Blue – Only Attitude – Single Compilation Review

Back in September, Blacktop Records asked me to review BLUE – Only Attitude.

I like to impersonate my heroes, so I’m doing it a month late.

What’s Only Attitude?

Only Attitude is a single compilation, written and recorded by Ross Miller, the bassist of Canadian Juno Award Winners, the Dirty Nil.

The compilation comprises of two previous releases, Positive Attitude and Only Anger, released in August 2018 and June 2019 respectively.

It came out on 27th September 2019, so I’m pretty late to the party.

At seven tracks, it clocks in at just under 12 minutes. Listen to it on bandcamp.

What Does It Sound Like?

Hardcore punk. Like, you know, proper East Coast Hardcore. Not a 2010 variant of hardcore punk (you know, AFI…)

Fugazi. It sounds a lot like Fugazi. But less funky (Waiting Room is totally funky). Energy that I guess seems slightly reminiscent of Gorilla Biscuits’ first EP.

Primal, urgent and apparently with a positive message. Fast, abrasive, not-tuneful throughout. It’s interesting if you like that sort of stuff. But if you don’t, it’ll probably damage your stomach lining.

While it’s all the result of low production values, the first five songs (Positive Attitude) are raw-er. The bass thumps, guitars drive faster than they should, and it sounds kinda shambolically muscular. Maybe lean’s a better word. Last two songs (Only Anger) are mellower, with more vocals that are more exposed.

I didn’t really appreciate the apparently positive message.

Greater lyrical diversity would have be a boon. First four songs are blue obsessed.

Picks: track 2. Feelin’ Blue, track 5. Comparable Compassion and track 6. Only Anger

Opinion: Not easy listening. Interesting if you like 80’s hardcore. Definitely less polished than any of the Dirty Nil‘s efforts. Dynamic changes on tracks 2 and 5 are nice.

3 BEERS

Why This Is Such An Important Development

A real record label asked me to review something.

That means I’m officially a music journalist.

Rolling Stone and Pitchfork are probably trying to get hold of me. So like, could everyone please continue to not call me.

Thanks.

BODEGA @ Moth Club – Three Free Gigs #10

There are a bunch of free gigs in London. Each week, I try and go to three.

The rating system’s simple: how many beers did I buy (drink)? The more, the better.

10. BODEGA @ Moth Club, London

Friday, 9 August 2019

“Truth is not punishment,” so let’s be honest, who was actually disappointed about the cancellation of Boardmasters?

If you haven’t guessed it, no one who was at Moth Club last night.

No one dances, writes, or fights, or fucks or makes love quite like me – Bodega @ Moth Club, 9 August 2019

That’s because Bodega, New York art-punk five-piece (or whatever else you want to call them) graced Hackney with a surprise, and importantly FREE, appearance at Moth Club, thanks to high winds off the Cornish coast.

I’d go into a rant about how much I hate Cornwall here, but I can’t be bothered, so insert your own joke about pasties and inbreeding.

Ahead of the release of their latest record, the show was an expected, but delightfully executed affair – dominated by songs from their debut LP, Endless Scroll. There were a couple of new ones, including Shiny New Thing, and (I think this is the working title), ‘An actress who decides every move based on how people will regard it in the future’. It reminded me a lot of when I paid to see them at the Shacklewell Arms in February. Great performance, but like, not the best songs in the world.

Moth Club was hot, everyone was drenched in sweat, but Bodega’s performance was energetic, and they actually seemed happy to be playing. 

The band have spent a lot of time on the road, and they let the audience know it by dedicating Gyrate to everyone’s favourite band, Viagra Boys.

Other highlights included a cover of Silver Jews, Black and Brown Shoes, in memory of the recently deceased David Berman. Jack in Titanic, as always, was an epic tragedy. It’s a great song, but maybe they’ve played it too often, and like Titanic, maybe there are only so many times you can watch Leonardo Dicaprio sink.

Bodega ended the set with an extended jam that eventually morphed into Truth is not Punishment, with a lot of tired arms and a standing drummer with a nose bleed (or did my memory get warped because I follow Bodega so compulsively on instagram?).

Walking away from the stage, despite being way too sticky, it actually felt like arriving at a venue for 19:00 had been justified. And, thanks to closing at 21:30, everyone was left with a night full of opportunity, and sense of achievement.

