In these days of instant downloads, individual tracks and a call for shallow, instantly forgettable and meaningless pop songs, the first great album release of 2018 sits very uncomfortably among the previous statements.
Offerings is the fourth studio album from indie / alt rock band Typhoon from Portland, Oregon.
Typhoon fall somewhere between indie rock and alt folk, if I had to try and categorise their music. There are elements of Arcade Fire in their heaviest and more intense moment. Folk acoustic and traditional rock instrumentation and arrangements, married with the beautiful duel vocals on songs like Empiricist are mesmerising and truly wonderful.
Offerings follows a central figure, allegedly a fictional man who is losing his memory, and in turn, his sense of self. Singer / songwriter Kyle Morton may well be the latest in a long and distinguished line of tortured souls.
From the very first listen, I was drawn into the album. This is not background music. Offerings is deep and richly layered content. Beautifully crafted, it is without doubt best enjoyed as a complete album. Following the story from start to end; and in doing so, this is indeed a concept album.
“I’ve always been preoccupied with memory, losing memory, and trying to recapture memory. I wanted to explore the questions: What does a person become if they don’t know where they came from? What is the essential quality of the person if you strip away all memory?”
In losing a certain level of control, Kyle Morton was motivated in part by his situation, as well as drawing inspiration from literature, art, and the films of David Lynch and Christopher Nolan’s Memento, he was immersed in during the writing of this record.
Offerings is divided into four movements (Floodplains, Flood, Reckoning, and Afterparty) to represent the mental phases the main character goes through where he first realizes that something is wrong, then struggles through the chaos of his situation, and finally moves into acceptance before succumbing to his dreadful fate.
Rorschach looks at the age of information and collapse of meaning. While on Empiricist, Morten explains: there’s a regression to the womb where the character is back in his bed at home, talking about his range of motion shrinking. This first movement ends with ‘Algernon’ [taken from one of Morton’s favourite short stories, Flowers for Algernon, by Daniel Keyes], where he’s constantly awakening and in an interrogation with a woman-who the listener should know is his wife, but he doesn’t.”
Offerings is a truly great album.
Typhoon UK Live Dates:
27/02 – THE LEXINGTON – LONDON, UK (2nd date added)
28/02 – THE DEAF INSTITUTE – MANCHESTER, UK
01/03 – BROADCAST – GLASGOW, UK
02/03 – THE LEXINGTON – LONDON, UK (SOLD OUT)
Offerings by Typhoon is released via Roll Call Records on 12th January on vinyl, CD and MP3 formats. The limited edition Blood-Red vinyl (1,000) have already sold out.
Bradford – Shouting Quietly– a lost indie pop classic gets remastered, extended & re-released.
Thirty years ago a young northern skinhead band named Bradford were very publically handed the baton by Morrissey to blaze a trail in English Indie music after the demise of The Smiths. Well renowned British producer Stephen Street immediately signed the band to his new label and the scene was set for the band, who in the words of Sounds music magazine in May 1988 were:
“Five guys with strict haircuts, their image conjures up short, sharp, shocks but their music tells a different story, creating intelligent and distinctive, finely crafted Pop songs. There are no jangly jaunts through well trodden paths of predictability, the image, the name, the songs, the intelligence and the voice see to that”
Alas, two things destroyed their chances: The collapse of Rough Trade, sending Stephen Street’s new label into ruin and the massive all covering avalanche in music that became known as ‘Madchester’. Bradford’s brand of sharp English Indie Pop was suddenly completely out of step with the times.
Thirty years later and the thawed avalanche reveals a distinctly northern row of chimney stacks belonging to the album ‘Shouting Quietly’ and it’s time for a reappraisal. Here it is in its original form containing 3 top twenty Indie singles, one being the renowned classic ‘Skin Storm’ which Morrissey also recorded and released in 1991.
This newly remastered re-release also contains ‘In Liverpool’, (Record Mirror’s ‘Single of the Week’) their first single for Stephen Street’s Foundation label, B sides, the eponymous ‘French’ mini album and some never before released material. Totalling 30 tracks on gatefold double CD containing extensive liner notes by Fergal Kinney (Louder Than War), lyrics and photos.
