With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

Hands Off Gretel – Fulford Arms, York – Wednesday 10th July 2019 July 18, 2019


Until now I had missed every opportunity to catch Hands Off Gretel play live, so I had high expectations of this show. Did the band meet my expectations? You’ll have to read on to find out as there were also three other bands on the bill, starting with Witch Of The East. This is the brainchild and solo project of the mightily talented Aeris Houlihan, her sound is heavier than heavy, as grungey as it can get and definitely turned up to 11. Aeris has a blonde version of Marc Bolan’s iconic early 70s hairstyle which allows me to blatantly paraphrase Mr. Bolan and say of Aeris, “She ain’t no square with her corkscrew hair”. Her guitar playing is exquisite and her vocals are really special. Her singing voice is great on the new album ‘Queen Of Insecurity’ but live it goes beyond great. On stage, Aeris was aided and abetted by a drummer that could fit with Motorhead or the Muppets, he was that good! I am not yet familiar with all of Witch Of The East‘s songs, but Aeris gave me a copy of the album so it won’t be long! (Thank you Aeris!). I believe the opening song was “Silence” and my favourite from the set was “When You Fuck Me” which for me was how I would imagine Peaches sounding if she was more metal than electro. Ms. Houlihan made a really stylish and effective crowd incursion towards the end of her set too. I am now a confirmed fan of Witch Of The East and I can hardly wait to see them live again!

Next up was My Wonderful Daze from York, their sound is deep, dark and almost menacing at times. Imagine what band might arise if Florence and the Machine had been kidnapped by DC’s Suicide Squad and the Joker injected them with a mix of a large dose of heavy metal and Kurt Cobain’s DNA. This was not just a simple rock music set it was also a real performance with the band using stage clothes, eccentric makeup and flowing movement to get their songs across. My Wonderful Daze owned the stage for the whole of their set and they captivated a largely spellbound audience. They also keep the punk ethos going by utilising some great stage names (well I am making an assumption that these aren’t their real names) like; Flowers, Eden, and Mr. Jack Sparkle.

As Sirens Fall were the only band without a female member, but they showed true solidarity with the other bands by wearing dresses, well some of the band at least. Singer Mikey Lord I believe will one day become a really iconic frontman. He is highly skilled at engaging the audience and bringing them into the fast lane currently occupied by As Sirens Fall. Mikey has something of Brian Molko about him with some Bowie thrown in for good measure, particularly his powerful on-stage presence. In their five years together the band have released two EPs, both produced by Romesh Dodangoda. Romesh has previously produced Bring Me The Horizon among many others. As Sirens Fall are heavy as hell served with a dash of goth and a shot of punk. They make My Chemical Romance look and sound like Westlife! I can state categorically that As Sirens Fall, have gone straight into my top five live bands! I came to this gig with my good friend Jari, who was here on a business trip from Finland. As Sirens Fall is his new favourite band!

Many bands reach the cusp of greatness but often never make it beyond that, never usually through things that they are able to control. I believe that Hands Off Gretel are about to take one small step for a band, but one giant leap for women in rock. This band has the passion, the skill, and the attitude to take it so much further. I am glad I got to see them at the Fulford Arms, a wonderfully intimate venue. They are surely destined to fill arenas next and who knows where after that. This show came just a few days after the singer and guitarist Lauren Tate’s open letter to the men who come to the band’s shows. It calls out all the misogynistic creeps who sexualise any female in a band or in the audience. What she says is spot on and finally, many more people are taking notice and are ready to do something about this. Ever since I went to my first gig in 1972 and my first festival in 1975 I have loved the camaraderie and care for others in most gig crowds, but sadly there are always exceptions. Lauren was right to call this out and let’s hope it flushes these arseholes out! If you haven’t read her letter yet, you really need to, click here to see it. The band showed great solidarity for this kind of movement. Lauren and Becky, the bass player sported expertly painted on facial hair. At times Becky’s rock god postures were reminiscent of Lemmy in his full-on Motorhead pomp and the added chest hair added to that picture. Guitarist Sean Bon sported a kind of scary red gimp mask, given the heat that night he must have sweated buckets! The band is currently promoting their sophomore album ‘I Want The World’ and most of that collections tracks got an airing tonight. Particular highlights for me were “S.A.S.S”, “Kiss Me Girl” and “Freaks Like Us”. Hands Off Gretel are like a well-oiled punk machine that hits you with grunge licks, heavy riffs, and classy tunes. Lauren’s vocals have been likened to Gwen Stefani before and I get that comparison, but I believe Lauren’s voice is far more at home on the harder, intense styles than Gwen’s might have been. This was a stunning, powerhouse of a performance, the venue was hotter than I had ever known it but the verve and excitement generated by this band drove the heat and energy to molten lava levels. Hands Off Gretel are a long way from their peak but their trajectory is steep and seems driven by the power of a Saturn V rocket. If you haven’t yet seen them, sort yourself out. You will not be disappointed! I would love to hear your thoughts on any of the bands in this review.

