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Archive for October, 2009

VARIOUS ARTISTS – Maximum Party, Volume 1 (DVD, Cops & Robbers)

Posted: October 20th, 2009, by Dave Stockwell

Cops & Robbers have listing the best bands at the best DIY gigs in Leeds, hands down, for a decade now. What do you mean you’ve never heard of them? They’ve even got a half-decent website now! Being a non-profit organisation, they do need to raise funds to cover overheads now and again – sometimes gigs, sometimes other means. Today, here’s a brilliant little DVD compilation of various Leeds-based bands and friends – and it’s only £3.99! Totally bargainous, eh? Put together by Claire from Printed Circuit and featuring some super-swanky artwork by Kathryn Cooper, I have no hesitation in recommending you buy one now. But hang on a minute, maybe you want to know what’s on it? Okay, heeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeere goes…:

The finest live rock band in the land, Bilge Pump, open up proceedings with a rough video recording of their performance at the C&R 10th anniversary jamboree at the start of this year. Their song is the oft-quoted classic “Thank You Very Much”, and features even more giddily-excited call-and-response choruses from an ecstatic crowd than ever. A fantastic way to start.

Next up are the fabulously costumed Beards, who look like something out of Willy Wonka’s candy-addled nightmares and contribute a choppy and mildly deranged live track “Gold Medal”.

Executive Legs have a live version of “Monkey” recorded at an infamous Chinchillafest at the venerable Brudenell Social Club. Their track is bouncy, feisty, wonky fun fun funk.

Printed Circuit contribute a hilarious video of their future club-classic “My Butt Hurts”. It’s like Spike Jonze’s video for ‘Praise You’ re-imagined as a laugh down the pub after a few pints, and is all the better for it.

Cowtown‘s home-animated video for their classic “Kitty Runs Away From Garlic” features Mario, Pokemon and runs like Michel Gondry’s kid let loose with a video camera and a bunch of toys.

Yoko, Oh No!‘s video for “I Play Guitar” matches the ultra-glitched-up electro-pop against tweaked computer animation and an unexpected “cameo” by Mayhem, of all people.

Cleckhuddersfax do live track “Buses”, which sounds like Super Furry Animals on some particularly strong PCP and features some beautifully honky keyboard sounds.

a.P.A.t.T. serve up a music video for “The Face Of A Crow”, which looks and sounds like prime ’80s-era Prince funking it up with a broken Moog, and features some arsing about whilst dressed up as a crow from the old Kia-Ora adverts. Reassuringly weird.

Chops‘ completely bastardly broken rock-electro-noise is given a visual accompaniment with a distinctly home-made chop-up of archive video and bizarre staged rituals for their song “Ill-Eagle”. It’s very strange indeed.

Tigers! pop up with a super-rough, super-rocked live track “Taipei”, which features glittery costumes, a guitarist dressed up like an Ewok and a completely distorted bass sounds that only adds to the feel. The “Oh yeah!” shouted when they stop the song on a dime makes everything feel fuzzy and warm.

Last up, non-Leeds-based Caifornians Kit do a soundcheck and 4 songs live at the Leeds Irish Centre as support to a Deerhoof gig, strutting their herk-a-jerk Shaggs-meets-Deerhoof-uptown-with-Huggy-Bear stuff. Sorry, it’s better than that, featuring a totally awesome headbanging drummer and the ugliest bass guitar you’ve ever seen.

So that’s it. Pretty bloody good for less than £4, eh? Plus, if enough copies of this are sold there’s promise of a second volume, featuring an entire Quack Quack gig! You can buy this DVD from the Maximum Party website for £3.99 postpaid anywhere in the world. Go! Buy! Go buy now!



SPUTNIKO! – Parakonpe (DVD, 360 Degrees Records)

Posted: October 19th, 2009, by JGRAM

This just might be the future of presenting albums: release it as a DVD of videos only.  No CD, just DVD.  Years ago Sonic Youth did it with their Goo video but the plums went and released it as a conventional record also.  Plums.

Sputniko! is a female Japanese artist currently residing (and inventing) in London.  Citing Takako Minekawa (Mrs Cornelius) as one of her many influences here possessed are thirteen tracks of demented and subversive chiptune, almost J-Pop songs in that neon manner only Japanese artists seem able to construct/contrive.  With the cute smiles they get away with murder!

Things begin with “Google Song” and the tale of shy Japanese schoolgirls too scared to speak to boys they fancy who instead put their name into Google as a fluffy adventure into subtle stalking.  Playing on stereotypes, perversion and a wicked sense of fun early Sputniko! reveals herself as a cunning exploiter of the listener’s awareness.

With the invention of Wakki Sputniko! demonstrates her invention of being able to play an instrument designed by herself with movements of her armpit.  On the DVD she later demonstrates that Wakki is a knitted soft toy with a Wii controller inside it and on “Wakki Song” this is where the gift is best examined and executed.

