Furia en la Corazón!

los_aos_ye-ye-cuando_espaa_hizo_popMay I interest you folk in a little Sixties Ye-Yé, straight outta Franco’s Spain?

Just came back from a bit of a city-break type thing in Liverpool and a jolly good time was had by all. Sights were seen, tapas was eaten and alcohol was drunk. Oh yeah, and one or two CDs were purchased…

Paid my second ever visit to the near-legendary Probe Records, too, now in School Lane, but still going strong (my first visit was in 1982, when I almost literally bumped into Pete Burns, thumbing through the singles racks. Spent rest of the day expecting to find myself sat next to Julian Cope on the bus…). I spent a happy hour or so going through their shelves, and left with a substantially lighter wallet but a bag full of esoteric goodies. I’ll no doubt start banging on about most of the stuff at a later date (there was a Robert Wyatt record amongst them and you know I’m not going to be able to resist writing about that…) but in the meantime…


The record I was most deliriously excited about and I’ve played almost continually since getting home is this, though, the second volume of Vampisoul’s sparkling “¡Chicas!” compilation. The first volume was good enough, with many, many memorable moments such as Vainila Doble’s weirdly psychedelic “La Maquina Infernal”, Sonya’s ballsy “Aqui en mi nube” and this by the delightfully bonkers Pili y Mili – “Un Chico Moderno”:


Played the record to death when we came back from Madrid the year before last, but to be honest, if anything, this second volume is even better than the first. It’s full to bursting with daft but unwaveringly groovy numbers from beginning to end, all of which seem to have eluded Franco’s eagle-eared sensors. Watch this, for instance, by French singer Claudine Coppin “40 grados a la sombre”. The sound’s not great – there’s a better sounding version on YouTube but it doesn’t have this top footage from the film of the same name:


So anyway, I was thinking it must be about time I put together a Ye-Yé Lucky Seven post and, well, here it is, you lucky, lucky people…

Lucky Seven – ¡Chicas!

Pochoclo – Las Trillizas de Oro (disturbingly bonkers version of “Popcorn” complete with the frothiest of lyrics. What’s not to like?)

Come, C’mon – The Satin Bells (a group of Liverpool lasses – so that’s appropriate – who moved to Spain and released a clutch of ill-fated singles. I’m slightly disappointed that it’s in English but nonetheless it’s a rather steamy little number…)

Tabú Tabú – Sola (another burner, with soulful Mexican vocals and a feckless, wandering bassline that won’t be told…)

No Te Acuerdas de mí – Marisa Medina (really ballsy song, belted out by the redoubtable Sra Medina, complete with full band, flutes and a jaunty little touch of Eddy-esque twang)

Soy una Nube – Elia y Elizabeth (my favourite track from another superb Vampisoul collection of this pair of sisters’ greatest hits. Lovely driving bass and guitar combination, superbly led by hippy child vocals. Really great stuff)

Hey, Hey Bunny – Los Gatos Negros (Not actually a “chica” as such, but a groovy mid-sixties number, driven on by a brass section and electric organ combination that is pretty damn irresistible. Could surely have been a Northern Soul classic…)

Furia – Furia (Finally, something a little later, early seventies I’m guessing. A heavyish, somewhat proggy hummer, driven but always danceable.)

I’d give anything to have skin like you…

Courtney-BarnettBought the new Courtney Barnett record a couple of weeks ago and it’ll come as no surprise to you that it’s a real zinger, packed full of languid observations, entertaining remarks and more than a few poignant moments. Imagine, if you will, therefore, the added sheen that began to appear around the ticket pinned to our board for the young Aussie’s Bristol date. Live music! Whooo-ee!

Courtney Barnett at The Fleece

As is becoming a bit of a habit, we missed the first act, hanging around in the pub next door for too long; which is a shame as, according to friends who showed up at a decent time, Fraser Gorman was pretty good and was supported from the floor by his host herself – a gesture of solidarity that I’ve always thought says a lot. Spring King, the second support, band were certainly a game bunch thrashing through an edgy, enthusiastic set which made me think I should investigate them at a later date.

