Gullivers, Manchester, UK3rd June 2017
By AJ Phink
The Creature Comfort, Manchester’s longest standing outsider psyche rockers, are playing Gullivers and have promised that they will be unveiling the songs that will form the core of their as yet untitled sophomore album. The Creature Comfort have been around almost as long as I’ve been attending punk and alternative shows, I first caught them supporting Crazyhead at the tail end of the eighties at the long lost Manchester International, so the chance to see them live showcasing new material is an opportunity that for the first time has kept me away from Manchester’s annual all day punk festival, North West Calling. Across the road from Gullivers the latest tribute to those that lost their lives on the 22nd May is taking shpae, far from causing fear and division the events of that day have united the city against hatred and terror in a positive way, and I can’t help but feel proud of the way my city has reacted.
Tonight the bands are punctuated by a play list curated by The Creature Comfort that encompasses everything that’s worth a damn in rock ‘n roll, garage and punk and this only adds to the feeling that tonight is going to be something special. First up tonight are London based Dreamherbs, as the name suggests they are from the psychedelic side of the street, they deliver the kind of charged psyche that channels Lemmy era Hawkwind and The 13th Floor Elevators, and makes you wish that you’d been born several decades earlier. Tonight’s psychedelic lighting only heightens the inherent mindwarping soundtrack that they deliver, and for me this London based trio channel an intense and lysergic tinged interpretation that owes as much to punk as it does to psychedelia. The no frills stripped down approach to their set means that the self indulgence that can accompany some psychedelia infused bands is not on the radar, this is the essence of the roots of punk rock and marks a stunning and intense opening to tonight’s show.
The Goa Express are from a little closer to home, albeit from a far flung corner of Greater Manchester, despite being a member down as one of their number is at a festival in Barcelona they deliver an energetic set of psyche that is tainted with the raw spirit of garage punk coupled with the energetic essence of indie rock. Whilst the early part of their set owed more to the bands that populated the Pebbles and Rubble compilations, later in their set they launched into material that owed more to the first wave of punk than to its predecessors, and it seems even the further most outposts of Manchester are developing their own unique soundtrack, and the result is that I’m left wanting to hear a lot more from The Goa Express. Even though this is a band in the fledgling stages of their evolution they are clearly a band deserving of your attention, and one I’m going to make a point of catching live when they have a headline show to accompany the launch of the debut EP later this year.
But the main event, and why everyone is here, is to hear what The Creature Comfort have in store for us with their eagerly anticipated new material. This was alleged to be Jose Luis Ortega‘s last concert with the band, but apparently this is not set in stone, and it appears the lead guitarist will thankfully remain a fixture of The Creature Comfort. From the off frontman Ben Le Jeune channels Iggy Pop and remains one of Manchester’s most idiosyncratic frontmen, their classic single, Sauce, arrives early in the set and it’s delivered with a raw punky quality that makes this crowd pleasing favourite sound even more vibrant than I’ve heard it delivered before. The Creature Comfort tonight sound like a band reborn, the new material coupled with the energised delivery of their back catalogue gives their set a vibrancy that I’ve not encountered before, and for a band I’ve seen a few times over the last few decades that is saying something.
The Creature Comfort are a band who’s time is long overdue and on the basis of tonight’s show the recognition that Manchester’s perennial outsiders deserve cannot be far away. The Creature Comfort have been ploughing their own individual furrow since before most of their audience were conceived and for a band to be producing new material of this quality after all this time is a tribute to their determination and originality. For me tonight signifies that The Creature Comfort‘s time may be coming as the new songs that were previewed ahead of the release of their sophomore album don’t indicate a band that are treading water, instead it suggests a new vitality to their songwriting that after almost three decades is an achievement few manage. The material from their critically acclaimed debut album is received with rapture, and these underground stalwarts have, to my ears, never sounded better than they have tonight.
They close with I Do Need You and as with everything tonight this song has never sounded better. If you aren’t familiar with The Creature Comfort then you need to rectify this as they are as much a part of Manchester’s musical heritage as the usual more well known suspects, but they’ve never compromised, and for me that is about as punk as it gets. Given that North West Calling, which is happening just across the city, features a number of headline bands trading on their former glories then I know that I’ve made the right decision tonight. The Creature Comfort are one of Manchester’s best hidden secrets and it’s no surprise that members of other Manchester luminaries, including Peter Hook And The Light, are present to bear witness to tonight’s triumphant set. The Creature Comfort remain a unique band that should finally be mentioned in Manchester’s musical folklore, it’s the least they deserve.
Dreamherbs Facebook page is here
The Goa Express‘s Facebook page is located here
The Creature Comfort‘s website can be found here
You can download The Creature Comfort‘s debut album for free here
Live photography is by Rich Pictures and their Facebook page is located here
You can click on any of Rich Pictures photos to view a slide show of the images
Sound Control, Manchester, UK25th May 2017
By AJ Phink
Manchester has been hit by an unexpected heatwave meaning that all the beer gardens are packed and Sound Control, a place that normally has a reputation for sweaty intimate shows, is like a furnace. The venue is sparsely populated prior to Demob Happy taking the stage, it’s hard to tell whether this is the allure of the beer garden or whether people are deterred by the attack on the Manchester Arena, that occurred less than a week ago. Regardless Demob Happy take the stage and hit us with a wall of fuzzed up indie noise that to my ears owes a significant debt to the MC5, their anthemic blend of fuzzed up indie rock, harmonic vocals and garage and psyche overtones is a welcome return to live music after what has been an emotional week.
