Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Jukebox glory



I get inordinately excited when I discover a jukebox in a pub. It becomes central to everything, and every song that gets played is cinematic, all-conquering in the room.

I have never come across a Mega City Four song on a jukebox before, so the other week at an east end pub, I was a very glad person, to the point of dancing !

Sometimes if a run of songs is really good, or there are fun memories attached, I'll be sure to remember the run of songs played. In the summer, recently, I played pool with my dad, which I don't think I've done before, and it was a really nice family moment. The songs really nicely soundtracked things - lots of stuff from when I was a teenager, like 90s europop.

It can get quite dangerous, as I put pound after pound in the machine - suddenly able to avail myself of all the money in the world. It can also get quite serious - though usually I will be welcome others' choices, out of interest and curiosity. I've never heard a run of three Genesis songs before, but that was odd to witness recently.

One of my favourite jukebox pubs was the Hope n Anchor in Islington. But it's a (s)wanky food pub now - ruined! The jukebox is still there, but a swanky electronic one rather than the old CD-drop that you could view through clear glass, which - though not as dramatic and poetic as the old record ones must have been - were just really momentous and heartening to behold. I do like that with electronic jukeboxes you can access an increased range of stuff, though there is something to be said for the more carefully chosen set of albums on display. Saying that, having the different genres or other themes to click on and generate a menu of songs to choose from, is pretty handy if you are drunk and forgetful/not sure what to put on.

This blog wasn't really going anywhere significant, but I like thinking/writing about jukeboxes. They're dying out a bit in places - they need to be kept alive!

Some favourite jukebox pubs:

- The Dublin Castle (has everything general indie/punk/rock you'd want, really)
- The Good Mixer (indie fare)
- The Boogaloo, Highgate (has the whole of Unknown Pleasures, plus The Clash, the Ruts, various other punk and rock)
- The Lexington, Islington (very indie cool and quite 'up to date'. My favourites include: The Dum Dum Girls, Vivien Girls, Best Coast).
- The Half Moon in Putney before they ripped the jukebiox out - this has made the pub lose its heart, and I can't go in there anymore, it's just no fun without it. Memories of The Cure, The Jam, it was like being in a student union bar again - the pool table has also been ripped out and now it's a middle class dining room with a suit of armour in it (dire!).
- Various dodgy pubs in Northampton, including one that involved Pato Banton and Big Mountain songs.

There must be more. I shall come back to this.

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Magic Bullets



Magic Bullets will always be one of my most treasured albums, especially on vinyl, cover art included. I've been listening to lots of Mega City Four this month, thinking of Darren Brown's memory. His voice, these songs, are so personal to me, and with lyrics so full of sensitive, simple wisdom. The band are still a little bit clouded in mystery to me, even with years of fervently collecting so many of their albums and singles on vinyl, as well as yellowed music papers, tattered fanzines, that precious old tape that started it all... yet the music is so close to my heart. But maybe I don't need to have known-by-heart quotes, or any set manifesto/context, or biographies, just this meaningful, moving music - reflective, sad, euphoric, introverted, dreaming. So much heart on sleeve.

Maybe one day I will write that definitive-for-me piece on what the band mean to me; maybe one day I will even tread about Farnborough in a dream... but it'll always be the music ahead of anything else.

Forward For Wiz, the charity set up in memory of Darren Brown/Wiz of Mega City Four is still going strong in supporting new music initiatives: link here.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Of record fairs and Lou Reed





Another welcome record fair from Soundbite in SW London recently. I picked up a Yardbirds collection, and a Who studio album for my dad for Christmas (it's okay, I don't think he has time to read this blog). And I came across New York, a solo album by Lou Reed. I hadn't listened to this album since university days. I remembered taping it off someone at the time, but who knows what dusty box that tape has been residing in. I recalled Romeo had Juliet precisely, but forgot just how good much of the rest of the album is - mainly the run of opening songs. How could I forget all about There is No Time!


Lyrically, this album is superb as well, short-story-like, spoken-word, vivid, got to be one of his best.

I enjoyed coming across this at the record fair, as well as a couple of unexpected Christmas presents for family. It was Small Business Saturday, too. But I largely buy any gifts this time of year from independent traders as a point, anyway. As an aside, there are also some great secondhand music books upstairs in Copperfields book shop in Wimbledon. I bought a biography on Captain Beefheart there not so long ago, which was in perfect condition.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Iggy Pop festival at the ICA

An excellent evening of Iggy Pop celebration at the ICA recently. Firstly, a showing of a film of an early 1990s concert in Paris, followed up with discussion and input from its director, Tim Pope.



The rare prospect of witnessing Tim Pope in conversation was quite the draw for me, I must admit (I am that obsessed with The Cure. Also, I like Pope's Syd Barrett style song about a tree). I wouldn't go so far as to use the word 'fan' about Iggy Pop anymore, but I have liked Iggy Pop and the Stooges over a long time, plus it's always nice to hang out at the ICA.

During the film, as warned, there was full footage of old James Osterberg in the throes of things with quite a few moments of writhing and jumping about naked. I couldn't help but find amusement when Iggy had his pants and trousers down on his knees, whilst still managing to play guitar wildly... and as he was seemingly about to plonk the guitar down, a soundman came rushing over. It almost looked like he was going to pull up Iggy Pop's pants and trousers for him, rather than pick up the strewn guitar.

