Friday, March 29, 2013


. Yes Frank, the off-duty officers dressed as a Zebra & a Monkey took the arrested man away in a Panda car.

Joanne Shaw Taylor

Blues music is an odd thing, It's changed so much since those early days of black guys singing into bad recording equipment, and yet its still pretty much the same. What is also strange about the blues is how exclusive it is, Joe Bonamassa is undoubtedly one of the best and biggest guitarists of our generation, with huge sales of his huge discography, and arena shows throughout the UK. Yet Joe isn't a household name, he's most likely never been mentioned in the cool mags or had his videos on the telly.
The Midlands own Joanne Shaw Taylor is a success in the same sort of way.
Her first album seemed a bit out of place at first, It has a big sticker on the back with 'FILE UNDER BLUES' on it to avoid HMV staff absent mindedly looking at the attractive blonde haired lady and shoving her album into the country section.

I've seen Joanne Shaw Taylor twice since that album came out and both were brilliant gigs. Her support came from 'Virgil and The Accelerators' a phenomenally talented teenage three piece from Wales. My jealousy of the (quite lovely) lads from Duke bears nothing in comparison with this three. Virgil is without any doubt the most talented guitarist I've ever seen.
At this point Joanne seemed a bit of a novice compared with Virgil, as him and his band were a hard act to follow. But that's not to say that Joanne Shaw Taylor is not a hugely talented guitarist herself. I'm listening to her 2009 début while writing this and within minutes I'm hearing solos and licks fly off her guitar sounding no more effortless than making a slice of toast. In the end Joanne was able to top him because of the quality of her songwriting.
You see a lot of blues guitarists are essentially just that, and the songs can sound very cliched, Yet Joanne seems to avoid that trap, keeping with the blues spirit yet sounding fresh. Her live shows are fast paced affairs but the songs themselves are pretty laid back. She also has a deep husky voice and she's better looking than pretty much 90% of blues guitarists.
My memories are hazy of both the time's I've seen her as it was a while back but I recall that they were amazing gigs, full of energy and raw talent. Gigs always feel a bit more special at the Robin because they're just that bit more spontaneous for example when I saw her play the Robin again (she's from just round the corner) just a year later she'd got even better. Virgil was still a hard act to follow but this time she was every bit his equal in the guitar duel with the young prodigy. She expected to "have her ass handed" to her but she could now hold her own, sounding very much his equal and proving that practice, and touring does make perfect.

Since I've seen her she has released her third album 'Almost Always Never' to continuing critical acclaim and her Facebook (with 11,115 likes) claims that she now lives in Detroit. It's good seeing that since I've seen her she's kept going strong. Shes now a veteran rather than a novelty, so lets celebrate her, not as a blues player, but as a brummie.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

The Robin 2. Bilston

The Robin 2
It's also a hotel
Birmingham has a quite a good selection of live venues, We've got the Town Hall, The Institute, The 02 Academy, The Birmingham Ballroom and the Rainbow all within about a mile of each other (+ The Hare and Hounds in Kings Heath). Outside of brumland itself one of the very best venues is The Robin 2. Situated in the nice looking but nondescript town of Bilston (not far from Wolverhampton) is where it lies.

It all started a couple of years a go when my M&D went to see Mostly Autumn there (sort of a prog/folk band) and later I went there to see The Hamsters.
In fact I think I saw The Hamsters there twice, and if you haven't heard of them or seen them live then sadly you missed out on the UK's hardest working and probably best blues band. It's a shame that they called it a day recently, because they were the first band I saw live and they were basically three old blokes with loads of talent and good humour. They could wow you by playing note perfect Hendrix covers one minute and make you laugh the next.
Looking at The Robin's gig guides (they book most of their shows a good year in advance) you'd be forgiven for thinking It's all tributes and European prog bands, but look deeper and its far more than that. You see The Robin prides itself on being a Rhythm and Blues club, and keeping true to its motto 'Keeping music live' because that's what you get, a great atmosphere and genuine live performances, there's no backing tracks, no excessive light shows, at The Robin It's all about the music.