Stephen Street labelled the album a “lost classic” when approached about it in 2017 and it is with the greatest pleasure that A Turnatable Friend Records bring to you this gem of an album once more.
‘Thirty Years Of Shouting Quietly‘ by Bradford will be released on February 9th via A Turntable Friend Records.
Scowl is a book for small children by Steve Smallman about an owl called Scowl. Scowl was only happy when he was grumpy, perched upon his grumpy branch, screaming ‘Flap off!’ at the other woodland creatures, who tried in vain to cheer him up.
Scowl is also the fifth album by Medway‘s very own Stuart Turner & the Flat Earth Society (STFES).
The album cover adorns stern Victorian wetplate images of each band member, courtesy of the talented and esteemed photographer Rikard Osterlund, that make Peaky Blinders look like The Nolans.
Scowl introduces a much harder, more alt rock than folk edge to the effervescent, ever-changing sound of STFES. The harder gritted sound may have been sparked by Stuart Turner dropping the acoustic guitar for a Gretsch or the departure of multi folk instrumentalist Rob Shepherd, who left the band part-way through recording the album.
But STFES has always been a vehicle for other members to bring songs to the table, and this policy gives the band the ability to change direction or sound as a matter of course, rather than a progression or out of any fad or passing style. A good example of this is the uptempo indie pop overtones of Stoic. A wonderful pop song driven by the unmistakable guitar sound of Bob Collins.
The other stand out track for me is Nothing. The song grew out of an original idea by Shepherd, and is a slow burner that builds into something very special. A song about lost control, lost innocence and lost life. This should remain in the STFES live set for many years to come.
Turner’s distinctive growling blues vocal style is perfectly matched with Rachel Lowrie on tracks When, Crash and Solitary. While David Read of The Claim provides guest vocals on Helen – a song that is surprisingly not a cover version as it couldn’t sound more like The Claim if it tried!
The evolution of the STFES “sound” is completely natural. Water, with its banjo-picking, alt folk acoustic-driven sound reminds me more of previous albums, but sits perfectly well among the 9 great songs that together, make Scowl a great album. For me, the best STFES album so far.
Scowl by Stuart Turner & the Flat Earth Society (STFES) will be released on 10th November on Vacilando 68 records.
Somewhere on an A road equidistant between the contemporary gothic pop of The Horrors and the intensity and mood of Joy Division there is a band driving on a journey of love.
There are elements of Tubeway Army, too. The gothic pop of UK Decay, Bauhaus and Danse Society; and the caged angst and noise of The Birthday Party. At the wheel is a five-piece band from Leeds called Autobahn.
Their second album, The Moral Crossing, released this month and portrays a band in love with post-industrial Northern landscapes and awash with a post-punk sound of intense power and darkness.
Frontman Craig Johnson says:
“Actually, as a band, we’re more optimists,” explains Johnson. “I don’t find talking about this stuff ‘dark’, but it’s stuff people don’t usually want to talk about—execution, rising from the dead, depression, feeling utterly lost and unsure where to go. To understand the moral crossing, to go one way or the other, and how it can change your life. For me, saying this stuff out loud gives the feeling that there’s a future.”
The album is available on Tough Love Records as a CD, a red vinyl pressing for indie stores, 100 red vinyl pressing with a poster available exclusively through Bandcamp / Tough Love Records and, finally, a 100 grey vinyl pressing only available for their hometown through Leeds record stores.
Following the praise awarded to their debut album, The Moral Crossing sees lead singer and principal songwriter Craig Johnson, guitarists Michael Pedel and Gavin Cobb, bassist Daniel Sleight and drummer Liam Hilton deciding to build their own studio space – on their own terms, all on their own.