It kept occurring to me throughout the concert footage: does this man even know where he is? Funnily enough, this got discussed afterwards, and it turns out Iggy Pop not only had no idea where he was in the moment; but that he had absolutely no recollection of getting his bits out.

There's that incredible TV interview Iggy Pop did, a sample of which made it onto a Mogwai song. It came to mind when I was watching the live performance. How reverently he spoke about music being so powerful, and how when he is in the grips of it it's all beyond his control.

The film was blasted out almost at live concert levels of sound, and lots of audience members were whooping and clapping and dancing about. I wondered who else might inspire such a fervent display without their being present.



The film was called Kiss My Blood. There were quite a few bloody scrapes to Iggy Pop's skin throughout the concert. At one point he went down to the front row and sang: 'Don't you wanna kiss my blood?', which a female fan promptly did without hesitation, which I found a bit surprising and grim whichever rock demi-god it could possibly be - mindboggling how far some fans might go. It was amusing at one point to see Iggy rush down to the front row, inspire a bunch of people to sing and pump fists along to one song, and to note one girl at the front inches away from the man himself - looking utterly unfazed and bored !

As a treat after the live concert, we got bestowed a special video message from Osterberg himself. Tim Pope kept saying what a shy and charming man he is, which I hadn't heard about, to be honest. Though his wackiness in a second video we were sent over was unsurprising; involving Iggy Pop talking to himself via the medium of a walking stick with a face and moveable arms attached (known as 'Stiggy Pop' or something), and lots of silly voices. I can imagine he's one of those people who might lark about referring to himself grandly in the third person as he goes about what he does. I realised I have never read a biography by or about Iggy Pop, so I ought to fix that soon.

Tim Pope came across as really amusing and kindly. Lots of interesting anecdotes for us. I loved hearing about the first Iggy Pop show that Tim Pope went to in 1977, at the Rainbow in Finsbury Park, along with Robert Smith. During the Q and A, I was secretly hoping to try to fit in a cheeky question about if he and Robert Smith see much of each other these days, any recent stories, but there was only room for two questions from the gallery.

Tim Pope relayed to us the tale of the sequel to the film The Crow, which apparently involves Iggy Pop in a gutter with his nether regions on fire. Tim Pope directed the whole thing, and it was his personal job to joyfully commit to the lighting up as well!

Pope also led us through a bunch of photos from his personal collection, of he and Iggy Pop. The second photo in, he apologised - as it was a still of Rod Hull and Emu! It was a thoroughly entertaining and fascinating, fun night. Shame that the house was only about half full, as stuff like this ought to be a huge inspiration for getting people to the cinema. Thanks to all involved for a cracking night.

If you head to Tim Pope's website, there are a bunch of his films on there, if you're curious. The documentary about Tim Pope as a music video director, from last year, is up in its entirety to watch too. It's interesting, and if you're as obsessed as me about Cure minutae, it is well worth watching for the five or ten minute section on Cure videos he directed - as well as wonderful anecdotes about the band plus lovely interview time from Robert Smith.

http://www.timpope.tv/

Friday, 8 November 2013

Best Coast to beat the blues

Nothing beats when you're blue and you know you can go to a music shop for guaranteed cure. The other day, I was drawn to my nearest HMV and I knew which album I needed to buy:

 
The lead song from Fade Away didn't seem great when I listened to its premiere online. I thought it was a too slow and by-numbers-Best-Coast. But it has hugely grown on me to the point of delightfully addicted repeat plays. The moment this song speeds up and explodes is pop joy abandon, pure sing along.
 
I'm not drawn by much widely-aired indie anymore, I've outgrown it or it just sounds typical, jaded to me. But Best Coast are dear in my heart. True, there is simplicity, but enthusiastically and heartfelt. Not only in melody, but I've always appreciated Beth Cosentino's candid lyrics, not afraid to sing about feeling messed up (sometimes drugs or drink) or washed up or tired and old, often in relation to fame or being on the road and in a band. That makes them sound dour (haha, they're really not, and if you know them, you know this well! but read Beth's Twitter for her repeatedly mega drinking tales for assurance, for one), but they always have me singing along, and often have me feeling like I could run along with glee; bliss. They bring a lot of sunshine, true to their name.
 
Beth's voice has always sounded refreshing. The heavy marketing of faux Cockney, and/or pale-and-prosaic-offensively-inoffensive-voiced female singer-songwriters that seemed to come in a neverending wake after Lily Allen set the precedent, makes Beth Cosentino a very necessary heroine, to me.

It's nice to stop and appreciate that even if I get jaded by a lot of current guitar based music, there are still indie pop bands for me to feel aglow about - moreover, that I still crave and love to go into new record shops and by new releases and rush them home. It helps a lot that a release like Fade Away by Best Coast also looks so urgently pretty to own as well; cover and disc.

 
Something puzzling is how many fans seem to be hankering for the Best Coast of their debut album. For me, that second album last year was strides above and beyond the first; showed how the band had grown as songwriters, to perfection. This latest mini album is an between major releases affair, so here's looking to the next album, and more Best Coast at their best.

