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EP Review / Gig Preview

Arrest! Charlie Tipper: Freedom Of Speech EP   (Breaking Down)

CD/ DL 

Out now

1st single of 2019 for Arrest! Charlie Tipper is an out an out political statement in support of the band’s commitment to the Pop! Not Hate campaign, which aims to raise funds to help in the fight against the rise of the far-right in the UK.

Freedom of Speech doesn’t mean freedom to spread hatred
Freedom of Speech doesn’t mean freedom to spread fear.
We won’t let you win.

That is the complete lyric. It says it all.

Teardrop Explodes style trumpet and a cyclical psych feel – it’s a great song and a much needed anthem.

When ‘mild-mannered’, ‘middle-aged’ musicians feel the need to write a song like this, and organise a grass-roots campaign , then you know that it’s not for fun or profit or to improve their ‘media profile’, it’s because they feel it’s necessary – and because they have to try to do ‘something’…

The Charlie Tipper band are a pretty ordinary group of old-school Left-leaning ‘indie’ musicians not militant protest punks.. but like a lot of people are sick of the bullshit being touted by pseudo-politicians and hatemongers.

It is by sheer coincidence that Freedom of Speech comes out at the same time Morrissey and his pin-badge have caused waves among the Indie Community.  Moz even using his statement of  24 May 2019 to call for, without a shred of irony, ‘the prosperity of free speech’.   With Spillers refusing to stock his music and Merseyrail removing his posters many of his old fanbase have turned their back on him.

Singer with Arrest Charlie Tipper Tim speaks for a lot of people when he says, ‘ Was once a big fan, can’t listen to him any more’.

The reason being that Morrissey cannot seem to understand the fact that: Freedom of Speech doesn’t mean freedom to spread hatred.  Cue music. 

Arrest! Charlie Tipper - Freedom of Speech - YouTube

In addition to the main song there is a Moog-heavy instrumental version and a cover of the Pauline Murray & The Invisible Girls song ‘Judgement Day’…. a really great song and it’s a cool, interesting version.

Plus there is another new song on the EP.

Buy from here

the Pop! Not Hate gigs continue…

Friday 31st May 2019 – SOUTHAMPTON  – the Alexandra 

Support comes from hardest-gigging man in town Dan O’ Farrell and his band the Difference Engine. Reviewing there latest album I said…

These Dark Ages Are Hurting All The People That We Love is a warm, kind-hearted album about love in hard times, passion and compassion.  And ‘Dan O’Farrell has an unerring ability to smuggle complex and political ideas into seemingly blithe and simple pop-songs.’

He has been previewing lots of new material online including this – also a tougher, more garage-rock sound for him.

Dan O'Farrell - 'Extinction Man' - YouTube

Opening the night are the drinking mans punk-soul brothers the Flying Alexanders.

The gig date (which is not on the poster) … FRIDAY 31st MAY 2019  ….

Facebook Event Page

All words Ged Babey

The post Arrest! Charlie Tipper: Freedom Of Speech EP / Southampton Pop! Not Hate gig 31st May appeared first on Louder Than War.

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boycalledcrow: Emerald

Wormhole World / Holloway Tapes

CD/DL

Available now!

The latest long-player by boycalledcrow sees him pushing his melodic sensibilities further than before. Simon Tucker reviews.

Clouds opens Emerald. Clouds part. Clouds plays like an intro track at a live gig. Clouds disperse. Clouds is beautiful. Clouds is rinsed through with a glistening melody and layered with shards of optimism. Welcome to Emerald…

Emerald is the new album from boycalledcrow. It is also one of the finest Pop albums to be released this year. There will be those that box it in the electronica file, and that’s fair enough, but Emerald is so much more than that. It is the Pop music of Tangerine Dream and Neu! It is the beautifully melodic Pop of Aphex Twin at his most playful. Emerald is the Pop of Brian Wilson just with computers replacing the human voice. boycalledcrow has made a slight, addictive and spiritual album that taps into the skyward looking joy of a Gospel record yet grounds it in the repetition of machine music.

The intent is obvious from the opening trio of Clouds, Flurt and Ghost. These songs inject a sense of optimism instantly into the listener and there is a moment of snark or malice. You can physically feel the joy in the bottom of your gut. By the time we reach album highlights Africa, Butterfly and the gloriously grinding Vapor we are in a forced state of empathy and serenity. None of which feels unfairly pushed upon us or plays in any way saccharine or contrived. Emerald places you in a better world and for its ten song running time you are happy to be there.

Releases like Emerald can fly under the radar. Released on the DIY labels Wormhole World and Holloway Tapes this is an album that only those that already follow the work of boycalledcrow may investigate. This would be (stands on imaginary soapbox) a shame as this is one of the most infectious albums released this year. Electronica heads have enough here to claim it as own of their own but at its core it is bigger it is more than that. It is expansive, inclusive, beautiful, relatable, and highly addictive…in other words Emerald is great POP music.

Thoroughly recommended.

~

boycalledcrow can be found via Twitter where he tweets as @boycalledcarl

Wormhole World can be found via Bandcamp  or Twitter where they tweet as @WormholeWorld

Holloway Tapes can be found via their website   Bandcamp   Facebook  or Twitter where they tweet as @holloway_tapes

All words by Simon Tucker. More writing by Simon on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Simon on twitter as @simontucker1979

The post boycalledcrow: Emerald – album review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Phildel – Wave Your Flags

CD / DL

Out Now

British singer, pianist and songwriter returns with new album. Louder Than War’s Paul Scott-Bates reviews.

It’s been quite a five years since the release of the staggering Disappearance Of The Girl. Over 100 million streams on Spotify and performing the miracle of birth by bringing twin boys Dylan and Finn into the world have not precluded Phildel Ng from recording a new album, Wave Your Flags.

It hasn’t been an easy process for her and artist Chris Young, her long-time partner and musical collaborator. As a child, Phildel suffered an often abusive relationship with her stepfather in a home where music was banned. Maybe this melody restriction fuelled her passion for music where she hid a lone cd in her desk. At the cost of a family relationship, she recently attempted to bring him to justice to no avail, and now finds herself estranged from her mother and sister.

