The Italians certainly like their Sundays

Mark-E-Smith-lead-singer--001So… the Fall… um… what the fuck?

The Fall, Bristol

I’m still pretty much a beginner when it comes to Fall gigs – the old lags with me had racked up close to fifty caps between them – but there are certain things I’ve gathered you should expect:

  • He’ll be drunk – he certainly was that, stumbling around (and occasionally off-) stage like, well, Mark E Smith;
  • He’ll be incoherent – no question about that, I don’t think I caught anything he said all evening;
  • He’ll fiddle with the amps and other equipment – check. At one point, during Sir William Wray, Pete Greenway was unplugged completely for the whole song;
  • These days, his band will be tight – well, they certainly were top notch, and a good job too. By the end of the evening, with the Man increasingly absent from songs and performing his encore from the dressing room, they were pretty much the only thing left standing.

And yet, bizarrely, I did enjoy the set (pitifully short as it was) I really did.

And so, by the sounds of things did many other people. For most of the set, careening figures could be seen in front of the stage, taking the mike when offered and a few brave souls getting on stage and dancing self-consciously through the encore. Indeed, if the house lights hadn’t been switched on promptly at eleven, there’d certainly have been calls for more. Talking to another couple of newbies at the end, we raved about the set and chuckled indulgently over Smith’s antics.

It was only in the car home, with older heads talking about Smith’s offhand carelessness with his material (not to mention his audience) and muttering darkly about not bothering to come out again, that I started to view the evening in a more sober light.

Still, I was surprised, though, when I listened back to the recording to hear just how poor a set it was. Smith’s voice seems alarmingly fragile, a few helium tones higher at times, sounding almost as if he’s been speeded up on some songs. And yes, his heedless drawl has been turned up to eleven, to the extent that he was barely even forming the words of the song he was singing. It was a bit embarrassing.

He spent a lot of the evening sat behind the guitarist’s amp, leaving the band to get on with the job, and barely joined in with my favourite new song, Hittite Man, leaving Elena Poulou to fill in for most of it. The sparkling new record was largely unused – no Loadstones, no Kinder of Spine, Hittite Man and Sir William Wray both spoilt – instead he relied on his go-to live material.

In the cold light of day, it was all rather disappointing, but looking at the Fall forum, we may just have been unlucky – the gigs before and after seem to have been better affairs.

As a matter of interest, I went back and listened to the recording I took the previous time I saw the Fall, in 2009, and also at another recording I have of their set at End of the Road in 2011.

Well, let’s just say the comparison is not particularly favourable…

Here are a couple of slightly grimy recordings – I’m not keen on the sound at the Trinity:

Reformation

Jet Plane

Chino

Plus, here’s a version of Chino from the Metropolis, November 2009.

Certainly is a fine line between ragged-arse genius and just being ragged-arse…

Let me go… save my soul…

Triptides+20_24Was just using up some downloads on Emusic the other day and I came across this lot…

Triptides

Triptides are three guys from Bloomington, Indiana who apparently began life as the bedroom project of guitarist Glen Brigman. They have a laudable obsession with trebly surf and syrupy psychedelia which could almost make them bespoke PP fodder. I love them already…

What I find particularly charming about this is that I think Indiana is a landlocked state, only having access to freshwater lakes and rivers. Call me a purist, but I don’t think the surfing can be all that good then, no beaches, no riptides, no goofy foot – it’s a … a surfing state of mind

Triptides brought out Sun Pavilion last year, which is the record I found on Emusic, and is bumper full of jangly rhythms, shrill harmonies and loads of reverb. It’s a beguiling listen for sure, with Summer Festival written all over it. There’s even a liberal and unashamed use of backwards-guitar loops on this track, here. Great stuff!

 

As well as their official debut, Sun Pavilion, there are also three or four other home-produced albums and EPs which are available from their Bandcamp page, as well as a few freebies on Soundcloud.

