Tag Archives: Bristol

RECORD STORE DAY 2012: A Vinyl extravaganza at Bristol’s best independent record store RISE

Record store day 2012 finally arrived in the early hours of yesterday 21st April.  I chose Rise Records, one of the finest record stores in the UK and the best independent record store in Bristol as my vinyl heaven location.

I nipped into RISE on Friday afternoon to see how preparations were going, the staff seemed a little rushed off their feet! With over 400 titles to put out onto the floor and prepare for what they hoped would be hoards of eager shoppers, they had their work cut out.

Each year the event has been going, it has become more popular with more releases and more interest.  Vinyl sales went up by over 40% last year and a welcome niche market has opened up for the musical connoisseur and a lifeline for “real” independent record shops.  Times are hard, and Record Store Day is a welcome silver lining to the dark clouds of economic gloom for record dealers around the world.

Last year I began queuing at 6:10am for the 8am lift off. By the time the shop opened there was a queue several hundred meters long. This time I was told that people were intending to start queuing at 4am!  So with heavy eyelids I set my alarm for 4am and got to the queue for around 4:30am.

It is essential to be in the first 20 in the queue as people are let in 20 at a time.  I was number 8!  This year I managed to even persuade my partner to join the fun!  Ironically I was standing next to the same people as last year as the geek music chat began!

Time passed quickly as the excitement built and the darkness fell away.  Automatic lights came on in the shop to reveal the hundreds of limited edition titles on display, and then by 7am the staff arrived to prepare for the rush.

It was incredibly well organised as they passed out lists to the first 20 people to pick their items strictly to Record Store Day rules – first come first serve.  This prevents any initial over exuberance and “elbowing” tactics for the ultra rare items.  Last year there was nearly a fight over a Dr Who single!

8 o’clock came and we were allowed in, our piles of records waiting for us.  We browsed in ore at the wealth of vinyl on offer to be tempted with yet more purchases.  It is hard to resist!

Some ask, “what is the point of vinyl?”, usually asked with their mp3 in their pocket full of pirated music that they have neither paid for or on the most part ever listened to.

I love music, all kinds and on all formats.  Everything has its place.  Mp3 players are amazing and very convenient; CD’s are excellent quality these days and are also convenient (the original CD’s in the 80’s and early 90’s were simply awful quality); and Vinyl are a different listening experience, superb quality and playing albums the way there were intended to be listened to, with artwork and an emotional experience.

The Vinyl experience is different and more attentive and more emotional.  When record companies began trying to force the death of vinyl in a re-issuing frenzy on CD of back catalogue items in a “bring them in and pile them high” attitude as a cash cow, the emotional aspect of buying records began to be broken.  The start of the death nail for recorded music.

This year many of the items available for record store day are of high quality and much sought after, along with some titles that are the inevitable cash in.  Record store day is more than just getting your hands on some lovely limited vinyl though, it is an event.  RISE had bands on all day and DJ sets, Record store day beer (very good!) as well as special offers and a few give away’s.  With   physical sales of music declining and difficult economic times generally this day has become very important in the record store retail calender.

The highlight for me was seeing Duke Spirit play live at 3pm.  They were superb and I can’t wait to listen to their live album I bought.

My vinyl highlights were The Kinks re-issues; Lee Scratch Perry 3 x 10″ box set; David Bowie Starman pic disc; Refused “The shape of punk to come”; Blood Music 7″; Keith Howard 12″;  Gorillaz 10″, Edwyn Collins tape box and Velvet Underground Loaded on pink Vinyl!

I’m still counting the cost however, as inevitably over enthusiasm got the better of me! Not to worry, it’s only once a year!

A great day for independent music shops – great music, great live music, great beer and a great day.  Thanks RISE for an excellent day!

Roll on next year . . . . .

PETER AND THE HARMONICS – Live Review, Louisiana Bristol, and Album Review

Speculative gigs to see new bands play are always a hit and miss affair, but on this occasion there was nothing to lose as it was a part of the Bristol harbour festival.  A wonderful annual event that brings the heart of Bristol to life.

A wonderful arts and music festival throughout the weekend was to begin on the Friday night.  So I headed down to one of the fringe venues at the brilliant Louisiana.  I was attending on the recommendation of a friend who knew a member of the band.

