Vibrations Magazine Leeds and West Yorkshire November 2012 Free
The Fight Before Christmas
24 26 28
Post War Glamour Girls Sinoptic Music Live Music Act
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30 Reviews 36
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Contributors Nathan Clark, Rob Wright, Rob Paul Chapman, Tim Hearson, Kate Wellham, Steve Walsh, Greg Elliott, Ben Rutledge, Matt Brown, Neil Dawson, Victoria Riglen, Mike Price, Oliver Deans, Rachel Heward, Daniel Cunningham, Rochelle Massey, Sam Lowrey, Alex Wignall
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Summer is but a Memory
- My 40th birthday: spent interviewing Earth and later watching said band along with my wife and a group of friends (two of which drove from the banks of the Humber to say ‘Happy Birthday’ – lump in throat time) – not only that, but Dylan et al sang me ‘Happy Birthday’! Sadly, my Dictaphone was not running at the time, so the only evidence I have is hearsay... who were also in the bar at the time! Joking. Anyway, I did give Dylan and Adrienne a big drunken hug later. I’m like that, me. - Impromptu performances with Blacklisters not once... but twice! The first time was during a gig at the Brudenell supporting someone noisy, but during the closing ‘verse’ of ‘Trickfuck’, an over enthusiastic Billy thrusts the microphone into my hand to perform some very frantic looking dancing. In the spirit of things, I obliged the band and the audience with my best incoherent death metal growling... managed to keep in time too. After the gig, a Blacklisters fan actually complimented me on my improvised nastiness. Then, a few months later at Live at Leeds, I found myself playing
- Hello Leeds!: Even a grizzled old hack like myself has delusions of grandeur and I have oft times gazed at the Introducing stage at Leeds Festival and thought ‘I could be up there.’ This year I actually got the chance, sort of, when Black Moth let me stand stage side to watch their set (I was interviewing them afterwards, so I had an excuse to be back there, I wasn’t just ligging to be a nuisance). It was just as good as I imagined, looking at all those bods enjoy... well not me, Black Moth in actual fact... and nod and go ‘this, my friend, is rock and roll’. Silly, but for me that was a personal goal achieved. I could go on, because the more I think about it (being interviewed on the Introducing radio show, seeing Pulled Apart By Horses open at Leeds, mis-starting a circle pit for Hawk Eyes), the more it has been, in the words of William Shatner, a very good year, not just for me but for Vibrations and for Leeds music in general, as reflected in this year’s Fight Before Christmas – it’s been fairly hard making some of the cuts we made (yes, Paul Marshall, I realise that The Lovers isn’t in, but we had to draw a line on release dates somewhere – all you have to do is hope that there aren’t twenty albums better than yours that are released in the following year, and I must say that they will have their work cut out – happy?) but I am blissfully happy with all the albums we’ve got featured. Go on. Check it out. Bet you’ll be surprised at who won. I don’t even know yet. Really.
Words by Robert Wright
Actually, considering that parenthood has rendered my memory on a par with a very forgetful goldfish (see ‘The Very Forgetful Goldfish’ by Julia Donaldson) this is going to be harder than first thought. I might leave it for you all to pick out your own highlights (how magnanimous of me) as music and life is a very subjective thing, it being lived by the individual and no-one sharing the same life and all that – I dare say you all have your tales to tell. Personally though (me me me), my highlights are (and these are the ones that spring to mind – apologies to all those wonderful moments that I have forgotten or will recount after this has gone to print, it’s nothing personal, it’s just that my long term memory is, as Marcel Proust once wrote ‘shot to shit’ – and that translation may not be 100% accurate), in no particular order:
guitar for them during their last song. I cannot play guitar. I did not receive any compliments that time.
And I suppose I should say hello to the freshers. Hello to the freshers, welcome to Leeds’ amazing music scene. Sorry to be so laconic, but there’s a lot to get through this issue, changes are afoot and I’ve got to start thinking about next year. Ah, next year... what joys will 2013 bring us all, I wonder... My tireless Vibrations Avengers, ASSEMBLE! L’aventure recommence... L’Ed Franglais, Oct 2012
Well, it’s all gone a bit parky, hasn’t it? Summer is but a memory, the tents are packed up, the rain is set on full and my wardrobe is back in. So, in lieu of going into hibernation, it is time to reflect on what has been a fairly eventful year, both musically and otherwise.
The Ed nuts Nathan as he opens fire, Kate lands punches on the nose. Hearson dangling as he’s hung by chicken wire, Walsh and Chapman trading blows. The arguments are primed as writers loosen up with beer It always ends up in a fight. For now it’s time to pick our albums of the year We’ll end in A&E tonight…. Yes, it’s that time of year again. The decorations are up in Debenhams, the lights are on, the trees are being stocked, the child-baiting adverts are on; it can only mean it must be… September. And therefore time to start planning The Fight Before Christmas. For those unfamiliar with the format, The Fight Before Christmas is very much the centrepiece of the Vibrations Christmas Edition. Much in the way that the inexplicably pie-eyed colleague swigging Kestrel Super in the middle of the dance floor with his trousers round his ankles shouting obscenities at the boss’ wife inevitably and ends up becoming the centrepiece of the office Christmas party. As the nights started getting longer, Vibrations sent out the call to the readership and the users of the Leeds Music Forum to get your favourite local albums of the year. We compiled the results into a long list, then our seasoned team of experts* whittled these down into a shortlist of 20. We then assembled an elite** panel of subject matter specialists*** to digest these albums over a concentrated period of three weeks, not allowing any other audio signal outside of the list to permeate their frazzled brains until they could recite the linear sleeve notes from memory in Ancient Greek. They then assembled, Avengers style, to sit around for many, many, many soul-crushing hours drinking industrial quantities of The Brudenell’s fine draft ale arguing the toss about which they preferred until we had consensus on a top twenty. Now, weeks later, this shocking footage has been discovered. No one has heard from any of them since, but these are their last recorded notes:
6 *Interns **Available ***Opinionated blow-hards
Your TFBC Panel: Rob Paul Chapman (Chair) Former editor of Vibrations, promoter and writer Likes – good honest pop music Dislikes – Indie-schmindie bollocks and middle-class white kids with acoustic guitars who think the world wants to know their feelings Average score 6.05. Rob Wright Current editor of Vibrations, writer, bon vivant Likes – Darkness, metal, doomy metal, bleak metal, postrock, pre-rock, rawk-rock, rock. Dislikes – noodly shoe-gazing cardigan-wearing indie Average score 6.55. Steve Walsh Vibrations’ Reviews Editor, cooler than the rest of us despite being twice our age Likes – This man is not limited by the constraints of genre Dislikes –Anything that appears to be going through the motions Average score 7.25. Tim Hearson Vibrations’ Live Editor, team young gun. Likes – Fisher Price toys Dislikes – age-based jokes Average Score 6.40. Kate Wellham Writer, journalist, commentator, campaigner. Likes – Whisky. Dislikes – Forgetting never to order a seafood pizza from a take-away you don’t know well. Average Score 5.58. Nathan Clark Boss of the Brudenell Likes – it when the Vibrations team finish in a reasonable time and exit quietly Dislikes – the reverse of the above Average score 6.15.
TFBC The List:
18. Instant Species – This Rome…
20. Honour Before Glory – This Is Broken Lines
There is barely an original bar, beat or note on this record. And you know what? It doesn’t matter a jot. Because this is the perfect example of a record that does exactly what it was designed to, sounding fresh and exciting without threatening to reinvent the wheel. It actually starts with a slight misstep, ‘I Don’t See You As A Enemy’ being the shot furthest off-target, but by track two it hits its stride, and once you’re into the sublimely euphoric indie-pop gem ‘Are We Lovers?’ you’re home and dry.
19. Jonjo Feather – Held If Feather’s debut album Is Or OK confirmed him as a talented, idiosyncratic songwriter of upbeat but off kilter songs, this follow up signalled some kind of crisis in the man’s life that had effectively sucked all the bounce out of him. Whatever it was, has – fortunately for us – left his songwriting talents intact and the result is this collection of ten songs that seemingly document a mind and personality struggling to make sense of life after some kind of appalling loss. The lyrics repeatedly speak of absence, loss and abandonment while the music, mainly bereft of drums, revolves around spindly guitar and piano with ambient sounds and subtle effects providing a nagging accompaniment in the background. And throughout Feather sings in a breathy whisper that makes the words barely intelligible. The overall effect is that the songs seem to seep out of the speakers, with Feather apparently perched on your shoulder whispering his thoughts in a kind of confessional. There’s nothing overt or extrovert about anything on the album and by its very nature you are forced to listen hard to what Feather is trying to communicate and this makes for a very personal, and at times very moving album. SW
Anyone looking to understand the science as well as the art of pop writing could do a lot worse than get to know this album off-pat, as it demonstrates an almost brutal efficiency, without a wasted note throughout its duration. For some, that will be exactly the problem. There’s a faint suspicion of clinical precision here that fans of looser more organic music may shy away from. But for anyone who has a love for the unashamedly constructed this record is an absolute gem. And I say to my more po-faced compatriots, how can you not love a record called ‘Simple Repetition’ that features the line ‘Simple Repetition’ 30 times in under 3 minutes? Pop perfection. RPC 17. Richard Knox & Frederic D Oberland – The Rustle of the Stars Leeds label Gizeh has been quietly building a catalogue of thoughtful if unobtrusive music over the last few years with a slowly expanding collective of musicians who combine in various groupings. Ambient electronica, field recordings, drones and effects combine to create evocative soundscapes and sonic vistas. Label boss Richard Knox teamed up with experimental French multiinstrumentalist Oberland to produce this quietly stunning album which raises the Gizeh game considerably. The duo used the experiences of early polar explorers to inspire music that would evoke the stark landscapes
I slightly drew the short straw with this one, in that it was left over when everything else was dished out. It’s not bad, nothing bled. The vocal harmonies were quite nice, although the revelation that half belonged to Fran Rogers was a shock to some of the panel. Although it’s not exactly fair to say that this album borrows from other Leeds bands - because members of HBG were probably in those bands in the first place - it doesn’t really offer anything new. KW
and gruelling physical and mental hardships they encountered. The suite of tunes use drones and looping effects to create layers of sound that mirror the flat expanses of undulating and unrelenting sea and ice, with subtle field recordings of creaking wooden boats and lapping waves giving an almost documentary feel to the music. It’s meditative, even hypnotic qualities are augmented by moments of cold melodic beauty or the palpable dread of imminent disaster. It’s a remarkably coherent and mature piece of work that repays repeated listens. SW 16. This Many Boyfriends – This Many Boyfriends Every so often, a band comes along that is fearlessly, nay, shamelessly prepared to wallow in the kind of effervescent and joyous sound of Pop (with a capital ‘P’) that has enlivened popular culture since time began (well, since around 1956 at least). Where irony and wit are as important as a breezy melody and an uplifting chorus, and where a certain gauche awkwardness should never get in the way of having a jolly good time with guitars. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you this decade’s model, This Many Boyfriends! And they’re from Leeds!! The 10 songs on this album are pretty evenly split between delicious splashes of pop silliness (‘I Don’t Like You (‘Cos You Don’t Like The Pastels)’) and more considered songs that deal a little more seriously with affairs of the heart (‘Number One’), but what they all have in common is a faultless grasp of what makes a pop song a Pop Song. Hey, you post- and prog-rockers out there, music’s getting too serious again! Embrace the two and a half minute wonder that is ‘Starlings’ and rediscover the Joy of Pop. SW 15. Ultrasound – Play For Today
