Little Boots Wild Beasts Silverlode Rock Trumps Band ID Leeds Festival 2009 Leeds Music SEEN Leeds International Jazz Conference
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Free May 2009
5 Magazine Editorial 6 Leeds Festival 2009 14 Leeds Music SEEN Photography Exhibition 16 Little Boots 20 Band ID 22 Wild Beasts 26 Silverlode 30 Leeds International Jazz Conference 32 Rock Trumps! 34 Album Reviews 36 Single Reviews 36 Preview Reviews 37 Live Reviews 39 Second Hearing - Your Demos!
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Web Team Simon Hollingworth www.vibrations.org.uk Charlotte Watkins www.myspace.com/vibrationsmagazine The Contributors Sam Saunders, Neil Dawson, Rob Paul Chapman, Tom Martin, Charlotte Watkins, Kate Wellham, Adam Benbow-Browne, Spencer Bayles, Bart Pettman, Chris Thomas, Steve Walsh, Rob Wright, Mike Price, Patrick Gunn
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Little Boots Cover by Tom Martin
BE GONE YELLOW SKY DEVIL! What witchcraft bringest thou to turn the skies yonder a brightest blue, and banish’ed those which art more usually of grey’est hue? Flippin’ ‘eck for yoreth, they say thou art THE SUN and that thou did once shine forth unto’eth this green and pleasant land for sooth, so why has thou forsaken thee for many a’ season? Whatever the reason, this weekend I have mostly been welcoming back our long forgotten friend with open arms, and subsequently cursing my decision not to put sun cream on said arms. I write to you, from the comfort of the garden terrace here at Vibrations Towers in what is, to my memory, the most glorious day. Not that there’s been a great deal of competition in recent years. No doubt, by the time you read this, it’ll be tipping it down again, but as we in all likelihood succumb to our third successive summer of mind-numbing dreariness, we can at least take solace that we had this one weekend. I hope you spent it wisely. I climbed a mountain and then went for a vodka and tonic in the grounds of a 13th century castle in North Wales, since you asked. And it was while sipping this refreshing drink, glancing around this idyllic setting, that I had a thought that will have occurred to all of us – the helplessly musicobsessed – at one point or another. In the way that the first thing firemen do when they enter a new place is to asses the exit routes, that soldiers spec out a room for likely assailants, so music fans look at every room, field, structure, historical monument and exclaim “this would make an ace place for a gig!” Some of us, mostly ex-promoters, will then start to weigh this up as a practical possibility. Where’s the power supply? Where are the nearest conurbations? Where could we put the stage? What would the capacity be? How much would it cost? Who could I get on? How can I crow-bar The Scaramanga Six into the bill without anyone noticing?
www.liveatleeds.com. There is, frankly, no better way to discover some of the best hidden treasures this city has to offer. Yes, of course you could make a bee-line for the “name” bands, but why not use the opportunity to check out bands that otherwise you’d never think about seeing? The chances of seeing something by accident that rocks your world are pretty high if you work the numbers. Cardiacs, Radiohead, Broken Beats and Eels are amongst my favourite non-Leeds bands, all of whom I got into after seeing them without intending to. The joy of discovering something completely new and unexpected is amongst the greatest pleasures a music fan can experience. That initial rush you get after the first song leaves more than just a “meh” reaction. That by the second song you’re nudging the person next to you going “these guys are pretty good” and awaiting to see if it’s just you. Then by the end you’ve got your fist in the air pretending you know all the words to the choruses. These are the simple pleasures in life for your average music fan. And for more than a few of you, that’ll be the buzz you’ll be able take around with you for evermore after Live At Leeds. If you want a helping hand though, turn to the centre pages of this very magazine for your free BAND-ID card, which will give you free access to a compilation of some of our favourite artists we’ve recently featured, many of whom will be gracing the stages of Leeds around that time. We’re very excited to have procured this from the nice people at Media Heaven. So we hope you enjoy it. In the meantime, good luck exploring, and happy scouting. ATB, RPC.
So many questions. Tell you where would make an ace place for a gig though: Leeds. Which is lucky, because around the time you’re probably reading this, Leeds will hosting its own super festival, encompassing pretty much the whole city. Dozens of venues, hundreds of bands, the vast majority of which will have some kind of affiliation to this fare city we call home. Live At Leeds is now in its third consecutive year and will be running from Friday May 1st to Sunday May 3rd.
Leeds Festival 2009 Monday the 30th of March was a red letter day for Leeds’ musical glitterati. For this was, in time honoured tradition, the day when they knew they were absolutely guaranteed to be fed mini-pizzas and humus. There’s a reason why most musicians wear skinny jeans, and it’s largely down to the conspicuous absence of mini-pizzas in the daily diet. Or indeed anything at all in some cases. So, every year, they all get together for free food and Tuborg beer donated by the kind Samaritans at Festival Republic as part of their outreach to undernourished pop stars (OUPS) programme. Tradition also dictates, that while the ceremonial feed takes place, a large white-haired softly-spoken gentleman in expensive-looking clothes, walks onto the stage and reads out a list of bands, both past and present. These are then obliged to assemble in a large field near Braham in August to play some pop music for around 40,000 people; the vast majority of whom have absolutely no interest in setting fire to their temporary living quarters or the portable amenities. This softly spoken gentleman is Melvin Benn, CEO of Festival Republic. You may remember him from our exclusive interview in this very magazine nearly a year ago. He reads out the names, and – buoyed with the temporary confidence of a healthy freeflow of Tuborg – we react accordingly, in true pantomime style. It transpires that the main stage headliners for Friday 28th Leeds will be Arctic Monkeys. Mr. Benn recalled their festival debut at Leeds a couple of years back where 50,000 currently claim to have seen them in a tent designed for 800. As someone who did see them in that small confined space, and left after three songs, I take the unconventional view that it’ll be nice to see them in a wide open field about half way back surrounded by the casually receptive; rather than a claustrophobic over-crammed meat-pack of drunken boneheads yelling “SHEFFIELD! SHEFFIELD!” over the music. I’d offer that the main stage at festivals gets a bad press amongst us music fans.
They will be following a band that couldn’t be more opposite. The Prodigy return to the stage for which they were built. I’d completely forgotten they existed, but I imagine I’ll remember what made them such a gurningly dumb pleasure back in the late nineties. As long as they don’t try to do anything silly like push a new album that no one will buy. I think they’ve just put one out. We should be concerned. Earlier we have the largely indifferent Maximo Park, the gloriously silly Eagles of Death Metal and the opportunity to finally discover if Ian Brown really does turn into a pumpkin if he ventures east of the Pennines. It also appears that Enter Shikari still have a creative booking agent. Over on the NME/Radio One/ Young People YEAH! Stage you’ve got The Gossip, often called A Real Festival Band (i.e. put on a show that occasionally gets a bit racy), Glasvegas, White Lies, The Maccabees, and a few other bands that no doubt people with asymmetrical hair celebrating their GCSE results will enjoy. Whilst munching the mini pizzas, you have plenty of opportunity to peruse the posters for festivals past. One of the favourite games is spot the bands who inexplicably blagged prominent slots in years gone by, before deleting themselves from the collective memory and disappearing for good. This is normally followed by “what ever happened to…” conversations. In AFI’s case, a band who at least half our editorial team present couldn’t recall at all, the answer to that question is “appearing on the NME/Radio One/ Budget Hair Product Stage at Leeds Festival on Saturday 29th August.” The wafer-thin ham between the indigestibly stodgy bread of Lost Prophets and Gallows. It’s all academic anyway, as the world and its slightly moody younger brother will be over at the main stage watching Radiohead, who when announced elicited the biggest whoop of the evening. We don’t imagine your average Radiohead fan is much of a ‘whooper’, so that goes some way to measuring the excitement.
Before them, it’s the annual residency from Bloc Party, the return of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the soundtrackfriendly Vampire Weekend. Sunday sees the outstandingly ‘OK’ Kings of Leon. They seem to be everywhere, every year, and selling exponentially more as the months go by. The soundtrack to mass indifference, hugely popular for no apparent reason at all. They’re not even dreadful. Personally, I hate with a passion the fact that I have no real opinion on them either way, and thus get even more riled. Far more fun will be The Kaiser Chiefs, surprisingly playing second fiddle on their home turf after headlining further afield at V last year. This tells you everything you need to know about the figures for the third album, sadly. Talking of figures, a band comprising a very large one and a tiny one, precede them. Plascebo, featuring pint-sized micro-goth Brian Molko, have sold about three albums in Britain in the last 5 years. However they continue to shift mega-units overseas, and thus command a premium festival slot. It all gets a bit EMO after that, and those looking for an alternative to the earnest-by-numbers KoL may not exactly be doing summersaults at the prospect of Jamie T over on the NME/ Radio One/OMGLOL Stage. However Friendly Fires, and more promisingly Florence & The Machine may offer more resistance. All of this pales in significance though with the real news, which is that Alan Raw shall be returning with his excellent BBC Introducing stage, featuring what the corporates rather gratingly refer to as “unsigned” bands. However, the concept, execution and (in the main) quality of acts remains amongst the highest the festival has to offer, so be sure to lend it your support and say ‘hi’ to Team Vibrations while you’re there. The odd Tuborg never goes a miss either. Ooh, and if you’ve got any mini pizzas…? Rob Paul Chapman
I’m Not There: people who don’t go to gigs “Yesterday descend the stair, into a gig with no one there. There’s no one there again today, Oh how I wish they’d come and play.” Sam Saunders goes in search of AWOL audiences… Statistics show that most people never go to gigs. Perversely, quite a lot of them would really enjoy themselves if they did. They might be University students (damn it, there are plenty of them – and they need helping into the local scene from Freshers' Week till Summer re-sits). They might be under 18s, over 40s. Black, white or LGBT. Who knows? Well, I have been researching some of the methods that, so far, have kept these absentees away. I have a theory, you see, that if you are a new promoter, looking for those people who are NOT THERE (yet) you have to not do what the others do (they already have an audience) and start doing something new. New audiences are the future. Here are some of my findings. They are probably as scientific and reliable as Government costings for major IT projects. 1 People don’t know how much fun live gigs can be. Maybe a guerrilla gig or two might open some ears and eyes? Why not set up on Woodhouse Moor with a little generator for a thirty minute set while the barbecue fans are setting fire to the grass this summer? Ask a friend to hand out flyers while you play. Or emulate The Edgar Broughton Band and get on the back of a small lorry and play as it drives up Woodhouse Lane. This could (if you are lucky) get you arrested. Think of the fame! You would appear in the Evening Post in time to get free advertising for next week's gig. You would instantly become "heard of" (see Point 3) 2. Some people actually went to a gig once, and it was CRAP. Maybe this is a long shot, but how about always having nice short sets for dodgy artists and at least one bright spot on the bill? How about putting beginner bands on as support to really good bands so the new kids bring all their friends and family who are then introduced to The Quality and come back next week for more?
advertised plus a consistent ten minutes) and don't mess about. The habit of waiting for the crowd to arrive will eventually lead to no crowd. 5. Some people have day jobs and need to get home to sleep before midnight. They also want to have some drinks, see the headline act, and not have to pay more in taxi fares than they paid to get into the gig, awkward sods that they are. Here are some typical last bus and train times out of Leeds: Wakefield 23:09 rail, 23:15 bus; Dewsbury 23.13 rail. 22.45 bus; Horsforth 23.20 bus; Bramhope 23.05 bus; Moortown 23.30 bus; Wetherby 22.50 bus; Morley 23.00 bus. People who already go to gigs don’t mind this. But people who already go to gigs are the minority. Most people don’t make the effort.
