Friday, December 26, 2014

Curb, Milk Teeth, Live at The Sunflower Lounge, 18/12/14

CURB

Last time I saw curb live they headlined the Sunflower lounge, and the tinnitus in my head was so bad that I didn't sleep for the entire night afterwards, and then went into work at 6 am afterwards. Obviously going to the show in the first place was a very bad decision, but the show was awesome and absolutely worth it, despite being a total wreck the morning afterwards. This time I had the day off after. So I could fully appreciate what a great band Curb are. They definitely seem to take influence from britpop, but the cool end of britpop pioneered by Suede rather than the laddish, twattish end of britpop. In fact CURB are pretty damn funky. Things really got crazy about half way through the set, even though they've written plenty of good songs, the first one to hit their soundcloud, 'So High' was the one that got the punters moshing about. I was head-banging instead (I swear I'm one of only 5 people in the world who still does that). All this goes to show what a great song So High Is. By the end the (very, very attractive) girls who started the moshpit were dancing on the 'stage' by the band and the lads who'd come along with them were crowd-surfing.

B-Town Rating: 8.8/10

www.facebook.com/Curbtheband

Milk Teeth

All I can really say about Milk teeth with any real confidence is that they are loud. Really Fucking Loud, a proper punk rock band with a bit of a Simpson's obsession, (they've got some really cool Ralph Wiggum T shirts, Although all their merch is ace). Tonight they played without their usual bassist, as a three piece with two guitarists. Their singer Josh screamed his way through the set, yet these guys are far more raw and grungey than any of those screamo bands. Less people were in the lounge by this point than those who'd come out to see curb. Yet those who remained were genuine fans, a couple of head bangers were right at the front, decked out in denim and patches. While everyone else just moshed. The merch table was knocked over within minutes as people ran into each other. I took a few photos then I joined in the fun. I can't say an awful lot about the bands music as my main memories of the set involve running into people. But Milk Teeth's Music is perfectly suited to that purpose.




B-Town Rating: 6.4/10

www.facebook.com/milkteethpunx

Monday, December 22, 2014

Introducing the B-Town Rating.

Writing this blog can be hard at times, Unlike most gig reviewer/photographers this is still just a hobby so I like to join in on the action as much as anyone else, and racking my brains for details on what happened 4 nights ago can be difficult. So I am introducing the B-Town Rating for each bands set that I see. 
It works like this:
  • Songs: The most important one, do I enjoy the songs, do they have catchy hooks or choruses, will they affect my emotions? make me think? or are they just 5 minute blasts of feedback?
  • Style: How do they look? not in the sense of being attractive, but would I want to dress like them, do they look as cool as they sound?
  • Sound: obviously this is down to the sound guy, and I like almost any genre of music but do I like how they sound? is it a unique sound or is it just that one guitar tone that makes me wanna listen to then and get moshing with everyone else?
  • Attitude: Some bands when faced with only a handful of punters, or technical difficulties might sulk  a bit or shout at the sound guy, some take it in their stride and put on amazing shows regardless. Or just as important, do I wanna be in your gang, or do you have an all round coolness that makes me wanna like you?
  • Musical Ability: I'm not the most talented musician in the world but I know when someone else's talent impresses me. 
I might change the criteria around, but I think this what I normally judge an act by.
So I then make a score out of 5 for each one, add it up, multiply it by 2 then divide it by 5. This leaves me with a result out  of 10, which becomes The B-Town Blog Score. Simple. 

Swerve does Weezer/ Vault of Eagles: Live at the Sunflower Lounge, 18/12/14

Swerve

This was the 3rd time that I'd seen Swerve live, and as always they were great to watch. The only problem is that their set list this time was made up of nothing but Weezer Songs. Which was a bit of a problem for me as I can only actually name 3 Weezer songs of the top of my head (Hashpipe, Beverly Hills, Buddy Holly). Seeing as I am unfamiliar with those songs all I can really say is that they were played well, no bum notes or anything and that their singer has a great voice, a properly powerful, manly one at that. Yet Swerve have plenty of amazing songs of their own (which they didn't play), HoneyDripper being the best (which you can check out online). I had a chat with their singer afterwards and as it turns out he was also in a Kiss tribute band with his dad once. I'm not a fan of Kiss though, so if Swerve make this an annual thing, I'm hoping they'll do Nirvana instead next year.

