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!

 

COPELESS IN CARDIFF

FEBRUARY REWIND: LOST GIGS, THRASHERS’ ROMANCE AND BOWIE’S LAST PLAN

Beer-fuelled tunes, trusty mellotron, acoustic guitar – possibly some lurid shade of green or orange – and piss-funny visionary tales from a shamanic rock-onteur perma-decked in shades n’ leathers with lashings of YEAH MAN! optimismo…that’s what you’re heading for when you get a ticket for J Cope 2017. Out on tour in support of Drunken Songs, he’s wrapping it all up at the Globe in Cardiff on Feb 26, which is where we find ourselves reading a just-posted note that sez NO GIG.

Shit.

And without the Archdrude on stage, there’s not much else to report from February. Let’s hope all is well in the Cope camp.

LOVING THE DISEASE

When did you last hear Caught in a Mosh on daytime radio? Never? Then treat yourself to a nice little old-school buzz with Mark Radcliffe’s Valentine Day show with Scott Ian and Frank Bello. Top fellas, ace chat, find it at 1 hour 35 minutes into the show, listen on a weekday afternoon for max pleasure (expires March 14th). Death Angel, Pantera, Sepultura and Slayer also played, as are Powermad – straight outta 1989, vintage frash par excellence.

NO PLAN FOR BOWIE

The last tracks recorded by David Bowie finally got their non-Lazarus physical release this month. No Plan, Killing a Little Time and When I Met You all follow the Blackstar vibe, and Killing… is especially turbulent heavy like the reworked Sue. What an ending.

Otherwise, it was Drore and OHHMS blowing out the Cellar that was the Oxford highlight and we’ve already covered the gig, so that’s it for now a very short REWIND, time to get outta here.

’til next time!

amplifier wordsmith: the monthly rewind

amplifier wordsmith: the monthly rewind

PIGS, OHHMS, FAIRIES AND BEER

JANUARY REWIND: NEW HEAVIES FOR 2017

Been a busy month for new discoveries so excuse the gush of these short sharp first impressions but they’ve given January a bit of a jump start, y’ know? A frisson for the short freeze.

PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGS PIGSthe-wizard-and-the-seven-swines

Pigs. One pigs is not enough (grammar violation overruled) for some people, which is how you end up with Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs Pigs as a band handle. Doesn’t look quite so bad when written down here, but when you’re scanning the DAB text scroll to catch the name of the band whose rough-arsed rollock has fully pricked your ears, it’s an infinite porker drag. What the fissing puck is all this pigs shit???

Worth the wait though, so it’s a big snouty thanks to Gideon Coe for playing whatever the track was in the first place, because without that introductory exposure to pigsx7, I’d have been forever deprived of The Wizard and the Seven Swines, their 22-minute one-tracker from 2013. Does Fugazi ire, Sleep heft and Thee Oh Sees scorch tease thy aggro-prog garage psyche cravings? Then check the Pigs, meet The Wizard and keep all ears peeled for new album  Feed the Rats.

HEAVY RESISTANCE: OHHMS

You know how some stuff, when you first hear it, is so massive and all-enveloping that it begs, nay commands, you to drop down for heavy duty worship to the Rok Godz?

OHHMS is that stuff. Long swollen subterranean Yob-bery that peddles a mainline in transcendent rifferolla, the Bloom/Cold EPs add up to a massive 60+ minutes for four just tracks – go for the total immersion entry point of The Anchor and see if you ain’t sold on Cold. New album on the way, and Jeezus HC only knows how The Cellar is gonna contain their oversized moltenalia when they hit Oxford on February 13th. CANNOT WAIT. Support comes from Mammoth Weed Wizard Bastard, by the way.

TWO MELS, A GENDER BENDER AND A MAN FROM MARS

Melvins have been obscenely collaborative in recent years, and now they’ve got another ID on the go though it’s not under the Melvins banner. Nope, the Buzz n Dale show have hooked it up with Mars Volta’s Omar Rodriguez Lopez and Teri Gender Bender to form Crystal Fairy, and if the album is anything like the tracks played by Henry Rollins on his Iggy Pop 6 Music sit-in then it’s gonna be tight like (a) Senile Animal. Album due out v soon on Ipecac.