People love a crowd, and they love to feel they are in a special place where they might bump into special people. Maybe this is even more important than the music? Either way, the atmosphere is set by the promoter, and that's all there is to it. If the 6.
live music is all over by ten thirty, everyone can use the bar, get to know each other and listen to the drummer's CD collection (Special DJ Set). Fraternise. Mingle. It could be the new thing, Aftershow cocktails with the band and still get home in time to survive the morning. And, while I remember, how hard is to get the toilets cleaned?
3. The "I've never heard of" barrier is tough. "Heard of" is a magical status that all bands and all venues need. Just keep putting the name up. Week after week. Long lists of names. Never mind the art - get the typeface strong and spell the names right. Students especially absorb print subliminally. Keep putting that name in front of them and before the end of the term they will be able to say "Oh yeah, I've heard of them…" It's important. Especially for the venue (some of these things are boring, obviously, but hard work often is). 4. Time gambling is very unpopular. Your line up and sound system might be the best in town. But if it’s going to cost 4 or 5 hours of attendance to make sure of getting an hour of great music, you are stuffed. Only dedicated time gamblers will come. Start bang on time (whatever you have vibrations 8
vibrations vibrations 10 10
ABB (Yeah, you know me…) Shortly, long-time Vibrations columnist Adam Benbow-Browne will be taking leave of West Yorkshire, and moving his planet-sized, chemically tested brain to the dark side of the Pennines. Here he finds time to consider the philosophies of moving. Note, even those who breeze through The Satanic Verses over their cornflakes may struggle to keep up. Always worth the effort though. Over the past few months, I’ve been giving considerable thought to ideas around allegiance, heritage, identity and origin. It appears to me that at different points in our lives, we seem to vary in reliance upon these parts of our makeup. In 2005, fresh with the notions of cracking a city and making dreams a reality, I would have satisfied an enquiry by stating, “I live in Leeds.” Moving forward to 2009, and with plans afoot to arrive in the bleak but worthwhile hands of Manchester, I negotiate that same line of questioning by saying, “I am from Halifax, but I live in Leeds at the moment.” I ask myself what it is that powers these shifting stances, to which the obvious answer would be that one finds both peak and trough whilst fumbling amidst the processes of change and arrival. For a time certainly, we do not need to be from anywhere. Not that we all become nihilists as young adults, but we do seem to have a huge confidence in who we are, and what it is that we are about. So much so that perhaps we forget a lot of our previous characters, and any belonging will be done within the parameters of a scene. Next time you see one of those ’scenesters’ (always someone else, never ourselves), give them a cuddle and a custard cream; they might just be missing their family and the Grimsby Riviera. On return to the place of one’s formative experiences, there is of course that feeling of trickery at the hands of nostalgia. I am almost certain that whilst in Calderdale I spent far too much time in urban dwellings, drinking modern chemical formulas and waiting for a new life. But life is here already! I tell myself that it has always been here, and that I have been living it since birth. In rueing the faults and failings of a current life, it can be easy to paint a deep and rosy picture of any previous
life one might care to select. The fact that it may have felt shallow and grim at the time of occurrence is something that the battered human mind is sufficiently cruel and weak enough so as not to bring up. The dark art of nostalgia almost certainly means that once I’m nicely tucked up in rainy Manchester, I’ll start missing Yorkshire as a whole. But what will I miss? I’m sure the brain can and shall be relied upon to produce results both logical and ludicrous. So what will I miss about Leeds when I move? I will miss Room 237, a pair of promoters so seemingly possessed with the need to bring choice lumps of techno, noise rock and electronica to West Yorkshire, that it would be easier to list those they haven’t put on. As my beloved friend Col once said, who would put on those acts in Leeds if Marcus and Tom weren’t here? On the subject of Col, I’ll miss him too. I’ll miss the Brudenell Social Club; that unique atmosphere of challenging new music fused with cheap drinks, Charlie the dog and bingo. I’ll miss Hyde Park Unity Day - possibly the best reaction to a riot in the history of mankind. I’ll miss Haddon Road and that bit of grass next to Burley Road that John McGahey calls ‘The Common’. I’ll miss Jumbo Records - people like Matt Bradshaw have knowledge you must make good use of; the guy doesn’t need a computer to tell you what Salsoul 12”s they’re stocking. I’ll miss Golden Acre
Park. I’ll miss buying pakora and bhaijis from the stall in the middle of the indoor market. I’ll miss Pizza Cano - for about two minutes, before I find a bigger and greasier deal for my fat Western wedge. I’ll probably even miss the rubbish things; the cheeky feller who always needs 78 pence in order to return to his beloved Castleford (the town must be crashing to the ground without his steady hand to guide proceedings). My local shop, where the proprietor & I are able to calmly bond without the constraints of chitter-chatter (they call it non-verbal communication, don’t you know). I’ll miss the bar Milo, that sits next the inconsistent chip shop near The Corn Exchange. I’ll miss all the terrier-like youths, who tell me I must be mad. Some or all of these things I can revisit whenever I like, so perhaps there’s no need to worry. Tell that to the brain upstairs!
Rainbow Warrior Incisive front-line investigative journalism you say? In Vibrations? With our reputation? Kate Wellham is the girl on the streets when things happen. Not, like, on the streets, or anything though… NB: The views contained within are not those of the magazine, we just print what we get sent… guvnor… You know those dinner parties - you go round to someone’s house for a quiet candlelit meal, overindulge in parsnips, and before you know it it’s 5am and you’re in the centre of Bradford watching people paint a woodland scene whilst keeping an eye out for the police. Well, it was either that or Cluedo, and there was a piece missing. It happens like this: Four of us are being civilised round a dining table, when the other three tell me what they’re planning for later. It involves taking one of the ‘development’ sites in the centre of Bradford, which has been rubble with boards around it for five or six million years, and suggesting to the council exactly what might be done with it, via the medium of the aerosol. I hate the rubble and I love solvents, so I’m in. We’d better work out some nicknames. Let’s call the other guys Mariah (will not take off his sparkly hat despite its glaring reflection of streetlights), the Fall Guy (takes all Mariah’s abuse, and accidentally steps into open sewers), and The General (who seems to be in charge). The four of us don dark clothing and make our way to a designated venue, where The General gets his paints out. Mariah reckons he’s going to write ‘build a bowling alley’ all over the hoardings. The Fall Guy forbids him. The Fall Guy removes his black work shoes and, when he turns his back, Mariah writes ‘bowling alley’ on them in white paint. The Fall Guy tries to remove it, then gives up and paints over it in black.
I fall asleep on the sofa, and when I wake up there are another eight or so people in the room, all have cans of spraypaint, and The General is briefing and organising them – who’s spraying which hoarding, who’s doing trees, who’s doing flowers, etc. Serious business.
I’m not spraying anything, I hasten to add. In threes we wander down to the site. Once there, the lookouts look out, and the rest spray. Within five minutes there’s a recognisable woodland scene, and the words ‘green space, not grey waste’. It actually looks better. We celebrate with a nice cup of tea at a co-conspirator’s house. Going into work a few hours later, I pass the new mural. It looks great, but I noticed for the first time that someone has painted a smiley face with vampire teeth in the corner – not the feel we were aiming for.
There’s some musical recycling going on in Leeds. No, not the fact that the 80s won’t go away, but that people are making instruments out of things that aren’t instruments. Remember when you made a guitar out of a shoe box and some rubber bands? They’re like that, but good, and not made by a moron. Superpowerless is my new favourite thing, not only has he/ they fashioned their instruments out of Gameboys, but they made an entire music video around Leeds wearing crap robot suits made from cardboard boxes, and it’s hit the top spot on YouTube with a budget of about 23p. www,myspace.com/superpowerless. Wrongbot have also started selling their many circuit-bent instruments - made from toys that make noise - both online and in the Musicians Centre in Bradford. www.myspace.com/wrongbot.
Leeds Music SEEN Photo Exhibition @ North Bar, New Briggate Should your interests include local music imagery and a fine selection of beer, North Bar will be catering for your needs from the end of May, as a new photo exhibition goes on display. Spencer Bayles draws the short straw of sacrifice to investigate some stunning visuals and mighty fine ales… In conjunction with new art collective Mill, ‘Leeds Music SEEN’ gets up close and personal to some of Leeds’ favourite musical sons and daughters, in photos taken by some of the city’s rising stars on the other side of the lens. The subjects range from household names to lesser-known acts, and as a result sees the likes of George Coppock’s action-packed shot of the Kaisers at the Academy rubbing shoulders with Bart Pettman’s beautifully lit shot of an altogether less incendiary Slow Club taken at the Holy Trinity Church. The contrast of those shots is reflected in the photographers themselves too – George is an established festival photographer while Bart is a relative newcomer. What they have in common is artistic vision. “The most important thing for me is to create something that has a relevance to the artist,” says Bart, “and to arrive at an image that will be memorable no matter where it ends up.” Turning to the heavier side of Leeds music, Jonathan Geraldie has spent the last three years documenting the punk, hardcore and metal gigs on offer in the city. Regularly to be found battling it out down at the front of the pit in venues like Rios and The Cockpit Jonathan’s photography is as vibrant and full of energy as the acts he shoots. Jake Seal, another seasoned festival photographer, suggests his dream live shoot would be Radiohead, “simply because they’re my favourite band, and the experience of photographing a band you love is amazing.” Letting his subject’s personality shine through seems to be a trademark in his studio work,
as shown in his cover shoot with Breaking The Illusion for this very magazine last year, a picture from which is a highlight of the exhibition. Also showcased is the work of Tom Martin, Vibrations’ own photo editor and recently appointed live photographer for the NME. Tom’s contributions include the iconic shot of a lightbulb-waving Eureka Machines that graces the cover of their marvellous Do Or Die album, a shot of iLiKETRAINS that’s as claustrophobic and menacing as the band’s music, and a stunning landscape shot of the Declining Winter’s Richard Adams in a field of windswept corn. “I think Leeds is pretty much the reason why I’m doing music photography now and not something else,” says Tom. “The music scene here is so vast and healthy, as a photographer you’re never short of bands to shoot – you literally have a choice of gigs on any given night of the week.” Tom cites his friend and local legend Danny North as a key inspiration, Danny being another photographer who started out documenting local music before ascending to national media. Tom suggests that working on smaller music magazines has opened up great opportunities, particularly in relation to his current role at Vibrations. “I feel like we’ve been on a little journey together, visually speaking,” he says. “My photography has grown up and developed as the magazine has got stronger and stronger visually.” The exhibition is on at North Bar, New Briggate, from 24th May until 3rd July. More info can be found at www.millcreatives.org
Tom Martin - Cafe Adam
Tom Martin - Die Video Die
Bart Pettman - Middleman
Jonny Geraldie - Rolo Tomassi
Jake Seal - Breaking The Illusion
George Coppock - Pigeon Detectives vibrations 15
These Boots Were Made For Talkingâ€Ś
Photography by Tom Martin Vibrations would like to say special thanks to Ash and Joel at the Faversham for their help during the Little Bootâ€™s photoshoot vibrations 16
It is held as a universal truth that you rarely get consensus in the music industry. So, when they do all get together to make a punt, you can be pretty sure they know something that you don’t. Each year the “Sound” list issues like an industry tip sheet. And judging by past ‘winners’ you’d be pretty safe putting a fiver on Little Boots – this year’s number one – shifting some serious units this year. And we’re not talking Jagermeister on the bar of Oporto. “People are starting to get a bit bored with that white boy indie thing” she assures Kate Wellham. There’s probably a rumour now circulating that Victoria Hesketh, aka Little Boots, is a foot-stamping brew junkie. As Vibrations is taking pre-gig photos at the Faversham, we suggest it would be good if she were holding a cuppa, and go to ask for one for her. DENIED. The machine is off, barman says no. Victoria jumps from her perch, asks again, and comes back victorious – we’re happy, we get our photo, but onlookers possibly assume she’s more of a diva than if she’d downed a bottle of Jager and spewed in the conservatory. At least that would have been credible. When the chance to interview her arose, there were plenty of suggestions from various quarters as to what to ask her, from the frivolous, via the damning to the downright unsavoury. And this seems par for the course; it’s easy to get swept away by the tabloid frenzy she invokes. Leeds doesn’t seem to know what to do with Little Boots, she doesn’t seem to belong to us: she’s glamorous, plays accessible pop music, and appears to have shot immediately to the cover of Mixmag and NME without the obligatory pandering to people like us on the way. This is not what Leeds music scene is meant to be about – give us a handful of drunken spudfaced lads shouting, please. But to separate Victoria from our beloved scene would be daft; whether she drew attention to herself or not, she quietly grew up right in the middle of it, which is evident when asking her about her memories of the place. “I used to shop at Blue Rinse, and go to Milo’s, the Faversham, and out around Headingley and Hyde Park. “When I was at uni, the Kaiser Chiefs, The Research, The Cribs and Black Wire were starting to get big, Pigs was a new night, Dance To The Radio had just started, it felt like a really exciting time. That’s what made me want to be in a band, because I hadn’t been in a band for a few years and then when I got back into that scene it made me want it.
