V I B R AT I ON S M A GA ZI N E L E E D S A N D W E ST Y OR K SH I R E J U N E 2011 FREE
REVIEWS UNDER THE INFLU ENCE STAGE TO PAGE
H AN N AH TR I G WE L L TH ESE MO N S T E RS J U FFAG E
Editorial Under the Influence Live at Leeds Hannah Trigwell Juffage Mission Incapable These Monsters Doing it DIY Reviews Stage to Page Live Reviews The Search Vibrations is looking for...
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Vibrations is: Editor Rob Wright firstname.lastname@example.org Design Catalogue www.thisiscatalogue.co.uk email@example.com Picture Editor Bart Pettman firstname.lastname@example.org
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Advertising Department Tony Wilby email@example.com Web Team Simon Hollingworth www.vibrations.org.uk Charlotte Watkins www.myspace.com/vibrationsmagazine Contributors Simon Lewis, Neil Dawson, Nelson, Tom Martin, Daniel Heaton, Giles Smith, Rob Wright, Hayley Avron, Sam Saunders, Tim Hearson, Amy Allaker, Steve Walsh, Bart Pettman, Nadine Cuddy, Jess Wallace, Mike Price, Danny Payne, Rob Paul Chapman, Tom Bailey, Daisy Taplin, Spencer Bayles, Jack Sibley, Carl Fleischer, Aaron Jones, Jamie Boynton. Cover Photograph Hannah Trigwell by Tom Martin. Tiff Parker-Smith Make-up and Styling. Special thank you to Lucy at Temple Works. 3
Can it be that yet again two months have flown past at relativity-defying speeds? Sure it cannot be that a brace of lunar cycles have vanished down the Einstein-Rosen bridge of the eventful horizon into the white hole of good times had? Apparently they have, as that would explain my exhaustion and vocabophobia from having to cram literally thousands of quality words from our tireless team of scribes into the A5 almanac you currently clutch on your hot little or not so little mitts.
Y E S , IT ’ S A N O T HE R V IB RAT ION S – RE J OIC E ! I won’t lie to you, it’s been a tricky one to get up and running and there have been times when I have wanted to take holy orders and live a life of monastic isolation due to the challenges incurred (though not, I should like to make clear, at the hands of my writers who shall forthwith be known as ‘Team Awesome’) but these things, I hear, build character and I have always fancied having one of those. Anyway, grumbling aside, it has indeed been an eventful two months; we’ve seen (and heard) releases from Juffage, Eureka Machines, Scaramanga Six, Wild Beasts etc, hammered the shoe leather in the name of big entertainment (thanks for that line, Cowtown) at Live at Leeds, 4
indulged in the noble art of footing the ball against some of the bands that played that there festival, had a bit of a sleep (I’m sure you’ll understand) and basically lived the dream. But this is no time for resting. Ho no. Galloping over the proverbial comes the inevitable festival season, accompanied by the customary bout of sunburn, trench foot, bankruptcy and… embarrassed regret. So brace yourself for the likes of the newly named Beacons Festival (formerly Mud… I mean Moor Festival) with a cracking line-up, Long Division, which may already be but a memory by the time you read this and of course the behemoth that is the Leeds Festival. Which sort of leads me to this issues… erm, issue. Though Leeds bands have always had their place on the Introducing Stage( and might I draw your attention to the Futuresound heats taking place in July?), it has always struck me as a terrible shame that the Festival that bears our city’s name could do with a bit more local talent on the main stages. I mean, as a gig goer and music listener yourself, you’ll be well aware of how many truly excellent, entertaining and/ or groundbreaking bands there are in Leeds. Case in point: Battles have just released an album that, and I mean no disrespect to Battles, sounds like the sort of thing that the likes of Quack Quack and That Fucking Tank have been doing for years – where’s their 6music album of the day, eh? I think the problem stems from just how cooperative and supportive the Leeds music community is to its compatriots – everyone is on the whole really nice to everyone else, so we have a tendency to keep ourselves to ourselves. Possibly.
Bear with me though – I’m leading up to something here. I have a mission for you, dear reader, if you decide to accept it. When you pick this mag up, why not pick up another and send it to someone who lives outside Leeds, someone who doesn’t know what’s going on here; I‘m basically asking you to spread the word. And if you live outside Leeds and are reading this, thank your friend profusely and check out some of our exports when they come rolling though your burg. I want to see the Leeds/Reading Festival DOMINATED by Leeds bands. Back on planet Earth, I’d like to let you all know about our entry into the digital age – no, don’t worry, we’re not turning into an online only concern – we have a twitter account! The address is @VibrationsLeeds and we shall be twatting away to our heart’s content – mainly about bands, but Steve might put what he had for breakfast on there occasionally. Anyway, send us an e-card, drop us a line, stating point of view… oops, sorry Paul. Laters, you groovy muckers. Rob Wright, Editwat
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The Beat Surrender Presents at Milo Trogons (ex Kasms) 17th June £4 adv / £5 door Thomas Tantrum 23rd June £5 adv / £7 door Boxes 28th June £4 adv / £5 door The Captive Hearts 7th July £4 door
The Despondents + The Broken Seas 30th July £4 door Hysterical Injury 5th August £4 adv / £5 door Spring Offensive 6th August £4 door
All tickets available from Jumbo Records, See Tickets and Wegottickets
UNDE R T H E I N F L UE N CE N E I L C A MP B E L L Over the last 25 years, Neil Campbell has established himself as a key figure in avant garde music; he was a founder member of both the legendary A Band in the 1980s and the mighty Vibracathedral Orchestra in Leeds in the 1990s. Astral Social Club is his prolific solo project but he has also done projects with a host of notable figures from the noise/drone scene. Photos by Giles Smith So, the question is: which one song has had the biggest influence on your music making? And at this stage, it has to be ONE song. I thought about this for a while, and realised one of the main things that put me on the path I’m on was hearing the first Half Japanese 7”, and my favourite song has always been ‘School of Love’. Do you remember when and where you were when you first heard it? Yes. It was right at the end of 1984. I was 18 and was living in the most run-down little house in Kettering. I was in a ridiculous band called ESP Kinetic – we wore dresses and made a hellish angry racket. I was approached at the end of a particularly tense live show by a guy called Mark Turner, who I quickly became fast friends with. He was perhaps the first person I’d met that I thought was possessed by some sort of genius, and that he was dead a couple of years later is something that makes less sense to me the older I get. One of the first times Mark came to visit us he brought the first Half Japanese 7” EP with him, saying he loved it, but that everyone else he’d ever played it to absolutely hated it. The record ended up living at our house. Do you remember what went through your mind when you first heard it? “Jesus Christ! What the bloody hell was THAT?” I’d heard descriptions of Half Japanese, knew they were “weird Americans”, but nothing prepared me for just how FUN and unlike anything I’d ever heard before they were.
Had you already started making music when you first heard the song? If so, did it change your approach in any way? I’d been making music for 4 or 5 years when I heard this, had already had various listening epiphanies with the likes of Throbbing Gristle and The Velvet Underground, but Half Japanese had all of those beat for sheer primitive gonzo excitement. It affirmed for me that the most important thing to do when making music (or anything in life, really) is to stick to your guns, keep it simple and don’t worry too much if it doesn’t correspond to anything anyone’s ever done before. Have your feelings about the song changed over the years? Only in as much as it being something I loved at a formative age that still sounds vibrant to me now in middle age. Half Japanese is a solidly built piece of kit. I look forward to dusting it off for my grandchildren. Can you pick out any other individual songs, pieces of music or musical experiences that have significantly influenced what you do over the years? The relentless piano and ostrich guitar solos on ‘All Tomorrow’s Parties’ by the Velvets blew my 15-year-old mind right open. And hearing Thomas Tallis’s ‘Spem in Alium’, where renaissance polyphony goes wild, did the same to me 20 years later. I’m still ready for new ideas. What are you listening to at the moment? Lots of Nerve Net Noise, this Japanese band who build their own oscillators and set them off to create these little slices of gorgeous repetitive parallel universe pop music. I recently
rediscovered what a great pop band The Associates were too, especially the singles collected on Fourth Drawer Down. Any advice for young noise makers struggling against indifference and hostility? Under no circumstances learn to do anything “properly” or try to copy anyone. What’s next for Astral Social Club? I’m always working up music at home, and even take it out on the road from time to time, but recently I’ve not been fully concentrating on ASC. Instead, I’ve been doing more disparate things like playing with my old Vibracathedral pal Mick Flower. There are a few ASC records ready to be pressed by various labels, but I’d like the next big release to be a substantial departure from what has gone before. No idea how it’ll pan out, mind. Steve Walsh
L IVE AT LE E D S @ VAR I O US VENUES, LEED S
Now in its fifth year, Live at Leeds has become a sprawling monster of a music festival that attracts major up and coming bands and artists from all over the country as well as providing a showcase for the incredible talent we have here in Leeds. Vibrations sent Mike Price and Tim Hearson off to jump in at the deep end and report back what they found…
Before experiencing Live at Leeds for the first time a couple of years ago, I’d never really got on with music festivals. All that rain and mud and the less said about the bogs... The fact is you get none of these problems here - well, some of the amenities are a bit dubious by closing time. Still, you can’t have everything. This festival has also grown in size since my last attendance, with both Universities and the Brudenell Social Club added to the venue list, meaning there are over a hundred and twenty bands to choose from in a single day. Something for everyone. Another great feature of this festival is that you’re guaranteed a surprise or two along the way - at the ticket desk I’m informed that the special secret headline act will be local heroes The Pigeon Detectives, so I pencil them in as it would be great to see them live on home turf. The sun is shining, the vibes are good so I stop to watch the East Leeds FM radio station acoustic stage located 8
right outside the ticket office and enjoy a trio of rustic numbers from a boy-girl duo whose name escapes me...... shame on you ELFM for not listing the acts on your website. Bah! Next up is Milo, which looks packed despite only containing about 50 people. Downstairs a spooky set from local no-wave duo Lovebites shows promise and the early afternoon crowd show their appreciation, even though it’s a bit of a squeeze. Upstairs Laboratory Noise fare a little better once they hit their shoe gazing stride. Later that evening the place would become hotter than the sun following appearances by Cowtown and Eureka Machines leaving oneself in a critical state of dehydration. In the meantime it’s off to the Brudenell to catch the Scritti Politti influenced Polarsets, one of an increasing number of outfits whose front man also occasionally plays percussion. I’m not sure it adds to their live performance but the songs are perky and crisp, helping to fill the half-empty room with a wall of noise.
The Faversham serves as a handy stop off point as I head back into town. Back in 2009, Soft Toy Emergency delivered a stonking set here in the 5pm slot so I suppose I’m trying to tempt fate. Anyway I’ve picked my spot and the place is suddenly heaving as Norwegian all-girl cowpunk quartet Katzenjammer take to the stage. I haven’t a clue what to expect but before you know it the whole place is bouncing to the quartet’s sea-shanty tinged opener ‘Hey ho on the Devil’s back’. Forty minutes later everyone is leaving with a huge smile on their faces. Watch out for them at Glastonbury. Back at The Cockpit, secret headliners The Pigeon Detectives are preparing for their home town hoedown and they deliver in style. Mr Bowman and his five band mates are in top form and you can see why they have become adored. The 10 song set is packed with favourites such as ‘Take Her Back’, ‘Everybody Wants Me’ and ‘Emergency’ and we conclude with the band being joined on stage by a couple of dozen revellers.
