Hey ho I am here, am I not young and fair?

Gulp11Every year I sit back and think about which artist I’ve seen most often over the last 12 months and in how many different guises. The winner is usually (pretty much always) Ubiquity’s Cate le Bon, with honourable mentions to her croneys Sweet Baboo or H Hawkline, pretty sure, I saw her on 5 different stages one year…

I have seen her twice this year but the award for (the clunkily titled) West-Countriest man of the year would be the unlikely Guto Pryce of Super Furry Animals, whom I’ve seen twice playing with the reformed SFA and once with his lovely side-project Gulp at Green Man.


I wrote about Gulp almost exactly 3 years ago, here, and I’ll confess to having almost completely forgotten about them in the meantime. There was a mention of them in the bar at Green Man and it all came meandering back.

The whole Gulp thing seems to have grown quite gradually over the three or four years (I certainly wasn’t on the ground floor with this…) up to the release of last year’s Seasoned Sun long player. It’s certainly a lovely sound that Guto and singer Lindsey Leven have developed in that time though, all lolloping basslines, impish synths and general psychedelic wooziness. The Guardian have christened their sound as being “the Wicker Man getting fresh with Nancy Sinatra”, a soundbite which the Quietus rather snootily dismissed but which I secretly wish I’d thought of. Leven’s vocals and phrasing do have something of the breathy, innocent eroticism of Annie Ross’ Willow’s Song.

Gulp have actually played a few Green Mans over the years before I managed to catch them in this year’s exclusive little cinema gathering Saturday teatime (just a few hours before SFA were due on the main stage). But here’s a clip of them playing “Vast Space” at 2013’s gathering:


I recorded the session (of course) and there’s a version of “Vast Space” that I’ll share, plus a couple of others, including a wonderfully trippy “Diamonds in the Sky” that you need to hear, I think…

Vast Space

Game Love

Diamonds in the Sky

Ritmos Kraut!

r0MgvkgwIwNnIXGCA_UilZuJc-QE4yjPOin0YSz-BskGoing off all Hispanic again…


If Vainica Doble could be filed under “Spanish but Good”, Siesta! would go under “Good but Spanish” (entirely different), and are actually a new band, doing it now…

I’ve written about Siesta! before, here in fact, just before one of our Spanish jaunts, and I think I put them on my Secret Santa CD last year. They’re a Valenciano band with strong motoric tendencies, and have just released their second record, Fuerza de Gravidad Absoluta, on the ever-wonderful Sonido Muchacho label.

Their first record, Terroruterino, I liked a lot, but this one is even better. At just six tracks it might look a little thin, but with the first two of them over the 8-minute mark, and three of the other four being near five minutes, you certainly do get your money’s worth. Spanish press are describing the sound as being full of “ritmos kraut y pro-industriales” or (even better) “punk troglotrónico” which pretty much tells you what you need to know.

My favourite track, “Montador de Bicicletas” wanders back and forth for over ten minutes of electronic psych, as do other tracks on the record, taking in all sorts of spacy beats, synth jiggery-pokery and relentless German-infused hammering. If you’ve enjoyed any of the Mugstar releases of recent, or have the odd Hawkwind album buried on your hard-drive, you might just like this…

Yo soy robot – zum-catacroc-cric-crac!

If you’ve been patiently going along with the rambling, oft-changing direction of this Blog, you might have noticed that increasingly often, I meander off into Latin zones: some chicha here, a bit of Cumbia there; and occasionally the odd strange trip into questionable, sixties ye-ye. Well, cue the dry ice and special FX, I can feel another one coming on…

Vainica Doble

Sad to hear that a couple of days ago, Gloria van Aerssen, the one surviving half of barmy Spanish seventies duo Vainica Doble, has died this week.

I’m not going to claim I know a whole lot about them, or that I’d been a devoted fan for very long, but a while back I got hold of a copy of their 1972 record Heliotropo which is just great.R-2118729-1322125874.jpeg

To be honest, the pair don’t sound a whole lot different from your standard seventies balladeers, except they’re singing in Spanish (fairly unusual for the time). That and the fact that someone, somewhere in the set up chose to dress up their early records with all sorts of self-consciously groovy and frankly batty electronic effects which make their early records a whole lot of moog-infused fun to listen to.

Actually, just to show how different they must have been at the time, watch a bit of this nonsense by daft, sixties-cash-in band, Los Hippy Loyas (sixty seconds ought to do it…)

and then give this a go: “La Máquina Infernal” from Heliotropo:

Hardly Throbbing Gristle, I know, but an intriguing, charming listen, no? A clumsy stumble through the lyrics takes you further into the sugary strange world of Heliotropo, revealing a nightmarish automaton with eight glass eyes, iron hands, and a metal heart, who roams the countryside, devouring people’s money (and who knows what else) to the grisly refrain:  triqui-tri-trac and zum-catacroc-cric-crac.

And if that’s not weird…

I’d imagine there’s some sort of of-the-time social metaphor going on here, but I fear it may be lost for all time, now. Ah well… (And in any case, sometimes the literal is way more interesting.)

I think they became really, really famous in Seventies and Eighties Spain but predictably their records became less and less fun as they got more and more successful, and probably their first two records are the only ones we’re interested in. Here’s an actual video of Las Vainica in all their bonkers post-psicodélico glory: “Caramelo de Limón” (No, not a clue what’s going on here…)


I got a bleedin’ strop on, I’ll tell you mate.

