With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

Music trivia, useless info, extra added random stuff and the odd rant from me

Mayhem’s – Top 20 Albums of 2021 December 1, 2021


I don’t often put together the best albums of the year list, but I do love a good list so here are my favourite albums of 2021. What were yours?

  1. ‘Delilah Bon’ – Delilah Bon – An absolutely sublime, sassy debut from Lauren Tate’s magnificent, impassioned alter ego. This has been my album of the year since I first heard it
  2. ‘Shout Out! To Freedom…’ – Nightmares On Wax The perfect late night chill album that you can listen to anytime
  3. ‘Blue Weekend’ – Wolf AliceAn album that proves Wolf Alice continue to grow and are becoming an iconic British band
  4. ‘All In’ – Apollo JunctionThese Leeds lads smash that difficult sophomore album myth out of the park with a total belter
  5. ‘The Myth of the Happily Ever After’ – Biffy Clyro – Biffy are for me perhaps the best band on the planet right now, yet another great release proves it
  6. ‘Happier Than Ever’ – Billie EilishA fantastically accomplished album from a talent that will be around for a lifetime
  7. ‘The Yearbook’ – Baby QueenNot many bands care as much about their fans as Baby Queen, but they are so much more than caring, they really are a stunning band
  8. ‘Chemtrails Over the Country Club’ – Lana Del Rey – Probably Lana Del Ray’s best album so far, I loved this after one spin
  9. ‘The Nearer the Fountain, More Pure the Stream Flows’ – Damon Albarn – Uber polymath Mr Albarn proves once again how wide ranging his abundant talent stretches
  10. ‘Discover Effortless Living’ – BullA fine debut album with echoes of the best of 60s rock from one of York’s greatest bands
  11. ‘Carnage’ – Nick Cave and Warren EllisIt’s Cave and Ellis, what more does one need to say, a truly awesome collection.
  12. ‘Not Your Muse’ – CelesteJazzy, modern R&B, fabulous tunes and most of all a voice that encapsulates so many beautiful emotions
  13. ‘She Walks In Beauty’ – Marianne Faithful and Warren EllisThis has been essential late night listening for me, it is soothing, mindful and close to perfect
  14. ‘We Live Here’ – Bob VylanAn incredibly powerful political album from a band that has got this far without the backing of a huge corporation
  15. ‘21st Century Love Songs’ – Wildhearts The Wildhearts are back baby, with one of their best albums
  16. ‘Amazing Things’ – Don Broco – An album that captures everything that is great with current rock and is showcased by an underlying pop sensibility
  17. ‘The Crippling Space Between’ – Carol Hodge – Another flawless album from the supremely talented wonderful human being known as Carol Hodge
  18. ‘Passions’ – Thirst Dom White steps up from the drum stool to release a beautiful album that is grandly cinematic in its scope
  19. ‘Who Am I’ – Pale WavesIs there anyone that doesn’t love Pale Waves, this set establishes them as one of Blighty’s best bands
  20. ‘We’re All Alone In This Together’ – DaveSharp, passionate, caring, honest and with a large side order of vitriol, Dave tells it like it is expertly

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The Mayhem Monthly Top 20 Artist Chart – November 2021 (and October 2021) November 30, 2021


Thanks to a site called Obscurify. It claims to tell you how obscure your listening on Spotify is. Compared to the rest of the UK I am now supposedly 99% more obscure than other users in the UK, which has increased from a mere 90% in July! It also lists my most obscure artists, (the top three of which have been there since I began doing these posts) which currently are

Woke Up Dead

Promethium

Hats Off Gentlemen It’s Adequate

Seagoth

The Notorious Lightbulbs – this lot also made it to number 7 in the top 20 for November!