Anna Calvi - Ben Statham
Pulled Apart by Horses - Bart Pettman
Anna Calvi - Ben Statham
Folksie Steel City duo Slow Club act as a soothing antidote to the rock n roll onslaught of The Cockpit, the first of a triple header I’m taking in at the University. They soon have the Stylus crowd eating out of their hands. Round the corner in the splendid Mine, Duologue add an electronic twist to the folk theme and then it’s Wearside’s The Futureheads back on the main stage, initially quiet but picking up as they power through their set of choppy poppy punk nuggets including ‘Robot’, ‘Meantime’ and their unique take on ‘Hounds of Love’. The biggest surprise about their set though is an excellent interlude containing a trio of traditional numbers sung acapella, including a terrific version of ‘The Keeper’. Before returning to the scorching finale at Milo (see earlier), it’s time to catch the tail end of indie chanteuse Anna Calvi performing to an appreciative Holy Trinity Church crowd. Shame about the acoustics, they never do you any favours there. So there you have it, a dozen mainly excellent bands, some nice surprises and I hardly scratched the surface. If LaL keeps growing at a geometric rate, next year’s event will have to overflow into Sunday. Mike Price
Pigeon Detectives - Carl Fleischer
Then a brief jaunt to The Cockpit for the soothing tones of Kong: bassist clad in boxers only, guitarist with what looked like bowls held over the ears and a beef load of riffs. ‘Genuinely terrifying’ doesn’t quite do this band justice. Back to Holy Trinity for Cloud Control, an excellent example of what I term ‘Vodafone Indie’. Perky and folky and sunny, they make for a lovely Saturday afternoon’s listening with plenty of soul chucked in for good measure. If I felt like a break from frivolous folk-pop and chug-a-lugging, the O2 Academy soon beat that out of me: genuinely the worst venue in Leeds. My opinion is both informed and confirmed by the appearance of James Blake whose quiet, personal electronic touches barely have a chance to be heard over the incessant chatter of the crowd. Had the set been held at Holy Trinity Church it would have been nothing short of sublime. Thankfully, the gods of scheduling had shifted Blacklisters back an hour, so all was not lost. An appreciative skip to the Met for Billy Mason-Wood’s antics felt like the perfect antidote to impersonal cattle-herding. One of the great things about LaL is people get to try new things; one of the great things about Blacklisters is that it doesn’t matter how many times you’ve seen them, they’re always going to be jolly good fun for all the family. A spot of tea then back to Holy Trinity Church for Adult Jazz who are neither adults nor jazzy. More ‘atmospheric and schmaltzy’ but no matter, things get a bit rhythmic and I like it when things get rhythmic. Adult
Jazz is another band I’d more than happily dedicate a sunny afternoon’s lounging time to despite some of the interestingly pitched vocals. Another pint then back to the Met for Glaswegians Twilight Sad. A bit like a shoegaze take on U2 going with a touch of Thom Yorkery in distinctively accented vocals. Acknowledging their Castrovalva - Carl Fleischer
Once more then, into the breach that is Live at Leeds. First, to Nation of Shopkeepers where I was denied entry because it was a tad rammed. Never mind, I caught a good 10 seconds of Circle’s set and what an agreeable 10 seconds it was. Speaking of agreeable, I moved on to Holy Trinity Church for Killing Fields of Ontario whose folky vibe has the whole church bobbing. Nothing that adds to the Mumford et al book of tricks but what they do, they do well.
Scottishness, ‘Floorboards Under the Bed’ starts with a folky melody before going into something dramatic – always a cool way to start. All in all they’re an entertaining watch with plenty of grit in their sound. A quick jog to The Faversham for the much hyped Aloe Blacc. Admittedly, as they well know, they’re a band with only one song that anyone really knows (that one about needing a dollar) so to mess with everyone’s collective head they start with that and move into something else before anyone can walk out. The problem with this is that the rest of Aloe Blacc’s set just consists of fairly standard soul music. It’s bloody good soul, but it’s not as edgy as one might hope. That doesn’t stop the Faversham from getting its boogie on. By the time the much lauded ‘I Need a Dollar’ gets blasted out we’re all properly funked out. Nice. Also, to the guy who handed me his aviators so he could make a more thorough prat of himself – cheers, they look better on me anyway. Tim Hearson
Sam Airey - Daniel Heaton
HANNA H T R I G W E L L V I DEO STA R 2 .0 ‘Internet sensation’ is a term bandied around pretty readily now and can apply to anything from granny’s reactions to ‘Human Centipede’ to toddlers denuding their siblings of fingers. Hannah Trigwell is neither of these, but is also an enigma wrapped in a query smothered in a puzzle coated in a... you get the idea. Hayley Avron attempts to crack the Trigwell code... Photos by Tom Martin, make-up and styling by Sophia Austin-Meek
“MY F IRS T C O U PLE O F Y OU T UB E VI D E OS – T HEY’R E D E L E T E D N OW – W E RE J U S T M E S IN G IN G AN D T H E C A ME R A P OIN T IN G AT TH E WA L L. I WAS N’T I N T HE V IDEO, I D I DN ’ T WA NT TO B E IN IT. ” Things have changed since then and Hannah Trigwell’s face is no longer a stranger to YouTube. And if you’ve wandered up and down Briggate over the last few years, you’ll probably be
familiar with her face as well. Such is the disparate and fragmented nature of the music business now that there is no longer an obvious route to success. It is quite, quite possible for a person to have had hundreds upon thousands of views on the world’s best-known video streaming website, yet still merrily earn a daily wage busking in a busy Leeds shopping district, free from interference. Apart from pesky kids threatening to nick the change from her guitar case, of course, but that’s a different story. “I saw them counting the money and I thought, they’re gonna take it… but then I thought ‘I’m nearly an adult’ – I was nearly 18 – ‘I could have them’.” As it was, she didn’t need to ‘have them’ at all and they left without trying to swipe her cash but you get a sense of a girl getting her sea legs in the murky, shallow waters of the music industry. Hannah’s subtle confidence is disarming. She’s 20 now, has a calm and slightly wary presence and considers her responses carefully before she speaks. She’s getting used to cameras too, slowly. When I ask how comfortable she feels now, being in front of a camera, she says she’s “getting there.” Vibrations photographer Tom Martin (this isn’t his first shoot with Hannah) barely stifles his disagreement. “I’m too natural,” she explains, clearly pre-empting the response that Tom had tried to disguise as a cough. And ‘natural’ is a pretty good word to describe her. There’s no ‘image’, no gimmick; she has the kind of effortless beauty that wouldn’t make you give her a double-take in the street. Yet her story is far from natural. Having a fan fly over from Canada for your debut single
launch at the Cockpit and giving you a ‘Canada’ hoodie (“I wear it all the time”) is not in the natural scheme of things. Playing a sell-out gig at the Scala, supporting a band that discovered you on YouTube (and may or may not have pilfered your arrangement of Katy Perry’s ‘Teenage Dream’), being shortlisted for the ‘Best International Unsigned Artist’ award for the St. Helier Cider Online Music Awards isn’t necessarily a natural step on most people’s paths. In fact, Hannah’s story is nothing short of remarkable. The burgeoning worldwide success that Trigwell is experiencing now may not have come easily to her and is no doubt the product of blood, sweat and tears but is also owed, in no small part, to the devoted online community that follow her every move. When she streams her online shows she’ll have “about 800” people tuning in each time. That’s no small feat. “They’re protective of me” she says, with a cautious gleam in her eye. In what sense? “Well, if someone makes a negative comment about me, they’ll all go online and make their feelings known. I actually like constructive criticism, but they defend me.” Hannah (or het2810 if you want to follow her postings) is equally defensive of her followers, refusing
artists would donate their first-born child to medical science for, personal questions are batted away or met with supreme hesitance. I ask if she has a partner and whether there’s any conflict, with the intensity that some of her fans show – whether a partner would find it threatening at all. “They’re not threatening in that way… I have had partners whilst I’ve been doing this. It’s never been a problem.” Case closed. to comply with the theory that some of them may be a little… you know… 47 years old, still living with mum… that kind of thing. I ask if she’s going to afford them a title, as Jessie J has with her following of ‘Heartbeats’ (I mean, it hasn’t done Jessie any harm… or Justin Bieber with his band of merry Beliebers). Hannah jokingly suggests ‘The Crazies’, but retracts it almost instantly. Her manager, Natasha (clearly having given it some forethought) keenly suggests The Triglets. The comparison to Jessie J strikes a chord; another artist who amassed and ratified an astounding online fanbase through posting YouTube videos before boiling over into real life, where those still tuned into analogue devices could snatch a glimpse of her. The difference between Jessie and Hannah though is that you get a real sense of Jessie J’s character through watching her videos, talking to the lens like an old schoolfriend, with an awkward warmth. Hannah Trigwell, on the other hand, is a darker horse and far harder to read. She gives little away that she doesn’t want to share, and for someone with the kind of worldwide fan base that most Leeds
Later, I enquire into the nature of her family – ‘what are they like?’ Again, her eyes loaded with suspicion. ‘Are they musical?’ “No.” ‘But you learned to play your grandad’s guitar?’ “He probably never played it.” ‘Do they support what you do?’ “Yeah. They don’t really understand the whole internet thing. They want me to do well, have a good job. But that’s important to me, too (Hannah had just finished the final exam of her first-year Biology degree).” Equally, it takes a hefty trawl through her videos to find anything that isn’t a cover of an MOR pop song. Only a couple of her own songs are to be found on her official YouTube listing and you won’t find her chatting in the videos or baring her soul in anything other than lyrical form. The cynic in you might think that this was a deliberate ploy. The cynic in you wouldn’t be far off the mark. It’s all about traffic and Google searches; luring in the web 2.0 generation. “I want them to buy my songs. Not just rip them.” This kind of approach baffles me in some respects, though it’s clearly a savvy business move; surely she wants to become known as an artist and songwriter in her own right and not just a talented interpreter of other people’s songs? She thinks long and hard before answering. “I do want to be known as a songwriter, yeah.” But even now her music is changing pace and style as she finds her feet with a band comprised of metal and dub-step enthusiasts; a teasing step away from the ‘singer-songwriter’ tag that
weighs, albatross-like around many a neck. I ask where the music is going: where she wants it to go. “It’s poprock. It’s definitely pop. I want it to be somewhere [musically] like The Script.” Thankfully, her fans are emerging from their bedrooms and coming out to her gigs as well as valiantly defending her from the web-based naysayers. Her gig at the Scala, supporting Boyce Avenue, was the largest ‘real’ audience that she has played to and she seems buoyed by the response she received on that tour. “I walked out onstage and said ‘Hi, I’m Hannah Trigwell’… ‘Waaay’ (the sound of the crowd) … and I thought ‘oh, you know who I am…’” And if the masterplan continues, they won’t be the only ones. For now though, she’s still busking – partly for enjoyment and to get herself heard, partly for the money. Curiosity never killed this cat; clawing at the question of how much she earns when she’s busking. After a pause so long that I wonder if time itself had given up the ghost: “We made a pact never to tell.”
(BY ‘WE’, SHE MEA NS T HE BUSKERS.) “I can tell you though… er, the guy with the dogs (clearly not a member of the Buskers’ Elite)? He can earn £XX (there’s clearly a code of conduct here, let’s not taunt Lady Karma by breaking it…) in a day.” He’s got singing dogs, though. You need a gimmick. “Yeah. I’ll have to get a gorilla suit.”
