White Swan, Aylesbury – (10th January 2014)
Review by Peter Brockwell
Gwyn Ashton returns to Aylesbury for the third time in just over two weeks to play at The White Swan (a far cry from Wembley Arena where I first came across the antipodean blues guitarist supporting Status Quo on their 1999 European tour), a more musician friendly venue than The Green Man where the previous two gigs had taken place. With Gwyn looking like a Mississippi Delta one man band with bass drum, harmonica, guitar, pedals and two microphones tonight’s session gets off to a blistering start with a demonstration of Gwyn’s modern take on traditional blues with a high paced track which mixes national steel guitar with the modern twist of pedal loops. Next up the more familiar sounds of Muddy Waters starts to pull the crowd in from the front bar and by the end of the second song the crowd are completely behind the Aussie shredder. Original ‘Ain’t Got Time For That Stuff’ slows things down a little before the set continues with a New Orleans blues version of ‘Prohibition’ the title track from Mr Ashton’s fourth album. A change of guitar to full on electric is accompanied by the question “I hope you don’t mind the blues coz that’s all you’re gonna get” as he continues with Jimmy Reed’s ‘Baby, What You Want Me to Do’. The dancing starts with a great version of ‘I Just Wanna Make Love to You’ from Gwyn’s latest full length album ‘Radiogram’ with the audience enthusiastically clapping all the way through the solo which brings the first set to a close.
The second set sees the crowd drawing in closer to the stage (if you can call it that … more a performance area) and kicks off with slide guitar on two more originals ‘Too Late’ and ‘Ain’t My Style’ before another change of instrument as the acoustic comes out for a lengthy tuning blamed on the guitar having “four G-strings”. The longer second set continues with a mix of traditional blues standards from Muddy Waters, Robert Johnson etc. which join with Ashton originals from the seven CD’s that he is promoting tonight along with stories of the road such as the introduction to ‘Fortunate Kind’ (again from ‘Radiogram’), about being on the road and written on a train to Hamburg to visit friends. ‘Two Man Acoustic Army’s ‘Mad Dog closes the second set but the crowd are not ready to go home yet so the night continues with an unorthodox version of ‘Purple Haze’ played on national steel and guitar loops generated by the array of pedals at his feet. But the crowd still want more and after asking the audience to think of him the following week when he will be flying out to LA to hang out with Marc Ford (former member of The Black Crowes) he obliges with a second encore of the slow blues number ‘Someone Like You’ and finally, from his latest ‘Fistful Of Blues EP’ ‘Waiting For The Day’.
Whether playing at Wembley or in your local hostelry Gwyn Ashton always give 100% so if blues is your thang or if you just like a great night of blues/rock keep an eye out for further appearances from one of the countries hardest working live acts over the coming months. Keep tabs at www.gwynashton.com for return performances at both The Green Man and The White Swan.
John Young / Fro Beedle / Nick Beggs
Review by Peter Brockwell
So this is what happens when John Young (Bonnie Tyler Band/Scorpions), Nick Beggs (Kagagoogoo), Martin Beedle (Cutting Crew) & sound engineer Steve Rispin (Uriah Heep/Virgil & The Accelerators) get to spend some time together. Not obviously a formula for a progressive rock master class but when you look deeper into their history you'll find links to Asia, John Wetton, Greenslade, Fish, The Skys & Steven Wilson. Add to this a list of special guests reading Robin Boult (Fish/Howard Jones), Thijs van Leer (Focus), Jakko Jakszyk (King Crimson) & Steve Hackett (Genesis) and you get what is an absolute gem not only for those with prog at heart but anyone who enjoys quality rock music.
Five songs in 54 minutes (not really long enough guys) with the shortest song 'At the End of The World' coming in at 8:23. As writer of the project John Young's keyboards & vocals are the obvious force behind this release and fans of his previous work ('Significance', 'JYB Live' & 'Life Underground') should not be scared off by the prog label as there are many sections of this release which will be familiar to them but although Nick Beggs (whose opening bass riff to 'Fridge Full Of Stars' is an absolute classic) & Martin 'Frosty' Beedle play a major role in creating the ambience of the music contained here the silent star is sound engineer Steve Rispin who gives the songs a depth & texture that make it a modern classic and that is before you add three great guitar performances and the legend that is Thijs Van Leer on flute.
‘Lighthouse’ openings with a moody keyboard intro a jumble of strange sounds until JY’s keyboards pull the song together. From the outset the keyboards & vocals dominate with the rhythm section of Frosty Beedle & Nick Beggs pushing the song on through varying moods. Steve Hackett features on guitar but it is Robin Boult (Howard Jones Band) who supplies the killer soloing which draws the track to its conclusion with a mighty clap of thunder supplied by the God’s of prog. ‘Lighthouse’ invites you in to take a ticket for the journey which is ‘Lifesigns’.
Next up ‘Telephone’. It’s intro dominated by Mr Beggs rolling bass riff. JY’s clear vocals are soon joined by Nick’s high harmonies which add to the tracks Yes like quality. Jakko’s guitar work links the section of the song which returns to the strong bass line for its close. ‘Fridge Full of Stars’ must be the proggiest name for a song in history. Once again it is lead off by Nick Beggs driving bass. Steve Hackett supplies the main guitar throughout the track. The early part of the song is piano based but the mood soon changes when Thijs Van Leer’s flute is heard weaving between the guitar before the keyboards return this time with a kicking drum beat before the song returns to its opening mood and the Jon Anderson like vocal harmonies which take the track to the fade out.
Soft tribal rhythms introduce ‘At the End of The World’. Both vocally & in overall mood probably the closest song to JY’s ‘Insignificance’ album. Once again this starts off driven by piano until the ‘What do we know’ section when the pace picks up and takes you to the ‘end of the world ‘ section which sounds a little like It Bites have joined the party for the outro. Most people would end an album on this track as it rises to its triumphant conclusion but not ‘Lifesigns’. Final track ‘Carousel’ is the icing on the cake. It climbs quickly to the first verse with Nick Beggs supplying the chapman stick intro. This is surely prog heaven with not only Thijs returning as the flute master, mad fairground keys, manic drumming & more pace changes than the heart rate of a marathon runner in cardiac arrest but JY’s astounding Peter Gabriel like vocal on the ‘I feel the wind’ refrains.
Flute jumps in again during the second half as the bass & keyboard elevate the whole band before dropping to a second Gabriel slot and then chaos returns as all the players’ race towards the close only interrupted by JY’s light keyboard outro which leaves you wanting more … but there is none. Whether you go for the Limited Edition (250) Vinyl edition or the standard CD, followers of Genesis, Yes, Marillion, It Bites, Focus, King Crimson, Jethro Tull & IQ will find instant pleasure here but for any lover of good solid rock music should give this a try. Quoting Nick Beggs previous outfit don't be 'Too Shy', join the ride…!!!
Pearl Handled Revolver
Semi acoustic versions of some old favourites by PHR recorded live in the studio.
Kicking off with God Won’t Let My Baby In Tonight, Ouroboros delivers right from the start. Acoustic guitar riffs underpinned by subtle, brushed drums with organ chords floating above, neatly complementing Lee Vernon’s growling vocals and incisive blues harp interjections. Bring It All Home starts off with some nice acoustic slide guitar with a real country Blues/Beggar’s Banquet vibe. Electric piano dances round Lee’s vocal and there’s another powerful blast of blues harp, full of guts and grit. Walk On By has a soulful, reverby, electric piano and understated bass and electric guitar making it the most funky, driving track so far. Closing number Going Down follows Never Liked You Anyway’s melancholy gospel with some soulful urban blues with a dynamic descending bass line, more cool brushed snare and an acoustic guitar solo that totally captures what the whole genre is about.
