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.

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: 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: Crying High – Three Free Gigs #4

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.

4. Crying High, Vanity Fairy, Aunt Lucy, ILKA @ the Victoria, London

Tuesday, 28 May 2019

Henry crashes a karaoke house party, fails to make friends and realises that no, it really isn’t about the music.

Crying High - Free Merchandise
Crying High @ the Victoria – there was a free merch table. Isn’t this the best bits of merchandise you’ve ever seen? It’s a branded post card! If you send me your address I’ll send you a message!

On Tuesday, I went back to Dalston’s Victoria.

I expected to see another bad gig.

I didn’t.

No, I had the pleasure of seeing three acts (ILKA, sorry but you didn’t make the cut) delight in exposing themselves to an audience of friends. It was like a burlesque show, expect less 12A.

Alone at the back, I felt like I’d crashed a party.

Not the usual party (sitting around someone’s kitchen table playing with the salt shaker and sugar dispenser). No, it was a celebration of friendship, courage, dignity and a night of rolling around in magnetic tape (crooning over pre-recorded tracks).

When it was over, I couldn’t help but imagine what my life would have been like if I’d actually been invited.

Then I took it too far.

Now it’s a story that I’m going to tell everyone this weekend.

How I partied with your Aunt Lucy, Vanity Fairy and Crying High:

Henry:So, I went to this party on Tuesday.

Acquaintance:A PARTY? OH MY GOD HENRY, YOU’RE SO COOL. TELL ME EVERYTHING.

Henry:

It all started with a rap at the door, immediately followed by disappointment.

It was a disaster. That couple ILKA (not-as-synthy-or-strange-as-the-rest) were the first to arrive – no one actually thought they’d show up. 

The conversation wasn’t very inclusive, they insisted on telling everyone what they’d achieved since graduation (yes, they played the most instruments: there was a dedicated drummer, some standing keys, a lil’ bit o’ guitar and a pad-thing that you bash with a stick).

When they started recounting the merits of owning a 4-bed, I realised that the chattier half (singer) sounded like that guy from White Lies (posh English boy who still plays rugby).

I think they thought the boasts were impressive, but really it was just a bit embarrassing (they couldn’t play all the instruments at once).

Also, I should have said to the guy, but if you’re with a new partner, it’s not a great idea to talk incessantly about another girl who you’re trying to get to come over, even if you say she’s like a cactus (sang about how the girl he fancies is a prickly minx).

After one non-alcoholic beer, they left.

Funny how departure can have such a profoundly positive effect on the mood.

Then (you really wouldn’t have guessed itsurprise! your Aunt Lucy showed up.

Aunt_Lucy
Doesn’t she look well? Aunt Lucy @ the Victoria

She’s looking great for her age. Leaving Mike’s given her so much confidence.

To everyone’s delight, she’d done herself up like that guy from Kasabian – decked in a shiny lycra playsuit with shades and stubble.

Don’t look hurt. It wasn’t actually your Aunt Lucy. It was a skinny guy that everyone but me seemed to know.

He spent the whole time requesting songs from Liars’ Mess, then proceeded to thrust manically to them.

We had a brief conversation.

He slurred about the previous afternoon (just one more biscuit) and his upcoming weekend plans (a countryside excursion with the fam).

So forgive me for thinking it was your Aunt Lu?

Everyone was happy. The party had started.

Then the conversation turned to feminism.

It got a bit intense, then this pretty girl, Vanity Fairy made a statement by plundering the dressing up box upstairs. She came back down dressed as Little Bo Peep.

Vanity Fairy
Vanity Fairy coming out of her bonnet @ the Victoria (you can tell we’d had a bit too much at this at this point)

She carried the persona well, announcing her emancipation from sheep and stereotypes, while delivering a fabulous new introduction, “Vanity, baby.

We all celebrated with a bit of a boogie to some ‘nostalgic’ disco numbers.

And then something funny happened. I might have just imagined it, but as the lights turned green, I thought I saw her point out to me and sing in her throaty drawl, “hit me with a move tonight,” but I was nervous, so didn’t. 

Crying High @ the Victoria
Crying High @ the Victoria – honestly, I wish I’d been bold enough to capture an image of all the masks on the back of everyone’s heads

And just as the mood was beginning to subdue, Crying High found a guitar in the front room.

Internally, we all groaned.

He then proceeded to play and, turns out he can actually sing.

We all groaned a bit more.

Thank god he was only joking!

After one song with the guitar he flung it out of the window and got funky, entering his own sing-on-top-of-the-pre-recorded-track routine.

It injected so much new life back into the gathering.

My friend even found the time to make some paper masks with Crying High’s face on, which we all wore on the back of our heads, while the man himself as he stood on a coffee table.

And he sang and sang. And with two microphones (someone told me that’s how you train mics for live performances – start them off in pairs).

I didn’t want the night to end. But it did.

At least there were party bags (a free merch table) filled with post cards, polaroids and paper masks – just so we could remember the great time we had.

