Wednesday 30 March 2016

Grant McLennan tribute gig, May 6 2016, Bush Hall

This year marks the tenth anniversary of Grant McLennan's death. His music lives on - Streets Of Your Town influencing Courtney Barnett's Depreston, for example - and will continue to as long as there are music fans and musicians ready to embrace emotionally uncompromising, classic guitar pop.

You might have been to any of the intimate afternoon tributes we've put on in the last 5 years. You'll have seen acts like Robert Forster, Allo Darlin, David Westlake and Luke Haines. You'll know those acoustic sets were brilliant.

But this is the big one. May 6 2016 is exactly 10 years after the death of one of our favourites, one of the greats. So let's make this special. Let's do this in style. Let's plug in the guitars and do it on a Friday night.

So we've got the grand Bush Hall. And we've got quite a line-up:

Stewart Lee is hosting. He's written some new material. And he's playing some McLennan covers on the guitar accompanied by a violinist.

Gerry Love ("The Go-Betweens have been with me all my adult life") is playing with a full band. And that band has pedigree because they've played with some brilliant bands before:

  • Jim McCulloch (BMX Bandits, The Soup Dragons)
  • Dave McGowan (Kevin Ayers, Isobel Campbell, Arab Strap, Teenage Fanclub)
  • Noel O’Donnell (Attic Lights)

Pete Astor
The Wave Pictures
The Wolfhounds
Bill Botting & the Two Drink Minimums
The Left Outsides

Yes, there's still room for one more special guest. We're working on it, believe me.

Some bands are doing all McLennan covers - Go-Betweens, solo and Jack Frost songs - and some are mixing them with their own material. And one band is going to thrash through Karen because that's where it all started. It's going to be one hell of a night.

Doors open at 7pm. The music will start at around 7.45pm. There's a facebook event. And most importantly buy your ticket.

All money from the tickets goes to the bands after the venue costs are paid for.

Monday 28 March 2016

This week's new soul vinyl

Freakway - Hot Touch
The spiel is Freakway are a Minneapolis funk band living in Tokyo. It smells a bit fishy to me, because this underground disco boogie peaked in Philly 79-80 and was last seen in the wild in 1982 before electro took over. Unless you were listening to Cameo. My gut tells me this is a repro, or a studio find, but whatever way you listen to it, full marks.

Shateish - I'm Leavin'
A clever nu-soul reinvention of Etta James's I'd Rather Go Blind. Sometimes this thing works - like Dimitri From Stoke On Trent's I Pay a Little Slayer or Featurecast's One Step - and this lockstep groove really works.

I'm Leavin' has been doing the rounds as an MP3 for 4 years. This 7" is overdue, though, and I was happy to shell out.

Shateish "I'm Leavin" (prod by Nottz) from Raw Koncept on Vimeo.

Liz Vice - There's A Light
Not exactly new - the vinyl came out last year, but has just hit the UK import racks - but what a sound! What a voice! And her band sound like they were schooled in Sam Cooke soul and Stax electric keyboards.

This is a gospel record every bit as good as Leon Bridges' Coming Home, also from 2015. Liz didn't get the same notices as Leon last year, although I know which I've played more. And I played Coming Home a lot.

Sunday 27 March 2016

Muncie Girls - From Caplan To Belsize

This album fits right in with the UK DIY scene of bands like Personal Best and Shit Present - punky guitars, feminist lyrics, immediate hooks - but it's more commercial.

That's not a criticism because this is a very good record. It's one that sounds like it was made for US radio stations, all chugging bass and powerpop punch, somewhere between Belly and The Go-Go's.

I can imagine The Cars' Ric Ocasek producing them - like he did with Weezer and Guided By Voices - and Muncie Girls gunning for chart glory. Because, seriously, one of the UK's DIY bands is going to break through. This already sounds like a crossover hit.

Friday 25 March 2016

Le Super Homard - Maple Key

Baroque pop grandeur and harmonic soft pop. United States of America's 1968 vision of what the future would be. Stereolab's technicolor pop. The Free Design's kindergarten pyschedelia. The Leaf Library's suburban electronics.

The only album in the last 10 years that has decided it can pick up where Fugu's As Found left off and start running. 

Sunday 20 March 2016

Magic Bullets - Young Man's Fancy

This unreleased album was recorded from 2007 to 2009, but 1980 to 1984 seems more accurate. Every reference point is a joy.

There's the trembling vulnerability in the vocals of the young Edwyn Collins. Magic Bullets do Orange Juice's post-punk discotheque, all stuttering guitars and strangled emotions, on I Could Go. They sound just like St Christopher - bedsit balladry written for opera houses - on Television Won't Know.

They even cover The Line's Nerve Pylon (Phil Wilson's favourite ever single, fact fans) to really set the early 80s scene. When you buy this, make sure you also pick up their Lives For Romance 12" - they're knocking them out for a mere 5 clams. Everyone's a winner.

Thursday 17 March 2016

Spinning Coin - Albany

Albany is angular pop and rhythmic stuttering like Josef K's It's Kinda Funny. Live, Spinning Coin have three guitarists upfront, all west coast (Scotland or the USA, take your pick) harmonies and classic tunes. Yes, like Teenage Fanclub, only with a bit more dirt under their fingernails.

Remember how Franz Ferdinand took the Josef K template and aimed to "make music that girls that can dance to"? Spinning Coin have decided, actually, maybe they'd rather make hesitant Josef K post-punk in a DIY style for people who can't dance but quite like the idea of it.

With a record this good it's customary to pronounce it 'single of the year', But Albany might have to fight the new Sheer Mag single for that. So let's celebrate brilliance (because that's what this is) and enjoy its splendour of riches.

Tuesday 15 March 2016

Grandstands - Stranger

There's a countrified current in the Melbourne underground - Ciggie Witch, Lower Plenty, Velcro - which Grandstands add to with their own desolation and wide open spaces.

There are two singles (you know what I mean) from this tape, ‘Getting Out’ and ‘Stranger (In A Sense), but there are many more potential hits.

Meditative - all sprung rhythms and sinewy folk-rock - sounds like a session track from Before Hollywood. Then there's Two and Five. Here, judge for yourself:

After listening to this album, I reached for Paul Kelly's cover of The Triffids' Raining Pleasure. Well, that's not quite true. I played Stranger again a few more times first.

Ulrika Spacek - The Album Paranoia

This sounds like the sort of undergound classic that Melody Maker creamed its jeans over in the early 90s. There's even a song called Ultra Vivid.

Despite their name, Ulrika Spacek are more the children of Stereolab and Mercury Rev than Sissy Spacek and Ulrika Jonsson. They shift into a krautrock groove and stay there until they can go no futher, no better.

There's nothing here quite as remarkable as, say, any song on Galaxie 500's Today - an album I'd put money on they know inside out - but the infectious, druggy haze of  She's A Cult, There's A Little Passing Cloud In You and Strawberry Glue are bold, brilliant statements that they're getting pretty close to their own naroctic, percussive heaven.