Whenever you get an invitation to see a band because they are a friend it is a bit of a double edged sword.  What if they are awful?

Luckily on this occasion, there were no such fears.

Peter and the Harmonics, a local Bristol band comprising of

Pete Stilwell (The Francos)
Lead Vocals and GuitarEd Falconer (The Francos)
Guitar, Violin and Backing VocalsJimmy Curry (45’s and Snatch22)
Bass Guitar and Backing VocalsTom Chillcott (Nova Saints)
Drums and Backing Vocals

arrived on the ground floor stage at about 7pm and from the off had a little more than the average band to offer.

Their Facebook page lists their influences as Neil Young, The Band, The Coral, The Beatles, Simon & Garfunkel, Fleet Foxes and Bon Iver.

This is one of the few influences list that I have seen which does have some bearing on the type and quality of the music they play.

Pete Stilwell has a sweet voice that commands attention right from the off, and you can tell from the hush of the crowd that the band has them where they want them, listening to every word and note.

The set moved along with variety and ease and the band were able to have a rapport with the crowd, always a help on a festival night.  From acoustic numbers, violin interludes, rock and ballads the bands repertoire was excellent.

The band sounded tight, and brought across their music brilliantly.  They were a real delight to watch and listen to.  A definite depth to their songwriting from the catchy Over Me to the Bluesy These Terrors I Know.

Despite the fickleness of the music industry, if these guys keep it together I’m sure they will garner much interest in the future.

I managed to get hold of their home made EP with the tracks Over Me, These Terrors I Know and Gold is the Morning.  I would certainly recommend giving them a listen or trying to see them as they do gigs in the region.

SEE NO EVIL Graffiti Art Exhibition Nelson Street, Bristol : The Largest Street Art Project In Europe

Yesterday saw the unveiling of the See No Evil Graffiti Art Exhibition on Bristol’s Nelson Street.  A once drab concrete and rather ugly city view turned into a bright and vibrant scene with street art at it’s centre and celebrated with a wonderful street party.

 

 

 

The atmosphere was wonderful as people flitted between the 3 DJ stages, with 2 on the road and one on the “mezzanine” looking down onto the street below.

Bristol has a vibrant art scene for all ages and it was fitting to see such an impressive and adventurous project backed by the local council who helped fund the project.

Beer was supped, people danced and families came together in the spirit we would expect in Bristol.  Only a week after the last excuse to celebrate with the Balloon Festival and before that the Harbour Festival – it appears Bristolians need no excuse to party and let their hair down.

There were artists from around the world to turn the street from its drab beginning into an artists paradise – the likes of Los Angeles’ El Mac, Bristol’s  Nick Walker and Spain’s Ariz – 70 artists in all have transformed Nelson Street.

Indeed the day was so successful – could this not become and annual event?

It was great to be in a crowd of laid back people having a good time putting the stresses of the world to the backs of our minds for a day.  There has been enough bad news lately – to have a coming together for the right reasons was a wonderful feeling.

Another great day for Bristol.

bb

 

 

Britain’s Night of Riots

I’m writing this at 2am and now the unrest has hit the city in which I live – Bristol.

The 24 hour news saturation is now in it’s element as they switch to different areas of London, shops and buildings ablaze.

I heard the Police helicopter hovering above a few minutes ago before I heard that riots had hit Bristol in Stokes Croft, St Pauls, Broadway and Cabot Circus, not too far from where I live, only a mile or so down the hill.

I initially went to bed with the knowledge that there was sporadic violence in areas of London and a building alight in Croydon.  I was woken by my partner with the knowledge that riots had spread to other areas of London near people we know, rioters and looters damaging buildings within 100 yards of our friends houses.

Now we see fires being started in shops with flats above and breaking into shops and looting seemingly at will to grab mobile phones and bottles of beer.  Stories of people breaking into residential properties.  It seems only a matter of time before people die in the numerous fires being set a light.

Just seen a report interviewing Diane Abbott with her asking people to stop wrecking their own communities while  2 youths behind her giggle while talking on their mobile phones.

I don’t think I would have believed this could happen in Britain if I had not seen it with my own eyes.  The wilful destruction of property and businesses – peoples livelihoods being destroyed, jobs lost and families homes destroyed.  Do these people have a clue what they are doing?  Do they care?

