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Hatchie
Yes, Manchester
June 13 2019

Cazz Blase and Phil King have an agreeable time watching Hatchie sell out Manchester’s Yes.

Yes, a comparatively new Manchester venue tucked away on Charles Street, features vintage taps, deafeningly loud hand driers, the kindest doorman in Manchester, very cute wrist stamps, and pizza’s so aromatic and delicious that they are increasingly being talked about with misty eyed wistfulness by touring bands.

The evening begins with Loose Articles, a post punk infused band from Yorkshire who are largely defined by angular guitar riffs and a modern day riot grrrl aesthetic. They’re a bit ramshackle but there’s some good ideas there alongside the rage and humour. Having a song about underage drinking that has the singer screaming, repeatedly, “Dirty Dicks, I like Dirty Dicks!” is suitably ambiguous of meaning to cause a frisson of excitement in what is a largely polite audience: They definitely liked that one, just possibly not for the reasons the band intended.

While Yes is a small but beautiful venue, a cross between a basement and a front room in size and style, it does mean that there’s very little space downstairs for hanging out between bands. As such, I head upstairs to inhale the pizza fumes for a bit. When I return about ten minutes later, the room is full all the way back to the door with people waiting for Hatchie.

Harriette Pilbeam (who performs as Hatchie) and her band walk onto the stage at 9pm. Pilbeam comes across as being like her music: Sunny, effortless and sweet. She has an easy charm and her rapport with the crowd is lovely to watch – it is she who mentions the legendary pizzas at Yes, and she even says ‘bless you’ when someone sneezes. The crowd themselves are loyal, highly engaged and rapturous in enthusiasm. Many of them sing along to all the songs.

Standout moments would be the early track ‘Sugar & Spice’, which is transformed in a live environment into an anthemic summer sing along, the recent single ‘Without a blush’ and the epic ‘Stay with me’. The sound is sunny indie pop in an early 1990s vein, with powerful hooks, strong choruses, and effortless panache. All of Hatchie’s remaining UK tour dates have sold out and her debut album is due to be released on June 21st. Both of these things should take Pilbeam to the next level and gig goers should expect to see her at bigger venues very soon, not to mention all of next years festivals.


Loose Articles have a Facebook page and you can find out more about Hatchie on her website, on Facebook, on Twitter and on Instagram.

All photos by Phil King

All words by Cazz Blase a freelance writer from Stockport. You can find her on Twitter. More writing by Cazz on her Author profile.

The post Hatchie: Yes, Manchester – live review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Madonna
Madame X (Deluxe version)
Released June 14th 2019 on Interscope and Maverick

9/10

Madonna releases her 14th studio album, Madame X, on June 14th inspired and influenced largely by her move to Lisbon. This is music unlike anything she has released, before yet at the same time it is strangely familiar in parts. A global romp of an album that is as eclectic in styles and sounds as the many personas of Madame X herself. Madonna says of her latest incarnation “Madame X is a dancer, a professor, a head of state, a housekeeper, an equestrian, a prisoner, a student, a mother, a child, a teacher, a nun, a singer, a saint, a whore and a spy in the house of love”.

The album features a number of collaborations, choirs and different musical styles and sees Madonna reunited with producers Mirwas and Diplo as well as singing in English and Portuguese. Four of the albums 15 tracks have been released as singles ahead of the album launch, acting as a taster, but it is safe to say that Madonna has held back the stronger tracks for the albums launch.

It is a bold and confident record; adventurous, playful and political from an artist who is clearly no longer chasing hits but making the music that they want to.

The album opens with the lead single, ‘Medellin’, the first of two collaborations with Maluma and the pace then shifts completely with the deliciously bonkers Joan of Arc inspired ‘Dark Ballet’. Next comes what for me is the albums stand out track, ‘God Control’, this really is 3 songs in one starting off with Madonna backed by an ethereal sounding choir we are quickly transported to Studio 54 as the song goes full on disco, the lyrics speak of democracy and a wake up call and there’s even a rap reminiscent of American Life thrown in for good measure.

Madonna - Dark Ballet (Official Music Video) - YouTube

The global feel continues with in my opinion the albums weaker two tracks, ‘Future’ featuring Quavvo, a reggae tinged song and ‘Batuka’ where the influence of her life in Portugal and travels to Africa are evident.