With its well loved songs given a fresh and understated approach, Ouroboros is a quiet triumph. Similar but crucially different it gives a whole new perspective on a great band.
Pete & Rob’s Musical Whimsey (Robin Boult / Pete Trewavas)
Described as ‘A collection of instrumental tunes we consider to be a work in progress’ Acoustic Industry is more than just the kind of random jottings and half formed ideas often passed off under such titles. ’An explosion of thoughts’ is probably a more accurate description.
Opening track, Lazybones’ acoustic guitars hit an attractive, folky groove backed by an understated rhythm track leading into Suburb, heralded by electronic percussion, where acoustic guitar and bass warily circle each other in a slightly ominous way while electric keyboards add further low key unease. Serious Stupid has a great ‘White Album’ vibe while Waiting is a moody slide guitar exploration. Closing track, Django is a homage to a uniquely gifted musician who showed the way for guitarists everywhere. Close your eyes and you could be riding down a long, straight, sunny, tree lined road in a 2CV with the roof down.
Acoustic Industry successfully pulls off the difficult trick of managing to be both experimental and entertaining. If this is a work in progress this writer can’t wait to hear some ‘Finished Product’. In the meantime, enjoy the journey.
Rew, Play, Fwd
Palahniuk’s new EP comes across as a consolidation of all their existing virtues. Its cool assured pop/rock marks them out as true stylists who have fully grasped the importance of what’s left out as well as what gets played.
Retribution is full of raw power with no frills. Stripped down fuzzy guitar meets quirky vocals with an instant chorus and really effective instrumental drop out for an acapella close.
Second track Flying has a flangy guitar and an irresistible La La chorus and motors like a demon.
The best way this writer can describe Rew, Play, Fwd is that it’s full of brains, brevity and balls. What more do you need?
Less prog, more choral, Invicta is a brave tilt at a classical/faith based concept piece.
Starting off with what sounds like a sample of the Big Bang there is a rapid change to a more pastoral and then classical vibe with a gentle drift into prog folk during Who Created Me? The Pitchforks come out for Execution Mob and Witch Hunt’s sharp elbowed asymmetries while Heaven’s Gate creates music of the spheres and some general Gustav Holst undertones with some operatic vocals and rather lovely piano. The Whispering’s peerless harmonies bring things to a peaceful close.
Invicta makes for interesting, challenging and at times uneasy listening. Not for the faint hearted but well worth checking out.
The Siege Of Sebastopol
Announcing its arrival with a squall of bad tempered feedback and Lora Logical sax, The Siege Of Sebastopol documents a thirty year journey into the heart of the swamplands.
Candyman has an aura of crawling menace thanks in no small measure to Jim Fry’s scary vocals which also deliver in spades on the vertiginous The Man With The Smile. Debut single Roger’s Gone Mad has a manic 60’s TV theme vibe while The Fire Of Love is beautifully raw, as is everything here, and shows off the formidable power of the Jon Dathen/Kent Davis rhythm section. Strange Fruit is a cool post punk genre fusion followed by the new wave rush of Black Christ. Closing in the huge wash of darkness which is Picture Of You, Siege Of Sebastopol leaves you in the best way possible, simply wanting more, which will hopefully come sooner rather than later.
Special mention should also go to Vic Doyle for some fearsome guitar throughout and to Saraan Platt who can make a sax sound downright sinister in the best Bowie/Mackay tradition.
Release The Bats
Some heavy driving rock from namesakes of one of the Birthday Party’s most iconic songs. First track ’Make You My Baby’ zooms along a little like ‘White Wedding’ with an axe and some really bad attitude. Big crash chords and nasty, vindictive guitars abound. ‘Spooky Julie’ gives us more of the same with even more scary, stalker ejaculatory vocals and hardcore lyrics. Don’t play this one to your Granny, (or your Mum for that matter). ‘To Find You’ has an impressive vocal performance and a more reflective, melodic feel, interspersed with killer guitar breaks. Altogether a great use of dynamics here. Final track ‘Spinning In A Lover’ contains more crashing guitars and great vocals. A real object lesson in intensity. With their big, fierce, dark sound, Release The Bats continue the Gothic Rock tradition into the 21st century with a bang.
Escape From The Requiem
A nice piece of acoustic introspection from Jonny Alford. Full of dextrously fingerpicked acoustic guitars worthy of Nick Drake’s approval in many places, Escape From The Requiem is an understated pleasure. There’s the country vibe of I Can’t Close My Eyes and Wainbody Avenue featuring some attractive multi tracked slide guitars. Then there’s All That You’ve Got with its programmed percussion and Syd Barrett guitars buried miles back in the mix, Gone which has an almost Glen Campbell feel to it in places and the rather lovely Smile. With its warm vocal harmonies and laid back lead vocals Escape From The Requiem contains songs full of charm and individuality. Personal but never confessional it is well worth checking out.
Lost souls and big music abound on Jump’s latest offering, driven along by stinging, bluesy guitars fit to garner the approval of David Gilmour or John Perry and some stunningly fluid bass. Opening track Down Three Times is a huge slab of misty, folk inflected Celtic prog featuring John Dexter Jones coming on like a 21st century Samuel Taylor Coleridge charting the course of an Ancient Mariner who seems more than capable of holding his own in one of Captain Cat’s midnight chats with the Drowned. This bleak reverse side to Fisherman’s Blues leaves the listener breathless, washed up on a tide of thunderous, monumental imagery. More lost souls appear in drug ballad, Rosetta Stoned, the relationship meltdown of Kingston Corner Blues and in the shape of the crazy woman on the bus in No-one Spoke. Closing track Forgive Me My Sins charts one soul’s slow passage to redemption through change and a break with history, bringing the album to a cautiously optimistic close. Elsewhere some fairly accurate swipes are taken at religion and the generally poor state of the human condition but it’s the sympathy and humanity of the ‘People Songs’, for want of a better name, which really grabs the attention and is The Beachcomber’s greatest strength.
The Girl In The White Dress
Some seductively melodic songs from Katie Buckhaven. This record gives an impression of spaces. From wide open ones as suggested by the production and the big sky arcing guitars of Running Blind to vast distances as intimated by the country steel guitar and resigned romanticism of Slip Away, crossing over to the anglicised reggae inflections of of Heroes by way of the almost Coral vibe of I Told A Lie with its diverse ethnicity of Latin rhythms colliding with Gypsy violin and lonesome trumpet. On the way there are also the keening guitars, pure vocals, aquatic cymbal splashes and attractive melody of Boat Song followed by more resigned romanticism in Not Your Type. Urban loneliness and isolation are emphasised with ominous slide guitars and backing vocals on Devil Song while mystic musings are covered effectively on closing track Far Away. With its melodic, immaculately vocalised late night feel, The Girl In The White Dress politely but firmly demands your attention. .
