedestrian. The pace is set then redoubled in ‘Levitating Casket’, crammed with chug and riffs, time signature switches and bestial growls. Not a million miles from Fear Factory in its complexity or from Sepultura in its sound (Simon Wright has a growl akin to the mighty Max Cavalera), it is a brutal, chaotic tumult of joyful noise. ‘Award Winning Bastard’ is tailor-made to throw yourself from a stage to or mosh hypnotically, a black sound, demonic but melodic, like Wolves in the Throne Room. ‘Monarch of Sin’ is a pummelling, grinding mosh, majestic track, but Simon is not the best singer in the world, which detracts from its impact. Better is ‘Committed’, featuring John Sutcliffe from Humanfly – his riffage and vocals give a real doom laden edge to the song. ‘Audio Porn for the Blind’ closes the EP with a deeply stoner groove – hard as Mastodon, laid back as Kyuss. If this is the shape of things to come, it’s gonna be happy heavy times for these chaps…
Unwave Exhale EP (Self release)
Famine A Hand of Sore Thumbs (Self release)
The debut EP from Leeds 3 piece Unwave takes me back about 10 years from the very first note. A jangling yet abrasive slab of drum heavy noise not a million miles away from a more angular Yuck, it’s the sound of Monday nights in the Packhorse on a £2 bill. I’ll be honest; it’s kind of hard to put into words how much I like this EP. Never straightforward but at the same time goes everywhere you want it to. Just buy it!
Grinding hardcore trio Famine have, in their short life, rapidly become a staple feature of metal, punk and hardcore gigs in Leeds and further afield. After a shaky start they’ve got their shit together live and this debut recording demonstrates a sound grasp of the hurtling dynamics of the genre. For the most part the short songs hammer along at speed with guttural vocals and well placed dips into slower sections to vary things up. But the band are far from a one dimensional prospect – while ‘Squid’ is a potent one minute punky thrash, longest track ‘In Shortage’ showcases a more experimental approach to the arrangement of the building blocks of hardcore, as well as a deft use of sampled voices, this latter a feature of the whole EP. Solid.
Rob Fearnley Fold featuring Mr Gee Salvation (Self release) Fold are a Leeds-based four piece whose overall sound can be described as being of the trip-hop genre, should we need to draw such a distinction. For this release they have teamed up with performance poet Mr. Gee, who many will know from the radio shows he has presented or his supporting of Russell Brand on tour. Fold make overtly political music and the pieces here explore specific issues such as the concept of personal salvation, as on the opening track, or the role and media representation of immigrant workers as expressed on the closing ‘Passing Strangers.’ The musical backdrop to Mr Gee’s verses tends to be mildly funky, with tightly played drums giving a hip-hop feel to the record whilst brassy and electronic flourishes add to the replay value. It is all tastefully done, with the individual parts fitting together in complementary fashion. Ultimately, however, I find it all a little bland and prefer performance poetry with a more dynamic, or simply angry, delivery. There is no ‘rise and fall’ here, everything simply comes together as a smooth groove.
Steve Walsh Available as name your price here http://faminegrind.bandcamp.com/
Shield Patterns The Rule (Gizeh Records) Hailing from Manchester (but part of this honorary Leeds label’s rosta), Shield Patterns is the freshly-formed project of multi-talented artist and musician, Claire Brentnall, and latest single, ‘The Rule’, comes flooded with waves of fragilityladen vocals, buckets of unremitting hooks and looping melodies, as well as the gentle instrumentation of tingling pianos and delicate strings. All in all, ‘The Rule’ fuses the zany, choral command of Kate Bush with synth-driven, dub-tinged grooves to create an atmospheric track of altogether anthemic proportions. It is four and a half minutes of haunting and ethereal melodiousness at its best.