Whether or not the gorilla suit gets amalgamated into the plans for world domination remains to be seen. For now though her dreams of touring overseas and locking eyes with her legions of fans are slowly working their way towards reality. The new,
as yet untitled, EP will be released at the end of June on iTunes and will be supported by an ‘acoustic house party tour’, with each gig being hosted in a fan’s house. If you can hear a creaking noise, that’s the sound of fingers slowly being crossed, in the hope that The
Crazies have earned themselves a more deserving title by then. Hannah Trigwell will be playing in the Futuresound Competition on Monday 4th July.
“ I’LL HAVE T O GET A GO RILLA SUIT.”
JUF FA G E DO I NG A 1 8 0 O N T HE LEED S S CENE Though there are many beards on the Leeds Music Scene (including mine), there’s only one that I know of which is attached to an American. Tim Hearson cornered the hirsute h’amiable h’American Jeff T Smith aka Juffage to talk hi-fi, lo-fi and all stops between on the road to his new album, ‘Semicircle’. Photos by Bart Pettman
First times, everyone remembers them: the first time you successfully tied your own shoelace, the first time you got arrested or what about the first time you were accidentally sold into the service of an aging American couple who see human rights laws as ‘more of a guideline’? Ah, it’s all coming back. My first experience of Juffage was late last year at a Pattern Theory gig and I was completely unprepared for the sonic onslaught that emanated from the multitude of amplifiers and bits of drum-kit that littered the Brudenell Social Club’s floor. It is acts like this – ones that walk the very fine line between genius and madness – that really stay with you.
semicircle in the most straightforward sense.”
Fast forward some months and here we are anticipating the imminent release of ‘Semicircle’, Juffage’s long awaited full length LP. What’s with the name, Jeff? “It’s called ‘Semicircle’, I’m not particularly sure why, it’s not really an overarching theme. I sort of had this image, back in the day, even when I was recording that song [the title track] – sort of like ‘Requiescat’,
It’s been 6 years in the making too. “Some of the songs on it are quite old. A few of them I recorded in about 2005 and some of them I recorded pretty much before it got mastered. A lot of the songs I just kept hanging about because I knew they fit together kind of nicely and the whole album is sort of cohesive – I always try to do that with LPs.” Juffage is a bit of an institution on the Leeds scene: often found doing
with the drums in 5/4 – it just came to me, actually while I was looking at this painting. So it’s a case of trying to get my artwork to represent that and it’s a 14
various support slots around the city, it’s almost impossible to not have witnessed a Juffage set. Such barefaced eccentricity is great to see encouraged, but how does it translate into the recorded medium of the album? “I never purposefully try to differ the songs from the live show. They’re a lot different but that’s partly because playing live is so limiting.” “I don’t really play to backing tracks or do much pre-recorded stuff but I still try to keep the song intact – same chord progression, melody or whatever — so it’s a much more stripped down version of it.” Having dived in for the review copy, I can say that hearing the tracks recorded makes the live show make so much more sense – much of what gets lost in the frenetic sound mash cuts through clear as day in the recording. “In most cases, the versions were recorded first and then I figured out a way to play it live. So I try not to limit myself in terms of recording and that’s how I end up getting carried away.”
So coming here as a native of Chicago, how do the corresponding English and American scenes compare? “To be honest, they’re two completely different things – it’s like driving in America and driving over here; you’re still driving but that’s where the similarities stop. In Chicago I was more focused on recording.” Jeff first cut his teeth in Chicago studios such as Engine Studios (w/ Brian Deck), and Electrical Audio (w/ Steve Albini). “I didn’t play out as much in Chicago but while I was in the States I’d go on fucking big, three month tours. As a result, I never really got anywhere in Chicago but there were people who heard my stuff and kind of liked it.”
in November, Jeff was working on a multichannel sonic art work for the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival, utilising ambisonics (I know what you’re thinking, I don’t know either, but it sounds cool anyway), live looping, portable cassette players, and Max/MSP. ”A lot of people think it was a sound engineering degree that I did – all the recording stuff that I did I just kind of learned by doing it.”
“I’m really into The Minutemen, The Descendents etc. and none of that was recorded well but they each have their own kind of sonic signature. I was really into The Microphones and those kinds of records, I really wanted to champion that kind of stuff but I’m not really into it for any aesthetic value.”
The first of these tours was 2008, when Jeff shoved his stuff into a station wagon and played more than 100 shows across the U.S., followed by a UK and Europe tour shortly after. Another tour of the EastCoast and Midwest in the summer of 2009 preceded Jeff’s move to England. “I guess I never lived there long enough or never played there long enough to make any real impact. Chicago’s so huge that even if you’re a big band it’s so difficult to get your stuff heard whereas in Leeds there’s a healthy community of people going to shows. It’s all focused mainly in one area – The Library, The Packhorse, The Brudenell – and people post online on Leeds Music Scene Forum so as a result, if you’re a band here and you get and play shows here, people are going to see you. They’ll either say you’re shit or you’re really interesting. It’s a bit more democratic; people are more willing to give bands a chance.” You may be wondering: what’s a savvy, stand-up cat from Chicago doing in a relatively small industrial city in the North of England anyway? “I did a masters in Music Technology at Leeds Uni, sort of Max/MSP stuff and programming and whatnot.” Back
then into Pro Tools – people always get kind of hung up on technology but I don’t like to let that get me down. Obviously, if I’ve got really nice stuff then I’m going to want to use it but I feel like people often go ‘Oh, I don’t have good mics so I’m gonna have to wait till I can get some money together’ or ‘Oh, I don’t have Pro Tools so I can’t put the songs together the way that I want’. But it’s like, if you’ve got the song there’s no point waiting around – much as I love a good recording, lo-fi recordings still sound good.”
Jeff now partially satisfies his penchant for recording at Loom Studios in Leeds. “Yeah, well I’ve been recording my own stuff for about 10 years now and I’ve been recording some other bands too. I go there for my own stuff, though normally I record at home still – I just pop in to nick some of their monitors, they’ve got really nice monitors. But also I’ve recorded some really good bands there like Bearfoot Beware, Runners and Heart Ships and yeah, I really like recording.” The Juffage sound comprises of a thorough mix of both hi-fi and lo-fi and given the recent successes of TuneYards et al. I’m keen to get his take on the old lo-fi chestnut. “I started out with Boomboxes, 4-track recorders
So how does that relate to ‘Semicircle’? “I like to mix it up – my record’s got lots of things recorded with really nice mics but then mixed with things recorded really shit on purpose, drum sets through a practice amp, that kind of thing. The problem is, nowadays everyone’s got their Ipods and no-one wants their track to come up way quieter on the party playlist so it’s all about trying to get as massive a sound as possible. With my record I tried as much as possible to preserve the dynamic range and the guy who mastered it, Carl Saff from Chicago – lovely guy – has that same sort of aesthetic.”
“ I LIKE T O MIX IT UP.”
By the time you read this the UK tour will be well and truly over and done with but for the sake of nostalgia, here are Jeff’s pre-tour thoughts: “It’s looking busy. Tomorrow I’m playing two shows – a jumble sale in Headingly with Circuit Ben and Pifco which should be over about 4/5pm and then another show in the evening in Bolton. From then it’s Edinburgh, Aberdeen, Inverness, Glasgow, Liverpool, Newcastle… I’ve got 30 shows anyway – it’s all on my website.” As for the album launch, for all those who missed it here’s Jeff’s pre-show plug. “My album launch is the 5th June with some good bands on like Bearfoot Beware – it’s free too. So that should get people out.” Yes, yes it should. ‘Semicircle’ is released on June 6th by Function Records on the now standard 12” Vinyl/download dual platform. Oh, and if you want those tour dates, check out www.juffage.com.
VE SSEL S S TA G E T O PA G E Following Vessels’ recent jaunt at Library-based 360 Club and some beers too many, Tim Hearson tentatively approached tall guy and multi-instrumentalist, Pete Wright, for a chit-chat about the show and other such matters. Photo by Bart Pettman
How’d you feel about that there gig then? That was awesome, one of the best gigs we’ve played in ages. Yeah, I heard you mention that on stage… That was true, I wasn’t just saying that. The last tour was a nightmare – well, maybe it wasn’t a nightmare – but it was hard. I mean, it was well organised – just hard. So has this been your best gig of 2011 so far? Definitely, definitely. We’ve done one tour, it was nice, some of the gigs were really good but overall it was hard. The problem with the tour was that the album got delayed a little bit and by the time we were on the road the album still hadn’t come out yet so we were doing an album tour without the actual album. That meant the press was coming in afterwards which was completely inappropriate. Without the press, not as many people showed up as there might have been so we struggled a bit.
How’ve you found playing the new material? It’s easier to play, a lot easier, and we’re better now as well. It’s more in 4/4 so there’s less to think about and it’s less hard for hard’s sake. Any reason for that? Err… Well, we’re all getting a bit older and getting more of a 4/4 groove kind of thing going. There’s one of the old ones where it slips into something like 11/16 but there’s nothing like that on the new one – if it’s not in 4/4 it’s in a 4/4 crossrhythm. Any performance tips for t’kids? Well, for a start, don’t get distracted by any really hot girls in the audience. Basically don’t think about what you have to be doing – if you haven’t practised it enough then you’ll be thinking too hard. I mean, don’t not concentrate, but it’s a case of finding a happy medium between concentrating and not-concentrating.
What are you looking forward to for the rest of 2011? Going on tour again, playing some new music. We’re recording again tomorrow so there’s that to look forward to. Like I say, new tour later in the year, maybe some festivals. We’ve got a few lined up but I think I’m not technically allowed to say... At this point in the interview, large men in dark glasses approach and cart me off for intensive questioning and extensive cattle probing regarding my intent to use ‘classified information/kidnap scenario’ cliché resulting in the usual ‘look, just keep it schtum or we’ll tell your mum’ spiel.
FREEDOM OF SPEECH, MY (SORE) ARSE…
M I SSI O N I N C A PA B L E TH E BEA UT I F UL G A ME Team Vibrations: your mission, should you decide to accept it, will be to play and win at the first annual Live at Leeds five-a-side competition. This editorial will self destruct in five seconds. Photos by Aaron Jones
I will always maintain that it was my idea, but the truth is that Jack Simpson, Vibrations founder and Eiger Beaver, was the first to suggest that Vibrations/Eiger put a team together for the auspicious Live at Leeds Cup. Yeah, I thought, this will be a laugh. Football is not a laugh. Football, even five-a-side, ahem, friendlies are not funny. When did you ever hear a joke about football? Apart from the one about Cinderella. Or Giggs. I knew I was in trouble when the team were asked to bring ‘the proper attire’ including shin pads. I have never owned and never intend to own a pair of shin pads in my life. Too much commitment. Still, I took my two boys along instead to cheer on the Vibrations team. They’re pretty rugged. Go us. 20
Arriving at the fixture, it came as a bit of a shock as to just how seriously everyone was taking it: unique strips had been purchased, ball skills were being flaunted shamelessly and yes everyone was wearing shin pads. Plus, I was the first of the VE team to arrive, and the whole footballness of the thing was making me uneasy. Fortunately, the ever faithful Bart almost promptly arrived in odd socks and sporting a t-shirt with the slogan ‘Everyone Sucks’ emblazoned across his chest. “Should get us in the mood,” he said cheerfully. Shortly after, Jack rolls up looking very... competitive. Four Eiger boys, Will, Quirky, Jim and James (or perhaps James and Jim) talk tactics behind him as he asks if I want to play or not. “Only if I have to,” I say, translated as:
“I’d rather not.” Rob Paul Chapman emerges from somewhere dressed in goalie black and green and, though he confesses to only being able to see shapes, looks pretty enthusiastic about things. Bart at this point has got a ball and is kicking it to Jack, Rob and my two boys, though my youngest, Tom, is more insistent on picking it up and running with it. Definite future rugby player. The last to arrive is Tony, meaning that we have our eight without me having to embarrass/injure myself on the field of dreams. Or astroturf. I breathe a sigh of relief and offer my services as cheerleader and coat guardian for the first round at least. For those of you who love the details, there are eight groups in the first round, each containing four teams.
