Vibrations Magazine Leeds and West Yorkshire October 2011 Free
Paul Thomas Saunders Leeds Festival 2011 The Truth About Frank
Editorial Leeds Festival From Stage to Page Mission Incapable The Truth About Frank Paul Thomas Saunders Passport Control The End of the Festival Season? Reviews Live Reviews The Search Vibrations is looking for... Advertisers - 2000 magazines seen by music lovers across Leeds. - email@example.com Writers, Photographers, Artists and Sub editors - Come be a part of it. - firstname.lastname@example.org Demos - Send them in to: Steve Walsh Vibrations Magazine Eiger Studios New Craven Gate Industrial Estate Leeds LS11 5NF
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Vibrations is: Editor Rob Wright - email@example.com Design Catalogue - firstname.lastname@example.org www.thisiscatalogue.co.uk Picture Editor Bart Pettman - email@example.com Reviews Editor Steve Walsh - firstname.lastname@example.org Founded and Published by Tony Wilby - email@example.com Jack Simpson - firstname.lastname@example.org Advertising Department Tony Wilby - email@example.com Web Team Sam Hainsworth - firstname.lastname@example.org Charlotte Watkins - www.myspace.com/vibrationsmagazine Contributors Rob Wright, Steve Walsh, Bart Pettman, Danny Payne, Neil Dawson, Tom Martin, Nelson, Mike Price, Ben Statham, James West, Spencer Bayles, Tom Bailey, Greg Elliott, Nick Pritchard, Ben Rutledge, Rochelle Massey, Martin Haley, Tim Hearson, Liam Shevill, James Thompson, Emma Quinlan, Nicholas Dishington, Rob Welbourn, Leighton Padley, Katie Rowley, Luke Bailey. Cover Photograph Paul Thomas Saunders by Danny Payne
Keep That Editor Away From The Liquor Cabinet...
Well hello to you, dear reader! Can it really be over three months since last you clutched a copy of Vibrations in your hot little hands, excited, anxious and a bit sicky at the prospect of the quality goodies held within? Have you been suffering from withdrawal symptoms, flirting with other magazines to get your music fix? Perhaps you’ve tried taping photos of well know local bands onto the front of very thin books and pretending that they’re a special summer edition? Or getting an exercise book, writing ‘Vibrations’ in big letters on the front and filling it with semi-legible musings on regional music happenings yourself? Or perhaps you’ve been on holiday. Well, rust never sleeps and let it be known that we at Vibrations Towers have been busy little bees over the summer season, sometimes too busy to even think about Vibrations related stuff (I can reveal that at least one of our writers has been dabbling in the realms of professional musical theatre, no names, no packdrill). Hence the rush, stress and sleepless nights experienced in order to get this out and into your mitts for the autumnal season. To all freshers and non freshers alike picking this up for the first time, hello, welcome, and yes this is perfectly normal behaviour for me.
Anyway, where was I? Ah yes, busy busy busy. Going briefly back to the subject of doing it yourself (read between the lines, folks – it’s definitely there), did any of you manage to get yourself down to the town hall to look at ‘Where Were You?’, the exhibition put on by the Leeds Music History Project about... the history of music in Leeds? I must confess that, being very busy (for a list of lame excuses, please send pound sterling beer tokens to our mailing address. Some people call these beer tokens ‘money’, but it will never catch on...), I only managed to pop down once on my way to Leeds Festival – an interesting juxtaposition if you will. A lot of stuff came as a huge surprise to me, principally the way in which the scene in Leeds settles into strata, each building on the last, each striving to spread out in its own way, each trying so desperately hard to remain independent and individual with each unit (band, artist, whatever) striving for independence within that strata. If you were to look at it in the same way that you look at evolution, you’d see maximum diversification and cross-breeding resulting in infinite possibilities. Probably the reason why there is no one Leeds sound (see previous editorials decrying the lack of a coherent celebration of ‘The Leeds Sound’).
Some people call these beer tokens ‘money’, but it will never catch on
My head suitably expanded (or shoved up my arse, depending on how pretentious you consider my meanderings to be), off I went to Leeds festival to compare what this world has to throw at us musically to what we have to throw back. And there I see that diversification again from the likes of The Coopers, Blacklisters, Pulled Apart By Horses, Castrovalva, Simon Pollard, Arthur Rigsby... each one ploughing its own furrow, each one buggering about with musical evolution and yet each one sowing the seeds of cross breeding. Music in Leeds is, as ELO once said, a living thing. Come back in ten years time and you won’t recognise it. I didn’t. And how glad I was for it. Additional: I can’t get away with not mentioning it, can I? The sadly premature, pointless and tragic death of Amy Winehouse. I can’t pretend to say I knew her, or that I am channelling her spirit, I’m not going to release a tribute album, special edition vodka or anything like that, I’m just going to say sorry for her families loss, our loss and ultimately her loss. The light that burns twice as bright and all that. Still, lights have to burn that bright sometimes to make everyone else’s life a little less dark. Remember the good times, the good stuff. Ed Case
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10th oct - The Broken Seas £4 entry — 14th Oct - Mausi £4 entry — 20th - 22nd Oct Kabeedies weekend residency £3 entry or £7 for the weekend — 24th Oct - Jay Stansfield — 27th Oct - The Rainband / Ideals / Catfish and the Bottlemen £5 adv £6 door — 11th Nov - The Little Kicks £4 entry — 18th Nov - The Bronze Medal
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Leeds Festival The View from Liggers Hill... Leeds Festival is over for another year and has come home dripping with mud. Controversial in that it has had one of the least controversial line-ups ever, the festival might be seen as hedging its bets in a season that has witnessed A Grand Day Out turn up its toes and Beacons Festival perishing before birth. Has this playing it safe been a success though, or are the natives revolting? Well, it was very muddy indeed... Rob Wright (RW) and Steve Walsh (SW) get stuck in. Photos by Bart Pettman
Thursday Dance to the Radio, institution, local showcase, blah blah. You know all this. What I didn’t know was that the door staff can’t touch anything inside the bag they’re searching. That is one to remember. Anyway, Blacklisters. I love them: I love Billy’s asexual antics, their stupid titles, their scream along lyrics, their hairy riffs. Unfortunately, the sound man doesn’t love them as 6
much as I do, and as a result the first two songs are underpowered and lost on the crowd. Third song in though and something clicks with... everyone. Cue circle pit, good sound, happy Billy, happy band. That was close. The Runaround Kids are... a bit softer and as a result get an immediate response from the crowd. There’s nothing particularly compelling here, but some riffs border on the edge of belligerence. Popular with the people though. We Are Losers – awful name, unmemorable music. Dog is Dead
fare better by having some cracking melodies and nice laid back west coast harmonies - pleasant in the far from extreme. Young Knives complete the night’s official entertainment with their own brand of chunky indie rock, augmented by a topless, similarly chunky Henry Dartnell. His more sensible brother refuses to even take his flat cap off, but with a name like House of Lords you expect a little more decorum. ‘Decision’ and ‘I Love My Name’ add sparkle to what is, though not outstanding, a very solid and entertaining performance. RW
Friday Friday morning looked cloudy and heavy with rain to come as the Halifax/ Bradford trio The Mexanines get the BBC Introducing Stage and the festival proper kick started. The band do heavy blues rock that’s straight out of the early 1970’s but they have the confidence to let their songs breathe and develop unhurriedly. Singer and guitarist James Brander has an authentically gruff, frazzled and mature-beyond-his-years voice that fits perfectly with the idiom. SW Headache. Overdid it on Thursday. Again. Still, make it for Our Fold on the Festival Republic Stage, who’re playing a mix of surf, punk and indie with a bassist who looks like Jay from the Inbetweeners, before heading off to hear Dananananackroyd on the Radio One stage. Screamy indeed, but melodically closer to Biffy than Rolo. Fucked Up are a more authentic bet, and though the sound quality is all over the place, there is something undeniably compelling about watching hundreds of young men stroking a topless hairy fat man – Damian Abraham certainly puts in the mileage. The result is the Pixies being fronted by Jerry A, if you can imagine that. I like it, but... not for everyone. RW On the Main Stage, Frank Turner provided the first real ‘event’ of the festival. His anthemic songs of and for the ordinary man (and woman) in the street are perfect for the big festival stages. It’s been no surprise to see him work his way up from the smaller tents to this kind of platform as his more folky, introspective songs make way for his rabble rousing, Springsteenesque sing-a-longs. And ‘Reasons Not to Be An Idiot’ is reason enough in itself to make the fact that he was at Eton with Prince William not really worth bothering about.
The Festival Republic Stage tent provided some relief from the by now hammering rain, but Dutch Uncles were playing so that worked out OK. The band have rather improbably managed to resolve the knotty law of moderno music which states that ‘prog into dance won’t go’ by producing devilishly complicated songs that nonetheless make you want to jig about like a loon, as perfectly illustrated by singer Duncan Wallis’ demonstration of the David Byrne School of Stage Dancing. It’s all too much for the guitar amps, though, because one of them blows up. SW Back to the Introducing stage for Funeral Suits who are on the whole pretty chirpy in a Friendly Fires way but have melancholyinfused synths – I dunno, possessed instruments? Like a cheerful wake. Little Comets at Festival Republic however make music designed to sell mobile phones or advertise dating sites. A bit Foals-lite but they have a guitarist who looks like Jay again. Other than that, horrible. RW
By contrast, Benjamin Francis Leftwich on the larger Festival Republic Stage is cast from the more traditional singer/songwriter mould, with his sweet voice and sweet songs which are unfortunately caught in the triangulated crossfire of hammering rock music from three other stages. Although Leftwich manages to hold the attention of the audience well enough, his songs are often mawkish and insipid. Immediately after Leftwich, Irish punk poppers Fight Like Apes grab the Festival by the scruff of the neck and give it a bit of a slapping.
First real discovery of the festival is Rae Morris on the BBC Introducing Stage, an 18-year-old singer/songwriter from Blackpool. Despite her slight frame and timid demeanour, Morris has a huge, emotive voice that she utilises with great skill and tonal variety in her idiosyncratic but intelligently arranged songs. Some of her phrasing is a bit odd but she manages to hold the sizable crowd pretty much spellbound. Her subject matter is a bit clichéd, but just wait until somebody breaks her heart, because she may start breaking yours.
