Vibrations Magazine Leeds and West Yorkshire December 2011 Free
False Flags Black Diamond Bay Damnation
Editorial Damnation Festival The Fight Before Christmas Stage to Page Under the Influence Mission Incapable False Flags Black Diamond Bay Reviews Live Reviews One for the Road
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Web Team Sam Hainsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org Charlotte Watkins - www.myspace.com/vibrationsmagazine Contributors Rob Wright, Steve Walsh, Bart Pettman, Danny Payne, Neil Dawson, Nelson, Mike Price, James West, Spencer Bayles, Tom Bailey, Greg Elliott, Nick Pritchard, Ben Rutledge, Rochelle Massey, Martin Haley, Tim Hearson, Liam Shevill, Emma Quinlan, Rob Welbourn, Leighton Padley, Katie Rowley, Luke Bailey, Carl Fleischer, Hannah Cordingley, Jade Till, Tom Airey, Rob Paul Chapman, Ellie Treagust, Daniel Heaton, Alessandra Gritt, Duncan Macgregor, Simon Lewis, Karl Grundy. Cover Photograph False Flags by Daniel Heaton
Hands Up Who Hates Music... It’s that time of year when the nights draw in shortly after morning has arrived, the boarded up shops open briefly to sell fire hazard Santas and the air is filled with the squalling tones from a host of second rate cover versions recorded by a bunch of no count egomaniacs and their svengali overseers that some call ‘popular chart music’. Now that was a bit negative, and my ‘analyst has asked me to steer clear of negative reinforcement. Yes, your erstwhile editor has checked himself in to the John Peel Memorial Sanatorium for the Musically Weary after this year’s gruelling Fight Before Christmas. But let me just state that, despite my original statement, it was not because of the poor quality of the nominated albums; quite the opposite. If you flick forward to the appropriate feature, you can appreciate the quality and may well be saying, ‘what? You didn’t pick (such and such)? What a travesty!’ Well, let me tell you, you don’t know how hard it was to whittle such a bunch of strong contenders down to twenty. There were some brutal cuts made there... Yes, our annual competition is a bit divisive and arbitrary, but aren’t all these music awards/contests? When this year’s Mercury Award nominations were announced, who didn’t start shouting, ‘where are Wild Beasts? What about Friendly Fires? Have you forgotten BSP?’ Okay, maybe just me. But I can sympathise with the judges. This year I was lucky enough to be part of the judging panel for Futuresound as well and I can quite honestly say that it is as much of a fix and as fair as it can possibly be as everyone says, just 4
because trying to objectify something so subjective is an exercise in futility and, in the end, what really matters is how many people will voluntarily listen to a particular band. I’m starting to sound a bit Sam Saunders here, but someone has got to stand in for our dear departed columnist... he’s not dead, just living in Bristol. But these are not the reasons why I have checked into this peaceful haven. My reasons are a lot more sinister, more insidious. For the last two or three weeks (at time of writing) I have been attempting to cram all twenty nominated albums into my cranium so I might have something intelligent, reasoned and incisive to say about each of the albums involved. Each time I thought I was getting somewhere, each time I thought that my mind was curling its cerebral fist around that mighty myriad of tunes, something would come and dash them from my mental grip: ‘When you play in a band/ it’s all about the melody.’ Bloody Lazy Town bloody song from the bloody Cbeebies bloody theme tune album. How many times was ToD displaced by Postman Pat SDS? Or Middleman crushed beneath the passive-aggressive tootling of the Waybuloo theme tune? And don’t get me started on Mr Tumble. (Ed note: I realise I have now lost almost all of the readership here. For prior knowledge required, tune into the Cbeebies channel... and despair) The only things that couldn’t be touched were The Truth About Frank and Hawk Eye’s ‘I Hate This, Do You
Like It?’ They became my last islands of refuge. Nice places to visit... no, not even nice places to visit, frightening, unsettling and nightmarish places to visit. But nowhere near as terrifying as Justin’s House. (Ed note: prior knowledge required... look, just accept that I’m being witty, urbane and down with the kids, okay – it’s another Cbeebies thing) And that is why I checked in. Anyway, ‘tis done, the results are in, it is only for me to thank everyone involved and also give a big shout out to those who didn’t make the cut: Juffage, Whole Sky Monitor, Runaround Kids, The Protectors, Oifar, Rhode Island, The Spills, Mob Rules and The Dauntless Elite. No reflection on quality, we just didn’t have the space. I would also like to give a big shout out to Spencer Bayles, long suffering writer and contributor (you remember when he did seven gigs in seven days, including one all dayer? Madness!), who has decided to hang up his writer’s hat, put away his pen and enjoy his spare time. In fact, have some spare time. Spence, so long, thanks for all the words and good luck with enjoying music like most other people do. You will be missed. I suppose all that is left for me to say is merry primary gifting season, don’t get too drunk/fat/addicted to MW3 and I will see you in 2012, when the world will clearly end and I will turn 40. I’m not sure which I’m dreading most... Old Ed, C/o The John Peel Memorial Sanatorium for the Musically Weary
Damnation Festival 2011 Do you wanna rock? I said DO YOU WANNA ROCK?!? Apparently, Emma Quinlan is more than reasonably ready to rock as hard as it takes at the festival harder than a honey badger with a minigun, Damnation Festival! Photos by Carl Fleischer
If you’re looking for colourful t-shirts, slick hair and preened faces, never ever step foot in Leeds University when Damnation, the one day heavy metal extravaganza, is taking place. Instead you will be faced with wild hair, fulsome beards and a sea of black t-shirts staring back at you. In summary, not a place for Britney Spears fans, especially as Damnation makes other rock festivals such as Download look like a vicar’s tea party. Vibrations starter for the day is Humanfly, a prog-hard-core-metal band hailing from this very city. To say that this band is one of the mellowest on the bill and considering their early slot time, the crowd for Humanfly is quite surprising. However once they
begin playing their melodic, prog musings, the reason for the quite large number of people in front of them becomes clear: Humanfly are an exceptionally good live band. Technically brilliant and instrumentally gifted, Humanfly’s songs are long but mesmerising and the sea of nodding heads in front seem to be more than enjoying the first act of the day. On to the Jagermiester stage and instead of Xerath, we are greeted with locked doors. ‘Running late’ is the official line and its 30 minutes before the stage’s first band greet us. Thankfully, Xerath are worth the wait. With a fairly large crowd to be riled by charismatic lead singer Richard Thomson(‘we only have a limited time to play, so I’m going to shut my very attractive mouth’), Xerath launch into a set that sees death, thrash and progressive metal all curled up into one big ball and rolled into the openarmed crowd. ‘Sworn to Sacrifice’ and ‘False History’ shift the audience into full head banging mode, whilst ‘Unite To Defy’ causes the floor to shake with worrying conviction. Over on the Terrorizer stage, Shining has gathered a large number of bodies. With a saxophone-cum-lead singer in their midst and a three strong army of men behind their instruments, including keyboard, Shining’s twist on metal is refreshingly different. Combining Dani Filth-esque vocals, brutal melodies and saxophone solos, these four Norwegians have managed to create a sound that is original and
brilliant, and the audience around them take to it like Father Christmas to a mince pie. From saxophones to violins next as Finnish folk metallers, Turisas, prepare to bring their war march to Leeds. Looking like a pack of Vikings on a mission of no mercy, daubed with red and black face paint, Turisas blast Damnation into the stratosphere with their violin solos and exhilarating anthems. Its music that would have been used to pump up the gladiators before a fight and whilst Turisas may be a little theatrical, the positively ecstatic response they receive has no fakery about it. ‘The Great Escape’ prompts the first real circle-pit of the day and chants of ‘Battle Metal’ begin before Turisas unleash said song, signalling the end to a fantastic set and one of, if not the, best of the day.
Over on the Terrorizer stage, Shining has gathered a large number of bodies After the extreme delights of Turisas, Yorkshire thrashers Evile are next, much to the joy of the waiting crowd. Songs such as ‘Killer From The Deep’ and ‘Thrasher’ are confirmed fan favourites, especially as the young lads on stage execute them so well.
However, after the previous act, Evile’s 80’s thrash metal seems a little same old same old after a while, even though their abilities can’t be questioned. The fans of Evile will probably disagree and when last track ‘Infected Nation’ blares out, the obviously happy fans give Evile a send off to remember. One hop, skip and jump to the Jagermiester stage and Doom are in full swing. With legacy that spans over 16 years, Doom’s crust punk is nothing short of vicious. Blistering beats and shrieking vocals smash together to create music with more snarl and bile than Simon Cowell could ever hope to engender. Pits form, crowd surfing is attempted and so much smoke is pumped at the band that even lead singer Denis has to ask for them to turn it down. Like most of the bands here, it is not music for the faint-hearted but music to vigorously bang your head to, which the crowd are more than willing to do, as well as smile with smouldering approval.
Industrial metal veterans Godflesh are next on the Jager stage and straight off the bat the immense power of the 3-man setup on stage is tangible; especially when the sound from the speakers actually turns into a sort of musical wind, carrying people along with it. For sheer volume and force, Godflesh cannot be beaten and technically their work is as complex as it is mesmerising. However, when it comes to halfway through the set, the shiny veneer starts to chip away and the long winded riffs start to take over, with one over extended song taking over the second half of the set. In front of the stage though the crowd seem more than happy to bounce along and Godflesh will leave Leeds with triumphant looks on their faces and heads held high. Unfortunately the time has come for the last band of the night but thankfully this comes in the form of the very gifted Devin Townsend and his project. It is clear that many have been waiting all day for this performance and they are not disappointed. There are crushing riffs, pounding beats and all out power emanates from every note. Vocally, Devin is in superb form and his ability to scream like a banshee one moment then purr like a pussy cat the next is very impressive. And the audience? Their happiness is demonstrated in the hundreds of moving bodies, screaming voices and raised rock horns; the last act of the day and second contender for act of the festival. It is a fitting end for an amazing day; Damnation 2011 closes, not just in style, but heavy fucking metal style. Emma Quinlan
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The Fight Before Christmas Never let light in upon magic. The graceless thrashing-about beneath the surface that powers the inner workings of Vibrations is, frankly, of little interest to the casual reader. However, as a past editor, I can assure you that tankers-worth of goodwill are required to make this thing work. The intrepid souls who fill these pages give their time for free and regularly lead us to question why so much goodwill seems to exist for us. Photos by Danny Payne passionate, explosive and regularly near-violent debates on each record, we’d point you in the direction of The Fight Before Christmas podcast which you can find on our website, www.vibrations.org.uk. We hope you enjoy the results. Rob Paul Chapman – Vibrations Editor 2008 – 2010.