Shame no one stayed for the Horror’s Rhys Webb’s DJ set, but I mean, it’s been five years Rhys, maybe everyone still going to Cave Club is a total loser.

 

4 Beers

The Deep and Human Music – Three Free Gigs #9

There are a bunch of free gigs in London. Each week, I try and go to three. 

The rating system is simple, how many beers did I buy (drink)? The more, the better.

Trump must be quaking, and fists a shakin’, because funk’s totally where it’s at man.

The Deep & Human Music at the Shacklewell Arms

Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Last night the Shacklewell was rammed. The busiest I’ve seen it on a Wednesday in years. And who was filling the space, smoking atop the astroturf where they shouldn’t? A whole lot of strange looking people. 

In pursuit of objectivity, artistic freedom and focus, I’d ventured to this gig alone, with only three rollie’s worth of tobacco in my denim jacket. In hindsight, I should have brought more.

This Wednesday, out of four performances, I only saw two. So unfortunately, there’s no review of GFE or Dominic McGuiness, but I can assure you that if they were anything like the two bands I did see, I didn’t miss much.

Third, or first up, Human Music. The first thing that strikes is the name.

I think their name was a reference to a cartoon. Probably Futurama, with it’s zany wit and relatable characters. Human Music’s probably something Dr Zoidberg invented to get his Earth Citizenship, involving bagpipes or a dreidel.

I mean, I could totally accept bagpipes and dreidels were the inspiration for Human Music (the band). They were completely brimming with tomfoolery. Dressed like clowns, their front man lumbered around the stage, let the audience know how much he hates Donald Trump and whoever the Prime Minister is. The music was akin to Irish folk in a cemetery, with demented, but relatable organ (synth) parts, that inspire images of the circus.

Human or primate. Is there really a difference? Human Music @ the Shacklewell Arms, 19 June 2019

As music that I assume was inspired by 7 billion people, it was pretty damn uninspired. 

But the crowd seemed to like it.

That’s how, despite a bearded fat man trying to cut the set at time (10:15-ish), the crowd just screamed for more. And they got what they wanted.

Which says a lot. Beware, when a room full of people stops respecting the borough’s strict, but fair, permitted noise levels on residential streets, and potentially cuts the main band’s set short as a result, we should all be worried about how torn the fabric of our society really is.

Maybe that was the point.

Anyway, they finished playing after another three songs.

Then I was left with the relief of the intermission. And what better way to spend it than sitting alone, replying to my many fan emails.

I was interrupted by a pale Australian girl. She has the gall to ask me for a fag. I still feel bad about the colonies, so I offered her what dregs of tobacco I had left, and lashings of opportunity to immediately exit after amply fingering my filters. But she kept talking.

Apparently she knew the band, thought I’d think they were great, really loved wearing fur coats in the summer and was too ill to go to work that day, but cigarettes and gin had sustained her for the gig.

She then asked if I was Australian, and then kept trying to figure out what my name was.

A bit of a dicey situation, I know.

That’s when I noticed everyone was in the bathroom. Twos and threes. And then she let me know, damn, the Deep were a funk band.

And as everyone knows, funk band fans are like hippies. Completely insufferable.

I had to escape.

So I suggested that the band were starting and we really didn’t want to miss the show. I let her walk ahead of me, re-enter the gig space, and then I slunk away to the bar at the front; unseen.

After waiting a while at the bar, I went back in to see the band. I didn’t have much choice, I hadn’t come to the Shacklewell Arms to not review the headliners.

And that’s how I got to the Deep.

Oh the Deep.

So Deep, so deeply cliched.

There was a trombone.

There was a guitar.

There were dual vocals.

There were sing alongs.

The crowd jumped up, got antsy, and it seemed like the people in front of me wanted to start a fight with something. Maybe their libidos.

The songs were punctuated by horns, the bass wobbled and everyone sang about being in love.

Then, as always happens at the shows of touring funk bands, the crowd secreted a rogue saxophonist, who clambered onto the stage to great applause, donned some pretty ridiculous sunglasses, because you know, he wakes and bakes, and then wailed and wailed and wailed.

How Deep? Too Deep. You’re hurting me,
The Deep, and some weird saxophone player at the Shacklewell Arms, 19 June 2019

I left after four songs.

It confirmed to me again, that there’s nothing worse than funk, unless like, you studied music man.