You can stream the whole record actually, and I heartily recommend at least giving track 6, Overboard, a spin…

Once when we were dreaming, I learnt to spell your name in the stones…

766f81b0ac9739cd7f2839b7bd4a6202Stunning night at the Exchange in Bristol yesterday…

Suuns

I’ve been looking forward to this gig for a while now. And, I’m thankful to say, there was no disappointment at all. I’ve got very high hopes for these boys…

First saw Suuns at Green Man a couple of summers ago and was, very, very impressed by them. I loved the way they spent most of the set shrouded in dry ice and veiled in distorted feedback. I was (am, still) a chump for the way you couldn’t hear any of the lyrics and the fact that parts you could make out were pretty inarticulate still… It’s kinda what young bands should sound like, I reckon.

Zeroes QC is a brilliant record, my favourite of that year, and the new one, I’m glad to say, has done nothing to smooth out the creases or make things any easier for the listener. (I still can’t make out a word of it…)

Taking the tiny stage (The Exchange is a really small venue) after an earnest but average performance by fellow Canadians, Valleys, Suuns continue to be thrilling, awkward, loud and menacing. A bare minimum of stage “banter” (I approve), lots of experimental noise, some genuinely sinister, rasping (and of course unintelligible) vocals, and all of it underpinned by those bassy, unrelenting rhythms. It’s an ideal cocktail, as far as I’m concerned, and I know people mention Clinic a lot, but I really can’t hear anyone else is doing anything similar. They pounded through a good selection of tracks from Images du Futur, and fitted in muscular versions of Arena and Pie IX from the first record, all of which made a small, sweaty venue seem smaller and, well, sweatier…

Don’t you just love modern music? If I were a younger man I think I could go seriously overboard on this lot – follow them around the country, offer to hold their towels and tune their guitars, and generally lose all sense of proportion and dignity in the name of the band. As it is, I’ll have to settle for drooling from my keyboard and acting like a swivel-eyed loon from the floors of tiny West Country clubs…

A great, great set, and some pretty fair recordings, including the third version of Arena to grace these pages… Wah!!!!

Bambi

Arena

Sunspot

Oh, and I met Big Jef…!

I’ve got some things to do, some proper things to do…

Hebronix-UnrealWent to see Low in Bristol, a couple of weeks ago now.

I’ve not written anything about the evening because I can’t say I really enjoyed it to be honest.  I thought they were a bit one-paced and I knew fairly quickly I was going to get bored… I was definitely in a minority, mind, they went down very well with everyone else, and were generally given a massive response from the Trinity punters.

I do have some recordings, though, which I’ll maybe put up some time if people are interested. When I was looking through them, however, I found these from the support…

Hebronix

Hebronix are actually one bloke, it turns out, a feller called Daniel Blumberg, who until fairly recently was in Yuck. I’m afraid Yuck are just another band I missed, really, though there’s no value judgement attached to that. I’m prepared to believe they were/are (I really should find out…) a fine band and certainly some nice stuff has been written about them.

One man and his guitar always sets the alarm bells ringing in this vinegary old mind of mine, but straight away it became obvious that the man also has a loop pedal and is not averse to the odd fiddle with it.

Now, even  the most inattentive, casual reader of this Blog will have hopefully picked up that I am a bit of a sap for funny effects and novelty sounds in a song, and there was more than enough of both, lavishly plastered all over Blumberg’s handful of songs during his half hour set, to keep this sweet-toothed fool happy. Actually that’s a bit misleading – there were real songs in there too, and at times even I began to feel that maybe a little less noodling might’ve been a good thing.

No matter, it was a good set, but why take my word for it? (Credit, Max Eboy)

Mindful of failing batteries, and unaware of how uninspiring Low were going to be, I only recorded a couple of songs, which is a shame, although both were 10-minute meanders. The first recording is the Hebronix single – Unreal – but the second track I got is a real doo-zie , even better than the first. Unfortunately (and this bugs me beyond all reason, believe me) I just cannot find out the name of the track. Maybe some one will drop me a line…

Unreal

Unknown Track

Seville

Just finished my last drop of the bottle of La Ina that I bought in Seville, and I’m reminded of what an excellent time we had there…

 

 

Was that really a month ago?