Monday, 10 September 2018

Move!

Here's the new song from young Welsh upstarts Pretty Vicious. Cracking stuff.



Monday, 3 September 2018

Memories of 2018 gigs #4

Ride
Support: Flowers
Tramshed - 1 September 2018

It was some 28 years ago that I first saw Ride on the original 'Nowhere' tour. A couple years later I saw them again at the Reading Festival. Neither time did they blow me away, they were just 'alright'. In the intervening period, the band released two more albums, fell out spectacularly and broke up. Andy Bell was by far the busiest, forming Hurricane #1, before joining Oasis and Beady Eye, becoming indie-rock pedigree. A Ride reunion seemed extremely unlikely, yet it not only happened when 'Nowhere' turned 25, but they went on to make a very, very decent new album. Differences reconciled, Ride are not only back, but they really seem to be enjoying themselves again.

The Tramshed surprisingly wasn't sold out, and when we got there it was practically empty. The place began filling up slowly whilst support band Flowers played. The London trio (signed to Fortuna POP!) are what would no doubt be described as dreampop in a Cocteau Twins/Slowdive kind of way. Except I found Flowers to be, well, not as good as either. Maybe their minimal line-up is the reason they sounded quite one-dimensional, but I did get rather bored by track three. Perhaps their studio work holds more promise - I shall investigate - but their live sound perhaps doesn't give them the range their songs demand.

Ride have no such issues. Even though there is a clear variation in their sound through each era, Ride manage to perfectly integrate the new and the old with ease. Which is why new songs like Lannoy Point, Pulsar and All I Want sit comfortably alongside early classics like Chelsea Girl, Taste and Vapour Trail. Notably, there's nothing from the 'troubled period' of the third and fourth albums, but aside from one or two songs from 'Carnival of Light', that's no great loss. Most of the set, in fact, concentrated on songs from the first and last albums.

Vapour Trail was augmented by the crowd who hollered the strings part at the song's conclusion. Charm Assault pummeled the living daylights out of us. Seagull soared, Twistarella tantalised and Weather Diaries rained sunshine on Cardiff's middle-aged shoegazers. But the undoubted highlight for me, perhaps predictably, was Leave Them All Behind, a monster of a song made flesh.

A squalling, extended Drive Blind closed the main set, a song that I'd almost forgotten about but which was always my fave on the debut EP. MrsRobster observed that Ride played for 90 minutes yet it seemed much shorter. That's a good sign, of course, and it made me realise that Ride are an exceptional live act that I clearly didn't appreciate enough first time around. Here's hoping they stick at this reunion lark for a while longer.


Saturday, 1 September 2018

A song for... September

After the celebrations of the past two or three months, it's back to normality as Autumn dawns. But a rollicking start to it with a track from Buffalo Tom's 2007 comeback album 'Three Easy Pieces'. September Shirt was one of many songs on the record that showed they hadn't lost their touch in the nine years since their previous effort. It hurtles along at breakneck speed but never loses that essential Buffalo Tom ingredient - a great melody.

Their latest album 'Quiet & Peace' (their ninth) came out at the start of this year. It's well worth a few listens if you haven't got round to it already. And hopefully we'll be making it along to their show in Bristol in December.



Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Freedom at 21 (or The Coming Of Age part 2)

Today, our firstborn reaches the grand old age of 21.It's a funny age. In some parts of the world it's considered the legal age of adulthood, but in the UK she's been an adult for three years already. But for TheMadster, I suppose it really starts here. After finishing uni in the spring and graduating in the summer, she's started work and, along with her other half TheEmster, is building her own life, finding her own way. I honestly can't say I've ever thought about telling people that I have a 21-year-old daughter. A frightening thought but it's true. I have. Get used to it old man!

As is customary round these parts, music is the order of the day on such an occasion, so I've roped in a couple of The Madster's faves to help me out. First, a real hero of hers. I remember when she was a tiny little ankle-scratcher, being exposed to the White Stripes more often than was probably healthy, she'd sing along to I Think I Smell A Rat off 'White Blood Cells'. She's been an avid Jack White fan ever since.

