Saturday, 30 November 2013

GIG REVIEW: Hell Death Fury and Bite The Hand - Bradford-On-Avon, 30/11/2013

So a busy week ends with a great night of local music at the Three Horseshoes in Bradford-On-Avon courtesy of the excellent Hell Death Fury, with support from the recently emerged Bite The Hand. Formed in around 2006, Hell Death Fury keep going from strength to strength, and after years spent strengthening their sound are preparing to release the follow up to their 2010 debut 'Free Porn'. 

Following the release of their fantastic album, they have been busy touring the UK, supporting Spunge and a number of other high profile acts. 

Tonight they were supported by the newly-formed Bite The Hand, a heavy five piece group playing rock and hardcore covers. Walking in to a band playing 'Sabotage' by the Beastie Boys is always a good way to begin your night, and as their set rolled on, it was surprising how powerful they were for a group only on their second ever gig. Singer Trigger and bassist Matt were also both former members of Nishe, and ex bandmate Bean made a guest appearance on a hectic and massively enjoyable cover of Refused's legendary 'New Noise'. What a blast, and the first time in years that the three had shared a stage. With a superb drummer and a line-up who seem to gel brilliantly the future is bright for this lot.

Comprising of Karlos Maňanos, El Bean Juan Paulo, Reno Menendez, Slim Juan and Dominicus Bayli-Bayli (of course, these aren't their actual names), Hell Death Fury are four and a half guys from a small market town who came together through a mutual distaste of conformity and appreciation that music can act as a great escape from the bakery, the furniture factory and the lighting store. Made up of former members from the (short lived) hardworking underground punksters Post No Bills, and previous BBC band of the year Nishe, they pitch their sound as a fusion of punk rock, ska, metal, dub and reggae. Never understating their love for a spliff, tracks from the debut LP like 'Crack Party', 'Rude Boy' and the awesome 'Green Lane' sounded fatter than ever, while their cover of Technohead's 'I Wanna Be A Hippy' went down a storm. Three brand new songs mixed ska, hip hop and hardcore, taking their sound to more complex but hugely enjoyable places. Certainly promises great signs that the second album could be even better than the first...

Thursday, 28 November 2013

INTERVIEW: Nigel Clark talks about Dodgy's Christmas single

The magnificent Dodgy are releasing a brand new festive track entitled 'Christmas At The Food Bank'. This song will be released at the beginning of December with all proceeds going to The Trussell Trust, who are the leading charity providing food banks and tackling poverty and exclusion in the UK and Bulgaria. The song will be backed by a short film by fantastic young film maker Kris Thompson. Dodgy head back into the studio to begin work on the follow up to the critically acclaimed album as well as continuing their never ending list of live dates across the UK celebrating the release of Dodgy ‘Live’, released on Strikeback Records a few weeks ago in November. Listen to the track below. I spoke to Dodgy frontman Nigel Clark about the single...

So how did this Christmas single come about? Is this something you've thought about doing before?
"I was asked to record either a new song or a Christmas carol for an album called 'Festivus'. So what did I do record 'Christmas Tonight' by The Band but then realised it was still in copyright! So with deadline day looming I decided to write an original xmas song. I had been working with a homeless group in Stratford upon Avon and the subject of foodbanks had come up in conversation a lot so I decided to write 'Christmas at the Foodbank'. What I found out is that homelessness can affect anyone. The main thing is that people don't ignore this problem in 21st century Britain."

As well as buying the single, what else can people do to help the cause?
"Theirs lots people can do. Raising awareness to people's plight is really important also finding out where you can donate food in your local area. Christmas is a time to think about people less fortunate than yourself. It has been proven that giving brings happiness to both parties."

How's the new album coming along? How does it differ from the magnificent Stand Upright In A Cool Place?
"We are currently talking to a record company to record and promote the next album. All the songs are written and I'm not sure how different it sounds to the last one yet."

What's top of your Christmas list this year?
"I'm going away with my wife for a couple of days. Perfect."

Your hopes for 2014?
"Release new album, play some good festivals in the uk and abroad."

Cheers Nigel.

This Christmas, The Trussell Trust predict that 60,000 people in the UK will need to use a food bank, 3 times more than last Christmas. 1 in 3 UK children will be living in poverty. 1 in 5 UK mums will skip meals to feed their children.

You can download the track by going to - 
Also you can send money direct to The Trussell Trust by texting £1, £2, £3, £4, £5 or £10 with the words FBUK13 to 70070. E.g: ‘FBUK13 £5’ and send it to 70070. 

PHOTOGRAPHY: Photos of Sparks (Bristol, November 2013)

Photos of Sparks, taken at the Academy in Bristol on Wednesday 27 November 2013. 