The crowd slowly grows throughout their set, indicating that the rare appearance of summer in Manchester is more responsible for the initial sparse attendance rather than any sense of fear or trepidation regarding attending live shows. Demob Happy have given it their all tonight in an overheated venue, and I note that not one single person is in the bar area, everyone is up to the front for their set. Their mix of indie rock, garage fuzz and proto punk roots is one that is impressive, to put it mildly. Their set veers into alt rock occasionally, recalling elements of early Muse, but thankfully without the self indulgence and prog influences that seems to populate their shows these days. Trying to pin down exactly where Demob Happy are coming from is like herding cats as they skip between influences and styles without batting an eyelid.
At times Demob Happy border on hardcore intensity, others they’re channeling late 60s psyche and fuzzy proto punk, all of this is wrapped in a sheen of indie cool with a raw alt rock veneer, that makes Demob Happy a unique act that I would encourage anyone with a love for the idiosyncratic side of alternative music to go and see live. Their final number is introduced by “we’re Demob Happy, thank you for coming, we think it’s important that you did” and I couldn’t agree more. Tonight Demob Happy played the kind of accomplished genre spanning set that few can deliver, tonight this Brighton based trio of displaced Geordies played an eclectic set that ups the anticipation for their forthcoming EP.
Gang Of Youths are a very different prospect from Demob Happy, they are darker and richer in sound but with the same tendency to incorporate different styles and influences into their set. Tonight they are showcasing new material from their forthcoming sophomore album, Go Farther In Lightness, to the appreciative crowd, and between songs they release their rhetoric and world view. The first exposure to their new material comes across as Gaslight Anthem viewed through a dark and intense lens that is tinged with the distinctly blue collar feel of heartland rock that is distorted through their unique worldview. Glittering guitar riffs sit alongside the driving rhythms and passionate vocals to create a hypnotic and heartfelt sound that is the kind of uplifting soundtrack that Manchester needs this week.
Gang Of Youths displayed a level of openness, honesty and personal disclosure that you rarely encounter, and it was one that you can’t help but be moved by. Towards the end of their all too brief set Gang Of Youths encourage the crowd into an anthemic refrain of “I’m not afraid” during the track Poison Drum, this is a song that has the perfect feel for tonight’s show, a defiant and danceable number that makes me think that this really is a song that should be owned by Manchester, and it’s one that will always remind me of tonight whenever it rotates itself back into my playlist. On this hot mancunian night I can’t think of a better show to have attended since the events of Monday, simultaneously defiant and heartfelt, and in places heartbreaking,
During their final number vocalist David Le’aupepe leaves the stage and enters the crowd and they finish the set as though they’re closing a show to the usual packed crowds they play to in their native Australia, to see a band of this stature in a small grass roots venue is a privilege that you don’t get very often. Tonight was a wonderful mix of styles from the alternative music of the past, present and possibly the future, both Gang Of Youths and Demob Happy delivered near perfect sets tonight and for that I can only thank them, this was my first concert after the events of 22nd May and it reaffirms exactly why music matters and underlines Manchester’s defiance.
On the way to Sound Control we passed the Arena, the site of attack on the 22nd May, the floral tributes and ongoing Police presence are a sobering reminder of the price 22 people paid who just went out to watch live music. The Punk Site‘s response to the Manchester attack can be read here
Gang Of Youths website can be found here
Demob Happy‘s website is located here
Live photography is by Dean Unsworth, his Instagram account is located here,
You can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images
The Peer Hat, Manchester, UK29th April 2017
By AJ Phink
Get Fucked is an all day, and well into the following morning, event bought to us by Atomic Catfight and Abattoir Blues Records, a combination that promises a full day of primitive rock & roll that features nine acts from the primal swamp of the UK’s underground blues, garage and punk scenes that appropriately is taking place in the basement venue that is The Peer Hat, that is located on the edges of Manchester’s fashionable Northern Quarter. The bands appearing at the inaugural Get Fucked festival are diverse to say the least, but all with one common goal, to deliver dirty distorted rock ‘n roll that is in no way designed to save anyone’s soul.
Get Fucked has put together a line up of punked up blues, garage, psych and punk rock that is irresistible to those of us that grew up on a diet of punks adrenaline fuelled charge, the hallucinatory elements of the garage revival scene and whatever other strange creatures emerged from the underground and promised the illicit pleasures that the original hell bound spirit of rock ‘n roll offered. Tonight’s line up includes The Hipshakes, Uncle Jane, Tensheds, The 99 Degree, The Maitlands, The Jungfraus, GUTS, Death Vignettes, Hopper Propelled Electric and music provided by the esteemed Wet Dreams DJ’s.
Get Fucked has nine bands playing each getting a half hour slot, the perfect way to organise a festival with no pretensions, just nine slots of punked up garage, psyche and blues with DJ sets playing the best tunes from the last six decades of rock ‘n roll’s dark underbelly. First up are The Hipshakes and after a brief tune up they launch into their opening slot of adrenaline fuelled garage. The energy levels are already off the chart on their first number, and then stay there. They deliver raw distorted garage that is born of the MC5 and The Stooges with a raw amphetamine fused punk edge that on occasion borders on hardcore intensity, The Hipshakes show exactly how to start a festival.
After a another short DJ set from Wet Dreams, that includes the legendary purveyors of fucked up rock n roll, The Cramps, The Maitlands take to the stage, they bring a cross between raw punked up rock ‘n roll and 60s beat that is tinged with the spirit of 77. The Maitlands have brought their sparkling self penned fucked up pop songs to Get Fucked and they build on the foundations laid by The Hipshakes by maintaining the adrenaline charged rush and combining this with a distinctly Mancunian sensibility, and already at this early stage of the day I can’t help thinking that the inaugural Get Fucked Festival is shaping up to be something very special.
