The music that changed my world… by @precenphix

Written by @precenphix

Prior to ever hearing the term “techno” or “industrial,” my exposure to electronic music was fairly limited. The pulsing arpeggios of Pink Floyd’s “On the Run” from Dark Side of the Moon and McCartney’s “Temporary Secretary” from 1980’s McCartney II were my first taste. I loved The Cars album Heartbeat City and became an ardent Prince disciple a little while later. Both artists seemed to have a mastery of this sound I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but found captivating. Without some finagling, synthesizers were strange, frigid instruments I assumed you needed a degree to operate or play and they were used only sparingly in pop tunes, peppering the sonic landscape as an afterthought. You certainly couldn’t build an entire song with them, as far as my young mind was concerned. It wasn’t until 1984, when I heard the Beverly Hill Cop theme, that I became aware that these were actual, playable instruments. I had to have a copy of that record…and a dinky little Casio so I could play along. I begged my parents for both. As happenstance would have it, my dad mistakenly brought home a copy of Herbie Hancock’s “Rokit” on 45. The A-side was great, but the B-side “Megamix” was incredible. I was in love.

Flash forward to 1994. I was 15 years old when a friend let me borrow his copies of Nine Inch Nails’ Broken EP and newly released The Downward Spiral concept album. The summer was gone, the colors of autumn had faded and I had just been dumped by my then girlfriend of a whopping nine months. That’s a decent swathe of time in dog years and about twice as long for a teenager with a freshly broken heart. I was utterly shattered and needed something to quell my existential angst in a hurry.

My friends at the time were into metal, but it just wasn’t me. I craved a broader palate of sound beyond slappy bass drums and palm-muted guitars. Reznor’s work was right up my alley. The Broken EP hooked me, but I stayed for the fearless experimentalism of The Downward Spiral. Suddenly, everything I knew about the use of electronics in music was wrong. Here were the sounds I thought I knew having new, visceral life breathed into them. This was music that sounded remarkably heavy, academic, dark, sexy and vulnerable at the same time.

Fueled by a rearing on The Beatles’ groundbreaking production techniques while being an avid listener of dense hip-hop a la The Bomb Squad, I had an insatiable appetite for unique music. Public Enemy’s Fear of a Black Planet – hip-hop meets musique concrète. Bob Power’s work on A Tribe Called Quest’s The Low End Theory, with the rest of the crew taking notes for their third record, Midnight Marauders – this took the idea of constructing a tune solely from samples to a new level. Newcomers Wu-Tang Clan’s debut Enter the Wu-Tang (36 Chambers) – there was a dirt and grit to the production that lent a hand to the subject matter. These were my real precursors to pure electronic music. Paired with a newfound love for the more guitar-driven work by then up-and-coming Seattle acts Nirvana, Alice in Chains and Pearl Jam; as well as the volcanic art-rock of Sonic Youth, the transition to Trent Reznor’s work as Nine Inch Nails was a natural progression for me.

Prior to this, my knowledge of sampling was constrained to hip-hop’s crate-digging culture, mining Motown records for breakbeats or cutting up old George Clinton tunes over deep, bass bin-shaking 808 drums. Downward Spiral opener “Mr. Self Destruct” sounded as if a microphone had been laid beside the tracks of an elevated train, acting as a texturizer to the song’s verses. The guitars of the chorus cleaved through the mix like the teeth of a saw blade. Just as the close of the song reached a fever pitch with white noise bucking and aliasing from my speakers’ tweeters, a bank of coarse feedback guitar loops and scrapes filled the void where the tune’s refrain dropped off – only to be interrupted moments later by the comparatively serene, slinky second track, “Piggy.” This was an artist who understood how to dress the set with aural contrast and certainly had a penchant for theatrics. It was exactly what I needed.

I bought both singles from The Downward Spiral and also flagged down a copy of the Broken EP’s remix disc, Fixed. It was around this time I balked at the naysayers’ idea that this was a self-indulgent process. These records introduced me to the idea that remixes weren’t reserved strictly for house tracks, club music or the occasional hip-hop re-work. Both the “March of the Pigs” and “Closer” singles were shining examples of taking a tune, re-shifting its direction and bludgeoning it into abstraction, yielding a barely recognizable version of the original. It was refreshing to hear an artist put a different spin on his own music as well as having other people the artist respected deconstruct the same work. It wasn’t an entirely foreign idea to me, yet the methods employed on these NIN records were. But it wasn’t until 1995’s Downward Spiral companion remix album Further Down the Spiral that I would once again have my eyes opened to what music (electronic or otherwise) could be. It was the recording that properly introduced me to the music of Richard D. James, otherwise known as Aphex Twin.