“I used to work down at Oporto and had a million and one drunken nights there, so many nights I was dancing on the bar full of Jagermeister.” Then there was the night she was going to a gig at the Brudenell “and a police car was chasing this guy, and he drove straight into me and I had to go to hospital.” Ok, so maybe she did draw attention to herself a bit. Like so many acts that sprang from Leeds, she’s not an original Loiner. She comes from Blackpool, and recently moved (look away now if you’re of a nervous disposition) to The South. “I never used to miss Leeds, but I was back today and I got a proper buzz. It’s such a fun city, people are friendlier up here.”
Victoria’s look, it has to be said, is somewhere between Kylie and She-Ra. She’s tiny, with newly blonde hair and adult fairytale outfits. But the similarity to the Aussie soap star that we, for some reason, call our pop princess, ends there. “I’m not flawlessly good-looking, I’m not really skinny, I’m not good at doing choreographed dance moves, someone wouldn’t pick me to front a pop project.”
Unless, she notes, you’re open about your stylist. “I was in an indie girl band for two years and all we got all the time was ‘it’s all style over substance’. In London people don’t really give a shit as much. I think it’s a really Northern thing to be like ‘it can’t be about image’ even though a lot of boy bands are just as bad. Even if you’re wearing skinny jeans and leather jackets and haircuts, you’re still into your image.” But Victoria is keen to separate herself from pop pin-ups – her look is her vision. “All the visuals – the artwork, what I’m wearing, how the stage looks – it’s all part of this world I’m trying to create. Look at Bjork’s photoshoots – not that I’m saying I’m like Bjork – but they’re always beautiful, creative pieces of art, it’s not because all she cares about is clothes and how she looks.” Not that Victoria would be precious enough to claim it’s always about art. “Just because you can be nerdy and a bit techy, doesn’t mean you can’t be feminine. I’m a girl. I love dressing up in fancy frocks. I love that somebody comes round and kits me out in Alexander McQueen to go to an awards show, it’s like being Cinderella for a night, and sometimes I turn into a pumpkin at midnight after too much tequila.” You can take the girl out of Blackpool…
Not for want of trying at one point. Despite a respectable background in jazz, punk and indie bands, and a stint playing piano in hotel lobbies, Victoria confirms a whisper that she also tried to sell her soul at a TV audition: “I did. It was Pop Idol or X Factor, I can’t even remember which one. I was really young and just wanted to make music, I didn’t realise what it was like. I got to about round three then I failed, I think it’s the best thing I never did. I’d be the worst pop idol in the world – if someone told me what song to sing, I’d be like ‘sod off’.” It’s clear that Victoria would have had a hard time, she has the aura of a woman who knows how to get a job done with minimum fuss, and likes it that way, so how is she coping with her career explosion? “I hate giving up control, I’m a control freak, I like doing everything, but as it gets bigger you’ve got to start giving things away for other people to do. vibrations 17
“It gets harder every week. Sometimes I’m so tired I just want to cry, and I’m so worried I’m going to lose lots of my friends, or my boyfriend’s going to be mad because he never sees me. They know how hard I’ve worked and how much I want this, but I still worry. “I went to LA last week for two days in the middle of the tour, came back, landed and went straight to a gig, and I’ve been gigging ever since, I’m shattered.” Not that pre-fame days were any easier: “I remember working full time in Leeds, skiving off work early, driving to a gig, playing, driving back, getting in at five in the morning, and then starting work at seven again, so I was shattered back then, too.” Kylie doesn’t know she’s born. But then, Kylie doesn’t write her own tunes, or post videos on YouTube of herself in her bedroom playing said new tunes on real instruments, before they get recorded. “I’m always trying to show the process as I go along, I’m saying ‘look, this is how I’m getting from me in my bedroom to making a big video’, rather than it just being this surface and you can’t get behind it.” Transparency is useful to Victoria, where it would be deadly to a pop tart, because she’s rightfully proud of the graft and craft that have gone into Little Boots. This is not a fluke. “It’s taken a long time, it’s been my whole life in a way, but in another way it’s taken a year.” Even when she tried to launch indie band Dead Disco, for which she first became known in Leeds, she realised she was trying to force her pop sensibility into submission. “I think I was doomed to be pop, but I love it. I don’t have a desire to make weird walls of white noise that ten people in the world are going to enjoy. I want to sell loads of records, tour the world, play massive shows. “I think pop’s starting to get cool again and people are starting to get a bit bored with that white boy indie thing, but around the time that I was here that was doing really well. I’m not familiar with Leeds at the minute, but we’re playing tonight and it’s sold out so people are clearly up for something a bit different.” It might be time to rally, because if we don’t claim Little Boots for our own, we’re missing a valuable opportunity to make sure that Leeds’ musical legacy – the one that will go down in history and haunt us like Madchester and the Beatles – doesn’t begin and end with the sound one wellknown hack privately described as ‘music for builders’*. A new pop princess who is not only a musician, but is also willing to brew up, could easily be ours. * Hey, don’t brick the messenger. vibrations 18
OOH LOOK! FREE STUFF! We’re a gnarled and cynical bunch here at Vibrations Towers. We’ve seen and heard it all. So when our publisher Tony wandered in with what looked like a phonecard, gibbering something about “the future”, eyes were rolled, and teeth were sucked. Yeah yeah, Betamax, Mini-Discs, Lazar Discs, etc etc. And besides, unlike most of you, I remember phone cards the first time around. We have mobiles now Tony…
Apparently though, this wasn’t a phone card at all. It was a BAND-ID card. And no, that didn’t mean anything to us either. Apparently this is something to do with the “internet”. According to a “survey” done by some “clever” people, many industry experts reckon the “internet” could be quite useful in the future, with the chairman of IBM reckoning that one day every village will have a “computer” that proles such as myself can point and stare at, as it fires off reams of binary code while making bleepy noises like that one in Chock-aBlock [immediately alienates anyone under 30, which is, in all likelihood most of you…]
Do you see a future for physical product, and do you see your business directly in competition with it?
Anyway, turns out, that this BAND-ID thingy is quite a nifty idea, and will give you access to an entire album, simply by punching a code into one of them computer things. Neat!
The BAND ID card is mainly designed for distribution during or after a gig. It is smaller than a CD so your fans are more likely to be able to slip it into their pockets. Also, when your music is downloaded, we pass on the email address information that your fan has provided. A simple CD does not allow for the continued interaction with your fans. Also, a BAND-ID card is cheaper than the equivalent number of CDs and more environmentally friendly to produce and recycle than a CD.
To test this idea out, we have attached one of these BANDID cards to the bottom of the page opposite. On it is a rather wonderful compilation of Vibrations office favourites for your delectation. We hope you enjoy. We caught up with Taesha Glasgow, co-founder of Media Heaven, the company that manufactures BAND-ID, to explain how it works: How would you sum up the BAND ID concept for someone who still buys physical CDs and albums? The BAND-ID music download card is a full colour plastic card printed with your band artwork and details. You can sell or give away the cards after a gig. Your fan enters the unique PIN either at band-id.co.uk or on your website to download your music. You can use the cards with your CDs (or instead of CDs) to offer exclusive tracks, short videos or artwork to your fans. Although it is now accepted by most as “the future”, the internet still seems to divide people into those who view the internet as an opportunity and those who view it as a threat. Which camp would you fall into? Opportunity, opportunity, opportunity! The rise of internet is probably the most significant "event" in the last 15 years. I fully embrace the changes it has brought to information distribution.
I think there will always be some future for physical product. However, it is proven that CD sales are declining. BAND-ID is in direct competition with it, but this is why we created the product. For bands who want to capitalise on selling music after a gig, this product is perfect for them. Why would someone get a BAND ID card, rather than print up CDs, given how cheap CDs now are to produce?
Who would be the average BAND ID customer? The average BAND ID customer is an unsigned musician or band looking for a new way to distribute their music to fans after a live gig. You’ve teamed up with Vibrations this issue to put together a BAND ID compilation of some of the artists featured in this and the last couple of issues. What should our readers do with the small bit of card they find inside their copy of the mag? Scratch off the panel at the back of the card. Head over to http://www.band-id.co.uk and enter the PIN number and your details in the fields. You can then download the music content and enjoy. Rob Paul Chapman
Our guide to your free BAND-ID download... The Scaramanga Six – Hole In My Emotion:
ATTENTION EARTHLINGS! Epic opener from Huddersfieldbased behemoth’s new studio opus Songs Of Prey, which – somehow – manages to surpass even their previous levels of genius. www.thescaramangasix.co.uk
Silverlode – I Am Cain (Forward Russia Anteater remix): Inspired remix by our favourite ex-angular indie band who display a surprising aptitude in reworking the hobbit-loving skiffle-pop cult heroes. www.silverlodeonline.co.uk
Castrovalva – Triceratops:
Stuck with what to buy your grandmother for Christmas every year? Can’t decide between the Daniel O’Donnell and John Barrowman albums? Why not go a bit leftfield and try something summoned from the bowels of impenetrable ear-bleeding distortion-spewing hell? Satisfaction guaranteed. No refunds.
Watch This Fire Spread – In Her Head:
Duels – Sleeping Giants: A gentle acoustic intro masks the seething fury and belies the series of Technicolor explosions that follow. We could have picked any song from the Barbarians Move In, such is the quality threshold.
Mark Roberts’ debut album of cascading piano, symphonic brass and some of the most inspired vocal contributions we’ve heard in years made a big impression at Vibrations Towers last year. This opener from the second album Dark Days And Dumb Nights implies we will not be disappointed this year either. www.watchthisfirespread.co.uk
Club Smith – The Green Room:
New track from the artists formally known as The Hair. Sounds like someone’s been investing in The Cure’s back catalogue. We approve. www.clubsmith.co.uk
Buen Chico – This Party:
Indie at it’s most uplifting and joyous. Quite possibly the happiest, sunniest song we’ve heard this year. Let’s all have a BBQ and play football in the park! C’mon, it’ll be great! HOORAY FOR SUMMER! www.myspace.com/buenchico
Middleman – Can’t Hold Me Down:
Song as statement of intent, a difficult art to master, but knocked-off with relative ease here. Compile your own review using these handy catch-all Middleman-related nouns, verbs and adjectives: party, catchy, poppy, fun, grinning, sun visor.