The intriguingly named Uncle Jane are next, and they deliver a set of fucked up rock ‘n roll than channels The Sonics, The Mummies and the bands that populated the legendary Pebbles albums. This a rawer more primitive sound than the previous bands, and they are a welcome addition to Get Fucked and capture the spirit of the evening perfectly with bass heavy set that’s laced with lysergic guitar riffs. Tensheds follow and take Get Fucked down a different path with their intense drum and keyboard combination, but despite the lack of any stringed instruments they continue to channel the spirit of Get Fucked in a manner that makes me think of the Dresden Dolls having a head on collision with Nick Cave and Tom Waits.
Next up is the bastard blues of GUTS, a band that I made a promise to that I would catch them again when I briefly saw them supporting The Bellrays last year, it might take me a while but I keep my promises. GUTS play a set that is the epitome of what Abattoir Blues Records are about, the heart and soul of blues with the attitude and spirit of punk rock, to me they sound even rawer than when I first encountered them. They cross the experimental side of Captain Beefheart with the grunt of blues, and the cocktail is completed by a punk attitude and delivery that makes their dark intense serial killer blues the perfect soundtrack to the midway point of Get Fucked.
Hopper Propelled Electric deliver a charged alt rock set that recalls Queens Of The Stone Age, in their substance fuelled prime, combined with the primal hedonistic spirit of rock ‘n roll. Their charged set brings yet another facet to tonight’s event and as with every other act tonight you can’t help but be impressed with the DIY spirit that is ever present today. Tonight has been a credit to Manchester’s alternative music scene, the bands playing Get Fucked avoid the clichéd Mancunian references and they all choose their own influences, despite all the bands playing tonight having their own sound and style there is a common unifying theme of the hedonistic qualities of rock ‘n roll.
The 99 Degree bring a set of fucked up spaghetti western influenced garage and this is the last set they’ll play before the release of their eagerly awaited Boot Hill Surf Club EP. Ominous echo heavy tones precede The 99 Degree launching a energetic set that channels the spirit of the old West combined with the reverb and echo heavy trashy garage that makes them one of Manchester’s most idiosyncratic bands. No one else does anything even remotely close to what The 99 Degree are doing, they deliver a mutant hybrid of everything that’s worth a damn in rock ‘n roll, and for me they are the closest thing you’ll get to the untamed spirit of the garage punk origins of The Cramps.
The penultimate act is Death Vignettes who have reformed for a one off performance for the inaugral Get Fucked, they channel everything that Abattoir Blues Records are about, dirty nasty punked up blues played exactly as it oughta be. Death Vignettes make as much noise as it’s possible to extract from one guitar and drums, and they produce a sound that makes other two pieces outfits, such as The White Stripes, sound like an unplugged performance. Death Vignettes come across as nothing less than the personification of the primal howl that signified the birth of rock ‘n roll.
The final act is The Jungfraus, their set is largely culled from the impressive KRAAK album that is now available as a pay what you want download. They bring a heady element to the final set of Get Fucked, they channel sixties garage, psyche, alt rock and alternative influence to create an impressive mind altering combination that makes for a fitting finale to the live acts that have graced the first Get Fucked festival. Tonight has been perfect, everything from the venue, the friendly and good natured crowd, along with every single band that played tonight and with the faultless DJ set from Wet Dreams that was the perfect accompaniment to the tonight’s nine triumphant live sets.
There is a sequel to Get Fucked planned and I can’t wait for this to happen, as tonight has been a perfect combination of the music and attitudes that informed and shaped punk rock. For me today has possessed more attitude and rebellion than the established punk festivals, it channels the roots and captures the attitude of what made us fall in love with music in the first place. If you didn’t attend this then you should make a point of being at the next Get Fucked if you can as this will probably be amongst my favourite shows of the year. We came, we saw, we got fucked, and I can’t wait for the next time
The Abattoir Blues Records website can be found here
The Atomic Catfight Facebook page is here
Tensheds website can be found here
Live photography by Michael Maffia, you can click on any of Mike’s photos to view a slide show of the images
TsukiLittle Dickman Records
By AJ Phink
The core of Sharkmuffin is the New York duo of Tarra Thiessen and Natalie Kirch, along with other musicians who flesh out their line up for live shows, currently the line up is augmented by Drew Adler on drums and Chris Nunez on guitar, and has previously included Hole‘s Patty Schemel. The duo proudly integrate a wide range of influences into their sound, everything from The Ronettes to Nirvana is thrown into the melting pot to create a unique combination of styles, now Sharkmuffin have released their sophomore album, Tsuki, that follows on from their 2015 debut full length, Chartreuse. Tsuki is available via Little Dickman Records from today, the 5th May 2017, on celestial splatter vinyl and download formats.
Tsuki starts with a short introduction that contains some wise words on Grandmother Sharkmuffin Says, “don’t worry about shit but you go have a fun time”, following that piece of wisdom Sharkmuffin seem intent on following her advice. Space Glow kicks in and manages to embrace their broad influences with a short slice of lo-fi garage punk, but that’s not the end of the story. The attitude and delivery varies across the whole of Tsuki, whether it’s the full on fuzz of Stacey, the more sinister vibe of the innocent sounding Puppy Love, the dark undercurrent of I Wanna Be You, the unsettling mid way marker of Atama or the twisted sixties pop of Too Much Fun and unsettling psyche soundscape of Scully Is A Sharkmuffin, this is album that veers wildly across genre’s.
Grandmother Sharkmuffin clearly knows her stuff as Sharkmuffin have delivered an album that manages to embrace the swagger of garage punk, the attitude of the punk and the drive of grunge, which are all wrapped up in a twisted lo-fi pop sensibility. There is a heavy influence from the riot grrrl and grunge scenes, along with an ever pervading sway from the worlds of punk and garage, in short Tsuki is an incredibly original hybrid of pretty much everything from the headier side of the alternative scenes, not an easy trick to pull off but Sharkmuffin have done exactly that with an idiosyncratic and unpredictable album.
