Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Bananas Magazine - Issue 11 OUT NOW!


Latest issue of garage, punk & psych zine, available from all good stores & distros is out now!


Always a pleasure to get hold of the latest Bananas Magazine and this issue doesn't disappoint. Alongside the sharp, insighful reviews there's the usual bumper-fest of features and interviews with the scene's latest movers and shakers. Bands such as Thee Marvin Gays, Thee Tsunamis and The Youth all share their thoughts with us humble readers, as do labels such as Dead Beat Records, State, and Hidden Volume.

If that's not enough there's volume 2 of their Bananas Peel Sessions, their accompanying online compilations. I've shared the Bandcamp link below but be sure to head over to the mag's website to check out the equally awesome volume 1, subscribe to the mag or track down those elusive back issues. For bonus fun play count the number of stripy breton tops in the mag's photos. No prizes though, this one's for fun only!

http://bananas-magazine.com/


Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Will Z. - New Start


Inspired by Jain philosophy, Will Z.'s new album is one to immerse yourself in. A meditative spiritual journey unlike anything else you'll hear all year.


He may have the last name in the phone book but who is Will Z.? The answer is he's a singer, songwriter and multi instrumentalist who first came to prominence as a member of Cosmic Trip Machine. His solo output has all had a similarly exploratory psychedelic bent, be it dark rock, folk or psych-pop. More recently his involvement with The Book Of Am project and work with Gong main man Daevid Allen (RIP), has lead him towards music of a more introspective, meditative nature. His latest outing is New Start, a serious though highly enjoyable and rewarding work inspired by Jain philosophy.

The album length release is broken down into six pieces, with each track based around a simple repeated musical phrase or motif which is then added to and embellished. With an emphasis on spirituality, philosophy and self improvement, the results are as meditative as the mandala on the record's sleeve. As the title infers there's something cleansing about this music, encouraging a dumping of previous methods and baggage, and replacing with a fresh approach, blank slate or beginner's mind.

Jain Devotion (Parts I – III) starts with a swampy, dense sound reminiscent of being in the deep rainforest. Eventually some electronic sound claw through the sonic swamp - morse, radar, and radio waves merging to find a harmonious drone. From this a slow mantra-like song builds, implying the beginning of a journey. And indeed it is, over the course of the album we're treated a delicious array of textures and musical pairings. From sitar and flute, oud and mellotron, to more familiar electric piano and bass. The overall effect is hypnotic, entrancing and nourishing. And best listened to in one devotional sitting. Turn off your phone, relax and float downstream indeed!


Click here for more from on Will Z.
Click here for Will Z. on Facebook.
Click here for the Mega Dodo Records website.

Crystal Jacqueline - Rainflower


Pastoral psychedelia, acid folk, bright psych-lite pop and a Status Quo cover! It's all there on the second solo LP from Devon's Crystal Jacqueline.


A glance at the track listing tells you something of this second solo LP from The Honey Pot vocalist Crystal Jacqueline. Multiple references to the seasons, nature, mysterious and unobtainable female spirits, all the hallmarks of an acid-folk album you'd think. A record in the vein of Vashti Bunyan's Just Another Diamond Day or Shelagh McDonald's Stargazer. And that's true to a point but there's much more to it than that. From the almost industrial sounds of opening track Siren it's obvious things are not so clear cut. Leave your expectations at the door sonic travellers for scattered among the Nick Drake-esque pastoral folk tracks are enough surprises, twists and turns to make this a much more multi-hued and varied affair.

For a start there's the inclusion two cover versions. A stab at Status Quo's In My Chair and a lovely assured take on Pink Floyd's Grantchester Meadows. The former is a tight Chicago R&B shuffle, souped up with effects-laden guitars, whereas Grantchester Meadows blue-sky folk gets an added space-rock edge. Strange Bloom has echoes of San Francisco's golden era, all bluesy and meditative, whereas Daisy Chain is a bright, psych-lite pop tune that in a fairer world would have a stay in the top 20.