Wave Your Flags acts as something of a healing process for her. An album of self-repair which involved a self-referral to hospital for her own safety, an album where she finds strength from the things she values and loves and above all, an album of quite breath-taking quality.

Imagine a Venn diagram made up of Tori Amos, Alison Goldfrapp and Dido, and Phildel will attempt to sit on the periphery of the trio whilst presenting a voice that is one on its own. She doesn’t warble or wail like many of today’s new voices, instead she has a pure and perfect voice that is warming, angelic and often sends shivers down your spine. Make no mistake, there is a huge star here waiting to burst into the world.

From the opening bars of The Deep is it clear that Wave Your Flags is a near perfect album, sounds and voices are positioned and timed with a clinical precision, each syllable is sung with seeming ease and every sound fits snugly to its counterpart. With songs of fissure and healing, Wave Your Flags is powerful yet gentle, therapeutic and provoking.

Lead single, Electric Heights is gloriously empty. A void filled with wisps of vocal accompaniment, snitches of sound and well placed echoes creating a great expanse of calm and warm feeling. Oh Love expresses her gratitude at the support from Chris after she imagined turning herself into the Thames expressed in The Great Wave.

As with Disappearance Of The Girl, there are fascinations with the sea, adding to the fluidity of Wave Your Flags with Wild Sea, Floods and Great Wave and second single from the album, Glide Dog oozes a sexy tension akin to that of Alison Goldfrapp in a song that entices a mild horror to proceedings – “I need more blood than you can pour love.”

The album closes with its most commercial offering in Glorious, a track that will no doubt feature on tv commercials, adverts and incidental music in the future. It’s catchy and memorable, lifts the pace to a pop height and ends the album on a massive crescendo. Phildel is a huge star in the waiting, doing things her way, in her time and on her rules, make no mistake, she is an enormous talent.

THE DEEP - WAVE YOUR FLAGS - PHILDEL - YouTube

The Phildel website is here: phildel.com. You can follow her on Twitter as @PHILDEL 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 Phildel: Wave Your Flags – album review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Jr. Walker & The All Stars – Walk In The Night

SoulMusic

3CD/DL

Released 24th May 2019

Subtitled “The Motown 70s Studio Albums” this brings together exactly that, the 1970s works by the (I’m A) Roadrunner 60s hitmaker and his band…..Ian Canty feels the groove of the Motown set’s premier sax man….

Autry DeWalt Nixon Jr, better known as Junior Walker, had already seen a lot of life by the time of the first album of this new set A Gasssss in 1970. A troubled childhood in Arkansas meant spending time living with adoptive parents, who encouraged the young man’s love of music and gave him a saxophone as a present on his tenth birthday. Later he co-habited with aunt in Wisconsin (who also was supportive of his musical muse), his natural mother and also his uncle, who was based in Chicago. On arrival in the Windy City he found himself in the middle of civil unrest and his precious sax was pummelled during the fracas. Eventually Junior settled down, got his own place, a steady job and a wife and family. But as the 1940s drew to a close he got the urge to play again, retrieving his repaired sax from his uncle’s place, intent on a career in music.

He joined the band that were to become the All Stars in the early 50s, then known as the Rhythm Rockers and he began using the Junior Walker tag, a nickname from his youth. Meeting producer Johnny Bristol around the time of the name change, it was when Walker and his band joined with Berry Gordy on his Soul imprint (part of the Motown group) that his career really began to flourish. Many US charts hits followed, with the really big ones being Shotgun (which got to number 4 on the Billboard Hot 100), (I’m A) Roadrunner (Top 20 on both sides of the Atlantic) and (What Does It Take) To Win Your Love (which again hit the US number 4 spot and also 13 on the UK charts).

As the 1970s dawned, Jr Walker And The All Stars were still coming off the back of their success from their more recent LP, named after that last big hit. In turn the record spawned three other chart singles in These Eyes, Gotta Hold On To This Feeling and Do You See My Love. So all seemed hopeful for the decade, even taking into account Walker’s reputation for unreliability as regarding turning up for studio sessions.

"Do You See My Love (For You Growing)" Junior Walker & The Allstars - YouTube

1970’s A Gasssss certainly starts things off with a swing in its step here. Little Funk and strings touches here and there give the record a feel of the new decade, but Walker’s sax and full-bodied vocal style remained intact. Single and kick-off track of the album Do You See My Love (For You Growing) steps right into the 1970s with a state of the art big production, subtle female vocals assisting Jr’s more rootsy holler and of course that sax. Even though this record was released in the 1970s, it is a step away from the “four to the floor” Motown sound and thoroughly modern (though later track Riding High On Love was made for Northern Soul, being much more in a 60s stomp mode).

There’s a cover of Blood, Sweat And Tears’ And I When I Die which is imbued with a pleasing rawness, nicely offset against the lush instrumentation. A deep Gospel Blues feel is rendered on Groove And Move and if Honey Come Back finds Walker outside his comfort zone with a Soul ballad, he pulls it off with a good amount of verve. Hey Jude gets a Funk do-over and this LP generally delivers as a consistently listenable dance record.

The following year’s Rainbow Funk works roughly to the same template as A Gasssss (there’s another Fabs cover in Something), but also threw the occasional curveball in. Like the Traffic song Feeling Alright, using its odd structure, but setting it to to a rough Rhythm And Blues styling. Take Me Girl I’m Ready tightens up high quality dance to such an extent it comes over like a forerunner of the Philly Sound and Right On Brothers And Sisters is a classy message of unity. The Temptations’ Psychedelic Shack is also versioned with some of Junior’s trademark sax pyrotechnics, which helps the flow of what was already a fluid dance number. Always more at home as a vocalist with an up-tempo Soul shouter, Jr could kick up a storm of James Brown proportions and he certainly shows some of that vim on Pieces Of A Man.