Witch Of The East – Pic was taken on my cheap Android phone

Public Service Announcement: All pictures, apart from the gig poster and the pic of Witch Of The East were taken by John Hayhurst of Snapagig (a.k.a this generations Mick Rock)! All videos were sourced from YouTube. If the video is yours and you would like me to credit you or take it down please let me know.

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‘Saccharin EP’ – Writer’s Rain July 5, 2019

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 2:36 pm
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I first heard Nina Sundstrom when she was on backing vocal duties for Rosalind and Wounded Bear at the Crescent in York back in April. I had a brief chat with this lovely lady that night and she told me that she had an EP coming out. Well, it has been out a while and I finally got around to reviewing it and I can state categorically that it was worth the wait. Nina goes by the wonderfully clever name Writer’s Rain and the EP is called “Saccharin”. She first came to York three years ago from Bristol to study for a degree in neuroscience, so clearly, her talents stretch beyond just her innate, natural musical ability. She has worked hard playing small open mic gigs in York and all that effort has paid off with such a strong first release. If you like singer-songwriters of the classic school, like Carole King and Joni Mitchell or more modern artists like Lisa Hannigan, Lucy Rose or Feist, then you really ought to give the ‘Saccharin EP’ a spin. It took one listen to convert me into a fan of Writer’s Rain.

The songs feel simple in their construction and performance with some relatively understated instrumentation. The production is crisp and brings out the best in Nina’s voice which at times has the angelic clarity of Karen Carpenter. Her lyrics are far more mature than her age might suggest. The EP kicks off with “Interested” which I think is a put down of an overpowering, pushy, braggart of a man. The title track, “Saccharin” is, no pun intended, one of the sweetest songs here. I can also sense the young Joni Mitchell influence here in her tone and phrasing. Have you ever fell for someone because you simply both ‘clicked’? The third song on this collection “Click” is all about that and it is a beautiful tune and my wife loves it! The EP closes with “Nervous” which has a soft folky feel and is a song that wouldn’t be out of place in a Laura Marling collection and is reminiscent of Mary Hopkin at times. Click here to check out the ‘Saccharin EP’ on Spotify, if it doesn’t leave you feeling good then you need to get your head checked out!

 

 

 

InFade “Embers” Single Launch – 360 Club, The Lending Room, Leeds – Friday 28th June 2019 July 3, 2019

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 10:31 pm
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This was a night to celebrate the launch of “Embers” the new single from InFade, click here for my review of that tune from last month. But before I tell you more about InFade there were three other bands bringing their music to the 360 Club at the Lending Room in Leeds, which is possibly one of the coolest and most intimate venues in Yorkshire. First up were We Make Waves, this Leeds five-piece rocked as though they were auditioning to be Asgard’s house band. They passed that audition with style and a bass that was as thunderous as Thor’s mighty hammer, Mjolnir! Bass player Olli Rawcliffe even sported hair and beard close to that of the Thunder God. Amy Kennedy’s vocals backed by such a strong band made me think of what perhaps the Foo Fighters might sound like if they had a female singer. It is also so refreshing to see another female fronted band. Apparently, We Make Waves are in the middle of recording a couple of songs, with which they closed their set. The last of these, apologies I didn’t get the title, was truly epic! Click here to check them out on SoundCloud.

We Make Waves

Next up were Lords Of Power, also from Leeds. Now I don’t believe that they are actual Lords, but fuck do they have some power! It struck me that this might be what Black Sabbath could have sounded like if Paul Rodgers replaced Ozzy Osbourne as lead vocalist, Dave Sowden’s singing is that good! Lords Of Power appear to have been carved from the great oak of British rock lineage; Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin and Bad Company and many more. Sowden even introduced a really amusing Yorkshire Freddie Mercury crowd chant; “ayup, aaayyyyuup”. Every one of the three band members plays a vital part in giving them their almost off the scale power. It was a shame to hear that bass player, Dan Sugden was playing his last gig with the band. The “Computer Game Loading” was very engaging too. The high point of their set, for me, was “The Devil Wears Shoes” which would fit rather nicely into an episode of Netflix’s “Lucifer”. Click here to check the Lords Of Power out on SoundCloud.