As the album title suggests Rainflower thematically revolves around nature, seasons and the weather. For all its sonic diversity these lyrical concerns somehow piece it all together. A celebration of deep-winter and high summer, there's mystery, folklore, the beauty of bloom and the beauty of decay. And for all it's modern production it still resonates with the wyrd, deep-rooted ways of Old England. An album to re-visit and treasure.


Click here for more from on Crystal Jacqueline.
Click here for the Mega Dodo Records website.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

Vidunder - Son Of Every Lie NEW VIDEO + Tour Dates



Heavy blues rockers Vivunder are out on tour this month promoting their latest album Oracles And Prophets (Crusher Records). As a taster of what to expect check out this new video for Son Of Every Lie, taken from the album.


Those tour dates in full - 

JUN 12 - DE, Kassel, Goldgrube
JUN 13 - DE, Regensburg, Tiki Beat
JUN 14 - AT, Vienna, Arena, w/ Black Mountain
JUN 16 - XX, Secret Location, Secret Festival
JUN 17 - AT, Salzburg, Rockhouse
JUN 19 - IT, Castel d'Ario MN, Roccanroll Festival
JUN 20 - IT, Milano, Lo Fi Milano
JUN 21 - DE, Munich, Backstage, w/ Danava
JUN 22 - DE, Solingen, Waldmeister Club
JUN 23 - DE, Berlin, Tiefgrund, w/ Danava
JUN 24 - DE, Erfurt, Cafe Tiko
JUN 25 - DE, Leipzig, Goldhorn
JUN 26 - DE, Würzburg, Immerhin
JUN 27 - DE, Kiel, Kieler Woche
 

www.vidunderband.com
www.facebook.com/vidunder


ARCHIVE REVIEW #27 - The Dirtbombs - Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey


I was reminded of this LP recently after discussing Bubblegum pop with a pal of mine. I dug it when it came out but it sounds even sweeter now! My original review ran on Subba Cultcha when the album was first released.


Mick Collins and co. finally release their much promised Bubblegum LP!


Think you know The Dirtbombs? Purveyors of Detroit garage rock for what seems like forever, with front man Mick Collins previously responsible for the force of nature that was The Gories? Yes that band. The band that have been promising an album of bubblegum pop for almost a decade, an album most people thought would never materialise. You could almost think of it as some sort of ruse or joke. Well that album is here and it's pretty damn good!

Quick history lesson – Bubblegum for those that don't know is a genre of music that was created by journeymen record producers back in the late '60s as a kid-friendly cash-in. With musical roots in the accessible end of flower-power, beat music and folk-rock, it was often fronted by manufactured cartoon friendly bands, blokes in animal costumes or actual cartoons. Think The Banana Splits, The Archies, or 1910 Fruitgum Company. Though despised by serious music fans at the time, it's since developed a kitsch charm and appeal.

There's something about the music of one's childhood, it's deeply ingrained and has a sway over you that the music you hear later doesn't. It's obvious listening to Ooey Gooey Chewy Ka-Blooey! (best album title of the year?) that Mick Collins has a deep affection for this music. The ten original songs pay homage to this strain of sunshine pop. It's twee, not in a sexless C86 way, there's just the right amount of fuzz and groove to keep the faithful happy.

Candy, ice cream, sunshine and fairground rides all get a look in on this LP of innocence re-found. The Gories this ain't, but it sure is fun dammit! I defy anyone to listen to the album's opening track “Sugar On Top” and not have a smile on their face. Also listen out for the deliberate melodic steal form The Beach Boys' “God Only Knows” on album closer “We Come In The Sunshine.”

Garage rock is a genre that often prides itself in being a ghetto. Mick Collins may upset the garage rock purists by opting to make music that has roots in exploitative pop, but hey how cool is it to exploit the exploiters! Sweet indeed!


Click here for The Dirtbombs on Twitter.