Courtney Barnett came on early (about nine, I think), looking in disappointingly robust good health (the cartoon picture I’d been nurturing in my head was of a slightly neurotic, ashen-faced, over-sensitive soul). Overcoming a few sound problems at first, she worked through a cheerful, business-like set which I really enjoyed, and which went down well with a packed Fleece audience.

She played a lot of material from the new record, running from the Witty (Elevator Operator) through the Menacing (Pedestrian at Best) to the Moving (Illustration of Loneliness) – all of it laced with an easy, almost offhand charisma. Ably supported by a bass and drums unit that showed no inclination to upstage her – I say this because as is my ridiculously fussy wont these days, I felt one or two of the songs on the record suffered a little from over-assertive “musicians”. In fact the bass-player nominated onstage to look after the merch stall afterwards (and give away kisses with any and all purchases – I resisted, in case you’re wondering…)

The whole set came and went alarmingly quickly, and with the briefest of encores (an unexpected Easybeats cover to be fair) she was gone. Terrific, in-and-out, stuff – job’s a good ‘un…

As ever, the sound at the Fleece was tip-top and the recordings have come out quite well; I warmly urge you to avail yourselves.

Elevator Operator

Pedestrian at Best

Avant Gardener

I’ll Make You Happy


Tell you straight – you’re never gonna get enough time

Sharon_Tandy_small(Went to see the charming Courtney Barnett last week and I mean to write about it… very soon… but in the meantime. I don’t want to let this go by unmarked…)

Sharon Tandy, freakbeat / yeh-yeh queen of the mod sixties, passed away last week, after a long illness. Really, really sad news – another voice that somehow got away. I wrote some stuff about her about a year ago when I was first arrested by her and the string of blistering records she made with the Fleur de Lys between ’67 and ’69. But there’s some rather nice lines put together by Alec Palao on the Ace Records site which you should certainly read.

A quick skim through YouTube will get you familiar with the basic stuff, but if you can’t be bothered, here’s the searing “Gotta Get Enough Time” from that period


and just to balance things out a little, here’s one from the other drawer, “One Way Street”


Beautiful, ballsy and damn sexy…

All instant gratification…

ultimate-paintingAnd so it goes.

Another month has tip-toed past, its collar turned up to its eyebrows, and again I never noticed. Gah!

For a while now, I’ve been saying I’ll post some songs from the “recent” Ultimate Painting set at The Fleece, (yeah, I know January doesn’t seem very “recent” to me, either…) and now I notice they’re up for Green Man this year. Seems as good a time as any…

Ultimate Painting

If you felt sufficiently moved, you could describe Ultimate Painting as some sort of fey-indie-pop supergroup, in that the heart of the band is Jack Cooper from Mazes, and James Hoare from Veronica Falls, genuine next generation indie royalty, if you will, although still not registering high on my interest scale previously. I think I did buy the first Mazes record but it didn’t really stick and Veronica Falls are another band that have evaded me completely. I need to go back and do some revisiting there, because Ultimate Painting are just my sort of thing.

An Ultimate Painting album appeared towards the end of last year on the flawless Trouble in Mind and a swift trip through the reviews of it will bring you words like “autumnal”, “breezy”, “jangle” and more often than not “Velvet Underground”, which pretty much tells you what you need to know. I should say, though, that we’re not talking howling, screeching Factory period VU, more like 1969 VU – all light, uptight rhythm guitar and melody. I can’t be arsed to read all the reviews, but the other name that’ll definitely come up will be that of Teenage Fanclub and, hey, surely that’ll do it for you – the Gold Standard, after all.

To be fair (lazy pigeon-holing aside), Ultimate Painting have their own spindly, slightly melancholic sound, propelled by an energetic pair of interwoven, elastic-y rhythm and lead guitars, backed by their own austere rhythm section of spongy bass and cardboard box drummer. Both Cooper and Hoare take vocals, presumably backing each other’s songs, and giving anxious, slightly scruffy versions of each of the pair’s delicate tunes. It’s instantly likeable, and the lyrics bear a second (third) listen.