The VibEig team are in a group with Blood Oranges, Aviaries and Little Parades. Indie fops to a man of them. The winners go through to be drawn against the second placers. Matches are sixteen minutes long, eight minutes each way. No rush goalies, no goal hanging. Our first match sees us pitched against the all-black clad Aviaries, electronic experimental crunksters according to their tag. They do a lot of warming up – you know, all that shunting sideways like gambolling crabs across the pitch – while the VibEig eight do some standing around. Like coiled springs. I hope. It starts well enough with Jim and James (or could it be James and Jim) hammering home the first and Tony knocking in the second. The Aviaries take one back, which sets Jack a-swearing to the right of me I’m looking forward to hearing some of those words tumble out of Isaac and Tom’s mouths later, I can tell you. During the torrent, Aviaries equalise. Our fiery opening is in danger of being quenched, and at half time the score stands at three all. From then on, VibEig start getting serious and I’m ashamed to say it but... I’m starting to get a bit shouty too. Jack puts number four away, Quirky (not sure why the moniker – he doesn’t seem that quirky to me) makes it five, Jack becomes Jack the hack (I don’t get this – it looks like he’s the one that takes someone down but we get the penalty. Not that I’m arguing) and James makes it six. From then on it becomes academic and the final score is 8-3 to VibEig.
and their keeper consistently acts as an impenetrable wall of goalie, it becomes clear that this is going to be no walk over.
“AT H ALF TIME TH E S C OR E ST ILL S TAND S AT 1 - 0 TO TH EM A ND TH E VI B EI G TEA M AR E LOOK I NG VERY F R U S TR AT ED I ND EED . ” In the second half we equalise from a penalty (at two metres) and then follow up with a second, but the Oranges retaliate in kind. We sneak in a third, but disaster! A penalty is awarded to Oranges when the ref penalises Rob for stepping outside the box – remember, no rush goalies. He is indignant, but the penalty is duly sustained and they equalise... then put another away for the match. Final score: 4-3 to Blood Oranges. “That penalty was ridiculous,” mutters Rob. “It’s like the ref doesn’t like us,” agonises Jack, “but you always think that when you lose.”
It’s all down to goal difference now, and our next match is against ambient post rocker types Little Parades. They haven’t scored a goal yet. Tony puts in the first but then Little Parades trickle one past the outstretched fingers of Rob. At this point, all of Little Parades and their supporters invade the pitch. Also at this point, something snaps in the VibEig camp and they become an unrelenting goal machine, scoring a massive fifteen goals to Little Parades three. It’s not enough to win us the round though... but a valiant effort nonetheless. With the final scores in, and some disbelieving exclamations at our score line against Little Parades by other teams, I feel the flames of hope rekindled. If we could draw against Spartak Noscow aka Nation of Shopkeepers, as I see it the lowest scoring winners, we might have a chance. The moment has me... is this what the fuss about this football business is? But my boys are getting twitchy and hungry, so I have to leave the mission prematurely. Play well, our VibEig boys – our hopes go with you... Epilogue: VibEig did draw against Nation of Shopkeepers (Spartak NoScow) and were duly knocked out, which just goes to show that I have learned nothing about football. The overall winners were The Pigeon Detectives who beat The Whip in the final. I have a feeling we haven’t heard the last of this L@L tournament thingy...
The team get a well deserved rest and a chance to watch our next competitors, indie guitar band Blood Oranges, in action against Little Parades, who are duly taken apart. Isaac is getting very enthused about cheering the Oranges (dressed in, you guessed it, orange) and the team are getting very enthused about... one of the player’s upper ball control. Okay, concentrate lads, our turn next. Pride takes me for a moment and I start to think that our fresh side can take the Oranges weary five, but when the Oranges put in the first 21
TH ESE M O N S T E R S TWO ’ S A CO MPA NY, T HR EE’S A M O N S T ER ... If there were any band for which it could be said ‘their reputation precedes them’, These Monsters would definitely be in the running. But oh shock, oh horror! The hair is short, jobs have been obtained, moves have been made, bills are even being... considered. Have they gone all mainstream? Rob Wright meets up with them for some reassurance. Photos by Bart Pettman him for a year.” Oops. That’ll teach me for not keeping up with current affairs.
At the end of 2010 I seriously wasn’t expecting to see These Monsters knocking about in 2011. This was principally because I’d condemned them to the great gig in the sky when their saxophonist Johnny Farrell upped sticks and went to China. But, as someone wiser and cooler than me once said, ‘rumours of my demise have been over exaggerated...’ “It’s always been the three of us at the core of it,” says Tommy when I ask the £5.99 question of ‘why are you still here after losing a couple of band members?’ “The other two were just on top – and the guitarist, we’ve not had
I am sitting facing three very well turned out These Monsters in the public bar of the Brudenell. Guitarist Sam, having just travelled up from Brighton, looks surprisingly chipper - in fact, not too dissimilar from a bewhiskered Chris Evans – and both bassist Ian, recently on driving duties for Vessels, and drummer Tommy are both looking cropped and smartly professional. And there I was accusing them of being scruffy, me in my pot noodle stained t-shirt. “I think to everyone else it seems to be a bigger thing than it is to us,” says Ian, “Johnny... he’d come in at the end... and none of us ever had him in the monitors anyway.” Sam snorts into his beer at this. Ian shrugs. “It’s true though, and it doesn’t even sound that much different to me. I mean, the songs do, but that’s nothing to do with him leaving.”
Apparently, These Monsters had been planning on a line-up change, or rather a return, even before their debut, ‘Call Me Dragon’ had been released. Johnny’s departure had been positively convenient. “We didn’t want to stop playing,” says Sam, getting stuck into his lager, “there was no reason to. It’s a lot easier for just the three of us... well, actually it’s harder with me in Brighton now... but I can just send them bits of music and they can work out stuff in Leeds.”
Oh yes, that was the other thing – Sam moved. Losing the lead guitarist to the sultry seductions of the south is usually death for a band, but not so here. He says he had his reasons for moving, but his reasons for staying are better: “I’ve ended up with a studio and a nice job, so it’s really good. Basically I live in the studio, so I don’t have to worry about rent, it’s paid for by bands. It’s good that we’re apart from each other as well...” “We lived together for five or six years and practiced in our basement,” explains Tommy, following Sam’s loaded statement. “Every day we’d practice, and we did practice a lot, but it was less structured. Now when we see each other it’s like we’ve got a job to do – now we get so much more done.” If you’ve heard These Monsters recently, the change is pretty audible.
They’re harder, more direct... shorter. “I think it’s more concise now,” confirms Tommy, “everything we used to do we’re still doing but doing shorter.” “We’re less into pretension now,” confesses Sam, “we just got tired of the big show, epic stuff going on with saxophones – it’s not really us.” So no more headbands then? “That was mainly the other guitarist,” says Ian, “I don’t have mine anymore.” “I still enjoy a headband,” says Sam brightly.
“We used to have all these delays and stuff,” says Ian, “but now it’s all just straight down the line. I think our music is just pop music – but it’s more confrontational to some people, certainly the people who were into us when we were more post-rock.” Compared to ‘Heroic...’, ‘Call Me Dragon’ seemed to have taken a lot of time to get together. Ian shakes his head at this assumption. “It actually got made in three months,” he says,
“ WE RECO RDED IT IN A WEEK.”
I get the feeling I’m going off the track with headgear, so I am gently led back onto more relevant issues, such as the forthcoming album, ‘Heroic Dose’. For all those who are interested, it is a reference to the concept of taking an amount of psychedelic drugs so large that your life can never be the same afterwards. I mishear it as ‘Heroic Notes’. I am rightfully mocked.
“It took about a year and a half between the record being mastered to it actually being released,” says Tommy. “Which was kind of annoying.”
“This new album has come together so much quicker than anything we’ve ever done,” says Tommy, following the mocking, “even though [Sam] was as far away as he could ever be.” “We had quite a few, six or seven of the songs together before Johnny left the band,” says Sam, “in fact, at our album launch (for ‘Call Me Dragon’) we actually played about five or six songs from the new stuff.” “They’ve changed a lot since then,” assures Tommy.
Sam chuckles at Tommy’s understatement. “It would be good to just write the album, finish it and then release it straight away but... you can’t work like that.” Would you prefer to do it that way? “In theory,” he says, ”you’ve got to do it justice, so you can’t just... release it.” “Brew have got a way of doing it now,” says Tommy, “They’ve got it all set out... there’s a certain amount of time they need to push it all, which is normally about four to six months...”
So time to get another album on the way? “Give us a break, mate,” laughs Sam, “we’re really tired!” Too much partying? Sam smiles at this. “We have a very nice time, but we’re very nice boys and... sensible; doing a lot of productive stuff as well. And I did stop drinking last week.” At this point he looks down at his rapidly diminishing pint. “I’m back again. Just not drinking every day.” You have to admit, you do have a reputation for being... “Hedonists? I think the thing with that is that we’re just honest about it,” admits Tommy, “a lot of the other bands that we’re friends with are just the same as us but... we’re just honest about who we are and what we do.” I’m about to ask if their extra-curricular activities influence their writing... when I remember what their next album will be called. “It’s not just what we’re about though,” laughs Sam, “it’s changed my attitude towards life and music. I don’t take music too seriously. It’s helped with that, and... inhibitions.” Yeah, that’s one thing you could never call these boys: inhibited. If there’s ever anything going on, music wise, in Leeds, you’re bound to find These Monsters in the thick of it. “We’ve always tried to be involved from the moment we got together,” says Sam, “we’ve just always lent people equipment, driven people to gigs, we’ve obviously toured with lots of the bands in Leeds or we’ve helped them out to play gigs or been to their gigs – it’s just natural for us to make a whole bunch of friends...” “It’s something that’s really unique in Leeds,” says Tommy, “there’s a really strong sense of support. I don’t think it’s a scene, it’s just a load of mates.” “I think it’s important to have that,” says Sam, “I see it in Brighton where all the bands compete against each other; I hear bands arguing with each other every night in the studio and the practice rooms; and the thing we’ve got going in Leeds, everyone just looks out for each other, supports each other.” 24
This all sounds... very hippy. Tommy shrugs. “Our parents are hippies.” But don’t you argue? “We don’t do arguing,” says Tommy firmly. “We’ve been together since we were fourteen,” says Ian by way of explanation. “I think a lot of bands don’t form because they’re friends,” continues Tommy in a lighter tone, “they form because they’ve got some specific purpose – ‘we want to be a band like this’...” “...then when it doesn’t come to fruition they’re just bitter about it,” finishes Sam, “it’s just the wrong way of doing things.” “We never even decided how we wanted to sound,” says Tommy wistfully, “we just decided we wanted to be in a band. When I think about all the bands we listened to and grew up
with... Nirvana, Queens of the Stone Age, the Def Tones... I mean, we don’t sound like any of those, but we don’t sound like... King Crimson either.” Ah. I thought we’d got through this without mentioning... them.” “I still think there’s a lot of Crimson there,” says Sam wishfully, “it’s just very condensed... though I can’t play guitar as well. But I can stand up and play guitar.” “Sometimes,” says Ian sardonically into his pint. And with that they collectively lose it. Personally, I wouldn’t have it any other way. These Monsters hope to have ‘Heroic Doses’ finished imminently, but in the meantime may well be getting leathered at a bar near you. Keep up with These Monsters at www.thesemonsters.com.