Further Down the Spiral went out of its way to be abrasive, focusing primarily on the tracks from The Downward Spiral album that had no earthly chance of becoming a single. Rick Rubin contributed a remix of “Piggy,” while Coil, an act I was only marginally familiar with at the time, reworked the album’s title track. But it was an instrumental track contributed by Aphex Twin that really turned my head. It seemed to fit the landscape of despair that created by the album, but no source material from the original record was used. “At the Heart of it All,” was a sprawling, 7-minute slab of industrial doom that sounded as if the seven horns of the apocalypse were bleating directly from within my sternum. It was a purely electronic composition that stood out from the rest of the pack yet retained this intangible organic feeling that elicited an almost overwhelming emotional response. I couldn’t explain it, but it just felt like “home.”

I had to have as much of this music as I could absorb, so I began working backwards, flagging down as much of the Aphex discography I could get my hands on. Distribution wasn’t what it is today, so it took some work finding shops that carried these records. I was able to pick up copies of …I Care Because You Do and the Ventolin EP. …I Care was more of a compendium of his work that was largely taking cues from the artist’s work in ambient electronic music. It wasn’t what I was expecting. While being marginally familiar with the work of Wendy Carlos, this was the first time I was hearing truly composed, contemporary experimental electronic music. The Ventolin EP was a stark contrast of much less polished garage techno that was playful yet caustic at the same time. I was almost loath to admit that I liked it so much. Prior to this, I was riding the good ship Indie Snob, a vessel where “techno” was dismissed as unemotional, push-button drivel that had very little value in terms of having something to say. But these records were proving that theory dead wrong. I had to have more.

Once I finally worked my way around to picking up Selected Ambient Works Volume II (commonly referred to as SAW2), I was curious as to what I would be getting. It was a double CD album with a foreign, weathered, almost alien-looking logo of some sort on the record’s cover. It spanned 23 untitled, largely beatless tracks that were represented by a color coded series of pie charts in the album art. Once again, I was taken aback. I knew who Brian Eno was and had heard enough of his production and music to understand what might have been an influence to James, but the music of SAW2 was so far into the abstract that the similarities were fleeting. One thing this wasn’t was “new age” music.

This music could be anything you wanted it to be. Warm, almost nostalgic tones on this expansive record could easily move one to tears in one breath while searing, glacial sheets of terror-inducing noise could send a shiver down the spine of even the most seasoned horror film veteran. This music ran the gamut of the human psyche without uttering a word. For a period of years, I would put SAW2 on the deck to concentrate on the music itself just as much as I would play it to study, sleep or get ready for the

day. It seemed as if it were custom built for my purposes and it was my go-to recording to unwind, meditate, brood, love, eat or sleep. It was a miraculous record in that it was my final gateway drug to so many artists I would have previously dismissed as “not my thing,” because “this music has no soul.” Nothing could be further from the truth.

If Nine Inch Nails introduced me to the work of Richard D. James, Richard D. James opened the door to a whole new world of sound for me. I found Autechre, Boards of Canada and Björk as well as a host of more obscure music by RDJ himself on his own record label, Rephlex. I began to take notice to Beck’s methods of production, DYI ethic and sample-mining. UK act Portishead showed up on the scene with an amalgam of jazzy, noir-infused beatnik soul, rife with layers of turntable antics. Drum ‘n bass was beginning to take hold with its frantic, skittery rhythms pushing the envelope of speed and micro programming. I discovered Jack Dangers’ act Meat Beat Manifesto who spent a short stint on Reznor’s Nothing Records imprint. All this was just the tip of the iceberg. Friends and I would trade mix tapes of the strangest music we could find.

The world was my oyster once these records changed my opinion of what music could or should be. And this is why I’d be doing myself a disservice to pick a favorite artist when the story of finding them all is so interwoven with personal milestones and moments growing up as a ravenous devourer of what was considered unusual music.

