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).


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


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

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

The Doldrums + Freddy James Band, Live at The Ambersham Arms. 20/9/14

The Birmingham band Duke are good mates of mine, so good that last weekend I went down with them, staying with the band in Essex and taking the coach down to London, to see them support Steve Craddock of Ocean Colour Scene and Paul Weller fame.
First up was The Doldrums, yet another two piece who play loud riffy blues inspired rock and roll. featuring a man with mutton chops and one very sexy lady on drums*.  Obvious comparisons include the White Stripes and Table Scraps.  Not to be confused with the Canadian electronica producer. Unfortunately I only caught a little bit of their set  so I can't say a huge amount but I enjoyed what I saw. I had a little chat with them later too, nice guys.

Next up was the Freddy James Band. The FJB play the sort of blues rock that would be perfectly at home at The Robin 2. Freddy James is an impressive guitarist, who evokes The great Stevie Ray Vaughn in style and sartorial sense, and did a whole load of guitar shredding in his small set.  His rhythm section were equally accomplished musicians. Which is why I don't understand why they had a man on percussion as well, tapping away on various different sized hand drums. Most of the time I could barely hear him over the rest of the band, and considering what an effort it must be to carry all those drums around, I fail to see what he is adding to the band. Worse still he was dressed in a Slazenger polo and trackies, looking like he might be the sort of guy who could fix your boiler**. This isn't to say that he made the band worse, in fact either way the Freddy James band are a great blues rock group.

watch part of the set here


* Sorry if that sounds sexist

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Taz Taylor Band, Live at the Robin (2/9/14)

I was born on September the second 1992. (I'm 22 now, if you're wondering). This has always had it's pro's and cons. the main plus has always been that school/college always started a day or so after. So I was guaranteed to always have my birthday off. Though I don't get that any-more.  The downside is that September the 2nd is the one day of the year when fuck all seems to be happening. The theatre season is yet to start and the good films are all out in either the summer or winter. Being a Tuesday there wasn't any interesting club stuff on. (I got totally wasted at Uprawr a few days after, but that's another story). It seemed that I would be with my parents on this particular birthday, so it had to be a family friendly and familiar environment. This meant that my old favourite indie venue, The Robin was a natural first choice.
The only thing on was a band called that Taz Taylor Band, a trio of amazingly talented musicians who have been making music and touring for a very long time. Taz is a Walsall lad too.Making this show a homecoming of sorts. 
Support came from some young lads called PORK. who had bought a sizeable portion of the audience along with them. They dress in a pretty sleazy rock n roll/sunset strip fashion and it's fair to say that their blues rock style reflects this somewhat. Good luck to em. 
Back to Taz.  This guy has performed with many  people over the years, including various members of Deep Purple.His music is all instrumental. Instead of lyrics, the songs are basically just long stretches of guitar soloing stretched together. That may sound very pretentious, but unlike the famous guitarists, Steve Vai or Joe Satriani the band are rooted enough in classick rock and blues for it to not sound too self-indulgent. Some of the songs were quite emotional and beautiful. Yet overall I left with a sense that Taz Taylor is one of the worlds most underrated guitar heroes. But not much else. 

Monday, September 8, 2014

Beyond B-town: King Gizzard and The Lizzard Wizzard

Probably the only time that I've ever found a worthwhile band through a Facebook 'you might like' link, KG+LW were my new favourite band from the moment I'd read their name. Then they put their whole discography for free. I downloaded the lot and decided that I'd listen to them all and give you an honest review of each one.

 Willoughby's Beach EP is The bands first release, and from the get go it's mental, blues rock that sounds a few sandwiches short of a picnic. They dabble in sounding a bit surf rock in places, which makes sense considering the title. Its definitely psychedelia, just not really psych in the normal sense. This record is not what you'd call a sonic exploration, in fact only 3 of the songs on it are over 3 minutes. It's all very loud and raw, not so much lo-fi as gritty and unpolished. much like 12 Bar Bruise. I don't think there has ever been such an apt title for a record as this. It's  psych' but a really heavy riffy kind of psych. 
These two records will probably go down really well with any fans of Ty Segall or Thee Oh Seas.