I’ve been reading a chapter in David Byrne’s book about how the ability to record music had a profound effect on live music itself. The gist of it is that live performances of songs were forced to change fundamentally as the recorded medium grew, and that the need to integrate with recording technologies has changed music irrevocably. I think he’s arguing against the tendency to assume that live performances should be reflections of recorded output (I say, “I think” – he’s a clever guy…). I’m not sure where this leaves Hoare and Cooper because on the night their performance sounded pretty much identical to their record – not a lot of improv or stagecraft. (Compare this with White Fence’s set later that night, which had versions of songs from his record that were almost unrecognisable…)

I’m quite happy with it, though, they sounded great on the night and I greatly enjoyed their set; and I suppose you could argue that with their record coming out pretty quickly, their songs had not grown from live performance, but I think from impromptu sessions backstage, when Cooper’s band supported Hoare’s in the US. However it was, I’ve a respect for songs that stand up on their own.

Favourite tunes are the self-titled opening track (which of course gives you a UP full house) and the beautiful, reassuringly fogey-ish, “Rolling in the Deep End”

Ultimate Painting

Rolling in the Deep End

Central Park Blues

Not so starry-eyed anymore…

IMG_1079This is a week old now.

I’m a grumpy old git, no question; ever more curmudgeonly as the years accrue. Even more prone to shouting at the telly than before. But still…

I went to see the splendid Decemberists last week, giving a graceful run through of their What a Terrible World, What a Beautiful World record. I did see them last time they came to the UK and I remember being pretty underwhelmed, although again they had a great record in The King is Dead to showcase. I’d obviously forgotten all this when I jumped at the offer of a ticket for the Birmingham leg of the tour.

I actually wrote a curmudgeonly post for the evening the next day, but in the grips of an oncoming flu I was a bit more negative than I’d want to be really, so I deleted it. The gist of it was:

  • Not a fan of audience participation
  • Upstairs at the Institute is not a great place to see a band
  • Some of the tracks on the new record sound like ABC
  • I don’t feel very well

Harsh, and a little unfair.

The Decemberists, the Institute

The Institute is a grand old theatre with many original features and a fine 3-sided balcony. It would no doubt be a lovely old place to see quiet, reflective music, in the style of St George’s in Bristol. Unfortunately, last week it was rammed with steely-eyed middle-aged punters, all of whom seemed to know that you need to get in early for a decent spot (rather than, say, getting stuck in traffic and then having a couple in the pub next door). It was particularly daft in the balcony, where people were stood five or six deep to peer over the balustrade (there’s a good Melloy word…)

I should say that I do like the new record a lot, Colin Melloy really is a great songsmith, but I’m not a fan of the way some of the songs are arranged. I reckon “Cavalry Captain” sounds like an ABC number (and btw don’t let anyone fool you into thinking this a good thing…); and the faux-doo wop sound grafted onto “Philomena” just irritates the hell out of me. (I found myself wondering if there’s a bit more democracy going on within the band – a bit more input from the other musicians, maybe. My money’s on that bloody drummer…)

I’m well aware that I’m coming on like one of the hipsters that Melloy is patiently addressing on the opener, but I guess I prefer the simpler accordion and harmonica and double bass sounds of Castaways and Cutouts. I wish you hadn’t changed…

(And don’t even get me started on audience participation, “The Mariner’s Revenge Song” and general on stage tomfoolery…)

Actually, “Cavalry Captain” was a one of the highlights of what was still a pretty good evening and the tinnier elements of the record seemed to vanish in the whole band experience. They played for a good hour and a half, maybe more, giving good account of the recent records and dipping confidently into their impressive back catalogue (although regrettably not Grace Cathedral Hill). They were jolly, passionate about their songs and there was not quite as much silliness as last time I saw them. I was moderately-whelmed, shall we say.