Reviews Ten Triangle of Hope EP (Self release) If you’ve ever wondered what the future may sound like, give this EP a listen. Ten’s new EP ‘Triangle of Hope’ is an ambient and atmospheric collection of down tempo pieces that would be perfectly at home on the soundtrack to any good futuristic thriller. A mixture of the beautiful and the disturbing, the EP’s six tracks demonstrate Ten’s ability to evoke mood and tension in a variety of ways, all of which make it gripping stuff to listen to if experimental soundscapes are your thing. Fans of Boards of Canada, Emeralds, and John Carpenter take note.
BOOK REVIEW Plastic Paddy by Andrew Macbeth (Self published)
Do good songwriters necessarily make good novelists? While many have tried few have managed to sustain credible careers as both because, although both manipulate the word, they are in fact entirely different disciplines. And in any case, any songwriter worth his or her salt is writing poetry anyway, and that’s a whole new bag of metaphors. I say this by way of preamble because Andrew Macbeth is the pseudonym (unless it’s actually the other way round) of Andy Mills, bassist and lyricist in Leeds art rock band MonMon. This book was published in 2010 and given the way these things usually work, it’s likely Macbeth wrote it at least in parallel with his tenure in MonMon (from 2006) and possibly even before. The novel covers a short period in the life of a petty thief and burglar, the eponymous Paddy, who at the start has just completed a course of treatment for drug addiction. Paddy’s main source of companionship is his fence, Ferdy, who he seems to regard with either loathing or suspicion. Paddy has a thing about his ex, Joanie, who bears a resemblance to the provocatively posed woman from Egon Schiele’s ‘Sitting Woman with Legs Drawn Up’, which conveniently adorns the cover of this book. Paddy lives in a garden shed, pulls off a couple of burglaries but then runs into Joanie again, and thereafter the shit hits the fan.
If that sounds a pretty slight basis for a story, it is. But after compressing words and sense into brief song lyrics, Macbeth doesn’t seem eager to let go of the reins entirely, and the book is all the better for it. Macbeth is extremely good at packing the detail into a very compact space, which gives the novel a giddy propulsion. It’s almost like sensory overload and helps to drive the burglary scenes as well as support the suggestion that Paddy suffers from some kind of social disorder. Much of Paddy’s background and motivation remains opaque because of the internal monologue style of the book, although the closing revelations and bloody dénouement leave no doubt about the self-awareness of the protagonist. Macbeth also seems to be extremely familiar with the procedures, equipment and skills of burglars, although I’m sure this is the result of painstaking research, and as such the burglary scenes form the best chapters in the book. Macbeth also does dialogue extremely well, especially when it interacts with Paddy’s internal monologue, and the descriptions of the environment of the action is very evocative – although the city the story takes place in is not named, it seems clear it is Leeds. Slightly more disturbing is the chapter where Macbeth gives full rein to Paddy’s animalistic lust for Joanie – it’s either a shockingly honest portrayal of rampant lust, or a more questionable indictment of the underlying brutality of male (or just Paddy’s, please just Paddy’s!) sexuality.
Although not an integral part of the story, music does feature in the book, and particular songs are cited by Macbeth as being the ‘source’ of most of the chapter titles. For the record Blur, Fugazi, Jerry Lee Lewis and Chet Baker get mentions, but weirdly Macbeth bestows the honour of TWO such citations on 90’s US alternative rock band Come. Any criticisms are relatively minor. There’s a slight stylistic inconsistency across the book and you get the sense that the book possibly began life as a single ultra-short story (that opening chapter?) that was expanded on a chapter by chapter basis. And there’s a minor issue with proof reading errors. But these are quibbles. Macbeth has written an extremely readable, evocative book here. It was published in a limited run of 100 – mine is numbered 89, so don’t hang about, eh?
