Sunday, May 21, 2017

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Hawkwind. Live at the Instutute review. (16/5/17)

In an unexpected twist, Hawkwind's current support on tour is Hawkwind (8.4/10). Their set at the Institute began with a short half hour acoustic set. Taking a break from interstellar travel to play some tunes around the camp-fire. Unlike Staus Quo these acoustic sets are not a way of covering up a lack of new ideas or ability to play at full volume but more of a chance for Hawkwind to communicate with each other and their fans more openly. The acoustic set gave Hawkwind's ship captain Dave Brock a rare chance to enjoy some nostalgia and relive his busking days. During this set Hawkwind nearly delved into some old jazz standards and Chuck Berry covers. the band and crowd did enjoy some light hearted banter about 'getting yourself together' and the recently detonated Aston Bomb, "did he say bong or bomb?" before Dave decided that the band should get back to playing some Hawkwind classics, "I mean I'm a Hawkwind classic!"
If the little acoustic set found a band nearing their 50th anniversary relaxing and looking back on their past then the second set was anything but. While the topless dancers may have left, the brain melting graphics have not. Hawkwind have been boosted by the addition of new(ish) members, such as their a young(ish) bass player who channels the spirit of Lemmy through his Rickenbacker bass guitar. Hawkwind's current singer is the formidable 'Mr Dibs', who has the task of singing tracks originally sung by a multitude of legendary frontmen.
The setlist was made up of deep cuts from their career such as overlooked 80's gems Psy-Power, 70's classics Warrior on the edge of time and recent tunes from the last two albums who Mr Dibs thanked us for helping chart for two years in a row. But sadly not the interplanetary hoedown of Spaceship Blues. The second set flew by despite almost every song being stretched out over ten minutes.
Mr Dibs thanked the crowd again for coming out year after year to see these "obscure cult motherfuckers", and took photos of everyone in the front rows.
After Hawkwind left the stage an encore was inevitable, yet the demand for one was still amazing, the bands name was chanted over and over while the stomping of feet shook the floor. When Hawkwind did come on stage it was to play their biggest hit 'Silver Machine', with probably the strangest part of the stage show - a dancing badger, and after two and a half hours Hawkwind left the stage.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Lowly + Hoopla Blue. Live at the Hare and Hounds review (15/5/17)

 When Chartreuse pulled out due to their guitarist and driver breaking his foot it was up to Hoopla Blue to step in and save the day. As it turns out Hoopla Blue (7.2/10) were a perfect support act for Lowly. Having seen them a few times now I still can't accurately describe their music. They're the kind of band who could only have come out of this decade. They mix odd time signatures, with shimmering guitars, keyboards and some elements of sampling to add to the overall atmosphere. They can go from frantic Battles style math-rock to Wild Beats style grandeur in the space of a song.   Despite making such odd music Hoopla Blue could hardly be described as experimental, as they've honed their sound and they play with a quiet brooding confidence. Hoopla blue seem to get better with each performance.

A few years ago no one would have predicted that Denmark would have produced so many influential artists. Iceage, Communions, Marching Church, Lust For Youth, Liss, and Mo have all helped make a huge impact recently. Lowly (8) are the latest Danish band to break through, having recently released their début album Heba on Bella Union records. Their show at The Hare And Hounds was their very first in Birmingham and Lowly were clearly humbled to be there, saying "What a big crowd you are, so great!" early on. Like many of their Danish contemporaries Lowly are still a pop group at heart, no matter how experimental or avant-garde they get. Much like Mercury Rev, Lowly may sound mellow and dreamy on record, yet their songs are far more powerful when performed live. They bought an array of keyboards with them to help build a huge wall of sound, most of which were mixed and multi-tasked by the keyboard wizard Kasper Staub. Lowly can go from sounding overwhelmingly huge to bringing a whole room to absolute silence. One of these incidents was when one piece of kit seemed to break. The crowd stood in absolute silence before joining the band in awkward laughter. Lowly's vocals were split between Soffie Viemose and Nanna Schannong. While Nanna lent gentle melodies to their sound with her guitar. Soffie stood out with her fantastic voice and nonchalant dancing as being the front-woman of the band. Simply tossing aside a request for their breakthrough single 'Daydreamers' with a simple 'haha no'. While Nanna invited the audience to come over and say hi, and that they didn't have to buy anything, Lowly seem like genuinely nice people. Despite being such a new band Lowly have created a unique sound. That they've managed to do this while still making memorable pop songs and without being over pretentious seems to have been important to their success so far.


Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Hoops + Cymbals. Live at The Hare and Hounds review (7/5/17)

Having rediscovered Cymbals (7.2/10) excellent second album 'The Age of fracture' it still seems strange to me that the band aren't better known. Cymbals refreshingly eclectic update of 80's pop, still sounds fantastic 3 years on. Since then the band seemed to have spawned several more successful and less vibrant imitators. So I was glad to finally get a chance to see them live ahead of the release of their third album 'light in your mind'. Unfortunately the giddy joys of the last album seem to have given way to a more sombre violin led sound. Taking in elements of post-punk and and toning down the exuberance of the earlier material, of the newer songs it was 'fully automated luxury' which stood out as the strongest. Despite being less keen on the newer material, I'm glad that I've finally had the chance to see brilliant songs such as 'the natural age', 'empty space' and 'like an animal' played live.
While the vast majority had come along to see Los Campesinos in the bigger room next door, an admirably candid Hoops (7.6) said 'thanks for coming to our show and not *points at other room*'. . Hoops hail from Bloomington, Illinois. Despite only playing to a relatively small crowd, Hoops were having the time of their lives. Saying that Birmingham is a 'beautiful city' and that 'if you've not been to Illinois then you're not missing much'. Hoops have a slacker charm and a dry sense of humour. 
They don't have a front-man, yet the constantly smiling guitarist Drew, seemed to be the mouthpiece of the band, saying 'I like this song' before almost every song and just shrugging off their keyboards joke that all their songs are shit. Hoops play the sort of hazy, lazy indie rock that used to be associated with Mac Demarco. Despite looking and sounding like slackers, Hoops musical ability sets them apart from most. Many of the songs off their début album are bursting with energy and melody. While they have only just released a record hoops are a fantastically tight live band who've been honing their craft for 6 years. The vintage keyboards and lo-fi guitars give their music a washed out sound, as if it's been warped on an old VHS. The only real fault with Hoops is that despite having three vocalists, none of them are very good at singing. The flat mono-tonal singing suits their sound, but it robs the songs of any real emotional connection. Hoops début album 'Routines' came out last Friday on Fat Possum records and I highly recommend you give it a listen.


Friday, April 28, 2017

Table Scraps & Black Mekon Split 7" Single Launch! (Live at the Hare and hounds review, 27/4/17)