The band excel at cartoonish songs with outlandish titles (like ‘Pull Off Your Arms And Let’s Play In Your Blood’) that veer wildly around like a speeding, out of control car and feature the antics of striking singer Mary-Kate Geraghty and anarchic keyboard player Jamie Fox. The relatively new rhythm section have added a significant amount of crunching musical weight to the mayhem. Fight Like Apes make me laugh like a loon. SW After definitely seeing some teletubbies, it’s off to Off!, who hamstring themselves instantly by 7
getting the venue of Who’s ‘Live at Leeds’ utterly wrong. Plus the short, bald, dreadlocked front man looks ridiculous and the riffs are so tired. I fuck off. Ham Sandwich from Dublin are swigging Buckfast, so that already makes them winners in my book. Their sound and schtick is reminiscent of The Sugarcubes, and I can see a successful solo career for Niamh Farrell and... something funny for Podge. RW Back on the BBC Introducing stage Manchester rap/drum’n’bass quintet Murkage continue the mayhem with a blistering set of barely contained beats and words. A frontline of four rappers is backed by live drums and fantastically inventive rhythms and samples driven by rock as much as dance music. The rappers waste no time getting across the security pit and the sizable group of fans in the audience respond from the off. It’s a hugely exciting, raw and energised performance that even has a whiff of danger about it and for me is one of the highlights of the entire festival. SW The rain has really hit hard and the site is starting to resemble the Somme; hats off to Friendly Fires then for their brave attempt to bring some carnival atmos to the main stage. They’re a little bit swamped by the size of the stage, but Ed Macfarlane does his best to fill the area, and ‘Hawaiian Air’ genuinely lifts the sullen mood. Nice band, shame about the weather. RW
After almost constant rain, the mud is now well established making the walk to the NME/Radio 1 Stage for Death From Above 1979 much more arduous than earlier. Having missed the band first time round I was initially a bit nonplussed by their rather plodding take on the guitar and drums noise duo format that’s become ubiquitous since they ceased operations in 2006. They only seemed to kick into gear towards the end of the set, with Sebastien Grainger finally unhinging his voice over mutant disco/metal beats and Jesse Keeler’s overdriven effects laden bass sounded like it was approaching meltdown. SW
Muse. Big. Bold. Bright. All of ‘Origin of Symmetry’. Edited highlights from ‘Absolution’ to ‘Resistance’. Rain coming down in buckets. Don’t care. Bellamy’s voice is going beyond human hearing; my vocal chords shred trying to keep up. Paul Marshall tells me I’m ruining it for everyone. Don’t care. 30 foot flames, great nightmarish visuals, Bellamy never says a word to us, band overdo it completely with ‘Knights of Cydonia’ then fuck off home. Too bombastic? Don’t care. RW
This is the penultimate gig for The Streets and the stops have been pulled by band and audience alike. Opener ‘Don’t Mug Yourself’ turns the crowd into a frothing pit, which refuses to calm it despite calmer songs such as ‘Weak Become Heroes’ and ‘Would You Be There?’. Mike’s poeticism is something seriously underrated and I feel a little lump in the throat when I realise I’m gonna miss it. Pulled Apart by Horses
Having scrubbed off a thick layer of mud from my boots, it was time to apply another coat of the stuff, only now mixed with straw. The BBC Introducing Stage is probably the ideal place to start the day and first on today was Leeds based quintet Heart-Ships’ whose songs all want to be as big and as bold as they possibly can be. The band may have their sights set on bigger stages than this, and who knows their epic, declamatory songs could well see them making a good fist of an NME/Radio 1 Stage appearance in a few years time. However, their folk/ sea shanty drenched rock teeters on the edge of self-parody at times and you can almost imagine them earnestly singing ‘Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum’ at some points. SW If ever there was a band to pull me out of my Heart-Ships induced fugue, it would be Pulled Apart By Horses. Promoted to the Radio One stage, they continue to play to their strengths of energy, stupidity and simplicity but they’ve added unfeasible tightness and decent sound to this list. The circle pit is massive for this early in the day’s proceedings and they all go over the top at the end. 4 Rael. Further up the bill next year, methinks, but the stage is just right. RW Immediately after come Circles, who play pretty standard indie rock that’s competently put together with a sound grasp of dynamics. But all their, probably quite short, songs seem to go on for ages, way past their natural
Bring Me the Horizon
ending points and any tension they manage to generate dissipates away. First visit of the day to the Festival Republic Stage reveals that The Computers are not, as I had assumed from their name, an electronic dance outfit but a thrillingly supercharged powerhouse rock band in much the same vein as the much missed Rocket From The Crypt. The band all dress in white, which at a mud soaked festival is provocative enough in itself, and, impressively, singer Alex manages to take his guitar and mic stand deep into the audience for the last two songs of the set and doesn’t miss a beat. SW Main stagers Bring MeThe Horizon are not fun though; they seem to be all about scolding the audience into making a circle pit when not barking at them or showing off painful tattoos and torturing guitars. I don’t make my promised five minutes. I stumble across Genuine Freakshow in a mean mood, but soon shake off those grumps as they attempt to bring Sunday afternoon to Saturday with the gentlest of post-rock a la Spokes and a very lovely violinist. Very likely to succeed if they can sort out their tuning issues. I flip to other side of the coin for Cerebral Ballzy on the Festival Republic stage, a multi racial thrash band from Brooklyn who don’t sound as good as they should, but who have
a zonked out fearless frontman, Honor Titus, who climbs the 20ft lighting rig and threatens to fall asleep on the gantry. RW Back to BBC Introducing for Irish trio The Minutes who are similarly plugged into the primal spirit of rock’n’roll. Singer and guitarist Mark Austin’s clean cut, well turned out image belies a man who is clearly possessed by the spirit of rock’n’roll as he hollers about Jesus and Satan in much the same way Jerry Lee Lewis did. The sound is bang up to date though and the band’s songs are unrelenting, hell for leather riff machines with absolutely no frills attached. Superb. The need to get out of the rain led me once again, although earlier than planned, to the Festival Republic Stage where I ended up staying for the rest of the day. I initially thought that the tent was rammed because of the rain, but in fact all those people were actually there by choice to see Foster the People. My ears heard vapid and neutered dance pop of the most forgettable kind, while my eyes witnessed thousands of people apparently held captivated in some form of musical ecstasy. It did cross my mind that I had stumbled upon some kind of weird Christian cult. Awful. New Yorkers The Antlers helped to restore some semblance of normality
and certainly upped the quality of the music considerably. Ironically, though, the band’s songs have a reverential, almost monastic feel about them. With all the velocity having seemingly been sucked out of them, the songs hang shimmering before you like icons of, in this case, love, loss and betrayal and singer Peter Silberman’s aching falsetto only reinforces the impression. Anna Calvi’s lacerating guitar and banshee wail gleefully dismissed any more eschatological musings and ushered in a set of quite magical musical invention. Calvi has been lazily compared to P J Harvey, but there’s something much more avant garde about her songs and style. In terms of guitarists, Jimi Hendrix is clearly an influence but more contemporary reference points would be Marnie Stern and Mary Halvorson (check ‘em out). Mally Harpaz on percussion and supercharged harmonium and drummer Daniel Maiden-Wood complete Calvi’s stunning trio. SW I need some finesse to counteract the mud. Fortunately, Patrick Wolf is on hand at the Radio One stage to provide it in shovel loads, along with a humble virtuosity and a muted performance. He also looks like a cute leprechaun. His set cleverly marries folk and classical styles whilst maintain a contemporary pulse, and his segue from ‘Magic Position’ to 9
‘Won’t Let This City Destroy Our Love’ is as romantic and uplifting as you could hope for. Pure pixie pop and great for it. Continuing the sublime theme, Metronomy are on next, with a classic album under their belts and a very funky new bassist, Gbenga Adelekan. Quite frankly, I’d be happy if they just played the whole of ‘English Riviera’, but instead they go for a comprehensive retrospective of their career, infused with humour, good nature and chest lights throughout. Mmmm, that new bass really makes a difference. I have a moment of nostalgia on the main stage with the Offspring. Dexter and company don’t look as well preserved as Green Day, but they wrote some cracking tunes and here they are, determined pop-punktastic men behaving badly. Good fun. RW General Fiasco
A small pause for breath takes us straight into the intense, extended guitar work outs of White Denim. For forty five minutes the band play virtually non-stop, stitching individual songs together with links and improvisations, drummer Joshua Block seemingly acting as part conductor, part seat-of-the-pants arranger. By the end, the three guitars merge in one blissful electric storm and singer James Petralli, glasses lost and frequently bent double or even on his knees, seems to have achieved some kind of transcendence through music. Jeepers, who let God in the tent again? Tom Vek takes things slightly off the boil with his improbable but effective melding together of DIY indie geekdom and infectious, dub-like dance rhythms. Despite the recent release of his second album, the set is made up mainly of songs from his 6-year-old debut ‘We Have Sound’, and is all the better for it, encouraging many mud and straw encrusted feet (including my own) to jump around. SW 10
I’m not faring so well with General Fiasco on the Introducing Stage, with some monkey jangling a guitar at me in a half arsed indie fashion. Maybe Digitalism will seize the day on Festival Republic? They start off well with some good crunchy beats and chunky electronic sounds, but then they throw in some vocals and get unbearable dull. Spoiled. It’s all down to the Horrors now, headlining a capacity Festival Republic stage. Stark figures loom out of the mist... no actually, there’s quite a bit of thrashing from the guitarists and Faris is merely... strolling. This is a night for ‘Skying’, a more Julian Copey excursion and poppier by far. I’m starting to come around to it when a power cut kiboshes ‘When You Wake Up’. Then the crowd takes up the refrain in the darkness and it all becomes magical. That was what was missing. Power and faith are restored for the close of play. RW
Sunday I’d shamelessly neglected the Main Stage all weekend but the forecast of a rainless day and finally getting to see Madness persuaded me that it was essential I spent some time there. Does arriving in time only for the last one and a half songs of The Joy Formidable’s set qualify me
to comment? Possibly not, but the endless guitar histrionics of the last song made me not sad that I’d missed the rest. Leeds’ biggest success story in commercial terms for this particular festival, The Pigeon Detectives, bounded on stage and delivered forty minutes of the kind of energetic if unsophisticated punchy pop punk that’s ideal for an early afternoon slot on the main stage at a festival. In fact, this probably represents the pinnacle of what the band could hope to achieve based on what they’re offering. So what’s next? SW Right, I’m going to be mostly mainstreaming today, I make no apologies –that main stage line-up is too good to miss. But first, yay for the local talent. The Coopers are bright, chirpy and... eminently likeable against my better judgement – curse your happiness, Chelsea Carins! Happy twee indie with bells on and a smile for every listener, including this jaded reviewer. I carry my smile to the Introducing stage where Arthur Rigby and the Baskervilles are also making a joyful sound in a Divine Comedy mode. ‘We All Hold Hands’ is a bit culty, but this is lovely stuff and a real snoot cocked homogenisation on this stage. Ahem. Simon Pollard brings both kinds of music to the stage: country and western. Actually, there’s a fair bit of indie in there, but they really should drop it in favour of the Nashville twang – plus they all look so much happier and play so much better when they’re getting their country on. Castrovalva are not nice. They are noisy, aggressive and confrontational and at times, bloody amazing. Leeman could be an incredible rapper and frontman if he wasn’t so indulgent, Anthony could
have a much crunchier bass, Dan... no Dan’s got it. Living proof of the liberty of not giving a fuck. RW Just as Seasick Steve was enjoying his first flush of success around four years ago, there was a point where he almost became more of a celebrity than a musician. Fortunately, since then he’s taken a step back and reconnected with the blues that sustained his musical life for 40 years before that fateful appearance on Jools Holland’s Hootenany. And for this set he not only gets John Paul Jones to play bass for him, but a member of Madness streaks across the stage too.
band have ditched their genre hopping past and fixed on intense, rock driven kind of dance music that snarls and frets before exploding into hammering life. Watch this space. SW
What I really got up for on Sunday was the appearance of the original nutty boys, Madness. Yeah, a secret fan who knows way too many of their songs. Suggs strolls around the stage between songs cracking half jokes as the epitome of the embarrassing dad, but the likes of ‘Baggy Trousers’, ‘One Step Beyond’, ‘Our House’ and ‘River Nile’ are ageless and make any number of lame jokes forgiveable. The newer stuff has a regretful poignancy but are still very strong and it would Barely six months ago, Two Door be a total grump who didn’t appreciate Cinema Club played a sold out gig at their set. Leeds Metropolitan University, a gig The National are a good The Bronx band on paper... a good band on the Festival Republic stage... a good band on 6music, but on the main stage they are just a bit too grey. So grey that I forget to write notes on them. The Strokes however are a revelation. To me at least. Julian Casablancas is so cool and wasted, the songs sound like retro computer games (when not sounding like The Velvet Underground) and the whole thing is lit so beautifully that I cannot tear my eyes away from it. A that had in fact been upgraded from real trip. The Cockpit. And here they are now playing their sprightly if undemanding Pulp: who but Jarvis Cocker would indie pop to tens of thousands of attempt to chat up the entire crowd? people on the main stage at a major festival between a grizzled 70-year-old They’re looking a bit more mature now, but they still know how to make these blues man and a reformed legendary tunes thrive and writhe. Anyway, back Two Tone band. There’s overreaching to Jarvis’ seduction. The set takes us yourself and there’s overreaching yourself, but I guess it’s better if you do through the tentative first approaches (‘Pencil Skirt’, ‘Es and Whizz’) through it in style.