These two records, Nine Inch Nails The Downward Spiral and Aphex Twin’s Selected Ambient Works Volume II opened my slumbering third eye to a world that had been quietly lying in wait. I’ve followed both artists since 1994-1995 and marveled at their output prior to those years and everything that has been released since. Not only were they pioneers back then, their music is just as relevant today. My life would be incomplete without it. Hearing the work of both artists gave me the confidence to try things with my own writing that I might have otherwise sloughed off. Most importantly, I had found two artists who used electronic and sample-based production techniques because they liked these sounds independently. They weren’t employing these methods to mimic more traditional, physical instruments. They took care to make sure these sounds stood on their own as a backbone to their compositions.

It wasn’t just a bunch of smoke and mirrors. These were artists who held a mastery of their craft while stepping firmly outside the Venn diagram of sounds typically used in popular music. But somehow they made their work accessible while simultaneously being influential zeitgeists in their respective genres of music. Reznor’s point of reference lay more in 80s post punk while James culled more influence from the rave culture in Detroit and UK scene. Yet both could produce music just as emotional and moving as any classical passage. But with their output, the studio became an instrument itself in the same way George Martin and EMI’s engineers had done with Beatles recordings of yesteryear. So if I were forced to pick a favorite artist of all time, both James and Reznor would receive the same accolades. They’ve changed my life for the better and I couldn’t imagine a world without their music.

Gig Review: @KateTempest at The Plug, Sheffield, 3rd December 2016

Photos: Fi Stimpson

Words: Richard Mackman & Fi Stimpson

Kate Tempest would make a great resistance leader. Her charisma and intellectual persona are beyond captivating and convincing. There is almost an obsessive and rabid bond with the audience tonight – everybody is paying attention. Simply, what we get tonight is the entirety of the new album “Let Them Eat Chaos”. In a nutshell, it’s a damning indictment of the state of the world right now. I can almost smell revolution in the air with each inhalation of breath.

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An interesting crowd, this – older Corbyn types mixed in with politically aware student bods. Intelligent dance music and rap aficionados, pockets of crust punks and squatty folk. Kate attracts the cynical, the thinkers, those that do not believe the news on their TV screens, those of us that are mightily dissatisfied with the human condition.

This gig pans out like a play; the songs are the acts and scenes. Tempest’s poetic imagery is all-consuming – her conjuring up of characters, settings and situations is almost 3 dimensional. You can’t take your eyes off her – at points, the sensory overload is profound. Lyrically, there is an abundance to ponder.

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The way she asserts herself is almost frightening to behold at times. Her sense of injustice and outrage expressed so compellingly febrile. This woman is a tormented poet of our time. I am acutely aware that I am witnessing something sacrosanct. For someone who is short in stature and, dare I say it, ordinary looking, Kate Tempest is a formidable maelstrom.

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I played the album in its entirety in the car on the way home, and recalled almost all of it from the show. Bear in mind I had never heard those songs before tonight…

To experience this again is mandatory. Watch this space.

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Gig Review: Dr Feelgood at Voodoo Lounge, Stamford, 1st December 2016

Photos: Fi Stimpson

Words: Richard Mackman and Fi Stimpson

Dr Feelgood are an enigma of a band. The fact that they feature no original member and all current players are third generation is unusual to say the least. However, what you have on offer is a ferociously tight and joyfully authentic Rhythm and Blues outfit that does credit and is a worthy testimony to the two early classic line-ups.

Front man Robert Kane is a striking, dapper fella, almost like an action man, all starey eyed and jutting jaw. He’s not Lee Brilleaux, but who is, eh? His soft but assertive Sunderland accent is endearing yet commanding. He is also a mean harp player. Considering he has such a big set of shoes to fill, Kane performs with confidence and ease.

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Guitarist Steve Walwyn is quite possibly the most consistent and focussed guitar player I have witnessed in quite some time. He plucks a rich, ripe tone from his Telecasters and with traditional player dynamics and staggering slide skills, he is enthralling to watch. He also comes across as being an incredibly genial gent.

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Stand-out numbers in the set were “Back in the Night”, “If My Baby Quit Me”, “She Does It Right” and “Rolling and Tumbling” – Walwyn’s opportunity to really shine both vocally and with the bottleneck.

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Phil Mitchell governs stage left wielding probably the most road-worn p bass I’ve ever seen, like some kind of rock n’ roll John Pertwee, locking in effortlessly with drummer Kevin Morris.