A brief glance at their schedule and 'Stiff Little Fingers', Uli Jon Roth, Johnny Winter, The Blockheads and The Troggs are the bands who caught my attention, if your an old band who's still gigging this is most likely where you'll find yourself.
A brief glance into my memory and The Average White Band, Joanne Shaw Taylor (More on her another time) and  Walter Trout (legendary blues guitarist) strike me as the bands I remember the most. I've also seen some great tributes to The Beatles (This is where the Cavern Beatles play their annual homecoming Xmas Eve shows), Kraftwerk, and Hawkwind.
There's regular open Mics and unsigned competitions at The Robin too, so you'll find new bands too.

Inside the vibe is one of 'Agreeably Sleazy'. Its a relaxed place, no bigger than the downstairs of my house, if you knocked out all the walls (bad idea, the upstairs would fall down). The locals are friendly and the UV lit Bar is surprisingly well stocked. It's a in intimate venue but in a comfortable way, you can sit down and chat before the gig and get up right close to the bands when they're on.

Now that you know a bit about the place, tomorrow I'll tell you all about what happened when I saw Birmingham's very own blues legend Joanne Shaw Taylor play here.

Outdoor Covered Smoking Area
This is where the bands go for a fag.

Photo's from

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

JAWS BreeZe- Track Review

JAWS - BREEZEThat band I saw support Swim Deep a while back have released a new track and  its a stormer!

Normally I don't write reviews of individual tracks but this one deserves it. It's the sound of a band building on initial promise, to create something much more exciting. Up to this point 'Surround You' was what I considered the best song  of theirs, simply because it was built on a catchy riff. unlike their previous songs BreeZe is vibrant and full of melodies rather than one or two. The vocals now ring through rather than linger, backing vocals echo through and the drumming is loud and provides a driving rhythm. It even features a cowbell and cowbells can make anything awesome.
Whoever produced this has done a bloody good job because this is a huge jump from JAWS earlier stuff. I'm very impressed.

In other news I've had a response from Laced
who say that 'When it comes to telling you a little bit about us there's not really much to say because we haven't been going for long' 
and that they're playing Birmingham on the 4th and 8th of April  

Monday, March 25, 2013


Hello again! i'm back from my brief holiday to The Isle Of Wight.
One of the first things I saw on-line when I got back was a post on 'Dumb's Facebook page simply saying "Another bodacious bunch who we played with the other day released their first track online today, luvvin it" 

The video was marked simply as JV 2 and features all sort of trippy VCR looking stuff.  When I did a bit of research, all I could really find was that they're from Birmingham.

What I can tell you though is that their first release Jade Vine is brilliant. it's only a first release but its a well rounded rehearsed sound. It has all the hallmarks of a great Birmingham band, it's got a raw yet mellow shoegazey sound, the vocals are low in the mix and it fits into the B-Town sound as you'd expect, but what sets them apart as ones to watch is the melodies and grunginess, it has a urgency to it as well as depth. With guitars and sounds from mellow licks to hard riffs overlapping each other.  Its the sort of song that you can listen to over and over and over again, put simply its very impressive for a first release from a band that as far as I can tell only formed this year. 

So more information will be posted when I find out a little bit more.

you can watch it here

and download it for free here

-Retrofit: here's a later blog reviewing the time i saw them support swim deep

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Troumaca - Virgin Island EP, Review

I can't believe It's taken me this long to write a blog about Troumaca*, after all whenever anyone talks about B-Town, Peace, Swim Deep, and Troumaca are always the main three bands people mention. These 3 bands are practically the holy trinity of B-Town.
While the two aforementioned bands have albums out soon ('In Love' 5 days! eep!) Troumaca have taken a slower route to success. They are now on Ghostpoet's old label Brownswood and things are sounding good. If I'm honest i didn't like Troumaca's Début EP,  it wasn't bad but I felt it wasn't punchy enough and while it was an interesting sound it just felt a bit bland.