Tsuki can be ordered via Little Dickman Records here
Sharkmuffin‘s website can be found here
Horn Ur MarkenCardinal Fuzz
By AJ Phink
Cardinal Fuzz have unleashed yet another release from the strange and fuzzy place in which this label exists, this time they have brought us Sweden’s The Janitors who are self styled purveyors of ‘Stökpsych’ a scuzzy barbed wall of fuzz that channels the dark recesses from the worlds of garage and psyche. The Janitors latest full length, Horn Ur Marken, follows on the their last release, Evil Doings Of An Evil Kind, that was released two long years ago. Horn Ur Marken is now available from Cardinal Fuzz on black vinyl, that is presented in a full colour fluorescent UV sleeve, and CD.
Horn Ur Marken kicks in as it means to go on with a seriously dark slab of fuzz in the shape of the opening track, Trojan Horse, where treble laced guitar sits atop a wall of dark fuzz and a pounding relentless drum beat, this is followed by the slow grind of the album’s epic title track, the intensity builds up across this ten minute opus until it ends it a squall of feedback that fades into the mind warping dark groove of Neon Times. The relentless dark twisted tones continue with the almost hypnotic beat of Blizzard and the sinister vibes of Into The Woods and Fear Of All before the tripped out finale, Alarmatica, brings Horn Ur Marken to an end.
The Janitors have delivered a dark slice of psyche from the dark heart of Scandinavia, Horn Ur Marken is an album with immense walls of fuzz that are coupled with a consistently sinister undercurrent. If you are a fan of the darker side of psyche and garage then The Janitors are a band that should definitely be on your radar. Their unique blend of influences, that are shaped by the current state of world affairs, is one that is idiosyncratic and whilst it follows in the tradition of fellow Swedish purveyors of fuzz such as The Nomads, The Hellacopters and The Hives, Horn Ur Marken takes things into a darker place and you can’t help but feel that in Cardinal Fuzz they have found their spiritual home.
Horn Ur Marken can be ordered from Cardinal Fuzz here
The 99 Degree‘s new EP, Boot Hill Surf Club, will be released in the near future with a launch show confirmed for the 12th May at Manchester’s Castle Hotel. They will be warming up for the release of their new EP with an appearance at Manchester’s Get Fucked festival on the 29th April. The 99 Degree‘s debut single, Dead Or Alive, is still available as free download here
Tickets for the launch show on the 12th May can be purchased here
You can listen the teaser for the forthcoming Boot Hill Surf Club EP here
Lawrence, Kansas duo Arc Flash are set to release Carbon Copy, their explosive full length debut on March 31st via High Dive Records and ahead of the release date the band have released a full stream of the record. Carbon Copy is an album full of blistering punk energy, infectious hooks, and raw fuzz, that makes the band’s sound explosive and aggressively catchy.
You can stream Carbon Copy in full via Uproxx here
Carbon Copy can be pre-ordered here
Laser Background are set to release Dark Nuclear Bogs, their latest full length album on April 28th via Endless Daze / Mutual Crush Records. Laser Background‘s latest release picks up where last year’s Correct left off, floating through cosmic realms of warped psych pop and kaleidoscopic indie experimentation. The record is full of sugary hooks, dynamic production and tripped out splendour, It’s a weird, wonderful and hazy look into a subconscious world.
Dark Nuclear Bogs can be pre-ordered here
You can view the video for the track Hymnals, and Laser Background‘s tour dates, below Read More…
RetreatKnitting Factory Records
By AJ Phink
Originating in an unassuming industrial area of California there lie a dozen neatly stacked repurposed shipping containers, one of these, the doors of which feature on the album cover, is the home of The Knitts, a band that has spent the last five years playing the live circuit and releasing multiple EPs and singles, before finally recording their debut album in North Hollywood and New York in a frantic week. Their debut full length album, Retreat, will be available on digital and streaming formats from tomorrow, March 3rd 2017, via Knitting Factory Records.
Opening number, She Likes The Idea Of Gold, takes melodic power pop and infuses it with a sixties sensibility, this mix of styles is something that remains in place throughout the album, they are a band that would wear their influences on their sleeves if they were long enough. Hold Steady Pretty Lady and We Got Time takes the album into a more energetic bouncy place where the punkier side of their personality comes to the fore, before we head back to the garage with Personal Pyramid. The album continues to tread an idiosyncratic path across it’s twelve tracks, encompassing all manner of influences from the dawn of rock ‘n roll onwards.
The Knitts sound takes in a broad range of influences, from sixties psyche and garage pioneers such as The Seeds, through the seventies punk rock explosion with the Ramones and onto the later power pop and indie influences such as The Strokes, all of these elements are skilfully blended on The Knitts debut album. Whilst I doubt there are many people that will love every moment on Retreat, I can pretty much guarantee that there is something that everyone will love, The Knitts have made a unique album that refuses to be pigeonholed or attached to a specific scene, Retreat is an original and impressive debut release that deserves to be heard, and it is something that I’d recommend taking some time out to experience.
The Knitting Factory Records website can be found here
Nashville’s All Them Witches have released their new album, Sleeping Through the War, via New West Records and announced UK headline tour dates. Following appearances confirmed at the Secret Garden Party and Truck Festivals, All Them Witches will return to the UK in September and October for their biggest UK headline tour yet.
The Punk Site review of Sleeping Through The War can be found here
You can stream and purchase Sleeping Through The War here
All Them Witches UK tour dates can be found below Read More…
Sleeping Through The WarNew West Records
By AJ Phink
Nashville based psych rock quartet All Them Witches have returned with their latest album, Sleeping Through The War, that will be released released via New West Records on February 24th, 2017. All Them Witches have never a band to settle on a style or formula, despite the success of their 2015 album, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, their latest album heads off down another path, one that feels like a further progression down their idiosyncratic highway. Sleeping Through The War is a timely album, it’s title reflects the current turbulent situation in the world and how many people are reacting to these events, but whilst it challenges the lethargy, this is also an album that provides a welcome escape.