It’s a bit rich, isn’t it? Waiting 15-odd years to put out your follow-up album, and then instructing by way of titular statement that the listener waste no time in consuming? But that’s Ultrasound for you. Much like their debut which
seemed to take most of the 90s to finally show-up, this extended hiatus shouldn’t really have been too much of a surprise, and like its predecessor it’s rich with the kind of detail that made their sprawling debut such a slowburning joy to decode over the years. Starting with Richard Green’s delectable guitar crunch it proceeds to delight for the duration of its (unsurprisingly slightly over-long) running time in a way that’s likely to reward repeat listening. Melodic harmony-rich psychedelic symphonic pop is the order of the day this time around. Less the spiky punky brit-pop of their debut, this is a mature richer sound that’s aged as well they have. It actually gets better as it goes on too. ‘Between Two Rivers’ is a sublime elegiac hymn to Yorkshire life, while ‘Deus Ex Natura’ channels a rich and lush almost 80s vibe. It saves its best until last though, with the spinetingling chiming scales of ‘Sovereign’ perfectly pitched to warm the soul of the coldest hearts. RPC 14. Pulled Apart By Horses – Tough Love The first album was a lot of fun; four guys playing a lot of silly party songs that sounded like the stuff they liked who then ended up as poster boys for the Skins generation. Unbelievable. Tough love was required to produce a second album, however, so that’s what they called it. Sure, it’s still a lot of fun (‘V.E.N.O.M.’ is an amazing bit of Motorheadesque riff stupidity with more hooks than a crochet and fly fishing convention) but there’s a bit more thought involved (‘Wolfhand’ sees Tom recognising his inner dick, ‘Night of The Living’ and ‘Shake Off The Curse’ talk about post tour paranoia... this is deep stuff, y’know) and isn’t afraid of going a bit epic (in the aptly named ‘Epic Myth’). They are not reinventing the wheel (whatever that actually means) and still make a lot of wild, stupid noise, but this album shows the potential for further development and growth. I’m going to stop now as I am starting to sound like an estate agent... RW
A project that’s been in the running since the demise of This Et Al, here we have the swelling, pulsating debut from Wu’s Stalking Horse, Specters. James Kenosha’s production is all over this record and there’s a sort of industrial, mechanistic grinding to some of the tracks. Vocally, it’s hard to wash out the taste of Thom Yorke and certain tracks have a hint of Radiohead about them (‘The Creeps’, I’m looking at you) but this isn’t at all a piece of Radiohead-lite fan fiction. No, influences are wide-ranging and there’s definitely a unique streak to the sound that goes beyond mere imitation. Standout tracks are ‘Waterhole’, ‘The Dawn Is Father To The Sun’ and ‘the Vessels-ian 99 Stairs’ for their playful rhythms and compelling melodies. Specters is a feat I’ve always found more impressive on record which suggests that Stalking Horse have really put some time and craft into producing this LP. TH 12. Blacklisters – Blacklisters This is not pretty. This is not gentle. This is not subtle. This is hard noise, psychosis with a time signature. Blacklisters are renowned for being a lively live act, and usually a band with that reputation has issues translating that zestiness to the recorded medium. Blacklisters make a pretty good fist of it with their debut though. It’s also surprisingly hooky, with the likes of ‘Swords,’ ‘OK47’ and ‘Trickfuck’ almost boasting sing along choruses... of a sort. Well, shout along. Weep along. You get the idea. For all his protestations, Billy works well on record, Owen and Dan are rifftastic and Alistair is a fine, fine drummer. Furious stuff for lovers of Shellac, Dillinger Escape Plan and Leeds music scene in-jokes (though Jesus Lizard fans may experience a touch of déjà ecoute). They’re also a surprisingly nice bunch. Look, if you want to get a handle on them, you’ll need to give this a listen. Then another listen just to check that was what you heard. And watch the videos. And feel tainted. RW 11. William Gray - Casual Observer Over the course of his two previous albums (None of the Above and Vertical Wealth) William Gray has honed his remarkable songwriting talents to the extent that Casual Observer represents a potent distillation of what he does. Like all his albums, this one isn’t particularly long (its nine songs just scraping over the 30 minute mark) and superficially it doesn’t seem to contain much of value on
first hearing. However, something indefinable will make you play it again and from that point on the jewels it contains will begin to emerge. Gray’s main achievement is the economy with which he makes both words and music, allied to a mature sense of melody, deliver observations and stories about life and love that resonate so strongly. And his voice, subtly aged over the years like a smokey single malt, adds a world-weary melancholy to each song. Musically, Gray is beginning to shift away from a simple acoustic guitar backing to incorporate a wider range of instruments and effects that help to push his songs into interesting new shapes. Gray is the kind of songwriter who you just know can only get better and better. SW 10. The Wind-Up Birds – The Land Paul ‘Kroyd’ Ackroyd would make an unlikely, and almost certainly reluctant pop star. But on the strength of this outstanding debut the shy and fearsomely articulate 40-ish year-old may need to start contemplating the possibility. There is always too much focus on a band’s vocalist, but when you have one of the country’s greatest living lyricists fronting your band (yeah, I said it), then it’s frankly difficult to get away from. That said his acerbic, witty and regularly moving observations on life, the universe and everything (but mainly life) are perfectly supported by the kind of soulshaking rabble-rousing post-punk racket that would shake the cobwebs off even the hardiest folded-arms miserycynic, like, for example… oh never mind. It’s topped and (nearly) tailed by two blasts of exhilarating peerless tragi-punk-pop writing in ‘Good Shop Shuts’ and ‘Tyre Fire’, whilst ‘Being Dramatic’ sounds like it should be able to fill the floors of the most discerning of indie discos. Kroyd’s frustrations at his own pragmatism on ‘There Won’t Always Be An England’ gives a much explored subject matter an inspired viewpoint, but it’s the mesmerising and frankly harrowing centrepiece ‘Nostalgic For’ that this album revolves around. Traumatic and brilliant in equal measure. RPC 9. That Fuckking Tank – TFT It’s impressive how accessible a drum and guitar band with an expletive-heavy name can actually be - it’s like they set themselves some deliberate obstacles to smash through. This is more fun to listen to, better crafted, and more varied than a lot of the albums on the list which had the advantage of a whole band to play about with, making
13. Stalking Horse – Spectres
them seem tired and lazy in comparison. There are bits of Free, DFA 1979, speed metal and strung out post rock it’s a masterpiece in really giving a shit about music very much indeed. KW 8. Kleine Schweine – The Party Neil Hanson’s Kraut-Punk project is an educational masterpiece of loud and livid odes to European dictators of the 20th Century. For anyone who’s sampled CBBC’s excellent Horrible Histories series, you’ll probably have the best frame of reference for the tone (albeit a bit swearier). Everyone else, just think of pacey bar chords with menacing, sarcastic vocal screeches and ominous gang vocals. The whole thing comes off as a bit of a joke, but quite frankly it’s so well executed I’m not sure that matters. The track titles alone should be enough to give you a flavour: ‘When You Wish Upon a Stalin’, ‘Nothing Compares 2 USSR’ and ‘Boom! Shake the Romania’, to name but 3. The Party was also one of Leeds’ Pledge Music success stories – pledgers feature on the album as backing vocalists and radio presenters – giving the whole thing a real community feel. Awwww… TH 7. I Like Trains – The Shallows
Once you’ve done history and ecology, where can you go? How about the economy? Yes, I Like Trains attempt to deal with the sticky situation of the recession, a feat not achieved since Simply Red’s ‘Money’s Too Tight to Mention’ (stop being silly – Ed), with particular reference to the Icelandic financial crisis, an event so serious that for a while the Icelandic government considered refloating the economy based on Bjork’s wardrobe (right, that is enough – Ed). It may sound dry, but ILT, in their own inimitable melancholic style have... wait a minute, gone all electronic? A bit poppy? Stopped with the glacial shimmering? On an album about Iceland? Unexpected? Totally. The whole Kraftwerk vibe of the opening track ushers in a new era for the history boys and very refreshing it is
too. Okay, it may be a bit too early to be breaking out the white gloves and whistles, but this is not a million miles away from the likes of The XX et al with the added bonus of Dave Martin’s sepulchral tones. Economic blockade rocking beats. And my two boys both love singing along to it. RW 6. Roller Trio – Roller Trio It’s not jazz. It is jazz. It’s not. It is. I don’t think it’s giving away too much of the highly confidential process of TFBC to say that this was a significant chunk of the conversation about Roller Trio - no conclusion was reached. It doesn’t really matter though; this is a brave and inventive sound which was rewarded with a Mercury nomination. I particularly like the way it’s structured (which it clearly is, proving that it can’t be jazz. Or can be) because it reminds me of That Fucking Tank more than it does any other West Yorks band. KW 5. Black Moth – The Killing Jar Well, didn’t the Bacchae turn out to be the Hungry Little Caterpillar? Following their transformation in 2010 from ‘garage punk’ to black sludge rock (mothic rock, if you will), Black Moth managed to attract the attention of Jim Sclavunos who then went on to produce this little black masterpiece. It’s a pretty luscious piece of work, with Harriet Bevan’s sultry vocals twisting and purring around the heaviest of riffs from Jim Swainston et al. Mainly on the sludgy and stoner side of things, they do get a bit frantic on ‘Chickenshit’ and ‘Articulate Dead’, but you can’t beat a bit of gothic imagery (‘Blackbirds Fall’) or heavier than thouness (‘Banished and Blameless’) for your delectation. It’s also good to see a powerful female vocalist come to the fore in what is usually a very male dominated genre - like good ‘Black Sabbath’ reborn with a huge dash of sensuality thrown in for good measure, and just to consider: if this is their equivalent of Black Sabbath, we’ve still got their Paranoid, Masters of Reality and Volume 4 to come. Good times, people, good times... RW
4. Hawkeyes – Ideas
2. Submotion Orchestra – Fragments
It’s no secret that Hawk Eyes are one of my favourite live bands already, but this conflict of interests was declared, so please don’t write us angry letters.
Having beavered away at the back of the Leeds and London scenes for a good length of time now, Submotion Orchestra are finally permeating the UK’s collective consciousness with this long awaited debut LP Fragments. Combining everything between Dub and Jazz into a heady musical cauldron and coming out with something truly idiosyncratic with its glitchy, urgent beats, dark atmosphere and swelling chords. There are some truly beautiful moments in this hour long spectacle and for all the barrage of synths, it oozes taste.
Although there was a general agreement that this is a more focussed and commercial version of what the former Chickenhawk did with their first album, it’s all relative. Even the first album was commercial compared with the writhing around in paper crowns they used to do before that. And best not to mention the mask-thing. Even though Rock Sound and Kerrang! are flirting with them these days, this is an adventurous, but reliable, second album with bare dirty riffs and some cracking tunes to back them up. KW 3. trioVD – Mazes It’s ‘Jazz’ Jim, but not as we know it. It’s also rock, noise, ambient, experimental, abrasive and frequently jaw-droppingly brilliant. Much like Roller Trio earlier, this is not jazz constrained by form or expectation. Except more so. But given that it goes as far as seeming to quote snippets of a particularly demented version of ‘Puttin’ On The Ritz’ in ‘UPS’, it might as well be jazz as much as anything else.
The album is set up well by an urgent piano ostinato, gradually layered with handclaps before the wobbling bass crashes in, eventually followed by News at 10 horn lines. Ruby Wood makes her purposefully tentative vocal entrance in ‘The Blind Spot’ and from that point we’re away in washy space age synths and strings. It’s a majestic piece of work finding enough variety within their idiosyncratic arsenal of instruments to keep you compelled for the full hour. TH 1. Castrovalva – You’re Not in Hell, You’re in Purgatory, My Friend
For all the insanity (and let’s not beat about the bush here, there are whole chunks of this record that are patently certifiable), it regularly finds a stable groove, even daring to embrace a straight 4/4 on occasion. And when it does this record rocks. Properly rocks. But then it’ll be off again, with other more interesting ideas to explore in the margins.