There have been odd occasions in my life I have felt ashamed to be British or English and I’m afraid I am beginning to have that same feeling again.  It seems sickening that communities that work their arse off to make a living for their families and pride in their areas have their hard work destroyed by a small number of people who simply do not care.

At a time of recession and hard times, falling living standards and international financial crises; the last thing the UK needs is people destroying the very fabric of society that we rely on.  Our economy, jobs and family income will only suffer after the last 3 days of violence.

I would not be surprised if David Cameron employs a Curfew policy for tomorrow night, as the only way for the Police to regain control.  I never thought I would see something like this in my lifetime in the UK.

A sad night.

THE NIGHTINGALES AND TED CHIPPINGTON LIVE REVIEW at the THUNDERBOLT, BRISTOL: John Peel’s influence lives on

A night to remember was on the cards – Friday 20th May 2011, two Legends take to the stage.

It is only fitting that 2 legendary acts should play at the legendary venue that is the Thunderbolt in Bristol.  It used to be called the Turnpike and has a rich history, being an original 1830’s toll house, it has been lovingly cared for and restored into a superb public house and arts and music venue in the heart of South Bristol.

With a capacity of 150, whoever you get to see here becomes a truly intimate experience.  So to see the likes of the Nightingales here was to be a real treat.

First up was the never to be copied Ted Chippington, a man who’s every bone in his body endorses a real “alternative” humour, unlike the popularised humour of the 1980’s that became mainstream.  Far be it from me to explain the great man’s style instead watch this BBC2 rendition of his talents by Stewart Lee which explains all you need to know about the type of humour.

The evening started well as Ted began his set and went through some of his old favourites like “how far is the train station” and my personal favourite “I was at a festival and a man with long hair asked “do you want some grass”, and I replied, “no thanks I have loads of Crazy Paving”.  .  .  .  .Perhaps you just need to be there.

With some of the crowd stunned into silence and the other half rolling around laughing, the set soon ended with a rollicking round of applause.  To be honest I was in the latter character and my partner in the former. Oh hum!

Next up, the Nightingales.

Now this is a band I have to confess that I had heard of and heard some of their stuff, but was always on the periphery of my musical tastes.  Of course, most of us of a certain generation, have heard of the Fall, and listened to John Peel.  The Nightingales are a legend in their own time having the accolade of having done the most Peel Sessions other than the Fall.  Not a bad one to have.

A Brummy band (from Birmingham) circa 1979 and splitting up in 1986, there is now only one surviving original member, namely Robert Lloyd (vocals).  Having split after 3 well received albums, a few years ago they reformed and have started producing new material, by all accounts some of the best music of their career.  The band now consists of Lloyd, Apperley, Andreas Schmid (from Faust Studio) on bass, ex Violet Violet drummer Fliss Kitson and guitarist Matt Wood, plus on occasion bassoonist Katherine Young &/or guitarist Christine Edwards and Emily Manzo on keyboards (Christy & Emily).

The band came on stage to a rapturous applause and the set began.

I have seen a number of “reformed” bands over the last few years, some excellent, while others badly disappointed. However, this was a case of the former rather than the latter.

Robert Lloyd was both charismatic and humorous as the front man and principle songwriter.  The set lasted for about and hour and 10 minutes and got better and better with each song.

The quality of the musicianship was superb.  The interplay of the guitars were excellent driving along the songs and the drummer – Fliss Kitson was superb.  For a band who’s rough around the edges indie/rock and roll tracks can be fairly simple in construction, the musicianship was excellent.  The raw sound really came across and the songs sounded fresh and the band tight.

Although the crowd was perhaps past it’s “moshing” years on the whole, there were a few dancing at the front staring into Robert lloyds largely closed eyes.  Perhaps this was more to do with the beer and the music though??

As the band left the stage the applause continued and they came back for their encore. “Who would have thought it”, Robert pronounced before leading into their final song.

The crowd, gave them a fantastic send off, willing them for more, but the end was nigh.  An excellent night’s entertainment and a really excellent nights music.

My partner this time was with me in her enjoyment of the band (unlike Ted!), and of course I had to pick up a copy of the exclusive 10″ EP they were selling, which incidentally I also fully recommend.

Superb music, in a superb venue, could you ask for more??