Lords Of Power

The penultimate band tonight was CPSD an eclectic, engaging and highly talented three-piece.  If you like funk, punk, blues, electro, heavy metal, Prog Rock or even dubstep, these guys have it all. When they fire up their full sonic assault they don’t sound like a trio, they sound like a full orchestra. There is a sniff of Slaves and the WhiteStripes about them at times and I mean that in a good way. They sound great in recorded form but they take it to another level completely in the live setting. They smash their way into your brain with power that could split a planet in two, just like a rock version of Quake from “Marvel’s Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D”. Click here to check out one of their songs on SoundCloud, but also get yourself to one of their gigs. You will not regret it!

CPSD

After three immensely good bands could InFade raise the bar even further? Well, the answer to that question ladies, gentlemen, punks, goths, funkateers, and every other tribe is that yes they damned well can and they bloody well did! This was a mesmerising performance from a band that is fast shaping up to be one of Leeds finest. When I first met them they described themselves as some kind of a cross between Tool and Earth, Wind and Fire. That statement alone was enough to intrigue me and seeing them live proves that to be a true statement. They wear their funk hearts on their sleeves so proudly that their stage entry music was one of Nile Rodgers greatest songs; “Le Freak” by Chic. Interestingly Richard, the promoter for this gig does not announce the running order until late on, to ensure that the hardcore fan element for each band stick around longer. I never understood why people would come and see “their” band and then not bother to see the rest of the acts, but hey, to each their own right? It worked tonight as there was a pretty solid crowd throughout the night and for InFade. The boys hit the ground running with a punchy set that showcased their musical talents. Max’s vocals are emotional, soulful and show tones of an epic rock voice when belting out their anthemic tunes. Meanwhile, Carl and Jonny are a highly tuned Formula 1 engine that purrs loudly beneath some great tunes. The highlights for me were “Venom” and the aforementioned “Embers”. Like all the previous bands this evening InFade seemed to be having a lot of fun. Showcased brilliantly by Carl’s audience invasion towards the end of the set. This was a great night for all of those who took the stage, but I think InFade just about shaded it against some great competition. Click here to check out their stuff on Spotify and if you missed this gig they will be playing the 360 Club again on Friday 20th September!

InFade

Public Service Announcement: All pictures were taken by me! All videos were sourced from YouTube. If the video is yours and you would like me to credit you or take it down please let me know.

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“Replay” – Freeda June 23, 2019


Do you like your indie rock on hard, pumping and yet melodic and tuneful? Well, you will love this new track, “Replay”, from manic Mancs Freeda. At times it reminds me of the Killers and a slightly more impassioned early Arctic Monkeys. Sean Rowles vocals are pleading, soulful and powerful. The guitar interplay from Callum on lead and Cameron on rhythm moves the song along with shades of Johnny Marr. Meanwhile, the two Adams on bass and drums respectively provide the song’s heartbeat. It follows hot on the heels of their single “Plead” from earlier this year, which itself garnered some great airplay and heavy streaming on Spotify. Freeda know a great tune when they write and record one and “Replay” is just that, a truly great song that deserves plenty of exposure. With that in mind, the boys have put together a fascinating video, directed by Peter Hall, to accompany it. These days it must be incredibly difficult to come up with a remotely original idea for a video, but the setting for “Replay” achieves that in my opinion. It has the band playing the song in what looks like a scruffy industrial styled room with a bizarre assortment of props; booze bottles, art deco lamp, a chair that has seen better days, a freaky looking headless mannequin and did I spy a cutlass? But the centrepiece, other than the band, of course, is an old TV in which you can see the band playing in parallel to their performance in the main room, but the action moves into the TV and back and each move seems to show some subtle differences. Watch the video below and click here to find the track on Spotify.

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“Britannia” and “Lifeline” – Skylights June 21, 2019

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 2:04 am
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Those cheeky musically talented indie rascals from York, the mighty Skylights have new product out. Not an album, not an EP, not even a single, but two rather spiffing tracks. “Britannia” and “Lifeline“. If you like Mr. Gillespie’s finest moments with Primal Scream then you will bloody love “Britannia”. It is heavy with some gorgeous Turnbulltastic riffs and Rob’s vocals are perhaps his best so far. Then there is the anthemic “Lifeline”, a song I have heard in various states, from demo to almost ready and what shines through, especially now that it has been unleashed to the world, is that it is simply a great song. It would be impossible to understate the value of the Mercedes of rhythm sections on “Lifeline” provided by Jonny Scarisbrick and Myles Soley. Everything that I hear from this lot has me salivating over the prospect of a Skylights album. They are definitely one of my favourite bands right now. They will be making a video for one of these classy songs and they want to hear from you dear music fans to decide which one will get the full-on Skylights cinematic experience. It has been a long while since I started a poll on here, so how about you help the boys choose by voting in this little poll. Go on, you know it makes sense. After you have voted get yourself one of the last remaining tickets for their gig at the Wardrobe in Leeds on 27th July!

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“Easy Target” – Bitch June 18, 2019

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 2:55 pm
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One of the USA’s finest artists, who is currently based in Los Angeles, and a passionate ambassador and fighter for women’s rights and equality, who goes by the artist name Bitch, has a new single out now. It is called “Easy Target” and it really is something very special. Sonically it is eclectic, electro-folk and lyrically it is one of the most pro-feminist anthems that I have heard in many months. It is a follow up to “New Year”, from earlier this year, which itself is a truly feminist anthem that you can dance to. What I love about both songs is that Bitch doesn’t just support feminists, she wears her feminist heart on her sleeve and is not afraid for that heart to get bloodied. She describes “Easy Target” as being about finding your own sense of self-worth, strength, and pride in the face of adversity. She adds “Women are often criticized more intensely and more often than men, and this song is about knowing who you are anyway. Although I wrote this based on my own experiences, I send this out to Anita Hill, Christine Blasey Ford, Tarana Burke, the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements, and the countless women who stand up and tell their truth.” Do you call yourself a feminist? You do? Then you need to aspire to the immaculate, powerful and heartfelt words of Bitch. One of the key refrains of the song is “At the end of the day, I’m just proud” and she truly should be proud. This is not only a great song, but it also carries a powerful and hard-hitting message. I need to hear more from Bitch and trust me on this, you need her in your life! I am what some correspondents might call pale, stale and male, but I do not think like that stereotype and that is why I believe that this message from Bitch resonates so very strongly with me. The problem right now is that so many powerful figures and so-called leaders are a long, long way from accepting women as equals. Those are the people that we need to change or remove from positions of power. People like Bitch are a part of the vanguard that will eventually bring down some of these vile individuals. Starting with President Agent Orange I hope!

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‘Kind Heaven’ – Perry Farrell June 9, 2019

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 11:18 pm
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US music legend Perry Farrell releases his first album of new material for many years and his first solo record since 2001. The new album is called ‘Kind Heaven’ and it is out now on BMG. The whole collection is upbeat and if you are someone who thought music might be getting a little stale for you, then this is definitely the collection for you. It kicks off with “(red, white and blue) Cheerfulness” a full-blooded feel-good rocker oozing with great riffs and hooks. I assume that “Pirate Punk Politician” is a brilliantly incisive put down of President Agent Orange. With biting lyrics like “Split your country down the middle. Break her open, kill the kiddos” it is most definitely on the money. Farrell has his finger on the pop-rock pulse among many other genres with this release. He is not bound by genres and for me, this album is his most eclectic collection of music to date. The group of musicians here is collectively known as the Kind Heaven Orchestra and the record was co-produced by legendary producer Tony Visconti. There are featured contributions from Dhani Harrison, Elliot Easton (The Cars), and Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters) among others. Farrell’s wife Etty provides some superb counterpoint and lead vocals.

It is not the same song as U2’s but on “One” the vocal sounds very Bono like. “More Than I Could Bear” has a sweeping majesty to it and a psychedelic middle feel which Jimmy Page and Robert Plant would be very envious of. Perry Farrell is 60, but on the evidence of this album, he is giving far younger contemporaries a run for their money. It is great to see that he is still so fired up by his music.  Just when you think you know where this set of songs is going you get hit by an unexpected broadside of electro-dance-pop like “Snakes Have Many Hips” and “Spend The Body”. The latter is the sort of song that Madonna used to be so good at until she somewhat disappeared up her own backside in the last seven or eight years. Many of these tunes are built for festivals, whether that is intentional from the man who created Lollapalooza, I don’t know. But there is an epic vibe to many of the tracks here that had me moving and singing along. I used the record as the soundtrack to my run this afternoon and it works so well in that context. There is an inherent spirituality present which is most strongly felt in album closer “Let’s Pray For This World”. If ‘Kind Heaven’ does not feature on everyone’s album of the year list later in 2019 then something is wrong. It is a great album that I have listened to on repeat for six or seven times already. My only negative point is that it clocks in at just over 30 minutes. But buy it, stream it, borrow it, hell just find any way that you can to listen to it! I hope to catch him live sometime soon, see you there!

Kind Heaven tracklisting:

  1. (red, white, and blue) Cheerfulness

  2. Pirate Punk Politician

  3. Snakes Have Many Hips

  4. Machine Girl

  5. One

  6. Where Have You Been All My Life

  7. More Than I Could Bear

  8. Spend The Body

  9. Let’s All Pray For This World

 

 
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