Wednesday, 3 June 2015

The Seventh Ring Of Saturn - Ormythology


The long awaited second album from Atlanta's TSROS. Mixes psych-rock with middle eastern scales and rhythms in a most appealing way!


I first became aware of TSROS when they featured on Fruits De Mer Records' recent 7&7 Is box set of 7” singles covering The Grateful Dead. They were good at that but what's more of a revelation is the band doing their own material. Ormythology is the band's second full length album, several years in the making, self released on a lovingly hand-stamped CD. It contains a pleasing mix of what some people call college rock and music of an altogether more Byzantine/Arabesque nature.

Album opener “Burning A Hole” contains Nirvana-esque melodies, lyrics of a decidedly 1967 vintage (“cellophane sunflowers, what do you think about time?”) before nutmegging listeners with killer guitar solos that owe more to Turkish or Greek music than that of your more traditional guitar heroes. This is quickly followed by “Teli, Teli, Teli”, an instrumental which ups the Byzantine ante with guitar flights of fancy that both stretch out and wig-out in equal measure.

“Time To Fly” is a more straight ahead Anglo-American rocker, which brings to mind Teenage Fanclub or The Byrds, characterised by sumptuous vocal harmonies, and power-pop chord progressions. There's still room for the lead guitar to surprise and take the song somewhere new. Time To Fly indeed!

It's refreshing to know that some bands do look beyond the much mined seams of Hendrix, Page et al for their inspiration. Time signatures look beyond the usual rock-fayre, and the melodies are equally at home in a souk or incense filled temple as they are in a western rock venue. A cliche-free and illuminating experience is guaranteed for all who are adventurous enough to listen!


Click here for more from on The Seventh Ring Of Saturn.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

Various – Momentary One & Two (Ltd. 7” singles)


Two very limited 7” singles featuring Syd Barrett/Pink Floyd covers! Available at the Fruits De Mer / Mega Dodo joint gig at Putney's Half Moon this Sunday! (24th May)


This weekend's hottest gig ticket is surely the Fruits De Mer/Mega Dodo all-dayer at Putney's Half Moon. Aside from the stellar line-up, there will also be ultra-desirable goodie bags for early arrivals. If that wasn't enough there'll also be a chance to get your your eager mitts on some other sonic items. Two of which being this pair of limited edition 7” singles featuring contemporary acts covering early Pink Floyd/Syd Barrett tracks. Although they've been issued before on FDM's Momentary Lapse Of Reason double CD (available to “club members” only), this is their first airing on vinyl. Limited to only 300 copies each, chances are they won't be around for long.

Momentary One features is marked out by it's sumptuous female vocals, while Momentary Two is a Syd special. Floyd fans will love all seven tunes as there's nary a duff track among them. If I was pushed to pick a favourite I'd probably go for Max Kinghorn-Mills version of Dark Globe, dreamy, wistful and melancholic. It had me searching out Barrett's original version with fresh ears. But hey, that's just me. Track down this pair of 7”s if you can and pick your own favourite, they're all worthy!

Momentary One
  1. Ilona V – Golden Hair (Barrett)
  2. Crystal Jacqueline – Grantchester Meadows (Waters
  3. Cary Grace – Cirrus Minor (Waters)
Momentary Two
  1. Max Kinghorn-Mills – Dark Globe (Barrett)
  2. Caudio Cataldi – She Took A Long Cold Look (Barrett)
  3. The Chemistry Set – See Emily Play (Barrett)
  4. Todd Dillingham and Golly McCry – The Gnome (Barrett)

Click here for the Fruits De Mer Records website.
Click here for the Mega Dodo website.

Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Beau - Shoeless In The Desert


How I survived the aftermath of the general election with a little help from Kurt Vonnegut and Beau's latest LP.


