Como Esta?

Well, we’re off on our hols this week, making what is for us a rather adventurous trip to Lisbon. I’m really looking forward to seeing the old buildings and riding the trams up and down the famous hills. I’m also hoping to see some traditional fado music, which on first hearing sounds like a bit of a hard listen; but I’m hoping that being there will make all the difference (a bit like Misterlee, really. Actually, not at all like Misterlee…).

As the whole premise of this Blog is that I’m going to feature only bands that I might conceivably go and see live, I’ve also been trying to bone up a little on Portuguese pop, in the hope that I might catch something hot when I’m out there. A long shot, I know, but I have come across a couple of quite interesting bands, namely x-wife and Bar, both of whom are worth a listen, x-wife being a bit more post-punk and Bar more on the poppy side of the spectrum.

Dead Combo

But the band I’m really keen on, after coming across their Myspace page is called Dead Combo, who are actually from Lisbon, and play a really enjoyable mixture of spaghetti western-style themes and Tom Waits-type of off-kilter jazz numbers. There are only the two of them, although sometimes it sounds more, To Trips, who plays guitars (I like the plural) and Pedro V Goncalves, who plays guitars (ditto), double bass, melodica and (rather wonderfully) kazoo. There are accents involved in those names, but I can’t get Blogger to co-operate with them…

You can buy their albums from Emusic (of course) and from the web page, which is also quite an entertaining read, especially the biographies. It says of To, for example:

“You might be able to see him wandering the streets of Lisbon, always with his broken guitar, playing in corners and dark alleys.”

I can hardly wait!

If you like a bit of quirky twang, I heartily recommend Dead Combo…

Angel Fuck

Electrica Cadente

(Apologies, these are direct links to the Myspace downloads, not very reliable, I know, but Savefile is not working at the moment…)

Ever wondered if those bones leave their graves and go on holiday? Well… yes they do!

Went on an end of term jolly with Martin, last night, to a less-than full Slak Bar. I was kind of surprised that the turn out wasn’t better and I could tell that Emma and Edd were disappointed and more than a little puzzled as well; some of the other Calmer events have been pretty well attended.

Two bands were on show, Misterlee and Flipron, both of whom were unknown to me and, to be honest, I wasn’t expecting too much from them, as their Myspace pages didn’t really do it for me. I don’t know what it is, though, but seeing a band doing their thing live still fills me with an almost childish pleasure. Both bands were great fun to watch.

Misterlee are what you’d call an experimental two (sometimes three) piece, made up of a guitarist and another feller who sang and shouted furiously into a collection of mikes, whilst coaxing all sorts of dub-ish sounds from what looked like a very old amp with a bewildering amount of knobs and dials. With his third hand he played a single drum. Like I say, it was … (how can I put it?) … a challenging listen, not exactly foot-tapping stuff, but top quality entertainment nonetheless. I really enjoyed it. Misterlee have a website and a Myspace page too with a number of downloadable selections there, which I won’t post (you’d think I was taking the piss) but take it from me, they’re worth seeing live.


Second up was Flipron who were also great fun to watch and actually a fair bit more listenable. Backed by drums, bass and organ, singer Jesse played a number of very English-sounding pop songs (in a Ray Davies / Steve Marriott sort of way) which seemed to be mainly about skeletons and old people, with a manic country cum Hawaian feel to them. He also worked his way through a selection of guitars, a lap steel, an accordion, a harmonica and even a mandolin during the course of the evening. Being a non-musician, I love this sort of thing and still find myself inordinately impressed with this easy familiarity with different instruments. It all made for an entertaining and humorous set, which although full of vaguely gothic songs never got too po-faced.

There are a number of downloads available on their website, as well as on their Myspace page, so here’s a couple which are pretty good. You can also buy their album on Emusic, (which I have now done) but I have to say that live Flipron were better than the record. See them if you get the chance.

Skeletons On Holiday

Raindrops Keep Falling on the Dead

No use in hiding the joy from the bright noon sun

A rather nice bonus came my way Wednesday night, when Martin from Uprock Narratives and Unknown Pleasures e-mailed me to say that he had a spare ticket to see Texas five-piece Midlake at the Fiddlers in Bristol. Any self-respecting blogger has heard and read a lot about Midlake recently, and a number of people have recommended their new album, to me (even my own uncle).

