Category Archives: Uncategorized

Hey Bulldog – No Future Part II

I was talking to Sequin World from Twitter before a Lucid Dream gig. So I said “yeah, ‘No Future Part II’ by Hey Bulldog is probably what New Order were intending on Movement”. 

“Steady on” said Sequin World, “I know you’re biased,  but come on”.

“I am biased”, I admitted, “but I love New Order too, and I genuinely think that the songs’ mix of motorik beat and stately glacial guitar solo’s are what New Order were probably aiming for when they made Movement. That’s not to say Hey Bulldog are better than New Order, but Hey Bulldog are incorporating sounds into their traditional rammalamma and nailed it first time, it’s very exciting that the band has taken their approach to mind-freeing guitar solo’s and mastery of technique and gone in a fresh, new direction. It also shows off that as a group of musicians they’re the best around. Moreover, production is tip top, Rob’s vocals have never sounded better. Anyways, I’m going to get a good spot for The Lucid Dream…”

‘No Future Part II’ is a masterpiece and available to buy here.

You can follow Sequin World on twitter here and for that matter, colourhorizon and Hey Bulldog too.

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The Lucid Dream live at Yes 09.02.2019

Up past the sun, way out in space, deep in your bones, boiling up in your guts are The Lucid Dream, not just the best band of the 21st century, but THE band of the 21st century, the defining union of climate and music and soul. Where head spinning, brain empowering strains of motorik, techno, noise and psych coalesce into a union of hedonism where fan and band become one, where the music made by four sweaty men possesses both them and the sweaty mass of bodies below, blurring the demarcation of where one ends and the other starts.

Like all the best dance music The Lucid Dream make immersion music for the body. And make no mistake despite all their pedals and noise-making trappings The Lucid Dream are resolutely dance music. Shedding any pretence of having short, snappy tunes, each monolithic slab is engineered for maximum pleasure; slave to the rhythm and a dictatorship of the groove.

Each time they play to a bigger room the audience grows; more disciples, more sweaty brethren.

The DIY ethos of the band means each fan is hard-earned and equally embraced. Whether it is your first time or your twentieth the buzz of excitement is the same; the call to arms and the relinquishing of control to the beat. 

From the huge, punishing ‘SX1000’ to the bouncing aggro-dub of ‘I’m A Star In My Own Right’ the setlist is carefully constructed and then banged out like shells from a howtizer. The starting and stopping of songs is only required for the taking on board of liquids; they could play one long seamless blend for 75 mins and kill everyone with music.

No more words required. Just music. And The Lucid Dream are here and they have it. Gorge yourself. They have the shit to take you up with them; up past the mother fucking sun.

The Lucid Dream’s latest album is available now. Buy it.

Eyewitness footage taken from up past the sun taken by a lunatic.

The Maitlands live at FC United

On Saturday The Maitlands opened for FC United. Unfortunately, not in the centre circle, which to be fair, everyone was all in favour of.

They played before the match vs Altrincham under one of the stands, between the cheap bar and the even cheaper bowls stuffed with steaming hot pie. It’s a long concrete tunnel with metal support struts that would have been perfect for a Joy Division gig.

FC United have struck a great concept: getting a local band before each game, enforcing their community minded ethos. Meanwhile for The Maitlands it was a great opportunity to show off their new EP, Bury The Hatchet. This idea has huge potential – combining grass roots football and grass roots music.

The Maitlands lie at a critical nexus point between The Ruts and Roxy Music. Musically fair wide, even if not alphabetically.

To elaborate further, their songs are generally powered by spiky, salty riffs as batted out by Ste Moran, who swipes his guitar with punk enthusiasm, dancing and singing along to the songs while he does it, like a young Steve Diggle he is, but probably on less coke (I saw The Buzcocks at The Apollo once and he was beyond Venus).

The other Ste, Ackley (noted for his lush pink telecaster) builds on this punk basis and adds textures and rhythms, without bringing The Maitlands close to a psych shoegaze mire. 

