Hand Of Stabs – Pagan Experimentalists of the Medway Sound


Hand Of Stabs - Seasonally Effected, live performance in RochesterHand Of StabsSeasonally Effected, live performance in Rochester, 30th November, 2016

On Wednesday, I took a trip into Rochester to witness Seasonally Effected, an irregular event held in the Medway Towns to promote local artists. This event took place at Dot Cafe in Rochester High Street. By the time I arrived, the small venue was packed with welcoming and friendly people. Hot chocolate replaced alcohol between acts, who each in turn stepped forward from the audience, performed and returned to their seats, promoting participation over separation and the essence of the original punk ideal – ‘anyone can get up and do this’. This is a shared experience. Though essentially, I’m not the only one who has been drawn to the event by tonight’s headline act, Hand Of Stabs.

With no fuss or delay the threesome pass the performance poet as they take to the front of the gathering while event organiser and musician Roy Smith stands to deliver a few announcements – other local events and that Seasonally Effected will be taking a short break after tonight.

Hand Of Stabs take their name from a cult fantasy children’s tv series, Ace Of Wands from the early 1970s. While American kids grew up watching Sesame Street and the Banana Splits, British children were subjected to some heavy shit. Ace Of Wands takes its name from a tarot card. The main character in the series ‘Tarot’ combines stage magic with supernatural powers. Think Adventure Time meets Paul Daniels. This is weird
The music emanating from Hand Of Stabs is experimental, avant-garde, anti-pop. Or as Stuart Maconie more pretentiously defines it, “progressive pagan skiffle”. No, I’m not sure Maconie knows what that is, either.

Hand Of Stabs are a three-piece that combine conventional instruments with the non-conventional, in every sense of the word. Tonight they mainly play electric guitar, percussion in the form of a drum-frame (something of middle-eastern origin akin to a large tamborine), and the spokes of an electrified bicycle wheel (with various effect pedals including pitchshifter and delay) beautifully played with a cello bow. According to their Bandcamp page, they go by the names of: Capt. Rex Standish (guitar), James Worse (percussion), Jocelyn Von Bergdorff (wheel).

As far as I can gather, each Hand Of Stabs performance is extemporaneous and completely improvised. Tonight’s performance lasted for approximately 40 minutes. Though I was so engrossed and moved, I cannot be sure. Like the accompanying film score to a gothic horror or a psychological thriller, the music is absorbing, dark, chilling and full of suspense and mind-thoughtfulness. It is indeed, quite possibly pagan. But there is absolutely no trace of Lonnie Donnegan or any association with skiffle.

I had seen Hand Of Stabs once before. They played, against their better judgement, and were lost amongst four other bands presenting a colourful spectrum of popular music in a sweltering venue pouring pints of piss-weak lager. That night belonged to Lupen Crook and The Parade who peaked with songs of love and hope. But tonight and the future of Pagan Experimentalism and the Medway Sound, belongs solely to Hand Of Stabs.

Beck’s Odelay, Sea Change & Guero to be reissued on vinyl

Beck albums reissued on vinylSince introducing himself to the world in 1994 with his genre-defying, multi-platinum debut, Mellow Gold, Beck has blazed a path into the future while simultaneously foraging through the past. Throughout his singular career he has utilized all manners and eras of music, blurring boundaries and shattering expectations with each album. From the world-tripping atmospherics of 1998’s Mutations and the florescent funk of 1999’s Midnite Vultures through the somber reflections of 2002’s Sea Change, 2005’s platinum tour de force Guero and 2006’s sprawling The Information, no Beck record has ever sounded like its predecessor.

Universal  are to reissue Beck’s entire envelope-pushing DGC/Geffen/Interscope back catalogue on vinyl, beginning on 28th October with the trifecta of his 1996 GRAMMY® Award-winning single LP game-changer, Odelay, 2002’s beautiful, brokenhearted, Sea Change, and 2005’s Guero, which saw Beck reunite with the Dust Brothers. Sea Change will be released as a double LP while Guero will be made available for the first time ever as a single LP. Mellow Gold, Mutations, Midnight Vultures, The Information and Modern Guilt will be announced at a later date.

