JIZZY PEARL / LOVE/HATE: LIVE

JIZZY PEARL / LOVE/HATE @THE BULLINGDON, OXFORD, 01/04/2017

“It’s the last night of the tour, we’re celebrating 25 years of Wasted in America and yes, I have just stepped out of a fucking time machine…

Jizzy Pearl, a trim and very-much-alive star from LA’s post-glam pre-grunge early 90s, owns a voice that, along with bassist Skid’s artwork and drugs-booze-blackout lyrics, marked Love/Hate out as one of the bands of the time, and those first two albums are scuffed gems to this day. Much like our very own Wildhearts, Love/Hate were too colourful, shambolic and decadent to compete with the rising Seattle star, and that meant they were doomed to be botched by bad timing (and in-band fuck ups, of course). 1992 was Nevermindasupernova. Love/Hate looked like they were having fun. And they were from LA. It could never really last, and it didn’t, but the records really do.

Love/Hate sleeve

LA ’92: Wasted

 

Now it’s April Fools’ Day 2017, the Budweiser cross of cans has graced the stage and we’re straight in to Wasted in America (the album) with Wasted in America (the track). Spit and Miss America follow, and it’s shaping up to be a straight runthrough of the record – ’tis an anniversary after all. Cream to Yucca Man to Happy Hour next?

Not quite. Somewhere during side 1, we get spun off the wasted trail with a couple of blackouts – Tumbleweed and Fuel to Run – before skidding back to the main deal for Cream and Yucca Man. Good move, mixing it like that. Makes the in-its-entirety album thing feel more alive, gig-like and less predictable, and it means that we get aces like Mary Jane, Why Do You Think They Call It Dope? and Let’s Rumble’s sleaze-o Spinning Wheel cut in to the Wasted plot. Serve up a little Blackout in the Red Room after WiA’s closing Evil Twin and we’ve been privy to the full album topped up by Love/Hate’s best others. Jizzy’s voice is, somehow, still a forceful top-ender at 59 years (59!!!) and he seems genuinely moved by tonight’s word-perfect crowd. Well, we love the record, simple as that.

For the encore, JP gives us a choice: either the first side of Rush’s 2112 OR Straightjacket…

(clue: Canada lose)

You never really know with these anniversary/whole album gigs whether they’re gonna work or not, but this one came from the right place a real feelgood celebration of a rekkid of youth, the stuff that’s burned waaaaay down inside…you can’t undo that. It’s in there for life. And when a band decides to uncork that genie, they gotta do it with a record that’s got the tunes, and Wasted in America has no wobbles in that department. If the title track is all you can salvage from a hazy quarter-century recall, dig out the deeper cuts and you’ll see that the album rocks harder than its lead track. Need pointers? Yucca Man, the disorienting Happy Hour and Jizzy-showcase Tranquilizer are a three-way sure shot.

Blackout, Wasted and Rumble albums on replay since the gig. Love/Hate earworms non-stop buzzing

buzzin’ like a bumble bee, TRANQUI-LI-ZER

DRUDE FONK AND DC TRIBUTES

MARCH REWIND: NEW COPE, NEW CRYSTAL

A couple of new releases from the past month or so to get us going in this March Rewind.

Julian Cope: Rite At Ya

Julian Cope: Rite At Ya

Cope: Rite on

Coming off the back of Drunken Songs, the Archdrude and his heritage Heads slipped another mind-number of a Rite-off our way this month… Rite At Ya. The last one, in 2006, was Rite Bastard. If you don’t know the Rite score, it’s an ongoing series of semi-fonk longflows in a metronomic, ultra pared vein where Not Much Happens except groove – minimal – and time – maximal. These self-styled meditational headspaces have no peaks, dips, breakdowns or pick-ups, just endless miles of sly stone-wheel trundle and tangerine dreams. Rite at Ya’s title track will nibble 20 minutes of your life without you even noticing, while the closing Ringed Hills of Ver tells you what Underworld might sound like if they got stuck on a one-note drone and added nothing. Rite on the level, the clue’s in the subtitle: Monotonous Meditations from the Back of Beyond (1993–2016). Check it here if you so fancy the most calming of trips.

Crystal Fairy: Crystal Fairy

Crystal Fairy

Pure cut

Does this band pack some crackle or what? With Teri Gender Bender on voice – shades of Karen O – atop King Buzzo’s heavy weaponry and, of course, the Dale Melvin Omar Volta Rhythm Section, Crystal Fairy are surely as pure a super-quart as we’re gonna get all year. Undeniably Melvins in its riffsome tonnage, as Drugs on the Bus and Secret Agent Rat amply show, yet concise and sharp and free of obtuse indulgence, Crystal Fairy flies with a punkish energy that wastes absolutely none of its 40 minutes 19 seconds. Another great Melvins rebirth… one for senile animal lovers.

