Bastardgeist

So, 2014 will see mini50 working with this awesome artist from Chicago, Bastardgeist.  Our desire to expand the label, improve the label and make the label, well just fucking immense will be helped greatly by this young man.  And guess what Scotland……he’s playing shows here this week.  All the information you need about these are below along with some nice videos of Joel playing some songs in an abandoned mental hospital.  Awesome.  If you can get along to one of the shows please do as he will have vinyl to sell and stories to tell.  Thanks.


Bastardgeist, aka Chicago’s Joel Midden, is an intensely talented singer, kalimba player and producer who released his second LP, entitled Infinite Lives, in 2013 via Brainlove Records.

Bastardgiest has enthralled audiences around the USA and Europe with his delicate falsetto voice, textured electronics and acrobatic kalimba playing. He recently recorded live sessions of Notable American Women (gleaned from the LP) and L.A. Looks, a new song, for Derelict Music in London, shot in an abandoned mental hospital.
Stream/embed the captivating results via YouTube here & here.
Midden will embark on some live dates in Scotland in February. Further US & UK dates will be announced soon. Infinite Lives is available now on vinyl and digital formats via http://bastardgeist.bandcamp.com.
More on Bastardgeist: http://projekta.is/bastardgeist.
FEBRUARY SCOTLAND DATES:
01/02/14 Henry’s Cellar Bar, Edinburgh https://www.facebook.com/events/503086476471202
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The Felice Brothers – 17th March 2012, ABC, Glasgow.

The Felice Brothers are one of those bands that seem to have gathered a large cult following based on their earlier albums, in particular ‘Tonight at the Arizona’ and ‘The Felice Brothers’ then disappointed said following with ‘Yonder is the Clock’ and ‘Celebration, Florida’.   ‘Tonight at the Arizona’ remains my favourite record of theirs but in no way did the latter albums disappoint me in the way they seemed to disappoint many.  Sure, ‘Yonder is the Clock’ is a safe follow up to ‘The Felice Brothers’ but it is not lacking in quality tracks.  And who can really criticise a band for cementing their status and securing their fan base before doing something a little different?  Which is exactly what they did on ‘Celebration, Florida’.  Drum machines, samplers and other contemporary musical aids employed brilliantly, yet many people laid into the record for being ‘disappointing’ or for not sounding like The Felice Brothers.  Sometimes being a musician/artist is a no win situation.  Play it safe and you’re not brave enough/boring.  Do something a bit different and you’re straying too far from what you’re known for.  Not many get away with being brave and sometimes – as highlighted by Radiohead – it is only with time that the more risqué albums start to get the appreciation they actually deserve.

I always find that the best way to address such concerns is in the live arena.  Wilco do it brilliantly.  Those who question later Wilco albums and adore ‘YHF’ and ‘AGIB’ would probably be rendered clueless as to which tracks were from which records if they didn’t know the band and then saw them perform live.  And the same can be said of The Felice Brothers.  At the ABC on St Patrick’s Day, The Felice boys delivered a show that was quite simply the best thing I have been at in a long, long time.  Not just musically, but also as an overall performance, they were superb.  It’s been a long time since I’ve been at a show and seen a band really truly appreciating doing what they do.  You could see it all over their faces.  When James addressed the audience saying ‘This is the biggest room we’ve ever played.  And it’s full of people’ you could tell that the night genuinely meant so much to them.  When the crowd joined in with ‘Whiskey in my Whiskey’ you could see the band were touched, stunned and delighted by the response.   Their performace was fun, yes, but delivered in a professional way by hugely talented musicians who are clearly thankful to be able to do what they do for a living.

