Vibrations Magazine Leeds and West Yorkshire April 2013 Free
James Wall Cowtown Knights
24 Reviews 34 40
One for the Road
Editor Rob Wright - firstname.lastname@example.org Design Ben McKean & Niall Hargrave email@example.com
Contributors Rob Wright, Emma Quinlan, Steve Walsh, Tim Hearson, Ben Rutledge, Mike Price, Rochelle Massey, Matt Brown, Cactus, Tom Bench, Paddy Gunn, Lindsey Kent, Jordan Shuker, Ollie Deans, Liam Shevill, Alex Wignall, Oscar Gregg, Glen Pinder, Amy Walker
Picture Editor Bart Pettman - bart @vibrations.org.uk
Cover Photograph Eureka Machines by
Reviews Editor Steve Walsh - firstname.lastname@example.org
Live Editor Tim Hearson - email@example.com
Vibrations is looking for Advertisers - 2000 magazines seen by music lovers across Leeds. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Editor Ellie Treagust - email@example.com
Writers, Photographers, Artists and Sub editors - Come be a part of it, contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Web Design Sam Hainsworth - email@example.com
Send demos in to: Steve Walsh Vibrations Magazine Eiger Studios New Craven Gate Industrial Estate Leeds LS11 5NF
Advertising Tony Wilby - firstname.lastname@example.org Founded and Published by Tony Wilby - email@example.com Jack Simpson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Editorial Yeah, it’s hardly conducive to getting out and about, but there’s a lot to be getting out there for – Johnny Marr turned the Brudenell Social Club into a shrine to indie, Skunk Anansie rocked the O2 to its knees, quivering and shaking, both acts with serious previous, both having new albums, both continuing to do what they do better than most of their peers... in fact, I’d be tempted to say that both acts were peerless. I was speaking to Skin a couple of weeks ago (yeah, get me, name drop, name drop) and one of the bees in her bonnet was about the whole obsession with new young acts that the British music industry seems to display (that said, David Bowie appears to be doing very well at the moment), touting the latest bright young thing, younger than the last bright young thing, whilst dumping those bands who are *gasp* in their thirties. I know, it is probably just a thing I’m feeling being... beyond that age, but thirty is not old in music (see previous bracketed comment and two words for you: Led. Zeppelin). That’s the age that most bands have got it together, clawed
So that’s why we like the more established bands in Vibrations as well as the up and coming box fresh combos. The important thing is that they are doing something; we like bands that are doing stuff – could be a tour, could be an album, could be a complete line-up change, could be... something. And we want you to like bands that are doing things too, which is why we get them in here. Hence Eureka Machines who managed to reach their pledge total for the forthcoming album in 2.5 hours and Cowtown who are releasing their third album right about now. Doing something.
Words by Robert Wright
This shit is getting old.
their way back from addiction or whatever and are back on form in a way that they never were before – they know what they’re talking about and can talk about it with authority. I mean, I’m not chucking out the youngsters, just saying... don’t send the obit to press just yet.
So, get out there, do stuff. Though I will forgive you for not feeling up to it at the mo considering we’re still experiencing blizzards at the tail end of March... Rob Ed
As I type this, winter has not yet gone... I thought it was on its way out, but like a belligerent knuckle dragger leaving the pub and hearing you muttering exactly that under your breath as he leaves, it has returned full of spite and aggression. You can’t move on facebook for people making comments about winter outstaying its welcome and how they are totally fed up with the weather. Bit like an ant complaining about a boy with a magnifying glass but, in a phrase...
What do you get when you put five men in a room with some pizza, beer and a group of hard rocking legends? Rob Wright finds out in an evening that will live in his memory for a long, long time... when he remembers what happened. Chris Catalyst is undeniably a rock legend – you can tell by the company he keeps. He plays guitar in Sisters of Mercy with the gothfather Andrew Eldritch, plays alongside Ginger Wildheart, ex-Cardiacs and Wildhearts guitarist Jon Poole and Wolfsbane guitarist Jase Edwards in God Damn Whores and also hangs out with sharp dressed reprobates Wayne Insane (drum abuser and master of the raised eyebrow), Davros (guitar throttler and in no way from the planet Skaro) and Pete Human (bass batterer and armchair tortoise impersonator), aka Eureka Machines. Chris is just back from touring with the God Damn Whores supporting The Darkness, so this is the first chance the lads have had to rehearse, converse, belch and eat incredibly oily pizza. And drink beer. Lots of beer. So with Chris and Wayne perched on a battered Chesterfield, Davros sat beside me, Pete hiding in an armchair looking knackered and the sounds of two-tone filling the Brudenell, off we go... The last time I talked band to Chris, things were not quite so jolly. We were at Neal Addison’s wake and memorial poker game, an oddly sobering but whiskey-fuelled affair. Chris, usually an infectiously up beat character was starting to wonder why he was doing it all anymore, and whether it was worth one last try. “We spend our lives trying to do our best, I was brought up to always try my best at things,” Chris admits,” and sometimes your best ain’t good enough... And it just makes you realise that maybe we should try something else.” As it turned out, the band had been talking about pulling the shutters down on Eureka Machines and re-starting as another band: “we like doing stuff together and we’ve got an understanding from doing stuff for the last four years. And it got to the point where we were going ‘why do we bother?’ And the reason we bother is because we’re mates and we like doing it. And that’s the best reason for doing anything.” It definitely beats data entry. “So let’s just keep doing it.”
And so they did, striking out on their own and taking the pledge, to see whether there were people out there still willing to scream eureka. “One of the things with the pledge thing,” says Chris, “is that if actually not that many people do like you, then you don’t get the money to make your record. It turned out that there were people who gave a shit about
us. We’d kinda lost sight of that. You’re maybe not the most popular band in the world, but you’re popular enough.” As it turns out, 1100 people (as confirmed by Davros and argued by Chris) gave a shit from the off and pledged their hard earned cash to see a new Eureka Machines album. Popular enough. “We weren’t only able to make the album, but we can also take out a bit of cash for ourselves. And when you think about it, not many bands get to do that.” In fact, they reached their basic target in two and a half hours. Which isn’t bad at all. The rest of the money can go into making the album ‘posher’. And beer. “And that’s just the people that really care. Not everyone who likes the band wants to do the pledge thing.” Chris loses the thread for a bit, so Davros helps him to pick it up. Still the strong silent type, Davros is almost the keel of the Eureka Machines ship to Chris’s superstructure. Wayne is sheets to the wind and Pete... Pete is very tired. “I think it’s been overwhelming how many people are ridiculously passionate about our band,” says Davros, “the amount of people we don’t know who absolutely love Eureka Machines is astounding.” As has come up so often when talking to bands about pledge, it’s quite a special thing. “It’s a few things,” says Chris, “it’s a vote to say ‘I like your band’ – it’s also the e-equivalent of someone saying ‘let me buy you a pint’...” It’s also very visible, as Davros points out. “It’s a fan club,” says Chris, “and I hate the word fan, it’s so patronising, but... yeah. And we’ve done this now, so we know we could do it again.” We could quite easily go on about pledge all night, but Pete is sinking further into his chair, and Wayne is off to the bar. About the album. It looks like Eureka Machines; it sounds like Eureka Machines; but there’s a new feel to this Eureka Machines. “With the second album, I thought it was more of the same, but more,” says Chris gesticulating to illustrate his point, “so the poppy bits were more poppy, the rock bits more rocky – there was a wider feel to it. And I feel it’s the same again with the third album.” But... the questioning... the pondering... where has that come from? “I think all it is is confidence. The first album was written by someone who...” he jokes about for a bit, then comes out with it. “I wasn’t that confident a person at that point with my song writing or my singing... we weren’t that confident a band.” For anyone out there who has followed Eureka Machines and Chris since the beginning, this might come as a bit of a surprise. “The first album was a budget demo, it wasn’t supposed to be an album.” The second album he describes unflatteringly but affectionately as ‘the same old shit’, but the third album: “the
Photography by Bart Pettman
sound of a band that have found their feet a bit. Personally speaking, I feel like for the first time I’ve sung it alright and songs are a bit more light and shade. A lot of thought went into it.” He almost says ‘depth’, but retracts it. I think he’s being a bit unfair on himself; right from the first track, ‘Good Guys Finish Last’, it goes pretty deep. Chris makes the sound of a bomb detonating and laughs. “A lot of our stuff can be a bit tongue in cheek, it’s a bit jokey, but we mean every fucking word of it. Everything’s thought through.” It is hard to deny that Chris has a talent for turning a phrase or making a pun. He’s a clever bastard like that, and ‘Good Guys Finish Last’ is one of those songs that really breaks your heart, echoing and turning around a line from ‘Scream Eureka’ on their first album. “There’s nothing throwaway, even though it might seem that way. That song was written deliberately to be like that, to do that to someone who’d fucking bothered to listen to the first album.” It’s a rare flash of anger and frustration from Chris. “It’s a payoff for those people.” It’s not something that translates well onto the page; I suggest you listen to both songs, then you’ll get it. “But yeah, it is heartfelt. On the first album specifically and a bit less on the second album, I didn’t want to say certain things that I might have felt, whereas this one it’s like ‘that’s how I feel’ and with that track I felt like I was speaking for the four of us.” And it is a bold move of them to open with such a fin de siècle song, something they all decided on quite early in the production of the album. “It’s not your conventional album opener,” admits Davros, “but it really sets the scene for the entire album.” “You’re sometimes doing what you think you should do,” says Chris, “but with this one we’re doing what we want to do. Doing it for the right reason.” Which leads in nicely to the second song, ‘I Wanna Be A Pop Star’. “The actual thing I don’t want to be in the world is a pop star,” says Chris, “it’s the most miserable life I could imagine. I can’t imagine being a pop star is any good for your mental wellbeing. I think if
you’d asked me the same question [about being a pop star] ten years ago, you’d have been given a very, very different answer. I’d have given my left arm. It’s not going to happen now because I’m thirty three and losing my hair.” There’s almost an air of pathos in the room now. But I want to take things back to the New Roscoe, five years ago, when a younger Chris and Davros (22 a piece – what?) were waiting to support Ginger and they were extolling the power of pop. Are there still those pop songs around? “Yeah, a million, billion, trillion percent,” Chris understates, “there’s amazingly simple, beautiful pop songs being made, only pop’s become a dirty word – the Beach Boys wouldn’t be successful now. Bands aren’t allowed to grow, to progress. ‘Pop’ needs to be instantly successful, so you won’t ever get another ‘God Only Knows’ or ‘Penny Lane’.” “There’s not as much art anymore,” says Davros, “it’s very calculated these days, which is fine for one thing or another...” “It’s not fucking fine,” interjects Chris, “it’s fucking terrible!” It all looks a bit spirally, until Davros reels it in: “pop music can incorporate a lot of variety, there’s a lot of genre music that you could call pop. And that’s what we trade in: tunes.” And that is what Eureka Machines continue to produce, for as long as they love it and love each other. The beer might have kicked in at that point. Or the pizza. Remain in Hope is available on pledge at http://www. pledgemusic.com/artists/eurekamachines and you can catch them live (which I sincerely advise) when they tour with The Wildhearts in April or at the Brudenell Social Club on 11th May. Don’t ignore them.