Live favourite “Chinko Song” continues the silly theme of the piece especially when considering that when this pretty young lady is repeatedly singing “chinko” as the chorus she is singing the Japanese word for “penis.”

Slowly the album begins to resemble the music equivalent of commuters reading Anime porn on Tokyo underground as “Child Producing Machine” becomes possibly first and definitely the most explicit ever pop song about a lady having her period.  During the middle of the song she gives birth in what feels an increasingly uncomfortable listen from a lyrical standpoint especially when considering the tone of the vocal delivery and the upbeat Nintendo music guiding the song.  With lyrics such as “I’d rather be a cyborg than a goddess” who can fail?  Here comes a nervous smile from the listener.

Basically here is the dark undercurrent that ripples beneath the beautiful neon lights of the Japanese experience, the one where cartoons are about killers, bears are gloomy and the females are not so subservient after all.  There is part of me that suspects she is something of a female Japanese Borat but at least a good one with it.

In this format accompanied by a grand set of clever videos expertly delivered on a small budget this is a really stunning offering caked in humour and cultural difference confusion.  Sumptuous.

Thesaurus moment: edifying.


Sputniko! live

360 Degrees Records

CASTROVALVA – “Thug Poetry” (CD single, Brew Records)

Posted: October 19th, 2009, by Dave Stockwell

Seems like it was only 5 minutes ago that Leeds-based bass ‘n’ drums duo Castrovalva released their debut mini-album, but here they are, back with not only a new single, but a new sound! Well, kind of. Having apparently bolstered their ranks with a vocalist by the name of Leemun Smith, their addled-Lightning-Bolt noise rock has become more structured and generally poppy than ever. Not only that, but Leemun seems to have affected them all with a gansta rap obsession. Nice.

So anyway, how does this new combination work then? Well, the first song “Thuglife” begins with a good minute of rubbish samples and gun loading sounds before kicking into a fairly standard hyper-rockin’ riff, which sounds predictably great. And then the squeaky vocals start, with all sorts of whoopin’ and hollerin’ backing them up. The song then breaks into a half-time beatdown section, which carries on until the music fades out underneath the vocodered vocal line “my ghetto love song”. Weird.

Second song “Outlawz” starts off as another party anthem, spoiled by more bratty vocals. It soon devolves into a load of screaming and some cool bellowed vocals, but it all seems a bit half-cocked. Before you know it, there’s a final bout of riffery before the song grounds to a halt, and barely 6 minutes in the single has finished.

Castrovalva’s list of influences once consisted of Lightning Bolt, Hella, Death from Above 1979 and Oxes; now they include N.W.A., Notorious B.I.G. and Prince – you can definitely count on the latter for the vocals, and presumable B.I.G. for the half-arsed song construction. It’s an interesting attempt at doing something ‘new’ with a few disparate sounds, but I’m not convinced this isn’t much more than a novelty exercise at the moment. If this brief treat was a 7″ flexi-disc or something suitably natty I’d be convinced of its merits as a pit-stop on the way to something bold and new for Castrovalva. As it stands, the ‘ghetto’ aping/satirising/celebrating image they’ve gone for barely works for me, and I hope it serves merely as a pratfall they took 5 minutes out to get out of their system. Time will tell.

“Thug Poetry” by Castrovalva will be released in an edition of 500 CD singles and as digital download “from all major stores”. Coinciding with the release will be a series of free downloads for people who buy the single (let’s hope they’re a bit better).



TRACY MORGAN – Life, Love & Lust (DVD/CD, UrbanWorks)

Posted: October 13th, 2009, by JGRAM

I have to admit that this stand-up DVD and album is a few years old now but thanks to his performance in 30 Rock Tracy Morgan has now gained worldwide exposure with his scene stealing moments and with some further investigation I managed to uncover this true gem of a stand-up comedy performance.

Released as a DVD but coming with a bonus audio CD of the show this is by far the best and funniest example of the stand-up art form I have seen this year.

Obviously a great black stand-up comedian is always going to be compared to Richard Pryor and there are definitely some moments that come straight out of his legacy but as with a lot of modern comedy the real strength comes in his invention with crassness.  With this he has that great assertive delivery that snaps and bites just on the right side of sounding aggressive.

As an individual Morgan is a very endearing and mysterious person.  A person widely known for wrestling with various demons his deliver contains a lot of confessional material and streams anecdotes for which a hyperbolic measure feels almost impossible.

Listened to through headphones on public transport this is embarrassingly laugh out loud stuff.  Delivered in a seemingly purposely dumb manner Tracy picks apart peoples tiny foibles with a distinct lack of bashfulness but never is humility a casualty in the piece.