So who were the top artists for October (29th) and November (20th)? Check the full lists below, but I can reveal that Delilah Bon was the chart-topper in October, her second time at the top and her fourth appearance overall. Once again it was Dame David Bowie in November for his fifth time at the top. There are a few new artists in there, notably Dea Matrona, Joy Crookes and, Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton. I was pleased to see Apollo Junction, Emily Capell and, Nightmares On Wax making an appearance too. Also plenty of the usual classic acts, including Elton John, Amy Winehouse and, the Biffy Clyro. Regular readers know that as I share this Spotify account with my wonderful wife Catherine (a.k.a. Catwoman) a few artists finished much higher than they might have done if they were only my choices 🙂 Notably the Carpenters and Rick Astley. Give Obscurify a spin and let me know what your chart looks like and how obscure your tastes are 🙂

Mayhem’s Top 20 Artists on Spotify (November 20th 2021)

David Bowie
Nightmares On Wax
Damon Albarn
Radiohead
Carpenters
Rick Astley
Notorious Lightbulbs
Avalanches
Emily Capell
Biffy Clyro
Blur
Apollo Junction
Ima Robot
Bruno Mars
Millie Manders & the Shut Up
Bob Marley & The Wailers
Bunny Wailer
Norman Connors
Joy Crookes
Emily Haines & the Soft Skeleton

Mayhem’s Top 20 Artists on Spotify (October 29th 2021)

Delilah Bon
Elton John
David Bowie
Steven Wilson
Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
Durand Jones and the Indications
Amy Winehouse
Emily Capell
Billy Nomates
Biffy Clyro
Strange Bones
T Rex
Sharon Jones and the Dap-Kings
Darts
Counting Crows
Nightmares On Wax
Cleopatrick
Beans On Toast
Be Bop Deluxe
Dea Matrona

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Millie Manders And The Shutup – Fulford Arms, York – Sunday 14th November 2021 November 24, 2021


I became a fan of Millie Manders and the Shut Up after seeing them at this same venue, Fulford Arms almost exactly two years ago, so I wasn’t going to miss another opportunity to see this great band. Did they deliver? Well you will just have to read on to find that out, because I need to tell you about the support band, Jøra The Førtuneteller. This hugely talented four-piece are based in Brighton (or possibly Norwich) and to get themselves on the road they sold loads of their stuff, including their Playstations, to buy a van to tour with. In my opinion that sacrifice and investment was well worth it for Sam, Gui, Dawid, and Josh. They have only been together for three years but it feels like they have been a band much longer. I sense the histrionics of Muse, the grandeur of Pink Floyd, and the punk attitude of the Clash. Sam’s vocals are world-class and reminiscent of the best of Steve Marriot and Kurt Cobain and Gui’s guitar skills are easily advanced enough that he could battle Matt Bellamy in a guitar duel and come out on top. It was also great to see Millie Manders showing her support at the front of the stage too. I am so looking forward to hearing more from Jøra The Førtuneteller and definitely seeing them play live again.

Regular readers will have seen Millie Manders and the Shut Up on these pages before. I had the honour of interviewing Millie back in January too, click here to listen to it. Millie is one of the most passionate performers in music right now. She is not just passionate about the music though, she is also supremely passionate about life, injustice, mental health, the environment, and many other things. All of this is encapsulated in an absolutely stunning performance from her and the Shut Up. Every tune was full of electrifying energy and there wasn’t a duff song or note in the whole set, the band and Millie were firing perfectly on all cylinders. Some people choose to badge Millie Manders and the Shut Up as ska-punk, but they are so much more than that. Highlights for me were “Poor Man’s Show” which is even more pertinent in the post-Covid world where the UK government is ripping the guts out of our fabulous National Health Service. Then “Not Okay” is a heart on the sleeve clarion call to every one of you who is suffering from depression, anxiety, and any other form of mental health issue. It really is ok to be not ok! But the pinnacle of the night for me was the astonishing, powered, anger and feeling in a mountainous performance of “Panic”. There are still a few dates left on this tour and if you can get to any of them, damned well do it! You will not be sorry!