Wednesday, 6 November 2013

Laetitia Sadier, Islington Union Chapel, 19th October, 2013


Holy wonderful beautiful to have Laetitia Sadier come and play at Union Chapel in Islington on a rainy Saturday afternoon. I'm not sure if she resides in London or came all the way from France, but she is formerly of electronic act Stereolab, in case you don't know, and it was a total joy for her to be performing here. Her voice soars and plays around so magically, melodic, swirly, entrancing. Hearing her solo songs with just her voice and her electric guitar so sparse, so uplifting, was really something special.

Laetitia was politically outspoken throughout the short, low-key set, which surprised and interested me - I must say, I am not overly familiar with her work beyond the obviously known Emperor Tomato Ketchup (though I did get an older Stereolab album as from the gig, as there was a superb merchandise stall). I think she must be quite thrilling to talk to, so perhaps a future interview may lie in store some time soon when we are feeling more settled down to doing the paper fanzine again!

It was really moving to have Laetitia dedicate a song to the late Trisha Keenan, singer of electronic act - and Stereolab's contemporaries - Broadcast, too.

Details of future Daylight Savings gigs on Saturday afternoons (they're free, and always great!), here:

http://www.unionchapel.org.uk/

Lou Reed on page three of my local paper



A local newspaper took it upon themselves to make Lou Reed a local story...

Could Lou Reed have been singing about Wimbledon when he penned Walk on the Wild Side?, the page three story asks in earnest.

He once resided in a house round Wimbledon village... It was quite a modern house.... But a spokesperson says that they're not sure if he would have chosen that style of armchair he once got photographed in at the house....

Details about the debut Lou album that Bowie produced - Transformer - and trips to the studio, Mick Rock as photographer....

Bowie is described as a 'space cadet' who 'took pity' on Lou Reed, the 'lucid leather clad heroin addict'.

Story ends with a quote saying Bowie chose a suit for Lou that he never wore again.

Wonderful local journalism; made me chuckle aloud to see him squeezed into local life, and I heartily approve!

I also approve of recent happenstance when I was in a cocktail bar recently for a celebration and it suddenly went from meaningless background 'chill-out' music (mixed absurdly with Santana?!) to... what became Lou Reed hour. It made us stay for more than the one cocktail we had planned, because the novelty of such a swanky, overtly commercial and mainstream place (which I normally wouldn't frequent !) could slip into this obtuse mode! - and I personally, honestly, could've ended up staying all night and ended up flat broke and not caring so long as I could hear the music right there, right then.

I conferred with a friend that Pale Blue Eyes was my favourite Velvet Underground song, and they agreed to my surprise. Reminisced about teenage moments, tired from my first job, drinking Hooch, passing out to the songs European Son... or Heroin. My beloved responded to this news by saying: 'Somewhere there is a junkie getting high to I Am A Cider Drinker'....!!!

I don't often turn to the VU's records anymore (though you'll read on here a blog from this summer where I recommended Coney Island Baby from Lou's solo canon as an evocative song, so as an artist he's never been out of mind. I was thinking to re-read the incredible Victor Bokris book about him as well, though I remember it vividly so long on from my teens) I guess VU/Reed songs are often in my head, I know them so well. So loads of old memories came flooding back, and it was just really fucking good. That velveteen voice.

Friday, 25 October 2013

Keeping it Peel

How does John Peel's spirit live on in the world of fanzines/zines? Keep the mistakes! Also, moreover... openness, exploration - not just sticking to narrow and trusted confines, challenging yourself/your tastes. I think The All Thrills No Frills Music Bill is a good old jumble of whatever we are passionate about, regardless of what anyone else would want/think - no agenda, no one to answer to/specifically cater for, and freedom to roam wildly.

Friday, 11 October 2013

Keeping It Peel


Loads of excellent goings on to celebrate John Peel and his music ethos this October. Wasn't coming up in my regular gig searches, but then I came across this website by chance - hallelujah - Keeping It Peel has the listings all in one place. Everything from gigs to pub quizzes, to club nights with guest DJs... All looks brilliant fun.

Saturday, 21 September 2013

Black Market Clash, 75 Berwick Street, Soho, 20th September 2013

Any die-hard Clash fan's attentions were guaranteed to be piqued by the announcement of a new exhibition.


A couple of years ago Mick Jones's Rock and Roll Public Library was well worth a viewing, containing lots of his personal memorabilia, recreating his living room (how could I forget, someone picking up a knackered VHS tape of The Simpsons with its £1.99 charity shop sticker on it - thinking it for sale, and getting told off - it belonged to Mick's collection!). That reminds me, I still haven't visited the Joe Strummer subway.

Now it's 2013, and I got giddy at the prospect of rare memorabilia and music tracks on show.