RSD10

It’s the 10th anniversary of Record Store Day this month. Here’s the list. Nothing. Crucial. Except Dope, maybe. Think I’ll give up on hoping for something to come out of these lists every year, coz every year it feels like a list of specials that are special because they were made special for an event that was labelled special. How circular. Let’s just get down to the record shop, that beacon of noise and beauty and community, and CELEBRATE IT the shop both with and without RSD vy-nil. 

DC tribute

Which musical DC are we paying tribute to, Washington? Nah. Other end of the alphabet. Last week’s gig was an AC/DC tribute – the AC/DC Experience at the Oxford O2.

‘tribute band’. Right…

The tribute circuit always seemed to me to be a credibility-sapping Other World that ran parallel to the real one, but that thought was banished and swapped for a full-blown leap (to be explained) through a lightning-bolt portal to an AC/DC experience, tribute style. And you know what? These guys are a blast. The Scott-Johnson frontman hits the highs with ease while an Angus Young takes himself off the stage at every chance – in the crowd, up on the side tables, up on the bar, cap and blazer thrown off, the whole lot. Never stops moving, never stops playing either.

With the exception of Thunderstruck (which is awesome, natch), none of the set is more recent than Back in Black so it’s wall-to-stage-to-bar-to-wall classic-era anthems: Sin City, Whole Lotta Rosie, Highway to Hell, Back in Black, Hell’s Bells, Dirty Deeds, Touch Too Much, High Voltage…. the stuff that puts smiles on everyone’s faces, and I mean everyone – including my stepson Jan (age 12), who is the reason we are here in the first place. His First Rock Gig, first proper bit of live rock action. Seemed to me to be the right place to start the apprenticeship and he loved every minute. Even got devil horns in his face from the Angus – and threw them right back. Not gonna get that at Wembley, are you?

So if you’ve got young sons, daughters, nieces and nephews who wanna rock, or maybe even a bunch of drunk mates who wanna rock, the AC/DC Experience make it happen. THANKS LADS, great night.

’til next time!

 

OHHMS: live

OHHMS / MAMMOTH WEED WIZARD BASTARD / DRORE @ THE CELLAR, OXFORD, 13/02/2017

What a bonus. Turn up at the Cellar for the OHHMS/Mammoth double-header and find that Drore are on the bill as well, making it a triple ugly. NICE. Except that Drore are not nice, not at all. Staggering out from Undersmile’s RIP with scabby song titles like Skinjob and Fukbags, Drore are ruff, scuzzy, sludgy grrrowly FILFF, and unlike Taz and Olly’s so-slo Undersmile, this lot play the mid and fast field with stacks of gear shifts and double-kick beatdowns. Always noisy and never melodic, there’s a thick grunge whiff but not in the Seattle sense … nah, this is grunge the Godflesh way, pissed out of toxic wastepipes and topped off by pained hell-o shriekage from Taz and Crippled Black bassist Tom Greenway. No doubt about it, Drore create a world all their obnoxious own and it’s a proper ugly thrill. No wonder they bagged a few Terrorizer column inches last year.

Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard made it into some end-of-year album lists in 2016 so this gig was always gonna be a chance to catch what they’re all about, but their static doom reps somehow underwhelm a bit tonight, ‘specially after Drore’s violent discharge.

No such underwhelm for Canterbury’s OHHMS though, a band who seem stupendously fully formed given that they’ve only put out two EPs, but if you came here expecting oceanic transcendence a la Bloom (massive) and Cold (even massiver) then you/we are out of luck because that version of OHHMS is not in the building. A mere half hour of stage time means it’s New Stuff Only tonight, and they hit it hard. With tracks like The World upping the pace and packing in some aggressive Pelican-ese riffs, we might have a bolshier, denser OHHMS heading our way … let’s see what The Fool brings in March, eh? The only thing lacking tonight is TIME: not enough. And for a band like OHHMS, that just ain’t right.

*update: just read that one of the gig highlights – drummer Stephen Frame – is Drore no more. Ach! News is over on the Drore bacefook page

 

MINOR VICTORIES: live

OXFORD O2, 13/12/2016

Stuart Braithwaite. STUART BLOODY BRAITHWAITE.