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DO I NG IT D I Y H OME G I G G I NG I S T HR I LLI N G LI VE M US I C Ever wondered what it would be like to be a gig promoter? Is there glamour involved? Do you become a friend to the stars while remaining anonymous behind the posters and security guards? Or is it just a ball ache being responsible for every damn thing that happens (or doesn’t happen) on the night, dealing with surly/stoned/rude/absent musicians and managers and having to sweep up the beer bottles, fag packets and unconscious members of the audience when it’s all over? Photos by Bart Pettman Being of a sad (as in geeky) disposition, I do sometimes ponder the lot of the gig promoter and if I wasn’t so idle and prone to doing lots of pondering, I may have actually got around to doing it myself by now. To be serious for a moment, I do actually believe that promoters are the unsung heroes of local music scenes, like what we have got oodles of here in Leeds, because without them, frankly, not a damn thing would happen. Anyway, an email landed in the Vibrations inbox one day that offered the possibility that I could realise my dream and actually be a promoter for a day. Not only that, but to promote a gig in my own home! Said email was from singer/ songwriter Conor Owen who at that time was organising a ‘Park Up and Play’ tour. This involved Conor building a musical career in the old style by chucking all his gear in the back of a van and hitting the road to play small gigs in cities and towns up and down the country. The idea was to roll somewhere, play a late afternoon gig out of the back of the van and then a prearranged evening gig at a fans’ house. I must confess, I had never heard of Conor before I read his email, so it would be wildly 26
inaccurate to say I was a fan of his work. But the idea quickly formulated in a half delirious and booze fuelled late night emailing session with ‘the bosses’ at Vibrations that it would be ‘interesting’ if I volunteered to be the
‘fan’ for the Leeds stop of Conor’s tour and put a gig on in my house and write an article about it afterwards. Excellent!
“MUSIC MAD FRIENDS WERE WASHING THEIR HAIR ON THAT DAY”
The morning after things didn’t seem so ‘excellent’. What would Melvin Benn, John Keenan or Adam Nodwell do in this sort of situation, I thought to myself? After shoving to the back of my mind the obvious answer that they wouldn’t touch it with a barge pole, I did the obvious thing and assumed that all of my music mad friends would of course jump at the chance of being involved. And I had access to a large pool of the kids’ schoolfriends and their parents, who would also be attracted by the novelty, if only as the subject for a school assignment. So, emails were breezily pinged off and networks tapped into. But then I realised that if everyone did come, there wouldn’t be room for them all. And should I provide food? Would people expect a (gulp) bar? Would ‘the artist’ need a dressing room and demand a rider in a belligerent display of artistic petulance? Er….ARGH!!! Help!! Fortunately for me, lots of my ‘music mad’ friends were ‘washing their hair on that day’ or something, people brought their own booze and everyone left at a reasonable time, it being, quite literally, a school night. And Conor himself turned out
“BEING OF A SAD (AS IN GEEKY) DISPOSITION” an affable, easy going young chap happy to fit in with my makeshift venue arrangements, including a far too high stool and ‘interesting’ lighting. Pre gig we chatted about the concept behind the Park Up and Play tour, and Conor proved to be pragmatic and realistic about the digital age making it necessary for musicians to do things like this to build a name for themselves at grass roots level. Post gig he was happy to chat to people and even managed to sell several copies of his CD. He’d even had the foresight to have a sister at Leeds University so he had somewhere to stay for the night, meaning I didn’t have to engage my emergency backup plan for the kids to sleep in the coal shed that night. Overall, a successful first stab at promoting then. I’m keen to follow it up, but my partner thinks I’m over extending myself by aiming to book Arcade Fire to play an outdoor gig in the garden sometime in the summer though. But hey, what can possibly go wrong….. Steve Walsh
Conor Owen @ Steve Walsh’s house, Leeds I don’t usually mix business and pleasure so when I was asked to help out a ‘friend’ and review this gig, I wasn’t really looking forward to it. I mean, no bar and a non smoking ‘venue’? Puhlease! Turns out that while the domestic setting certainly provided Owen with an audience demographic he’s probably not used to (quite literally 6 to 60), once he’d settled his nerves his songs benefitted from an attentive audience not distracted by booze, drugs and lust (mostly). Played solo, his songs lack the sophisticated arrangements of their recorded versions with a backing band but the setting threw the emphasis on his emotive if sometimes simplistic lyrics. Even his death song, ‘Softly, Softly’, was well received, and the audience providing a clapping and foot stomping accompaniment to ‘The Good We Can Do’ provided a suitable finale. Johnny Ersatz-Culture
Conor Owen – The Observationalist This is the debut solo release from this young Peterborough based singer/songwriter. Owen writes folk tinged pop songs that show a real talent for arrangements that skilfully and imaginatively deploy a basic acoustic guitar, bass and drums set up augmented by violin and cello to give an impression of a much larger ensemble. While Owen’s voice isn’t his strongest asset and his lyrics sometimes betray his youthful inexperience, there’s clearly an intelligent songwriter in the making here. And while the subject matter is mainly concerned with love and loss, most of his songs are about the awkwardness of love or the pain of fractured relationships rather than any idealised visions of love. Heck, he even manages to pull off a song, ‘Softly, Softly’, about dying that is neither maudlin nor remotely religious. A clear case of watch this space… Steve Walsh
ALBUMS The Scaramanga Six – Cursed (Wrath Records) The Scaramanga Six’s sixth studio serving arrives with a back-story to match the dramatic air of the record itself. Having begun recording in 2007 with Cardiacs manTim Smith at the helm, the sessions were put on indefinite hold when Smith suffered a stroke. In the meantime, the band recorded and released another album, before returning to the songs that, now completely re-recorded under the watchful eye of Alan Smyth, comprise the aptly-named ‘Cursed’. The song titles don’t help ease the portentous air of tragedy – see ‘Last Roll of the Dice’, ‘Rest In Peace’, ‘Spent Force’. Musically though, it has a spring in its step. Whether you’ll like it or not depends on your appetite for occasionally overblown theatrical rock, but even if the delivery is often wilfully OTT, there’s usually a rich melodic seam being mined beneath it. Try ‘Quite The Man About Town’ with its fantastic new-wave chorus, or the sinister twists and turns of previous single ‘Walking Through Houses’. Best of all is ‘Autopsy of the Mind’, a sprightly 70s-sounding ballad that bursts into an inventive and insanely catchy chorus designed to have you wandering around for days singing “I became a sleeeeuuuth” – try it, it’s surprisingly therapeutic. 28
There are some neat little touches – see the brief burst of Dixieland that comes in towards the end of ‘Damned If You Don’t, Damned If You Do’ which go some way to make up for some faintly ludicrous lyrics (“Put the fingers in the glove/They are powered by your love” – er, righto…)
Wild Beasts, for a start, have stopped being the spiky, wailing (madly exciting) guitar band that set out from Kendall all those years ago. Gentled voices, synths and effects emulate (in ‘Plaything’ and ‘Invisible’ especially) the meticulous tingles of Scottish studio band Blue Nile.
The band’s trademark massed harmonies and ambitious arrangements are all present and correct, and it’s a pretty full-on experience that existing fans will absolutely adore. Others may prefer to tackle it in smaller bites. Spencer Bayles www.thescaramangasix.co.uk — Wild Beasts – Smother (Domino) This deliciously erotic album is already a commercial success. It’s assured, it’s smooth, it has dreamy tunes and you can leave it on repeat without any danger of crashing changes of mood or nasty turns. To put that another way, it needs rescuing from its own lustrous perfection. It really is a damn fine album and I love it.
Opening song ‘Lion’s Share’ makes a bold move though: no guitar. Wild Beasts have broken free. It is nothing less than liberation. So when Benny Little does play the guitar we notice. It sounds fresh and special. In ‘Deeper’, a sumptuous earworm of a song, the delightful guitar part pushes and pulls its emotional texture with a massive contribution. More is less, confirmed yet again. Lyrically, the album develops the swirling ambiguities of sexual desire that justify the word ‘erotic’. Decades after the words ‘explicit’ or ‘adult’ have lost any sense of urgent excitement, Wild Beasts have found ways of rekindling the fire and mystery of forbidden libidinous thrills. The halfstated, the understated, the allusions
and illusions all strengthen the force of the unstoppable libido that surges through Wild Beast’s third album. The singing (you should pause and notice it), is sublime. Sam Saunders — Eureka Machines – Champion the Underdog (Wrath Records) If you have heard ‘Do or Die’, EM’s debut, you will be familiar with their modus operandi and will not require converting. For everyone else, Eureka Machines are in the house and they’ve brought the party pack of rock riffs and solid beats. Chris will be the first to admit that they are not reinventing the wheel; this is a pop album with the message ‘get up off your arse and do something or die trying’, and as such sticks with the tried and tested formula of verse bridge chorus repeat. This could be fairly trite if it wasn’t for the fact that Chris and the boys know their art. You can’t listen for more than five seconds without getting a hook (with a fair few ‘borrowed’ from the fab four – the thievery of the melody from ‘Here Comes the Sun’ for ‘Magnets’ is shameless), the songs bounce and move like a coach load of silicon recipients being driven over heavily cobbled streets and the lyrics and titles are witty enough without being over clever (name checking ‘Dibnah, Fred’ and mispronouncing ‘John Le-nnon’ for the sake of scanning are perfectly acceptable). More importantly, Eureka Machines appear to be moving out of the shadow of Ginger and Dowling et al and claiming a sound for their own. Chris’s East Riding tones are backed up by some of the sweetest three piece harmonies this side of the sixties creating a sound that has its comparatives but is still unique. It may not have the punch of ‘Do or Die’, but ‘Champion...’ is, indeed, champion. Rob Wright
Juffage – Semicircle (Function Records) You’ve seen the ridiculous live set-up, been sonically raped by the earsplitting looping madness, now witness the first full length LP by Leeds’ premier one-man-band outfit. It’s been about 6 years in the making and recorded in several different locations by a number of different people. So how does it sound? Harmonious, imperfect and bloody lovely.
the inevitable climax is reeled in by electronica’s minimalistic repetition. In fact, rather than reach any kind of climax, each song shifts through delicate melody changes and syncopated rhythms rather than bangs and crashes.