The Virgin Island EP shows a massive improvement, the production is punchier and the songs have more direction. The hallmarks of the B-Town sound are all there, It's subtle and mellow yet with a kick to it. the vocals are hidden in the mix with sounds layered on top of each other. The influences are obviously Dub and psychedelia and they've been woven together to add up to a unqiue sound. Remember that with Steel Pulse and UB40 haling from these parts Brum has pedigree in dub/ska/reggae, so its nice to see a band keeping up the trend.

'My Love' is the EPs opener, its a slow burner but from the start its full of subtle overlayering, and echoed vocals, it suddenly blasts into a solid Dub rhythm, the vibe is a happy summery one, like the video it makes you think of summer, one that's so bright and hot and beautiful that it will only exist in your imagination.
Its has a lot of growing potential, you can find new things in each listen even if it is working out what the guys singing about.

'Lady Colour' is a similar track, its the same vibe as the last track but without the same rhythm, its more laid back, with piano and subtle guitar making their way amongst electronic womps and loops

'Clouds (Caresser Les Nuages)' mixes a sort of organ sound with fast spoken vocals and and dub rhythm, its the most danceable track here, it's difficult to explain something as futuristic and forward thinking on the first few listens, but its a good song.

The EP's rounded of by a 'Dub' version of My Love that to me just sounds like a instrumental of the first version, but for all I know it might not be, the differences between the two versions will occur to me the more I listen to them. music like this grows on you so the more I listen the more little details I'm likely to discover and the more likely I am to love it.

* It's pronounced TRU-MUH-KUH by the way. Your welcome. 

P.S. I'm going on holiday for a few days so there will be no new blogs until Sunday

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Peace - In Love, Review

Oh My God this is exciting. The first listen of 'In Love', Will it be the generation defining masterpiece I'm expecting?*  well here goes, I'm pressing play...

Peace reveal 'In Love' album artwork and UK tour details
Nabbed from
Okey well 'Higher Than the Sun' now sounds more psychedelic than when I'd heard it before, and druggy enough to match its title. It seeps out of the speakers and builds to a massive chorus. It's full of energy and a variety of sounds, It's also brilliantly produced,  guitar melodies lap over each other, and the bass is clear and loud throughout.
'Follow Baby' has been re-recorded and now has a much rawer sound with the addition of (more) funky guitars, One of my pet hates is amazing singles being ruined by crappy production for their album versions but the new Follow Baby hasn't got that problem. Lovesick carries on the optimistic feel, with Harrisson Koisser singing about not wanting to go to school and getting 'Lovesick with you',  It's a bit simpler than the last few tracks, with a few strong melodies rather than a load playing away at the same time, It'll sound amazing come festival season.

'Float Forever' has a more laid back surf vibe to it, It's a slow building ballard, with surreal clever lyrics such as 'If your not happy wearing denim, your the devil inside'. It's subtle yet funky, and romantic in its own way. The production echoes, it is reminiscent of surf rock but with out the 'lo-fi' style all the bands are clinging on to.

'Wraith' brings back the funk, You'll probably have heard this one by now and it's a grower. Lyrically it is the dirtiest song on here, full of obvious blow-job references. Harrison Koisser said in an interview not long ago that its about falling in love with a prostitute, and that seems an apt description. You get the impression that only Peace could write a song so unashamedly sexy and dirty and make it sound romantic.

You know that dirty funky sound Foals had on their last album? well 'Delicious' starts off like that before springing off into a yet another funky chorus, and then into guitar solo's. Its unpredictable and bursting with vibrant ideas. It even has an organ on it and organs make everything awesome. In 3 minutes it achieves more than most bands can in 10.
'Waste of Paint' is also pretty funky, with everything sounding deliberately off key and out of tune. From here the vibe and energy of the first tracks continues 'Toxic' and 'Sugarstone' are both 3 minute blasts of funked up sexiness that has been missing from so much rock n roll lately, I'll leave you to hear them yourself because by now you'll get the general idea and I don't want to ruin the surprise.