B-Town Rating 7.2/10 

https://soundcloud.com/swwwerve

Vault of Eagles

VOE are my new favourite Birmingham* band, they're fronted by two sisters who are  barley twice  the size of their own instruments**. Their take on rock n roll though is much more old school than the grunge or britpop inspired music made by the other Birmingham bands at the moment. It's a mix of sounds that attracted a varied bunch of punters into the Sunflower Lounge, a mix of older rock n rollers, and younger fans.  These guys are talented musicians, particularly their front-woman, Mari Randle. Her  voice is a big part of what makes this band great, personally her singing reminded me of Anna Calvi and Siouxie Sioux, and added a darker, gothic touch to the bands otherwise straight forward rock n roll. The New Double A-side single 'Spoonfed Dead' and Livin' with love' is out now, and both those tracks were highlights of the show. 'Insanity' also showed a slower, more melodic side to the bands sound, stretched out to about 6 minutes, it gave them a chance to jam a bit and show of their musical ability. Overall it was a short but really enjoyable set, and their last until 2015. So you'll have too look out for them then. 

B-Town Rating 8.4/10

www.vaultofeagles.com



*The Facebook says Kidderminster, yet I'm sure they said Birmingham while on stage

Friday, December 19, 2014

PEACE, Tour Supports Announced

Nabbed from their Facebook. I'll be there on the 24th. I'm a little miffed that I'll be missing God Damn (They'll be a tough act to follow), even though Juice are one brummie group I've yet to see.  I've heard good things about Yak, and Ekkah aswell. The latter may have blogs written about them soon.

January
January 15th – 16th, Liverpool: The Vryll Society
January 17th, Birmingham: God Damn
January 22nd - 23rd,Bristol: YAK
January 24th, Birmingham: Juice
January 29th, Leeds: Carnabells
January 30th – 31st, Sheffield: The Moon
February
February 5th -6th, Nottingham: The Moon
February 7th, Nottingham: EKKAH
February 9th, London: Ekkah
February 12th -13th, Norwich: Teen Brains
February 14th, Northampton: Neighbour
March
March 5th - 6th, Newcastle: Yak
March 7th, Newcastle: Coquin Migale
March 12th -14th, Manchester: FLESH
March 17th -18th, Glasgow: Echo Valley
March 19th, Belfast: The Late Twos
March 20th, Dublin: PRINCESS
March 26th -27th, Brighton: High Tyde
March 28th, Brighton: Our Girl

Friday, December 5, 2014

The 30 Best Songs of The Year + Playlist!!

1) Tear The House up, Herve + Zebra Katz
2) Vegemite, King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard
3) Oh My darling, Don't Cry, Run The Jewels
4) Nature Trips, Eyedress
5) Colours to Life, Temples
6) Turn Down For What, DJ Snake
7) Shoe Prints in the Dust, God Damn
8) Sunbathing Animal, Parquet Courts
9) God's Whisper, Raury,
10) Solo Dancing, Indiana,

11) Chimes, Hudson Mohawke, 12) Lost on Me, Peace, 13) Tweet Tweet Tweet, Sleaford Mods, 14) White Knuckle Ride, SLAVES, 15) *Soulless Youth, Eagulls 16) Nervous, ALLUSONDRUGS 17) Chasing Time, Azealia Banks,

18) So High, Curb, https://soundcloud.com/curbsaysmile/so-high

19) U Dug Us All, Vertical Scratchers, 20) Cash Diamond Rings Swimming Pools, DENA, 

21) HoneyDripper, SWERVE, https://soundcloud.com/swwwerve/honeydripper

22) I'm Aquarius, Metronomy, 23) Dirty Sheets, The Orwells, 24) Gravedweller, The Wytches, 25) Solemn Skies, Childhood, 26) Come On Over, Royal Blood, 27) XMAS_EVE10, Aphex Twin, 28) Winter 98, CYMBALS, 29) 100, Dean Blunt, 30) Digital Witness, ST Vincent


Link to the Play list here

*This originally read 'Fancy' by Iggy Azealea. I've changed my mind.

Friday, November 28, 2014

Pink Violence + Silver Apples, Live at the Hare and Hounds, 27/11/14

Pink Violence
Untill 10:00 in the morning yesterday I had never heard of Silver Apples, I just knew that Pink Violence was playing and that it was a chance to catch up with a good friend of mine. This was also the first time I'd ever been to the Hare and Hounds, which is kind of amazing actually. Pink Violence was on first, I've been mates with Jason ' Pink violence' Tyler for a while, and had forgot how much I like his music. This set was very different from the last time I'd seen him play a set on a wobbly bar table at the actress and bishop. His music has changed to being more melodic,  rather than the futuristic collage of sounds I had previously heard from him. This time he sampled songs from Crystal Castles to create his own live remixes, mixing fat hip hop bass with ethereal witch house. Although his own songs such as 'Everywhere Nowhere' made for highlights.