But for 2013, the approach - whilst it did include the above - was more corporate. Free entry to the viewing, great, but the first thing you spy on entrance is a brand new Clash boxset - is that a £99 price tag? Posters and t-shirts and mugs and tote bags, ranging from £10 - 20. Everything's for sale. The band have a right to make money out of their b(r)and, and I don't begrudge them it, they are a band who worked gruellingly hard, lost a lot of money to getting ripped off by the music industry... And, though not that surprising, it just felt a bit cold and disappointing to me. On top of that, the whole shebang seemed to be an excuse to for Fender guitars to peddle (pedal) their wares - a live guitarist playing away, shiny brand new guitars on show. I would have happily paid for a basic commemorative programme, though, that would've been useful and nice, and all right in lieu of entry fee.

I say, go home, and be in the true spirit of The Clash, and make your own. Spray paint is less than £2, so blitz a bag or a shirt yourself, with your own slogan. Or, donate to the Strummerville charity, so future young bands can benefit.



The exhibition itself was compact but for any fan, quite moving. Being in the same room as Paul Simonon's smashed, broken bass guitar (resting on red velveteen cushion!), as well as all those old, worn out guitars of Joe Strummer's, was an amazing opportunity and a little bit holy.

 


Seeing all those (holey) homemade shirts, hand-printed lyrics, rare photos, homemade tapes, and many books and records that inspired the band, was also wonderful. I loved seeing a spot of bright yellow here, a turquoise shirt there, and pinpointing performances from videos seen. Loads of trinkets crammed in too, like Paul's rings, old belts, scarves, badges, even a flicknife...

Joe Strummer's typewriter:



It was very small, and would've benefitted from being  a lot more spread out. I would have loved to have seen many more images, too. Surely there are hundreds of unseen/'reject' Pennie Smith shots, for starters. A whole exhibition could be made purely from such images. I really wanted to see much more.

Literally everyone was taking photographs (Don't Just Take a Photograph). I wasn't without guilt. I'd bought a disposable camera for this and Open House weekend. What Clash fan wouldn't want to be able to have to-keep images of their heroes' legendary guitars and such, anyway, be honest. I thought it was nice also to be able to email some digital photos to a Clash fan abroad who wouldn't get the chance to be in the same room as those guitars, too.

I worry how The Clash are received to the latest young generation - when everything's so consciously cultivated now, and music is more of a (quick, instant fix) commodity and has become ubiquitous, disposable, meaningless, more than ever. Of course, The Clash were cultivated (and they became a commodity as much as the rest), but it wasn't
contrived; and it was raw, it was new. I maintain that there's still a lot to The Clash that gets ignored in favour of the obvious punk and sloganeering (they covered so many more musical styles than punk, for one thing). And I doubt a band with as much passion and politics and heart could exist with so much heart-on-sleeve and unabashed sincerity, ever again, Fender sponsorship or not.

Oh yeah, one last thing: where was Cut The Crap? No acknowledgement whatsoever of this album (not even a poster on show or CD on sale). I don't need a barrage of reasons 'why it's so bad' (Pah, there are some fine songs on it, I reckon), the line-up change, the songwriting credits, etc etc - but it's still part of the Clash history.

http://www.berwickstreetlondon.co.uk/news?articleid=38

Where are we going? We're all going mad.

Essential Saturday morning viewing here, in the guise of The Smiths appearing on Charlie's Bus, an 80s kids' TV show.



Everything about this video is perfect. From Morrissey uttering the above line to innocent kids, to Marr playfully threatening to duff up a kid on the top deck of the bus, to the downright absurdity of Sandie Shaw singing such relentlessly bleak lyrics and melody to a group of wide-eyed, attentive, but overwhelmingly bemused children on the grass in Kew gardens... All of that humour and absurdity is a little part of what made The Smiths (and the 80s for that matter) so uniquely superb.

Thursday, 12 September 2013

Autumn songs

 
'Now it's getting colder, my hands chilled to the bone...'
 
(Barney and Me, by Boo Radleys)
 
 
                                          (NY Doll, by Robyn Hitchcock)

Lovely, wistful, warming, autumnal feeling songs, both.

Sunday, 8 September 2013

Station Records opening, The Buszy, Milton Keynes, 29th June, 2013

 
I went along for the opening day of a new weekly Saturday record stall in the new community venue, The Buszy. There hasn't been an independent record shop in Milton Keynes since Fish Music closed down at in the last decade, so I was really stoked to see Station Records happening in my hometown!
 

The premises used to be the bus station, and bus drivers' caff! Now a charity project has been installed here, it has all been smartened up, with fancy chairs, lovely café area, dedicated staff, charity shop, plus so many classes and events going on for young people.

 
 
Of course I had to go along and get involved and show support for this ace venture. Monies raised from Station Records' weekly record shop go towards the youth charity Make a Difference (M.A.D). I had cycled along with some vinyl donations and brought a selection of mine and others' zines, which Warren of Station Records kindly agreed to have on sale. The All Thrills No Frills Music Bill is on sale on the stall weekly, including one of our most recent issues, which comprises my musical memories of Milton Keynes - venues, gigs, clubs that have long gone, buying my first guitar, etc etc. Here are all the zines:


I met one of the youth workers and had a really good chat about what they do at Buszy for the kids. Loved hearing that some of the kids have been making fanzines! It was really fun to talk to Warren about 'zines - we have both made zines Milton Keynes. His was more recent, within the last decade, and it was called New Pollution. Nice to be given a couple of issues to check out.
 