More info at www.andrewmacbeth.co.uk Because we are but human and have but limited space we can’t cover everything going on musically in Leeds BUT we’d like to try. If you have a demo, record or wax cylinder which you want our opinion on, please send to: Eiger, New Craven Gate Ind Estate, Leeds,LS11 5NF or email your digital equivalent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Middleman/That Fucking Tank @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds Obviously, the Tank were great. Like the Wham! of the Leeds music scene (in terms of individual musical output, and whether anyone can remember the other guy’s name) TFT continue to form a noisy vertebrae of our local sound backbone, so I was disappointed by the lack of crowd recognition for stand-out tracks such as ‘Making a Meal for Beethoven’ (not even ‘Acid Jam’?!), and I’d blame “the crowd”, but this is the Brudenell. They should know better. Regardless, nothing can deny the palpable bond these two Tankers share, which presumably their en face setting aids with. Unusual, yes, but genius. Next ten years please! After voting them the top album in the Vibrations Fight Before Christmas for last year, I was most interested to see Middleman this evening – and – hell yeah – they lived up to their reputation. It was quite a stage show too, unlike anything I’ve seen at the Brude before. I wasn’t even aware there was more than one light setting there, let alone multiple colours, strobes, video walls, gobos (moving gobos!). In fairness, the amount of props on stage did mean I could barely see the drummer, so this could be an issue, but it went very well with the performance they provided, which was energetic (an understatement), varied and reasonably emotional for a Tuesday evening. Despite not having played together for three months, this hadn’t affected their performance – they obviously gel extremely well together as a team – and they played a selection from their back catalogue, including the single ‘Better Off ’ from the new album which was released the same day. A combination of The Streets on acid and the fictitious genre “lol brostep” (a parody genre), Middleman craft a style so chopping and changing that it shouldn’t work – but it very much does.
Down Radio/Terra-ist/ Strangers in Paradise @ 360 Club, The Library, Leeds On a night of varied styles and influences, Strangers in Paradise opened with a delightful combination of alternative rock with two guest vocalists from urban genres. While they were entertaining enough themselves, the highlight of the performance was certainly the contrast offered by the extra vocals. Powerful guitar riffs, rapping and soulful singing complimenting each other perfectly. The result was a refreshingly original set which was an excellent opening for things to come. Terra-ist kept the momentum going with an energetic set leaving the audience hungry for more. Elements of grime and hip hop performed with the gusto befitting a rock band, the set was a perfect advertisement for their debut album, Civilian Army, launched the same night. Having shown that the name wasn’t just for show, the ‘army’ of guest vocalists provided a wide range of harmonies backed by chest thumping bass and catchy melodies. Capping the night off and feeding the desire for more, local lads Down Radio may have been the least unique on the night but certainly made up for it with a lively performance, combining heavy guitars with hip-hop/dub synth which got the crowd on their feet dancing. Following an unspoken theme of the night, the set switched between MC and reggae style vocals, the difference here being they didn’t require support to achieve this. With the treat of a debut performance of a new song and a solid set, Down Radio ensured everyone left the 360 Club on a high.
I Like Trains @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds I Like Trains at the Brudenell a couple of weeks before Christmas – what a nice present. But playing all of their first album, Progress Reform, made it very, very special. Shamelessly nostalgic, but soooo exciting. And they played it straight through, in order, and with Ashley doing visuals once again. ‘Terra Nova’ was awesome, ‘Stainless Steel’ awesome and magnificent and ‘The Beeching Report’ was breath-taking. The addition of a third guitarist gave real depth to the music and Simon Fogal once again made me think he is one of the best drummers around. Keeping everything rooted on solid foundations, he generates pounding drum patterns that mesmerise without any need for histrionics. The rest of the band were in top form too. Dave Martin’s sombre voice and idiosyncratic phrasing makes you want to listen to it. Guy Bannister using a bow on his guitar was beautiful – not a wild look-at-me solo but just the way to get the best sound for the song. And after Progress Reform, they played half a dozen songs from Elegies to Lessons Learned, including ‘Twenty-Five Sins’, where the third guitarist became second drummer, and Guy playing as a third. Once again, the additional musician worked wonders. They ended with ‘Spencer Percival’ – probably my favourite ILT song – and it sent shivers down my spine. As an encore, we were treated to their take on Wham!’s ‘Last Christmas’. A straight take on it. Slightly slower than the original and Dave’s voice coming over all wistful. Shameless crowdpleasing at its best.
