And no sound will come from your phone

You’ll probably be aware by now that I get very excited about freebies (out of all proportion, to be honest) and so you’ll be able to work out my feelings when a friend texted to offer me a ticket to go and see Shelia Chandra and Slow at St George’s in Bristol, last weekend.

I actually got the chance to see Slow last week in Gloucester at this month’s Acoustica, but, like the dimwit I am, I chose to stay at home and watch Top 14 rugby (Dax 9 Stade Francais 13, if you missed it). Those who did venture out, however, came back enthusing about Slow, and I began to feel a little foolish.

St George’s is a lovely old venue, a disused church (more like a temple, really) that has been restored for concerts and the like. I imagine the great cavernous ceilings and galleries play havoc with the sound, at times, but the atmosphere is terrific.

Sheila Chandra is mainly famous for her 1982 hit “Ever So Lonely” with Monsoon, although a friend tells me that she was also a member of the Grange Hill cast at one point. I get the impression she’s worked through all that now because there were few concessions to popular culture, and judging from last night’s performance, I’d say she does pretty much what she feels like.

I’ll be frank; she was at times a hard listen. Although she clearly has an excellent voice and skipped cleverly between a number of different cultural traditions, you’ve got to be pretty damn exciting to get through an evening just using vocals and the very minimum of ambient backing tracks. I liked the Gregorian / Sanskrit chanting she did (not as pretentious as it sounds – it worked) and I liked the fact that as a British Asian she had a pretty good understanding of British folk tradition in the songs she did. I also liked the discreet version of “Ever So Lonely” she did (and the fact that she introduced it as a song that her ex-husband wrote for a previous girl-friend – “He did write a beautiful love song for me, but that wasn’t a hit…”) But on the whole, I did find myself wishing for just a little more backing – a tabla here, a guitar there…

Coming on before this, however, was a much more conventional line up in the shape of Bristol five-piece Slow, who specialise in a downbeat, gentle style that showcased the strength of their song-writing pretty well. Framed by the composed rhythms of percussion and bass, and some nicely understated guitar work, each of their songs was performed in two-part harmonies by Marvin and Lucy, and I really liked that. The other element I particularly enjoyed was Lucy’s harmonium playing – it’s an outlandish sound you don’t hear too much these days, which is a shame.

The artists Slow really remind me of, is American group Ida, who do a similar sort of slow tempo, boy-girl vocal interplay that I’m rather partial to, but seeing as how I’m yet to meet anyone who’s heard Ida’s records either, you’re probably no wiser, really.

There was a lot of talk in the bar afterwards of an organic sound that grew naturally, with no one part out-stripping another, which I kind of went along with, because they were such a friendly bunch, but thinking about the gig as I went home, Slow’s set was a bit one-paced and the one part of it I wanted to hear more of was that slightly John Cale-ish harmonium sound – I wouldn’t have minded that part out-stripping the rest.

I’d love to be able to add some tracks by either of these artists at this point but neither of their sites offer any, which I think is a shame, but there you go.

You can, however, go to the websites and Myspaces below to find out more and hear some streamed tracks.

Slow’s Website

Slow’s Myspace

Sheila Chandra’s website

and finally :

Sheila Chandra’s Myspace

Where you’ll find this :

Cheers Al!

Woke up this morning with but one single thought on my mind – “Find some new music for those Partly Porpoise readers” (oh, and “Warm up those double choc muffins for breakfast”). Sorry, two single thoughts on my mind.

I’ll do it again…

I woke up this morning with one single thought on my mind but it didn’t really work out that way. Nothing really grabbed my attention on the Internet and I don’t want to give you any old rubbish. I am working on some new music, and there’s one my (ahem) interviews in the pipeline, but nothing as yet.

So I thought it’s probably about time for one of these…

Lucky Seven 6

It’s a funny old selection this time, in fact as I look at it, there’s music from all over the world in a manner of speaking – Argentina, brazil, Texas, Albania and (of course) Jamaica. You’ll have to take my word for it that I haven’t done this in a self-consciously clever way; it’s just the stuff I’ve been listening to this month or so.

Pogonishë – Hala Strana
Warrior (extended mix) – Johnny Clark
Slowly – Amon Tobin
Apologies to Insect Life – British Sea Power
El Capitalismo Foraneo – Gotan Project
King of Nothing – Old Time Relijun
Ten O’Clock – ? and the Mysterians

Lucky Seven 6

I think it’s a pretty good listen, particularly the Question Mark track which was a new one on me. I found out that apparently Question Mark suffered a devastating house fire at the beginning of the year, in which he lost a number of pets and amongst other things a considerable amount of memorabilia, including, tragically, the actual Vox organ that that famous riff was originally played on.

[Never mind the quality, feel the width…]

Split Second Tricks of the Launch Ramp

So, anyway, I was trawling through the Emperor Jones site for the Double U tracks that I wrote about last week, when I got diverted to the site of another label who also release material by the Double U, Geoff Soule’s Supermegacorporation.

Geoff Soule

Geoff Soule is the drummer for the Double U, but seems to have a horse’s tail of other strings to his bow. He runs Supermegacorporation, and uses it to put it out music by a number of bands, most of whom he actually seems to play with. I’ve made that sound like he uses the label as some sort of vanity project, but really it’s more a statement of the bewildering amount of project and side-projects he seems to be involved with.

“Geoff Soule is the Chief Executive Officer of Supermegacorporation and noisemaker in recording and or live scenarios with Fuck, STAFF, Tara Jane Oneil, The Double U, The Naysayer, Elizabeth Venable, Sad Horse, Freedom Eagle and probably some other stuff that he can’t think of right now..” (Indeed, I got an email from Alex of the Double U who said that he was currently in Japan at the moment and then off on tour. A busy man obviously.)

He’s also got a number of releases under his own name, including one album that got a 7.9 from Pitchfork and a book of haiku, “one for each of the first ten perilous levels of the 1982 video arcade game Mr. Do!” OK…

Anyway, the Supermegacorporation site has a number of good tracks to listen to including some more by the Double U, so I thought I’d post a few of them here, and then direct you to the site itself where there are a whole load of other tracks in their archives which are worth investigating.

The first track is from Soule’s first band, the expressively named Fuck, which is by now a good ten years old, but still pretty interesting:

Wrongly Wrong – Fuck

The next track is from a former member of Fuck, Pablo Wong, and appears to have been made completely using Garageband on the Mac – but don’t let that put you off, it’s delightfully goofy stuff!

Oompah Beatpah – Yo Herve

And the third track is from Soule’s own 2007 album, which available is here and is also rather charming. (There are other Geoff Soule downloads available on the same page…)

San Diego Winter – Geoff Soule

If you’re a regular reader of this Blog (…you can insert your own joke at this point…), you may remember that about a year ago the Buzzcocks came to Gloucester, and I rather lamely suffered a perforated eardrum due to Steve Diggle’s obsession with getting the sound up to eleven.

Anyway, the best part of the evening was the support band for the evening Evesham’s Hoden Lane. I wrote about it here and they were good enough to answer a few questions for us, here. Well, a couple of weeks ago I received a CD from the same guys called The Mustard Tapes. I’ve only just got round to listening it, I’m afraid, but it’s pretty good, with the same mixture of bouncy guitar-driven Britpop that I enjoyed at the Guildhall last year.

Not sure what the band have been doing this year, although they seem to gig pretty heavily still, and regularly update their Myspace page with new songs, some of them very good. I said I’d post a couple of tracks, so here are my two favourites, a couple of belters that I’ll be humming for a good couple of days…

Mr Mustard

Love is a Riot

And a quick glance at YouTube brings up this…