A highly enjoyable night in the company of Russell and Ron Mael on their "Revenge Of Two Hand One Mouth" tour. 

A review of this gig will be coming to these pages soon in the Gig Reviews section HERE.

Wednesday, 27 November 2013

REWIND: Puressence - 'This Feeling'

30th October 2013: "PURESSENCE are now rehearsing and writing a new album and looking forward to a busy 2014..."

27th November 2013: "It is with great regret that I have to say Puressence have split for good. Thank you to anyone who has ever supported us, you know who you are. - James"


Dear Puressence: Thank you for making the late 90's and beyond an even more glorious time. Thank you, and your legacy WILL live on with all of us who still love the music that has soundtracked our lives. Much respect and best of luck for the future guys...

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Track Of The Day: Paul McCartney - 'Early Days'

Paul McCartney's 'Early Days' is an album highlight and a brilliant riposte to critics of The Beatles.

The 71-year-old released his 16th solo studio album 'New' last month. Paul said: ''Well it is a bit defensive, yeah. It didn't start off particularly defensive; it was just this idea of not just me, anybody who has sort of done something in their past and then the younger generation is saying, 'Well yeah, it wasn't that good.'
''It's just this idea of people robbing your history from you, that it's not just me but in my case it started off with the case of 'they can't take it away from me because I lived through those early days. I was there.'" He added: ''The last verse is wildly defensive which is like nowadays people sort of say who did this and who did that, well that is very definitely about people telling me, you know, what I did and what John did.
''And as I think, you know, it was much more equal. He wrote his soppy ballads, I wrote my hard rockers.
''We had a lot in common but I'd become stereotyped, I mean you know it started way back in the 60s and they'd sort of say, 'Paul's the cute one.' I am cute. No, that is true, but I've got more to me than cute.''

REWIND: Robert Plant And Jimmy Page - 'Gallows Pole'

Another group from the past who I became interested in during 1995 were Led Zeppelin.

After hearing 'Stairway To Heaven' voted the greatest song of all time during a week-long Top 500 countdown on local station GWR FM (!), I noticed that my Mum owned two of the band's albums on vinyl. 

It was also around the time that Robert Plant and Jimmy Page had reunited for an acoustic MTV 'Unplugged' show, the resulting 'No Quarter' album being something that I was bought as a birthday or possibly Christmas present. 

'Gallow's Pole' was my favourite...

Monday, 25 November 2013

Track Of The Day: Sukh - 'Arisen'

The debut album from the Manchester-based singer songwriter Sukh (aka Sukhdeep Krishanis) is undoubtedly one for the winter. 

The rich tones of his voice, the grand piano melodies and the gracious string arrangements across these ten tracks seem to wrap themselves around the listener like a comforting blanket, the gorgeous swell of the gently seductive opener 'Arisen' a fine example. 

Beautifully arranged with a charming warmth, when 'Kings' is at its best it makes an essential companion for these cold winter months. 

Read my full review HERE.

REWIND: Shane MacGowan and Sinead O'Connor - 'Haunted'

The shop where American Dream used to be is still a comic shop...
Back in 1995, there was a small comic shop in Corsham called American Dream, which also sold a small range of CDs, the only place in the town that you could buy music from. I bought the Oasis single 'Some Might Say' from there during the week it was released and played it repeatedly when I returned to the nearby flat my Dad occupied at the club he managed. Another single I purchased from that shop at around the same time was the breathtaking 'Haunted', an old Pogues B side reprised as a duet between Shane MacGowan and Sinead O'Connor. It was good hearing Shane's gruff tones countered with such a delicate female voice, and what a lovely song too. Should have received more airplay, and should have been a bigger hit. Can't complain though... in 2013 music as good as this wouldn't even get anywhere near the Top 40...

Sunday, 24 November 2013

Track Of The Day: Vladimir - ‘Come Over’

Scottish four-piece Vladimir have released their new single ‘Come Over’ as a free download. It's not a million miles from what a psychedelic Joy Division might have sounded like, with a raving chorus and fierce, noisy guitars.

The press release states "Arising from the annals of Dundee last year, Vladimir have quickly cemented their reputation as one of the heaviest bands, both sonically and emotionally, to arise out of the Scottish scene in recent years. Describing their unique sound as simply ‘bleak’, ‘Come Over’ carries on their tradition of raw fuzzy guitars and seductive Dengler-era Interpol-esque rhythms with a short distorted track that’s over far too soon.

The band, only 18, have captured the youthful disregard for civility with their renowned and excessively loud chaotic live shows that has seen them go on to support bands such as Peace, The Twilight Sad and Wet Nuns over the past year..." More releases are expected in 2014.