Pearl Handled Revolver
Colossus by name and nature, this is a trip into hard blues/ rock territory by a band at the top of their game. Ferocious, stabbing organ solos, which would have the young Jon Lord sitting up and taking notice, luminous guitars pushing out insistent, compulsive riffs and some truly feral blues harp can be found in abundance. All underpinned by the bass and drums of Oli Carter and Chris Thatcher who are rapidly developing into an unstoppable rhythm machine. Then, there’s the voice of Lee Vernon who reinforces his blues credentials here to the Nth degree, nailing them firmly to the masthead throughout. Opening track Stone Thrower demonstrates the above amply, as does the slow, heavy blues of Woman Made A Man Out Of Me. Acoustic ballad Resonate eases the tension while riding the cusp of the 60s/70s with floating organ chords, brushed snare and melodic bass. Stop Me Dead begins as a gutsy blues/funk workout crossing over into gospel territory by way of some lovely, churchy organ where Simon Rinaldo invokes the spirit of Tommy Eyre, reinforced by soulful backing vocals courtesy of Sophia Ripley. Meanwhile White Lines roars along with the energy and momentum a runaway truck, its high, new wavey backing vocals contrasting nicely with Lee’s growl. I Will Rise is reflective, epic and magnificent and illustrates what a subtle and creative guitarist PHR have in Andy Paris. Title track Colossus is a massive, cinematic full screen epic. Foreboding keyboards dominate while a huge fuzzy bass threatens in the background and delicate slide guitar skates across the surface. Full of cavernous depths and sonic ambition it slowly develops into something mighty, free and other worldly. Like I said at the beginning, Colossus by name and nature, it’s out there now towering over all contenders. But don’t just take my word for it, give it a listen and prepare to be blown away. .
Classic old style pop/rock from Sian Cross with more hooks than you’re ever likely to find at the butchers. Immaculately played and arranged with a polished Abbey Road studio sheen to its production and Sian’s strong and soulful vocals, Leap Year takes the listener back to a more gentle time. I Nearly Love You and What If Maybe both feature a contagiously strong chorus. Then there’s room for some pensive soul balladry on Lady Ansel and Four Weeks. The rocky side of the equation is covered ably on Escape and the cautionary Alcohol. Relaxed, chilled and easy on the ear. File under ‘Late night listening’.
It's My Life
Five tracks from Leighton Buzzard based chanteuse. From the opening title track with its programmed percussion, slippery bass and cool melodic vocals to the foreboding vibe of final track, ‘Stranded’, Gemma covers a range of emotions. In between there’s the sweet summery pop and triumphantly contagious chorus of ‘Sunshine’ , ‘Why’s trawl through romantic ruins and ‘Object Of Defeat’s Suzanne Vega style lyric over a sympathetic backing with more electronic percussion. With its abundance of electronic instrumentation, It’s My Life ably demonstrates Gemma’s ability to take the traditional singer/songwriter style into new more modern dimensions. Well worth your time and attention. .
Essex born Jadylu is Runway Music’s latest discovery. Defenceless, her debut single, is a country flavoured confection with an electronic pulse. Pure, perfect, pop with a slice of r&b slipped into the mix it’s an ideal vehicle for displaying Jadylu’s undeniable vocal talents. One to watch out for.
REVIEW - EXCLUSIVE
The Red Bullets Rockfield Early Mixes
The Red Bullets have given the New Roxette a preview of two tracks recently recorded at Rockfield Studios. These are early mixes, but give a good indication of the general sound and direction that the band are pursuing.
Never Alabama is a slow number with nice overdubbed keyboard swirls, banjo well back in the mix and some very tasteful slide guitar embellishments which zoom through the track like a squadron of angels ascending to the firmament.
The rhythm section is absolutely, uncannily, spot on and Pete’s vocals are as near perfect as makes no difference.
Black Dog appears to explore Nick Drake, dark night of the soul territory and is the rockier of the two tracks. Driven on by some excellent, funky rhythm guitar and more perfectly precise bass and drums the track again features angelic slide guitars and in addition, a genuine, old fashioned, synthesizer break.
On the evidence of these two tracks the Bullets still have a load of fire in their bellies and are clearly determined to keep moving forward. Their headline slot at HOTC is going to be something to look forward to that’s for sure…
A set of diamonds in the rough from multi-instrumentalist Craig Hudson. Craig plays all instruments on this album which is bursting with fragile, home made acoustic charm. There’s the cheery skiffle putdown of Waste Of Time, the scratchy percussion of Politics Party, the lo-fi semi-acoustic punk of Wait, and that’s just the first three tracks...
Further investigation will lead you to the rocking Now’s The Time, the romantic musings of One Last Day and the big sound and Lennon ‘bathroom’ vocal effects on Bad Cocaine.
Mixing confidence and vulnerability with consummate skill, bringing a contemporary feel to an early ‘70s Harvest/Dandelion vibe, introspective but never up itself, Craig’s music deserves a wide audience and wider recognition.
According to his myspace page, Craig is recruiting a live band for shows over the summer. This is someone you miss at your peril! Hear the album and catch him live.
Saturday 17th July.
By 11.00 a large number of people had gathered in a chilly Kingsbury for day one of the Festival.
Opening act TR8R just seem to get better and better every time they appear. Theirs was a faultless performance of high energy punky rock that got the day off to a sparkling start.
Thinking For Tuesday, continued the trio of female fronted bands opening Saturday with a set of hard melodic rock songs expertly played and sung.
Third band, Evaney gave us songs in a folk rock vibe with the emphasis leaning firmly towards the rock end of the spectrum with fiery guitars dominating.
Acoustic artist Martyn Drabik played an accomplished solo set featuring a cover of Phil Collins’ In The Air Tonight which suited his vocal style uncannily.
Michael Lee brought a full band with him who took his songs through dense experimental arrangements full of jazzy/prog piano flourishes. He also appeared solo performing Michael Jackson’s Man In The Mirror to moving effect.Old Country Union and the sun arrived at more or less the same time and both warmed the audience into a rapturous reception. With their set of semi acoustic covers, Frank Walsh and friends surfed a wave of genuine enthusiasm.
Mike Carroll’s Groov8 were missing some of their usual firepower with a seriously depleted brass section. Bob Cronin and Tony Bevan deserve much credit for creating a far fuller sound than a Trombone and Sax could normally be expected to achieve. Nice one fellas!
Sunday 18th July.
Sunday Morning in a slightly warmer Kingsbury where Glyn Devey and band treated the growing crowd to some impressive guitar pyrotechnics followed immediately by Palanhiuk and their irresistible brand of new wave rock, with some definite undertones of The Undertones.
Bommerillo proved to be another highlight of the day, with their superior brand of country rock, in places referencing the Violent Femmes, scoring a bull’s-eye with the crowd.Pearl Handled Revolver gave Aylesbury its first but hopefully not last taste of their brand of dirty blues. From the uneasy melodies of Robin’s Garden through to the strident Going Down they won hearts and minds everywhere. Seriously cool.
Less cool but seriously entertaining, acoustic guitar and bouzouki wizard Wilber picked his way through a varied set and introduced us to David Marshall, a song presenting the inoffensive Oxfordshire town of Thame as a veritable fornicatorium. Given a level of exposure this song could do wonders for the local tourist trade…Gravity Blue followed with their joyous ringing pop rock confections. The twin Telecaster attack combined with Alex’s clear, high vocals create something to cherish. A rare jewel indeed.
Lost Minute treated the crowd to more of their imposing songs. With big choruses and sky touching guitars they are creating an instantly identifiable sound.
Although dogged by technical problems Stone Cold Diva still managed to deliver a tight, professional set of covers with a four piece brass section helping to make their soul numbers really ignite.
So that was the end of this year’s festival, yet again demonstrating the enormous breadth of talent found locally. Here’s looking forward to next year and further discoveries.
Revolutions In The Head
bold and brash, Revolutions In The Head announces its presence
unequivocally. A supercharged rhythm section with seismic bass
and massive drums provides a gigantic platform for some hyperthyroid
guitar, referencing Matt Bellamy and Daniel Ash in places and
strong, assertive vocals and keys.
Hints of inspiration from the likes of Muse and the Chilli Peppers
weave their way through the fabric of King Jesus and Loose Change’s
mighty riffing. Puzzles with subtle guitar and flute like John
Paul Jones keyboards builds into a huge ‘lighter waving’
number before closing as quietly as it began. Terrorist with its
cool keys/percussion intro and Dancing With Bricks’ looping,
recurrent Zep style riff both merit notice as well.