New EP – “The Lost Plot”
The Dishwater Kid
Don’t Harsh my Buzz
Rocket Pool #2

bbb

YUCK LIVE REVIEW: Live at the Thekla Bristol with Let’s Wrestle as support

OTHER GIG REVIEWS HERE

A much looked forward to gig to see these two bands.  I have been thwarted in my attempt to see Lets Wrestle twice in recent times, so to see them on the support bill was a pleasurable surprise.

Lets Wrestle are from London, England and the band consists of Wesley Patrick Gonzalez (vocals and guitar), Sam Pillay (bass), and Darkus Bishop (drums), a 3 piece that makes a lot of noise!

I have heard some of their music on various late night radio programmes and have intrigued me with their loud, rough around the edges sound and sense of humour.

Sadly, due to the early start, we arrived a little late and Lets Wrestle were already on stage.  At first I have to admit that I was a little underwhelmed by what I heard.  The first thing that struck me was just how out of tune Wesley’s voice was.  The whole band sounded very ordinary, more like an average pub band than a cutting edge outfit.

However, my impression gradually began to change as the set continued.  The songs were fast and furious on the whole, with a kind of nod to the rawness of new wave music of the late 1970’s, with a slightly updated edition.  What struck me most was the way the guitar playing really gave the music an individualistic feel about it, and contributed most musically to the songs.

The set got better and better with the stand out tracks for me being “Insects” and “Prick stuck in my zipper”.  The latter’s lyrics being being quite amusing.

After a 30 minute set I had warmed to them quite a bit, but my reservations remain.  If you are 16 and have never heard the array of new wave music around then this would be most entertaining.  In truth however, at present, Lets Wrestle have little innovative to offer the discerning music lover.

After a short interlude Yuckarrived on stage.  Yuck are Daniel Blumberg –guitar, vocals;  Max Bloom – guitar, vocals; Mariko Doi – bass; Jonny Rogoff – drums.

Their set began with Holing Out from the new album.  The crowd were immediately into the occasion and Big Jeff was there doing his bit for band relations.

Its funny how the talk of the evening very quickly turns to the fact that the venue is a boat!  Many bands find it quite a novelty to play on a boat and below the water line.  And so it proved with Yuck, who also made their acquaintance with Big Jeff as the local celebrity.

I’m sure the novelty factor has also aided the venue get on the short list of the best small venue in the NME magazine.

Back to the gig and the band were frankly superb.  From the moment they hit the stage the crowd were transfixed by the wonderful vocals that complement the more abrasive music.  His vocals are delicate and softly sung behind the music.  What transfixed me the most was the intricate guitar playing of Max Bloom.  It was an excellent show of intricate interwoven guitar playing combined with Daniel Blumberg’s guitar playing.

Then only possible criticism of this band is that the set seemed too short, it went like a flash finishing under an hour.  But this simply is testament to just how good they were and how much the crowd was enjoying it.

Much of their material comes from their first album released earlier this year, self titled it had a lot of critical praise as our YUCK Album  review shows. Despite their obvious nod to the likes of 80’s indie, the Mary Chain and so on, they don’t just copy the genre but put their stamp to it and evolve the sound.  They do it fantastically well and their live interpretation of the songs is superb.

They played one new song – Milkshake not on the album which went down well.

They also played one other not on the album that was on the b side of Holing Out – Coconut Bible.

In the end though the set had to end, and it ended on a high with Rubber, a previous single and a musical, feedback frenzy at the end to finish the gig.

Surprisingly, they did not come back for an encore, which was a big disappointment for the crowd who wanted more.  But this only makes me admire them all the more!

Set List:

Holing Out
The Wall
Shook Down
Georgia
Suicide Policeman
Milkshake
Get away
Suck
Coconut Bible
Operation
Rubber

There were too many stand out tracks to idly pick one or two, my advice would be to get to see them live and definitely pick up a copy of their album.

MORE GIG REVIEWS

Fight Like Apes Live Review: Bristol 02 Academy 9th May 2011

Off to the cage we went, our affectionate name for the small room above the main 02 Academy where smaller bands play.  The stage is in effect a tiny area at one end of the room hemmed in by a metre high barrier.

Bands play in front of a maximum of apparently of 600 people, but if they were able to get 600 people in that small room I hope I am not there! It is truly a very small venue, and usually baking hot.  When you consider the Thekla only gets 450 on the entire boat I suggest this figure is a little high!