When these two guitars interact it takes a song in two directions, but this split works and the songs are allowed to inhabit a fascinating hinterland.

This is especially evident on ‘Kisses For The Masses’ which most typifies this Roxy Music parallel. A shockingly classy song layered around chiming guitars that doesn’t fit the concrete bunker they’re playing in, but the strength of the melody makes it work no matter what the setting.

Saul, the drummer, is quietly impressive, skillful without showboating and make full use of his kit. He’s very Paul Thompson, so again, the Roxy Music link holds strong.

Matt on bass was left a little low in the mix but as always thrusts The Maitlands along on a purring little motor.

And Carl, the looming front man? Buoyed by his band and the confidence he has in them, is taking the art of singing pop songs in several unexpected directions. The songs are riff based and catchy which allows him the leeway to slip around in the songs like an eel in a tumble dryer.

His song construction interests me as their new EP shows he is favouring a style which, while not eschewing chorus’, instead chops the chorus’ up and places them at various points of the song. ‘Dangerously Sober’, with which they opened the set is a great example of how he takes a set of phrases such as “oh Jim we’re back on the Columbian marching powder” and “don’t tell the Pope, let’s keep it as an inside joke” and turns them into mini choruses firing through the first half of the song. Then the song stops and starts again with some a new set witticisms, re-emerging from a fog of “vaporised nicotine” like the hero of the song. ‘Kisses For The Masses’ performs the same trick, and Carl starts the song as if we’re already in the final reel, structurally it’s very close to ‘Speedway’ by Morrissey.

These acts of lyrical deconstruction typify the Maitlands approach to combining a good time with breaking the rules. Because The Maitlands never forget that a band is their to give a crowd a good time, they start with the witty, punchy ‘Dangerously Sober’ and their most pop-centred tune ‘She’s A Ghost’ leaving the more experimental ‘Daunting In Derker’ til the back-end til when they have won people over with the riffs and words.

The “encore” is the oldie ‘Arrested Development’ which is the best I’ve ever seen it. Starting
with its elongated bass solo (there they go mucking about with the conventions again) it whips up an incredible live performance for before 3 in the afternoon, replete with Ste Ackley’s Johnny Thunders style pick scrapes. Carl’s vocal performance is intense, knowing every fibre of the song, the words flowing out and tripping into Ian Curtis style automatic language.

They leave to a hearty response and have won over a set of fans who had come to see a footy game (they lost), but The Maitlands won.

You can listen to and purchase Bury The Hatchet on their bandcamp page click here and follow them on facebook click here.

You can follow FC United on facebook click here and check out their website click here.

The Maitlands – Daunting From Derker (single)

Basically, ‘Daunting From Derker’ is a cut and shut.

It’s a one minute pop song bolted onto a 4 minute pre-amble. Oddly, on The Maitlands last single, ‘Kisses For The Masses’, I compared the song to Roxy Music’s ‘Mother Of Pearl’ due to the song’s glorious ringing rhythm guitar. Well, damn it, I’m going to compare this song to ‘Mother Of Pearl’ too because of being two entirely unrelated songs hooked together. This can only mean one thing, front man Carl Ingram is Oldham’s Bryan Ferry.

‘Daunting From Derker’ relates to a story in which our hero is trying to make it home to his haven of Derker* on Manchester’s banana-like trams. The song chugs along on linear guitar lines. The guitars start not unlike ‘500 Miles’, yes really, listen to it. Big echoey vocals and big echoey drums drive the songs onwards like a scratchy motorik. There are fleeting mentions of “Bury the hatchet”, apparently the title of bands next EP.

It has a sort of chorus but interestingly, the song sorta refuses to acknowledge it, leaving Carl shouting it while the band (Ste, Ste, Matt, Saul) does its own thing, giving the listener the feeling of a passenger whose bus driver has disregarded the place where said passenger wanted to alight, leaving the poor sod walking through an industrial estate in Monsall.