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The crowd this evening – the Feelgood Family – are into this show 100% with a loyalty and familiarity for the material. The intimate and cosy setting of Stamford’s Voodoo Lounge is perfect.

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This is only the third time I’ve seen them in recent years, but Feelgoods are always a band I’d be very keen to see again. Long may they continue.

Gig Review: @Pixies, 02 Academy Brixton, Monday 28th November 2016

Pixies, 02 Academy Brixton, Monday 28th November 2016

Written by Zoe Spencer

It’s been 11 years since I last saw Pixies, at the Aircraft-Hanger-esqe Alexandra Palace. It was the fulfilment of a childhood dream. We camped out for hours in the empty hall to be sure of a front row spot. My other half had never really heard of Pixies but he still describes that night as one of the best live gigs he has ever seen. I was the stereotypical fan girl, totally smitten from first note – utterly blown away – it was a real high point of my gig going career. So, to say my expectations were high would be a gigantic (get it?) understatement.

Upon arriving at the 02 Academy I was treated to a very thorough frisk (I’m not sure the third bottom squeeze was entirely necessary…) and a bag search – sadly there was nothing more exciting than a notepad and pen (much to my friend’s amusement at how “old school” I am). Looking around at my fellow concert goers, I was hit with a sense of my own impending middle age; where were the Grungers? The Punks? Where were the bloody teenagers? I was awash in a sea of hipsters and ridiculous moustaches. My sense of displacement was further deepened by catching sight of the tea towels on the Pixies merchandise stand… what every middle-aged rocker needs….

Taking my place in the 5000-strong throng, a shadowy Pixies took to the stage, and without so much as a “hello Brixton” pre-amble, they are straight into the good stuff with the anthemic sing-a-long, “Where is My Mind?” The band is on form this evening, Black Francis’ vocals are as strange and wonderful as ever as they motor from one classic to the next – the set is relentless and spans all seven albums with even a couple of b-sides and covers of Neil Young’s “Winterlong” and Scottish veterans The Jesus and Mary Chain’s “Head On” (featured on Pixies Trompe Le Monde Album) getting a look in.

The set sways from one decade to another, in a collection of songs spanning nearly 30 years. And yet, there are no songs that jar, of course the “Doolittle” and “Surfer Rosa” tracks are the ones that have the crowd singing along – the irresistible nod at a pop love song “Here comes your Man” is a particular highlight for me, and “Havalina” was beautiful. But newbies like “Tenement Song” from “Head Carrier” stand strong amongst the classics.

If I’m being completely honest there were times when the sound guys could have been working harder – bass and vocals were feeding back at several points in the first hour but Pixies have always had a rawness that can take a bit of buzz. I would have been disappointed to have left without a little bit of a headache!

The set motors on, song after song (although of course most Pixies songs come in short bursts) with not a peep in between – the stage is dark and back lit, full of smoke and the lack of banter adds to the surrealness they do so well… I was happy to see that guitarist Joey Santiago was completing the line-up after his recent stay in rehab with signature unpolished surfy tones. However, the real revelation for me was the wonderful Paz Lenchantin – having seen the original line up featuring Kim Deal, bringing a splash of colour to the monochrome stage with a large floppy red flower attached to the headstock of her bass. After so much time I wonder if the comparisons to Kim Deal become galling (Gigantic was a notable exception to the set – Monkey’s Gone to Heaven also sadly absent) however Paz stood her very leggy ground. The bass was deliciously punky and growly and her vocals strong – in that quirky way Pixies do so well.

When this 2-hour marathon draws to its tumultuous conclusion with a fantastic last run of “Hey”, “Gouge Away”, the magnificent “Debaser” and finally the throat wrenching “Tame”, the band take their bows in silence and leave the stage. Still not a word.

They return to the stage for their encore and the whole room is flooded with smoke – seriously it was like walking into a cloud – Pixies humour perhaps, because Paz then delivers a haunting version of “Into the White” before they disappear in the smoke screen like ghosts in the night.

In short as loud and weird and wonderful as you would come to expect although, next time guys, maybe say “hey” – after all we’ve been “trying to meet you”.

Set list;

Where is my mind?