You’ll be wondering how a three piece of drums, bass and vocals make so much and so varied a noise. You’ll be wondering if you can get away with murder whilst listening to ‘Donut’. You’ll be wondering how many times you’ll be able to listen to this album on loop before your head explodes. I’m loath to say it, but this album is a wonder. Crossing over in a way that only Faith No More or Dubwar have pulled off convincingly before, their third album is a high octane hilarious ride through rock, hip hop, dub, soul, pop, prog and swing... well, maybe not swing... or maybe. Possibly.
There are places where it seems to be drifting a little, where the sheer intensity of content cannot keep pace, but I imagine this was probably government-enforced under some sort of cranium protection programme. trioVD at full throttle for a complete album is frankly beyond the comprehension of us mere mortals. But when they do open the valves, it defines whole new levels of exhilaration. RPC
Leemun shouts and screams angrily, hysterically, occasionally melodically, whilst Ant and Dan keep things pacey, dancey and heavy. ‘Prime’, ‘I Am The Golden Widow’ and ‘Donut’ are three fine frenetic songs that make most so-called edgy pop look quite frankly lame and ‘Senorita’ is just amazingly silly. I shouldn’t like this album as much as I do and I can imagine that this is one of those polarising moments but if you get it... get it. RW
Beyond The Bin Machine...
With a Futuresound win under their belt, a tour with Leeds music darlings I Like Trains in the offing and a brand spanking new album on the way, you could not accuse PWGG of taking it easy. This in mind, it is a small miracle that Greg Elliott managed to pin them down for a chat about recent events and future plans, plus the occasional drummer joke. Was it the one about a drummer knocking at the door? Post War Glamour Girls are a band out of time. The Leeds quartet’s churning, darkly literate art-rock seems to have sprung into being quite independently of anything else happening in the culture, taking courageous aim at the sort of timelessness few artists truly achieve. I meet them on a wet autumnal evening at the Leeds Music Hub, tucked away in the leafy recesses of inner Headingley, about a month on from what one might assume they’d consider a watershed - opening the NME stage at Leeds and Reading as winners of the 2012 Futuresound competition. Reflecting on the experience however, it’s obvious they’re not prone to getting carried away. ‘‘We just treated it like another gig really,’’ explains front man James, ‘‘we never saw it as a game changer. Afterwards it would have been easy to have gone ‘Well, we’ve done that now – we’re only going to do that and above from now on’. But at the end of the day Futuresound is a short cut to playing at that level.’’ He pauses. ‘‘All the same it wasn’t like we got picked out of a hat - we work really hard and we deserved to be there.’’ ‘‘Music works by people giving each other a leg up,’’ agrees bass player and backing vocalist Alice. ‘‘I could give you a list as long as my arm of bands that deserve the attention as much as we do, but it just so happens that we were given the opportunity. We were obviously very grateful for it, but we didn’t let it intimidate us’’. No nerves then? ‘‘Only beforehand,’’ says drummer Clyde, enough of a sport not to take offence when I make an ill-advised drummer joke just before switching on the tape recorder. ‘‘I had these nightmares in which I’d forget who I was and what I was supposed to be doing, but once we were up there I think we were all pretty comfortable.’’
‘‘In a way being backstage was harder,’’ adds Alice, ‘‘we had coffee with At The Drive-In - it was completely surreal.’’ ‘‘Looking back it’s like it never happened,’’ adds Clyde,
‘‘just the scale of it, these massive cult bands walking around like regular people…’’ Alice describes it as feeling like a tourist, which neatly encapsulates the band’s first taste of the big time - a break from a reality to which they’ve now returned, but which they certainly don’t feel despondent about. ‘‘I don’t pine for [that time] at all,’’ says James, ‘‘when we started to read the reviews and see the pictures it was a bit like ‘Wow, that was a bigger deal than we thought’, but we haven’t dwelled on it.’’ Alice nods. ‘‘We approach these things positively but ultimately they’re just little stepping stones for us,” she says, “they don’t change how we function as a band.’’ That’s not to say that Post War Glamour Girls don’t have a game plan. On the contrary: they know exactly what they’re doing and aren’t going to let a momentary brush with celebrity put them off their stride. But before we get onto the future, let’s talk about the past. The band’s inception can be traced back to Alice and James’s arrival in Leeds as first year undergraduates and a chance meeting during Freshers’ Week. ‘‘James was hanging over a railing in a Sonic Youth T-shirt, absolutely pissed out of his face,’’ Alice recalls. Striking up a conversation they discovered a shared love of SY, Pixies and other first generation alt-rockers, and James ‘‘slurred something along the lines of ‘do you want to do form a band?’’’ ‘‘It’s really lame when you think about it’’ says the singer, wincing at the cliché. It took six months for there to be any follow-through however. James and Alice collaborated on a song - ‘‘awful, the most depressing thing I’ve ever written,’’ he claims – and started to jam. Clyde was brought in, even though his commitment seemed a little doubtful to begin with. ‘‘At the end of the first practice he just said ‘are we done now?’, picked up his stuff and left!’’ remembers James. ‘‘I think I was just a bit overwhelmed by it all,’’ the drummer admits. ‘‘The first time we played it was just this barrage of noise, with Alice and James screaming and me hitting this metal bin. It was a bit like, ‘Oh God, what have I gotten myself into?’’’. For his part James is pretty scathing about his younger self: ‘‘You know what’d be really avant-garde? If we hit a bin.’’ He sighs. ‘‘We didn’t know what we were doing back then.’’ The rest of the band agree that January 2011 was a turning point, with the addition to the line-up of a second
Photography by Jack Dunn
Post War Glamour Girls
guitarist – also called James and, conveniently enough for the purposes of journalistic clarity, absent tonight. ‘‘By the time he came in we had quite an eclectic mix of songs,’’ James  explains. ‘‘There were some…elements of good in there, but no coherence. He tied it down and pushed it in the direction it needed to go. I don’t think the band would exist without him – whenever we’d want to go off on a ridiculous tangent he’d be the one saying ‘stop, pull it back’. Nowadays we know when we’re going a bit too far, but back then…it was easy to go off in all these different directions, because we were having so much fun. We were a bit like, ‘Why wouldn’t people enjoy this?’’’ The newly minted four-piece started to play shows and that October released ‘Ode to Harry Dean / Splitting Pearls’, the first of three singles and an EP on local label Sturdy Records. When I meet them they’re midway through recording their debut full-length, a brand new collection of songs which make use of a creative formula established over the last two years. ‘‘James presents us with some lyrics, we come up with our individual parts and jam until it makes sense,’’ explains Alice. ‘‘I quite struggle to write a song on my own,’’ James admits. ‘‘I’ll normally write a verse a lyrics and something for the chorus, but once we have the music I can write the second and third verse because I know what the song’s about.’’
The relationship of the music to the words may be partly symbiotic, but it’s always James’s lyrics – however briefly sketched – which begin the process. Describing his technique, it becomes clear that the band owes more than just its name to a certain ageing punk from the other side of the Pennines. ‘‘John Cooper Clark says that sometimes a line strikes you as being so good that you’ll write an entire piece just to use it,’’ he says. ‘‘I might write a lyric and not even know what means, but it’ll fit with what we’re doing musically and I’ll realise what I’m talking about as we go along.’’
the emphasis he places on storytelling. ‘‘The theme of the album is about a Russian delivery driver who comes over from Moscow to Sheepscar to deliver a message to me,’’ he explains. ‘‘A lot of the lines have to do with things – everyday things – that I’m not happy with but don’t talk about.’’ He grins. ‘‘Basically, all the songs are against the Royal Mail.’’ When the laughter subsides, James is more serious. ‘‘I’m mainly angry with myself I think.’’ ‘‘We’re all angry with James as well,’’ adds Clyde, deadpan. The album is being recorded at Greenmount Studios in Armley, with Jamie Lockhart (Mi Mye), Lee Smith (Middleman) and Rob Slater (The Spills) behind what the band excitedly tell me is Björk’s old mixing desk. Given that three quarters of Post War Glamour Girls studied music production at university, this has involved a significant relinquishing of control on their part. ‘‘It’s so much better production-wise than anything we’ve done before,’’ enthuses James. ‘‘Jamie, Lee and Rob have such good working heads on ‘em. We were quite precious about things in the past, I think, because we didn’t really know what we wanted to be. Now we’ve finally found our sound we’re ready to let someone else in on it.’’ The band is leery of letting the talk get much bigger than the album’s release, James joking that ‘‘The Cribs won Futuresound ten years ago when the prize was to headline the comedy tent, so if we’re lucky in ten years we could be opening the comedy tent.’’ When Alice points out that the subject matter of their songs might rule them out of contention for that particular slot he gets mock-defensive: ‘‘I don’t know, I think they’re funny...’’. Perhaps he’s not being entirely facetious – with abrasive melodies and lyrics that defy straightforward interpretation, Post War Glamour Girls might take the listener into some pretty challenging territory, but plenty of wit and invention accompanies the catharsis. Ignore them at your peril. Keep up with all the latest PWGG news on
www.postwarglamourgirls.com with links to all the sort of digital The prominence of James’s words and his striking baritone evokes Nick Cave, The National’s Matt Berninger and media that people go for these days, or check out Sturdy Records to pick up some tunes... Dave Martin of recent tour mates I Like Trains, as does
Just What It Is
Shhh. Don’t tell the Mercury Prize committee, but their ‘token Jazz album’ for this year’s Mercury nominations? It isn’t Jazz; or rock; or R n B. It is however very here and very now, as Tim Hearson discovered when chewing the fat with the genre eschewing threesome. And that keeping quiet thing goes double for the MOBO awards... Quiet, unassuming and defiantly plain, there’s very little about the trio in front of me that suggests an unquenchable thirst for stardom. By and large, people don’t learn to play Jazz because they want straight up fame, and it seems like Roller Trio’s journey to their recent Mercury and MOBO prize nominations has been the result of a series of happy accidents. “We didn’t have the Mercury Prize in our minds at all up until the week before the nomination. We were mainly thinking about the film score we were doing and about writing some new tunes; then we got the phone call and that was it. It’s completely changed our entire agenda,” recounts drummer Luke Reddin-Williams. Dreadlocked guitarist and Leeds native Luke Wynter’s naïve response was even more pronounced: “I don’t really watch TV or listen to the radio so I didn’t understand the scope of it for a while so when I realised I was just like, ‘shit’.” They’re the only instrumental band on a shortlist littered with bouncy Indie as propelled by Django Django and former Leeds’ residents Alt-J; the nu-folk of Ben Howard and the neo-soul of Michael Kiwanuka as well as the Electro-tinged pop of Lianne Le Havas, Jessie Ware and the Maccabees. It’s difficult, then, not to think of them as the ‘token’ Jazz nomination, even though the band themselves aren’t particularly keen on labelling themselves as Jazz. “I like Jazz, I just don’t really want to play it,” Wynter confesses. “If James was playing a guitar instead of a saxophone then no-one would call it Jazz.”