Since the whole 'B-town' thing fell through it feels more like the Birmingham scene has splintered into a few separate scenes. Where Grime, Hip-hop, Grunge, Jazz, Pop-Punk, Metal and Rock all co-exist but rarely come into contact with each other. My favourite of these 'mini scenes' is the tiny garage rock revival that has spawned Table scraps and Black Mekon. Who've just released a split 7" as part of Black Mekon's ongoing 45 consortium project. It was inevitable, as the two bands already share a lock up and live on the same street. The single comes with it's own pair of 3D glasses to view the cover, and the new Table Scraps 3D video (clever marketing that). The stage was projected upon with 3D graphics and lit in red and green.
As I may have pointed out before, Black Mekon (8/10) are about as cool as it gets. 3 dudes in sharp suits and Kato masks playing the blues raw and dirty. Black Mekon have no bassist, only two guitars, but make up with it by frequently blasting out harmonica solos like the bastard child of Elvis Presely and Bob Dylan, and using their own special drum cymbal, which has been named 'The Bomb'. As I've come to expect from a band who only release music on spilt 7"s, Black Mekon's set was full of short sharp blasts of rock 'n roll which rarely last over two minutes. Of all the times I've see them, this show was probably the best. Some highlights of their set were their guitarist jumping about in the crowd while the other guy blasted his harmonica, and the last song, marked on the set-list as "CUNT".  A slower ballad where their singer dropped to his knees and pleaded forgiveness from the woman he had wronged.
Table Scraps (8) have changed a lot since I last saw them. No longer a scrappy punk duo, they've evolved into a swaggering rock' n roll trio. Poppy Twist now has a full drum kit (as well as an art installation at the Waterhall Gallery, but that's not strictly relevant). Scott has upgraded to a 12 string guitar, and Table scraps now have a bass player named TJ (who at one point jumped into the crowd). They've also got a new Theremin, which TJ can use while playing his bass. Table Scraps have gotten bigger and better. Scott in particular has improved hugely as both a guitarist and singer. A lot of the songs now come new and improved with guitar solos and he no  longer screams until he's out of breath. They even felt confident enough to incorporate parts of Led Zeppelin's 'Communication Breakdown' into their own already great 'Motorcycle (straight to hell). Few of the songs on the set-list were from Table scraps début album 'more time for strangers', yet the new songs are all equally as strong as older fan favourites such as the set's opener 'Electricity'. Despite this show only having two bands and short sets, both bands delivered in spades, and showed why brum's garage rock revival is worth caring about.


Thursday, April 27, 2017

Happyness, Her's, Hoopla Blue. Live at The Hare and Hounds review (26/4/17)

In this day and age it takes real skill for a band to be totally unique. In this regard I have all the respect in the world for Hoopla Blue (6.8/10). A band whose sound is a mixed bag of reggae rhythms, shimmering yet lo-fi, tropical guitar tones and dense synthesisers. They effectively have two front-men as their guitarists take turns doing lead vocals. One of which sings in a deep falsetto, which isn't far off from that of Wild Beasts' Hayden Thorpe. I think they've taken some some new members since I saw them last, and with the line up change they're songs have become bigger, bolder and braver. Hoopla blue have now nailed a loud/quiet dynamic and can go from abstract expressionists to raucous rockers in seconds. However, despite being impressed by their set and how they've developed, I'm still not sure of how much I like their eclectic sound. 
What's for certain is that Liverpool's Her's (7.2) owe a huge debt to the washed out slacker-indie of Sean Nicolas Savage, Mac Demarco and what ever other hip band Mac's currently pals with. These two class clowns could not be more (ironically) trendy if they tried. With their second hand clothes, Apple Mac beats, and mix of gentle guitar, bass and deadpan vocals. Her's are undeniably cool. On-stage both members are hell-bent on having as much fun as possible. Their singer constantly strikes strange poses  while standing on one leg, playing his guitar like some kind of indie rock flamingo. Only time will tell whether Liverpool's Her's (7.2) are a serious band or a hipster in-joke.

It's not hard to see why Happyness (6.4) had a bit of a head start with their début album 'Weird little birthday' in 2014. They fit into the slacker rock/ lo-fi revival like a glove. The problem is that I feel that they lack something special to set them apart from their peers and influences. For example, the dry observational humour of Courtney Barnett and Parquet Courts or at least the willingness to experiment of Yuck. Unfortunately an 'X-Factor' is missing in their shows. Happyness have the potential to be a great band, all being multi instrumentalists and having pretty much perfected their sound. Yet the downside is their vocals seem passionless and they barely engage their audience. Whenever Happyness did say anything to the crowd their shyness came across (to me at least), as more awkward than endearing. Happyness can do rock just as easily as piano balladry and their melancholic sound is pleasant, but their songs are just not that memorable. The closer for this set was 'Montreal rock band somewhere'. Happyness claim to be baffled as to why its everyone's favourite song of theirs, as it's the one they spent the least time writing. Yet to me it's an example of what they do best. The song is little more than a simple groove with some guitar shredding on top, yet it works so well that I think Happyness should spend less time writing all their songs.