Nimrod’s Son

Break my body

Brick is red

Winterlong (Neil Young)

Blown Away

Mr. Grieves

La La Love You

Ana

All the Saints

Here Comes your Man

Motorway to Roswell

Magdalena 318

Tenement Song

Classic Masher

Head on (The Jesus and Mary Chain)

U-Mass

I’ve Been Tired

Velouria

Havalina

Snakes

Caribou

Rock Music

Baal’s Back

Isla de Enchanta

Oona

Planet of Sound

All I Think About Now

Hey

Gouge Away

Debaser

Tame

Into the White

Album Review by @SteveRodz :Ebbot Lundberg and the Indigo Children – For the Ages to Come @WebbotEbbot

Ebbot Lundberg and the Indigo Children – For the Ages to Come

Words: Steve Rodriguez

Release Date: Friday 2nd December 16

Track listing:

  1. For the Ages to Come
  2. Backdrop People
  3. Beneath the Winding Waterway
  4. In Subliminal Clouds
  5. Drowning in a Wishing Well
  6. Don’t Blow Your Mind
  7. I See Forever
  8. Calling from Heaven
  9. Little Big Thing
  10. To Be continued

The former The Soundtrack of Our Lives (TSOOL) and Union Carbide frontman teams up with The Indigo Children and serves us up some 60s psych-pop / rock with a small dose of 70s prog. This is an album that takes you on a musical journey full of jangling guitars and lilting melodies, wakes you up half way, and then slowly calms you down again with the most perfect vocals and expertly crafted songs.

Ebbot Lundberg has been away a little while but this is now proof that he hasn’t disappeared and is still doing what he does best.

The 60s psychedelia comes to the fore instantly on the album’s opening and title track. For the Ages to Come is a Syd Barrett Pink Floydesque offering (Arnold Layne and See Emily Play immediately spring to mind here) and shows just how versatile Lundberg’s vocals can be. In fact, there is probably no coincidence that “Arnold Layne” has been a regular on his live set over the past couple of years and by all accounts has had a very raucous make-over, and just as raucous a reception.

Backdrop People and Beneath the Winding Waterway are next up and both are a familiar sound as more 60s psych and vocal harmony combine to great effect leading you into the calm and melodic In Subliminal Clouds – chock full of instrumental interludes where a new sound seems to join the party each time.

Drowning in a Wishing Well blends acoustic guitar and vocal harmonies and is nowhere near as dark as the title would suggest. In fact, quite the opposite thanks to the brass and upbeat drums on the chorus giving it a positive and meaningful stride onwards into the albums main body.

The tracks on For the Ages to Come are arguably only subtly, but adequately different, until now when Don’t Blow Your Mind shatters the calmness with a huge guitar driven 70s style rock riff and vocal and almost prog-rock soloing. This is the stand out track here and will satisfy those of you that like your music to have a more raucous nature.

I See Forever is a more experimental affair and almost haunting with its synth undertone and repeating of the song title lyrics, and it is every bit as encapsulating and moving as those before.

The musical journey then continues its calmness once more to its more recognisable state on Calling from Heaven and Little Big Thing where the 60s psych pop and vocal harmonies are here again in abundance.

Closing track To Be Continued begins with a plugged in, but not over-powering guitar melody that more accessible 60s influenced pop / indie artists Lee Mavers and James Skelly would have been proud of; and Ebbot’s vocals blend in seamlessly over the top catching your ear instantly. It rises to a crescendo of bass, guitar, piano and an almost marching drum beat.

For the Ages to Come is an album that creates an expansive and complex sound with perfectly matching vocals and production and makes you really want to listen. Fans of TSOOL would have undoubtedly been disappointed when they called it a day, but if this is the soundtrack of Ebbot Lundberg for the foreseeable future then I would guess it is a more than adequate trade-off.

Upcoming shows:

01/12 (DE) Bielefeld Forum

02/12 (DE) Hamburg, Molotow/Skybar – TICKETS HERE 

03/12 (NL) Nijmegen, Marleyn, Doornrossje – TICKETS HERE

04/12 (UK) London, Upstairs at the Garage – TICKETS HERE

Song Review by @RussellBarker12 : Úyanga Bold – Machiavelli @uyangaboldmusic

Úyanga Bold – Machiavelli

Words by Russell Barker

Machiavelli is a veritable swirling melting pot of many influences, sounds and rhythms. It’s the latest song from the multi-talented Mongolian performer Úyanga Bold. Not only does she sing on this, she wrote it and plays guitar, synth and the Turkish Cümbüş on it. That’s before we’ve even mentioned the co-producing and co-engineering credits.