The lyrically provocative ‘killers who are partying’ is another highlight this mid tempo song where musical styles collide and English and Portuguese fuse. ‘Crave’ and ‘Crazy’ are songs at either end of the romantic spectrum, ‘Crave’ being about lust and desire and ‘Crazy’ being very much a break up song which has Madonna singing “shame on you” and “I wont let you drive me crazy”. ‘Come Alive’ has yet more tribal influences and choral vocals.

‘Extreme Occident’ is an autobiographical tale that is dramatic and beautifully produced and ends defiantly with the line “I wasn’t lost”. ‘Faz Gustoso’ is a full on world music dance party that has a real carnival feel something that continues on ‘Bitch I’m Loca’ the second collaboration with Maluma where the flirting between the pair continues, slow down Papi indeed!

Staying on the dance floor but this time with a very 90’s feel we have ‘I don’t search I find’, this song sounds like it could have been on either the Erotica or Confessions albums it is in stark contrast to some of the other tracks on the album but deserves its place and more than holds its own with its finger snaps and spoken word sections this is classic Madonna and from the very first listen a personal favourite.

‘Mercy’ is a prayer for forgiveness and understanding, “please don’t criticise, please, please sympathise” sings Madonna over a simple orchestral backing track. The album closes with the defiant ‘I rise’ the second single to be released from the album.

This is a solid and surprising album that is easily her strongest release in years and a welcome return to form; anyone expecting another Ray of Light or Confessions on a Dancefloor will be disappointed, but then Madonna has never been one to relive past glories preferring to keep moving forward. This album will no doubt divide opinion and receive criticism but it has left me in no doubt that she still deserves her position as the Queen of Pop.

Madame X whoever and whatever you are I salute you and I’ll see you on the dance floor cha cha cha…

The full track listing for Madame X standard and deluxe versions are:

1. Medellín ft Maluma
2. Dark Ballet
3. God Control
4. Future ft. Quavo
5. Batuka
6. Killers Who Are Partying
7. Crave ft. Swae Lee
8. Crazy
9. Come Alive
10. Extreme Occident **deluxe version only
11. Faz Gostoso ft. Anitta
12. Bitch I’m Loca ft. Maluma
13. I Don’t Search I Find
14. Looking for Mercy **deluxe version only
15. I Rise

You can follow Madonna on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and YouTube.

Words by Martin Mathews, you can find more at his Author profile and you can follow his tweets here

The post Madonna: Madame X album review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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The Massive Attack story is one that begs to be told. Rising out of a collective of young DJ’s at legendary underground Bristol club the Dug Out in the early 80s to become one of the world’s most influential and innovative acts is certainly a feat in itself. Investigative French journalist Melissa Chemam immerses herself in the history of the collective and the Bristol musical background they came from in intricate detail. Elfyn Griffith wades through it…

Indeed the detail is so intricate throughout the book – well researched with quotes from her own interviews with all the main protagonists and their contemporaries and associates, along with scores of lifted quotes from credited myriad features – that it becomes a bafflingly head-swirling read at times, especially since the writer insisted in writing it in her own Franglais style which I’m afraid reads like badly or un-subbed copy.

But apart from this rather annoying distraction we do get the full story (or as full as an ‘outsider’ to the city can maybe tell it) and the culture that surrounds and informs it, from Bristol’s musical history and legacy through the post-punk/hip-hop Wild Bunch collective of DJ’s, the outsider rebel stance of the city’s scene, its proudly left-wing rebellious nature, and the many facets and changes that Massive Attack went through.

Robert Del Naja, or 3D to give him his graffiti tag moniker, is the most quoted member of Massive throughout the book, maybe the most accessible to the writer, and it is from his artistic and political perspective that a lot of the story seems to be told. That is not to play down the massive (excuse the pun) influence of Grant Marshall, aka Daddy G, the other surviving original from the original collective, or the departed Mushroom, Andrew Vowles, but it is the voice and quotes of Del Naja that Chemam comes back to or seems to rely on the most throughout this tale.

Being one of the original graffiti artists in Bristol and an influence on the biggest graffiti artist of them all, Banksy, Del Naja has carried his vision through into the whole Massive philosophy and image, from the actual music and collaborations with other like-minded musicians and artists through into the album covers and artwork and stage shows. The book covers this – yes, intricately – and also the strong political ethos of the band and the changing dynamics of the relationships within it. While Grant is a mainstay, and he and Del Naja are the faces of Massive, there is a pathos to the way that Mushroom disappeared from their ranks increasingly disillusioned with the direction the music was going, away from the hip-hop forms that he himself championed.