Critical darlings who make highly accessible soundscapey music with cellos, that both snobs and the proletarian can appreciate. Neat trick. Likely to be enormous. www.grammatics.co.uk
Wild Beasts – Mummy’s Boy: It’s a truly wonderful feeling to watch an exceptional band blossoming from promising origins, to authentic class act in front of you. Rather than being plucked from complete obscurity to megastardom via a large marketing budget, they’ve honed their skills to produce one of the outstanding albums of last year. And this isn’t even on it, so even more to discover. www.wild-beasts.co.uk Trying to find a track that accurately sums up the 100-track work of sublime wonder that was Dots is next to impossible. So we didn’t bother, and instead asked the man himself to pick one. He threw us a curveball by picking one from the ‘whimsical with bleeps’ section. Cunning.
Plastic Fuzz – Kill All Books:
Paul Marshall – This Is War (demo):
The Spirit Of John – Carnivores:
Bite-sized psychoskiffle with hints of Curtis Eller and The Reverend Horton Heat. Except from Yorkshire, obviously. www.myspace.com/thespiritofjohn
Grammatics – Inkjet Lakes:
Very exciting, a real proper exclusive demo recording of a new song in progress from the glorious Mr. Marshall. Features a trumpet solo from Sophie Barnes, the (then) Vibrations writer sent to interview him for the Jan ’08 issue fact fans! Such is the holistic, inclusive scene we all inhabit. www.myspace.com/paulmarshallyeah
“If your card is missing please email firstname.lastname@example.org to get your unique download PIN”
k u . o c . d k i u d d i n d a n b www. ace.com/ba p s y m . www Card design by Charlotte Watkins
Where the Wild Things Are
An Interview with Wild Beasts at The Brudenell Social Club March 11th 2009, by Sam Saunders Photography by Tom Martin vibrations 22
As we huddled around a table in a far corner of The Brudenell Social Club, it quickly became clear that I was interviewing a band rather than four different people. They seem to think and speak as one, finishing each others’ sentences, chuckling before each others’ punch lines. Selfcontained is the phrase. I ask them about the geography of it all. They grew up in Kendal, an isolated market town of 28,000 people, on the edge of the Lake District. Are such things important? Singer and guitarist Hayden Thorpe thinks so: “You’re judged on it straight away... The assumption is that If you are from a certain place you should sound a certain way or you should have had a certain set of experiences, that you should talk a certain way. But you can tell your own story” he says. Vocalist and bass player Tom Fleming develops the theme: “We confuse people by being from two different places” Guitarist Benny Little adds “The place you’re from totally rubs off on you though doesn’t it?” Hayden goes on “We like that myth about us coming straight form the woods. Straight from the woods, singing around camp fires. It’s nice.” Growing up there they all felt the isolation. Going to Manchester for a gig was just “like, wow! what …?” says Hayden “ when you’re growing up there and you want to investigate music the only way you can is through your own endeavour. No one is there passing things on.” Tom remembers “we were just about pre-internet as well ... buying albums if you liked the cover.” The first gigs they went to were AC/DC and Oasis in Manchester. As Chris remembers: “There was a coach company in Lancaster who organised coach travel down from Kendal”. There’s ambivalence about Manchester. Chris suggests that “if you’re brought up in somewhere like Manchester it’s like you get it drummed into you that you’re either Oasis or The Smiths” and Tom smiles: “thank God we don’t come from Manchester!” But this was part of their lives while they were still at school, where Chris Talbot’s Mum and Dad were the music teachers, now immortalised by the school’s Talbot Music Block. For the lads’ first steps into the public there was only one gig in town: Dickie Doodles. Benny says “I remember I was so scared when we first played in Dickie’s. Me and Hayden went
down for jam night. I’ve never been so scared.” Tom chips in: “I remember Gerry Gillard [the promoter] saying, when you came off stage: “You’re going to be pop stars!” Chris, too: “I was there in the audience! I remember you doing it!”. They clearly have happy memories, and still drop by when they’re in Kendal. But Hayden ruefully observes (given the regular diet of “God awful boogie bands and 12 bar blues bands” plus a white Rastafarian rapper) “to be fair that’s the live music you see and that’s where you learn ... and you pick up a few of those “fuck it, let’s just do it” attitudes. It almost provides, instantly, a model for what you don’t want to be. Once you know what you don’t want to be, you know what you do want to be...” So what did they want? Hayden suggests “I think it was a fascination with pop, and that other side of the coin: ‘what can you put into it?’ That’s part of the beauty of pop. It’s an open canvas, you can throw anything at it and no one will judge you. It doesn’t have any standards really.” I wonder if people sometimes get them wrong. “Oh yeah, horribly” says Hayden. “But that’s part of the beauty of it.” Tom thinks that the misconceptions about what they do are in the past now: “it was only when we first started releasing stuff there were these guys saying ‘these guys are just weird’. I think ‘weird for the sake of weird’ was the phrase. That’s just a killer phrase. It just destroys creativity, surely? But I think that nonsense has all been put to bed now.” Hayden chips in: “People can make their own minds up … there isn’t just one face that we want to put across or one dynamic. We want to be 3D, we can’t help but be 3D. There’s no point trying to address the same thing or make all the songs the same. It’s outside our control. And that probably makes us not pop - but we like to think we are in some sense.” I ask about “The Devils Crayon” and the band chuckle. Tom humours me anyway. “I must be like a stuck record with this ... I’ve had someone suggest to me that it’s a phallic thing, which I quite like ... it’s a phrase that I read somewhere: ‘God draws in fine pencil but the Devil daubs in crayon’, which I took to mean that all these base animal temptations were much easier to understand. Much more available to you and attractive. Much more colourful.” Hayden’s thinking it out too. “There’s the crudeness that isn’t always allowed
into songs… we like to play with it, with the fringes of it. I think that’s where we’re most comfortable, on the fringes of things. It comes down to pop, what’s tasteful and not tasteful. It’s on the fringes that we exist best and where a lot of the music we like exists.” I observe that it seems more fun to be erotic than just name all the parts, and that their stuff sounds kind of hopeful and fun, with serious bits …Hayden takes over. “That’s where we try this 3D thing: you can laugh hysterically or cry at exactly the same thing, nothing is ever that simple. I suppose, unintentionally, that’s what we strive towards.” Tom is pleased with the idea of eroticism: “It’s nice that you picked up the erotic thing as well. That’s nice, that’s kind of big for us, that humanness ... I feel that is quite important for what we do.” So, what difference has signing to Domino made? “Well, huge differences.” says Hayden. “It became our job. We became our own bosses at 19, 20 and we had to sort of start to discipline ourselves and discipline each other. But that was what we wanted to do.” Tom goes on: “I suppose we felt like, for the first time, we wanted make a proper album and be a proper band with proper singles, doing it the traditional way and learn to do it that way and cut our teeth properly. But now we’ve played so many gigs together and done so many miles we are a very different animal. And now we’re on a good footing to start experimenting.” As to the difference Domino might have made to their music, Hayden says “the important thing is that it didn’t make any impact on our music. Our music already existed and we are going on that path anyway. That’s part of the beauty of Domino Records and why it is the institution that people feel that it is. You never feel put out or as if you should be making music for anyone but yourselves.” Tom said “they saw us as a pop band. And they saw us having songs, and writing albums that were concise.” Hayden backs that up “We thought we were that already anyway, that’s what we sold ourselves on being.” “Exactly” says Tom “We knew that that’s what we wanted to do, reduce things down and make things quite concise and snappy ... just to melody and structure.” I asked how the next album differs to ‘Limbo, Panto’. Chris says: “I think we approached it as an album, more like a whole piece. Not as a concept album, but that kind of whole assembly thing that really works in a short period.” Tom vibrations 23
confirms: “We had to write it quickly”, with Chris saying “Limbo Panto was essentially the best of the four years before it was released. It was a journey, whereas this one was written in about nine months.” Tom is pretty clear: “There was no discussion about it: ‘We’ve just got to do it so let’s do it’, and as a result a lot of the normal detritus
that we may have thrown away was actually used. We realised that a lot of things came from the same root. It’s surprising how well it came together really. But it had no right to.” Hayden noted “We had nothing really to be scared of. We had done exactly what we wanted to with the first album.”
Flights to America, a good reaction in Europe, and good sales in Japan were also discussed. Here was a band up, running and totally immersed in their own future, still carving and guarding their own precious music like the canny rural boys they are.
Sail on Siverlode
Silver face paint. Ethereal pop weirdness. Tolkienobsessed detail freaks. Skiffle-prog-pop vignettes. Songs based on William Golding stories and Goblin Ale. “We’re not a dungeons and dragons band” they reassure Chris Thomas. To abandon the quest turn to page 30, to continue with the mission, read on… Photography by Bart Pettman
attention and get people into the band who don’t already know us. We’ve had some interest from Radio 1 for one of the remixes so if they get into the EP via that then the remixes have done their job.” With the band hoping this approach nets results Gaz gives us his reaction to the remixes, “It’s interesting to see what different people have done with the songs, they’ve gone to different bands and individuals with their own styles and they’ve put their own slant on it. If you listen to the remix EP now each song sounds completely different with elements of Silverlode still in there.”
“Silverlode’s the name of a river in Middle Earth.” frontman and lyricist Rob says, confirming Vibrations’ diligent searching of Wikipedia “I came up with the name because I love the attention to detail of Tolkien and, if you want to get symbolic, it’s the point of no return. It’s not that we’re all Tolkien geeks, we’re not a dungeons and dragons band.” Percussionist Dave cuts in: “We’ve been accused of that before by journalists, they’ve made a lot of assumptions; that we’re off our faces on acid whilst writing, but really it’s nothing like that.” “A lot of the songs are imagery-based as well as on parts of real life, it just not necessarily songs about going out and getting wasted on the weekend.” says Rob, with bassist Scott countering “Well they might be, the lyrics just wouldn’t say I got pissed last night, it’d be more I drank goblin beer.” Even if they’re not Geek rockers there’s obviously a literary tilt to much of the bands work. Rob gives us examples of this from the band’s soon to be released EP, “Two of the songs are based on books; Mr Martin Pincher is a reworking of a William Golding story of the same name that’s entirely based on the character’s thoughts in the final seconds before his death. If you were going to read it, sorry if I’ve spoilt that for you! The other is called A Golden Pathway.”, “That’s based on a compilation of short stories.” interjects Scott “I took a line from each story and put it into the melody. Rob’s a very good lyricist and I write melodies. For Martin Pincher, for example, Rob wrote the lyrics then gave it to me without a melody and I worked around that. The melody could be termed popular or indie but when you combine it with those dark lyrics it gives you a good snapshot of what we’re trying to do. He writes lyrics like poetry and then I sugar coat his nightmares.”