On the second disc here, which features the albums Moody Jr. and Peace And Understanding Is Hard To Find, Walker And The All Stars had pretty much settled into a formula, although both LPs are good enough in themselves it does seem that the band were a little too settled in their work. Junior builds up a JB-like head of steam though on Moody’s opener Way Back Home and the slow R&B of I Don’t Want To Do Wrong is a real treat (Gladys Knight, who co-wrote the song and had a hit with it earlier in 1971 with the Pips, pitches on Moody Jr. with a further three tunes). Don’t Blame The Children is another fine social consciousness song and the title track’s raw Funk is played alongside some effortlessly cool female vocals.

1973’s Peace And Understanding comes out fighting with a defiant I Ain’t Going Nowhere, which despite its clearly evident suitability for the charts was relegated to the b side of non-album track Gotta Hold On To This Feeling. The two part Gimme That Beat is Funky and very cool indeed, the polar opposite of the rather MOR version of Johnny Nash’s I Can See Clearly now. Jr. And The All Stars do a better job on Carol King’s It’s Too Late, but the spectre of Easy Listening hovered in the background at times in these couple of albums. The title track, which brings this record to a close, is possibly the best thing on Peace And Understanding. A Bo Diddley rhythm buried deep down, those unnamed female singers doing wonders again and Junior’s feisty vocalising, it provides a great end to the LP.

Jr WALKER & THE ALL STARS - I AIN'T GOING NOWHERE - YouTube

The self-titled 1974 album (only released in the UK) steps away a bit from the Soul shouter/sax instro/Funk formula and is a little uneven perhaps, but there is enough to interest one. Stevie Wonder’s You Are The Sunshine Of My Life just avoids another brush with the middle of the road by having Wonder himself appearing on harmonica, but to be honest the first three offerings on this LP are pretty forgettable, you can see why the decision was taken not to give it a full release based on this evidence. Better is the more upbeat Boogie Down and Dancin’ Like They Do On Soul Train is a prime piece of 70s Funk. The latter and Until You Come Back To Me (That’s What I Gonna Do) nudge towards the Disco dancefloor.

On the whole though the Jr. Walker & The All Stars album is bitty, which is why I’m happy to report that the next LP Hot Shot was a return to form. His Blues-based sax riffing was seldom heard better than on the first track, I’m So Glad. the self penned Probe Your Mind and Hot Shot (a critique of the music industry) found him and the All Stars firing on all cylinders, intense and very Funky indeed! Love (Keeps Us Together) could set light to most any dancefloor and I Need You Right Now has the talented Thelma Houston leading the way. This is wall to wall great stuff and a brilliant way to sign off this collection.

After Hot Shot Junior Walker went solo for a few years, before rejoining the All Stars in the 80s, though they struggled to make much of an impact and recorded only sparsely. People only seemed to want the old hits I suppose. Junior passed away in 1995 at the age of 64 after a long battle with cancer.

Despite the fact that as the 70s went on Jr Walker And The All Stars’ chart career tailed off, Walk In The Night shows that they kept producing spirited and enjoyable albums, albeit at times a distance away from the “cutting edge”. Junior’s signature sax was a great sound, but may mean that you wouldn’t want to listen to the whole three CDs in one block. However, although A Gasssss and Hotshot are my picks, pretty much any one of the six played on a warm, lazy day makes for the ideal, relaxing accompaniment.

This set sounds great and has an authoritative sleeve note from author Sharon Davis, which sets out Walker’s early career and later work whilst focussing on the 6 albums corralled together here. Maybe Jr Walker And The All Stars days in the Top 30 were drawing to a halt, but the quality control here shows they never slacked off. There’s some sweet, sweet Soul that sticks in the mind and gets the toes tapping – Walk In The Night is more than alright.

All words by Ian Canty – see his author profile here

The post Jr. Walker & The All Stars – Walk In The Night – Album Review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Active Slaughter – Set The World Alight?  (Grow Your Own)

LP/CD/DL

Out now

Strident and highly political, Active Slaughter’s latest anarcho-punk album is a pogo-tastic attack on animal and human rights abuses says Nathan Brown.

The new full length offering from Active Slaughter sees a massive improvement on earlier releases.  Original members Trev and JJ have given their sound more depth and power by recruiting a couple of ringers from within the anarcho-punk music community, in the form of Mark (bass player from Liberty) and Trystan (guitarist from Lost Cherrees). Their experience shows: as anyone who’s seen the band with this line up will know, it makes for a killer combination.  Their original incarnation had a strong message but occasionally lacked ferocity in delivery. This has been fully addressed and they now have something in common with the likes of Surgery Without Research –  a heavier, punchy, rocking sound that borrows heavily from Oi! Alongside the chuggy guitar, they’re not afraid to chuck in the occasional rock’n’roll solo with a hint of wah-wah that would please fans of Captain Sensible’s work in the Damned or late 80s Motorhead.

Singer JJ spews out angry rants in the style that has made bands such as Conflict, Icons of Filth, Liberty, and Oi Polloi such compelling listening over the years – music as a powerful tool for agitators and activists.  In common with those bands, Active Slaughter are closely tied in with animal rights and anarchist movements.  There are a few moments when the gruff, London accented, vocal delivery and pounding toms sounds like Exit-Stance – in particular at the opening of Weapons of Mass Deception and on the title track Set The World Alight?  Very strident and very political, Active Slaughter are still pogo-tasticly punk rather than po-faced.   They aren’t afraid to use simple, easy to follow melodies and sing-along choruses.  It may be serious shit but that doesn’t mean the music can’t be fun!

ACTIVE SLAUGHTER - Sadistic Scientist. /2019/Anarcho punk/animal rights - YouTube

There are 2 prevalent themes on this album. Animal abuse is the subject of 5 songs while media manipulation and control features in 3 songs.  The amazing cover art by Paul Trew manages to convey this, depicting a crowd of moronic smart phone users taking pictures of a monkey subjected to torture.  It’s as if capturing an image of the spectacle is all that matters and not what is taking place. An image that manages to simultaneously evoke sadness and anger.  For over 35 years I’ve seen images of animals suffering at the hands of vivisectors on punk records and it will never cease to have that impact on me.  Read the lyrics and you’ll see that Active Slaughter don’t suggest you feel sorry for the animals suffering, they want you to take action to stop it.

