Going through the attic…

I’m trying to tidy this old place up a little, and one of the things that’s needed doing for a fair while is to update all my recordings, a lot of which have lost their links.

So I’ve been going through some of the gigs I’ve been to in the last few years and renewed the links. In some cases, I’ve put up the whole set, where as before I’d only posted a few tracks (I have no idea why I didn’t do this at the time. I suspect idleness).

 

So here we go (some of this stuff is new):

David Byrne at Colston Hall, March ‘09

Art Brut at the Guildhall, Feb ‘08

Field Music at the Guildhall, June ‘10

Bon Iver at Green Man, August ’09 and

Phosphorescent at Thekla, May ‘11

More to follow…

All this talk of death has really brightened up the week

One of my periodic resolutions of how I’m going to improve this site, is to try to keep in touch with some of the bands I’ve gone on about at different times. There are a number of bands I’ve waxed lyrical about on these pages and then barely given a second thought to afterwards. Seems a shame. I’m afraid this is a bit of a feature of my record buying in general – I get one record but often go no further – hardly a completist…

So, anyway.

We Were Promised Jetpacks

Saw this lot in Cheltenham in November ’09, and really enjoyed a very powerful and intense performance, particularly by wild-eyed, “you looking at ma girlfriend?” vocalist, Adam Thompson. Wrote about it here.

Well, the Jetpacks have a new record coming out in October, an album called “In the Pit of the Stomach” on Fat Cat records, and in exchange for your email address, you can get yourself one of the tracks from it. The track is called Act on Impulse and dwells on familiar Jetpack territory of claustrophobia and disappointment, with a full compliment of Wild Beast-ish guitar and powerful rhythms.

You can pick it up here. Looking forward to the album…

Demented forces push me madly round a treadmill

Currently doing it for me…

 

Whirring little spinners that tickled the rough of my hands…

Well, it’s been an interesting week, involving quite a lot of work, a broken elbow and a trip to Thekla.

Which would you like to hear about? I thought so…

Avi Buffalo @ Thekla

The aforementioned elbow, with arm in sling, meant I was feeling a bit ginger as Martin and I made our way below deck and bought drinks. We were met with the sight of Master Buffalo himself manning his own merch stall, which is kinda stirring when it’s the likes of David Gedge or Laura Cantrell, but even more charming here, when it became clear that, although I see Avi Buffalo as a bit of a star, he clearly doesn’t.

We chatted and when Martin mentioned that we’d seen him play at Green Man and that I’d recorded it, he seemed keen to hear it and gave me his email address. Altogether charming and one of a long line of Polite Americans, we seem to meet.

Support acts were …OK-ish, though I’ll not be rushing to see Admiral Fallow at Green Man this summer, all a bit folk-by-numbers, nothing particularly interesting or different there. (Plus, they took an age to set up. Unforgiveable). The first band, Tripwires fromReading, were certainly derivative (UK shoegaze etc) but far more engaging and seemed to have a song or two up their sleeves. I quite enjoyed their set.

Avi Buffalo shambled on at about 9:45, looking laid back and casual, and I believe sporting something of a new line up sinceGreenMan.He had mentioned a new guitarist, George and a bassist, Barbara who I have to say was excellent. Starting the evening with the new single, How Come? and moving through a mixture of old and new material , he went on to play a pretty unpredictable set, some of it brilliant and some of it, well,  less so.

He didn’t appear to have a setlist, making decisions on the spur of the moment. He introduced one song with a less than promising “So, I’ve been doing a lot of coke lately.” and hurtled off on another tangent, dragging his poor band off with him. They looked to be struggling at times…

I thought the best performances were some of the (really strong) songs from his old record, although he did seem to be tiring of some of them and was looking for ways to freshen them up (not always successfully).

At the time, I wasn’t impressed with the new material, but on further listens, it’s actually growing on me pretty strongly. I reckon he’s been listening to a fair amount of Arthur Lee, and probably some Zappa or Beefheart too. I do reckon it needs a bit of tightening up, though but that’s OK, I don’t think the new record’s due until Autumn.

Having said all this, the hits outnumbered the misses – the man is obviously dripping with ideas, and the talent to match them. His song writing is interesting, his guitar technique by turns delicate and ungainly and his reedy vocals still spellbinding. I still love him, and I’m hopeful that his second album will be a worthy cohort to the best record of last year.

I made some recordings which have largely come out OK, and I’m posting some of my favourite tracks. There’s more if anyone’s interested.

Five Little Sluts

Weatherman Says

Won’t be around no more

How Come?

Hello, I’m Sweeny (“Hello, Sweeny!”), and I’m an addict…

At the risk of alienating a hard fought for audience (insert your own joke, as appropriate) I’m going to have to do some talking about the serious subject of jazz today. I generally try to steer clear of the j-word for obvious reasons, but I guess there comes a time when we all have to address our demons.