“They never actually heard the complete songs,” Rob tells us “They were just given the individual tracks. Tom from Forward Russia has done one, Lee from Vessels, Ghost in the Nightclub, Danny PiG, Immune, it’s quite a gang.” With the band’s ever changing sound Vibrations wonders how they feel they fit into the Leeds scene and if they’re still happy with their label of Skiffle/prog-pop, one they apparently came up with themselves. “It’s just something to say to people,” admits Scott “I don’t know what other bands say they sound like, a bit this, a bit that, a bit guitars, a bit pop or rock, so we thought we’d say something that means we’re little bits of all of them but we’re not any of them. We’re confusing people, in a good way!” Gaz adds “Although the new stuff is a lot more upbeat it still catches people out with the changes in styles, switching from one form of music to another keeps people on their toes.” “We have a small and growing fanbase,” says Rob “We play as an acoustic four piece a lot of the time, but really we’re an acoustic rock band so a lot of people have only seen us
Gaz, Silverlode’s lead guitarist, gives his view on their writing style: “The rhythms and music that go into a song tie back to the imagery in the lyrics. Rob’s a very educated guy and that makes the lyrics he writes very interesting to put music to. The key is that it all ties together around lyrics that are very different from what other bands are doing. “Gaz is a classically trained guitarist,” says Scott “Dave has come from a metal background, I’ve come from just bashing out melodies and tunes and Rob’s come from a more bookish literary background. When you put all that in a pot you get the soup that’s a Silverlode song and you either choke on it or want some more.” Their latest work is the soon to be released five track EP, Glimpse the Lightning, and an accompanying CD of remixes by the great and the good of Leeds music scene. “It’s kind of a best of Silverlode,” says Scott “We were originally just going to do an EP then it was going to be a double EP, now they’re separate. The initial EP is out on 1st June and then we’re going to use the remixes to push it, get vibrations 27
as one thing or the other, it means we haven’t got a circle we move in and it depends what people know us for, we just bust in on whatever’s going on.” Scott is more vocal on their approach to music and its effect on their popularity, “There’s something in the songs that we do for everybody without us deciding to say we’ll write songs like this and go down one specific road, we’ll do whatever the song demands and we try to stick with that. We might go one direction with one song and it’ll sound ok but that doesn’t mean go that way again with the next one. It shows in the way we play and the way we work through songs, initially the songs come from Rob and myself, but when we bash them through a practice Dave and Gaz bring other stuff to it and it goes in another direction. There isn’t a Silverlode sound, this is just what we do. It’s been difficult for us to get a steady fanbase, that’s only because we don’t aim for one genre. There might be something in a Silverlode song that fans of country or even the Killers can grasp onto.” “When we first started we were doing more gigs outside Leeds than in and it was really good for us. We could have easily built a comfort zone in Leeds but playing places like York, Manchester, Hull, Wakefield and Casvegas [Castleford we’re informed] made us more confident as we had to step up to the plate and deliver.” So does this mean that Silverlode find it hard to make a place for themselves in Leeds? “There isn’t really a bunch of bands we identify with,” Rob elaborates, “We don’t really fit into the main Leeds music scene. There’s not that many places we can play so we present a night called Twilight Terror at the library every month, it’s a night for the interesting and the alternative. The other bands might not be anything like us but we’ve all got a similar philosophy.”
“We are essentially a pop band,” Dave points out “If you can handle the weird stuff about our songs then there are pop elements, we’re not audio terrorists. The idea is you’re supposed to like the songs, if you don’t however we can’t do anything about it.” “We have got a key change now!” Gaz calls out, setting the band off into fits of laughter. “It works though” says Scott “but it’s not like we’re all sat on stools and standing up for the key change… actually we are.” “We’re involved in Live at Leeds, which is pretty cool” enthuses Rob. “We’ve got our EP launch on 30th May at the library.” ”I’d love one of our songs to be played on Radio 1 during the day when I’m at work” states Dave purposefully, “just so I can say to the people in my office Fucking told you!”.
RETRO BOUTIQUE 8-10 Headingley Lane Hyde Park Corner
vibrations 29 vibrations 29
Leeds International Jazz Conference Photography by Tom Martin
It might have started out like an episode of Faking It, but somehow Vibrationsâ€™ Jazz Editor [*new title, just made-up*] Steve Walsh recently found himself on the panel of experts at the Leeds International Jazz Conference surrounded by genuine legends and luminaries of the scene. Against all the odds, turns out at least one of us has something constructive to contribute the musical world. For those of you who like BeBop, We salute youâ€Ś vibrations 30
This conference, organised by the Centre for Jazz Studies at Leeds College of Music and now in its 16th consecutive year, focuses on jazz research, education and performance and is the only event of its type in Europe. Each year it pulls together the latest academic research from around the world on jazz. Firstly as a musical genre; but also in its social, economic and cultural setting. The theme of this year’s conference was The Word On Jazz and sought to look into the way jazz is represented in print and broadcast media and how these channels influence, for good or ill, the consumption and enjoyment of jazz. So, what was I doing there? Well, through a series of accidents too convoluted to explain, I was a late addition to a panel of jazz critics and writers discussing “Jazz and the Media” in open forum with an audience of conference delegates. Other panellists were Brian Priestley, Dave Laing and Stuart Nicholson, all three hugely experienced commentators and authors on jazz, and Mykaell Riley, Head of Music Production and Director of the Centre for Black Music Research at the University of Westminster. Priestley, Laing and Nicholson have spent their professional lives steeped in jazz and the latter two now juggle academic tenure with their day jobs. By contrast, Riley was a member of seminal UK reggae band Steel Pulse in the late 1970’s, so his experience is perhaps informed by a more direct knowledge of the realities of what music must do to be popular. So, given the illustrious nature of the panel, just what the heck am I, a Leeds based, “freelance” (emphasis on the free) music writer with a taste for scuzzy rock and roll as well as the dazzlingly sophisticated roar and caress of jazz, doing here? In fact, it turns out that the parochial warblings of a partially informed, but enthusiastic regional hack may have helped to throw some light on just where and how it may be worthwhile looking for some answers, if not a full blown strategy. As the panel responded to questions and the discussion developed, it seemed that while everyone agreed that jazz needed more exposure, instead of proposing solutions there was a tendency to hark back to the glory days of jazz in the 50’s and 60’s, or try to
locate the recognisable “sound” of the jazz tradition in music being produced around the world. There seemed to be a reluctance to accept either that the sound of the jazz tradition has become, for complex but identifiable socio-economic reasons, enjoyed by a smaller and smaller (and older) audience over the past 30 years, or that “jazz” may actually be in the process of becoming something else entirely. It seems to me that since the explosion of free jazz in the 60’s, the word “jazz” cannot now possibly accommodate everything that jazz has been, is now or can possibly be in the future. This is because, since the 60’s, jazz has mutated and grafted itself onto, or infiltrated, other types of music and other musical cultures to form hybrids, many of which are not obviously utilising the “sound” of the jazz tradition at all. For example, admittedly an extreme one, the rise of “noise” in the last few years seems to me to be, at least in the hands of its best practitioners, an expression of the kind of unfettered abandonment that drove free jazz. Rock music too has adopted and adapted approaches to improvisation, but linked it to the kind of repetition that is the base currency of the genre. So, it’s possible, I suppose, that some types of jazz in the future may not really swing like it used to, an idea which is probably anathema to anyone who cleaves to jazz tradition. But, it may be that in these hybrids and mutations lay the salvation of “jazz”. It is noticeable that growing, if still relatively small numbers of rock, jazz and noise musicians seem to have no problem collaborating on projects that happily straddle all three camps. I must apologise to the organisers and other panellists for not actually articulating most of these points during the panel discussion, but I’d never done this sort of thing before. What I did manage articulate, I think, was a positive view of the internet related to Leeds music scene when the general consensus of the panel was that the internet was generally A Very Bad Thing Indeed. Certainly, there are
issues about how people consume music, both legally and illegally, via the internet, but I pointed out that as far as local music scenes are concerned the internet has been absolutely crucial in organising the infrastructure that helps to support musicians and generate audiences. Leeds based collectives LIMA, The Termite Club and Leeds Jazz have been absolutely central to sustaining a healthy left field music element of the Leeds scene, with LIMA in particular making huge efforts to forge organisational links with the vibrant DIY indie elements. Crucially this wouldn’t be happening at all if audiences in Leeds weren’t prepared to open their ears to new sounds and new music, which seems to me to be a key feature of the music scene here. Anyway, this is my bit for promoting jazz to readers of Vibrations. Some of you indie-post-punk-pop-rockmetal-heads may really think that the latest indie-post-punk-poprock-metal sensation really is the bee’s gonads when it comes to sophistication, but I can tell you, you are wrong by a rather wide margin. Go and see Italian jazz-punkmetallers Zu, or Swedish berserkers The Thing, or Leeds’ own Minghe Morte. And, when you’ve strapped your jaw back on your face, ask yourself “Where the fuck did that come from?” And although the answer will probably involve some dalliance with the likes of Polar Bear and Acoustic Ladyland, with any luck and a prevailing wind you’ll soon be wondering how Miles Davis could have done that in the 70’s, or Charles Mingus got away with that in the 60’s, or just exactly which planet it was Thelonious Monk learned to play piano on. You may even ask yourself how it was that the singer of “Wonderful World” could ever have played trumpet like that.
It’s frivolous… it’s contentious… it’s probably breaking several hundred copyright laws… It’s…
Rock Trum ps! Picture the scene: you’re sitting in The Packhorse, contemplating abusing your liver with a couple more Sailor Jerry and ginger beers (which, for the sake of brevity I will now dub the ‘Captain Rum’) when one of your so-called friends comes out with the contentious line “no way is Napoleon IIIrd better than David Thomas Broughton.”
• Commercial Breakdown – How likely are this band to spontaneously explode? Fiery line up with egos to boot or luke warm water all round – the score will match for natch. • Each player gives their score for the named category. The highest score wins the card and gets to nominate the category on the next card. If there is a draw, the leading player chooses another category and… you know the rest. • The player who gains all the cards wins. So you know what you’re dealing with. Each card will feature lovingly written annotations which will be a combination of fact, opinion and complete jibberish for your entertainment. Collect ‘em, swap ‘em, forget where you put ‘em. Please note: the opinions of Vibrations staff are not law and what we say is in jest. We really aren’t that opinionated. Most of the time.
The juke box dies; the hubbub vanishes; the next thing you hear is the sound of Vicki Brown breaking a bottle across the bar before all hell breaks lose. If only your friend had some tangible evidence to prove his outrageous statement. Opinions are all very well, but as the above situation demonstrates, it would be so much easier if everyone had the same one. So in the spirit of altruism and providing you, dear Vibrations reader, with irrefutable proof (a piece of paper with some writing and numbers on) of who is actually better than who, say “hi” to Rock Trumps, a collectable card game based on… another collectable card game… that will be added to every issue with more cards giving you the empirical stats (warning: stats may not be empirical) of all your favourite Leeds bands… and some you probably won’t like.
That Fucking Tank
Rock Trum ps!
Baritone guitar plus drummer plus or minus vocals equals hot dance boogie duo plus hidden Springsteen.
Rules: • The player with the best Chris Catalyst story shuffles and deals the cards. There are only four cards at the moment, so you might want to pad the deck with other cards from other collectable card games. Super Cars is a good one. • Play starts with the person old enough to remember who Chumbawamba were. • Players take it in turns to choose from one of the categories below: • I Predict a Riot! – general rock and roll misbehaviour; the worse and more creative the behaviour, the higher the score. Scratching the ‘do not scratch’ panels on scratch cards ain’t gonna score much. • Where Did You Get That Horrible Face? – aesthetically pleasing or stomach-turningly hideous? The higher the score, the better chance they have of retaining a foot in the gene pool. • Hey Scenesters! – Basically, how much of a complete cult this band are. Weird costumes, obsessed fans, bizarre stage rituals? You better be sure you’re getting a high score.
I Predict a Riot – 4 Where Did You Get That Horrible Face? – 4 Hey Scenesters! – 10 Potential Futures – 4 Let’s Have a Dance – 8 Commercial Breakdown – 1 I Predict a Riot – 4 They used to be hell-raisers but are now an incredibly well behaved band who, drummer James confesses, prefer “a nice comedy DVD and a cup of herbal tea” to hedonistic, nihilistic band shenanigans. One extra point is earned though for having a swear word in their title – the rascals!