 
So much vinyl on sale! Cassettes and books too.

 
I was ecstatic to unearth a copy of Ceremony by New Order, on 12", and I bought a few other records too. It's clear that Warren is passionate about record selling, there's a wide range of genres and eras covered, and people were enjoying having a browse as the DJ played. It felt like a really positive community event, nice and relaxed Saturday afternoon, and the free samples of cake and sandwiches was very welcome too!
 
The thrift shop was something of a wonder too. I had a good look around - interesting clothes, books, records, ornaments, etc. Go and visit, or follow them on Twitter.
 
 
 
The Buszy is situated right opposite Milton Keynes train station, so it's convenient to visit if you're coming from a nearby town. If you're local to MK, it's not that much of a walk from the shopping centres and it's a much quieter part of the city, so it's nice to visit.

 
 
There is a bar with a patio, and there are various other music events going on, like Warren's Moments in Wax nights, where there's a vinyl album night and sometimes live acoustic acts upstairs. MK definitely needs more live music! If you're in a band or are a solo artist, you should think about coming here to play one of the nights. The venue's also available to hire for events.

The Buszy
401 Elder Gate
Central Milton Keynes
MK9 1LR, UK.

01908 231312

http://www.thebuszy.com/
Hangover music has to be gentle, subdued, pretty... Yann Tiersen, I am calling on you to allay today's legendary, post-party hangover of mine...



I had thought that digging out my Galaxie 500 DVD would be just the cure - musically soothing, gentle, floating, sublime... But some of those videos left me much more unsettled! Frantic fast, fires, things collapsing, injured animals, flashing images, acid eyes, and so much swirling... It was entertaining to watch an old TV interview where Dean Wareham looked so severe as to be menacing. He said something caustic about having the permission to like fish and chips to Naomi.

I loved the surprise of seeing Dean and Britta appear in the film Francis Ha this year, casually hosting a dinner party. The projects the band members have gone on to do - Dean and Britta, and Damon & Naomi - are all so excellent and dreamy perfect. I need to hear Dean's new solo offerings too.

I digress, this is an off-the-cuff post, but weren't they a really cool band? I neglect them sometimes, but I had a really big phase for them in about 2003. Another thing I realise I appreciate them is how they are so clearly influenced by The Velvet Underground, yet they distil that into such a new sound - they're not doing it by numbers just to re-create their heroes - there're the often piercing vocals like a bird in frightened flight, mixed with gentle, slow atmospherics, a bit of moody, buzzing guitar noodling here, and how stripped back it all is; raw. I think Naomi doesn't get enough recognition as a bass guitarist heroine too.



A Galaxie 500 song for you, with superb kazoo use!:


'I think it's okay to wear your own band's shirt onstage during a show, but not for a trip to the supermarket.' - Dean Wareham.

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Glasvegas

I was beginning to wonder how on earth I'd get a hold of the new Glasvegas album.. Unavailable at local independent record shop (which was first choice, to give my money to the best corporate cause), despite it being the release date... I had headed to the shop as soon as possible on the Monday, to get that new-release day feeling. Can that feeling really be replicated online? Parcels through the door are very nice, but I prefer them from friends - to go into a record shop, be amidst music on sale and music playing, see that new, desired/dreamed-of new album on shiny display, handle it with curiosity, go right up to the counter, buy it, maybe discuss it, then stroll home with it in your swag, hurrying home filled with thrill, the item glowing in the style of the heart in A Life Less Ordinary, almost illicit in its secret, wondrous splendour... I thought I had lost that giddy wonder, but actually, still, nothing can beat that. Even after my teens and my 20s.

Going into my local HMV store at the end of the week was actually more successful in locating this new release item. It was at a cheaper price than as cited online, too, bonus DVD/booklet shebang and all.

I greedily fed on the DVD show, a live concert in a church in Glasgow. It was powerful, the band still move me, the music still soars. The live DVD was the album rendered on piano, more intimate, heart-wrenching. I get a bit of the same feeling from this band as I do from The Cure.



Often the best music is 'that which tells of saddest thought'. I've always felt that Glasvegas moved me with emotion and melody - I've never really overanalysed it, just genuinely enjoyed it - and that overrides any sense of over-indulgent blues that people seem to accuse them of. There is something that runs throughout their work that really gets me every time. Sure, there are weaker moments, but the very best are those that transport me, lift me up high - because fraught, wrought, desperately sad music can be 'euphoric'.

Saddens me that people could write Glasvegas off now, when they still have that tunesome melancholy that lends me air of hope, joy... exhilaration. The emotional vocal delivery, the yearning in the melodies. I feel elated; enlivened.

Press reviews that are disparaging, and/or tell of a band that have dipped/changed are missing all the points. The heartbeat here is impassioned, and so human and heartfelt - the band always cause this huge sense of human emotion/open heart to shine through. If they come across as 'underdogs', that only makes me love them more. But a spectacular new drummer in Jonna has lent a new element of energy - also, the band are still the one that left me reeling years ago. It's in James Allan's surety, commitment, mighty-all in singing, the way the guitars fizz and sparkle still, and the way the band remain exuberant amidst lugubriousness.