Friday, April 14, 2017

Another interview with Crime and Punishment 2011

My 3rd interview with Crime and Punishment 2011 took place in the smoking area of Subside bar in Birmingham on the 23rd march. The interview took place after CPK’s opening set supporting Eat Me. This was their first ever show with their new drummer Sam. Much like all interviews with CPK large sections of it were both unprintable and indecipherable, with many surreal turns that are not relevant to the band or their music, not to mention the sounds of other bands sound-checking in the background. I’ve done my best…
Subside wagwan! Hey guys, beat town blog coming at you like a rapture! Sorry guys I must say that every time I start one of these
Dan: Why will you get sued? Will my man come and get yer!
No it’s my sign on line, you know because I get benefits every time I do these things
Dan: I used to get benefits, I didn’t have a job, lets crack on shall we!
What would you say that you sound like to someone who’s never heard your music?
Joey: 7 layers of hell, Sort of Sleaford mods, but kind of more road and with more shouting (later Joey describes the band as ‘post music’)
Dan: seriously we’re like heavy grime mixed with hardcore influences
I thought ‘Grimecore’ was a good description
Dan: I liked that but definitely not Grindcore or grindr, or grimer,
-everyone tries to pronounce ‘Grimecore’-
Me (to Sam): how does it feel to be in a band with these absolute nutters?
Sam: I like them, I liked their music before anyway so it was quite natural coming into the band, it wasn’t a shock,
Dan: when we wanted to get a drummer, Sam was the first person that came into our heads. We were playing curbstomp and we were like ‘Damn! We need a drummer. And then we were like Sam would be cool and now here we are.
Sam: it’s all come naturally really.
I do like some of the little drum fills that you’ve added to some of the older songs, I think it works pretty well
Dan: were going to work on all our old songs apart from two, eventually I think
Joey: we reckon nefarious will be the next one to be cut
Dan says ‘you reckon?’ like 100 times
Me to Sam: Okay so are you in in flatline by the way?
Sam: No I’m in Bathtub,
Me: Okay it’s just I thought they were pretty much the same band
Joey: that’s racist!
Jason: All guitars look the same!
Dan: tell it to Jimmy Page!
Okay so How’s the album coming along? Any Deets?
Dan: we have like 6 songs written already to record and 4 songs ready.  We’re not putting deadlines on ourselves. We’ve put self-inflicted deadlines before and it hasn’t worked.
Joey: were not putting deadlines on ourselves because we don’t own a calendar
Dan: between the entire profit that we get from this gig were going to buy a calendar
Subside have free calendars but they’re all last years 
Joey: we can work to last years!
Dan: our band is literally 6 years in the past! But seriously the album’s going well, were just vibing and just doing it as it comes. Jason’s doing all the beats, were going to get our external guitarist to put some guitar on it.  I think we’re all going to have to get a bit more creative, because now that Jake’s left. Me and joe must do more of the writing now.
Dan and Joe talk about fish and chips for 5 minutes.
Okay so back on track. What do you want to call the album?
Joey: Sleaford Mods number 2
Dan: Our album is called FUBAR. Which stands for Fucked up beyond all recognition or flipping uteri Barry has roids!
Sam: Fucking under Barbeques, extremely realistic!
Dan: Who the hell spells extremely with an a!  Scottish people! Ach! Ach!TREMLEY!
Joey: That is so racist
So what do you want to do for the album cover? Have you got any ideas for that?
Joey: we’re all going to like, take turns cumming on Dan’s face
Yuck! So Dan’s face would be FUBAR buy the end of it! Make sure you shave off that beard first.
Dan: I would like something that would look cool on every kind of clothing ever so I can get rich.
This section of the interview has had to be cut, partly because it was so difficult to type down but also because it features several mentions of other bands that I’m sure CPK don’t want to start beef with. But also, features some revelations. For example Sam hasn’t heard of Crash Bandicoot, Dan’s ‘trying not to be fat as shit anymore’ and CPK are now a ‘straight edge band’
Dan: are there any-more proper questions? Joe! What’s the most embarrassing thing that hasn’t happened to you and why?
Joey: that hasn’t happened to me?  I don’t know erm.. I’ve never shat myself so.. that’s something that could have been embarrassing that hasn’t happened.
I was recording on a cassette tape one day and I accidentally recorded myself shart
Joey: have you still got that footage because we’d like to use it!?
I’ve still got the tape somewhere…
Joey: I think we’ll sample it!
Jason: I think we’ve found an album cover!
Dan: So basically we’ve got an album coming out, it’s gonna be sick. Come to our shows buy our T-shirts, Sam’s in the band, Jake’s not, go listen to J-Dead. Hellyeah!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Friday, March 31, 2017