Some amusing highlights of the show included violinist Greg Farley tossing bread to the audience during ‘Take this Bread’, Craig Finn (lead singer of the Hold Steady and support act for the evening) coming out during ‘Frankie’s Gun!’, dancing and then drunkenly delivering a garbled/rapped version of the second verse of the song – much to the amusement of the Felice Brothers.  Finn re-appeared during the encore to clap 2 cans of Red Stripe together over the audience whilst pretending to know the words of the songs.  But whilst these moments added humour to the show it is the music itself that did the talking.  Tracks such as ‘Hey, Hey Revolver’and ‘Greatest Show on Earth’ were re-worked to fit the feel of the band live.  And there was a much bluesier feel to their music live.  They remain full on Americana but they add a massive amount of blues to their live sound aided in no small way by the wonderful drawl of Ian Felice on vocals/guitar.  That voice.  Seriously.   James did a fair turn on lead vocals too though.  ‘Goddam You, Jim’ far more beautiful than on ‘The Felice Brothers’ with accordion prominent and James’ vocal turning the song into something it’s not on the record.   Something more.   The whole show.   Something much, much more than I had expected.  To say I was blown away is an understatement.  And the drum machine and sampler was there and used to full effect in old and new tunes.  Embracing technology and using it to great effect.  They do that without a doubt.

I left the ABC with a massive smile on my face.  Craig Finn was a good support act.  The antics of Greg Farley were something to behold.  The musicianship of Farley and James Felice and the interaction between the two, something special.  The Felice Brothers superb.  Make no doubt about that.  I’d go to see them every night if I could, just to experience that feeling again and again.

The Beating of Wings

Last night we saw The Felice Brothers at ABC in Glasgow.  It was stunning.  I read Simone – the former drummer and one of the brothers is playing the Electric Circus on 11 April so checked out his website.  Found this piece he did for the Guardian.  Sometimes things just get you right in the soul.  So beautifully written.

I would not be just a nuffin’,
My head all full of stuffin’,
My heart all full of pain.
I would dance and be merry,
Life would be a ding-a-derry,
If I only had a brain…
 (Lyric by E.Y Harburg)

When snow lay heavy on the land, and our January winds sang in the trees and beat at the plastic we’d hung in the cold door to keep the oil bill down, when Christmas trees lose their meaning and shed their needles until their needles lie in quiet circles on the floor like wreaths in shadow: That’s when I died.

Stuck with other needles. Morphine and glucose. Twelve years old in a white room. Shapes and movement, the sound of machines, the colored lights. Kingston, New York. 1989.

Apparently when you die they call for a priest. And priests come quick. My mother Patti wouldn’t let him in, kept him at the door with a look, a red palm held out, a string of words: ‘You can’t have him.’

He listened. The beat of his black sneakers fading forever down the hall. No last rites that winter day, no good book. Just a cold line on the computer screen by the bed, flat and then back alive, God’s own crude Atari game.

 

Chance? Fate? Medical science? Chaos? Love? I pick the last. Call me a romantic. A dreamer. Diluted. Trite. I’ve been called worse. It was love that kept me here. Surely it must have been. And stubbornness, to be fair. My family. My Pop and Nan, sister Clare, brother Ian, and many others. Patti most of all. They wouldn’t let me leave. Love. That’s what’s saved me, time and again.

*****

Much later, after I’d learned what had happened, I found myself piecing the story together in my mind’s eye like some vague jigsaw I lost in a flood, trying to make it fit. Even now, twenty years gone, when I go to call that time back to mind, the scenes balk and struggle to the surface like things nearly drowned, until they line up and do their best to play out in sequence, a haze of smudged pictures conjured through cracked memory and hearsay: I’d gone to school, collapsed in the hallway, been wheeled off to the Nurse’s Office, where she took my temperature, found it high, and called my mom to come fetch me.

 

Once home they drew a cool bath and put me in, hoping to cut the fever. I’m told it was there the hallucinations began. I thought my stepdad were trying to drown me. I beat the water. I flailed my arms and screamed.

Frightened now, Patti got in the car and sped the half hour down the mountain to the closest medical center, Benedictine Hospital. With a squeal of brakes, she pulled up in front of the Emergency Room doors, dumped the shifter in park, left the engine running and ‘Ran in carrying you in my arms like you were on fire.’