Here's a track from his debut solo album from which the title of this post is taken. Good track this, but I can't help but think the video is somewhat influenced by the hip hop culture of objectifying women, not something I considered Jack would have approved of...



Green Day are one of those bands who I can really take or leave these days. I loved 'Dookie' when it came out, Basket Case being one of my fave singles of the time. Actually, it's still a great song. These days though, it's a different story. Sometimes they're OK, other times they make me cringe.

In May 2009, shortly before TheMadster turned 12, Green Day released their rock opera '21st Century Breakdown'. I thought it might be something TheMadster might enjoy so suggested she give it a go. Back then, she was going through a phase of wearing black a lot, and she certainly had something of an Avril Lavigne vibe about her look. So naturally she took to Green Day like a punk to cider. This video does absolutely nothing for me, though I do feel sorry for the fish...



To round off, here's one for us oldies. The Adverts' debut album 'Crossing The Red Sea' has long been hailed as one of the greatest albums of the punk era. And yes, it is an absolute corker. Singer TV Smith and his bassist wife Gaye Advert were both originally from Bideford, North Devon. The Madster's first year at school was spent there in the local reception class just off Clovelly Road. Smith and Advert moved to London and formed the Adverts in 1976. My old punk mates, who were a few years older than me, spoke fondly of Smith and would always go to see him when he played with his later band TV Smith's Cheap.

No Time To Be 21 was the band's fourth single and immediately preceded the album. That was forty years ago. FOUR-OH. 40!!! Jeez, another 2018 milestone. Here's footage of them 'performing' the song on Top Of The Pops in early 1978 (complete with Tony Blackburn in full corny DJ mode.) There's a couple of pogoing punks in the crowd, but everyone else probably can't wait for Leo Sayer to come on...



Happy 21st Madster. And remember, take heed from your mum and dad (but especially your mum): just because you've grown up, it doesn't mean to say you have to grow up...


Sunday, 19 August 2018

"This is why you never see your father cry..."

What could well be one of the albums of the year comes out in a fortnight. It's the second offering from Bristol punks Idles. They've put out four songs from it to date and each one is a blistering earful of raucous brilliance. There's always been a socio-political element to their music, but this time around they are really going for the jugular. Danny Nedelko, a Romanian immigrant, is a good friend of the band. This song is not just about him (though he's the star of the video), but the positive nature of immigration in general:



While it's easy to think that Great is an anti-Brexit song, I think it's more about people of a certain age being afraid of the idea of change and using the EU, immigration and religion (particularly Islam) as justification for their fear (spurred on by the right-wing media, of course):



Samaritans tackles the subject of masculinity and the way it continues to be forced into the male psyche from an early age. Phrases like "man up" and "grow some balls" are continually thrown around even in this enlightened age.



Three absolute corkers there. We're off to see Idles in their hometown in October. I've no doubt I'll emerge very sweaty and a little bit deaf (or a little more deaf...) but extremely happy. Really, really looking forward to it. The album 'Joy As An Act Of Resistance' hits the shops on the 31st August and will soundtrack my life for quite a while I reckon.

Friday, 17 August 2018

Blue and beautiful

This new song by Marissa Nadler is just the most haunting, beautiful track of the year so far. Mind, she's good at that - 'captivating' is a word that's been used more than a few times to describe her music. She has a new album out next month and Blue Vapor features on it. It could rival Firecrackers (from 2014's 'July') as my favourite song of hers. The video is stunning too.



Wednesday, 15 August 2018

New stuff wot sounds like old stuff #6

The Beths are from Auckland, New Zealand and make a lovely noise, all 90s power-poppy in the mould of Veruca Salt, Belly and Juliana Hatfield. They've just released their debut album 'Future Me Hates Me'. I stumbled across the title track a month or two ago and it's a joy of a tune.



New single You Wouldn't Like Me is another delight. Why the flip didn't this album come out at the start of the summer? It would have been my soundtrack for the past couple of glorious months.



