Posted 5 days ago

The eight tribes of vinyl collector

It’s Record Store Day UK! Whose tribe are you in? (I’m a nostalgic collector…)

Posted 2 months ago

Album review: Reptile Brain Music by Imperial State Electric

If you like your rock n’ roll just a little bit down-and-dirty, with irresistible rhythms and a distinct 70s tinge, Imperial State Electric is the band for you. Led by Nicke Andersson of The Hellacopters and Entombed, ISE hail from Sweden, and they come armed with enough party atmosphere for everyone to have more than their fair share. Opening track Emptiness Into The Void kicks things off in storming fashion in just under two frantic minutes, and from there on in through tracks including Nothing Like You Said It Would Be, More Than Enough Of Your Love, Underwhelmed and Eyes you’ll want nothing more than to be bouncing up and down or at the very least nodding your head hard and tapping your foot furiously. You’ll hardly get a chance to get your breath back before the end of final song Down In The Bunker, it’s that sort of album. 

ISE’s sound is a little Zeppelin, a little Thin Lizzy (with plenty of twin-guitar harmonies, especially on Faustian Bargains, a song that wouldn’t sound out of place on a Lizzy album), a little late-era Beatles, and of course a bit Hellacopters, but the resemblance that strikes me the most is to Redd Kross, the criminally underrated Beatlesesque Americans - although they’re more straight-ahead rock n’ roll than the Redd Kross songs I’m familiar with; it’s something about Andersson’s vocals that does it. 

They’re a versatile bunch, though - Stay The Night is sung by guitarist Tobias Egge, and the slightly crazy Reptile Brain by bassist Dolph de Borst, and having seen them live last month, I can testify to their being able to pull it off on stage too. I’d gone along to see Dregen, of the Backyard Babies and also formerly of the Hellacopters, on his live double-header with his old mate Nicke, and though I didn’t know anything about ISE beforehand (except that it was Andersson’s band), by the time I left the venue I was a newly-converted fan. They’re one of those bands who are polished but still rough around the edges live, just that little hint of danger in the air, and they look the part too, from Andersson’s peaked captain’s cap to de Borst’s slightly terrifying pornstache. Above all, Imperial State Electric are a whole lot of fun, and that’s one of the things I like most about any band. They’re enjoying it, the audience are enjoying it, everyone’s having a cracking time. Now I just have to catch up with their back catalogue, and that of the Hellacopters…I foresee a lot more fun in my immediate future. Which is the ideal antidote to a dull, dark, damp English January, I think. I can’t recommend it enough.

Posted 2 months ago

a meandering sort of evening

This has definitely been an evening for sitting on the sofa with a glass of something, the overhead light off and the lamp on instead, a few candles, and a little wander through my music collection. I began with U2 earlier and then moved on to The Mission, who were, at the beginning of their career, after their escape from the Sisters of Mercy, being touted as “the next U2”. According to their biography, anyway; it always read a little strangely to me, but then that was because I discovered them on my own via their single Butterfly on a Wheel and then rediscovered them a few years later via the goth scene and their even-then-years-old feud with Sisters mainman Andrew Eldritch. I always had that sort of slant on their music, rather than the stadium-filling-guitar-rock slant that music journos without the Sisters-related baggage would have had. I had a few years of listening to the Mission obsessively in the mid-1990s, and though I don’t put them on much any more, it’s always like re-encountering old friends when I do.

From the Mish I headed to other favourites from those years, mostly taken from a couple of compilation albums, both of which I thoroughly recommend if you can find them anywhere. One of them is Absolution: Rock the Alternative Way and the other is Nocturnal and once you get past the terrible titles, they’re both rather eclectic sets of tunes from the darker end of rock and indie. Either would be suitable background music for a goth dinner party, but they also include a few not-so-gothic gems (including There Is A Light That Never Goes Out by The Smiths and Don’t Let Me Down Gently by The Wonderstuff) and some beautifully atmospheric music from the likes of Dead Can Dance, Cranes, The Jesus and Mary Chain, The Cure, Fields of the Nephilim, the aforementioned Sisters of Mercy, Japan (the ever-wonderful Ghosts), The March Violets, Bauhaus and many more. Those two compilations were part of the soundtrack to 1997-1999 for me, during which I was doing a traineeship for the job I still do now, and then doing the associated masters’ degree course in London (another standout album from my masters’ year is Without You I’m Nothing by Placebo, but that’s another post in itself…), and listening to them now, even shuffled out of order and with tracks cherry-picked thanks to iTunes’ rather awesome ‘up next’ feature, brings back not just memories of that time, but the way it felt too, the way I felt there and then.