Other originals and collaborators such as Tricky are given ample and deserved space, the street art connections and movement, especially Banksy’s, are covered and the more general Bristol scene/’Bristol sound’ which inspired bands and acts like Portishead, Roni Size, Smith and Mighty, The Pop Group, Kosheen and many more. But through all the descriptions of collaborations and ideas and fantastic art projects and philosophies, the film soundtracks and the detailed picking apart of the recordings of every track on every album etc etc what stands out as much as the marvellous music is Massive’s political stance. This is a band who, having had to get rid of the Attack part of their name because of the original ‘Massive Attack’ title given to the first Iraq invasion by allied forces – before rightly taking it back – have refused staunchly to ever perform at Bristol’s legendary Colston Hall venue as it is named after the infamous slave trader (the venue is currently undergoing refurbishment and is to finally change its name), and whose live shows have the latest digital technology flashing up images and statistics to show the effect of war and harmful foreign and political policies worldwide. They don’t shun away from their beliefs or their reactions to world politics, unjustness and social manipulations – they wear them proudly on their sleeve. As Mark Stewart of The Pop Group is quoted: “It’s absurd to say musicians should stay away from politics. Artists are citizens like any other and they have opinions to share. When Massive Attack are expressing their views, they act as an antidote to the ‘zombification’. That’s what we are here for, to launch new ideas, to look into the future.”

Sean Cook, another Bristol musician, former frontman of Lupine Howl, who plays with Massive, is also quoted: “The thing that motivates me about Massive Attack is the political angle. Massive Attack is a cross-border phenomenon. And they still have a captive audience.”

And they put their money where their mouths are: from helping the besieged citizens of Gaza with proceeds from live shows to meeting Palestinian refugees in Beirut camps, their actions are certainly not the U2-version of rock’s bleeding heart but a genuine response from people who have come up themselves from working class backgrounds and have a real feel and compassion for others.

From their ground-breaking Blue Lines album of 1991 to Heligoland of 2010, through numerous awards and accolades, Chemam reports on the highs and the lows and the creative processes. It’s a sometimes complex weave made the more so because of the aforementioned style or lack of, but a story that had to be told nonetheless.

Massive Attack - (1998) Mezzanine [Full Album] - YouTube

~

You can order the book here from  Tangent Books

Follow Massive Attack on Facebook and Twitter

Follow author Melissa Chemam on Facebook

Words  by Elfyn Griffith.

More writing by Elfyn can be found at Bristol In Stereo

The post Massive Attack Out Of The Comfort Zone – book review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Lenny Kravitz is still doing it right after all these years. And it’s all down to his nostrils. LTW’s Andy Duke reviews his gig at London’s O2 Arena and rediscovers the almighty power of smell.

Lenny Kravitz is responsible for one of my favourite phrases in rock music. When questioned about a world tour he was about to embark on in the mid-90s, Kravitz cheekily said he was “ready to go out there and smell the shit”. Rather than describing faecalphelia, the singer was referring to the nostril flared, mouth pulled downwards like when you’ve got ‘a whiff of something rotten’ expression that guitarists often employ when exploring the dusty end of the fretboard. Kravitz fortified his answer, while doing that very expression, with “because if you ain’t smelling the shit – you ain’t doing it right”. And, some 20 years on, Kravitz is still ‘doing it right’ as his Raise Vibration Tour made a pitstop at London’s O2 Arena.

The stage design is unsurprisingly old school and the normally ubiquitous video screens that go hand in hand with an arena gig of this size are nowhere to be seen. But a large gong, favoured by legendary skin-bashers like Bonham and Moon back in 1970s, is proudly perched behind the drum kit. In addition, a Nigel Tufnel-worthy number of vintage Gibson and Fender guitars are ready for action by the side of the stage.

Just a few minutes shy of showtime, I scan the capacity crowd as Arrow Right Through Me by Paul McCartney & Wings blasts from the PA. The age range of the audience is as vast as the genre influences in Kravitz’s back catalogue. And, judging from the ongoing spillages of lager, wine and spirits that will soon plague the O2’s cleaning staff throughout the gig, the crowd are in a decidedly celebratory mood. Macca’s best offering from his Back to the Egg album is slowly replaced by a seat-shaking drone as the venue’s lights give way to blood coloured strobes from the stage. A Hammond organ joins the sub-bass quake with a delicious wash of rotating Leslie speaker goodness. Kravitz positions himself behind the band. Centred on a raised platform between two vast floor-to-lighting-rig horns, the band kick off the set with Fly Away.