After the all too depressing results of the recent general election sank in, and the prospect of another five years of Tory government became a reality, my Twitter feed turned quickly from pre-election optimism and hope, to despair and blame. It also filled with scaremongering about what we as a society needed to prepare ourselves for. There was one tweet, amongst the deluge, that stuck in my mind and seemed to sum up where our society is heading. It highlighted a quote from Kurt Vonnegut's Slaughterhouse 5, about how the American poor are encouraged to despise themselves, perpetuating their position and lack of opportunity while bolstering that of the rich and powerful. This, Vonnegut states, is in contrast to many other countries which have folk tales that value wisdom over wealth, and virtue over self-serving ambition -

America is a nation of poor. Every other nation has folk traditions of men who were poor but extremely wise and virtuous, and therefore more estimable than anyone with power and gold. No such tales are told by the American poor. They mock themselves and glorify their betters. The meanest eating or drinking establishment, owned by a man who is himself poor, is very likely to have a sign on its wall asking this cruel question: “If you’re so smart, why ain’t you rich?” (Kurt Vonnegut – Slaughterhouse 5)

It's easy to see the parallels in modern Britain where our underclass is routinely ridiculed on TV, or attacked in the press, whereas corporations are free to avoid taxes if they pay enough donations to the right political parties. Timely then that the latest album from Beau should drop through my letterbox around the same time as did many electoral leaflets and voting reminders. It too chimes themes similar to those found in Slaughterhouse 5, along with other cautionary tales about corruption and misuse of wealth. Listening to Beau's latest work did give me some hope for the spiritual well being of our nation, which in the immediate wake of the election seemed somehow broken and in need of some TLC.

Shoeless In The Desert is a gentle compassionate album, and like those folk tales it champions wisdom and virtue. Recorded simply and in the timeless folk way of just voice and one 12-string guitar, no overdubs, it's an album that's all about melody and message. Themes spread across the album's fourteen songs include religion, immigration, environmental concerns, alongside more personal takes on relationships, ageing, and even a humorous sideswipe at coronary heart disease.

In our current sound-bite and shuffle era it's encouraging to see long-form songwriting done so well. And no wonder - Beau has been writing, recording and performing music for over four and a half decades. His early championing by John Peel tells you all you need to know about the calibre of his work. (Peel released Beau's debut as the first release on his Dandelion label). In a fairer world Beau would be a much valued cultural treasure, up alongside Dylan, Mitchell, Cohen and the like. As it is the world is not always fair, something that may become all too apparent over the next few years. Thankfully we have the likes of Beau to help fight our corner and cushion any blows. Long may it be so.


Click here for more from Beau.

Tuesday, 12 May 2015

Archive Interview #15 - James Skelly

As part of an occasional series I'll be posting archive interviews, pieces and reviews I've done for other sites over the years. This is a short but sweet interview I did with James Skelly (The Coral) centred around the release of his Love Undercover LP back in 2013. The Interview originally appeared on Subba-Cultcha.


June 3rd sees the release of Love Undercover, the debut album by James Skelly & The Intenders. Skelly is best known as the main vocalist and songwriter in The Coral, a band that have released a string of critically acclaimed albums, gaining Mercury nominations and the respect of their peers along the way. It's now three years since the last album Butterfly House. With no new Coral material on the horizon, having abandoned sessions with producer John Leckie for a sixth album half way through, the various members have kept themselves busy with side projects and solo albums. James' brother (and Coral drummer) Ian recently released his his album Cut From A Star, a record that maintains the Coral's gentle psychedelia. Hot on its heels comes older brother James' effort with new backing band The Intenders. It's an altogether more soulful, rootsy affair. though with just enough of The Coral's folk-rock to keep the faithful happy. Keen to point out that it's a group effort, the band will be touring throughout the summer (dates below). We caught up with James prior to the album's release to talk soul music, psych bands and gap years.


Harmonic Distortion – The album's opening track “You've Got It All” was co-written with Paul Weller. How did that come about and what's he like to work with?