the confident and experimental (‘MisShapes’ and ‘Babies’) to the lusty and sated (‘I Spy’ and ‘This Is Hardcore’ with Richard Hawley guesting). It’s sexy, grimy and authentic, reminding you why Pulp was more of a phenomenon external to Britpop than just another Britpop band. They could only close with one song – ‘Common People’ – played by such uncommon ones. RW So conclusions, we all want conclusions. Yes, a fairly safe line up but with some interesting surprises, though for me less than in previous years – I guess I listen to too much 6music now. Now please bear in mind, this is just a snapshot of a much larger experience, an experience that doesn’t necessarily involve music at all but will inevitably involve drinking and acting irresponsibly, and if you can’t do that when you’re young, when can you do it? I recall seeing one young lad as drunk as he will ever be in his life – don’t worry, he was among friends – and I thought poignantly that I will never be able to get that drunk ever again. For anyone half my age, it’s a great rollercoaster of an experience (but don’t look at your bank balance afterwards), for anyone my age... well, there’s all this music... RW
Consider it madness (ho ho) if you will, but I sacrificed Madness’s set to catch Black Diamond Bay on the BBC Introducing Stage. This fascinating and enigmatic band have had a tortuous evolution over the past few years but they’ve produced some stunning, if not widely heard, music and possess a huge amount of musical talent in their ranks. On the evidence of this set, the 11
From Stage to Page - Blacklisters You may well think we’re having a laugh at Leeds Festival, drinking booze, watching bands and rolling in mud, but you’d be WRONG! Beleaguered writer and Editor Rob Wright risked life and limb to corner Billy Mason-Wood post DTTR gig at Leeds – how’s that for dedication? Photo by Bart Pettman
You’ve just come off stage after playing opening for the DTTR Thursday night – quite a crowd. Is that your biggest crowd yet? Yeah, probably – I’d say quite definitely our biggest crowd. We’re very used to playing in very small venues, so it’s a totally different world playing to that audience, it was crazy. How does it feel having done that? Oh, it was great, having the opportunity to do that, chucking myself about on a bunch of screaming teenagers, which I’ve been sorely missing in my life... I can see that. But was there a moment of anxiety there? I saw you take a swig from that tin of 1664 and for just a moment there I saw a glimpse of terror in your eyes... Not at that point – by then there was no fear, I was just having a look.
Before or during? Both, I suppose. The moment I got here I wasn’t nervous, but before I got to the festival it was like getting stuff there and being on time and all of that sort of thing was important, but when you get there... it’s virtually the same and I do love doing it – at not one point on stage was I afraid of it... maybe a little bit like... this is stupid. Maybe that was the look I had in my eyes. Lovely weather for it – looks like we’re in for a good weekend (irony alert)... Yeah, yeah, it’s gorgeous out there, I’m getting on my permatan... yeah, it’s horrible, isn’t it? But I’ve got my proper shoes on so I’m sure I’ll be alright. You’re here for the whole weekend, so is there anything you’re looking forward to, bandwise or otherwise? It’s a mixture of things – I’m looking forward to hanging out with all of my mates that are all here, I’m really
looking forward to seeing Death From Above  because I’ve never seen them live before, I’m looking forward to... Pulled Apart By Horses will be fun on Saturday, they’re always fun, and they’re on really early so that’s a really quick drunk I’m going to have to get in to play mosh rodeo. Then Castrovalva are playing on Sunday, so that should be good. One final question, because I know you’ve got lots of busy stuff to do now (more irony). Do you remember Lady One Question from Banzai? (pause) Yes. (pause) (more pause) (yet more pause) I do. Thanks Billy! Blacklisters have recently signed to Brew Records and you lucky people can download a copy of their poptastic hit ‘Swords’ for free from the Brew website.
Mission Incapable Predicting The Futuresound Mike Price, considering your background in turf accountancy, your mission, should you decide to accept it, is to pick us a winner in the Futuresound competition... oh, and pop a fiver on Spoonful Of Charlie for the 3.15 at Cheltenham...Photos by Ben Statham Take the scenic route to Ilkley and if you don’t use the train to get there, chances are you’ll be passing the Cow and Calf Rocks before descending into the pretty little town. Now already some of you will be thinking “What the feck does that have to do with the cutting edge of rock and roll?” and if you fall into that camp, you’ll have to bear with me. So, back to the subject matter. Recently, if you were unfortunate enough (and I only say that because I’ve been to enough rain sodden festivals to last a lifetime, indeed I’ve ruined enough leather jackets in the process to cover the whole of Glastonbury Tor) to get soaked at the rain drenched Leeds festival, you may or may not have noticed that half a dozen of the acts appearing on the fringe stages will have earned their slot thanks to a cracking performance at this summer’s Futuresound Competition.
Futuresound is more than a decade old now, taking the form of a good old fashioned ‘Battle of the Bands’ competition. The application process involves dozens of local bands whittled down by a judging panel to about forty. We then have a run of heats, all of which take place at one of Leeds’ premier live venues, the Cockpit, where an overall winner is chosen, along with five runners up to play at Leeds and Reading Festivals certainly a prize worth winning. Having enjoyed an occasional dalliance with betting, it doesn’t take a genius to work out that, having studied the list of runners, the odds of me picking a band that will go through is about 1 in 6. This might not seem very big but we’re talking roughly 50% greater than backing a horse each way in the Grand National and it finishing in the frame. To a seasoned punter or aspiring artist, that’s
certainly worth getting out of bed for or, to put it another way, if you stand at the Cow and Calf staring down the 1 in 6 hill to Ilkley at the bottom. you don’t think how SMALL the gradient is... told you I’d get there. So, the next thing on this Mission Incapable quest is to select a band and nail my colours to their mast. The short list is mouth watering, including the bonkers but brilliant trio Castrovalva, who still haven’t paid the medical bill I sent them (two perforated eardrums, six dislodged fillings and one new head) for damage sustained following their marvellous, ear-splittingly loud performance at the Vibrations Christmas gig at Milo. Also competing are the likes of Arthur Rigby and the Baskervylles, pure pop peddlers The Coopers and punk stalwarts The Yalla Yallas, reinforcing the notion that the Leeds
region is producing and nurturing an enviable array of top bands at the moment; in fact one could say that this fair city is currently the rock and roll equivalent of La Cantera. With this in mind, I’m suddenly feeling the pressure so I plump for the fresh and heartfelt sounding Pengilly’s, hopefully a sure fire thing as I heard their terrific ‘Ode VIII’ recently on Tom Robinson’s excellent Introducing show on 6 Music. Will this exposure give them an edge? If the Futuresound competition is looking for something a little different, then this Leeds University based five-piece might be it. They’re also scheduled to play at the upcoming Beacons Festival I’m attending, so it will be great to compare the two live performances, especially as by the time they appear at Beacons, they will know their fate. Pengilly’s are placed in round number ten which is the penultimate heat. Upon arriving at the gig I’m suddenly feeling very nervous for them as I fear that their lo-fi sound might not be suited to the rock and roll onslaught normally associated with the Cockpit. My fears are compounded by the fact that they’ve been drawn in the group of death with Castrovalva, The Yalla Yallas and Faceplant on the same bill. It’s not going to be easy. The place is also heaving so I’m worried that a big Cockpit crowd will gobble them up and spit them out. They don’t take prisoners here. There is also the small
matter of the voting system where each attendee gets to vote for their favourite act, begging the question, “Does the band who brings the most fans win, regardless of how good they are on the night?” Hope not. First up are Castrovalva and as usual they are giving 110%, the caterwauling Leemun Smith vying with the road drill rhythm section of Daniel Brader and Anthony Wright. It’s fast, loud and in your face, going down a storm. Ones posterior is positively nipping! Next up are rap-metal quartet Faceplant and the only memorable thing about their 5 song set is that there is nowhere near enough vocal. I start to breathe a little more easily as my charges are on next. As long as they get a decent start and grab the crowd’s attention quickly, they’ll be fine. Unfortunately they take the stage and kick-off their set with their slow burner ‘Toby’s Hill’ and about half way through I realise my horse might be in trouble. The crowd want loud and the Pengillys aren’t going to play ball. You can clearly hear the restless mumble throughout their half a dozen songs and despite an entertaining well crafted set, this appears to be neither the time nor the place for them. As I wait for The Yalla Yallas to close proceedings for the evening, the betting slip is scrunched up and flung in the bin. Having switched off,
the crowd are bought back to life by front man Rob Galloway with his three willing accomplices blasting out their blend of rock and roll, punk and Oi! and judging by the response of the crowd throughout the evening, it will be a close run thing between Castrovalva and The Yalla Yallas. Sure enough, it’s the opening act that duly bag one of the five much sought after runner-up slots, along with Arthur Rigby and the Baskervylles, The Simon Pollard Band, Circles and Heart Ships. Overall winners are The Coopers who are on a real upward curve at the moment and so that brings proceedings to an end for another year with yours truly having done his brains in. After the show, I reassure myself with the notion that Pengillys are sure to be much better received at Beacons as they’ll be playing in front of what should be a more receptive audience for their material. However, the Beacons festival is rained off following torrential rain in the preceding fortyeight hours. Perhaps I’m just a jinx. http://www.festivalrepublic.com/ Mike Price
The Truth About Frank – Now You See Them, Now You Don’t Some bands just lend themselves to being interviewed. The Truth About Frank are not one of those bands. Steve Walsh managed to corner half of them for a rare meeting of minds...Photos by James West
It seems inconceivable that in this day and age, a band or musician could be so not bothered about publicity that they’d refuse to have their pictures taken to illustrate an interview, or even refuse to participate in an interview, even though they’d just released a new album that represented their best work to date based on an already impressive, if small, back catalogue. If you did come across such a band, then it would probably be Leeds electronica duo The Truth About Frank. I arrange to meet one Frank in Roundhay Park on a gloriously sunny Sunday afternoon. The Other Frank who completes the duo has refused to attend. So what’s the problem? “He doesn’t feel the need or the desire to talk about the music, he just wants to listen to it, not discuss it.” So, as it’s the music that’s the thing, what exactly does The Truth About Frank (TTAF) do and why should you care? Over the past four years, TTAF have released a mini album, three EP’s and their latest, debut album ‘Cannibal Work Ethic’. Their music ranges from dark ambient to industrial dance, from noise to sound collages akin to film soundtracks. Their sonic landscape may constantly shift but the range and quality of their ideas, and the meticulous way they are put together, is remarkable. 18
How does TTAF stuff come together? “We have very different working methods. The Other Frank is very impatient. He’s got loads and loads of ideas flying around all the time and does what he can to capture them,
whereas I’m more meticulous. I’ll be the one who can really get bogged down in detail and I can agonise over the positioning of something in a track. He’s far more prolific in what he produces. Some of it’s worth pursuing, some
swapping recordings and we kind of realised we had a fair bit of common ground. We decided there might be something worth pursuing as a duo.” For me, one of the consistent things about TTAF is a feeling of dread or fear that seems to be ever present at the back of their music. I ask if that’s deliberate. “I think that’s just how it comes out, to be honest. I listen to music to service a whole range of emotions, and why the stuff that TTAF does is at the dark end of that scale I don’t know. Somebody mentioned about ‘Swimming Over Mountains’ on the new CD….one of the reviews mentioned that it sounds ‘sun drenched’. The Other Frank will hate me for saying what the song’s actually about, but it’s about drowning, y’know?”