Post War Glamour Girls/ Stalking Horse @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds For a group of seasoned musicians, Stalking Horse look extremely uncomfortable. Still, what began as a solo project seems to be taking on the trappings of a proper band, so perhaps they’re still getting used to it. What’s obvious is that the songs on debut ‘Specters’ were more sketches than anything else. They’ve been filled out and given considerable heft with thumping drums and, especially, some well-crafted bass figures that provide an essential dynamic bridge between the beats and the chiming, ethereal guitars and vocals. The likes of ’99 Stairs’ and ‘The Creeps’ have become different songs as a result. An ongoing project, then.
Photo: By Scott M Salt - Post War Glamour Girls: L to R James Smith, Ben Clyde, Louisa Osborn (from The Witch Hunt guesting on drum) and Alice Scott
But this is all about Post War Glamour Girls, seeing as this is the first in a brace of gigs (the other being at the uber trendy Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen in London the following night) marking the release of their debut album, ‘Pink Fur’. It’s a bold choice to play the album in sequence in its entirety and although not a concept album as such, it does play like a song cycle of sorts, and the band’s music has always had a strong theatricality about it anyway. The place is packed, a fact that underlines the affection the band is held in around these parts, and despite the odd dropped pick and straying lead, the band pull the whole thing off with considerable aplomb, although
the subtleties that make the album such a rich musical experience don’t all translate live. Bookending the stage, guitarist James Thorpe and bassist Alice Scott constantly sway and lunge to the dynamic pulse of the music. Singer James Smith may look rather non-descript but he possesses a most extraordinary voice that ranges from a guttural phlemy rasp to an ecstatic falsetto wail. His almost actorly voice and style of delivery and phrasing is ideally suited to the proselike nature of his lyrics. The man is clearly spent, physically and emotionally, as he spits out the last confrontational line of final song ‘Brat’, balanced precariously on the edge of the stage, mic lead wrapped tightly several times round his neck. Steve Walsh
act, Nomad ploughed through their set with low bassy growls that was surely shaking the bar downstairs and that was before the vocals came in. Easily my favourite band of the night, the unpolished sludge, which was equal parts rhythmic and brutal, left me hungry for more.
BongCauldron/Ten Foot Wizard/ DSDNT/Nomad @ The Fenton, Leeds
Trading a little of the rhythm for more brutality, local lads DSDNT took to the stage while the vocalist circled the floor, screaming his way through both the set and the crowd. With heavy guitars and impressive drumming, this group grasped the bar set by Nomad producing a hardcore sound which would scare anyone who isn’t a fan of the genre and should really come with a health warning.
Having prepared for a night of metal reminiscent of my late teen years, I found myself not disappointed. Pulling in an impressive crowd for an opening
In a severe case of ‘spot the odd one out’, the southern blues-style rock courtesy of Ten Foot Wizard was a clear contrast to the preceding bands.