2 BEERS

GIG REVIEW: L.A. Peach and Lacuna Common – Three Free Gigs #8

There are a bunch of free gigs in London. Each week I go to three and review them.

The rating system’s simple: how many beers did I buy (drink)? The more, the better.

8. L.A. Peach and Lacuna Common @ Blondies, London

Wednesday, 5 June 2019

Henry learns that exceptionally good punk comes from Oxford and L.A. Peach is totally besotted.

Blondies - Inside
Apparently heaven and hell are both teal. Neon lights @ Blondies.

This was my first visit to Lower Clapton’s Blondies.

It’s dark, the space is tight and it’s drenched in neon. The stage is situated right next to the entrance, so beware, once the curtain’s drawn and the band have started, you’re stuck – unless you want to join the performance and navigate whoever’s playing.  

It’s the only hole in Hackney where the stuff on tap is almost exclusive Vice’s beer– bit of a shame because it’s not very good. There’s also a terrace hidden at the back, so there’s at least one reason to go for an actual drink – just remember, the terrace closes at 21:00 (it’s actually quite cool).

Last night, Blondies were hosting Oxford indie / punk trio Lacuna Common and London-based five-piece L.A. Peach (I think they’re a five-piece, but maybe it’s just a singer with a guitar and some friends).

The crowd was made up of animated mannequins from Beyond Retro. I was wearing a white button-up shirt, carrying a laptop and felt like a total prick.

First up, Lacuna Common seriously impressed. They’re really fucking good.

Lacuna Common at Blondies
Not quite a glimpse from the bathroom. Lacuna Common @ Blondies

The band play that ‘blood-in-your-teeth’ kind of punk (defiantly British), the type that somehow makes stories about the banality of life seem interesting (like an imagined pint of vodka). Punchy and almost immediately captivating, their songs were simple, catchy, held the right amount of suspense, while consistently delivering a certain despondency.

The frontman spat out tales of having no money, people not caring enough about him, skinny jeans and twats from Oxford, while the bassist occasionally chimed in with his own wheys and woes. Instrumentally, it’s basic and the lyrics aren’t anything new, but it really worked. Like, really worked. 

(I REALLY LIKED LACUNA COMMON)

Lacuna Common T-Shirt
Do you reckon dad’ll look good in this? Lacuna Common merch @ Blondies

Their dad was at the back selling t-shirts and white vinyl pressings of their latest single, Not the Same. Going on the performance, I wouldn’t be surprised if someone actually bought one.

L.A. Beach didn’t have Lacuna Common’s energy, but I think that’s the point.

The band’s vibe is dreamy and they deliver subdued, low-tempo numbers that build into strangely gritty and unnerving sonnets. All quite melodic.

LA Peach at Blonies
I couldn’t see L.A. Peach, so I just watched the bartender twist out orange juice with a magic orange squeezing robot @ Blondies

Between songs they were kind enough to add liner notes through a lot of one-sided dialogue with the crowd (how post-modern).

Transcribed below, I hope they’ll help you understand a little bit more about the band:

L.A. Peach is the best thing you’ve seen all night,” – they’re not too cocky.

What do you call a chicken with a piece of lettuce in its eye? Sees-a-salad” (Caesar salad, get it?) – they’re masters of comedy.

When I was in year three, I had to run the relay race at sports day. Stick [baton] in hand, I tripped and fell into this girl’s crotch.” – they’ve all had a really traumatic upbringing.

Have you seen my girlfriend? Doesn’t she look like Trent Reznor?” – they’ve got a lot of respect for women.

All of this context helped me fully appreciate their songs. Particularly why they tricked you into a false sense of security by sounding sweet and ethereal (the type of thing you put on when your mother’s round) then suddenly got really psychotic.

It was kind of like this: bright guitar and a slow groove overlaid with tales of loving someone so much you want to flay their skin and wear it when meeting their parents.

One thing that was clear throughout was that L.A. Peach’s singer / guitarist (maybe L.A. Peach himself) was completely besotted with his new lover (the keyboardist). (Check out this feature in Clash if you don’t believe me).

I hope it works out.

Four_Beers

4 BEERS

GIG REVIEW: False Advertising – Three Free Gigs #7

There are a bunch of free gigs in London. Each week I go to three and review them.

The rating system’s simple: how many beers did I buy (drink)? The more, the better.

