16 Dec 2013

ALABAMA 3 - Northumbria University - 9th December 2013

There aren’t many bands who can boast a real live folk hero in their midst but with Nick Reynolds the Alabama 3 can confidently claim they have just such a man. Nick Reynolds is the son of the architect of the Great Train Robbery Bruce Reynolds and a fine blues harmonica player to boot. This fact is celebrated around half way through tonight’s set with ‘Have You Seen Bruce Richard Reynolds’ with Nick wailing on his harp and the audience giving the song a resounding cheer. The band comes across as a bunch of renegade outlaws and to have Reynolds in their midst seems somehow fitting for a band that comes on like The Stones if they had sacked Jagger in the late 80’s (after “Dirty Work”) and took on an Acid House groove with Jack Nicholson as lead singer and a reactivated Brian Jones sticking to blues-wailing harmonica. It’s a heady hip-hoppy stew for sure.

With scant introductions to songs its difficult to pin down song titles but there are references to Elvis and John Sinclair with front man Jake Black (AKA The Very Reverend Dr D Wayne Love) telling us he would rather believe in the King than “some long haired dude wandering around Palestine 2000 years ago”. Rob Spragg (AKA Larry Love) provides ample vocal support and loose limbed dancing amongst much shouts of “NEWCASSSSEEEEARRRL” and the impossibly thin Aurora Dawn looks cool and funky behind her huge shades whilst providing powerful soulful back up vocals. Steve Finnerity (AKA Lovepipe) gives us his electronics that feature heavily in the beefed up sound. In his Guy Fawkes mask and shoulder length hair he IS “V” from the cult film “V For Vendetta”.

Songs that sound as they might be called ‘Shoot Me Up’, ‘Stop the Clock’ and ‘We Do it’ are delivered in a glorious hip-hop funk stew that make the band sound like a fantastically updated Talking Heads with Dr Love telling us that they are taking the hip-hop route “because we can.” Wandering mysteriously around the stage plucking a bass is an older guy in a pork-pie hat who is eventually introduced as John “Segs” Jennings who, it is claimed, has come on board the Alabama 3 band-waggon after having been sacked from The Ruts on Sunday for being “too raucous.” 

The band are probably best known for providing the theme song, “Woke up this Morning”, for TV’s greatest ever show “The Sopranos” and a tough swampy version is dutifully delivered towards the end of the set. A superb cover of John Prine’s “The Speed and Sound of Loneliness” pops up mid set and underlines their Happy-Mondays-meets-Hank-Williams approach to their sound.   

We are in free-fall to the end now and a monstrous “U Don’t Dans 2 Tekno Anymore” has the crowd whooping along. The crowd shout long and hard for an encore and eventually Dr Love returns to claim that the band are the “Chlamydia of Rock n Roll” before dancing us all off into the night. A smokin’, show. 

Words and Photo: Greg Johnson

13 Dec 2013

OUT OF THE TRESS - A preview

For most of us, the days between Christmas Day and New Year’s Eve act out like an ill-advised Quantum Leap/Groundhog Day/Geordie Shore crossover. Or something. The same day over and over again, but sometimes you wake up in someone else’s body and YOU’RE TASHING ON WITH GAZ. BOOSH! Maybe that’s just my family, or maybe an already-poor analogy that just got stretched past breaking point.

Anyway. Decembers the 26th, 27th, 28th, 29th and 30th are an interchangeable, interminable no-mans land of almost partying. They form a helpful cordon keeping the noisy, bacchanalian blowout of New Year’s Eve from offending the staid sprouts’n’duracell sensibilities of your family Christmas Day.

Neither party nor buffet, they’re a chance to catch up in the pub for  ‘classic banter’ with old school friends, or crack open a case of box sets and spend entire days almost entirely motionless, staring at Idris Elba’s face. And sometimes, these are great days. But more often, they are "where the hell is my life headed" days.

There is a third option.

This Saturday December 28th, Northumberland’s only alternative music festival, Out of the Trees, returns for its 9th incarnation.

"Festival?" You say? "In Northumberland? In December?"

