May be confused about a few things, but honey I’m on the move…

white-denim-at-pembyfest-2016-viesmag-4If the day comes (when, surely) for there to be a general reckoning of Bloggers and sundry Internet quacks for their overall contribution to the commonwealth, I’ll stand in the line amongst the other middle-aged saps in Fall t-shirts, and blink nervously in the harsh sunlight as a series of solemn gentlemen open their man-bags and begin to interview their charges.

I’m guessing the exchange will be a fairly short one, before I fall silent and sullenly await the guillotine. There’ll be some sort of polite shuffling of papers, before my arbiter leans forward and says, in a gently concerned fashion,

“You, er,  missed a fair bit, didn’t you?”

White Denim, O2 Academy

Those last two (fairly florid) paragraphs were my way of berating myself for once again taking my eye off the ball in a particularly daft fashion. A friend of mine got me a ticket for this gig a while back, and I’d not really given it much thought since.

Truth be told, since I last saw them a few years back, I’d gone off White Denim a little and wasn’t much of a fan of 2013’s Corsicana Lemonade. It’s not bad but not as exciting as the earlier records, and this particular butterfly had other sticky treats to investigate. Consequently I was completely unaware of White Denim’s recent upheavals. You’ll no doubt have been all over the half-the-band-leaves-midway-through-next-record thing, and will have already formed your own opinions, but I missed it entirely.

Worse still, seeing the band come out at Bristol’s premier rock venue, I somehow remained unaware of the changes, and although one of my memories of seeing them in 2012 was the exhilarating interplay between guitarists Petralli and Jenkins, I managed to convince myself that these recollections were unreliable, figments of a flakey, capricious imagination.

*Shakes head ruefully*

Having said all this, sometimes ignorance is indeed a form of bliss – a couple of people I spoke to later had pooh-poohed the new line-up and recent performances, and being the hopelessly impressionable feller that I am, the evening would’ve been coloured somewhat if I had actually stayed awake at the wheel.

In fact, it was a pretty good, if boisterous evening with the new line up acquitting themselves well. New drummer, Jordan Richardson, impressed particularly, an enthusiastic, barrel-chested presence at the kit. He played the drums like Gareth Evans (Gloucester’s injured No 8) runs – head up, chest puffed out, boisterously charging through the set, arms akimbo like some sort of tubby wind-up toy.

Terebecki and Petralli were still the heart of the band, however, and a set which ran through most of the new record, Stiff, and touched on a lot of favourites from the back catalogue, was a reminder that even if the exhilarating twin guitar thing is no more there’s still plenty to get excited about. In fact, at least one punter remained blissfully heedless of the changes.

As before, it was something of a machine-gun attack, one blistering song piling on the shoulders of the previous one, with precious little chat and the sparsest of breathers between each one. Exhilarating stuff it was, and this old chap was left a little punch-drunk by the end of it all

The younger Academy punters got pretty excited and amongst the normal festivities, there was stage diving, limb-flailing careening around and enough rough stuff at the front to merit a few incursions from the security gents (and at least one feller being dragged out).

Sweaty, first class entertainment, all in all.

I’ve got a few noisy recordings for you…

Real Deal Mamma

Anvil Everything

Mirrored in Reverse


and if you fancy a quick comparison…

At the Farm (2016)

At the Farm / Say What You Want (End of the Road ’11, twin guitars a-sparkling…)

In the days when there were stars…

meilyr_jones_liverpool_29-4-16_mike_hughes_live9_445_297As any one of life’s beleaguered teachers will tell you, October is the season of the Harvest Festival – a charming old-world tradition that I marvel every year has somehow, against all the odds, scrambled into the 21st Century. In the old days, Harvest Festivals would have involved skilfully fashioned wheat-based items, marrows and other winter vegetables but nowadays mainly consist of precariously piled tins of peaches, sachets of Uncle Ben’s Rice and the odd packet of plain biscuits. Times have changed for sure, the common thread being a slightly forced sense of gratitude for cyclical graces.

This being my Blog, against all reasonable advice, I’m going to develop this seasonal theme into a laboured, music-based metaphor and suggest that at the very top of my Harvest Festival table of bounties for which to thank the Lord would be The Unexpected Gig…

Meilyr Jones, Thekla

Got a call a couple of weeks ago from Coleser saying that he’d bought me a ticket for this geezer of whom I was completely unaware, just knowing that I’d like him.