A lot of the time I think ‘Fucking hell, where did THAT come from?!’
of it frankly isn’t worth pursuing, but the stuff I latch onto a lot of the time I think ‘Fucking hell, where did THAT come from?!’ He may think the same way about what I do but he wouldn’t necessarily be able to do what I do. But we meet in the middle; we swap files, listen to and work with each other’s stuff.” How do you know when a piece is finished? “I’ll listen to something over and over again and when I get to a point where nothing is annoying me anymore, or nothing needs to be tweaked, then that’s when it’s finished.” But the creative dynamic between the two of them is not as straightforward
as it may seem. “We’ve known each other for a long time now, but we don’t socialise and I haven’t seen him for a number of weeks. It’s actually very rare for us to be in the same room when we’re working on a track. I’ve heard from him by email perhaps once in the past two or three weeks. He’s got a formal training in art behind him, and when we started we both dabbled in sound, but he started to make a series of recordings at home that he presented to me and said, what do you think of these?’ and I really, really liked some of them. This was around the time when I got interested in playing with audio myself and because of what he was doing, that inspired me. We were
You’re not interested in commercial success at all? “No not at all! I don’t particularly want to lose a load of money but we fully accept that we’re never going to make enough money to live off it. But we want to reach people [with the music], we want people to listen to it and if they appreciate it then all the better. If we were just making it for ourselves we wouldn’t be sat here talking…..”. So where’s The Other Frank? Making the music, probably….. Steve Walsh ‘Cannibal Work Ethic’ is available from a surprisingly large number of stockists including Jumbo, Crash Records and Amazon (of all places). Just don’t expect them to attend any signings soon...
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Looking For Paul Thomas Saunders He moved from London to Leeds! He’s reluctant to play live! He’s not trendy! He’s more interesting than your average singer/songwriter! He’s also still trying to find himself, so if you see him, return via Vibrations Towers - Spencer Bayles and himself seemed to hit it off pretty good...Photos by Danny Payne
With an increasing number of solo artistes trying to subvert expectations of yet another guy/girl-with-guitar by assuming a band name – see Lone Wolf and Blue Roses for two of the more prominent, not to mention successful, local examples – it’s almost brave for a new act to go under the moniker their parents gave them.
The big, strident voice on record – a mixture of Tom McRae and Delays singer Greg Gilbert - is at odds with the ultra-polite and softly spoken
Singer-songwriter Paul Thomas Saunders doesn’t see it as an issue. “It might sound naïve,” he says, “but I believe if something is good, it doesn’t matter. But,” he concedes, “if you sound like what you’d expect a singersongwriter to sound like, you might have trouble.”
Fortunately, sounding like the average acoustic troubadour isn’t a problem for him, his speciality being the creating of expansive, layered songs that shimmer in a wash of reverbed guitars, topped with ethereal vocals that simultaneously soar angelically and simmer sinisterly. “I’d been in bands for a long time,” he recalls, “being pushed in different directions. Going solo, I felt so liberated - I didn’t want a band and didn’t want people to think it was a band. On top of that, the songs are very clearly from one person’s point of view, so the only thing to do was be ‘Paul Thomas Saunders’, no frills.” 22
interviewee. Despite only being 22, he comes across as media-savvy enough to know what and what not to say. On being asked about the writing process
and story behind ‘Appointment In Samarra’, a highlight of the new EP ‘Lilac & Wisteria’, there’s a long pause before he gives what he afterwards jokingly refers to as a ‘politician’s answer’. “I always have a dilemma about how personal a song should be. I don’t want to be autobiographical. When I’m writing I really try not to whine, though lots of people do it really well. I like it when you have broad universal lyrics and people can draw out whatever meaning they like.” That’s as it may be, but it’s safe to assume there’s a more specific story behind lines like ‘The blood is on your hands / the body’s on the ground…’ Listeners will evidently have to make up their own interpretations. Paul’s interest in music started at a young age. “There’s a family video of me playing ‘Jerusalem’ on guitar when I was about 6 or 7,” he recalls, “but I don’t remember working out any chords until I was 14 or 15.” He pauses. “So I imagine that rendition was pretty dire.” Key early influences were what he describes as “textbook songwriting – Bob Dylan, The Beatles – a staple diet of Mojo’s Top 100 albums!” Couple that with his first live experience – being taken by his dad to see ZZ Top – and you fully concur with his summary that he’s never been “down with the latest trends.”
all breaking the 5-minute barrier and taking their own sweet time to unfold: often starting out with a single instrument and ending in layered harmonies and emotional turmoil. It is, however, blessed with incredible melodic beauty that should broaden its appeal. “Its music that people listen to by themselves,” he laughs. “They wouldn’t listen to it before going out, unless they wanted a terrible night!” Moving here from London four years ago to study at the College of Music, he’d previously been something of a drifter - albeit one with a tendency to live in places beginning with an L (aside from London, he’s also had spells in Loughborough, Lichfield and Leicester prior to Leeds). “I wasn’t enjoying London, and couldn’t exist there,” he says. “I felt quite overwhelmed by the whole thing so I knew I wanted a smaller city. I didn’t want to go to Birmingham or Manchester, so I took a punt on Leeds.”
Fortunately, sounding like the average acoustic troubadour isn’t a problem for him
Like its predecessor, ‘Four Songs In Twilight’, ‘Lilac & Wisteria’ was recorded at home with guitarist and co-producer Max Prior. “It was recorded on a shoestring – there was no budget to speak of,” says Paul. “But what that makes you do is completely rethink things. We tried to find ways to do it so it would have a sound of its own; the rubbish mics we used gave us the coolest sounds, purely by luck.” Recording at home was a way of keeping full creative control while remaining true to the masterplan. “I thought if it was going to be something pure and worthwhile, it had to be something that, from its very birth to where people get to hear it, it should be done completely in-house,” he says. This hands-on approach extended to recording the majority of the instruments on the EP himself too. Presumably this didn’t go down too
well with the live band? “Its fine,” he laughs, “the EP was made before I recruited them.” Putting a band together was, however, a key part in being able to recreate live the sounds he’d been recording, and a way for someone who describes playing live as “the most unnatural thing” to start to enjoy the experience. “I want it to be something great,” he says; “I want people to come to shows and feel like they’re getting more than just me playing through the recorded songs.” People certainly got something a little different at the EP launch show, held in the auspicious surroundings of… his living room. “We wanted to make something that was really our own,” he recalls. “When people think of that night, everything adds up – it was an event. People didn’t know what to expect, so we had the upper hand. It was important that we enjoyed playing that night to do the EP justice.” Recent experiences have helped the live show evolve. “We toured with The Head & The Heart, and we’ve never sounded as comfortable live as we did from halfway through that tour – relentless playing makes such a difference,” he says. Paul acknowledges that he’s probably not looking at any pop hits this time around. “When we finished it, we talked about doing a radio edit for at
Studying at the College of Music “gave me three years to gradually move towards finding something that was my own rather than being pulled in another direction.” Was it a productive experience? “The main thing I’ve taken away from studying music is that your chances are so slim,” he says. “To be a performer or songwriter is a very unrealistic dream; the idea of the course is to broaden your horizons. It doesn’t help you become the next Adele, but teaches you to buckle up, because it’s not the easiest ride.” With all the good will in the world, ‘Lilac & Wisteria’ isn’t destined for Adele-like sales anyway, its songs 23
least one of the songs,” he says, “but there was nothing in there that didn’t need to be there.
“I want people to come to shows and feel like they’re getting more than just me playing through the recorded songs.”
I think at this early stage, if you start compromising on a self-released EP, then god knows what you’ll do when you’ve got a label behind you and you’re making an album.”
being ‘lilac and wisteria’, i.e. looking back through rose-tinted glasses - ran true with what I was writing at the time; the past being a wonderful thing, when the reality was different.”
Speaking of albums, one is on the cards for next year. One or two of the EP’s songs may reappear in re-recorded form: “Depends how desperate I am for songs!” he laughs.
The day after the interview, he was flying out to Germany to play at the Haldern Pop Festival, a sign that things are advancing. As things pick up, would a return to London be an obvious next step? “No, not at all. I don’t think that needs to happen anymore. People do, but I think it’s a catalyst that makes them start focusing – they feel if they make a move like that, they have to start being proactive.”
The slightly twee, folky name of the EP is at odds with its musical content. “I wanted something that didn’t really point to anything,” he says of the title, which is drawn from a line in Arthur Miller’s ‘Death of a Salesman’. “Something about that – the past
Paul stated in a recent interview with the blog Ballad Of that Leeds “sometimes feels like a halfway house; not many of the young folks will settle down here, but it’s a slow city that you can fade into while fathoming the whole life dilemma.” An uncommonly wistful and honest view of the city and its large student demographic, I suggest. “I’m one of them,” he says. “I don’t know when I’ll be leaving Leeds, but I don’t feel like I’ll be here forever.” He is quick, however, to point out how much he appreciates the city and the opportunities it’s given him, although where he’ll be in five years is anyone’s guess. “I haven’t found myself yet,” he says before pausing. “And I don’t expect to for a very long time.” Spencer Bayles ‘Lilac and Wisteria’ can be downloaded from Bandcamp, iTunes and Big Cartel... or if you’re feeling a bit brassic, nip to www. paulthomassaunders.com for a free download of ‘Silhouettes of an English Rose’.
Passport Control Fucked Up Having snuck past our security for a blistering set at The Well back in May, ahead of their Leeds Festival appearance, we finally caught up with those crafty Canadians Fucked Up while trying to cross the border via the East Riding Underground. With their hardcore reputation preceding them, our immigration officer Tom Bailey might need more than a badge and dark sunglasses to get answers out of this rowdy bunch. Photo by Bart Pettman Name: Mr Jo (Drums) What is your reason for visit? As great ambassadors of information Is that business or pleasure? The business of pleasure, the pleasure of business. Have you brought any live animals or meat in your luggage? The only animal in vicinity is the disgusting side of human beef behind me on the plane who insists on coughing, wheezing, snorting, and generally amplifying the gristle that no doubt hinders his soul. I guess he falls into the meat category too. We’d hate to judge a band by their name, but should we be prepared for any trouble? The most trouble you’ll get from us is how to deal with how disarmingly apologetic we are considering you’re staring down the barrel of a band called ‘Fucked Up.’ Smiles for miles from us, expect the right dose of firmness and self-deprecation. Have you had any recent brushes with the law enforcement? There was one summer in which almost every show we played ended in disruption by Toronto Police. For one reason or another we found ourselves on the wrong side of some bye-law, capacity issue, unhinged fan, or scuffle. It seemed like we might have been targeted as something to be stopped. Talk about a feeling of celebrity. While attending the 2008 Polaris Prize awards, we (and only we) were required to be searched by police upon entering and exiting the building. The suspicion also extended to us being patted down before walking on stage, and being 26
watched by four very large police officers whilst we performed. Your recent set at The Well caused quite the commotion. Can you explain your actions? The magnetic north. Always the site of frothing dedicates of Fucked Up and a wild night on the right end of an amplifier. There are actually instructions contained on every Fucked Up record regarding how to behave at a Leeds show. If you play the record backwards you’ll be able to clearly hear the words “Two pints of Timothy Taylor, two Yorkshire puds frum yer [sic] mum, leap around like a maniac, sweat profusely and enjoy yourself.” Words to live by for 45 minutes at a time for sure. Your latest single is named ‘Ship Of Fools’. Anything foolish you’d wish to own up to? I bought all-white sneakers ahead of them becoming popular again and I just got mercilessly made fun of. Everyone would say “Tennis anyone?” or “You look like you work in a hospital.” Not even six or seven months later white shoes were totally BACK and I couldn’t enjoy any kind of reward for being ahead of the game or keep wearing white shoes ‘cause I’d look like a total follower. You’ll be returning to West Yorkshire in August for Leeds Festival. Have you learned anything from this visit you’ll keep in mind for then? Between the performance itself, the swordfish lunch I chewed on unwittingly beside Brandon Flowers of the Killers - and the completely unexplainable matching, sequined, mariachi vests we found in our dressing room, our first appearance at Leeds festival was a memorable welcome. If that was any indication of the general
social temperament of Yorkshire, then we ought to be prepared for some glamorous, delicious, star studded, out of control fun. Can’t wait to be back. It’s no secret that Fucked Up harbor strong political opinions. Care to share your thoughts on our current Prime Minister (David Cameron)? He does seem to represent the current ‘new breed’ of conservative politician – cunning and unreachable, suspect and seemingly removed from the hopefully benevolent reaches of public opinion and the kind of calm humanism which otherwise seems to prevail in popular culture. ‘Progression,’ bracketed by vagueness like the pursuit of “general well being” seems to ring frighteningly hollow when considering one’s own liberties and cultural comforts. Time will tell no doubt. It’s equally as important to be able to see things objectively as it is to be opinionated. Anything else to declare? Knaresborough Bridge is very pretty. Get a delicious bitter in the White Locks. Don’t challenge ‘Fat Bob’ from Hard Skin to a game of ping pong. Thank you. You may now proceed through passport control. ’David Comes to Life’ is Fucked Up’s 3rd studio album and is available in all the usual formats for purchase from you local record store/sound pimp/ rhythmic android.