EAT ME, Waco, Limiter, Pinky, Crime and Punishment 2011, Live at subside 29/3/17. Review

While the crowds were lining up at the academy and the institute I was on my way to a free show at Subside to see brummie 'grime-core' bruisers Crime and Punishment 2011 (7.2/10) (Who I interviewed after the show). Their last show (supporting the brilliant welsh pop punk group Junior) was significant as it was both the last show they played with the MC Glitch (who is now embarking on a solo career as J-Dead) and also the first set with their new drummer, Sam. This show at Subside was CPK's first full set with Sam as a small but appreciative crowd came over to see them play. While there were some issues with sound quality and Dan Carter now has to rap a mix of both his own bars and Jake's on the older songs, this seemed to almost work to their advantage, sounding more punk than ever before. Sam's drumming helped flesh out some of the older songs, while the newer tunes are dark grime flavoured bangers that bode well for the bands forthcoming début album.

Next up was the local duo P I N K Y (6.4) who like contemporaries such as Basement or other local groups like Bathtub seem to exist in a sort of odd middle ground between modern day pop punk and 90's grunge. Their lo-fi sound is stripped back to just vocals, drums and guitar. Although the guitar is soaked in noise from several effects pedals, and frontman Joel Price vocals flit between howling angst and cool nonchalance. Pinky are releasing a new EP soon which will definitely be worth checking out.

Bristol's Limiter (6.8) were the first of the two bands to appear on stage tonight who had travelled throughout the whole 'Bloody Norah Tour-ah' supporting Eat Me. When people talk about 'real emo'  I assume that they're talking about bands such as Limiter, who take cues from bands such as Brand new and mix heavy riffs, clean vocals and sweet guitar melodies together. Their set went down pretty well with the crowd loving their songs between the odd Gordon Ramsay baiting on-stage banter.

EAT ME's label buddies and tour mates Waco (8) were absolutely fantastic. Mixing unashamedly old school rock with a more modern punk rock style vibe. Their whole attitude is based on peace and love as well as loving in the moment. Rocking out in paisley patterns and Hawaiian shirts and throwing out all sort of rock star poses. Their singer looks as if he's walked straight out of 1973 and dropped plenty of casual hippie- style advice throughout the set. Telling people to live in the moment and inviting audience members to talk about conspiracy theories afterwards as well as and how the Birmingham crowd had 'kind faces and smiling eyes'. Waco have got loads of energy and plenty of musical chops, they are far too good to be written off as just another retro rock band. Put simply, Waco are a band who know how to party.

While most bands start to sound more polished over time 'the violent Hanson', EAT ME (8) defy convention by still being as raw and scrappy as they can on their third EP 'Melon Enema'. Eat me mix pop punk with math rock. So alongside the self depreciating lyrics and sing-along choruses are all sort of odd time signatures and guitar solos. They play pop punk with an almost jazz style abandoning of the rules. None of their songs seem to conform to any real structure. While their music might sound a bit of a mess at first listen in truth it takes a lot of skill for a band to sound as off the wall and impulsive as Eat Me do. Their set was loads of fun and afterwards I bought the vinyl copy of their new EP and they gave the CD's of the last two for free, thanks guys!