Originally released 20 years ago on June 18, 1996 on DGC, Odelay was Beck’s breakthrough follow-up to his platinum bow, Mellow Gold. Selling more than two million copies in the US, the double-platinum-certified Odelay featured classics that loom large in Beck’s live sets to this day, including “Where It’s At,” “Devils Haircut” and “The New Pollution.” Odelay won two GRAMMY® Awards in 1997, Best Alternative Music Album and Best Male Rock Vocal Performance for “Where It’s At,” and was Beck’s first album to be nominated for Album of the Year—the top honor his most recent album Morning Phase took home last year. Produced by Beck with collaborators the Dust Brothers, Mario Caldato Jr., Brian Paulson, Tom Rothrock and Rob Schnapf, Odelay continued to demonstrate and expand upon Beck’s eclectic stylistic palette. It was universally praised upon its release, named Album of the Year in both Rolling Stone and the prestigious Village Voice Pazz & Jop critics’ poll, as well as the U.K. New Musical Express’ critics’ poll, where the album represented Beck’s platinum breakthrough in the UK. In 1998, Q magazine readers voted Odelay one of the greatest albums of all time, while Rolling Stone ranked it in its 2003 list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time,” and #9 on its list of the “100 Best Albums of the 1990s.”

Beck’s seventh album, Sea Change, signified a dramatic musical shift in sound and tone from its predecessor, the funky, R&B-influenced Midnite Vultures, and as its title suggested, was a profound transformation. Inspired by the dissolution of a longtime relationship, Beck transformed his sadness into both his most personal and beautiful record to date, trading his trademark sample-filled songs and impressionistic, irreverent lyrics for pensive melodies, sweeping strings and direct, confessional lyrics. Produced by Nigel Godrich, the album, which peaked at #8 on the Billboard 200, was made with a full band which included guitarist Smokey Hormel, keyboard player Roger Manning, drummer Joey Waronker; Beck’s father, David Campbell, provided string arrangements. While widely praised upon release in 2002, the album has only grown in stature. Rolling Stone’s David Fricke hailed it as “the best album Beck has ever made,” adding it’s his “Blood On The Tracks,” and the record was listed in their 2009 definitive list of the “500 Greatest Albums of All Time” and the “100 Best Albums of the 2000s.” In SPIN’s 10-year anniversary piece, they declared it “the best melancholy album of the millennium” while The Guardian called it “his masterpiece.” The album will be released as a double LP with a download card featuring 320kbps AAC MP4 audio files of the entire album.

Beck kept fans and critics guessing about how he’d follow up Sea Change and in 2005 released the genre-mashing Guero which shot to #2 on the Billboard Top 200–his highest charting album to date. Beck’s eighth album saw him reuniting with the Dust Brothers with an assist from producer Tony Hoffer (Midnite Vultures), for a tour de force of Latin rhythms, rhymes, guitars, beats, samples, 8-bit electronics, turntables and vocoder for a fun and freewheeling ride through rock, hip-hop, boss nova, country-blues and soul. Album opener and lead single, “E-Pro” went to No. 1 on the Billboard Modern Rock Chart, while “Girl,” “Hell Yes,” “Go It Alone” (featuring Jack White on bass) and more became instant fan favorites. The album was a hit with critics as well with New York magazine enthusing, “Beck integrates his personae into a fairly seamless whole, and his knack for synthesizing disparate musical elements (hip-hop, robot funk, blues, country, jazz, garage rock, etc.) extends beyond samples and individual tracks. The songs migrate smoothly from one to the next; there aren’t any throwaway numbers to sabotage the album’s momentum; the whole thing coheres,” while Rolling Stone dubbed it “his liveliest and jumpiest music in years.