The epic track Bulls opens Sleeping Through The War, a dreamy slice of mellow psyche that’s edged with vintage fuzz that slowly builds up the pace and then eases you back down again, Don’t Bring Me Coffee is a more strident number, more akin to experimental post psychedelic bands of the early 1970’s, the era before rock monsters stalked the earth. The lead single from the album, Bruce Lee, brings a charged slice of garage fuelled psyche, this kind of number is what I’ve always felt was the missing element from an All Them Witches set, and it’s good to hear the kind of track I always hoped they’d produced introduced into their repertoire, in contrast 3.5.7 and Am I Going Up? are a duo of heady floating psyche influenced number that maintains the suspicious haze that is a trademark of an All Them Witches album. The final three numbers are lysergic tinged epic trips, their multi layered echo and reverb drenched soundscapes resonate with the authentic feel of west coast psychedelia, in particular the nine minute closing number, Guess I’ll Go Live On The Internet, is the prefect soundtrack for a journey to the centre of the mind.
All Them Witches are clearly considering the heavy times in which we all live, but they also encompassing influences and styles from the past. Sleeping Through The War feels very much like the natural successor to their 2015 album, Dying Surfer Meets His Maker, but at the same time it also surpasses their previous recordings. I was lucky enough to catch All Them Witches on one of last years three European tours, live they stand out alone amongst modern psyche as they capture of the original essence of psychedelia without sounding like an anachronism, and their albums are a reflection of what the manage to convey live. Every album has improved and broadened their sound, Sleeping Through The War is a fine slice of psyche, but their constant forward momentum has already made me start looking forward to their next album.
Sleeping Through The War will be available on all formats and can be pre-ordered here.
Afraid Of The HouseBlind Shake Records / Dirtnap Records
By AJ Phink
Afraid Of The House is an album that is born of the bands that appeared on the legendary Pebbles compilations, the fabled collections of obscure snotty sixties garage bands that were punk long before punk. Jim And The French Vanilla combine the attitude of the sixties garage and psyche bands, along with a dash of prime motown, that’s all topped off with punk energy and attitude, this is a convergence of influences that marks Afraid Of The House out as a unique record to surface in 2017, and I mean that in a good way. Dirtnap Records released Afraid Of The House on the 10th February, it is now available digitally and on limited edition vinyl, on black and vibrant orange variants.
I normally avoid doing track run throughs and try to give a feel of the album, and maybe mention the stand out tracks, but that’s just not possible on a release of this type. Afraid Of The House skips between styles, from the raw r ‘n b influenced garage of the opening track When You’re Down, through the prime treble laced fuzz of I’m Just Sitting Here, Grow Like Rabbits and Take It To The Grave to the primal acid drenched throb of Eye For An Eye and Lonely Man. These frantic elements cohabit happily with the softer psyche influence of tracks like Back Home, Psychic Killer and Not Even War, the frantic tormented vibe of I Have To Slow Down and the raw Link Wray influenced instrumental Green Curtains.
Afraid Of The House is a raw lo-fi recording, there is no way that a record like this should be recorded any other way, this is at it’s heart an album of primal garage and psyche, but it’s one that is refocused and refined with some contemporary influences, and it’s this that stops it from being an album that lurks in the shadows of the past. Jim And The French Vanilla are a band that deserve to be heard, and hopefully the release of Afraid Of The House on Dirtnap Records, the home of the dark underbelly of rock n’ roll, will ensure that happens.
Afraid Of The House can be streamed and purchased, on vinyl and download, via the Dirtnap Records Bandcamp here
Jim And The French Vanilla‘s Facebook presence can be found here
The Dirtnap Records website can be found here
Nashville based psych rock quartet All Them Witches have shared a new music video for the track 3-5-7, the second track to be revealed from their forthcoming album, Sleeping Through The War, that is due for release via New West Records on February 24th. The video for 3-5-7 was directed by Robby Staebler, drummer of All Them Witches and artist and photographer in his own right.
Sleeping Through The War can be pre-ordered on CD, LP and download here.
You can view the video for 3-5-7 below Read More…
Blunt Force TraumaAbattoir Blues Records
By AJ Phink
Earlier this year I reviewed the Trauma EP by Manchester’s dirty blues merchants GUTS, it was the final instalment in their Blunt Force Trauma trilogy of EP’s, now they have finally collated the three EP’s, Blunt, Force and Trauma, to form this album. Blunt Force Trauma is released on the independent Manchester based label, Abattoir Blues Records, this is a label that has the stated intention of the curating the finest contemporary blues based music, and on the strength of this debut full length release from GUTS you get the feeling that they are as good as their word.
Blunt Force Trauma opens with the slow grinding menace of 666, this shifts into the mutant hellbilly of one of the album’s highlights, the macabre Jeffrey Dahmer’s Eyes, a track that possesses a gloriously primitive rock ‘n roll feel, that is followed by the fine swamp grind of Cemi and Be Had. As I noted on the review of the Trauma EP, their reworking of Be My Baby is something to behold, this is not a cover version as the soft and sweet sixties standard has been completely reworked, it now carries a sinister menace that hints at unhealthy obsession and mental illness. This is followed by a quartet of songs, James Brown, Fucked On Your Fuck, Get In The Car and Dirty Mouth, that encompass stripped down dirty rock ‘n roll and raw primitive blues before you get to the fine closing duo. Mean Old Queen is another highpoint that brings a slice of upbeat garage dementia to Blunt Force Trauma, and drags another primal element into the chaotic fray, before Blow brings the album to a dark and stormy close.