“Apart from the style of soloing really,” James Mainwaring pipes up, clad in seemingly signature hoodie and t-shirt. More generally, Roller Trio would prefer to be classed under the equally vague banner of ‘Improvised’ music, and the Jazz language is just one of many components drawn from a broad tool shed of genre influences. Listening to the album you’ll identify Hip-Hop and R’n’B grooves, hard riffs and soaring instrumental lines not out of place in a 65daysofstatic track. Roller Trio’s sound is really just an
eclectic, yet idiosyncratic, sum of its parts. “I probably listen to more Electro music than Jazz, and stuff that’s for dancing. I grew up playing Rock music and transcribing Jimmy Hendrix off the record, Metallica etc. before I got into Jazz,” Wynter expounds, “[R’n’B influences] were always there though, in the background. I remember when the Garage thing was going on with like, Craig David – I always liked the Pop/Garage thing. My parents had a turntable that didn’t get used very often but when it did, I remember it making a big impression. My Dad used to put on things like Reggae.” “So are you bringing the Reggae side then? I play a sort of Jazz/Rock fusion – I just like the tones you can get from hitting drums in different ways.” Reddin-Williams contends to bring the loud: “I grew up listening to R’n’B and then a friend made me listen to Sum 41’s ‘Half Hour of Power’ and I thought ‘Wow, I wanna play like that’ with all the drum solos and such. So after that it was Punk bands, Rock bands, Metal bands – even the odd Thrash Metal band. When I came to Uni I only really did the Jazz course because I thought it would be harder but ended up liking it after that. So I guess I bring the volume, more than anything else.” Saxophonist Mainwaring brings the edge: “I grew up singing in a Rock band and doing Classical grades on the Sax, came to Uni and learned about Jazz then got into Avant-Garde and all that crazy stuff. Contemporary Classical and all that shit with the extended techniques. Christophe De Benezac of TrioVD was actually my sax tutor at LCM so I’m bound to have picked up a few things from him. I started playing with pedals in my old band. Sometimes we’d stick in Family Guy samples so it was like, really really dark improv then ‘Hey, it’s Peter the Strawberry.’” Luke Reddin-Williams recounts: “Yeah, I remember that – the gigs were just madness. They all had crazy, electronic gizmos and making really weird noises, recording themselves and making it go really fast or really slow.” Comparisons with TrioVD are inevitable but anyone who’s heard both will know that they’re very different beasts. “We get compared to TrioVD a lot because we’re both from Leeds and we both play the same instruments but I don’t think we sound much like them,” Mainwaring explains. Reddin-Williams sums it up: “The music just is what it is,
Photography by Bart Pettmann
we didn’t set out to sound like anything in particular.”
Improvised music is much less about the tunes themselves and more about the players; how they gel and how they build on each other’s ideas. Roller Trio make a point of recording all their rehearsals to capture and retrace their steps, forming tunes from concepts explored in the moment. “It’s interesting to record all the sessions because you can listen back and chart how the tunes came to be, so some parts of the song are in one day and the next part will be in a month later,” Reddin-Williams describes.
Their first gig, too, was a relatively high profile one supporting British Jazz giants Phronesis at the Brudenell Social Club and in a similar manner, came about somewhat coincidentally. “It was actually James’s old trio that wanted to play at the Brudenell,” Reddin-Williams recounts, “but one of the members wasn’t in Leeds anymore, so James decided to put us forward. That was like the best thing ever; Phronesis were my favourite band at the time and I couldn’t afford to go at that point so it worked out well for me.” At the time, the group only had 3 tunes set in stone so had to write another 4 in the week preceding to ensure they could fill the slot.
In a style where tunes naturally evolve over time, recording an LP seems much more like taking a snapshot than sculpting a fully finished product. “Some of the bits that were improvised on the record are now just part of the composition,” Mainwaring explains. “Like James’s line on ‘Deep Heat,’ he’d never played that before,” Reddin-Williams elaborates. So how do you record an album where nothing is set in stone? “A lot of the changes on the album are cued. We know what’s going to happen, we just don’t know when it’s going to happen. I watched the videos from that first gig and the tunes are completely different to what they are now.” “I listened to the old recordings recently and thought ‘all the tunes are really slow!’” Wynter suggests. “The album sounds slow to me now,” Mainwaring goes further. This constant chopping and changing, Gaffer tape and Pritstick approach to composition ensures that the Roller Trio you’re listening to on the record is one that even now, just half a year since, you probably won’t hear exactly the same again. It’s mad to think that what essentially began as a living room jam band, is now staring several high profile UK Music awards in the face. “The band came about from me and Luke just jamming in our living room and James had nowhere to live at this point,” Reddin-Williams explains, “so he was staying at ours and just brought his
In just 2 short years, the band gained label representation through London’s F-IRE Records as well as high praise from Britain’s foremost Jazz representatives. BBC 6 Music’s Gilles Peterson hailed them as ‘The new sound of UK Jazz’ and they received strong reviews for their eponymous debut LP from The Guardian, The Times and The Daily Telegraph earning them a set on the BBC Introducing stage at the Manchester Jazz Festival. This year’s Mercury Prize run-up features a series of gigs and judging from the highlights, Roller Trio showed no sign of sugar coating. By the time you read this, the winner will have been announced and with any luck the hailstorm of press cynicism will have died down. The trio have their head in the game though, collaborating with Irish scriptwriter Ray Kane on a film soundtrack, the live portion of which will potentially feature 360º projection and audio. They’re also heading out on a headline UK tour, playing the Brudenell Social Club on the 12th December. “I’m pretty excited about that. I guess the Brudenell’s the first place I ever went to see a proper live band and it was the first place we played,” says Luke Wynter. Good to see it’s not gone to their heads anyway. Thanks to the associate hoopla and suchlike, Roller Trio’s debut album, ‘Roller Trio’ is available everywhere, but you can get up close and personal with them on www. rollertrio.com.
W iT i n un a es gi
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The Sinoptic Gospel
Take three rappers, proud to be West Yorkshire, add a youtube sensation, throw in some genuine lyrics, take out the swearing and the dissing and what have you got? Something Olympic in scale and ambition. Kate Wellham breaks bread and shares tea with the Sinoptic boys. ‘The Amazing Book of Chess’ and ‘QI Banter’ are forcing their way out of the stack of books and folders on the top shelf that is too small to comfortably house them all; three huge and intimidating gorilla masks are crammed onto the shelf below, next to two heavily laden mug trees. On the shelf below that - the only items given the courtesy of any room to breathe - are a kettle (graffitied) and a box of teabags (Yorkshire). This is the organised chaos of the Sinoptic studio, the cosy and graffiti-covered home of Addverse, JND and ExP - collectively known as Flame Griller. It’s also the actual home of ExP, being at the back of his house. Taking down one of the folders, its label decorated with Sinoptic’s trademark overlaid WY (hand drawn) Addverse opens it to show the alphabetised tabs cataloguing all the people who flocked from around Yorkshire to gather in an outbuilding in a garden in suburban Leeds. “Imagine all the guys from Leeds, Bradford, Huddersfield and wherever, all crammed into that back room,” he says, pointing to the recording booth. There are just four musicians in there at the moment jamming along to Outkast, and it still looks like a squeeze. It’s definitely not designed for a folder full. “That came out of nowhere” says ExP, of the filmed WY Cypher group freestyle sessions that became an unexpected hit, both on YouTube and in his back garden. ‘‘When you start rapping you do tend to get together with others and start freestyling or spit rhymes together. Freestyle is really important to hip hop and something you have to be able to practise because you have to be able to do it onstage. I was getting pissed off because I was pretty shit at it and I just thought ‘let’s get a few people round’. Then someone brought a camera along and it became the WY Cypher.”
“Then more people came along and it got bigger and bigger, then it got a bit too big and I got a bit too annoyed and there was too much piss on the floor. It ended as quick as it started. If you say to a load of rappers ‘you can drink, you can bring your own booze, and you can smoke as much weed as you want to, come round and let’s listen
to some beats and freestyle, you’ll get all the rappers in the world.” And so they did, or from as far as Sheffield at least, but the high couldn’t last, says Addverse: “Once we got a couple of episodes onto the internet people were asking to come down, bring their mates - the movement was great, we had numbers, but we had to contain that and still get something you can work with and edit.” “Egos got in the way,” elaborates ExP, “people who no one had ever heard of were coming through and using it, and good on them, but then they wouldn’t promote the Cypher.” ExP describes Cypher as ‘the only channel where the guaranteed rule was don’t say anything premeditated’. “Also a rule we added later was that we weren’t going to be derogatory about people. The biggest thing in hip hop at the moment is the battle scene. There’s a lot of battles on YouTube, but that’s built off hate and bravado, but that’s what people like, they like that competitive sporting element.” No derogatory material eh? What next, no swearing? Yes, as it goes. ExP: “Flame Griller, we do have a rule about not swearing. If it’s got Flame Griller on it we won’t swear.” JND: “That’s the trouble with hip hop in general, a lot of it does contain explicit effin and jeffin.” In case you’re picturing a trio of cheesy characters, you’d be wrong. JND and Addverse are low-key but intelligent and chatty; ExP is a big character, expressive and outspoken. All three are clearly obsessive about their music, and all three are producers in their own right. All this makes it so much more frustrating for them when gigs are cancelled or refused because, even when ExP and JND fronted the funk and hip hop band Freyed Knot, it was assumed they were ‘stabby stabby knife music’. Far from posturing and bravado, all admit to being wary of telling anyone what they do because it’s ‘awkward’. Addverse, the least extroverted and most intense, says: “I usually say I’m in a band - ‘I can’t tonight, I’ve got band practise’ ‘what do you do’? and I say ‘I’m a vocalist’. It’s the difference between people thinking you’re a musician in a band, and just some youth off the street shouting about how hard they are.” Describing Sinoptic, the alliance of artists they work within, ExP say it’s “a business model and definitely a collective but not a label.” One of the artists to have emerged from the Sinoptic fold is Lunar C, a Bradford rapper whose unique combination of wit, filth and charm have seen him
storm the Don’t Flop rap battles. Lunar retired undefeated from battling to concentrate on music, courted by radio and press, and signed with Primary Talent booking. Although his sudden fame must be something they’ve been asked about a lot in recent weeks, failing to mention him would be foolish. “Lunar’s on Sinoptic but he’s getting interest from record labels,” says ExP. “He’s not signed to anything but we’ve got an agreement as much as he gets free recording and we work together and he’s not going to leave me in the dust.” Like Lunar, all are fiercely proud of WY, name checking it frequently. ‘Where We Live’ is a straight-up homage to ‘a comfy old Yorkshire town where it’s pouring down and the skies are grey / where there’s rolling hills and a load of mills and they harvest grain’. It also takes talent to be able to carry off the music video for ‘Wuntathought’ whilst dressed as farmers, driving tractors and spitting sincerely about creative hurdles, without looking like David Brent in triplicate. “It could have been Yeo Valley central”, as JND puts it, but for their laid-back delivery and understated sincerity.
our lives in rhyme over music, that’s all. We want people to see that hip hop is actually full of clever musicians.” Without effin and jeffin, what they do write about is life in West Yorkshire, with all the beauty and tragedy that entails. “We’re not afraid to say what we’re feeling”, says JND, admitting that it’s very therapeutic. They’re also all broad Yorkshire, not something we’re used to hearing much in hip hop but it’s not the unnatural pairing it sounds like it should be. Which is just as well, because ExP has high praise for the local scene: “Outside London it’s the best hip hop scene. it’s like the Olympics it’s a great big international thing, but Yorkshire did fucking well.”
To get on that Flame Griller thing, go to www.sinopticmusic.bandcamp.com/album/flame-griller, where you can pick up all sorts of Sinoptic stuff or head to youtube for ‘Wuntathought’ – warning, this video does feature a gun... and a scythe...