1. Devils Haircut
2. Hotwax
3. Lord Only Knows
4. The New Pollution
5. Derelict
6. Novacane
7. Jack-Ass

8. Where It’s At
9. Minus
10. Sissyneck
11. Readymade
12. High 5 (Rock the Catskills)
13. Ramshackle


1. The Golden Age
2. Paper Tiger
3. Guess I’m Doing Fine
4. Lonesome Tears
5. Lost Cause
6. End Of The Day
7. It’s All In Your Mind
8. Round The Bend
9. Already Dead
10. Sunday Sun
11. Little One
13. Side Of The Road

1. E-Pro
2. Qué Onda Guero
3. Girl
4. Missing
5. Black Tambourine
6. Earthquake Weather

7. Hell Yes
8. Broken Drum
9. Scarecrow
10. Go It Alone
11. Farewell Ride
12. Rental Car
13. Emergency Exit

The Pop Group Announce New Album, Single & Live Dates

The Pop Group Announce New Album, Single & Live DatesWith Honeymoon On Mars, The Pop Group open another chapter at a time when their iconoclastic contention is needed now more than ever. It’s a record that finds the band unwaveringly incensed and resolute in their mutative sense of innovation, as Mark Stewart elaborates: ‘it’s a stand against manufactured hate, a hypersonic journey into a dystopian future full of alien encounters and sci-fi lullabies’.

Recorded and mixed in various studios in early summer of 2016, working with Dennis Bovell and Hank Shocklee, the band realised a dream twofold collaboration, as Stewart concludes: “We’ve at last fulfilled a double fantasy to work with our two favourite sonic assassins, Dennis ‘Blackbeard’ Bovell and Hank Shocklee. We’re in awe as Dennis, the Captain Kirk of dub is taking us on a hyper sound voyage into the future, and Hank, as always tears up the rules totally upholding our faith in the absolute value of noise. We’ve gone completely off the map.”

Talking about working with The Pop Group, Shocklee said: “The Pop Group sound has a level of freedom, fun and creative musicianship in their recordings that is a special and rare find in today’s world. Their uncompromising spirit to be themselves and not worry about fitting into a musical box, sets them apart.”

Long-time collaborator Dennis Bovell added: “It’s been a great pleasure to be working with the guys again. They are truly beyond good and evil.”

The Pop Group – Honeymoon On Mars tracklisting:
1. Instant Halo
2. City Of Eyes
3. Michael 13
4. War Inc.
5. Pure Ones
6. Little Town
7. Days Like These
8. Zipperface
9. Heaven?
10. Burn Your Flag

UK Tour Dates:

Monday 14 November
Ramsgate Music Hall

Tuesday 15 November
Brighton Komedia

Thursday 17 November
Cardiff The Globe

Friday 18 November
Leeds Wardrobe

Saturday 19 November
Manchester Deaf Institute

Sunday 20 November
Newcastle Think Tank

Tuesday 22 November
Cambridge Portland Arms

Thursday 24 November
London The 100 Club

European Tour Dates:

Saturday 26 November
France Boulogne-Billancourt BBmix

Sunday 27 November
Netherlands Amsterdam Paradiso Nord

Tuesday 29 November
Denmark Copenhagen Jazzhouse

Thursday 1 December
Germany Berlin Volksbuhne

Tickets on sale from thepopgroup.net/live.

Urth is the debut alt rock album by Kagoule

Kagoule release their debut album Urth
Kagoule debut album Urth

There is a fresh alt rock noise coming out of Nottingham, the home of Earache Records. The noise is coming from a young three-piece by the name, Kagoule. They produce dark, heavy and powerful, melodic alt rock. Cai Burns plays a fuzz distorted guitar and sings while being perfectly complimented by Lucy Hatter’s rumbling bass, vocal harmonies; and Laurence English pounding drums.


