Monday, 20 September 2010

Underground Festival – Gloucester Guildhall 25th and 26th September 2010

This weekend sees one of the two festivals in Gloucestershire, which will become the playlist to the transfer between summer and Autumn for me this year Gloucester’s Underground Festival (The other being Walk The Line in a few weeks).

It has been a while since I have seen something in the listings for The Guildhall which I’ve been really excited about but Underground was a concrete plan as soon as I heard about the idea and much like Off The Cuff at The Flapper in Birmingham this line up becomes more amazing every week as every band increases in popularity.

The £25 weekend ticket price is a snip considering the incredible line up with Chapel Club and Egyptian Hip-Hop headlining the main stage on Saturday you have two bands generating column inches throughout the music press and Sunday’s Pulled Apart By Horses and Joy Formidable double header also attracting major press attention you have your value for money right there. Once you throw in November and The Criminal, The Xcerts, Throats, Galops, Run! Walk! And more onto the two day bill for the main stage you have two days of music watch before even considering the other two stages.

The Music Glue stage has a good line up on Saturday with performances from Kid Adrift and Sons and Lovers sure to blow the crowd away during eight and a half hours of fantastic live music. Sunday is when the stage really comes to life for me with Hold Your Horse Is kicking off a jam packed afternoon and guaranteeing to blow any cobwebs left over from Saturdays festivities. Throughout the afternoon Shoes and Socks Off, Tangled Hair, Brontide and Tall Ships top my list of must see acts.

If these two line ups don’t start to make you consider timetabling issues with watching as many great bands as you can there is a third and final stage run by the fantastic Risk and Consequence Magazine which again features a load of amazing live acts. For Saturday my personal highlight is Men Diamler who is one of the greatest performers mixed up in the new folk scene and other highlights include Serfina Steer and Sam Little. Again this stage really gets going on Sunday with one of the first performances from Istartedthefire record’s very own super group Falcons followed by Jim Lockey and The Solemn Sun, Joe Summers, TubeLord and the incredible Boat To Row.

I’m genuinely puzzled as to how I will see all the acts I want to see over the weekend and manage to fit in interviews with some of the artists but I will watch as many acts a physically possible. I know one thing though I’m really looking forward to the weekend!

Thursday, 9 September 2010

Mike Scott ...and master of none

I am always very excited when Mike Scott releases something new, he is, in my opinion, one of the most important protest singers in the country. ‘…and a master of none’ does not disappoint. This latest EP shows a progression in Mike’s musical style and a general development in his solo music.

From the beautiful vocal balance within the opening track the feel of this EP is very different from previous efforts. The balance in the female vocal and Mike’s trademark snarling is a welcome change and adds an awesome dimension to the track. As the EP progresses there is a more mature feel to both lyrics and vocals, and unlike many artists this maturity has not been balanced out by a lack of passion.

Mike retains his snarling vocals that are delivered with passionate venom and has added a bittersweet element in parts. In many cases I hate covers but when it comes to Mike Scott I know he has very carefully chosen every cover, and chosen something relevant to the record. The version of Neil Diamond's much covered ‘Solitary man’ is delivered with tender emotion and shows a slightly softer side. The bitter vocal on ‘Extra Something’, which was originally recorded by Kevin Seconds, contrasts with the other cover perfectly.

Lyrically Mike continues to write in an honest intelligent fashion and considering the political nature of his lyrics, opinions are surprisingly balanced. I would say this EP is the most mature record Mike Scott has released to date and shows progression from the previous EP’s (which are all most definitely worth listening to) which makes me eager to hear a full length very soon.

You can listen to and download this EP at a price you choose (this can be nothing but should be hundreds) from Disconnect Disconnect Records HERE 

Wednesday, 1 September 2010

God Damn photo special

Heebie Jeebies photo special

Moondad photo special

The End of Out Of Step in Wolverhampton - Sad Times and Rad Times

Monday saw Wolverhampton wave goodbye to Out Of Step’s monthly shows, but not before an incredible leaving party featuring four amazing bands. From the moment Moondad took the stage you could tell it was going to be a special night, they played their hearts out and brought headline quality to the bottom of the bill.

Their combination of shoegaze and noise was delivered with intelligence and bags of energy. It is rare  for a band inspired by shoegaze and noise to be easily accessible without loosing too much of their experimental side, however Moondad were an exception. Their set was topped off with a great Smiths cover, usually I hate covers within a bands set but great covers were to develop into one of the themes for the night.

Sheffield tropical punks Heebie Jeebies were next to blow the audience away, and despite the brilliance of Moondad they took it up another level. The combination of noticeable influences from almost every type of music imaginable, deep vocals and obscure lyrics creates a sound unlike any other. This individual style is thrashed out at a furious pace live and is impossible not to enjoy.

God Damn were next to tackle the ever raising bar of brilliance and created a style which chopped and changed as their set progressed. The elements of hardcore were loud and aggressive, at times the riffs were raw and huge, and just to keep the audience guessing there was even some incredible harmonica. God Damn again delivered a faultless cover with a truly individual reworking of a Strokes track. As the hardcore scene develops in Wolverhampton God Damn offer hardcore with something more experimental and with a fantastic lofi DIY feel throughout.

Finally after the audience and the promoters were hyped to the max, by three of the best sets in Out Of Step history, Not Cool took the stage. These Dalston based punks are one of the best acts Out Of Step have put on and deserve every success. Their individual sound has elements of early indie such as the Pixies and Smiths combined with punk and hardcore throughout it’s existence to create an instantly recognisable sound. Fuzzy guitars are balanced with energetic baselines, passionate vocals and frantic drumming. The band topped off the night with a great cover of one of my favourite songs by the Minutemen.

Tonight showed that Wolverhampton still had a heart but unfortunately for Out Of Step and Alchemy it was a case of too little too late. Tonight’s varied line up showed examples of four incredible live bands at the top of their game, please go and check them all out.