Tag Archives: MUSIC

Record Store Day 2013 – Rise Music Shop Bristol

Well another record store day has passed and what a day it was.  More releases than ever before and the most well attended by music fans and those who wish to support independent record stores.

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This year I chose Rise Music store in Bristol for the 3rd year running and it was an even better experience than usual due to the excellent staff and organisation of the large queues that inevitably are formed so early in the morning.

Rise has recently had to branch out and diversify its product range in order to keep the integrity of it’s core activity, namely being an independent record store.  They now have a partnership on the ground floor of the premises with Friska, bringing a high quality independent Cafe and a stage for in store gigs.  This works remarkably well and in someways adds to the record store ambiance rather than taking away from it.

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So for record store day rather than waiting in the freezing cold for hours we were able to spend some of it in the warmth of the cafe while waiting for the fun to begin.

This year I ended up getting to the shop for 4:15am, yes – 4:15!!!! unbelievably I was still 20th in the line!

It was a 2 hour wait before the cafe opened at 6am and slowly allowed the queue of people to enter.  The lucky first 20 in the queue get their items picked for them and a goody bag with some freebies for making the effort.  This is an excellent way of doing it and avoids the scrum for the very rare items that people are after.

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Lawrence (owner of the store) sporting his red fez for the day was constantly looking after people making sure they got the help they needed to find what they wanted.

It’s an exciting time to get your hands on the limited edition items, however, it is easy to forget what the day is really about.  To bring people into the independent record stores all over the country that have been going out of business at an alarming rate.

The record stores still around are excellent and have had to up their game by diversifying and essentially giving people a much better experience.  Rough Trade, Sister Ray and soul jazz records to name a few I have been to recently are all excellent.  One of the great pleasures is talking to the staff who are enthusiasts for new music and are extremely knowledgeable.  Rise Music is excellent at this, and many are in bands themselves such as Olo Worms in Bristol, adding to the live music vibe of the store.

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The much hullabaloo about HMV recently brings into focus how good independent record stores are.  People cry that HMV is the last music store on the high street.  My beef with this is that I don’t think that it has truly been a music store for 20 years.  It lost it’s soul a long time ago and became a bland entertainment store, charging too much on the whole, with little support for local bands hiding vinyl in a corner somewhere if you were lucky.

Whoever has the pleasure of re-organising the HMV business model would do well to look at the independent record stores for inspiration.

So what were my picks of the RSD 2013.  I was extremely fortunate to get my hands on all 3 of the Caribou albums – of which rise only had 3 copies of each in store.  Tame Impala, Paul Weller, David Bowie and Nick Cave were all highlights for me.

Apparently the day became the best in Rise music’s history so far.  The interest generated by the event and the entertainment provided by Rise was superb.  The bands that played all day were excellent and I met many like minded music lovers from as far away as Swindon who will be back next year.  More importantly, they will be back between now and the next RSD supporting their independent record shops.

As if to stress the point – I was back at Rise the next day for an in store free gig by Mathew E White.  A lunch time beer and a free gig is not a bad way to spend a Sunday.  Mathew E White was amazing.  The band played for about half an hour, the ground floor was packed and the music was superb.  Their rhythm section blew the house down.

I couldn’t recommend Rise music highly enough.  Remember to support our local record stores!

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BEST ALBUMS OF 2011

Another good year for music, and with all the Best Of lists around i thought I would do mine again.  So here goes.

THE BEST ALBUMS OF 2011

#1        BATTLES – GLOSS DROP

This was a much looked forward to album and it did not disappoint. If you are a fan of percussion, this is a great album.  I saw them live at Glastonbury this year, and they were one of my highlights.  It was a close run thing but I think this just pips Bjork to the #1 spot!

#2    BJORK – BIOPHILIA

Weird and wonderful, Bjork is at least interesting, even when she miss fires.  A genuine genius and someone always looking for the off the wall idea.  This album takes her music a step forward in linear production.  This one will keep me interested for the months ahead.

#3    ZUN ZUN EGUI – KATANG

This band is a Bristol favourite and much championed new band who have been steadily releasing EP’s over the past couple of years.  I first saw them live when supporting Tinaweren at the Academy.  They were superb.  An eclectic mix of African Rythms, screeching vocals and Hendrix like guitar licks.  Simply unbeatable and unique!

#4    BAXTER DURY – HAPPY SOUP

Alternative Pop at it’s best, this album was a wonderful surprise and with the catchiest tunes.