REWIND: The Beatles - 'Free As A Bird'

The 90's had everything. It had everything the previous decades had, even The Beatles. Well, sort of. 

Since my Mum had always been a huge fan, the Fab Four had always been part of my musical life. But it was in 1995 that I started exploring their remarkable music further, coinciding with the news that remaining members Paul, George and Ringo were to reunite and complete some unreleased John Lennon demos, effectively a Beatles reunion on record. With the great new bands of the mid 90's evoking the glory days of British music in the 60's, it seemed an appropriate time for them to return. Yes it did feel a bit weird, but tremendously exciting. Everything was back then. I had massively high hopes for 'Free As A Bird', after all this was the greatest band of all time making a comeback. Some would quite reasonably argue that the majestic 'Abbey Road' was the perfect way to say goodbye, and that this partial reunion was unnecessary, even wrong. But I loved it. Especially that key change during the guitar solo. The song was premiered along with a wonderfully nostalgic promo video as part of the 'Anthology' television series that I watched avidly as my love for the group's music grew and grew. I bought the single on CD the week it came out, and played it pretty much repeatedly (along with the b sides). I even played the undeniably downbeat track during my DJ sets at the club, although it would be aired towards the end of the night as things wound down. Unbelievably, this beautiful song was held off the number one spot by Michael Jackson's below-par 'Earth Song'. Yes, 1995 saw a lot of classic singles being denied the top slot by some truly terrible records, but better than every single decent song of the time being ignored in favour of utterly worthless trash (hello 2013).

Friday, 22 November 2013

Track Of The Day: Spies - 'Mint And Lime'

This is definitely one of those where I prefer the B side to the A side. Technically this is a 3 track EP (even thought the CD I was sent only contained two songs) so all the songs are supposed to be A sides in theory, even if the lead track 'Distant Shorelines' also lends the release its name The urgent, dark rattle of the rhythm, low slung bass and epic guitars of 'Mint And Lime' take the listener on a more eventful and enjoyable journey than its lead track, almost like a post-punk Morrissey. “Dublin band Spies' searing indie-rock has an assured delivery that suggests an abundance of experience. The truth is the five-piece band are still in their early twenties and have sounded like seasoned professionals since their first releases: the 'Liars Call Me A King' debut EP in late 2010 and the subsequent 2011 single 'Barricade'..."

REVIEW: Sukh - 'Kings' (Self Released)

The debut album from the Manchester-based singer songwriter Sukh (aka Sukhdeep Krishanis) is undoubtedly one for the winter. The rich tones of his voice, the grand piano melodies and the gracious string arrangements across these ten tracks seem to wrap themselves around the listener like a comforting blanket, the gorgeous swell of the gently seductive opener 'Arisen' a fine example. A working musician, Sukh works as a doctor when he isn't crafting and self-producing these easy going yet heartfelt numbers, and his understanding of medicine and the human mind even influences his musical work. 

Second track 'Kings' also provides the second highlight, an uplifting breeze that sets his warming voice to jangly guitars and a colourful arrangement, with the utterly blissful solo in the middle not too far from Smiths territory. The soft, glistening charm of 'St Cats' is where folk meets dream pop and where wonderfully subtle brass rises harmoniously, while 'Just What I Thought' returns to upbeat, acoustic-driven pop, gliding on a carefree sense of joy. 

Another major high point arrives in the beautiful 'Clear Horizon', an elegant piano ballad designed to warm even the coldest of hearts, glowing with Cat Stevens-esque melodies and alluring instrumentation. The aforementioned influence is also present in amongst the heavenly ambience of the hymn-like standout 'Den', while the church-like reverb on the vocals provides an extra lift to the closing 'Now/Tomorrow'. We've all heard of incompetent doctors, however the only thing this one needs to work on are his lyrics. Sometimes they're disappointingly uninspired ("I will run, run, run down the street, I will say hello to everyone I meet") and at other times ridiculous ("a professor in the zone, cooking chicken at home, biting down to the bone" what were you thinking Sukh?!) and yet these shortcomings don't seem to affect the impact of the best songs here. 'To The Lighthouse' is a different matter, since it isn't one of the best, while 'Chair' comes across as a bit more middle of the road, and is pleasant rather than great. However, there is very little to complain about elsewhere.