But, it’s never enough to know that this goodwill exists in abstract; we find it necessary to push this goodwill to absolute breaking point, to prove it exists. So once a year we gather a select bunch of them into a room, ply them with fine ales and then heartily encourage them to knock seven bells out of each other with the loose conceit of establishing our favourite West Yorkshire albums of the past year. We call it The Fight Before Christmas, now in its fourth year without the publishers calling social services. Vibrations Editor Rob Wright, Reviews Editor Steve Walsh, writer and critic Tim Hearson, columnist and writer Ellie Treagust, celebrated photographer Bart Pettman, owner of The Brudenell Social Club Nathan Clarke and myself were locked into the Brudenell Board Room for 8 hours and told to come up with our top 20. Based on contributions from you and the recommendations of the great and good of the Yorkshire Music Scene, Vibrations staff whittled down the epic longlist into a shortlist of 20, and the panel’s job was to order it by scientific process so questionable it made the Human Centipede look like Heart Surgery. You can see the results below, but for the full – ahem – glory of the 10
20. Humanfly – Darker Later Life is not all sweetness and light, as we are reminded on a daily basis by our current ‘administration’. Some days you just need the oily black rollers to cover you and drag you under. Humanfly’s ‘Darker Later’ is the sound track for those days. Opening with the bludgeoning force of ‘This is Where Your Parents Fucked’, it drags you on a Dante-esque tour of the multi-faceted aspects of prog-metal and this damaged sceptic isle, finally marooning you on the shores of an... epic collaboration with Rose Kemp, ‘Heavy Black Snow’. Unrelenting, merciless and... more shades of black than you can imagine. Rob Wright
19. The Resplendents – Reputations The Resplendents dig deep into a rich lineage of soul music, and it’s not their fault if this family tree has been forever contaminated by The
Committments and ham-fisted pubrockers grinding their way through teeth-clenching versions of ‘Mustang Sally’ - it’s understandable that music fans may have trouble separating good soul from bad. But this is the real deal. These are songs of depth and imagination with more ideas packed into a punchy three minutes than most indie bands get through in an album. It may not convince those who do not find themselves aligned to this type of music, but the connoisseur should be able to see through the occasionally weedy production and find real substance here. Rob Paul Chapman 18. handmadehands – handmadehands As debut albums go, this is a startlingly good collection of well written, intelligent songs that speak of the everyday disappointments, ambiguities, frustrations and calamities of modern life. The band is only a trio but expertly utilise a wide range of instruments to provide a rich variety of sounds and styles and consequently come across as a much bigger group. The songs are mostly killer pop songs, but sorry kids, these are grown up songs for grown-ups. Steve Walsh 17. monmon – Garage Rock This album is a fantastically imaginative exploitation of the sonic possibilities of the classic guitar/bass/ drums format. The band’s songs and arrangements expertly incorporate light and shade, noise and silence, intensity and space to create compact songs that nevertheless feel epic. In keeping with the vaguely pretentious but direct nature of the music (when
they play live, the band project art/cult films like The Wicker Man or The Red Shoes as a backdrop), the lyrics are at once impressionistic and poetic but at the same time earthy and quotidian. Steve Walsh
16. Eureka Machines – Champion the Underdog Chris Catalyst and friends return for another helping of fun filled, pun filled good old fashioned rock and roll. Since their debut, ‘Do or Die’, they may have lost Steve Morricone on bass (now ably filled by Pete Human) but what they’ve gained is more finesse, more class... more tunes. Still
as catchy as ebola and lively as an electrified tin of maggots, ‘Champion the Underdog’ is a well-dressed party on a platter and everyone is invited. Yes, even you at the back. The one who never chips in for the tea... Rob Wright
15. Captain Wilberforce – Ghost Written Confessions A songwriter who’s been at the craft for nearly 20 years, Captain Wilberforce (AKA Simon Bristoll) has a well honed sound and the songs to back it up but it’s the arrangement that really makes this one. From the multi-tracked chorale intro of ‘Los Angeles’ to the subtle ‘Cello infusions on ‘Me and Your Mother’ there’s variety aplenty. Dingy and uplifting in equal measure, from the decidedly ‘Paranoid Android’-esque ‘In Hell’ which has no shortage of agro to the sugar sweetness of ‘This Little Miracle’, reminiscent of Ben Folds in his more reflective moods. Even if you’ve had your fill of singersongwriters, this’ll have you reaching for that dusty acoustic. Tim Hearson
people can get hold of. I imagine a mythical A&R man barking this rhetoric. Then I imagine William Gray cocking his head to one side and going back to his room to knock out another outstanding album, whilst wondering what the strange stressed-looking man was talking about. Gray has always been a master of evocative imagery, and his approach to subject matters big and small sounds consistently fresh and original, even if they are as old as the hills. But this is no hairdryer record of polemic and wrath. This is the arm around the shoulder from an old friend who doesn’t say much, but when they do it’s always worth listening to. And so it is. Rob Paul Chapman
14. The Truth About Frank – Cannibal Work Ethic Dark, unsettling ambient electronica of the highest quality from East Leeds? Improbable but true. This is mysterious duo The Truth About Frank’s first full length album, but is merely the latest in a sequence of releases that document a singular collaborative talent that seemed to emerge, mature and fully formed with their first EP in 2008. This album represents the continued refinement of the band’s approach to sound collage and sonic manipulation and applies an imaginative aesthetic that’s almost cinematic in its scope. Steve Walsh
12. DeLorean Drivers – DeLorean Drivers Perhaps surprisingly for a record that revels in the immediacy of contemporary pop music; a bit of time does this debut no harm at all. It is by no means flawless. The production lacks bite, and the track ordering is
13. William Gray – Vertical Wealth The singer-songwriter market is crowded. You need something that 11
unfathomable; but what has become evident is that these songs are keepers. ‘The Girl With Fire In Her Hands’, ‘Dancing With My Sisters Boyfriend’ and ‘Paper Trail’ are bona fide indie-disco gems, and in ‘Empties’ they have the soundtrack to Tracy from Accounts’ final teary-eyed glass of wine at the end of the office Christmas Party. Sadly, Tracy doesn’t know it yet. If they can build on this promising debut then it seems inconceivable that these songs will remain undiscovered. Rob Paul Chapman 11. Trumpets of Death – Teeth+Teeth=Teeths With their influences set firmly in an antiquated era, Trumpets of Death have produced a cacophonic collection with subject material that describes anything from a soul-destroying forced enrolment to the Navy to abduction of young children. With a suitably pained lead voice, we are led on what feels like a huge journey (what the destination is, I am not entirely sure), with songs that rise and fall as epically
as the sea, and instruments that represent the torture that life can throw at one. Despite being only five tracks long, there’s more than enough soul here to make an album. Ellie Treagust
eastern promising beats. You just have to listen to the gorgeous gallows humour waltz of ‘I’m On Fire’ and the hysteria inducing rhythm of ‘Ariel’ to be convinced. Rob Wright
10. The Horn The Hunt – Depressur Jolie At first glance, The Horn The Hunt may seem like a throwback to 80’s electronic pop. Look a bit closer though and this male/female duo are a thing of much stranger, richer beauty. Their DIY utilisation of cheap synths and sound generating devices smacks of the punk rock approach to music and musicianship. Their idiosyncratic application of rhythm and melody may make them sound a bit cracked and out of kilter, but what the duo have in spades is a wealth of ideas and the confidence to fashion their songs using little more than intuition and the tools at hand. Impossible to categorise and all the better for it. Steve Walsh
8. Cursed - Scaramanga Six Okay, we all know the story. No? Okay, ‘Cursed’ was the album the ‘Six began working on five years ago and was all set for being produced by Cardiacs chanteur Tim Smith. Unfortunately Tim had a massive cardiac arrest, robbing
9. Matilda – Stateless Four years is a long time in music – it managed to turn the Stone Roses from the great white indie hope into... yeah – so ‘Matilda’, Stateless second studio album was a big musical question mark. Fortunately the dice was loaded, the deck rigged and the pit boss in on the deal. A big step forward from the eponymous debut, ‘Matilda’ is a brooding, cosmopolitan, beat laden epic, with Chris’ falsetto tempered and tethered to Justin’s silky smooth baritone, infused throughout by Dave’s
the ‘Six of their producer and leaving their album locked forever on Tim’s lap top. Fast forward: 2011 saw S6 release a re-recorded, re-produced version and... It’s well worth the wait regardless of its Jonah associations. Packed full of bombast, this is as rich as an album as you could ever want, with special mention going to ‘I Can See a Murder’ – the intro is an overture for goodness sake! Soooooo good. Rob Wright 7. Wild Beasts – Smother Although some would deem it minimalist, Wild Beast’s new album ‘Smother’ manages to set a trend and experiment within it. Thus you get a collection that fits very well together but there’s enough diversity between songs to not get bored. Their dreamy melodic
title does live up to its name – they’re all-encompassing pieces – but there is a slight lack of anything particularly groundbreaking or overwhelming here. That said, they fit much better into the ambient rock category when on CD rather than live, so if that was their aim, this album achieves it. Ellie Treagust 6. Middleman – Spinning Plates You cannot keep a good band down, but the music industry can have a bloody good try. Middleman have been royally rogered by management, labels and a variety of parasitic music-associated types, but have remained chipper and determined throughout. Case in point: this album. It’s been forever delayed, like ‘Chinese Democracy’, but is actually pretty corking – unlike ‘Chinese Democracy’. True, their fire may have been stolen by the likes of Scroobius Pip and The Streets, but that’s not their fault. And is it catchy? Oh yes. Is it bouncy? Oh yes. Will you love it? Ohhhh yesssss! Rob Wright 5. Hawk Eyes – Modern Bodies Released just before the great name change, Modern Bodies acts almost as a line drawn beneath Chickenhawk, albeit a very noisy one. With a lot of material from their eponymous debut, this is familiar ground for the lovers of all things fast, heavy and raucous, but you cannot fault the visceral genius of stand-out track ‘I Hate This, Do You Like It?’ – this is the track you play to all your metal shunning friends to see the light go on in their eyes as they finally get it. Hard, furious, technical yet accessible and I cannot wait to hear what next year will bring... Rob Wright 4. Hope & Social – Sleep Sound A local band with a massive community
focus, its last year’s winners Hope & Social back for another jaunt with ‘Sleep Sound’. One may be asking how you can quite top ‘April’s fan funded mastery of Northern pop but somehow the inclusion of a Voices of the Day Community Choir (headed up by Cleve of local soul legends Chunky But Funky) really seems to take it up a notch. A refined sound and the production’s been noticeably ramped up, it’s a big effort from a band that repeatedly gives back. Tim Hearson 3. Napoleon IIIrd – Christiania Quirky lyrics, infectious rhythms and more importantly a mahoosive, sprawling electronic soundscape throughout make ‘Christiania’ an album you won’t want to miss. Abrasive and simultaneously face-strokingly lovely there’s an endearing charm to this album as well as it just being bloody cool. Shout along choruses like those of ‘Leaving Copenhagen’ really make you feel like you’re a part of the action. Yes, you’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll probably stub your toe – it’s just a real bitchslap of an album (the good kind). Tim Hearson
2. Helioscope – Vessels The second offering from Leeds’ leading post-prog-dance-world-rock outfit is a more forward facing optimistic affair than their impressive retrospective debut, ‘White Fields and Open Devices’ and is all the better for it. The tunes have become less flamboyant and more mesmeric, more worldly, more dancey yet a more rhythmically complex feel than before, though there is still room for crunchy guitars on such tracks as ‘Art/Choke’ and ‘Recur’. And lots of beauty, especially on the Stuart Warwick collaboration ‘Meatman, Piano Tuner, Prostitute’. Vessels continue
to be a band on the grow and I can’t wait to see where they will go next. Though this will more than do for now.A bit Battles, a bit Errors, but distinctly Vessels through and through, this is one trip you’ll be taking again and again and again and... you get the idea. Rob Wright
1. David Thomas Broughton – Outbreeding Layering everything with what seems like an excessive distribution of melancholia, David Thomas Broughton laments his way through his ten-track album. But it’s not all doom and gloom; his songs are immediately accessible and very versatile – they can fit into the background if you’re not paying attention to them, but they become far more likeable the more you listen and there’s enough in this collection to just listen to it as a stand-along piece – every track has a place. Whilst there is speculation that this album may not live up to its predecessor, this wonderful collection will have you laughing, crying, dancing and reflecting – it’s particularly good for a solo listen on a long journey. Despite having a CV as bizarre as some of his lyrics, it would be not a bad thing for Mr Sombre Acoustic Anti-Folk to go full-time. Ellie Treagust
Stage To Page Humanfly After a blistering set at Damnation Festival, Emma Quinlan spoke to Leeds prog-metallers Humanfly about toilet habits, excessive body perspiration and their performance…Photo by Bart Pettman
This was your first appearance at Damnation - how was it? John: It was good, I had a fun time and it sounded good. I think because we had quite a few gigs beforehand... you know after you play two or three gigs you get what we call ninja tight, so its more effortless when you play, so it kind of felt effortless apart from the extreme heat from them lights which caused me to have a massive sweat on. So there weren’t any last minute jitters then before you performed? John: Not really, no. Dave: I haven’t felt nervous playing a gig since like our second year. John: I don’t get nervous anymore. Sometimes I need a wee more than usual. Dave: The only time that I got nervous was when we did an improv set last year. I was a bit nervous before that purely because we didn’t know what the hell we were doing, hence improvisation, but now its old hat really, you just get used to it. After a while it doesn’t matter if there’s 10 people there or a lot more people.