Photo: By Benjamin Paul
Gone were the brutal unpolished sounds and in their place palatable songs and easier-to-digest vocals. Undeniably talented, they got the crowd moving a little more but I couldn’t help being distracted by how Clutch-like they sounded. Certainly enjoyable, but the set left me wanting a little more individuality from them. Living up to their name by forgetting to bring the CD’s for their EP launch, BongCauldron had me retreating to the back of the now sweaty, tightly packed room in fear for my hearing. With heads banging and fists pumping along with the stoner sludge, they proved that ‘going to 11’ is more than just an overused joke. The loud, demonic tones made sure that no one was left standing still and I was leaving with ringing in my ears. The only downside being I didn’t have a CD to take home
Disraeli Gears @ Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds Leeds/London based Disraeli Gears took to the cosy looking stage for what would be their very first headline gig in Leeds. The quartet, fronted by a female vocalist/guitarist sporting a lightning red Stratocaster, opened with the dreamy ‘Back Of My Eyes’. Heavy amounts of tremolo ring around the venue as the opener soon moves up a gear, distancing itself from the gentle beginning and thrusting into an outburst of emotion, most notably in the powerful vocals. We’re enticed into grooving along with the band by the second track ‘Mother I’ as its wavy bass acts like a dynamo pushing everything forward toward a frantic crescendo to close the song. The band’s second single ‘Hieroglyphs’
is the stand out track during the performance showcasing an impressive range of vocals used throughout that complement the unorthodox song structure, as soft melodic vocals underline crisp guitar riffs which are absorbed by an engrossed audience who duly return a rapturous applause at the close. Only by the midway point of the band’s eight track set does the crowd achieve the difficult evolution from head nodding and foot tapping to unequivocal enjoyment as the audience ride the wave of Disraeli Gears’ onstage chemistry and energy. The final track of the night is debut single, ‘Skeleton’. This
bi-polar number was an intelligent closer for the night as the crowd are lulled into a false sense of relaxation, only to be blown back by the guitar frenzy crescendo in the latter half of the song. Despite the partly static crowd, Disraeli Gears pulled no punches whilst on stage with an impressive, mature performance. Evident in the expressions on the band members’ faces were high levels of emotion as they fought to raise the energy levels of the crowd, and duly won.
Independent Venue Week: Allusondrugs/Forever Cult/Perfect Crimes/Fizzler @ 360 Club, The Library, Leeds The last week in January saw a week of national celebrations of independent venues up and down the country, aptly named Independent Venue Week. Bands, record labels and promoters joined forces to put on special gigs to proudly show off these local institutes. Leeds’ offering was a Friday night at The Library: A small, intimate space which under any other circumstance would be a good thing, though not when you’re making unwanted eye contact with a guitarist’s manboob as I found myself with first band; Fizzler, a chaotic disorder of pubescent
battering of instruments. The night took a bizarre turn with second act on the bill, Perfect Crimes. Complete with the type of wailing an Axl Rose tribute would be proud of and guitar solos reminiscent of that era, Perfect Crimes took the audience down a completely alternate route of rock. Forever Cult cranked the night up a notch, beating the proverbial shit out of their instruments. A blend of indie riffs, grungy vocals and drum beats that thoroughly perforate the ear drum, this trio are the epitome of angry excitement. Their second single, ‘Suntrap’, was released to coincide with Independent Venue Week and shows that these lads can also do smooth, surfer crooning, before unleashing
another bout of thrash that induces some form of uniform bodily movement throughout the audience. Following from Forever Cult, were their noisier, messier counterparts and tonight’s headliners: Allusondrugs. These five guys amped up the grunge in a raw and visceral set. It wasn’t all primitive battering, ‘Plasters’ – arguably their best song – is the sonic equivalent of being bathed in sunlight. The night culminated with Allusondrugs’ lead singer picking the suited bassist up by the ankles and twirling him round, with him still playing in time with the rest – quite a sight to behold and quite the feat of musicianship.
Allusondrugs: going fuzzy round the edges
Brew-denell Beer and Ale Festival @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds With a mission to provide a “brief, representative eye to the exciting and broad brewing movement, across the UK and further afield,” Brew-denell kept things short but sweet. As beer festivals go, the number of beers was modest; but for the space available, the concise selection remained varied, offbeat and solid. Who wouldn’t gladly forego the raft of filler session pales often seen at larger (lager? – Ed) extravaganzas, for a small yet delightfully formed line up of quality, independent tasty ales? Highlights included a refreshing cameo from Fyne Ales of Argyll, not often seen round these parts. The independent Scottish brewers are currently producing some cracking beers, not least the Jarg and Highlander
which were served at the Brewdenell. Kirkstall Brewery proudly represented local beer with stand-out brews in the form of the raucous Rocket Double IPA (brewed initially for one of the Brudenell Centenary gigs featuring Rocket from the Crypt), and also Drop Hammer – a hefty, warming and boozy imperial stout weighing in at 10%, making for quite the evening. Magic Rock from Huddersfield made an appearance with their faithfully solid and fresh pales, Ringmaster NZ and High Wire, whilst a nod to the South came in the form of Londoners Five Points, Kernel, Partizan and perhaps most notably Beavertown, with the exquisite Black Betty. As well as the UK contingent, Italy’s
GIG PREVIEWS Vessels @ Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds 27 March Top notch post rock band branching off into more electronic pastures with last EP Elliptic and a new album in the pipe.