If Mogwai are anywhere near being one of your all-time top bands, you’re not gonna miss a chance to see the owner of THAT guitar sound – one of the biggest and unassumingly most influential in the whole rock landscape – doing his stuff a mere few feet away, are you?

No. And this explains why Minor Victories at Oxford’s O2 – on the small stage upstairs – became a last-minute must-see (thanks Nightshift for the tip) in the last month of the year. With band members from Slowdive, Editors and the Twilight Sad in the band and on stage tonight, there’s plenty of pedigree kicking about.

Expectations? Pop-ish electro-tinged rock – iced cool atmos, verse-chorus Rock Action accessibility, nothing fierce, a background role for the ‘gwai guy … an essence rather than a force. The reality? All of the above but louder and less restrained in all the right places. Give Up the Ghost opens up with arena-baiting stomp and a toughened half riff that gives a teasing glimpse of Braithwaite in action, and what follows is a set of surging, widescreen orchestrations with moto-Stereolab pulsations and the UNKLE Psyence heavyweight drum break (Breaking My Light), all topped by Rachel Goswell’s overfloater vocals. ’tis rich and spacious and fulsome – a proper group effort, definitely not the look of a band who made an album without being in the same room.

And what of the guitarist’s proposed delegation to Background Lurker? Not even close. Sure, this band ain’t Mogwai monolithic but where there’s space, where there’s soar and uplift and tumult, there’s S.B.Uncut, swaying and tussling and just about taming that wild guitar energy EXACTLY as you’d hoped, but didn’t really have the nerve to expect. If Boris (Attention Please version) indulged in a little Sigur Ros or Pumpkins’ Adore, you might get something a bit like Minor Victories live – oversized alt-pop roughed up at the edges by volume – and for anyone with Mogwai love in their bones, this gig makes for a pretty special moment-o.

RYLEY WALKER: live

THE BULLINGDON, OXFORD, 18/2/2016

“You know what’s underrated?” asks a cheery but thinner, more boyish-looking Ryley Walker than the one on the promo flyers.

THURSDAYS.”

Crowd agrees. We are in prodigious company at the Bullingdon on this eve-of-Friday so yeah, Thursday DOES feel a bit spesh.

I could be at home, watching Flog It.”

Enter Quipmaster General, Danny Thompson – THE Danny Thompson, upright of bass, Pentangle of fame, bass player of legend and muso partner to the likes of John Martyn, Nick Drake and Tim Buckley. Thompson’s not just a name but a name who’s played with the names that matter, and that’s probably why it first feels like half the Bully are here just for Mr T, but even if that is true then surely they’ll be won over by the jazz-sharp folk-out of Walker’s last album, Primrose Green. What. A. Record. I mean, the influences are subtle as hammers – see above – and some reviewers (hello Pitchfork) mark down the period-piece devotion of the thing, but I don’t see why … the Chicago-based jazz players that Walker’s got behind him are something else, a firesome bunch who could break (on) through those folkier fetters at a second’s notice and go Full Freak. The fact they don’t, even though they come close, adds a taut energy to a beautiful album.

Then there’s Walker himself, bringing midtwentysomething abandon to his intricate playing – check the sublime near-derailment of Sweet Satisfaction and feel the freedom. Turns out he served time in punk/noise bands (big Zep fan too), so you get the sense that Primrose Green is a place for Walker to be, but not to stay – not long term. Wouldn’t surprise me if he took a hike up Ben Chasny Peak or somesuch and roughed up his rootsy picking with noise, drone n mantra.

Back in the Bullingdon on this underrated Thursday, we have no band, no percussion, no electric guitar – basically, none of the non-Ryley star turns from Primrose Green. We’ve got two people: Walker and Thompson, new blood and seasoned master, from opposite ends of the folkpsyche time spectrum. Together, they turn in a blinder.

Walker is the kind of player who loses himself in his songs. He goes for it, hits it hard, throws in barks and shouts, even a Buckley shriek – no doubt these are the tics that critics question – but, affected or not, it’s impossible not to be drawn in. New tracks are aired: I Will Ask You Twice is one, as is a wind-it-up-faster instrumental where Thompson plays bow and Walker goes east, and a track about “people who put Donald Trump signs in their lawn, bitchin’ about everything.” Primrose Green, Hide in the Roses and a set-closing On the Banks of the Old Kishwaukee – which, lacking the soft-shuffle percussion of the recorded version, is less bucolic than we’re used to – are the picks from the last album.

So no, we don’t get Sweet Satisfaction – but in another way, we do. Top gig, and no doubt the precocious but raggedly unprecious Walker will revel in this tour with a giant of the genre. Stories for life, eh?