Are you pleased you had such an early spot and so many people turned up? John: Yeah. One of the guys just told us after the set that the other rooms had been locked up, I don’t know if that was on purpose or whatever. Dave: No dude they all came to see us. John: Ha, yeah they had no alternative than to come in the room where we were playing so I think it was a bit of a lock in anyway. But it was pretty packed considering we thought ‘first band on, there will only be a few people’. Dave: Yeah. I didn’t think anyone was going to be there at all. I thought it was going to be like London the other week when we played to about 10 people. Are you planning to play any festivals next year? John: Possibly, we don’t really know. Dave: There’s nothing confirmed at the minute. Do you want to play festivals? John: Yeah we, we do want to play festivals next year. Dave: Do you mean like bigger festivals, like Leeds?
Yeah, festivals like that. Dave: We’ve never been asked and whenever we’ve enquired about it we never get anywhere. It seems like the only way that you can get on it is by doing Futuresound, which is a good thing…but yeah, smaller bands don’t really get asked to play, or in our experience we don’t. What can we expect from Humanfly in the future? You bringing a new album out? John: Yeah we’ve just demoed one. We haven’t heard it back yet. Hopefully in the New Year we’ll do something, probably some tasty vinyl and see how it goes really. (To Dave) Have you had any more word from the Glack-man (Simon Glacken, could this be your super-hero name)? Dave: I think he just wants to hear the demo first, but they seem pretty keen. Thank you Humanfly. Now go and get your sweat off...
Under the Influence Andy Abbott Prior to the release of their third album, also coinciding with a 12-date tour of Europe in early December, Mike Price managed to track down one half of Bradford’s wordless rockers ‘That Fucking Tank’, namely baritone guitarist Andy Abbot, to talk about the tune that perhaps first made him think, ‘I’d like to do that’ Photo by Bart Pettman
What is the track you have picked? ‘Motorbreath’ by Metallica. Where can we find it? It’s the third track from their 1983 debut album ‘Kill ‘em All’. When did you first hear it? That’s difficult to say exactly. It was probably at some point during the first couple of years of secondary school, probably around age 11 or 12 so that would be 1991/’92. Why did it prove such an inspiration? James (TFT’s drummer) and I then used to go to the music room at our school on breaks and lunchtimes and play on the guitars that the kids who had lessons owned. We’d try and play thrash metal and grunge tunes on the nylon string classical guitars they’d purchased from Argos. How has it influenced your writing? It taught me how to make the most out of minimal resources and also how to do dead fast galloping chugs, admittedly taking me a further 15 years to get right. Describe the TFT song writing process. I write some riffs at home by messing around on my baritone guitar. Sometimes I’ll write riffs on normal guitar or bass and translate that to baritone. Then, if I can remember them next time I pick up the guitar I assume it’s catchy/interesting enough to try and
make a ‘song’ out of. I write an approximate version of how it might be structured and then James and I will bash it into shape in a rehearsal or two that normally involves removing a lot of the unnecessary bits. What are you currently listening to? I’m having a nostalgic period at the moment, re-listening to US Post rock pioneers Slint’s second album ‘Spiderland’ and grunge-era classic ‘Siamese Dream’ by The Smashing Pumpkins. It must be a 20 year cycle thing. In terms of contemporary stuff, I’m listening to bands that I’m organising gigs for mostly. Last night was L’Ocelle Mare who’s an experimental banjo player from France. Solo guitarist Dean McPhee from Bingley is also really amazing. Any new Tank treats in the pipeline? We’ve got a new album coming out in the next few months called ‘TFT’. We’re doing the initial run on vinyl through our resurrected label Obscene Baby Auction and then Gringo will do an official CD and download in 2012. We’re doing a European tour in early December and a one-off gig in Istanbul in January which I’m excited about.
What’s next for Andy Abbot/TFT? Aside from the Tank stuff, I’m putting gigs on regularly in Bradford which you can find out about at www. obscenebabyauction.co.uk. Also the other band that I play in, Nope, have just finished recording at Suburban Home studios in Leeds (run by Matt from Leeds based space rockers Hookworms). Maybe that will see the light of day as an album. Check www. justsaynope.co.uk for details! This endblurb bit is completely unnecessary as Andy has already plugged the website and album above. Go on, look; you can see it from here.
Mission Incapable The Great Rock ‘N’ Roll Dawdle Your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to infiltrate the Leeds Music Scene by putting your money where your mouth is and making some music for once. Do any of you know any drummers?
“Let’s start a band!” Are there any more fearful words in the English language, apart from maybe “you know you’ve always said you love kids?” Fearful because they are words easily said, usually after a couple of pints, thought to be a good idea and capable of resulting in the most dire consequences. Of course, after a couple of pints the only phrases you’re capable of saying are ‘yeaaaaah!’ and ‘let’s start a band!’ And so it began, one Vibrations editorial. I mean, how hard can it be for a bunch of music journalists who eat, sleep and breathe music to make passable music? By rights they should be capable of making the best music in the world. Ever. “Let’s call ourselves Dirty Protest!” I bellow enthusiastically. Bart, photo ed and guitar abuser, is yeahing away in agreement, but Steve, reviews ed and Mr Bass Man isn’t looking so impressed. I blunder on regardless. “We should all have names... (the names I come up with are unprintable) and I’ve got some song titles... (the song titles me and Bart come up with are unprintable)... and three basses!” “But I can play keyboard too,” says regular long suffering writer Tim and second bassist. “Three basses!” I roar, looking over meaningfully at head honcho and self-confessed bass dabbler Tony and photographer Dan. Tony avoids my eye and Dan simply says “I want nothing to do with this.” “Do we know any drummers?” asks Steve, concerned with more practical matters. That’s what you need in a bass player: pragmatism. “I think Tom (one of our designers) is a drummer,” says Bart. “Quite good by all 18
accounts. He’ll be able to do four/four.” “We don’t want to him to be too good – only let him in on the night of the gig!” I blurt, feeling my inner punk uncurl it’s digitus impudicus. Steve continues to look unimpressed/ concerned. Tony still refuses to make eye contact.
“Let’s call ourselves Dirty Protest!” Over the next couple of weeks, there then follows a mad flurry of emails, most of which are about the age old problem of getting a drummer. Tom has politely declined our offer to be in the most influential pop combo since... well, since Jimmy Page said to Robert Plant ‘just sing what you know about – leave the tunes to me’. I helpfully suggest getting in a Dr Avalanche, then instantly regret it when I realise that no-one really knows what I’m talking about (Dr Avalanche was the name given to the Sisters of Mercy’s drum machine – he and Andrew Eldritch are the only remaining original members of said band – Semi Fact Ed), then send out an imploring email to all our photographers and writers. Readers, please note: if you know a drummer, keep them sweet; you never know when you might need them. As it happens, Bart has a drummer friend: Kyle Grundy. “He’s a photographer, but he hasn’t submitted anything to Vibrations yet,” Bart emails. “If he gets something in this issue, he can be in the band. Is that a plan?” I agree, which is fortunate as the motion
has already been passed. We are five; now to get some tunes together. As luck would have it, Jack Simpson, our co-head honcho, also has some sway at Eiger Studios, so we book an evening that is mutually agreeable with most of us (us living busy old lives and all that)... all of us, apart from Tim. “Everyone hates the keyboard player anyway,” he emails. What keyboard? Has he already forgotten he’s second bass? The night of the rehearsal is portentously dark and wet; a date to go down in history as the birth of something wonderful... something beautiful, complex and clever. “I’ve got a song title... Absence of Cod!” Even when sober, I am capable of moments of mind-numbing stupidity. Steve looks uncertain/concerned/ unimpressed (he has a face that is versatile enough to convey all those feelings at once) but Bart and Kyle like my hilarious pun. I like Kyle. He is willing to humour the idiot singer/ editor with no hair (that is another story, involving a haircut and faulty grade three guard). Up until this point, I have been shambling around making vague noises (a la Billy from Blacklisters) and political diatribes against our incumbent administration while Bart, Steve and Kyle mess around with riffs and beats and wait for me to stop fannying about. It’s a start.
