Stuart Turner & the Flat Earth Society – Scowl album review

Scowl by Stuart Turner & the Flat Earth Society (STFES).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.

Between Joy Division & The Horrors… Autobahn – The Moral Crossing

Autobahn - The Moral CrossingSomewhere 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
Autobahn

Autobahn – The Moral Crossing Track listing:

  1. Prologue
  2. Obituary
  3. Future
  4. The Moral Crossing
  5. Torment
  6. Low/High
  7. Execution/Rise
  8. Creation
  9. Fallen
  10. Vessel

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

The Fall – Singles 1978-2016 CD Box Set

The Fall - The Singles 1978-2016 7x CD Box set
The Fall – The Singles 1978-2016

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 Hour albums.  Maybe the Brix-almost-pop-star years of C.R.E.E.P and Cruiser’s  Creek or 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

  1. BINGO-MASTER
  2. IT’S THE NEW THING
  3. ROWCHE RUMBLE
  4. FIERY JACK
  5. HOW I WROTE ‘ELASTIC MAN’
  6. TOTALLY WIRED
  7. LIE DREAM OF A CASINO SOUL
  8. LOOK, KNOW
  9. THE MAN WHOSE HEAD EXPANDED
  10. KICKER CONSPIRACY
  11. MARQUIS CHA-CHA
  12. OH! BROTHER
  13. C.R.E.E.P.
  14. DRAYGO’S GUILT
  15. COULDN’T GET AHEAD
  16. CRUISER’S CREEK

DISC TWO – SINGLES

  1. LIVING TOO LATE
  2. MR. PHARMACIST
  3. HEY! LUCIANI
  4. THERE’S A GHOST IN MY HOUSE
  5. HIT THE NORTH PART 1
  6. VICTORIA
  7. JERUSALEM
  8. CAB IT UP
  9. TELEPHONE THING
  10. POPCORN DOUBLE FEATURE
  11. WHITE LIGHTNING
  12. HIGH TENSION LINE
  13. FREE RANGE
  14. ED’S BABE
  15. WHY ARE PEOPLE GRUDGEFUL?
  16. BEHIND THE COUNTER
  17. 15 WAYS
  18. THE CHISELERS

DISC THREE – SINGLES

  1. MASQUERADE
  2. TOUCH SENSITIVE
  3. F-‘OLDIN’ MONEY
  4. RUDE (ALL THE TIME)
  5. SUSAN VS YOUTHCLUB
  6. (WE WISH YOU) A PROTEIN CHRISTMAS
  7. THEME FROM SPARTA F.C. #2
  8. DISTILLED MUG ART (MIX 15)
  9. I CAN HEAR THE GRASS GROW
  10. REFORMATION! (UNCUT)
  11. SLIPPY FLOOR (MARK MIX)
  12. BURY! #2+4
  13. LAPTOP DOG
  14. VICTROLA TIME
  15. SIR WILLIAM WRAY (SINGLE MIX)
  16. THE REMAINDERER
  17. WISE OL MAN

DISC FOUR – B-SIDES

  1. PSYCHO MAFIA
  2. REPETITION
  3. VARIOUS TIMES
  4. IN MY AREA
  5. 2ND DARK AGE
  6. PSYKICK DANCEHALL #2
  7. CITY HOBGOBLINS
  8. PUTTA BLOCK
  9. FANTASTIC LIFE
  10. I’M INTO C.B.
  11. LUDD GANG
  12. WINGS
  13. ROOM TO LIVE
  14. GOD-BOX
  15. O! BROTHER

DISC FIVE – B-SIDES

  1. PAT-TRIP DISPENSER
  2. C.R.E.E.P
  3. CLEAR OFF
  4. NO BULBS
  5. ROLLIN’ DANY
  6. PETTY (THIEF) LOUT
  7. L.A.
  8. VIXEN
  9. HOT AFTERSHAVE BOP
  10. LIVING TOO LONG
  11. LUCIFER OVER LANCASHIRE
  12. AUTO TECH PILOT
  13. ENTITLED
  14. SHOULDER PADS #1B