Thank the Lord for good friends, eh?

A week spent revising with Jones’ 2013 album left me intrigued and rather looking forward to an evening in the company of a slightly eccentric Welsh crooner. Traffic (and a group of revellers utterly bemused by new-fangled parking ticket dispensers) held us up, so that we just made it into the darkened, depths of everyone’s favourite hipster vessel. As if by magic, Meilyr Jones appeared onstage at the same moment as a pint snaked into my hand – not the only instance of perfect timing from the evening.

Cheerily-arrayed in rumpled white polo, tucked into eighties-style pegs, he looked like some young thing from the pages of the Face (ask your parents), and bounded onto the stage, fist pumping his way into his storming album-opener, “How to Recognise a Work of Art”. It was a cracking start to a great set, punctuated by winning smiles and self-effacing Celtic charm. He warbled and careened around Thekla’s tiny stage, gorgeously supported by a troupe of guitarists-cum violinists who occasionally threatened to (ever-so-gently) steal the show.

Highlights of the evening were a Jean Genie-style version of “Strange Emotional”, with a lengthy dream/nightmare middle sequence; a witty, full-throated “Featured Artist” and a beautiful, audience-silencing “Be Soft” finale, Jones slipping quietly off the stage as his band gently finished things off. (The latter recording is almost spoiled by the somehow amplified sound of below-deck air conditioning as an entranced group of punters craned their collective necks toward the stage…)

Triffic stuff!

Strange Emotional


Featured Artist

This song is o-ffensive

220px-thackrayonagainMy father died earlier this month.

I say this not to elicit sympathy or kind words – it was his time and most of the people who read this Blog are friends who have already passed on their condolences (gratefully received, by the way). A moving tribute was paid at Kingsholm, there was a piece in the local paper and the funeral was a good’un. At a local saloon afterwards I felt we sent him off in good style.

I’m mentioning it partly to apologise for a lengthy period between posts (although …) but also to say that although rugby was a long-shared passion between the two of us, when it came to music there was pretty much no cross-over.

My Dad mostly liked cheesy trad jazz stuff and various other disparate fifties things that I turned my nose up at pretty quickly from my teens onwards. There was this, though…

(Apologies for the over-eager punter at the front)


The line obscured by enthusiastic guffawing was:

“She could have gone on again on again on till the entire

Congregation passed out, and the vicar passed on, and the choir

Boys passed through puberty”


Oom-bip-bip, oom-bip-bip, si!

productimage-picture-algo-salvaje-vol-1-604_jpg_382x5000_q100Vampisoul, along with its parent label, Munster, is definitely, definitely, my very favourite label ever. This is not only because of their sterling work putting together those wonderful Yé-Yé compilations that I may have mentioned before (I’ve a feeling there’s a third Chicas! record on the way…), nor all the fine boogaloo stuff they’ve dug up, nor even the opportunity to stick your snout into all sorts of the very nichest of interests (“you mean you’ve not heard any Czechoslovakian funk? For shame…”)

No today’s reason why Vampisoul is top of the pile is this…

¡Algo Salvaje!

In our last feverish days in Madrid, I spent a happy few hours trekking around the city visiting the record shops I’d read about on the Internet. I’d love to give an enthusiastic plug to whichever shop it was that I found this record, but I’m afraid I’ve already forgotten. Shame, but what can you do?

I’d begun to form the opinion that the whole Spanish beat scene was a bit of a novelty, mainly interesting for its managing to exist at all during peak Franco years. Once you actually get round to listening to some of the records of the time though, and you see they’re kind of sweet, but generally pretty anaemic. Or so I thought…

Turns out I’m a complete idiot (who knew?), and ¡Algo Salvaje! is the absolute proof. Fondly presented with liner notes on each of the 28 featured bands, it’s a double album of absolutely stonking garagnivram-los-los-nivram_1636627e punk. You’re treated to the raspiest of fuzztone, loads of fantastically spooky farfisa organ and some genuinely irrational (and at times ill-advised) vocals, and all with only the occasional cover version. I’m all turned round about Spanish Garage!

Highlights include “Sombras” by Barcelona’s Los Nivram, (great vocals and hypnotically quavering guitars); and “It is my World” by fellow Catalans Prou Matic, (featuring the sneeriest of punk shouters, a violently enthusiastic drummer – who is unwisely given a solo – and production values that would shame the Green Fuz). There’s also a highly entertaining version of the Pretty Things’ LSD by Los Polares which is called “La Droga” and is thus an even more basic single-entendre than May and Taylor’s original. (You wonder what Franco’s censors were up to that weekend, bearing in mind that even Cliff Richard had at one point been considered too suggestive for Spanish listeners.)