Managing to side step accusations of “single issue politics” Active Slaughter have a fairly wide horizon, also honing in on police oppression and the general ills of society. Side 2 opens with a spoken introduction in Arabic before Active Slaughter declare “It’s not Anti-semitic to hate fascists”, a no-holds-barred response to those who would seek to use the slur of Anti-semitism to silence criticism of the Israeli state’s treatment of Palestinians, in particular those living in Gaza.  They remind us this is not a mere debating point: “This is ethnic cleansing, this is genocide”.

Several of the songs are re-recordings of older tunes. Presumably chosen as they are favourites in a live setting, they arguably all deserved a second outing to reach their full potential.  This is a worthy release for Grow Your Own who are banging out so many great records at the moment and I fully recommend the discerning punk rocker to check out their full catalogue.

The vinyl is a beautiful orange and black splatter, coming in a gatefold sleeve with lyric booklet.   The CD version contains an additional 3 tracks.  Early orders receive bonus extras but that ship may have sailed.  Available from Grow Your Own Records.

Gig details, t-shirts and signed underpants can be contained from the band’s Facebook page.

~

All words by Nathan Brown. More from Nathan can be found over at his Louder Than War Author Archive.

The post Active Slaughter: Set The World Alight? – Album review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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BILLY CHILDISH

PUNK ROCK IST NICHT TOT – THE BILLY CHILDISH STORY (1977 – 2018)

Damaged Goods

3LP / 2CD / DL

Damaged Goods compile another set from the statesman of British garage rock – 48 tracks spanning his 40 years recording.

Do we really need another compilation of Billy Childish’s recordings? I mean it’s been only ten years since Damaged Goods released their last one, but considering that in that time Billy Childish has put out a further thirteen records, I guess it may be overdue! Punk Rock Ist Nicht Tot goes right back to the beginning and is a distillation of the over 100 albums he has produced in his 40-year career.

Never one to bend to the will of fashion, and having always ploughed his own path, it feels natural that the compilation starts with a swampy, barely audible version of Whatcha Gonna Do About It? from The Pop Rivets’ Live In Germany album, followed by a demo version of Kray Twins. It’s almost like he is willfully challenging the listener to wait out the roughest and sketchiest of recordings and it’s not until track three that we hear anything resembling a final recording of any song, coming in the form of The Milkshakes’ wonderful, almost psych-garage, Love Can Lose. While all three tracks, and others such as Joe Strummer’s Grave, Archive From 1959, and of course the title track Punk Rock Ist Nicht Tot, appear on Damaged Good previous compilation (Archive From 1959), where this new compilation differs is in that it runs chronologically, giving the listener a snapshot of Childish’s development, or perhaps lack thereof, over the last 40 years. In this way, we hear how he has stuck to his single-minded idea of rough and stripped back raw garage rock ‘n’ roll through, from The Pop Rivets through to CTMF.

The project that features most heavily on this compilation (getting an entire LP side devoted to them) are naturally The Headcoats/Thee Headcoatees, that which, more than any other, shows the unbridled prolificness of Billy Childish. In 11 years they managed 25 albums between the two groups, and this also shows the conundrum that would face anyone compiling this retrospective in having to boil that quantity, and quality, down into only 9 songs to be included. The side opens with the Headcoatees classic Davey Crockett, a song that perfectly blends Childish’s roots in both the 60’s garage sounds and the punk scene from which he came. A mash-up of Farmer John with a dash of the Ramones’ ‘Gabba-gabba-hey’, and a lick of The Seeds in the solo. It’s also one of the songs that show his continued influence in the garage world, having been covered by The Hinds in 2015.

And of course, his work with Holly Golightly is also here in the form of the stomping Step Out and grooving Upside Mine. Over the years, the work that Childish has done with her, in the form of Thee Headcoatees and as a duo, count among some of his best. It seems as though he has a freer musical range when knowing that he won’t have to carry the song, much in the same way as his later work with Kyra. Their slinking This Wonderous Day makes the cut here. In amongst all the fantastic garage rock that the compilation has brought together, it’s good to hear a few of the songs like these where Childish has stepped out of the mould somewhat. Where it’s even more pronounced through is on I Don’t Like The Man I Am from his work with The Singing Loins, and Mussel Horse, which was recorded in collaboration with his fellow Stuckist and Medway poet Sexton Ming.

The advantage of more or less constantly sticking to your own style over the course of 40 years is that at some point fashion will eventually catch up with you once again, which is exactly what happened at the turn of the millennium, as garage came back in style, and so came The Buff Medways (or Wild Billy Childish & The Friends of the Buff Medway Fanciers Association, if we give them their full title!)  It also showed a shift in some of the songs back further to the more harmony-driven garage rock of the 60s, Strood Lights being the perfect example. It didn’t last long though as his Musicians of The British Empire came to the fore with more of a proto-punk racket. After a few doses of the lo-fi indie rock of The Spartan Dreggs, Childish’s project with Fire Dept.’s Neil Palmer, the final side of this extensive collection is dedicated primarily to his current band CTMF. Taking over on vocals once again, the style comes right around full circle to the driving garage he started out with, albeit with a smattering of Hammond organ sitting in with the mix on tracks like A Song For Kylie Minogue. It’s once again a wild racket of glorious garage rock.

Over the last 40 years, Billy Childish has probably been the most prolific British songwriter. He has stuck to his guns throughout, as any true artist should, and produced some of the best garage rock music that the country has seen. Punk came and went, an 80s garage revival briefly showed it’s head, Britpop looked back to many of those 60s British Invasion bands, and 18 years ago garage music hit the mainstream in a way it had never done before. All the while Billy Childish continued, blinkered and focused with a one track mind. Here’s hoping that in ten years time there are another host of albums to try to include in the next compilation. But for now, this is the almost perfect retrospective of a true national treasure.

