Monday, 17 June 2013
So good that like New York they should probably have named it twice.
I'm an old festival hand, but it's been a long time since I have been to one.
Well that's not actually strictly true.
I've been to plenty of events claiming to be festivals, but in the main they are gigs held al fresco.
For me setting a large tent up in a field and then putting some bands in it does not a festival make.
There has to be some key ingredients added to make it worthy of the name.
One is that it can't just be devoted to music.
On board has to be poets, jugglers, magicians, jugglers, actors, jugglers, artists, jugglers and mentalists of every hue imaginable......and jugglers.
Fire eaters are always a good addition to.
In fact if there isn't a man dressed as Henry the VIII unicycling past at 8am on the way to the burger van then it is safe to say you are not at a real festival.
That being said I can now categorically state with my hand on my heart, and no fingers crossed behind my back, that Eden is a 'real' festival.
Nestled in what is a large meadow surrounded by a thick forest it is akin to a psychedelic Brigadoon.
Magically appearing for one weekend a year it serves to provide a real alternative to the outside world.
When I arrived I had a real sense of deja vu.
I could feel the Glastonbury vibe from many decades ago.
The anarchic taste of rebellion hangs heavy in the air, but it's not the sort that the media would promote.
There's no aggression or negativity associated with it.
Instead, as the name of the festival suggests, they are looking to create a party atmosphere that encapsulates a sans original sin angle.
We are all innocents in the garden of Eden with self discovery and the wonderment of the anticipation of unknown adventure laid out before us.
I loved it.
While other reviews may focus on the bands and artists who performed, I really think it is worth taking an overview on it all and try and convey a sense of the whole rather than a part of the whole.
On saying that it is true that I was blown away by the artists who performed.
From The Ballachulish Hellhounds to the Correspondents and from Wise-L Leathermonk to Mr B the Gentleman Rhymer the organizers rarely put a foot wrong with the acts that were booked, but while the music is the skeleton of the festival it is the meat that hangs from the bones that is a wondrous sight to behold.
Chill out tents with festival goers cocooned in hammocks, sound systems that could shake the earth, pirates and mermaids, paint and jelly fights, kids marching around with mile wide smiles.
This is what Eden was about and without a shadow of a doubt I shall be returning next year, and every year thereafter.
Best festival in Scotland?
I'm leaning towards saying yes.
PS. Curse you midges. Damn your back hearts
Monday, 3 June 2013
Other bloggers and music journalists call this a spotlight article.
I'll just call it bigging up talent.
It's when you have been listening to a band and decide that you really can't keep the praise to yourself and you have to share it with the world.
It's The River 68s I'm talking about here.
It's not that they are the new kids on the block as they have been building up a solid reputation as a band to watch out for over quite a period of time now.
Still that's no reason not to shout their name from the rooftops.
I'm sure that there's still plenty of people who are unfamiliar.
Those who are not in the know are probably wondering what the fuss is about, but a quick click on the link here will sort that out.
If you like your rock music with a bit of southern soul then look no further.
These guys haven't been anywhere close to Muscle Shoals in Alabama, but I wouldn't be surprised if they get there one day.
Aurally speaking they are already ensconced in the legendary studio in spirit.
So it's only a matter of time before they make it a reality.
Remember I said that so that when the time comes around I can say I told you so.
Like others who have came before them - like The Stones and the Faces - you can hear that they are feeling the music.
It's not all about the technical ability to play, but more about conveying a feeling, an emotional statement that's organically driven.
It's not important that they weren't raise within a stones throw of the crucible of the blues. It matters not at all that they haven't paid their dues in juke-joints at the side of dusty highways because whatever it is that no one can ever really put their finger on is there.
Next week – on the 9th of July - they are playing in Nice and Sleazy (Glasgow) with the equally fantastic Holy Ghosts to release their second ep.
It's a Sunday night, but this band make Monday morning hangovers worth the pain.
Sunday, 2 June 2013
Apart from a bus pass Rod Stewart appears to have a been given a get out of jail free card to tuck away in his wallet.
Every review I have read is praising his latest 'all original' tracks release as the best things since the last living legend was in the studio.
Let me tell you that it's not.
It isn't even anywhere close.