The Dark Might Return
In the spirit of ‘we don’t just do music’, Emma Quinlan has been looking into the screen scene of Leeds, specifically at the work of budding filmmaker, James Wall. He’s got a romantic comedy on the way, only it’s not very romantic... best leave him to explain. As we know, Leeds has a wealth of bands within its city, many of which grace the very pages of this magazine. However, it’s not just musical creativity that the city is brimming with. James Wall is a 26 year old filmmaker from Leeds who, without any backing or corporate machine paying the bills, has nearly finished completing his first feature length film, The Truth About Romance. “It’s a comedy-drama, or mumblecore as they call it, about love, relationships and life, told in a truthful way,” answers James when asked what the film is about, “I didn’t want to lie or do it the ‘Hollywood’ way, I want the audience to watch this and say ‘I know that feeling.’ There’s a bit of a twist too.” Set for release in July 2013, The Truth About Romance isn’t set to be the regular fairy-tale rom-com that we have all gotten used to seeing advertised on our TV screens. There’s no Whoopi Goldberg dancing with Demi Moore or Ryan Gosling strutting his stuff in the rain in this picture. Instead it’s a film that truly depicts what love is really like, an idea that was born out of James’s first-hand experience of it. “I was inspired [to write this film] by two things: something I wrote and bad rom-coms. One night when I was feeling depressed, hung up on a girl, I wrote everything that I was feeling down, which turned kind of into a poem (it’s the voiceover on the second trailer),” explains James. “I was also watching a lot of really cheesy rom-coms for research, which I think had deluded my brain into thinking that happy endings and romance actually do happen in the real world. At that point I aimed to write a story that I could relate to. I was probably just bitter at the time, but hey... I got a script and a film from being lonely and sad.”
He did indeed and in a few month’s time his creation will be unleashed upon the big wide world. So, what does James want from this movie: an Oscar, women throwing themselves at his feet, worldwide recognition? “I’d be happy if only my mum likes it,” James jokes. Of course
his aspirations are bigger than that, “The dream is for it to gain a massive audience which will kick start my next project. I have a plan put together.” However, James doesn’t just want this film to kickstart his career, he also wants it to help other aspiring filmmakers. “I want this to inspire other young filmmakers coming out of film school to give this a go. We are at a point where we can make good looking entertaining films for very little money if you think creatively. Times are definitely changing.” Mr Wall is right. Anyone with a camera, Final Cut Pro and some imagination can make a movie these days, but it takes actual talent to make something worth watching. Judging by the trailers for The Truth About Romance, James has this talent and considering that he not only wrote, directed and edited this film, it would appear that James’s talents are pretty vast. “Whilst shooting we had a very small crew, but I’ve done all of the post-production on my own. My friend Dave has been sitting in on the editing process every now and then to make sure I don’t go insane.” Yes, save the insanity for after the film is released James. So back to the topic at hand, the film and more importantly what hasn’t Mr Wall done for The Truth About Romance? Well for one he hasn’t put his face in front of the camera, instead opting to cast a few familiar faces. “I had worked with Danielle Jackson, Jordan Greenhough and Craig Asquith on a few projects. They work hard and are good actors and I’ve never paid them a penny, even if I didn’t want them in the film I owed it to them, but I wanted them. They were my first pick.” Working with your friends on something you love sounds like a pretty good deal to us and James fully agrees. “Even if I had a massive budget and could get anybody I would still use them, because not only are they people I work with but they are friends and when you’re doing something as stressful as making your first feature film, it’s nice to be surrounded by friends. They don’t mind it when you lose your temper, get upset, get confused, they don’t mind whatever the weather.” They sound like pretty good friends to us, but having worked with James before at least they knew what they were letting themselves in for. What they had done before with our interviewee were a variety of projects including a few short films, which have both stared Danielle and Jordan plus a short series that James
released last year named Bromance. The stars of that included the aforementioned Craig and, you guessed it, our director friend himself. Released through his YouTube channel, A Tiny Adventure, the series had nine episodes and gained over five thousand viewings overall. “On average it [an episode] would get 500 1000 views, which in YouTube terms is a bit pathetic, but if you were in a band and could get 500 fans to your gig every fortnight you’d consider that as good.” It’s a fine way to look at things and James doesn’t just stop there with his band comparisons. “When you’re in a band you have to rehearse every week or so, practice, get better, learn, and it’s the same when you’re a filmmaker. If you want to be good you have to practice and learn all the time, otherwise you forget and get slack. Bromance was a way to rehearse, to practice, to keep things fresh in the mind. It also helped gain an audience online. It wasn’t intended to be anything other than that.” Now James is starting to speak our language. However, this isn’t another music interview, they’ll be no how did you get together questions here. Although, how did James become a filmmaker and more importantly when did he realise he wanted to be one? “I can’t pinpoint an exact time or place, but I’ve been playing with cameras since I was around thirteen, making short films, right up until I went to Uni. I’ve always had a fascination with films from a really young age. I never thought I’d make it into a career. I think I was 20 when I thought; screw it, let’s give this a go. I went to film school and it turn out that I was alright at it.” With inspirations ranging from Christopher Nolan and John Hughes to Sylvester Stallone (“…he wrote, directed and starred in Rocky... need I say any more?”), it’s safe to assume that his film tastes aren’t exactly geared to one genre. This becomes more apparent when we ask him which film he would have liked to have made. “For many years I wanted to make
a really great biopic about Marilyn Monroe, but they’ve done that with My Week With Marilyn so possibly that. Inception because that film amazes me, it’s truly well-crafted in every way. I’d quite like a shot at rebooting Batman.” With Nolan out of the Batman picture, James may just get his chance, especially if The Truth About Romance is a success. Whether it will be or not, only time will tell but James isn’t putting all his eggs in one basket. “I’ll be launching my next feature film in July with the release of The Truth About Romance, [for which] I’ve been working on ideas and concepts [for] in my spare time. It’s something that doesn’t happen very often and it maybe the first of its kind, I’m not sure. In preparation for that I will be making a few short films.” It’s all go for James, who also does some freelance work in order to bring in the money. In this current climate, isn’t freelance work an unsteady source of income? “It’s not as hard as I thought. If you’re good and act professional then work will always come in. I reckon in 3 - 5 years’ time all companies will be using videos for everything. Generally the work is boring, but it pays well and it beats working a day job.” For those of us in those boring day jobs, we can see what he means. To us however, the life of James Wall is anything but boring. In fact it all seems quite exciting and even though it probably has its frustratingly, tear-inducing moments, with his “screw it: let’s give this a go” attitude and his variety of movie making skills, we reckon James Wall might just get a chance at directing the caped crusader sooner than he thinks. To check up on Truth About Romance and some of James Wall’s other work, go to http:// thetruthaboutromance.blogspot.co.uk/.
Like Johnny Alpha, back from the dead by popular demand, only this doesn’t feel like those comics resurrections always do – there is nothing contrived about this one, as Tim Hearson and Steve Walsh found out.
Kicking off Friday’s proceedings were Mahogany Hand Glider and what a strong opening set. One of two acts on the recently formed Destroy All Records, MHG comprise some sterling post-rock a la 65daysofstatic with a bit of Adebisi Shank thrown in there. Heavyweight odd-signature grooves not out of place in Mars Volta breakdown with the occasional electronic swirl or dive. Then an early showing for the Leeds metal heavyweights, Hawk Eyes. Touring has been kind to them in terms of tightness but maybe the earliness of the gig meant a bit of a lacklustre, if respectful, crowd reaction. It’s down to Dan Beesley and the SSSSS to pick up the pace with their anarchic, breakneck blues from well-greased individuals. Perfectly dirty for the Royal Park Cellars and by the end the violinist’s chewed up bow becomes a solid metaphor for the last 20 minutes of being sonically battered. Nothing can quite prepare you for the nautical themed, transvestite drum’n’bass as secreted by Mucky Sailor - the perfect soundtrack to a romantic evening in with Johnny Vegas. Swiftly onwards as Pete Wright, known more widely for his noodling in Vessels, surprises us all with a 12 string, lamplit solo venture. He proves adept at the instrument, skillful and calming – the antithesis of Mucky Sailor – all tied together by some deadpan banter in between some dead pleasant acoustic compositions. Of course it’s then down to Blacklisters to wake us up a bit before Hank Haint really wakes us up with his knackering one-man band take on Rock’n’Roll. It’s a strong showing, if lacking in nuance.
That Fucking Tank take up the mantle of finishing us all off and prove exactly what a technical achievement last year’s TFT actually was. A penchant for a good riff and a heavy lesson in all kinds of Rock music, TFT provide an emphatic finish to a cracking evening of music. As Andy Abbott’s meaty baritone guitar rings out into the night it’s difficult to think that such a banquet is just for starters. Tim Hearson
Cowtown were supposed to kick Saturday off in the Brudenell Concert Room but because of last minute line-up changes they were shunted to last band on in the Brudenell Games Room, a slot more suited to their deliriously cartoonish angular pop it has to be said. That Fucking Tank’s Andy Abbott stepped up to fill the opening slot as Elizabeth, his solo looped guitar project. Abbott has a formidable technique, and while his placid drones and lyrical picking certainly eased the day into motion, it’s a project still searching for a firm identity. In the Brudenell Games Room is Michael Kasparis who runs a record label (Night School Records) and plays in several other bands, so the exposed tightrope walk that is Apostille, his solo improvised vocals and electronics/noise project, is probably not as scary a thing to do as it would be for us ordinary folks. Kasparis bravely elects to attempt improvisations that have recognisable song structures, and the results oscillate between Soft Cell style 80’s electro pop and the kind of heavy thumping, dubbed up beats and declamatory singing Mark Stewart swears by. Although Kasparis seems too keen to skip to the next idea and doesn’t fully exploit some of his discoveries, what he’s doing is much better than the rapidly dwindling audience suggests. Over to Royal Park Cellars for Mr British Wildlife Adam Nodwell’s own band Super Luxury, who start to a sparsely populated room caused more by the fluid schedule than anything else. Although Super Luxury tend to play at many BW gigs, it’s rapidly ceasing to be anything like an outrageous vanity project that we all feel obliged to warm to. The band have a new bassist and the newer songs have the kind of unhinged velocity to them that they always seemed to be reaching for. The usually hyperactive Nodwell is hampered by a crushed foot in plaster and a crutch but still manages to swing from the RPC roof girder. Back to the Concert Room and drums and noise quartet Sly & The Family Drone are already locked into the savagely pulsating wall of noise that will do nothing except become more intense over the next 25 minutes. The band set up in front of the stage and continually hand out drums and percussion instruments to audience members to supplement the barrage being generated by the two drummers facing each other across their kits. Although the audience participation doesn’t make much impact above the noise, the whole thing serves as an object lesson in the communal ritual inherent in rhythm and noise, even when (or perhaps because) it’s this loud and relentlessly repetitious.