Listen to CTMF’s A Song For Kylie Minogue below:

Wild Billy Childish & CTMF - A Song For Kylie Minogue - YouTube

Follow Billy Childish on Facebook and Twitter

Wild Billy Childish & CTMF play the Theatre Royal in Margate on the 16th of June

All words by Nathan Whittle. Find his Louder Than War archive here.

Previous Childish pieces on Louder Than War include:  Acorn Man,  All Our Forts, and Brand New Cage reviews. 

~

The post Billy Childish: Punk Rock Ist Nicht Tot – The Billy Childish Story (1977 – 2018) – album review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Stray Cats
40
DL | LP | CD
Released – 24th May 2019

Summer 2019 is beginning to hot up rockabilly-style as Stray Cats make a welcome return in original line up, with brand new music on album 40 released just yesterday, and a world tour listed for June through to August..

Just a couple of bars into album opener Cat Fight and you’re transported straight back into rockabilly perfection that defines Stray Cats – it’s like putting on a favourite old jumper – which you can’t help but dance around in. The whole album has the same familiar energy that dominated the brilliant Runaway Boys, Rock This Town and Stray Cat Strut: the same energy that blasted into the charts on both sides of the Atlantic in 1980 – adding 50s rock n roll to the melting pot of musical genres that defined the 80s, sitting somewhere between mod and punk but chucking in the brighter sounds of Bill Haley, Chuck Berry and Buddy Holly. If you liked The Stray Cats, you were probably also into the psychobilly likes of Guana Batz and The Cramps. (And if you were a teenage girl diverted for a short time from complete gothness, looking back it probably would have been better to take inspiration from the Sexy + 17 little rock n roll queen aspect, rather than try to copy the band’s quiffs and wear brothel creepers. Hindsight is a wonderful thing though..)

It’s been 26 long years since this trio of founding members Brian Setzer, Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker last released material together – ridiculous given Setzer sounds almost exactly the same – this album celebrates 40 years of the Stray Cats and comes ahead of a world tour throughout June, July and August. The atmosphere, as with much of their music, is clean, simple and fun – no particularly deep themes or messages (“When nothing’s going right, go left..”), it’s an old fashioned world of boogie-woogie, drive-ins, cadillacs and diners. A visit to a hospital in the insanely catchy Rock It Off features flirting with a sexy nurse and medical advice “The flu don’t stand a chance when you get up and dance, rock it off brother rock it off”. By the time you get to third song I’ve Got Love If You Want It, showcasing Rocker’s bass playing at its very best, the album has embedded itself in your heart as your newest favourite thing. A welcome blast of sunshine in puzzling and anxious times.

Check Out The First Song Cat Fight (Over A Dog Like Me) Here:

Stray Cats - Cat Fight (Over A Dog Like Me) - YouTube

Impossible to pick a favourite track – currently it’s either Rock It Off or the irresistible Cry Danger, which anyone would be challenged not to have to dance to. Last week it was the baddest toughest intensely rocky I Attract Trouble, or equally alluring That’s Messed Up, with Slim Jim’s laid back drums and a superb guitar solo from Setzer.

What a comeback album. This Mean Pickin’ Mama is busy digging out her brothel creepers – alright then, fishnet stockings – in readiness for a summer blast of rockabilly happy. Suggest you do the same…

Some quotes from the band:

Brian Setzer: “You have to understand how unique The Stray Cats are. It’s me playing an old hollow body guitar, Slim Jim playing two or three drums, and Lee Rocker slapping a stand-up acoustic bass. I get to write new songs and then play them with my buddies. Somehow we created a new and exciting sound with this simple idea. And you know what? A lot of people agree!”

Lee Rocker: “This new album really feels like the first record we did, it’s really natural and comfortable. For the recording, we went live – like doing a gig, we recorded in a real, organic way. We were all in one room standing next to each other recording live, with the amps turned up to 10, it captured the undefinable things that happen when a band is great, it captured the magic that takes place and an undefined spark.”

Slim Jim Phantom: “We’re very, very focused when we get into the studio, it didn’t feel like a long time had passed since we had done this, it felt very natural and familiar. We were all in a row with everyone watching each other, so it felt like a gig in the set-up. We really embraced that a little bit for the album, it’s like an old way of making records. The modern is meeting the vintage, which has always been our inspiration.”

Catch Up With The Band In Studio Here:

Stray Cats - 40 (EPK) - YouTube


European/UK Tour 2019

Fri 21 Jun – Azkena Rock Festival, Spain
Sun 23 Jun – 02 Academy, Birmingham
Tues 25 Jun – 02 Apollo, Manchester
Wed 26 June – Hammersmith Apollo, London
Thurs 27 June – Hammersmith Apollo, London
Sat 29 June – Retro C Trop, France
Mon 01 July – AFAS Live, Netherlands
Wed 03 July – Columbiahalle, Germany
Thurs 04 July – Palladium, Germany
Sat 06 July – American Tours Festival, France
Sun 07 July – Les Eurockeennes, France
Tues 09 July – Killesberg, Germany
Thurs 11 July – Zenith, Germany
Fri 12 July – X-Tra, Switzerland
Sat 13 July – Musilac Festival, France
Thurs 18 July – Pori Jazz Festival, Finland
Sat 20 July – Summer Jamboree, Sweden

Follow the band: Website | Facebook | Twitter

~

Words (other than quotes) by Naomi Dryden-Smith. Naomi’s other stuff is here: Louder Than War | Website | Instagram | Facebook | Twitter

The post Stray Cats: 40 – album review and tour dates appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Goodbye Mr MacKenzie/The Countess of Fife

The Garage, Glasgow

Wednesday 22nd May 2019

The Garage, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, 22nd May 2019. Just gone 8.30pm. I wouldn’t have been anywhere else in the world at that very moment in time. This is a place, date and time – an event – that will live long on the memory. Unforgettable. Neil Hodge makes no concession to objectivity here as he says Goodbye…

This is a date that many have waited for since 1995, since that fateful day Goodbye Mr Mackenzie, well, said goodbye, playing their farewell Glasgow date. Was it worth the wait? I can’t express just how much it was worth the wait. It is difficult to put into words just how epic tonight was. This gig was life-affirming. Like a sort of homecoming, it was the coming together of like-minded individuals, the return of the prodigal sons and daughters, bringing them back into the fold, the return of the all-conquering heroes, taking the North and returning to take their places on the righteous throne.