James Skelly - He sent me a demo, but it had no words on it. He asked me if I could finish it, so I wrote the words and the chorus, and then we finished it in his studio. Ian loved the song and thought it would be right for the album, so I rang Weller and asked him if I could use it. He said yes.                                              
HD – There's are real live band dynamic on the album, and I know you're keen to point out the rest of the band's input on the album. Who have you got playing on the record and was there an instant chemistry when you all first got together in the rehearsal room?

JS - I played guitar & vocals, Paul Duffy - guitar, organ, & vocals, Alfie Skelly - guitar, Nick Power-piano, Ian Skelly - drums, James Redmond -bass. We've all played with each other before and we're all close friends, so it was very natural.                                                                                                                                                                                        
HD – You've worked with some big name producers in the past, whereas this record is self-produced. You obviously feel at home in the studio, are there any plans to do any more production work either for yourself for other artists?

JS - Yes, I love being in the studio and I've been working with a couple of young bands, Sundowners and The Circles, It's something I’d like to get into.                                                                                                                              
HD – Without going as far as to call Love Undercover a soul album, there's a definite Northern Soul/R&B vibe going on. Would that be an indication of what you've been listening to recently?

JS - I've always loved blues and soul music, I go through phases but that’s what I always go back to.                                    
HD – I'm really enjoying your song “Searching For The Sun”, could you tell us a little bit about how you wrote the song and what inspired it.

JS - I've had that song for a while, we demoed it with The Coral, then I demoed it. I ended up with something inbetween the two versions.               

HD – The songs on Love Undercover come across as less oblique than your songs for The Coral, there's a tenderness and warmth to a lot of the songs too. It seems to me these songs are a lot more personal than much of your previous work, would that be a fair observation?

JS - I'd say the songs are more direct. I wanted to get to the heart of the matter. I thought the lyrics on Butterfly House were as good as I was going to get in that style, so I felt it was time for a change.   
                                                            
HD – I'd say there's a good case to be made for having one of the most instantly recognisable male voices from the last decade with Love Undercover containing some of your best vocal performances, there seems to be a real sense of spontaneity and joy in them. Who would you say were your main influences as a vocalist?

JS - Van Morrison, Steve Marriott, Ronnie Spector, Dion DiMucci, Bob Marley, Sam Cooke, John Lennon, Ben E. King, Robert Johnson, Willie Deville, I could go on, but I'll leave it there.                                                                                                                                                            
HD - Would you say there was less pressure and expectation on this record than say there would be on a Coral album?

JS - In a way, because I only had to answer to myself, but I'm my harshest critic, so it didn’t make a big difference.              

HD – Sorry to bring up the C-word but I have to ask, it's three years since Butterfly House was released, is there likely to be another Coral album or tour at any time in the near future?

JS - Yes, I hope so, it has to be right though, I wouldn’t want to do it just for the sake of it.                                                          
HD – Your song “I'm A Man” has that Arthur Lee-style Mariachi vibe on it, I'm assuming you still dig Love, Beefheart and all? Do you keep up with any of the current crop of psychedelic flavoured acts such Temples or Jacco Gardner?

JS - I've heard Temples, it's good but there's a lot of lo-fi stuff around, I’m waiting for a young band to come and smash it.

HD – The song “Darkest Days” is a sublime ending to the record, with warm sentiments that characterise much of the album. Do you find yourself getting more drawn towards introspection as you get older?

JS - I've always been like that, I'm just hiding it less these days.                                                                                          
HD – You've been releasing critically acclaimed music for over twelve years. So many flavour-of-the-month bands have come and gone, yet you're still around, without courting the gossip columns, and still making great music. What do you put this longevity down to?

JS - I'd still be doing it even if no one was listening. It's all I know. I get the impression a lot of bands are just on a gap year.


Monday, 11 May 2015

Klaus Johann Grobe – Self Titled EP


Swiss duo's über rare debut EP gets a well deserved wider release. Dance friendly Krautrock, electro and post-punk funk vie for space on this 12” reissue.