1438759864_11393773_857748454300049_587296402972426246_oWell and truly missed the boat on this, a gig from more than a fortnight ago, now. Another truly cracking evening, though, and it deserves its moment…

Sleaford Mods, Bristol Bierkeller

… Although to be fair, I’m not really sure what else you can say about your second Sleaford Mods gig. I pretty much said what needed to be said the first time, really… and this wasn’t a whole lot different. Andrew Fearn stood around with a beer, Jason Williamson jogged about, cussed, belched and shouted a lot, people joined in noisily. Just the ticket.

But having said that, it was another really, really exciting evening and it was hard not to be energised and enervated by the sweary, sweaty parcel of energy and nerves before you. Even though I saw them not six months ago, the set was very different, about half the songs being new (I say “new”, largely from the Key Markets record which I’ve not bought yet, so not really new – but I have seen bands play the same set two years apart…). Williamson’s words are still stream-of-consciousness – jolts of anger and wit, ideas and words linking improbably, nonsensically with an indistinct clarity. It’s fair to say he still has something of a strop on…

If anything, the sticky-floored Bierkeller was even more worked up and disorderly than the Exchange had been in May, punters careening about and oi-oi-ing their way through choruses of spittle-flecked anger and good-natured argy-bargy. All pretty damn stirring…

The recordings are extremely noisy, but what are you going to do?

Jolly Fucker

No One’s Bothered


One of the things that was different this time round, was that a more than decent support slot had been arranged, in
the shape of Steve Ignorant’s Slice of Life. The average keen-eyed reader of this Blog will of course recall that Ignorant was the co-founder of dyed-in-the-wool seventies anarchists Crass (I needed reminding…), whom I remember being more than a little nervous about, back in the day.

Things come round again though, don’t they? And it was something of a buzz to see an older, wiser but still very, very angry Steve Ignorant on stage before me. He’s obviously toned his act down a little, backedKWVNQY4H as he was by a modest, almost soulful band with actual tunes – not an electric guitar in sight. (Although, recent YouTubes suggest he’s still true to his noisy roots, most of the time.)

Softer the sound may have been, but there’s no question that Steve Ignorant also (still) has a bit of a strop on too; and another man who uses an impressive range of expletives – Williamson was no doubt backstage taking notes furiously. It was thrilling, challenging, even moving to see a 57-year-old man, still unhappy with the state of the world, still determined to speak out and still full of seething, bubbling ire.

I enjoyed his set immensely. Good man.

Love and a Lamp Post

Ain’t just another sound that you hear at night…

IMG_1590I’ve got something else I should be doing (and I have something about the ever-exciting Sleaford Mods to put together still), but I’m just going to sneak this in…

Went to see a rejuvenated Graham Parker and the Rumour at the Academy, Sunday night, a gig that’s been pinned to my board for ages now but I’d kind of forgotten about.

Strange thing is that none of my hipster buddies seem to know or care much about Graham Parker (this rings a bell… unsure whether I’m very, very cool or whether I’ve finally been rumbled…). A great, great night, though…

Graham Parker and the Rumour

I’m old enough to remember some of the GP albums as they came out, not as part of the pub rock boom, I should say, more the period when he slightly readjusted himself, became a little bit more “New Wave” after signing to Stiff. Actually, I’ve made that sound like he was more mercenary than I think he really was – in truth he always had a more edgy, sinewy sound than his contemporaries; I don’t think the advent of Punk left him as creatively discomfited as many at the time.

In the event, I was (not for the first time) a little worried about what the turnout would be like but (not for the first time) needn’t have worried. A robust group of more than a hundred grizzled old gentlemen made the trip and a rare old time was had by all.

What I hadn’t factored into the evening was that the Rumour were no mean bunch of performers themselves, and are still pretty much as they were. The lead guitarist was still Brinsley Schwarz, original member of the Rumour and also founder of legendary country rockers er.. Brinsley Schwarz; the familiar swirling keyboard sounds were provided by another founding member of BS, Bob Andrews; drums were by Steve Goulding, another original Rumour member. And the other guitarist, nominally on rhythm, was the mountainous Martin Belmont, formerly of Ducks Deluxe, a member of the Attractions at various stages and (I’ve just found out) a former BS roadie.

We were really taken by Belmont, in truth. Tall (ridiculously so), bedecked in black shirt and white tie, he looked like a gawky physics teacher, strapping on his guitar after many years (and having a ball). He gurned, grimaced and generally larked about, contributing some cracking, twangy guitar breaks throughout. You kind of wished he was your Dad…

Parker’s voice was outstanding, as strident and tough as ever, and he pretty much ripped through an hour and a half set with some gusto, clearly enjoying himself and making for an engaging host as he wandered through a remarkable back catalogue, sprinkled with a good few newer ones.

The recordings are OK, but slightly spoiled by a feller near me, singing along throughout. Annoying for a while, but then I realised he knew all the words to all the songs, and was clearly well away – you carry on, mate.

That sort of evening…


Fool’s Gold

Passion Is No Ordinary Word

Half past the day, making hay

0500b619I despair, honestly. How did I miss this?

Cate le Bon and Tim Presley have a joint project out, Drinks. I saw them at Green Man this year (and to be honest they weren’t all that…) but I think it was strictly a White Fence affair (I’ll have to check the recording). Apparently, they were Drinks at End of the Road, though. Here’s their first single (the title single) from the Hermits on Holiday album (the video apparently features Presley’s parents):


There’s even a second release, “Laying Down Rock”, although it doesn’t seem to have much of a video…

Here they are, though, performing it (and a few other things), in Paris:


* drums fingers impatiently, waiting for downloads to refresh…

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