Inside they told her it might be spinal meningitis, a swelling of the membranes that surround the brain and spinal cord. All the signs were there: crippling pain, fever, hallucination. They called for a spinal tap, but the room where they did the procedure was in use. The neurologist on the scene, Dr. Frontera, bless him, wouldn’t wait for the room to be free. He wanted a closer look at the brain. So he had them wheel my gurney to another floor and send me through the bright sci-fi tunnel of the then newly developed C.A.T scan (high technology for the late 80s) to find that the early diagnosis of spinal meningitis was off the mark. I had suffered a massive brain hemorrhage.

They called it an cerebral aneurism, a weakness in a blood vessel that had ruptured, bled out and filled the space between my skull and brain with fluid and blood. The pressure was causing the brain to swell and the swelling was killing me.

It was in a new room on a new floor in a different wing where I suffered the seizure. They had begun to prep me for emergency brain surgery when it happened. The smell of laundered sheets and sterilization. The omnipotent hum of base technologies.

This is the first time I’ve ever written any of this down. Yesterday I sat with my mom, August sunlight in through the screened-door to fall on her kitchen table, our hands, my notebook, and asked her to tell what she remembers. Here was the part of the story we never talked about. The missing piece. And here I was now on my witch hunt. And of course the witch I sought was me, hidden roots and bloodletting, a chance for healing, and chance for real tears, mine and Patti’s mingled on the tablecloth like watercolors for the child she’d clung to.

My mother tells it like this: The seizure made you arch your spine. You bit your tongue. Your eyes rolled back in your head.

When the seizure was over I held your hand and you looked at me and said: Mom I’m gonna die. I told you: No you’re not going to die. But then you did. Just like that. You knew. Somehow you knew.

The screen flatlined and all the bells started ringing. When the doctors came running I thought they were going to ask me out of the room but instead they told me to climb up on your bed and talk to you, tell you you can’t die. They shocked your chest. They shot you full of adrenaline. And I held your face and told you you couldn’t die.

There was an ice storm that night. The worst in a century. The roads were closed, so they had to send a State Police 4-by-4 to gather the neurosurgeon and nurses and bring them all to Benedictine.

The surgery lasted hours. Afterward, the doctors came and said you were alive. But not to get our hopes too high. If you survived the first 24 hours you’d have a 50/50 chance of living. If you lived you would likely have some degree of brain damage. If you lived there was a good chance you’d be blind.

‘Does he play the piano?’ someone asked.
‘No. Why?’
‘The area of his brain that’s been affected, some of which we’ve removed, is the area associated with music, art, creativity. If he played piano before he may not play again.’

*****

After I made it past the initial 24 hour period, touch and go, the neurosurgeon, Doctor Gabriel Aguilar, bless his soul, told my mother that the physical pain I’d been though was a close second to what it might feel like to burn alive.

The nurses in the ICU took to calling me ‘The Miracle Boy,’ and did not hide the nickname from Patti. I don’t think I had any clue what the word miracle really meant until I watched my own daughter come into the world.

But Pearl was still a universe away. That summer after they brought me back from the dead I got my first guitar. A cheap affair, hardly ever in tune, same as the years that followed. But I spent them nonetheless, all twenty odd, in wholesale pursuit of the great rock & roll delusion.
And still climbing its greasy ladder.

Did Lazarus have a green room? Was there Scotch on his rider? Did The Times review him favorably? Did he sell out the 100 Club? Was he met with fevered applause when he rose for his greatest show?

Or was there stillness on the land? Broad copper-tone hills rolling out as far as the eye could scan, clouds like torn linen the shape of dream-horses in a dying sky, mild bird on the olive branch. Peace on earth. If only for a moment. Only a heartbeat.

When I was a kid I swore I’d be a Marine like my Pop. Rattle-snake dreams. Black sands of Iwo Jima. The Frozen Chosin. The Perfume River. M-16. Get to the chopper! Medic. Medic!!

That’s when Patti took me aside and told me: ‘The pen is mightier than the sword.’