Following several single releases, Kagoule release their debut album Urth. The three teenagers weren’t even born when Earache Records made its name releasing death thrash metal from the likes of Napalm Death, Extreme Noise Terror and Bolt Thrower. Urth is an intense and forward-thinking listen from a band ready to step forward and shake things up. The band have formed a dark, melodic, heavy and constantly evolving sound. The bass-heavy, distorted guitar led sound of Kagoule is reminiscent of the post-hardcore fuzz guitar of Fugazi and Mudhoney, and post-grunge alternative rock, MTV-induced mainstream crossover of Smashing Pumpkins. Listening to Urth, it’s easy to forget this powerful music that sounds so grounded and established, is being made by three so young.

Urth includes 11 great songs including recent singles Gush and Glue. Lucy sings lead vocals on the latest single, the wistful and bittersweet Made Of Concrete.


Cai explains how he came across the sound: “It came as a trapped sound in a Boss delay pedal box. Someone at the factory must’ve been humming in the right direction at the right time, the waves slipped through and the cardboard door sealed behind them. It journeyed over sea and land, benumbed by fear until I freed it from its torture and gave it a home (I think that’s how sound works right?) It was one of the first songs I wrote for Kagoule. I think I was 15. After the initial “Check out what this pedal can do” it hasn’t changed much, apart from the fact Lucy won the rights to sing it from me over a heated Beyblade tournament.”

Other tracks include the one-minute punk thrash of Empty Mug, complete with Lucy Hatter’s screaming banshee backing vocals; and the anthemic Smashing Pumpkins-esque It Knows It.


The album is produced by Ross Orton (Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A, The Fall) and Pete Fletcher (Childhood).


Kagoule – Urth tracklist:

Adjust The Way
Damp Sand
Empty Mug
Made Of Concrete
Open Mouth
It Knows It

Urth by Kagoule is released via Earache Records.

Forthcoming Live Dates:

Sept. 17 – Vienna, Austria – Arena 3 Raum Bar w/ Ball Park Music
Sept. 18 – Berlin, Germany – Magnet
Sept.22 – Hannover, Germany – Lux
Sept. 25 – Dusseldorf, Germany – Zakk w/ METZ
Sept. 26 – Hambury, Germany – Reeperbahn Festival
Sept. 27 – Leipzeig, Germany – Ilses Erika w/ Ball Park Music
Sept. 28 – Prague, Czech Republic – Basement Bar
Sept. 30 – Cologne, Germany – Blue Shell w/ Ball Park Music
Oct. 01 – Brussels, Belgium – Witloof Bar @ Botanique
Oct. 03 – Portsmouth, UK – Dials Festival w/ Black Honey + Hooton Tennis Club
Oct. 09 – Nottingham, UK – Rock City w/ Sleaford Mods
Oct. 10 – Leeds, UK – Beacons Metro w/ Traams, Pins, Crushed Beaks
Oct. 18 – Manchester, UK – Carefully Planned Festival
Oct. 23 – All Years Leaving Festival w/ The Wytches, Speedy Ortiz, Chastity Belt

Outblinker – Pink/Blue, EP Review

Outblinker debut EP, Pink/Blue
Outblinker debut EP, Pink/Blue

Outblinker are doing something extraordinary with their debut EP, Pink/Blue. I can’t really think of many other bands doing at the moment, besides Fuck Buttons (who have connections to the band). They’ve created a sound that is truly mesmerising to listen to, and it will make you want to stand up and take notice.

EP Pink/Blue comprises of two eleven and twelve minute tracks packed full of pure instrumentation. The four-piece bring together sounds of electro, krautrock and new-wave to create their own unique blend experimental rock. And we cannot get enough of it.


‘Pink’ begins with a repetitive, mesmerising synth melody before some serious guitar distortion comes into the mix along with some pretty erratic drum beats. Together, these sounds create eleven minutes of organised mayhem that sounds good in all the right places. Second track ‘Blue’ comes across as the slightly less aggressive of the two, although it still manages to make its own mark, but with a more cinematic bent.


Whatever we say about this EP probably won’t do it justice, but we would urge you to go and check it out for yourself. If you’re a fan of Holy Fuck or Fuck Buttons then this is definitely going to be right up your street.

Outblinker – Pink/Blue EP Tracklisting:

1. Pink
2. Blue