Addverse explains: “We don’t want to be known for shouting about all the things that people who do rapping are generally boxed into shouting about, like cars and guns and girls and how hard we are. We’ve all been raised as good boys. We’re telling stories, talking about
Calling All Promoters – It’s Time to Get in on The Act...
In our quest to be not only entertaining but educational and damn it just plain useful, Vibrations have been in touch with Pete Bott, formerly of Heads We Dance and now solicitor in the Music, Media & Entertainment Department at Blacks Solicitors LLP, Leeds to be our legal eagle of death metal... and any number of genres, with regards to the Live Music Act and what it entails for the promoter, the player and the punter. If you would be so kind, Mr Bott... The Live Music Act came into force on 1 October 2012 with the effect that venues in England and Wales with a capacity of less than 200 people no longer need a licence for live music. The Licensing Act 2003 imposed several restrictions on live music and made it more difficult for promoters to put on pub gigs and small live performances. This has been extremely damaging to the grass-roots music scene as it has resulted in less opportunities for new musicians to ‘cut their teeth’ and develop their talents. It has also had a significant impact on pubs and their ability to attract customers by staging live music events. Following extensive lobbying by organisations such as the Musicians’ Union, Liberal Democrat peer Lord ClementJones introduced the Live Music Act (LMA) to parliament as a private member’s bill. The LMA was promoted in the House of Commons by Bath MP Don Foster and finally received Royal Assent on 23 March 2012. The LMA amends the Licensing Act 2003 by partially deregulating the performance of live music and removing regulation about the provision of entertainment facilities. In essence, the LMA exempts venues with a capacity of not more than 200 persons from having to obtain a licence to host live music. In more detail, the LMA removes the licensing requirements for: amplified live music between 8am and 11pm before audiences of no more than 200 people on premises authorised to sell alcohol for consumption on the premises;
amplified live music between 8am and 11pm before audiences of no more than 200 people in workplaces not otherwise licensed under the Licensing Act 2003 (or licensed only for the provision of late night refreshment); and unamplified live music between 8am and 11pm in all venues. There is no audience limit for performances of unamplified live music.
It is important to note that conditions to all of the above activities can still be imposed by a licensing authority following any review of a Premises Licence or Club Premises Certificate. The relaxation of licensing laws achieved by the LMA has been welcomed by organisations such as The Incorporated Society of Musicians and UK Music who see small venues as the nursery for the talent of the future. Indeed, UK Music estimates that the LMA could enable an extra 13,000 venues across England and Wales to start hosting their own live music nights. Jo Dipple, chief executive of UK Music stated that the LMA “will reverse the damaging effect the Licensing Act 2003 had on live musical performances in the UK. Our most successful musicians all learnt their trade and earned their livings in small clubs and bars. Reversing overzealous licensing regulations will create new opportunities for British artists”. Referring to pubs and small venues as ‘seedbeds’, Dipple continued: “tomorrow’s headline acts will grow from these seedbeds, which is great for music lovers and for the wider UK economy.” The economic importance of nurturing home-grown talent is significant, with recent estimates valuing the music industry as contributing £3 billion a year to the UK economy. The Department for Culture, Media and Sport approximates that the net benefit of the LMA over a 10 year period to be £9.5million, and also predicts further economic and social benefits, including an increase in ad hoc events and the ability of community organisations to host more events without administrative burdens. Indeed, the wider social benefits of the LMA are significant, as Business Minister Michael Fallon described the previous laws as being “over-the-top bureaucracy that stifles community groups and pubs.” Want to find out more about the LMA and how it affects you? The Musicians’ Union has created a ‘Live Music Kit: A Guide to Hosting and Promoting Live Music’. This is available as a free PDF download from the Musicians’ Union website (www.musiciansunion.org.uk) and is full of useful guidance. John Smith, General Secretary of the Musicians’ Union, concludes “the implementation of the LMA signifies an exciting time for both venues and musicians, who can use the opportunity to work together to create a growing audience and profile, and long-term success”. For more information on the Live Music Act or for any other music law advice please contact Pete Bott on 0113 227 9284. You can also follow Pete on Twitter (@ PeteLawBlacks) for regular music law and business news updates.
AD Live Music Act
NO/ GLOSS FILM FESTIVAL @ Wharf Chambers 8th & 9th Sep This marks a bit of a departure for Vibrations, but... well, let’s see shall we? We sent writer Ben Rutledge to a festival... a film festival, no less. We don’t just do music, you know... we have... other interests. Don’t tell music though... it’ll only get jealous... A relatively small but charming affair, No/Gloss launched this September, just less than two months before the LIFF, with the goal in mind to “showcase up and coming independent film-makers who produce work with a DIY attitude and with almost little or no budget.” The festival comprised of a varied selection of films to demonstrate exactly what can be achieved with little money, limited resources and an incredible amount of conviction and resolve. Upon entering through the tattered doors of the converted Victorian pork pie factory, it was immediately apparent that, as the counter-cultural hub of Leeds, Wharf Chambers provides the ideal backdrop for the first of perhaps many No/Gloss events. You would only have to peruse the heap of DIY gig flyers, local fanzines and leftist propaganda available on entry to see why no other venue would have been more suited for the No/Gloss ethos. The staff clearly shared the passion and vision of the festival organisers, offering free pop corn, cheap drinks and a lavish menu of delicious (albeit vegan) food, and the collaboration between the two parties made for a friendly and hospitable atmosphere.
Once we’d settled in and soaked up the general ambience, we tottered off to the back room where we sat and enjoyed the inaugural series of films. Boasting diversity, the organisers were careful to select a vast array of shorts, feature lengths and animations coming from both sides of the Atlantic and beyond, thinking to include submissions from foreign directors as well showcasing local talent. Kicking off the festival was the superbly directed The Virgin Herod, a short film from American director, Xander Robin, depicting the anxiety and alienation of a young man as he moves in search of lust through a disorientating network of surreal and grotesque imagery. Imagine if The Inbetweeners Movie had been more like Naked Lunch, or if you had a wet dream after eating a whole block of Edam before bedtime. Other highlights of the day included the hysterical comical injection of the 5secondfilms compilation and feature length Gothic thriller, Blood and Bone China. Originally a web series, Chris Stone’s cheesy horror flick was based around real events in his home town of Stoke-on-Trent re-imagined in the form of a whodunit with vampires set in 1897. The festival wasn’t without its shortcomings, however. An entire segment devoted to the absurd and esoteric
humour of underground 1980’s director Danny Plotnick proved tedious and the show reel felt disjointed. As a result the context of certain productions was lost. Fashion shoots depicting nonchalant models in various poses and sentimental montages of a first date seemed absurd and out of place. During the breaks we had time to check out what other curiosities No/Gloss had to offer. We were greeted by the sight of avid film fans mingling amidst a collection of installations, stalls and live art. Local artists CBLOXX and friends were situated in the corner of the room creating a series of paintings that would be available for silent auction on the second day, whilst elsewhere in the room, ticket buyers could browse through collections of fanzines or check out some of the other films on loop on the second screen. Also, in true DIY spirit, there was a chance for the attendees themselves to participate; large sheets of paper set out on the tables free for anyone to have a doodle. Undoubtedly saving the best till last, Sunday saw some of the most engaging and triumphant of the films on show. From the social realist drama of Clench to the endearing animated short, Bottle, it was clear that today’s reel of films proved the more consistent of the two days. The first segment was devoted to films from the director Mark Simpson. Young Hearts Run Free, a witty coming of age kitchen-sink drama set in 1970’s Northumbria, saw some of the highest calibre acting and dialogue across the festival. Clench was also perhaps one of the most substantial productions present, tackling issues of racism and social inequality as it follows a young mixed race Pakistani girl on a youth referral scheme. Another favourite of the festival was the hard hitting documentary, Shelter. Addressing a problem that his constituent council has chosen to ignore, Mike Staniforth interviewed some of Manchester’s homeless giving an ulterior and challenging perspective. With a slightly more light-hearted tone, the final segment of the festival was kicked off by another superb documentary: Line of Sight follows a group of reckless fixie riders through their conquest of some of the most crowded cities in the world. Weaving in and out of the wafer thin gaps between traffic and pedestrians, the lens of the director’s helmet camera thrusts the audience directly into the action keeping everyone on the edge of their seats. The film festival was entirely sold out and so to a full capacity the organisers provided a passionate encouragement for aspiring directors and a proclamation of what can be achieved with limited funding. Minus a few minor
Interview With The (Stoke-on-Trent) Vampire (Film Director) – Chris Stone One thing that struck me watching your films at the No/Gloss festival this weekend was that they seemed to boast higher production values than some of the other submissions. How do you feel your film fits in with the whole DIY ethos of the festival? Well ,they were both actually made on a shoestring. Blood and Bone China was made on just a couple of thousand pounds and the other one was made on next to nothing. They just give that illusion of being made on a bigger budget. That’s essentially what it is really. It’s movie magic. And how exactly did you achieve this? Just finding the right props, costumes... it’s all in the gradient and the shooting and it’s all about having a really good story and putting that extra bit of gloss onto it. And there are ways of doing that without spending a vast amount of money So you based Blood and Bone China around real events that occurred in your home town of Stoke-on-Trent? Yeah, there was a real vampire case that Blood and Bone China is loosely based around although that’s just part of the story. I had actually already started writing the script and then I found out there was a real vampire police case literally round the corner from where I lived. I essentially wanted to promote Stoke-on-Trent without making a really boring corporate video. I wanted to do for Stoke what Doctor Who has done for Cardiff: put it on the map but through entertainment. Is there a reason you chose to set the film in 1897? Well 1897 is when Dracula was released, which is the epitome of traditional Gothic horror. And nobody was producing these traditional Gothic horrors - even Hammer at this point. Ironically, our film premiered the same day as The Woman in Black, so Hammer actually went back to their Gothic roots.
Do you think the vampire is still relevant today in 21st century media? Absolutely. The Vampire myth is in every culture on the planet. I think every generation can take something slightly different from it so I think it’ll carry on. I’m not sure whether that’ll be in its current form but more likely is that it’ll just keep on evolving and changing. Each generation is going to have their own individual vampire myth. If you go right to the beginnings of vampire folklore they were supposed to be quite large purple faced creatures with loads of fangs. I saw that there was a gap in market. Everyone was doing the teen vampire love story or the more adult vampire love story but nobody was doing the old Hammer, gothic horror style vampire story. So I’ve kinda gone backwards to go forwards. [Laughs] How do you feel Blood and Bone China has been received? Extremely well. We won best web series of 2011 at the indie intertube awards in America and there we beat some really well known web series. It’s been shown all the way around the world, we’ve got the US premier in less than a week and half and it’s had over 300,000 hits online. I’m really chuffed with it. You can watch Chris Stone’s Blood and Bone China at www.bloodandbonechina.com – Stoke it up! – and find out more about No/Gloss at www.noglossfilmfestival. co.uk. Wharf Chambers also does a very nice line in affordable beerage so... get amongst it!
teething problems and technical errors, the entire affair was almost seamlessly put together and well received. Some of the selections could have benefitted from a little more consideration, as could the running order, but the festival succeeded in its aims for promoting low budget DIY cinema. It can be expected that with the overall success of this debut, the calibre of films in next year’s assortment can only improve.