• Potential Futures – Their ‘success’ rating – of course, this could mean more The Fall than U2… which can only be a good thing. The higher the score, the higher they fly.
Hey Scenesters! – 10 Dwelling on the cusp of pop and experimental earns you an interesting set of followers. James reports that they have about 35 fans from Keighley who always come down to their gigs in Leeds, a woman who always wears an anorak at the front of their gigs (no matter how hot it gets) and a tramp in Derby who always comes to their shows when they play there. That alone deserves a big ten.
• Lets Have A Dance! – Stage craft. Do they throw shapes, throw up, throw instruments? It’s all good. Do they stare at their shoes and wish they weren’t there, let alone you? Not so good.
Commercial Breakdown – 1 Andy and James are like two sides of the same musical coin and trying to divide the two would be like attempting to split the atom with a wet noodle. Andy may well be a Massive Heron occasionally and a Black Dog intermittently but deep down he is Fucking Tank, through and through.
Rock Trum ps!
Leeds post-rockers destined to learn from the mistakes of the past… and write songs about them.
Where Did You Get That Horrible Face? – 6. Though not classically beautiful, the lads have a certain rugged charm and for the most part, facial hair as well; it’s rare to see them without attractive female company. They always put an effort in with their stage outfits, having sported BR uniforms, mourning suits, and now… maritime outfits? All the nice girls love a sailor, allegedly. Hey Scenesters – 10. Historic disasters as song themes? BR Uniforms? Caps lock catastrophes? You bet they’ve got a cult following! Fans have baked cakes for them, made Top Trumps games based on them (ahem), constructed train mobiles for them and are constantly suggesting subjects for their songs (one suggestion actually became ‘The Deception’, fact fans). Crowds of fans have been known to don BR uniforms and black armbands. How long for the new maritime theme to catch on? Ahoy matey! Potential Futures – 8. Having played SXSW, the JD Set tour, signed to Beggars Banquet, had ‘The Voice of Reason’ feature on the trailer for ‘The Wrestler’ and managed to attract a devoted fan base, they’ve pretty much made it. They are never likely to get their own reality TV show, but they have got a new album on the way. In this financial climate as well...
I Predict a Riot – 3 Where Did You Get That Horrible Face? – 6 Hey Scenesters – 10 Potential Futures – 8 Let’s Have a Dance – 7 Commercial Breakdown – 2
Pulled Apart By Horses Trum k ps! Leeds’ indie rock NME darlings with an appetite for destruction and semi nudity.
Rock Trum ps!
One man band, experimentalist and legend – master of various children’s instruments and a reel to reel recorder...
I Predict a Riot – 6 Where Did You Get That Horrible Face? – 6 Hey Scenesters! – 6 Potential Futures – 6 Let’s Have A Dance – 6 Commercial Breakdown – 1 I Predict a Riot – 6 On first impressions remarkably, or unremarkably, mild mannered, but James conceals a wilder persona – he lives in Holmfirth, for goodness sake; he’s riding a bath with wheels down a hill every weekend... Potential Futures – 6 Featured in the Guardian Guide and responsible for a cracking debut album, James has already made his name as a performer, but he is also very highly respected as a remixer. Hardly hurt Mark Ronson’s career… best not to mention that to him, though...
I Predict a Riot – 9 Where Did You Get That Horrible Face? – 7 Hey Scenesters! – 7 Potential Futures – 6 Let’s Have A Dance – 10 Commercial Breakdown – 8
I Predict a Riot – 9 Living rock and roll to the max, PABH are notorious party animals and bon vivants. Earn themselves a big nine purely on the basis of lead singer Tom’s vomiting crisis live on stage at Reading and guitarist James Brown’s infamous bar tab. Let’s Have A Dance – 10 Watching this band perform will make you feel tired. Full stop. If there’s something to climb, they’ll climb on it, if there’s somebody to surf on, they’ll surf on them; if they can shed clothes in the process, even better. They rock ‘til they puke then rock some more – now that’s the real deal. Commercial Breakdown – 8 The flame that burns twice as bright... and all that. Having all come from bands that previously went kerblammo, and having the collective attention span of an amnesiac goldfish, we wouldn’t be at all surprised if they spontaneously combusted on tour somewhere in Albania and returned in four new bands. Just for a laugh.
Commercial Breakdown – 1 He’s one man. Come on. Be sensible.
REVIEWS ALBUMS Grammatics - Grammatics Having overdosed on their cyanide bitter-sweet anachronistic indie pop last year, the prospect of an album from Leeds’ Grammatics was to me like a field of opium poppies to a reformed junky – beautiful but lethal. Given that its inception was in the safe hands of Leeds’ busiest man, James Kenosha, it would not be the sound that let it down. Would their propensity for melodrama (and considering that they all appear to be lynched on the cover, possibly) be their undoing? From the mortar volley of ‘Shadow Committee’ and ‘D.I.L.E.M.M.A.’ that open the album, probably not. Dom’s trigger happy drum beats act as a balance to Emilia’s smooth, exuberant cello passages while Rory and Owen act as the fulcrum, an uncharacteristically violent eye of the storm, battened down by Rory’s bass and soaring with Owen’s androgynous delivery. Rebecca Dumican cackles disarmingly and we are within the intricacies of the album. ‘Murderer’ displays the softer side of their work (I was about to say darker, but it’s all dark) and allows ‘Vague Archive’ to shine properly. The vocal intensity, pincushion guitars and joygasm explosive chorus sound almost Queen-like in places, but this familiar bombast is turned on itself in the closing verses and lapses into amnesia (“another bump on the head,” sighs Owen regretfully). Following this, ‘Broken Wing’ gains additional poignancy – if ‘Vague Archive’ is the festival season, ‘Broken Wing’ is the doomed comeback, complete with mocking guitar solo. It is ‘Relentless Fours’ that really notches up the tragedy though. Something about the pairing of Owen’s angelic school boy voice and Laura Groves’ sweetened, clipped tones reaches into your chest and stops your heart. The frustrated cry of “we only want relentless fours” rouses you from your arrest, leaving you panting as the guitar chimes out the rest. ‘Rosa Flood’ (a chaotic tribute to Noel Coward), ‘Cruel Tricks of The Light’ (off cuts of ‘Broken Wing’ and ‘D.I.L.E.M.M.A.’) and ‘Inkjet Lakes’ (more beautiful harmonies and “Bed rest, kittens, wombs of opiates’)
all seem like a stream of fevered consciousness, but maintain a 1920’s opiate-addled classical sensibility, but nothing quite has the impact of the opening of the album. ‘Polar Swelling’ does have a sweet familiarity and ‘Swan Song’ a WWI fatalism, but again… that opening. For a debut it’s bloody good, a steam punk junkie rave of an album in a parallel universe where the 1920’s never ended. Blimey, it’s bloody good for a second or third album. It just feels a little imbalanced, but I guess when you’ve got the band hanging on the cover, the last thing you’d expect is balance. Rob Wright
CHICKENHAWK Chickenhawk (Sound Devastation Records) “When I was a boy, I wanted to be an astronaut”, growls the Chickenhawk front man Paul Astick, at the start of standout track ‘NASA Vs ESA’. Surely in ten years’ time ‘Astronaut’ will be replaced by ‘Footballer’, ‘WAG’ or just simply ‘Famous’. Anyway, enough of my ranting, like the rest of the quartet, the singer/ guitarist’s formidable output belies his unassuming off-stage appearance but, if you have a penchant for doom laden industrial tinged thrash but still want an accessible sound, then you might fancy a blast of the self-titled debut long player from Leeds-based Chickenhawk. It’s sure to blow away any remaining winter blues. The album is basically split into two halves and kicking off proceedings is the 80 second ‘Dude-a-tron’, all arcade game synths and video nasty vocals, followed by the catchy speed metal of ‘Piglosaur’. We then enjoy aforementioned album highlight ‘NASA…’ although it’s given a close run by the terrific ‘My Name is Egg’, which brings the first half of the album to a close. These two are interspersed by the album’s most melancholic moment ‘Minus Infinity Killswitch’ which at times borrows a little too much from Metallica. ‘Dude-a-tron’ starts the turn for home with some catchy hillbilly nonsense and nowhere near long enough in my opinion. The album’s two longest tracks ‘Kerosene’ and ‘Gravitronic Liferay Table’ are up next. However the longer tracks lack a little of the focus and crispness of their shorter catchier counterparts. This is perhaps harsh criticism for an album that, despite its
difficult birth, (the CD plant used was closed down, delaying the release by some months) clearly shows promise indeed - the closing number ‘Bottle Rocket’ is a proper pocket rocket! When the band returns to the studio, exciting things should happen. Mike Price
Worriedaboutsatan - Arrivals Gizeh Records are gently moving into that “guarantor of quality” status that offers artists the chance to make music for an audience who will listen because they trust the name of the label. Gavin Miller and Tom Ragsdale’s first full album as Worriedaboutsatan more than repays such trust. It embraces uncertainty, anxiety and compulsion, but folds them in with gentle euphoria and strong waves of ambient movement. Hints of how good they were were strong on EP2, back in 2007. “Arrivals” is the confirmation. The 55 minutes of continuous music cross eight named sections and three linking passages. There are echoey layered samples, and aural illusions of all kinds. There are softer dance beats and large structural bass notes, sprinkled with insect-small tics of percussion. Great care has been taken to hide (or never use) the simple arithmetic that lines up blocks of 4, 8, 16 or 32. So themes and repetitions remain elusive and a sense of dramatic progression is maintained right though to the end. The penultimate “All Things But You Are Silent” rumbles with low rumours of distant storms, war and catastrophe and shimmers with a repeated guitar line. The stereo channels fill gradually and the guitar eventually outshines the darker forces until, falling silent, it leaves the speakers full of hissing and dark laughter in a strange place. Final track “Arrivals” rises like a dawn on a cold railway station and a deep pulsing bass moves in to comfort the soul. The percussion becomes disturbing. Indistinct voices and a much harsher, industrial-scale reprise of the guitar line from “All Things ...” bring things to a head. The resolution is uncertain, but feels complete and true to what has preceded it, like a good film with an ambiguous final scene. It’s a mature and deeply satisfying recording. Sam Saunders
The Scaramanga Six Songs of Prey (Wrath Records) Beset with difficulties. The best way to describe the Scara’s fortunes of late, but it’s an ill wind. Last year’s ‘Pound of Flesh’ was all but in the can when producer Tim Smith suffered a very serious cardiac arrest. Then floating keyboardist Chris Catalyst decided to leave and concentrate on other projects. The Six were back to four again, but I would have you remember the following phrase during this review. Less is more. So much more. Of course, the opening song, ‘Hole In My Emotion’ couldn’t be much bigger. A majestic riff chorale kicks off proceedings, only to be superseded by the riff and beat from ‘Immigrant Song’. The two fuse into an uber-riff that raises and supports Paul’s voice, sounding more like Neil Hannon than the customary cloak swirling pantomime villain. It’s still fun and spectacular, but an underlying seriousness ties the whole thing into a more accomplished experience than ever before. This seriousness is no bad thing. It allows for the pathos of ‘Self Destruction’ (“Hoping for tragedy to strike me down”); the tenderness of ‘Another Coward’. Though they’ve dabbled with subtlety in the past, indulgent keys and horns have pushed it over into melodramatic territory, but here the simple power of Gareth Champion’s drums and Steve’ bass together with Julia’s stunning riffage provide everything you need. That’s not to say there isn’t room for the completely over the top. ‘I Didn’t Get Where I Am Today’ has Paul breaking eggs for cakes and legs for control, screaming blue bloody murder in fine post-punk style, and the following ‘You Should Have Killed Me...’ that dabs on the Gong and leathers the Cardiacs is anything but subtle. They have branched out in their insanity though; ‘Groom of The Stool’ is pure stoner metal and ‘Sophia in Blue’ is like the stripper meets Franz Ferdinand. It doesn’t get ridiculous though, and it allows for some fantastic moments to slip through. Take ‘Another Coward’. What sounds like a doom laden Earth riff is retuned ever so slightly to become the most beautiful Led Zeppelin-style ralentando. ‘Death By Misadventure’ cleverly skits ‘Born to Run’ right down to the tinkling bells while recounting a road accident. And that’s where
less is so much more. They’re clever musically, lyrically and structurally... they’ve had hard times but they are at the top of their game and quite frankly a lot of others too. Rob Wright
White Boys for Gay Jesus - White Boys for Brothel Med Clinics White Boys For Gay Jesus: techcore jazz-rapers hiding post-rock intentions or secret Chris Morris side project? White Boys are one of those bands that you either hate or haven’t heard yet. Flippancy aside, they are not easy listening; Brothel Med Clinics is a challenging hear, but does have a whack load of interesting songs, deranged ideas, breakdown vocals and... gentle ambience? The track listing reads like a collection of cheap and nasty porn and some of it sounds not a million miles away from it (‘Pussy Cake’ sounds like bad sex on a pinball table) but the oblique chord and dischord structures, arrhythmic beats, tri-tonic and bi-curious-tonic harmonics push it into the realms of the experimental. Liberal usage of electronics and genre-spanning (soul metal in ‘Gang Ape Sex Tape’) then push it even further into the realms of Faith No More or Rolo Tomassi fusion. If you add to this Paedophillips’ Mr Bungle era Mike Patton sing-scream, you’ve got something pretty exciting going on. Of course, it isn’t perfect. The vocals are in danger of being suffocated, sometimes the songs seem so convoluted and complex that melodies become whimsical fancy (‘Naked Lunch’ is as close as you get to a tune on the first half) and it is not a journey for the faint-hearted, but if you’re gonna get antsey about your music, you’re probably not going to listen to a band called White Boys For Gay Jesus, are you?
