GIITTV: Mandolin Orange, The Musician, Leicester, 30/01/2017

Beauty is very much in the air this evening at The Musician. Beautiful people, beautiful venue, beautiful music and a beautiful atmosphere. I mean this with respect to both performers and audience. Obviously, if we’re talking purely from an aesthetically pleasing perspective, then stageside wins hands down. I mean, I’ve just turned 47, and I was almost certainly one of the youngest people there…

Support this evening comes in the shape of Jess Bishop and her two accompanying band members. Two acoustic guitars and fiddle from Alexandra Kenwrick Patterson are the order of the day. Jess herself is dressed casual in striped jumper and blue denims, whereas Alexandra looks as though she’s been teleported from a highbrow classical event at the Royal Albert Hall, resplendent in a fetching red ball gown. An excellent set of originals – not too dissimilar to All About Eve in places – as well as a spirited Emmylou Harris cover to boot, set a mesmerised crowd up nicely for the main event, North Carolina’s exquisite Mandolin Orange.

Frontman Andrew Marlin is, as you may expect from the band name, a virtuoso on mandolin, while his uber-talented musical partner Emily Krantz plays acoustic guitar and, occasionally, the violin. The contrast between the pair is quite striking. Whereas Andrew has a laid back, just crawled out of bed look and a somewhat satisfying deadpan humour about him, Emily bounds around with endless energetic abandon. She smiles a lot and, compared to Marlin’s unwavering features, she is clearly enjoying herself out there, to such an extent that her face at times looks comparatively orgasmic. It’s entertaining to watch and this, coupled with Andrew’s impassive delivery of between-song patter is wholeheartedly embraced by the watching throng.

Unsurprisingly, much of tonight’s performance is culled from the duo’s splendid 2016 album Blindfaller, with crowd favourite ‘Wildfire‘ making an early appearance. This track, more than any other, encapsulates all that is great about the duo’s songwriting. Reviewing the record last year, I commented that it was a “critique upon the hollow futility of war itself and an observation that, all these years on, we still haven’t learned.” It’s easy to get carried away in the tranquillity of the moment at a Mandolin Orange show, but trust me, if you pay attention to the lyrics, you will find the compositions have twice the impact.

Amongst many highlights of the evening, ‘Hey Stranger‘, in which Emily takes centre-stage vocally, is poignantly arresting, while Andrew’s soothing voice elsewhere betrays his tender years and suggests a world-weary man at least twenty years his senior. Seriously, if you haven’t seen Mandolin Orange live before, I would encourage you to do so as quickly as possible, for on this evidence, I suspect the big time beckons, and soon!

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GIITTV: EXCLUSIVE: Batsch new single ‘Awkward Patch’

Coventry quartet, Batsch release their new single ‘Awkward Patch’ on the Feb 24th 2017 on Tin Angel Records. A three-and-a-half-minutes of agitated pop punch with a dark disco underbelly and artful vocals, we have the premiere for the glittery eye-popping new video below.

On the subject of their influences, lead singer and chief lyricist, Mason Le Long says, ‘well, we do love the disco music, but when we started playing we just ended up sounding more “let down” than “get down”.’ This modest quip conveniently sums up the band’s grey, Midlands approach to making pop music and the tarnished glamour of their sound in general. ‘You can be inspired by anything,’ he adds, ‘but inevitably it’s the things immediately around you that will inspire you more.’

Batsch are on tour this April supporting Laetitia Sadier, see them at the following venues:

06.04.17 Grand Social – Dublin
07.04.17 Black Box – Belfast
09.04.17 Full Moon Club – Cardiff
10.04.17 Phoenix – Exeter
11.04.17 Bullingdon – Oxford
12.04.17 Green Door Store – Brighton
14.04.17 Trades Club – Hebden Bridge
15.04.17 The Crescent – York
17.04.17 CCA – Glasgow
18.04.17 Soup Kitchen – Manchester
19.04.17 Sage 2 – Gateshead
20.04.17 Moth Club – London
21.04.17 The Lantern – Bristol
22.04.17 The Winchester – Bournemouth

Batsch’s socials:
http://ift.tt/2kmS6Df
https://twitter.com/batschmusic

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Anthony Hilton: Let’s be positive as peer-to-peer pain looms