No/ Gloss Film Festival
NO/ GLOSS FILM FESTIVAL
This Many Questions It’s a brave man who will admit to being a fan of Genesis, what with their unfortunate association with the prince of darkness (oh come on, he wasn’t a bad drummer, all told… just don’t mention the song about the homeless, okay?), but Mat, lead singer and guitarist for Halifax’s Wot Gorilla? Is not afraid to own up to such a thing (prog is on its way back in, you mark my words) or to face a barrage of questions from Vibrations’ interrogator of the month Alex Wignall. Batten down the hatches and brace for impact! Tell us how you met? Si and I have known each other since we were about 14, we met when I auditioned to be in a band he was in called Buen Chico. I managed to secure my place and we’ve played together in various bands on and off ever since. I’d known Ben for a while and we wanted a second guitarist. He’d never been in a band before, but I knew he’d be more than capable and he slotted in perfectly with what we wanted him to do. We met Jonny when he tried out to play bass in the band about 2 years ago – we were amazed that we found such an ace bassist on our doorstep! What’s the story behind the name of the band? Not much of a story really: Si and I are huge Genesis fans (the early stuff with Peter Gabriel on vocals not Phil Collins) and we wanted to pay homage to them in some way, so we named the band after one of their songs. Ironically, the song is from an album we’re not that fussed about, but it worked best as a band name so we went with it. Apart from Genesis, what are your influences? Collectively I’d say Deftones, Glassjaw, Oceansize, Toe and Maps and Atlases. In less than 10 words, tell us what you sound like? We combine math, pop and progressive rock. What’s the most annoying comparison reviewers make? Getting compared to Tubelord! What is the stupidest question you’ve been asked in an interview? ‘If you were a type of wood, what would it be?’
Do you listen to your own songs in your spare time? Yes, but I generally don’t enjoy the experience though as I can’t help but over analyse everything! Is there any song that you wish you had written? ‘Paranoid Android’ by Radiohead.
If you could play any other instrument what would it be? Piano. I play a little but I’m nowhere near as good as I’d like to be. If you could pick any musician to join your band for a bit who would it be? Think Jonny Marr joining the Cribs… Mike Patton (of Mr Bungle, Faith No More, Phanthomas and numerous side projects). Which other bands have you met along the way? We’ve been fortunate to play with some amazing bands over the years - The Get Up Kids, Tera Melos and Cursive being really special supports for us to play - Cursive have been such a huge influence on me over the years! Playing with Gunning for Tamar, Vasco Da Gama and NGOD is always fun, they’re great bands and awesome to hang out with. Who’s your favourite new band of 2012? The Weekend Do you prefer playing your own gigs or festivals? Festivals for me, I prefer the atmosphere. What’s next for you? We’ve only got a handful of shows left for the year, when they’re done with we’ll be getting on with writing the next record. We’ve already made a start with some new songs and they’re shaping up really nice. What question would you like to ask another band? I’d probs have to ask Oceansize if there was ever any chance of them getting back together! Wot Gorilla’s debut album ‘Kebnekaise’ is out now and available from their website www.wotgorilla.com. Me? I’m just a lawnmower…
hammer of Mjolnir, what a noise! Dub, rap, thug, metal, the lot... don’t get it? Well tuttuttut...
ALBUMS Castrovalva – You’re Not in Hell, You’re in Purgatory, My Friend (Brew Records) I know it isn’t really, but the two years between this and We Are Unit seem like a long time. I thought I’d recovered. I thought I’d got the thug poetry out of my system. I was wrong. As the CD whirrs up to speed, what sounds like Leemun being tortured by a pervert with a soldering iron oozes out of the speakers – you creep in close to catch the moment and Anthony and Dan blow you apart as Leemun screams at the pieces as they quiver in their own jelly. Welcome to the new shit.
‘Best Friends’ is a mild aperitif compared to what is to follow; ‘Prime’ beats you to death with your own shoes sporting enough power to light up a medium sized city, heavy on the dubstep wobblers, lyrics spat at the speed of hate, a psychotic juxtaposition between belligerent rant and demented falsetto. It’s heady stuff, but strangely compelling... lilting, in the case of ‘I am The Golden Widow’s pom-pom intro and catchy chorus. It all smacks of PABH’s mad dash, but throws in Of Montreal’s decadent poppery and early Outkast’s anger and wit. Scratch all that, ‘Dining With The Pope’ sounds like Faith No More. Yes, part of this album’s appeal is its variation and unpredictability. Then the masterpiece of ‘Donut’ belts you around, laughs at you, insults you, buys you a drink and pisses in it. Unpredictable, and played with the fervency of people given half an hour to live. Actually, it sounds like the stuff ‘the kids’ were listening to in neighbours – SENORITA! Oh god, I need a rest... ‘She Tastes Like Medicine’? Sounds like Bros doing a Disturbed cover. Ah, ‘The Cavalry’... a bit more simple and riffy. Then we pull in to the sound of ‘A Vulture’s Eyes’, all horror show and a nice mirror to the opener. Oh, I really didn’t want to be seduced by this album. I wanted to be all grown up and say ‘it’s just noise, a bunch of fools pissing about in a studio’, but by the mighty
Rob Wright Instant Species – This Rome (Self Released Album) This Rome is the 8th album from the Huddersfield fourpiece – previous albums were called things like Meat Pie Argument and Robert the Bruce’s Spider so this is clearly their bid to be taken seriously. As the opening track ‘I Don’t See You As An Enemy’ started, my heart sank a bit. The combination of angular, stop-start riffs and rhythm guitar played on the off-beat has been done so many times before (Bloc Party are one of the best recent examples) that the track would have to offer something far more special than a shouty, Kaiser Chiefs style chorus to stand out. Second track ‘Simple Repetition’ continues the mediocrity but then things start to (finally) get better: ‘Are We Lovers?’ throws some sweet pop hooks into the mix and ‘What Makes You Think We Give A Damn’ sees the band try some stomping, Fall-esque rock which suits them pretty well.
in their song writing.
Overall, this is an enjoyable but hardly life changing record from a band who, I imagine, might be better in a live setting where their energy is enough to make up for some of the deficiencies
Matt Brown Kleine Schweine –The Party (Pledge) Back in the 1970s the arrival of punk was supposed to be the antidote to all those long haired muso bands producing self indulgent concept albums. Wind the clock forward and this recently formed Leeds quintet have decided to take things full circle. Kleine Schweine, whose glorious noise and enlightened outlook clearly hale from the punk era, have produced a concept album of sorts, with all the twelve tracks containing the same theme throughout, taking the listener back to the days of the Iron Curtain and the struggle of the individual against the all powerful state. Even the band’s moniker seems to be part of the (five year) plan, translating as the German for “Little Pigs”; word has it that
Our comrades in arms have also taken the workers collective approach to funding the album, having managed to raise all the funds via Pledge Music, the donations arriving in exchange for all manner of innovative gift ideas, particularly the chance to contribute backing vocals on an album track (early fan of the band, BBC 6Music’s Tom Robinson, was one of the many taking up this offer). He also jammed with the band members afterwards (check out YouTube for the cracking rendition of ‘2-4-6-8 Motorway’). So after all that, what does the album sound like? Well, it’s pretty much a case of what you see is what you get. A dozen short sharp shocks to the head, and what a splendid racket it is. Each number leaps out at you, gets in your face but is gone before the welcome has been outstayed. Mike Price Graingerboy – Shadowformerself (Pop Crisis Recordings) Electronica infested third album Shadowformerself from Graingerboy marks his return after a three year hiatus; and it is a remarkable one. Dramatic and full of depth the thirteen song album is a jaunt through a huge mixture of musical influences, the samples of a variety of vocalists add a great range to the album, creating a different mood between each song. A standout track, ‘escapefromthewhippingroom’ incorporates a haunting female vocal with a dramatic drum punctuated backing. Each of the songs has a talent for growing, from the beginning to the end, climaxing and falling to a calm, steady electronic beat. Noted influences including The Pet Shop Boys, Kate Bush and Depeche Mode (to name but a few) can be heard throughout, effortlessly incorporating a huge range of stylistic elements to ultimately create a series of epic, melodic singles; each of which stand out in their own unique way. The album is a composition itself, from one song to another works well as a progression through the various styles, acting as a storytelling function to allow you to follow the range of moods and feelings
each song effortlessly portrays. Album opener ‘plasticine’ is calm and has a real depth of sound, the male vocalist teamed with smooth electric backing makes for an interesting listen; but by no means can be compared to any other song on the album. The album could be easily played in a variety of scenarios, which I think is what makes it truly unique – melodic enough to dance to, calm enough to fall asleep to; Graingerboy has made a remarkable comeback. Victoria Riglen Submotion Orchestra – Fragments (Exceptional) Emerging from the incredibly fertile Leeds College of Music/LIMA axis of creative, and, crucially, open-minded jazz musicians, Submotion Orchestra have on this, their second album, raised their game considerably after their already impressive debut, last year’s Finest Hour. This is even more remarkable since the band have consciously set out to make music that incorporates significant elements of jazz, soul, dubstep, reggae, dub, grime and R&B. Not content with that, you can now detect minimalism at work in the warp and weft of their rhythms. Lesser musicians would either crumble under the weight of the task at hand, or produce some soupy mess of ill-fitting joins and splices. As it is, Submotion Orchestra have taken their ingredients and concocted a heady brew of sophisticated, sensual and frequently edgy music that already has its own unique stamp. And they do it seemingly with such effortless ease. So, while ‘Blind Spot’ and ‘Eyeliner’ are gorgeous, epic pop songs, fuelled by Ruby Wood’s sultry voice, ‘Bird of Prey’s staccato drums, depth charging bass and wheeling synths seethe with dubstep menace until lifted by a Simon Beddoe trumpet solo as a coda, and instrumental ‘Thousand Yard Stare’ pitches a heaving bass blast against soaring trumpets and chaotic piano. Even more radically, closing track ‘Coming Up for Air’ starts as another Ruby Wood vocal over strings and brass, but morphs into an extended coda of swelling static noise and guitar feedback. The album lasts for over an hour but it’s never a
this was adopted by the former East German Stasi as a term of abuse when referring to the ordinary person on the street.
labour to listen to, partly because, despite the musical intelligence and craft at work here, Submotion Orchestra’s fundamental aim is to move your feet or your heart. Steve Walsh William Gray – Casual Observer (self release) I honestly couldn’t tell you if William Gray intended this third instalment of a quick succession of full-length albums to complete any kind of conceptual trilogy; but I would imagine almost certainly not. And yet it pretty much works out that way, and really rather splendidly, which is sort of the point of William Gray. Excellence happens without ever appearing particularly intentional. This record will really please people who like William Gray albums. It’s unlikely to win-over the unconvinced, but for those already smitten by the languid delivery and delightfully efficient arrangements, there is nuanced progression noticeable from his solo debut. It’s clever, without ever threatening to stray into being clever-clever. There’s not a wasted note or word, with social and political observations made with subtlety and class, like going for a pint with that friend who always gives great advice without ever lecturing. But as with all William Gray albums, front and centre is that incredible voice, which contains more soul in an intake of breath than an infinite collection of talent show oscillations and melismas. Sadly, this looks likely to be Gray’s last record for sometime as a relocation to China looks likely to – at best – slow the velocity of his output. But while he’s away, and with the long nights closing in, you could do far worse than curl up on the sofa, put his three outstanding albums on back to back, and lose yourself in the warmth of one of the finest singer-song writing talents this region has produced in years. Rob Paul Chapman Glissando – The World Without Us (Gizeh Records)
provided by the sparse piano. Elly May Irving’s wispy vocal lines sit comfortably over the uneasy yet gentle build-ups, adding an eerie yet hypnotic dimension to the sounds. Being a bedroom-listening album however, intense concentration is required. This may prove difficult; having reached the halfway point, ‘Companion’ has little to offer in terms of instrumentation development, with the familiar strings and atmospheric swells creating a sense of predictability in the arrangements. The tracks flow into one other with ease, although a lack of distinction between them causes the original captivation to fade; they begin to sound less like songs and more like calming background noise. ‘Of Silence’ sees a wider use of drums, as well as the introduction of piano chords in ‘For the Light’, but otherwise the sounds, despite being so powerful and rich in texture, do risk becoming mundane and repetitive. ‘Still (II)’ signifies the end of the journey, returning to the opening piano riff, however by this point the ten-minute closer feels a little drawn out. It requires great skill to create a tasteful and moving ambience and Glissando definitely triumph in this aspect, creating an enthralling beauty that is regrettably unmatched by the songwriting. Oliver Deans This Many Boyfriends – This Many Boyfriends (Angular Records) I tried really hard to hate this album. Its saccharine, Day-Glo Indie sound and rough-edged chirpy hooks are usually the kinds of things that make my skin crawl. The incessant referential treatment of Indie past, Morrissey-lite vocals and Identikit feels of tracks like ‘You Don’t Need To Worry’ and ‘Young Lovers Go Pop!’ should leave my hair in chunks on the carpet. The namedropping lyrics, too, straddle precariously the divide between vacuity and meaning in a manner that’s either irritating or inspired – I can’t decide which.