DISC SIX – B-SIDES

  1. HAF FOUND BORMANN
  2. HIT THE NORTH PART 2
  3. TUFF LIFE BOOOGIE
  4. ACID PRIEST 2088
  5. DEAD BEAT DESCENDANT
  6. BRITISH PEOPLE IN HOT WEATHER
  7. BUTTERFLIES 4 BRAINS
  8. ZANDRA
  9. BLOOD OUTTA STONE
  10. XMAS WITH SIMON
  11. EVERYTHING HURTZ
  12. PUMPKIN HEAD XSCAPES
  13. GLAM RACKET
  14. WAR
  15. HEY! STUDENT
  16. THE $500 BOTTLE OF WINE
  17. CHILINIST
  18. MASQUERADE (PWL MIX)
  19. TOUCH SENSITIVE (DANCE MIX)
  20. ANTIDOTE

DISC SEVEN – B-SIDES

  1. PERFECT DAY (NEW VERSION)
  2. I WAKE UP IN THE CITY
  3. JANET VS JOHNNY
  4. (WE ARE) MOD MOCK GOTH
  5. MY EX CLASSMATE’S KIDS (LIVE)
  6. I WAKE UP IN THE CITY (MIX 5)
  7. CLASP HANDS
  8. OVER OVER (ROUGH MIX)
  9. HOT CAKE – PART 2
  10. COWBOY GREGORI
  11. COSMOS 7
  12. MONOCARD (LUNATIC MIX)
  13. TAKING OFF (LIVE)
  14. JETPLANE
  15. HITTITE MAN (SINGLE MIX)
  16. AMORATOR!
  17. 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.

Deer Tick New Albums Volume 1 & 2 + UK / Europe Live Dates

Deer Tick release Vol. 1 and Deer Tick Vol. 2 on Partisan RecordsNever a group to stand by conventional protocol, Deer Tick release two separate albums of original material, Deer Tick Vol. 1 and Deer Tick Vol. 2 on Partisan Records, recorded at Ardent Studios in Memphis.

The two albums complement each other yet reflect completely contrasting styles, both of which accurately represent the two distinctive musical personalities of Deer Tick — quiet and thoughtful / loud and raucous. “Sea Of Clouds” from Vol. 1 and the garage punk-infused “It’s a Whale” from Vol. 2 show these sides respectively.

Deer Tick Vol. 1 showcases the folk-driven, roots/rock style with right amount of grit, that Deer Tick is known for. Lead singer/songwriter John McCauley is a masterful introspective and observational songwriter, who documents inner struggles and external conflicts with a perfect balance of heartfelt sincerity and wry wit. The opening track Sea of Clouds encompasses all of what brought so many fans to Deer Tick in the first place, and also what kept them there. Guitarist Ian O’Neil’s “Hope is Big” and drummer Dennis Ryan’s “Me & My Man” expand on the group’s already dynamic range.

On Deer Tick Vol. 2, the band turns it up and lets it fly with an injection of punk-inspired garage rock at it’s finest. Clever lyrics, infectious hooks and captivating melodies pack Vol. 2 with bassist Christopher Ryan skillfully laying it down with authority and attitude. The propulsion of opener “Don’t Hurt”, edgy pop of “Jumpstarting” and rowdy punk of “It’s a Whale” reveal that there was an obvious Jekyll & Hyde approach to recording Vol. 1 & Vol. 2. Vol. 2 closes with boisterous “Mr. Nothing Gets Worse”, with all three singers taking a verse on a song that would have made The Replacements proud.

Deer Tick defines the term outlier. Their ever-evolving style has never been claimed by any one scene or genre. They encompass key elements of indie-rock, country, punk, pop, Americana, folk and so much more, which is what makes it difficult to nail them down. With Deer Tick Vol. 1 and Deer Tick Vol. 2, the question really is, why would anyone want to?