The End of the Festival Season? Not Even Close... Bestival is customarily hailed as the end of the festival season, but if you’re lucky enough to live in Leeds, the only thing it heralds is the end of festivals threatened by the elements. Greg Elliott takes us through a trinity of tempting tonal treats taking place in the following months...
Brainwash Festival VI Brudenell Social Club and Royal Park Cellars, Leeds 15-16 October — This annual charity extravaganza has become a fixture of the Leeds musical calendar since its inception in 2006. Back this year for its sixth instalment, Brainwash has hit upon a winning formula which celebrates both established and emerging local talent whilst also bringing in renowned touring acts to provide a sense of occasion. The line-up this year looks set to skew heavy, with seminal and snappilydressed Californian post-hardcore quintet The Icarus Line being joined by the furiously technical, visually nightmarish Manchester noise rockers Kong and Leeds-based progressive metal titans Humanfly. Slightly mellower vibes come in the form of Juffage, an adopted Chicagoan whose frenetic live show is a quite different beast to the classic song-writing found on his recent debut LP, and the trippedout psychedelic grooves of Pavement drummer Steve West’s Marble Valley. Naturally this isn’t the whole story - given the plaudits bestowed upon organiser Haydn Britland for the diversity of previous years’ bills it’s safe to say that come the festival proper there will be breadth enough to satisfy even the most eclectic of tastes. Best of all, the whole business is taking place in and around the Brudenell Social Club, Leeds’ musical epicentre and the perfect place to see the artistic community of which the city is rightly proud in action whilst sampling some fine and very reasonably-priced ales.
Damnation Festival Leeds University Students’ Union, 5 November — Back for its sixth year, this annual celebration of heavy music sprang up in Manchester in 2005 and quickly grew in repute, crossing the Pennines to inhabit larger venues in Leeds and peaking in 2008 when all 3,500 tickets were sold in advance. In more recent, recessionary times and as other such niche festivals have cropped up elsewhere, Damnation might have lost some of its pulling power, but it remains plugged into the breathtakingly diverse British metal scene and sustained by the uncommon devotion of its many tribes. With ‘authenticity’ as their watchword the organisers aim to reflect this diversity and the myriad subgenres it encompasses; trawling through this year’s line-up it’s clear they have gone to great lengths to guarantee plenty of light and shade. Recently reformed industrial metal pioneers Godflesh (from Birmingham) and accomplished space rockers Amplifier (from Manchester) fly the flag for the UK, whilst Irish fourpiece God Is An Astronaut look set to bring a quite different dynamic with their meditative and entirely instrumental sound. Further up the bill Norwegian stalwarts Ulver make their only UK appearance of 2011, continuing their seriousminded quest to push the black metal envelope by incorporating folk, electronic and neoclassical influences, whilst prolific Canadian polymath Devin Townsend headlines in support of his recent, simultaneously-released ‘Deconstruction’ and ‘Ghost’ LPs.
Constellations Festival Leeds University Students’ Union, 12 November — Back for a second year, this one-day bonanza taps into the higher end of the touring circuit to assemble an impressive roster of home-grown and international talent. Perhaps its biggest coup this time around is bringing crown-prince of indie rock Stephen Malkmus to Leeds in support of Mirror Traffic, his latest LP with The Jicks and one of his best recorded efforts since Pavement bowed out at the back end of the Nineties. Equally exciting is a co-headlining appearance by Wild Beasts, cult heroes and national treasures three albums in and a band to whom this city can stake something of a claim having nurtured their astonishing talent through their early singles on Bad Sneakers. From even closer to home come the fuzzy charms of rock and roll classicist and Heckmondwike resident Louis Jones, playing as Spectrals, whilst The Antlers, Yuck and Three Trapped Tigers also perform live. What’s more, if you want some time out from the bands you can entertain yourself with exhibitions, installations and film screenings. In contrast to the cuddly, occasionally ramshackle nature of DIY affairs like Brainwash, Constellations will be a slick operation encapsulating all that’s good and bad about the professionalization of alternative music – you may not find yourself rubbing shoulders with the artists in the cosy atmosphere of the Brudenell, but for sheer star power this one’s hard to beat. Tickets for all the above festivals are available online, but if you prefer to support your local record shop you can buy tickets at Jumbo and Crash Records for Brainwash VI and Constellations. 27
Albums Captain Wilberforce - Ghost Written Confessions (Blue Tuxedo Records) Is it only me who has noticed that now we’re firmly in the download era, the length of an album seems to have shortened? Here I am reviewing yet another ten track long player, this time the third venture from Simon Bristoll aka Captain Wilberforce and friends. Press play and it seems to be over in a flash and do you know what? I’m really glad - you’re always left wanting more. So what do we have here? An old school pop record, with a really rich sound, that’s what. The mood starts typically bittersweet on ‘A Beautiful Waste of Time’. If you think of ‘Fifty Ways To Leave Your Lover’ as the antidote, this opener is the poison, although your heart is melted midway through proceedings with some memorable kitchen sink brass, courtesy of sometime Vibrations Editor Rob Paul Chapman. Next up is ‘In Hell’ and, despite its urgency, perhaps we’re borrowing a little too much from ‘Paranoid Android’. ‘Your Imaginary Friends’ continues the gloominess but then ‘Get Hurt’ followed by ‘The Day That Your Mouth Stood Still’ offer a more upbeat end to the first half, if still keeping up the sarcastic tone. 28
It’s in the latter stages that you get most reward here. The expansive soft rock of ‘Baby Girl,’ yet another ode to lost love, gets under your skin more than you might realise. A video for this song could be filmed on top of ‘The Old Man of Hoy’ with a wide angle lens but hey, sea stacks are cool. As we approach the concluding numbers via the lush ‘Me and Your Mother (Before You Were Born)’ as well as the wonderfully delicate ‘This Little Miracle’, you really sense a shift to a more celebratory mood as our hero declares “If there’s a god I’d like to shake his hand”. We finish with the splendid ‘She’s My Kryptonite’ containing the immortal lyric, ‘Don’t stop now just when we’re having a good time’ and you know what? That’s absolutely right. Mike Price www.captainwilberforce.com — The Kaiser Chiefs – The Future Is Medieval (B-Unique Records) The first thing to say is that this doesn’t really sound much like you’d expect a Kaiser Chiefs album to sound. Out go (mostly) the irrepressibly chirpy, upbeat, well written guitar pop songs, and in come (mostly) vaguely adventurous, downbeat, well written pop songs utilising a wider sonic palette. Opener ‘Little Shocks’ is a case in point. It’s a jittery and nervy and is musically stripped down, the guitars only taking over for the chorus and
coda. With a few notable exceptions, the songs follow this rough template throughout, and it’s not until the midway point before you get a brace of what could be described as ‘typical’ KC songs, with ‘Dead Or In Serious Trouble’ and ‘Kinda Girl You Are’. A lot of this change of mood is down to the lyrics, which indicate the band are going through a major period of introspection, perhaps assessing how whatever level of fame and fortune they have achieved has affected them and their lives. The resigned and melancholy ‘Coming Up For Air’ has a go at people who make assumptions, and ‘Starts With Nothing’ is about, well, death and the pointlessness of life, no less. The musical variety is provided partly by Nick Bains keyboards and Simon Rix bass having much more prominence.
On the down side, the band struggle to do epic significance convincingly (‘Child of the Jago’ is lumpen at best) but overall it’s a strong fourth album with lots of pointers for a more adventurous future. Blur did a similar thing, you may recall…. Steve Walsh www.kaiserchiefs.com
The Truth About Frank – Cannibal Work Ethic (LYF Recordings) Apparently, The Truth About Frank (TTAF) consist of two electronic musicians and/or sound artists based in Leeds who have slowly but steadily built up an impressive body of work over the last five years. With a mini album and a series of EPs under their belts, this release constitutes their first full length album.
Black Diamond Bay - Come the Desert (Download) Black Diamond Bay’s debut album begins and immediately you can imagine a sweaty dance floor filling with smoke as the lights slowly throb to the steady beat of its opener, ‘Hearts’. This is an album full of tracks that can be danced to, but they aren’t just addictive floor-filler’s, they’re great songs.
ditties. Taking that into account, ‘Still Talking Scribble’ is a rather surprising detour.
The duo produce music constructed from a wide range of electronic devices, samples, or found sounds and field recordings. But the striking thing about TTAF is that, right from the outset, the invention and sonic imagination they apply to what they do has been of a consistently high quality, and their meticulous attention to detail makes each piece sound like it was produced in a state of the art studio instead of at a kitchen table.
It would be quite easy to call Black Diamond Bay ‘The XX for Chemical Brothers fans’, but this description doesn’t quite describe the myriad of influences found on this album. The use of strings and piano demonstrates a classical influence and there are traces of folk scattered across the tracks. Black Diamond Bay also explores all types of dance music. ‘Hearts’ is a trance song, some tracks are Drum and Bass, and ‘Worship the Sun’ is nineties comedown music. This jumping from genre to genre seems like it would be out of place but all the songs are still distinctly Black Diamond Bay.
There was always a strong spiritual backdrop to his previous work, informed by various personal tragedies, but the records released under his own name still very much fitted into a broader ‘pop’ bracket. ‘Still Talking Scribble’ on the other hand primarily trades in what is, for want of a better description, new-age mysticism. He’s evidently working out some heavy stuff behind the scenes, although with vaguely pretentious song titles like ‘The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Friend’ and ‘Deepest Impression, Faintest Of Sketches’, he’s surely testing the patience of any casual listeners. The blurb likens it to Elbow, but Guy Garvey wouldn’t burden a song with a title like ‘Beneath The Wings Of A Dragon’.
Here we get ‘Love Is A Cage’, part disjointed film soundtrack, part voice recording collage; ‘Channelling Static’s crunching industrial disco that sounds like it would go down well in upmarket European fetish clubs; the masterful ‘Teddy Hop’ has harrowing, ghostly industrial noise as a backdrop to a deeply creepy, garbled recitation by a child’s voice; ‘Swimming Over Mountains’s weirdly arrhythmic, almost Reichian minimalism, and four other equally expertly put together pieces. I say ‘apparently’, because there’s a certain air of mystery around TTAF that’s subtle but unsettling. This encompasses trivial issues such as questions about how many people TTAF actually includes, to more serious issues about the inspiration for some of their music. Whatever the truth of TTAF, the music they present is artful, artistic, fascinating and compelling and consistently shot through with a trademark feeling of dread and disquiet that just helps to deepen the mystery. Steve Walsh www.myspace.com/thetruthaboutfrank
The dance tracks at the start of the album are so much fun that you almost miss them. However this disappointment is short-lived as the album gives you one last taste; the final track, ‘Peace’, is another electronic song with a folk-like fiddle line over the top. This band can get away with any amalgamation of genres and it’s a catchy end to a fantastic album. Nick Pritchard blackdiamondbay.co.uk Available to buy from iTunes — Quiet Rebellion – Still Talking Scribble In a former existence, Quiet Rebellion’s Shaun T Hunter was a singer/songwriter and solo artist of some note, putting out a string of acclaimed albums full of acoustic pop
In all honesty, it’s hard to know what to make of this record, it being the sound of an artist taking a very sharp change in direction. It’s an intriguing, challenging listen from start to end, but certainly not for everyone. Spencer Bayles quietrebellion.get-ctrl.com — Runaround Kids - Linked Arms (Philophobia) Cynics, myself included, might ponder that the legions of mindless NME hyped indie tripe churned out over the last decade has now progressed from dropping an ‘angular’ guitar riff over a disco beat to donning an American accent, buying a flannel shirt and acquiring a pedal board of vast proportions; ultimately confirming our position in this never ending cyclic cultural rehash.