If you asked me if it was in the ballpark of his previous classic albums then I would have to say that it's in the line to enter the car park of the ballpark, but Rod's short of the parking fee and the attendant isn't feeling charitable.
When I hear material like this all I can think is that no one in the studio had the cojones to tell him that it was substandard.
It's not horrifically bad, but it's bland.
With a few exceptions, such as the title track, it's all shiny production and no heart.
So where was the one person to stand up and ask him to dig deep and find his Rod the Mod persona and unleash him in the studio?
Out to lunch perhaps.
I like Rod Steward, and still do.
I'm not going to write him off, as due to his time with the Faces, and then a run of solid solo albums, he has stored a great deal of goodwill in the bank.
He's a talented singer, a great performer and an artist who always springs to mind when we think of legendary UK rockers, but unfortunately in time when the rave reviews for this album are a distant memory the reappraisal of it will tell a different story than the one being peddled in the present.
I could add a youtube link here of Rod, but instead here's The Holy Ghosts.
You will get far more satisfaction from watching this than you would from sitting through 'Time'
Having followed the mutation of Gold Blade from the gold lame suited “Hometurf” through the sing-along-punk n roll follow ups it’s finally come to this. These guys are seriously pissed off. The heavy overdriven bass of the opener “This Is War!” lets you know you’re in for more than you bargained for. This is no easy listening album, nor is it a recording for the sake of a band having something to promote at their shows. This definitely is war.
There’s also a few political digs in there with “We’re All In This Together” and “Sick/Tired” having a pop at the current state of good old Blighty but it’s all done in John Robb’s clever lyrical style rather than coming across as all party political broadcast. “They Kiss Like Humans Act Like Machines” is probably the track you could liken to the recent offerings but even so, it feels like they’ve taken a track from 2008’s “Mutiny” and kicked seven shades of shit out of it. “Someone Stole My Brain” is a darker grungy metal affair which works in the overall context of the album. Don’t ask me why – it just does ok? It sets the sights nicely for “My Life Is Like An Atom Bomb” to make a clean headshot with its balls to the wall punk rock hooligan blues and for me the stand out track on here but it’s had to go some to get that honour.
Don’t get me wrong there’s still the trademark get-the-crowd involved sing-alongs like “Psycho Takes a Holiday” and “Hey You Elastic Face” but there’s more than one surprise along the way to make you sit up and take notice and much as I love the previous albums it’s been a while since I’ve been as surprised as this by a Gold Blade album. Being one of the very few bands I have managed to follow since their debut I normally judge any new release by what would make it onto the Gold Blade mixtape and from the reggae infused “Serious Business” to the 8 minute behemoth of the title track you could probably make a case for any of the 13 tracks to warrant a place on there. The Blade has been sharpened and they’ve cut themselves of punk rock perfection. It’s raw, it’s real, it’s a belter. (9/10)
Friday, 31 May 2013
This was one of those rare beasts where musically everything just fell into place.
Multiple bands over a whole day and no one dropped the ball once.
In fact no one even fumbled it.
Exceptional performances from one and all from start to finish, and all for charity to.
So I think everyone should collectively tip their had to Events for Charities who had tirelessly organized an event over multiple venues and days in aid of Yorkhill Children's Hospital.
It's these sort of events that can be described as going above and beyond the call of duty.
Outstanding effort from everyone involved.
(Including the DJ who feels excluded from all the reviews and comments about the night)
(Insert smiley emoticon here, maybe even one with a wink)
Brothel Corpse Trio opened the show and I was personally very pleased to see them there.
James Edmond had seen them play a few nights earlier at a show I had organized and immediately offered them a slot based on nothing more than their performance.
Very often gigs are offered to mates, on condition of how many punters a band can pull, and a whole raft of other things that have nothing to do with the music.
This was different.
Their inclusion on the bill was rooted in just how good they are as a live band and nothing more than that.
From the first song it was very obvious that as a band they wont be on the bottom of the bill at anything for very much longer.
Each gig has seen them pick up fans and the rise to the top of the bill looks to be assured.
Hovering in the no man's land between punk and psychobilly they are all about the girls, the tattoos, the hot rods and necrophilia.