Ikestra @ HiFI, Leeds 6 April One of the slickest, cerebral and downright talented acts to come out of the LCM stable of late. Get it while it’s hot...
Black Moth/Antlered Man/The Witch Hunt @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 29 March Sex on a stick, Black Moth are back in Leeds! YEEEESSSSSS!!!! And with the equally lovely Antlered Man and The Witch Hunt. Hose me down, someone.
Paul Thomas Saunders @ Belgrave Music Hall, Leeds 11 April In support of latest LP, Beautiful Desolation, PTS brings his atmospheric brand of singer/songery to the Belgrave.
Sleaford Mods/Astral Social Club/Cowtown/Mutant Ape @ Wharf Chambers, Leeds 29 March Astonishing gig. Get on the Sleaford Mods beam, you fuckers!
Turbowolf/Hounds @ Belgrave Music Hall 20 April Gritty riff-rock from Bristol, Turbowolf are touring with self-styled electro punks Hounds. Should be a messy one.
Toccalmatto and Brewfist were present alongside a selection of US brewers, highlights being Odell’s Cutthroat Porter and Stone Ruination. Friday night’s musical highlight was the delightfully raucous Buzzkill perfect for anyone with a penchant for brass-driven rock ‘n’ roll or indeed just a ruddy good dance after a few beers. The recently reformed Leeds based five-piece played a dynamic set, with catchy melodies and invasive horns on a backdrop of energetic punk. Undoubtedly the giddy slap in the chops everybody needed at 10pm following an afternoon of big lad beers.
The Dunwells @ Leeds Town Hall, Leeds 25 April From Leeds, via a chance encounter in Memphis, the Dunwells have been on a startling upward trajectory over the past few years. This promises to be a lovely old evening. The Twilight Sad @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 29 April Self-styled ‘folk with layers of noise’, The Twilight Sad strike a delicate balance between stadium-sized atmospherics and down-to-earth grit. Live at Leeds @ Leeds 2-5 May/’Kin ‘Ell Fest @ Vox/Eiger 2-4 May Whatever your tastes, leave this weekend clear in your diary… Live at Leeds has Pulled Apart By Horses, ‘Kin ‘Ell has Hawk Eyes, L@L has Drenge, ‘K’E has Napalm Death… and cheap booze. Whatever, it will be messy.
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When House Isn’t Your Home Dance has been integral with the Leeds music scene from Dancehall in the eighties through Megadog in the nineties to Sub Dub in the noughties… yet it is a genre oft neglected in these pages. Still, part of growing is recognising your shortcomings and, in recognition, rectifying them. So, meet Adam Chester, a selfconfessed dance aficionado, who will be leading us, dubstep by dubstep, through the current dance scene. Sorted. Everyone knows that Leeds has a great nightlife, and unless you’re still representing Happy Hardcore to the max, there’s probably still at least one night on every couple of weeks that should be your cup of tea. If you’re lucky, maybe there’s even one a week. Once you increase the density of nights that are basically the same to more than one a week however, there starts to be a problem.