There’s just loads of tracks to talk about but one of my favourites would be “Ven a Mí” by yet another bunch of Catalans, Els Trons, which really deserves to be better known, with its disconsolate, cheesy organ lines, naughty Stones riff and tactless, club-handed drumming. Turns out if you go to Soundcloud, there’s a whole bunch of Els Trons stuff you can stream.

No “Ven a Mí” but try this… (I think Arthur would be OK with this version)


(If you go and listen to the rest of the tracks – there’s loads – you’ll be rewarded by intriguing Elia y Elizabeth song. I’m saying no more…)

Another of my favourite tracks is by Los Botines, whose singer, Camilo Sesto, later went on to star in the Spanish version of Jesus Christ Superstar, become a Shakespearean actor, score numerous number one hits as a Spain’s top seventies crooner and sell more than 175 million records worldwide. All of which is alright, I suppose, but I guess once you’ve appeared on TV singing with your band dressed as wandering minstrels in El flautista de Hamelín, it’s all downhill from there…

Mambo Loco

85191One of the best parts of going to any new city, here or wherever, is finding the record shops, and spending an afternoon having a good nose around the vinyl therein. My trip to Spain this time round was a little disappointing in most of the cities I visited – there were invariably record shops in each place but nothing very special.

Madrid was again the massive exception, with at least five absolutely belting record establishments, where I spent rather too much. My favourite of all of these was a place called Discos Babel, looked after by a very friendly and helpful feller whose English was thankfully better than my Spanish. I remember it from my previous visit to the city and last time, I bought just the one record (Uruguayan beat sensations, The Mockers, as you’re asking). This time the damage was a little heavier.

I’m still investigating the Vainica Doble record I found there, and a couple of other things but currently occupying the (sadly virtual) turntable at our house was this great little compilation from AnalogAfrica, not exactly a crate-diggers bargain, but a scorcher nonetheless…

Aníbal Velásquez y su Conjunto

a3951239925_16Aníbal Velásquez is, I gather, your genuine Colombian living legend, with a 60 year career behind, which began in the 50s. He reached a bit of a peak in the 60s having founded his own conjunto with brothers Juan and Jose, playing what I think of as Cumbia, but seems to have a number of other names to them that know these things. He has a reputation as an innovator and a number of instruments have been revived (or even created) under his auspices. Not least of these, is the accordion itself:

“When I started to play the accordion, the instrument was not very popular – it had not become a main part of Costeño culture, and it was considered a second class instrument – a bit foreign and awkward”

CS388341-01B-BIGSince those days, despite the gradual decline in interest in Cumbia, his own reputation has actually grown, playing in and gradually becoming the star turn in various local and national festivals. His stature even appears to have withstood a 19-year period of self-imposed exile in Venezuela.

The record is a wonderfully jittery one, easily as clangy and shouty as the Aliboria record in the last post, each track parading its own stroppy but catchy rhythm which won’t be denied.

Watch this video about the making of the title track, Mambo Loco:


As you can see there’s a right old troop of bangers, tingers and scrapers furiously doing their thing, with the man himself struggling to be heard over the racquet. I know it’s a cliché, but it’s damn hard to sit still.

It’s not all about the rhythm, though, the keys and at times guitar work weave carefully in and out of the rhythms behind them. Velásquez’s muscular finger work is pretty impressive too. I love the sound of the accordion, full stop; partly because it does still sound foreign and awkward (even cheesy at times), but I think the man does have a glorious driving style of his own. By now in his eighties, he’s still something of a local celebrity in Baranquilla and still performs live.

I bet he’s great.

Clanc! Clinc! Dum! Bum!

Well, those three weeks went quickly.

Back from Spain and had a terrific time (thank you for asking) – lots of good food and drink, plenty of lying around in the ridiculous heat of Seville, some record buying in Madrid and a fair amount of linguistic stumbling around in front of patient strangers.

Before we went down to Andalucía, we spent a week in Santiago de Compostela, the capital of Galicia in the wet and windy far north west of Spain. Fortunately, there was none of that – it was sun all the way (we were assured by friends that this was very unusual, even in August).