KILLING JOKE live

REWIND OCTOBER: Killing Joke@Oxford O2, Oct 30th 2015

A gig-heavy Rewind, this one. Godspeed You! Black Emperor did an artful deconstruction job on everyone at the Warwick Arts Centre the other week, and Liverpool doom trio Coltsblood bulldozed the Wheatsheaf with Undersmile-slow riffs and blastbeat breaks. Godspeed you can read about over here, but Coltsblood? Musically very cool and hefty, but the growlscreamgrowlscream vocal thing … man, it wore me down and brought on a major Doom Burnout. One to come back to another day, methinks.

No such burnout on Friday though when Killing Joke – new album Pylon just one week young – took the O2 stage with an old-new one-two: The Wait and Autonomous Zone, and while it takes a little while for the crowd to warm, mostly coz of the sadistic air-con blasting a cold force-ten in our faces down stage front left, it ain’t long before there’s a ring of slamming jumping bods lapping it up. Killing Joke will always invoke some kind of movement –  there’s just something in that fluid, swirling, awkward rhythm-force that sets their sound far apart from other rock bands and pokes at people’s mania, especially the early stuff. Fall of Because, with its Ferguson-propelled death dance and Coleman’s first cut-loose vocal of the night, STILL feels like madness being conjured.

Highlights? With such vintage on show it’s too subjective a question to answer … depends where and when you entered KJ’s world/they entered yours, but Money Is Not Our God, Eighties, Wardance, Requiem, Asteroooooiiiiid (yesssss), Communion (doubleyesssss) and an encoring Pandemonium are all in there, among others. Other than those, it’s another Pylon newie I am the Virus – future classic, surely – preceded by a pulverising Exorcism that stand out for me, but for anthemic goth pop writ  l a r g e  you cannot top the monster-big Love Like Blood. 

So, plenty of gigs in October (and that’s without getting to see Hawkwind). What else was there?

Well, after last Rewind asked are-Maiden-prog?, who turned up in Prog Rock magazine but Steve Harris, having a big ol’ chat about Genesis, Tull and General Prog love. ‘nuff sed.

David Bowie announced a new single and album. Officially, this is Too Exciting to Write About.

And Audioscope announced their line-up for the all-day bash at the Bully on November 21st. Part Chimp, Guapo, Dave Heumann AND LOADS MORE will stride that small stage, just as we like it.

til next time!

GY!BE live

GODSPEED YOU! BLACK EMPEROR
Warwick Arts Centre, Oct 22nd 2015

Louder, heavier, noisier, DRONIER … if those words go some way to describing how Asunder, Sweet and Other Distress compares to previous GY!BE records then those same words go all the way to describing Asunder live v Asunder studio: on stage, GY!BE 2015 are an electrified maelstrom.

At the start of the set, hope flickers. Literally. It’s the first word of the night but it’s unspoken, projected instead onto the film-shorts backdrop while the band file onstage one-by-one and take to their instruments – a violin two-bass two-drum three-guitar ensemble – to build that b.i.g. drone opener. This all happens without fanfare or salutations, like a choreographed rehearsal between long-term friends… if the crowd were absent, it would not matter.

Post HOPE, where do Godspeed take us? Far away from The Everyday Normal, that’s where. Asunder gets aired – Peasantry or ‘Light! Inside of Light!’ and Piss Crowns Are Trebled are both heavier and hairier than you dare imagine – as does the madfuck spiral that is Mladic. And while there are moments of calm and light, as you’d expect, those moments are Flee Ting and Power Less in the face of the night’s amplifier overload. Strands of Sunn O))), Metal Machine Trio and Earth all push through in the drones and the noise, and though it’s pretty tough going at times, the reward – typified by Piss Crowns’ stupendous fuck-off-and-cry climax – are those surging crescendos and brink-of-collapse payoffs that Godspeed make their own.

So yeah, it’s an experience more than a gig, and if you want fanboy precision about tracks played then this review ain’t the place. All I wanna do, as a Godspeed-live first-timer, is somehow convey the thrill of the show: it IS heavy, it IS noisy, it IS intense, and it IS vast – the orchestral enormity conjured by just eight people defies belief.

When the whole thing ends – band members departing one by one, instruments left and locked in feedback harmony – there’s much to reflect on, not least the massive, near-physical power of music (when it’s in the right hands) and the transient chatter that passes for much of our day-to-day. Sometimes you need a break from life to get yourself realigned. Two hours of Godspeed will do that.

Seismic rock, visceral beauty. Nothing less.