How frustrating it is to then find that Wakefield’s blossoming noise pop trio actually hold some promise. You’d be forgiven for dismissing Runaround Kid’s debut as a tiresome pastiche of early 90’s college rock but amidst the blatant Pavement and J Mascis worship lies an ear for melody and a feel for dynamics that makes each song as compelling as the next. It’s not hard to see where they’re coming from lyrically, with titles such as ‘Last July’, ‘Beach Night’ and ‘Won’t Fuck Her Sober’. It’s 30 minutes of songs about girls and summer, thrilling nostalgia and universal adolescent memories intertwined in catchy melodic hooks under a fuzzy blanket of guitar licks and distortion pedals. This coupled with the pop sensibility that comes out through each song demonstrates why they’ve got the likes of Radio One’s Huw Stephen’s raving about them. So, derivative it may be but with deliverance like this and from a band in such early days does it really matter? So bloody lighten up and let this quirky cacophony of feedback and flannels help wean you from your summer disposition into autumn’s more monotonous exploits. Ben Rutledge www.myspace.com/runaroundkids — Protectors - Can’t Shake the Moves (download) If you like catchy, bouncy, indie rock which makes your foot tap and head nod in agreement then you will love this latest offering from Protectors.
‘One Giant Step’ launches you into this glorious album and makes you want to know how they are going to let this album progress. ‘Catwalk’ moves fast with heavy drums and bass, but with sweet and succulent vocals to 30
soften it. Further on and ‘Still Here’ is an example of indie rock with a little glitter hint of punk. The contrast between the gruff vocals and the sweet melody makes this track stand out from all the rest. It is a slightly different sound to the remainder of the album, but possibly one of the best. With other instruments such as a trumpet featuring on some of the tracks you can hear that this wonderful band is trying not to make the tracks sound samey. They want to give the listener something different and they certainly have done. So in this short and sweet album you have a band that is certainly on the up. A perfectly formed 3 piece playing indie rock that will certainly go places if they keep pulling things like this out of the bag Rochelle Massey Available as ‘name your price’ from http://protectors.bandcamp.com/ album/cant-shake-the-moves — Redwood Thinkers – Fade So Simple This is the first album recorded by Leeds based Redwood Thinkers as a five piece outfit and is a deceptively infectious collection of semi acoustic pop. The twelve track album was sponsored by and includes content suggestions from the band’s fan base, although intriguingly the credits don’t indicate which tracks these are incorporated on. Pivotal point of the album is track six, the catchy ‘No One Looks Happy In Cars’ – imagine ‘Always Crashing in The Same Car’ if Bowie had relocated to Barwick-in-Elmet instead of Berlin and hot-wired a tractor. Automotive introspection aside it also serves as a prompt for what is generally a more exploratory approach on the rest of the album, both in terms of the musical arrangements and also the subject matter. Standout track in this respect is the ambitious ‘Chemical’, with its underlying narcotic references
and allusions of disenchantment and loss of personal freedom. Accompanied by a measured build up, this track was a personal highlight for me and it is here that the shift to a more complex sound and expansion to a five piece is maximised for its full potential. Equally impressive is the West Coast feel good factoresque ‘Falling Down’, its impending catastrophe theme reminiscent of Dylan’s ‘Black Diamond Bay’. The stripped down intimacy of ‘Burnt’ and uplifting closer ‘Worship the World’ are particular highlights but the final word of praise should be reserved for the albums excellent vocal arrangements and delivery. Martin Haley www.redwoodthinkers.co.uk — The Commune of Rochefourchat - The Commune of Rochefourchat (download) This fine 10-track album seems to have been around a little while now but that doesn’t stop it growing with every listen. Messrs Flint, Gray, Jones, Burkitt and Roberts present themselves as a carefree bunch of West Riding dandies, and this certainly comes across at the start of proceedings here with the lolloping ‘A Simple Misunderstanding’ followed by a pleasant stroll through a meadow that is ‘Ball and Chain’. Indeed Mr Flint’s vocal style is eerily reminiscent of early R.E.M, not in style but in placement, sitting right at the back of the mix. You know it’s there but you can’t quite work out what’s being said. Having found their feet, the quintet then step up a gear with ‘Little Tommy Two Studs,’ a 5 minute mini-masterpiece in soft focus that makes you want to pick up the nearest yard brush and pirouette right into the street. Only then do you begin to appreciate that there’s something rather splendid going on here. Take a pinch of Super Furry Animals, throw in a dash of Futureheads, some
Smiths, Divine Comedy and a twist of Oompah and you’re not a million miles away. What a real breath of fresh air. Mike Price Available free from http:// thecommuneofrochefourchat. bandcamp.com/album/the-communeof-rochefourchat
Singles and EPs Sam Airey – The Blackout It takes a few listens for The Blackout to fully click, such is its subtlety and stealthy delivery. The opening gentle acoustic backing is tempered with sparse drums, beautifully setting up a vocal that’s equal parts unintentional aggression and heart-onsleeve resignation. It’s a powerful, end-of-the-evening, grown-up anthem. Those of a timid persuasion can enjoy the ‘clean version’ of both the lead track and its Lone Wolf-y B-side ‘Endless Sea’, which the potty-mouthed tinker has thoughtfully included. To be honest though, the “fucks” need to be there, adding as they do to the overwhelming lyrical tone of begrudging acceptance. Lovely stuff. Spencer Bayles Available to buy from http:// samaireymusic.bandcamp.com/releases
Pengilly’s – Toby’s Hill EP (download) If you’re looking to store up chill records for the cold winter months then make sure you add the (bafflingly
apostrophised) Pengilly’s debut opus to the list. Heavily echoing clarinets give you a glorious introduction to track 3, much like the dawn chorus (awwww… in’t that nice?). The title track treats us to chords consisting of vocal ‘oohs’ while vulnerable vocals talk of innocent times lost. It’s subtly experimental with creative orchestration, understated electronics and sparse drumming but it lulls you in and keeps your soul warm. I can’t imagine those predisposed to wife-beating would like it but the rest of us are in for a treat. Tim Hearson Available to buy from http://pengillys. bandcamp.com/album/tobys-hill-ep — GoldSoul – Blood Red (Of National Importance) This debut from Barnsley Brit Rockers GoldSoul isn’t particularly new or different, but while it might be predictable, it’s pretty well produced. Distorted vocals give it a grungy feel and cool fuzzy background effects feel like they’re filling a hole. It’s disappointing as there’s nothing else to latch onto with these two songs, but overall a good choice for anyone with an Oasis shaped hole in their life. Liam Shevill — Juffage - Small Fires EP (Function Records) For those of you not already well acquainted with the track, ‘Small Fires’ is a swirling, pulsing feast of rhythm, synth and vocal, all of which dive bomb around the ranges like toddlers on crack. An interesting multi-tracked viola arrangement surprisingly helps make sense of things so, props there. There’s a Ten remix which basically sounds like someone’s playing Radiohead’s ‘Treefingers’ over the top while ghosts of the original poke through every now and then. It’s all rounded off with a truly excellent Vessels-ian remix of ‘HHV’ giving it a bit of ambient treatment. Genuinely stunning. Tim Hearson www.juffage.com
Operator Six – The Realist (Download available from Amazon) The lead track to indie/rockers Operator Six’s single ‘The Realist’ is, well, its good, upbeat and it sustains interest, but it feels like it’s missing an element, something to show they’re more than just Britrock imitators. The second track ‘Cosa Nostra’ doesn’t fare much better and from the off is almost draining listen to. ‘The Enemy’ however shows more heart and helps the single end on a high. Liam Shevill www.operatorsixmusic.co.uk — Siamese Twist – Adored (JA Records) The sleeve notes to this four track EP explain that the ‘Siamese Twist’ is a recognised phenomenon where music becomes inextricably conjoined with an individual. Could it be that some individuals in Siamese Twist have become inextricably conjoined with their Mum’s Siouxsie and the Banshee albums? ‘Turn the Light On’ in particular is a ringer for ‘Tinderbox’. When the band’s individuality breaks through, the signs are promising, as in ‘Sympathy Riot’ with its frenzied build up, sub-funk washes and slow sexual undertow chorus. Martin Haley www.myspace.com/ siamesetwistsound — I Like Trains – Sirens A triumph of a single and probably the best track they could have picked off the album. Among the other tracks are two remixes of the A-side. And if you thought they wouldn’t translate to the seizure inducing, more extroverted world of the dance floor then... well, you’d sort of be right. The glitchy re-workings of I Like Trains’ bleak pessimistic vision create something that would feel more at home in a Wachowski Brother’s film. Ben Rutledge www.iliketrains.co.uk 31
Jamiesaysmile – At the Time This first venture from Wakefieldbased artist Dan Hayes instantly shows talent. Interesting rhythms and textures give it a Biffy Clyro/Tubelord up-beat feel. Neither track has particularly catchy lyrics but they’re well sung and the music holds its own all the way through, right from the eclectic guitar that leads ‘At the Time’ through to the competing guitar and bass lines of ‘Future Analyst’. Jamiesaysmile is definitely one to keep tabs on. Liam Shevill www.jamiesaysmile.com — George Whalley – I : Absolute (download) In my experience, and contrary to what you may assume, drummers who are also composers tend to be remarkably democratic and sensitive writers in either group or solo settings. Leeds drummer George Whalley is no exception. This solo EP shows he’s a fantastically resourceful and inventive percussionist for sure, but these seven tracks of dubby, trip hoppy electronica are bright, melodic and quite simply a joy to listen to. And nary a drum solo in sight… Steve Walsh Available to buy from http://gwmusic. bandcamp.com/ — Raw Peaches – Raw Peaches (download) Having lived through the early 1970’s, I still find it a bit odd that people want to go back there for musical inspiration. Still, it’s good we have bands like Raw Peaches around to remind us about the good bits. Rather improbably, this young quartet make a good fist of replicating a kind of jazz infused, soulful rock style practiced by both black and white musicians back then. Singer Jake Waddington has a great soulful rasp and an elastic approach to melody and metre that he only occasionally takes too far. ‘Get Me Out Of Here’s got a great dramatic swagger about it but the style doesn’t vary much and the songs begin to pall over the course of the EP. Steve Walsh Available to buy from http://itunes. apple.com/us/artist/raw-peaches/ id405917690 32
Volcanoes – Vexihomp (download) Six tracks of quirky, intelligently written guitar pop that only occasionally misfires. ‘The Pageant’ is a sprightly opener, but ‘Triceratops’ is aimless and formless. Best moments are provided by ‘Vexihomp’s jerky XTCisms and ‘The Atheist’s slower, druggy drone feel. Oddest song is ‘Little Feet’, singer Samson Bedford’s ode to his and his wife’s trial by infertility and the happy outcome of a son. Not the easiest of subjects to convey adequately in a pop song and I’m not sure if Bedford manages it but I know from experience it’s not easy to articulate the most profound thing that will ever happen to you. Steve Walsh Available via the bands website http:// volcanoesband.co.uk/site/ — Mender – Resonant Tense EP I don’t believe Leeds is inundated with IDM beasts – I’m possibly just woefully ignorant – so this EP from Nottingham’s Mender is a breath of fresh air drifting over the Grimdie band (grim indie – like it? I got there first) drenched review pile. It’s actually rather chilled and has that trip-hop quality of making damn sure your head starts bobbing voluntarily or otherwise. Beats and loops swarm over grumbling bass. Opener ‘Retrotoric’ has one killer drop near the end too – one of many.