Beautifully arranged with a charming warmth, when 'Kings' is at its best it makes an essential companion for these cold winter months. Not quite being as consistent as you'd expect a brief 35 minute album to be is the only reason this largely wonderful record isn't scoring more marks overall. 7.6/10

Thursday, 21 November 2013

Track Of The Day: Junip - ‘Oba, Lá Vem Ela'

Heard this on Gideon Coe's BBC Radio 6Music show last week... Junip's ‘Oba, Lá Vem Ela' is a cover of a track by the legendary Brazilian musician Jorge Ben... of course I didn't know that until I researched more about this song for this brief feature. Over the last few years I have become a lot more open to music of different cultures, perhaps owing something to the fact that my hero Damon Albarn has been dabbling in world music for quite a few years now... But I still have no awareness of this Jorge Ben character. One thing I do know is that this song is fantastic, and if the original is as good as this, I must seek out some of Ben's recordings. A dark, slinky funk groove meets shimmering acoustic guitars, the fantastic instrumentation growing bolder throughout, before a deliciously spacey synth towards the end provides the cherry on the icing. This can be found on the ‘Brazilian Beats 7' compilation, celebrating 25 years of Mr Bongo Records. According to the press release "This compilation continues the label’s persistent dedication to shining a light on the country’s wealthy musical heritage, both past and present. The hype surrounding all things Brazilian will only increase in the coming months due to the fast approaching 2014 World Cup. Brazilian rhythm fever is brewing." Indeed. Junip are a psychedelic folk trio from Sweden, consisting of childhood friends José González (guitar, vocals), Elias Araya (drums) and Tobias Winterkorn (organ, moog). 

REWIND: Levellers - 'Forgotten Ground'

Another one from 1995... Since the first edition of my weekly RW/FF With Ben P Scott columns (which can all be found HERE) I have bringing you a bit-by-bit account of my musical memories, and the part dedicated to 1995 has been going for months now. Yes, it was a memorable year, and a year that changed my entire outlook on music forever, but perhaps the reason I'm taking so long getting through my accounts of the year is because I never wanted it to end, and subconsciously my mind is telling me to relive 1995 for as long as possible. 

But I HAVE been writing the final chapter that details the last month of the year. I've also been promising for many weeks that my 18 years belated 'Best Of 1995' compilation will be online soon, but compiling the thing is taking ages. Again, maybe wanting to relive the year so much is what's making me take so much time over this... Here's something from that 1995 compilation I've been busy working on... and for the record, 'Zeitgeist' by the Levellers was an amazing album...

Wednesday, 20 November 2013

Track Of The Day: Tess Parks - 'Someday'

Something I've been playing quite a lot recently is 'Blood Hot', the debut album from Tess Parks. Imagine a vocal that combines the hazy tone of Hope Sandoval with the static cool delivery of Kim Deal, fronting a desert rock-infused version of Oasis, with one of the Jesus And Mary Chain guesting on guitar every so often. The latter two bands seem to be apt influences on Parks, since she happens to be one of the first signings to former Creation boss Alan McGee's new label 359 Music. Parks was born and raised in Toronto and describes her songs as “lo-fi alternative drones with a hypnotic vibe”. 

“Tess is a true believer in the church of rock’n'roll. She’s got great taste and is really sharp. I got lucky again!“ - Alan McGee

REWIND: The Cranberries - 'Linger'

So on Monday night, I broadcasted my weekly radio show The BPS Broadcast from Melksham Town Sound's new purpose-built studios. Mine being the very first show to come from the new and surprisingly warm wooden cabin, there were a number of unexpected technical problems with our new set-up, that we weren't aware of until it was showtime. Went on air at 6pm, ipod on one channel, vinyl on the other channel ready to go. First song was supposed to 'Tonight Tonight' by the Smashing Pumpkins. Pressed play on the iPod. No sound. Apologised to the listeners and instead lined up 'Vienna' by Ultravox on the turntable. Launched the record, again no sound. Panicked and left listeners with the first bit of (decent) music I could locate on the MTS back-up computer, while we tried to locate the tech issue. 'Linger' by the Cranberries was the song. Having failed to fix the issue, luckily I had with me a few USB sticks that I use to store digital music I am sent before transferring it to mp3 disc or buying it on vinyl. So thanks to pure fat, the show was a very improvised, spur-of-the-moment affair that was rather enjoyable. I used to love The Cranberries in the mid 90's, and played those first two albums a lot. Completely unaware of everything they did after 1996, though. One day I will investigate, when I feel the time is right...

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Track Of The Day: Temples - 'Mesmerise'

One of my favourite new bands of recent times, Temples have announced the release date for their debut album 'Sun Structures'. The 11 track LP is out on February 10 2014 via Heavenly Recordings.

The LP was produced by James Bagshaw of the Midlands-based band and was recorded at his home in Kettering. It was mixed by Claudius Mittendorfer

A new single is released on January 13, it's called 'Mesmerise' and it does exactly that. More info on the album and the accompanying UK tour dates can be found HERE.