Then at 4.18 song number 2 starts, we make our connection to the high-speed service and sparks fly as the train glides from Piccadilly: “I left the music behind, let the story begin” sings Carl and now the band recognises the chorus and goes full throttle. As we head through a tunnel, when we come out it’ll be time for The Maitlands next single…

Tagline = The Proclaimers doing motorik.

Or, a cunning parody of psych by inverting the clicked motorik genre, as well as putting a  local Manc spin, to create a tram based alternative. So, they’re both ridiculing and reclaiming a genre.

*If you haven’t been to Derker, imagine a shit hole.

‘Daunting From Derker’ is available to buy for 69p from bandcamp:

https://themaitlands1.bandcamp.com/track/daunting-from-derker

The Maitlands – Kisses For The Masses

I sung your songs at school…

It’s heady spiralling music all the way with The Maitlands, the ever surprising bunch of ne’er-do-wells, who flit through musical styles like cans of cheap lager. Some of their songs are short, spiky and sarcastic, but this newest single ‘Kisses For The Masses’ is as lush as it is well-defined and well produced. It sees their Wire influences counteracted by *ponders*… The Associates believe it or not.

kisses

This is a big pop song, make no mistake about it, and despite their shaggy dog attitude and go-with-the-flow live shows, this is an ambitious rocket aimed at for glory. The ringing rhythm guitar gives the song a veneer of class then it has a moody, boisterous New Order bass and drums breakdown before coming back around for another blast.

The key to the success of ‘Kisses For The Masses”? You wanna play it again, and again.

https://themaitlands1.bandcamp.com/track/kisses-for-the-masses

The Raft – Orion, Lullably & Blue and Blue (The Jellyfish EPs)

Hmmm… you know how Republic by New Order is bollocks? Why is that? Sure, it’s got ‘Regret’ but after that it slides off into what my mate Matt calls “Coldplay music for mums”. Well, after having been listening to The Raft aka Phil Wilson I think I know what happened. Clearly, the best explanation is some kind of time-shift music displacement. Maybe some Germanc souding robot as wide as a door from the future travelled back to the 1990s and changed the future. Maybe Republic was originally awesome, but it’s greatness lead to some epoch shattering disaster. Maybe the future wanted to make sure ‘What Do You Want From Me?’ became a thing. So, using some space-time technology lost to us, the music planned for Republic got lost in some neverplace void-ville until it eventually came to light under the auspices of Phil Wilson.

This makes a lot of sense. Phil’s music is lightly shoegaze but concentrates on breezy, summery pop music, what Republic was probably aiming for, but missed. Barney, off the back of Electronic, could easily have written these songs, on the back of his yacht. Steve Morris could easily have drummed on these songs, from behind a Panzer tank, or summink. Peter Hook could easily have grumbled his way through these songs (the Italian for grumble is “brontolare” btw).

Phil has a peculiar knack for writing evocative, melodic pop songs that glisten and glide and every so often ripple with warm nostalgic pulls from yesteryear.

Let’s have a look at his recent EPs.

https://philtheraft.bandcamp.com/album/coming-up-for-air-e-p

First up is Coming Up For Air. ‘So Glad I Know’ floats like a piece of Scottish post-punk, in a slightly fey Orange Juice / Altered Images manner. The middle is packed with an extended riptide of acoustic and electric guitars. ‘Coming Up For Air’ has a stately piano ambience which opens out into a distinctly epic number, worthy of what late era Roxy Music should have been.  ‘Anarchy In Our Guitars’ hits a sweetly nostalgic tang of the last episode of your favourite TV show’s montage showcasing the characters and best moments. ‘Regrets’ is simply lovely; resting on a chorus as joyous and heart-felt as a summer’s day on Albert Docks, eating an ice cream with your girl on your arm.