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‘Things That I Confuse’ EP – Spunsugar November 19, 2021

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 2:53 pm
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Swedish pop trio Spunsugar have a new ep ‘Things That I Confuse’. Floaty driving pop with a hint of Cocteau twins and driving drums with buzzing bass tones propel “Hatchet Along”. Excellent vocal harmonies create a false sense of ease which is quickly dispelled by the dark nature of the lyric.
“Pink And Red” continues in the same vein. Cure like guitars carry the song along and a heavier touch sits nicely under the light touch vocals. “Things That I Confuse” is a very different animal to begin with and then locks back into the patterns established by earlier songs. The chorus is very effective with heavenly sounding choirs . The melodies on this EP are strong and the feel is one of dreamy euphoria with some excellent arrangements. I look forward to hearing where Spunsugar go to next.
Written by Paul Bamlett

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‘The Good Times Are Over’ – Luv Dot Gov November 18, 2021

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 11:39 pm
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Luv Dot Gov is a power-pop band from New York and their second album ‘The Good Times Are Over’ is a cornucopia of melodic delight with crunchy guitars and deadpan vocals aplenty. The title track “The Good Times Are Over” kicks things off in style with a Ramones meets the Monkees chorus. “Panik” opens on jangling guitars and Byrds-style vocals. Acapella vocals open “Maybe I Like The Rain” which is more balladic and gentle although the lyrics to all of these songs are somewhat dark. Big Hair metal riffs usher us into “Steal Your Heart” and a love song with its tongue firmly in both cheeks. “Blue Holiday” has a touch of Green Day about it and a more punky feel although the melody continues to be very strong. “Don’t Call Me” rather unexpectedly features a piano and is a truly standout song showing the breadth of this excellent band’s ambitions.
In their press release, they talk about their struggle to make the record under lockdown and touch on the unsettling nature of some of their music. I for one will be searching out their 2018 debut album ‘At Least We’ve Got This Madness’ and also looking forward to seeing this melodic and thoughtful band live.
Written by Paul Bamlett.

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‘My Life In Dire Straits’ – John Illsley – Book review November 14, 2021

Filed under: Book,Review — justwilliam1959 @ 1:02 am
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I don’t often get the chance to review books, but when this one was sent to me a few weeks ago I thought it was worth giving it a spin. I read a lot of books, including many rock autobiographies and biographies. This is a compelling autobiography from Dire Straits’ ace bass player John Illsley. Along with Mark Knopfler, Illsley was one of the founding members of Dire Straits, who became one of the most successful British bands ever. Apparently, Geldof had asked them to headline Live Aid as in 1984/ 85 they were probably the biggest band on the planet. However, as they were booked to play Wembley Arena that night they went on a little earlier. Illsley sums that day up superbly in saying that he is glad they didn’t have to follow Queen. John describes his early years and how he came to find a career in music, which like many of his peers and successors was frowned upon by his parents, at least initially. The band came together in Deptford, South London and were so broke in the early days that they were living hand to mouth and picking up any gigs they could. They were finally able to record a demo tape which they managed to get to DJ Charlie Gillett who played “Sultans Of Swing” incessantly on his show, the rest, as they say, is history. Aside from his time in Dire Straits Illsley speaks in a brutally honest way about how that level of fame, success and the intensive recording and touring cycles destroyed some of his relationships. I really enjoyed this book and it definitely ranks among the best rock autobiographies that I have ever read. It is well written, open, honest, uplifting and incredibly interesting. It will be a great read for any music fans and not just fans of Dire Straits. It is out now, published by Diversion Books.

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Seagoth – Fulford Arms, York – Thursday 11th November 2021 November 13, 2021

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 12:16 am
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I am so loving the return of live music, I think that might be the single thing that I missed most during all these Covid lockdowns. Tonight was a headline slot for Seagoth, an act that is new to me, what did I think of Seagoth? Well read on dear reader, I need to tell you about the support bands first. Kicking proceedings off was Seattle On The Mantle, band names are definitely getting stranger and more surreal these days aren’t they? I really thought I wouldn’t like this lot, first impression, unfairly based on the way they looked was Mumford and Sons who I am not a fan of. Then the first tune seemed to be an amalgam of so many identikit provincial indie bands from the early noughties. But to their absolute credit, Seattle On The Mantle definitely grew on me and won me over. Their songs are most definitely story songs, seemingly about everyday life. At times the lyrics teetered towards cliche but quickly stepped up to be clinically clever, and I mean that in a good way. Musically it would be very difficult to fault them. The sound is jangly indie with a 60s pop sensibility. You have to love their wonderfully weird and warped sense of humour too. Dedicating songs to “living legends” such as John Lennon, Dennis Wilson, David Bowie, and Leonard Cohen was darkly hilarious. Now I really need to check out this band’s recorded output.