The day before we arrived, was national Galicia Day, and as a result there were musical celebrations in the Square outside the cathedral and concerts every night, which over the course of the week was a lot of fun. In fact, the first night we got there, we arrived in the square to see the Dandy Warhols setting up for the evening. We stayed on to watch some of their set, which was kind of fun but considering Galicia has such a reputation of having something of a distinctive culture all of its own, it was a little bit MTV (“Love your beautiful city, people. Fuckin’ viva spainya, man!”)

As it turned out, this lot had been in the square the night before…

Xosé Lois Romero & Aliboria

Yep, those are indeed shells, pans, oil cans and graters, supplementing the various drums. And the bizarre contraption that Romero is playing, which looks like a cross between a brush and viola
with bells on it, is apparently something called a charrasco. You think you’ve heard it all, eh?

alib 3The whole record’s like that – boisterous singing and soulful bellowing, accompanied by industrious, skittering rhythms; all manner of kitchen-sink clattering and a full dollop of lai-la-lai-ing. It’s all done with a cheerful arrogance and furious intensity that borders on the scary at times. The words, although clear, are lost on me; I’m not even sure whether theyre in Spanish or Galego. No matter, it’s the heart and spleen you’re listening to really…

Xosé Lois Romero is some sort of folk arranger who has a bit of a history that I shall be investigating soon, but most recently has put together this shouty ten-piece of jinglers and clatterers to apparently take traditional Galician percussion in jarring new directions, (I’m paraphrasing). And I’d say they’re pretty much doing that.alib 4

I bought the record when I heard it playing in a giftshop. I asked the lady in the shop if there was any gaita on the record, but she screwed her nose and said that, no, there wasn’t any of the Galician bagpipes on it, but that she didn’t care for them anyway. The gaita and that other Galician curio, the hurdy-gurdy or zanfona were plenty in evidence on the streets during the week but apparently had no place on this record. And although the prospect of a whole CD of percussion seemed a bit heavy at first, I’ve been pretty much hooked on it since we gotalib 5 back.
The liner notes while not that helpful to me (or I suspect many) as they’re not even in Spanish but Galego, do provide a few useful and rather endearing illustrations of each percussion instrument and the noises they make, which I thought you’d find interesting…

De la vida, en el barrio



{Oh, and now I’ve just done the Mujeres, I see that this post that I wrote about a week ago, never got published. It belongs before the Mujeres post, but I’m not sure how to arrange this. Can we just imagine?}


Been relatively busy recently and truth be told not listening to a lot of music. Another trip around Spain beckons and consequently a lot of ear time has gone on trying to scrub up my language. With predictably mixed results…

I have, however, done some Spanish music listening this week and instead of filling the iPod with Spanish versions of what I generally listen to (garage, indie, psych – although all this is coming, trust me…), I thought I’d dip my toes into something a bit more exotic, a bit more authentically Latino. Tried a bit of cumbia and some spanking up-to-date nu cumbia records from the ZZK and Nacional labels, but eventually settled on some Latin hip-hop.

Ana Tijoux

This first track is from Chilean hip-hop artist, Ana Tijoux, whose album Vengo I went through with no little gusto all of yesterday whilst out and about during the day. The record, apparently, won her a Grammy award last year, so I’m not what you’d call ahead of the curve here, but still… In truth, there’s a little too much slushy jazz-funk in some of the record for my liking but the first four tracks, including the title track and this one, here, are absolute belters…

As yet, I know nothing about the second rapper, Shadia Mansour, whose feisty counterpoint to Tijoux’s own animated style is something of an eye-popper.

Tijoux is actually from France, her parents having been exiled during Pinochet’s reign in Chile, but has now settled in Santiago. One of the features of Vengo is apparently its gallant attempt to rescue native Andean instruments from the realm of the ubiquitous World Music collection and the street busker.

Then I also came across this…

Hijo de la Cumbia & Alika

I’ve also bought the debut record by Argentinean DJ and producer Hijo de la Cumbia, which is apparently set to be a Nu Cumbia stone-cold classic and it’s quite intriguing.  But to be honest, this is the stand-out track on it…

It’s bought to life by the oomph of gutsy Uruguayan vocalist Alika. As with the previous offerings, I can catch precious little of the words. I could look them up or get Google to sort them for me but, to be honest, I prefer the not knowing, it’s all about the hormones, I feel…

I’m pretty certain this is not, as it claims, the “official video” but, again, never mind the quality, feel the width…

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