Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sample CC License Post

This is a sample posy to illustrate giving a blog post a CC license. Creative Commons Licence
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

Monday, December 28, 2009

Another flipping end of year music list....

I suppose it's customary for people to do their 'best of' lists at this time of year. I don't really like the list format so I'll do my own merry thing, thank you. Here's what I enjoyed this year:

For sheer “I would never have expected to ever be at a gig like this. My eyes hurt and I want to cry a little bit until the music makes my brain melt and I can't cry any more because I am just rolling around on the floor dribbling” experiences, it was hard to beat Fucked Up's gig at Club Academy in February.

If your dream is watching a topless, bald, screaming, fat, sweating Canadian man who looks like he'd be suited to hairy bear gay porn while a baying crowd, including a freakishly tall fella in a wrestling mask thrashes all around you, then this was definitely the gig for you. Or a bizarre nightmare that would have you waking at 3am, screaming and sweating and strangely aroused. I accidentally touched singer Father Damien's hirsute back as he marauded past me and I tried to prevent myself from being stamped on. It was how I'd imagine an Orang-utan who'd just gone through a car wash would feel. Only Father Damien would be more angry and shouty.

Going to see Brakes at the Ruby Lounge in April and discovering that the toilet guy wasn't working was amazing. Finally I could go for a wee during a song I didn't enjoy as much as the other songs that were played, and not worry about having to pay him to look at my penis and spray dubious liquids on my hands afterwards, the bottle probably topped up by his own special aftershave produced while comparing the size of weeing mens cocks.
Hopefully 2010 will see the cult of the Toilet Guy retreat back into it's natural habitat of awful bars in London that I'd never go into.

I very much enjoyed the mullet-wielding joker attempting to blag his way into the Ruby Lounge ahead of me back in March, adamant that he was on the guest list for the Damo Suzuki gig. He tried the 'jokey rapport' with the doorman approach. He tried the 'being unconvincingly angry' approach. He even tried the silent scowl approach (presumably while his brain ticked over desperately grasping for another way he could force his way in without paying the 8 quid). Finally he gave the "Well, Damo will let me in when he gets here, he is my friend you know?" line and flounced off. I didn't see him again that evening.

Or ever again come to think of it. Perhaps he was swallowed whole by his terrifying imagination that had already convinced him he was a friend of a 70s Kraut Rock legend. I'd like to think he was next seen trying to pass himself off as a sound man for Girls Aloud, only to instead steal a pair of Nadine Coyle's skimpy pants and set off on a mazy run across a car park with them on his head chased by camera crews and security guards, only to eventually trip over his own feet and collapse sobbing like the broken idiot he is. The camera crews could focus really close on his crying face, to watch the tears sting his eyes and the skimpy pants will have slipped slightly into his gaping and useless mouth. It would be like a really weird and upsetting episode of Benny Hill. Heat Magazine would probably implode if this ever happened, so it can only be a good thing.

I think I've strayed away from the real purpose of what I was supposed to be writing about somehow. Maybe a list was a better idea. Okaaaay:

The Good:

Islington Mill – more venues like this in Manchester please (and, yeah, I know it's in Salford, calm down all you retentive people)...

The Deaf Institute and it's marvellous mirror ball – my favourite venue in Manchester currently...

Not being able to hear for 3 days after seeing the Secret Machines – it was completely worth it...

Puressence at the Manchester Apollo – the biggest gig they've ever done and the best I've seen them do in 15 years.

Durutti Column performing the amazing “Paean to Wilson” in a tent on Albert Square. And I got my curmudgeonly face on the Culture Show cameras at this gig, even if I didn't see Miranda Sawyer...

"Before You Left" by At Swim Two Birds - album of the year and further confirmation that Roger Quigley is the best singer-songwriter in Manchester...

The Bad:

Cage the Elephant. I won't slag them off anymore,
just go back and read the review...

The 50th time I've seen The Fall turned out to be a complete disaster (true to form though, thankfully the 51st time was great)...