https://philtheraft.bandcamp.com/album/a-lullaby-e-p

More music from the real Republic surfaced on A Lullaby. ‘I’m So High’ church keys and softly rolling guitars gives an early morning vibe before a frisky drumbeat enters, like a dog at your heels. Then it really emerges in full Brit pop glory. There’s a keyboard line in the background which is just delightful. ‘O No She’s Alone’ continues with a tune perfect for a Lilt commercial; fresh-faced youths loitering on beaches. Again, there’s a dance orientated keyboard part which other bands would make the centre piece. What’s great about Phil is he comes up with wonderful parts, which are just that, parts of a song, he doesn’t feel the need to ram home his moments of glory cos he’s got a sackload of them. ‘O A Lullaby / Nobody’s Daughter’ ends like a dissipating memory, slipping away with its softly chiming keys and rippling guitar.

https://philtheraft.bandcamp.com/album/orion-e-p

‘Blue And Blue’ starts Orion like a Match Of The Day Goal Of The Month competition and has a striding guitar solo. ‘Orion’ has a chorus which could be the Bunnymen, supplemented by a moody drum section and Eastern guitar solo. ‘Into You’ is a bit more on The Beautiful South end of the spectrum, which probably comes from Claire O’Neill’s swoony breathy vocals – more please! ‘My Elusive Friend’ rounds us of like a Peter Beagrie goal, sweeping and glorious*.

This may be 3 EPs but they fit together like one album, like Republic by New Order. Which it could be, but it’s not, it’s The Raft. Buy all three for a fiver and you’ll think the 90s were better than they were probably were.

*I was going to change this as Phil is a Red… but always go with what you write first is my rule.

Grotesque: Mark E Smith 1957-2018

A scraggy back street kid with a bad jumper. Teenage and fingers already yellowed from nicotine. A library dweller who reads Mailer, James, Dick and Lovecraft. An antagonist who wants to be a poet. An autodidactic storyteller. A man who gleefully puts his finger up Howard Devoto’s nose.

A cackling Alan Bennett for a world of Austin Maxi’s and terrace football. A surrealist story weaver telling spooky and bizarre tales of ham radio operators, container drivers, German athletes, time travellers, “self-satisfied, smug” (The Observer) writers, jawbones, suicidal bingo callers, the Northern Rising (not in 10,000 years), possessed rectors, a ghost in Bremen, a man followed around by a soap opera writer, a killer hiding out in a flat, the great god Pan, 63 Market Place, a death at Disneyland, fat Captain Beefheart imitators with zits, what flows from the mushy pen of a 3 legged black grey hog, hitmen in steak restaurants, the vet Cameron called out for birth of hideous replica, housewives on pills, elves and Cary Grant’s wedding.

A speed freak with a mouth and brain running too fast for his body. A man searching for the now, searching for the real thing, yeah. A correspondent from the rrrrrrrrrrriot torn streets of Manchesterrrrrr, England.

A paranoid man at the height of his powers. A man dissecting the media, package holidays, the nostalgia culture of the look back bores, bald-headed men, shift work, ‘Madchester’, business schools in Birmingham, handy men, Boston immigration, British people in hot weather and war in eastern Europe. He never did end up like U2 or Ian McShane. He never did find that song about speed he wrote conceptually, a la Bowie.

A man growing old disgracefully. Laughing through dentures at the notion of it being all over. Post reformation music better than ever. No time for reunion sell outs. No 80s reprobates. No Newsnight for you. More vital than ever when puncturing nostalgia displays for venues closing their doors. Then back to civilisation.

Barbiturates are kicking in. Fresh faced physician looks on. Whirlpools cascade. No grasp on monocard.

A gobshite without end.

A word-Smith without compare.

‘Rebellious Jukebox’

‘Flat Of Angles’

‘Impression Of J Temperance’

‘Jawbone And The Air-Rifle’

‘The Man Whose Head Expanded’

‘Tempo House’

‘US 80s-90s”

‘Free Range’

‘The League Of Bald-Headed Men’

‘A Past Gone Mad’

‘Reformation’

‘Blindness’

‘Weather Report 2’

‘Monocard’

And ‘Cary Grant’s Wedding’