‘Small Fires’ is a brilliant example – thumping drumbeats, rambling chord progressions and vocals, all sitting relatively low in the mix. It’s a baffling listen but oh-so-compelling. What’s striking too is that underneath it all there’s some brilliant song writing. Occasionally you catch a bit of strained melody in between the rolling piano of ‘Stop Making Fires’ which makes you sit up and listen - clearly there’s some craft gone into this. The brass section in ‘Under Fanblades’ and cello in ‘HHV’ make for great additions to the instrumental catalogue too with which Juffage proves he has a refreshingly creative musical voice. It’s a hugely enjoyable listen for fans of electronic ambiance in the Múm vain but I reckon there’s easily enough in there for your everyday alt-music fan to enjoy. I’d especially recommend it as a companion to the live show – suddenly everything makes sense. Tim Hearson — The Pattern Theory – The Pattern Theory (Valeot Records) Though The Pattern Theory left for Berlin in 2008, there is something still very Leeds about them in their pursuit of marrying the twin disciplines of postrock and electronica. The question is, is this a match made in heaven or a celebrity wedding from hell? As it happens, one lends to the other on this, their eponymous debut album, and each takes the edge off the other. Electronica’s harsh mechanism finds itself tempered by post-rock’s meandering chimes and arpeggios, notably on ‘Ideas of Fun’ and ‘Coracles’, whilst postrock’s determined climb towards
There are wistful moments (the glockenspiel heavy ‘Names for Places’), enigmatic moments (the pentatonic ‘Adaptive Expectations’) and just plain lovely moments (‘Framed Fields’, re-adapted from their previous 4-track) but for the most part you’ll be listening to intelligent ambient moments, closer to The Egg and Orbital than Godspeed! Or Kling Klang. This is not an album to challenge the listener; this is a reassurer, and it may be that once you have their measure (chiming melody one, beat one; fade to chiming melody two, syncopated ¾ beat; fade to sweeping melody 3, syncopated 5/4 beat) it may lose its charm. Despite this, it has warmth and complexity and is a very pleasant listen. Calmly asking you to calm down. Rob Wright — Bourne, Davis & Kane – The Money Notes (Foghorn Records) The second album by this trio of Leeds College of Music graduates may not be as cohesive as their debut ‘Lost Something’, but that’s not due to any diminution of the talents of three musicians set to be part of the creative engine of British jazz for the foreseeable future. It’s 22 tracks range in duration from a few seconds to several minutes 29
and span a stylistic range that accommodates improvised and written material, and tracks that use combinations of both approaches. Because of this, the album has the feel almost of a work in progress, or a kind of sonic lab for testing ideas to be expanded or refined later. For example, ‘Gunn’’s 45 seconds is mostly taken up with charting the decay to silence of Bourne’s opening salvo of piano notes; manic wordless vocalisations frequently pop up in the middle of a track; the title track appears three times in different variations; and the brief but upbeat ‘The Lovely Man’ is followed by the brooding and bluesy ‘The Lonely Man’, the latter the only cover, setting up an oddly touching juxtaposition. The longest track, ‘Old Gregg’, sits slap bang in the middle of it all and it’s almost seven racing, tumbling minutes of the finest modern jazz you’re likely to hear from any current British jazz band. Steve Walsh — Mik Artistik’s Ego Trip – Blaster Some things in life do not stand up to rational analysis. Sometimes you just have to go with it. Or not. For that reason, a review of anything by Mik Artistik is completely pointless. But there’s something I think Mr. Artistik would find appealing about the very futility of the exercise, so for that reason, I’ll crack on. For what it’s worth, I’m in the ‘pro’ camp. None of it makes any sense, of course, but that’s a given. It’s a bit like describing the new Stephen Hawking book as ‘challenging’. You have to assume there’s a certain base level of knowledge to make certain observations superfluous. Not all of it is perfectly well judged, there’s a cheery calypso about having cancer which doesn’t work as well as it needs to. But elsewhere there’s unexpected joy to be extracted from the most esoteric of scenarios: ‘Sweet Leaf Of The North’, which tells the tale of a leaf stuck between windscreen and wiper that remains steadfast against the odds from Leeds to London and back. You may never have thought of window debris as metaphor for home before, but it’s 30
unexpectedly effective, much like this album. Or not. Rob Paul Chapman www.mikartistik.com/ — The Wind-Up Birds – Acting Thick For Money The premise behind this album is simple. Over the last five or so years, The Wind-Up Birds have regularly recorded and ‘released’ EPs by giving them away at gigs. The band didn’t want these songs to be lost forever so decided to put together a compilation of the best of them and make it available as a download only. This sort of thing is usually done by bands who’ve been around a bit and want to either shine a light on their juvenile years, or to fill a contractual gap. The Wind-Up Birds are clearly not in either of these positions so what’s going on? Well, it’s clear to me at least that the band have grown both in confidence and capabilities recently and this seems to be an attempt to draw a line in their development ahead of a planned debut album that will feature (mostly) new material. So what do you get? Well, while some of the songs are pretty weak and derivative, most of them only serve to confirm that Paul Ackroyd has always been a skilled lyricist, a fact not always apparent in the electric rush of a live gig, and that the songs are a great mixture of pop and hard, driving rock music. Possibly one for committed fans, but it remains to be seen how many more of those will there be in two years time… However, as I’d feared Davies’ charm does start to wear thin. There’s no denying his Yorkshire accent can carry many a pleasant melody, but once you’ve heard one track, you’ve heard them all. The cover of ‘This Land Is Your Land’ feels particularly weak. Davies may not be West Yorkshire’s answer to Richard Hawley, Billy Bragg or even Frank Turner just yet, lacking the subtlety and musicianship of the former, political awareness of Bragg, and sheer charisma of the latter, but there’s plenty to enjoy here.
Steve Walsh Available from http://thewindupbirds.bandcamp.com/album/ acting-thick-for-money
Dolphins/Blacklisters/Castrovalva/ Hawk Eyes – Split 10” (Dance to the Radio/Brew) There’s almost a competition going on in Leeds at the moment to see which band can be heavier, louder and more offensive than the rest, and these four are in the thick of the mayhem. Dolphins jabbing, mid tempo riffage provides the most restrained contribution. And it’s short. Blacklisters sound almost exactly like The Jesus Lizard to me and are therefore nothing new but ‘Club Foot By Kasabian’ is a tense, taught coiled spring of a riff. Castrovalva’s ‘Senorita’ is typical of the band in that it contains an extraordinary level of barely contained energy. This is the first recorded appearance of Hawk Eyes (previously Chickenhawk) and while ‘Yes, Have Some’ certainly has the prerequisite heaviosity, it struggles to be anything other than a Queens of the Stone Age moment. Steve Walsh — Kong/Shield Your Eyes/That Fucking Tank/Castrovalva – Split 10” (Brew) This continues the bludgeoning DTTR/ Brew guitar competition theme. And in this competition, Kong win hands
down for me. ‘Ribbons’ is another example of the thrilling, seething roil of noise that we’ve come to expect from the band. Shield Your Eyes’ ‘Jessica’ is unfortunately uncharacteristically flabby and aimless. That Fucking Tank’s ‘NWONWOBH’ is almost magisterial in its precision and power. The whole thing is rounded off by another wild trip round Castrovalva’s fetid imagination. To cap it all, the sleeve is a fantastic Pete Murgatroyd design and it’s on tangerine vinyl! If we did ‘Single of the Issue’, this would be it. Steve Walsh — Me and My Friends – Me and My Friends EP Lead track on the CD, ‘Un Sentiment Inespéré’, has a gently lilting folky Latino feel which seems perfectly crafted for summer evenings with a nice glass of wine. Lead singer Nick Rasle has a gorgeous, trembling vocal style reminiscent of Antony Hegarty and is backed by players who know how to keep things perfectly balanced. It’s all carried off with a lightness of touch that’s all too rare. The other highlight is instrumental ‘Lolita’, which, should there ever be a sequel to ‘Amelie’, should, if there’s any justice, find itself sound tracking Audrey Tautou’s travails around Paris. Intensely lovely indeed. Spencer Bayles — Local girls – The Wedding Jitters EP (Sour Puss Records) The band describe themselves as “posh girl vocals”. This certainly is not an understatement, with the lead singer having a voice that would normally be heard on a West End stage, as she enlightens us about the trials of love and life as a girl. The first song, ‘Polished’, sets the tempo
for what is to come from this band, implying how “IT” girls actually act. Apart from the stereotypical lyrics, the band make sure they have loud, piercing guitar riffs, which will entice the listener in and make them want to listen further. Rochelle Massey — Magnapinna – EP Four tracks of nagging, precise math rock from this trio that use a post punk funk template to kick a few crunching riffs around. The guitar slashes and chimes by turns, the bass churns and the drums beat jazzy funk rhythms. A voice yells indistinctly so evidently that’s not important. ‘Winface’ has a great jerking, driving riff and ‘Jobfinder Jazz’ has an almost drunken gait. The fifth track is a short and intriguing piece of music concrete with music samples and field recordings. Some of the tracks lack a bit of focus but overall Magnapinna are a promising find. Steve Walsh Available free from http:// magnapinna.bandcamp.com/album/ magnapinna-ep — Etai Keshiki – Etai Or Die When a band come up with song titles like ‘391 Ways To Look Amazing’ and ‘Holy Fucking Balls - Disorientate The Demons’ you know you’re dealing with something that’s got attitude. On the evidence of this EP, Etai Keshiki do seem to be driven by something particularly uncompromising. There’s lots of howling guitar and shredded throat vocals and the songs seem to lurch about possessed of a need to do what they want to do rather than conform to any boring old notions of form and structure. Just to be clear, this actually seems like an eminently sensible way to make exciting, inyourfuckingface rock music to me, as
in the final song ‘Infinite Beige’ which is six magnificent minutes of hurtling rage and fury. Steve Walsh Available free from http://etaikeshiki. bandcamp.com/album/etai-or-die
SINGLES Yonderboy – All Bob Minor With evident influences from the likes of The Smiths and The Wedding Present, this latest offering from Yonderboy is work from a band in development. ‘All Bob Minor’ has an upbeat, foot tapping rhythm that does not disappoint. The second song, ‘Too Easy’, is just as good as the first, with finger picking bass, intertwined with a delicately played guitar. A very short but sweet single. Rochelle Massey — The Wind Up Birds – Meet Me At The Depot (Sturdy Records) Greeted first with ‘Meet Me At The Depot’, the initial feeling is that The Wind-Up Birds sound like a poor man’s Libertines at best and a monotonous pile of nonsense at worst. The other side however takes the above impressions and grinds them to dust. With its 70’s punk edge, ‘Popman’ has all the excitement of a new puppy. It may not have leapt out, but their talent did surface in the end. Emma Quinlan — Black Moth/XM-3a – Split single (New Heavy Sounds) Leeds-based Black Moth steal the limelight on this with ‘Spit Out Your Teeth’, which should be played loud. Crushing guitar riffs and grungy vocals combine to create four minutes of unadulterated musical joy. The same can’t be said for XM-3a’s effort, “It’s Possible – Part I”. Putting these London boys on full blast will mean you have to endure the repetitive chorus and bland vocals. For this, your ears will not thank you and neither will your neighbours. Emma Quinlan
BE A C O N S F E S T I VA L Set in the stunning rolling hills on the edge of the Yorkshire Dales and with four main tents of live music and DJs, Beacons is tipped as being one of the hottest festivals for new music on this year’s calendar. From the cutting edge electronica of Mount Kimbie and Pearson Sound, to the acoustic flavours of Benjamin Francis Leftwich and the new folk sound of Twilight Sad. Topped off with the critically acclaimed Jamie xx and new soul boy Jamie Woon, as well as firm festival favourites such as Mr Scruff and Willy Mason, there’s more than enough to delight your eyes and ears.