Conclusion

A lot more heart than you normally see at the Victoria on a Tuesday.

Four_Beers

4 BEERS

GIG REVIEW: Longheads – Three Free Gigs #3

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

The rating system’s simple. How many beers did I buy? The more, the better.

3. Longheads, Mister Charming Alarming Professor Alfred The Hitchclock and Milkjug and @ the Social, London

Thursday, 23 May 2019

Is competent a compliment?

Longheads 2
The legacy of the Paracas lives on. Longheads @ the Social

Milkjug sing about elves. They’re a psychedelic dreampop quartet who sing about elves. They announced their love of elves to the audience – as if the long hair wasn’t a give away. Didn’t manage to recreate the tranquillity of the forest, as bumpy dynamic changes uprooted the mood.

Smarming rhymes with Mister Charming Alarming Professor Alfred The Hitchclock. Who? A three-piece, bluesy and ‘conventionally strange’ rock band. And what does smarming have to do it? Dramatically extraordinary tempo changes, blistering nitroglycerine fueled vocal duels and a surprising turn-of-the-century mid-western vibe. Soft / Hard / Repeat (think Pixies). Quite talented, maybe it’s time to drop the weird act.

What can you say about Longheads? The band were, um, competent. A set of bass driven songs covered in fuzz. For once, it was sweet to see shared vocal responsibilities that didn’t descend into a competition. But throughout the performance, it felt like something was missing. That’s sometimes the point, and could have been what Longheads were going for, having incorporated some elements of shoegaze into their sound. But unlike DIIV or Ride (or even Drop Nineteens) I wasn’t drowned in waves of drone and then lifted into the outer atmosphere. No, listening to Longheads was like paddling in the sea. Nice when you’re doing it, but boring as hell (unless you’re five) and the leading cause of sandy socks.

Longheads were the best band but also the biggest bore. Hopefully Milkjug and Mister Charming Alarming Professor Alfred The Hitchclock stick at it.

Three_Beers

THREE BEERS

GIG REVIEW: Sólveig Matthildur – Three Free Gigs #2

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

The rating system’s simple. How many beers did I buy? The more, the better.

2. Sólveig Matthildur, Hyeanah & Nike Neblem @ – Shacklewell Arms, London

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

Sparse beats and ethereal rhymes under throbbing crimson.

Hyeanah
Crouching Hyeanah @ Shacklewell Arms

Nike Neblem, female duo draped in black delivered an experimental piece questioning something (?) about a world where truth is an option. Announced their arrival with a distorted amp / guitar duet but despite threats to entangle the audience in their agenda with a ball of twine they didn’t manage to add much originality to subject matter.

Synth and drum combo Hyeanah generated oppressive aural landscapes, underscored with clattering percussion and topped with schizophrenic free-verse. It sort of worked, but difficulty discerning between each song robbed them of a final applause.

Main act, Icelandic Sólveig Matthildur (Kælan Mikla‘s bassist) drew a crowd of her own to mark the launch her new LP, Constantly in Love. Sparse beats and ethereal vocals proved captivating throughout. Despite no live backing, her vocals added much welcomed depth to each song. During the gaps inbetween Sólveig’s interactions with the crowd were endearing and provided a platform for her to dispel various (apparent) online rumours that she just sings about boys. Highlights including Twin-Peak-theme-twinged Dystopian boy and pulsating disco of Tómas.

First two acts lacked direction, Sólveig Matthildur made up for it.

Four_Beers

4 BEERS

GIG REVIEW: The DandyLions – Three Free Gigs #1

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

The rating system’s simple. How many beers did I buy? The more, the better.

1. The DandyLions, Røyaltee and Crimson Cobra @ the Victoria – Dalston, London

Tuesday, 21 May 2019

Audience participation required. Shame there wasn’t a crowd.

The DandyLions - the Victoria
The DandyLions @ the Victoria – Pink and crimson clash. Who’s gonna win?

Three rock bands – one distinctly more glam than the others.

Crimson Cobra kicked it off with a solid set. Sounded like Royal Blood. Guitar occasionally soared into an aerial assault and a well-timed drummer come singer.

Second Røyaltee announced that this wasn’t a normal show, told everyone how hard his life’s been then cajoled the crowd into overhead clapping. Already cringe inducing the frontman topped it with a directed sing-a-long: ‘when I sing ‘scream, shout’ you shout ‘scream motherfucker.’’ Hit the pinnacle of cool with their miserable Pop the Drugs – Mr Brownstone without the class.

Unashamedly glam, the DandyLions gave the best performance of the night. Decked in pink and yellow lycra with at least one wrestling mask, they clearly did not give a shit. Unfortunate that only about ten people were still there. Launching haribo from the stage they ran through a set of songs as camp as Queen, potentially inspired by sex (or lack of it), including Hairspray, Drink me Like Water and Legendary Fire. Veered a little more PC with faux-feminist power-pop number Women in Charge.

Pleasantly unexpected end to an otherwise unmemorable and occasionally bad show.

Two_Beers

TWO BEERS