Blunt Force Trauma is an impressive collection of eleven tracks that combines the spirit of primitive rock ‘n roll and the slow sinister grind of blues, and injects it with punk attitude and garage psychosis to create a heady turbulent album that has been worth the long wait for it’s arrival. Throughout Blunt Force Trauma vocalist Liam O’Neill delivers an anguished blues howl that sounds like it’s possessed by his personal demons, this is accompanied by a primitive grind that recalls the darker side of rock ‘n roll and hints at mental anguish, obsession, drug use and primal urges, in short everything about rock ‘n roll that your parents warned you about, and in my book that always has to be a good thing.
Blunt Force Trauma can be ordered via Abattoir Blues Records here
Hairy MountainAlive Naturalsound Records
By AJ Phink
Westerm Australia’s Datura4 is the brainchild of Dom Mariani, the former frontman of The Stems and DM3, and Greg Hitchcock, who was previously in You Am I and New Christs, the quartets line up is completed by drummer Warren Hall and bassist Stu Loasby. Datura4 have released their sophomore album, Hairy Mountain, it was released at the end of October via Alive Naturalsound Recordings and it follows on from their acclaimed debut album, Demon Blues.
Hairy Mountain is a mixture of some seriously laid back fuzz drenched psyche, trashy rock ‘n roll, primitive garage rock and dirty blues, this approach is exemplified by the title track but that’s not the end of the story. The album maintains it’s primitive roots throughout, but it also incorporates a sleazy rock ‘n roll charm, alongside an influence from the bourbon drenched rock ‘n roll that hails from the southern side of the United States. After nine tracks of heady substance influenced psyche the album ends with a mellower acoustic feel, Broken Path brings the album to an unexpectedly slow burning close. Hairy Mountain is ten solid tracks celebrating an unbridled joy for the kind of primitve rock ‘n’ roll that emerged from the 1960’s and 1970’s. This is an album that acknowledges the influences they’ve accumulated from their previous bands, but it’s also a move on from their former outfits.
Hairy Mountain is an album that incorporates all the suspiciously hazy elements of the bands that emerged from the garages, but it combines it with some seriously accomplished rock and this makes for a fine hybrid of styles. Australia seems to encourage bands the blend garage and psyche with other influences, like the oz outfits before them, such as The Lime Spiders, The Cosmic Psychos and The Vines, Datura4 have taken the garage formula and incorporated other styles to make a unique album of psyche influenced rock.
Hairy Mountain can be ordered on all formats, including the hand mixed starburst vinyl edition, here
Fallow Café, Manchester, UK2nd December 2016
By AJ Phink
The Fallow Café lies to the South of Manchester, nestled inconspicuously amongst terraced housing, it has a bar and restaurant downstairs, but upstairs lies an intimate venue that is the perfect setting for tonight’s triumphant headline show by The 99 Degree. In addition to the four band bill there is a DJ set by Wet Dreams, both in between bands and then on into the early hours, that captures the mood of the evening perfectly, the playlist covers everything from sixties garage pioneers such as The Sonics through alternative and indie as well as a few punk classics thrown in for good measure, marking what is easily the best DJ set I’ve encountered at a concert this year.
Due to some of the worst traffic I’ve encountered in a long time we arrive late for the show, by the time we get into the Fallow Cafe Sam Craighan is already approaching the end of his set, but the three numbers I do manage to catch hint at a melodic indie sensibility that carries the spirit of the likes of The Libertines. They alternate between keyboard and guitar led numbers, that can carry the spirit and bounce of Britpop, or convey a more melancholy tone. Despite only catching three songs of his set Sam Craighan marked a promising beginning to an evening that showcases some of finest talent that originates from the fuzzy side of this town.
After some more fine tunes from the Wet Dreams DJ La Mode take the stage, I had no previous knowledge of them and their name didn’t suggest what I could expect. They boast a striking vocalist and what appears to be a modern day Viking on bass, rounding out the line up are two more subdued, but no less talented, members that complete the quartet. What is immediately apparent is that vocalist Millie Sproston has a stunning voice that is backed up by a soundtrack that’s informed by the proto punk and rock bands of the late sixties and early seventies, but crucially with a contemporary feel that stops them from being an anachronism in any way shape or form.
I’m finding that the deeper I delve in Manchester’s underground scene the more I realise there are some incredible bands out there, and La Mode can be added to their number. They skilfully straddle the line between rock, alternative and indie, and importantly they do it in style. Their material defies categorisation, there’s even a brief ska element incorporated into the breakdown one of their numbers. My first encounter of La Mode has made a lasting impression on me, whilst they carry a heavy undercurrent of seventies rock influence it is one that is shorn of self indulgence and excess. La Mode delivered a brief hard edged melodic set that for me makes them another band to watch in 2017.
By the time Crimsons take the stage the Fallow Café is packed to capacity, the temperature is rising and it’s standing room only, and the trio that make up Crimsons bring another dimension to the impressive bill that’s on offer tonight. Crimsons play an echo drenched psyche influenced and lysergic tinged element to the proceedings. They simultaneously channel the best of the psychedelic and garage bands, but they combine this with contemporary influences, in particular elements of Manchester’s post punk era are present in the treble laced guitar style that permeates their set, and this makes for a heady combination that, like La Mode before them, is hard to resist.
The Crimsons build on the impressive opening by the first two bands, the contrast between each of the bands that has appeared tonight’s show is marked, but rather than this being jarring the differing styles compliment each other. The heady psyche the Crimsons play seems to contain a significant influence from Manchester legends The Chameleons, especially in their guitar sound, but there the comparison ends, the Crimsons have their own distinct sound that meld influences that span the last five generations. They bring a welcome slice of paisley inspired treble laced driving psyche that brings another heady element to the mix prior to tonight’s headliners, The 99 Degree, taking the stage.