Zopa, the pioneering UK peer-to-peer lending platform, claimed yesterday to be the first of its kind to have lent in excess of £2 billion. Coincidentally, in a few days' time, it will be exactly a year since former Financial Services Authority chairman Lord Turner said on the Today programme that he thought a significant number of such firms would be caught out by an economic downturn. From http://ift.tt/2kNCxVs

Owen Jones: The UK must not be a stooge – so we’re forming a coalition to stand up to Trump | Owen Jones

Theresa May thinks she pulled off a coup with her White House visit. We must make it clear to her that the UK cannot be used as a prop by a proto-fascist

Another day, another reminder that Donald Trump is a menace to the American constitutional order. His sacking of the acting attorney general, Sally Yates, has overtones of Richard Nixon: except, of course, that Trump’s presidency will make Nixon look like a paragon of integrity by the time it is finally over. Trump’s already infamous executive order – the beginning of the implementation of his explicit pledge to ban Muslims from entering the United States – has been widely condemned on constitutional and legal grounds. Yates instructed her department not to enforce the order because she was not “convinced that the executive order is lawful”: and so she was purged.

Many US presidents have been responsible for injustices at home, and even graver injustices abroad. It nonetheless needs repeating – until we are blue in the face – that this is not a normal president. The usual playbook of opposition does not apply to an authoritarian, bigoted demagogue who does not conform to democratic norms. A proto-fascist will not be defeated by a few rousing renditions of Kumbaya.

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GIITTV: Cloud Nothings – Life Without Sound (Wichita)

When The Ramones covered Tom Waits‘ wonderful ‘I Don’t Wanna Grow Up‘ in 1995, it was one of those perfect rock & roll moments where everything comes together : the eternal adolescents, covering a song by the eternally willful, spiky Waits, playing it the way they played every song they ever recorded – loud, fast and knowingly dumb. As a musical manifesto it was faultless. Growing up is shit, so when you sound as fucking great as we do, why change?

Sadly it’s a message lost on many/most bands, who at some point inexplicably reject the acclaim of the moshpit and go after the approval of the serious press, with inevitably disappointing results. So it is with Cloud Nothings, whose utterly perfect last album Here & Nowhere Else RULED 2014. Songs on the brink of collapse saved from oblivion at the last minute, superhuman drumming, early Black Francis screaming and more tunes than a Wrigleys factory, it was one of those once-in-a-generation albums where you genuinely felt like you were listening to the future of rock music.

Well, you weren’t. You were listening to a band at their peak, and in hindsight really, where else could they go but here? ‘Here’ being an overly polite, bland and forgettable album of bog-standard indie rock. Opener ‘Up to the Surface‘ sets the tone, beginning with Coldplay like piano before settling into a half-arsed plod. ‘Things Are Right With You‘ is even worse, in that it plods like the godawful Tom Petty, for some inexplicable reason an enduring influence on US indie rock bands. ‘Enter Entirely‘ plods as well, with its only interesting bits – a briefly surprising lurch of guitars on the chorus and a briefly enjoyable guitar solo – nicked from Pixies and Dinosaur Jr respectively.

The perkier moments – ‘Darkened Rings‘ and ‘Modern Act‘ for example – have had their rough edges smoothed off to become bland pop-punk that has you craving the rawness of their last two albums. And Dylan Baldi’s lyrics sound as if they were sourced from some vomit-inducing motivational quotes page on Pinterest, and whilst that was true on Here & Nowhere Else too, there was at least plenty of other stuff going on to distract you.

Only ‘Strange Year‘, a howling, droning grunge throwback, saves Life Without Sound from being a complete washout. I don’t blame them as such – after seeing them live in 2014, I figured then that it would take them a long, long time to physically recover from the punishment they inflicted on their instruments and themselves (particularly Baldi’s vocal chords), so it’s no surprise they’re taking it a bit easier this time. I just don’t want to listen to it.

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Dave Hill | The Guardian: London must remain open to the world

The capital should have its own migration system to help it to help Britain survive leaving the EU

There are always exceptions. Since the nation voted to leave the European Union, the mayor of its capital city, Sadiq Khan, has declared that “London Is Open”, but he wouldn’t mind it being closed to Donald Trump. Hundreds of thousands of Londoners sympathise, judging by the map of signatories of the petition to stop the US president paying a state visit and making life difficult for the Queen.