Disclaimer: whatever I write can never do this gig justice. No-one has created enough superlatives for me to describe just how jaw-droppingly awesome it was.

Approaching the venue, whichever way you turned on Sauchiehall Street and the surrounding bars there was someone wearing a Mac man t-shirt. Following the tremendous feedback from the first two gigs on the tour, in Dundee and Dunfermline, expectations were high and the atmosphere in and around the venue electric.

It was an early start due to the venue curfew, but support act, The Countess of Fife, the band fronted by Fay Fife of Rezillos fame, still drew a substantial crowd. They were deservedly treated to a glorious set of country-punk tunes. Ms Fife was in fine fettle; she has a powerful rich vocal that can stand shoulder to shoulder with 60s legends like Sandie Shaw and Dusty Springfield. A more than welcome start to the evening’s festivities.

Suitably warmed up and lubricated, the crowd started filling out and as stage time loomed large, the venue was as packed as I’ve ever seen it, a Wednesday night too, slap bang in the middle of the working week, that is the draw of the band. Judging by what I’d heard, demand for tickets was phenomenal and I’m sure they could have sold out the venue twice over. Spirits were high, senses were heightened, the anticipation was palpable. You could cut the atmosphere with a knife. Then it all began…

One of the biggest cheers I’ve ever heard resounding around the Garage welcomed the legend that is Big John Duncan to the stage, resplendent in a Chibmarks t-shirt with the narrative “Ma Dugz Gay” emblazoned across the front. The ovation was incredible – and that was only the first band member to appear. Big John’s appearance was a welcome sight, battling with MS it was no mean feat for him to appear at all, but to play the full gig having already done the same in Dundee and Dunfermline was incredible. It would not have been the same without him. Cheers big man.

The rest of the band appeared to an equally rapturous reception. The last time I saw the band in this venue I was overcome with emotion as it was to be the last time I ever saw them, or so I thought. Tonight, my emotions were close to the surface, and as the band took to the stage & the seven members stood there receiving their applause, I believe some dust may have got in my eye…The sheer joy at seeing this band together again was overwhelming. I already didn’t want this night and the feeling of euphoria to end.

Original members from the time of the album release; frontman Martin Metcalfe; guitarist Big John Duncan; drummer Derek Kelly; bass player Fin Wilson and on keyboards Rona Scobie were joined by Marie Claire Lee, taking on backing vocals in place of Shirley Manson, and supplementing Big John’s guitars was Jim Brady, a further Rezillos connection to the evening. Just taking in the view of the band on stage before they played a note brought a huge grin to my face. I never thought I would see that gathering of musicians together in one place again.

Martin Metcalfe is an imposing sight. Elegant and suave as ever, dressed head to in black, save a burgundy waistcoat, dark glasses and battered oversize top hat, one side encrusted with bones, he is a striking frontman. One of the best, with a commanding deep brogue that matches the image down to a t.

As the band struck up the opening to Open Your Arms, the first track from their classic debut album there was no going back, they were out of the traps and nothing could stop them. The first five songs flashed by. “Side One” (for the old folks amongst you) was played in order, the band seemingly getting better, louder and tighter with each song they played… Wake it Up, His Masters Voice, every song received a rapturous reception, the heaving throng of people delighted to have these songs back once again in their lives in the live arena.

Every single band member played a blinder, executing their roles with their weapons of choice as if their lives depended on it. The sound of the ensemble was massive, a humungous thumping rhythm section thanks to Kelly’s masterclass in drumming and Fin’s dynamic bass, a tight unit of crunching lead and rhythm guitar courtesy of John and Jim, soaring keyboards from the divine Rona Scobie, all came together in a perfect storm of sound and fury in a state of heightened emotion. Special mention to Marie Claire who had big boots to fill. She was exceptional on backing vocals – who needs Shirley Manson anyway! Check out her own band Seil Lien too, you won’t be disappointed.

Perennial fan favourite Goodwill City received a thunderous reception, the band and crowd together ripping down the walls and tearing the ceiling down before the magnificently haunting Candlestick Park closed the performance of “Side One”. I was emotionally exhausted but desperate for more.

I don’t think I would be wrong to say the band were feeling as much emotion as the crowd, the connection between the two was remarkable, each feeding off the others energy and enthusiasm and whipping each other into a frenzy, building the atmosphere to a peak.

Before tonight, no-one could have anticipated the sheer eruption of ecstasy during the performances of the final two tracks. Goodbye Mr MacKenzie and The Rattler had everyone from front to back singing, smiling, and bouncing as one. How The Rattler wasn’t a number one hit across every country in the world is beyond me. The joy I felt during the song is indescribable, this band have moved me tonight, there is a shift in the equilibrium, Goodbye Mr MacKenzie have an unfair advantage over everyone else, tonight they are untouchable. The world seems a brighter place. Forget all the shite going on in the world. Here and now is all that matters. “I’m going to a better time; I’m going to a better place…”

Can you follow that? Well, apparently you can. Returning to the stage to a rapturous reception, the band went on to play one of their most controversial songs. Face to Face is a vivid lyrical depiction of a horrendous rape and the fall out at trial, where toxic masculinity & power tripping misogynistic men deal out their pathetic excuses. A powerful indictment on the state of the legal system when it comes to victims of this heinous crime. The performance was magnificent and sensitive.

The show wasn’t over…with a closing salvo of the dramatic Blacker Than Black and mercurial Now We Are Married I can safely say, there was a union of souls throughout the venue, we could all see everything through a single eye.