#5    LYKKE LI – WOUNDED RHYMES

With a moodier persona, Lykke Li has still proven her ability to write a catchy song and to wow her audience.  A more rounded album than her debut, this is again unmissable.

#6    ANNA CALVI – ANNA CALVI

The new kid on the block, much was expected and much delivered.  A unique voice, so powerful, with a unique sound.  Superb. Live review here

#7    JAMES BLAKE – JAMES BLAKE

Innovation is the name of the game with James Blake, pushing the boundaries while still acquiring the fans.  A superb live performer and an excellent album.

#8   YUCK

This is the Indie fans dream album, with wonderful songs to go with the shoe gazing. Full album review

#9    KURT VILE – SMOKE RING FOR MY HALO

Wonderful album finally getting the recognition he deserves.

#10 METRONOMY – THE ENGLISH RIVIERA

I was amazed at how much attention Metronomy got this year, but it is all well deserved, along with the Mercury nomination.  A step on from their last offering, this band is excellent on so many levels.

#11    RED HOT CHILI PEPPERS – I’M WITH YOU

This album was received with a lot less fanfare.  With the loss of John Frusciante many have written the Chili peppers off.  Not me.  This album is a grower, and the more subtle sound of Josh Klinghoffer adds to the enjoyment. They are also a live act to reckon with. 

# 12    BON IVER – BON IVER

Another masterpiece from Bon Iver.  A lot more polished than the last album, and perhaps less surprising, but a superb listen for a lazy Sunday afternoon.

#13    THE HORRORS – SKYING

Carrying on from where they left off, while taking on some more 80’s sounds.  An excellent album

#14    THE KILLS – BLOOD PRESSURES

Their sound has been changing over time from their raw first 2 efforts.  With the distractions of side projects this album is a welcome return.

#15    GANG OF FOUR – CONTENT

My my, this album could have been a disaster, however, with this offering, they have finally laid to rest the idea that they could never compete with their first 2 albums.  Having been so influential on so many bands, it is nice to see them come up with the goods again.  A superb album.

#16    WIRE – RED BARKED TREE

Another new wave classic artist coming up with the goods.

#17    PETE AND THE PIRATES – ONE THOUSAND PICTURES

This album passed without so much a whimper in the music press, yet it is remarkably good.  This is one that needs a good listen and you will be going back to it for months ahead.  Live review here

#18    PJ HARVEY – LET ENGLAND SHAKE

The indie darling came up trumps again this year and took the Mercury prize to boot.

#19 RADIOHEAD – KING OF LIMBS

They keep doing it – probably the most innovative popular music band on the planet came up with an offering that was a lot less accessible than “In Rainbows”  – this album needs a bit of love to appreciate it.

#20 – Frankie and the Heartstrings – Hunger

Another great live band with the energy most can only hope to have.

21 – Duke Spirit – Bruiser
22 – Pains at being pure at heart – Belong
23 – Scum – Again into Eyes
24 – Cold war Kids – Mine is Yours
25 – Nicholas Jaar – Space is only Noise
26 – Woods – Sun and Shade
27 – Kate Bush – 50 words for snow
28 – Smith Westerns –  Dye it Blonde
29 – Black Keys – El Camino
30 – J Mascis – Several Shades of Why

P J Harvey wins Mercury Music Prize 2011

Last night PJ Harvey was crowned the Queen of Indie and the critics darling as she romped home with the Mercury Music Prize just as the bookies were predicting.

This decision by the panel dispelled a few fears and myths regarding the Mercury Prize.  Namely that you cannot win the prize twice; that an established artist could not win it; and the bookies can sometimes get it right!

In the past perhaps it has been thought that when they nominate the likes of David Bowie and Paul Weller, that it was an acknowledgement, but in reality they could never win.

This years list was particularly strong and varied which made it all the more difficult for the judges, which makes the win by PJ Harvey even more prestigious.

Radiohead must still be thinking what they have to do to win it though!!

A superb album from a superb artist and worthy winner.

GLASTONBURY FESTIVAL REVIEW 2011

Another Glastonbury festival comes to an end and no doubt Michael Eavis will declare another triumph.  Whether you like the bubblegum pop of Boyance, the Folk of Paul Simon or the stadium rock of Coldplay or U2, there was something for everyone at this years festival.

For me it was a very different festival to look back on as I recover from the week’s exertions. This time my luck in obtaining a ticket ran out and I ended up on the Recycling Crew (aka litter picker) in order to attend the festival.  A very different experience.

My respect goes out to litter pickers all over the world!! It was a rather back breaking experience!