Incase you don't already know, Silver Apples were one of the very first electronic music groups, contemporaries of White Noise (AKA, The BBC Radiophonic Workshop), their music can be traced back to the late 1960's, while apparently electronic music itself can be traced as far as the 1920's. So you may understand why people bleating on about electronic music being a new thing, or worse not music at all, really bugs me. Despite one half of the duo passed away Silver Apples are still touring and have released a hand full of albums since their 1960's inception.

Not knowing anything about the band apart from the background information above before the show made it an interesting experience. Little more than 25 fans had shown up to this rather small room and none  of them were exactly party animals. Silver apples music confused and bewildered me right from the start. Like all electronic music that dates back to before the mid 70's (and the likes of Jean Michelle Jarre and Kraftwerk's classic albums) It makes for challenging listening. Of course I can't say whether the music was made up of more recent material or 60's originals, but a lot of it seemed to be a mix of both. The old geezer in a black cowboy hat was perched behind a small series of boxes, using about 3 guitar pedals and something that sounded like a theremin to make this bizarre noise. The beats were reminiscent of modern dance music yet everything else had a an adventurous yet dark psychedelic feel to it. While he sung over the tracks in a deep echo laden voice as if he was addressing someone over an airport PR. I'm very much on the fence with this show. But it was endearing seeing how after all these years Silver Apples still tours to a small but dedicated following.

 http://www.soundcloud.com/pinkviolence

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Best Albums of The Year.

1. Kate Tempest- Everybody Down
Pretty much a universally critically acclaimed record this one, and in my view still the one that should have got the mercury. Right from the first note This album drags you in. KT has an incredible ability to write from many different points of view. Whether that person be male or female, a small time drug dealer, or a full time gangster. Dan Carey's production doesn't so much provide a back drop for KT's storytelling as tell the story itself. In Marshall Law both KT and the music itself, changes points of view, the harsh club electronica reflecting Becky's detachment and unease, and the soft melodic  trance-ier sounds reflecting Harry's sense of wonder and naivety. Everybody Down ties itself together better than any other concept album I've ever heard, and the music is always thrilling. Much of what KT has to say about society is hidden as she is only narrating the story, but her anger at the state of Britain is clear in several verses and in her fast and versatile flow. UK Hip Hop rarely produces acts with talent such as this, Everybody Down is an album to be treasured.
2. Run The Jewels - RTJ2
With this album Killer Mike and EL-P achieved the seemingly impossible, making an album better than their self titled début. Right from the opening rant it's obvious that RTJ2 is far more focused, dark and political. The ludicrous boasting and vivid, raps about sex and drugs have mostly gone, in favour of political sloganeering.  So much so that Even Zach De La Rocha seems out of his depth on his guest verse. The plus side is that it's packed full of absolute bangers, from the room-shaking bass on 'Oh My Darling' to the Travis Barker assisted, 'All Due Respect', each track is bigger, better and heavier than the last. Both El-P and Killer Mike are prodigiously talented rappers, their flows compliment each other perfectly and frankly make the likes of A$ap Rocky or Rick Ross seem amateurish by comparison. Despite EL-P producing some of dopest beats this century, Killer Mike emerges as the real star, his anger at police brutality, and religion have inspired some of the best rapping I've ever heard. Put simply, this album was released for free, if you like Hip Hop you have no excuse to not have heard it.
3. The War On Drugs- Lost in the Dream

For many this was the early favourite album of the year and its not hard to see why. On the surface there is not much to differentiate these songs from  what Bruce Springsteen or Neil Young has already written, but they didn't write these songs, Adam Granduciel did. The tinny production of many 80's album has been given a very modern reworking. Vintage synths, electric drums  and the modern yet retro production give lost in the dream, a very dream like quality, and these are songs you really can get lost in. These are very heartfelt, personal songs about overcoming depression and other such problems, but ultimately it's just about great songs.
4. Sleaford Mods- Divide and Exit - http://tinyurl.com/nlaodfg 