The band are tighter-than-cramp with Gail Ann Dorsey absolutely nailing Jack Daley’s original slaptastic bass line from the 1998 hit. And I’m pleased to report that drummer Franklin Vanderbilt incorporates the aforementioned gong to great effect at the end of the track. Bonzo would have approved.

Although having Kravitz performing up in the heavens is a powerful image to start a concert with, he does seem a bit detached from the proceedings yet surprisingly doesn’t come up front until they’re three songs into the set. And it’s from this point that the performance really begins in earnest with dreadlock shaking and ‘shit smelling’ rock posturing aplenty.

Looking like Noel Redding from the Jimi Hendrix Experience circa 1967 and embodying the spirit of Jimmy Page in his fret frottaging, guitarist Craig Ross is a force of nature throughout the set. With so many stylistic changes to contend with and an undoubted passion to convey the recordings accurately live – Ross seldom goes more than two songs before changing guitars. And it’s for a good reason. From delicate soul-tinged offerings to unapologetic rockers, Ross needs to be as varied in his sonic arsenal as Kravitz is in delivering the varied material vocally. And ‘varied’ doesn’t do tonight’s performance justice. A crowd-pleasing rendition of The Guess Who’s American Woman, for instance, gives way to squelchy acid-house (complete with TB303 bass sounds) before a three-member brass section unexpectedly joins the band. Kravitz and the gang then launch into a Bob Marley’s Get Up, Stand Up.

There’s a lot of faffing about between songs which, rather than being a criticism, is a refreshing change to most gigs of this stature that tend to feel overly programmed. In an effort to engage with his crowd that little bit better, Kravitz frequently comes off the microphone and sashays to the far reaches of the stage to merely nod and wave to his audience. This happens at regular intervals and makes a 20,000-capacity venue like the O2 feel a lot smaller. His banter, while just touching the cusp of cheesy, is earnest and celebrates his love of life. And, when he decides to go slightly political following an emotive version Who Really Are The Monsters?, the NYC-born singer manages to speak volumes about notable world leaders without mentioning any names. Kravitz is a class act. The rock ‘n’ spirit is also still very strong in this one and he remains charmingly irreverent to rules. Three-quarters of the way through the set, he scans the attendees and says “this venue has a strict curfew. I don’t think I’m gonna make it. And I’m not sorry” before jokingly adding “I’m even gonna ask for the trains to run later for you guys”. His fans lap this up as much as his management must fear to have to deal with hefty fines for the band playing past 11 pm.

Kravitz is clearly at the top of his game. From the high falsetto of It Ain’t Over Till It’s Over to the melodic screaming of Are You Gonna Go My Way?, his vocals are effortlessly delivered. And he’s well served with tremendous BVs and harmonies care of Dorsey and Vanderbilt. An honourable mention needs to go to saxophonist Harold Todd for the sheer fluidity and energy in his solos alongside his two formidable partners in brass section crime. George Laks’ keyboards, while not present for the whole set, also add layers of luscious counterpoint to Kravitz’s creations confidently.

The set beautifully covers Kravitz’s three-decade-long career and the hits are well spaced out. Although newer tracks like 5 More Days ‘Til Summer get a lacklustre response, this is not to say that they may not develop into future classics as Kravitz’s latest album Raise Vibration proves he’s still a force to be reckoned with as a writer.

Despite his threats to the contrary, Kravitz’s epic version of Let Love Rule finishes the set just a few minutes shy of the curfew. Proof that this iconic performer can ‘smell the shit’ without breaking the rules.

Lenny Kravitz news can be found vis his Official Website, Facebook or Twitter.

All words by Andy Duke. Andy Duke is a London based raconteur, musician, writer, collector of soda syphons and the man behind ‘The Dukey Radio Show’ podcast. 

Photo © Svenja Block. You can find more of Svenja’s photos at her Pixieset, Facebook and at her Louder Than War author’s archive.

The post Lenny Kravitz: 02 Arena, London – live review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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In February 1980 Joy Division played 3 shows with Killing Joke in support. Adam Morris was working with Killing Joke at the time and was right in the middle of the action for these iconic shows. 

The first was at ULU, that was the one where Joy Division dropped “Love Will Tear Us Apart” into their set for the first time. It was one of those moments in popular music history where everything changed and would never be quite the same ever again.

We didn’t get off to a great a start with Joy Division because we didn’t know about their Nazi skinhead punk problems.