At the same venue, drums and electric bass duo Falenizza Horsepower revert to a more traditional position on stage to deliver a series of intense, punchy math rocky songs that drift in and out of seriously focused riffage and material striding more towards the less attractive hinterlands of Prog. The songs are short, though, and fortunately the duo remains focussed on bone snapping riffs. Back at RPC, Londoner’s Silent Front remain an outstanding example of the application of the dynamic possibilities of rock music. Their songs have become superbly lithe and limber with constant gigging, and the music has a grace matched only by its ferocity. One of several bands on the line up who can claim to be among the best the county has to offer at the moment. Thank you Mr Nodwell. Back to the Concert Room and Black Moth are already in full flight, the increasingly well utilised Brudenell sound system bringing out every ounce of weight and power from the songs on brilliant debut album The Killing Jar. Despite the size of the crowd, there is a huge zone of fear in front of the stage and the band make no attempt to encourage people to fill it. Or perhaps it’s just that the audience daren’t get any closer for fear of being burnt by the ferocity of the music. The band debut their new single, ‘Savage Dancer’ and its b-side ‘Tree Of Woes’, both of which are superb and sound like they’ve lost none of their hunger. In the Games Room, Godzilla Black are clearly intent on doing things a bit differently from your average alt rock indie band. Their percussion heavy songs jerk about with a wild energy in a slightly obtuse manner that’s reminiscent of nothing so much as Trout Mask Replica era Captain Beefheart, although on a much more accessible level. The band may be keen to experiment with sounds and instrumentation but have not lost sight of how to incorporate this approach into songs. Which is a good thing. Up to this point, I’d either witnessed stunning performances from familiar bands, or discovered a bunch of excellent new ones. So, coming up against the recently reactivated Monster Killed By Laser was a bit of a shock. The band always included a large dollop of Prog in their instrumental explorations, but they were always grounded in fractured riffs that contained dark, doomy undercurrents. Sadly, this new incarnation has gone wholly, bombastically and irredeemably Prog in the worst way possible. Which means we get a ceaseless display of technique that is as vacuous as it’s pointless. Reader, I walked out.
Things threatened to become seriously derailed as Thee MVP’s at RPC seem to think a shredded guitar sound and a hopelessly clichéd approach to 60’s rock and roll makes for effective garage rock. It doesn’t. Still, now that Cowtown have been shifted to the right end of the day, I can look forward to the kind of three band run in my by now pickled mind is happy to see as some kind of dream finale to a day of live music. We’ve said it before and we’ll no doubt say it
again, but Bilge Pump are not only one of the finest bands Leeds has ever produced but one of the best bands in the country, if only the rest of the witless country would wake up to the fact. The band seem so fluid and intuitive when they play, it wouldn’t surprise me if they’ve dispensed with prearranged set lists and just rely on telepathy and instinct to know which song is coming next. Certainly the way they continue to inject spontaneity and freshness into songs that are more than ten years old is extraordinary. So to Cowtown, finishing up proceedings with a suitably welloiled crowd in the Games Room. As soon to come new album Dudes vs. Bad Dudes will confirm, most of which they play tonight, the band have lost none of their infectious musical exuberance while at the same time getting really rather good at writing ‘proper’ songs. A prime example being ‘Monotone Face’, which stands out partly because it’s been in the live set for a while now, but the like of ‘Love Is A Lie’ and ‘Nightbeats’ are clamouring to become future Cowtown classics. Awesome good fun. Londoners Shield Your Eyes may well take a more serious approach to their music, evinced by the protracted tuning up that follows every song, but the results are deeply impressive, not least because their electrifying, near abstract songs are quite clearly rooted in traditional blues formats. Although loud and heavy, the songs are not held down by an obvious four square beat, and guitarist Stef Ketteringham, drummer Henri Grimes and bassist Daniel Pedersen all seem to flow in and around the music pushing it into new shapes and forms. They cover Mose Allison’s ‘Young Man Blues’ and pull off the remarkable trick of playing it with all the attack and dynamism of The Who’s famous Live At Leeds version while incorporating the fluid jazzy swing of Allison’s original. Shield Your Eyes are not only one of the best bands in the country at the moment, they are quite possibly one of the most important too. OK, I’m pissed and happy. Can I go home now? Steve Walsh
British Wildlife Festival
Sugar Rush Hour
There are few bands in Leeds that are as much fun as Cowtown – the garish clothes, the barmy casio tunes, the video game lyrics. But is it an older, wiser Cowtown that Ben Rutledge meets? I mean, they have song structures now... For those of you who already know who Cowtown are, you’ll already be familiar with their frenetic charm and garish jumpers, and have probably already seen them on more than one occasion at a local show or buried head first in a clothing rack in Blue Rinse amidst a collection of disorientating synaesthetic knitwear. For those of you who aren’t, they’re a three piece consisting of Hilary Knott (Keyboards/Vocals), Jon Nash (Guitars/Vocals) and David Shields (Drums) and play what they describe as ‘dynamic, over-stimulated indie rock’. The band first formed after friends Hilary and Dave met in art college, subsequently moved in together and started writing music in their house in Hyde Park. Jon, disenfranchised with his time studying at university in Bristol, a city at the time dominated with what Jon describes as a sort of “hippy, drum and bass scene”, migrated to Leeds with the prospect of playing in bands again and after meeting Hilary at a squat party on Victoria road, the line up was complete. They soon established themselves playing house parties and squat gigs and also forged firm relationships with what are now some of the city’s most esteemed venues. They were and remain regular attendees and hosts at both Wharf Chambers and of course the Brudenell Social club, two venues they have grown and evolved along side of. What better place to meet then than our favourite LS6 watering hole, and consequently, the band’s old practice space.
First to arrive was Jon, making his way to the bar to get himself a Coca Cola before settling down and rummaging through his Sainsbury’s bag, followed secondly by Hilary, who after introducing herself informed me that the third member wouldn’t be able to make it. After a short trip to the bar, returning from the other side of the room with two drinks and a bag of chocolate buttons, I asked her why she had two drinks in her hands. “Well I got that first and then I saw this,” she explained giddily, with Jon excitedly
pulling apart the foil from his Cadbury’s Easter Egg. When it was explained that Dave was tied up due to child minding commitments, I was instantly met with visions of their parental absentee looking after these two overgrown children, their short attention spans fully loaded on refined sugar. There is something decidedly childlike about both their music and the band themselves; drenched in wackiness and drowned in oversized colourful knitwear like a poorly judged Christmas present from grandma. Perhaps it’s their frenetic optimism and excitement. Perhaps it’s the sort of sibling dynamic the two seem to display, bickering occasionally whilst tucking into their sugary banquet. Hilary laughs: “we all hate Nash because he’s in so many bands.” She jokes but Cowtown are definitely a band firmly established and involved in the Leeds music scene, with incestuous links to many local musicians. Singer/ guitarist Jon also plays with local psychedelic stalwarts Hookworms as well as with members of That Fucking Tank and Mucky Sailor in local ‘supergroup’, Nope. When asked about why they decided on their name, Jon answered that they discovered that it was the first song ever written by band They Might Be Giants whilst watching a documentary on them. Hilary then revealed that it came about more as a necessity. “The name’s just an emergency measure... no-one else was around and we needed a name for this flyer so I just put this and it’ll be fine and so we just stuck with it.” She explains, “I just look at things around the room and tend to be like ‘let’s call ourselves cup or chocolate buttons or table’.” Jon is slightly reluctant to use the word goofy to describe the sound and aesthetic of Cowtown and is similarly hesitant to suggest that they’re a band that don’t take themselves seriously, but with such classic song titles as
Cowtown He still, however, doesn’t understand the concept of “getting big” as he puts it and in the wake of Hookworms rapidly surging popularity admits his nerves playing their recent album launch. “I just don’t know where it came
from.” Still, freshly hungover from a house party gig the night before, it’s clear that Cowtown are a band that still favour the more intimate live setting. Amongst other things, a feature of the band firmly at the heart of their aesthetic is their DIY ethos, and although firmly rooted in their approach, both musical and otherwise, it’s not a rigidly defined concept in their doctrine. Jon muses over the way the term has changed in meaning over the years suggesting the potential emptiness of a phrase adopted by many but used only to establish themselves as part of a scene rather than having the desire to actually do anything themselves, as it were. “You hear a lot of bands saying things like, ‘yeah we used to be DIY’, as if their ethos was based on success rather than anything else,” pointing out the absurdity in the use of the term to describe a band, just starting out, that books their own gigs: “that’s just being in a band.” Hilary asserts, however, that the substance behind the usage of the term centres more on the intentions of the artists themselves. This ethos can definitely be found in the band’s efforts with their old Arts collective, Chinchilla. The group comprised of a group of artists, musicians, DJ’s and even a doctor of molecular virology, apparently. Together they put on gigs, put out records, put up posters and hosted their own annual festival, Chinchillafest, held, of course, at the Brudenell Social Club. Together they did everything from organising shows, promoting them, the logistics and playing at them. Perhaps this community spirit is what the DIY spirit truly means to these guys; working together and co-opting to make Leeds just that little bit more exciting. Today some of the venues they frequent, such as the Brudenell itself, are established in their own right but early in Cowtown’s history this particular place was kept open by donations from the LS6
‘Slice of Ketchup’ and ‘Mr Pear Sandwich Man’, it’s not hard to see what point he’s trying to make. “As I get older I find myself taking things more and more seriously,” he states, “with the new album, it’s the first time we’ve had actual lyrical themes in our songs.” The band’s previous approach to lyrics seemed to present itself as a more zany interpretation of the cut up method employed on Talking Heads’ Remain in Light - of course a huge influence on the three piece. The band’s song writing approach itself started out as members would turn up to practice with snippets of ideas and melodies and finish up the bulk of the process in the practice room. The band would even play half finished versions of songs at gigs, with parts being added or removed later, creating several incarnations of the same songs. Some of this spontaneity is gone from the band’s current approach to writing music today as Jon explains, “either I or Hilary will turn up to practice with something that’s for the most part finished.” Their method today is slightly more considered, the band having, with their own rented studio, more time to piece things together. The band’s sound had evolved also. The old influences are still there. Jon’s voice sounds more David Byrne than ever on new track ‘Ski School’ and the wacky Devo style Casio tones are still prevalent throughout. But although they still describe themselves as a “post-punk” band their influences seem to have stretched further afield. Some of the songs have fuzzier, heavier guitars, less “angular” guitar riffs and even the album cover, drawn by Tom Hudson from Pulled Apart By Horses, is slightly Wavves-esque. Friends of the band have even drawn comparisons to Van Halen, although I struggle to see that one myself.