Deer Tick – UK / EU Live Dates

20 Jan 2018 Celtic Connections @ O2 ABC, Glasgow, UK
22 Jan 2018 Witloof Bar, Brussels, Belgium
23 Jan 2018 Paradiso Noord, Amsterdam, Netherlands
24 Jan 2018 Bi Nuu, Berlin, Germany
25 Jan 2018 Nochtspeicher, Hamburg, Germany
27 Jan 2018 Le Pop Up du Label, Paris, France
30 Jan 2018 Islington Assembly Hall, London, UK
31 Jan 2018 The Fleece, Bristol, UK
01 Feb 2018 Deaf Institute, Manchester, UK
02 Feb 2018 Community Room @ Brudenell Social Club, Leeds, UK

Tickets go on sale Friday 13 Oct at 10am from the band’s website HERE

Richard Thompson new album,  Acoustic Classics Vol. II & UK Tour

Richard ThompsonFairport Convention co-founding member and celebrated folk guitarist / songwriter Richard Thompson will release Acoustic Classics Vol. II on his own Beeswing record label, distributed via Proper, on 11th August.

Richard Thompson was recently named by Rolling Stone as one of the Top 20 Guitarists of All Time and is one of the world’s most critically acclaimed and prolific songwriters. He has received multiple awards, including Lifetime Achievement Awards at the BBC Folk Awards and the US and UK Americana Music Association Awards, as well as Mojo’s Les Paul Award and an Ivor Novello Award for song writing. Thompson was appointed OBE in the 2011 New Year Honours List. Robert Plant, REM, Elvis Costello, Bonnie Raitt and many others have recorded his songs.

Following the success of Acoustic Classics in 2014, Acoustic Classics Vol. II will feature acoustic renderings of classic songs from the Richard Thompson catalogue, some previously recorded by other singers, some previously available only in a band format. A second album Acoustic Rarities will be released later in the year featuring new recordings of some of the more obscure songs in the Thompson catalogue, some previously existing only as cover versions.

Special three-disc vinyl LP and double CD versions of both albums together will be released exclusively via Pledge Music: http://www.pledgemusic.com/projects/richardthompson

Richard Thompson Acoustic Classics II Tracklisting:

  1. She Twists The Knife Again – 2:49
  2. The Ghost Of You Walks – 4:41
  3. Genesis Hall – 3:30
  4. Jet Plane In A Rocking Chair – 2:29
  5. A Heart Needs A Home – 3:27
  6. Pharaoh – 4:26
  7. Gethsemane – 5:13 8. Devonside – 3:06
  8. Meet On The Ledge – 3:06
  9. Keep Your Distance – 3:35
  10. Bathsheba Smiles – 3:33
  11. Crazy Man Michael – 4:24
  12. Guns Are The Tongues – 6:06
  13. Why Must I Plead? – 4:09

A hugely popular live performer, Richard Thompson will tour the UK in October, including the very first concert at the newly-established London Bridge Theatre, which is now sold out and a second London show at Cadogan Hall. Thompson will play Fairport Convention’s annual Cropredy Festival, which takes place August 10-12, and this year marks the 50th anniversary of the group.

Richard Thompson UK Tour Dates
(supported by Josienne Clarke + Ben Walker)

Wed 11 October               Brighton Dome
Thu 12 October                 Guildford G-Live
Fri 13 October                    Poole Lighthouse
Sat 14 October                  Bristol Colston Hall
Sun 15 October                 Cardiff Wales Millennium Centre
Tue 17 October                 Edinburgh Usher Hall
Wed 18 October               Gateshead Sage
Thu 19 October                 Salford Lowry
Sat 21 October                  Saffron Walden Saffron Hall
Sun 22 October                 Coventry Warwick Arts Centre
Mon 23 October               London Cadogan Hall  *EXTRA DATE
Wed 25 October               Sheffield City Hall
Thu 26 October                 Leicester de Montfort Hall
Fri 27 October                    Basingstoke Anvil
Sat 28 October                  Norwich Theatre Royal
Mon 30 October               London Bridge Theatre  SOLD OUT

Bookings www.serious.org.uk/Thompson

Richard Thompson new album, Acoustic Classics Vol. II is scheduled for release on  11th August on Beeswing distributed via Proper.