A couple of nonsensical club launch nights where it wasn't really clear what was being launched or why a seemingly completely random of collection of bands were on the bill. Naming no names...

And, of course, Toilet Guy at the Ruby Lounge...

The Ugly:

I think we're back on Father Damien from Fucked Up now aren't we?

Band to watch out for in 2010:

Flange Circus. What else did you expect me to write?

Thank you to both of my regular readers and all your encouragement. I promise that next year I will actually do this much more regularly. And many thanks to those of you I regularly have the pleasure of going to gigs with – don't go changing.

Happy New Year!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Sam & The Plants - "In the Scare Shed"

And so to something truly obscure. The first release on Hood Faire records is Sam & The Plants' “In the Scare Shed”.

It's limited to 41 copies. Yes. Forty One*. I've got number 32.

(* In fact, the CD has now sold out. You can however get an edited version of the album on 10” vinyl on Finders Keepers records and it's well worth searching out).

Lancastrian Sam McLoughlin has somehow managed to squeeze 24 tracks into this 44 minute long album, and it's a wonderfully erratic journey with many dizzying ideas along the way.

Just when you think you might have a handle on what's going on with some almost conventional singer songwriter faire such as “Cold Night Car Park” or “Taxi”, Sam veers off into the acoustic guitar meanderings of “Round the House” and “Finger”, or even into the ambient drone territory of “Haji's House”. These detours even happen within songs, the pleasant strumming and fairground organ of “Lilo” breaks down into whirling electronic feedback at the end.

Some of the songs are completely off-kilter - “Ruke 2” sounds like a glockenspiel being flushed down a drain, and others a bit more self explanatory – “Bus Ride” is just that – a 20 second snippet recording of a bus journey. And no prizes for guessing what instrument features on “Recorders”.

Meanwhile, “Old Haunted Town” and the shanty-like “Should” recall I Am Kloot's John Bramwell back when he was going under the name Johnny Dangerously, and “Void” has the whimsy of a Northern Syd Barrett.

As you might expect for an album that crams so many songs and ideas into such a short space of time, some of the tracks are very brief indeed, but such is the way that strange electronic noises, warbling accordion, dictaphone messages and tinkling keyboards wash in and out it soon becomes difficult to know where songs are beginning and ending, making this an album to be listened to in its entirety (no bad thing, you'll be picking different parts out of each track for weeks!)

Magnificent stuff.

So, sorry that this has sold out and I have it and you don't.

No, actually, I'm not sorry at all. You suck.

Have a listen to:

Friday, June 12, 2009

Rick Tomlinson - "Night time recordings from Göteborg"

Just a short one today. Yeah, I know, I go weeks without any reviews and then two in two days. You are spoiled.

Any release by Rick Tomlinson, whether it's under his own name or in his guise as Voice of the Seven Woods, is usually something special. This is no exception, coming in a lovely handmade sleeve and limited to 465 copies.

This particular album was almost completely improvised on acoustic guitar in the midst of a Swedish January. Despite it's improvisational nature, there's a couple of long pieces on this 45 minute long 6 track album - 'Daylight over Calvi' is almost 14 minutes long and 'Smältugn' clocks in over 12 (incidentally one of the few bits of music where the main theme isn't improvised), but such is the intricacy, intimacy and warmth of the recording you won't find your attention wandering.

Have a listen here

Then head on over to http://www.tchantinler-recordings.com for more information.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Simple Minds - "Graffitti Soul"

Yeah. A review of a Simple Minds album. You didn't expect that, did you?

And I bet you also didn't expect that I was going to praise it either did you?

“Oooh, this Collins is a contrary bastard isn't he? Slagging off up and coming Cage the Elephant one day and then saying good things about a band just past their 30th birthday
” you might think to yourself “I bet he's doing this just to wind us up?”

Well. Bear with me.

Back when I was a precocious teenager, there were three early Simple Minds albums which fascinated me. 'Real to Real Cacophony', 'Empires & Dance' and 'Sons & Fascination' featured pulsating bass lines, banshee-like guitars, futuristic keyboards and oblique lyrics, half of which seemed to be about travel, which being the escapist kind of lad I was I liked.