Addendum: I interviewed some of the band for the next paper issue of The All Thrills No Frills Music Bill, but unfortunately the digital recording got deleted accidentally (at their gig the same night!). In 14 years of interviewing bands, I have never once lost a recording of an interview to anything - this is the first time. But actually, there was a David Gedge interview on there too. I can only fiercely apologise about all that, especially to the artists - but I can promise the next zine will still sweep you off your feet! Also, after another blow - that is, leaving my tape recorder in a cinema gig (that'll teach me to try and bootleg Robyn Hitchcock soundtracking a Clint Eastwood movie) - The All Thrills now has a brand new recording system. Onwards !

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Album covers of the month...

Recently found and been startled by the following album cover designs at a record fair.
They certainly don't make them like this anymore...





It's the bonnet on the end of the guitar that adds the final touch (after you've pondered what kind of singer wants to be pushed around town in a home-made go-kart by their mother...)

And I can't help what drugs (and what ideas about women!!) were involved in the design of this one...:



I'll spare you the Foreigner album cover.

Saturday, 10 August 2013

Luke Haines, The Borderline, London, 30th July, 2013

A trip to the Borderline, a venue off Oxford Street that, mercifully, didn't succumb to Crossrail's clutches - the last significant rock venue left round that area, save the 12 Bar Club. On entering, realise we're 'fashionably late' as we hear ladies exclaiming: 'Why, thank you, Sir John Moore!' at the guestlist - as the dapper, suited man strolls coolly into the venue with them (and he does forever cut cool).
 
A couple of minutes to get a good spot near the front, and then Luke Haines is up, painted rock n roll animal versions of Nick Lowe, Gene Vincent, and Jimmy Pursey lit up behind him.
 
The set is entirely Haines on acoustic guitar - with added beats of a small hand drum, the odd keyboard moment (jokes about how he can't fucking play everything at once, if I recall). The set is primarily from the new Rock n Roll Animals LP - which would be a brighter performance had comedienne Julia Davis joined in on her spoken-word bit, surely? She is in the venue, hanging with fellow comedians, and I feel let down that she isn't adding to the performance, instead watching as we are.
 
 
Haines in his ROCK/ROLL shades:
 

There's a powerful moment when Haines reads from a Mick Farren book (rock journalist and musician Mick Farren having recently passed on, and Haines being saddened by his death). Tell of poor Gene Vincent and his ailing leg, followed by his painful death by stomach ulcer. Crowd are laughing, I suppose at the uncomfortable, and also amidst the long, slow, deep, laconic vocal delivery of Haines, and how Haines speaking is somehow comedic whatever he utters tonight. But it's really sad, and I never fully knew all this (sweet Gene Vincent died - aged 36) , and Haines reads with such wonderful, wry, horse, commandeering panache...

 
Long-term Haines fan with me was ecstatic to hear Leeds United, Baader Meinhof, and Lenny Valentino.. But, tonight, it was also, here we go again, satin wrestler suited feller (probably a drunken John Moore), passing round bonafide liver sausage sandwiches for the crowd, during the 'wrestling album' numbers, not a best Haines album effort to either of us (old fan and new) - albeit there are a couple of great saving graces of songs, and we did enjoy those. But really we wanted oodles of songs from the similarly recent but truly remarkable 21st Century Man album, and didn't get them, bar maybe one. The off-the-cuff seeming song about certain 60s/70s bands/singers being name-checked and all said to be 'righteous' was something I could pass on, if I'm brutally honest.
 
A quirky gig, with a lot of charm - just cut so short, and in need of more favourite songs.

Songs of summer

 
Another song I find so summery, breezy...

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Sun, by Cat Power

This Cat Power album is fast becoming one of my repeat-play albums of this summer. It's got the right breeziness for intense heat. Manhatten feels especially cool.



I was worried that having lost touch with Cat Power, and not being keen on some latterday stuff, that I wouldn't like the album. In fact, hearing some of the leading material from this album on Youtube, I was disappointed, it felt pale and not all that melodic.

But seeing her Glastonbury performance this year (one of only about two or three televised acts worth my time - the rest wasn't even broadcast, eg Six By Seven, Robyn Hitchcock - and I got to pining for John Peel's wry and lovely voice as well, but that's another story...), turned me right around. I find an honesty and a kind of strength in her clear discomfort for playing live, no falsity or persona. Albeit, she did seem pretty stoned, and sadly kind of lost, but, that's Glastonbury for you, I couldn't blame her for being overwhelmed/high in the moment.

My immediate reaction to seeing her sing again after so long was fondness. When I was at university, I practically worshipped Chan Marshall: the only female poster on my (male-dominated) wall, and I wanted to play guitar like her, and I saw her live, loved her interview comments, wanted to be her, etc... There are very few females that have that effect on me, if I'm honest.