'California Daze' is a perfect closer to 'In Love', it hasn't changed a bit since it appeared on the 1998 EP and it's all the better for that, It's still the same slow burning, lighters aloft Ballard and it still has the same kick arse solo. California Daze was never my favourite Peace song but  it makes perfect sense here as the closer,

The general theme of the album is romance and love, in a scruffy indie sort of way. The sound is clearly influenced by the 90's but the band's influences of 90's dance, funk, indie and straight out rock are blended together in a way that hasn't been done since 'Screamadelica', not only that but it has the same vibe and same spirit of that classic album. Peace seem completely oblivious to the troubles of these dark times and they've created a bubble to escape into, full of youthful energy, love, sexiness and musical styles.

The next time some old bore rants on about how music is crap now-a-days or how nothings been as good as Oasis since they've split up..blabber blabber, you can rightfully tell them to fuck off. Because Peace are the band we've all been waiting for.


* It is.

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Duke - The Bigger Picture EP, Review

Walking in the SunBrit-pop is a difficult thing to get right, as Viva Brother recently discovered, slagging off a load of our favorite bands and bigging yourself up is only setting yourself up for a fall if you don't have enough good songs to back your claims up.
Duke on the other hand are a good example of how to get it right. Unlike    Viva Brother they are genuinely nice ego free lads. And it shows in this EP that they really just want to write great songs and have a good time unlike VB's get big and rich quick scheme.
The band have a very laid back style, as 'Walking in the Sun' Indicates. Its a song that manages to be mellow and rousing at the same time, bursting out of the speakers with acoustic strumming and funky electric guitar and bass and it's all rounded off very nicely with a nice Noel Gallagher style guitar solo.
the next track 'One Way Road' fades in slowly and carry's on in the same style but with an added organ, (organs make everything sound better) it sounds a little bit less like a mellow Oasis than the last one and actually shows Duke fitting into their own sound nicely they're obviously inspired by 90's Britpop but they're not imitating it.
'Believe' is even more laid back, and it's a pretty obvious 'Wonderwall' homage, complete with another noel style solo. The last track 'The Best is Yet to Come is the biggest sounding of the lot, the acoustic guitar sound is still there but it all sounds a bit more energetic and it has the biggest chorus of the record.

It's worth saying that this isn't exactly original and there's nothing that amazing about the lyrics, but who cares? these four songs show a lot of promise, the work of a band who want to write good songs rather than just sound good and get hype.

Oh and did I mention that It's Free?

Saturday, March 16, 2013

The Musgraves

Okey remember that blog I posted ages ago where I said I met a band having a photo shoot in a car park? well as it turns out  they aren't called 'Moss Graves' they are called 'The Musgraves'. Silly me.

You That Way I This WayThey seem to have done well since our last encounter as they're one of the Birmingham bands lucky enough to have an album out! It's called 'You that way I this way'
After a quick listen of their soundcloud page I think cheesy but catchy is an ok description, the sort of band who'd have been huge in 2008. I  know that sounds slightly insulting but I don't write this blog to slander. They have good songs and a great sound. It's perfect music for the summer, an infectious mix of folk and pop that would sound even better if it wasn't grey and miserable outside.

I'm very glad that in the nearly two years since I met them in that car park they've done so well. they're lovely guys and I'm very happy to see a Birmingham band doing well. It just shows that there is so much more to Birmingham's music scene than the B-Town sound of bands like Peace and Swim Deep (though they're brilliant too)

And here's my blog about the time I met them.

Friday, March 15, 2013

The Great Unsigned

You may have already read my last few blogs where I have mentioned this. Duke, Rohan Delagado & Kumari 7, and Dik Guru are all regulars of the Great Unsigned, but they are just the tip of the iceberg. So I thought I'd give you an insight into what goes on, some of these acts may get their own blogs later.