Exhibit A: the easy targets – pop music nights. Whether you go to Halo, Space, Oceana, Tiger Tiger, Mission, Control, etc. etc. you pretty much know you’re going to hear the same playlist of 1990s throwback pop tunes mixed with whatever David Guetta’s doing right now, at every club, every night of the week. It’s a problem, but only for those outside of the mainstream who want to bitch about how shit the mainstream is for the sake of their own ego. Your average
club-goer doesn’t care about hearing homogenous music, otherwise they wouldn’t go to these clubs over and over again, to hear the same tracks over and over again. The mainstream industry relies on the tried and tested, and to an extent, you’ve got to let the people who would rather receive music than discover it just get on with it and do their own (admittedly rubbish) thing. Exhibit B: the underground trend – house nights. Obviously it’s ridiculous to categorise house nights as homogenous, with house being the original style of dance music and the largest dance music community around. But at the same time, there has to be enough similarity between tracks within a certain style for that style to emerge as a trend that gains popularity in the collective music appreciation lobe. In recent months, the thud of four-to-the-floor that has permeated Leeds’ various small clubs and house party basements has seemed never ending, boring into people’s brains by being present for every beat of every song of every mix of every set of every night. The underground dance scene’s current flavour of the weak is therefore most definitely a problem. Fortunately, other types of music other than house do still exist (promoters take note), and they can be found in clubs
and bars across the city, if you know where to look. Dubstep fell as house rose, aided by Skream jumping ship from the former to the latter. However, Leeds still has plenty to offer on the dubstep front for those more concerned with the love of the music than current fashions. Sub Dub for one is still going strong, and in fact they’ve just announced their 16th birthday party lineup in May, which also functions as an Outlook festival launch party. Expect plenty of bass weight as Mala’s Deep Medi Musik hosts the Saturday night of the weekend long party, which is back at Sub Dub’s spiritual home, Leeds West Indian Centre. Brotherhood Soundsystem, which launched in 2012, is, at this point, probably Leeds’ second longest running dubstep night, and is always a guaranteed sell out. Meanwhile, Youngsta’s London dubstep night Contact recently made the journey up to Leeds at the start of February, which, fingers crossed, should become a regular feature at Vox Warehouse. While many nights continue to book dubstep acts on a semi-regular basis (e.g. Acetate, Mist, Selective Hearing, Dilate), another new night, which is launching in March, offers a potential new home for out-and-out dubstep in Leeds; Tone Test is at Beat Bar on the 7th of March, with Cyrus and Cluekid headlining.
Dubstep’s close relative Grime has also gained in popularity in its instrumental form recently, after waiting out many years in the underground’s wilderness, and this has been reflected not only online, but also in some of Leeds’ clubs. Elijah & Skilliam of Butterz Records launched their night Jamz on the 18th of February, with Royal T and Flava D playing alongside the label bosses themselves. Also, Manchester night Hit & Run has been making various excursions to Leeds over recent months, and on 21st March at Beat Bar they host a “War Dub Special” in reference to the recent grime producer battle, where producers sent in their best war dubs in a effort to out-do each other. Kahn & Neek and Asa & Sorrow headline.
The Drum & Bass scene in Leeds is also looking quite healthy at the moment. On the commercial side, there’s Hospitality, which runs events at 02 Academy on a fairly regular basis, as well as continuing to show love to more bass heavy sounds. Most recently, they put on High Contrast, Friction, S.P.Y and
Fabio among others, and no doubt they’ll be back soon with another stormer. Meanwhile, Leeds’ underground Drum & Bass scene is looking pretty good too. Although Momentum recently closed its doors after over 10 years in the game, they have a natural replacement in the shape of Central Beatz, whose focus is on deep, dark and heavy techstep. On the liquid side of things, Overflow have gone from strength to strength since launching in 2013, recently celebrating their first birthday with a massive line-up. Their next event is on March 8th at the Faversham, where they host Calyx and Teebee, Break, and the legend that is Roni Size. It’s clear that Dubstep, Grime and Drum & Bass are still going strong, but they’re only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to good music in Leeds. There’s plenty of hip-hop, reggae, dancehall, and garage also to be found, but it wouldn’t be fair to you as the reader to overload you with too much good music at once. While House may be the current genre of choice for the trend followers, real house will undoubtedly be around after the hype has died down, in much that same way that the genres and sounds outlined above have stuck around through thick and thin. Real music lives on.
Photos: By Scott M Salt 39
Published on Mar 13, 2014
Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring Leeds legends Bridewell Taxis, Sunwolf, Allusondr...