Friday, March 17, 2017

Junior, Live at The Sunflower Lounge 16/3/17. Review.

In a recent interview with Loud and Quiet magazine Savages' Jenny Beth made the point that 'Somehow it's okay to go to a show, see a band, drink a beer and walk home and that's it - I don't understand that.' While Jenny might be talking more about the idea of challenging an audience,  which she has done with her band, it's also a band's duty to entertain. Especially on a Thursday night in Birmingham. So thank fuck for bands like Junior (8/10).  While most bands would be rightfully pissed off at travelling all the way across the valleys just to play a show with a broken amp. Junior took to the challenge beautifully with their singer-bassist and drummer playing requests at random from whatever people shouted at them using one bass note. The best of which was the sing-along to Smash Mouth's hit 'All star' (requested by me).
Another highlight was the limbo championships. While the band played, audience members were invited to try their skills under the rope. Crime and Punishment 2011's Jake was the winner while Smart Casual's drummer Talbot fell straight on his arse. 'Limbo championship winner' t shirts can be bought from their merch table alongside more funky tie-dye shirts. Audience interaction seems to be a common theme at Junior shows, with band members playing in the middle of the crowd and kids crowd-surfing through the tiny venue.
All joke's aside though, when their kit works Junior are a fantastic live band, their take on pop-punk is infectiously joyful and packed full of heavy riffs and guitar solo's as well as the occasional bit of PSB style sampling. Junior are a tight live band and have clearly honed their musical skills on the road. While the rest of the world has moved on to depressed lean sipping rappers, Junior and fellow South Wales based punks 'Who Saves The Hero?', are keeping the spirit of 2003 and a completely non-ironic love of pop-punk alive.



Crime and punishment 2011, Bathtub, Straight for the Sun. Live review 16/3/17

While I may have missed Proud Ember's set I did manage to get to The Sunflower lounge to see Straight for the sun (6/10). Who faced with every bands worst nightmare, a show with their keyboard player and drummer missing, played a set of their songs stripped back to just two electric guitars and vocals. Yet they took to the challenge brilliantly, filling the set with lots of light hearted banter and editing their songs to suit their jangly take on indie and emo. The ballad 'Broken heart surgery' was a highlight as it proved that even without the extra instrumentation the band's vocals and guitar melodies are impressive enough.
After having seen Bathtub (6) about 3 times before it's a bit strange that it's only this time around that I've started to like them. Probably because this set At the Sunflower Lounge was one of their best. A powerful mix of pop punk and grunge, delivered with passion and a great little anti-Trump rant, "fuck sexism, fuck racism, fuck homophobia, fuck transphobia.."
While I have seen Brummie 'Grime-core' lads Crime and Punishment 2011 (7.6) many times tonight's set was something special as it marked Jake aka Glitch's last ever show with the band, as he departs to pursue a solo career as J-Dead. The first half of the set saw the band running through all their usual set-list, and playing favourites such as 'Bodybags' which had it's very last play, the furious call to arms' 'Rucksack' and the trap flavoured 'paralysed'. CPK have become so confident on stage that rather than just Joey Sniper screaming while Glitch and Dan Carter share bars, that they're all pretty much shouting on top of each other, creating a cacophony of noise over Jason's wall of beats and guitar samples. Joey Sniper got on stage and screamed from on top of the bar and staircase. While Dan jumped about spitting bars. After performing the moody 'There's a reason storms are named after people', Glitch left the stage and CPK's new drummer Sam, (who also played drums for Bathtub earlier on) joined them for two brand new songs. Both dark, grime flavoured bangers. Jake joined the band for the only time they'll have 5 members to perform a completely revised version of the bands' last single 'Nefarious'. The new mix of laptop beats and live drums work surprisingly well. CPK have found a way to step up their game without replacing Jake and while the old songs sound good, the new material sounds fantastic. With respect to Jake the new material is some of the most exciting yet, and Jake's last show with CPK was their best yet.


Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Interview with Luke Rainsford

Over the past few years Luke Rainsford has carved out a niche for himself in the Birmingham and midlands scene, as the singer for pop-punks Layover or the bassist in the of the Midlands Pop-punk group Fullshore. However, it is as a solo performer that Luke has found his ‘main focus’. I had met Luke a few times before getting to talk to him for this interview, yet still wanted to get to know Luke a bit better. You don’t have to meet Luke to get to know him however. As both of his albums are intently personal invitations into Luke’s world. Whether that be simple love songs such as ‘Streetlights’ or the alarmingly honest confession of suicidal thoughts named ‘I’m the coward I never thought I’d be’. Without asking for specific details of the girls he has sung about and his family. There isn’t much you could learn about Luke which you couldn’t from simply hearing his songs.
Our interview takes place on the bridge that leads punters into The Flapper. Luke is dressed casually in a simple shirt and jeans and despite the biting cold claims that after touring for so long he doesn’t notice it anymore. In person Luke is endearingly awkward. My admission that I’m not that great an interviewer is met by Luke saying ‘don’t stress’ and my comparison to my last interview with Crime & Punishment 2011’s Dan Carter, which involved him shouting and freestyling down my phone, Luke replies ‘I’m not as confident as that I’m a bit more introverted’.
Our 15 minutes talking outside the pub are regularly broken by awkward laughter, pauses and interruptions from Luke’s many friends. After a small chat about mobile phones I start by asking about influences.
Luke: ‘I used to be into a lot of pop-punk bands like The Wonder years and New found Glory now I’m, listening to stuff like The Front Bottoms’
Me: I’ve heard you cover them before but I’ve never listened to them
L: I recommend them! it’s like acoustic poppy -indie folk
It’s the name that puts me off
L: at first I was like what the hell! but they’re very quirky and indie.  They’re very tongue in cheek so the name does suit them
Some of my favourite bands have very crap names. I’m a big fan of King Gizzard and The Lizard Wizard
L: -Laughs- Sometimes great bands have terrible names. I know you’re into Crywank, at first it sounds like a terrible name, but it’s a pun on the phrase tearjerk isn’t it?
What happened to Layover then?
L: it just had its time really, we done what we wanted to do which is some dudes writing songs together, it was never meant to be anything that serious. We just wanted to have some fun with it. We were still having fun with it but we just wanted to do other things, like my solo stuff.
Who’s in your band then?
L: Darren from Fulllshore, and Zach from Coast To coast…
 So it’s like a pop punk supergroup?
L: Sort of, It’s just good friends of mine, they just wanted to help me out
Were any of these guys on the album then?
L: No I recorded everything myself, except for some piano parts.
That’s surprising because I heard a lot of interesting little guitar parts, that I didn’t notice on the first album
L: It was all me, the producer helped with some of them but I played it all.
I did notice a bit of a difference in the production. Like how Home Safe would just change half way through into something totally different.
L: I was interested in that; I didn’t want all the songs to sound the same because the first album was just all acoustic and I didn’t want to do it all the same again I wanted to mix it up.
Was the first album all recorded in your bedroom then?
L: It was done in a studio. it’s just that it was so simple there wasn’t much more to do with it. It started out as literally just some spare songs I had. It wasn’t meant to be anything too serious. As it wasn’t my main focus at the time.  For this new album, I wanted to put a lot more into out as this is my main focus now. I’m really happy with how it turned out. Especially with what you said about the songs changing halfway through. Home safe is a good example of that as it starts out really poppy and upbeat and suddenly drops.
I feel like only you could write a song with the chorus ‘You made me not want to die this week’.
L: I had the chorus for ages but I could never get it into a song. I’m happy about how it turned out. I wanted to do a really dark line over a really happy song.  I really like that vibe. It’s still kind of tongue in cheek.
At this point our interview turns to more of a general talk about the music we love. I talked a lot about Simon and Garfunkel, who I feel were masters of the happy song/sad lyrics idea. As well as other acts like Car Seat Headrest and Courtney Barnett. At this point I gave Luke a copy of Nick Drake’s 1969 début Five Leaves left, which he gratefully receives and seems interested in hearing. Our interview is short on scoops but he does seem surprised that profits from the gig are going towards the mental health charity Mind and hints at future fund-raising for the charity.
Luke also talks about his part time job as a drum teacher and the appeal of vinyl and cassettes over CD’s and downloads. The new album is being released on vinyl as a last-minute decision due to popular demand. The only subject we cross that Luke is reluctant to talk about is politics. Unsurprisingly for such an introspective artist, he isn’t the next Billy Bragg.
And with that our conversation ends, as the show is about to start. It’s a fantastic gig, with Luke and an audience singing songs of love, depression and despair. Luke hasn’t got fans, he has friends, and I’m happy to say that I’m one of them.