I first encountered The Great Unsigned (T.G.U) as I was looking for a place to hone my stand up comedy  talent. Which was what I found in the T.G.U open mic night.
PictureThe main guy who is in charge of these events is Richard Green, you'll know him when you see him because he smiles a lot and can usually be seen wearing a David Bowie T-Shirt. He is a singer-songwriter as well as an organiser, he used to compère the nights but now you're more likely to see him playing as a performer. He'll play a few Bowie songs, and he will play them well, his voice is suited to Bowie and he is clearly a talented guitarist. If your lucky you may get to see him play his song 'Running through New York'. Its a very personal song to him, but also a bloody good song

PictureThat song was covered by another T.G.U.'s promising artists Ellie Jones, she gave it a mellow flavour and arguably made it better. She's a young singer-songwriter who was good enough to remind my dad of Tanita Tikaram and make him want to rediscover that artist. She and the people who play with her are all accomplished musicians and singers and her shows mark her out as one of the biggest talents of the TGU.
The Black Feathers
Another act to look out for are The Black Feathers, who are not quite local but travel here to perform at the showcases. They are a two-piece folk band, similar in style to The Civil Wars. They describe themselves as "A combination of English folk influences, some Irish heritage, and large splash of Americana inspiration, all held together with close Bluegrass harmonies" who sing "songs of love, life, and death". Their well-written songs always captivate the audience.

There are too many acts with the great unsigned to fit into one blog. Most of the acts are solo singer songwriters who will come up and play some songs on an acoustic guitar. There's always a great variety of songs played and new groups seem to be formed all the time.

One of the special things about these gigs is that there is a great atmosphere, whether its the packed showcase nights or the standard open mics. The open mic gigs are just that, all you have to do is show up on the night and you can play, there's no booking or anything like that so it allows for many surprises with the number of people who show up.
Another good thing is that the people who play blend in with the regulars, there's no ego's and its the exact opposite of the X-factor in the way that these are all people who just want to play and share their love of music. I'm the odd one out at these open mic's as I am a comedian, but I've always found a friendly audience, who can offer me advice and a good chance to perform.
I can count myself lucky to have these events held literally just around the corner from where I live.

Don't just take my word for it though.
"People seemed to be transfixed by what they were watching. I attribute this to the quality of the acts on show, but also to their willingness to give the performers complete respect." -Dale Hanson

"Every artist was brilliant, the atmosphere was ecstatic, the audience were friendly, funny, attentive and supportive, if anyone has not been to one of Richards open mics (to play or watch) then you have to go to experience it, he is one of the nicest guys on the circuit and welcomes everyone, you will not be disappointed.-Shane Ball.

For more info look at: (I nicked the pics from these sites)

MONDAY.. Open Mic
The Roadhouse, Stirchley, (Hosted by Rob) 


The White Horse, Harborne,  (Host Jason Pegg)

The Red Lion , Shirley. (Hosted by Ray Hopcraft)

FRIDAY..Open Mic
The Coffee Room, Hurst St,  Birmingham. (Hosted by Paul Withers)

SATURDAY..Invitation only
The Coffee Room Showcase, Hurst St,  Birmingham. (Hosted by Paul Withers)

SUNDAY.. Invitation only
(Hosted by Richard Green)

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

7 Inches Across

Now that you're all experts on the Birmingham scene (Don't worry there's plenty of bands left to blog about) I thought it would be worthwhile telling you about the time I was in a band. It was in the first few rainy months of 2009 and I was still at school. I'd ditched my shit friends the year before and was having the time of my life with some new friends -some of which I still see today. We were hanging out in a hallway to escape the rain because even though we probably weren't allowed, we were old enough to not give a shit. It suddenly hit us, Lets form a band! about a week passed of us deciding names, I had some cool name I liked and some other friends wanted to call the band '7 Inches Across' after a line from American Pie, after a few more weeks of debate we settled on that name. We had just named our band after a knob gag. 

The next step of course was to decide who was in, what we would play and were we could rehearse. Eventually we found a teacher who would let us into a music room at break times, some of us owned instruments but none of us could be bothered to bring them, so we 'borrowed' instruments from some actual music students who were on their lunch and made the best of what we had to start making noise. By this point the weather had turned scorching hot and we were sweating in this little room, at one point I fell on my back pretending to play a solo, it was hilarious, and only a minute later did an actual musician come in to see the mess we made and find how much we had stunk out the room with our sweat.

