Monday 30 July 2007

Kazoo Funk Orchestra, The HooKares @ 13th Note, 29th July

Kazoo Funk Orchestra have been on my musical radar for a wee while now, but I honestly have no idea how or why. I thought it must've been one of those spam-a-lot MySpace friend requests, but since they're not my friends (not yet anyway) this seems unlikely. Hmm. Regardless of how I know of them, I do, and have been looking forward to this gig for quite some time as I knew it would be something out of the ordinary.

I was not to be disappointed! Unless you count the crushing dreariness of the first band, that is...they were truly as bad as the name suggests, if indeed you can imagine a band being that bad. Initial signs were quite promising, they came on after side one of Clear Spot by Cap-B and the presence of an electric violin promised at least a smidgin of experimentation to their sound. Alas, this was not to be. Wah-wah violin solo aside, I lost some skin cells watching this band that I'm never going to get back again, and this angers me. So much for Oil of Olay, it cannot reverse the aging caused by having to listen to bad music for half an hour.

The tiny downstairs bar got rather full and extremely hot in time for the arrival of KFO, and thankfully these guys saved the day with their engaging mix of danceable tunes, lyrical smut and stage buffoonery. First song of the night was about muff diving, but as the cute little hairy frontman jumped about waving his arms and brandishing a stethoscope, even Mary Whitehouse would have forgotten any offense caused to get down and dirty down the front. The band had at least 8 and possibly as many as 11 members, some of which (but not all) played the eponymous kazoo. This was less of a gimmick than a neccessity though, as the playful and energetic nature of these tunes was best expressed via a small plastic toy which requires no musical expertise to play.

As the tunes carried on (they played for almost an hour!) it became apparent that this was a partisan crowd; in fact, the only criticism I would have of the night was that the 5 of us felt like we'd gatecrashed a private party as we seemed to be the only people there not personally acquainted with the band. About halfway through 4 bin bags full of balloons were unleashed upon the sweaty throng, providing a floaty compliment to the penis-shaped balloons tethered to the microphone stands from the beginning. The atmosphere was pretty amazing, don't think I've ever seen so many happy smiling people in this venue before with people ignoring the perils of the 6ft high ceiling to mosh away with gay abandon.

The band's sound could be best described as a poppier, happier Beta Band, ut why rely on me when you can download 38 of their tunes from their website? Better still, why not buy an album - I got both of them for a fiver, the best deal since Chris Langham sold me a cheap computer 4 months ago...some folk will never learn.

The Chemistry Experiment - Indietracks

Start off a bit prog, they have flute on stage and five people. Slow lumbering music, a fitting soundtrack to being warm and drunk.

On the row of pews in front of me, children have earplugs put in.

Vocals kick in from the scrawny guitarist, warm ponderous vocals, like The Plimptons wish their B-sides could be. The bass drowns out loads.

Oop, speeds up like a train halfway through, thundering driving bass and rapid hi-hat, drowning out vocals, until two-piece harmonies kick in.

Can't remember seeing them before, but I do have an old Winchester Club flyer with their name on it, so they didn't make much of an impression.


The Gresham Flyers

I made a conscious effort not to see this band.

Sometimes I have these fantasies about indiepop genocide, how I could be the indiepop Stalin. By using the time honoured words I can kill off bands who have fucked me over, or some other suspected misdoings of the past.

By saying they're despicable people, vermin, representing the very worst of this scene, like cockroaches. Their nepotism and eliteism is a pox on all DIY, homemade bands. They need to be excluded from this sort of thing.

Maybe they'll just cease to exist, their work left as a fading scar, forgotten save for suntans and flourescent lighting. And I'd be the indiepop Stalin who made it so.

The feeling of injustice, betrayal, rejection and alienation from their ilk has made me the monster I am today. Every atrocity I've created, give me a minute and I can attribute it to them. Every self-inflicted injustice is due to them and their lott.