Maybe so. But can the blog diffuse the homemade nail-bomb? Can a song bring down a drone? This is the new world. Less brave than we might’ve dreamed. I was in Italy. Last show of a month’s tour. Creepy hotel. Broken elevator. I climbed seven flights of stairs to my room, lost my breath, went pale and collapsed on the floor in the hall.

When I came to I touched the key-card to the door, went to the bedside and called Patti. Thirty-three years old.

‘Hello.’
‘Mom?’
‘Hi Honey? Are you okay?’
‘Mom, there’s something wrong with my heart.’

I did the gig that night and flew home the next morning. My dear wife Jessie, eight months pregnant with our child, drove me up to a cardiologist in Albany. I have no health insurance but my cousin Kelly is a nurse up there and pulled in a favor for Patti. They looked at my heart on a big screen and told us that I had developed aortic stenosis, a calcification of the main artery, an anomaly brought on by some childhood trauma, and that there was no medical explanation why I was still alive. I might’ve died on the plane. Might’ve died on stage.

So there I was back in the white room. They prepped me for anesthesia. I kissed Jessie’s belly. They wheeled me away and ran a tube down my throat. Emergency open-heart surgery. Aortic valve replacement.

When I woke in the recovery room I could hear the faint, steady tick, tick of the mechanical valve they sewed inside me. Then I heard the glad, hushed whispers my family in the hallway, just outside the door. I was drugged and thirsty. I asked the nurse for a drink of water and to please tell everybody they could come in from the hall.

‘Mister Felice?’
‘Yeah.’
‘It’s three in the morning. There’s nobody here.’
Tick. Tick. Tick.

*****

A month later our daughter was born at home in a summer thunderstorm. Pearl Simone. A wild-eyed treasure from a better world. Her father has an eight inch scar on the backside of his skull that runs from the crown of his head down to behind his left ear. If my hair is shorn close you can see it a block away. You might even think me a soldier. Made it home by the skin of his teeth. Luck of the Irish.

And if you see me on a summer’s day, down by the river’s edge, no big plans, no shirt, you’ll see the long pink seam that runs down the length of my chest like an angry zipper. Put your ear there and you’ll hear me tick out the time.

I am the tin woodsman, hunting a heart. I’m the scarecrow, please deliver my brain. I’m the crocodile who swallowed the pocket-watch. The bound witch in the hickory flames. The far-too serious kid who’s still trying to keep the oil bill down, a freak thunderstorm threatening always behind my sea-blue eyes, strange and electric, losing hold sometimes, gathering courage again, there, just a little ways up the channel.

I haven’t learned as much as I imagined I would by now. But I do believe we pass in and out of this world like a song on the wind. And that most of what we see and do in this life is grossly out of tune, behind or ahead of the beat to varied degrees.

But there are moments. You’ve known them. A kiss in a parked car. A melody in the dark. A meeting of eyes. A beating of wings. A babe come in a thunderstorm.

She’s got her father’s swagger. And her mother’s goodness. And Patti’s strength of spirit.
Go on, boy, write her a song. Read a story by lamplight. Sleep near and greet the pale sun together. Dance with her in the wet grass, round and round.

When she’s old enough to understand, tell her how her Grammy loved you back to life in the long ago.

Love her like it’s your last morning on earth.
Love her more than yourself.
Love her more than yourself.

I’d Happily Take All Those Bullets Inside You And Put Them Inside Of Myself

So The Antlers were great.  What I saw of them anyways.  I cannot get my head around it.  Why on earth on a 2 band bill would you open doors at 8.30pm and then not have the Antlers on stage until 10pm? Playing a set of 1 hour and 45 minutes meant they finished at 11.45pm.  The last train to Edinburgh is 11.30pm.  So, being realistic, you have to leave at about 11.15pm at the very, very latest to have a chance to make the last train home.   I was gutted.  I had not looked forward to a gig so much for a very long time, so to miss almost 40 minutes of their set was pretty hard to take.  And it’s not the first time it’s happened with Tuts.  When I went to see Grand Archives earlier this year they started so late that I got to see 3 songs of their set before I had to run!  DF added a 4th band to the bill that night – obviously to try and shift more tickets.  At least with a 4 band bill there is an explanation to why the headline act start late.  But if there is an explanation as to why “Scotland’s Best Live Venue”  had The Antlers starting so late that anyone needing to run for a train missed so much of the band’s set, then I’d love to hear it.  I know people moan about early starts in Edinburgh and places having 10pm curfews etc but had The Antlers played Cab Vol and I lived in Glasgow, at least I know I’d have seen their whole set and caught my train home comfortably.  It’s just common sense to have shows that cater for all people, even those travelling to the shows from distance.