At some point through my repeated listens I have had to accept that whatever I value, This Many Boyfriends is Having released their previous album four years ago, the actually something of a brilliant Indie-pop LP. Deliberately Leeds duo Glissando return with a haunting collection of not straying too far from conventions to present 10 bopsongs set to spellbind and captivate. a-long pop homages to the last 25 years of Indie music; their hooks are strong, their riffs are packed with energy Using a wide array of instruments, the sounds are and the vocal lines and lyrics are plenty interesting. captured beautifully, with opener ‘Still (I)’ creating an The engineering at the hands of Ryan Jarman perfectly immediate visual atmosphere amidst the chilling arpeggios captures the essence of their ‘rough and tumble’ live and soft instrument swells. Despite there being little sound without having to clean things up too much. percussive elements, a subtle pulse to the music is
The saving grace for me is how hideously uncool it is. In an era where the synth is king and bands posture themselves as artistic gods, This Many Boyfriends rock up with their choppy guitar solos, ‘ba-ba-ba-da-ba’ sing-alongs and ‘whack-a-mole’ drum beats and give their music a sense of the genuine. This Many Boyfriends manage to establish themselves as not just another uninspired Indie fan-band but rather a standalone entity striving to revive much of what was good about 80s and 90s Indie. I’m not convinced it has the longevity of more original releases but for a half hour blast-from-the-past-from-the-present, it’s perfect. Tim Hearson Scams – Add and Subtract (Devil Duck Records) It only takes one listen of Scams’ new album, Add and Subtract, to get the majority of the songs stuck in your head. This pop-rock band seems to have perfected the art of creating catchy lyrics and riffs that you can’t help humming all day. The first track ‘Be a Gentleman’ is the one that is especially good at this. However it’s not my favourite track; the repeated lyric ‘I can’t be a gentleman’ gets ever so slightly irritating after a while. Yet the album makes up for this as it swiftly moves on to bigger and better things. The stand out songs are undoubtedly the third track ‘Pyramids’, (which is also the first single off the album) ‘It’s A War’ and ‘Sound and Vision’. ‘Pyramids’ is slower than most of the album, but that’s why I like it- it has more force and depth to it and provides a hint of what the band is hiding behind the more dancey and jovial pop tunes. The drumming on ‘It’s A War’ and ‘Sound and Vision’ in particular adds intensity and compliments frontman Andy Morgan’s falsetto voice.
Put simply Scams’ new album is short, punchy and eager to please. With a sound not unlike Vampire Weekend and Two Door Cinema Club, I would put money on the fact that at least one track of this album will become a festival anthem come next summer.
Rachel Heward Ultrasound – Play For Today (Fierce Panda) Does anyone else find there’s something strangely comforting about that first autumn evening you decide to put on the central heating and dig out that favourite cosy fleece from the loft/draw/bin-bag of winter attire that’s been gathering dust through the halcyon days of summer? Well, this album is that winter jumper. And frankly it feels just as good. It’s been 14 years since the former indie-press darlings’ anticipated, delayed and then largely misunderstood first – and until recently, last – album limped into a world unforgiving of its more esoteric moments. And from the opening chimes of Richard Green’s cosmicallycharged guitar on this betterlate-than-never second effort we’re back exactly where we left off. Although critical reassessment largely now concludes their debut to be the eccentric flawedmasterpiece many of us always suspected, in truth this is actually a better focussed, judged and balanced album than its predecessor. But while it seems intentionally less willing to indulge the occasionally transcendent yet frequently infuriating moments of psychedelic weirdness that so alienated some of their initial post-Britpop fanbase; it might actually be this laudable quality control that ultimately makes it a little less lovable than their previous effort in the long run. Additionally, whilst moments of sublime melodic genius are dotted around, they are more sparsely spaced than might have been hoped for. But, while it may not hit the same heights of its predecessor it doesn’t get mired in the same frustrating (albeit charming) lows either. It’s an album comfortable with itself and with middle age, more predictable, less wild, but ultimately still rather excellent company over a cup of winter cocoa. Rob Paul Chapman Lone Wolf – The Lovers (Pledge)
has proved to be a pivotal influence on its development since the magazine began in 2007. This is perhaps why Rhubarb Bomb’s current Editor Dean Freeman felt compelled to produce this book, designed to celebrate the first five years of the ‘zine and how the scene it celebrates was viewed and reviewed through its pages.
Gone are the norrible tales of murder and death, to be replaced by the more realistic horrors of self doubt, fruitless love, introversion and disappointment. As a result, it makes for a hard on the heart listen, confronted with such lines as ‘our love was a waste of two good lives’ (‘Two Good Lives’) and ‘sometimes I wish that we were dead/ but I don’t mean it’ (‘Spies in My Heart’). I think it’s the existential despair that comes from reaching a certain age. Musically, it is just as ambitious and diverse; electronic drones that explode into epic synth blossoms, bright and cold in the light of day (just listen to the switch in ‘Spies in My Heart’ and not be overwhelmed), rhythms recorded in situ from tapping on desks and tea cups, drawn breaths or even a single clap (‘The Lovers’), looped and sampled and mixed, all woven together by and with Paul Marshall’s breathy baritone, reigned in but by no means diminished. Such is the ambition that some songs feel unfinished, especially ‘The Lovers’ itself, which seems to meander off. This is the sort of album that sneaks up on you and bites you in the arse when least expected, leaving you a blubbering wreck for the rest of the day. Which is, surprisingly, a good thing.
The book is made up of chapters that reproduce the best or most significant reviews, interviews and features the zine published from 2007 to 2011 with a chapter for each year, interspersed with chapters of new material written by Freeman and other writers, musicians and figures from the Wakefield scene. If the quality of the reprinted content is variable this is meant as no criticism – zines and local magazine (this one included) sometimes have to make do with what they can get - and what this mostly unedited material provides is a valuable insight into the development (The Cribs), and sometimes disappearance (The Research), of established bands and emergence of new ones now making an impact in Wakefield and beyond (Runaround Kids, The Spills, Protectors and all the bloody rest).
BOOKS The City Consumes Us – Dean Freeman (Rhubarb Bomb) If it seems extraordinary Leeds has been able to cultivate and sustain such a rich and diverse music culture over the past decade, how much more extraordinary is it that a city the size of Wakefield has managed to do a very similar thing, albeit on a much smaller scale, over a similar time span? But while Leeds has always had its cliques and coteries and a relentless churn of movers and shakers, Wakefield bands seem to be possessed of a fierce loyalty to each other and the city they all live and make music in. And the pool of musicians, producers and label bosses it has drawn on has remained pretty consistent at its core while managing to draw in new elements along the way. Wakefield fanzine Rhubarb Bomb hasn’t been around for the whole of the city’s musical renaissance but it
The real benefit of this book, though, is to be found in the new chapters that try and put the development of music in Wakefield in some kind of perspective. Freeman has several goes at approaching the culture and ethos of DIY magazine production from several angles and manages to set out compelling, even inspiring (to me at least) justification for bothering with the whole bloody enterprise at all. Although Freeman talks specifically about DIY fanzine production, you could easily apply his arguments as a rationale for any kind of cultural activity that’s done out of some kind of compulsion but for no tangible material reward (indeed not even the prospect of it at some point in the future). There’s also the cautionary tale of Escobar, the venue that provided a focus for the scene until it’s ignominious and controversial closure, and the adoption of other, perhaps more sympathetic venues since then. It may be that music scholars of the future reach for this book mainly to research the early careers of bands like The Cribs and their successors, but on amore granular level, I can see this book providing inspiration and even guidance not just for fanzine editors and writers working (for free!) in the cultural margins, but also musicians and other artists who have a song to sing or a tale to tell that doesn’t chime with the prevailing commercial mainstream for years to come. Steve Walsh Go to www.vibrations.org.uk for EP and Single reviews and even more album reviews – you busy creative lot, you!
Back in 2010, Lone Wolf (aka Paul Marshall) released an album called The Devil and I which was wonderful and should have been overwhelmingly triumphant but didn’t quite achieve world domination. Two years later, an older, wiser, more thoughtful Lone Wolf has taken the path of the Pledge to release this follow up.
Me and My Friends/Maia @ All Hallows Church, Leeds All Hallows is a gorgeous modern church buried deep in Hyde Park, kitted out with vibrant artwork and serving all manner of specially brewed beverages. There’s a real community feel in the room and the stage is adorned with fairy lights and foliage as Maia step up to deliver their brand of spacious psychedelic folk. The lyrics are as pretentious as the band is camp (I swear one drawled line is ‘from my time selling melons in Santa Fe’) but they come off well in the surroundings. There’s a dramatic tinge to the growling trumpet and superb harmonies. It’s good fun if you’re willing to suspend your ‘down to earth’ meter. The bar is serving ale and brownies – a welcome touch – before Me and My Friends arrive on stage for their first set of suitably serene and warm modern folk. With a lineup of clarinet, guitar, ‘cello and drums (with occasional bass) they drag up some gorgeous sonorities and manage to be much more tasteful with their pretention than Maia. The minimal sound really lets the music breathe, unfortunately leaving room for crowd chatter especially an issue at album launches - but when the bass first kicks in, it’s a welcome foray into the sub frequencies and enough to stymie the crowd for a short while. Their second set has a much groovier flavour with a full backline but still retaining the spaced-out folk style. Invitations to dance are met enthusiastically and the crowd are rewarded with infectious beats and bounces. Clearly a lot of love for this band, they’ve pitched the gig well and played to their strengths. I’m leaving here with about as much love for the venue too. Tim Hearson Wet Nuns/John J Presley/Drenge @ The Packhorse, Leeds Foreword: an apology. Last time I covered a Dirty Otter gig, I didn’t give Rebecca Vincent any of the credit. Well, now I am. Good line up Rebecca – can I have my ink now? Tonight is a night of less is more – the biggest act is a three piece – but when I say more, I mean more noise, more beef and... more audience than I’ve seen in the Packhorse for a long time.
Drenge, brothers, tour mates, two piece and fellow Sheffieldians with Wet Nuns, open with a squall of painful feedback before plunging into a rough cut rockabilly barrage of short, snappy songs that pound along at a fair crack and entertain and invigorate in equal measures.