Their guitarist, Waz, was the first person to wander over and say hi when I arrived on site.



San Marinos

Two bespectacled foreign folk, a tall guitar chap and a girl on vocals and tamborine. Doesn't sound very tight, but comes across as really sweet. As do the nervous glances between the two. I'm no sure what language they're singing in, either Svensig or English.

They sound like the Hermit Crabs demos. Sound-wise the response of the vocals isn't flat and we're losing what could be a large chunk of emotion.

Verses of "La la laas" make up for it.


The Hermit Crabs - Indietracks

I'm in an internet cafe near Charing Cross typing up my notes right now, provisionally flathunting otherwise I'll be sleeping rough by sunset, and waiting on meeting a friend for lunch. I'm so thirsty my vision is clouding, but I can see someone reading the festival reviews already, I hope they leave comments, and link to me from somewhere.

I love you.

Still broad daylight when The Mighty Crabs hit the stage, a load of the Scottish contingent have arrived in the crowd.

Caroline says "They're alright" I think they're a little bass heavy, "Not that excited" The crowd are gently swaying and to my right Amy is engaged in foot tapping.
The Hermit Crabs
Hmm, the fine ales on tap, Victoria Wood and Fistful of Hops have gone straight to my head.

Must comment on Ally Crabs' two finger keyboard playing - reassuring.

The vocals are mixed like they come from a well or wall cavity. The usual gentleness is washed over a little.

"Same as ever, but a bit sunburnt" - Robbie

On my way out I was accosted by an Alsation dog so I called it sir and apologised profusely.


Pete Green - Indietracks

Outside I bump into MJ Hibbett, a mutual half-arsed attempt at a manly hug in greeting, unless I mis-judged the situation and I'm on the other side of the tracks watching Pete Green.
Pete Green
Troubador style, its sweet and gentle like the school choir boy soloist. Whilst the crowd, damaged as we are, are on his side, there's something a little whiney about his music, rather than the usual chumminess. And the sibilance on the mic is off.

"Myspace fucking sucks" resonates slightly, like friends reunited, the sun is setting on that social phenomenum. My money spinning dot com idea is a site that signs you up to all these things and keeps them all updated, kind of like an aggregator in reverse. I shall call it

He's very blue: jeans, blue t-shirt with some footballer motif lost on me, and a blue Mani hat, did baggy ever die?

He does an indiepop acoustic cover of the Ramones, but I think it falls flat, shallow echos of Hibbett's Boom Boom Shake the Room.



The Loves - Indietracks

Full complement this time, its kind of weird them playing in broad daylight in a diesel engine shed. To my left is a bouncy castle. Ahead of me is around thirty of these people from gigs and bands. Nods and brief chats.

Its a more expansive sound than usual, harder even than the Buffalo the other week. A little shouty too.

The between song banter isn't as good as usual, the blonde keyboard girl who's name evades me seems comfortable and they're comfortable amongst themselves, maybe its just that the audience are so far away and as the first band on, the place is emptier than they're used to.
The Loves
The new drummer sounds more agressive than the last one, maybe he has to prove something.

All the old hits come storming through, and again my eyes moisten to "She'll break your heart"


The Lovely Eggs - Indietracks

I've never thought that reviews of festivals really do justice to the bands playing. Too many bands, too little space. I'll try.

I'm on a steam train, there's a band set up in the guard's wagon. A stripey topped duo, boy + girl. Even before she announced where they were from, the girl seemed familiar, blond hair, nervous smile, eyeliner and north of England accent, from Lancaster.
The Lovely Eggs 01
Fuzz guitar, an assortment of percussion and sometimes a recorder and bird noise thing. The girl does all the singing. Songs from life about hair, home towns, and falling asleep on trains, kind of sound like a minimised version of Angelica and The Loves.

Ooh, crikey, it is the girl from Angelica.


