Even the best efforts of the M1 (187 miles in five hours twenty minutes) weren’t enough to suck all the joy out of the journey and there was enough enthusiasm and expectation remaining to overcome the fact that we’d missed Teen Canteen putting the tent up (despite registering a new personal best time in doing so).
So it was that Spearmint and The Chills got us underway this year, with the former comfortably coming out ahead in the ‘which CD shall I buy first’ stakes. Their clean and crisp songwriting giving them a distinct edge over their New Zealand rivals. Chatting to the Chills manager in the food queue, I didn’t envy them their schedule on their short European tour – it sounded less than enjoyable and extremely expensive. Scuttling back from the merch tent shortly aftwards, the eagle eyed would have spotted a copy of “A Week Away” nestling in my pocket.
An Indietracks without Allo Darlin is like your local newsagent running out of your usual paper. You end up buying another paper and still get your news but it’s just not quite the same somehow. They showed us what they’d been up to recently with a glorious set of old faves and new songs to fall in love with when the new album “We Come From The Same Place” comes out on 6th October on Fortuna Pop records. Mark the date in your diary.
Allo Darlin - (c) Robin Halls
The new songs showed that their song writing has matured without them losing, as so many have done before them, what made them so special in the first place. That blend of infectious tunes and the impression that they are having as much fun making the music as we are listening to it.
They were joined by Emma Kupr for a blast through “Silver Dollars” and then by David and Katie from the Just Joans for the inevitable boisterous outing of “If You Don’t Pull” – a song that would be heard once or twice more over the next two days.
A “genuine encore”, although we’d need to see their set-list to make absolutely certain, of course, of “Kiss Your Lips”, which morphed into “Call Me Al” was a mighty fine way to finish and left me wondering if that would be the highlight of the weekend, so high had the bar been set at such an early point in proceedings.
Ace City Racers - (c) Robin Halls
Ace City Racers woke everyone up and were in no mood to pander to the hung-over amongst the crowd. It’s usually a good sign for me when a drummer asks for some of the kit to be removed during the sound check and so it proved as they sped through a set of punky tunes. One band down and one band added to the ‘follow up’ list, which is a great way to start any Saturday.
I can’t remember seeing a band without a bass player before but Skeletal Shakes showed that it could be done. Although they were great, the sound was definitely lacking something, even if comparisons with Standard Fare are never going to be very far away from them, I suspect.
Time was found to investigate the ukulele workshop – teaching a couple of dozen people of all ages to play the same indie-pop classic, with no prior experience required. The reality of which was pretty much as you’d expect – mainly children mastering chords on four strings and building it up slowly. A great way to get future Indietracks headliners involved and being productive at an impressionable young age. I’m usually against early brainwashing but when it comes to music, there are so many evil influences out there, it’s critical to get in early and steer them in the right direction.
Everyone seemed to be enjoying it immensely, especially one guy who had his own uke in a case which he carried round all weekend. No-one was fooled though as he only had a red wristband, not a coveted (performers) blue one.
One question sprang to mind – how do you get hold of thirty ukuleles for the day?
Bill Botting, more usually seen bouncing around on bass in Allo Darlin, did a solo spot on the train in probably the hottest gig I’ve ever attended. The enthusiasm with which people fought to cram themselves into an already full carriage, in the full sun, with no means of escape for half an hour, was remarkable. Health and Safety would have had a field day.
Bill was obviously nervous, understandably as there is absolutely nowhere to hide during these gigs, but retained the sympathy of the hot and bothered crowd throughout his set of own stuff and covers, the highlight of which was ‘God Only Knows’ when he was joined by (I think) his sister, carrying li’l Otis Botting for his first public performance, which he slept through. We poured out of the train at the end in a torrent of sweat and sweet relief (from the heat, not from Bill) onto what felt like an air-conditioned Swanwick platform. Scorchio!
ONSIND - (c) Robin Halls
For a while now I’ve thought that too few bands than is strictly healthy seem to get angry, about anything. Far too many than seems absolutely necessary seem to sing about less than critical issues. Don’t get me wrong, I can, and do, enjoy a love song as much as anyone, but it’s a joy to hear people who are still angry about something. Sleaford Mods are an excellent current example and ONSIND are another. You can smell the resentment, rage and anger flooding out of every beat of a song like “Never Trust A Tory” and the world was a better place for them doing so. Or my corner of it was anyway.