And then I moved on to The Cure, just because. Another band I don’t know nearly as well as I should, although I have most if not all of their albums (there’s only so much time in the day, is my excuse, and only so many days in the year), but the songs I do know I love to distraction. Boys Don’t Cry, Charlotte Sometimes, Caterpillar…and I’m finishing up with Pictures of You, before heading to bed, tired but happy and much more relaxed than I was when I sat down and read that article earlier that started it all off. Time to blow the candles out and go to sleep.

Posted 2 months ago

The Clash...and clashes with yardies: the man behind Brixton Academy

This is a fascinating article for anyone with an interest in the live music scene in the UK, and London specifically, in the 1980s and 1990s. I’ve only ever been to the Brixton Academy twice - once to see Bauhaus on their Resurrection tour in 1998, and once to see the Mission, Fields of the Nephilim and Gene Loves Jezebel a couple of years ago - but both times I was struck by the sheer size and atmosphere of the place. It’s an amazing venue, and definitely one better suited than most of London’s big old theatres to the rough-and-tumble of the gig scene. There’s also an extract from Simon Parkes’ newly-published memoirs about how he dealt with the aftermath of Kurt Cobain’s suicide, given that he was promoting four Nirvana shows and a festival featuring them as a headline act, due to take place a few weeks later. A salutary tale for anyone in the music business, and I can’t decide whether I’m impressed at his resourcefulness or dismayed by the capitalisation on the fans’ grief - but then again, the tickets were collectors’ items in a way, and he did manage to keep the business afloat…(see, now you’re going to have to read the article to find out what happened.)…all right, I’m more impressed than dismayed. Sterling work there on the creation of a little part of the legend.

The mention in the article of an early gig by U2 in 1986 (describing them as "a leftfield Irish band with a decent cult following") nudged me into putting on some of their music, and I’m sitting back now, listening to a nicely shuffled selection from their best-of 1980-1990 album, with a bit of War and The Joshua Treethrown in (yes, I’m one of those terrible people who a) listens to greatest hits compilations and b) listens to albums on shuffle - I find it a good way to get to grips with the music, and will either start a new album with a listen through in order, or will shuffle it for a while and then put it in order). U2 are one of those bands I never quite actually got into - I was always aware of them, growing up and being into music, they were never far from the radio back in the days when Radio 1 played this sort of thing without needing a specialist show for it (and Bono was just a rock singer). But I never actually got my paws on an album, probably because I just never quite found myself hanging around with a U2 fan who’d have pushed one upon me. It’s like with Springsteen - I always knew the famous bits but I’m only recently getting into it all properly.

So I’m sitting here listening to these absolute masterpieces, these classic songs I’ve heard a thousand times, that never fail to sweep me away. The sound is just so wide and deep and atmospheric, that jangling, almost bell-like guitar, the impassioned vocalshow is it just four of them? But at the same time it’s a very simple sound, vocals, guitar, bass and drums, simplicity and depth all at once, a perfect influence for so many of those who followed them. Close your eyes while listening to Pride or The Unforgettable Fire or Where The Streets Have No Name and you’re transported somewhere else, swept up into the song and carried away.

Their later material didn’t click with me as much, after about Rattle and Hum, but that first decadeoh yes, they really were on fire.

Posted 6 months ago

Wild Geese versus Black Swans, or: How everything relates to everything with Private Line

fantasmusica:

image

It feels a bit like a wild goose chase to get an interview with Private Line. The first date we agreed on falls through and so does the second, one day later, but hey – it’s Trash Fest time in Helsinki with enough other things to enjoy while waiting for a chance to talk. Private Line are headlining Trash Fest Friday and pull off a splendid set. Saturday goes by without a word (but with lots of delightful noise by fellow trashers such as Malice In Wonderland, States Of Panic and Lord Of The Lost), and on Sunday, Trash Fest VI ends with acoustic sets from some of the participating artists, with Private Line headlining again. “Someone in here who hasn’t got a hangover?” asks guitarist Jack Smack. It has been a great weekend, no doubt about that.