community. Following noise complaints from some of the local residents, a campaign was raised to soundproof the venue funded for the most part by the social clubâ€™s regulars and fans. Chinchillafest ended on its last run here in 2010, marking the end of the collective. Today the huge role that Chinchilla played in the bandâ€™s emergence and general existence is now in part filled by The Audacious Art Experiment, a Sheffield collective putting out records from the likes of TFT, Fast Point and B>E>A>K to name a few and Cowtown are stronger and livelier than ever and are back to melt some faces. The label/collective now have the bandâ€™s superb new album available for pre order on vinyl limited to 250 copies. Catch us and the band at their album launch at the Brude on the 20th April. We have strong rumours that the stripy jerseys will be making an appearance once more.
to achieve in the face of adversity is something we can all relate to. There are other influences though. We do listen to a lot, most of it doesn’t even feature a guitar or a heavier than hell sound. Here’s One You Might Not Have Heard...
Angry or not angry, that is the question...
There’s a lot of new music out there - don’t we at Vibrations Towers know it – so much so that you could give yourself an aneurysm trying to keep up with it all. So, to save your fevered brain, let we who are already music addled venture forth into the maelstrom and come back with some juicy tidbits. This issue, Rochelle Massey hooks local metal band Knights. Hooks – metal? Get it?
Our music, we hope, conveys hope in the face of adversity. Most people will see us, like they do many other metal bands, as unnecessary anti-parent, anti-world hating people. We’re not, we’re angry, don’t get me wrong but we’re all nice dudes. Our music is like our creative punch bag. Suppose there’s a pun in there for our sound being that good it’ll knock you out. There, I said it.
Formations of a metal band
Ideology in metal bands
Well, I (Michael, guitarist) had been jamming out ideas with a good guitarist and friend of mine David Tooze. We worked on material but lacked a drummer, bass player and vocalist. And believe me, finding a drummer is as hard as choosing your band name! But not wanting to waste time we then started recording what turned out to be our debut album, Fables, in our mate James’ bedroom, who later became our bass player, and eventually, member by member, they came along and completed the band.
I write most of the material (Michael). I’ll listen to a heap of music and write a few notes down on paper and look at how bands I like achieve various sounds. It’s classic. You see it with chefs and everything. Someone takes a conventional idea then puts their own twist on it. With our debut album we had to put in a drum machine to play the bits we wanted because we didn’t have anyone to drum then. No one likes a one man band, do they?
Hang on - you recorded a metal album in your bedroom?
Well; we don’t have any super fans yet! But we have had our fair share of daft experiences. Last one was at a gig in Leeds. We’d played all of about 2 bars of music and as I bowed my noggin for a bit of head banging, and a big green bogie swung out of my right nostril and went right across my face and finished up on my left cheek. It was horrible; it felt like a slug was nestling on my tash! Consequently I had to play the show with my back to the audience because there’s no let-up in our set or moments to wipe it away. Lovely!
We didn’t have any neighbours at the time! So it wasn’t that much of an issue. You could have screamed blue murder and no one would have heard you. Our house mates didn’t mind either because they’re all into the same stuff. If anything it was almost like a cult to come and record and play at the property. People don’t have money to spend so they do it themselves. And many get good results! Not just your typical metal sound We’re very much a melodic metal band; heavy with classy lead lines, electronic subtleties and chaotic outbursts. However, the chaotic outbursts have now taken over and become the forefront of our newer sounds. Almost in a Jekyll and Hyde-kinda-way. Album talk
Inspiration comes mainly from an Australian band called Carpathian. Their album Isolation really set the pace for us. I would sit and watch countless live videos of them on YouTube and have them playing on just about every sound system I possessed. Their attitude and struggle
I’ll have mine without the bogie thanks...
Metal goes dark… well darker We’ve only played a handful of shows to date. But we really enjoyed Santiago’s in Leeds. Lovely close atmosphere, dark and dingy – perfect! Last words We’re hitting the road for a tour around August/September time and we’re constantly trying to get on shows across the UK in the meanwhile. But first we’ll have to get a suitable van to get about! The main aim by the end of the year is to be eyeing up Europe. Tally-ho! Fables, Knights’ debut album is available at http:// knightsbanduk.bandcamp.com/album/fables
Albums Cowtown – Dudes Vs. Bad Dudes (City Hands/The Audacious Art Experiment) Dudes Vs. Bad Dudes has been a long time in the making. Still, nothing wrong with sitting comfortably (or uncomfortably, I can’t possibly comment) on your egg until you’re ready for it to hatch. The resulting chick is a strutty little madam, too. The first Cowtown album to feature vocals on every track, I would posit that the tracks pack more of a traditional rocky punch than 2010’s video game themed, Excellent Domestic Short Hair. It’s still fun, fresh and endearing but now the riffs and grooves breathe and develop like in the slightly Klezma-tinged ‘S.Y.P.S’ and driving postpunk number ‘Nightbeats’. Particularly welcome is Hilary Knotts’ slightly cutesy vocal performance on ‘Animals’ which combines to great effect with the driving rock groove that kicks in half way through. Engineered by Hookworms’ Matt Johnson (all except ‘Monotone Face’) and his influence over the sound is noticeable in the distinctively reverbed vocals and live sounding presentation. Cowtown can be found wallowing in squelchy bass synths and bright sounding, crunchy guitar sounds. ‘Ski School’ begins with a sharp little funk guitar lick before being driven on into a thoroughly danceable little groove. ‘Panasonic Youth’ is built around a riff that could have been borrowed from Blacklisters – Blacklisters on a particularly sunny day, mind.
The lyrical development from previous albums is certainly worthy of remark, too, and sees the band dipping their toes into slightly more meaningful waters. Admittedly, there’s nothing hugely profound but ‘Nightbeats’, for example, has a particularly bitter twinge to it (“You’re wearing black/well, how about that?”) and there are slight undertones throughout of distaste for social convention. It’s still the same scrappy Cowtown we know and love though, intense and emphatic.
The record stays all up in your face for most of its 30-minute duration so there’s never a dull moment – by the time ‘Punk Enough to Know Better’ rings out its last rippling, feedback-tinged note you’re probably ready for a bit of a lie down. Tim Hearson Eureka Machines – Remain In Hope (Self release) The third album from the indomitable Chris Catalyst and friends, whilst full of the guitar-led catchy pop rocks of previous releases, is not the same at all; something has tainted the barrel and left an unpleasant taste in the mouth. And it has made for a better album than we could have ever hoped for. It is unmistakable from the off in the opening track, ‘Good Guys Finish Last’, an unashamedly bombastic swansong that echoes previous songs – ‘don’t ignore us’ becomes a heartfelt cry, multi-layered voices clamouring for attention. But after this unsettling start, things begin to come back together again... but they’re not the same anymore. ‘Pop Star’ is a wonderful, bouncy tribute to good old fashioned pop songs but is laced with cynicism – ‘I hope they never see me on my tour of primary schools’ - and a realisation of how shallow fame is. ‘Believe in Anything’ is a trancelike psychedelic deconstruction of Daily Mail mentality, ‘Living in Squalor’ captures the energy of My Chemical Romance, but is about hard times and an uncertain future, and ‘Affluenza’, with its tribute to ‘Da Da Da’ and Wildhearts chorus is a glorious sounding analysis of our current economic shitstorm. ‘Break Stuff’ has that ‘Life on Mars’ heartbreak to it, and as for ‘Eternal Machines’... ‘we sing the songs that nobody sings’. Broken. Even ‘Wish You Were Her’, one of Chris’s trademark pun titles, is a lost love regret song. Despair has never been so jolly. This is really happysad. This probably explains why the epic self-affirmer ‘Love Yourself’ is over five minutes long. But do not get me wrong. Remain in Hope is lyrically unsinkable and melodically incomparable. This is a wonderful album,
Rob Wright The Scaramanga Six – Phantom Head (Wrath) The Scaramanga Six do not make bad albums. They demonstrate a linear progression from their engaging yet flawed debut (The Liar The Bitch And Her Wardrobe), progressing through the occasionally great/occasionally frustrating Strike Up The Band, before hitting the rarefied heights of the jawdroppingly brutal brilliance of Cabin Fever where they have, in the main, settled ever since. Now, with the arrival of their Steve Albini-produced 7th album, the quality equilibrium looks likely to be further unbalanced towards the gushing superlative. To put this in perspective, although last album Cursed kept up the run of excellence, in some circles suggestions emerged that progression may be required in its follow-up to avoid the formula starting to show signs of tiredness. And on that front, this delivers all you could hope for. This is not a reinvention of the wheel, but there’s a noticeable shift in mood that sees Paul Morricone’s writing stretching into an emotive range we’ve not seen. The overall feel of his contribution is a bleak natural beauty, offset with enough warmth to envelop and comfort. The equivalent of traipsing across the North York Moors in big coat the middle of January. And if that sounds a bit much, that’s where brother Steve Morricone comes in to break-up the intensity with an emotionally lighter, but musically bludgeoning lack of seriousness that stays just the right side of pantomime to ensure the mood never gets too heavy for too long. This is not a flawless album. It is predictably too long. And Steve Morricone’s hand is over-played unsettling
the flow towards the end where one or two less of his tracks would have increased the overall impact of his contribution. But these are minor quibbles amongst the accumulative work here which, in the final reckoning, must surely rank amongst their finest work to date. Rob Paul Chapman Dinosaur Pile-Up – Nature Nurture (So Recordings) Released in 2010, Growing Pains was a pretty competent debut, but suffered from the double whammy of being called ‘new grunge’ and sounding an awful like old grunge. So, has Mr Bigland managed to shake off the spectral presence of Seattle? In a word, ish. There are some very American underground sounding songs, undeniably, but it’s more by way of inspiration than emulation. What does come to the fore is a more riffy, nay Biffy, rock style for your delectation. Opener ‘Arizona Waiting’ roars out of the speakers full of V8 riff fury that leads to a chorus that positively bounces along – not the sort of thing you expect to emerge from Monmouth and Oxford – with Matt’s voice coming across like Peter Gabriel turning his hand to college rock. It’s an exciting but cerebral sound. ‘Derail’ reins it in a touch, turning in a poppy woo woo chorus to accompany the tight lipped, fearfully released claustrophobic melody. ‘Peninsula’, with its drop D tuned riff, isolated imagery and British bombast (the Queen breakdown is hilarious) is witty, poppy and self-effacing without being downbeat. It’s a very strong opening, and it’s only when we hit ‘Heather’ that we encounter a Pixies-esque, bass heavy riff by numbers. This creates an almost us and them feel to the album, the old DPU and the new – ‘The Way We Came’, ‘Draw a Line’ and ‘Lip Hook Kiss’ are old, the rest are new, with special mention going to ‘Summer Girl’ for being a proper rock and roll lust song full of drop D filth, ‘White T Shirt and Jeans’ for ramming Beck and Kiss into my mind at the same time and ‘Nature Nurture’ just for being a full on sixties wig out. Most of it I like a lot; some of it I like a bit. Can’t say fairer than that. Rob Wright
because it marks the point that Eureka Machines were no longer just a poppy rock band, they are a poppy rock band fighting for their very lives. And we all champion the underdog.