They’d had a massive fight at a gig with some skinheads a short while before ULU. Its in the 24 Hour Party People movie.

We had a proper geezer called Wally with us, from down Shepherd’s Bush way. Some people (Wally probably) claimed he was the same Wally who had been in The Sex Pistols for a short while. I don’t know. He was certainly aptly named. He was also a purveyor of rather fine “alternative substances” (if you get my drift), particularly of the fast variety.

We were sharing a rehearsal room called Ear (in Frestonia, Free London) with Motorhead at this time. We were, in fact, being mentored by Lemmy and his gang. We used to share the rehearsal rooms with them and we frequently sat in on their rehearsals. “We” were mainly Alex Paterson and me. We were Killing Joke’s road crew and we watched and learned what Motorhead did. In particular, we learned their “warm-up routine”. This involved one of their roadies wracking out three long line of whizz on the snare drum. Then the band would arrive. They treated it like clocking in. They’d say, “morning”, “morning”, “how’s it going?” to each other. Then they’d hoover up a line of whizz off the snare. Smoke a fag whilst it kicked in. Then they’d plug, “1,2,3,4” and off they’d go. They’d tear through their set, usually in less than half an hour.

It was so loud in there I often wondered if my face was going to melt. I still wonder how I have managed to survive that intense volume without going completely deaf. This was peak period Motorhead, “Bomber”, “Overkill”, “No Sleep ‘Til Hammersmith” and the rest. When they were done, one of them would shout “pub” and they were gone. That was it. Ultimate rock n roll. What we lived for. That’s how they did it. So we aspired to doing it that way too. The most intense rehearsals the band could create. Very very very loud. That was what sounded best. And copious amounts of weed and whizz, which Wally usually supplied. Allegedly.

Anyway, I digress. Wally got caught in ULU letting a load of skinheads into the gig through a toilet window. We got the blame for it and Joy Division really disliked us for a while. They assumed we were the southern branch of the Nazi skinhead punk society, or something. For a moment there was a strong possibility of us getting booted off the shows all together, though Rob Gretton, the legend, smoothed those waters over fairly quickly. We got on fairly well in the end.

I still remember ULU as being a brilliant gig. I was a massive fan of “Unknown Pleasures”, I thought it was one of the best albums I had ever heard in my life, made by one of the best bands that have ever existed. I still think that. So hearing it live, plus Love Will Tear Us Apart for the first time, was a privilege.

After that, we went to High Wycombe. Joy Division eventually released their set from that gig, plus some of the sound check, on the deluxe edition 2CD set of Still that London Records released in 2008.

I have to tell you, when I put that High Wycombe CD on and the soundcheck recordings played, almost twenty years after the show, I had the most vivid flashback. I was there in the hall again, I could almost smell the stale beer from the previous evening’s entertainment.

I had my one and only conversation with Ian Curtis that day. I had two encounters with him. The first was a close one. (See what I did there?) It was in a corridor in the venue. High Wycombe Town Hall. I had to walk past him and he was having a paranoid attack, or perhaps he still had thoughts that we were Nazis angling to attack him. He pinned himself against the wall and looked hunted as I walked past. I just said, “all right mate?” or something like that and went on my way.

A bit later, we were in the dressing room, when Ian appeared. He was carrying a six-pack of lager. Lager was what the promoter had put on the rider. He looked at me and asked, very politely, “can I swap this for some stout?” I shook my head, “nah mate, you are down south now, they don’t do stout”. I probably added something like “the soppy southern jessies” as I was prone to do back then. Ian looked sad, grunted and disappeared again. That was it, my one and only conversation with the legend and at that point, the biggest hero, in my universe.

And then to The Lyceum Ballroom. The Lyceum was the primary show to do in London at that time. It had been a big band venue around wartime and Bob Marley recorded his first incredible Live! LP there. The one with the live version of “No Woman No Cry” on it that busted the singles chart when Island cut it on a 7. It was a brilliant venue to play, nice big stage, big payday, full house, streams of sweat running down the walls. Killing Joke followed by Joy Division, my Lord, what a show. We broke the box office record that night, the most tickets ever sold for a Lyceum show, or so the promoter claimed. The fool. That just meant that he had to pay us more didn’t it?

EG Records came to that gig. They had been sniffing around Killing Joke for a few months and that night was the final piece in the jigsaw that convinced them to sign the band. We (the management) didn’t really want to sign to them to be honest, but we were so broke and Killing Joke got so popular so quickly, we had to do it. To be fair, EG treated us like kings. It was the aftermath that was the problem. If you want to know the gory details of what it was really like to be signed to a label as rich and powerful as EG were at that time, try and track down a copy of the legendary “Fripp letters”. I think some of them are archived on King Crimson’s website. They are an amazing document of EG’s lack of true diligence and their criminal underbelly, as well as being a wonderful insight into Mr Fripp’s remarkable mind.

The post 1980 Joy Division are supported by Killing Joke for 3 iconic gigs – an eye witness account appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Drag is the new single by Los Angeles artist Tracy Bryant and marks his first release since his 2017 sophomore album A Place For Nothing & Everything in its Place.

The title track Drag, with its driving kraut-style drumbeat, hypnotic guitars and rhythmic bass line is a one-off song adventure for Bryant. It’s the result of the collaboration between Tracy, producer Kyle Mullarky (Growlers, Allah Las) & drummer Nick Murray (White Fence, Cate Le Bon).

“The song became something truly unexpected from where it began. We each brought in different elements musically, Nick with his drums and claves, the chorus of which we all simultaneously played acoustic guitars [including Brian Allen (Burnt Ones) who also played bass on the chorus] and Kyle’s bass line on the verses. I played the lead guitar & organ and added the vocals much later as it lingered as an instrumental song for quite a while.” -Tracy Bryant

The 7” is backed with the opus What I Get, the beautiful string-laden and vocal carried song which masterfully balances this release. The record is limited to 300 copies released by the artistically curated label Taxi Gauche Records.

Find Drag on Bandcamp

More Tracy Bryant on Bandcamp here. Follow on Twitter as @TracyBryantca and Like on Facebook.

~

All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop and you can follow him on Twitter as @hiapop, and on Facebook here.

The post Listen to this! Los Angeles artist Tracy Bryant unveils new single appeared first on Louder Than War.

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A staple in the steampunk community for her grandiose classical performances, Alice’s Night Circus returns with another composition ready to stun. Her upcoming single “The Show Must Go On” mimics its onwards-and-upwards title — it’s a stirring piece with hopeful, if not slightly anxious, intonation, but its video accompaniment captures the dazzling vintage world Julia has built as Alice’s Night Circus. “The Show Must Go On” is the second single from the upcoming digital release of debut album Metamorphose.

Says Julia Scott aka Alice’s Night Circus: I wanted a song that had a definitive feel of closure to it. Something that I could end a gig on or put at the end of an album. I also wanted something that would encapsulate that feeling of when something amazing in your life ends that it isn’t the final curtain call, there is more still to come beyond that. Things happen in life that can sometimes feel like the best has passed us by, but the truth is, we are always changing and adapting and evolving into the next stage of our lives. I merely made that into a literal stage and insisted that the show must go on and that it is within everyone’s power to be the leading performers in our own lives.”

Julia’s performance is where the magic happens. Standing steady and elegant amongst warm, wobbly wreckage of her vintage style, she delivers an effortless performance whose sheer power alone transforms Julia into her final form (costumed in Victorian-inspired regalia), offering a grand finale to the orchestral divinity Alice’s Night Circus grants.

Alice's Night Circus - The Show Must Go On (Official Video) - YouTube

The Alice’s Night Circus website is here: alicesnightcircus.com. You can follow her on Twitter as @alicencircus and Like on Facebook.

All words by Paul Scott-Bates. More of Paul’s writing on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. Paul’s website is hiapop and you can follow him on Twitter as @hiapop, and on Facebook here.

The post Watch This! Alice’s Night Circus new video for The Show Must Go On appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Am I Dead Yet?
The Donkey, Leicester 

As album launches go, you know it’s going to be a low key one when your first sight of the front man is seeing Mary Byker clambering up a ladder to switch on a projector perched on top of the PA speakers. Clearly a man willing to suffer for his art – at least he would have if he’d fallen off. Macthehack reviews one of the Am I Dead Yet? ( Mary Byker & Noko) Launch gigs in his own inimitable style.

Leaving aside these health and safety issues, this second album launch gig by Am I Dead Yet? was something of a journey into the unknown. Clearly conceived as a studio project by Mary Byker (Gaye Bykers On Acid, Apollo 440 & now Pop Will Eat Itself) and Noko (Magazine, Apollo 440), attempting to bring the lush cinematic sound of their startling album to life seemed a risky move.