Friday 27 July 2007

Tom Snowball, George Thomas, Ceylan, Liz Green, - 13th Note

I wasn't sure where tonight's gig was so I tried Sleazys first, found Commander Keen on the door, not the gig I was after so I bade him farewell, fond regards and headed off. He'd said that he thought Take A Worm For A Walk Week were playing the Note but I wasn't so sure.

Arrived at the Note as dusk fell, Wee Patrick was outside talking to some sexy kids and I hurried inside.

Tom Snowball on the door, looking as youthful and fresh faced as always. I remember him being the bard of the Tchai Ovna many years ago with a beard, I remember him playing Last Night From Glasgow, and now a promoter at the Note.

Ceylan's on stage, providing backing vocals to some other guitar on guitar, playing the final song of their set. Christina says "she was great" and Ceyaln herself swears it was her best show ever.

I bought a drink and bade hello to friends and ladies.

Next up on stage is a painfully nervous singing girl, Liz Green. After starting with an accappella song she picks up a guitar and goes full on two string Billie Holliday.

Faint echos of Lily Allen in her retroness and hamming of decades old genres. "She sounds a bit like a cross between Billie Holiday and a muppet. I don't know if that's a good or a bad things - Christina. Katesby picked up on the Billie Holliday thing too. I wonder if this is actually what Billie Holliday sounds like.

"I was playing that on the wrong fret, so it was lower than I expected, luckily I have a voice like a man"

Big Jim is here, and Katesby off of the internet, some of The Drive Carefully folk, and uncle Brendan chin stroking by the mixing desk at the back.

"Actually I take it back, she's pretty good. Peculiar voice though" - Christina again.

George Thomas and The Owls, starting off in the troubador style with a thin acoustic cover of "I'm so Excited", his vox ain't so good on it. Uncle Brendan's stood right behind me, so I feel I should mention the buzzines from one of the speakers, doesn't sound power related, some kind of ground loop or interference.

George Thomas is playing really gentle music, dry half mumbled lyrics, so slight you can almost see straight through them.

Friday 20 July 2007

The Just Joans, Pikelet, The Love Gestures, Darren Hanlon - The Hive

It started with The Other Chris on reception phoning through a message for me, "Can you look after Amydog?". I'd only met Amydog twice before, but a swift phonecall to southwest CHCP confirmed it, I was required to take a dog for a walk. Could easily fit it in before nipping across to Edinburgh.

So it was I acquired Amy, a shar pei, all creases, frowns and drool, from her mistress outside Kelvingrove Art Gallery.

It let her lead me, she had a far better idea of where it was we were going, I'd never taken a dog for a walk before. About forty minutes was how long we were supposed to be together, so we wandered round Kelvingrove Park, chasing squirrels, getting chatted up by small children and moaning about the weather. It was overcast, but not very rainy, just moist. So at the vaguely allotted time I returned to the Art Gallery and we waited.

No sign of the mistress, but there was lots of grass to be sniffed and joggers to scare, so we wandered off again. I took Amy to a petrol station to top up my mobile phone, we wandered round the park again, we wandered streets, we made friends with other dog enthusiasts. I made up lies about Amy, about whom I knew nothing.
So after three hours together, I was cold, wet and tired. Her mistress came back, Amy was ecstatic, and rather than heading tot he pub for a thank you beer, I bade my farewells and headedd off. Amy wanted to come too and through herself into the path of several cars to catch up with me.

"No Amy, you're probably not the target audience for The Just Joans, you won't think much of them."

Edinburgh: an hour later, I missed the Joanses, but chatted to them at the bar in The Hive, the a rescheduled venue after I'd gone to The Arc first.

An unassuming girl who looked suspiciously boyish sits alone, midstage, surrounded by instruments, her feet pummelling an effects box. Its rather useful that her first song was crap as you can gauge the rest of her set was so much better.

I used to be impressed by girl with a voice, an acoustic guitar and a reverb / delay / tape loop pedal. But after Astrid, Ceylan and that girl who did the half-arsed cover of "Crazy", tonight's multi-layered vocal chorus seemed just naff. Luckily the rest of the set did it all so much better.