ALCO POP: BEER-FUELLED DRUDENESS

The return! Of the former Lord Yatesbury! Yep, Julian Cope is BACK with a new album: Drunken Songs, a record celebrating Cope’s official embarkation on a Beer Trip that was launched in Armenia a few years back. W-anchored at the back by an oversized Road to Tralee and inspired in part by the funeral song that Cope wrote for himself – As the Beer Flows Over Me, first appearing on Psychedelic Revolution but rerecorded here – Drunken Songs finds the Drude in light mood musically, all mellotron-ic melody and Black Sheep-ish acoustica. He’s on tour as well so don’t miss this highly focused rambling, man – see you in Cardiff for that one.

ADAMS UN-AMPED

Finally, Do you still love me? by Ryan Adams – ace acoustic-only tuneage, nailing that gentle downer vibe.

’til next time!

Julian Cope on 6 Music

ARCH DRUDE IN FOR IGGY POP

We’ve had some stellar radio stand-ins on 6 Music for Jarvis Cocker of late, and this week we get the Arch Drude packing the Iggy Confidential slot on Friday 22nd, 7pm, for two hours of psychedelia – a must-listen, surely. Who knows what qualifies as psychedelic in Cope’s hefty book – I mean, Sleep’s Dopesmoker DEFINITELY, though that ain’t gonna make it onto a two-hour Friday night trip – but we may well get sunburned freak outs, acid fry-ups and sunnO)))shine daydreams cocktailed with the likes of Roky Erikson, Sky Saxon, Can, early Floyd and prime Love.

Floyd and Love have gotta be a cert for the playlist surely, because they’ve inspired and named Cope’s location-free festival that’s happening Right Now, every day this month, wherever YOU are:

SydArthur Festival

Buddhist appropriation entirely intended, SydArthur is a tribute to tenyearsgone Syd Barrett and Arthur Lee who passed away just 28 days apart in July/August 2006.

As ever, Cope needs little encouragement to evoke the Cosmic Order, the ancients, the gnostics and the sha-manics in rock n roll, and so the SydArthur Festival – a festival of the mind, of the head – is now a Thing on Head Heritage. Check the calendar and note that JC’s broadcast is George Clinton’s birthday. Parliafunkadelic on the playlist?

Line all of this up next to Uncut magazine’s fine fine fine Arthur Lee/Love feature last month and you can’t help but fire the Love revival machine so an in-through-the-side-door review may be on its way v soon.

Tune in Friday, turn it ON.

(d)Rude awakenings

REWIND JANUARY

We’re flying into 2015 and the new releases are piling up ALREADY. Who knew that Venom have a new album out? Not me, but at least Phil Alexander did – ta for shoving it out there on Planet Rock last week (Saturday night, repeated on Wednesdays if you wanna check his weekly dispatch of new and classic rawk). Napalm Death have got a new one out as well. Is 2014 really so-last-year already? Is it too late to mention John Garcia and Boris? Given the tardiness of this slipsliding Rewind, probably yes, but you’ll have to wait a few lines because we’re starting with summat new. January 2015 brought a bit of excitement for experimental/drone fiends when Stewart Lee, standing in for Stuart Maconie on the Freakzone one Sunday night, played an excerpt of a too-long-for-radio track by VESUVIO, an underground commune band from Naples back in the 70s.

Vesuvio are not real.

Vesuvio do not exist, yet they’ve just put a record out.

WTF??? Yeah, bit of a head-scrambler that one, but when you know that Julian Cope is one third of Vesuvio (Stephen O’Malley and Holy McGrail make up the whole), and that Vesuvio are one of the invented bands in Cope’s One Three One novel – Dayglo Maradona, Make Fuck and Nurse with Mound are some of t’others – then things start to make, not sense exactly, but the beginnings of sense.