We also have loads of extra areas for fun and frolics. Perch on a hay bale at our Garden Shed Stage, sip a cocktail and tweet your favourite songs to the beachside DJ at our cycle powered disco. You can also enjoy some afternoon jazz whilst learning a new craft or watch a late night film in our carpeted Into The Woods tent. The Ladybird project will be wowing the kids with activities from early morning leading to a family friendly evening of cabaret entertainment. The onsite food selection is incredible sample a selection of delicious foods from around the world or pre order a 32
picnic hamper and go find yourself a nice spot. We’ve also got flushable loos and the most amazing showers on site too! On Thursday night we’ll have our opening night party with live acts in the Stool Pigeon tent with Frankie & the Heartstrings or you can warm yourself up with some drinks and dancing in the bar. After this the fun doesn’t stop until a sleepy eyed Monday morning when we’ll be saying goodbye... until next year!
FA MILY Here at Beacons we love children, so this year we’ve dedicated a whole day to them. Sunday will now be officially a Family Fun Day in honour of all the families and children coming to the festival. You can wander through our picturesque fields, stay in our own family camping area and discover our varied programme.
Family experts The Ladybird Project will be creating a children’s haven full of workshops, activities and performances. Building a family area suitable for all ages, they will be showing early morning films and holding lessons in pirate speak. Youngsters can then take part in mask making, face painting, games and even learn to play an instrument. But we don’t like to pen children to a specific area. Families are free to roam the other delights of the festival. Take a ride on our traditional swing boats, roundabouts and helter skelter or visit our Yorkshire popcorn stand and sit by our beach! Then settle in to watch the first animated film- The Adventures of Prince Ahmed with a live score courtesy of Animat. We’ve also got some laid back tunes so those little ones don’t run away screaming. Bring a picnic to watch Willy Mason, or enjoy Benjamin Francis Leftwich and The Twilight Sad as the sun goes down.
A LT E RN AT IVE EN T E RTA IN M ENT By now we’re sure you’re aware of the amazing music line up Beacons will be bringing to Skipton this August, we all know though that festival goers love
something different so we’ve prepared a fun-packed varied programme to give you more from your festival weekend. Our Into The Woods tent has a huge programme of alternative entertainment offering live film soundtracks, workshops, performance art and spoken word. Dressed in foliage and carpets the Into The Woods tent is a place to lay down, take your shoes off and relax. Be wowed by the incredibly creative one man band that is Thomas Truax, see the first ever animated film with a new live soundtrack from Animat
and the Abstract Film Orchestra or find out where we all came from with the evolution musical presented by Amoeba to Zebra. Early risers (well before midday!) can get stuck into a workshop. We’ll have yoga in the mornings along with craft workshops giving you the chance to learn a new skill and make something to take home with you.
L IN E UP
Toddla T Toddla T will be bringing his mash up of retro beats and reggae vocals to the quiet fields of Skipton.
The Phantom Band The Phantom Band conflate folk and electronics in a peculiarly arresting manner- providing immediate gratification and the promise of further depths to be explored.
Jamie Woon Rising star Jamie Woon brings his synths and sassy attitude adding a breath of fresh air the singer songwriter genre.
Jamie xx Jamie has become the world’s foremost and most cutting edge remix artist. He’s the country’s hottest commodity and we’ve got him.
Frankie & The Heartstrings This group’s debut album won over critics, received national airplay and managed to propel this band into a world of pop sleaze and indie bliss. Hudson Mohawke Hudson Mohawke’s tracks are overactive, skittering neon flurries always eager to move on to whatever’s next. Mr Scruff As one of the biggest dance DJs, Scruff has been playing sold out six hour sets for as long as you can imagine.
Willy Mason Willy Mason blends old country with sweet emotional melodies making each song as sweet as the last.
The Twilight Sad The Twilight Sad cascade torrents of abrasive post-rock and shoegaze texture over the top of more conventionally rustic instrumentation.
Summer Camp With their electronic twee melodies and sweet vocals, Summer Camp can’t help bring a smile to your face.
Mount Kimbie Mount Kimbie are the true masters of electronic creation, showcasing an almost uncanny ability to achieve more with less. 34
The Cave Singers The Cave Singers are a nervy scrappy affair covered with greasy guitars and Eastern- influenced blues. There is definitely a treasure here to be found.
Polar Bear with Jyager Polar Bear’s jazz improvisation will be thrust into the world of hip hop for this performance as they are joined by MC Jyager.
Emmy The Great As soon as Emma- Lee Moss opens her mouth, acoustic guitar in tow, the audience falls silent gripped by her enchanted storytelling.
Factory Floor Factory Floor, despite their brutality, remain pulsating and danceable in their own way- a truly violent live force to be reckoned with.
Dry The River With their brooding vocals and a multi-layered sound similar to Broken Records, Dry The River add a magical element to the Dales.
The Apples Continuing to experiment with turntabling and free jazz in equal measure The Apples deliver an invigorating largely improvised performance.
Ramadanman aka Pearson Sound Soft disco with an experimental edge, Ramadanman has worked his way up, producing, remixing and spinning on the stage. PLUS Ducktails Ducktails started as a side project but has since become an experimental dream. The music includes washed out guitars and hazy variations. Wolf People Wolf People are a band in metamorphosis who have shared a stage with Black Mountain, Dinosaur Jr and The Besnard Lakes. I Like Trains Catch I Like Trains dark, multi-layered instrumentation in the dead of night. Trust us its more atmospheric this way. Anika Anika stretches from experimental rock to covers of folk and pop songs and with her debut album produced by Geoff Barrow she is one to watch at this year’s festival Optimo World reknowned DJs showcase their party floor fillers Ghostpoet Spoken word rhymes over urban beats
D/R/U/G/S Live sampling makes this electronic duo’s show an hallucinating ride. Man Like Me London duo ladened in cockney slang and indie pop. Dutch Uncles An indie outfit with left-field arrangements and experimenting time signatures. Mazes This Leeds band is full of manic hooks and fuzzed out guitars. Spectrals Sun soaked melodies and multilayered vocals harking back to the sixties. Star Slinger Pasted beats , vocals and backgrounds to create something unique. Islet Multi-instrumental, funky breakdowns and hard edged riffs. Swimming Pop songs warped with warbling filters. Dog Is Dead Nottingham band with a passionate following and indie pop beats. Tom Williams & The Boat Nu-folk melodies with swagger and snarl. Andy Votel Underground music legend and DJ extraordinaire. Pariah Lo-fi dubstep beats fusing soul vocals. Benjamin Francis Leftwich Just finished touring with Fleet Foxes, Leftwich purrs with sweet vocal tones. Lone Electronic soundscapes and hiphop instrumentals. Echo Lake Gorgeous melodies in swirl of colour. Girl Unit Laid-back synths and chopped up vocals. And much, much more... For more information on Beacons Festival please visit: www.greetingsfrombeacons.com
Local Girls have mutated from Stuffy and The Fuses and have the whiff of high concept about them. Still, the music is appropriately filthy garage punk with songs about dodgy subjects that are too catchy by half. Singer Ginger may dress like a suburban housewife, but she’s clearly the kind that runs an S&M club in her basement. The gig was actually the official launch gig for The Scaramanga Six’s new album ‘Cursed’. The album comes with a convoluted and tortured back story (see CD review section) which makes it hard to judge if the songs represent a stylistic jump forward or a step back. Cardiacs’ Tim Smith produced the original sessions, but given The Scaramanga Six’s predilection for theatrical arrangements anyway, Smith’s influence may have been more of a nudge than anything else. Certainly the songs on display tonight have all the trappings of “business as usual”. Ellen & the Escapades - Hannah Cordingley
So much new material didn’t really help to compensate for the surprisingly poor turn-out though. After six or seven new songs the band finished the set with a string of more familiar tunes from the closet, including a devastating ‘You Should Have Killed Me When You Had The Chance’. Steve Walsh — Ellen and the Escapades/Hunting Bears/Bruno Merz @ Oporto, Leeds Uncomfortably packed venues are a pleasing sight and with that in mind, Bruno Merz kick off with perfectly agreeable, lazy, folk pop. They’ve got very full sound and plenty of warm tones for a crowd well up for a bit of slow-nodding. They’re not particularly adventurous musically, but clearly some thought’s gone into the songs so no qualms there. Showing that there’s more to new-folk than Mumford & bloody Sons, it’s Hunting Bears. Five part mixed gender harmonies, a rich sonic canvas and the cojones to pull it off. They’ve got the tunes too and dynamics that send shivers down t’old spine. It’d be hard to find a sound system/venue to really do them justice – harps and ukuleles all over the shop – but they went down smoothly enough. A friend of mine has been saying for a while that “Country” is due for a revival – enter Ellen and the Escapades. They’ve been generating a serious amount of hype lately and you quickly see why; washy guitar, lilting vocals and a smattering of harmonica adorn the simple chords and pretty melodies. Personally, I was a bit bored, but that’s more to do with “Country” than Ellen. A cheeky Beatles cover, then “this is the bit where we pretend this is our last
song” – I’ve got a lot of time for bands who stick it to encore theatrics. Keep your eye on all of these. Tim Hearson — These Monsters, Shield Your Eyes, Normal Man, Nikki Louder, False Flags @ Santiagos, Leeds You know you’re in for a good time when a well known hardcore fanatic tells you ‘this is going to be a horrible night’. Ear plug time. With ex-Red Star Kev safely secured behind the skins, False Flags unfurl the sort of noise that provokes synaesthesia. It’s very hairy, very heavy, very thrashy, but with enough distinction to pick out beats and riffs; they almost have a verse/chorus at one point. Nikki Louderaren’t so poppy. With a drum sound like ball bearings on a tin roof, guitars that generate curtains of white noise and bass so deep you’ll think you’ve got tinnitus, they are a bad trip of a band, relentless and saturating. I crave relief. Which I don’t get. Normal Man have an unpleasant sludge vibe, with Brown and Benbow as a malignant Chas and Dave. Kicking off with an ode to the difficulties of suicide (‘The Barrel’) and closing with their anthem to Idi Amin (‘The Black Hitler’), every overdriven note and tortured lyric is pure hell. I like it but am seriously bummed out by the whole sordid experience. Hurray for prog then, for Shield Your Eyes are that. If you could imagine the bastard lovechild of Fleetwood Mac and Mars Volta, with Andy Abbot on bass, you’ll get the idea. The room is packed as well, making it a it hard to get into, but well worth it once you get there. Man.
Slam Dunk - Carl Fleischer
The Scaramanga Six/Local Girls/ Cowtown @ The Well, Leeds Cowtown. Jumpers. Tonight they start slow but ease into fifth gear by the end of the set. Nash bouncing, Shiels as-ever-solid, Hils grinning. ‘Monotone Face’. Is. A great. Song. Those jumpers….