Castrovalva - Castrovalva (Brew Records) For all those who think that Doctor Who started with Chris Eccleston, Castrovalva won’t mean much. For me, it was the end of an era; Tom Baker’s Doctor was replaced by some youthful upstart in cricket whites and a stick of celery in his lapel; ‘Castrovalva’ was his first story. A shock to the system, not unlike Anthony Wright and Daniel Brader’s own Castrovalva. It’s drum and bass, but not as you know it… On first hearing, it is easy to make comparisons to Leeds’ other wellknown two piece, That Fucking Tank – the drums gallop and the bass rumbles through ‘Max Rhodes’ – but whereas Andy’s distinctive fret runs dribble along frenetically, Anthony’s bass gathers momentum, peaks and explodes into bizarre wah wah. Daniel also likes to mix it up with the beats and is more akin to Khuda’s Robin Timmis. He plays with syncopation on ‘We Don’t Go To Ravenholm’, thrashes through ‘Dream Carpet’ and waltzes about ‘Bison Scissor Kick’ – in short, messes around. This is, however, one of the major problems I have with this album. At times it sounds like a rhythm section jam carried out before the guitarist and singer come and muck things up. In particular, ‘Bison Scissor Kick’ sounds like the foundations for a new Pulled Apart By Horses song. It even has the silly name. Fortunately, when they do form songs properly it really is impressive – ‘My Father Bleeds History’ and ‘Bellhausen’ (featuring guest vocals form Leemun Smith) display devilishly unsettling structure – subterranean and primal screaming stuff. As a project, it is fairly ambitious and requires a paradigm shift on the part of the listener to really get, but seeing as they save their best ‘til last, this is not a bad thing. Like that young bloke with the celery did, this shows potential. Rob Wright
The last word I leave to the closing track, ‘Womb’. Soft delicate keyboard sounds swell over looping guitars and brushy drums. It’s like being stroked with a feather after a paddling. Allegedly. The point is that it proves that these guys can play... just about anything. They just choose this deviant horror show out of sheer pleasure. Sheer, clingy, slightly soiled pleasure... Rob Wright
finished as their usual fare. You can hear Audrey, Last Harbour, the Mission/’Kashmir’ influence and the Peasman @ Royal Park whole thing ends in true overblown epic Cellars, 23rd May style, but the verse sounds out of place, The Sunshine Underground may wimpy even. Bit of a sunken sponge. SINGLES well have sold out the LMUSU and Fortunately, the CD comes with the congratulations to them. He may even welcome addition of two live recordings take his coat off in this weather. If that’s Captain Anstis of ‘The Story of My (Flipping) Life’ and less your scene though, get yourself Good Fortune (EP) ‘Scream Eureka’ from Raw Talent and.. down to the Royal Park Cellars for some someone’s front room. Rough and intimate Swedish… music from Audrey, Okay, let’s get heavy. ready, but we like that about Eureka a band that have been compared Machines too. to Low and Sigur Ros. Should be Carlisle hell-raisers Captain Anstis mellow. Not only that, but Last Harbour, have, unfortunately, gone on hiatus Rob Wright folksy sounding Dirty Three inspired according to their Myspace page. Which gorgeousness, and Peasman, Vessels is a shame, because there’s some vocalist Tom Evans’ solo persona, will promise in this EP. Opener “Walk My be providing support on what promises Plank” boasts some brilliant, thundering The Dead Reckoning - (EP) to be an engaging and heart warming guitar work and impressive drumming, By the looks of it, the members of The night. Unless they’ve got the karaoke amplified by the shrieking… shrieks of Dead Reckoning have been around a running upstairs. vocal man Paul. “Nakatomi” on the other bit. And with names like Matt Buzzkill, hand, seems to be going nowhere until Dave Reckoning and, er, Beefy, about 4 minutes in, when everything they may have accumulated a few suddenly changes. The repetition Middleman @ Joseph’s Well, associations they want to hide behind of screamy verse and singy chorus the pseudonyms. Certainly, the furiously 29th May stops and we see some excellently chugging guitars and pumping brass Get ready to say ‘man’ to their ‘middle’ experimental guitar playing followed by exhibited in these three tracks sound like because the men they couldn’t freeze a sample playing over the final section. the chaps are making one more stab are back with a new single, ‘It’s Not Impressive no? Well no, because let’s at success rather than playing music Over Yet’, and a whole host of hearts face it, everyone does that now. But they actually like. While the songs are and minds to win back after a nine nevertheless… competently played, there’s nothing month hiatus. Regardless of managerial particularly original about what they do. It’s when you move onto the third track problems, Middleman are the perfect And I can’t help thinking about The Hold ‘Bare Bones’ (probably the best on the summer band whatever weather May Steady when I play it, which is most EP to be honest) that you start to notice chucks in our direction and, considering unpleasant, really…. that CA aren’t repeating themselves the ‘Well’s recent rocky history, this at all. There are some brilliant vocal will be the perfect setting too. Expect Steve Walsh harmonies going on as the band let sudden bursts of dancing, occasional loose and throw themselves across outbreaks of singing along and the the whole spectrum of metal. I just strong possibility of enjoying yourself. PREVIEWS really hope that they can deliver this live, because you can feel the energy screaming out of your speakers, jumping Live @ Leeds @ various Orbital @ The Academy, 11th down your throat and pummelling the venues throughout Leeds, 2nd June pit of your stomach. It’s just nice to see May a metal band that aren’t cliché, cocky SATAN! SATAN! SATAN! Relive those and rubbish. More experimental, fun and Eight venues, dozens of bands, one crazy, lazy, hazy days of the nineties wristband costing a piffling ten pounds. talented. by seeing a couple of keyboard Yes, the REAL Leeds festival is back jockeys with torches on their glasses. Patrick Gunn and promises to be as majestic and All sounds a bit tame now, but when chaotic as ever, with contributions you consider the magnitude of such coming from iLiKETRAiNS, Blue Roses, techno epics as ‘Belfast’, ‘Chime’ and Humanfly, 7 Hertz, Brontide (exI Was Eureka Machines the aforementioned ‘Satan’, there is A Cub Scout drummer’s riffmungous Everyone Loves you a certain something to their oeuvre. new project), Middleman, Silverlode, The latest single released from last So what if this is an obvious cash in Maccabees, Art Brut… look, there’s a year’s debut album, ‘Do or Die’, sees reunion? So what if we’ve come a whole lot going on, okay? Great exercise Leeds’ favourite musical magpies long way, baby? Get your glow sticks too as when they say Live at Leeds they leaving no riff unturned, no bridge and white gloves out and lets party mean ALL of Leeds – Cockpit, Elbow uncrossed and no pop unpopped. A like it’s nineteen ninety-nine, safe in Rooms, Library, Faversham, Packhorse, bit more reverb has been thrown in for the knowledge that there will be no Brudenell Social Club, The Stage and good measure and some electronic millennium bug – your computer doesn’t Holy Trinity Church. Your legs will be whooshing has been bunged on, but this work because of Vista, that’s all. worn down to nubs if you want to sample is essentially more of what we like – bit everything, but ohhhh, the satisfaction… Rob Wright of ‘Screamager’, bit of Wildhearts, bit of Honeycrack. Hard candy Frankenstein’s pop. ‘The Bigger They Are…’ is a bit of a surprise in that it doesn’t sound as
LIVE Wild Beasts Benefit Gig – Fran Rodgers, Tigers That Talked, Spodni Pradlo Tonight’s gig was a benefit event to help with the costs of Wild Beasts’ attendance at SXSW 2009 in Austin Texas. So it’s to West Yorkshire’s great credit that such a strong supporting programme had been laid on. Bradford’s Spodní Prádlo opened the evening with a sprawl of good natured on-stage friendship. There are a lot probably eight - of them, doing modest Beta Band/Gorky sorts of things, adding up to a cheerful burble of home-made minstrelsy and gently dancing tunes. Tigers That Talked have their distinctive single ‘23 Fears’, but their other songs, while similar in sound and approach, didn’t stand out with quite the same clarity. Glenna Larsen’s presence and the fluent violin are very positive strengths. Fran Rodgers performed the songs from her recent EP, with Bruce Renshaw on drums and Lindsay Wilson playing bass. There was a minor wobble in taming the dulcimer’s love of feedback, but songs like ‘The Lighthouse’ and the wonderfully jealous rage of ‘The Protestor’ cuts right trough and the small band format worked really well. Wild Beasts’ Tom Fleming was already there in person of course, and came out to perform the vocal line that he recorded for ‘I See Horses Flee’ on stage. The song, and Fran, gleamed with pleasure. Sam Saunders
Nebula @ Holy Trinity Church, Leeds This was the inaugural Nebula, a monthly improvised music night at one of Leeds’ more unusual venues, which seeks to pool the local creative talents of the Leeds Improvised Music Association (LIMA) and The Termite Club whilst pulling in like-minded souls from near and far. With the advertised LIMAites and star attractions Christoph de Bezenac and Matthew Bourne unable to attend, it fell to LIMA duo The Beckett Project (Richard Ormrod on saxophones and Craig Scott on electric guitar) to kick the whole thing off with a highly intuitive set that mostly explored the small, quiet sounds of improvisation, although at one point Ormrod’s robust tenor managed
to locate a niche in the architecture that seemed to provide a natural loop facility.