This album has two huge highlights in the opener, Cherokee, and Manhatten. I've got to admit that hearing these songs on the stereo, and not on a basic laptop, makes such a difference to my feelings for them, too. Obvious thing to say.. But sampling stuff online is often such a bad option for me if it wrongly mars my reactions, as is often the case.... I suppose it's not always down to quality, though, but the immediacy (instant) that the medium demands (though, conversely, with the recent, new Six by Seven material I was hooked from the off). This video for Manhatten is really cool and in good fun though - and maybe now I know the song and taken it to my heart, I enjoy it a whole lot more. I have to state how much I adore the electronic beats along to the piano riffs too:



Overall, it is Cat Power's honeyed voice, treacle thick and sensual that wins me over, and reminds me what I love about this artist.

A toast to Sun by Cat Power, then! Soundtrack to beautiful, laidback summer evenings. Now, to complete my Cat Power collection.

Saturday, 20 July 2013

Albums of summers past #2


Had a real craving to hear this album when it was unbearably hot the other night, and I was cooking. There's something incredibly suited to the recent weather about this album. It's not so much that it reminds me of when I was younger and listening to this album (on C90 tape again - but I then owned it on CD), perfect summer times, or anything... Though I do recall the fun time I had when the Dandy Warhols came to my small town, the sensation that caused at school, and the amazing gig itself...

No, Dandy Warhols Come Down just has this incredibly cool air about it - both exuding from the band as they deliver it, and from the songs as they sound... There's a really nice groove to it, that makes you feel (or wish to be) stoned, and it's very American-cool sounding - and danceable - rock/pop, which I appreciate. It's such a 60s influenced album, too. A lot of the songs are good time, and there's summery pop bounding about. This is one of my albums of the summer at the moment, as is some of their first album.

Not wanting to mention The Dandys in the same breath purposely, but I was already thinking about and remembering what an ideal summer album this was for me a few years ago, so I'll just mention it anyway - and the music has a similar effect and groove and influences...

 
I guess it was more the Peppermint Wonderland singles collection by The Brian Jonestown Massacre that I dug this one perfect, happy summer some years ago. But then, there are two songs from here that were on constant repeat as well: Free & Easy, Take II, and The Ballad of Jim Jones. I guess it's the harmonica that makes it so summery and cool. The laidback, hippie, 60s air. I remember feeling so ecstatic this summer, strolls in west London parks, all this amazing, tuneful music soundtracking everything, feeling so spirited.
 
 
Underrated and wrongly slated, I feel. The farewell album from Mansun had a lot of moments. This reminds me of being on my year out, working weird shifts at a cinema, being practically nocturnal, and often coming home to listen to this and Marquee Moon by Television, as I drank restorative booze, so badly needed as my muscles ached so much from the long hours at the cinema. A strange time in my life, but how acoustic and melodic this album was in places was really nice - and, again, that word, sorry, but no other fits - breezy!

 
That same period of my life as the above, evenings as the sun set, and there was dreamy pink-yellow-purple light, were often soundtracked by this. Again, just so cool sounding - floaty, and ebbing on and on, winding guitars, hypnotic.

Albums from summers past



Breezy but hot summer has reminded me so much of youthful afternoons listening to Vauxhall and I. And how I seldom dig it out nowadays. I actually still only own it on the same cassette tape that I taped it from the library with, back then! Had to have a bit of  a dig around to locate it. On the flip-side are a bunch of classic/repeat Peel sessions, mix of stuff like New Order, Sleeper, Gene, The Cure, The Housemartins, oh and John Peel saying he'd need thousands of pounds to hear any more session tracks by The Farm...

The slew of six songs on the first half of this Morrissey album are absolutely, unadulterated perfection, for me. Now My Heart is Full, Hold onto Your Friends, and Why Don't You Find Out For Yourself, in especial. The opening line of the latter kept getting in my head with the weather, and made me need to hear it again. The rest of the album is good to excellent, but it's the first half that makes this album for me. Ah, so much yearning. The songs really take me back to a point in time, and, yep, I was often found indoors, supine, and writing letters to odd people in Luxembourg, and the like...

Another breezy sounding album from this sort of time, again borrowed from the library and stealthily recorded onto tape, and still needs to be replaced on CD, is this one:



Singing my heart out, dreamily, such a romantic, prettily melodic collection of songs...quiet, sometimes lovelorn, but assured vocals...emotive, poetic lyrics....really very literate and eye-opening to me as a teenager, I even made a homemade lyric booklet to fit inside the tape case - days before the internet! I copied them by hand often - though this time I must've used not even a computer as we hadn't one, but an electronic typewriter...The inter-vocal play with female and male is so nicely complementing...Dive for Your Memory so evocative of being on a cliff....reminds me of picnics by water, and cycling in the sun, writing letters to endless pen pals on my bed of an afternoon with the tape on...the harmonica part of Quiet Heart drifting out of the window, plaintively...

Streets of Your Town is the highlight of the Go-Betweens' 16 Lovers Lane, for me, really feel the cool breeze when I hear this song...

Still such a painfully underappreciated band, so many perfect songs, and I'm glad I could appreciate them at such a young age. This album is seamless for me, not a band song on it, one of my favourites.

 
More summer album posts coming...

My t-shirt of the summer



One of the brightest coloured, most arty band t-shirts I now own; so summery that I'm wearing it out. It's in competition with my bright lime green Robyn Hitchcock t-shirt as my most summery band t-shirt. A reminder of the band's recent and wonderful Herne Hill Half Moon gig. I can't wait for the new Allo Darlin' album, too, as they're often so dazzingly summery sounding musically, too.