Tom, Marcus and Jonathon, ably assisted by producer Premen have
created some big music with teeth and attitude here. Enjoy!
of sharp, melodic, post punk mod pop, with reminders of Joy Division,
Comsat Angels and early Manics, Breakthrough kicks off with Darker
Side Of Me. This is an impressive start, moody and menacing, a
little like Day Of The Lords if covered by Fingerprintz. The darkness
is nicely offset by Alex Toye’s clear, pure vocals. Alex
is ably assisted throughout by Andy Kyle, Jeff Cooper and Ren
Mignogna through the excellent, chunky, feelgood pop of Best Thing
to the string synths and almost folky vibe of Pale Blue.
Breakthrough is full of clean, resonant, precisely picked guitars
and great choruses. Always catchy and accessible but never descending
into the banal. Breakthrough is due to be released in May and
is a likely contender for sound of the summer round at our house
and hopefully yours…
Bedford Esquires – 16 April 2010
in Bedford once again! This time a group of kindly women, dressed
for clubbing, take pity on us and draw a map. As it is we arrive
with time for a leisurely drink downstairs before we head in for
the first band.
Rumour are clearly suffering from nerves. Timing and tuning issues
abound until they relax about five songs into the set. Thereon
in things come sharply into focus and we get a pleasant trad rock
show. Given a little more time things should get a whole lot better.
on are Mandala. The guitarist wears his instrument very high,
Nick Heywood style, but there all similarities end. The music
is crushing Mathcore with fluid guitar, drums like Animal from
the Muppets meets Topper Headon at Keith Moon’s house and
bass that not only drives like something out of Vanishing Point
but runs you over in the process. There are no vocals just sharp
contrasts of dark/light, clinical/feral, melody/discord. The music
blasts through you and round you and away, bound for interstellar
bands could walk on stage after such a spacestorm with the style
and confidence of Baedeker who still carry the madness and mayhem
of the late lamented Swamis in their collective psyche. Electric
guitars, drums, some bass, shared lead vocals and harmonies of
an almost cinematic width mix with fabulous tunes and lyrics.
Dan struggles with a recalcitrant guitar towards the end of the
set but this does nothing to lessen the impact of a perfect, riveting
performance. Punk/Psych in the most positive, experimental sense
of the word, full of ideas and innovations, Baedeker truly are
a thing of wonder.
the theory of constant evolution ever needed illustration, Pearl
Handled Revolver would be an icon. They bestride the night like
a true colossus, masters of their instruments, songs and stagecraft.
If they ever set up a school for charismatic band fronting, Lee
Vernon should be giving regular master classes. Tonight they present
the full range of their beguiling skills, from the dirty blues
of Going Down, through the spooky, ‘Twin Peaks’ guitar
of Robin’s Garden to the blissful psych of Rainbow. Special
mention should, of course, go to the fabulous Morricone coloured
wild western Today Was The Day. Like I said, constant evolution,
it just gets better and better. Total stars to a man!
episode of a trilogy, this EP allows us to experience further
sonic dimensions from PHR’s repertoire.
track Today Was The Day comes galloping in from the high plains
in real Morricone style and believe me these cats gallop with
conviction. With evocative, bassy backing vocals and staccato
drums driven along by organ and guitars, this would have Sergio
Leone reaching for his chequebook.
Robin’s Garden is full of brooding, bass heavy music with
tense guitar and growling vocals. A more reflective side is on
show here as the song builds uneasily.
Peace By Piece with its psychedelic melotron intro builds into
heavy acid blues/rock with atmospheric guitar, bass and drums
which keep things rolling forward nicely. Hoarse, urgent vocals
teamed with sustained guitar howlings worthy of Kim Simmonds allow
this track to stretch out and jam before going through a passage
of difficult time signatures before a final rave up. Dirty, full
of energy, that’s the way we like it!
Final track God Won’t Let My Baby In Tonight is another
lengthy blues workout. Starting with an uneasy bass line and reverby
keyboards it builds a brooding vibe before fading with driving
bass and wailing Harmonica.
again Pearl Handled Revolver have achieved the difficult feat
of reproducing their live energy in the studio and have achieved
it with style. Catch them at the Aylesbury Festival this summer!!
Mashpop and Punkstep.
album by electropranksters from the Friars Management stable.
in by a man sounding not unlike ‘Mr Paul Caruso’ from
the opening track of Axis: Bold As Love, assisted by attractive
guitars and angelic voices, unwary listeners will find themselves
carried off on a rich and strange transport of delights. This
trip has many wondrous sounds and experiences. Thrill to encounters
with rappers on Ready For The Fight and Like Dat. There’s
skewed, slewed, loopy disco on Never Die, not to mention a brief
interlude with Puccini by way of Burn, Burn, Burn, a dangerous
liaison with some guys who sound like they may have been hanging
with Army Of Lovers. Then there’s some punky new wavers
on Simple Pleasures with its Rezillos style backing vocals and
Rock Star with its futurist rock soundscapes.
of humour, playfulness and sheer exuberant joie de vivre, Mashpop
and Punkstep manages the difficult feat of looking forwards, backwards
and upwards simultaneously and does it with enviable cool. The
future begins today! Dive in, the water’s lovely!!
swaps synths for Steinway and strings.
Jones always came across as a far more multi faceted character
than some of his contemporaries back in the 80s. At the time this
made his songs stand out from the competition and it has stood
him in good stead over the intervening years. With its piano and
Celtic/Philly Soul strings, ably backed by Robin Boult, Martin
Cohen and Jonathan Atkinson, Ordinary Heroes is a move into different
territory for Howard. In places, full of a deeply introspective
style of singer/songwriter composition covering the enormous topic
of everyday humanity’s trials and tribulations, this move
is an ambitious and happily successful one.
Some standouts are Fight On, which is reminiscent of Sixty Years
On from Elton John’s debut album and has a perfect, sympathetic
string arrangement, Someone You Need where the piano and strings
again work together to sublime effect and Soon You’ll Go
with its marvellously arranged Welsh male voice choir. Ordinary
Heroes ably demonstrates that H.J. still demands and deserves
our fullest attention.
Rock. M.K. residents Lizzy, Nikki, Hannah, Joe and Steve kick
off with Where Do We Go? which fades up into a full on intensity
fest filled with fuzzed out riffage. Following track Silent Drive
Home maintains the pressure relentlessly.
Uncovered insinuates its way in, building slowly with high vocals
almost submerged in the mix and deep drum interjections before
hitting a total onslaught followed by quiet multi vocal verse/immense,
thunderous chorus moments and more mindblowing flights of intensity,
closing on a final, end of the world, massive chord. Like I said,
Eponymous electrofuturist sounds from Young Punx associate.
has created a crazy confection of uneasy avant gardening, funky,
futurist electro dance/rock. Rhythms and distorted guitars jolt
and explode in every direction while vocals slide in and out of
focus like and aural Burroughsian cut up. At the same time dramatic
trancey bits and occasional cheery little sounds periodically
burst out of the mix.
A Warm Welcome has a chopped fragmented almost Revolution No 9
with a sense of rhythm feel in places, while Ghetto Burnin’
is full of distorted savage metallic sounds and relentless beats.
There’s frantic futurist rock riffing on The Big Deal, sinisterly
cinematic sounds on Zombie Army and It’s For You is melodic
in a rather beautiful way.
Final track London seems to sum up the overall vibe of the album
(and elements of the capital) with its heavy metal through a mincer
sound accompanied by lightening guitar and sweary dialogue. Phonat
is, in turn, fabulous, challenging and contrary. File under: Storming
the future of multiple genres.