And also, all three of the albums were a world away from the stadium rock band that Simple Minds would become in the mid-80s.

But so is their latest release.

This a propulsive, grower of a record which may have the polished production, but swaps the bombast for a surprisingly understated, textured album.

Opener “Moscow Underground” is the stand out track, harking back to the travelling theme of their early work, a dark and powerful song driven along by a powerful bassline; closely followed by “Blood Type O” complete with with Eno-like throbbing keyboards and echoes of the euro-trance found on "Empires & Dance".

The nods to arena rock haven't all gone away - the radio friendly single “Rockets” and “Stars will Lead the Way” for example, both have the big, sleek production and choruses signposted from a mile away, but neither slips into a Belfast Child bombast or the soundtrack to a Molly Ringwald film.

This is what real music journalists like to call “a return to form”. Except, in Simple Minds case that already happened in 2002 when they released “Cry.” With that album, follow-up 'Black & White' and now 'Graffiti Soul' , Simple Minds have another trilogy to rival the influence of their early work.

I don't really expect you to believe me, especially as I only have two regular readers - one of whom will still be thinking “Collins you contrary bastard” while the other one knows that I am...

Right, anyway, that's the end of the review. You can go back to masturbating over Cage the Elephant and Ladyhawke now, kids.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Cage the Elephant - Manchester Academy 2, 12th May 2009

So then, Cage the Elephant. As soon as the lights went off in the Academy 2, the kids cheered loudly. The kids started jumping up and down. The kids like Cage the Elephant.

The kids, it has to be said, are a bunch of clueless fuckwits.

The band churned out a solid set of some unremarkable and some downright awful tunes while lead singer Matt Shultz, praised elsewhere for his energy and presence, seemingly had his macho posturing choreographed for him, right down to the removal of his shirt for the encore. Yawn.

A special mention to the rhythm guitarist with little rhythm (or knowledge of anything but bar chords - thank you for pointing that out, Bon) stood dead centre right at the front of the stage and gurned along with the words. You irritating fuck.

It wasn't all bad, single "Ain't No Rest For the Wicked" had a great energy to it and got most of the venue going, while “Lotus”and “In one Ear” both brought out flowing funky grooves, but all too often the other songs descended into a swampy blues-rock mess, one song merging into another similar sounding song after similar sounding song in an almost endless circle of crushing mediocrity from which my only solution was to go to the bar and get more Jack Daniels.

Oh well, as if they'd actually care what I think. I am a grown man in my thirties, not a teenage girl. (well, apart from when I'm chatting online to other creepy old men also pretending to be teenage girls.)

Just to clear things up, there's no photo at the top of this from the gig as I couldn't get to the front without rubbing up against a crowd of under-age girls, and that would probably get the police involved (again...) There's a lot I'd do for this crappy blog, but signing the sex offenders register isn't one of them.

Right, that's it. That's my review. It's over. No free MP3s this time around, you leechers. Go away.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Damo Suzuki & Friends - Ruby Lounge 12th March 2009

So then, the Ruby Lounge.

I love the Ruby Lounge. Y'know, except for the fairly crappy view (nice touch sticking a pillar in front of the stage) and the London-priced beer. And the Toilet guy.

Maybe it is just me but I cannot wee while his eyes bore into my back. And it gets worse when I want to wash my hands and he turns on the tap for me and sprays me with some nasty smelling aftershave. Stop it. STOP IT! Also, some blokes get a lollipop from him. Why is this? Do they only get given to to the blokes who's cock the toilet guy really likes? He never gives me a lollipop. :-( What's wrong with my cock, Toilet Guy?

Toilet guy it is YOUR FAULT that I sometimes have piss on my hands after I go to the Ruby Lounge because I am avoiding you and your knock- off CK aftershave. I hope you can live with yourself.