“The first album hinted at emotion and feeling, but this record encapsulates that from the offset. The melancholic aspect of our music is often offset by an aggressive dissonance, but to me there’s also a romantic side to what we do, which isn’t always clear because of the 100mph drive of the band. That’s what we are exploring with this new album.” – Craig Johnson
They found a former double-glazing firm, under a disused bridge, in Holbeck (Leeds’ red light district), and despite having no experience of such a job, they undertook this feat. It took a year from ripping out the existing contents to finishing the album – which was then mixed in New York by Ben Greenberg, known for his work with the Sacred Bones label.
On top, Johnson taught himself how to make a record after the studio was built. “I was down there nearly every night,” Johnson recalls. “It was pretty horrible at times, but worth the pain to have control over everything. We’ve had the chance to create the sound we want, at times it’s more melancholic, and romantic.”
Autobahn – The Moral Crossing Track listing:
The Moral Crossing
Autobahn UK Dates:
4-November: O2 – Oxford
5-November: Brudenell Social Club – Leeds
8-November: Louisiana – Bristol
9-November: The Lexington – London
10-November: The Joker – Brighton
11-November: Heartbreakers – Southampton
16-November: The Cookie – Leicester
17-November: Record Junkee – Sheffield
18-November: Undegun – Wrexham
22-November: Broadcast – Glasgow
23-November: Sneaky Pete – Edinburgh
24-November: Ku Bar – Stockton-on-Tees
25-November: The White Hotel – Manchester
So, 50 odd singles and 30 odd albums, over 40 bloody odd years, brings us to this, The Fall – Singles 1978-2016 7x CD Box Set released by Cherry Red Records. The first time all of the singles and b-sides have been gathered together, re-mastered and nicely compiled with an illustrated book, just in time for Christmas. Where do you start with that lot?
Every Fall fan has their favourite period. For me it’s the drunken chaos years of the late 90s, when they’d fallen so low they had to sell their CDs from the merchandise table. For others it’ll be the initial fire-and-brimstone-and-speed burst of Bingo Master’s Breakout and Rowche Rumble or the glorious and commanding majesty of the Grotesque,Slates, Hex Enduction Houralbums. Maybe the Brix-almost-pop-star years of C.R.E.E.P and Cruiser’s Creekor the Fontana-and-brandy years of Extricate, Shiftwork and Code Selfish. Quite possibly, the beats-and-ecstasy triumph of the Infotainment Scan or the hangover years, from the brilliant Cerebral Caustic onwards where it all very nearly came apart, or the resurgence of the blinding Touch Sensitive and Theme From Sparta F.C. singles…..or maybe the recent period of relative stability with the current line-up….whatever, it’s a cracking story that’s still unfolding (fingers crossed Mark E Smith comes through his current illness to pull it out the bag, again).
I came to The Fall late….I’d asked for their 2nd album Dragnet as a Christmas present in 1979 but, for an 11 year old, up against London Calling and my brother’s Setting Sons and One Step Beyond, it didn’t stand a chance… far too spikey, far too strange. It got the odd spin, but it wasn’t something you talked about to your mates (some things don’t change). But it stayed with me. I knew there was something there for me. I kept half an eye on them, and then in 2004, I spent a few months on a job that just needed me to get my head down and switch off. I needed something specific to listen to. I popped into the HMV round the corner and, after browsing a fair while, picked up 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong – a double CD of stuff picking through the singles and notables in chronological order. It was good…weird but good. I listened again and again for days and days on my CD walkman. I kept coming back for more, trying to find the key to the way in, until….midway through Crop Dust (a sludgy relentless pounding from 2002’s sublime Are You Are Missing Winner), wallop!….the door burst wide open and it was suddenly blindingly obvious that this was a work of towering fucking genius!
So started seven or eight years of joyful obsession. I didn’t listen to anything else. I didn’t need to. There was so much of this stuff and, anyway, everything else sounded unnecessary. It just wasn’t worth my time. I’m out of it now, sadly. You can’t maintain that level of beautifully fierce devotion indefinitely. But I still bloody love ’em. I still buy everything the day it comes out, I still adore it, and I think I always will. But I don’t pin strangers to the walls of pubs anymore, explaining exactly why Hex Enduction Hour is the greatest achievement in recorded history (‘because it just is!’).