The Hellfire Raves
Something of a gem from Wycombe’s subterranean punsters.
track, Malevolence starts quietly with strange, disturbing off
key guitar noises and rapidly settles into a Hook/Morris style
groove with cool, throwaway, detached vocals building to a powerful
wah driven chorus. A great start.
The quality continues throughout with Confessions Of A Justified
Sinner featuring pub piano and late 60s early 70s vibe, Cold Not
Dying, full of icy guitars lifting off into a sonic blizzard or
the organ driven Days Dreams And Dust with its pop vibe and great
vocals. The Tower which starts with a solitary acoustic guitar
has the rest of the band rapidly crowding in. This is another
organ driven song with a chorus full of unsettling vibes reminiscent
of some of Arthur Lee’s darker moments.
track, Spiritual Stars is a slow burning triumph full of primitively
psychedelic guitars in the best Reed/Morrison tradition. Shades
of David J’s early work drift through the picture while
the bass and drums lock beautifully behind buried backing vocals.
All you need is John Cale on viola and we’d be heaven bound.
Tony, Doug, Jim, Neil and Martin have created something brilliant
here which benefits from a few listens, grows and continues to
impress and intrigue, infinitely…
Face For The Radio
New CD from Tring’s Finest Export.
a suitably manic start, things kick off with Vibrations, driven
along by Tom Rhodes’ funky bass and some guitar which would
make Andy Partridge proud in places. Things calm down slightly
for Blind which opens with subtle guitar swells and cymbals and
a more reflective overall feel, building into something bigger
with passionate vocals by Joe Payne. The studio recordings are
rounded off by Radioface which is again driven along by fierce
guitars and bass and features a cool, cynical lyric.
live (most likely in studio) recordings make up the rest of the
EP. PMA is raw and intense, full of clashing, gnashing guitars
followed by a ferocious live rendition of We Dance from the previous
EP. Things are drawn to a close by an even more attacking version
of opening track Vibrations.
their intense, aggressive arrangements Tramp Etiquette can really
rip things up. Couple this with a sound that is very much their
own, serious musicianship that is never used to the cost of their
intrinsic rawness and you have a class act both live and on record.
Source Of Power
rock with a mediaeval/gothic spin.
track Flesh Is So Easily Torn with its plainsong intro runs headlong
into hard straight-ahead rock full of big keyboards and even larger
guitar, broken up in the chorus with sparsely instrumented organ
and drum almost reminiscent of parts of Desertshore or The Marble
with sinister, echoed laughter, The Crazy Clown Song is full of
skewed, scary, fairground vibes and weird off kilter keyboards.
More huge guitar sounds and some deep waltzing bass haunt this
Moving on, Killer Instinct with its classically inspired keyboards
and Reason with its long instrumental intro filled with flute,
quietly picked guitars and nice bass interjections, rock out seriously.
Final track Sweet Mistress has a Celtic vibe and some ominous
synthesized weather noises to go with its pure, keening vocals
and scary occultist spoken-word bit.
track, The Battle seems to sum up the Vrillion sound perfectly
in that it’s hard, driving, big and serious and none the
worse for it!
AYLESBURY CHRISTMAS PARTY - 27.11.09
Kid Creole & The Coconuts, China Crisis
final Friars Christmas Party featured two much loved and well
remembered bands from the 80’s.
Crisis played a gently paced set of melodic 80’s poptones,
full of smooth rhythms and attractive chorusy guitars, to a keenly
receptive audience, before receiving a much deserved ‘Friars
such a low key start, Kid Creole And The Coconuts appeared even
more spectacularly theatrical. After a lengthy introductory rap
by MC Bongo Eddie (Percussion and Serious suit) The Kid himself,
August Darnell appeared zooted and booted like a 21st Century
Cab Calloway and led us, willingly, into his wonderful world.
The hits came thick and fast, Stool Pigeon, I’m a Wonderful
Thing Baby, Annie I’m Not Your Daddy all driven along by
one of the most sublimely funky big bands it has been Aylesbury’s
privilege to witness. Marc Anthony Johnson with his Hendrix meets
Nile Rodgers at the altar of funk guitar was a revelation, as
were the bass and drums courtesy of Oroh Angiana and Dave Imby.
Their godlike genius provided a mighty raft for Darnell’s
musical vision to cruise the tides and exotic shores of his personal
ocean to its heart’s content. Not forgetting the Coconuts
who’s backing vocals and humorous undermining of the Kid
and Eddie’s theatrical macho posturing have always been
an integral part of the show. Finally there was the almost angelic
only possible description for tonight’s show is magnificent.
A fabulous performance with a rapturous reaction from the audience
and all rounded off with the presentation of their own ‘Friars
Heroes’ award. Talking of heroes DJ Kris Needs provided
a great set between the bands, again skilfully evoking the spirit
of the times.
again the Friars magic was well in evidence at this, possibly
the best of the three 40th anniversary shows. Superlatives simply
can’t do justice to this particular night. All I can do
is offer my heartfelt condolences to everyone who was not there,
and hope that we’ll see maybe one or two more Friars Aylesbury
shows in 2010…. Watch this space!
The Fire Sermon
of Prog, Folk/Celtic rockers The Violet Hour’s CBS Album
from the early 90s.
track Dream Of Me ushers in the album with sea sounds and whale
song and with it strong Celtic influences and mournful flageolet
playing, sets the tone of things to come.
Spell has a feel of Kate Bush in some of her rockier moments with
an Alice in Wonderland theme and phased drums while the Piano
led Offertory Song is redolent of the musty scent of empty, semi
abandoned Churches, which bursts into a heavier chorus.
opens what would have been side two of the original vinyl release
with a poppier piano driven feel.
Wind Blowing rocks out menacingly with a tale of Nighttown violence
while The House is a ballad full of lyrical references to psychedelia
and the death and decay of the 60s dream.
Be Good deals with heavy childhood topics of lousy, manipulative
parenting with a chance of escape into the outside world.
Fire Sermon is a very interesting and long unavailable document
of the times, sensitively but assertively sung and played by,
Doris Brendel, Marcus Waite, Martyn Wilson, Andrew Fox and Sean
the intervening years Doris Brendel has been involved in many
recording projects in various musical genres featuring such luminaries
as Alvin Lee and Joe Brown. These have all now been re-released.
40th Anniversary Gig
23 October 2009
returned to Aylesbury again on October 23rd, moving on from 60s
psychedelia to late 70s punk rock explosion. All the bands playing
had strong connections with Friars during that crucial period
of the club’s history.
locals The Disco Students were the opening act. Full of swirling
Magazine style keyboard washes and a strongly melodic post punk
vibe they managed to be very much of that time but still startlingly
relevant. Fronted by their one constant factor, Simon Cheetham,
(vocals and excellent shirt) they were no easy act to follow.
It’s a real pity they were on so early as many people missed
their quirky, intelligent set.
had last played Friars almost thirty years ago to the day, on
their final tour and it was almost like they’d never been
away. That powerful two guitar attack is still there and they
are still fascinating, individualistic and totally their own people.
All in all very much what punk was meant to be about before all
those stupid rules came in. Total originals and you have no idea
how good it was to hear Don’t Dictate again. Lovely people
has not withered, wearied or slowed down Stiff Little Fingers.