It has the glacial presence of Curve, with Úyanga’s voice alternating between sassy and cutesy. Machiavelli is brimming with eighties influences, infused with her native Mongolian sounds.

The music is a different take on the old quiet, loud, quiet, by dropping in and out before gradually building back up to the explosive chorus. The chorus itself is reminiscent of the sensual style of Lady Gaga. Whether this could crossover into the mainstream remains to be seen, it is certainly catchy enough, but is also rather leftfield. Its pop music, but not as we know it. Something to make you groove, but also to make you think.

Gig Review: Sleaford Mods, Rock City, 3rd November 2016 @SleafordMods @Rock_City_Notts

Words: Richard Mackman

Photos: Fi Stimpson

An edgy sense of anticipation was apparent as I entered Rock City on 3rd November 2016. The venue was filling up with a veritable horde of punters. It’s the kind of gig where it’s alright to be weird, because everyone’s a bit fucking weird here.

The electronic punk duo take the stage to a victorious acclamation from the closely packed crowd. I feel that this is an act coming into their prime now, who are clearly relishing their time in the spotlight as a venerated phenomenon.

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What we get tonight is a much more oblique set than a year ago –  less of the obvious and more of the unusual, including 3 brand new ditties replete with suitably pithy sarcastic expletives and which were more than enough to have me eagerly anticipating their next release.

Williamson’s antics this evening (he’s got some brand-new moves) as he hustles himself around the stage conjure an image of a baboon with Tourette’s.

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The geezer operating the devil’s karaoke, Andrew Fearn, lurks in the background like a minacious persona, Beck’s bottle tightly in fist, aiding and abetting.

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Sleaford Mods are almost impossible to pigeonhole. A band that divide opinion, just like fucking Marmite. We witness a caustic blend of Crass-age Punk copulating with Cooper Clarke on Meth and Lydon trussed up in the boot of your car with Cirrhosis itch.

Jason Williamson is for real. In his words… “What you’ve got to remember, when you leave here tonight, is that you didn’t come here to see Sleaford Mods – we came here to see you”.

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Gig Review: Teleman, The Junction, Cambridge, 26th October 2016 @Telemanmusic @moshimoshimusic @LunacreHQ @CambJunction

Last time I saw Teleman, it was at the Portland Arms in Cambridge. We were so close to the band, it was like a gig in my own front room. Since then, I’ve been hankering after seeing them again so jumped at the chance when they announced their gig at The Junction. This time, Music vs the World Junior joined me because she was mightily disgruntled at missing out last time…! I was more than happy to take her along – not many 13 year olds have such good taste in music!

Support act Lunacre set the tone for the evening with their unique, experimental electronic style. Deftly knocking out the tunes with incredible attention to detail, they are so focussed that they almost seem to forget the audience is there!

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They’ve only been doing their thing for a year, but these guys have a propitious future ahead of them if they carry on like this – I highly recommend seeing them before they make it so big that you can’t get close enough!

Anyway, I digress. Teleman take to a bigger stage and a considerably larger audience like fish to water, their stagecraft professionalism rising to the occasion. The bigger PA sound system and production, as well as some monumental lighting and astounding smoke effects enhance and add dimension to their songs.

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There was a mixed bag of punters – old, young kids, drop outs, students and weirdos, all of whom were absolutely enthralled whilst listening to the band. I did note that despite the ages of individuals, this was a very serious crowd and one that is difficult to pigeonhole.

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Once again the thing that struck me was the degree of “control” and subtlety that these guys have with their music, never appearing to lose their steadiness or at times hypnotic preciseness that they have with their songs. Seasoned and steady, they have clearly been doing this very well with much skilful accomplishment for quite some time (I refer you specifically to previous guise of some of the band, Pete and the Pirates).

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MVTW Junior was suitably impressed with the whole evening, never taking her eyes off the band and singing along with all her heart. Anyone who can make such an impact on that particular teenager is onto something! It was also her first experience of being starstruck whilst meeting a band – she was practically bouncing out of there afterwards, and declared that they are “very lovely people”!

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I heard not ONE error in their performance, nothing seemed out of place, or if it was they could conceal and distract. Anthemic and majestic, the new material shines brightly. If anything, the lack of intimacy and the larger expanse of space between band members in this venue enhances their pristine and almost at times mathematical approach they take with their music.

