NORTHERN SLUM 

JULY REWIND: KING OF THE SLUMS, SIR WALTER J WALLIS, HOBBSIAN DARK STUFF

It was the FACE. Black and white photo, ‘tash and glare, hatted like a rancher from way out West. Not quite what you expect from a small-town music festival programme, but there he was, projecting attitude, worlds apart from the folk blues smileys on the page. The blurb promised ballads, feedback and distortion.

How can we not check this guy out?

Sir Walter J Wallis: Ukedelia

And so it was that Thame Town Music Festival turned us on to the ukedelic blues scorch of Sir Walter J Wallis, right there in the low-voltage confines of Thame Snooker Club. Who he? Some self-styled Cornish outlier, armed with a uke, one shoe red one shoe green. How good is his crew? Good enough to banish the anti-rock daylight and carpet-ry to a 45-minute afterthought – this bunch of middle-age greybeards grabbed it. No ballads, and no slowhand-trad either ‘coz the licks were quick. Checking the Ukedelia album afterwards, opener Cold White Stone flies with a restless energy, and for all the bluesy labels thrown about in the festival programme and his own website, Sir Walter’s path is more Billy Childish smarts than Mayall’s Bluesbreakers – which is no doubt why they blazed the baize house that Thame aft. Rockarolla exciting. Back to Ukedelia, and its trebley solo/rhythm style – almost New York new wave – breaks through best on tracks like So What?, Railroading and Eye of the Hurricane, while Day I Made My Angel Cry‘s raw axe and horn decor ain’t a million miles from Spiritualized unorchestral.

So, not the most produced album you’ll ever hear, but on the back of a live gig it more than stacks up. Please, Sir … can we have more? And when?

King of the Slums: Manco Diablo

Hypnotic semi-riffs that loop around and around and around, then snag you on the downside: this is new album Manco Diablo, a record that sometimes makes you wanna rock, maybe even dance, but mostly makes you feel like you’re trapped in a mill town canal. Yeah. Reportage through a stained lens. It’s a bit dank, a shadow lurker, but behind the loping motifs, spoken vocals and Manc indietones vibe are guitars – big fuckoff ones, late-80s metal style: no air, no fade, no natural light, just endless sustain. I. LIKE. The whole thing’s slightly out of place, like a non-electro Wrangler, or maybe King of the Slums have always been like that? Dunno. Until Gideon Coe aired Lost in Translation the other week and prompted and an immediate spend, I’d never heard them or of them and knew nowt about their distant history, so this is fresh sonics. If it’s the same for you, check KOTS and do what you gotta do. 

Pijn

Pijn (pronounced pine) played at the Dark Matter festival at the Manchester International Festival, and Dumbstruck & Floodlit was played on a Dark Matter Freakzone special the other week. Post-metal with a Godspeed arc that crashes the eye of a hardcore storm, ’tis another top new track. Album is Floodlit and it’s out now on Holy Roar Records, home to OHHMS.

And seeing as we’ve mentioned Dark Matter, we’ve got to tip our headwear to curator Mary Anne Hobbs, one of THE best broadcasters out there. Check this Baker’s Dozen with the Quietus magazine for a classy selection – Bowie, Colin Stetson, Mogwai, Burial, Deftones, Kendrick Lamar – and some character-defining stories from the Garstang escapee.

’til next time!

amplifier wordsmith: the monthly rewind

amplifier wordsmith: the monthly rewind

RSD Q: record store daze

APRIL REWIND: THE FOOL’S GOLD, RECORD STORE DAY 10 AND A PRINCELY SHRED

New sounds

Seeing OHHMS in Oxford was a shorter and more pumped gig than their Bloom and Cold EPs indicated. A Terrorizer interview explains the former – they don’t do long sets, they don’t think doom should bore the audience – and debut album The Fool, just released on Holy Roar Records, explains the latter ‘coz its six-track 60-minute offering is anything but mono-paced yawn-outs. Instead, it fires off some higher-plane Neurosis rage BUT, crucially, does it less sombrely… OHHMS got more r.o.k., more of that mid-era Pelican thickness going on, maybe even a touch of long-lost Acrimony. Much promise in these long Fool forms. OHHMenS is good.

RSD 10

Record Store Day came and went, fast as a stylus slide down a run-out groove. Oxford’s Truck Store gave advance notice of a queuing system for the RSD section of the shop – monitored, controlled, keeping it fair, you get the idea. Nothing objectionable in that, no doubt there are many other shops that have to do the same on Vinyl Vulture Day, but when you actually roll up late morning, long after the whoreds, and find a queuing system in place… it sucks fat logs. IT’S HALF PAST ELEVEN ffs, no buzz out here no more. The over-excitables lining up round dawn’s crack to score some designer V have long gone, replaced by the second/third/fourth wave of music punters and/or dullard moany bastards (me, it seems) who want to buy something, RSD or not, on this day in this shop to do a timely little summat for the deeper cause – independent music retail.

And we’re queuing. To get into a shop that is, literally, half empty. Right… F-RSD for now, let’s just hit the Regular Joe section and yes, very happy to see the new OHHMS CD in the racks. Nice one #1. Nice one #2 is when the queue system dissolves, some sort of record shop normality returns  access for all  and we get to have an unscripted, unmonitored free-form browse. 

The best bit isn’t the limiteds and the special eds, though.

RSD weekend bargain

RSD bargain: very rare

It’s the unexpected box of reductions on regular records (cheers Truck) and before I could stop it, SunnO)))’s Kannon – a long-time list dweller – slow-burned my eyes with a bargain £12 tag: an Official Find, a pound per inch. THIS is what RSD needs to do more of: give every physical-format music fan a reason to visit the shop and pick something up. Right now, CD buyers get shit-jack from the whole shebang, yet probably do more than anyone to keep these shops alive.

So, it was a day of two sides. Side A – the RSD edit – was forgettable and a bit shit. Side B – the deconstruction mix – was a gem. More Bs, please. How was your day?

APRIL ANNIVERSARIES

Iggy completed his seventh decade. Prince turned 57 and one year. Plenty of options for celebrating their lives and music, but for a radio programme with a deep purple (not that one) twist, Bobby Friction’s tribute on 6Music is a pretty good shot at it. And if, by some freak time management occurrence, you’ve only got four and a half minutes to give then give ’em to the very last track – Whole Lotta Love, live, Prince Rogers Nelson style. Six string s-excess, and no, of course it ain’t faithful.

’til next time!

amplifier wordsmith: the monthly rewind

amplifier wordsmith: the monthly rewind