To be honest, the videos are naff as hell, but let's not get too picky. The songs sell themselves. There's a lovely limited yellow vinyl edition of the album which you'll probably want to snap up.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

Happy Weezer Birthday MrsR...

Yep, 'tis the (far, far, far) better half's birthday today. We celebrate such occasions with music, so today I'm wooing her with Weezer. MrsRobster is something of a Weezer fan, see. She gets quite excited when they pop up on the car stereo. Her favourite bits are the Beach Boys-esque "oooohs", though ironically, she can't stand the Beach Boys. I know, I know, but I love her all the same.

Now, there are some people who refuse to accept that Weezer were any good after their first two albums, that 'Pinkerton' was their finest moment. Which is, of course, absolute rot. Everyone with a set of functioning ears knows that 'The Green Album' was their best, and I'm not going to hear any arguments. It is, and that's it! MrsR is rather fond of the band's more recent work too, so here is a track from each of their last three albums in glorious technicolor.

First up, from last year's 'Pacific Daydream' is Mexican Fender. Now, I'm not a big fan of this album, it's a bit lightweight and poppy for me, but she-who-knows-best likes it so who am I to argue. The video features a beautiful woman on a beach and a besotted seagull who tries to win her affections. It doesn't end well...



California Kids was the opening track off 2016's 'The White Album' which I reckon is their best record since the green one. The "ooohs" in this really gets MrsR going! The video references the previous three vids made for songs from the album so if you don't get it, perhaps look them up - Thank God For Girls | King Of The World | LA Girlz :



Next, it's Go Away from 2014's 'Everything Will Be Alright In The End' in which Rivers Cuomo is joined on vocals by Bethany Cosentino of Best Coast. While the song details a break-up - Rivers pleading for another chance after seriously fucking up, Bethany telling him to just go away - the video shows a hapless Rivers, assisted by his bandmates, trying to win the affections of Bethany via a dating app.



And finally, my favourite Weezer video, and possibly my favourite video by anyone ever: Keep Fishin' from 2002's 'Maladroit'. Because nothing - NOTHING - beats the Muppets!



Wednesday, 1 August 2018

A song for... August

Bloody hell - August already! The year is just flying by, isn't it. Mind, August is one of my favourite months, and this year it is a little more special (though I'll reveal why at the appropriate time).

This month's song is by Kristin Hersh, one of my all-time favourite artists. She's got a new solo album coming out which, given the tracks released from it so far, suggest it's going to have a very Throwing Muses-type sound. Which is weird because the last Throwing Muses album (2013's 'Purgatory/Paradise') sounded more like a Kristin solo record.

Anyway, August is taken from her last solo album, the epic double 'Wyatt At The Coyote Palace' from 2016. Typically quirky, it starts, seems to end, then starts again. The vocals come in at 1:04, by which time the song is halfway through. I suppose any song Kristin Hersh writes which conforms to some kind of norm she would reject without question. Which is probably why I love her so much.



Saturday, 28 July 2018

What's the Deal, Kim? #3

The Amps were Kim Deal's project following the dissolution of the 'Last Splash' Breeders line-up. Originally intended as a solo project while Kelley was in rehab, Kim recruited Breeders bandmate Jim McPherson on drums, Luis Ferma on bass and Nate Farley on guitar.  She adopted the pseudonym Tammy Ampersand and called the band Tammy And The Amps, later shortening it to just The Amps.

They were far less polished than the Breeders, but the resulting album 'Pacer', released in 1995, certainly had Kim's trademark melodies. There was no follow-up, the band morphing back into The Breeders when Kelley came back on board the following year (though with a new drummer). However, it took a further six years before the third Breeders album 'Title TK' materialised.

Full On Idle featured on both 'Pacer' and 'Title TK'. It's a raucous blast of punk - probably the most raucous Kim got after the Pixies split - and this live version recorded for French TV was even more furious.



In 2003, Kim and Kelley contributed a track to the Hedwig & The Nasty Inch tribute album 'Wig In A Box'. Although credited to The Breeders, the line-up on Wicked Little Town was essentially just the two of them. It's a thing of beauty such of the kind you expect from the Deal sisters.