“I’ve got a song title... Absence of Cod!” Bart and Steve lay into a brutal drop-D riff while Kyle slugs away at his skins and I intone darkly about the plight of
the fish industry. Eat your heart out, I Like Trains. It sounds... surprisingly good, and from a handful of words, riffs, bass lines and fills we manage to stitch together an entire song in less than an hour. It’s a buzz... I’d forgotten how much fun this was and laugh maniacally to myself as I slip in the line ‘Stacey’s king prawn ring,’ and manage to make it scan. Cutting edge. After a short break (we don’t want to lose the impetus, so it’s essentially a quick drink, a quick smoke or a quick
pee, but not all three), we get back onto it. I start rambling on about nothing in particular over Steve’s walking bass line and random chords from Bart. Kyle picks up the beat, then I stumble upon what might be a bridge or a chorus... either way, something shakes loose and before we know it we have another song. Horribly indulgent on my part, but I am even more impressed with this one as it is neither about fish nor about a lousy pun, but does have some swearing in it. By the end of our three hour session,
we have two songs recorded; what we still lack is a name. It seems irrelevant; we can worry about that when we’ve got a gig and we need to put something on the posters/fliers. It doesn’t really matter. We’ve got two songs; we’ve got a band (now provisionally called ‘Clamp’ for... reasons). Next issue: The band with no name continues its mission to get onto a proper stage as proper musicians with proper songs. Proper scary. Rob Wright
False Flags You’re Never Too Old To FUCK SHIT UP! Some bands just scream quality noise merchants. Some bands just scream. False Flags are one of the former, thanks to a combination of maturity, tenacity and furious velocity. Greg Elliott corners Charlie and Chris in a Hyde Park basement for a civilised chat about old habits dying hard... Photos by Daniel Heaton
False Flags have an impressive pedigree, drawing their four members from three of the more significant acts to have occupied the heavier end of the Leeds musical spectrum in recent years. Vocalist Chris was last seen fronting the now defunct Whoreswhoreswhores whilst guitarist Charlie and drummer Kev are formerly of Red Stars Parade. Bassist Mark remains with Year Of The Man, who are currently taking time out from playing live to complete the arduous recording process of their debut LP. “We recorded the drums last January
and we’re still doing it - it’s been a long slog” he explains as we sit ensconced in the Hyde Park basement which serves as False Flags’ practice space. Year Of The Man are set to return to the live circuit in December but their members have taken full advantage of the break in gigging to pursue a range of outside projects including Canaya, People in Jars and the band you’re reading about right now. 20
False Flags’ inception was during the last days of Red Stars Parade in mid-2009. As Charlie explains, he was already plotting a new band before his previous one had played its final gigs. “We all knew it was finishing. I wondered for a while if it was disrespectful to start a new band before the old one was completely dead, but I decided it didn’t really matter – it wasn’t like I was cheating on them.” He recruited Kev and Mark quickly, yet eighteen months would pass before False Flags’ first show. Why such
a slow burn? “When we started we were going to have Matt [from Red Stars Parade] on vocals, so for a while we were writing music with a view to him singing,” Mark explains, “but he decided he didn’t want to do it, so Charlie thought we should do the vocals ourselves. We set up microphones and tried to make the material really simple so we could sing as well as play.” He smiles ruefully. “We still couldn’t.”
Enter Chris, who’d turned his back on playing music after the demise of his previous outfit and who had become sour about the very idea of being in a band. “We’d spent a lot of money, gone all over the country and got nothing back. When you’re a kid playing gigs to fuck all people is ace, but when you’re pushing thirty and you’ve got a wife and kid at home you feel like you should grow up.” His change of heart began at a Hawk Eyes show when he realised just how much he’d missed performing. A new marriage meant he also now had permission from home to, as he says, “just fuck off and do it.” A drunken confession of this yearning to play music again followed and False Flags had finally found their singer. Mark is sanguine about how long it took the band to get out of the rehearsal room. “We’ve been through a few different stages, but it’s good because now we know exactly what we want to do.” False Flags’ first gig was in March this year, the nerves associated with Chris and Charlie’s return to playing live quickly giving way to excitement - “It felt good to be back,” the singer recalls with relish. Since then the buzz surrounding them has grown quickly by way of prestigious support slots for Seattle-based math-core titans Narrows and Tokyo post-metal types Envy. They’re careful not to overplay the speed of their rise, however. “It’s not always about how good your band is,” says Mark, “It’s handy knowing a lot of people as well, particularly if they’re putting on good gigs.” They’ve
also found time to cut a demo in their rehearsal space with Canaya guitarist Owen Wilson on production duties. The result – ‘Phone My Wallet’ – is a barrelling juggernaut of a song characterised by huge dynamic shifts, unconventional hooks and the visceral intensity which accounts for much of the appeal of heavy music. Do the members of False Flags feel that their previous bands inform what they’re doing now? “There’s certain things that you can’t get away from when you’ve been playing together for so long,”
Mark says in relation to Charlie and Kev (Charlie nods agreement, Kev it should be pointed out is absent having decided reasonably enough that Sunday is a quite uncivilised day to schedule an interview). “It also comes from how you’ve learnt to play, or to sing” Charlie adds. “If you’ve learnt how to play guitar by playing Metallica tunes you’re not going to start a band that sounds like The Smiths, no matter how much you might love them. Everyone in this band does what they’re good at, and it just so happens that what they’re good at is being heavy. It’s just what comes
naturally – if we put our minds to it we could write softer music, but it would have to be a conscious decision. I’m not saying there’d be anything wrong with that, we just haven’t wanted to.” He smiles. “Screaming and loud guitars are completely mint.”
I love seeing a band that’s just fucking mental. What exactly is it that draws them to heavier music? “To be in a band you have to think ‘if I wasn’t in this band, I’d buy this’,” says Chris, “I love seeing a band that’s just fucking mental. You feel like you’ve been to a gig when they go nuts and you get your dick kicked in.” What about the fairly common assumption that such music is unsophisticated, something to be grown out of? “Nowadays, heavy music is so fashionable,” says Chris, “You see so many bands kicking about, it’s just haircuts and kids doing it because 21
they’ve seen Bring Me The Horizon on TV and they say ‘I want to look like him, I want do music like that’. So they go and get their throat tattooed, get their hair straightened and now they’re in a metal band. I think it’s the amount of kids doing it that makes people bypass bands like us. We’re doing it because we love doing this music – we always have, it doesn’t mean to say we’re a bunch of immature twats!” “For one reason or another, heavy music has been associated with adolescents,” adds Charlie, “if you associate a particular kind of music with teenagers – well, teenagers are
supposed to grow up aren’t they? I think that people who don’t know about this sort of music assume that if someone’s screaming it’s because they’re angry. It’s not necessarily the case – I mean, Converge are really heavy but they write kind of weird, dark love songs.” He brightens. “To be honest, when we come up with ideas for songs it’s just a laugh. I don’t know what he [Chris] sings about anyway.” “Nothing I sing means anything” agrees Chris, deadpan. “I would like to do more chilled out stuff though, although it would take us twice as long to write the songs.” How’s his croon? “I’d need to be fucking pissed first,” he laughs. “I do a good Neil Diamond.” Next, the band plans to head into a ‘proper’ studio to record another track and have drafted in friend and director Paul Robinson to shoot a promo for it. “Like most bands we don’t have a lot of money, so it’s great having people like Paul and Owen who’ll 22
work with us for next-to-nothing,” says Mark, “videos have taken over from the demo – with HD cameras and YouTube the technology’s there now to promote yourself that way.” Longer term, they hope to have enough material to record a full-length album early in 2012. Talk of touring is more muted, however. “We want to avoid the kind of tour experiences we’ve had before – two weeks of playing shit gigs, I’ve done that too many times” says Chris grimly. Charlie agrees. “Everything that’s shit about being in a band, we’ve done that to death. We just want to do stuff that’s worth doing rather than spending our time travelling around the country and playing to no one. We want to keep it at a level where it’s enjoyable and doesn’t do your head in.” “When I gave it up before, it was because it had stopped being a laugh,” continues Chris, “someone would throw
a hissy fit in the practice room and it would be like ‘Come on, you’re not James Hetfield, there aren’t millions of pounds riding on this song, it doesn’t matter’.” He sighs wearily. This grounded attitude, born out of experience, seems to have put False Flags in a good place. “It’s nice when you’re thirty and you been through various bands and it’s never been quite what you want to do and now it is,” says Mark, “we’re seeing different people at every gig we play, and every day more people are following us on Facebook and Twitter,” adds Chris. All because of that one demo and consistently kicking people’s dicks in when you play live? “Yeah,” he says, smiling contentedly, “we must be alright.” Follow false flags at @falseflags and listen to ‘Phone My Wallet’ at falseflags.bandcamp.com. Go on. Do it now.
Black Diamond Bay Bigger Than Jay-Z (In Lithuania...) Tucked away in the murky depths of Meanwood lies a gorgeous, tranquil bit of a forest such that you could be forgiven for thinking you’d popped into the countryside. Just on the edge, you’ll find Hustler’s Row, an ominously bad ass street name and home to Jesse O’Mahoney, Black Diamond Bay’s enigmatic – and highly articulate – front man. It was here that Tim Hearson met Jesse, Agne Motie (Vocals) and Ben Ziapour (Guitar) for liberal cups of tea and band talk. Photos by James West
Admittedly, the street name becomes less bad ass when you realise it is home to many varied elderly residents who are maybe one or two rooks short of a full chess set. Jesse explains, “There is a lady down the way who seems to think that the neighbours are training their cats to kill the birds and tries to solicit my mum’s help in taking the cats out – she left her a letter: ‘Are you with me?’” Crackpots aside, it’s a lovely setting for an interview on a cool, crisp and sunny November morning. Black Diamond Bay was developed from the embryo of Tarentum, a twoman project consisting of Jesse and Tom Sidebottom (BDB’s producer and keys man). “Tom has a little studio in 24
his bedroom and for a while we started making, well, House music I guess and we’d done that for a couple of years without really doing anything specific,” Jesse elaborates, “then I decided – I’d been listening to a lot of Neil Young at the time – I wanted to do an electronic version of something like Harvest; a Country meets Dance music album, which was weird, obviously. We started working on this body of songs which turned into an album and sounded nothing like what we’d originally intended but it was purposefully quite diverse genre-wise so we ran with it.” The Tarentum project included the help of Longview songwriter and guitarist Rob McVey who just happened to live with Tom at the time. Upon the album’s
completion, Jesse and Tom decided to give it its first live performance. “We took a laptop down to a bar and set it all up then realised ‘this is really boring – for everyone’.” Tom was already working as a tutor at Leeds College of Music at this point, and immediately the cherrypicking began. Trio VD’s Chris Sharkey was guitarist in the initial line-up, but when Trio VD began to take off Sharkey’s protégé, Ben Ziapour, was offered the position. Bassist Colin Sutton brought in his own protégé Ben Wilson to drum and a few singers were auditioned before arriving at Agne and, back then, Holly Thomas. Jesse summarises: “we put this band together to play an album and by the time
we’d finished it was a different project because playing live is so different from recording in a bedroom.”
horse actually. He’s gonna become some kind of multi-billionaire moverand-shaker.”