5. Azealia Banks- Broke With Expensive Taste. Being a fan of Azealia Banks has been tough for a while. What with her twitter feuds, cancelled tours, and the seemingly endless wait for this album, and then one day it just appears! BWET  has plenty of variety, whether that be afrobeat, funk, soul, trip-hop, surf-rock. After a while it sticks to a formula of either harsh rave or house, yet she still excels on both. It's a shame that many of these tracks have been lying around the internet for some time. Yet New tracks such as 'Chasing Time' 'JFK' and 'Desperado' have made it worth the wait.
6. Eagulls - Eagulls Amber Veins (drug addiction) Tough Luck (physical deformities) Nerve Endings (paranoia). Each of the tracks on Eagulls Debut album is bleak, but my god is it an amazing listen, taking the atmospherics of Joy Division and adding it to their own punk sound, Eagulls have made an album that is loud and gnarly as hell, yet inspiring for all it's nihilism.  Despite this some of these songs are surprisingly catchy, their singer genuinely sounds angry rather than just pretending to be. Basically, you'll be singing 'Amber Veins, Amber Veins! AMBER VEEEINNNS!!' over and over after hearing that song, or the intro to 'Soulless Youth' may put a shiver down your spine. Nihilism never sounded so good. 
7. King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard - Oddments The first of Two records this year by the 7 strong Aussie collective. Having listened to their back catalogue so far, I can say that this is where it all came together. Sounding like Tame impala on Happy Pills, Oddments is an absolute joy from start to finish, full of brain melting sounds as well as songs that are funny, sad, or just plain weird in equal measure.
8. Aphex Twin - Syro This album is almost impossible to describe with words.
9. Peaking Lights - Cosmic Logic This was a complete gamble that I bought from Left For Dead. It's a big grower though. A lot of it sounds like The Ting Tings jamming with Kraftwerk. Cosmic Logic is half psychedelic odyssey, half bubblegum pop record. It improves with each listen. 

10. Cymbals- The Age of Fracture. Easily one of the most underrated releases of 2014. Cymbals take on 80's synth pop is complex and arty, yet always enough fun to avoid coming across as pretentious. 

11. Slaves-Sugar Coated Bitter Truth, 

12. Vertical Scratchers- Daughter of Everything, http://tinyurl.com/orobc6u 
13. Kasabian- 48:13, 14. The Wytches - Annabell Dream Reader, 15. Jungle - S/T, 16. Alt-J -This is All yours, 17, Metronomy -Love Letters, 18. Temples - Sun Structures, 19. Bombay Bicycle Club - So Long See you Tomorrow, 20. Merchandise- After The End, 21. Julian CasaBlancas + The Voidz - Tyranny, 22. S.Carey -Range Of Light, 23. Thom Yorke, Tomorrow's Modern Boxes, 24. Royal Blood-s/t, 25. Childhood, Lacuna. 

And a cheeky number 26. Eyedress- Hearing Colours

Note: this list is by no means conclusive, any amazing records left out are left out because I haven't bothered to listen to them yet. I reserve the right to change my mind.

Monday, November 17, 2014

PEACE! NEW ALBUM! ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW HERE! (Updated!)

My fave brummies PEACE are back!

The new album is called 'Happy People'
It is out on February the 9th.
The  track-listing is as follows

'O You'
'Gen Strange'
'Lost On Me'
'Perfect Skin'
'Happy People'
'Someday'
'Money'
'I'm A Girl'
'Under The Moon'
'World Pleasure'
Bonus Tracks
11.  Love Me
12.  God’s Gloves
13.  Imaginary
14.  Blue
15.  Saturday Girl
16.  Flirting USA
17.  Fur
18.  The Music Was To Blame

Update! Deluxe Signed Cd's here! \/ \/ \/ \/ \/ \/
  http://www.myplaydirect.com/peace/happy-people-signed-exclusive-deluxe-cd/details/36228878?feature-name=featured&feature=27887824
and they are playing 

Liverpool, Kazimier (January 15)
Bristol, Exchange (22)
Birmingham The Library at the Institute (24)
Leeds, Brudenell Social Club (29)
Sheffield, Queens Social Club (30)
Nottingham, Bodega (February 5)
Norwich, Epic Studios (12)
Newcastle, Cluny (March 5)
Manchester, Deaf Institute (12)
Glasgow, King Tuts (17)
Dublin, Whelan’s (20)
Brighton, The Haunt (26)
Tickets will be available to buy Today!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Live Review Motorhead, 6/11/2014 NIA