The theory was fine – we were to do the early shift from 6am to 12pm Thursday to Sunday in order to make the most of the time to see bands.  In the end the theory did not quite live up to expectation.  After a 6 hour shift walking all over Glastonbury picking up litter, picking up human shit and sealing bags of puke along the way, to then try and spend another 12 hours or more trudging around the site to see bands was a little optimistic!

The week started as we all feared, pouring with rain, wading through mud in our wellies as we picked litter.  As the week continued the mud got wetter and thicker until the extremes of Glasto weather went from the sublime to the ridiculous as a weather warning was issued not for the high winds and rain of the Friday night but the heatwave of the Saturday afternoon and Sunday.

From a run on fleeces and wellies to a run on sun hats and sun cream as the sun shone and the mud got stickier. I fear I was not the only one to get a round of applause for getting stuck in the mud on the way to the bar, I am just glad it was on the way TO the bar and not from it, otherwise i’d have been dealing with the loss of 2 hard fought pints !

So to the music

Friday was  a wet cold day, it was the day billed as one of the great Glastonbury performances as U2 were to take to the stage, all be it a year later than expected!  Friday for me was a fantastic day for music, but with far too many clashes.  I had to miss Primal Scream, Miles Kane, Metronomy, Jimmy Cliff, DJ Shadow, and Badly Drawn Boy just to name a few.

But my weekend’s music began at the West Holts stage and a pint of Brothers! Ziriguidum and their Brazilian rhythms began the day followed by the superb Dengue Fever.  The day had started well, great cider, great music and no rain.

Soon however, the rain began again as we headed to the Leftfield stage to see one of Bills big round ups with some guest musicians.  This was superb as ever. Then it was on to see another legend in BB King on the Pyramid stage. The mud got thicker and we took shelter in the Beat Hotel before venturing out for the misery of Morrissey and then U2.

Morrissey was wearing his usual chip on his shoulder through his rather short set before the much hyped u2 took to the stage.

At this point the rain was pouring down, it was very cold and the crowd packed.  We were treated to a greatest hits show that very few bands in the world could compete with.  A Glasto sing along was assured as hit after hit was played going through their repertoire starting with the singles from Achtung baby.

In the end though what did for them was the weather.  The set was excellent, they are still one of the best live bands in the world, but the weather dampened what would have been a great “Glastonbury moment”.

Saturday

Being knackered after another 6 hour shift the day started slowly as we trudged to the John Peel stage.  We camped out here where we saw Warpaint who were superb; the the Horrors who were also excellent; then Noah and the Whale who came out after playing an instrumental of Bohemian Rhapsody for the crowd to sing their hearts out assuring that the atmosphere was at its peak as the band came on.  Their set was a highlight of the festival for me.

Battles came on to a rather smaller crowd than for the former bands however, their set was superb.  They are truly an interesting band and I cannot wait to get a copy of their new album.

Then it was on to the headline act of the Chemical Brothers.  I have not seen them before and I was not to be disappointed.  It was an excellent set, just what we needed at the end of a hard day.  The Other stage was rammed with people enjoying the festivities.

The night however ended with a crush at the bridge coming from the other stage through to the Leftfield stage area.  People stuck in the mud and some falling over in a claustrophobic crush where people were falling on the floor.   Not a great idea to end the sets of both the Pyramid and Other stages at the same time.

Sunday

The heatwave arrived and I duly bought my festival hat to cope!  The Pyramid stage was absolutely crammed full as everyone seemed to have the same idea to chill out in the sunshine, as Don McLean gently led us into the final day’s festivities.

Laura Marling continued the folk theme until Paul Simon cam on to excite people.  Paul Simon’s set was superb and just what the doctor ordered.  Another of my highlights of the festival.

Then following another crushing march away from the Pyramid stage amidst the search for food and drink we headed for the West Holts stage.  Herculese and the Love affair were truly awful so we headed to the acoustic stage for the finale.

FINAL THOUGHTS

A few things come to mind when walking around the Glasonbury tented city –

  1. Who are these people who pitch their tents and then put up their barriers like the equivalent of the middle class suburban dwellers who buy their brand new Bryant home and immediately put up a 6 ft fence just in case their neighbours decide to talk to them!
  2.  If you are scared of fire at Glastonbury the place to be was definitely the John Peel stage.  I have never seen so many Fire Stewards in one place at any one time! Sometimes there were more fire stewards than people watching the bands!
  3.  Why do people think that throwing down rubbish on a field is ok? The amount of rubbish thrown down is truly amazing, some even go out of their way to throw the rubbish down rather than put it in the bin.  Do these people normally live in a rubbish dump??
  4. Can someone please please cheer Morrissey up?
  5. Why do people still go to Glastonbury without wellies?? Don’t they know it rains in Britain?
So we have a fallow year next year and no Glastonbury.  For me this was not a classic Glasto, but there is still nothing like it anywhere in the world and I will be the first on the computer in 2 years time for the sale of tickets for 2013.