Saturday, 6 July 2013

All Thrills No Frills Music Bill, issue #3 of the print fanzine

The new issue of The All Thrills No Frills Music Bill is a mini issue, made in 24 hours to celebrate International Zine Month, this month.



This issue of The All Thrills No Frills Music Bill is a bit different to usual issues, since it takes the form of a perzine (personal writing zine). It is written from the perspective of a female guitar player, and focuses on: getting back into playing after a break (inspired by reading Good Fuzzy Sounds 'zine, and being hooked on the new Six by Seven album), times of feeling conscious of gender in music playing, also thoughts on the attention/treatment of female musicians, analysis of past personal experiences, heroes and heroines, and asks the question: 'Just, why are women still not fortified with similar respect and credibility about their abilities?



Limited editions of the 'zine come wrapped inside a guitar string envelope, if you buy on Etsy! Dinky little zine, but packed full of writing, images/collage.







And if you are about to tell me that sexism in music doesn't exist, there's this excellent website full of experiences from female musicians:

http://shesprettygoodforagirl.blogspot.co.uk/

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Current stockists

Places to buy issues of The All Thrills No Frills Music Bill fanzine in paper format:

Housmans, Kings Cross
Banquet Records, Kingston
Collectors Records, Kingston
People Records, Guildford
Starswirl Etsy
SW Zines

Coming soon to:

Rough Trade East
Rough Trade West
Station Records, Milton Keynes

If you would like to buy the fanzine, but cannot get to any of the above outlets, please email us: artistic_vices at yahoo.co.uk to arrange Paypal or other method of payment.

If you like what you see/read, and want to stock this music fanzine, we welcome you getting in touch at artistic_vices at yahoo.co.uk

A reminder of what's in each issue...



Issue #2:
Interview with Amelia Fletcher and her band Tender Trap with in depth article on Marine Research/Tender Trap, also new Tender Trap album Ten Songs about Girls, The return of Tilly and The Wall, The seven inch singles of Pullover, Brian Jonestown Massacre live, Records recently bought: Altered Images, This Mortal Coil, John Foxx, and Teenagers in Tokyo, The Chameleons live at Camden Palace VHS tape review, Edwyn Collins's TV show, West Heath Yard, Female exclusion/abuse within music (including getting attacked at gigs), 1990s compilation tapes and 1990s music culture, Anti anti-pop consortium!, Loads of silly anecdotes/satire about bands/singers, Recent favourite record shops, Mix CD listings, Vinyl.



Issue #1:
Interview with Robyn Hitchcock, Articles on Record Store Day, vinyl, record reviews, mix CD tracklistings, also lots of incidental music fan stuff, humour. Bands featured include: Allo Darlin', Lawrence / Go Kart Mozart / Denim / Felt, Brix Smith, Bow Wow Wow, Belly, Paul Haig, lots more.

Also available a series of mini zines:

Monday, 24 June 2013

Devendra Banhart, tame imposter....

What do you do when you realise you've spent three days listening to a disc that you were led to believe was the new Devendra Banhart album - but is, in fact, by Tame Impala? This album that says Tame Impala on it came in a Devendra Banhart sleeve, and was sealed with cellophane when I bought it... from HMV.





Does this mean someone out there has a Tame Impala sleeve, with a Devendra Banhart disc inside? And are they as confused as me? And do they want to do a swap, jigsaw puzzle style?

This has never happened to me before! I've been buying music from record shops for 20 years. I'd be intrigued to hear any similar tales... It goes to show how music can't always be central to life as I get older, that I didn't notice.

I really do dig this album. From the first listen, I was captured by the very different direction Devendra Banhart had chosen to take. Drums so high and pounding in the mix, electronic sounds, and a very big, fuzzy, hazy, echoing sound that I bet would sound incredible and even more echoing and astoundingly all-encompassing on certain drugs. It sounds so 60s and so Beatles-y, that I just cruised along, merrily accepting that this was Devendra Banhart. The music is very plausible, in its Beatles-like 60s way - he's a huge hippie. It's the voice that I kept questioning. It sounds exactly like John Lennon, especially on the first track. I just ended up assuming there was some sort of John Lennon machine and Devendra had channelled his voice through it. His own voice is much deeper, so this album has been jarring with me a bit and making me wonder, it being so much higher... like it was a different vocalist.

I didn't look at the label on the actual disc much, only the album sleeve, until today. So when I picked the CD up today, from the player, and inspected it absent-mindedly for the first time, I suddenly realised what was actually written on it was Tame Impala. For a split second, I thought it must be a misprint, I'd gotten so used to this album being the latest Devendra Banhart release...

But now I'm in the position where I can't locate any receipt, and I'm wondering: do I want to go in and ask for the Tame Impala sleeve, then wait till I can buy the Devendra Banhart album... Or go and demand my copy of the rightful Devendra Banhart album and let them sort it out with the distribution company... Or keep my wonky, unique musical artefact... No proof that it is the mishap that I say it is, though...

You don't get this fun and serendipity with downloading music, now, do you?