In case you have never seen Motorhead before (and bear in mind I was one of the few at this shop who hadn't) let me try and desrcribe it for you. The first thing that hit me was the drumming of 'The best drummer in the world'*, Mikky Dee. I am used to the soft, pounding bass of hip hop or dance music played loudly at clubs but this was nothing like that. Mikky's drumming goes straight through you, smashing all of your internal organs along the way. Then of course there's Ian 'Lemmy' Kilmister, pretty much the physical embodiment of rock and roll if there ever was one. Lemmy was on typically grumpy form at this show. Taking a drink and hearing a cheer from the crowd he replied, 'Fucking mineral water, who needs it?... I do'. Cheerfully making light of his recent health troubles, he seemed ok to me though. Having said that I was one half of an arena away from him, so I can't really judge. 
and later on asking the audience if they had bought Motorhead's last album 'Aftershock' upon hearing our cheers, accused us all of lying, 'you all downloaded it didn't you'.
As the Damned pointed out 'Lemmy is a grumpy old bastard but we love him. and of course everyone there at the NIA that night does too.
And last but not least is Phil Campbell, the hugely underrated  guitar hero. He made the whole thing look pretty easy. His solo's while surrounded by green lights were incredible. He seemed so nonplussed about the whole thing, no rock star posturing, just loads of riffs and solo's. In general the setlist was an even mix of Motorhead classics and fan favourites. Early highlights included 'Stay Clean' 'No Class' and 'Metropolis'. 'Dr Rock' from Orgasmatron got a cheer but unfortunately was blighted by technical difficulties. They had to leave the stage for a few minutes while a few thousand metal heads wondered what the fuck was going on, a few minutes later though it was back to normal. Mikky Dee put in an incredible drum solo, and the band went straight into a surf rock pastiche called 'Going to Brazil', which I absolutely loved.
'Fast' Eddie Clark
Just when this was starting to look like another day at the office for Motorhead, something truly special happened, Lemmy announced that Phil Taylor and Eddie Clark were taking to the stage. 'Is that Phils' dad? wondered one fan out aloud. While Phil didn't play a note Eddie flawlessly played on 'Ace Of Spades'. While the new Motorhead finished on one of my favourites 'Overkill'. My only real disappointments are that nothing from their first album got aired and that my hearing was intact afterwards.


http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/motorhead/2014/national-indoor-arena-birmingham-england-73cc0ad5.html

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

The Dammned: Live at the NIA (6/11/14)

Before this show I did a bit of Motorhead revision, listening to Overkill, Ace of Spaces,and the amazingly underrated self titled début album*. yet I didn't get round to hearing any Dammed. in truth the only live footage I'd ever seen of theirs was from 1977, the band I saw in 2014 have mellowed out (slightly).

Captain Sensible wore a white dinner jacket emblazoned with graffiti swear words and the legend OAP: Old Age Punk. As it turns out  Captain Sensible is an amazing guitarist, playing the guitar behind his back and with his teeth and ripping out solos with ease. While Dave Vainian went for a much more subdued gothic look and is still a great singer an d commanding presence. Joined on stage with them were a competent drummer and bassist and an absolute nutter of a keyboardist, a guy named Monty Oxymoron, dressed in a skull patterned jumpsuit, leaping about while playing his organ.
The Dammed posed the question themselves of whether keyboards belong in punk rock, but left us to decide on that one (personally I think they do). The problem with the show is that I felt it took a while for the band to connect with such a large room,  I hadn't heard of any of the earlier songs and I felt they lacked the energy that I was expecting, yet at the end they pulled out Eloise, New Rose, Neat Neat Neat, and Smash it up, in quick sucesssion. I loved hearing their rendition of New Rose, it was packed full of the punk rock energy I was expecting, while I found the first half the set hard to connect with, the second was loads of fun.  They also revealed that Lemmy saved their career by filling in on bass for two gigs once a member left, saying that 'He's a grumpy old bastard but we love him. I'm not a long term fan of the Damned, so I don't have much to compare and contrast the show with. Overall there's not much to say apart from that it's great seeing one of the true original punk bands still on this good a form.