The fact that their voices complement each other perfectly, even if they claimed that their voices were knackered from singing too loudly at the campsite disco – to their own songs (and why not? I would too), and they consistently write great tunes, make them something to cherish and take notice of. Them and close relatives Martha and No Ditching, as well as Spook School and Colour Me Wednesday, are the leading lights in having something to say and getting it across brilliantly and we need more of their ilk, please. There’s certainly no shortage of stuff to be angry about.
Laura J Martin - (c) Robin Halls
Sometimes, in the mad, relentless dash from stage to stage, trying to see everyone on your wish-list, quietly cursing every delay or overrunning set as they threaten to damage carefully nurtured plans, it’s best to think strategically. Hence ending up in the church for Laura J Martin. I’d never heard of her but reckoned seeing her was a sure-fire way to get a seat in the church for the following act. Anyway, it’s all part of the fabulous Indietracks experience, getting to see and hear artists that are completely new. Having got in and found a seat, she then gave a performance the like of which I’d not seen before and one that will live long in the memory.
Jumping effortlessly between keyboard, flute, vocals, mandolin and what looked suspiciously like a tambourine with a large Elastoplast in the middle, amongst others, she used samples and loops to build the sound up. She’d play a bar or two, which would then repeat, and play a bit more which added to the previous loop and so on. Layering the sound until it was impossible to tell what she was actually playing live at any moment. Oh, and then she’d strike a few poses into the bargain. I don’t honestly know if I’d actively seek her out again but I’m genuinely pleased to have witnessed her act and it’ll longer in my mind than many others I’ve seen.
The Manhattan Love Suicides - (c) Robin Halls
From something complex and clever to something altogether more straightforward, basic and down to earth. The reformed Manhatten Love Suicides were the reason for getting to the church on time, as they were joint top of my ‘must see’ list. Taking to the stage in sunglasses to a man but not a sock or leather jacket between them, it was noticeable that all the children present for Laura J Martin had been hastily removed to a place of safety. From the off, it was raw rock ’n’ roll a-plenty. Where Laura gave us forty minutes of cleverly constructed technical complexity, MLS threw us a meagre 22 minutes 13 seconds (according to the video camera in front) of glorious noise and attitude and I loved every second of it.
Their return to music is a very welcome one as they offer such a contrast to so many other bands around at the moment. There’s no subtlety or holding back – just do something simple and well and give it absolutely everything.
Joanna Gruesome - (c) Robin Halls
Grinning all the way to the indoor stage for more of the noise-noise-noise theme, Joanna Gruesome were next up (and were my other joint-top ‘must see’ for me, in case you were wondering). Somehow, I’d not managed to see them live despite playing their faultless debut album to death since it came out. If you don’t yet have a copy, I can offer no better description of it than one from someone significantly more eloquent than me: it sounds like the entirety of the 1986 festive fifty being played at once. If that doesn’t make you at least curious, you’re beyond help.
I had very high expectations of them and they delivered by the bucket load. Absolutely brilliant but who chose to play Dire Straits as soon as they finished?
Gruff Rhys ended the second day in unique fashion, treating us to a faux documentary of Jon Evans trip to America to discover a remote people he believed to be Welsh, complete with a slideshow presentation. Two parts music, to one part Open University, with the story broken down into chunks between songs. Brilliantly executed and a fine way to send us back to the campsite. Grins all round for a wonderful day.
Ever wondered what your music idols have for breakfast? Scrambled eggs on toast was the, slightly surprising, choice of those rockest of rockers, Manhatten Love Suicides on Sunday morning. Not even a bottle of Pinot Grigio to wash it down with either.
The Thyme Machine - (c) Robin Halls
As usual, the day started with a gentle acoustic train ride, courtesy of Shelley Jane and her Telecaster shaped ukulele. A Telekelele possibly? Like Bill the previous day, nerves got the better of her once or twice but a solid enough re-introduction for a Sunday morning before moving off to The Swapsies and The Thyme Machine.
While the former were mostly excellent and bearded (except the drummer, although she did have an excuse and a nice hat) and sounded like 1000 Violins with a bit of Bare Naked Ladies and a glockenspiel and a melodeon with an extension tube, the latter were just daft. Singer Kris wore a full length leopard suit, as you do, and had an excellent line in audience banter. Bribing the crowd by distributing Tunnocks Teacakes to all and sundry, they made sure that no-one present would shop for yoghurts near their birthday in quite the same way again.
No Ditching were the second Martha splinter group in action and gave a similar tuneful punk noise, hence being right on the money for me. Add a Siouxsie and the Banshees T-shirt into the mix and I was won over from the start.
Trust Fund - (c) Robin Halls
Avoiding the reasonable £1 per hour fee for charging you phone was easy for one person as they simply used an unattended socket at the back of the church. Stealing in the name of the Lord?