Glokenspiels multitracked and pitch-shifted. Accordian single note drones as an entire song's backing track. Building up an entire drum track, like on a drum machine, one real drum at a time and a tape loop.

I think my favourite song, about why people work at a sewage plant, they lost their goldfish when they were young, seemed to invoke Badalamenti. Multi-layered guitars and even more multi-layered vocals, sounded refreshingly Twin Peaksy. I couldn't place the vocals, although just one girl, it sounded at time like a clunky folk ensemble or a reverb drenched shoegazer moment from the mid-nineties.

Next up were The Love Gestures they are the missing link between Anal Beard, The Hector Collectors and Hefner. Its the drumkit lashed together on top of a chair with gaffer tape and folk using wooden spoons as drumsicks wot gives it away. The waivering vocals build on this, turning to microphoneless howls of frustration when the songs demand it. The backbone to the majestic sound being the unstoppably professional bass twinned with a mic'ed up plucked cello played by...
So I was writing up The Love Gestures when I was accosted by an inquisitive member of the audience, "Are you writing a review? Who for?..." She'd never heard of Last Night From Glasgow Indie Eyespy (this site). Its a niche market I guess, she'd probably never heard of Sir Harry Kroto either but that's not to say he isn't successful.

Whilst we vaguely agreed about the last two bands, she didn't think much of the Just Joans, advising me not to even bother writing about them, "They had songs about going to the union on Friday afternoons." Ach, she was young and so naive, one day she'll be old, disillusioned and cynical like the rest of us, and will accept that The Just Joan are the voice of a generation.

Our conversation was interrupted by Darren Hanlon hitting the stage.

He's a warm and talented chap, a master of the craft of guitar playing and singing at the same time. And he does write some fine lyrics. For the first few songs he's stood alone on stage with a guitar plugged into Love Gesture's amp, in the traditional travelling troubador style. He's joined halfway through by Pikelet / Evelyn on drums, but it adds little to the performance.

The crowd enjoy him immensly, probly cos they're 50% Australian, amorous couples weaving intertwined, some perky girl I snogged years ago not recognising me, old acquaintances from Edinburgh Uni's Indiesoc.

Its the between song banter that's the nicest, the wonders of British crisp flavourings, buffets laid out by the promoter's parents, uncomfortable kuola bear inspired videos.

I was tired and cold and hungry, I had a long drive back to Glasgow, so I slipped out early, missing Darren's last few songs.


Tuesday 10 July 2007

The Plimptons - XFM

This site was always going to be a shameless promotional tool for bands wot I have interests in, the constant going to gigs was just a distraction. But now I think its time to cash it in a wee bit, and I don't mean by begging youse to click on the google adverts, no.

This week on XFM Scotland, where they have a sort of popularity contest for bands called XFM Uploaded, and The Plimptons are on it, just here. What I'd really like youse to do, is click on over there and have a listen to one or two of the songs. I'd recommend Impulse Records, its one of their best.

And if you like the sound of it you could also click on Vote for Us thing halfway down the left side. You don't have to fill in any forms or owt.

If the Plimps get enough votes they get one of their songs played on Thursday night, and it'd do wonders for the self-esteem of Marty Plimp.

Sunday 8 July 2007

Ally Kerr, The Metro-Gnomes - Cottiers

Has it really been a whole month since I was last at the Cottiers for Viva Melodia? Returning victorious from The Plimptons' show at the Liverpool Cavern. So much has gone on and changed. I'm actually listening to Ally Kerr's lyrics, everything seems to be about leaving town and missing all this. I'm almost in tears at the bar.

This is what summer should be about, cold German beer and songs that make you well up.

Why isn't Ally playing T in the Park? With an honourary place on the T-Break stage or just under Camera Obscura on the King Tuts stage. Maybe talent isn't enough, you really do have to wait years.