Slam Dunk - Carl Fleischer
Slam Dunk - Carl Fleischer
So what if their saxophonist has buggered off to China, so what if they’re down to three now – everyone knows that three piecers are the best. Dispensing with all meander, These Monsters unleash the riffage with little ceremony and surprising precision considering Sam’s ‘lucid state’. I used to think of them as a modern day King Crimson. They now occupy the same sound space as Lemmy era Hawkwind. That’s good music, friends and neighbours. Rob Wright — Kit Downes’ ‘Quiet Tiger’ @ Seven Arts Centre, Chapel Allerton, Leeds Winning a Mercury Prize can turn out to be a mixed blessing for the recipient. The annual token jazz nominee, safe in the knowledge that there’s not the remotest chance they’re going to win, can just sit back, enjoy the ride and try and capitalise on that brief window of exposure. Kit Downes was the token jazz nominee for the Mercury prize 2010 so it’s gratifying to know that he appears to have used that exposure to create ‘Quiet Tiger’, an accomplished suite of tunes for an augmented version of his established trio. Downes’s usual trio is here expanded to include James Allsopp on bass clarinet and tenor saxophone, Josh Arceleo on tenor sax and Adrien Dennefeld on cello. Kit Downes - Bart Pettman
‘Quiet Tiger’ itself is a poised and contemplative opener, while ‘Attached’ has a brooding, almost ambient opening that gives the whole piece a thick narcotic fug. Of the busier pieces, ‘Frizzi Pazzi’ features a piano, bass and drums section in which Downes and
drummer James Maddren fly, and the anthemic grandstander ‘The Wizards’ again features Maddren but this time with Allsopp. Encouragingly, the best music of the night was to be found in the new material. ‘Jan Johansson’ is mesmerizingly delicate and ‘Owls’ features a bass clarinet solo that has Allsopp taking the instrument as close to a Jimi Hendrix guitar solo as it’s possible to get. Steve Walsh — Slam Dunk 2011 @ Leeds University, Leeds Slam Dunk 2011 - it may have been sweaty, expensive and tiring but my god was it an awesome day. Marking its tenth anniversary, this day only festival had some amazing acts on offer and with 6 stages hosting a whole range of exciting bands, it was hard to pick exactly who the best acts of the day were, but here are my picks of Slam Dunk 2011… A band who need no introduction, Goldfinger bound on stage like a bull at a red flag. Songs like ‘Counting The Days’, ‘Get Up’ and ‘Here In My Bedroom’ get the crowd singing and the bodies crashing, and when ‘Superman’ and ‘99 Red Balloons’ signal the end of the show, it is with heavy hearts and deafening cheers that the room bid them farewell. They may have been around for nearly 20 years, but Less Than Jake are still an excellent live band. Precise and utterly enthralling, their performance is as amazing and as amusing as ever and with every song whipping the crowd into a roaring frenzy, its safe to say that these Floridian Ska Punk kings have still got it. Fellow Ska Punk titans and joint headliners Reel Big Fish close the day in humorous and raucous style. ‘Trendy’, ‘She Has A Girlfriend Now’ and ‘Where Have You Been’ cause the audience to erupt like a large, singing,
skanking volcano and when it comes to ‘Sell Out’ and ‘Take On Me’, the roof appears to be in danger of bursting. Emma Quinlan — Middleman/Milk White White Teeth/ Pet Accessories @ Brundenell Social Club, Leeds Talking to Lee, Middleman bassist, he said this was the “proudest day” in the band’s collective life. With their debut album ‘Spinning Plates’ you can see why and honestly, it couldn’t have happened to nicer guys. The night started well enough with Pet Accessories, as front woman Anna Hetherington took on guitaring/singing/ keyboarding. The set was a hotchpotch of synth, pop, indie and something completely different. I look forward to hearing more. Milk White Teeth were a different beast. Instead of the minimalism of Pet Accessories they packed the stage fuller than the White Rose Centre on Boxing Day. I don’t really want to say anything bad, there are six of them so they could probably beat me up… nice percussion, not much else positive. These were mere appetisers to the main meal - Middleman. Funkin’ Awesome. With the album hot-off-thepress and the ink still drying on the posters, the band were on a massive high. The driving riffs, thumping bass, tight drums and catchy, poignant lyrics blow me away. Seriously, if you’ve just heard your first Middleman song and it has scrambled your brain here’s a handy checklist; 1). See them live. 2). Buy the album. 3). Buy it for everyone you love, or even like; lovers, friends, parents, vicars, pets, it’s worth it. Luke Bailey
Hawk Eyes - Giles Smith
Hawk Eyes/Castrovalva/Blacklisters/ Dolphins @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds Fuck the Royal Wedding; this is the real deal – that hideously bronzed pigin-a-dress Brew Records about to walk down the aisle to meet the podgy, overgelled records/management behemoth that is Dance to the Radio. Ushering the night in is Dolphins, the underdogs from Halifax. It’s a tight set but there’s something lacking– without proper bass and having some vocalfree songs, it’s pretty empty. The room isn’t though and Dolphins go down well. They’re followed by Blacklisters who are fast becoming a favourite. Billy Cobham swoops down to enforce audience participation and though Cobham seems a bit more calculated in his meanderings, it’s the same combination of terrifying and exhilarating. Castrovalva is thrice sense offending and Leemun Smith very quickly establishes himself as a massive cunt. Accusations of al fresco fingering establish an ambiance similar to that of poor stand-up routines. It’s perfect ‘banter’ for the music though. So far this all seems a bit negative, but this is why they’re brilliant. They’re the Dirty Sanchez of the Leeds rock scene. The bass is filthy and fast and the vocals are everything the album promises (and more). Horrific, moist fun. Repackaging slightly is often seen as a cheap marketing trick and besides, why would you want to change an awesome name like Chickenhawk? It’s good to know the music’s still as excellent 38
as always. Gritty, plums-out metal, Hawk Eyes are a reliable headliner with precision riffing and beefy vocal attacks. Astick screaming in the face of an older gentleman has to be one of the highlights and ‘I Hate This, Do You Like It?’ is something of a classic. Tim Hearson — Wild Beasts @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds Wild Beasts are marking their album launch with a matinee performance at the good old Brudenell. The crowd packed the concert room an hour before the start and by stage time, the audience had almost exhausted themselves with anticipation. But the sun still poured in through the entrance doors and we all squashed up close to listen and swoon. We are treated to over an hour of new song/old song delirium. With the new baby ‘Smother’ topping both ‘Two Dancers’ and ‘Limbo Panto’, T’Beasts now have a feast of instantly lovable songs to work with – ‘We’ve Got Taste ...’, ‘Devil’s Crayon’, ‘All The King’s Men’, ‘Hootin’ And Howlin’ are now joined by ‘Deeper’, ‘Lion’s Share’ and ‘Invisible’; all of these are songs capable of standing above anything being made in England these days. And at this gig, so early in the tour they are played with invisible panache and total control. The sound (Trev and Moz in close attendance) is fabulous. Its complexity demands two extra musicians on stage
– Katie Harkin throughout and Richard Hawley (“our guru and mentor”) for a couple towards the end. It feels like a nostalgic farewell gig. We’ve loved them like our own, and now we’ve lost them to the big and very, very bad world. “Cheerio Chaps!”. Good luck…. Sam Saunders — Jamie xx @ The Mint Club, Leeds If you haven’t heard of Jamie xx you must have been living under a rock for the past year. One third of successful minimal indie act and Mercury Prize winners The xx, it seems Jamie has found his calling as a DJ/remixer extraordinaire. His Leeds fan base has turned out in force; the Mint crowd were buzzing with anticipation to see this cult demi-god DJ for them and you could literally feel the excitement in the air. The suspense built as we were kept waiting for a full hour, but when Jamie finally appeared (understatedly dressed in black), the crowd collectively stampeded to the front, expectant hands reaching out to touch him. Jamie’s mesmerising, rumbling basslines carried you through a whole spectrum of warped, twisted pulsating music – he is a master of building up tension before releasing his powerful, hypnotising drops.
His recent collaboration with Gil ScottHeron, ‘NY is Killing Me’, really set the Castrovalva - Giles Smith crowd off, bringing sparse urbanity to the intimate venue. Jamie’s set is certainly lo-fi but expertly crafted with electronic buzz, like white noise with a magnetising melody. Jamie xx had the bewitched crowd dancing for the entirety of his esoteric two hour set –something very special indeed. Katie Rowley
Vessels/Esper Scout/Tomorrow We Sail @ TheLibrary, Leeds Tomorrow We Sail cast off the night with some gorgeous slow moving ambience in the vane of Sigur Rós et al. They’ve got the style down and they know how to pull off a dramatic build but I always feel like they’re holding back a bit. Shyness kind of comes with the style but TWS have no need to be shy – let’s av’ it! There’s no trace of shyness in Esper Scout’s performance - they have a grungey sound with a beefy metallic kick. Rather more down the balls-out rock route than the other two bands on the line-up, these lasses get the heads nodding adequately. They add nothing new to the current alt-rock box of tricks but with nice harmonies and plenty of aggro, I don’t see anyone complaining. The only thing more pleasing than hearing Vessels’ warm tones is watching Vibrations chief, Rob Wright, losing it at a Vessels gig. Vessels, too, were on top form and really looked like they were enjoying themselves. You can play as many big venues as you like but when it comes down to it, a smaller venue rammed to capacity is always going to beat all. A nice mix of old and new Vessels numbers punctuated a tight set with just the right amount of wash. With a refined album and set, it feels like a homecoming for Leeds’ very own post-rock behemoth. Tim Hearson — Eureka Machines @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds Looking for the complete antithesis of Lady Gaga and her autotuned delights? Good, witness Eureka Machines, in all their proper good-old-fashioned-singsong glory, reassuring us that there is still music that isn’t all headline-desperado, 40-quid-a-ticket teenmarket dross.
Eureka Machines is a labour of love for everyone - fans included. Chris Catalyst, the lead ‘Machine, ably banters with the audience between songs and it’s clear he sees you as much a part of his band as his fellow Machines on stage, teasingly refusing to continue unless we follow his instructions to sing as he’s taught us, or hold our hands in the air in a display of solidarity - because as Chris says, “it just looks really fucking cool from up here”. So if you like your pop rocky with attitude, a tune you can sing along to and some tongue-in-cheek yet shockingly synchronised stage moves, forget everything else - Eureka Machines will rock your world (as long as you don’t mind it being a sweaty one). Elly Wakeling
PR EVI EWS The Wind-Up Birds @ Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds 22 June Launch gig for this really rather excellent band’s new single made triply attractive by support coming from monmon (whose own Garage Rock is also really rather excellent) and Post War Glamour Girls. And it’s free! How much more really rather excellent can you get?
The Birdman Rallies @ Sandinista!, Leeds 6 July All too rare outing in Leeds for great and criminally overlooked singer/songwriter Dan Webster. — Khuda @ The Well, Leeds 8 July Ostensibly a launch event for post rockers Khuda’s third album ‘Iecava’, the gig boasts no less than six support acts, including the excellent Magnapinna. All for £4! — Out of Spite XI @ The Well, Leeds 15 – 17 July Welcome return for this alternative punk/metal festival after a three year hiatus, featuring more than thirty local, national and international acts on two stages across the three days. Watch out for highlights Leatherface, That Fucking Tank and Pylon. — The Magic Loungeabout @ Broughton Hall, Nr Skipton 29 – 31 July Now in its fourth year, but in a new venue, this self-styled ‘refined unwind’ three day festival comes on like combined music and literary chill out zone. With music from the likes of The Human League, Badly Drawn Boy and New Young Pony Club, words from the likes of Annie Nightingale and Howard Marks and wall-to-wall DJing by the likes of Graeme Park and Justin Unabomber.
Eureka Machines - Jamie Boynton
Eureka Machines are good old fashioned rock n roll band and deliver proper songs, with words and a tune and a story you care about - your mates, triumphing over adversity, generally being ace - none of this “lalala look at my booty” stuff - performed with such energetic determination, high jumps (lots of them), rocked-out poses (again, lots), sweat (yes, lots of that too) and it’s obvious to see that 39
Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring Hannah Trigwell, Juffage, These Monsters
Published on Jun 14, 2011
Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring Hannah Trigwell, Juffage, These Monsters