I knew nowt about Trust Fund beforehand but a stand-up drummer and plenty of fuzz during the warm-up suggested they were going to be a good choice. Their best moments were when both the drummer and the bassist (owner of probably the most powerful voice of the weekend) let rip with their excellent harmonies over thrashing guitars. They also had the teeniest set-list of the weekend which must have been in danger of falling through the cracks in the floor and where would that have left us all?
Standing on the newly opened bridge between the platforms, watching people gather while waiting for the train to arrive to host Liz and Harri from The School, gave ample opportunity for one of the great aspects of Indietracks: people gazing. People were milling about on the wrong platform waiting for someone to lead them on. Cue a couple with fold-up chairs on their backs arriving and walking purposefully up the platform. A few people started to follow them, presumably under the impression that the chairs were actually guitars or something. Human psychology being what it is, others then followed until a whole crowd were heading the wrong way up the wrong platform hoping to listen to two people play chairs (musical chairs?) until they realised and stopped, whereby everyone pretended that it hadn’t really just happened. It’s probably just me but I found it amusing. Perhaps I just need to get out more…
Liz Hunt and Harri Davidson - (c) Robin Halls
Having eventually negotiated the bridge, we all crammed in to the train while Liz and Harri, accompanied by a tambourinist in shades and a velvet jacket (style over comfort at all times), run through some old School faves and some from, presumably, the new album. I couldn’t help wondering how often in life you get the chance to hear new songs by one of your favourite bands played as they sit on the floor a few feet in front of you. Probably nowhere other then Indietracks, I suspect.
I’d heard a fair bit about The Cosines and was looking forward to them. Despite technical problems with the bass, they were brilliant and I was soon diving back to the merch tent for a CD, which has barely been out of the player since I got back. Just one of the ways of trying to keep the memory of the weekend alive for a little longer.
The Just Joans - (c) Robin Halls
If there is a band who could possibly rival the almost universal Indietracks appeal of Allo Darlin, it’s The Just Joans. To see the two of them in the same weekend was just wonderful and they pulled the biggest crowd to the indoor shed that I saw all weekend. From the off, it was always going to be a stormer of a set and so it proved, with the crowd, suitably lubricated, singing along loudly to every word. The new songs, which I was fortunate to witness at the recent Hangover Lounge bash, went down well and “I only smoke when I drink” ought to be whistled by everyone across the civilised world in the next few months, if there is any justice in the world.
A couple of covers, including Pulp’s “Do you remember the first time” left us all desperate for more but a brilliant performance and surely they’ll headline when they return here next time?
For me, that was pretty much the end of the weekend. The other bands I saw were good but nothing came close to meeting the standard laid down by the JJs. Another brilliant weekend that, although had been looked forward to for months, flew by in a glorious mix of music, beer, curry, trains, burritos, more great music, forklift trucks and chatting. Please, please, please don’t ever stop running Indietracks. It’s what makes real life worth bearing for the rest of the year. Encountering people from reality who don’t wear wristbands or interesting t-shirts on the journey back was a horrible reminder that it’s a year to wait till next time.
The Hidden Cameras - (c) Robin Halls
Thanks to Robin for taking such brilliant pictures. They’re absolutely wasted tucked away in this drivel. And thanks to the team for putting on another fabulous weekend.
Jazzateers - Don't Let Your Son Grow Up To Be A Cowboy: Unreleased Recordings 1981-82
Of all the bands to move on to Top Of The Pops – Orange Juice, Aztec Camera & The Bluebells – or cult status – Josef K & The Fire Engines, there is one Postcard Records band that were set for great heights, but hardly get a retrospective mention when someone harps on about ‘the sound of young Scotland’ of the late 1970s & early 1980s.
In most cases, Jazzateers are simply forgotten or overlooked. Even though at their best Ian Burgoyne & Keith Band could compete with the songmeister talents of Edwyn Collins & Roddy Frame. But Jazzateers were a fragile bunch who appeared to be in the right place at the wrong time. Postcard Records pulled the plug before they managed to release a debut single, Wasted (produced by Edwyn Collins).
Jazzateers were formed in 1980 when everything seemed Scottish, Gretsch & floppy-fringed. But they were the last to be signed by Postcard Records, for whom they recorded an album’s worth of original songs and covers in 1982. Alison Gourlay was the original singer. Her fragile voice suited the equally fragile sounding songs. There was a purity and honesty about early Jazateers that I don’t think was ever recaptured with subsequent lead vocalists. Grahame Skinner replaced Gourlay before leaving for Hipsway. Other singers included Paul Quinn and Louise & Deidre Rutkowski whose beautiful harmonies bring the country element out of the Jazateers, but were a little to commercial sweet and perfect for my ears.