7. False Advertising @ Old Blue Last, London

Monday, 3 June 2019

Is it False Advertising if they were definitely playing alternative rock?

False Advertising at the Old Blue Last
False Advertising pretending not to play alternative rock @ the Old Blue Last

Today, I saw False Advertising, a half female / male fronted alternative rock trio at the Old Blue Last. They were there to launch their latest single, You Won’t Feel Love. It’s pretty cool. Listen to it.

As the night’s only band, False Advertising didn’t need to do much to hold the crowd’s attention. Despite this (maybe they didn’t realise), they still delivered a solid performance that didn’t seem to lose momentum despite two drummer / guitarist switches. (I have no base comparison, but their parents seemed delighted, so I’m going to stand by that statement)

The songs were the standard alternative rock stop / start affair, mixed with some jarring hardcore rhythms and the usual discordant guitar. The lead single inspired memories of Veruca Salt’s second effort, Eight Arms to Hold You. That’s meant to be a positive. Also, it was definitely better live. They’re actually pretty decent live.

To mark the single’s launch, the band bribed the audience with a mason jar filled with swirly-pops. I didn’t take one because my reviews are totally impartial, but apparently the track’s lyrics were singed into the stopper. Sweets are obviously the natural extension of the concept art that’s accompanied a few of their singles (You Won’t Feel Love, You Said and Give It Your Worst) – yeah, actual examples of false advertising.

The rest of the performance sounded a bit more like Shudder to Think mixed with a bit of Jawbox– but less hardcore and alternative now it’s 2019.

Good gig for a Monday.

NB: If False Advertising find themselves stuck for inspiration for the next single, I’d recommend Head & Shoulders (visibly reduced flakes at a distance of 2-feet – yep, the claim was investigated in 2006 but it’s still on the bottle).

Four_Beers

FOUR BEERS

GIG REVIEW: Mellow Gang – Three Free Gigs #6

There are a bunch of free gigs in London. Each week I go to three and review them.

The rating system is simple. How many beers did I buy (drink)? The more, the better.

6. Mellow Gang and Hobby Club @ Lion Coffee + Records, London

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Compact space, small crowd, embarrassed band, no crescendos. Other’s would call it ‘intimate’ – but I’m a realist.

Mellow Gang
So compact you can’t see the band past the camera man. Mellow Gang @ Lion Coffee + Records, Thursday, 30 May 2019

This Thursday, I saw Mellow Gang at Lower Clapton’s premier coffee-come-cocktail-come-record-shop, Lion Coffee + Records (it’s almost in the title, isn’t it?). It was a taster gig, organised to showcase Mellow Gang’s upcoming album, Adjourn. Hobby Club supported.

Unfortunately, I didn’t arrive in time to see Hobby Club, but my girlfriend did. She gave me a download: the guitarist pulled faces at the crowd and the singer looked really Hackney (after she’d taken off her jacket). Great then.

So on to Mellow Gang, who I definitely didn’t miss.

For those who haven’t listened, Mellow Gang play dreamy music that would go great in your lounge. Kinda like Cocteau Twins with Lana Del Rey vocals: a lotta’ chime bells (keyboard), electronic drums that could attract an orca (sonar sounds) and female vocals that pour out like molasses. Also, their song Carousel sounds like Supertramp.

During the show, I stood at the front of the audience – a decision I immediately regretted. Yeah, I kept getting in the way of the hired cameraman (he probably hadn’t been to Hackney before – he was wearing a stab-proof) and I didn’t have anywhere to look except directly into the bassist’s eyes. My gaze made the bassist really uncomfortable (shame, I was trying to express that live, he was the highlight).

Technically, Mellow Gang were good (except for some lacklustre guitar – but no big deal). By that, I mean they played songs from Adjourn successfully live. 

However, live, they didn’t recreate the draw of their studio material – really dense crescendos. 

But that might have been the space.

NB: The space is cool, sounded like the mixing could have been better though.

Three_Beers

Three beers

GIG REVIEW: Fake Turins – Three Free Gigs #5

There are a bunch of free gigs in London. Each week I go to three and review them.

The rating system is simple. How many beers did I buy (drink)? The more, the better.

5. Fake Turins, Shattercones and Japan Review @ 26 Leake Street, London

Wednesday, 29 May 2019

Henry learns that Fake Turins are NOT Hard-Fi beats with William Burroughs inspired lyrics.