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I already can’t wait until the next time…!

Album Review: The Yacht Club – “Fall” @bethshalomrecs

Words by Zoe Spencer

Introspective and melancholic, the EP “Fall” from London based The Yacht Club, is deeply cathartic – the musical equivalent of grabbing a quilt, taking the phone off the hook and having a damn good cry.

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Written in just a month by Marcus Gooda, and a change in pace from previous more toe-tapping releases, the record is full of emotion but also some very skilful composing, with band members pitching in in all areas, showing what a versatile lot they are.

Gooda’s vocals have a clarity that sits above the music akin to Death Cab for Cutie or Stephen Fretwell, but are very ably complemented with the multi-layering of instruments that is faintly reminiscent of Jose Gonzales’ Heartbeats or an unplugged Zero 7.

If you like your hearts bleeding but your music lovely, you won’t be disappointed.

Mouth of the Beast

The EP opens with Mouth of the Beast; arguably the most accomplished and rounded track on the EP. Lush layers that grow and swell and ebb with the gorgeous pulse of the drums, the subtle, only just there, harmonies and delicate acoustic guitar.

Afraid of the Dark

Slower and with less peaks and troughs than Mouth of the Beast, Afraid of the Dark is lulling and melancholic; the lack of drums, and lingering guitars and piano combined with the resonant vocals give the whole track an ethereal feel.

Be Happy and Love

The most stripped back of the songs of the EP, the opening phrases and lyrics bring home that this is a very personal record. On first listen, it was so personal they had me wanting to “look away”, there is something about putting names into songs that makes it harder to lose yourself in the music – how can you pretend this song is speaking to you, about you, if you don’t know a “Jessie” or a “Kathryn?” It was the musical equivalent of watching a stranger cry over a carton of milk in the supermarket – uncomfortable but strangely fascinating – however it is this kind of emotional nakedness that carries the rest of the EP through. They are making an art form of fragility and discomfort so to complain that an emo record is “too much” seems beside the point. That said, when the naivety of the vocal is teamed with the sophistication of beautiful piano accents and finger picked guitar, it becomes a more lovely thing.

Put Your Life in a Box

The final track is atmospheric and intimate. The lyrics drip with metaphor and analogy but the musical interludes have just as much to say – haunting and moody. The backing vocals in particular are beautifully done. Fans of Joanna Newsome’s chilling lilting guitar will find a lot to like here.

The Yacht Club’s newest offering is well worth a listen, and a wallow in the sadness.

Release date 25th November 2016 – you can buy the cassette here.

Beth Shalom Records

Marcus Gooda: Vocals, Guitar, Bass, Keyboards

Alexander Esp: Drums, Keyboards, Piano, Percussion

Sam Rose: Guitar Jack Holland: Backing Vocals

Dots Jukebox: “Return”, 29th October 2016

Elvis Presley – Return to Sender suggested by @staffs75

Dusty Springfield – Goin’ Back suggested by @skylarkingmatt

Jefferson Airplane – Comin’ Back to Me suggested by @instantkarma80

The Doobie Brothers – Toulouse Street suggested by @musicvstheworld

Eurythmics – It’s Alright (Baby’s Coming Back) suggested by @hungryhatter

McAlmont & Butler – Bring it Back suggested by @neilc79

U2 – A Sort of Homecoming suggested by @jamesoldham

Wire – On Returning suggested by @williemcalpine

Afghan Wings – I Keep Coming Back suggested by @_sandywishart

The Mighty Wah! – Come Back suggested by @durutti74

Half Man Half Biscuit – Paintball’s Coming Home suggested by @davidkbruce

Fugazi – Runaway Return suggested by @hodge_nufc

Nine Black Alps – Come Back Around suggested by @GLPNE73

Ash – Return of White Rabbit suggested by @hungryhatter

City and Colour – Lover Come Back suggested by @purpleink1310

Stone Roses – I Am the Resurrection suggested by @_indianajo

Embrace – Come Back to What You Know suggested by @anxiousflag

The Bluetones – Slight Return suggested by @_MM65_ @countessofgratz @miftin81

Thin Lizzy – The Boys are Back in Town suggested by @lindy_lou2

Jethro Tull – Home suggested by @musicvstheworld

Song of the Week: