With Just A Hint Of Mayhem

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

“Subroutine” – Stonerpop November 19, 2019

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 10:13 pm
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Following their earlier single “Night Terrors”  LA electronic duo Stonerpop are back with another excitingly compelling single taken from their forthcoming new album ‘American Dreams’ due out on January 1st, 2020. The new track is called “Subroutine” and it is accompanied by a retro-looking old skool style computer graphics video; like ‘Tron’ on LSD. The music is a masterful electronic symphonic soundscape with layered percussion and a booming bassy synth riff underpinning a magnificent tune sung deliciously by Maudie.

Stonerpop are Jimmie Maneuva and Maudie Michelle who hail from the Deep South and Pacific Northwest, respectively. They formed their eccentric eclectic ecstatic electronic duo in 2016. Look out for more of them, I have a feeling that 2020 could be a big year for Stonerpop! I promise you that there will definitely be more of them on this site in the future!

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’24 Carat Diamond Trephine’ – Avalanche Party November 17, 2019


I have just counted up how many times I have seen Avalanche Party and it currently stands at eleven times in five years (soon to be twelve). I was also lucky enough to see a kind of early incarnation of the band when they were still 3 Foot Ninja, that was back in 2009. Back then I could see they had some great potential and every gig and every release since it has become obvious to anyone who has encountered this magnificent band that they are truly on the cusp of greatness. I believe their debut album ’24 Carat Diamond Trephine’ will take them there. It has been a long while coming but damned well worth the wait. It was recorded at Young Thugs Studios in York last December. The dictionary definition of trephine is “a small circular saw with a centre pin mounted on a strong hollow metal shaft to which is attached a transverse handle: used in surgery to remove circular disks of bone from the skull”. This album starts drilling into your skull from opener “El Dorado” an atmospheric, mesmerising and at times menacing track that oozes confidence and greatness. For me, there is a strong influence from Nick Cave on this song and that is no bad thing. The sonic feel shows a band that is not afraid to use the space between notes to great effect too. “Bugzy” smacks into you like the Doors but as if they had come together in the height of early 70s glam rock. Jordan’s vocals are every bit as good as Jim Morrison at his peak and “Bugzy” will become a live favourite. This is a song born from the blues and makes me wonder if Avalanche Party have visited that famous crossroads at Highways 49 and 61 in Clarksdale, Mississippi favoured by blues legend Robert Johnson where he allegedly sold his soul to the Devil in exchange for the return of his guitar. There have been four singles released from this record so far, including the third song in, “7”. This is a towering piece of funked-up punk or punked-up funk (delete as appropriate) Kane and Joe prove themselves to be one of the finest rhythm sections on the planet as they play like their lives depended on it.

My favourite track at the moment is “Howl” the current single. It is a very Bowieesque slab of prime heavy riff-laden early 70s rock with a gospel-style chorus. If you are not moved to dance to “Howl” then you might well be clinically dead! This is possibly the finest song that the band have released so far. It is also accompanied by a fabulous video which features a cameo appearance on tambourine from the multi-talented Charlie Swainston! The track which proves how great a band Avalanche Party is is the psychedelic rock circus that is “Milk And Sunlight Is A Heavy Dream”. Vocals, backing vocals, keys, bass, guitars, and drums all align perfectly and the chorus will not let you go. James Aparicio has captured the essence of what makes Avalanche Party such a great live band in his production. From the massed Panzer Tank Division sonic assault of “HA HA” to the deeply mellow buzz of “Hey Misdemeanour” the former Grinderman and Spiritualized producer does not put a foot or a fader wrong. I can already picture a crowd incursion from Jordan during “Playing Field Blues” using his rock star evil stare to hypnotise his audience into becoming Avalanche Party‘s helpless mosh puppets. It redefines heavy, scuzzy garage blues into something very 21st Century. I never thought that I would see myself finding a U2 influence from Avalanche Party, but “Every Last Drop” is the kind of song that Bono would kill to have written. I can see the lighters and lit up mobile phone screens waving in the air at festivals to accompany this gorgeous modern, dirty power ballad. Dark menace runs through the veins of “Cruel Madness” and draws you into a dark, descent of a dream to a world that might be populated by all your fears and phobias. The album closes with “Rebel Forever” which opens and is underpinned with a warped fairground organ riff which gives the tune a Cockney Rebel feel and in many ways sums up Avalanche Party. They are rebels and I hope they will remain rebellious forever!

The band have been touring constantly for a long while now, honing their craft and doing whatever they need to do in order to reach their destiny as the future of rock ‘n’ roll. They have graced festivals across the UK and Europe and completed a prestigious slot at SXSW. At the start of the current album tour, they headlined shows in Los Angeles and New York. This album has anger, fear, the evils of capitalism, love, death and what it is like to live in the world today. The exquisite artwork on the cover features close friend and major influence of the band, Dale Barclay, frontman from the Amazing Snakeheads/ And Yet It Moves. Barclay passed away so tragically young last year. Here is what the band themselves had to say about the LP; “This is our debut album, we haven’t touched the surface before, and this is a glimpse into our bigger picture, our chaotic process, our commitment to us. There’s 5 people in this band with an equal passion, 5 different reasons to create, 5 different people with 200+ ideas each, that’s 1000+ ideas, 1000s of reasons we have to create. We had to make this now… mainly because we want to make a second one.” Jordan Bell, Jared Thorpe, Kane Waterfield, Joe Bell and Glen Adkins you should be well proud of this release as I am sure you are’. This record is already a contender for best album of 2019 and it is not officially released until November 22nd on So Knee Records. I love it already and now I am looking forward to Avalanche Party‘s sophomore release!

All the pictures in this post were found via Google and the videos were sourced from YouTube. If any of them are yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove them please let me know.

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‘Angel In The Flames’ – Janus Stark November 12, 2019


Are we ready for the first album from Janus Stark since 1998? Does the world need a new album from Janus Stark in 2019? Well, I am ready for it and fuck yeah the world needs it! The new album hits us, November 15th, it is titled ‘Angel In The Flames’ on Time & Matter Records. Janus Stark are flag bearers for the best British punk and metal, their influences range from the Clash to the Ruts through to Motorhead, Nirvana and so much in between. Formed and fronted by insanely talented guitar hero Gizz Butt, the band broke up in 2002, but lucky for us they got back together last year. Gizz was formerly the live guitarist for the Prodigy, I saw him a few times in that role, which is one of the reasons I know he is such a great guitarist. Gizz has a great pedigree in UK music; he played with Steve Ignorant when he played the Crass catalogue live and he has played with the U.K. Subs. Charlie Harper of the Subs guests on the new album. The band takes their name from a British comic character from the late 60s. That Janus Stark was an escapologist in Victorian London who privately used his extraordinary abilities to battle against injustice. This Janus Stark use their musical abilities to raise their voices about modern-day injustice and wear their hearts on their sleeves about so many things that ail our world today.

Album opener “Crucify All The Leaders” sets the whole collection up perfectly with a clarion call to deal with our ‘so-called’ leaders. The line “Crucify all the leaders, in the end there’s a planet to defend, none of them could be our friend” sums up for me why we need to finish off the old guard of politicians and hope that something better and new rises up. This track could be one of the best songs the Foo Fighters ever recorded had it been one of Mr. Grohl’s. In fact, Dave Grohl once described Janus Stark as “a great melodic kick up the arse…”. The production on the album is close to sonic perfection and it is an album that is so much better with the volume cranked up to 11. Gizz’s guitar is hotter than fresh lava throughout, but the band is rocking hard in every department, especially the thundering drive of the rhythm section; Simon Martin (Bass) and Fozzy (drums). The aural assault of “Commodity Awakening” is breathtaking and the power resonates with you for a long while after the song ends. The song is about how business, treats people as commodities, which is so prevalent in our flawed society. After the first listen “Dead! Dead!” is one of my favourite songs on this collection. It felt like I had done a couple of rounds with Mike Tyson at the end. The lyrics are about the arrogance of so many world leaders who blindly follow a course of action even when that action is obviously dangerous and foolish to anyone with half a brain. The final coda summarises the chilling message perfectly; “This is all on you – everything’s on you”. I am an atheist so I have no religious beliefe, but I do believe that karma exists. I never have sought revenge on anyone and nor would I. But sometimes I have seen people who have wronged me suffer in a similar way to how they treated me. In “Karmageddon” my thoughts on the subject of karma appear to be laid out in song! Guitarist Richard Gombault says of “Some Stars Never Fade”; “Remember that great line from the ‘Wizard Of Oz? “Now I know that I’ve got a heart…because it’s breaking” and that is the crux of this tune. It is how we give ourselves to love even when we know it might one day break our hearts. Perhaps the most emotionally driven song here. The album closes with”A Traitor’s Call”, a song about betrayal, not just betrayal of one person by another, but betrayal of beliefs, morals and perhaps what the betrayer actually stood for at some point.

I should also make a special mention of the album’s beautiful and thought-provoking artwork created by Gizz’s daughter Astrid with some collaboration with her Dad. The soldier who for me represents the everyman soldier of both World Wars and the thousands of other conflicts. The soldier’s skin might be black or white and it is difficult to discern gender. I understand that the butterfly represents something that changes with no choice, like the soldiers that went over the top from the trenches on to certain death. Even if I searched hard I would not find a bad song on this album, which for me is definitely one of 2019’s finest! While this record channels anger and aggression about the world today there are a number of songs that deal with mental health issues; notably “Last Exit To Change Your Mind” and “Murderers Rights Society”. Gizz has been refreshingly open about his struggles with mental health and he is a great supporter of his local ‘Stop Suicide’ campaign via the charity, MIND. Like all the classic punk albums from the past, (‘The Clash’ and ‘Never Mind The Bollocks’ particularly) this one grabs you by the throat from the first note and doesn’t let you go until the end. If you like riffs that could split Everest in two and a band that has the power to cause earthquakes then this is the only album you want this year. ‘Angel In The Flames’ takes you on a rollercoaster ride through every emotion; into a dark powerful maelstrom of depression and back out into the beautiful world of hope. This ride justifies why the world needs this new album from Janus Stark. It should be force played to every single so-called world leader until they finally sit up and take notice of what is really happening to our planet and its inhabitants!

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Show Of Hands – Royal Hall, Harrogate – Thursday 31st October 2019 November 3, 2019


This was my first visit to the beautifully and tastefully renovated Royal Hall in Harrogate. It was also the second time that I have seen Show Of Hands live, but sadly the first since 2009! I promise I won’t leave it that long next time. My knowledge of folk and roots music is not vast but I do know a great band when I see one and Show Of Hands are undoubtedly a truly brilliant band. They are “not too folkie”, they are multi-talented musicians with an intelligent way with lyrics and their self deprecating humour and between-song banter is first class. The core band consists of Steve Knightley and Phil Beer and was formed in Devon more than thirty years ago. Folk singer and double bass virtuoso Miranda Sykes has been playing with Show Of Hands for more than fifteen years. In addition to that dynamic trio, they are now accompanied by an amazing and award-winning bodhrán player and percussionist for the current shows; Irishman Cormac Byrne.

There was no support act, rather inventively we were treated to a series of duo performances; Phil & Steve, Steve & Cormac, Miranda & Steve, Phil & Miranda, Cormac & Phil, and Miranda & Cormac! The sparseness of the music in these settings was beautiful. This is a group of musicians who really know how to use the space between the notes. Phil Beer’s guitar skills are extraordinary and he can move from straightforward folk to some rocking acoustic blues. Steve’s voice is close to perfect and his passion is evident in the way he sings. Some of the new songs, from their 2019 album, are a strong addition to an already magnificent set. Especially “Dreckley”, which is a Cornish word for later in the manner of mañana but not as urgent, and “Battlefield Dance Floor” which is about how soldiers used to party the night before a big battle. For me, the most beautiful song of the evening was the inspirational and empathetic “You’ll Get By”. That will be on my playlist the next time I get really down or depressed, it will provide a gorgeous spiritual lift. The cover of the late, great Leonard Cohen’s “First We Take Manhattan” was true to the Canadian raconteur and was among the most well-received of the evening. My favourite song on the night was probably “Santiago”. There were sing-alongs aplenty, the most rousing was probably the Show Of Hands classic “Cousin Jack”. All in all, this was a great musical evening and worked incredibly well even for a generally non-folkie like me. If you love good music you really need to check this band out if you haven’t done so already! There are still plenty of shows left on their Now We Are Four Tour 2019 (see the poster above), go and treat yourself!

All the photos were found via Google searches. The videos were all found on YouTube. If any of the pictures or videos are yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove them please let me know. 

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‘Jesus Is King’ – Kanye West

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 2:55 pm
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I loved Kanye West’s early albums, particularly ‘The College Dropout’ (2004) and ‘Late Registration’ (2005). He has just released his ninth album, ‘Jesus Is King’ which he says is ‘an expression of the gospel’. Well, the Trump-supporting member of the Kardashian clan has surpassed himself in terms of how low he has sunk with this album. I have listened to it so that you don’t have to. It is an awful, almost dictatorial view as to how we should live from a demented, probably delusional, Christian Fundamentalist nut job. If I believed that Kanye was joking then even the irony in this release would be hard to find. But I think he is serious. This makes Bob Dylan’s Christian output look almost satanic. It is truly a terrible, terrible album. Definitely the worst of 2019 for me! The singing of the gospel choir is one very small plus point. If you have listened to it what is your opinion?

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LIFE – The Fulford Arms, York – Tuesday 29th October 2019

Filed under: Review — justwilliam1959 @ 2:27 pm
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LIFE from Hull is a band that was on the fringe of my music radar before tonight. I had heard a few of their songs and liked them but I had never seen them live, until now. Did I find them to be a good live band? You will need to read on to find out because first there was the little matter of one of York’s best current bands, Faux Pas in support.  This was the third time that I have seen them live in the last twelve months and they step it up a couple of gears every time I see them if they continue at this rate they will be huge. It was a fast-paced, blistering set that showcased the power and poise that this band has in abundance. Ru’s vocals were at peak performance and equal to Brian Molko on his best days. The guitar work from Lewis was everything from Steve Jones to Johnny Marr with the Edgell stamp across it all. Super sticksman Joey sweated an ocean as he pounded the living daylights out of his kit. “That’s My Ego” was the highlight for me, but there were so many to choose from. If I was in a band I would not want to follow Faux Pas on to the stage.

But LIFE did follow them and they were phenomenal, touring to promote their monumentally stunningly good second album ‘A Picture Of Good Health’ they owned the Fulford Arms. If they wanted to they could probably have levitated the building with the sheer volume and energy that was emanating from the stage. Vocalist Mez is a real heart on his sleeve punk showman who looks like he loves what he is doing and he totally gets his audience. The crowd was totally up for this set. It was great to hear the cheers from the crowd when Mez shouted “Fuck Boris”, Fuck The Tories” and “Fuck Trump”. Mez ventured among the crowd a lot and we lapped it up. He ended the show on someone’s shoulders for the final song, no mean feat given how low the Fulford Arms ceiling is. As with Faux Pas, there were many highlights, but standouts for me were “Half Pint Fatherhood”, “Bum Hour” and “Popular Music”. I also have a confession relating to misheard lyrics a.k.a. mondegreen; I had not listened to “It’s A Con” before the gig and I was convinced that Mez was singing “It’s A Cunt”, rather embarrassingly I was wrong, but in my head that is how I will sing it forevermore! If any of you ever doubted that punk had a future, I can tell you that it definitely does, especially in the hands of bands like LIFE. Mez, Lydia, Mick, and Stew take a bow you were possibly the best band that I have seen in 2019 and there have been some great ones. LIFE, the best band to come out of Hull since the Spiders From Mars!

All the photos were found via Google searches. The videos were all found on YouTube. If any of the pictures or videos are yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove them please let me know. 

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Violet Contours – The Crescent, York – Friday 18th October 2019


It has taken a while to get this one posted, but here it is! Yet another night at that wonderful York venue, The Crescent. This time to see Violet Contours in action once again. Were they as good as the last time that I saw them? You will have to read on to find out because before them there was a marvelously eclectic selection of support acts. First up we were taken to acoustic heaven by Joh Hendrickx, She does cover versions, of mostly sad songs. This set, which was way too short included songs by Laura Marling, Matt Corby, and the Middle East. Her cover of the latter’s “Blood” was dripping with emotion and that performance convinced me to find out more about them. She included one cover version that I really didn’t see coming, it was “The Black Hills Of Dakota” originally sung by Doris Day in the 1953 film ‘Calamity Jane’. Ms. Hendrickx totally owned the tune! I believe that Joh has a lot more to offer and I am looking forward to seeing her again.

Joh Hendrickx

Scarborough’s the Feens were next, I last saw them in July and they are still a bloody good band. They come across very “Smithsy” on some songs, from back in the day when Morrissey mattered. Particularly Sam Dowling’s guitar playing. Bass player Adam Lodge has a stunningly powerful voice which complements co-lead vocalist Freddie Scmuck’s vocals perfectly. Lodge roams the stage like a young Peter Hook in the early days of New Order, albeit with his bass more sensibly strapped much higher up his body. Someone in the crowd described them as “easier listening indie”, while I get that I think it does them an injustice. Yes their songs could be described as indie and those songs are easy to listen to, but mainly because they are so damned good. I hear traces of Arcade Fire and Vampire Weekend in their sound and that is no bad thing. The Feens are getting some strong and well-deserved airplay of late. Expect much more from this band, they have the power and the talent to make it huge!

Feens

Next, it was the turn of the Serotones, another great York band who I last saw more than two years ago. They were very good then and they are even better now. If you like Dinosaur Jr, you might well like the Serotones, but the biggest influence I can hear in their songs is perhaps the Stone Roses, but with better vocals (sorry Ian Brown). The lead singer has an immaculate stage presence and really seems to understand his audience. Great music must be in human DNA somehow as the Serotones contain two kids from Shed Seven members, Rick Witter and Alan Leach. The band played a lot of new songs and they have a new single out now featuring two rather superb new songs; “Death In Paradise” and “Into The Sky”

Serotones

Finally, it was time for the headliners, Violet Contours, yet another fabulously exciting band from York. This was the third time that I have experienced seeing them live and they get better every time. Their jangly indie dance style is definitely influenced by Vampire Weekend, largely because of that feel-good African guitar vibe. But I can also hear Talking Heads, or more directly the more pop styles of Talking Heads offshoot Tom Tom Club, formed by Tina Weymouth and Chris Frantz. Ben Henderson’s voice is clear, strong and conveys emotion and soul when he needs it to. Niall, Daniel, Sam, and Ben have developed into a really tight, funky band able to recreate and magnify, magnificently their recorded sound. Their repertoire is growing in range and quality; “Pablo’s Hippo and “Airstrike” are two outstanding tunes and there are plenty more too. Violet Contours are undoubtedly a band that knows how to party and bring the audience into that party effortlessly. But they don’t just get up their and play, they really look like they are enjoying every moment immensely. If you haven’t seen them or listened to them yet what the hell is preventing you?

Violet Contours

The above Serotones video was filmed by David Butler of Wigwam Creative

All the photos apart from the gig poster were taken by me. The videos were all found on YouTube, if one of them is yours and you would like a credit or for me to remove it please let me know. I am also happy for you to use any of my pictures, all I ask is for a credit 🙂

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