Tag Archives: The Duke Spirit

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 . . . . .

THE DUKE SPIRIT LIVE REVIEW: Bristol Thekla with The Computers in support June 1st 2011

The Duke Spirit have had trouble over the years with their music releases.  If anyone can remember prior to 2005 waiting for their first album to be released, some of us aged quite a bit before we finally got the finished product. So it perhaps comes as no surprise that the release date of their forthcoming album has been delayed.

It is a good job then that when we do finally get the releases from their musical vaults that it is always worth the wait. Duke Spirit are one of those bands that transcends musical trends and what they come up with always sounds fresh.

So with the album delayed until September, this is our first chance to hear the new material.  First up however are the Computers.  A 4 piece  from Exeter, England.  They have been described as Punk, Hardcore, Blues and indie.  Make of them what you will they are very entertaining.

This happens to be the second time I have seen them.  Last time they were an impromptu support over 6 months ago at the same venue.  This time they have a slot on the tour with Duke Spirit.

The real star of the show is the lead singer/guitarist Alex who has a large personality with whom he engages the crowd throughout the set.  They are err, VERY LOUD! A mixture of thrash metal vocals with rock’n’roll riffs and indie sentiment with a significant amount of humour thrown in.

They won’t win awards for the most original sound, but they will definitely entertain.  If they are on your local venue gig list I would recommend making your own mind up.

They finished the set with the lead singer amidst the crowd while giving our local celebrity that is Big Jeff a piggy back and playing guitar.  The crowd unsurprisingly gave the band a good reception.

Within half an hour or so the main event The Duke Spirit came on stage.

Liela Moss shone like a beacon on stage with her glittery silver jacket and the music began with an old familiar in Into the Fold and then followed up with a  string of new songs Procession, Northbound and Cherry Tree.

What was so striking about the set was the confidence with which the new material was delivered and how heavier their sound appeared from the last 2 albums.

The new material went down a storm with the crowd as Leila Moss explained to the crowed how they thought of cancelling the tour when the album’s release was put back to September, but they thought “what the hell”.

There is no doubting the crowd’s thoughts on their decision to continue the tour.  The crowd was extremely lively as the set continued with both old and new numbers.

I have seen Duke Spirit on several occasions in the past, but I think this was the best performance I have seen.  The last time I saw them they looked like an art school band, this time they looked and sounded more grunge like. It would be nice to think that a bit more mainstream success might come their way with this album, but the music industry is notoriously fickle when it comes to talent.

As the set continued Leila Moss exerted her personality and commanded the stage brilliantly, her voice superb and the music sounding great.

The first hour went far too quickly as they left the stage to rapturous applause. Not long before they came back for an encore and led into sweet bitter sweet and then into the old favourites of Red Weather and Love is an Unfamiliar name.

This was a fantastic set, a commanding performance from a band that is hard to believe have been around now for some 8 years.

I can’t wait for their new album.

Set List

Into the Fold
Procession
North Bound
Cherry Tree
Don’t Wait
Everybody’s Under Your Spell
Villain
This Ship Was Built
The Walk and the Step
Surrender
Hello to the Floor
You Really Wake up the Love
Cuts Across the Land

Encore
Sweet Bitter Sweet
Red Weather
Love is an Unfamiliar Name

Lykke Li Live Review: Trinity Arts Centre, Bristol – with Sarah Blasko support

Trinity Arts Centre in Bristol is a wonderful venue for a gig.  Being originally the Holy Trinity Church for St Philips the space is superb for a gathering of like minded people.  Now used as a hub for community projects, arts and music and run by Trinity Community Arts.

The website stated the doors opened at 7:30pm with the support on at 8pm, so we duly arrived just before 8pm with a throng of people still queuing to get in.  Luckily being a spring evening it wasn’t too cold, unlike on previous occasions when this venue decided to open up over an hour later than advertised in mid winter! So we finally got in at 8:40pm, 10 minutes after the start of the first act.  Oh hum!

Sarah Blasko was the support.  It was a low key start with a sparse sound.  Just Sarah singing, playing the odd stringed instrument or keyboard and one other guitarist.  The sound had it’s own particular eccentricity which was interesting and over the 20 minutes I was able to see her, the songs got better and better.

The crowd very much warmed to her and her voice shone in the atmosphere of the old church.  Her voice sounded a cross between Liela Moss (Duke Spirit) and Florence Welch (Florence and the machine) with the sparse music and style akin to Anna Calvi.

She has a wonderful stage presence and managed to converse with the crowd and introduce herself to the local celebrity that is Big Jeff, as usual at the front.  “Are you Big Jeff”, she said as his head was still bobbing up and down from the previous song.  “Oh I have heard a lot about you”!

It was quite mesmerising and I would recommend checking her out.

Then came the main event, Lykke Li at 9.30pm.  The last time I saw Lykke Li was on her tour of her first album.  This was at the Thekla and was a very down to earth occasion.  It was a fantastic gig, very lively.

This time around it was a much more polished affair.  Her sound has matured somewhat with a new album “Wounded Rhymes” probably better than her first excellent album, but without the enormous popular hooks.

Where as a few years ago she just walked on stage, this time there was an enormous build up and atmospheric light show and dry ice to build the tension before she eventually arrived.  It was an explosive opening.  The crowd were enthusiastic yet some how they felt a little subdued at the same time.

By the third song she treated the crowd to a cover of the Big Pink’s “Velvet”, which is a wonderful song, “The Big Pink are here” she said, “In my heart”, as she produced the cover version.

The night switched from her current album to her previous one and from the quiet moments to the lively dance moments with equal measure.  Commanding the stage as she danced and contributed to her two percussionists.

The first hour went quickly as she went off for the first encore.  In all we were treated to two encores, I’m sure that the crowd would have gladly stayed for a lot more, but it was not to be.

The highlights for me would be largely the newer songs that really came across well like “I follow rivers”, “Jerome” and the superb “Get Some”.  However, it was a strange feeling toward the end of the set as she finished with the brilliant but downbeat “Unrequited Love”, which somehow was an ill fitting end to the set. A low note in mood, high in quality, and leaving the audience some how wanting more.

Overall a wonderful night of music, Lykke Li is the real deal when it comes to quality song writing, but somehow I was left slightly flat at the end of the evening.  If you haven’t checked out her music yet, then you must do so, with an urgency!

OTHER LIVE REVIEWS
Big Audio Dynamite
Vaccines and Smith Westerns
Pete and the Pirates and Bravo Brave Bats
Yoav
Japanese Voyeurs
Wire
Metronomy

NEW MUSIC: TRACKS TO LOOK OUT FOR

My pick of the bunch recently:  The Duke Spirit-Northbound, Radiohead- Lotus Flower, Jon Fratelli-Rythm doesn’t make you dance , The Kills-Satellite, Weekend – Monday Morning, Wire-Red Barked Tree

Duke Spirit’s Kusama EP is excellent, sounds great on vinyl if you can get a copy.  This is a track off the new EP.

Radiohead – Nuff said!

Jon Fratelli – not as annoying as he used to be!

The Kills sound better than ever

The band Weekend are following the tradition of the Velvet Underground and Jesus and Mary Chain et al – sound great live

The Wire’s new album of which this is the title track is excellent.