During each of the three bands that played before them Joe Sartini, the vocalist of The 99 Degree, has been down the front doing his own unique shambling dance moves and yelling encouragement at the bands, it’s this kind of camaraderie amongst the bands that typifies the good natured atmosphere that has been present throughout tonight’s show, now it’s his turn to take to the stage. I’ve caught The 99 Degree twice so far this year, supporting Kid Congo And The Pink Monkeybirds and as a part of a Psychetropic showcase, but tonight they are taking the headlining spot and the support acts, the venue and the crowd have all built up the atmosphere perfectly for The 99 Degree to launch themselves towards 2017.
The 99 Degree have bought their deranged mix of rock ‘n roll and garage, that is all delivered with a spaghetti western sneer, to the Fallow Café. They open with their heavy primitive sound that immediately has the crowd moving, and you can’t help but get the feeling that tonight’s performance is what The 99 Degree have been working towards throughout 2016. Tonight they play their own deranged hallucinogenic surf rock, but despite the influences The 99 Degree are in no way buried in the past, they, along with support acts La Mode and Crimsons, are at the forefront of the latest incarnation of bands inspired by the sounds that originated in the sixties and early seventies.
Vocalist Joe Sartini announces that “the doors have been locked and the drinks have been spiked” and this is the signal for The 99 Degree to launch into a headlining set of their unique brand of garage dementia. Songs such as Losing My Mind energise the sweaty crowd that has packed out the Fallow Café, the set varies from sinister Link Wray inspired guitar lines, embodied in the track The End Of The Line, to full on garage floor shakers. The singers shambolic stage presence is in sharp contrast to the rest of the band who hammer out the kind of authentic razor sharp rock ‘n roll that is in no way designed to save your soul or be redemptive, they are the real deal.
It’s clear The 99 Degree have stepped up a gear, something they have managed to do every time I’ve seen them, which makes them a very exciting prospect for 2017, and tonight they confirmed new material was in the pipeline to follow on from their debut single, Dead Or Alive, which sounded better than ever tonight and brought a taste of the menace of the old west to South Manchester. Tonight they announced that they will be releasing an EP of new material next year and on the basis of the songs they played tonight that will populate the forthcoming The Banshee EP then it can only be a matter of time before The 99 Degree come to wider attention and spread their wings beyond the confines of their hometown.
The 99 Degree are possessed by the original untamed spirit of rock ‘ n roll that follows in the tradition of Vince Taylor, The Sonics and The Cramps, every generation has it’s own standard bearers that embody the primitive spirit of excess and hedonism, The 99 Degree haven’t so much picked up the torch, but they’ve stolen it and are using it light a suspicious smoke. The world needs bands like The 99 Degree that carry the spirit of rock ‘n roll and garage, but they also combine it with the fuck you attitude of punk rock and the meance of a Sergio Leone soundtrack to create something that is truly unique and as a result tonight’s show indicates that 2017 could well be their year.
Sam Craighan‘s Facebook presence can be found here
La Mode‘s Facebook page is here and their debut EP is available via iTunes
Crimsons Facebook page can be found here
Dead Or Alive is available via The 99 Degree‘s Bandcamp here
Photography is by Dean Unsworth, his Instagram account is located here,
You can click on any of Dean’s photos to view a slide show of the images
Following the sinister tale told in Gang‘s video for Dead, the Brighton three piece have revealed part two of their grave tale in a new video for Enough Nothing, the flip-side to their AA side single, out now via Ra-Ra Rok Records. Gang have also confirmed they will be playing at 2017’s SXSW festival in Austin, Texas in addition to their UK dates in December. You can order the Dead/Enough Nothing AA side single here
The Punk Site review of Dead/Enough Nothing can be found here
You can view the video for Enough Nothing, and their December tour dates, below Read More…
Dead Or AliveSelf Released
By AJ Phink
The 99 Degree released their debut single, Dead Or Alive, earlier this year, they play an unhinged combination of surf, psych and garage which sounds like it originates from a sparsely populated ghost town in the mid west of America, rather than the urban sprawl of Greater Manchester in the UK. The 99 Degree have regularly been tearing up stages in the North West of England, but now those further afield can be exposed to their unique brand of garage psychosis
Dead Or Alive opens with the kind of ominous tones that usually precede a mysterious stranger gunning people down in a spaghetti western, this is a dark and deranged preacher killing murder ballad that captures the spirit of the best Sergio Leone westerns and combines this with the ghost of the original spirit of deranged rock ‘n roll. Vocalist Joe Sartini delivers the murderous tale with his transatlantic spanning vocal style while Phil Turner‘s twisted Gretsch guitar tones give the single it’s underlying menace, the whole package is underpinned by Paul Featherstone and Craig Trickett‘s rock solid rhythm section that keeps The 99 Degree‘s excesses securely anchored.
If you have any love for primitive garage bands such as The Cramps, or the original purveyors of garage and psyche that populated the legendary Pebbles compilations, then The 99 Degree are a band you need to acquaint yourself with, and as this single has been made available as a name your price download then what are you waiting for?
Dead Or Alive is available as a name your price download via The 99 Degree‘s Bandcamp here
Brighton trio Gang have revealed Enough Nothing, the flip side to their forthcoming AA side single Dead / Enough Nothing, due November 25th via Ra-Ra Rok Records. Following their praised Animalia single that was released earlier this year via Corner Shop Pop Records, alongside a self organised tour of the UK, A tour supporting LA’s Wand and a BBC 6 Music session, Dead and Enough Nothing arrive in a haze of mystic fuzz and tangled dirge-pop.