* It's one of the rawest rock n roll albums of all time, the production is completely shitty yet that kind of makes it better, very few albums since have matched  it for it's dirty scuzzy noise.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Boss Hoss, 6/11/2014

Okay, so the other day I saw Motorhead and the Dammed at the NIA, (I refuse to call it the Barclaycard arena) but before I tell you all about that I am going to tell you about the first band on. The Boss Hoss. I knew absolutely nothing about this band before going into the venue, but if I didn't know Motorhead were on I would have thought they were headlining. A massive flag of their name above a tiger adorned the stage, as well as cow skulls complete with light up eyes and loads of flashing lights. Personally I don't like support bands with ideas about their station, and this stage set up alienated me from the start. Music wise the idea of a rock band that has 2 singers, 2 drummers, a synchronised dancing, sombrero wearing horn section and a ketyar player will either sound awesome or awful to you. Of the two singers one was just a guy with an acoustic guitar singing and playing the songs, the other was dancing more than singing, and when he sung it was in a much thicker deep south accent, he also played a little drum-kit at one point and rode his stool as if he was riding a bull.  Each member was wearing a sleeveless grey tunic, the uniform, matched with the showmanship gave me some idea of how Rammstein would look and sound if they'd come from Mississippi rather than Germany.  Which is appropriate considering that the Boss Hoss are from both Berlin and the Mississippi

I personally felt that the bands Country + Western/Mariachi style contrived and silly. It all felt more Birmingham Alambama than Birmingham, West Midlands. I completely understand that they wanted to put on the most  amazing show they could but  I think under everything there is a great rock n roll band. I like Rock n' roll to be raw, powerful and off the cuff rather than theatrical and over blown so The Boss Hoss just didn't do it for me. But maybe they will for you.




www.facebook.com/thebosshoss

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Ancient Voices.

It seems that the next thing I've just got excited about has been under my nose for some time now. I picked up a copy of Ancient Voices: Handcrafted and Unmastered Demo Tape for free  from the Provide shop in Digbeth. The two piece had put out the tape to celebrate Birmingham's City Of Colours Festival.  Until yesterday this tape had sat quietly in my bedroom. This is a mistake I regret.
Right from the first track on the tape its obvious that Ancient Voices are a world away from the grime music that usually gets made in Birmingham. This duo share more in common with the likes of Young Fathers or ghostpoet. Dark Materials creates spare backdrops for Kahm's Raps, using carefully placed samples, as well as guitar and piano pieces throughout, his production is melodic yet has a similar rough and raw quality to the early Wu Tang Clan recordings, which is unsurprising considering that the record was put together in only two days.
Maseo Kahm is as unique a rapper as DM is a producer his brummie accent is deep, yet it has been altered somehow, and on this record it has an echoed quality, instead of sounding like a brummie shouting at you, it feels more like you've taken a hit of some herb, at an ancient tribal ceremony, and what your hearing is coming from behind a wooden oracale's mask. His style of 'ghost-rapping' comes thick and fast, yet without ever overshadowing the back drop of beats behind him.  His raps are tales from the streets, gritty stories of experience, and he doesn't brag or try to glamorise any of what he is rapping about.  It might be a while before I figure out what on earth he is rapping about with his fast, rhythmic flow and deep voice, but it's probably very profound, and I'll understand it more the more I hear this tape.

For a long time I've felt very underwhelmed by West Midlands based Hip Hop, but these guys are in a complete class of their own, this is amazing hip hop. Check them out here.



https://www.facebook.com/AncientVoicesOfficial?fref=ts
http://youtube.com/AncientVoiceTheory

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Opinion: Fuck Ed Sheeran

Seriously, fuck him.

My confusion and annoyance at the hype surrounding this man began a few years ago as I watched him as a support act, (I cannot remember who for) I was surrounded by screaming fans who were loving every moment as this ginger guy with an acoustic guitar beatboxed and accapella'd his way through a short set list, wondering why on earth people were loving it so much. Later I saw him on Jools Holland doing the same thing. Suddenly, he was everywhere.
'+' was no doubt the sales success of whatever year it came out in.  I even bought it myself (for my mum).  It sounds petty to say so, but it annoyed me for a long time seeing this chart juggernaut hog the top ten, pushing many more worthy records off the top-spots they deserve.
It also sounds petty to say that he lacks talent, because that obviously isn't true. I admit I liked his 'Slumdon Town' joint ep with Yellawolf, (mainly because of Yellawolf). I also admit that I kind of liked 'You need me..'  it sounded fresh for a bit, until i got sick of hearing it
And, yes it's great that a man who put a lot of hard work into his music and worked his way up from a homeless busker into a massive success. But fuck me some of his songs are boring, take 'The A-Team' I get that prostitution is an important socio-political subject, but you have to sound so bloody wet while singing about it? where's the anger? where is that fire in the belly?*
What angers me most is the fact that people seem to think that he is a genius for simply standing up on stage and playing a guitar, something mankind  has been doing for hundreds of years, has mainstream pop music really got so plastic that people simply cannot believe a man is playing acoustically?
Honestly if you are a 'sheeranator' then answer this, have you ever listened to Bob Dylan? Leonard Cohen? or if you want something more modern then check out Willis Earl Beal. There is more passion and heartfelt emotion in one of his songs than ED's entire back catalogue, the same goes for Sharon Van Etten, Ben Howard, or even Jake Bugg. If you like Ed's more social commentary/rap based side then you should hear Scroobious Pip or Kate Tempest, both are genius storytellers, who create incredibly believable, characters and scenarios in their songs. 