Anyone looking to shake off the comfort blanket of English language music could do worse than check out this re-release of Klaus Johann Grobe's debut EP. The Swiss duo have fans in high places, as evidenced by endorsements and tour supports from pysch band du jour Temples. Though their music is no less psychedelic than that made by Temples, it's a musical strand that owes more to bass-propelled electro than it does to floppy fringes, vintage clothes and guitar pedals.

If the Temples recommendation is not enough you'll no doubt be wondering what this 12” slab of vinyl has to offer - Six tracks that mix early '70s Krautrock, '80s post-punk, Teutonic funk and electro. Add some eerie sci-fi synth lines and vocals all sung in German and you're somewhere close. It's a sound that contains echoes of the past while simultaneously pointing at possibilities for the future. All served up with a hefty dose of humour and panache.

As the duo's second LP gets a release via Trouble In Mind Records, Liverpool based label Salvation Records have wisely re-released this debut EP which was originally released in 2013 on a very limited pressing (only 168 copies on 10” vinyl). This wider release is now on 12” vinyl and digital download. Also worth checking out are Salvation's growing catalogue of fine new underground releases and well-curated reissues. Klaus Johann Grobe will be making several summer festival appearances over the coming months, get down the front if you get the chance.


Click here for more on Klaus Johann Grobe.
Click here for Klaus Johann Grobe on Twitter.
Click here for the Salvation Records website.

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

The Granite Shore - Once More From The Top


Gentle elegiac paean to a golden rock 'n' roll youth. The Granite Shore's debut LP breathes life back into the concept album.


Nothing quite heightens the poignancy of ageing as experiencing it as a member of a touring rock band. As fashions change and audiences move on for newer sounds, it's as if time's ravages are sharpened. A steep learning curve that shows how life can sometimes move on too quickly, leaving you longing for a recent past that seems like a long-lost golden age. Nowhere is this more the case than for those bands that only fleetingly taste a small amount of mid-level success.

These are the themes explored on Once More From The Top, the debut long player from The Granite Shore. Neatly divided into two halves with self-explanatory titles – In Public, and Behind The Scenes. Musically it's a gentle and understated affair, all slow tempos and muted brass, which along with vocalist/writer Nick Halliwell's closely miked, soft-sung vocals, enhance the album's sense of wistful longing.

The trials, tribulations, hard work and small victories of giving your all to make it in the music world make for good subject matter given Halliwell's literary bent and knack for capturing mood and spirit. Tales of music-biz rip-offs, band members' alcohol intake, and “one-night-stands across East Anglia” somehow sum up the limited, nuanced experiences of everyband.

Once More From The Top shares much with Ian Hunter's Diary Of A Rock And Roll Star, in that things that appear glamorous to the casual observer quite often aren't. Funny and sad in equal measures, its elegiac longing is tempered by wry, dry humour and priceless nail-on-the-head lyrics. The supposedly fictional experiences Halliwell sings of hint at the early '70s, a time when there really was money to be made in the music scene, when there was a thriving circuit of venues with supportive audiences. Over the album's course they also lament their slow decline. It will resonate with anyone who's experienced this either as a musician or a music fan. Enthusiasts of the concept album will also be glad to know that such a thing still exists.


Due for release in May on CD & LP. There are also plans for an accompanying book version.

Click here for more on The Granite Shore.
Click here for The Granite Shore on Facebook.
Click here for the Occultation Records website.


Sunday, 12 April 2015

Harpoon Forever - The American Flag EP


Four song EP of skewed indie rock, FFO Pavement, Silver Jews! Available on vinyl from Sweaters And Pearls Records.


Any piece of 7” vinyl that contains an insert with quotes about freedom from Susan Sontag and Alan Watts already has something going for it, that's before you even place the needle to the groove. Intrigued? You should be.