These Monsters – Heroic Dose (Function Records) Three long years have passed since ‘Call Me Dragon’ hit the shelves........or should we say these days “was launched into cyberspace”? During the intervening time, post rockers Samuel James Pryor (voice, guitar), Ian Thirkill (bass) and Tommy Davidson (drums) have been gigging all over England in between long commutes from the south coast, having also quickly come to terms with the easterly departure of saxophonist Johnny Farrell following the aforementioned debut. So, to album number two (whose moniker is a reference from a Bill Hicks stand up routine concerning copious consumption of magic mushrooms) sees the leaner meaner Monsters reflecting this in their new material. Gone are the extended brooding tracks containing the sax driven instrumental passages, eerily reminiscent of early Roxy, to be replaced by a double handful of short sharp shocks, none of which exceed the four minute mark.
Opener ‘Very Strong, Very Clever’, once the opening salvos are out of the way, almost sounds like an 80s metal track, and the impression you get is that the band are trying to kick the ‘post’ out of their post rock sound and just want to be a rock and roll band. Next up ‘When the Going Gets Weird’ and ‘Harder and Faster’ reaffirms this opinion, despite the fact that James’s voice still screeches and the racket behind it is still as glorious as before but perhaps taking a more sleazy primal hue. ‘Live Some’ sees the first protracted instrumental but then ‘Same Sex Scene’, ‘One Of Those Creeps’ ‘Your Mothers’ Lover’ and ‘Survivalists Get All the Girls’ see us swiftly return to the gutter with a bit of b-movie thrown in for good measure, before closing things off with the ever wholesome title track. Expect plenty of decibels when they play Live at Leeds at the beginning of May. www.thesemonsters.com Mike Price
Legion of Swine – Tug Yr Forelock To The Global Financial Elite (Ojud Records) The noise of the title track is an electronic churning that sounds to me to be very similar to the opening of Whitehouse’s classic alternate-universe-pop-hit ‘Wriggle Like A Fucking Eel’, except that instead of surging forwards into pummelling beats, exhilarating noise, and cathartic shouting within twenty seconds, ‘Tug Yr Forelock’ remains trapped in first gear for its whole fourteen minute duration. The noise sounds like it is struggling to shift up into action, but cannot break free of its limited confines. This is extremely appropriate for an accompaniment to the track’s bleak monologue. A grimly resigned sounding voice disdainfully curses the selfish, consumerist, neoliberal, other-fearing, divisive, ‘workers-orshirkers’ ideology spat out every day by certain newspapers and political parties. There is no hope here, and the listener (“you stupid bastard”) is complicit and pathetic. This is ‘Powerless Electronics’, frustrated and yet impotent. I think it would make an appropriate walk out track at the next Conservative Party conference. Sandwiching that are two seven minute portions of droning, pulsing electronics. These are actually fairly pleasant listening compared to ‘Tug Yr Forelock’, even if one of them is called ‘The Penis-Faced Fascist’. Both are made up of chunky synth throbs, and are intense without being abrasive. ‘Know Your Place’ builds up a pleasing pulsing momentum halfway through, and ‘Fascist’ descends into thick low tones towards its end. Both are strong pieces, and they form a perhaps necessary contrast to the unrelenting grimness of the centrepiece. A strong release. Tom Bench A-Sun Amissa – You Stood Up for Victory, We Stood Up for Less (Gizeh Records) A vibrating bowed string, softly droning. A fully echoed picked guitar, a resonating and reverberating series of
Piano tinkles in the background, high end notes only. The guitar leaves. The strings draw shapes and shards of sound. A bass clarinet, mournful, sings. Multi-layered but still simple, an insistent ring of hammered notes introduces a fuller construction, a swelling bank of clouds passing over heather. You can close your eyes and hear the chirrup of grouse nesting, a rustle of grass, the keewit of a passing gull. Before we glide on into sunlight. And that’s just the first of the two pieces on this cd. To be honest, it sounds nothing quite so much as something by Richard Skelton – it has the same landscape, painting pictures in your ears that tie it to specific place and time. Wild grassland, over moors, wind and rain, Spring sunshine, loneliness and space. All of which makes it rather beautiful. The second piece is louder, faster, more pushy, but still has the same basic template. Parts of it are driven by the bass clarinet, talking in a jazz-tinged voice (reminding me of Andy Sheppard) and the drone structure is more pronounced. It works well, but doesn’t have the same beauty. I found their last album, Desperate in her heavy sleep, uninteresting, almost post-soft-rock by numbers. But this new release by A-Sun Amissa has a coherence and timescale (two pieces, both nearly twenty minutes long) that lifts it out of the ordinary. It has Spring written all over it. Cactus Petrol Bastard – Dripping Gash (Self release) This album is a loud, offensive, rude, noisy, deranged and crude mess and I love it. Opening track ‘Shoot the Dog’ erupts with a flailing barrage of twisted and overdriven electronic beats before the singer starts screeching ‘Pull your fucking cock out
and give me my money!!’ over and over. The second track is called ‘Cunt and Bass’ (need I say more?). Third track is ‘Hard Drive in the Mircowave’, which sounds pretty innocuous until you realise the main lyric is ‘Keep the cunts fucking while I put the hard drive in the microwave’, which is certainly bizarre but far from innocuous. And although the next song, ‘Circuit Board Rammed Up My Arse’, rather improbably starts in an ambient mode, it descends, as predicted by the title, into another surreal trawl through obscenity and outrage, claiming that actually having a circuit board rammed up your arse is, variously, a symbol of power, of beauty, of nothing, of chaos and, finally, of shit. And so the album proceeds. The mangled and overdriven electronic beats will be familiar to anyone acquainted with Alec Empire’s more extreme explorations of shattered circuit boards and fuelled by the same elated abandon. Lyrically I’m not sure if there are any precedents for the provocative eruption of obscenities included here, but what is certain is that there’s a cartoonish energy about Petrol Bastard in its entirety that makes them an oddly exhilarating experience, a fact which is made even more apparent when they play live. And despite the crudity, there’s clearly a satirical, even Situationist, intent here as well, making Petrol Bastard anything but merely offensive. The easily offended should approach with caution but for everyone else Petrol Bastard will be outrageous, shocking fun. Steve Walsh Mark Wynn - Eggs, Kes and that bike I never bought you even though I’d like to & James Dean Makes Me Insecure, Why Does He Have To Be So Shexy” (both Desert Mine Records) Yorkshireman Mark Wynn may be a lyrical mumbler and a subversive song writer but he is above all else a lover of words. In his own words, on the track ‘Words’: “I like words – big words, small words…I like words that placed in the correct right order can make your blood rush…I like words that kick you in the balls, curl your toes…I like the
repeating notes, drifting up and down a small scale. Slow viola moans, the pair of sounds shimmering while they gradually distort. The increasing sounds feel less like additional instruments and more like the gentlest feedback sliding through a loop.
words you say when there is nothing else to say”. Mark Wynn’s words are his trade and his vocal playfulness gives him extra special storytelling skills. And there is seemingly no shortage of stories, anecdotes, noises and words as James Dean… was released in October 2012 and Eggs, Kes… followed in early 2013. Since the release of his latest album, Wynn has been hailed by BB6Music’s Tom Robinson as a “future national treasure” and drew comparisons to John Cooper Clarke and Mark E Smith. Such comparisons set up an expectation of punk poetry and destabilising musical tendencies which is very much a part of listening to James Dean…. Hearing the opening notes of ‘Introduction’ stagger out of the speakers is an invitation to get inside the noisy mind of a man ready to tear the covering off what we unseeingly experience and dismiss as every day – the people, the places and the crippling hangovers. His approach is to pour an acidic shot of honesty into each song, stuffing them with words about the daily occurrences of a man wading through his 20s: the fear of getting your new jeans mucky, infatuation, getting too drunk and lost on the way home, eating so much you tell your belly off. But Wynn makes the small stuff feel like the really big stuff. On ‘Baby Baby’ he uses pleas and growls as a gorgeous yearning to understand someone inside and out. He’s a pop-punk magician on ‘The Get Off Song’, during which a dangerous, confused storm of tense riffs transmit all the madness and unreality of a night out ending awry. More than just spinning yarns, Wynn is also lyrically metafictive, appraising himself and tearing down song writing tropes in ‘The Big Fib Song’ and on ‘Trebles for singles (crap first line)’, ending it with a muttered “…..well that was shit”.