Hence – cue disgustingly overused but mandatory naturalistic visual stimulus – Tarentum cocooned itself and emphatically returned as the majestically colourful and winged creature, Black Diamond Bay. Named after the 7-minute epic Bob Dylan song of the same name, Jesse elaborates a bit more: “it’s a song about storytelling and how human beings become empathetic. If you see figures on the news you don’t give a shit, but if you know their story... you know. We see ourselves as that meeting point between digital and analogue like Rutger Hauer’s character in Blade Runner – a robot struggling to find humanity and empathy inside of him. The idea of what makes someone human or what makes someone robotic has always interested us.”
It took 3 years to ‘find their sound’, as Jesse puts it, and now they’re on it, things have been moving pretty quickly over the last year for them.
As for the band then, how did the Tarentum sound change? “The band all come from very diverse backgrounds,” recounts Jesse, “Tom, for example, is classically trained coming through a pop course – so from the Prince end of things. Colin grew up in various metal bands and avantgarde jazz outfits so there’s that. As for Wilson, the drummer, he has this sort of cut-up electro background and er… not much else. Nah, we jest – he’s a dark
They even have strategies. “We do a lot fewer gigs than we used to because we’ve decided to focus on just Leeds and London – particularly because of times when you’re doing a gig in, say, Manchester to a crowd of 8 people and you’re just thinking ‘this isn’t getting anyone anywhere’.” Crowdless gigs are still an important experience in every
band’s development though, as Jesse confirms: “it’s good for learning how to connect with crowds on a one-to-one level and it transfers to the bigger crowds so I won’t knock those gigs.” Speaking of bigger crowds, Jesse remembers their experience of packing out Camden’s 700 capacity Proud venue. “It’s amazing to be in that moment where there’re a lot of people to see you and they know the songs, it’s just such a brilliant feeling. You knew what it would be like, somewhere in your head – maybe because you’ve been in the crowd before, but to have it realised….” Mapping out the year, from a Leeds point of view, it all started with a gig at The Library, shortly followed by a slot on BBC Introducing and then a Leeds Fest appearance. Jesse continues: “Alan Raw (of Radio Humberside’s BBC Introducing) and Richard Watson at 360 Club have just been so helpful with promotion and playing our records and getting our songs out there. It was Alan Raw who suggested us for the Introducing stage at Leeds Fest. We had this brilliant explosion of the live show kicking off in London and the getting the Introducing slot up here. Anyway, one day there will be a statue of Alan Raw. He’ll never be that pally with you – If you write him an email he won’t write back but he plays your songs so 25
Jesse continues, “Yeah, but Agne actually came second in their version of the Eurovision song contest – she was nearly the face of Lithuania”.
you know he rates you. I like that - he keeps his distance but still, he’s had us on the show a couple of times.” Capitalising on Agne’s Lithuanian origin, BDB have a fair and growing Eastern European base too. “We actually had a song – ‘I won’t forget you’ – which charted on the Lithuanian version of Myspace above Jay-Z one year,” Jesse recalls, “ so when we played Be2Gether Festival [in Belarus] and we played that song there were people linking arms and singing along to it – which doesn’t happen in Leeds. We’ve had an offer from quite a big Lithuanian promoter who wants to book us on a tour of Russia and he says (cue accent) ‘the Russians pay well – the only problem is getting the money off them’. But yeah, there’s quite a big Lithuanian community in London and Leeds who are great – they’re kind of like English people were back in the 90s before they became overexposed to advertising and really cynical, with that really rampant, wide-eyed enthusiasm for life - do you remember that?” Ben [Ziapour, guitarist] chimes in: “No.” 26
Somehow this Eurovision segment segues into an insane attack on the pedal board. “Fuck the loop pedal” is Ben’s pronouncement. Jesse, fired up with conspiratorial passion drives on – “It’s smoke and mirrors isn’t it? It’s like, ooh, look at this! look at this!”. Ben continues, “It’s the linear nature of it, you know, always going from A-B, it’s like the most boring thing in the world.” Finishing off the attack, indicative of BDB’s rebellious spirit, Jesse concludes “like Churchill said, congratulations you’ve got enemies, you stood up to something – I think standing up to the loop pedal is akin to standing up to the Nazis.”
I ask Jesse how important the political edge is to BDB’s lyrical content: “I think when I’m writing lyrics, one of the themes is people who cannot get what they want by the very limitations of their existence, and sometime that involves a feeling of oppression. ‘Worship the Sun’ is a song about a vampire who dreams of seeing the sunrise, is obsessed, but can’t because she’s a
vampire. So whether you’re a vampire who’s not seen the sun for years or a student who’s been thrown in prison for throwing a fire extinguisher – those things are important. Or, you know, just someone who’s been dumped.”
It’s smoke and mirrors isn’t it? Somehow I think something in their groove-ridden sound reflects this: robotic but with a pulse. “That song [‘Black Diamond Bay’] tells the stories of these people in a volcanic eruption and is then removed to this image of Bob Dylan sat in a hotel room watching it on TV and saying, ‘ah well I didn’t know any of them anyway’. It’s an interesting relationship humans have with stories – even in real life you have to know the story to care and that’s why drama will always exist.”
Big ideas from a band on the up, Black Diamond Bay’s rise is a marked success for advocates of persistence and confidence. They play The Library on Friday 25th November and have an album’s worth of material ready for your ears in the next year. Keep ‘em peeled.
That Fucking Tank – TFT (Obscene Baby Auction Records) This is only That Fucking Tank’s third album in five years. Wassup, don’t they want a constant stream of new product to sell? Well, no, because I suspect the band have more traditional concerns about ‘the music’ than ideas about commercially exploiting their talent. And that’s not the only thing that marks Ver Tank out from their feebler cousins at Alt Rock Central. It’s worth underlining that TFT is just two blokes, one playing a guitar and the other hitting a very small drum 28
kit. The remarkable thing about Andy Abbot and James Islip is how they have managed to exploit that simple framework for almost ten years and still manage to produce music with more imagination and power than most of their peers. While Abbot has developed a pretty unique technique that uses a combination of tuning, playing style and amp set up that can make him sound like one guitar or multiple guitars at the flick of a switch, Islip’s deceptively simple drumming is as good an example as any of the idea that less is more. And TFT is nothing less than a masterclass in how to keep doing more with less. The dazzling simplicity of ‘Car On Fire’s chugging riff is effortlessly and magically turned inside out by its end; ‘Lomond’ offers an atypical pool of reflective, almost ambient calm; ‘Acid Jam’ does indeed have an insistent dance beat to it; the epic ‘Threads’ moves from a proggy start to a chopping riff which morphs into an oddly ambient passage which is suddenly a sinuous chug and ends with an epic two minute coda; and final track ‘End (Of Wonderful World)’ has Abbott solo on mostly acoustic (steel?) guitar, playing in a near folkblues style. That explicit nod to traditional styles at the end is significant, because at root That Fucking Tank is just a rock and roll band. A thoroughly modern, tooled up, crunchingly direct and
laugh out loud brilliant rock and roll band for sure, but a rock and roll band nonetheless. Steve Walsh http://www.thatfuckingtank.com/ — The Spills – Occam’s Razor (Philophobia) With the cascade of samey ‘indie’ bands tooting through our radios at the moment, it’s very uplifting to hear a band that can still issue a nod to this genre, without completely conforming to it. Yes, this Wakefield quartet may be a ‘The’ band and have a familiar air of teen angst running throughout their music, but The Spills are so much more than perfectly styled quiffs and Topshop clothing. From the gentle, atmospheric jaunts of ‘Lockets’ and ‘Silver Bullets’ to the razor sharp, guitar doused strums of “Summer Vibes” and ‘Jury’s Out’, Occam’s Razor is a rollercoaster of a debut, with each track as uniquely exciting as the next. ‘Coiled Springs’ is a silky yet robust gem, whilst ‘Heat Death Of The Universe’ begins like the early frantic attempts of Nirvana, before slowing down the tempo and unleashing yet another blast of blissfully, boisterous sound. ‘Oh Say Do’ and ‘White Flag’ are other album highlights, whilst closing track ‘Concrete’ brings the album to a strong yet regrettable end. If Dinosaur Pile-Up, Les Savy Fav and Fleet Foxes had one big musical orgy, this is surely what their resulting spawn would sound like. Youthful but wise, edgy but mellow, Occam’s Razor is just the kick the ‘indie’ genre
needed and it’s a kick that’s been directed right at its boring and rather wilting bollocks. Emma Quinlan http://www.facebook.com/thespills
Hourglass Sea – Return to the Crematorium (Self-release) This is a baffling record. I can’t decide whether it’s arse-clenchingly excellent or just a bit crap – frankly it sounds like The Knife composing music by setting a Megadrive aflame. Ah, but that’s probably because my frame of reference is a tad off, not being a Chillwave connoisseur myself, and my own ignorance should never be grounds for a negative review. Describing himself rather suspiciously as a ‘one-man scene’, Dean Bentley practices his craft in sunny Bradford, supposedly unsupported by any other such local Chillwave proponents. Opener ‘Memory Eternal’ sets the tone with a manner of noise that no-one would expect. Sparkling riffs of melotronic girth shimmer about until a bull-in-a-chinashop drumbeat crashes the party. A brief Spotify reconnaissance mission to look for other Chillwave artistes (so far Neon Indian and Com Truise) puts our Dean in easily the right ballpark, albeit taking a liberal attitude to the concept of subtlety. For those still unaware, Chillwave is basically modern dance forms with decidedly fetishized 70s synth sounds – that explains Return to the Crematorium’s unabashed ‘Baywatch’-esque artwork,
then. Once you get past the ridiculousness of it all, though, there is some craftsmanship behind the record. Well placed samples, thought-out key changes and some catchy riffs (even if they are heard on fake pan-pipes) make this actually quite appealing. Add in some nod-worthy groove and I’m inclined to say I actually quite like it. Yeah, it’s repetitive and maybe a little irritating but for what it is, who cares? Tim Hearson http://hourglasssea.bandcamp.com/ — Lisa Marie Glover - Einzelkind This latest offering from Lisa Marie Glover is nothing short of glorious. It is not often you get an all in one package with an artist, but Lisa is certainly an exception. This is the first time I have heard Lisa sing, and it is outstanding; her voice is beautiful, soulful, and melodic. She is able to take you up high but then softly sweep you back to ground. Einzelkind (German for only child) takes you on a dreamy journey, mixed with tales of everyday life. ‘The First Place’
is the perfect, melodic song to set you off. With a crisp acoustic guitar to accompany her sweet voice, you only think ‘can this get better?’ The answer is yes. Further on ‘Mad Mary’ brings a faster pace, getting you tapping your foot to the jazz beat in the background.