Anyways, what I saw of the Antlers was sublime and confirms that they are one of the most exciting and creative acts around right now.  Why they are only playing a venue the size of Tuts I will never know.

Bright Eyes – Oran Mor, Tuesday 8th February 2011

Malcolm Middleton as support.  Well, it’s a good way to kick things off.  I mean, I’ve paid about 15 quid to see Malcolm Middleton do his solo shows in the past, so to see him as the support for this show was a pretty massive bonus.  It was weird though, because when he took to the stage it was to almost no reaction from the crowd.  He could have been any old punter, apparently, to the audience at Oran Mor.  Not a former half of one of Scotland’s finest and most recognised bands.  It was frankly odd.  Perhaps down partly to the age of many of the audience members, perhaps down to the fact he was sporting a little cap, glasses and a ginger beard – almost incognito.  The point about audience was raised by Middleton himself after his second number “I just made the cardinal sin of looking your audience in the eye – even worse, looking somebody else’s audience in the eye” he quipped.  He mentions that the music he is playing is from a new record he’s recorded “for something to do” before saying it’s mainly instrumental so “just think, or talk amongst yourselves”.  When the audience take that as a sign to have a good old blether during the next number Middleton’s response is “when I gave you the choice to think or talk…well I’d have done exactly what you all did too”.  The lack of attention was a real disappointment because Middleton’s performance was just lovely.  In his short set, not only does he show off his skills as a talented song writer, but as a very talented guitarist.  It’s completely different to anything I’ve heard from him in the past, but it’s just great and I will be checking out this new project.  You should too.  Do so here.

Bright Eyes is Conor Oberst, Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott.  It’s easy to forget this fact given that everything seems to centre around Mr Oberst, a point highlighted by the fact he delays his entrance to stage coming on last after the others have their places.   And everyone is here to see him, right?  Well, I guess the answer for me would be yes and no.  The man is quite clearly a brilliant front man.  He’s cool.  He’s good looking.  He’s a bit of an enigma in many ways.  On stage he is restless, prowling around, moving from one band member to the next, engaging with the crowd as if he is Ricky from Kaiser Chiefs and in general making himself the centre of attention in every way possible.

However, equally as interesting to me is what is going on around him.  With Bright Eyes, Conor Oberst has a collection of brilliant musicians who seem to be able to cope even when his behaviour is a little rock n roll (immature!?) – case and point being during set closer ‘One For You, One For Me’ when he launches a beer over his head that lands on Nate Walcott’s keyboards, soaking them and making for one very pissed off looking band member.  And so he should be pissed off, because it is fundamentally the trio of Walcott, Mogis and drummer Clark Baechle (he’s single apparently) along with keyboard/vocalist Laura Burhenn – that hold the whole show together.  Indeed, Walcott has so much to do during the performance that I am surprised he can actually remember everything during the enthralling two hour show.  It’s funny how quickly a front man can get pissed off when others do things wrong (I should know) but all he/we has to do is play guitar and sing – believe me, it’s not that hard to manage.  Far harder is when you have 4 sets of keyboards and a trumpet and need to remember all your parts on a song never mind 2 hours of songs.  I did this with Mammoeth and Woodenbox and it’s much, much harder to contribute everything to somebody else’s songs than it is to play the ones that you yourself wrote.  So, as Oberst captures the hearts of the girls who want to touch him and the envy of the young guys who long to be him, I spend most of my time focusing on the musicians around him and just how fucking class they are.