Next on stage were Honeytrap who are getting a fair amount of hype and exposure at the moment. I reckon I can sum up their performance in just two words, fucking awesome! However that would be lazy on my part, so I won’t, although I stand by the sentiment because Honeytrap is a fucking awesome band. They Channel the Verve at their early ‘Mad Richard’ peak and vocalist Kell Chambers’s voice hits the highest rock peaks with apparent ease. As well as a Richard Ashcroft influence I sensed the rawer vocal aspects of Kurt Cobain in there too. The songs seem to be sad laments, but delivered with forceful emotion and set to some howling, high-class rock music. Guitarist Will Daniels is clearly a talented guitar player and he also uses his effects pedals wonderfully. For me, Daniels’s talent is akin to that of the magnificent Bernard Butler in his Suede heyday. I felt he even added a prog injection at times. There were many high points in this set, but I must single out the immaculate performance of “Candles” which is a stunning, atmospheric, anthemic rock masterpiece of a song. You need this band in your life right now!

Unless you are familiar with Seagoth, and I wasn’t until tonight, you could be forgiven for thinking that it was something to do with the Whitby Goth weekend, but it isn’t. Seagoth is singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and producer Georgia Ochoa. Is this the finest dreamy, psyched-up, indie, dance pop in the world? Probably. Georgia is a true musical genius and she has surrounded herself with a supremely talented band. They are all good but the bass player (apologies, I can’t find her name anywhere) is off the scale good. I have seen some great bass players over the years; Flea, Bootsy Collins, Stanley Clarke, Lemmy, Tina Weymouth, Peter Hook and Bernard Edwards to name just a few and this lady definitely goes into the list. She treats her bass like a proper instrument and not just a supporting tool! I have a little rant I need to make too, why do people come to a gig and disappear after their mates band has played? So many of you missed a fabulous set from Seagoth who in my opinion will go on to play much bigger venues, especially festivals. Melvin Benn are you reading this? The new Seagoth EP is pretty special too, click here to check it out on Spotify.

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‘All In’ – Apollo Junction November 11, 2021


For so many bands the sophomore album is often difficult, patchy and never lives up to the promise of their breakthrough release. However Apollo Junction smash that theory into a centillion pieces. This is an outstanding album and if it doesn’t feature in all of those best album of 2021 lists in the next few weeks I will be very surprised and incredibly disappointed. Seven of the eleven tracks (twelve tracks on the vinyl release) have been released as singles which might suggest that the remaining five tracks might be pure filler, but they most certainly are not, every song here is an absolute masterpiece. Apollo Junction certainly know and appreciate their rock history and they have what might be described as a dark glam sound, which not many other bands can match. It is clear that Jamie, Matt, Jonathan, Ben and Sam have used this awful Covid driven 18 months really well. I loved their first album, ‘Mystery’ from 2019, but frankly while that was a very good album, ‘All In’ is a truly great album that we will still be listening to in many years.

Photo by Steve Riding

The album kicks off with “Light Up The Sky” and that is what this full on glam stomper does in a way that is unmatched even by the most explosive and expensive fireworks. The initial 20 second orchestral overture lulls you into a relaxed sense and then those massive drums kick in. It has some proper tasty funky metal overtones and elements of their signature electro sound. This song epitomises that dark glam description I gave in the opening paragraph and after a few listens to the album this is probably my favourite track, but only just. Slightly more in a Depeche Mode meets the Human League vibe is “Porcelain” which has anthem written all over it. In your face rocker “Two Car Family” hits you next and it is another thunderous banger of a tune. A thumping thumping, infectious glam rock beat that Don Powell would be proud of and some mostly upbeat positive lyrics. If this tune does not make you move then you need an appointment with your doctor. If you need to catch your breath after the last track then “Rooftops” will give you a small, ok tiny, opportunity to do that. Apollo Junction have a knack of producing sublime anthems and “Rooftops” is the kind of track that U2 would kill for. I sensed an Echo and the Bunnymen influence in “On The Ropes” although I think Jamie has a slightly more dynamic and emotional voice than Ian McCulloch. It is hard not to love “When We Grow Up” which is pure Indie Pop Rock at it’s best, with a chorus that Pete Wylie would be proud of. The multi tracked vocals towards the end make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up. (Check the video out too, it features a host of Apollo Junction fans, including me)