Playing acoustic comes easy to singer Sammy Aaltonen and guitarists Jack and Ilari Heinäaho; the three of them have been doing acoustic shows all year, and the atmosphere is vibrant and relaxed. I have been at some of these gigs, most recently at the show they played in their hometown Jyväskylä in July, but the quality of the songwriting, laid bare by the acoustic arrangements, impresses me every time. This afternoon is no exception – it’s a great collection of songs, ranging from emotional ballads such as “Grown Like Others” and “Billion Star Hotel” to heavier tracks like “Evel Knievel Factor” or “Black Swan”, reaching out to everyone on the benches and chairs that have been brought down to the floor of Helsinki’s Gloria Theatre.

With “Live, Learn And Grow Apart”, the house lights come up, and Trash Fest VI is officially over. I decide to hang around a little while longer, taking part in an impromptu rendition of “Bohemian Rhapsody” with a group of musicians and crew members, when Ilari turns up again: “Still want to do the interview? – We can do it now.”

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Posted 6 months ago

80srecordparty:

Another Girl, Another Planet b/w Special View
The Only Ones, CBS Records/UK (1978) 

Quite possibly one of the finest songs ever committed to vinyl, in my humble opinion anyway. Often to be found on punk compilations simply because it happened to be released in 1978, it’s never seemed quite like punk to me. It’s got the slightly ramshackle air of something from the punk era, but it’s also got the sweetness and whimsy of a true pop song and the sound and melody of new wave, all of it combined into three minutes of perfect pop bliss. The Telstar-esque satellite sound effect at the beginning gives it quirkiness, the almost bell-like guitar sound lifts it up, and the lyrics are simply wonderful, evoking that dizzy, heady feeling of being on the brink of falling headlong in love. Another Girl, Another Planet never fails to cheer me up, no matter how bad a day I’ve had. 

(I have been meaning for ages to do one of those ‘100 things’ memes about 100 of the songs that have shaped my life…might as well start here!)

Posted 11 months ago

nightbynightband:

biograffiti:

nightbynightband:

The moment. #nxn #nightxnight #nightbynight #band #london #rock #card #playingcard #video #videoshoot #themoment #music #british #britishrock

A little more Night By Night. This writer wonders if these cards might be made available for purchase? :D

Who knows! :D
They may turn up in some Special Edition CDs!

All right, I’m in. The best way to tempt an inveterate record collector is with special editions and extra goodies, you know. :D

Posted 11 months ago

nightbynightband:

The moment. #nxn #nightxnight #nightbynight #band #london #rock #card #playingcard #video #videoshoot #themoment #music #british #britishrock

A little more Night By Night. This writer wonders if these cards might be made available for purchase? :D

Posted 11 months ago

nightbynightband:

The Moment playing cards used in our latest video. #nxn #nightxnight #nightbynight #card #playingcard #themoment #videoshoot #video #london #band #rock

Here is a band you should be following if you have a soft spot for 80s (or later!) melodic rock and/or killer harmonies. The Moment is a fantastic song, and I’m really rather thrilled it’s going to be a single and video very soon indeed. 

Posted 11 months ago

Happy Placebo Day! (perhaps a little belated, it being nearly ten in the evening…)

I almost can’t remember a time when I wasn’t hopelessly, irrevocably in love with Placebo. I remember Nancy Boy, before it broke big, playing on the cable music channel The Box. I remember just missing their performance on Top of the Pops that had the nation guessing whether that pretty singer in the little black dress was a boy or a girl, arriving just too late at my friend’s flat before we went out for her stag night. I remember Without You I’m Nothing, one of the albums that got me through my nine months in London. I remember drifting out of touch for a while, and then back in with Black Market Music, after seeing Brian on Never Mind the Buzzcocks. I remember seeing this video, for The Bitter End (my favourite song of theirs, although only just; Ashtray Heart is a very close second), on Kerrang!TV and being blown away all over again. I remember Meds(released on my birthday) and Battle for the Sun, a triumphant return. So many happy memories, and so many friends, right across the musical spectrum, with whom I have in common a love for this amazing band.

So to you all, on the second of May…much love, and I’ll see you at the bitter end.