But what about the box set? Is it worth having? Well, that’s a difficult one. It’s thrilling stuff from beginning to end; and for Fall fans, it’s great to have it all on one collection for the first time. So yes, I heartily recommend you go out and buy it. But at the same time, those same people are going to have this stuff three times over already (on that note, I was looking forward to seeing Scareball, one of the extended b-sides from 1998’s Masquerade single, get a digital release here, but sadly there’s only room for one b-side per single).
For me, the singles give a patchy view of the real highlights…hats off and raise a glass to Container Drivers, New Face In Hell, The Classical, Eat Y’Self Fitter, No Bulbs, Gross Chapel, The Birmingham School of Business School, M5, Feeling Numb, Cyber Insekt, Blindness, Fall Sound, Auto Chip etc etc.
So if you’re looking for a way in, this probably isn’t the place to start. Try 50,000 Fall Fans Can’t Be Wrong for that. Sod it! I’ll even make you a playlist, then you can hunt around for that key to your own way in. Or kick the door down and demand entrance….it’s a fucking wonderful world. Best of luck!
THE FALL SINGLES 1978-2016 CD BOX SET
DISC ONE – SINGLES
IT’S THE NEW THING
HOW I WROTE ‘ELASTIC MAN’
LIE DREAM OF A CASINO SOUL
THE MAN WHOSE HEAD EXPANDED
COULDN’T GET AHEAD
DISC TWO – SINGLES
LIVING TOO LATE
THERE’S A GHOST IN MY HOUSE
HIT THE NORTH PART 1
CAB IT UP
POPCORN DOUBLE FEATURE
HIGH TENSION LINE
WHY ARE PEOPLE GRUDGEFUL?
BEHIND THE COUNTER
DISC THREE – SINGLES
RUDE (ALL THE TIME)
SUSAN VS YOUTHCLUB
(WE WISH YOU) A PROTEIN CHRISTMAS
THEME FROM SPARTA F.C. #2
DISTILLED MUG ART (MIX 15)
I CAN HEAR THE GRASS GROW
SLIPPY FLOOR (MARK MIX)
SIR WILLIAM WRAY (SINGLE MIX)
WISE OL MAN
DISC FOUR – B-SIDES
IN MY AREA
2ND DARK AGE
PSYKICK DANCEHALL #2
I’M INTO C.B.
ROOM TO LIVE
DISC FIVE – B-SIDES
PETTY (THIEF) LOUT
HOT AFTERSHAVE BOP
LIVING TOO LONG
LUCIFER OVER LANCASHIRE
AUTO TECH PILOT
SHOULDER PADS #1B
DISC SIX – B-SIDES
HAF FOUND BORMANN
HIT THE NORTH PART 2
TUFF LIFE BOOOGIE
ACID PRIEST 2088
DEAD BEAT DESCENDANT
BRITISH PEOPLE IN HOT WEATHER
BUTTERFLIES 4 BRAINS
BLOOD OUTTA STONE
XMAS WITH SIMON
PUMPKIN HEAD XSCAPES
THE $500 BOTTLE OF WINE
MASQUERADE (PWL MIX)
TOUCH SENSITIVE (DANCE MIX)
DISC SEVEN – B-SIDES
PERFECT DAY (NEW VERSION)
I WAKE UP IN THE CITY
JANET VS JOHNNY
(WE ARE) MOD MOCK GOTH
MY EX CLASSMATE’S KIDS (LIVE)
I WAKE UP IN THE CITY (MIX 5)
OVER OVER (ROUGH MIX)
HOT CAKE – PART 2
MONOCARD (LUNATIC MIX)
TAKING OFF (LIVE)
HITTITE MAN (SINGLE MIX)
ALL LEAVE CANCELLED
The Fall – Singles 1978-2016 7x CD Box Set is due to be released on 24th November on Cherry Red. All seven discs have been re-mastered by Fall engineer Andy Pearce and come with a newly designed book in a box.
Also available as an edited 3-CD set (CDTRED 700) which features all of the A-Sides and is released on the same day.