What annoys me most about the man is that in an era where musicians have had to go back to basics and rely on touring and merchandise to barely scrape by. His face and album covers are everywhere, he's one of the most marketed artists of the past 5 years, and as such it is impossible to get away from him. Don't just listen to what is in the charts, go explore that huge musical world out there.
One last question Ed, are you the critical darling? the man who makes the heartfelt ballads? or the twee pop star who sells millions of records about drinking and partying to teenage fans?
You can't have your cake and eat it, ED.

Other recommended acts: Raury, Courtney Barnett, S.Carey, The War On Drugs, Kurt Vile, Jamie T, Lou Reed, George Ezra, Gary Clark JR.

* Action Bronson has an amazing song about prostitutes called 'hookers at the point' I don't recommend it if you like Ed Sheeran though. 
Brand New Second hand Nikes - Trunk Junkies Birmingham £15

Sunday, October 19, 2014

I completed the Bupa Great Birmingham Run!

I would like to tell you all about the great effort that I put in today taking part in the Bupa Great Birmingham run.  A distance of 13.1 miles over terrain that is noted for being difficult. I had been training for this run over the previous weeks, running alone through Robin hood and Yardley Wood. Unfortunately after all this effort I had picked up a cold  two days ago which I am still shaking off, and the night before I hardly got any sleep at all, So I was feeling confident but a bit worried before hitting the start line. The main irony which I have noticed about this race after watching it on TV is that some of the most famous runners in the world took part in this race yet I bet I felt more like a celebrity than they did.

 

Warm ups began near the Jewellery Quarter as some bloke from Free Fm got us to all march, squat, wave and stretch to a bunch of pop hits.  It took a while for things to get underway as each group separately left the gates but once we did I felt good. 

 

I had to remind myself a lot for the first part of the run that I should not be tempted to sprint ahead like the many people overtaking me. I realised that I had to stick to the same pace that I would during a practise run or I would end up burning out.

Throughout the entire run there were people cheering me on throughout, reading my name then shouting it back at me, there were kids hi fiving the runners as they came past, there were people sitting outside their houses blasting the rocky theme tune to encourage us and handing out jelly babies for us (which I sensibly avoided). There were many bands on the path, from old timey swing to bluesgrass, there was about three different groups just playing the drums. People took it upon themselves to help out with this whether it be people in their front garden shouting  or the one person doing a DJ set in the gazebo in  her front garden. It was hard to argue with the amount of good causes being raised for, shout outs go to the Lion guy, Eagle Guy, Giraffe guy (Who I think gave up after a while) and the Wolverhampton bobsled team'. 

Another new experience was never being low on water. I felt sick after drinking too much lucozade, but on the plus side I could amuse myself by stamping on water bottles, creating little water jets that sprayed the other runners. The last mile or so was every bit as difficult  as the hype suggests, with at least two miles of solid up hill climbing. I made it though!  and apart from a piss I didn't stop once. i feel good but very tired  from this run,  it was hard work and I've got the sores to prove it, but I also got a rather cool little goodie bag. 

Oh and my time? 2:31:45

 

Please donate to my Diabetes UK Fund-raising page here 

https://www.justgiving.com/Richard-Thomas51/?utm_source=Facebook&utm_medium=fundraisingpage&utm_content=Richard-Thomas51&utm_campaign=pfp-share

Runners in the Great Birmingham Run
http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-birmingham-29680335

 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Steve Craddock (Live at The Ambersham Arms, 20/9/14)

I was on a total high after watching Sin Fiction, which was ruined slightly for me the moment that Steve Craddock came on stage. The DJ was playing 'Drain' by Peace, and when Steve came on he told the DJ to 'turn that shit off'. Within seconds the man had unwittingly slagged off my favourite band and pissed me off. You know what  they say about Glass Houses...