This blase ‘up yours’ to tradition is still felt on Eggs, Kes… but this later record sounds different. The vocals are clearer. The guitar and percussion feel less scrappy and a mix of styles is unleashed. With punctuating snare drum, rapid anti-folk picking and Americana strumming there’s a sense of how musically clever Wynn must be to achieve his desired effect of insouciant social commentary. Recorded despite two
hangovers (one from ale), the subject matter on Eggs, Kes…’ includes exchanging an unwanted CD for the film Kes, buying eggs, visiting babies and trying to take up football watching as a hobby. Within these tales are the proper bits of humanity we all take for granted – Wynn shows us there are lessons in the mundane and poetry in human behaviour. We should all be grateful that there is a Yorkshireman of wit and prolific writing tendencies who can produce bravely deconstructed, deliberately half-baked, gently funny and yet moving observational music. Here’s to even more musical dishevelment from Wynn – the future voice of our mumbling, meandering generation – in 2013. Lindsey Kent Flame Griller - Flame Griller (Sinoptic Music) People say music is all about opinions, so to be brutally honest when I heard track 1 – ‘Darwin Theory meets Dr. Ice’ from Addverse, ExP and JND who form Yorkshire Hip Hop trio Flame Griller, I wondered what the hell I was listening to. As I got onto ‘Red Zone’ and ‘The Negativity’ (Tracks 2&3), I was blown away with the flow and rhyming on those two tracks and regained my enthusiasm for the rest of the album. Throughout the album, there are a few tracks like ‘Darwin Theory meets Dr. Ice’ that include the strange use of language(skits), I see it as ‘Griller’ adding some uniqueness to their music and maybe using it as a trademark. There were some instances where I could hear similarities to British hip hop dual Rizzle Kicks, with their ‘Hip Pop’ style. Possibly my favourite track on the album is ‘Starting Up’ with the use of the saxophone in the latter stages and various other instruments, it shows hip hop music can be made without the use of computerised samples/beats and autotune. In every song you can hear the Yorkshire twang and with FG’s accent it really gives the album its personality. To conclude, good, bad and great bits in this album for me. I love the Yorkshire/Northern feel to it - as well as keeping to the hip hop rhymes, it gives the album so much personality. The strange skits? I wasn’t a fan, but
everyone’s different. Something that highly surprised me about the album is that it doesn’t include one piece of explicit language - how many hip hop albums can say that? Jordan Shuker handmadehands – either and or (Self release) It’s been two years since handmadehands released their eponymous debut, a baker’s dozen collection of songs from a band of brothers (literally) seeming to emerge from nowhere yet able to produce finely crafted songs that expertly articulated a, ahem, more ‘mature’ view of life’s traps, disappointments and occasional triumphs. So here eventually is the follow up, but it carries a mere eight songs. Is it a disappointment? Nah, not really. Because if anything the band have developed a surer touch based on economy and confidence when it comes to their songwriting, making the album more of a rich distillation than a short measure. Musically, the band are essentially a drums, bass and guitar trio with added keyboards but the variety of tone and attack they generate is a key factor in their success. Drummer Dan Fletcher is a source of endless rhythmic variety and, when needed, subtlety while bass player Chris Fletcher is the epitome of precision and economy. Singer and guitarist Chris Fletcher is happy to utilise a ragged guitar sound and there’s an easy roughness about their sound that boosts the generally up tempo feel of the songs. But it’s in Simon Fletcher’s lyrics that the real strength of the band lies, although the bleakness and irony that they sometime carry is occasionally at odds with the good natured bounce of the music. His lyrics have a kind of opaqueness and ambiguity about them that suggest they’re drawn from (someone’s) life, but their real cleverness lies in their easy conversational tone. If there is a criticism it’s that themes of communication (bad, good, destructive) dominate the songs once again, even to the extent that a couple of the songs almost seem to repeat ideas from songs on the debut album. Nonetheless, another fine, if short, handmadehands album. Steve Walsh IKESTRA – IKESTRA (Destroy All Records)
IKESTRA are a seven piece band formed in Leeds in 2010. Having spent a couple of years honing their songs (and cementing their line-up) this is their first album. What they have created certainly locks into a groove, even if the word “retro” jumps out at you in every song.
To me, the flavours are mostly ‘70s funk and soul. My partner settled on early Acid Jazz. And we could both see what the other meant. Their press release talks of Miles Davis’s Bitches Brew and their name references the Sun Ra Arkestra – both obvious influences, but there’s nothing here that justifies the allusion. Mostly it works OK. Opener ‘Dan Y Coed’ takes a couple of minutes to get going but then bursts into some funky guitar shapes. Throughout, the percussion and drums lock together tightly. The keys tinkle over the melody (OK – that bit is Miles-ish in ‘JSA’) or set the rhythm (which is where the Acid Jazz feel really comes from). But the bass never takes control (it’s too low in the mix) – we never get that orgasmic rush that so often defines funk. The twin guitars take centre stage too much and they don’t have much of a spark. Least successful is the vocal. In the right setting (‘Mistakes’) it’s fine but mostly it cries out for something with power and control. Something with soul. But it never appears. To be fair, I suspect that you need to see IKESTRA to appreciate them. Every song feels like it wants to break free, to let these obviously talented musicians expand and distort the songs into other shapes. And you can easily see that the audience would be dancing. Capturing that feeling is notoriously difficult and, as such, this record is a noble failure. Cactus Mr Shiraz – Mr Shiraz (Dead by Dawn) Huddersfield rockers Mr Shiraz have been off the radar for a long while now, but after years of anticipation the ‘Renegades of Funk Metal’ return with their self-titled debut album. They have definitely upped their game
But the Shiraz camp aren’t all about straight up rock. ‘Spy 49’ brings out their more funkier side, as they swap the distortion pedal for wah and head back to early 90’s Chili Peppers territory before bringing the Shiraz-scream back in. I’m all for variety, and these rockers definitely deliver in that aspect. The guitar parts are loud and in your face, but they are without the big solos… that is until we reach ‘Kill the Head’ where they finally unleash on the shredding! Despite all this complex playing, however, the main melodies and hooks could be stronger overall to really imprint the songs in the listener’s head. That said, the tracks are still interesting and engaging, and the energy and enjoyment of their playing has definitely been captured. Hats off to them, the Renegades are back! OIlie Deans Jack Sibley – My Favourite song is Rock and Roll, My favourite Musical Instrument is Guitar (Self-Release) It’s hard to describe Jack Sibley’s debut solo effort in a way that will give an accurate picture of the album to someone who hasn’t heard it already. As mentioned in the album’s title, there is a definite edge of real Rock and Roll but also a lot of folk too, both styles played and written with a great deal of eccentricity and its
Although the songs do suffer from a low production standard it does actually start to grow on you with songs like ‘Tell Me’ ending up quite catchy and ‘My Guitar’ sounding an air of romance that is hard not to like.
very obvious that for the most part this is a collection of personal accounts put into song.
There are, however, moments with songs like ‘She Said’ where it feels a little like the song might relate to a personal joke that perhaps as a listener is unknown or harder to appreciate. Jack Sibley has talent in guitar playing and at enough times shows promise as a lyricist. And even if there are moments that leave you wondering “is it just me that didn’t get that?” he does show with the last song, ‘Hope’, that he’s a pretty smart guy with something worth listening to. Liam Shevill Rose Greenwood - Yorkshire Street Lancashire based singer-songwriter Rose Greenwood’s debut album Yorkshire Street is a charming affair. Acoustic in its entirety, the album showcases Greenwood’s delicate vocal as it floats over a gentle synergy of her and Mick Wright’s guitar work. With lyrics recalling personal tales of life and love it’s clear to see that Yorkshire Street stays faithful to the folk genre both lyrically as well as musically. Indeed, the intimate folk aesthetic of Greenwood’s songs works well throughout an album which contrasts a stripped back acoustic simplicity with hypnotically effective bursts of intricate guitar work. However, aside from the excellent ‘Yeah...But I’d Know’, the most melodic song on the record, the albums tracks have a tendency to slide past without proving to be particularly memorable. While the consistency of style which permeates the album provides Yorkshire Street with a definite cohesiveness, such rigid consistency means that parts of the album drift by pretty passively, leaving little lasting impression even after several listens. That said, the album as whole is a pleasant experience, and it’s not hard to imagine how many of the songs could come to life played live in an intimate setting. Ultimately however, while the album is a cohesive work of authentic and charming folk, the lack of stand-out songs from the album mean that, as quietly endearing as the album is, it’s not quite great. Alex Wignall
here, with opener ‘Built in Sin’ diving straight in with loud, energetic sounds. This atmosphere definitely shapes the rest of the album; as the tracks go on, the intense and clever guitar work becomes more and more apparent. Foo Fighters really spring to mind here, and by the time we reach ‘Elephant’, the vocals have really delved into the screamo variety, adding that extra tinge of surprise and energy.
Singles / EPs Racket Ball – Everything for the Pop Front (Self release) “You should book a flight/Moscow Moscow must go/Put some colour back in with the acrylic alphabet/Show them there’s life in the old red yet” Racket Ball have done it again. This three-piece from Leeds have crafted an electro-pop gem. Four tracks of knowingly eighties-tinged beats and twinkles with lyrics drenched in sardonic wit and bad jokes. And it’s glorious. Maybe it’s just me, but it makes me do silly little robotic dances throughout. While smiling. Inanely. If I have a criticism, it’s that it isn’t as good as the live experience (where the bass really lets rip) – they were the best Leeds band I saw last year. It makes you wonder why they don’t take themselves seriously. But you should. “It’s a boom-slump war/It’s a boom slump war/It’s a cycle/We’re getting saddle sore” Available free from https://soundcloud.com/ racket-ball Cactus Red Pine – City Lights EP (Self release)
Leeds based producer Red Pine (John Stuckey) has created an EP that encapsulates the diverse and changing landscape of contemporary electronic music with his atmospheric EP City Lights. Ranging from peaceful ambience to future garage and down-tempo beats to big bass drops this five track record enables us to sample a little bit of everything, whilst simultaneously maintaining a unique and consistent sound of its own. Notable tracks are the foot-tapping opener ‘I Am Someone’ and the genre-defying ‘Order’. Slow to build yet by no means minimal, the tone of the EP is markedly deep and full of anticipation, almost as if something big might happen at any point. Prophetic?