“Sometimes” is New Order smashing head on into U2 while letting Brandon Flowers into the room as well. The lyrics feel quite deep and personal, but ultimately very positive. The funky, summery guitar opening, courtesy of Matt, of “Unknowns” has hit single written all over it. Matt’s bass is supremely powerful here and the lyrics are very clever. How can you not love this line, “like a dinosaur in the last disco”. “Borderlines” is a staggeringly good fast paced rocker with an 80s Simple Minds feel that you can easily imagine blasting out across festival fields all over the world. It is underpinned by more of that ace glam rock drum sound. This whole album feels like a greatest hits package and next up is “Forever” which I once described as close to being a perfect lockdown anthem. I stand by that description 100%. It is upbeat, has a happy vibe, and a great singalong hook. There is a more acoustic, very slightly slower feel to “Are You Happy” which is a more understated anthem than the preponderance of banging tunes that precede it. The “hidden track”, “Our Goodbye” which I think is only available on the vinyl release has a John Lennon influence in the keyboards, lyrics and vocal phrasing. Earlier Apollo Junction asked “Are You Happy” I can categorically state that I am ecstatic, this is a stunning album and you need to get your hands on it as soon as you can! It is officially released tomorrow, Friday 12th November on Shedload Records.

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This House Is haunted – Fulford Arms, York – Sunday 31st October November 9, 2021

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 8:28 pm
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Has there ever been a more aptly named band to headline a show on Halloween than This House Is Haunted? Maybe, but this York band was booked for Halloween this year! Before I speak of them I need to tell you about the three support acts. First to take the stage was Redfyrn, another fine York band. Cat is a great vocalist with a voice that is heavy rock bordering on operatic. Redfyrn have a monster heavy sound with boot-crushing bass and riffs that could split an atom. There are rich seams of jazz and prog in their sound and the drummer’s less is more approach comes across like a heavy metal Charlie Watts. This is the second time I have seen them and it won’t be the last.

Next up it was the turn of another local band, the Bricks. They have a supremely powerful post-punk sound with incredible energy levels, especially from singer Gemma. She is an excellent frontwoman and the band is really tight. I heard strains of early Siouxsie Sioux in Gemma’s vocals and occasionally maybe Lene Lovich too. Their songs are idiosyncratic and original, I particularly loved “Short Songs”. And a special mention for “Warburton” (at least I think that is the title), which can sit alongside just a small handful of other bread-related songs. You need to experience the Bricks live, I did and I will be back for more. Vaquelin came to the spooky stage next. If Led Zeppelin had sweaty, dirty, illicit sex with Bring Me The Horizon, Valequin would be the haunted offspring. Sometimes funky, but always heavy tunes with classy rock vocals prove that this band knows how to rock. The guitars hit you stylistically like Slash but so much heavier.

This House Is Haunted is a hellishly accomplished band. In keeping with Halloween, the band took to the stage dressed like Squid Game participants, although the heat meant those masks didn’t stay for too long! Every member makes a 100% contribution to what are clearly some staggeringly powerful rock songs. Dom proves what an exceptional drummer he is. Zak hits a perfect sweet spot showcasing his fine rock voice and he also supplies some first class nuclear-powered guitar riffs. Bass player Jenn keeps the band’s engine finely tuned and purring like a top-of-the-range Rolls Royce. The world needs to hear more of this band. If they ever haunt a venue near you then do not miss them.

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