You can view the video for Dead, and their December tour dates, below Read More…
Nudity Is God's CreationCardinal Fuzz
By AJ Phink
Cardinal Fuzz have built a reputation as a label that is dedicated to bringing out some of the strangest and most unique recordings ever committed to wax, this time they have released Nudity Is God’s Creation. This is a retrospective release of recordings by Nudity dating from 2005 to 2010 of what is described as “orgasmic interstellar mayhem”. Formed in 2004 in Washington DC, Nudity only ever released a couple of self distributed CD’s and a solitary slab of vinyl, released via Discourage, but no actual album was ever released. But now those determined seekers of strangeness at Cardinal Fuzz have unearthed their back catalogue, along with a few bonus tracks, and put the whole shebang onto on one handy double album.
Nudity Is God’s Creation opens in fine style with Now I’m Resting, a savage fuzzy garage punk number that any lover of primitive proto punk will adore, This Man continues the fuzzy assault but with an added lysergic element thrown into the mix, and by the third track, Moon Druids, the acid appears to have well and truly kicked in. It wouldn’t be a Cardinal Fuzz release without a few extended psychedelic soundscapes, and the first of these, Birdsong, slows the pace down and ups the dose. Midway through the album the psychedelic connection is well and truly confirmed, with a faithful cover of the early Hawkwind classic, Hurry On Sundown, and after this you get a return to the proto punk vibe with Elevate In Rotation. Nudity Is God’s Creation ends in true Cardinal Fuzz fashion with four extended slabs of psychedelic strangeness, Rubicon, The Nightfeeders and Make Up, saving the strangest trip for last with Le Premier Voyage Du Capitaine.
Nudity featured Dave Harvey, John Quittner, Josh Hayes, of Feral Ohms, and Eryn Ross, of Growling, the fact that this band are a favourite of psyche aficionado Julian Cope should tell you everything you need to know about Nudity, this is a raw mix of garage punk and psychedelia, that if I didn’t know better I would swear was a product of the late 1960’s or early 1970’s. For me the album is at it’s best when it’s dishing out raw slabs of acid drenched garage rock, but the extended slices of psychedelia are not to be ignored. For those who are fans of the music that informed the first wave of punk, or for those who are sat in a suspicious haze, Nudity Is God’s Creation is an album that is worth exploring.
Nudity Is God’s Creation is a strictly limited release and can be ordered here
The 99 Degree have announced that their debut single, Dead Or Alive, a dark and deranged spaghetti western, preacher killing, murder ballad, is now available as a pay what you want download via their Bandcamp. The 99 Degree have been tearing up stages in the North West of the UK, now those further afield can be exposed to their unique brand of garage psychosis.
You can read The Punk Site review of The 99 Degree live at The Soup Kitchen here
You can get Dead Or Alive as a name your price download here
Big Naturals & AnthroprophhCardinal Fuzz
By AJ Phink
Big Naturals are a pulverising noise rock duo that is comprised of drums, Jesse Webb, and bass and electronic strangeness, Gareth Turner, that brings warped thunderous bass riffs accompanied with a relentless percussive bombardment. Anthroprophh is Paul Allen, who through two albums on Rocket Recordings and a previous EP on Cardinal Fuzz has shown that he is pushing the boundaries of psyche music to its most avant garde and experimental limits.
Big Naturals contribution to this EP is just one track, but it’s something of an epic, clocking in at twenty one minutes God Shaped Hole is an extended and relentless instrumental that features a driving and fuzz heavy riff, the pace and intensity of this track ebbs and flows constantly. This isn’t an accessible or easy listen but it is one that’s well done and reminds of me of stripped down heavier Hawkwind when they were at the peak of their substance misuse.
Anthroprophh carry three shorter tracks that come from the same experimental stable, initially this would appear to be a much accessible beast that is more reminiscent of the likes of Kyuss and early Queens Of The Stone Age, but it then heads off into unexplored territory. The ten minute Farce Without End is a heavy and demented instrumental that sounds like the soundtrack to a being spiked with LSD, Narwhallian Social Purge is easily the most demented track on here, and is the closest thing I’ve heard to someone capturing the mania of early psyche pioneers such as The Edgar Broughton Band. The EP closes with Anthroprophh‘s final number, Chubbock’s Last Tape, which is another journey to the centre of the mind that defies description.
To say this is an experimental and adventurous EP would be an understatement, Big Naturals & Anthroprophh carries three epic soundscapes and one four minute slice of dementia, this is not easy listening by any stretch of the imagination. It is a fiercely original and complete and utter headfuck of an EP that would be an ideal soundtrack to late night intoxication.
Big Naturals & Anthroprophh can be ordered via Cardinal Fuzz here
Double VanityDine Alone Records
By AJ Phink
Oklahoma’s Broncho have bought us their third album, Double Vanity, via Dine Alone Records. This is the follow up to their 2014 release Just Enough Hip To Be Woman, the easy path would have been to continue in the style of their critically acclaimed sophomore album, thankfully they have chosen a more challenging and rewarding path. This a shift away from their first two releases and takes us into darker stranger territory.
The band have stated that the goal on this release was to slow things down, but to somehow retain the energy of their earlier releases, as much as this sounds like an impossible contradiction I think they have achieved this reality defying goal. From the slow burning opener, All Time, with its heavy distorted riff, the pace and intensity of Double Vanity very slowly rises, peaking at the tracks New Karma and Speed Demon, before it slowly eases you back down again. This is a genre spanning release, there are touches of psychedelia and garage in addition to hints of beach boys harmony, a smattering of dirty blues and the occasional dark fifties melody, but all done with an impressive individual twist. This album floats in a suspicious haze of atmospheric garage rock textures and dark reverb that is strangely comforting.
Broncho remind me of a pummelling version of The Raveonettes when they were in their prime. This is no predictable straight up indie rock release, Double Vanity is a strange dark beast of an album, but it is one that will lurk happily in your collection, until late one night the mood will take you to play Double Vanity and you will happily slip into it’s uncompromising embrace.
Double Vanity will be released on the 17th June and can be pre-ordered from the usual sources, or directly from Dine Alone Records here: https://www.dinealonestore.com/collections/broncho