I could say there is no point in ever going to another gig again, I have seen the pinnacle. Can anyone match the sheer raw passion on display tonight? (Erm, Mrs Hodge – strike that last comment, I’ve got loads of gigs coming up…). Anyway, that may be a moot point as they announced from the stage that they had confirmed a date in the iconic, best venue in the world, Glasgow Barrowland on the 20th of December. Merry Christmas – see you down the front…a gig not to be missed.

A staggering thrill-ride, a phenomenally unforgettable evening. Looking around the venue as we were leaving there were stunned faces all around, as if no-one could believe what they had just witnessed. Talking to a few folks immediately after, to a person, they found it almost impossible to put their feelings into words, such was the spectacle they had just witnessed.

Goodbye Mr MacKenzie, one of the most under-rated bands ever, they should have been massive worldwide. Tonight, though, it was enough that they were once again the victorious, all-conquering heroes of Glasgow, they came to this city already loved, they left having ascended to a place in our hearts and minds that very few can achieve. MacKenzies, Glasgow has missed you. Let’s do it all again in December.

Worldwide domination can wait until later…

Goodbye Mr MacKenzie on Facebook
Goodbye Mr MacKenzie website

~

All words by Neil Hodge. More writing by Neil on Louder Than War can be found at his author’s archive. You can also find Neil online at his blog thegingerquiff.

Photographs courtesy of Richard Gass

The post Goodbye Mr MacKenzie: The Garage, Glasgow – live review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Peter Perrett
King Tuts, Glasgow
May 22nd 2019

Only Ones legend and familial band-mates hit Glasgow promoting new album.

Brother Ged of this parish had dropped this one in my unsuspecting lap as he’d had to cancel his proposed review of one of the dates south of the border. His loss, my gain although the stage time of 10pm on a Wednesday night was giving my aging frame the fear a little bit, I have to admit.

No matter; it’s not every night one gets to see a bona fide legend close up and with last album How The West Was Won being one of LTW’s albums of the year in 2017, this one was a bit of a not-to-be-missed show. There were a couple of competing gigs on locally; a reformed (and by all accounts on fire) Goodbye Mr McKenzie were thrilling folks round the corner at The Garage while the venerable Barrowland hosted jazzman Kamasi Washington.

Perrett last played Glasgow a few years back, around the release of HTWWW and the venue was rammed that night. It was busy tonight with a hardy crowd of believers but not uncomfortably so. Arriving just prior to stage time, we grabbed a close-up view and awaited the man.

Perrett, as I’m sure you all know, has his sons Jamie on guitar and Peter junior (who looked dwarfed by his huge Jazz Bass) supplying the bottom end. A stint in Babyshambles with Pete Doherty probably girded the pairs loins enough to realize that playing with the Old Man wasn’t quite the trial-by-parent it could have been. I suppose that Perrett is the template for Doherty in many ways although his survival instincts seem dramatically stronger as he looks pretty well preserved for a man in his mid-sixties with a past as drug-ravaged as his.

Jamie is a guitarist with some serious chops; looking and moving like a young Peter Buck, his tasteful licks and cascading arpeggios illuminate the set. Young Peter, despite the slight frame, provides thunderous, sliding basslines that lock in almost funk-style at times with drummer Jake Woodward who is calmly orchestrating things from his perch. The keys are provided by Lauren Moon (who can’t help herself from grooving to the music when not playing) and vocals and viola are the remit of Jenny Maxwell who is a perfect foil for Perret’s drawling vocals and laconic stage presence.

The viola really adds an aspect to the songs that is somewhat unexpected; yeah, there’s the folk-y melodic fills but Maxwell is also adept at slicing, John Cale style Velvets-drone which when you consider the youthful Perrett was often compared to Lou Reed, makes a helluva lot of sense.

At one point, Perrett is standing hunched, back to the crowd at his amp, chopping away at the chords with Jamie and Maxwell trading deranged licks like for like in a war of attrition that sounds like the end of the world. Kinda fitting, really. The set is crafted from songs from throughout the years although mid-set Perrett states something along the lines of “this is something of a detour into the past; the future is so much better” as they play a couple of Only Ones songs and it’s hard to disagree. It’s about one of only two things he says all night, the other a remark complimenting the bands prowess; despite this, he commands the stage and seems to be having a ball.

Ged Babey reviewed the new album, Humanworld, and despite being a huge Perrett fan, was less than impressed.  He thought some of it sounded half-arsed and unrealised and having just heard it the day of the gig, I get his point.

I have to say, however, that live, the new album sounds incredible; the band played most of mid to set end and the songs really seemed to come alive having been given a longer leash. “War Plan Red” has been around for a while in the set and tonight it is incendiary; Perrett’s vocal delivery is strained at times (he looks and sounds as if he’s battling a cold) but it adds to the tension of the song. The lyrics are deceptively simple but utterly effective. And that voice. What a voice. He’s certainly no three-scale range vocalist but the dry, terse delivery and that unmistakable drawl are enough to send shivers down spines.

Jamie takes front-stage for his own song “Master Of Destruction” which is probably one of the album highlights to these ears. We all know that “Planet” is the greatest love song written about heroin since, well since ever, but lyrically this one sears and flashes with a similar theme. I actually didn’t realise it was Jamie on vocals on the record until a few listens in- he sounds remarkably like his father at times.

Perrett senior takes a bridge after the chorus, repeating “You used to have a hold on me” while Jamie opens the song with a similar “You used to have a hold on me, now the spell is broken, used to have a hold on me, now I am awoken” which of course could be, as many of Perrett seniors songs were, a paean to the love of ones life or in fact, to the seductive clutches of opiates. The climbing minor key chord structure adds a frisson of danger to the song and this song (as do all of the newer numbers) sits comfortably between the older songs. Of course, “Another Girl, Another Planet” makes it appearance at the end- young Jamie again covering himself in glory with his interpretation of that ascending, searing solo. Perrett changes his phrasing a fair bit- I guess that’s allowed when you’ve been playing a song for 40-odd years and despite the subject matter, its a thing of sheer joy.