Their songs are still delivered with the same fire and passion
despite throat infections and the passage of time. This band has
held an important place in Friars’ history for the last
thirty years and they received a rapturous reception from a sold
out venue. The hall was filled with pogoing punks of all ages,
colliding and clashing with little regard for life or limb. Just
brilliant! Simple as that…
was another night of mainly total highs which should serve to
remind us why Friars has been so loved and so missed over the
Needs returned to play period DJ sets in between the bands and
captured the essence of the time perfectly. Friars Hero awards
were again presented to the artistes with this writer’s
personal high points of the night being Pauline Murray’s
total, unbridled delight on receiving Penetration’s award
and Mike O’Connor’s well deserved presentation for
his dedication and artistry in creating developing and running
the Official Friars web site…
Broken Down Figure
local musician David Saw has created an album with an attractive,
laid back feel to it. Recorded in London and various locations
in America, this is an album full, for the most part, of gently
reflective singer-songwriter material with a strong American East
Coast feel to the sound and arrangements.
Call with its quiet, introspective, acoustic vibe and the title
track which is backed with a subtle, sparse string quartet arrangement
give a general feel of the album. The exceptions are Buy My Record
which changes the mood to a more vintage rock/skiffle feel and
the Donovan/Mellow Yellow rhythmed vibe of Someone’s Going
To Love You.
Highlights appear in the shape of All At Sea with its delicate,
solo finger picked acoustic guitar and Come Down with its excellent
Saw has a great voice which showcases his songs with true class.
Praise should also go to Patrick Warren for his sympathetic string
arrangements and to Ben Taylor for his backing vocals on an album
redolent of late nights and long lazy summer days.
melodic, acoustic release from singer songwriter Linda Watkins.
album is full of excellent guitar interplay courtesy of Linda
and producer Mike Silver who also provides sympathetic harmony/backing
vocals which are well illustrated on Winding Sheet. Credit and
mention should go to Kate Riaz for her sonorous cello particularly
on Delicate Kind and Held In Trust where she opens and develops
further dimensions to the songs and also to Snake Davis for his
understated sax on Sometimes We Don’t See and whistle on
Bugeillo’r Gwenith Gwyn. Engineer Mick Dolan deserves credit
for his bass and electric guitar throughout essay on human veniality,
vocals carry elements of Joni Mitchell and at times the vulnerability
of Bridget St John, which makes for interesting and rewarding
listening. Well thought out, diary style lyric writing abounds
giving an overall feeling of intimacy and introspection to this
tracks from purveyors of ‘Dirty Blues’ Pearl Handled
kick off massively with ‘Walk On By’ featuring raw
vocals by Lee Vernon. So raw in fact, that it sounds like he’s
been raised on a diet of flint chips and bathtub vodka with the
Blues looming behind him with a huge aesthetic capital B. ‘Bring
It All Home’ gives us more of the same, but with a massive
funk injection. Slide guitars zoom and howl across the landscape.
There’s wailing harmonica and stabbing, keening organ all
driven along by a rhythm section that takes no prisoners. ‘Sunrays
Through My Windshield’ is lighter, more acoustic driven
with a subtle, sunshiny pop feel to it. Final track ‘Going
Down’ is full of attacking guitars, funky organ and electric
piano and soulful vocals and harmonica.
‘One’, is a fabulous artefact from a brilliant live
band who have effortlessly transcended the gig to studio divide
without losing the energy and excitement of their sound. The only
downside is the absence of ‘Today Was The Day’ which
is a massive personal favourite.
Try to see them live and buy this EP (which is the first of a
planned series of three). Neither will let you down!
Anymore/Decisions (Acoustic) - 13.07.09
debut single ‘Anymore’, Lost Minute have created a
brooding almost folk rock vibe. With its emotional lead vocal,
fluid guitar, (referencing Mark Knopfler in places), the relaxed
but precise rhythm section and mood enhancing string samples;
this is a subtle but intense offering.
(Acoustic)’ features a full sounding nicely toned acoustic
guitar, to complement the vocals which are supported by high harmonies
and unobtrusive strings.
Tastefully arranged, well recorded and produced Lost Minute have
come up with an interesting radio-friendly single, indicating
that they are well worth further investigation.
It’s 7am Somewhere
rock in a new wave style from Benjamin Weston. Catchy choruses
and big guitars, some fuzzy, some strident, abound on this release.
The title track has all the aforementioned virtues and the whole
album could be described as full of short, snappy new wave guitar
pop in the best tradition of The Knack or Holly’s Italians.
breakers like Good Time Waster with its organ and country rock
vibe or more surprisingly Anchored which fades in and out electronically
with a very 80s big sound add further interest, as does Another
Day with its semi acoustic feel with just guitar and drums for
most of its length giving off a rough hewn almost demo vibe. Kindred
Spirit should also be noted for its driving with the radio on,
excellent vocals and instrumentation It’s 7am Somewhere
is well worth checking out.
Hannibal Ad Portas/Bigger Games Better Days
Ad Portas the press release informs us…”is Latin for
‘Hannibal at the Gates’, it was an ancient roman expression
of fear or dread and is still in use today”. This is psychedelia
with fangs, fading in with strange sounds this is serious art
rock with spiky guitars, intense vocals and string samples. Big,
fierce and angry sounding, roaring into thrashy episodes the listener
is taken up on a frantic trip out with the wild hunt to be finally
left frazzled and changed at the end of its six minute duration.
Games/Better Days charts the breakdown of a relationship with
male and female vocals telling separate versions of the same story,
clashing rather than harmonising and increasing the general effect
of desolation. Semi acoustic with some nice backwards guitar the
song finally rocks desperately to its conclusion.
In Pencil (Loz, Skae, James and Sam) have created something unusual
and memorable here. If you like your music psychedelic, awkward
and downright individual this could well be your thing.
2 June 2009
Faulkner played solo to a sold-out Aylesbury Civic Centre on Tuesday
night demonstrating an easy rapport with the audience and a stunning
ability as an acoustic guitarist.
stink, so this writer will try to avoid them. Suffice to say Newton
Faulkner is part of a grand tradition without a great deal of
the ‘troubled artist’ baggage which has dogged many
of his predecessors and is dragging said tradition into the 21st
century with style.
times using a battery of pedals, several guitars and something
resembling a Ukulele, Newton’s two hour set never dragged.
Minimal but excellent lighting went from tasteful ambience through
Disco Ball to something resembling an abstract painting, all the
while there’s an intimate atmosphere which turned the Civic
into a large living room.
out songs were the excellent adaptation of Massive Attack’s
‘Teardrop’ with huge bass pedals, the fear of flying
song with its sliding chords and the fluffed but cool ‘Ageing
Superhero’ with its aura of burned out melancholy. ‘Lipstick
Jungle’ with its almost African picking deserves a mention
night finished with Newton singing and playing off mike to pin
dropping silence followed by thunderous applause.
a class act!!
Friars 40th Anniversary Gig
1 June 2009
40 years on almost to the
day and after a 25 year break, Friars returned to Aylesbury. Featuring
three ‘phase-one’ bands and the presentation of a
record six Friars Heroes awards by Mike O’Connor of the
Friars Aylesbury Compendium, it was one of those occasions where,
as David Stopps once said “You were either there, or you weren’t”!
First on stage were The Groundhogs. Tony McPhee has never
attained the level of guitar-hero status he deserves. Perhaps
his sonic explorations went ahead at the expense of more widespread
commercial recognition. Tonight he was impressively fast and fluid,
creating an acid blues freak-out on opening number ‘Eccentric
Man’ and following on with some superb slide guitar
extemporisations, trips into deep space and finally some serious
pyrotechnics through ‘Natchez
Burning’ and ‘Cherry
Edgar Broughton Band still contains the three original members augmented
by guitar and keyboards. They created epic songs with diverse
influences running from Captain Beefheart to English folk, making
a hard driving roar interlaced with subtle psychedelia. ‘Call Me A Liar’ with its big synths and Roy Harper referencing
wah guitar was a standout along with ‘Out Demons Out’ which allowed the band to really let their Freak
Flag fly. Edgar’s opening rap ably demonstrated that sadly,
little has changed since ‘Demons’
first appeared. Accompanied by some serious leaping about by a
man who resembled Gerry Garcia (possibly the legendary Dave The
Rave from Leaper’s Corner) the Broughtons may not have levitated
the Pentagon, but they certainly shook its foundations.