Overall then, nothing to convert the unconvertible and this definitely needs your finest ear-gear but there’s an excellent filth-to-groove ratio so I’m happy. Tim Hearson Free download from http://mender. bandcamp.com/album/resonanttense-ep
Demos Two Trick Horse The first sound you hear is a cassette tape being turned over and put into the stereo, which is a nice retro touch. ‘Kensington Gore’ comes across like the soundtrack to an uprising, all power chords and incendiary cries of “This! Is! A! Dream!” Edgy and loud, a band very much made for Leeds’ DIY scene aficionados. Spencer Bayles www.twotrickpony.com — Silver Magic Ships – Back to Bad Habits This four track EP by Manchester’s Silver Magic Ships serves to emphasise both the stronger and less developed areas of the band. The muscular opener ‘Back to the Drawing Board’ builds from a sitar based intro into a tight riffing number reminiscent of the Charlatans with good changes of pace. While ‘Crossfire’ flirts with trance the closer ‘Soul Shines Through’ doesn’t so much flirt with Van Morrison as pull the old fuckers zip down in public and interfere with him. Overall there are some promising signs here but a clear direction is needed. Martin Haley www.myspace.com/silvermagicships
Runaround Kids - Nicholas Dishington
on literally forever (they’re probably still there now playing it). Then it’s back to Mustangs for The Wind-Up Birds, whose Art-Brut-meets-the-Streets brand of socially-conscious punk is delivered in a blaze of confident aggression. The punk attitude spills across the road into The Hop, although The Runaround Kids’ take is fast, furious and energetic. Even they seem surprised at how full the room is at this point. Back at the Town Hall, and Mi Mye’s Jamie Lockhart takes his Christmas jumper off when he switches instruments - “You can’t play electric guitar in a cardi”. What could otherwise be mundane tales of everyday life are turned into elegant poetry, in a set that ends with the ritual destruction of a keyboard.
Just Handshakes - Nicholas Dishington
Long Division Festival @ various venues, Wakefield The high-ceilinged, wood-panelled room at the Town Hall provides a grandiose backdrop for Just Handshakes (We’re British). Singer Clara keeps her head down throughout, leaving it to bassist Ed to dedicate songs to the Queen (happy birthday, Your Maj!) Holmfirth’s favourite pop scientist Napoleon IIIrd draws a big crowd 34
at Mustangs, playing an array of instruments while triggering effects from his Macbook. Traditional song structures are ripped up, forming a bed for stunning massed, reverbed vocals. On to a heaving Boon’s to catch Freschard, whose subtle pop songs, sung in a gorgeous lilting French accent, have an unfortunate tendency towards trite lyrics. One song, about tweeting and sitting in the branches, seems to go
Tonight is The Birthday Kiss’s debut performance. Comprising Sarah Williams (The Research) and members of The Lodger, it’s a veritable West Yorkshire indie-pop supergroup. While taking The Lodger’s choppy guitar pop as a template, there are flashes of newwave synth on ‘Choking At The Wheel’, while the lovely ‘Take Time’ is stripped down to just vocals and ukulele. Stanley Brinks’s solo set at the Cathedral showcases his great turn of phrase; his witty, romantic lyrics and warm voice almost make you forget how cold it is in the room. Headlining at the Cathedral is Emmy the Great, touring to promote her new album ‘Virtue’. She leads her band through a selection from the
new record alongside highlights from debut ‘First Love’. Songs with a spiritual background are particularly transcendent, due to a mixture of the performance and the setting. ‘Trellick Tower’, about how her fiancé left her to find God, is saved til last, and proves to be a spine-tingling finale. Spencer Bayles — Ghostfest 2011 @ Leeds University, Leeds Where can you find a two-day festival, packed with hard-core and metal acts and yet still have the pleasure of sleeping in an actual bed when the music is over? Why Ghostfest of course, the annual festival hosted by Leeds University, designed to crush eardrums and pound heads. Last year’s event saw the Gallows rip up the main stage and this year’s acts managed to cause just as much mayhem. Here’s my three top picks of the weekend: Looking like a pack of vikings with instruments, hard-hitting, UK five-piece Annotations of an Autopsy’s death metal roar was just about in full swing when we arrived and it provided the perfect wake-up call for our so far untainted ears. Sounding much heavier than a band so far down on the bill should, they gathered a very large crowd on the Monster Stage and it was no surprise, as their blistering set of bludgeoning metal was fantastically played and equally well received. Emmy the Great - Nicholas Dishington
Ghostfest - James Thompson
Taking us into the final round of Ghostfest 2011’s first day was Bury Your Dead, a brutal, heavy hitting monster of a band from across the pond. With groove-laden riffs and melodic singing riding brilliantly alongside their punishing beats and vicious snarls, Bury Your Dead couldn’t have performed better and neither could they have ignited anymore chaos. Failed human pyramids, people used as springboards and walls of death surrounded their slot, bringing a merciless end to abrutal yet amazing day. One of the most infectiously fun live bands currently on the hard-core circuit, Deez Nuts rap cum hard-core sound is one that everyone should witness live. Amusing, chaotic and slightly crazy, this Australian mob took advantage of their headline spot at Ghostfest and transformed the Honour Over Glory Stage into one big puppet, which they mastered brilliantly. Technically gifted and charismatically enticing, Deez Nuts brought the party to Leeds and the crowd brought the chaos to them, with their relentless crowd surfing, constant jumping from the room’s fixtures and incessant singing. If you haven’t seen them live, do so now. Emma Quinlan — Dutch Uncles/Heart-Ships/Pretty Riddles @ Oporto, Leeds Oporto’s series of free gigs have been particularly fine of late so it’s pretty easy to get excited for Manchester darlings Dutch Uncles’ Leeds Festival warm-up gig. Kicking off the night in typical indie fashion were Pretty Riddles who, and I
know I’m going to sound like a cunt but sod it, are pretty much interchangeable with every other indie band on the scene at present. The band were tight enough, and sort of agreeable, but you get the feeling they could be trying a bit harder to stand out from the crowd. Heart-Ships offer us something with a bit more impact. As the name suggests, they’re of the folk-pop persuasion with ample 3/4 feel sections evocative of the sea. Cramped on the stage with all their instrumentation, they start in mellow fashion and then songs build to a smashing climax adorned with hearty shanty-style gang vocals and a bit of genuine passion. Dutch Uncles then take the stage for a master class in queer time signatures. Riffs and chords bob about in a stomp friendly romp with falsetto vocals sitting very low in the mix (where they so belong).There’s a lot of that ‘80s revival’ in their sound but their tunes comes out danceable yet complex as in the exceptional numbers ‘Cadenza’ and ‘X-O’. Tonight’s set was maybe a little bit tame and the crowd could have certainly been more up for it but that doesn’t really matter given the exceptional value for money. Cracking. Tim Hearson — I Like Trains/Bear Driver @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds Contrary to popular opinion, post rock can be fun; you can go bonkers to it. If only someone would tell all those ultra
serious post rock fans. It makes me feel slightly self-conscious when I try to start a mosh pit during ‘Spencer Percival’. I’ll explain. It’s been a while since I Like Trains played Leeds (they’ve played everywhere else recently, it would seem) and I am a bit excited and giddy to see them... or that could just be the beer and sun. In the meantime, Bear Driver warm up the stage with a juxtapositively cheerful set. It’s deliciously West Coast and hairily blissed out to the point that you wonder if you’ve turned up to the right gig – I mean, what’s all this happiness about? Have no fear, the history boys are back in town, looking ship shape and neatly cropped. Simon is back behind the tubs and wastes no time laying down the punctilious rhythms of ‘Twenty Five Sins’, stripped down to the howl and sleet of the vocals, bass, drums and guitars. Despite the addition of cello and violin, this return to the music behind the spectacle is a key factor of the performance and restores fire to such classic tracks as ‘Rookhouse for Bobby’ and the remarkably moving ‘Terra Nova’. Not to say that the new material is in any way lacking; ‘Sea of Regret’ is a genuine eyes closed fist clenched anthem and gets me screaming like a 60s teen. All this and tea too [Ed note: I Like Trains launched their own brand of tea, ILTea, at this gig]. I just wish all the other ‘Trainers were just as enthused as me - ‘I Like Trains’ makes a perfect encore chant... Rob Wright — Humanfly @ The Cardigan Arms, Leeds Tucked away in the upstairs room of the Cardigan arms, which looks like a crack den, the anticipation of the impending gig from the sublimely amazing Humanfly is rife. The people here are waiting for something more than the support bands that have already graced this makeshift stage. That something more comes in the form of Humanfly. When these guys come on 36
stage the atmosphere in this tiny room is electric. Cheers from the crowd ensue and lead them into their first song. This brings huge happiness to a crowd that seemed to have wanted this band from the start. Known as the “finest forgers of riffs” by one spectator in the crowd is apparent from the next song, “This Is Where Your Parents Fucked”, which brings huge riffs with a cool and uplifting in your face hostility, but with also a nice and subtle texture of melodies running through. The band storm through their set list ripping up the stage, song after song, feeding this sweaty crowd more melodic ammo. Nothing else could have been asked of this band - they were ever so tight, flawless even. They gave everything that they could and then some. As the night progresses this
amazingly tight band take you on a mystical journey of rock and ambient sounds, with epically outstanding riffs that encourage you to rock your little heart out. Rochelle Massey — Godspeed You! Black Emperor/ Trumpets Of Death @ Leeds Metropolitan University, Leeds Trumpets of Death may be unaccustomed to playing venues of this size, but the Leeds three-piece is a perfect fit for tonight’s prestigious support slot. - the cavernous acoustics and cold, metallic quality of the room an
appropriate setting for their wonderfully idiosyncratic sound. Benjamin Wetherill slips effortlessly between tremulous croon and spine-tingling wail as the band run through a series of heady, doom-laden grooves charting the darker and more exciting possibilities of jazz and folk rock. The use of a drum machine could have made these songs seem mechanised and impersonal, yet the human element is always at the heart of the industrial grind, investing each number with melodrama and an unstinting musicality. The overall effect is such that the headliners’ set seems a warm and comforting prospect by comparison - how well money-spinning tours, festival appearances and shows in such soulless spaces as this sit with Godspeed’s espoused leftist ideology
is perhaps worth ruminating on, but it’s nonetheless thrilling to watch the progenitors of what in lesser hands has become such a hackneyed style, rehabilitating it through the sheer power and skill of their performance. Tonight the band seemingly set out to escape the shackles of the genre with which they are most closely associated by rocking as hard as they possibly can, demonstrating that for all their imitators they remain peerless in the art of lush instrumentals built around monumental riffs. Greg Elliott
Dananananaykroyd/Young Legionnaires/Bronco Skylift/ Blacklisters @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds Blacklisters get us started tonight, and there’s no time to think about it. This early the crowd is only small, but they don’t let this discourage them. They’re as into it as the band are. Blacklisters are fast, loud, effortless; the energy is remarkable. The songs bleed into one another, with only the occasional pause, but it’s a welcome rest. They make me think of an early Rage Against the Machine; I can pay them no higher compliment. Playing second are Bronco Skylift. There are two people on stage, but it feels like an army. They perch, a drummer and a guitarist, on the very edge of the stage, and it’s an intense experience. They’re loud, brash, they offend the ears, but in a wonderful way. This band could become something. Young Legionnaires are next, but they’re forgettable. The band are almost as disinterested as the crowd. They play a decent set, the singer has an excellent voice, but they’re nothing to write home about. Headlining are Dananananaykroyd (a quick Google search tells me the correct amount of ‘nananana’s to put in) and we’re straight into it. A six piece, with two vocalists, the vocals themselves are an attack on the ears. But it is awesome. They make a deafening noise, it’s tight, the set is seamless, the energy is almost epic. These are a band I’d very much like to see again. Rob Welbourn — Pengilly’s @ Left Bank Centre, Leeds The band soon take to the stage with a glorious opening hymn from a superb choir, with vocals from Ric Hollingberry and co. It gives a taste of what is to come, and the crowd can’t wait. They then launch in to ‘Toby’s Hill’ with its light vocals and soothing lyrics - you can’t help but watch them, and be mesmerized by this spectacular performance. The setting of the Left Bank Centre is perfect for this band the acoustics just bounce off one another, providing the audience with a very powerful show.