I can't believe I missed Monica Queen playing here at Viva Melodia last week. I've been wanting to see her and hear her for years, playing on her own, outwith guest vocals on Belle and Sebastian Shows. I bought a Thrum CD off of Amazon once, on the back of seeing clips of them playing The Word on YouTube. No one gets away in the 21st century.

The Metro-Gnomes, not sure whether the hyphen is required, on stage next. Girl on guitar and bloke on harmonica, both on vocal duties, clear and laid back. Very sweet music when they're playing, but there are long pointless pauses between songs, letting the crowd get restless and chatter. I was going to compare them to The Carpenters, but the harmonies remind me more of Simon and Garfunkle, with the wee finger picked descending guitar lines.

Oh my!! KAZOO SOLO!!!! I now love these guys, all sins are forgiven.

Some quality bands coming up here in the next few weeks, Reno Amps, Primary 5 and The legendary St. Deluxe

Sunday 1 July 2007

My Kappa Roots, Eagle Owl, The Wee Rogue - Nice n Sleazy

Late again, Do I win a prize? Look, I bumped into a friend from school with her 6 month old baby, intervened in a fight in the street, bumped into a friend from uni who I haven't seen this century and briefly sketched out a business plan to save the concept of 'the record shop'. (exclusive CDs of specially recorded sessions)

On stage is a chap sat with acoustic guitar, with three microphones, with the most delicate music coming out. Songs about maritime disasters on the Isle of Lewis.

Mig's rather jolly idea to have Sunday afternoon gigs at Sleazys. Laid back affairs, where you can have you lunch with a live soundtrack, only £3 in today.

The audience sits enraptured, in silence, you wouldn't get this at The Cottiers. A couple of familiar faces here, well Ceylan once again and entourage, a Glasgow filmmaker, and various hairy people.

I hope there's going to be more people on stage, and I didn't just pay to hear two songs. Ooh, uncertainty.

Pretend cigarette break upstairs and the realisation that "Enumenu" would be a cool name for a band.

Eagle Owl however, is a better name for a scout leader or something. You know gonks, the wee fuzzy mascot thigs with plastic eyes, perched on computer monitors throughout the eighties, the singer / guitarist looks like one of those. Violin, guitar, cello, so its that warm blanket like music, but its just a little unmusical. It doesn't tie together, all doing their own thing and not at the same time.

The overdrive effect on the violin is a nice touch and boy / girl harmonies.

A few songs in and they swap violin and guitar for ukulele and glokenspiel, this is how they ought to have started. Is this a song about having a pet dog?

The final song is a rather rocking track, drum machine, three part vocals, biolin, guitar and cello, shadows of The Levellers and The Staunton Lick. Ceylan is personally shocked that the word "Mother-fucker" is used throughout the song, I think its quite refreshing. If only their other songs were more like this.

Headlining this afternoon is My Kappa Roots. Potentially, its really good, if you ignore the finger noise, the buzzing, the extractor fan, the out of tuniness and the uncertainty, then its okay, but that takes a lot of ignoring. So its warm, delicate and messy, could be better.
My Kappa Roots
There was an instrumental song he wrote, but I think its stretching the concept of writing a song a little far, playing the same combination of noodles today as you strung together last night just doesn't qualify.

You're harsh upon him Christopher. He has the delicate whisper of the night and flaws like the sea. I think his music is mesmerisingly drowsy. His lyrics are sometimes lost in his Fife burr, but if you read them outside of the music, they have a yearning ache. I'm definitely a fan and I feel he stands at the forefront of the 21st century folk music scene.

While Ceylon took control of my notebook, I started thinking about metallic hydrogen. In theory hydrogen could be a metal solid, its just above Lithium in the periodic table, but it would only be a solid in certain conditions, very high pressure and very low temperature. Certain conditions that could never occur in real day to day life.

Similarly, there can only rarely be the ideal conditions for My Kappa Roots to be beautiful in real life, the rest is just theory.