PETER PERRETT - Glasgow King Tut's Wah Wah Hut 22nd May 2019 - Beasts - YouTube

Finishing with a feral “The Beast” sees the band vamping and dragging the coda out into an explosion of noise. Perrett is grinning at his band-mates; clearly he’s been reinvigorated by playing with these young guns and it’s lovely to see him so animated. If the tour is near you these next few weeks, do not miss it.

Set List-

Baby Don’t Talk/HTWWW/The Epic Story/Hard To say No/Troika/Sweet Endeavour/Living In My Head/Once Is Enough/Heavenly Day/From Here To Eternity/Whole Of the Law/Love Comes On Silent Feet/Loves Inferno/Master Of Destruction/48 Crash/War Plan Red

Encore- I Want Your Dreams/AGAP/the Beast

Joe Whyte DTK

Peter Perrett Official Website

Words and photos Joe Whyte

Video- Rob Christie.

The post Peter Perrett: King Tuts, Glasgow 22/5/19 – live review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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Louder Than War new band stage on at The Great Escape

May 2019

Live Review 

Three Days w/ Louder Than War

Day Two. 

As the sun starts to flicker through the windows Pip Hall’s soulful vocals bring us her own blend of pop and electronics. We are soon after greeted with the auric atmospherics of Maven Grace, as they seem to bring the northern lights in to the venue, while Lara Smiles starts to rev up the sound as she captivates with her pop hooks and spiralling guitars, with tracks from her recent album, ‘All For You’. Meggie Brown today is joined by members of Wahl as they create a ramshackle, delirious on-stage party, comrades wear green berets, as the post-punks serve a side dose of hill billy theatrics and a hefty dose of percussion. 

Next-up Avalanche Party and Phobophobes take to the stage in these amazing intimate performances, perfectly mixed, we get the chance to listen closely to the intricacies of their sound.

Tension builds in anticipation of Avalanche Party as they take to the stage. There is absolutely only one thing you can expect at this point in time and that is that Jared Thorpe will be pouring water over his head with their opening track, ‘I’m So Wet,’ he jumps on the nearest table and this time it is in-fact beer and he doesn’t disappoint. Piercing black eyes stare out into the audience, this tightly meshed band from the Yorkshire Moors take us on a journey out into the wilderness and back again, enticing, exciting and enthralling. The room is stunned into a state of sonic silence filled with psychedelic colours. Phones fill the room with everyone capturing a piece of the action, as Jared raises his arms like an eagle flying us over murky terrain, chanting noises, darkness with a cosmic edge, howling, plucking, effects and shifts in sound. They leave us with ‘Solid Gold’ and a whirring Hammond hands us over to the swirling clutches of Phobophobes.

Phobophobes have been selling out shows all over London in recent times, they released their debut album earlier this year, ‘Miniature World’, and are currently gearing up to release their second album, which they have tucked away recording with Youth from Killing Joke. The gang of six huddle neatly onto the stage. In this small space, we get to hone-in on their swirling, bending and unpredictable sounds, wonky and well-crafted shapes emerge from the stage and are offered to the audience. Dancing guitars emerge with ‘Human Baby’ winding and waltzing together. It’s a bit like an Ealing comedy, you get the feeling of your house being burgled in this tip-toeing of sound, yet they’ve just popped in to make you a cup of tea, eccentric and peculiar.  The space fills with piercing guitars in ‘Where is my Owner?’ a siren sound, accompanied by an eastern feel, as Jamie Taylor takes us off on a flying carpet, the stomping begins as the crowd move to the beats in this session with Phobophobes and the whhhhrrrring of ‘Miniature World’, they leave us with the resounding ‘Child Star’ and the murmuring of ‘lovey dovey, lovey lovey dovey’,  grasping, rasping, murmuring, stealing the award for swirling guitars. 

Boom, The Purple Lights bring an immediate blend of acid rock to the stage, sprinkled with loopstation magic, filled with afrobeats and organic percussion. Leading us nicely into the soul bearing troubadour Pat Dam Smyth. Extremely sensitive, you get the feeling that each note is moved by a water carrier and plucked carefully from his inner being. An arresting stillness fills the room, absorbing and mercurial as each word is almost tangible as mellow guitar tones roll across the room.

Initially appealing for their tracks, ‘Nice Hair’ and ‘Lady’ and Conor Rabone’s lilac trousers the new PIAS signing Gathering of Strangers met literally on a line-up as complete strangers and somehow it just worked. Hailing from Manchester their brand of alt. rock ranges from pop hooks through to the psychedelic and is polished-off with Conor’s deep rugged vocals and idiosyncratic guitars.  

Recently gaining comparisons to the likes of Grimes and Bjork, the performance pop artist from Riga in Latvia, Elizabete Balcus has been making waves across Europe. Tonight, minus the fruit and vegetables, she gives us a performance purely with synths and flute – which she plays exquisitely. She takes us into an organic medieval fairy-tale like journey of Peter & The Wolfe mixed with sounds depicting a virtual and celluloid future. You grasp snippets of meditations and layering of voices, ‘I’m not taking life too seriously,’ Elizabete wears a circular shaped hat pinned with rubber gloves, zig zagging make-up and eyebrows that can see, as she raises the auric vibration of the room with sounds harvested from another dimension.

80s beats, backing tracks, guitar riffing create this glitzy performance from Shimon of Big & The Fat in his side project Le Junk, breaking-up the day into the night, a funky guitar, filled with electronics. Nothing beats the theatrical indie cocktail that is Adam & Elvis, a carousel of sounds, keyboards, brass, percussion and guitars as Patrick Mahoney growls his poetic punk pop recollections into the microphone, Tom Waits meets the troubadour styling of Tony Bennet. 

383MTMOB is the new project from Mobius Trip, a fresh collective approach from Klay, already known for his Prince-ly velvet rich vocals. Tonight the duo swells to a collective, funkadelic style rapping ensues with textured sounds and grooves, as this free flowing performance prevails.

The post Louder Than War put a new band stage on at The Great Escape : Live Review appeared first on Louder Than War.

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