Arriving on stage after
a high speed dash from an earlier gig at the O2 Arena, The Pretty Things treated us to a career spanning set taking in 60’s
r’n b, blues and psychedelia. Opening with contemporary
number ‘Beat Goes On’ with its hard rock
vibe, the Pretties then re-visited the past with ‘Don’t Bring Me Down’ and quickly moved on to selections
from psychedelic masterpiece ‘S
F Sorrow’, bringing the title character into the building
with ‘S F Sorrow Is Born’ with Dick Taylor coaxing fabulous tones from
his guitar. ‘She Says
Good Morning’ explored more psychedelic
guitar territory while ‘Baron
Saturday’ featured Dick’s sinister vocals and
an all band percussion break.
After a short blues jam
the wonderful Arthur Brown
was brought on to join fellow legend Phil May for vocal sparring
on ‘Hoochie Coochie Man’. Arthur departed
and the band roared through
‘Roadrunner’, ‘Come See Me’ and ‘Buzz
The Jerk’ leading up to lost
classic ‘Alexander’ from their Electric Banana
alter ego period. ‘I
Wish You Would’ was followed
by ‘Old Man Going’ featuring
more psychedelic guitar and indicating that Sorrow had finally
left the building. From there it was 60’s standard, ‘Route 66’ followed by ‘Rosalyn’ with the Pretties joined on stage by Arthur Brown and
The Broughtons closing a magnificent night of great music.
Special mention should
also go to the mighty Kris
Needs and his superb 1969 DJ sets before and between the bands,
the wonderful Friars Aylesbury atmosphere which carried on throughout
the evening and the appearance on stage of the founding fathers
of Friars, Jerry Slater, Terry Harms, Adrian Roach, Robin Pike and David Stopps. Robin concisely summed up
the Friars ethos with his comment ‘If
you believe in something, go out and do it’.
Friars Hero Awards were
presented to all three bands playing that night and also to Mike Cooper and Mandrake Paddle Steamer who played the first Friars on June 2nd
1969. Mike Cooper received his award by satellite in Rome while Mandrake Paddle Steamer’s was
presented to band member Paul Riordan on stage. The sixth award
was presented to the estimable David Stopps without whom…
No More Lies
‘No More Lies’ Slashed Seat Affair have created a
driving new wave feel with all the guts as you would expect, but
with a gleaming modern-day production which enables it to look
both forwards and back. Ellie Mules is an accomplished vocalist
in the classic style which places her in good company, and praise
is due to the rest of the band for their contribution. Noel Martin
creates a marvellous and very full guitar sound while the solid,
assertive rhythm section drives on, courtesy of Darren Michael
(bass) and Rob Meehan (drums). A great piece of pop rock!
‘No More Lies’ is released on 4 May on Fill The Void
in lose feathers, this album from ‘Dark Cabaret’ artistes
Birdeatsbaby refines said darkness into a marvellous Weimar On
Sea confection while never falling into the trap of archly camp
(Who He? Ed.).
of doomed love and polkas, lurching waltz times and piano, bass
and strings colliding lasciviously and sometimes angrily, it’s
easy to imagine Auden cruising their venue or Isherwood sitting
in a corner taking notes.
hard to pick out individual songs when standards are so high but
Miserable with its rubber, leather, SM fetish and alcohol abuse
sticks in the mind as does Jim, a Dear John (or perhaps Dear Jim)
number, which manages to cram onanism, television and Keira (Knightley,
one assumes) into the first line alone. Letter To Charlie with
its gentle acoustic guitar and harmony vocals closes the show.
Mullaly and the rest of the band have created something worth
its weight in rubies here. Take a copy into your heart and your
home. It’s guaranteed to behave abominably but you’ll
just love it all the more.
me down Charlie Brown, wrap me up in a hospital gown”.
Tring - 16th March 2009
By Peter Brockwell
will be familiar with Steve Rothery in his role of guitarist for
local band Marillion but his side project The Wishing Tree are
not so high profile.
Wishing Tree chose The Court Theatre, Pendley Manor, Tring to
launch their new CD titled 'Ostara' on the world. In the making
for 12 years this is only their second album (following 1996's
Carnival of Souls) which demonstrates the pit falls of Hannah
(Stobart - Vocals) and Steve's Transatlantic musical relationship.
tonight is supplied by Pete Trawavas (Marillion/Kino) and Robin
Boult (Howard Jones/John Young Band) in the guise of 'Pete and
Rob's Experimental Whimsy.
name sums up the nature of their set which travels from ragtime
acoustic workouts to Jeff Beck style electric virtuosity and every
With a little more time this could build into a very interesting
a short break we are onto the main event as The Wishing Tree take
to the stage for one of their very rare live performances to rapturous
applause from the partisan audience. As this is the launch party
for 'Ostara' we get seven of the albums eight tracks (only final
track 'Soldier' is omitted).
some initial problems with the vocal levels the audience's request
for "more vocals" following the first song helps the
sound in the intimate venue with Rothery's guitar staying high
in the mix.
running order rearranges the songs to allow the set list to start
with the traditionally slower Wishing Tree prog-meets-folk sound
of songs like 'Seventh Sign' and 'Easy' and build to the hookier/harder
climax of 'Kingfisher' and the title track. The nights only non-album
track appears during the encore in the form of an impromptu cover
of Mazzy Star's 'Fade Into You'.
the seven-piece band only having a day and a half to rehearse
for the show they replicate the recorded sound well due to the
quality of musicians such as Pete Salmon (ex-Jadis), Jo Rothery
and Pete Trawavas (again!). The loyal audience stayed sympathetic
throughout despite a few 'technical problems' and abrupt conclusions
to songs which normally fade out in their recorded form.
the gig, a meet and greet provides the chance for the adoring
throng to thank the band and grab an autograph or two before heading
home. Altogether a special night and who knows what this band
could achieve in the current climate (The Reasoning, Panic Room,
Mostly Autumn etc) given more exposure.
six track CD of clever electronica from Bim.
Electric percussion clicks and rattles quietly in the background
while gentle synths wash through the mix like a soothing, incoming
tide. Breathy female vocals from Rebecca Rosier with slightly
more edgy accompanying voice from Tim Davis add colour to the
overall picture which has its spectrum widened and deepened by
touches of electric guitar here and there.
Despite the rather chilled musical ambience found here, Rebecca
and Tim are able to build a surprising level of intensity without
ever becoming loud or shouty (e.g. Call It A Monday).
Final track The Magic Of Us finds the pair harmonising over an
unadorned acoustic piano backdrop which is all the more effective
for its simplicity.
So there it is. Six tracks of cool Electro pop which resolutely
refuse to insult your intelligence.
writer and multi instrumentalist, Claire has produced a rare jewel
here. Her songs are performed with sensitivity, craft and care
enhanced by Steph Shepherd’s resonant cello which lends
real gravitas to the material. The tracks fade in and out of each
other giving the impression of a song cycle and lending a kind
of organic wholeness to proceedings.
Opening the album with sounds of water and backwards guitar, Weak
features peerless vocal harmonies, cello and acoustic guitar.
Grow and Time both featuring drums by Mike Hawkins continue with
the harmonic beauty.
Instrumental track Candlewax uses electric percussion but keeps
a folky chilled out aura and displays Claire’s flute and
Final track Free combines cello and celestial harmonies with some
ominous distorted guitar in the background.
There is a really strong, early ‘Island Records’ feel
about the album reminiscent of some of Joe Boyd’s best work
as a producer. Full of beauty and mystery I can’t recommend
this highly enough.
I Am An Antagonist/Narcolepsy
strong stuff on 1877’s debut release. Antagonist begins
with electronic percussion and keyboards before the guitars come
in backing submerged Curtis inflected vocals. Cold and powerfully
arranged the instruments mesh and splinter menacingly.
B side Narcolepsy is, if possible, even more intense. Guitar and
Bass drive relentlessly reminding the reviewer of Sumner and Hook
on Interzone. True to its title, the track carries a bleak Burroughsian
menace which has gone unheard in music for far too long.
Chris Stanley in The-Mag wrote, “They carry a genuine menace
and intensity”. I can only, totally, wholeheartedly agree.
music with a Celtic vibe from Ben Sem.
This record has a huge, cavernous sound with impassioned vocals
and rhythm guitar from Craig Semmens, while big electric guitars
rock out courtesy of Pete Rawbone. This is best demonstrated on
rockier numbers, such as Free, Sunshine and Apathy. Quieter aspects
are explored on string driven ballads like Why I Cry and Constant
Dream. Credit should also go to Adrian Jones on bass and drummer
Kevin Cook who make up a gutsy, effective rhythm section.
So if you like your music large, intense and straining heavenwards,
dive in and enjoy. www.myspace.com/bensem
Fire In The Snow
Drysdale continues the singer/songwriter tradition with some aplomb.
Fire In The Snow is beautifully played and tastefully arranged
with excellent production and musicianship by Michael Carpenter
and Matt Fell.
Exotic and ancient keyboards such as the Mellotron, Chamberlain
and Marxphone, rarely used since “Farewell Aldebaran”
or the odd Sparklehorse song, are featured and lend a touch of
mystery to some of the delicate folky ballads. Paper Aeroplane
benefits from strange whispered background effects while Fade
Away and Stupid Angel are nicely understated folk/rock in the
style of Suzanne Vega’s work with Mitchell Froom. Lassoo
has a feel of one of those Triffids songs propelled by keyboards,
carrying impressions of the huge spaces between Perth and the
rest of the world.
Whatever influences pervade, however, Pippa has her own voice
and identity and her music is well worth checking out.
guys made quite an impression last year at the Kings Head supporting
Fluid Lines. Their live sound was big and confident with multiple
guitars and The Amersham EP delivers more of the same.
Over My Head has a country rock feel to it with a full, multiple
guitar sound, raw vocals and an almost hinted backing vocal.
Days One starts with flanged guitar introducing a huge, cavernous
lead guitar, understated, subtle rhythm section and interesting,
This band is well worth checking out, live or on CD.
The Echo Sessions EP
new release and another step forward for the Bullets. Recorded
almost live by Jamie Masters, the Echo Sessions really succeeds
in capturing the Bullets’ live vibe on disc. It’s
hard to single out individual contributions as the standards are
all so high but Kyle’s growing confidence in his playing
is beginning to reveal a prodigious talent which is really allowed
to shine here, particularly on live favourite Shrink Wrap and
the 21st century Hendrix Experience feel of Ragged Shoes’
A brief conversation before the last Aylesbury gig revealed that
the band are more than happy with the EP and one listen should
tell you that they are fully justified in feeling this way. Buy
one today and keep it off the streets!
'Come Get Served'
three track CD from acoustic rockers The Cantells follows a long
seam mined by the likes of The Violent Femmes and The Bad Livers,
but unlike the Femmes’ punky thrash and the Livers’
more rootsy approach they apply a more English spin to the template.
are strummed, picked and slide with conviction, weaving around
each other in interesting patterns on Age Of Reason, while Beauty
Queens goes in for a more country reggae vibe, with clattering
percussion and the ever present, huge, thumping acoustic bass.
Final track, Workingmans Arms is a folky strumalong with most
of the already mentioned attributes firmly in view.
excellent, if brief trip in to the world of the Cantells is topped
off with some superb vocal harmonies and a set of interesting
lyrics worth the price of admission on their own. So remember.
If you’re looking for something different, planet Cantell
may well be the place to visit.
The Powders second album tackles big topics with big sounds, highlighting
questions about the human condition while avoiding the obvious
pitfalls of negativity and cheap cynicism.
with the massive Still Falling Down, with its almost Steve Kilbey
vocals and arrangement with chiming guitars and solid bass and
drums, the album has high production values which are maintained
from the Hard rock of You, No, Nothing to the folky inflexions
of Zeros and Ones, Warm contains good vocals and instrumentation
and well constructed songs several of which cover such universal
topics as wasted time, lives and opportunities and incisive critiques
of lives and relationships.
under ‘serious subjects handled with grace, dignity and
'The Lightning Season EP'
Gillespie once said that any band worth listening to must strive
for magnificence above all else, and these writers are not inclined
to disagree with him.
six tracks on the Fluid Lines EP certainly indicate that they
are heading in the right direction. Huge cavernous guitars prowl
and stalk around Calum Wood’s impassioned vocals. Calum
and Jimmy Wright have arranged and sculpted their respective guitars
into something bigger and wilder than two ordinary instruments
could usually hope to achieve.
this is underpinned and driven forward with passion and expertise
by Bruce Miller and Ben McKelvey on bass and drums. Songs like
Don’t You Dare Move, Fire, and Fingerprints stay with you
for a long time in the way that all the best songs do and the
wonderful shouty, Dickensian backing vocals deserve a special
mention as well.
return to the thoughts of Bobby, it’s really all about the
aspiration and the journey. Fluid Lines have the aspiration in
spades and if every great journey begins with one step, then they’re
already streets ahead of the competition.
off with a great rush of punky power pop chords, Pause deliver
some seriously hard rock. Guitars lash each other into a frenzy
of fuzz tones following through to great washes of distortion.
Title track Control starts with some cool bass and quirky vocals
tell interesting stories throughout the four tracks found here.
A tough rocky rhythm section drives everything along with conviction.
Intense and interesting!
bands on the bill tonight… so a mad dash over to Bedford
for an early start.
on are The Delaneys who are young, full of ideas and not afraid
to use them. Clashing guitars mix with surprise tempo changes
in a cool combination of 60’s vibes filtered through an
early 80’s sensibility, laced with some of the fragility
of a Lawrence or a Phil Wilson.
fast come The Red Bullets. After a summer of outside gigs this
is the first time these writers have seen the band indoors. Four
walls and a good sound seems to concentrate the music into a more
punchy and visceral incarnation of its already razor sharp self,
honed by constant gigging. This seems to push the band to even
greater heights, coming across as darker and harder and lending
a gritty muscularity to their performance.
a short changeover, Pearl Handled Revolver stroll onstage and
proceed to wipe us all out with their soulful organ, funky guitars
and rhythms, gravely vocals and wailing harmonica. Their bluesy
groove is punctuated by the occasional gallop off into Ennio Morricone
territory or a sideways trip into blissful woozy psychedelia.
Strong and daring to be different, they shine through a rather
opaque and unforgiving sound mix.
The Swamis continue the vibe of difference with a line up of two
acoustic guitars and a drum kit. This could cause confusion to
the uninitiated and manages the tightrope trick of looking so
wrong and so totally right at the same time. Rules are made to
be broken and The Swamis tear up the book with awesome style.
With the guitars plugged in they create a huge gutsy sound with
massive energy, strong vocals and the guitars filling all frequencies.
All this is underpinned by ferocious and precise drumming interwoven
with passages of delicate acoustic subtlety.
real winner. Excellent tattoos as well!!!