Saturday, 22 December 2012

Quick 2012 Gig Round Up

This year I was lucky enough to experience Killing Joke ignite ten fine Gatherings and White Hills bring their psychedelic whirlwind to five English towns. I also found great joy in the four Mission of Burma gigs I witnessed, as well as five Mugstar gigs, and was honoured to hear Uzeda play on three occasions. I saw all these fine bands twice: The Ex, Nomeansno, Shellac, Kogumaza, Acid Mothers Temple, Boris, Subhumans, Nightingales and the Stranglers. I also enjoyed great gigs from the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, Swans, the Dirty Three, Arbouretum, Mark Stewart, Pelican, Ministry, Lee Ranaldo, Glenn Jones, Helmet, Stephen Malkmus, That Fucking Tank, Bilge Pump, Ty Segall, Hookworms, Nope, Cowtown, XXL, The Necks, Konk Pack, James Blackshaw, TV Smith, Charles Hayward, Teeth of the Sea, Carlton Melton, Suzuki Junzo, Barn Owl, Ken Vandermark, Buzzcocks (with Howard Devoto), Hugh Cornwell and the Jim Jones Revue, amongst too many others to mention. The Manchester music scene was at its strongest for years, with so many great bands providing the only solid reason to live here. Here's to even greater rock action next year from Easter, Warm Widow, Day for Airstrikes, Yossarians, Desmadrados de Soldados Ventura, Plank!, Burnst, NASDAQ / FTSE 100, Bratan, Wode, Queer'd Science, Gnod, Last Harbour, Klaus Kinski, Irma Vep, Sex Hands, Hammers and the many other musicians who keep this city rockin'.

Thursday, 20 December 2012


End of another year so here is an incomplete list of the best albums I heard in 2012:

Godspeed You! Black Emperor - Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! (greatest emotional impact)
Killing Joke - MMXII (this got the most plays by far, best lyrics and addictive tunes)
Swans- The Seer (an experimental rock masterpiece)
Mission of Burma - Unsound
Bob Mould - Silver Age
Mugstar - Axis
Lee Ranaldo - Between the Times and the Tides (and demos album too)
Dinosaur Jr - I Bet On Sky
Arbouretum / Hush Arbors - Aureola
Easter - Innocence Man
Ty Segall - Twins
White Hills - Fying on this Rock
Arbouretum - Covered in Leaves tour CDR
Bardo Pond - Yntra
Rangda - Formerly Extinct
The Dirty Three - Toward the Low Sun
Bailter Space -Strobosphere
Mark Stewart - The Politics of Envy
Plank! - Animalism
Unsane - Wreck
Last Harbour - Your Heart it Carries the Sound
Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Americana
Soap and Skin - Narrow
Mark Lanegan Band - Blues Funeral
Jon Spencer Blues Explosion - Meat and Bone
Gallon Drunk - The Road Gets Darker from Here
Minibeast - Look Don't Look
Ministry - Relapse
Firewater - International Orange
Sir Richard Bishiop and David Oliphant - Beyond All Defects
Hugh Cornwell - Totem and Taboo (demos)
Okkultokrati - Snakereigns
Carlton Melton - Photos of Photos
Thomas Koner - Nova Zemlya
Evan Caminiti - Dreamless Sleep
Jon Porras - Black Mesa
Giant Giant Sand - Tucson
Al Doum and the Faryds - Positive force
Nope - Revision
Thee Oh Sees - Putrifiers II
Jim Jones Revue - The Savage Heart
Windy and Carl - We Will Always Be
Calexico - Algiers
Guided By Voices - The Bears for Lunch
Guided By Voices - Class Clown Spots a UFO
Guided By Voices - Lets go Eat the Factory
Robert Pollard - Jack Sells the Cow
Eternal Tapestry - A World Out of Time
Neil Young and Crazy Horse - Psychedelic Pill
Gnod / Spit and Shine split
Mono - For My Parents
Camera - Radiate!
Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project - The Journey is Long
Aki Onda - South of the Border
Dead Rat Orchestra - The Guga Hunters of Ness
Turing Machine - What is the Meaning of What
Earth - Angels of Drakness, Demons of Light II
Flaming Lips and Heady Fwends (dumbest album title and worst cover)
Boris - Attention Please
Boris - New Album (best album cover)
Nightingales - No Love Lost
Malka Spigel - Every Day is Like the First Day
Black Dice - Mr Impossible
Too many Acid Mothers Temple albums to mention them all

3 CDR EPs by NASDAQ, Wode and Tribal Fighters

A CDR album by Stray Light - Bearing Feathers

Several 7" singles by Roger Miller, Dinosaur Jr, Kim Deal, Ty Segall, Retribution Gospel Choir, Obits, Gallon Drunk, Lost Cherees

Reissues by My Bloody Valentine, Codeine, Sugar, Bob Mould and the mighty Bitch Magnet (who all those who like Shellac and Slint must hear right now, OK?)