So perhaps it’s understandable that the mood at The Donkey is more that of public rehearsal than full on gig. But despite that the band – augmented to include Derek Thompson (AKA the Hooodlum Priest) on bass, whose CV boasts SPK, The Cure and Jeffery Lee Pierce and Apollo 440’s Cliff Hewitt on drums – still took to the stage to an improbably grandiose bit of James Bond soundtrack. John Barry’s ‘Underwater Mayhem’ from Thunderball, I think, but if not certainly something in that vein.

That nod to the world of cinema was entirely appropriate given that the album feels like a soundtrack to an as yet unmade film.


Initial signs were a bit disconcerting and electronic drum kit and no sign at all of Noko’s vintage Gretsch White Falcon guitar, credited with giving the album the twangy 50’s sound which is one of the hallmarks of the record.

Such shallow concerns were quickly dismissed once the band ambled onstage, suited and booted, and Mary explained that they would be doing a run through of the album. Which meant the band launched straight into the epic paean to lost love ‘Leaving Me Behind’. It’s not an easy trick to pull off – in a live setting re-ordering the album tracklisting and working up to this one might have made more sense. But it works. It works quite magnificently.

The drums have that same big sound as on the album, Noko’s guitar surfs a sea of reverb and Mary… Mary sings like you’ve never heard him before.

It turns out the boy from Leicester has a really good singing voice which is perfectly suited to the doomed balladering these songs demand. As if to acknowledge this Mary thanks the crowd for indulging this, his most surprising, musical project. It’s a fair point, in terms of reference points it’s probably much closer to Noko’s work with Howard Devoto as the criminally underrated Luxuria, than anything in the Byker boy’s back catalogue.

It’s a big leap from the heyday of Gaye Bykers On Acid (Stewed To The Gills, in this reviewer’s opinion) to the Lynchian ’50s gone bad with with digital orchestration of AIDY? so inevitably some fans of Mary Byker’s usual journeys into sound may be a bit thrown by this project. Which is a shame.  They may be little more than a fleeting live act, but it certainly stands up as amongst – if not the best – ex-GBOA output, from any of the jesters from Leicester.

Yes, the live AIDY? do rely on samples fired from Cliff Hewitt’s laptop to fully recreate the orchestration of the songs but that’s entirely forgivable when it results in such a fully realised rendition of the album in the frankly incongruous surroundings of a pub on the Welford Road.

Highlights include ‘Solid Gone’ a song Mary confirms was one of the first songs written with Noko as a reflection on lost youth in the aftermath of the death of David Bowie – suggesting that this project has been three years in the making.
Also worth a mention is ‘Joe Meek Shall Inherit The Earth’ a defiant hymn of praise to the anti-heroes who create at the margins, driven by their own vision rather than the lust for vacuous fame that produces the diet of dumbed down tabloid celebrities who are force fed to consumers as some sort of anesthetic for the people.

Sartorially, head gear seems to be important to AIDY?, so much so that Noko was heard discussing his choice of hat pre-gig at the bar.  I can report that the man with the twang favours fez-o-rama.com, should you be so inclined.
It’s thanks to the risk taking dreamers like Mary and Noko that wonderfully out on a limb ideas like Am I Dead Yet? can become a reality. The world is a little bit less dull and grey as a result. Now Mr Lynch, how about the film of the album?

Footnote:  If anyone else has the same media player  as me then this is the biog that comes up for AIDY?:  “Belgian scremo/emo violence band that existed for exactly one year (June 2005 until June 2006) and played 21 shows.” Now that sounds like a GBOA side project if ever I heard one!

Band website
Buy the album here
Louder Than War album review

All words by macthehack

The post Am I Dead Yet?: The Donkey, Leicester – live review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Penetration begin 2019 UK  tour at Royal Albert Hall, 21st June 2019 with Skids, supporting Buzzcocks & Guests paying tribute to Pete Shelley  …plus, previously unseen  video for I Don’t Mind – their great Buzzcocks cover version

First generation punk act Penetration are set to play a number of UK tour dates during 2019, starting with a London show at the Royal Albert Hall on 21st June with Buzzcocks and Skids that is being treated as a celebration of the life of Buzzcocks frontman Pete Shelley, who died in December 2018.

Penetration singer Pauline Murray will also be one of several guest vocalists performing with Buzzcocks on the evening.