Danananaykroyd - Bart Pettman
‘Ode VIII’ has soft finger picking guitar parts, which takes you on a journey with the band. The stage was rather on the small side, but was not an issue for this large, and beautifully instrumental band, they all took their parts and enticed this crowd spectacularly.
shows across the continent, the band were on true form tonight. The complex sounds came naturally to these two masterful musicians; hard-hitting drum patterns with an excellent use of rhythmic drones and subtle melodies coming from the guitar.
As the night flowed and with the sun setting leaving the fairy lights to do their job, this group of extraordinary people made everyone in the room feel like it was a performance just for each one of them. If you ever get a chance to see Pengilly’s then I suggest you do. Rochelle Massey — Khuda/Alright The Captain @ The Well, Leeds Tonight’s show at the The Well had ‘party’ written all over it, with seven acts on the bill, free chilli and, it being an album release show... you just knew this was intended to be a bit of a celebration.
Khuda are along the same lines as The Continuous Battle Of Order or Chrik, but the way they do it holds its own distinct sense of creeping attitude, with a little more theatrical tendencies, leaning towards the Post-Rock side of things. There are parts of ‘Iecava’, the new album being released tonight, that dive into Mogwai or Earth territory, a nice ballsy way to take your math rock. Leeds be proud of your Khuda, for they serve you well. Leighton Padley — Two Skies @ The Northern Monkey, Leeds In this overlooked music venue, Two Skies step into the corner to take the stage at this free music night. Overhearing that one of the punters had stumbled upon this South Yorkshire gem of a band on a website and couldn’t get the “heavy grooves” out of his head makes me wonder if psychedelic rock is coming back.
The penultimate act of the night was Alright The Captain. This Nottingham/ Derby based trio tore though a filthy set of songs from their debut album ‘Snib’, with a newbie or two thrown in for good measure, and the band had as much fun onstage as the chilli-feasting crowd. As they passed a bottle between them they had the audience either staring in bewilderment, or jerking about like a flustered mob. By time Khuda got onstage the audience were well prepared. Their danceable grooves and their repetitive drones had people hooked from the opening number. Having just nailed 50
This tightly formed 3 piece gracefully start playing, giving the audience powerful psychedelic beats and melodies that would restart the grooves of the 60’s and 70’s. Combine this with the heavy and fast paced drumming and you have a recipe for an amazing live band, which will go on to bigger things. 37
The Music - Bart Pettman
On ‘Levitate’ Dan Cutt’s voice is so unique that it sends tingles down your spine when he sings. His lyrics are so vivid that you can almost see his story as he sings. ‘Automatic Stride’ is dark, powerful and sublime. With its small and dark verses which then lead onto a loud and big chorus, this song only leaves you wanting more. ‘Dear Sun’ is again dark but sweet at the same time, making you want to close your eyes and abandon yourself to this mystical journey. Word of advice, see this band. Rochelle Massey — Panda Hat @ The Cockpit, Leeds Panda Hat exude fun. According to some Facebook promo before their return to headline The Cockpit, the cheeky indie four piece promised to be “playing again for your listening (and sexual) pleasure”. So on arriving at Leeds’ railway arches venue, there is a sense of anticipation to see if the local lads will live up to their hype. It is certainly one of the more entertaining gigs I’ve been to. Feisty opener ‘SSD’ provides an energised start and shows the boys’ ability to write a catchy hook as they sweetly mumble into the mics. ‘Avoid Your Stare’ is another good performance, and despite treading the slightly predictable ground of teenage angst and troubled love lives, things look promising. In terms of their sound, obvious comparisons can be drawn to The Maccabees and early Bombay Bicycle Club, but that’s not to say that Panda Hat are merely an imitation, as the band’s up beat frenetic guitar riffs provided a dynamic backdrop for the languid drawl of lead singer Chris Burgess’ vocals. Despite a good start then, once again niggling at the back of my mind was just how many more indie four pieces 38
can we take? Well, I think Panda Hat are worth a listen. With an ear for an inoffensive indie/pop hook and a refusal to take themselves too seriously, their set showed a glimpse of their potential. It was just a shame they never really got going. Katie Rowley — The Music @ O2 Academy, Leeds 6 August 2011 is day that the O2 academy in Leeds will never forget. This is the day that The Music ended their career after just over a decade of being together. Rob Harvey and the gang stormed on stage to a sell out crowd that were ready to dance. Losing no time and getting straight into it, the band were as intertwined as they have ever been. Next they went into ‘Take the Long Road and Walk It’, seeing Harvey at his best; the crowd went crazy and singing along like troupers. The band rave through all the amazing songs they have given and to their fans, with crowd pleasers such as ‘Drugs’, ‘Freedom Fighters’ and ‘Bleed From Within’; the band don’t fail in giving the crowd something to remember. The final, and fitting, song is ‘The People’, one that is personal to the band itself. With Harvey dedicating it to the fans saying “You are the people and this is for you. Thank you for fucking
everything. Without you, the people, we would not be here.” The crowd goes wild, but there is an air of sadness that this is in fact the last dance. The band and the fans give it their all, giving them the send off they deserve and partying and dancing like they will never do again. Rochelle Massey — Willy Mason/The Cave Singers/Wolf People @ Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds It was a real shame and a blow to Yorkshire music that this year’s Beacons festival was cancelled due to flash flooding. There was a ton of top talent from the vicinity, primed and ready to tear it up, complemented with acts from far and wide. Top marks then to all in the Beacons Festival team for redeploying as many as they did at Nation of Shopkeepers and the Brudenell Social Club, given they had absolutely no notice. As Plan B’s go, I’ve seen a lot worse. So it was to a pretty packed Nation of Shopkeepers that I visited on what would have been the last night of Beacons to see three bands that I’d pencilled in at the main event. Wolf People are a disparate quartet of psychedelic blues rockers who look and
sound like they’ve just stepped out of a time capsule following Woodstock. Don’t be put off by that though, because they seem to have taken a 1969-era sound and given it a 21st century twist, making them sound miles fresher than they ought to, and the appreciative crowd seem to agree.
The Cave Singers are a top notch rootsy trio from Seattle and were recommended to me by my barber, himself an occasional dabbler in the Leeds music scene. I’m really looking forward to their set which they kick off with ‘Summer Light’, the toe tapping opener from their splendid ‘Welcome Joy’ album and proceed in a similar vein throughout a barnstorming seven song set which visualise the crowd slowly creep closer to the band until we’re all a throbbing mass on oneness. ‘Black Leaf’ has me stomping my foot so hard that I now require a knee replacement. Last up is the unassuming Willy Mason accompanying himself on his guitar. By now you can’t move and the baritone from Martha’s Vineyard is at his spellbinding best. We even get a brief pause midway while Mr Mason retunes his guitar and you can hear a pin drop as we’re treated to exquisite numbers ‘Hard Hand to Hold’ ‘Save Myself’ and ‘We Can Be Strong’. If you like songs that really tell a story, look no further. Mike Price — Kendal Calling @ Lowther Deer Park, Cumbria Kendal Calling is a small but perfectly formed festival, and the loudest thing in the Lake District since Wordsworth started shouting at those kids for treading on his daffodils. Still, from 29 to 31 July it managed to draw some top notch acts, both “down with the kids” (Chase and Status and Beardyman) as well as the institutions that are Blondie, The Levellers and Echo and the Bunnymen for the oldies. There were a variety of stages boasting folk, rock, dance, jazz and comedy-just a shame that so much of it overlapped! It also was a bit of a pain that due to the rule stopping drinks being taken to the arena and the cost of pints inside there was a stampede to and fro between acts on the main stage. Visitors from Leeds included the band Middleman who unfortunately had an early slot which clashed with Beardyman and so didn’t quite draw the crowd they seemed to deserve. Also present were
The Raged (originally Cumbrian but now Leeds based) and with the high energy guitar and decks dance music, it’s not hard to see why The Raged reached number two in the German download chart. Personally I felt The Raged out performed the much better known Nero, though the sound quality was fairly varied in the dance tent. High points have got to be House of Pain doing a Johnny Cash cover - it shouldn’t have worked, but it did; Lancashire Hotpots did an amazing set with the end mash up a tribute to what happens when nobody says “actually that’s a really terrible pun”; and Craig Charles probably made a few people’s weekends as well with dancey remixes of all sorts including “Killing in the Name of”. Sadly all traces of masculinity were lost the second Blondie (who doesn’t seem to have aged since the 80s) hit the stage and now I have ‘Hanging on the Telephone’ stuck in my head and it doesn’t look like it’s going to shift for quite a while… Luke Bailey
Previews Blacklisters/Talons/David’s Lyre @ A Nation of Shopkeepers, Leeds 1 October The raging fury that is Blacklisters seems to be fast catching on outside Leeds, so this may be the last time you can get up close and personal with the band before they get to play bigger venues. Top notch support from Talons too. Ruins Alone/Nope/Magnapinna @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 3 October Ace Japanese avant rock/noise drummer Tatsuya Yoshida brings his impossibly loud and inventive solo version of Ruins to Leeds, with fantastic support from That Fucking Tank offshoot Nope and up and coming math rockers Magnapinna. Misty In Roots @ The Wardrobe, Leeds 8 October This legendary British roots reggae outfit have been plugging away for an
incredible 40 years now. The Wardrobe have been capturing some pretty amazing reggae artists recently. Zea/Cowtown/Model Village/ Downdime @ Musiquarium, Leeds 8 October Dutch experimental rock outfit Zea is the side project of Arnold de Boer of legendary Dutch post punk band The Ex. Expect joyfully energetic angular guitar explorations, ably assisted by the local talent. Marc Almond @ City Varieties, Leeds 10 October Almond returns to, if not the city of his birth, then at least the place that made him what he is today for a gig at this newly restored historic venue. Post War Glamour Girls/ Heart-Ships/ Moody Gowns @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 12 October New single launch gig for the headliners and their brand of soulful indie pop, ably supported by the, er, dramatic HeartShips and the noodly Moody Gowns. Brainwash Festival IV @ Brudenell Social Club & Royal Park Cellars, Leeds 15 & 16 October The utterly fabulous Brainwash Festival returns for its sixth year, featuring some of the best local talent (Humanfly, trio VD, Juffage) along with other equally ear crunchinglytastic national and international touring bands. Unmissable. WU LYF @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds 19 October One of the most hyped bands of recent years come to Leeds. What’s all the fuss about? Go find out… Leeds Guitar Night @ The Wardrobe, Leeds 29 October A veritable orgy of refined and inventive guitar playing from Erik Mongrain, Giuliano Mondarelli and headlined by Leeds’ own master picker Jon Gomm. Handmadehands @ Santiagos, Leeds 29 October This trio of brothers make intelligent, artful and, well, grown up pop songs and released one of the best albums by a Leeds band this year. No, really…