put into the choice of support acts too, Rhode Island’s breezy 80s-tinged pop and The Paradimes’ heavier checkedHuman Combustion Engine (Phil shirt Americana nicely complementing Todd of Ashtray Navigations and Termite the headline set. organiser Mel) raised the curtain for the Termite Club with an oddly polite set The Wilberforce band contains familiar of pulsating ambient washes and sci-fi faces from The Lodger, Samsa, the sound effects that, ironically enough, Avenues and Rent, but the focus is of really came to life when Todd set about course on Simon Bristoll, whose way poking about inside an upright acoustic with a melody and a voice frequently piano. reminiscent of Glenn Tilbrook mark him out as the kind of songwriter who really The FrImp Trio (Bruce Coates on should be hearing his stuff on the radio saxophones, Mike Hurley on piano more. and Trevor Lines on bass) are, more or less, the house band for a long As accommodating as Smokestack standing improv night in Birmingham, is, these are big songs clearly built for and their obvious familiarity with each bigger stages. The band tear through other produced a sophisticated, almost album highlights ‘No Strings Or Ties,’ chamber music style of improvisation. ‘Get A Grip’ and ‘Confetti, Champagne Their set morphed into a collaboration and Roses’ in no time at all. The widely with Phil Todd, Craig Scott and acclaimed ‘The Girl Who Broke Her saxophonist Ollie Dover. Todd’s Own Heart’, stripped of the album contributions in particular seemed to jolt version’s strings and with its guitars the Trio out of their comfort zone and turned up, becomes perhaps even more the music shifted constantly in tone and gut-wrenching and emotional. The set shape as the different elements of the is completed by a couple of tunes from 2005’s ‘Mindfilming’ album, which go sextet engaged in a fascinating search to show the new album isn’t a one-off for common ground amid the tension. pop fluke. Despite some questionable Thereafter, the gig seemed to peter out decisions at the mixing desk and a few somewhat, despite the LIMA duo of Ollie fluffed chords, it’s a great performance. Dover and drummer Joost Hendrickx delivering some taught, hyper active and Spencer Bayles muscular jousting. Chamber music trio 7 Hertz had been drafted in late in the day to make up the bill and, as they’d Nadja, Red Stars Parade, already played another gig earlier that Castrovalva @ Brudenell evening, the jam session built around Social Club them lacked focus and their set was a run through some of their compositions The room’s still filling as Castrovalva stitched together with passages of take the stage tonight, accompanied by improvisation. a mystery 3rd member whose piercing falsetto give the two-piece a completely Steve Walsh different sound. But fairly quickly it’s back to just the two of them as they launch into the rest of their set, ripping Captain Wilberforce @ through brilliantly performed tracks Smokestack like ‘My Father Bleeds History’ and new one ‘Triceratops’. The drums are Power-pop isn’t the coolest or most spot on, loud and mathy, and Anthony highly regarded form of music around Wright leads from the front, jerking, these parts, so a half-full Smokestack bouncing and throwing himself into the on a Thursday night seems just about crowd on several occasions. His bass right for the launch of a record that screams through the set, as does he to proudly wears its lack of street cred on us between songs (thanks to a lack of a its sleeve. mic). A casual but raucous set from the local lot. This was actually the re-launch of Captain Wilberforce’s ‘Everyone Loves A Villain’, having originally had a limited release in 2008, but this time around it’s been on the receiving end of plaudits from the major music monthlies. The event was a perfectly-judged affair, from the choice of venue to the between-set playlist, featuring scene-setting choices from the likes of Blur, John Cale and the Beatles. Some thought had been
Off stage, Red Stars Parade front-man Matt Dixon seems quite docile. He laughs, fiddles nervously and paces up and down. On stage however the man is walking intimidation. Red Stars Parade are good tonight, but Dixon makes them electric; he strolls around the crowd, engrossed in the music and screaming his nut off. But the best thing is his voice; natural and personal, vibrations 37
REVIEWS no fake Americanised musings. Defined, crushing riffs (check ‘El Retardo’) help RSP stand out from the rest tonight. Obvious talent on both the song-writing and performing fronts don’t hurt them either. The only disappointment was the shortness of the set. And finally, from a little place down the road called Toronto, Nadja take to the stage. Just a guy, a girl and a table laden with more effect pedals than you’d find in a prog-rocker’s wet dream. Nadja verge on the stupidly epic despite the size of the band, using a loop to create a drum beat while the pair strum away casually and guitarist Aidan Baker whines over a heavily distorted microphone… I think… I couldn’t really hear it. But maybe that was the point. The songs are long with most pushing on 10 minutes, but Nadja are a band that enthral, not excite. A chance to sit back, chill out and allow your brain to slowly melt, into a proginfused sludge… but in a good way. Patrick Gunn
Damo Suzuki, Quack Quack, Napoleon IIIrd @ The Brudenell Social Club In pursuit of something that clearly has no commercial considerations at all, Napoleon IIIrd seems to have almost entirely ditched his back catalogue of exquisitely bonkers pop songs for the nagging drilling riffs that make up most of recent mini CD ‘Hideki Yukawa’. Fortunately the new stuff is still exquisitely crafted in its own ugly-beautiful way and there’s still something utterly compelling about watching these songs being cobbled together with plastic boxes, wires, wood and, yes, quite possibly, even string before your very eyes. Would it be possible for the whole world to know about Napoleon IIIrd without it changing what he does one iota? If only…
melodies. It also helps that in Neil Turpin the band have one of the best musicians operating in Leeds at the moment sitting on the drum stool. ‘Conversations’ is a gloriously lunging and pummelling epic finale.
after night. The jazz elements are particularly strong and it’s probably no surprise that the Leeds Improvised Music Association (LIMA) was born out of the college, although many of its members are now ex-students.
Ex-Can vocalist Damo Suzuki does little more these days than travel the world doing gigs wherever he can, backed by whatever musicians are available at the time. Here, Napoleon IIIrd and Quack Quack were augmented by an alto saxophonist and a guitarist. After a lacklustre and meandering start to the set, Turpin evidently decided to take the music by the scruff of the neck and led the band on an exhausting rollercoaster of surging and powerful kraut rockimprov for close to an hour while the 59-year-old Suzuki intoned his blissed out mantra. By all accounts, these gigs can be patchy, but this one took off like a pointer to future possibilities.
As a demonstration of the vitality of modern jazz, the showcase itself was more of a mixed bag and perhaps pointed up the dilemmas faced by the Conference itself. Opening the showcase, If Destroyed Still True (IDST) are a stunning example of the possibilities inherent in a type of modern jazz that is rooted in the jazz tradition. The three extended compositions they played were tightly arranged but seemed to be constantly riding on the cusp of freeform improvisation. Simon Kaylor’s soprano solo drove the opening tune to an early and exultant climax, and pianist Johnny Tomlinson and electric guitarist Nick Tyson constantly pull the sound in unexpected directions. Even now, IDST could hold their own in any company.
Jazz Showcase @ The Venue, Leeds College of Music This gig, a showcase for the Leeds International Jazz Conference, sought to demonstrate both the wealth of talent coming out of Leeds Music College (LCM) and highlight the fact that jazz is alive and well and, well, kicking ass with the best of them. It is difficult to argue with the idea that LCM is playing a huge and largely unsung role in supplying much of the raw talent for the seemingly endless succession of bands of all kinds that play gigs in the city’s venues night
LCM lecturer Kathy Dyson’s guitar duet with student Alex Munk was beautifully played but sounded like an academic exercise. Munk’s own guitar, electric bass and drums trio The Hitmen was more robust, jazz-rock and featured the formidably idiosynchratic drumming of Ed Hick. The showcase was rounded off by the Joel Purnell Quartet, made up of members of the jazz faculty. Although faultlessly played, the band’s sound was seemed to be mesmerised by the tradition rather than trying to push it forward. Steve Walsh
Quack Quack are the side project that’s threatening to become a going concern in its own right. Despite the non stop weird time signatures and the occasional lapse into bad prog, the band’s music is approachable and almost danceable. This is mainly due to Stuart Bannister’s direct and thumping bass riffs and Richard Morris’ keyboard vibrations 38
SECOND HEARING Your CD-Rs deserve a second listen. So, we’ll listen twice (and twice only) and then type. 20 words per track Keep ‘em coming... Jonny D Pedalo
Nicola: Bass line from Pulp, riff from Kings of Leon, vocals from school of nasal indie whine. Pretty good tune regardless.
Gravity: BOC bassline and MOR drums compliment the slighty Brian Molko vocals. Epic and ambitious, yes, but a bit too Winger.
Originality Is Not What It Used To Be: A madrigal guitar unfolds over a ticking beat and the voice is improving. Some folk, some emo, lots of bass.
Flow: Metal riff, Maiden in motion and, what’s this? Soundgarden drop D harmonising? Could do with being harder, but has potential.
One, Two… Many: Bit of Foals-like guitar scuffle with lots of chirp and cheer in naïve rhyming couplets. Fun raconteurism about bouncer violence.
Stories: Ah, the soft one. A bit too wussy, even with the crunchy chorus, that leaves these players little to do.
Six-Fingered Man Glass Back: Epic U2 style guitar with INXS vocals on this Snow Patrol-ish song. Bombastic and pompous but he almost gets there. Pick The Bones: Emotional wrenching to the sound of a distorted guitar and some gentle picking. Moody eighties prog, but with less fireworks.
The Hidden Revolution Nightmares: A slow Stereophonics style that ticks all the indie rock boxes. A song that is instantly forgettable and utterly mistakable. Conscience: Twiddly bass and fidgety drums make me wonder why this isn’t the A-side. Especially considering that hard grunge chorus. Lovely.
Statues: More jangle, more delay, more heartfelt vocals. A lot of song, true, but a bit too much sentiment. Anachronistic bluster.
The Ironweed Project - Deep Down and Dirty
Friendly Fires - Skeleton Boy: Take two parts Candy Staton, one part 8-bit mayhem and one part Vangelis, add beefy beats and shake not stir.
Get A Little Dirty: Filthy Nashville rock with a deep, rich voice that really brings out the blues in this. Shower after listening music.
Sad Day For Puppets
Boom Boom Clap: Odd: it’s part Pimp My Ride, part John Denver and part blues rock. Perhaps a touch over produced but catchy.
Marble Gods: Guitars jangle like the Concretes, voice all Kirsty Macoll and the whole thing pops along like happy regret. Textbook stuff.
Down To My Grave: Though it borrows from the Seasick Steve principal (old Mississippi blues man) it’s more Kings of Leon and Willy Nelson.
Big Waves: More Scandanavianish soundscapery with waltzing bass and glacial groove. Sweet but icy and aching with that which you can’t have.
Ri$ing $un: Drum and bass Redneck Chili Peppers. I’m bloody confused, but that dirty guitar and high speed BPM is surprisingly good.
Mon Mon - Monkey Fist
Track 1: Big bottom beat and bass accompanying a nice rolling riff and a smoky voice. Oceansize like, but needs more salt.
Manifesto: Masses of ambient electronic music in a buffet of beat and vocal-free sound collages. Patchy, but very FSOL in places.
Track 2: Bluesy guitar with touch of the sinisters that goes all mandolin psychedelic. Good harmonies but a softer touch beat required.
Lillies On Mars: Electronics and acoustics blend with haunting vocals, shadowy melodies and a touch of jap pop. Enchanting and disturbing at turns.
Track 3: That bass sounds very Stone Roses, but that lonely guitar and voice are far from Madchester. More an Aireside Pixies.
The Veils – Sun Gangs: Very reminiscent of Conor Oberst, but also displays a touch of Moby. Sometimes moody, sometimes clangy, not bad at all.
Track 4: ‘We only salivate to MSG!’ Hmm, lively, but not in character with the rest of the EP. Sounds too floaty. vibrations 39
Published on Apr 30, 2009
Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring Little Boots, Wild Beasts and Silverlode