Jonny Quits - Jonny Quits (Self Release) Jonny Quit’s eponymous debut EP is soaked in 60s nostalgia. It pushes to the fore effortlessly smooth harmonies carried along atop classic 60s guitar rhythm sections. There’s a nod towards psychedelia too, on the acoustic ‘Oh You’, ensuring they pay homage to all their 60s influence. Best of all, however, is the laid-back swagger of ‘I Don’t Know’. Driven by a fuzzed out bluesy guitar, it manages successfully to bring a contemporary edge to the record while still staying true to the bands nostalgic stylings. Alex Wignall Ælan - Demos (Self release) What’s most commendable about Leeds based rockers Ælan is their ability to successfully match a classic alt rock aesthetic, showcasing heavily distorted riffs and haunted, strained vocals, with songs that are extremely melodic. In truth opener ‘Wreath’ struggles for cohesion, perhaps suffering from an over-abundance of ideas. However, both ‘Darkly Dreaming’ and ‘Carnal’, while each channelling shades of Tom Morello, establish Ælan’s ability to write incessantly enjoyable, riff-ridden rock, sure to get even the most po-faced listeners dusting down their air guitars when no-one’s looking. Available as name your price at http://aelan. bandcamp.com Alex Wignall The Birthday Kiss – Can You Keep a Secret? (Self release)
Available as a free digital download at http:// redpinemusic.co.uk/
Twee-poppers The Birthday Kiss have struck gold with their debut single, bringing to the table a song that will really get you off your feet. The warm hazy sounds of uplifting drums and reverbed guitars really aid the catchy female vocals, with melodies that would make Belle and Sebastian proud!
Exclamation Pony / This Many Boyfriends @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds Home-grown support band This Many Boyfriends were consistently great. Their entire set was brimming with lively and exciting indie-pop. ‘Number One’ and ‘You Don’t Need To Worry’ were pulled straight out of the top drawer and an excellent warm-up for what was to come. It is unsurprising why this is the band on everybody’s lips. The UK debut of Exclamation Pony left more of a question mark after this turbulent Leeds gig. Expectations were high for Ryan Jarman’s new project, with the help of Jen Turner (previously of Here We Go Magic). And with a quality support act, a marriage proposal and Jen knocking back Jack Daniels like it was tap water, something told me this would be an interesting one. After opening with an atrocious 3 minutes of noise, we went in to ‘Rumours’, the only publicly released song from the band. Not sounding too unlike The Strokes, it was a good start. But then the rest of the gig was the most messy and tempestuous set I have ever witnessed. One song would be incredibly rough then the next would be exceptional and up there with the best of The Cribs’ stuff. Jen was absolutely smashing it and slotting in guitar solos just for fun until she awkwardly decided to break in to the Cribs’ B-side, ‘Glandular Fever’ (to Ryan and the crowd’s embarrassment). By the end, Exclamation Pony managed to hold some control. The second to last song was a quality, edgy number with a massive, infectious beat; topped off with an explosive ending and performed in true rock and roll style. The set closed with ‘Rumours’ again and a massive high rang through the jam-packed venue. Amy Walker The Wind Up Birds / Kleine Schweine and MonMon @ The Brudenell Social Club, Leeds
I was steaming when I wrote this, forgive me if it goes astray… First band I catch this evening are MonMon, a magical band that can mysteriously make female band members appear at will, turning them from big heavy riffing Punk, to a more eerie Pixies-esque slow rumble and menace, mid gig! A band that may not only to be one to watch for the future – no, maybe they came from the future..? Firmly in the present are Kleine Schweine: A glance back towards the late seventies early eighties Punk/
Hardcore bands and they race through a set of maybe ten songs in thirty minutes less if you discount the on stage banter from front man Neal Hanson. Songs come thick and fast like a Wacky Races with The Dead Kennedys, Devo, The Dickies and Black Flag all in it to the death, ‘Wolfgangsta’s Paradise’ is probably the best one minute seventeen seconds you’ll hear this year, along with ‘Nothing Compares to USSR’, coming in at an epic 2:28ish. Don’t be put off by the comedy titles, each song is attacked with a wry wit and sardonic smile as dictators, politicians and apathy are put to the sword. Headliners The Wind Up Birds are an entirely different beast, with a gruff shambolic swagger and singer Paul Ackroyd sporting a massively bandaged hand and the occasional lyric sheets in the other hand, Songs, ‘Where’s Me Dinner’ and ‘2 Ambulance Day’ give glimpses of grim days in Leeds a shimmer of optimism, with great Yorkshire witticisms and Alan Bennett honesties. A brilliant night from some of Leeds’ finest. Glen Pinder War All the Time / Carer / Petrol Bastard / Dale Prudent vs Benbow vs Brown @ Wharf Chambers, Leeds This edition of Swinefest, the sixth, was beset by line-up changes almost up to the date of the gig, but nothing can stop the noise. Dale Prudent is Mr Swinefest Dave Proctor’s Angry Ranting Man alter ego, here accompanied by dependable fixtures on the Leeds noise/rock scene Adam BenbowBrowne, on destabilising keys and noise, and Noah Brown, on laptop generated audio scree and judder. Prudent’s prepared text recitations with interjected improvisations are certainly expletive laden but only occasionally reach the levels of menacing anger aimed for, while the triumvirate works well as a unit, the sub bass throb, chattering noise and queasy fairground effects intuitively tracking the words. Not sure if Swinefest was ready for Petrol Bastard. Tell you the truth, not sure the world is ready for Petrol Bastard. The music is the kind of demented noise techno that Alec Empire and his DHR cohorts excelled at, only ratcheted up several notches. The two bloke singers, one tall, skinny and wearing zebra suit (yup, zebra), the other squat, chunky and wearing primary colours, look and act like perverted cartoon characters whacked on
War All the Time are old school hardcore; short, fast blasts of ear shredding guitars and drums. The grunting and bug eyed singer was serving behind the bar before the set, and calmly resumed his duties after it, suitably purged. The noise of life. Steve Walsh Aidan Baker/A-Sun Amissa/Dean McPhee @ Wharf Chambers, Leeds Bingley based solo guitarist Dean McPhee’s set up of a Telecaster and minimal effects pedals may look poorly equipped to hold your attention for thirty minutes, but his precise and fluid technique coupled with a rich and intense sense of musicality make his set a thoroughly absorbing and rewarding experience. He plays three songs only, each one given the space to breathe and
A-Sun Amissa play their new album You Stood Up For Victory, We Stood Up for Less in its entirety, which may sound simple except that the album consists of just two extended, multi-layered and faceted pieces played by just four musicians and represents a quantum leap in the creative confidence of core members Angela Chan and Richard Knox. ‘Part 1’ is a funereal, mournful piece built from Knox’s simple guitar figure and featuring some thickly swirling viola and effects from Chan, while ‘Part 2’ has much more menacing undercurrents and features some extraordinarily aggressive, even violent, bass clarinet from Gareth Davies. Headliner Aidan Baker sits in on second guitar. This music may not travel very fast or far, but it’s a rich, vibrant and sensual concoction none the less.
Carer is the latest in a series of many ongoing projects fronted by Noah Brown, this one stripping electric guitar music back to an even more primitive format than Brown’s other outfit Normal Man. Each song follows the same template – guitar, bass and drums bludgeon out a fearful riff over which Brown wails and bellows, stalking through the audience like a pissed off bear. It feels like an unstoppable wall of sonic terror blasting through the building and its sounds fucking beautiful.
evolve organically, the effects controlled, almost muted, in the service of music. Astonishing and beautiful.
As he’s already played, Aidan Baker’s relatively simple electric guitar and effects set up is ready to go, so he slips on stage and starts playing while most of the audience are still in the bar. The first piece is a delicately played, almost acoustic sounding song with the words not so much sung as whispered. The next is a more astringent effects layered instrumental while A-Sun Amissa rejoin Baker to play a (possibly improvised) final piece which sounds like an extension of the bands set. Based on even scant knowledge of his copious back catalogue of recordings, Baker is clearly comfortable with wildly diverging styles, a feature this gig only served to underline. A puzzle wrapped in an enigma, perhaps, but well worthy of further investigation. Steve Walsh
crystal meth. The songs are peppered with references to wanking and fucking with the appropriate mimes eagerly supplied. The band aim to offend but it’s so over the top (‘Circuit Board Rammed Up My Arse’) and selfdeprecating (‘Petrol Bastard Are Fucking Shit’) that you just have to laugh.
LIVE Melt Yourself Down / Shatner’s Bassoon @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds NOISE NOISE NOISE NOISE NOISE begins Shatner’s Bassoon, the kind of frenetic free-jazzing that makes you wonder whether skill has much say in the matter. Thankfully, a beautifully orchestrated return to order reassures that the ticket price is well justified and that these guys can play. Actually, these guys can really play. Zorn-esque sectionals provide a format for improvised exploration and some truly mesmerising interplay ensues. Shatner’s Bassoon perform difficult music with humour and craft, such that no extreme seems too extreme. Melt Yourself Down, in stark contrast to Shatner’s Bassoon and despite the improv pedigree the sum of its parts enjoy, present us with something wholly more comprehensible. A line-up devoid of chordal instruments, the 5-piece relies on a Sax duo and Bass to flavour the sound while drummer and percussionist provide the primal basis for Hawaiian shirt-clad singer Kushal Gaya’s chantable lyrics to permeate the room. Inherently danceable and free, the impeccable tightness of the operation has an aura of the Dionysian – the kind of party where everything is consumed in the form of a luminous shot and you’re vaguely aware that the money you paid to get in is helping to finance the breaking of someone else’s legs. Live vocal and saxophone manipulation adds intrigue into the mixture and the swirling two-part horn riffs create a compelling basis for each of the tracks. It’s a blistering set, intense from the first moment to the last and one that keeps feet moving throughout. Tim Hearson Monster Killed By Laser / Castrovalva @ Beaverworks, Leeds To my discredit, it had been a while since I’d seen Castrovalva live before tonight, but not much had changed in terms of their live performance. They have always maintained a full-blown, no-holds-barred approach to stage shows, seemingly stretching every sinew of their bodies to squeeze one more drop of excitement into their potent, energetic concoction. The boys rip through their songs with the assured confidence that so many years of performing have given them, and the reaction of the crowd is a testament to the reputation they have built in Leeds. I love watching Castrovalva play. Castrovalva are fun.