Considering the circumstances – too far up, too far back, too many people coming backwards and forwards (honestly, at times it was like sitting in the Buildbase at Kingsholm…), the recordings are much better than I had a right to expect, and certainly, as ever, worth a listen:

Make You Better

and, in the interests of fairness:

Cavalry Captain

(Now I must get onto those Ultimate Painting recordings, they’re really worth it…)

Clean and sharp and always laughing

IMG_1029Not long ago, I claimed, in slightly half-arsed fashion, that the Beck record was my favourite release of 2014. This was a mistake – it’s not; White Fence’s For the Recently Found Innocent is most certainly my favourite record of last year. I know this because this is what I plumped for in the @lpgrp poll (although I suspect Morning Phase may still take the spoils in the hipsters’ vote).

In my defence, this administrative oversight would indeed have been avoided if I’d actually bought the darn thing at the time of that post. I hadn’t, I only got round to buying it when the prospect of the mighty Tim Presley and band arriving in Bristol becoming imminent.

Since then, however, I’ve been overdosing stupidly on it.

White Fence

When I sounded out my Gloucester pals about this gig, I couldn’t really get anyone interested, but decided, somewhat awkwardly, that I’d go anyway. Everyone else’s loss and all that…

But anyway, I began the process of immersing myself lavishly in the shimmering, warped world of White Fence, my ticket winking cheekily at me from the noticeboard, and by the time I rolled up at the Fleece for an evening of fun, fellowship and fuzztone, I was really very excited. My first gig of the year. (In the end, I needn’t have been so self-conscious about flying solo, as there were people there that I knew and the scene was set.)

A friend had previously tipped me off about support band, Ultimate Painting, so I knew they’d be good. And indeed they really were. I won’t write anything about them here because I’ll do a separate post about them later (no really. I will…).

At about 9:15, White Fence trooped on, their numbers augmented by the welcome figure of psyche/goth minstrel Cate le Bon, playing second guitar and adding a few vocals. In truth, I didn’t think she added all that much to the proceedings, and looked a little ill at ease for much of the evening, her own brand of cagey melancholy not really suited to the raucous psychedelia of Tim Presley. There didn’t seem to be much room for her amidst the ensuing mayhem…

The rest of the band were well up for it, though, and streamed aggressively through an hour and a half set which just shot by. They tossed off more than twenty numbers in that time with a dynamism and general oomph that was thrilling to watch. I really like the way Presley wears his guitar high-slung and the easy way he skids through his guitar breaks, with all the writhing energy of Paul Weller in a hurry. I’m also pretty fond of Presley’s voice, although I’ve heard people say they think it’s pretty so-so. He ranges from a vintage garage punk whine to a cool Ray Davies-style detachment, with one or two other stops in between.

And while we’re at it, I also love the sharp, freakbeat riffs he gets from those strings – again and again I found myself reminded of the Who or the Pretty Things as he slashed his way into another song. Wonderful stuff altogether.

Here’s a clip on YouTube of the set opener, Chairs in the Dark, taken by a feller (?), called Knapperstino who must’ve been stood just to my right and whose videos I seem to have linked to before.


As I said the set included 20 songs, 19 of which were around the 3-4 minute mark, but a monstrous version of Baxter Corner weighed in at around 11 minutes and showed that Presley’s time served in the Mark E Smith bootcamp was time well-spent (I can almost hear MES snarling “It’s not repetition, it’s discipline!” as I type…)

The recordings have come out quite well (the Fleece is always good for this…) and give quite a decent flavour of what was a boisterous, cracking night altogether.

Baxter Corner

Arrow Man

Like That

By the time I’ve got this post up, White Fence have already disappeared from these shores and are no doubt thrilling crowds of Dutch or Belgian punters.

You’re coming back, though, aren’t you, chaps?

The swagger vets they come…

I am unfeasibly excited about seeing White Fence tomorrow night and have spent the weekend immersing myself in For The Recently Found Innocent and the Live in San Francisco records that came out last year.

Can you blame me?


(No apologies for the awful sound quality…))

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