The album closes with ‘Wasting Time’, a perfectly blended song with a wide array of acoustic instruments, which is in keeping with the overall theme of album. Lisa Marie Glover certainly has a talent; she is able to keep the listener entranced in the music, while bewitching you with her lyrics. Rochelle Massey http://www.lisamarieglover.co.uk/ — Secret Sirens – Favourite Obsessions (Juniper Tree Records) Narelle Francis and Andrew Siron, the duo that are Secret Sirens, have, as they say, ‘history’ in Leeds. Four or so years ago they had a half decent stab at success in dance popsters Chichino, before it imploded because of ‘musical differences’. This time round they’re pitching a heavy R’n’B, mid tempo ballad style with a big, punchy sound and busy arrangements. Taken individually, the best songs here (‘Black Heart’, whacky stalker fantasy ‘My Favourite Obsession’ and ‘Cherry Blossom Tree’) have cracking choruses and could, with a bit of editing and refinement, make a decent stab at the charts, or whatever passes as a measure of ‘success’ these days. Problem is that the songs mostly follow the same template and with little variety in tone or structure, they all begin to sound the same shade of average when gathered together here. Lyrically everything is very literal, and the songs could do with a bit of hazy ambiguity to liven them up. For example, jazzy piano ballad ‘I’m Sorry May Rose’, probably the most restrained arrangement on the album and all the better for it, is fatally hobbled by a clanging rhyme in the chorus – ‘I’m sorry May Rose/Never meant to impose/My love on him’ may rhyme but it’s a pretty feeble apology after fucking your best friend’s boyfriend.
Although the album peters out badly towards the end, their best stuff suggests they can put together a decent pop song. Big question is, are they only doing it by accident? Steve Walsh http://www.secretsirensmusic.com/ — Hymns – Cardinal Sins/ Contrary Virtues When a band calls itself Hymns then professes to be atheist, you know you’re in for a party. When the press release describes them as ‘joyless’, you know it’s time to crack the tubes.
lord (he’s not listening), just put your faith in me” does the job, why labour the point over sixteen tracks? In some places it threatens to leap the tracks of atheism into other things, such as the drunken, romantic drawl of ‘Diligence’, but it is soon dragged back, kicking and screaming out of the light as it were. The lack of bass throughout also makes the whole thing feel a mite cold. To summarise, it has moments, could benefit from some trimming and needs a bit of warmth. Hymns? Hearse more like (I’ve been waiting all review to type that). Rob Wright
Singles & EP’S
Ok, I’ll stop being facetious. For a bit. Hymns are a two piece, Samuel Manville (ex-Blakfish) and Peter Reisner, who name Arvo Part and Steve Reich as influences and have debuted with a double album - it’s a bit of an atheist epic. Truth be told, there are moments when it hits the mark with some killer riffs of a mathy nature – ‘Idyllic in Nature’ brings to mind the late lamented Wintermute and ‘Punch to the Temple’ is as punctilious as its name suggests, whilst ‘With Patience’ is marvellously rockabilly – and the interesting use of religious musical contrivances such as church organ, gospel choir and chorale are delightfully sacrilegious. What I do find hard to swallow is the overuse of religious terminology – true, if atheism is your bag, state your case, but then move on; “don’t put your faith in the 30
Jon Gomm – Passionflower (Self release) This is the first in Gomm’s Domestic Science series of single releases, designed to echo the old idea of the 7” single which people bought and (in some cases at least) obsessively listened to just the one song, b-sides being, by definition, crap. ‘Passionflower’ is a particularly fine example of Gomm’s extended guitar technique, including trademark percussive accompaniment, and features a lilting guitar theme in the chorus that incorporates plucked, dampened and bent strings to produce its achingly beautiful sound. The song is a kind of homage to the eponymous plant that once grew to enormous proportions in his back yard, which may sound slight but Gomm’s restrained and simple lyric manages to allude to and infer much greater themes without being ponderous at all. An excellent start to the series all round. Oh, and 10% of all sales will be donated to The Happy House orphange and school in Watamu, Kenya. Steve Walsh Available at, and more info from, http://jongomm.com/home and http:// www.childrenofwatamu.net/
Double Muscle – Tommy (Best Enemies Records) They may describe themselves as “A trio of scuzz punk ramblers” on paper, but on record, behind their schizophrenic riffs and dynamic rhythms, there’s a slick, well-oiled machine at work. ‘Tommy’ gets off to a reluctant start, with mid verse cries of “I enjoy myself” recalling Pixies at their very best. Elsewhere ‘Lungs’ and Minutemen cover ‘Cut’ have a more sudden impact. Distinctive and inventive, prepare to have your mind melted. Tom Bailey Available at http://doublemuscle. bandcamp.com/ — Hearts and Souls – We Were All Lost Fresh faced having only formed at the start of 2011, full credit to this Leeds quartet for a flying start. There’s lots of promise in the strong juxtaposition of soaring guitars and Lucinda Livingstone’s delicate vocals. ‘We Were All Lost’ is pleasant enough, taking obvious influence from American pop rock, whilst ‘ Think Of Me’ is a little too indulgent by comparison. A worthy offering from a band still honing their sound. Tom Bailey Available at http://soundcloud.com/ heartsandsouls — Post War Glamour Girls – Ode To Harry Dean/Spitting Pearls (Sturdy Records) Post War Glamour Girls’ debut single shows two very different sides of a band still very much in their infancy, having formed just a year ago. ‘Ode To Harry Dean’ is the bombastic, schizophrenic half, one minute ugly and confrontational, the next beautifully sinister.
Double-A ‘Spitting Pearls’ is the prize cut though, a masterclass in downbeat, melancholy angst. Recalling 90s also-rans Strangelove (undoubtedly a good thing), vocalist James Smith lets rip halfway through, giving a throat-shredding performance that suggests an imminent breakdown. He’s pulled back from the brink by portentous guitars and twinkling, tumbling pianos. Seek it out immediately. Spencer Bayles http://www.facebook.com/pages/PostWar-Glamour-Girls — Metamusic – World to Come (Superstar Destroyer Records) Never mind the lofi packaging, the pompous press release and the... questionable name, Metamusic (bleargh) are a bit of alright. Life is full of surprises. From opener ‘World to Come’ it is clear that electronic yet intelligent music is on the agenda, but there’s more; Phil Morris’ voice has a ghostly, breathy quality that, when paired with Chris Kennedy’s backing; has a Beach Boys feel to it that lifts it into a higher state of pop consciousness. ‘Little Short of Being’ continues to spread thick the Gallic beeps but adds British beats – determined, no nonsense rhythms and ‘Everyvolcanic...’ is all Badly Drawn Electro Boy. Very impressive eclectic electrics but man, that name... Rob Wright http://www.myspace.com/ metamusicuk —
Great Deeds – Teach Yourself Jazz Punk Volume One EP (Self release) Here’s the dilemma; I do like Punk. I DO NOT like Jazz. Interestingly the Great Deeds’ new genre, whilst technically excellent, doesn’t quite cut it on both fronts through lacking a driving sense of passion on the punk side, and being far too immature to be considered as authentic jazz. That said, both ‘Numbers’ and ‘Quantum’ are bold efforts, with the band’s jazzier tendencies set loose later on ‘Chainsaw’ and ‘Walls’. Let’s be honest, how many people like both jazz and punk? Nice idea, if slightly flawed from the start. Tom Bailey Available from www.greatdeeds.co.uk — Protectors - The Stem and Leaf EP (Philophobia) This is a glorious instalment from Protectors. It screams northern indie rock, wanting to break out and impose itself. Opening track ‘Overtime’ is fresh and upbeat. Newly re-mastered ‘Honeymoon’ brings it down a notch or two, slowing the pace but keeping that foot-tappingly good beat going strong. ‘Carousel’ brings you back up again with undeniably fantastic bass beats, gelled together with melodic but powerful guitar parts. Finally comes ‘Shake the Moves’, a perfect end for an EP that will certainly stick with you. Rochelle Massey http://www.myspace.com/protectorsuk — Soul Circus - The Myth (Sound People Records) Anthemic is possibly one of the best words to describe this sweet little single from the Soul Circus boys. This is their debut single, and what a debut it is. Vocals beautifully harmonised, a beat so upbeat it will keep you smiling from start to finish. ‘The Myth’ is certainly a single people should take time out to listen and enjoy. ‘Straight to the point northern sound’ describes these boys to a tee! Rochelle Massey http://www.soulcircus.co.uk/
Stalking Horse – Waterhole (I Like Records) Former This Et Al mainman Wu could hardly be accused of rushing into things following the untimely break-up of his previous band in 2008. This is only his new bands second release and comes after handful of sparodic and low key gigs earlier this year. But it’s been worth the wait. The stylistic unity of both tracks on offer here suggest Wu has spent the last three years developing a particular sound built around simple rhythms and droning guitars overlaid with other instruments and his breathy falsetto. The (deliberately?) indistinct lyrics add to the dreamlike feel. ‘Waterhole’ itself floats on a mesmeric and extended ‘ah ah ah’ chorus and has a pleasingly elastic shape to it. The much briefer ‘Broken Brain’ is augmented by mandolin and even at 1.59 seems to languidly take its time. An excellent trailer for the debut album next year, then. Steve Walsh www.stalkinghorse.co.uk — Worry Party – To Our Ill Health Demo (Self-release) This latest offering from Newcastle’s latest post-hardcore export Worry Party is a fairly standard ‘scream, moan and bite your lip’ affair, albeit not too badly produced and performed. If I sound unimpressed it’s because my cup has recently runneth over with quality posthardcore the likes of Shapes, &U&I and Adebisi Shank so it’ll take more than a few tapped pentatonics to get my legs a-jiggle. Also, the lyrics read like a Twilight obsessive’s diary and some things really shouldn’t be shared. Plenty of potential but I want a bit more substance. Tim Hearson Available from: http://worryparty. bandcamp.com/ 31
Chateau Berber – Ten Hours EP (Self-release) Right off the bat, I’m irritated – I don’t like songs about girls who wanted to follow their dreams with a ‘guitar in their hand’. Sorry Chateau Berber, them’s the breaks. The reason I don’t like that subject matter is because it is rarely followed by musical content that strays far from the painfully dull, regardless of how well it’s performed. Musically they’re like a stripped down Snow Patrol complete with basic chord progressions and unvaried mid-tempo feel. It’s not completely passionless, but it is soporifically familiar to the point where I want to crack some skulls. Tim Hearson http://www.myspace.com/ chateauberber — Tomorrow We Sail – The White Rose (Self release) The lead track is a slow, relatively quiet, seven minute epic protest song of sorts (‘I have seen the ruin/That’s coming for us/And now your heads will roll/You have brought this country to its knees’) that is full of space and light and shade despite the wide instrumentation of the seven band members. Support track ‘Leningrad’ follows a similar template, even in its length, but is more urgent and is all the better for it. The band’s folk infected post-rock reaches towards the quiet grandeur of Sigur Ros, or the kind of sound minted by various bands from Montreal’s Constellation label, and has a quiet confidence that only occasionally lapses into enervated passivity. Steve Walsh More information at http://www. tomorrowwesail.co.uk/ — Master and The Mule – Sixty Five In the beginning was Immune. They made an awesome album called ‘1/f’ but were beset by technical issues and all that shitteth following the release and perished out in the wilderness. But lo, a group of familiar figures return under a new name, bearing the first offering ‘Sixty Five’ – an exercise in slow build riff construction as Paul Tinsley is the voice crying in the desert, a wailing call to prayer. As 32
simple and direct as a fanfare should be. Bring on the rest. Rob Wright www.masterandthemule.com/