They are going to have to get a t-shirt that says 'lock up your undead as the Brothel Corpse Trio are in town'.
Next were Buzzbomb meaning Billy was on double duty as he is also in The Brothel Corpse Trio.
So with a quick swap of a double bass to just bass he was back catching his second wind to deliver with his band mates a torrent of punk rock.
It's all well executed and sits comfortably between the sounds of the UK and the US.
Hard enough when it's needs to be, but always with an eye on the melody.
There's a few bands over the years that I've seen multiple times and have yet to see them post in a performance and Buzzbomb are one.
You don't get anything less than a one hundred percent performance from these guys.
The Jackhammers portray the village idiot persona wrapped in the sounds of garage rock.
They do it so well that they blur the line leaving the audience to wonder how much of it is actually a joke.
Close your eyes to just listen to them and the sloppiness that the spectacle promotes slips into the background and leaves the music to do much of the talking, and then what you come to realize is that it is all a joke.
One that's perfectly executed.
These guys can play, but for the uninitiated, or those who have had a humour bypass op, they may not get it.
Worth persevering with until you do get the joke though.
It's been a whole year since I've seen the Skarsoles, and I guess absence does make the heart grow fonder as I found myself thinking about how much I'd missed them.
There's nothing new in what they do.
It's pop punk ska in all its glory, but damn they do it well.
It's just a shame that people weren't up dancing to them.
The early slot on the bill would be the reason for that because if you put them in a room of drunken people at 9pm on a Saturday night then it would instantly be party time.
Alkotron for me are a show stealing act.
They slip in quietly and then just go about their business without much fus,s and I really can't put my finger on it, but come the cold light of day they are the act that I always remember.
They are probably the punkiest band on a punk rock bill because they refuse to be mired down by uniformity.
From what they play to how they dress others could mistakenly ask what so punk about them.
That's akin to the wood and trees argument.
It's that they do not kowtow the perceived uniformity of punk rock that makes them more punk than others.
The Red Eyes are a band that I have run out of things to say about.
How often can you realistically point out that they are consistently fantastic.
It's all there. The song writing, the musicianship and the delivery.
Bloody faultless, again.
It feels that I am selling them short by not waxing lyrical for multiple paragraphs, but all I woud be doing is reiterating what I have already said countless times.
Goldblade lost me over recent years.
It felt like the rut had been driven deep, too deep, and even weeks prior to this I seen them opening for the Misfits and found myself wondering when the energy would return, when the passion for something differenmt rather than the by numbers performances that I had gotten used to, would be shaken off.
Then here it was.
I couldn't put my finger on what the difference was, but finally here was the fork in the road and John Robb was turning his back on the safe route and instead looking to lead the band to pastures new.
It was a subtle difference, and maybe something to do with the new studio album about to be released, but the energy had a more chaotic feel to it rather than it just being a part of the show that people have now come to expect.
If I had strayed from the fold here I was being ushered back in.
John was a dervish on stage and the band rock solid behind him.
I had harboured serious thoughts of the performance ultimately being an anticlimax to the night, but I was wrong.
Very very wrong.
With this singular show they turned it all around and the Goldblade with all the promise they showed when I seen them on their very first UK tour was back.
They say that history repeats itself and I have seen no evidence to disprove that.
Instead when The Specials played the first night of two in the Barrowlands Ballroom in Glasgow what we got was that statement firmly hammered home.
Formed in 1977 they went on to reflect very eloquently much of what was wrong with the era.
Through a brutally honest assessment of their surroundings they managed to strike a chord with many that reverberates down through the years and still makes complete sense in the present.
Especially as it would appear that we have come full circle and history does appear to be repeating itself right now.
The casual racism, the tribal idiocy of some, and the economic disaster that was ushered in by a Conservative government were all tackled back then, and now here we are in 2013, and if you swap Thatcher to Cameron, the National Front to the EDL, the West Indian community for the Muslim community then we have an eerie overlap.
The faces change, but to an extent it's the t-shirt slogan of 'Same Shit, Different Day' writ large over us all.
So with this in mind it has to be said that as The Specials have the material that is as relevant now as it ever was, then all they had to do to impress was to make sure that it sounded solid in the here and now.