And an ultra-special mention for The Lost Tapes by Can which turned out as great as much of their best

I had a listen to a couple of songs Piccadilly Records album of the year (Goat) and was left thinking it just sounded like hippy dippy folk rock from 1973.

Monday, 17 December 2012

On the Road to Apocalypse

With the imminent end of the world as we know it nigh, there seemed no better time to hit the road and get as much rock action as possible. From the day the Dirty Three illuminated Manchester cathedral with vibrations infinitely better than the religion that tried to blind John Lydon, until a mere five day countdown to the Mayan poleshift I visited five cities and one south coast holiday camp and witnessed 109 performances from 93 bands. Now it's December 17th and they're all gone dead, except when you read this it probably won't be December 17th anymore and they will have all been resurrected by mad St John on a bad ergot trip to rock the world again in 2013

For those who rocked the nation, I salute you!

Zun Zun Egui, The Dirty Three
Medecine Bow, Hopper Propelled Electric, Bones Shake
Rife, Gaunt, Wode, Sump
Battery Face, Bratan, Queer'd Science, One Man Dance Party
unremarkable Preston band with silly horror masks, The Fall

Nephu Huzzband, Kogumaza, Uzeda (Nottingham)

Former Utopia, Uzeda, Bottomless Pit (London)

Arnold of Zea/The Ex with Xavier Charles, Jackdaw with Crowbar, Terrie Ex/Andy Moor/Mats Gustaffson two guitar and sax trio, Ken Vandermark solo, The Ex (London Cafe Oto, best atmosphere at any gig ever)

Shellac, Helen Money, Myownflag, Stnnng! , Oxbow, Uzeda, Scrawl, Turing Machine, Mono, Prinzhorn Dance School (Camber Sands)

The Cravats, Three Second Kiss, Kash (3 songs), Buke and Gase, Bottomless Pit, Arcwelder, Red Fang, Wire, Melt Banana, Kim Deal, Shannon Wright, Neurosis, KK Null solo, Zeni Geva (Camber Sands)

Rachel Grimes, Nina Nastasia, Bear Claw, The Membranes, Pinebender, Alix, Future of the Left (2 songs), Gay Witch Abortion (2 songs), Mission of Burma, Dead Rider, The Ex and Brass Unbound, Love in Elevator, Shellac (Camber Sands)

Cursor Minor, Future of the Left, Mission of Burma (Bristol)

Broken Arm, Bilge Pump, Mission of Burma (Leeds)

Joe Volk, Boris (Manchester)                    

Mission of Burma, including soundcheck with a cover of Pink Floyd's "Astronomy Domine" which didn't feature in the set, and a support band whose name I have forgotten in London

Hammers, Doctrines, Dauntless Elite, Throwing Stuff, Pure Graft, Arteries, Calvin Ball
The Dickies, The Damned
Applecore Electronic, Bratan   (eleven bands at three gigs in one day in Manchester)

Paper Town, Epic Problem, Subhumans

Micheal Newman (cello) and Paul Wheatley (double bass) performing "Sonata a Deux" by Jean Barriere and "Throughout" by Bill Frisell at the RNCM
Percussion duo Delia Stevens and Le Yu performing "Plato's Cave" by Casey Cangelosi and "Blue Motion" by Stephen Whibley at the RNCM

and later that day:
The Borealis Saxophone Quartet and an eleven piece string ensemble performing "Borealis (Into the Blue)" by Lucy Pankhurst and "Plan B" by Graham Fitkin

And later still that same day:
Wode, The Art of Burning Water and another great metalcore band

Then I returned to Bristol to see
Joe Volk and Boris again
Lost Cherees, Subhumans and another anarchopunk duo whose name I forgot

Then things got experimental at Dulcimer with a quartet of Semay Wu, Richard Harris, Dave Birchall and Kelly Jones, followed by Richard Scott and then Konk Pack

Die Hexen and Hammers in a comic shop

Yossarians, Paddy Steer, N. Racker at Shebeen festival

More statistics

I saw Mission of Burma 4 times (plus a soundcheck) and Uzeda 3 times.