And, with those longhairs at the helm (I’m assuming McGrail is not shorn of scalp), you can guess the musical direction: three tracks of elemental earth-crust ambience that unfolds, percussion-free, over 54 drone-out minutes. The last of those tracks, Resin A, is listed as a bonus and it’s true that the other two tracks, Pompeii (side 1) and Herculaneum (side 2), are the real deal here. Escapist and vast and totally out-fucking-side in its scope, Vesuvio flirt with the likes of Urthona, McGrail himself and mebbe even Carlton Melton, which means that – if you accept their 70s origins – Vesuvio predate these other arteests by about 30 years … shit. Better not think about that for fear of being time-warped in the head. But if you’re a fan of the Arch Drude’s ambient metal sprawl-outs, this is pretty crucial stuff and you can get it over on Head Heritage.

Back to last year briefly for a quick word about a couple of albums. Did John Garcia’s solo effort make the top end of any critics’ lists? If not, it should have. Not flash, not avant and definitely not a Kyuss rehash, it’s a rock solid, class effort by a guy who knows what he does best: even-paced desert grooves and quietly addictive riffs, topped off – of course – by that voice, so don’t forget about him.

And finally, Noise by Boris. Did anyone else feel underwhelmed by Noise on first listen? I did, fearing it was another throwaway slice of fast ‘n catchy Boris-lite, but there’s enough heaviness ‘twixt the hooks to make it a keeper. Heavy Rain’s gargantuan post-rock crawl, Angel’s 18-minute ace and Quicksilver’s after-the-thrash fadeout – check the last three minutes for a definition of heavy beauty – are among a fistful of highlights, and while Noise might not challenge Feedbacker in the greatness stakes, it does at least sound like the Boris we know: MASSIVE. A flawed hit, then.

Well, time’s run out on us and we didn’t get any words on 2014 highs by Yob, Mogwai and Melvins, but that’s the way it’s gonna be (yeah, yeah-yeah …).

’til next time!

AUDIOSCOPE 2014

Zero familiarity with any of this year’s line-up except New York’s junk electronic freakonauts Silver Apples means that Audioscope 2014 looks set to be a non-stop tale of the unexpected. Saturdays don’t get much better than this, and at 3.10 we see The Doomed Bird of Providence.

Let’s just repeat that name one more time: THE DOOMED BIRD OF PROVIDENCE.

Magnificent. Sounds like a bunch of Wheatsheaf-stained mantra-rock hairies, but they’re actually a septet of Oz/London (nick)cave-dwellers with a ramshackle line in Celt stomp and shanty swing. Take the hey-ho from Saint Nick’s Supernaturally, add a bit of Murder by Death and you might be somewhere near.

Earthling Society: with guitar trebled and wah-wahed to the max over blues-ish rhythm and cosmicspacerock keyboards, the Society open with their version of Alice Coltrane’s Journey in Satchidananda and pitch themselves as a quintessential Audioscope band. Better when they ditch the vocals and just rock out, you can see why they supported Julian Cope circa Dark Orgasm – there’s more than a whiff of the Archdrude’s back-then penchant for guitar excess, not to mention Brain Donor’s chasmic numbskullery.

After a swift pint down at the Bookbinders, we get ready for Wrangler.

Who?

WRANGLER.

Who?

Stephen Mallinder from Cabaret Voltaire.

Shit, really??? Seminal name #1 of Audioscope 2014 then, and Wrangler do NOT disappoint. Retro-futurist industrial beats, dirty synths and near-dalek vocals make for a seedy brand of heavy electronica that’s got the Cabaret creep but with added rock-band thrust. Loud and ballsy, we like this lot. We like this lot A LOT. Audioscope 2014 is most definitely hotting up.