The vocals aren’t quite overclocked enough to match the sheer dirtiness of the music, but otherwise it is a wonderful noise. If Drenge are a bit too polished for your tastes, then perhaps you would care to try a bit of John J Presley? Blues infused folk noir from Rochdale that is dirtier, fuzzier and growlier than Drenge with the added bonus of some evil Hammond playing and the spiritual umph of a snake handler on crystal meth. It has the sleazy allure of the Cramps but without the spandex, which is a sacrifice but... oooh, it feels good to get this dirty again... Dirty; dirtier; dirtiest. Since being destroyed at Leeds to a soundtrack provided by Wet Nuns, I’ve been wanting a rematch. As it stands, I can hardly see them for bods and drop my pen pretty much as soon as they start it up. Another defeat then. Wet Nuns take the blues, sodomise it and death metal growl over the top of it, spit it out fast and tight... they’re a bit lacking in bass, but I believe Lemmy is occupied at the moment. I stop making sense and just enjoy it, especially drummer Alexis impersonation of a certain carpenter’s son. And they’re very nice people too. What a joyful, sweaty, agoraphobic, painful night of good old filth. Good work, Becca and Otter! Rob Wright Submotion Orchestra/Cornelia/Anushka @ Stylus, University of Leeds Anyone else been waiting to see Submotion in my hometown? Both support acts reminded me of rare, exotic gemstones like Tokimonsta and Cokiyu. Anushka are a duet from down south playing progressive House with a vocalist along the lines of Nneka. With just a sample pad and a Macbook he creates Future-Soul beats for her lyrical pleasure. They were a good choice for first support because their music has such energy, but it wasn’t long before the room packed out and a familiar scent wafted through the air. Cornelia perplexed me: she sings in her mother tongue (Swedish) as well as English and recorded an enchanting song ‘Steepless’ with Portico Quartet. In her unique image and voice she resembles a real doll. She plays a teardropshaped keyboard-guitar called ‘Omnichord’, which makes her seem like an emissary from another alien race. Submotion Orchestra played maybe three songs when the stage lights went black. Stylus light techs do a bit of pantomime for the theatre society; when the stage lit up again half the band had vanished. Bongos and a trumpeter, “Drums, drums in the deep”, Submo unleashed a torrent of solos with more echo than the Mines of Muria, and the pianist who plays Minimoog like Ray Charles.
Daniel Cunningham I Like Trains/Post War Glamour Girls/Sam Airey @ Leeds City Museum After playing for the fishes at The Deep on the release of He Who Saw The Deep in 2010, I Like Trains have decided to launch their postponed 2012 tour for Beacons in a similarly interesting venue, Leeds City Museum. No fishes this time, just ten foot high projections of the ‘Trains heads and own brand ale. For a band known for their mild manners, they certainly have a flair for the theatrical.
a sound that is part Joy Division, part Bad Seeds, part Misfits, but perhaps it is not so surprising considering what an influence Nick Cave has had on ILT. Still, It’s an aggressive piece of noise nonetheless that threatens to consume itself in feedback at every riff. Mr Smith has a touch of the Suggs about him, which lightens the proceedings, and I would like to hear a bit more of Alice’s voice thrown into the mix, but the set for the most goes from heavy to heavier, culminating in an almost painful auditory experience.
I’ve already mentioned the Kraftwerkian portraits, so I’ll plunge into the epic grandeur of the spectacle that is I Like Trains. Dwarfed by the enormous screens showing excerpts of Fahrenheit 451, Jason and the Argonauts, retro arcade games, market chaos, Robert Falcon Scott, Bobby Fischer and a smattering of their own promos, it really brings home what has been missing from the I Like Providing continuity in a fashion, Sam Airey launches Trains formula – the visual element. Not that the songs proceedings, though he is no longer a lone man-witharen’t strong, it’s just that ‘Terra Nova’ packs more of a guitar... in fact he’s in danger of becoming a ‘project’. punch when you can match the images to the emotive Flanked by the double threat of Lins Wilson on cello content of the song. And the video for ‘Sea of Regrets’ is and Whiskas on guitar, his songs are shimmerier, loftier, heartbreaking. There’s no ‘Spencer Percival’ on the set (in moodier and more interesting – the intimate core remains fact, nothing from Elegies) but there’s a nicely balanced but it now has some body to it. His set also suits the sound mix of classic and contemporary ‘Trains. Moving, mellow in the space (as I remember from days of am dram, the and a fairly spectacular start for the tour. Leeds Civic Theatre which formerly occupied the space was notoriously ‘muddy’) and though he still needs to rein Rob Wright it in a bit lengthwise, I am beginning to see what others see in him. Post War Glamour Girls seem an odd choice for support, with their more raucous rock and roll sensibilities and
Ruby Wood strode back up to the microphone and unbuttoned that studded army surplus Parka to a reveal a little black number. The crowd chanted along to the Finest Hour classics like we were at Elland Road.
LIVE The Grand / Buffalo Bones / Moody Gowns / Jonny and the Bastards @ Velvet Bar, Wakefield
haunting melodies satisfied everybody from front row to rafter.
Jonny was minus his bastards tonight, so he was just Jonnythefirth tonight. Did this stop him? Certainly not. Jonny was a one-man band with his drum, guitar, and also a harmonica. This guy is unique in a world where most bands are just tweaking each other’s sound. You can see his passion for playing and it’s a joy to watch him getting carried away while he is playing.
Moody Gowns are genuinely a band with a unique sound. Once they were on stage I was trying hard to keep up with all the things that they were doing to project this sound to the audience. I really couldn’t, but this is what made these guys so great, along with the catchy songs that they were singing. Buffalo Bones are loud, harsh and energetic something which you hear straightaway when they come on stage. There’s an element of Queens of the Stoneage to some of their songs but somehow even more energetic. This is The Grand’s night to plug their debut single, and what a night it has been so far. The support has been spectacular and the headline band themselves are flawless, ending this fine evening in style. These guys are something special, and everyone in the room can feel and see it from their performance on stage. Rochelle Massey Benjamin Francis Leftwich @ Leeds City Varieties, Leeds. I was slightly apprehensive for everybody involved prior to seeing Benjamin Francis Leftwich at the City Varieties. It’s hardly the most common of venues; its seated and even has somebody selling ice cream front left of stage. However, the ornate nature of the theatre and wonderfully comfortable seats gave the whole night a somewhat living room-esque feel. And it was good. I’d very much like Ben Leftwich playing in my living room… An eerie silence filled the room the entire night and aside from a ‘whoop’ or a ‘holler’ every now and then, Leftwich had everybody in silent captivation. Opening, rather bravely if I do say so, with an unplugged version of ‘Pictures’, it was obvious that City Varieties is a hidden gem of a venue.
As for his set, it is clear that Leftwich relies a little heavily on reverb just to give his voice that distinctive tone accredited with his debut album. Utilising the acoustics of the theatre and performing a fair chunk of the set unplugged he created a fine, mellow atmosphere. That said, it was during these unplugged songs that he was almost found wanting vocally. The higher notes eluded the York-based singer on more than one occasion, highlighting the necessity of the microphone aid. The audacity to sing to a packed theatre whilst sat on the edge of the stage clearly shows this boy is a showman and despite the odd missed note, Leftwich’s
Invisible Cities / Helicopter Quartet / Giant David @ The Packhorse, Leeds Standing amidst an impressive array of musical paraphernalia, local oddball Giant David opens proceedings with a performance which is almost as nerve-wracking for the audience as it is for him. The often laboured manner in which he switches between his various tools does him no favours, for as much as it draws attention to the demands of playing this kind of music solo, it also makes it clear that he does not yet have the confidence or skill to carry it off. The songs themselves aren’t at all bad and with more practice should begin to shine through, but tonight they fall victim to their composer’s bloody-minded insistence on putting the artifice ahead of the art. Helicopter Quartet – a two-piece, hilariously – are ambitious in the range of topics which they address, yet musically seem content to stay entirely in their comfort zone. Brooding instrumentals are the order of the day, shimmering guitars and portentous strings combining to produce a sound reminiscent of the opening of pretty much everything Godspeed You! Black Emperor have ever written, but without the dramatic payoff. Invisible Cities are at an immediate advantage tonight, being both a) technically competent and b) a lot of fun. For the most part they play slinky, post-party rock which subverts the po-faced excesses of the instrumental tradition in which it can nominally be located. It’s not all about the funk though: the Leeds quartet occasional detour into slower, more atmospheric territory to provide the kind of dynamic contrast the opening acts conspicuously lacked. Greg Elliott This Many Boyfriends/The Wind-Up Birds/Downdime/ The Moody Gowns @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds So, it’s the launch gig for latest Leeds pop sensations This Many Boyfriends eponymous and rather splendid debut album, but first we have wade through a forest of tiresome support bands. Tsk! But wait on, that jittery and vaguely unhinged noise coming from The Moody Gowns is actually quite infectious. And they may look a bit long in the tooth, but those Downdime lads and lass don’t half make an impressively focused pummelling riff (although it does get a bit wearing towards the end). And shambling scruffy gets The Wind-Up Birds somehow turn punkoid beats and thick accents into a blam blam blam sequence of sonic rough diamonds (although it helps that they left out their more, ahem, weighty items).
PREVIEWS So, who’s then headliner then? Ah yes…
This Many Boyfriends seem to polarise opinions. But as far as I can tell, the likes of ‘Tina Weymouth’, ‘Young Lovers Go Pop!’ and ‘I Don’t Like You (‘Cos You Don’t Like The Pastels)’ are simply delicious pop confections, their self-referential archness all part of the charm. But the band are not just all about fizz and pop. ‘Starling’, ‘Number One’ and ‘You Don’t Need to Worry’ are ‘serious’ finely crafted pop songs by anyone’s standards. And live there’s a surprisingly abrasive edge to their sound, with guitarist Daniel Goux intent on doing plenty of Sonic Youthish noise shredding and the rumble of Laura Black’s cymbal-lite drumming occasionally being lost behind the guitars, making the songs sound like they’re floating unmoored from a beat. What a fabulous gig. Steve Walsh
Scroobius Pip/Kate Tempest/Polarbear @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds Dec 2
December 16th - Brudenell Social Club - Humanfly, These Monsters, Monster Killed By Laser, Eras
Scroobius Pip seems to be no longer against Dan Le Sac – dropped the whole argument altogether now, apparently. An evening of spoken word, expect cutting and thought provoking verbal noises.
Is Christmas getting you down? Need to let of a bit of steam before the ensuing festivities? Well, why not head down to the Brudenell for some mighty metal action of a progressive nature in the shape of these guys. G’wan – treat yourself...
‘Valva’s next Leeds date and it’s up in the Library – expect it to be loud and filthy. Roller Trio @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 12 Dec Mercury, MOBO and Vibrations’ own Fight Before Christmas nominated Roller Trio headline Leeds date at the Brud. Hope & Social @ The Courthouse, Otley 14 Dec Hope & Social’s Winter Special and this is a band that know how to make things special. Black Dyke Band @ Leeds Town Hall, Leeds 15 Dec Yep, stop tittering. The Black Dyke Band are one of the North’s finest brass bands, talked about in hushed, reverent tones all across the county… So there.
The Sunshine Underground @ Warehouse 23, Wakefield 21 Dec It seems like a bit of a seasonal thing that The Sunshine Underground come and play Wakefield around Christmas. Well, not ones to break tradition, they’re back again. Lone Wolf/Post War Glamour Girls @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 19 Jan Lone Wolf has a new album out – how exciting – currently only available to those who pledged. Jan 19 is when we plebs can get our mitts on it and here is a gig to celebrate.
Castrovalva @ The Library, Leeds 7 Dec
Published on Dec 14, 2012
Bi-monthly print music magazine covering bands in Leeds, and West Yorkshire (UK) featuring Post War Glamour Girls, Roller Trio and our annua...