Now I should probably point out that we were all musicians (or at least I was) by this point I was attending weekly guitar lessons and was finding a talent, yet it was difficult finding out what to do with our rehearsals, no one really knew for sure who would play what and whether the band needed to jam and write its own songs to find its sound or whether we should find songs to play, which was also difficult as we were all musicians of varying levels and didn't quite know how tab worked for different instruments. One day my friend came in with tab for Iron Maiden's song 'Different World'. I can still probably play a decent version of 'The Trooper' today but back then it was still hard because it was 10 pages long and maiden have 3 guitarists, who can all play solos.

It was fun though, I can't speak for everyone else in the band, but I felt a rivalry between us and the other schools bands. We were like a team, us against the world, but also us against ourselves. I was in an undefined relationship at the time and she was fascinated by us, she invited her friends to come and watch us and our singer Dan, felt pressured and unable to sing in this new environment. This is how the band arguments started, I didn't really want to be involved, so I wasn't. By the time the bickering was nearly over so was our time at school, there felt like no point continuing as our bassist -a black kid with an afro-was still in year 9.

And so ended what could have been a B-Town band. It's funny looking back because it almost seems as if we were deliberately trying to fit as many rock n' roll cliches into the few weeks as we could. we had band rivalries, inter-band rivalries, a line up that seemed to be constantly changing and problems with girlfriends (The Yoko Factor).

Those of us who left school all went to the same college, but those two years cemented some of our friendships and drove some of us apart. We talked about names in college again but it never went anywhere (no one seemed up for my choice 'Veiny Love Stick'). Not long ago me and Brad, 7 Inches' drummer talked about forming a new band, but by this point our music tastes had divided so much we ended up just talking about music all day, and the spirit wasn't there. I'll never forget that summer though, it was good while it lasted.

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ever since I was a child I've dreamed of being a rock-star, these days I've realised that while I'm a good guitarist, my true talents lie in stand up comedy. Yet I still have this irrational jealousy of people in bands, I'm extra jealous of 'Duke' because they're about the same age as me, go to the same pub and are generally cooler than I am. With that in mind this blog may be a bit hard for me to write, but they're local and they're talented, so they deserve a few good words.
I remember when one or two of the band first went to the Red Lion, I was performing my comedy material and was excited to finally have some younger people to perform to rather than the usual old blokes, it was good at least to find people who might get my references. It was a good gig that.

Anyway I got to see the Alex Turner lookalike bassist of the band play a few solo songs on an acoustic, and only a few weeks later he was back with a full band. They have a tight sound as a group, and musically have a very laid back style. The songs are clearly the work of a band who want to write songs rather than just make noise and sound trendy. At the time I thought they had a slightly American Tom Petty-ish sound but I don't know where I got that from because after hearing their 'The Bigger Picture Ep' (available as a free download on their Facebook) it's clear to me that this band are actually far more Britpop, almost like Ocean Colour Scene or a more laid back Oasis.

They're all talented musicians and it shows in their music, and they seem to be getting some deserved success
maybe that jealously isn't so irrational after all...

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Dik Guru
...And now to continue where I left off by blogging about the Kumari 7. usually on the Great Unsigned nights where you can catch the Kumari 7 and many other talented acts, Dik Guru tends to be the last act on before the rest of the acts all get together to do a cover to finish off the night. You'd think it'd be impossible to top Rohan and co but Dik Guru can do it with ease, why? because he is absolutely fucking hilarious.

He's a very normal looking bloke who blends in with the rest of the pubs regulars with ease, he tends to wear a leather jacket with a flat cap and nothing else that stands out, to continue with the working class impression he speaks and sings in a strong Brummie accent. his songs are all played on an acoustic guitar and all tell stories about people that he knows and that we can all feel that we know too. 'Bullshit Bob' is pretty much what it says on the tin, a hilarious tale of that friend you have who just can't help but bullshit. 'Dave' is another story of a bloke, it's a tale of laddish behaviour in grotty pubs in the 80's. While 'The Cobra' is a song about masturbation that's so disgustingly funny that I'm not going to ruin it  here.