Float Along, Fill your lungs shows that King Gizzard and The Lizzard have had a big change of direction. It opens with Head on/Pill. Which is 15 minutes of swirling psychedelic noise featuring more sitar than any other record you'll hear all year. It's awesome. Its a huge step forward from the first two records. The band sound much more laid back, especially on acoustic tracks like 'God Is Calling me Back home'. Yet they still sound very rough round the edges.  For me the problem is that for me the first track is so amazing that the tracks that fill up the space between Head On/Pill and the title track feel like little more than interludes. 

Eyes Like The Sky is probably the bands masterpiece. it's completely different to any of the other records, as instead of being a handful of songs. It is a story, narrated by the writer and sound-tracked by the band. This tale of the wild west is surprisingly well crafted with many twists and turns, and strong, well developed characters. The story telling is dark and often brutal. The preacher is a particularly nasty character.  It feels more like a novel than a concept album. This is a hugely impressive album that demands repeat listens.

Oddments is by far my favourite, it starts off with a load of psychedelic noise, crazy crazy sounds. Alluda Majaka Mixes samples from old westerns with heavy drum beats, deep purple style Organ playing. its the sort of stuff that's made to get people into a trance. Yet its the song writing that really stands out. Hot Wax may sound like  hot wax being poured down your ears but its also a catchy tune. same goes for Stressin', while 'Work this Time  has been my song of the summer. it's a laid back floydish  trip-out that could only be conceived by stoned Australians. Best of all though is 'Vegemite'. A surprisingly catchy and very lo-fi tribute to the bands favourite condiment. The song is almost childish in its simplicity and it sounds gloriously out of tune. Its an anthem for Australians and stoners everywhere. Overall Oddments is a lovable record, its trippy without being pretentious, and a helluva a lot of fun.

Willoughby's Beach EP (2011) 7/10
12 Bar Bruise (2012) 7/10
Float Along, Fill your lungs (2013) 7/10
Eyes Like The Sky (2013) 9/10
Oddments (2014) 9/10

Sadly the download link has now closed. But you can buy Oddments and Float along, Fill Your Lungs as a double LP. The new album 'I'm In your Mind Fuzz' is out later this year.


Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Vectors + Duke live at the Rainbow 29/8/14

The Vectors
Local lads and good mates of mine Duke are going  in the world. on the 20th of September I will be joining them as they head down south to support Steve Craddock (Ocean Colour Scene/ Paul Weller) in London. I am planning to take part in this and will bring you blog's and some other projects.
last Friday was the only chance I'd get to catch up with the guys before this event, as it there last in brum for some time. 
Unfortunately I got there a little bit too early, and ended up watching the second band on. amazingly a band called 'Second Trip' started playing at 7 o clock, god knows if anyone saw them at all. the first band I saw were some geezers called Cynical Renegade. Now I am in now way going to state that rock n roll is a young mans game, but these blokes stood out hugely on a bill that was already stuffed with variety. Cynical Renegade are a band who wear their influences on their sleeves... and T shirts. No nonsense hard rock. Truth is though I'm not sure they're are as cool as they think they are. Their drummer wears a confederate flag for fucks sake. They're definitely talented musicians, but they lack the certain spark to impress me.
Next up was 'Onduwun'. I really could not tell whether they were a joke or not. At first they sort of seemed like a funk/hip hop hybrid who reminded me a bit of the 'Red Hot Chilli Peppers'  or 'Check Your Head' era Beastie Boys. Again, very musically talented, great funky bass playing, bit of guitar shredding, good drummer, but just very hard to take seriously. I think that might be the point though.   
The Vectors were the penultimate band that night, at first I wasn't so sure about them. They played a great cover which they called 'That song by that band that fall out sometimes' (I don't care by Fall Out Boy) and played a quite a few songs in a similar punkish-poppish vein it took me sometime to warm to them, yet somehow only when they only had about 3 songs left to play, they kicked it up a notch and became a brilliant band, it just all came together somehow.
I've lost count of how many times I've seen Duke now, I would tell you all about them but, you can read all of that in many other blogs of mine. To summarise; they're great guys, they're getting tighter as a unit the more they play and even if only a few people showed  everyone had a good time. They played a new song 'Good Time' which was every bit as good as  the other, more familiar tracks. if you've not heard Duke before then they are a great little indie band that sound a little like Oasis, yet have great songs of their own. They gave me a lift home too, which was nice. Roll On London!