The ability to hear colours is a strange trait possessed by creative people, examples include Tyler,The Creator, asking to make the song more yellow on the intro to IFHY or Captain Beefheart berating the magic band for not being able to play the colours  he was seeing. I must too possess this trait as throughout the show I saw beige, a sea of beige. What didn't help was the man's sartorial sense, dressed in a dull grey jumper, with white casual trainers that stepped on his own trousers. Performing on stage with his own wife and singing songs in a low key voice with titles such as 'Finally Found my Way Back' 'Anyway the Wind Blows' and ' I am The Sea', Steve's music came across as a man having a bit of a midlife crisis, singing about escapism and travelling to far out desert islands. These songs were all as comfortable and satisfying as putting on a pair of slippers, and all about as dangerous or thrilling as making yourself a cuppa tea.
Annoyingly this could have been much much better, all would be forgiven if he could just play The Riverboat Song, or the Day we took the Train. But not a single Ocean Colour Scene track was on the list. Things looked up when his band bought the funk on 'steppin aside' which was the real highlight for me. Throughout the set it was obvious that Steve Is a hugely talented songwriter. Each track he played proved this, and there were mellow traces of psychedelia in his sound. Some people seemed to love the gig, one man who I think was a friend of the band stood at the side of the stage in a silent reverence, while two guys started doing a sort of strange cross between moshing and slow dancing. Plenty of people in the audience seemed to be enjoying the show. Yet I just felt underwhelmed. Rock n' roll is by no means a young mans game, and there is no problem with songs being laid back or mellow. But there was no grit or emotional power to make these songs inspire me. The sad truth is that Steve seemed outclassed by his own support bands.

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Sin Fiction (Live at the Ambersham Arms, 20/9/2014)


I knew absolutely nothing about Sin Fiction until they took to the stage, apart from the slightly silly name (Maybe it’s a hybrid of Sin City and Pulp Fiction?). After a few songs of theirs is was totally hooked. SF have all the raw primal energy that I want to see in a young rock band. They’d bought some fans along who were clearly loving the show and I think the rest of the crowd really liked them too.
What makes SF a bit unique is the combination of guitarists. They effectively have two front-men, the main singer who plays and shreds on an electric guitar, and an almost constantly smiling acoustic guitarist. The downside of this set up is that the acoustic guitarist could not always be heard over the amplified noise of the rest of the group, yet he was able to add an almost Spanish acoustic style to the quieter songs and introductions. I was intrigued to find a black box at the bottom of the stage. Saying that “All merchandise is free apart from our album £5” yet the last part was taped over, I asked the acoustic player whether the album was free and he said ‘if you want it you can have it’. Inside the box was also a load of singles, business cards and wristbands in a variety of colours, each with a discount code for the album. I like this bands business sense.  
Unfortunately the bands self-released Debut album ‘Led by Verses’ is a bit of a disappointment compared with the bands live show. Although you can say that about just about any band in the world, ever. I still highly recommend that you hear it though, it’s a lovely laid back album, which is perfect for the summer (it’s a shame that it's autumn).


Links:
https://www.facebook.com/Sinfiction
http://www.sinfiction.co.uk/

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Duke + The Repeat Offenders Live at the Ambersham Arms

It's just as well that Duke's set was a good one. They'd spent many hours driving down to the venue and plenty of time choosing the clothes they would wear. The coach journey to the venue was fun but it was clear that the band were focussed on this gig and determined to make it a good one. quite a few people showed up for this show, the coach was full of friends, girlfriends and family of the band.  After the two previous bands they took to the stage and played a great little set. Not too different too many of the other sets I've seen of theirs, but as usual they sounded tight and well rehearsed. Songs such as 'Good Time' and 'Never Gonna Knock Us Down' went down well with the crowd. By this point the venue had filled out nicely and there was plenty of people enjoying the set. In fact I hadn't seen them play to a room like this since the Actress and Bishop last year. By the end Rod (Jack's Dad and band manager) was encouraging audience members to dance with him. From this point on it was party mode, which involved drinking and general piss-taking on the bus. it's been a real pleasure watching these guys develop and improve from their early sets at my local pub, it's been a great thing to be a part of.
Duke loved playing in london and afterwards people went up to them and said how much they'd loved the set. Another night, another due paid.
Check out my camera skills here.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=H9Ff1yQoELc

www.facebook.com/dukeofficialuk














After Duke Came on a few lads calling themselves the Repeat Offenders. A pretty standard laddish indie rock band. They'd bought a sizeable portion of the audience along with them and they looked very cool on stage. They were pretty good, and the songs had plenty of energy. However I cannot remember enough about them to write more than four sentences.

Check them out here
www.facebook.com/therepeatoffendersmuzic