Luke Rainsford. Album release show review (24/2/17)

Luke Rainsford was in good company for this show at The Flapper. Proud Ember, Ben Bestwick and Crafterface are all in a similar vein to his own material. All three of them playing emotional acoustic numbers. Ben Bestwick has some beautiful love songs, all complimented by his soft voice and acoustic style Craterface provided a bit of a contrast, being much more punk rock in style, and having a fantastic roar of a voice.
J-Dead was a break from the acoustic sounds but still very much in the same heartfelt emotional style as many of the other singer-songwriters that night.  Backed by his soon to be Ex-Band mates (from Brummie Grime-core bruisers Crime and Punishment 2011), Jason Tyler on production and Dan Carter for some of the other songs. Most of the set came from Jake’s début ‘Headspace’ EP yet he already played some newer songs from his next EP. The set was short and sweet with Jake telling tales including those of domestic abuse and his troubled relationship with his father. He mixes both rap and spoken word, over sparse beats and production as well as also using songs by The XX and Twenty One Pilots as the backdrop for his own stories. 

Less than a year on from the release show at the flapper for Luke’s debut album ‘I’m nothing like my dad turned out to be’ (where he played the album in full) came the album release show for Luke Rainsford’s second album, the newly released ‘I feel at home with you’. This show was also special because it was the first show Luke had ever played with his backing band. A sort of pop-punk supergroup of Luke’s friends including those from bands such as coast to coast and Luke’s other band Wallflower.  Despite the sadness that lingers in many of Luke’s songs tonight felt like a celebration, with Luke being surrounded by his friends. After the first few songs from his new album were played with the new band, a selection of older favourites from the debut were played with a stripped back set up of Luke his guitar, and his drummer tapping on a wooden box.  Despite the band leaving this was far from being a lull in the show, many of the songs from this section are fan favourites. Crafterface joined Luke onstage for his guest vocals on ‘Never Could’ and Luke’s old friend Maddy Cheny joined him for the bittersweet love song ‘Lucid Dreams’.
While Luke may be far from the mainstream acclaim he deserves, he remarked that the crowd had doubled since his last album release show. Despite being only a year old, songs like ‘a note to my teenage self’ ‘a song about alcohol’ and ‘streetlights’ inspired singalongs from the crowd who knew every word by heart. Unfortunately, ‘streetlights’ was aired for the last time as Luke’s understandably a bit tired of playing it every other night. Not that this matters too much as newer singles such as ‘tie’s and ‘home safe’ with its chorus of ‘you made me not want to die this week, as weak as that might make me seem’creating an unlikely sing along. Despite being barely a week old many of the songs from ‘I feel at home with you are likely to be as adored as the songs from Luke’s début.