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

ANNA CALVI LIVE REVIEW: Thekla, Bristol, plus support GroupLove and Big Deal

Live Venue Photography by Cheryl MacDonald

NME Radar tours for emerging bands can be hit and miss affairs.  Some bands sink without a trace while others are chart regulars by the time they hit the road. I bought my ticket for this gig way back in February for a March appearance at the Cooler in Bristol.  Sadly, this gig was cancelled due to an injury, which apparently, it now transpires, affected her arm.

Luckily, the tickets remained valid for this gig on May 2nd.  So it has been a long time coming and greatly anticipated.

Big Jeff was at his customary post again at the front of the crowd when we got there.  This was advertised as an early show due to the 10pm curfew and the amount of bands on the bill.  First up, Big Deal.  Never heard of them before but apparently signed to Mute records.

When they first appeared their set began in a very low key way and their first two songs were shall we say nondescript. However, as the set went on, so their songs got stronger.  A fairly sparse sound, just 2 guitars and voices, with a kind of grunge/garage feel to it.  Although some of the songs were a bit indie by numbers, it was a pleasant set.  Their set included the songs Swoon, Homework and Chair.  The NME have a profile of them here.  The Bristol crowd gave them a good reception.

After this half hour set we did not have long to wait before the next band GroupLove.

Grouplove are from Los Angeles and Brooklyn, USA and consist of Christian Zucconi (vocals, guitar), Hannah Hooper (keyboards, vocals), Sean Gadd (bass, vocals), Andrew Wessen (guitar, vocals), Ryan Rabin (drums).

After the first band I was expecting another fairly low key band.  Even Big Jeff had trouble dancing to the first act!  However, nothing could be further from the truth.  As soon as the band arrived they were into their stride giving it everything they had.  High tempo rock/folk/indie fusion, excellent to dance and sing to and quite frankly a breath of fresh air.  The crowd responded and Jeff was in his element!

The energy and and infectious catchy songs this band has are a breath of fresh air.  You could not help watching this band and feeling you either just have to dance or collapse feeling the energy expended on the stage.  Their half hour set was simply fantastic and I would thoroughly recommend checking these out if you have not heard them yet.

Their self titled EP also sounds good although it does not have any where near the amount of energy that their live performances have.  They would be an excellent festival band. Their Colours single is simply a classic.

Finally, and with great anticipation, Anna Calvi arrived just before 9pm and she began the set with the wondrous intro to her album, Rider to the sea and No more words.  Her guitar playing is mesmerising as she makes her way up and down the fret board.

The set begins with an amazing sound that fills the room as she plays her way through the notes on her guitar and finally breaks into song.

Her voice starts off quiet and grows into the songs with immense strength.  Both the instrumentation of the songs, with the two percussionists and her singing is mesmerising to watch and reminds you of a classical performance.

From time to time She was helped out on the guitar by a guest guitarist to give her injured arm a rest.

The whole set was amazing, she captivated the audience and has a genuinely unique sound.  The album, although excellent, really came alive on stage.  You really get a sense of the power of her voice and the intricacy of the song writing in a live setting.

The set list:

The Rider to the Sea
No more words
Blackout
I’ll Be your man
First we Kiss
Surrender (Elvis Presley Cover)
Suzanne and I
Morning Light
Desire
Love won’t be leaving

Encore
Jezebel (Edith Piaf cover version)

She finished the night with Jezebel, an Edith Piaf song that was her first single.  It is a fantastic version of an excellent song, and a great note to finish the night on.  When Anna left the stage, she left the crowd clearly wanting more, as many stayed around the stage for while after.

A superb gig.

ROYAL WEDDING SONGS

We wish the happy couple well . . .

Kate never forget your roots

This is for the masses outside the wee church

This one was a favourite of Princess Diana

To keep their feet on the ground

The Royals biggest Fan, defending benefit scroungers to the end

One for when their children need entertaining

One to show their Royal credentials

To show the Queen just how much she is loved

A special one for Kate

One for Kate’s mother in law

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