Wasted and Don’t Let Your Son Grow Up To Be A Cowboy are my favourite tracks in this collection of previously unreleased early recordings for Alan Horne’s Postcard Records. Wasted is a cover version of a Giorgio Moroder Donna Summers song; while Don’t Let Your Son Grow Up To Be A Cowboy is a perfect jangly twee pop homage to the country rock of the Velvet Underground, with Ian Burgoyne’s mononymous vocal delivery reminding me of Felt’s Lawrence. Unfortunately the Jazateers never lived up to the promise of commercial success. They went on to release a debut album for Rough Trade in 1983 before imploding, just as it seemed their time had come. With a UK-wide TV appearance booked on Channel 4’s The Switch, Ian Burgoyne, Keith Band & lead singer Paul Quinn performed two songs, not as Jazzateers but as Bourgie Bourgie.
The Jazzateers reformed in 2013 comprising of Ian Burgoyne, Keith Band, Grahame Skinner, Colin Auld, and Douglas MacIntyre.
Much of the band’s unreleased Postcard-era recordings is collected here. Jazzateers – Don’t Let Your Son Grow Up To Be A Cowboy: Unreleased Recordings 1981-82 is due for release on 25th August 2014 by Cherry Red Records.
The second annual Homespun music festival took place in various venues across the Medway Towns last week, starting on Wednesday 23rd with among other Jowe Head, he of Swell Maps & TV Personalities fame, and culminating with five bands playing at the newest venue, the Sun Pier House hosting only its second gig. A cafe & art rooms by day it was transformed into a gigging venue on Saturday evening to host Hand of Stabs, The Sine Waves, Galileo 7, The Parade & Young Husband.
After being told by several people that I would like Hand of Stabs I decided to put brave the heat, put on some clothes and smother myself with deodorant in the hope that I could last long enough in the heat to watch their set before melting. But alas, I began dripping profusely even before Hand Of Stabs had assembled their odd array of instruments that included an electrified bicycle wheel – not since Psychic TV have I heard someone get a tune from such an inanimate object. On that note, if the Sun Pier Cafe is to host regular gigs, and I hope they do, they need to invest in air conditioning or windows that open properly and a large enough fridge to serve ice cold alcohol.
Unfortunately, I was disappointed with Hand of Stabs. They didn’t appear to be enjoying the experience of playing a conventional gig and the freeform improvised jam never quite go off the ground. I made a mental note to go see them perform in a field, woods or museum – a normal place to perform as far as these three wise weirdy beards are concerned – I will I’m sure enjoy it much more next time.
The Sine Waves made a good, tight surf racket dressed in lab coats and wacky head gear, and the Galileo 7 played an equally tight set of melodic psych pop. By now the heat was on, and I was about to pass out and give in. But for some reason I decided to stay and listen to one song by The Parade. I had seen the name around and was aware of the singer’s solo project Lupen Crook. But not heard either. The five-piece ambled onto the stage through the sweat and chatter, donned their instruments and drifted into their first song. Taking centre stage, Matt Prichard began by playing the organ and quietly singing in a gentle, poetic way with his acoustic guitar slung high around his back like a drunken bohemian vagabond stumbling out of a Victorian bar into the bright light of a new day.
Unannounced I wasn’t the only one to cock-an-ear. There seemed to be an aura, an electricity, if not from the group, from Matt Prichard (aka Lupen Crook) – a tortured soul, basking in the limelight while also giving an air of awkward discomfort in having to give a performance; and that is exactly what this was – a performance. The Parade have edginess about them. A feeling anything and everything is about to happen. Jemimah Dean sang with Prichard while bashing drums, crashing cymbals and demonically strutting barefooted in shamanic-like posturing.
From the other side of the stage the sweet innocent looking Hannah Prescott began plucking at strings to make the most beautiful noise while she stamped on an array of effects pedals to give her guitar various surges of distorted life, which was so not what I imagined – a twee indie pop jingle jangle. Behind this frontline barrage of positive power and bleeding emotion there is a tight rhythm section courtesy of Chris Garth on drums and bassist Chris Taylor. Together they liberate the space for Prichard, Dean & Prescott to express themselves, filling the air with broken glass-like jagged sounds and some of the most exciting power pop I have heard in a very long time.