That’s not to say the songs are not brilliant.  They are.  However, without the people around him I fear that Conor Oberst would be far less important and that, in any band, is how it should be.  With Bright Eyes the contrast works perfectly.  Oberst taking the spotlight and the others just doing what they do.  The balance is right and it seems to work for everyone.

The first half of the set was simply blinding.  Predominantly made up of new tunes, tunes from ‘Cassadaga’ and ‘Digital Ash’ it was full pelt and full on and is completely captivating.  It’s when he drifts in to older territory that I was a bit lost, though the music remained very, very good.  The band is so tight and the instrumentation is simply sublime.  My only criticism in any way is the use of 2 drum kits.  When 2 are required due to different beats it worked.  However, too often the second kit seemed to be there to add weight to the overall sound and it is really not required.  The drummer is so good that I really don’t see the need for the second drummer on many occasions.  Still, a small quibble.

As Oberst spat his way through tunes from ‘Wide Awake’ and earlier it was really interesting to note that, in the same way that the new songs stand out on record, they stand out in the live arena too.  As my review of ‘The People’s Key’ suggested, Bright Eyes have produced their best record to date, so it’s no surprise that it is these songs that I enjoyed the most in the set.  True diehard fans may disagree with me on this point but, I really do think they’ve found their sound with the new songs and trying to make the older ones fit didn’t always work for me.  Sometimes you just need to let them be what they are, rather than updating them to fit a set.

Overall, this was a great performance for a first night of a tour.  Oberst will always be the centre of attention.  It seems to be the way both he and the band like it though.  By letting him hog the spotlight the other members of Bright Eyes can focus on making the whole thing sound amazing.  The other night it did.

However, the night for me was soured a little by an incident that occurred during the encore, when the woman standing behind me fainted.  I mean, she decked it.  Badly.  The people around were brilliant and got her into the recovery position and made sure she was ok.  However, the way the whole affair was handled by the staff at the venue was nothing short of shocking.  When told that a woman had fainted, one member of security simply shrugged his shoulders!  Nobody popped round to tell the band to stop playing, make an announcement and let the woman be safely moved from the middle of the venue.  So the encore raged on and eventually a doctor waded through the crowd to help her.  Now, I’m not criticising Oran Mor directly for this whole situation, but I do believe that the health and well being of a person should come before the music going on on stage.  The band were oblivious to the event too but I am sure would have gladly missed a song from the set so she could be properly attended too.

 

So yeah, to sum up.  Brilliant gig.  Appalling medical response.

People Of Glasgow And Edinburgh…

Conquering Animal Sound roll into Glasgow tomorrow night – Friday 11th to play a show at the Captain’s Rest.  If you are free, do get yourself along to support the guys.

On Saturday 12th it’s the official CAS album launch at Sneaky Pete’s in Edinburgh.  I’m well aware of the clash that evening with another Edinburgh acts farewell gig/album launch.  However, if you do want to see CAS and are planning on going to the other show in the evening, the guys will be doing an instore show at Avalanche Records in the Grassmarket at 3pm.  So, if you can’t make the evening show, do try and make it along to the afternoon.  You can tie it in with an afternoon of music shopping and coffee.  Hopefully the sun will shine and so you can make a day of it.  Please do try to get to one of the shows and support the guys (and your local music shop) if you can.  Thanks.

 

Spokes/Tomorrow We Sail – The Basement, York, 23rd November 2010

I haven’t really written a live review for a while, mainly because I’ve not been to many live shows.  I think this year I’ve seen maybe 5 gigs in total.  I used to manage that in about 2 weeks.  However, I don’t miss it one little bit.

Last week was a bit different for me though as going to York for a gig is a bit more exciting, a bit more of a novelty than going to Sneaky’s or the Wee Red Bar.  Plus, I’d never heard Tomorrow We Sail or Spokes before.  Well, I say I’d never heard Tomorrow We Sail but technically I had heard them rehearsing in the cellar of Rich’s house the night before.  So although I had not heard them properly, I had a fair idea of what I was in for.