(Actually, he wasn't working the night of the Damo Suzuki gig. I used some artistic license to pretend he was, because I've seen him at every other gig I've been to at the Ruby Lounge. Don't judge me. You don’t have any friends or a girlfriend or have ever kissed a girl or talked to a girl, so stop looking at me like that. Cheers).

By the way, I saw some music. Kraut rock legend Damo Suzuki uses a different set of local musicians wherever he plays, which can make for some very interesting improvisational results. Tonight we got three songs in an hour and 45 minutes. Fantastic stuff. Although the bloke on the clarinet really did need to calm down a bit. There was no need for the constant jazz wailing he produced. Same for the big bass saxophone he produced. Play it low for a while. Go on. It doesn't all need to be so high pitched.

If this was a real music review blog, I'd probably tell you the names of the musicians and what bands they'd been in and how good the Gibson sunburst bass was. But then you should remember I've just recently written about how you have no friends or have ever kissed a girl, so maybe you could get this info from somewhere else. If you find out, let me know. Sweet.


Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Liftmen - "The Liftmen"

I first heard this lot on Twisted Nerve compilation “This is the Winter of our Discount Tents” back in 2005, and was mightily impressed with the quirky bizarreness of “Meat Raffle”. However, having been burned many times by hearing a one-off track on compilations, rushing out for the album and being severely let down, I approached Bristol-based four piece The Liftmen's eponymous second album with some caution. Thankfully this is flipping excellent, running the gamut from the skewed garage rock of “Belly Can” and “Meat Raffle” to the giddy pop of “Sad Tail”.

There's also a surprisingly refreshing cohesiveness from a band whose members all have a go at singing. And I'm not someone who would usually condone singing drummers. Just look at Phil Collins.  (Although you can have fun telling Genesis fans that Phil Collins's “No Jacket Required” is the best Genesis related album ever made. Light fuse and stand well back...)

Anyways, in an ideal world, The Liftmen's Captain Beefheart style riffing would be blasted proudly throughout public buildings to remind people that life is quite good if you want it to be. But then, this is a world where you have the appalling Leona Lewis covering the comatose Snow Patrol. God help us.

Have a listen to these:

Belly Can

Sad Tail

And then buy it here

In fact, buy two and use the other one to throw at Leona Lewis and her big face. Or Snow Patrol. I don't really care which. Then watch them Run. Ahahaha. See what I did there?

I think that's enough.  It's probably good that no one actually reads this.


Monday, March 09, 2009

The Durutti Column - Deaf Institute 8th March 2009

What better way to spend a rainy Sunday evening in Manchester than beneath the Deaf Institutes's enormous mirror ball listening to the Durutti Column? Vini Reilly promised that “We'll start very quiet, then go a bit louder and by the end it will be an unlistenable din”. And while it never did become unlistenable he made good on his promise that it did get loud – not usually something you'd equate with a Durutti Column gig.

The gig opened with two songs from the latest album, 'Love in the Time of Recession'. “Wild Beast Tamed” and “Painting” were co-written with pianist Poppy Morgan, who joined him on stage for both songs.

With the promised quiet start out of the way Vini was joined by bass player and producer Keir Stewart and “the only drummer worth listening to in these times” in Vini's words – the legend that is Bruce Mitchell - and they stormed into “Otis” before cleverly merging it into “Blind Elevator Girl (Osaka)”

They even got over the handicap of a temporary on-stage power outage and Keir's terrible Pink Panther joke to deliver a blistering version of 'Woman', complete with some absolutely tearing guitar playing and it got a lot rockier from here on in, culminating with a much harder “Untitled for You” when compared with the recorded version.

All in all it was a fantastic gig, but if there has to be one criticism it'd be nice have some more recent material than the set stalwarts of “Missing Boy” and “The Beggar”, which I've heard at every single Durutti gig I've been to. There's some amazing stuff on the new album that would be fantastic treat to hear live.

Oh, by the way, special thanks to the couple standing right in front of me who had a blazing argument, made up then fell out again, and were last seen screaming at each other on the roof terrace. Classy.