This isn’t typical behaviour. In general, the capital welcomes foreigners, including those who, unlike Trump, plan to stick around and do something useful. Around two million of the city’s work force of five million were born overseas, of which at least half come from elsewhere in the EU. London-haters find this frightening, a foretaste of foreignness eating the green and pleasant land. They hope that Brexit will stem the alien tide, buttressing a fading Britannia of yore. They may not have yet grasped how damaging for them a cut in incomers from overseas could be.

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The VPME Words And Pictures Red Rum Club – Live

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Red Rum Club have just released a stirring new single ‘Alone Together’, Phil Greenhalgh caught them recently at their sold out gig in Liverpool and left suitably enamoured

Red Rum Club. Zanzibar 22/1/17

Support, Bad Habits. NYTCLUB, Little triggers

Early arrivals in a rapidly filling Zanzibar were met by indie-rock 4 piece BAD HABITS. And ‘early’ was perhaps the operative word for the band too, as it certainly felt like a band beginning their musical adventures rather than a fully formed unit. It was hard not to shake the feeling that this was college-boy indie band doing perhaps what they feel is expected of them before they branch out and find their own direction. But despite these vague misgivings, it was a solid performance and there were certainly sparks of individuality that suggest they could develop into something very good indeed, but obviously at this stage it’s potential rather than realisation. Rather Like catching Hooton Tennis Club in the early days, you sense something’s there but you’re quite not sure what it is yet, then you see them months later and suddenly there’s a light bulb moment.  It’ll be worth watching out for them honing their craft on the circuit, to see if that spark they certainly have develops into something more fully formed

Second on the bill, NYTCLUB, which let’s face it is an awful band name and one which almost distracts and takes away from the fact that they are a band who seem to fit neatly into the current crop of magnolia-indie, a la Blossoms, Catfish, (insert generic indie band here). And they were good at it, very good in fact, the front man, save for an ill-advised attempt at audience participation, was as charismatic as any you’ll see playing to an iphone waving sea of adoring teens.  Get past the name and someone, somewhere could see their nascent potential and tout these on a bigger stage and they’d perhaps prosper, although the competition out there is stiff for this sort of musical set up

 

Having seen the third band LITTLE TRIGGERS open FestEvol to the scant midday crowd drifting into the cavernous Camp and Furnace hall last May, there was a feeling of knowing what to expect; fresh faced, competent but slightly naive guitar pop, and a sense that a few pre-written words would slot into a quick review, right?

Wrong!  What a difference 9 months can make! Little Triggers crashed into a set of unabashed, raw, trouser splitting raucous rock and roll. Sporting Bolan curls and Daltrey circa ‘69 garb, lead singer/lead guitar Tom Hamilton-Hughes powered the band through a set somewhere between Led Zep and the Fratellis. Peppered with Jam-heel kicks and on the knees guitar licks, the set felt like the birth of a bona fide rockstar. Add to your list of ones to catch soon.

Recently there was a post on social media  by a music journalist asking the question ‘what do people mean when they say a band has ‘songs?’ It’s a valid question for what has become an often thrown about phrase, and I think can be answered with reference to headliners RED RUM CLUB.

It’s possible to come away from the gig of a band you are unfamiliar with, blown away and yet not being recall a single song from the set.  Not so with Red Rum Club; At Sound City last year, there was a couple of lines from one song, the hook ‘are you trying to, trying to please me…’ locked into the inner ear. That tune was ‘ Alone together’ and was Red Rum Club’s, second in the set tonight, it remains one of the stand out tunes of 2016. Their only other release to-date ‘Everybody’s Friend’, is of course part of their set is another crowd-pleaser and is a similar earworm. From seeing them for the first time, it’s a challenge to come away without at the very least one of those songs reverberating through your head.

And this is where Red Rum Club excel. Massive, hooky, well-crafted songs, infectious and highly polished pieces of structured verse, chorus and melody, belted out with rockstar assurance, and that oh-so-memorable gloss of mariachi trumpet. There are hints of the Bunnymen and the Manics in places, and from this set alone you can see the potential for an ‘all killer’ album in the making.