I have no Yes or Genesis skeletons in my closet and you’re welcome to rifle through my old record collection for Grease or Duran Duran records – you won’t find ‘em. But we’ve known each for a while now and I’ve begun to see you as something of an old friend. I feel I can tell you anything.

So now’s the time to come clean – I did quite a bit of jazz in my teens and early twenties. I know, not jazz-funk, or nu-jazz or anything like that. Jazz.

I’ll understand if you don’t want to read on. But yes it started with Bird and Dizzy, and before I knew it I was buying Coltrane, Miles and Monk, wearing turtle neck jumpers and going to Loose Tubes concerts. I even went to Ronnie Scott’s once to see Buddy Rich in one of his last appearances in theUK. I’m not proud of it, but there you have it…

Obviously this is a while ago (myLondonyears, I like to think) and I’d straightened myself out by the time I was back inGloucester. It all seems like some awful dream now…

It’s important you know this about me, though, because I recently encountered a record that landed me face to face with my old love for the first time in many years.

Polar Bear

A hip bunch of gents called Polar Bear will be playing at Green Man this year, and they are slightly unusual act to be appearing at GM, having no connection to folk, dance or indie that I can see. No guitars, no banjos, no dulcimers. As far as I can see, there’s almost nothing to pluck, strum, bow or finger in any way – it’s all just brass; brass and drums … the one stringed instrument being a stand up bass.

This is hard for me as you can hopefully appreciate, but I purport to be a grown man these days, so I should be able to treat this with a measure of detachment, judge it on its own merits, and all that. And this is what I’ve tried to do – this is why I’ve bought the Polar Bear record, Peepers, and even played it in the car all week. And erm, it’s not bad, in fact.

Actually, I’m being a bit coy there. It’s a terrifically  jaunty, lumbering record. It’s jazz-y certainly – there’s a liberal amount of honking and wailing going on, some eyes-closed soloing, a fair bit of modern dissonance, and the obligatory passing the baton around. But mixed in with all this …. jazz, there are some classic r’n’b style ingredients to the mix up. I particularly like the contribution of the drummer who sounds like a rock thumper rather than a jazz stylist (I do like jazz drummers – just not in jazz bands…)

There’s a really sweet video shot by the Guardian which captures something of the quirky, cheerful tone of Polar Bear. Kinda hard not to like it…

This is the title track of the record, and you can get it free for download (plus a few others) from Polar Bear’s website.

They say, of course that you never beat addiction; you have to take each day as it comes, and this is what I’ll be doing. But that’s not to say I won’t be paying a clandestine visit to the Polar bear set at Green Man this year. I’ll not be hard to spot, I shouldn’t wonder; I’ll be the old feller at the front, duffle-coated, muddied and shame-faced, indulging myself, privately, once more for old time’s sake…

But god damn it, Amanda… oh god damn it all.

Currently doing it for me..

I know all about your new man, your new, older, old man

And I heard that he’s married, ah, you be careful, Amanda

Yeah I found a new friend too, and yeah, she’s pretty and she’s small

But god damn it, Amanda… oh god damn it all.

From the ground there echoed an ancient sound so rich that the surrounding people gathered


My Green Man revision meanders on in a characteristically undisciplined fashion. I’m up to Bleeding Heart Narrative…

Bleeding Heart Narrative

Bleeding Heart Narrative are a seven piece from London, it says in the “about” section of their rather charming website. And that’s about it, really…. Fortunately the Green Man biography is a little more forthcoming, which tells us amongst other things that BHN were originally the bedroom project of Oliver Barrett, until he beefed it up with a number of other musicians and friends. That he chose to do so with a largely acoustic and chiefly string based line-up, is what makes the band’s signature sound as alluring as it is.

I’ve bought their new record from emusic, Tongue Tangled Hair, and it’s a slow-to-unfurl but dazzling piece of atmospherics, each track taking its own time to come out, amongst an enveloping fuzz of violins, cellos and harmoniums, with an occasional dash of old-school Joe Meek-style electronics.

I’ve read a few pieces on their various releases, and the favoured adjective amongst reviewers seems to be “layered” or “multi-layered”, and so I’ve tried to avoid using it (apart from then, obviously) but you can’t blame folk really. These are carefully constructed, textured (uh-oh, there’s another one) pieces that eddy around seductively. It’s heady, beguiling stuff.

Enough of me blithering…

The amazingly generous Distance Records have an earlier release by Barrett under the name of Bleeding Heart Narrative available for free, which I’m downloading as I write, so cannot say much about. It’s available here.

My faith in Green Man is gathering apace…