As an added bonus I actually went to a gig and didn't get too drunk to remember the set list! So for all you trainspotters out there:

Wild Beast Tamed
More Rainbows
Otis – Blind Elevator Girl (Osaka)
Missing Boy
The Beggar
Requiem for My Mother
Untitled For You
Pigeon (actually Storm for Steve and Peter Green's Albatross!)

Anyway, some MP3s from latest album 'Love in the Time of Recession) (these will only be here for about a week):

Wild Beast Tamed

I'm Alive


Wednesday, February 25, 2009

"Identity" by Zee

Well, I did promise bizarre collaborations, and “Identity” by Zee may be the amongst the most bizarre I own.

In 1984, after spending his first few years away from Pink Floyd sailing around the Mediterranean sea, keyboardist Rick Wright teamed up with Dave Harris from the new romantic band Fashion to form an unlikely synth pop duo. And heavy on the synths it certainly is, predominantly the good old Fairlight, as heard on a million and one 80's chart hits.

'Confusion' (which was released as a single) is the pick of the bunch, although it sounds suspiciously like the music that would go with a montage in a 1980's B-movie. Probably one about good ol' American teenage boys Billy and Bob and their attempts to hack their High Schools' computer to change their grades in History:

Bob: “I need an A or I'll have to spend the summer in school instead of riding my BMX over some hastily assembled wooden ramps and irretrievably damaging my bollocks forever. Let's make a computer that we can use to hack the school”

Billy: “I've got a better idea! Lets build a computer which we can use to hack the Pentagon! Then we can make tanks run over that old bloke who lives at the street who our parents tell us not to go near, but stop short of telling us he's a child molester even though we suspect he probably is.”

Bob: “Yeah! Come on Billy, I've got all the bits in my dad's basement!”

'Confusion' by Zee plays over a 4 minute montage of Billy and Bob making a super computer from an Atari 2600, some sticky tape and a copy of Penthouse, intercut with them doing flying kung fu kicks on a hillside and wheelies in a supermarket car park.

And at the end of all that:

Bob: “Fuck it, let's just design a woman with really big breasts and stare at them!”

High fives all round and everyone laughs, even the old paedo who lives at the end of the street.

Fade out...

I think I've got away from the point. Anyways, if you're expecting a Pink Floyd style album then you won't be in luck, as only 'Cuts like a Diamond' gets close. It's not dated well, but hey, BBC news reckons (er...three weeks ago – but I never promised cutting edge satire here, did I?) that 80's power dressing is back, so surely there's room once again for the Fairlight? And if you see a copy of the album on ebay for 50p like I did then it's worth a go.

By the way, if anyone has an MP3 of “Eyes of a Gypsy (Dub Mix)” then let me know!

The obligatory MP3. Get ready for your montage:

"Confusion" by Zee


Friday, February 13, 2009

"Love Beach" by Emerson, Lake & Palmer

Absolutely stunning.  A work of sheer genius.  Utterly compelling.  Truely gorgeous.

No, I'm not talking about the music on prog giants Emerson Lake and Palmers 1978 album.  In fact, I have no idea what it sounds like.   I don't get paid for this, y'know.

But who could resist ELP looking like they'd rocked up on a tropical island looking for a Bee Gees fancy dress party?  Lot of kudos must go to Carl Palmer's combination of high pants, hairy chest and male camel toe.  Though, being a drummer he does have to work harder to get the ladies.

Apparently, hard core ELP fans who aren't so keen refer to this album as 'Love Bitch' (well, that's what it says on Wikipedia anyway, and that's a good enough source for Daily Mirror reporters, so it's good enough for me too).
Hahahaha, see what they did there?  Love Bitch!  Because 'bitch' sounds a bit like 'beach'!  Even more so if you say it in a cod-arabic accent.  Yeah, prog albums and casual racism dance hand in hand on my blog.

Anyway, here's an MP3 for you to get a real feel for the album (that's what people go to music blogs for, right?)