Initially the crowd was quite sparse when we arrived awaiting the support band, “I’ll Fight Fire With Fire”.  I knew nothing about the band prior to the gig and did not know what to expect as a support.  I perhaps expected a band in the indie ilk, but it became quickly evident that this was not the case.

They are currently unsigned and describe themselves as an alternative/powerpop/Hardcore band on their myspace site.  Could be interesting?  Sadly not.

They arrived with a bang, the music cranked up to what they would probably consider an ear blistering no 11.  It quickly became apparent that this was a run of the mill heavy rock band, big on noise and low on finesse.

They obviously have a lot of confidence and energy in their performance, but in reality the songs were weak and cliched. As a friend of mine said “I don’t mind people doing derivative, as long as they do it well”, sadly not only was this music derivative, but it was not done well either.

Personally, I cannot stand middle of the road heavy rock music, of the type you would hear a myriad of bands coming over from the US playing.  Derivative and frankly boring.  How this band did stand out though, was the way they were able to play derivative bland rock music, the type that has been heard for 20 years or more, and play it badly, in a fairly chaotic fashion with a singer that was excellent at singing flat.  An excellent achievement.

Even Big Jeff, at his customary front row pew, was strangely subdued (for him!) although the crowd were kind in their appreciation.

The highlight of the set was when the bass player broke his strap and ended up sitting on a chair at the front of the stage in a Val Doonican style, most amusing.

Perhaps I am being somewhat harsh, after all they have not been playing live long, and have a new EP out soon, but perhaps more bedroom practise would be in order, and perhaps a widening of their musical influences.

Having, survived fighting fire with fire we awaited Fight Like Apes, who were scheduled to arrive on stage at 9pm, and finally arrived at 9:20pm.

Their first album Fight Like Apes And The Mystery Medallion went down well with critics and fans alike in Ireland and mainland Britain, and had much publicity with people like Steve Lamacq singing their praises.

Their new album seems to have slipped under the radar of the main stream media and not had the publicity of previous releases.  It has done fantastically well when released in Ireland last summer, but has had less of an interest over here critically.

Nevertheless, they are undoubtedly one of the most interesting bands around, and one of the most unusual.

They arrived on stage to great support and a much bigger audience than the support band enjoyed.  They began slowly, with “You Are The Hat” and “Do You Karate” and began their rapport with the crowd early on.

Fight Like Apes are an unusual band in many ways.  They have an amazing charismatic singer in MayKay who commands the stage and engages with the crowd while playing keyboards.  She regularly jokes with the crowd through the set and the feeling that the band don’t take themselves too seriously is a welcome relief in a world where the miserablist indie band rules in the critics stable.

Their music is produced with two keyboards, a bass and drums with the enigmatic MayKay on vocals.  They produce some very individualistic music, spread between thoughtful, indie and punk music with some hilarious song titles.

As their set progressed they got better and better as they headed into their well known repertoire with “Lend Me Your Face” and “DigiFucker”.  Although by this time the stage was like an oven, the band had tremendous energy in delivering their set.  Jamie “Pockets” Fox, consistently gets in on the “interactions with the crowd” act, at one point walking into the crowd to bang metal poles with MayKay in a vaguely percussive way!

The set swung from new material from their album “The Body of Christ and the Legs of Tina Turner“, to their tried and tested material with the crowd singing along.

Before we knew it, the set was nearly over as they headed off stage before returning for a two song encore with “Waking Up With Robocop” and “Battlestations”.  They finally retired at 10:30pm in time for the curfew to kick in and for the rest of us to be kicked out!

Set List:

You Are A hat
Do You Karate
Poached Eggs
Hoo Ha Henry
Tie Me Up With Jackets
Lend Me Your face
DigiFucker
Push It
Jenny Kelly
Something Global
Thanks God You Weren’t Thirsty (Lightbulb)
Come On, Let’s Talk About Our Feelings
Jake Summers
Ice Cream Apple Fuck
Can Head
Snore Bore Whore

Encore:

Waking Up With Robocop
Battlestations

An excellent set, most enjoyable.  When you see a band like Fight Like Apes who genuinely bring something different to the party, it makes you realise just how despairing it is when listening to the chart or indeed bands like “I’ll Fight Fire With Fire”.

Can’t wait to catch them live again, an excellent gig.