I saw all of these bands twice:

The Ex
Joe Volk
Bottomless Pit

I visited these towns:

London (twice)
Camber Sands
Bristol (twice)

If I rewind back to 16/6 and make it a month (31 days) I can also include perfromances from Aki Onda, Supersilent with John Paul Jones, Sir Richard Bishop and Swans taking the total to 113 by 97 different bands, plus one soundcheck.

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Welcome to my Nightmare Top Ten

I just returned from an extended version of the Shellac Nightmare Before Christmas. The Fall played the first Shellac curated All Tomorrow's Parties but not the one at the end of 2012, however I went to see them for the first time since the "Fall Heads Roll" era at Factory, Manchester the night before I headed off to Nottingham to see Uzeda, Kogumaza and Nephu Huzzband. I then travelled south to London for another Uzeda gig, supporting Bottomless Pit who like Uzeda had been invited by Shellac to play the three day event at Camber Sands. The next day I saw one for the best gigs I've ever heard, the Ex at Cafe Oto, supported by Ken Vandermark solo, a trio of Terry and Andy of the Ex on guitars and Mats Gustafsson on sax, Jackdaw with Crowbar and Arnold of the Ex playing Zea songs acompanied by Xavier Charles. Chairs got folded up and piled high in front of Ex guitarist Andy Moor, as the people wanted to dance!

The first song Shellac played as they opened their return to All Tomorrow's Parties was "The End of Radio" in which Steve Albini sings, "Welcome to my top ten." So here is my top ten  of the 35 bands witnessed that weekend, having seen at least two songs from all bands performing:

1. The Ex and Brass Unbound
2. Mission of Burma
3. Uzeda
4. Shellac (twice)
5. Wire
6. Melt Banana (who would maybe rate higher had they not clashed with Wire, meaning I missed the first half of their set)
7. Nina Nastasia (who regrets eating valuable Twinkies and dislikes Snotsuckers)
8. Rachel Grimes
9. Scrawl
10. Turing Machine

None of these ten bands were new to me, but there were in fact 15 bands who played who I had never heard before. Only Alix, Buke and Gase, Bottomless Pit and Bear Claw made it into my top twenty...

11. Mono (marred by too much drunken babble)
12. Zeni Geva (preceded by a short KK Null noise set)
13. Shannon Wright (with full on rock trio)
14. Alix
15. Kim Deal (with funny fuck ups)
16. Buke and Gase (with Bob Weston on bass for one song)
17. Oxbow (with orchestral musicians)
18. Bottomless Pit
19. Bear Claw
20. The Membranes

The best song of the weekend was Rachel Grimes rendition of a song written by the late Jason Noble of her  band Rachel's, on which Shannon Wright sang. Here is a video of "Last Things Last"

The new songs played by the Ex suggest their next album will be their best one yet. Here they are catching shoes

Shellac had enough new songs to suggest that an album could maybe appear next year? My favourite one featured Steve screaming in an anguished manner. Here they are perfroming "Steady As She Goes" for the second time that festival.

And here's a new song they played twice which sounds rather like "In A Minute" slowed down

Wire have rewritten the lyrics for "Underwater Experiences" and Graham Lewis told me it was now known as "Attractive Space." I came it was so, I wanted to go see Melt Banana downstairs...

Melt Banana are now a duo of Yako and Agata and played a great fast cover of Louis Armstrong's "Wonderful World."

The worst band were Kash, who put me in mind of a Lynyrd Skynard tribute with Eddie Vedder on vocals, and I endured them for three songs.

When it was over, I met Scrawl at the bus stop and sat next to Marcy Mays on the bus back to Rye railway station. I then travelled to Bristol for more Mission of Burma, and then to Leeds where they were supported by the ever wonderful Bilge Pump and Broken Arm. I also interviewed Mission of Burma before the Leeds gig.

Here they are at the Nightmare. I was right at the front on the Roger Miller side.