Not a tall order really, but even though I fully expected them to be good my high expectations still didn't come close to the reality.
After a very long wait for them to appear (Doors opened at seven and the band came on just after nine) all was forgiven when they launched into their set.
It' was a breath snatching performance that rarely let up.
The heat actually became tremendous as a sold out crowd exerted enough kinetic energy to power a small town for a week.
If you could harness the energy and loop it back to run the sound system then there would have been been no need to use any in-house electrics.
Technically you couldn't honestly fault them.
Between the band and the audience it was as if we were all in a race to the finish line and it would definitely be a photo finish.
Highlight of the evening for me was strangely enough the big hit of Ghost Town.
I've always rated it, but there was something about it being played live that charges it with a great deal more meaning.
While there was no fighting on the dance floor that I seen it's a fact that when I visit my own town centre that I can say that 'this town is coming like a ghost town'.
While it would be easy to lay claim to the band benefiting from the nostalgia market you would be hard pushed to find a band from that era playing the same material and it still maintaining the same cultural relevance and punch.
It was definitely a bucket list gig for me, but one I would be happy to tick off again and again.
Society runs on the construct of getting something for something.
We can hear this echoed in everyday speech.
'An honest days pay for an honest days work.'
'You don't get something for nothing.'
The so called entitlement society is currently lambasted at every turn and in that itself is just the latter 'you don't get something for nothing' phrase oft repeated with a jumble of different words.
People can rush forward to claim that I am wrong and provide examples of people they know who often do selfless acts for others, and at an initial glance it is easy to accept that, but dig deeper and it is rarely true.
What these people can get is a sense of satisfaction, a boost to their self worth, a goodwill favour in the bank to be collected at a future date, the respect of their community and more.
Not that I am criticizing these people.
In fact I find their actions often worthy of praise, and the goodwill they receive for helping others is well deserved and should never be withheld from them.
They deserve our gratitude.
It still remains that when one individual is helped then the person providing the help benefits by giving themselves a positive boost to their psych though.
There is still a quid pro quo process at work.
This something for something attitude works fine in the main, but it also lends itself to being exploited.
This exploitation comes into the equation when the balance is off.
It happens when one party takes a large slice of the cake, and then leaves a minuscule amount for the other who participates in the transaction.
If you want an example consider one individual who ask another to build a garden shed for them as a semi-favour.
Let's just say they know each other from the pub.
The first pays for the material and that comes to £100 and then they excuse themselves and leave the second individual to spend three days constructing the shed.
The second individual also provides all the tools required for the job to be done.
Once finished the person is paid £30 for their efforts.
It's a mate and it's a semi-favour so that's fine.
The first then sells the shed for £600.
It's no longer fine is it?
The balance has shifted drastically.
This is something that can be described as being unethical, but then again others would be quick to say that 'it's just business'.
Those who say that it is just business are unsurprisingly in the main the ones who are sitting with a cupboard full of cake though.
So now I will get to my point after laying that groundwork, and it is a word of warning to musicians.
Only ever pay to have your material used when you have weighed up all the benefits to yourself and there is a balance there.
When you enter into an agreement that allows one participant to profit through your providing of your artistic labour then you must think very clearly about it all.
You may be participating in your own exploitation by jumping into bed with them.
A sensible approach would be to ask yourself right from the get go what is in it for them, and what you will get in return.
Weigh it up, and then decide what you want to do.
Take a week to do it.
Consider if the offer is mutually beneficial, and if so then go for it.
If you can live with the losing out a little on the deal, but still think it is advantageous then that's fine.
If you are however looking at a very slim slice of the cake then please do yourself a favour and refuse to pull a chair up to the table.
Of course there will be enticements added to the deal to make it appear more attractive.
There always are.
Beware of them.
A good deal doesn't need enticements.
Basically just never casually jump into an agreement.
If for instance you want your material aired on a radio station then why pay for that when there are so many who are passionate supporters of music and will gladly offer airtime at no cost to you.
What they are looking for is an audience and then sponsorship and advertising to create a solid financial foundation to their project.
To get that they need to accrue quality material to play and find a niche market to promote it to.