For the wont of being critical for it’s own sake, you could  suggest that Red Rum Club aren’t producing edgy, groundbreaking rock; rather the kind of wholesome boy-next-door pop-rock, the type which it became deriguer to regard with sniffy indifference at the inevitable whiff of success. ‘The-Killers-and-Kaiser-Chiefs-eventual-lack-of-muso-credibility’ rock, the ‘not-esoteric-enough-for-critical-acclaim-too-mainstream’ rock, the ‘easy-to-knock-radio-friendly’ rock.

But on this night, esoteric was playing at the other end of town, the Zanzibar belonged to ‘packed-house-Saturday-night-in-town’ rock, ‘grin-on-your-face’ rock. I don’t think anyone there; the bands, promoter, the venue and least of all the audience will have been disappointed by a wonderful nights entertainment

Promoters Evol once again demonstrated the knack of compiling a bill of well-matched bands from top to bottom. Well timed, well placed and demonstrating the need to keep venues like Zanzibar in the hub of the Saturday night main drag. It was packed from the off, even the girls you see with the rollers in town on a Saturday afternoon were there (sans rollers). There was a feel good party atmosphere, with the DJ between sets catching the spirit of the night with a well participated sing-song ‘Can’t take my eyes off you’. Ok admittedly sing-alongs may not be everybody’s cup of tea, but in a town that sometimes struggles to half fill venues, it’s great to see a packed house enjoing decent live original music. Not a tribute band in sight!

Words and Pictures Phil Greenhalgh 

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GIITTV: NEWS: Elefant Records to reissue two singles by Camera Obscura

Elefant Records have announced that it will reissue two singles by ace Scottish pop band Camera Obscura on Friday 3rd March 2017. Both singles are available from http://ift.tt/2kgIQO6 and UK record shops from that date and are limited to 1000 copies each.

The singles ‘Teenager‘ and ‘Keep It Clean’ were previously released on CD-single, and will now be available on yellow and transparent 7″ vinyl as part of celebrations for the label’s 25th Anniversary. The collection began in 2014 and so far there have been 16 reissues out of 25, includes Trembling Blur Stars, The School, Le Mans, Juniper Moon, La Casa Azul and Los Flenchazos.

‘Teenager’ was the band’s first release as an Elefant Records group and is accompanied by the doo-wop ‘A Sister’s Social Agony’, ‘I Don’t Want To See You’ and ‘Footloose And Fancy Free’.

‘Keep It Clean’ and ‘Suspended From Class‘ open each side of the second vinyl, full of delicious melodies, dreamy folk-pop, delicate and colourful arrangements with a certain 60s effervescence. Lesser-known songs ‘Amigo Mío’ – sung in Spanish with bossa nova tones – and the energetic ‘San Francisco Song’ are also included.

Photo credit: Stuart Murdoch

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GIITTV: Track Of The Day #976: Young Fathers: Only God Knows

Taken from the soundtrack of Danny Boyle‘s nothing short of absolutely bloody brilliant T2: Trainspotting, this new track from Edinburgh’s Young Fathers is a sheer joy from start to finish.

Credited as featuring the Leith Congregational Choir, the track plays over the end credits of the film and manages to be fist-pumpingly defiant, euphoric and spiritual all at the same time. No mean feat.

Along with fellow Edinburgh natives Stanley Odd, Young Fathers have done much to raise the profile of Scottish Hip-Hop acts, and famously in 2014 won the Mercury Music Prize for their debut album proper, Dead. Given the (deserved) acclaim the film has attracted, their profile will rise even higher with this track. Expect to hear this on a dancefloor near you soon. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong club – and you’ll want to play it on repeat. If you haven’t heard the group before, this is an excellent place to start. If you have, you’ll want to get your ears round this pronto!

Photo:  Jùnn

 

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Owen Jones: ‘May looks like Trump’s lapdog’: Owen Jones talks to protesters at anti-Trump demo – video

Owen Jones speaks to some of the thousands of protesters gathered outside Downing Street, demonstrating against Donald Trump’s travel ban targeting seven Muslim-majority countries, his indefinite bar on Syrian refugees, the US president’s planned state visit to the UK and Theresa May’s failure to condemn the ban.

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