Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Nova Twins + Abel Gray + Crime & Punishment 2011 + Face Up. Live at The Sunflower Lounge Review (25/9/16)

Face Up (7.6) are the kind of band who make punk rock seem less like a genre of music and more like a 24/7 lifestyle choice. They look exactly like you would expect a punk band to look, wearing the kind of clothes you could probably buy in Sex circa 1977 and playing loud fast and simple songs (albeit with some pretty cool guitar solos and heavy bass drum work), what sets them apart from being just another punk band is their brilliantly charismatic front-woman. With her bright red hair and ripped tights looking exactly the part. She's happy to get right into peoples faces on stage. She sings in an empowered croak that brings to mind Kim Gordon at her most pissed off. Ironically being the first band on they seemed to bring a long the most fans, its not hard to see why.
In theory Crime and Punishment 2011 (7.6) should have fit the bill perfectly, with their mix of grime inspired bars and heavy metal guitar samples, yet they seem to be out of place on whatever bill they end up on. Yet a small gathering of fans attend each gig. With each show I've seen CPK get more confident. All four members can be found screaming, rapping or having nervous breakdowns on the floor of them venue. While none of the new songs or covers of Skepta or The Weeknd were aired, old favourites such as 'Bodybags' and newer tunes such as 'paralysed' sound good as ever. While Birmingham may be currently gaining notoriety for Grime stars such as Lady Leishurr, SP, and Sox Abel Gray (8) stands out from the crowd. Unlike most MC's his bars are backed by live drums,  with more instrumentals fed through an array of effects pedals. His music isn't that far from the jazzy hip-Hop of Kendrick Lamar, or the laid back sounds of Drake. Yet he has an experimental edge that is all his own and a quiet confidence to his speedy flow. While his live show is low on frills, his dance moves and natural charm are enough to make his sets very entertaining.
The last time around grime was big, a new genre was born called 'Grindie' So it makes sense that we're already seeing the emergence of 'Grime-Punk'. Despite all the hype it was a relatively small crowd that stayed to see Nova Twins (8.4) headline the Sunflower Lounge. Nova Twins sound is based around a huge bass guitar sound, (almost like the also brilliant punk band Show Me the Body). In fact the bass and drums are so heavy that they could almost be described as Dub-Punk. While one of the twins feeds her bass playing through a huge board of pedals, the other twin, plays guitar and lets off fast streams of rapping, (through two microphones, like Mark E Smith!) They look cool as fuck and they've got loads of attitude. I have a feeling that I may end up bragging about seeing this show in two years time. It was all over pretty quickly, chaos didn't ensue, but I still feel that Nova Twins could be huge.


Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Dave McPherson (InMe) Live at The Sunflower Lounge review.

To be honest one of my main reasons for coming along to this show was out of curiosity. InMe  formed 20 years ago, and ten years after that they wre one of British rocks great hopes. They never achieved the same level of success as many of their contemporaries, yet they are still going strong. I was a fan of theirs many years ago,  so I thought it'd be nice to see what Dave's been up to.
Before that though 973live opened the show. A three piece making a sort of odd fusion of reggae, hip hop and soul. Killr Punx regular LaurenMarie made people sad with her own mix of acoustic originals and covers. Marc Hall is touring alongside Dave for this stretch of dates. Much like Dave he has a history playing in various rock/emo bands such as Fei Comodo and Hey Vanity. he was joined by another guitarist and another guy drumming on a wooden box. His songs were a good mix of the sad and and the more upbeat. Much like Dave Mcpherson (8/10) While it may be pretty common for the singers of rock bands to start solo acoustic vanity projects outside of their usual bands (I'm looking at you Charlie Simpson) Dave's solo songs are great in their own right. He has a band-camp full of them. He has a passionate voice which reminds me of Jeff Buckley, and a talent for playing guitar that goes far beyond strumming basic chords. The sadness of his music was balanced out by his funny and carefree stage persona. He had conversations with people in the audience and played a prank, by getting the crowd to clap the next person to walk through the door. Hugs are a free option alongside CD's on his 'Dave Mcmerch' table. The show finished with a performance of InMe's 'faster chase' a fantastic song I totally forgot about yet still sounds great ten years later. All of which bodes well for their upcoming tour.


Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Crime and Punishment 2011, Monaco, Bathtub, J-Dead. Live at the Sunflower Lounge review (18/9/16)

Things seem to be picking up for Crime and Punishment 2011 (CPK), with this show being the last date of their second tour. The opening act for the last date of the tour, at the home-town venue of the Sunflower was none other than CPK's Jake himself, under the new moniker J-Dead (6.8/10). While CPK draw from grime, metal and left-field electronica J-Dead leans more towards a spoken word style, with intensely personal stories, quietly rapped over sparse instrumentals (one of which being a cover of one of the tracks from The XX's d├ębut album). CPK's Pink Violence has been producing the beats, while CPK's Dan Carter joined him for one song. The audience was small but very appreciative, while the room matched the quiet ambiance. J- Dead is a more restrained project than the jumping and screaming of CPK and not too far off from the lyrical styles of UK MC's such as Kate Tempest or Loyle Carner. Next up was a local bunch called Monaco (6) who prove that maybe B-Town isn't dead after all with their summery mix of grungy guitar melodies, and laid back grooves. Despite being a very new band their musicianship is impressive. Bathtub (6) are one of those bands who are constantly changing line-up, which is a bit confusing as they also share members with the metalcore group Flatline. The main difference is that Bathtub have less screaming and less violent moshing. They're somewhere between pop-punk and metal. Weirdly enough, the show was being filmed via iPhone for a live stream being watched by a total of 3 people. Cue jokes about Wembley.
Crime and Punishment 2011 (7.6) were finishing up on their second tour before this headline show and they're getting better with each set. They've already got some new songs, 'Cheshire Cat' has an electronic feel to it and some shouty repetitive choruses, while 'Nefarious' is much more brutal, with more heavy guitar riffs added to the mix. All members were a bit burned out from tour, yet with Dan jumping around the place, Jason and joey both screaming and running about the place it was business as usual. Joey climbed the stairs and screamed at passers by in the street, while Jason had a sort of nervous breakdown on the floor of the Sunflower Lounge. As usual the audience seemed a bit bemused by the whole thing. the show was a lot of fun until the moody domestic violence tale, 'there's a reason storms are named after people'. However people were shouting for an encore. Unfortunately there wasn't a cover of 'Shutdown' as Crime & Punishment 2011 had to go for a much needed rest.


Friday, September 9, 2016

King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard + Black Mekon: Live at The Hare and Hounds review (7/8/16)

If there was ever a perfect support act for King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (which I am shortening to KG as of now) then it was Black Mekon (8/10). I first saw the local garage rock heroes at the Lunar Festival earlier this year and I was blown away by them. They look amazing, with their sharp suits and kato masks. Their music is a sort of mix of classic Elvis Presley style rock'n roll and scuzzy, sleazy blues rock. They have no bass guitars, their singer uses some strange echo mic, and  they have an electric drum labelled 'The Bomb' which sent shocks of bass throughout the room. Despite the technical issues - they claimed to have 'run out of guitars' and that 'you wait an hour for a drum kit and three come at once'. All this proves that Black Mekon are one of Birmingham's best and most exciting bands.
For the past few weeks I've been telling all my friends that I wanted to go see King Gizzard and the Lizard Wizard (8.8) and none of them had the slightest clue what I was on about. While Tame Impala may the big name in Australian Psychedelic rock music, King Gizzard are arguably the best. Since releasing their first EP in 2011, they have released 8 full length albums at a rate of about two a year. Their most recent 'Nonagon Infinity is 9 tracks of heavy, psych blasted songs that repeat over and over again for all eternity. So its not a surprise that they chose to play the album in full. The moshing started with Robot stop but the madness didn't start until 'Gamma Knife'. The band's mainman Stu Mackenzie did all sort of guitar acrobatics, while the crowd started surfing, throwing pints were thrown, (which was actually quite refreshing in that tiny sold out room),taking shirts off, and even passing joints. The act of a joint being passed in a moshpit is the perfect summary of what King Gizzard's music is about.
KG are so hard working that even after releasing their last album a few months back, they're already playing new tracks from the next one. The first new song had a riff which was reminiscent of Black Sabbath's Iron Man. Yet rather than carrying on in a doomy metal direction becomes more jazzy and danceable. The other new track 'Lord of Lightining' is already a classic KG tune that would have sounded great on 'Nonagon Infinity'. The frenzied moshing gave way to dancing as they played the Santana in 69' esque 'Rivers', and an electric take on NGRI (bloodstain). Stu got out his flute for the latter tracks of Nonagon. there was some awkwartd stage banter because some guy kept requesting Tame Impala tunes. One of the guitarists bragged about having Kevin Parker's phone number, and a they did a short 30 jam, saying that it was one of Tame Impala's songs. they finished with the last few tunes of Nonagon Infinity and walked off with no encores after what felt nothing like 90 minutes.