Monster Killed By Laser were a band that, admittedly, flew off the spectrum of my musical focus a few years ago, as new material seemed to become harder and harder to come by. When a chance to see them once more was offered to me, I jumped at the chance to relive some past memories of prog-rock craziness, and I wasn’t disappointed. With a new bass player in the form of Pulled Apart By Horses’ R.J. Lee, Monster Killed By Laser continue to make that sweet, sweet, heavy-as-allhell music they made when I was first introduced to the Wakefield stalwarts. A storming set from MKBL, full of
roaming guitar lines and pounding drumbeats, undercut by swirling, video game-esque synth-work . A lovely, loud, and extremely late, evening was had by all, but I left a long time before the supposed curfew of 5:00 AM. Paddy Gunn Three Trapped Tigers / Buenos Aires Metro @ Bar 1:22, Huddersfield Lots and lots of loud noise. Lots and lots of it. Three Trapped Tigers didn’t dip from maximum velocity for any more than about 15 seconds throughout their hour long set. Blasting through material mostly taken from their 2011 debut long player Route One Or Die with barely a pause for breath, TTT showcased a flair for finding melodies in the mechanical (distortion and drums were the band’s primary ingredients, with no vocals save for a few oohs and aahs) without resorting to the roboticism of the IDM they are obviously influenced by. If anything, there was as much of a funk and drum and bass influence to their live sound than anything more overtly electronic - Adam Betts’ powerhouse drumming in particular bore resemblance to a freaked-out Roni Size record, with bars shuttling past at a ratio impossible to count but always landing squarely, James Brown style, on beat 1, before taking off again. It was a thrill ride all in all, ably supported by Huddersfield’s own finest prog outfit, Buenos Aires Metro, who had even more of a predilection for 5/4 time than TTT did. I’d call them the metal Autechre if I was being lazy, but really the Tigers had a whole extra dimension to their live playing that could only come about from a rock and roll background - and a self awareness to switch off mid phrase without fanfare or fuss, just in case it all got a bit too self-indulgent and silly. They wouldn’t want to leave too much of an impression, after all. James Wood Humanfly/Bilge Pump/Monster Killed By Laser/Himself @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds Happy birthday to me, and what says ‘birthday greetings’ like a night of prog/prog metal, apart from an amusing card featuring Meerkats, one of whom is dressed as Slash? Of course, not to everyone’s taste – Sorry, my mate Alan – but certainly an epic evening. Himself are a serious piece of melodic kit that don’t take themselves too seriously. They’ve got a front line of four instrumentalists who also double up as vocalists and put on a fine display of riffs and harmonies with a comedy element – a bit like a full size Tenacious D or a heavy metal Flight of the Concords. As with all musical comedy, for it to work it has to be absolutely pitch perfect – all or nothing – and there are bits, like explaining what the song is about to do and how to react, which are hilarious, but it doesn’t work all the time. Good effort though. Monster Killed By Laser are just one cape away from a Yes concert – Moog? Check. Hair? Robert Lee (yes,
(Subs)cribers/Two-Minute Noodles/Astral Social Club/ The Seven Inches @ The Fox & Newt, Leeds 20 April An evening of quirky electronic synth mayhem featuring long-running, slightly farcical, retro-synth duo (Subs) cribers. Alongside will be the formidable pairing of organ and drums duo, Two-Minute Noodles, and Neil Campbell’s pulsating, experimental noise project Astral Social Club. Juffage’s “Sonic Cauldron” (and These Men/Ten/ Steve Lawson/Andy Williamson) @ Left Bank, Leeds 26 April This is going to be the only Juffage gig of the year. It is going to be massive. With the help of Katie Harkin (Sky Larkin) and Tom Evans (Vessels), our Jeff intends on turning the cavernous space of the gorgeous Left Bank centre into an immersive “Sonic Cauldron”. Expect it to be ambitious and a bit special. Arthur Rigby and the Baskervylles/Look Yonder/The Wooden Machine/Purple Emperors @ The Library, Leeds 26 April Gentlemanly, cinematic popsters Arthur Rigby have been a tad on the quiet side over the past few months and this gig sees a return to Leeds along with new material and noise
Humanfly... no longer as dark as they once were but still pretty shadowy. The new stuff is moody, riffy, melodic and a little bit trippy – like an incredibly heavy Ozric Tentacles or a sax free Gong/King Crimson. Which is a revelation, as is John Sutcliffe’s sepulchral falsetto. This is tie dye in black on black, or rather tie die. Necrohippy and proud.
And here comes the other best drummer in Leeds, Neil Turpin, in Bilge Pump. Undeniably, they are incredible musicians; irrevocably, they are witty and complex; the only thing I can’t get over is that everything feels like a masterpiece... there’s no everyday ware, they constantly seem to be proving how good they are, when they should
be having a go at accessibility. I realise this is heresy but... do you see?
Live at Leeds @ Leeds 4 May The first weekend of May means it’s time for the citywide beast that is Live at Leeds, this time headlined by Savages, Rudimental, Everything Everything, Alunageorge, Swim Deep, Tribes as well as Vibrations favourites, The Staves. Hot piss! Also remember The Unconference on Friday 3 May, for those looking to get tips from people in the creative industries as well as The Vaccines taking on Millennium Square on Sunday 5 May. Big Trouble in British Wildlife @ The Packhorse, Leeds 4 May Big trouble indeed, in the form of British Wildlife curating their own rival all-dayer in the Packhorse. To be fair, this looks good natured – more of an L@L fringe, if the phrase doesn’t make your skin crawl – and having an L@L wristband will reduce your entrance fee to a measly £1. £1 for the likes of Shields, Super Luxury, Bearfoot Beware, Two Trick Horse, Cattle, Bong Cauldron and more to be announced. Alt-J @ The O2 Academy, Leeds 10 May Former Leodites and Mercury Prize winners, Alt-J, will be gracing us with their presence at the O2 Academy. I don’t really need to sell this one particularly hard, do I? Benjamin Francis Leftwich @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 19 May Probably don’t need to sell this one too much either… Yorkshire born songsman charms all.
Ikestra/Mahogany Hand Glider/Godzilla Black/Cleft @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 28 April
Galaxians/Game_Program @ Wharf Chambers, Leeds 23 May
Recently formed Destroy All Records are having a bit of a do, showcasing the 2 acts on their burgeoning roster as well as some proggy sonic expulsions from London’s Godzilla Black and Manchester’s Cleft.
For those among us with a penchant for a good boogie and some live retro-funk-dance, Wharf Chambers is the place to be for Galaxians and Jon Nash’s solo DJing project Game_Program. Moist.
PABH Robert Lee) and David Shields (yes Cowtown David Shields) have got loads, check. Super indulgent prog noodling? Oh yes, definitely. Actually, it’s very very good if you like that (sorry, my mate Alan), very proficient, very over the top and when you have one of Leeds’ best drummers, PABH bassist and guitar tech and... a man playing a Moog out front, entertaining at the very least.
Harry George Johns
Four eventful years have passed since Mike Price first chatted to local singer songwriter Harry (George) Johns, then one half of the blues tinged duo The Old Romantic Killer Band. In the intervening time he’s appeared in Wingman and Dinosaur Pile Up but he’s now a solo artist having recently taken a large kitchen knife to his abdomen and spilled his guts on the splendidly cathartic 6 track EP Post-Breakdown Blues which does exactly what it says on the tin. The singer does admit it’s perhaps not for everyone and may also prove pretty hard to play the songs live, it’s just where he was at the time. So, just off the plane following a series of European gigs, Harry has a new single ‘Rosalie’ due out in May followed by more dates, this time starting in the UK and ending up down under. He’ll then be heading for the Big Apple for more writing and recording so with this in mind Mike’s lucky to catch our hero in loquacious form as we piled through the OFTR format amid scenes of considerable head scratching. Ability is nothing without opportunity I suppose it depends what you want to do with your ability. You could be really good at writing songs but be quite happy to sit in your bedroom and write [songs] about your exes without the desire to take it anywhere else so you’d still have ability but you may not want the opportunity. The notion that if you’re naturally gifted the world just throws you a bone is ridiculous so you have to have the drive to want to do it. You know nothing for sure...except the fact that you know nothing for sure. That question is too silly for me to comment on. Only dead fish go with the flow.
I’ve never really been interested in taking notice of what the flow is. I’m always interested in doing different things but I don’t necessarily go out of my way to go against the grain and being honest the irony of that question is that I’ve now become what the world probably has too many of - sad men with guitars, although most of them don’t mean it whereas I do, which is the crucial difference.
No one can make you feel inferior without your consent. I’m pretty bad for not giving a fuck about most things that I think are ridiculous. Every band I’ve ever been in has not been concerned with naysayers. When I put out this record (Post Break-Up Blues) I knew the bad reviews would affect me more than anything I’ve ever done before because it was so personal, but going through that process you eventually think “Fuck you, I don’t really care’. Do not appease bullshit. The greatest lesson in life is to know that even fools are right sometimes. Well they’re not are they; otherwise they wouldn’t be called fools. To acknowledge this would mean I’d have to listen to someone other than myself which I don’t do. Never trust a man, who when left alone with a tea cosy, doesn’t try it on. Well that’s interesting because I wear this tea cosy (referring to a most fetching red wooly hat) all the time. If you’ve never seen an elephant ski, you’ve never been on acid I’ve never taken acid although I’ve buggered up a lot of stuff, perhaps by just buying into that whole rock and roll cliché thing a bit too much. I still go crazy here and there; you’ve just got to have a handle on it. I was like a fucking cannonball smashing through people’s lives so I’m quite glad I think I’m not like that anymore. Boy bands should be exploded from a great height. They’re just pretty people singing music written by others. I haven’t got a problem with any of that stuff. Some people really hate spiders because they don’t look very nice and they’re a bit annoying and scary but we need them for everything else to work. I don’t listen to Justin Bieber and I’ve no idea what he’s doing but because he exists, he is paying for perhaps fifty other bands to have a career lower down the food chain. In terms of songwriting, regardless of genre, some of the best songs have been written by people who write for artists like that.
A good storyteller never lets the facts get in the way. That’s bullshit; the only story worth telling is a true story. I don’t use metaphor at all. I like a story to be straight, blunt, to the point and true. The only thing worth saying is something that’s true. On the press sheet of my (last) record it’s like pretty blunt….basically this stuff happened to me and now you’ve got a record about it. That’s why I’ve always really liked the honesty of The Pigeon Detectives, they’re genuinely good mates, really great live singing songs about going out and getting hammered…..just normal stuff I can relate to……. it may not be cool to admit that but I don’t give a shit. I have a real problem with inauthenticity and whether people give a shit or not, what I’m doing is authentic.
A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination. I’ve got a really bad head but I think I’ve got a really good heart. It’s not got me anywhere so far but I’m going to keep on trying. The only man who makes no mistakes is the man who never does anything It just depends what you want in life. I’ve made a ton of mistakes but I’ve got some really good stories for when I’m a grandparent. Post Breakdown Blues is available for download from Bandcamp.
The worst people can often give the best advice. No, because the worst people are the ones you should not go anywhere near.