Harpoon Forever hail from Rutherford, New Jersey and were formed in 2010 by the band's mainstay Alex Goldstein. Together they make lo-fi guitar music that contains echoes of '90s alt-rock yet is imbued with a freshness and enthusiasm that makes them sound utterly contemporary.

The four songs that make up the EP are all anti-fashion, anti-trends and all the better for it. Guitars are played with purpose and spirited abandon, and compliment the intelligent lyrics and from-the-heart vocals. Built around a defiant DIY ethic, this is guitar music that will appeal to anyone who likes their indie-rock slightly left of field.

Think Pavement, think Silvers Jews, even Phantom Buffalo. It's proof that modern guitar music hasn't been completely packaged up and commodified. The sound of a young band searching for an alternative America. Let's hope it's out there. Look out for the band's shows in and around New Jersey and NYC.


Limited to 300 copies on black vinyl. (First 50 copies come with chipboard matchbook style screened sleeves, with alternate artwork by Travis Kostell.)

A full length LP A Prince For All Seasons is available now via download or stream with a vinyl release planned for later in the year.


Click here for more on Harpoon Forever.
Click here for the Sweaters And Pearls Records website.


Games For May – An afternoon & evening of music at The Half Moon, Putney, Sunday 24th May


Bank holiday Sunday! Five live bands, a free five-track 7” single + goodie bag! Be there or wish you were! 


As if releasing consistently high standard vinyl releases wasn't enough, Fruits De Mer Records have teamed up with similarly reputable label, Mega Dodo, to curate an afternoon and evening of music at Putney's Half Moon venue. This takes place on Sunday 24th of May. For those who don't like going out on a school night, fear not, it's a Bank Holiday the following day! The advance ticket price of £15 gets you a five band billing along with a whole bunch of freebies including -

* the Games For May 7", with tracks by all five bands - exclusive to the gig
* an exclusive CD featuring a previously-unreleased album by PIPE (the predecessors of The Past Tense)
* Cary Grace's 'Where You Go' CD album
* a compilation CD from Headspin Records
* a compilation CD from Mega Dodo
* a compilation from Stylus Records
* a compilation CD from DJ Marrs Bonfire
* a CD by ZX+
* a CD by The Portraits
* a CD by the Blue Giant Zeta Puppies
- that's a 7" EP + NINE CDs!
plus...
* an A3 gig poster
* an 'artifact' featuring Todd Dillingham
* a sticker from Claudio Cataldi
* and a very silly game from Fruits de Mer & Mega Dodo
 


The fun starts at 4pm and goes on till closing time. Along with the live bands there'll be rare vinyl DJ sets from Marrs Bonfire and Cranium Pie's Julian Smith. The event is almost certain to sell out so don't hang about buying your tickets. The five acts playing live (and who feature on the free 7” single) are - 

Tir na nOg 
Legdendary psych-folk duo formed by Leo O'Kelly and Sonny Cordell in 1970. They'll also be launching The Dark Dance, their first studio album in 40 years at the gig - and there'll be an exclusive 50-run individually lathe-cut 7" available for £10 a time to the first 50 people to buy the album.

Schnauser 
Favourites here at Harmonic Distortion are Bristol's quirk-prog supremists. Read our review of their Where Business Meets Fashion album here. 

The Past Tense 
Three-piece band from Worcester Park/Kingston. Their sound is a fusion of mod, '60s beat, garage, psych and punk. Their track “Vision (from Another World” was recorded especially for the event's free 7”.

Crystal Jacqueline and The Honey Pot 
Crystal Jacqueline will be familiar to Fruits De Mer aficionados. A founding member of the Honey Pot she'll also be launching latest album Rainflower (Mega Dodo Records) at this gig. We've heard it and it's pretty special, review coming soon! 

Mark and The Clouds 
London based band that evolved from Instant Flight. Purveyors of '60s tinged power pop though their offering on the 7” has a more folky vibe, all 12-string acoustic and harmonies. Entitled “Any Part Of Town” it's only available on the free 7”.