My one and only criticism of The Parade performance that night was I wanted it to be 10x louder. I didn’t want to hear people yakking. I wanted those people to be forced to shut up and leave holding their palms over their ears to stop the blood flow. The Parade need to be as loud as My Bloody Valentine without earplugs; as uncontrolled as The Jesus & Mary Chain at the infamous North London Poly ‘Riot’ gig; and if The Parade continue to be fully committed and build it, they will come.
With their Australian release ‘Where Wolf,’ Ginger and the Ghost grabbed the attention of the tastemakers with their experimental pop, quickly becoming the darlings of the local music press. Now with their first UK EP ‘Call Up The Whales’, released on Rabble Records,the duo return to fully establish themselves amongst the alternative pop scene with four tracks displaying their mettle.
Ginger & The Ghost are Missy & Daniel, both renowned visual artists within the Australian fashion industry. The duo’s live set is as enticing visually as it is phonetically. A quality they also bring to their videos, emphasizing their love of the dramatic in their costume and set design to create an entire conceptual world around their music.
With strong folk undertones, it’s an ethereal pop offering that has both depth and whimsy. Utilizing the quirk of Missy’s unique voice with their natural tendency towards the avant garde, songs such as The Mark of Hearts have recently drawn praise globally from tastemakers such as Nylon Magazine.
A dark complexity and beguiling spookiness lends an air of mysticism to the tracks, which can be attributed to their recording in a converted water tank in the Australian outback.
The talented duo are quickly amassing a strong fanbase that saw their 2013 single One Type of Dark reach No. 1 on the Hype Chart.
Pete Molinari has released his latest album, Theosophy on Cherry Red Records.
The 13-track album, featuring both the well known Dan Auerbach and Little Barrie from Primal Scream, was recorded at the Humbug Studio on the Isle of Wight, Toerag Studios in London & Giant Wafer Studios in Wales and was produced by Boe Weaver, with additional production from Andrew Weatherall, Tchad Blake and Liam Watson.
Theosophy is Pete Molinari’s fourth album, following Walking Off The Map (2006), A Virtual Landslide (2008) and Train Bound For Glory (2010).
The title is inspired by The Theosophical Society – an organization formed in 1875 “to promote an understanding of the Esoteric Teachings” and whose interest spans science, mysticism, religion and the arts.
Pete Molinari – Theosophy track listing:
1. Hang My Head In Shame
2. You Will Be Mine
4. I Got Mine
5. I Got It All Indeed
6. When Two Worlds Collide
7. What I Am I Am
8. Dear Marie
9. Mighty Son Of Abraham
10. So Long Gone
11. Easy Street
12. Winds Of Change
13. Love For Sale
Completed in early 2014, and recording most of the original album tracks on the Isle Of Wight, the talents of producer Liam Watson, acclaimed DJ/re-mixer Andrew Weatherall and Grammy award-winning producer/mixer Tchad Blake, who’s previous credits include the likes of Tom Waits and Al Green, were subsequently added to the mix.
Theosophy pushes lots of musical boundaries, and with a host of musical allies he was able to explore new creative fields not ventured on past albums. It’s been a journey that has brought Pete to a new level of songwriting, epitomized best by Tchad Blake. As Pete recalls, “Tchad told me he admired my sense of abandonment. I think going off and finding out what he meant by that really summed up the whole record. The sense I got was that I’m not inhibited by anything that’s going on at the moment, whether the present or the past. I just go about things my own way.”
Born into a large Maltese, Italian and Egyptian family in Kent, Pete became fascinated with the 1960s’ folk of Leadbelly, Hank Williams, Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. After reading the beat writings of Jack Kerouac Pete set off for New York where he honed his craft in the blues clubs of East Village, travelling to Memphis, New Orleans, San Francisco and Los Angeles before returning home to record his debut album, Walking Off The Map, in 2006 with the help of Billy Childish.
Recording his follow up album, A Virtual Landslide, at Toe Rag Studios in London, Pete began a working relationship with producer Liam Watson, which continues to this day.
2010’s critically acclaimed A Train Bound For Glory earned Pete an appearance on BBC’s Later With Jools Holland and a nomination for Best Newcomer at the MOJO Awards, while successful stints in the US brought acclaim from a host of songwriters and producers including Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Ray Davies and Yoko Ono with whom he appeared on stage with last summer when she curated the 2013 Meltdown Festival at the Royal Festival Hall in London. For the festival finale, Yoko and her band performed for the first time ever the John Lennon/Yoko Ono Double Fantasy album, in its entirety. Yoko handpicked Pete to sing the Lennon songs “Woman” and “(Just Like) Starting Over” along with her band.
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