You Are Wolf cool the mood, but that’s a compliment … we are, quite simply, powerless to resist. Nothing like the ‘Bjork-does-folk’ tag in the programme, singer Kerry Andrew cuts a quietly captivating presence and compels everyone to listen – as in, really listen. With her storyteller’s charm and made-on-the-spot loops, and the band’s sparse yet experimental folk backdrop, you enter a world in every song. For the last track, she persuades everyone to join in (‘You’ve got to sing or it’ll be rubbish!’) while the loops build and build. You Are Wolf: biggest surprise of the day.

Telescopes up next. Big contrast and, once the initial thrill of high volume passes, big boredom. Telescopes are definitely louder and less tuneful than imagined, but all that early promise gets pissed away in their interminable search for a magic moment. Probably because they went up their own arse to look for it.

But no matter, that’s the fun of the fair, right? Some you get, some you don’t. Now it’s past 8pm and seminal name #2 is in the room:

JONNY GREENWOOD!

No, I mean SILVER APPLES!

But Jonny Greenwood IS here, such is Silver Apples’ revered status as electronic rock pioneers from way out left. And while no-one would dispute the timeless legacy of SA’s junk-lab space throb, tonight’s show is, in truth, a tribute to a once mighty force. Reduced volume robs the music of its disorienting power and carousel madness, and the sight of a slight (but sprightly) Simeon – born in 1938, go work it out – at the helm is nearly as weird as the music he makes. Still, the always-awesome Oscillation burns a killer earworm back into the head, and the man Simeon appears in fine fettle. Cheers to that, to long life, and to the very existence of their otherworldly oddness.

After the good-natured but muted Silver Apples, and the endless-aimless Telescopes, we’re in need of an action shot.

Matt Elliott, of Third Eye Foundation, is … not the guy to do it. Sorry. Just too slow, quiet and acoustic for this hour of the day, and we’re in danger of flagging. The yawning starts. Need a sit down. Back aches a bit. Only three things can save us: a blinder from Public Service Broadcasting (I’m not confident), a mini mince pie from the merchandise stand, and a massive bag of chips.

Pie (mince) and chips (loads) duly scoffed, we are upright and awake. Can the headliners deliver? For some people, PBS are THE reason for coming to Audioscope 2014. For others – me included – Silver Apples are/were the no-brainer attraction, and the fact that the room has emptied somewhat since Simeon/The Simeon departed kinda proves the point.

Jonny Greenwood has vanished.

But all caution is unfounded because Public Service Broadcasting deliver exactly the right kind of energy with tight guitar/banjo licks running over danceable moto beats and, of course, their public service films whizzing past in the background. For most of the set, I watch the band – all two of them – and let the films pass by without too much attention. For the last track, I watch the film – about people climbing Everest – and find that the music scores the drama spot-on. Is this true of every track? I should watch again.

Whether their film-nerd shtick has longevity is another matter, but tonight, Public Service Broadcasting put smiles on faces and prove themselves well worthy of top billing. Nice one.

And so ends another eclectic Audioscope: brilliant, again. Raising good money for Shelter, again. Now excuse me while I go play Wrangler’s LA Spark CD. Again.

 

Audioscope reviews of 2013 and 2015 here, and Audioscope’s Music for a Good Home 3 CD

 

 

Drudes, freaks and wolves

The Arch Drude is back in the news – the book news. Fiction news, to be exact, coz he’s only gone and put out his new (and first) novel, One Three One, on Faber and Faber. He nipped in to Stuart Maconie’s Freakzone for a wee chat about it so go check the July 6th episode for a short interview and snatches of music from Neon Sardinia and Dayglo Maradona, just two of the book’s fictional-bands-real-music backstory.

And as if an interview wasn’t enough reason to tune in, check these amplifier-friendly arteests on that same show’s playlist:

  • Jex Thoth
  • Poino
  • Yes (new single!)
  • Brain Donor (a righteous My Pagan Ass, no less)
  • The Safety Fire (right-now prog)

Anything else to report and reveal from this surge of rock radio activity?

Only the promise of a Freakzone interview with Southern Lord’s WOLVES IN THE THRONE ROOM on Sunday

AND a 30-minute Cope mix on the Freakier Zone on Saturday.

Who needs the World Cup???