26 Leake Street
This place will definitely impress Sandra in HR – outside 26 Leake Street, London

This was my first visit to 26 Leake Street.

It’s an open-plan, neon-lit bar, hidden under covered railway arches near Waterloo station. I’d describe it as ‘organise your next post-work binge here and it’ll probably impress your colleagues’ cool.

Yeah, swathes of graffiti, skateboards clattering and kids screaming, ‘fuck off’ at each other. The bar’s also hosting an official Nelson Mandela exhibition, so there’s culture too (great excuse to miss that mandatory weekend gallery excursion).

It inspired me to ask myself, “is 26 Leake Street a bar for revolutionaries?

Then I remembered that I knew the answer to that already:

Yes, of course it was!

Are you Nation of Ulysses? Oh well, chin up…

I was there to see Fake Turins.

The facebook event page described them as, “Nomadic Disco-Punk that blends the poetic irreverence of Burroughs with the modern cynicism of David Foster Wallace.

How Henry inspired Fake Turins 

The description quoted above has been revised.

Ahead of the gig, it claimed that the band were, “Hard-Fi beats overlayed with poetry inspired by William Burroughs carrying the modern cynicism and irony of David Foster Wallace.” Or something like that.

It’s funny, they must have changed it because they overheard me saying how ridiculous it was. Look Fake Turins, I know I’m a pretty big deal, but please stop being so insecure.

I’m sure I’d heard boasts like that before!

Who did it remind me of? Oh yeah, Nation of Ulysses, everyone’s favourite Washington DC punk band to quote when you’re having an argument about how Refused aren’t that original. You know, that band that claimed to be revolutionaries working hard to overthrow the capitalist system.

Fake Turins seemed to be describing themselves in a very similar way. But maybe they were just joking.

I mean, I don’t mind a bit of intentional over exaggeration (I’m not a monster, am I?).

Then they did sound check.

Between ‘1-2 1-2Fake Turins’ front-man recited poetry.

It confirmed my suspicions: Fake Turins were really pretentious (and insecure).

So, having established that this review is completely objective, let’s get to it:

The actual review

Japan Review kicked it off with some dreary dreampop; a lot to distortion and aural landscaping (the legacy of U2 lives on). Singer sounded like Thom Yorke, but the songs weren’t very interesting (no fake plastic watering cans).

I hadn’t showered or changed my boxers that day. Guess who was drearier, my boxers or Japan Review? Nailed it.

Next up: Shattercones. They promised a unique and (potentially) unhinged performance. I can now confirm that no, fiddles do not make performances unique or unhinged. Vocals like Johnny Cash come that posh guy with the double-barrel surname from the Vaccines, but those mid-western vibes might have just been inspired by the attire; they looked like they’d walked off the set of a high-school production of Stranger Things

And now to Fake Turins.

Fake Turins
Sound checks aren’t any good without a bit of poetry (bleugh). Fake Turins @ 26 Leake Street

I’d held out one hell of a lotta hope for Fake Turins.

I mean, they were meant to be “Hard-Fi beats overlayed with poetry inspired by William Burroughs carrying the modern cynicism and irony of David Foster Wallace.

Can you imagine?

Oh wait, you probably can’t.

I’ll help you.

Imagine that song, Living for the Weekend. Now surgically remove the vocals.

Ok good.

Now, I know this one’s difficult, but what do David Foster Wallace and William Burroughs have in common? The former is ‘iron-ic’, the latter shot his wife in the head during a drunken parlour game and then let his friends abuse his son.

Go on, I know you read.

That’s it!

What they have in common is the throbbing (imagined) iron of Naked Lunch’s Steely Dan III: a rubber dildo used to penetrate the dead body of a hanged man.

So Fake Turins were going to play Hard Fi’s Living for the Weekend and read that scene about Steely Dan III from Naked Lunch.

BOLD.

Oh wait, they didn’t.

Actually, they sounded alright. But after so much boasting, they weren’t able to live up to the hype.

The music wasn’t interesting, inspired, or even that different.

It was just a lot of people playing a load of instruments (including bongo drums) and two guys wailing over them cryptically.

The highlight was that Charlie came.

Charlie, don’t worry, the beers are for the bands, not you.

Fake Turins: Don’t promise what you can’t deliver.

Three_Beers

THREE BEERS