Watching Dik Guru is a communal experience, one of those things that's just so much better for being seen in a pub. His songs are all funny and since he's usually on late you'll be drunk enough to sing along, there's an amazing atmosphere whenever I've seen him at the red lion in Shirley and you get the sense that these songs which were written in the 80's have been performed in pubs like this ever since. You can find his stuff on youtube, but its no substitute for seeing him live, keep track of  the 'Great Unsigned' events and check out things listed on the Facebook 'Birmingham has talent' and red lion group pages. he does a lot of these open mic things so I'm sure he won't be to hard to find.

RIP Christina Edkins

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Rohan Delgado & Kumari 7
Now this is where we get to the real Birmingham underground. My stand up comedy career has lately been mostly gigs in the Red Lion pub which is literally just round the corner from where I live. A friend of mine runs these great little events under the banner 'The Great Unsigned' and finds some of the best local talent, He has many great artists on his roster and Rohan and his band are one of the best.

I assure you that I do not exaggerate when I say that Rohan Delagado is one of the best songwriters to come out of Birmingham. Unfortunately he has a limited web presence so if you wish to hear his best songs you will have to see him and the Kumari 7 yourself. Its worth it though.
I first saw Rohan as a solo performer and he blew me and pretty much everyone away. He would play the same songs each time you'd see him but each time they'd be brilliant. his best song is the specials Esque 'Rudy' which appears to be a song about a kid with a lack of education, its a reggae flavored fast paced track with a chorus you can't help but sing along to and a few bits where he goes into freestyle fast rapping, It's great fun and there's always a great atmosphere when talent like this plays your local pub.
He can also tone it down a notch too, one of his songs  is another reggae style jam about Weed, It's kind of what you might expect from a Rastafarian songwriter but its an intelligent well written song, that points out the ironies of it being illiegal. Another song of his is a slow ballard about a broken friendship. It's hard to describe these songs when you've only heard them live but you get the idea.

A few weeks after I'd first seen Rohan as a solo artist he came back with a new band the Kumari 7, which is just a sign of how quickly things change around my local unsigned scene. The Kumari 7 bring a full band sound to his music, they're all very normal looking people of all ages that play a variety of instruments. Rohans songs have now got more melody and a wider palette of sounds, such as the organ player and his new rhythm section.

I must admit that I did prefer Rohan as a solo artist, I mean no disrespect to his band but i felt there was something rawer and a little bit more engaging about his solo performances, but that's only my opinion. These guys are starting to do quite a few gigs on the Birmingham unsigned circuit and It's worth tracking them down.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Urban Villlage

DSC_2661The Custard Factory in Digbeth is pretty much the cultural centre of Birmingham, it may have a reputation for being slightly rough but in truth its where all the good stuff happens, the (previously known as HMV) Institute is there, so is one of South Birmingham College's Campuses and in Custard Factory itself is a constantly changing layout of urban art and independent shops, yet the one true constant in the custard factory is the Urban Village, and if the custard factory is the cultural centre of Birmingham then the Urban village is the cultural centre of the custard factory.
DSC_5677When I've not been there for a while visiting the place is like being a kid in a candy shop, its packed full of great quality vintage clothes at good prices, last week I bought two jackets and  had to stop myself from buying more. While a lot of the clothes at the Urban Village are genuinely second hand vintage - you'll find a lot of new Fred Perry polo's and clothes other brands have donated, and if you want a genuine 1970's/60's mod look then the new clothes by brands such as Pop will give you the look but without the wear and tear
They've recently opened a new downstairs section as well, full of clothes like you will find upstairs but also with CD's and Vinyl's and a couple of other oddities too.

The staff are all friendly people, they take the whole vintage trend seriously and the way they dress adds to the time-warp feeling that you get in there. one of the guys there, who still recognises me, has a mod haircut and once worse a crushed velvet suit, and actually pulled the look off! he also once went round with a bunch of grapes giving them to customers, a bit unexpected but nice all the same. You can have a lot of fun hanging round the urban village and as the bottom pictures indicate, get a lot of good clothes too.

first leather jacket
originally from Topman

Original Penguin