But, well, being rather snooty about these things, I haven’t really given my full attention to them and tend not to write about bands that are already well-covered. Still, gift horses and all that…

The Fiddlers is a pretty good venue (though a little hard to find) which has quite a nice feel to it and a good sound. First up was a guitarist, whose name I missed, who was OK but nothing to get too excited about. Next, however, was an Irish singer called Fionn Regan with a rather groovy haircut who kind of reminded me of Roddy Frame and who brought with him an almost feral drummer to spice up his songs. The pair of them were excellent, playing a number of intelligent and interesting songs, backed up by some real tub-thumping from behind. I loved them.


I do have a bit of a tendency to shoot my bolt a bit at gigs, getting over-excited about support bands and not quite “getting” the main act. So I was beginning to wonder if this evening was going to be another one in this vein, but I needn’t really have worried; Midlake were also excellent.

Led by Tim Smith (a name dear to any Gloucester rugby fan, for entirely different reasons) and boasting some sort of music college pedigree, Midlake are really a very clever bunch, not averse to wearing a few dodgy influences (or guilty pleasures, as Martin would have it) on their collective sleeve. They seem to be quite a jovial bunch of fellers too, despite the melancholic edge to their songs, and are all ridiculously gifted musically, swapping guitars and synths over in a bewildering fashion. At one point four of them were all playing at various keyboards. They managed to make it sound rather rough around the edges, though, and in my opinion, their songs were the better for that. (I’m listening to Bamnan and Slivercork now, and although it’s pretty good, there’s a little bit too much production for my liking.)

Being a beardie myself, it was also rather encouraging to see three of the band sporting facial hair (real beards too, none of your normal pop star nonsense). At times, I thought they looked a bit like the Band, and, like the Band, there was a feeling of not quite being able to nail down which decade Midlake have come from, which again I rather like.

This being Partly Porpoise, and me being something of a snob, I’d really have preferred to post a track by Fionn Regan, but unfortunately there are none legally available at the moment, although you can stream them here. But, hey, Midlake were great, so at the risk of looking like some sort of slutty ratings whore, I’ll post some of the tracks available from their site.

Cheers guys, a really good evening… (And thanks, Martin)

Some of them were superstitious

Kingfish Pies

And while we’re at it, Bars and Guitars has posted the text of an e-mail he received from Tim Smith’s Dad, which makes rather pleasant reading.

Good on you, Billy Gene, you should be proud!

Just Waitin’ Till Sunday Comes…

To give myself something to look forward to for the summer, I’ve bought tickets to the Green Man Festival in Brecon. I’ve not “done” a festival before, so I’m not really sure what to expect, other than shed loads of top class left field bands and artists. A Bloggers dream, if truth be told; I am really looking forward to it.

One of the by-products of this is that I feel obliged to find out more (or indeed anything) about some of the artists on the roster, which in turn has introduced me to a whole bunch of new stuff. And the first of these, I thought I’d share with you.

Phillip Robuck

Phillip Roebuck was not, as one wag would have me believe, captain of Somerset between 1986 and 1989, neither has he ever presented a Saturday morning children’s show. None of which will mean anything to the poor feller himself, hailing as he does from the USA. No, our Philip Roebuck is a genuine one-man band. Yeah really, bass drum on his back and everything… And if you don’t believe me, watch the video.

(And in case you think I’m breaking all my rules about only posting about bands that might conceivably play near Gloucester, I should say that not only is he playing Green Man but also a few weeks later the Slak Bar in Cheltenham. I’m hoping to see him both times…)

His website gives away no less than 11 free downloads, all of them using the banjo/bass drum combination, which might sound a bit repetitive but actually there is a surprising variety to the songs. Some are traditional revved up bluegrass songs, others more sensitive folk ballads, and others are almost hypnotic dance tracks. Give them a listen, and do watch the vid

I’ll post more on Phillip later on in the summer, after I’ve seen him, but until then here are a couple of corkers to start off with…

Summons Song