Penetration toured with Buzzcocks in 1978 and the band recorded Buzzcocks song ‘Nostalgia’ on their debut album – and it has been a staple in their live set ever since.  They covered  ‘I Don’t Mind’, for the sessions that resulted in their acclaimed 2015 comeback album, ‘Resolution’. The group’s line-up at that time included former Buzzcocks drummer John Maher (who played on the original version), while a live video for the song was shot during a show at The Playhouse in Whitley Bay. Unseen until now, it can be viewed here:  It’s a fair bet that Pauline will be performing the two songs with Buzzcocks at the very special Albert Hall gig.

I Don't Mind - YouTube

Another guest vocalist at the Royal Albert Hall gig is Peter Perrett who coincidentally sang with Pauline Murray on ‘Fools’ on the Only Ones third album.  Rumour has it that he will be performing a classic Buzzcocks b-side, one of the few songs on which all of the band get a co-writing credit, on the 21st.

Noko from Apollo 440, Luxuria and the ironically-named Am I Dead Yet? will be playing Pete Shelleys guitar parts with Buzzcocks. He said on Facebook

Delighted to announce that I’ll be joining the remaining Buzzcocks (and a stellar line-up of guest vocalists) onstage at London’s Royal Albert Hall … paying tribute to Peter’s untouchable contribution to The Great British Post-Punk Song Book and his unique anti-hero guitar style. The big question now is whether to give my 1960s red Starway guitar the iconic PS chop or not!

Anyway – back to Pauline & Co …..

Penetration’s 2019 tour includes a set at the annual Rebellion Festival in Blackpool that will also see a rare outing for Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls. Featuring both Murray and Penetration bassist Robert Blamire, they will be playing songs from their self-titled 1980 album that was produced by the legendary Martin Hannett.

Pauline Murray has been working on a new solo album and will preview songs from it at an intimate acoustic show at the Betsey Trotwood in London on 20th June. A release date for the record is yet to be announced.

Full tour dates

21.06.19 LONDON Royal Albert Hall (w/ Buzzcocks & Skids)  TICKET LINK
22.06.19 PORTSMOUTH Wedgewood Rooms
12.07.19 LONDON 100 Club
13.07.19 LEWES Con Club
14.07.19 HALIFAX Lantern
03.08.19 BLACKPOOL Rebellion Festival
06.10.19 SHEFFIELD O2 Academy
18.10.19 NEWCASTLE Cluny
19.10.19 GLASGOW Audio

Penetration Website

Words -Press Release with additional input by Ged Babey

The post Penetration begin UK tour at Royal Albert Hall with Buzzcocks. Watch them cover ‘I Don’t Mind’ appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Narcissus

Burning Candles/Flashing Blue Lights

42’s Records

CD/DL

After successfully supporting Suede the highly tipped Mancunian electronica 4 piece Narcissus have just released their stunning debut AA single via new Manchester UK label 42’s Records. Matt Mead reviews for Louder Than War.

With a bevy of rave live reviews the AA side of Burning Candles/Flashing Blue Lights keeps the cogs turning on the well-oiled Narcissus machine. Mixing Velvet Underground psychedelic rhythms, with ice cool pulsating Primal Scream beats and vocals reaching all new angelic heights – the listener is treated to fantastic new material on this release.

The bands live sound is captured explosively on Burning Candles – trapping the listener with anthemic ear bending rapid sounds which lift the listener to a stratosphere not entirely of man’s making. Enforcing a similar experience to Spacemen 3’s acid driven speaker splitting supersonic sounds, but with the back bone of a New Order classic.

Blue Flashing Lights isn’t a cover version of ITV’s The Bill theme tune. With a similar chorus to that of Primal Screams Higher Than The Sun, the fires of music’s flames are kept burning bright to full effect. Hypnotic Blue Jay Way swirling background sounds will further sooth the listener to be led along mesmerising, fresh ground, not entirely heard before.

With an album already in the bag, recorded back in late 2018, Narcissus are grappling their way to the top of the northern tree, fighting off their competition with ease. With these sort of releases, reaching the summit shouldn’t come soon enough.

Narcissus are:

Ben Guy – vocals / guitar

Chris James – percussion and programming

Lee Muvley – Bass

Josh Lawrence – Lead guitar

narcissus - burning candles (official video) - YouTube

Narcissus can be found via their WebsiteTwitter and Facebook. 42’s Records can be found via their Website and Facebook page.

All words by Matt Mead. Further articles by Matt can be found via the Louder Than War author archive pages.

The post Narcissus – Debut AA Single – Review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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