There’s something really wonderful about York.  The moment we arrive I feel like I could exist in that place.  It’s old.  It’s beautiful.  The River Ouse dissects it.  I think all great towns and cities have a river or are near water.  I love being near water and the river in York adds to the overall beauty of the place.  There’s a calmness about the town that I love.  We look at gravestones for those who died of cholera, a random strip of ground just outside the train station.  We walk along the town walls for a bit.  Then we make our way to the King’s Arms, a little pub on the banks of the Ouse renowned for flooding when the Ouse decides to burst her banks.  Inside there is a marker on the wall to show how high the water has reached when the floods have come.  The walls bare the scars of water damage but the atmosphere is just perfect, as is the cheap lager.

After grabbing some food we head to the venue.  The basement is a strange place.  A cinema and music venue.  The smell of popcorn at a gig is an odd one, but one that is quite welcoming.  If I had had money I would definitely have bought some and eaten it in the venue just to see how people reacted.  As a space I don’t like it.  Bit modern.  Low ceilings.  Nowhere for the sound to go.  Nowhere to really stand.  I hear soundcheck and am concerned about the noise levels.  When the gig start my concerns are confirmed.

Tomorrow We Sail are a really good band.  Interesting songs and good players combine to create a really enjoyable 4 song set.  However, the main vocals are the only ones that are really audible throughout.  I know others in the band are singing but I have to strain my ears to really capture what is going on.  It’s something that repeats itself during Spokes set and it’s a bit of a pain.  It’s the room and the sound system rather than the bands that causes this problem.  I guess I’m a vocal freak and I’d rather everything else was turned down a little so that the, at times, 5 vocals can be registered.  But it’s a small complaint in an otherwise strong set.  I’m not sure if I’d compare them to other bands from this part of the world, but there is definitely a Leeds-ish-ness about them.  I like it a lot.

Spokes are completely new to me.  I know the name.  But I’ve never heard anything by them.  When we get home a discussion about whether the new stuff or old stuff is better and why takes place.  I’m a bit lost.  All I know is what I heard and saw this evening and for me it was just not enough to blow me away.  The discussion later in the house intrigues me though so I probably will check them out online.  Plus, they had good t-shirts on sale and that’s always a bonus in my eyes!  Anyways, their set, or what I see of it as we have to run for the last train to Leeds, is interesting enough.  I feel there is a formulaic style to their music, which if translated on to record would bore me quickly.  Again, the main vocal dominates the others and I really cannot bare the song sung by the violinist.  Yet there is enough to suggest that this is a band I could get into if I give them time and wasn’t so judgemental based on one show.  So despite leaving the venue with a sense of ambivalence, I really enjoyed the overall experience and would recommend that you check out both these acts if you get a moment.  I will certainly be listening again.

Check out Tomorrow We Sail here and Spokes here. Enjoy.

 

 

With The Notes In My Ears.

This weekend was one jam packed with music.  I have been struggling to get to nearly as many gigs as I used to since Roddy was born.  An inevitable result of being a parent I suppose.  Something that I am also more than happy with.  I guess it makes the gigs that I do get to that little bit more special and important to me.  This weekend I was at 3 shows on Friday, Saturday and Sunday nights.

First up was my good friend Andy Tucker’s album launch night.  Tucker and the Scattered Family, as his assortment of musicians are known, have just released a record called ‘Twelve Tall Tales’, which I have reviewed previously on this site and recommend you check out.  It’s always nice to be at a friends album launch night but even more enjoyable when the performance is something special and Andy and his cohorts did not fail to deliver on Friday night.  A set packed with new tunes, sprinkled with Dead Beat Club album numbers and topped with the sublime ‘Circa 1985’ really was the perfect way to start the weekend.  As one of my friends pointed out, it’s hard to understand why Andy isn’t better known in the Edinburgh “scene” as simply put, if you like King Creosote it’s hard to understand why you would not like Andy.  Music snobbery to the fore perhaps? I don’t know.  What I do know though is that this was a great performance by a great performer and you should all check him out here.