When Michael Jackson passed away earlier this year it felt scarily apt to be listening to Morgan’s run down of his situation on “Don’t Be Like Mike” and how the guy probably just need “a plate” and some family compassion.  Of course Tracy also acts how he would happily boast of being sucked off on the spinning teacups by Michael to his homeboys but that is beside the point.

His admissions of porn preferences and sexual acts (“I like to eat the pussy until I burp”) is both enlightening and levelling as he points out flaws and hypocrisies on both sides of the fence in the war of the sexes.

After a couple of sharp and revealing family anecdotes about relatives tooting cocaine and his cousin Jimmy (“Negative Ass Jimmy”) being in a wheelchair but earning no sympathy in the process, the most genuinely funny material arrives in his observations regarding superheroes.  Or rather more to the point why there are no black superheroes.  After quickly dismissing the Hulk as just being “some drunk white dude” and revealing that Robin “wanna fuck Batman up” Morgan leaves the listener with a whole new perspective on the Marvel Universe.

It all comes together at the end with a bit too much information on the subject of love revenge (“Monique”) and Tracy Morgan fully earns his stripes as a scary talent housed in a scary human being.  Off the back of SNL and 30 Rock though the world knew this already.

Even if it isn’t, it feels fearless.

Thesaurus moment: jocular.

Tracy Morgan


OWEN TROMANS & THE ELDERS – The Fall Of Acre (CD, Sacred Geometry)

Posted: October 5th, 2009, by JGRAM

The Tromans by now is something of a seasoned songwriter that has been subtly very prolific with his output that stretches right back to his stint fronting San Lorenzo.  After a number of solo efforts here he is once more backed by a band to great degree of success.

Early on there is a staunch Wire/Gang Of Four attached to proceedings with “The Bad One/House Of The Magicks” as a post-punk Jekyll And Hyde feel slaps/snags the track between the rails taking the listener to a very dark place as atmospherics bubble in the background while in the foreground jagged guitars and snarling vocals rule the roost.  This could weather the music of a murder in the rain as a high standard for the record gets set from the start.

As the record revolves equally the sound evolves when a whole new series of instruments are introduced on “Golden Connection” and a mesmerising tone is added like one of those acoustic tracks on a Led Zep record.  With it comes a warm trumpet that sooths the sound into some kind of graceful submission and luscious conclusion as the minor epic closes out to the sound of the coast in all its glory.

Elsewhere there a number of hook laden chants but as the album arrives at “The Dead-Eyed Man” a collective shanty feel erupts over dealings paying tribute to the traditions that came before these times.

The standout track arrives in the form of “Acre”, a genuinely epic workout that represents the sound of a man going through torture as the song distorts and descends into some kind of treasured madness but never outstaying its welcome.

By the time the disc rolls to its conclusion the overriding emotion is one of pleasance at what appears to be some of the bleakest times, this feeling is warm(th).

With a raven on the cover looking over proceedings this is a true departure with everything ventured and everything gained as the eleven tracks on display surf over many spaces and genres to create a very accomplished series of events.

Often with these tunes I feel he is singing about me.  There is a lot of depth here.

Thesaurus moment: requite.

Owen Tromans

Sacred Geometry

ANDY NICE – The Remixes (Download, Front And Follow)

Posted: October 1st, 2009, by JGRAM

Created to accompany and compliment his recent “The Secrets Of Me” album here is Andy Nice again now with a four song EP to download for free featuring a quartet of electronica acts each offering reshaped and enhanced versions of tracks from said album.

The initial reconstruction comes from the hands of fellow Front And Follow recording artists Sone Institute.  To the string-based haven of “The 4th Man” now added into the mix are further intricate atmospherics adding a new dimension of mortality.  Keys drop into the mix as vastness rules supreme and the layer affect hits home.

Following comes the remix effort of Yellow6 serving to compliment the original cello strands with a delicate bass pulse giving the track “Orangeblu Home” a new lease of energy and infusion of trait before it all breaks down in calculated method at dusk with eleventh hour female vocals emotively dropping in.  With it a submerging sensation is added to the already claustrophobic feel of the track.

Stepping up next is the Isnaj Dui take on “Dr Titan” with is a full frontal squeal of angst allowing the cello to breathe in amongst desolate whistles and mesmerising sounds that serve to further enhance the hypnotic aspects of Mr Nice’s music.

Keeping up with the Front And Follow theme/motif of the releases the final remix comes courtesy of Elite Barbarian who also take a stab at “The 4th Man”.  This is the most full on electronic remix of the release as bleeps hang heavy over proceedings often snuffing out key textures of the original.

As an exercise in music exploration these four new renderings manage to add new textures to already fulfilling pieces of music creating a whole new identity all their own.  Awash with chilled elements none of the remixes outlast their welcome.

This EP can be downloaded for free at www.jointhecircle.net/andy

Thesaurus moment: again.

Andy Nice

Sone Institute


Isnaj Dui

Elite Barbarian

Front And Follow