Demos The Deratas – ‘The Deratas’ EP Listening to the Deratas is like watching a baby giraffe almost finding its balance. The drums lack innovation and at times it’s hard to figure out whether the singer is doing his best Ian Curtis impression or just can’t sing. But po-faced observations aside, underneath lies a sense of melody and musical prowess. And once you get past the fact that ‘Modern Domestic’ has the same chord progression as Neutral Milk Hotel’s ‘In The Aeroplane Over the Sea’, there’s an abundance of inventive guitar leads that guide the music through clamours of emotional intensity through to lolling feel good rhythms heightened by perfectly positioned backing vocals. Oh, and Jeff Magnum would probably approve of the harmonica too. Ben Rutledge — Call to Rise – Losing Daylight Old school metal saved by a pleasingly super heavy low end throb and enough new metal add-ons to make it interesting. This temporal sub-genre hopping can manifest itself weirdly, though, with ‘Pirates’ lurching from early 80’s heavy metal, to early 70’s heavy rock, to Ougties nu metal and back again in the space of three and a half minutes. Steve Walsh www.myspace.com/calltoriseband — Mondo Cane – Do It When you list Nirvana, Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr as your influences you are setting the bar very high. Fortunately for Mondo Cane, such comparisons are indeed justified. Both ‘Do It’ and ‘Popular View’ perfectly capture the feeling of youthful disillusionment, controlled in short bursts of fury. Crank it up. Tom Bailey www.myspace.com/mondocaneuk
Resonance - Resonance It’s rare that a band chooses a name that simultaneously describes their best and worst quality. ‘Shapes’, ‘Shaman’ and ‘Addictions’ all offer reflections of 70s classic rock; not necessarily a bad thing, but only if you can get past that it’s all been done before. Harmless nostalgia, but too safe for some. Tom Bailey www.facebook.com/resonancebandtk — Jamie Evans Not an album apparently, instead a selection of songs from his 50 strong repertoire. Potato/potatoe. Pretension aside, a superb offering. First track ‘Walk Away’ is particularly memorable, with shades of U2, whilst ‘Butterflies’ is a stirring finale. Does plod along a bit too slowly midway though. Tom Bailey
The Soul Circle Gang – EP Yes. Finally. Some good old ballsto-the-wall funk. Dynamic opener ‘Weapons Grade Coffee’ kicks in with a jaunty bass line and by the time the horns get into full swing you’re well away. Plenty of variation too – funk, soul and reggae are all included. It’s everything you want from a soul band but as with all pastiche bands originality is thin on the ground and it dives into soul lyric pitfalls. I’m nit-picking though. Its good fun and dripping with groove. Tim Hearson www.myspace.com/thesoulcirclegang
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Constellations Festival 2011 @ Leeds University Union Saddled (if you’ll forgive the pun) with an early evening slot in the low-ceilinged, atmosphere-deficient student bar Pulse, Stalking Horse have their work cut out for them. For a band with such an illustrious pedigree – the line-up comprises alumni of This Et Al, Grammatics and These Monsters - it’s an oddly stilted performance, suggesting the Leeds five-piece are yet to find their feet. The quality of the music shines through in spite of these hindrances, Pulse’s tinny sound unable to defang the potent melody of current single ‘Waterhole’ or take the edge off Neil Widdop’s plaintive vocals. Given that they’re led by a veritable icon of indie rock it’s surprising that Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks are third down on the bill in Stylus, serving as the festival’s main stage and proving once again that it’s one of the best live venues in Leeds. The Pavement singer has got a lot of mileage out of the self-referential approach to classic rock - for all of his arch looks and knowing gestures he’s quite the guitar hero these days, more interested in extended jamming than in pleasing the crowd with the hooks which are arguably his forte. Watching Vessels in the Riley Smith Hall is a slightly surreal experience, the lack of a drinks license and the wood panel
Wild Beasts by Bart Pettman 34
Stephen Malkmus by Bart Pettman
flooring making it feel a bit like we’re at a particularly above-par school talent show. It later emerges that the band are feeling harassed following a rushed set-up, but in spite of their problems they sound glorious. A faulty microphone strips closer ‘All Our Ends’ of its euphoric harmonies, but otherwise the Leeds quintet mount a performance which both showcases their magnificent Helioscope LP from earlier this year and affirms the continuing capacity of rock music to absorb other genres and re-emerge in thrilling new forms.
variety on the bill to keep the small but committed crowd interested and entertained.
Relentless touring has made Wild Beasts into a crack live unit and tonight they make it look easy, rolling out one exquisitely crafted art pop gem after another. The reception which meets their headlining set is indicative of the curious position that they now occupy in the musical firmament. Sophisticated, literate and sexy, their songs are also bloody catchy - it’s a collision of competing aesthetics which has brought the Kendal quartet (now augmented by Katie Harkin as a touring member) to the brink of mainstream success and won them a diverse audience who want to both slow dance and drunkenly sing along. That neither constituency will have left feeling disappointed perhaps goes to show what a truly special band they are. Greg Elliott — Punk All-Dayer @ The Fenton, Leeds The Fenton played host to a punk-filled all-dayer, featuring a whole host of local punk, ska and hardcore bands. Although it was one of the longest all-day shows that I’ve been to, there was enough
Another stand-out band was Dun2Def, a straight-up punk band from Milton Keynes who formed in 1996 under the name ‘77’. I’d caught a bit of Dun2Def at Rebellion Festival this year and thought they were great, although they’re much better suited to a small stage in a venue like The Fenton. They obviously loved playing and I really enjoyed their set – check them out if you fancy some fun, straightforward punk rock.
Although the day was filled with a selection of great bands, a few of them especially stood out for me – such as second on the bill, The Kirkz. Hailing from Macclesfield, the punk/hardcore band performed a really high-energy and fun set, featuring some epic drumming and incredibly catchy riffs. I’d recommend them to fans of Anti-Flag and Rancid.
Headlining the day were ska ravers China Shop Bull. I’d heard a lot about the local bunch but I’d yet to catch them for myself – I wasn’t disappointed and they’re definitely deserving of the hype. Watching them live was like a cross between being at a ska gig and a dubstep night, and they’ve obviously got a small but loyal following who danced until they dropped. I haven’t heard anything like China Shop Bull in a while, or seen such a fun show. Give them a go – if they don’t get you dancing then you may be broken. Alessandra Gritt
The Wind-Up Birds @ Oporto, Leeds I can’t help but shake the feeling that after listening to the various tracks by the Wind-Up Birds that I am in for a Libertines tribute show, just with their own songs. So I was fairly surprised when they took to the stage and stormed it. They power through the set delivering a high powered sardonic blast of indie punk that will keep you transfixed. You certainly need to hear this band live rather than listen to the CDs, demos or anything they have produced. The Yorkshire twang that can be heard in the vocals is a wonderful accompaniment to the powerful guitars in ‘Good Shop Shuts’, a rousing crowd pleaser. The set does become a bit familiar after a while - you know what you are getting with The Wind-Up Birds - until the preview of their new Christmas song. It is a quirky and enjoyable Christmas song, which cannot be said for any of the others that crop up at this time of year. In all a good and refreshing gig to start, could have done with a shake-up in the middle, but a good end. A good gig all in all and they are certainly worth a watch. So go and catch them playing over the coming months. Rochelle Massey — Swinefest ll @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds Tree of Sores kick things off but I wasn’t
convinced at first. Too much metalproggy noodling for my taste, but as they went on it took on a pleasingly post-rock tinge and formed a coherent barrage. Next up were Racket Ball, born out of the embers of Blah Blah Tin, who disintegrated earlier this year. And very jolly they were too – very eighties electronica with big bass. Very BIG. I felt the The Trumpets of Death had gone off the boil of late – when I first saw them they were like an unholy mix of folk and free jazz, Benjamin Weatherill’s voice pulling ghostly melodies about the sea from a fog of rasping sax. Earlier this year they had toned down the sax to create a barrage of bass tones over which everything else struggled to be heard. But they’re back on form – a barrage of bass tones that has the scrawling sax overlaying it, with some great guitar noise thrown in. — And then Normal Man. Ah, the anticipation. Noah Brown has a reputation and I was expecting fire. Or doom. Or both. And was disappointed. Not that there was anything wrong with them. They were quite fun, in a doom-ish manner shouty/droney/punk stylee. At times they reminded me of Lard, but without the conviction to actually go for it. Noise. That’s what we were promised (among other things) and German harsh noise duo die Krawallerie delivered. To be honest with you, they were so mind-numbingly brilliant that the next part of the review should be taken at less than face value. An insistent whine of static barely controlled but at full volume, coupled with cracks and pops made by inserting something into an effects pedal. The tonal variations were few and its insistence became a virtue. Meatpacker. Two guys. One has a guitar that he plays as if he is a rock god but you can’t hear it because the distortion and drum machine are so loud. The other guy screams incoherently. I think they are
mind-numbingly tedious and the one dud of the evening. The Wind-Up Birds. I confess – I’m a fan. Their beautiful sound always makes me feel better, even when the sound is terrible. But it isn’t here. Tonight it’s muscular and loud. After an on the fly soundcheck they scream through ‘Good Shop Shuts’, ‘There Won’t always Be An England’ (which is breath-taking), and the closing ‘Tyre Fire’. The band is tight even if guitarist Matt can’t stand up (he’s hurt his back) and they sound glorious. Duncan Macgregor — Post War Glamour Girls/Moody Gowns/Hearts Ships @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds Beginning the evening with a musical saw, Heart-Ships went on to produce some fantastically epic numbers that speak of The National or Interpol ilk. Pleasantly, the sound reflects the number of instruments on-stage, and when singing en-mass, it is rousingly reminiscent of marching soldiers. A wellplanned set-list showed their diversity and I was disappointed they were not higher on the bill. Next to play were Moody Gowns, and despite the lead-singer wearing a cravat yet singing something vaguely ska-punk, this band had a polished sound to their music, though lacked originality and insightful lyrics. Some numbers came across better than others. This was the launch gig for Post War Glamour Girls new single ‘Ode to Harry Dean’. After walking out on stage to a curious rendition of the theme from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, they then provided an ear-drum destroying opener. It’s true, the lead singer sounds like Nick Cave on occasions, and commands the room with his voice, but the female bass player deserves some more microphone time too. The band delivers a raw sound without being melancholy but were not as consistent as they could have been with their song writing. They appear to have created their own song structure which frequently crescendos and involves a “rock out” of sorts, but this band needs to be explored by more than just one gig. Ellie Treagust
Palehorse/Nitkowski/False Flags/ Super Luxury @ Bar Up, Halifax This is Leeds drummerless quartet Super Luxury’s third ever gig, which partly excuses the somewhat utilitarian nature of their slow but excitable grinding noise rock. Frontman Adam Nodwell works extremely hard to bridge the ‘zone of fear’ betwixt band and audience (which exists in a venue even as small as this one) and largely succeeds in a good natured if manic way.