You are helping them reach their goals by providing them with your material, and in return they are helping you by promoting your music to a (hopefully) ever growing audience.
There's that mutually beneficial deal right there.
If they were to ask you to financially contribute something to ensure airplay, or increased airplay, then what has happened is that they have just asked you to build a shed for them.
Think about it.
Be part of the solution and not the problem by refusing to be exploited.
Posted by It's a **** thing at 19:44
I just finished reading a book about psychopathy.
That may not be apparently relevant, but within the book it covered how society changes and labels are increasingly required to be applied to peoples behaviour.
There is a need to categorize everything into neat little boxes and anything that doesn't fit is viewed in a negative light.
The idea that we should conform to a base level, or be marginalized, is sort of what I am getting at, but if we were all to conform to that lowest common denominator of so called normality then maybe we should be asking ourselves what we would lose.
One thing that we would lose is Hypno Doll House.
Using a rhythmic approach to looping what sounds like random noises, that may or may not have been created by toy instruments in your front room, and chanting/singing over it wouldn't fit into a society supported template of how grown adults should behave.
It is bloody great though, and it's people like this who add the colour to the monochrome existence that some would have us hurtle towards.
Take this sort of eccentricity out of the world and what we are left with doesn't bear thinking about.
It would be an act that would be akin to levelling the mountains and filling in the sea so that our physical landscape was just a dull grey flat expanse of nothing for as far as the eye could see.
I'm going to refrain from describing them in genre terms.
That would be futile.
Just a combination of words thrown together that weren't really anchored solidly in the ground.
There's a tribal aspect to what they are doing, a hypnotic element to them to, but that's as far as I would care to go in trying to entice people towards being open enough to listen.
Hypno Doll House are the beginning of a journey you would have to decide to take on your own accord.
There's no reason to include this review as this is actually the debut from The Civil Wars and it's nearly four years old, but I've been listening to it a great deal over the last few days and....well I just want to share it with you all.
It's a free download.
So you can jump in and take it as a gift from the band to you, and for my part I will say that it's as good as anything that I have ever shelled cash out for.
Anyway, deep breath.
I've always thought that John Paul White had a voice that sounded like Jeff Buckley.
If Jeff had come from Nashville of course.
There's a warmth to it, and a strength that can take it wherever he wants.
That's not to detract from his singing partner Joy Williams and her contribution to the music in anyway though.
There a yin and yang element to what the Civil Wars do.
Two separate approaches that have a distinct sound that can then be joined together to allow their voices to neatly spoon.
It's when you slip on headphones that the real magic begins to reveal itself.
An enveloping warmth fills your head.
No great heat, but a warm glow that permeates deep and eases stress away.
It gently pushes its way forward and creates a moment in time that holds sway and disallows the sharpness of life to tear at you.
It's an aural respite from the world outside the door that's similar to a long and uninterrupted soak in the tub to candlelight (Yeah. Even us guys like that. Don't let anyone tell you different.)
By the time the set reaches the Cohen cover tension has left the building.
If you aren't aware of The Civil Wars then you really should do yourself a favour.
I sincerely doubt that you would regret taking the time to hit a download button.
We should be eternally grateful to The Stooges for one simple reason.
That reason being that they were the catalyst that has brought us so many ramshackle punk bands stumbling out of the garage with slack jawed attitude and a handful of fuzzy chords to slap us with.
The Mystery Girls are yet another one to add to the ever growing list of those who have no fear of existing in the shadows bereft of the success that may have been available to them if they had chosen a more fashionable way to exercise their artistic talents.
No one sits at home and gravitates towards playing garage punk about being into rubber love if they give a toss about a full time career in music, and that's not a bad attitude to have.
It strips bare all the bullshit, and while the music is dirty it's also got a purity to it as it is played for all the right reasons.
Take songs like 'I'm so tired of you' and 'Signs
It's the Ramones, and some may well ask 'but why write a song in the style of the Ramones/'
The Mystery Girls would probably turn that on its head and ask why not write a song in the style of The Ramones, and there's some sense to that.
If they want to do it then who has a good enough reason to dissuade them?
There's a reason why music like this never dies.
Why it always exists on the margins.
You can't quantify it, but you can feel it has some fucked up worth.