Click here to purchase tickets online. 
Click here for the Fruits De Mer Records website. 
Click here for the Mega Dodo website.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Cranium Pie - Mechanisms Part Two


Majestic prog-opus ahoy!Funnily enough it's a follow up to Mechanisms Part One! Who woulda thought?!


Fans of Fruits De Mer Records will no doubt already be familiar with Cranium Pie, the band having contributed tracks to various FDM cover version compilations over the years. Here though we get to hear what the band are really about. Mechanisms Part Two is oddly enough the follow up to Mechanisms Part One, their 2012 album about a battle between civilizations of robots and crayfish. I don't know what the local council are putting in the water in Wiltshire but it may be stronger than fluoride! Either that or we're in the company of a very adventurously creative group of people.

Mechanisms Part One went on to be Classic Rock's “bonkers prog album of the year 2012”, so Part Two has something of a reputation to live up to. Over the four sides of vinyl the band are free to stretch out into the furthest reaches of sonic exploration. With heavy Hammond organ, free-jazz-rock drumming and Brian Blessed-esque vocal passages this is music that calls to mind the giants of early '70s progressive rock – Soft Machine, Zappa and Aphrodite's Child may all be influences, but there are also some other more unlikely musical nods in the album's grooves with some surprisingly funky psychedelia.

It seems there may be just as many Funkadelic, Parliament and Prince records in their collections as there are records by The Nice and Caravan. Side One sees the band co-opt the bass line from Isaac Hayes' Ike's Rap II, with Side Three beginning with wacka-wacka guitar chops straight of his Shaft album. Elsewhere there's music borne out of of intuitive collective jamming. So while it's without question another “bonkers prog album” it's also a surprisingly soulful and funky one.

Like many FDM releases, the vinyl version is sure to sell out quickly so if you've missed out bug them for a re-press of make do with a digital copy. Be warned though – it may fry your brain like no other record this year, albeit in a good way.


Limited to 700 copies on colour vinyl double LP with gatefold sleeve.
On Fruits De Mer Records' Regal Crabomophone imprint.

Click here for Cranium Pie's website.
Click here for Cranium Pie on Facebook.
Click here for Cranium Pie on Twitter.
Click here for more on Fruits De Mer Records.

Black Rainbows - Hawkdope


Italian fuzz-rock trio cement their reputation as one of the genre's prime movers. A feast of killer heavy rock with a side dish of mystical musings.


Eighteen months on from the band's Holy Moon mini-LP, Black Rainbows are back! Hawkdope may have less stylistic diversions than their previous outing but it does everything you'd want and expect. A glance at the song titles gives you some idea of what this album contains. With titles such as Killer Killer Fuzz, The Prophet and The Cosmic Picker, you're in for a 45 minute feast of killer heavy rock with a side dish of mystical musings.

On album opener The Prophet they sing of “prophesies being released” over Sabbath-esque riffs, setting the course for the rest of the album. Wolf Eyes kicks off with an amphetime-boosted Tamla drumbeat. Incidentally, what is it with heavy rock bands and their fascination with wolves?!? There's Wolfmother, Wolf People, Wolfsbane. Zep's Robert Plant even supports the football team!

We can forgive a fixation with Canis Lupus when the resulting music hits the spot though. Heavy rock bands of the early '70s are a touchstone, though fans of later grunge and alt-rock will find much to like too. I imagine the live Black Rainbows experience is even more rewarding. The band have an extensive tour booked throughout Spring and Summer including some UK dates in June. (See the flyer below for more info.)

The sole acoustic offering, Waiting For The Sun provides a short, soft break from the biker-friendly rock, but it's heaviness that the band does best. Much like one of their song titles requests - “Hypnotize My Soul With Rock 'N' Roll”. They certainly do that, and then some. A band at the top of their game.


Black Rainbows are -

Gabriele Fiori
Dario Iocca
Alberto Croce