False Flags have a startling pedigree related to former Leeds bands if you’d care to look into it, but now seem content to represent all that’s crushingly efficient and bone snappingly exciting about twenty first century metal. Which is fine by me. Fuck the past. The band makes a furious, headlong rush of a noise that has no time whatsoever for subtlety. The magnificent Nitkowski, on the other hand, have mastered the seemingly impossible art of incorporating passages of almost Zen like quietude in music which is otherwise devilishly complicated or simply hard, loud and fast. You’d be hard pushed to find a band more adept at exploiting the dynamic possibilities of electric guitars and rock music. Whereas Nitkowski can be light and nimble, tour companions and headliners tonight Palehorse are all about weight. With drums, two overdriven basses and a bass heavy noise monger on effects and gadgets, it’s a rib rattling sound that drives the bands songs as they rumble by like an avalanche in slow motion. Singer Nikolai Grune’s guttural screech completes their dark and unsettling, but utterly compelling, sound. Steve Walsh 36
Brainwash Festival VI @ The Library, Brudenell Social Club & Royal Park Cellars, Leeds Friday Castrovalva. What can one really say? Each song began with an electro sample of sorts, after which they hit you in the face with drums, bass, keys and an awful lot of screaming. I would be surprised if they had a vocal cord left between them afterwards. Frequently invading the audience, physically and mentally, their bravado surpassed the merit of their music but the crowd loved it. From Scotland, we had a last slice of Dananananakroyd. They were outstanding. Usually I would probably not choose to listen to them, but given the performance and the energy, they can only be deemed a brilliant band. Two singers, who reminded me of the Weasley Twins, fronted the band, creating a new dynamic, and as an ensemble they are a great team. Ellie Treagust — Saturday Kicking off my Brainwash VI were Heart-Ships in the cosy dungeon of the Royal Park. Leeds Fest appearances etc. have served them well as their shanty rock seems to have taken on a finer lilt. On then to Shapes who inform us they’re touring with &U&I - I fail to see how that differs from their usual state. Tight, ballsy and mathy – lovely. Dananananaykroyd by Bart Pettman
Sauntering on over to the Brudenell pool room for Memo (aka Lee from Vessels) who’s doing some cracking loopy magic with a big box of (basically) toys. Galloping back to the main stage for aforementioned &U&I, who seem to be particularly on it this aft. You know the drill; heavy riffs and beefy stops with shouty vocals and their show is probably the best I’ve seen them. Lolloping to the pool room now for Maggie 8 who are a band I like but they seem a bit timid this afternoon. Their Hindi adaptation of ‘This Charming Man’ is great for its subtlety but the banjo seems a touch tokenistic. No matter, for Blacklisters are crawling on stage for Billy’s usual show and tell of quasidrunken rambling and rollicking. Lots of chugging and howling and ‘YOU’RE JUST A TRICK-FUCK’ – How I’m not bored of this band yet is a complete mystery, but I’m not, so sod it – I’d happily attend a Blacklisters all-dayer. The mighty Kong come next on the list and they are genuinely terrifying. Dressed as if they’re in a hugely low budget remake of ‘V for Vendetta’, the combination of made-up faces stuck in grimaces, beastly, balls-to-the-floor riffery and the brutal dissonance somehow leaves you somewhat caught in the headlights. Juffage’ll see me right. A quick flop back to the Royal Park where there’s a healthy 4:1 amp to human ratio and all sorts of onstage faff. His set actually hit home what an impressive multiinstrumentalist he is – Jeff runs about the tiny stage in a manic rat-race but finds his mark just on time and there’s
Kong by Bart Pettman
Swinefest 3 @ The Well, Leeds 17 December Decidedly unseasonal and frankly quite terrifying line up of extreme and confrontational noise and pulverising rock music courtesy of local promoter of all things weird Dave Procter. The name alone marks noise duo Smell & Quim as being probably something dangerous, but local bands Two Trick Horse, Legion of Swine and the utterly brilliant No Guts provide some familiar mayhem to counter the unknown variety. Ear plugs and some kind of perspective are probably advisable…. something fundamentally impressive about him playing drums with 3 limbs, keyboard with the other and singing over the top. Tim Hearson — Sunday Arthur Rigby and the Baskervylles are the first act I manage to catch and they’ve clearly come on a bundle in the 30 months since I last saw their very English brand of pastoral pop. We should be playing cricket in front of the stage, old boy! Hunting Bears are the first act I see in a considerably fuller (admittedly not difficult) Royal Park Cellars and what’s this, not a crunching guitar in sight? This quintet from Leeds University treat us to a handful of fragile little numbers full of lush strings and swooping vocal harmonies including the sublime ‘Heavy Tree’. Back above ground, Marble Valley prove to be the freak-out surprise of the day. The 7-piece hail from across the pond, a long standing side project of Pavement drummer Steve West and clearly have a presence about them on stage, producing a rip-roaring anarchic grooviness that leaves everyone wanting more. We approach the business end and Antlered Man serve as a surprisingly proficient offering on the final venture to the Royal Park as they seethe through their set, their furious music belying their well turned out look. By the time our Caledonian cousins The Phantom Band take to the stage at Brudenell, most of the hardcore remaining are three sheets to the wind, dead on their feet or both! Nevertheless the numerous band
members end proceedings with style and for those that stayed away, you don’t know what you missed. Mike Price A longer version of this review can be found at www.vibrations.org.uk/live.php
Previews Wizard’s Beard/Bludger/Noxious Uppercut @ Royal Park Cellars, Leeds 12 December New promoters on the block Saturday Night Rapture get some extreme metal circulating through the arteries of Leeds. Which can only be a good thing… Shatner’s Bassoon/Roller Trio/Tom Wheatley Quintet @ The Fox and Newt, Leeds 15 December Strong line-up of contemporary jazz bands featuring many recent graduates from Leeds College of Music, which probably means they’ll be trading in rock tropes and electronic interference as much as anything that could be described as jazz, daddio….
Imp/Tiny Planets/Runaround Kids/ Piskie Sits/The Spills @ The Hop, Wakefield 17 December Wakefield label Philophobia celebrates Christmas with a stunning line up drawn mainly from its impressive rosta past and present. Comparative veterans Piskie Sits may be worried by young upstarts Runaround Kids and The Spills if they weren’t such benign slackers…. Cornered/Think Twice/Frustration/ Speak Up/Get Wise @ The Packhorse, Leeds 27 December I have absolutely no idea what any of these bands sound like, but if you’ve had enough of the relatives/your housemates over Christmas, get off your turkey stuffed butt and go see some live music. I imagine the bands would welcome the extra body heat... The Yalla Yallas @ Carpe Diem, Leeds 31 December What better way to see the New Year in than with the careering, undiluted rock ‘n’ roll of The Yalla Yallas as your soundtrack…
Holy State/That Fucking Tank/ Hookworms/Double Muscle @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 16th December Four-year-olds can be right little twats, so it’s an impressive achievement for Brew Records to reach that age as fine, upstanding purveyors of exciting and excitable moderno music. This impressive line-up will celebrate the label’s birthday in an appropriately ear bleeding manner…. 37
One For The Road Ash Kollakowski, Nation of Shopkeepers Nation of Shopkeepers can quite easily claim to be one of Leeds’ more dynamic venues; a bit of a cultural hub if you will. Since opening in 2009, the combination of music and art mixed up in a kitsch collection of ‘60s paraphernalia means that those in the know are always keen to head down to the watering hole; it manages to balance being a good old fashioned drinking den whilst trendsetting for the Leeds social set. Yes it’s sometimes filled with ‘indie dickheads’, but Nation does one helluva Sunday roast, so what’s not to like? Katie Rowley puts the knife and fork down for a moment to prise some pearls of wisdom from bearded Nations owner and impresario Ash Kollakowski. Drawing by Simon Lewis Nothing ventured; nothing gained: I ran Stag and Dagger in Leeds with some fella’s who ran the Lock Tavern [legendary Camden haunt], they liked what I did up here and they offered me a job, so I quit my job at the Faversham and did that instead.
People call it Nation of Shirtlifters, which I like better. What’s in a name? It’s the titles that count: To be honest I don’t really like it, it’s just a name though – people call it Nation of Shirtlifters, which I like better. I tried to call it ‘Faversham Two’ but the people I worked with wouldn’t sign off on it. Also World of Warcraft was just getting big and I really liked that name, again the other guys didn’t really connect with me on that either. Regrets: I’ve had a few; but then again too few to mention: The [gigs] that made me money were good, the others I completely regret. Eat drink and be merry: The food and drink aren’t anything to do with me unfortunately, so I can’t take credit, although I drink the beer
and it tastes nice. Also when it’s cold I sometimes stand in the kitchen near the grill, I’ve nailed that perfectly. They paved paradise and put up a parking lot: I’ve only promoted in Leeds so I don’t know, it seems pretty similar to other depressing towns like Birmingham, Newcastle and Manchester, except Leeds doesn’t even have a good football team and its difficult to park your car between 10am and 6pm. Actually the Brudenell is really good for parking but they have taken on a clamper recently. The old songs are the best: I always listen to the same things all the time, Crosby Stills and Nash, Deertick, Paul Simon and the first two Band of Horses albums. Radio 4 is good if you’re driving, not the band though, the radio station. 95% of new music I hear is pretty horrible. I sometimes wish I could get one of those zappers from Men in Black and wipe my memory after listening to a lot of it. You’re only as good as you’re last movie: Hopefully we’ll open a themed pub based on animal buddy films. I want to call it ‘Right Turn Clyde’ or ‘Ed’. ‘Ed’ was the film where Matt LeBlanc and his Chimpanzee friend play baseball, I think one of them is supposed to have aids but I’m not sure which one, maybe I’m thinking of ‘Philadelphia’.
Hopefully we’ll open a themed pub based on animal buddy films.
Where there’s a will, there’s a way: Try and have lots and lots and lots of money, alternatively borrow from old relatives who don’t have long left to live. And finally – could you sum up the Nation of Shopkeepers experience in a handy 5 word slogan? EATING BURGERS MAKES YOU ATTRACTIVE. Brilliant.
Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring False Flags, Black Diamond Bay and Damnation
Published on Jan 4, 2012
Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring False Flags, Black Diamond Bay and Damnation