After the drunkeness of Friday night, Saturday’s gig was all about staying sober.  I even took the car just to ensure the Meursault album launch didn’t turn messy, which surely it would have had I not driven.   It was a pretty sweet start to the night as mini50 signings Conquering Animal Sound were first up.  I don’t want to go on and on about them too much as they are part signed to my label and it’s not cool to constantly write about your own bands – I have a mini50 page for that – but I thought their performance was excellent and started the night of perfectly. I have to say, I was pretty proud of them.  They’re going to do so well.

Meursault were just awesome.  I’m not planning on reviewing their new record.  I am good friends with Phil and Neil, so I think I’ll let others do the talking about the record.  I wouldn’t expect any bad reviews though, lets put it that way. Anyways, the set was basically the album from start to finish and in the live arena the songs take on a whole new energy.  Set closer ‘A Fair Exchange’ is just stunning.  On record, clocking in at just 1 minute and 52 seconds that song simply takes my breath away every time.   It was a beautiful way to finish a stunning set from a band set for big things this year.  Of that I’m sure.

And so to Sunday.  Without a shadow of a doubt Sunday was my favourite show.  I have never ever seen anyone as good on piano as Nils Frahm.  I sat in the Captain’s Rest in Glasgow in stunned silence as this young man from Germany captivated the audience with some of the most beautiful and technically challenging pieces.  Just sublime.  For anyone who loves piano you MUST check out Nils here.  One of my favourite gig moments ever was during his second last number when Rob Lowe of Balmorhea sat down at the piano half way through the number and Nils and him played out a duet.   This was a stunning piece of piano playing from both men.  Just sensational.  It reminded me of when my brother and I had to do similar things.  Except 100 million times more impressive!  Just jaw droppingly brilliant.

Balmorhea were not a band I’d ever heard before.  I’d heard the name but not their music.  I will now be buying everything they have ever done.  That was a sensational set.  There music is strange in a way. Almost like modern classical music that is deeply rooted in the south of the United States and spun out via some straight up prog rock.  Beautiful piano motifs complimented by sublime strings then all of a sudden mad guitar, pounding drums and banjo all crash in.  I’ll need to buy their music on record to really get to grips with them but their performance was nothing short of outstanding and I will without doubt be buying their stuff.  And you should too.  Check them out here.  Buy it here.

All in all I had a great weekend of music.  It really was special.  All 3 shows.  This week looks like being dull in comparison.  But I feel inspired.  I’m off work and can feel a couple of days of songwriting on the cards.  With the notes still in my ears from the weekend I can’t help but want to play music.  Anyways, check out the artists above.  And enjoy.

Library Tapes Live In Edinburgh

Here’s a gig recommendation for you and it’s not just cause I’m doing a solo set as part of the night.  In fact, I’m on first and probably won’t play more than 4 or 5 songs.  I’m simply helping to advertise this show because Library Tapes are stunning.  Just wonderful.  If you like your ambient, modern classical music then you are going to adore Library Tapes.  I wrote about his work way back in January of this year here.  Please, if you have a love of all things quiet and beautiful then do make your way along to the Roxy Art House for this one.  The line up looks pretty cracking and for a fiver it must be worth it surely? Do come along.  Info below:

TEN TRACKS PRESENTS

in association with Sleepsound Agency and Vixen Records:

LIBRARY TAPES

“Excellent” BOOMKAT

DAN ARBORISE

“Inventive and mercurial…a quiet gem” UNCUT

WOODCHUCKER

“Woodchucker produces hazy, distant memories of music – sounds of faraway places smothered in a cacophony of fractured noise. Stunning, haunting stuff. ” DROWNED IN SOUND

YUSUF AZAK

“eccentric and often delicately original” THE SKINNY

EUAN MCMEEKEN

“Without his colleagues, McMeeken’s music is a different beast – fragile, simple, like the sound of a Christmas card-perfect snow scene” UNDER THE RADAR

THE ROXY ROOM

7pm, WEDNESDAY 21st APRIL 2010                                                                                                    

    advance price from brownpapertickets.co.uk….     £5