Cast out your festive doubt. OOTTs organisers are some of the most seasoned pros in the area, and no ounce of their love, care and attention is spared in making it a completely unique festival. Included in your £12 ticket is a return bus from Newcastle Central Station to the beautiful village of Warkworth, where the festival is held across 3 indoor venues.

As ever, this year’s lineup is talented and eclectic, featuring Sky Larkin (pictured), Rivals, Richard Dawson (Yep, he of ‘Album of the Year’ fame in last week’s Sunday Times), Ajimal and Hannah D’Arcy, to name but a few (check the website[http://www.outofthetreesfestival.com/] for the full list)

Tickets are available from RPM Records (Newcastle), and best of all, all proceeds are donated to the The Sir Bobby Robson Cancer Foundation and The British Red Cross Philippines Appeal.

Out of the Trees is a hidden gem that gets everything right - location, organisation, talent, and… good beer. If you’ve not experienced it yet, treat yourself to something different. Idris Elba can wait until you get back.

Words: Chris Stainthorpe

6 Dec 2013


You don't get to wigout on every track here but the typically great title does signal that this is an album full of fun and choc-full of high tempo let-loose moments.

Fans of Pavement and previous Jicks outings will not be disappointed by this January 6th 2014 Domino Records release. All of the trademark Jicks characteristics are here - great riffs, fuzzy guitar, quirky lyrics (’people look great when they shave ... don’t they?’) and inventive song structures that twist and turn and change pace in unexpected but utterly satisfying ways. Most of all - there's lots of great melodies to hum or whistle along to. 

The first four tracks set a pretty rapid pace. You may have heard lead single 'Lariat' already. To these ears it sounds like an up-tempo cheeky version of Wilco and that's no bad thing at all. 'Shibboleth' sounds a little like a Pixies track complete with heavy bass hook and clocking in at under three minutes long.

Track five marks a short-lived change in the mood and is my favourite track on the album. 'J Smoov' has a lazy laid back groove as its foundation and upon it builds a beautifully languid trombone solo before a crescendo of vocal, keys and brass carries the soul into a place beyond cares and woes. It's the record's centrepiece that raises it above the normally high watermark expected of all Malkmus' output and into the realms of the classic album. 

It's right that this 5-minute opus is followed with an Eels-esque sub 2-minute rocky energetic romp of a song in 'Rumble at the Rainbo', complete with brief reggae outro.

'Chartjunk' sounds like a great indie rock pastiche on Billy Joel covering a Mowtown classic. It certainly recalls 'It's Still Rock 'n' Roll To Me' in parts but of course it's so so much better than that makes it sound!! 

There's some brilliant guitar playing towards the end of the album - notably the outro to short and sweet 'Scattegories' and throughout the brilliantly titled 'Cinnamon and Lesbians.'

All in all this is a great record and probably Malkmus' most complete and coherent collection of songs since Pavement's 'Terror Twilight' some 15 years earlier (no really, 15!). 

Not even 2014 yet and already a strong contender for album of next year. 

Words: Russell Poad

2 Dec 2013

Laura McBeth's Life Through Music Lists - December

Top Five “SoundCloud Finds” 2013

I’ve said it before and I’m about to say it again – I am not a music aficionado. But I do enjoy a couple of hours of discovery (read: procrastination) time on SoundCloud every now and then. As you know, I love a list, so this year I starting making monthly playlists of SoundCloud discoveries. There are so many awesome musicians and bands all over the web, but here are the five I’ve stumbled across because of SoundCloud and who are now part of my regular listenings.

Black Tooth

I stumbled across ‘Birds of Paradise’, the first release by Black Tooth back in March of this year and immediately loved it. Their sound is as relaxing and ambient as it is dark and disturbing, which is definitely my kind of thing.

A bit of Googling didn’t reveal much, but as a couple more songs appeared on the web over the summer, so did some publicity. Not only do I love the music, but I’m actually pretty excited about the ‘strategy’ and the ethos.

Black Tooth comprises two well-known Canadian musicians and an art director, successful and popular in their own right but “going anon to break from convention, the confines of being known for a certain sound imposes and as a statement against the sometimes celeb-obsessed music culture which focuses more on the artist than on the music they make and its own merits.”

I’ve spent a good 32 minutes mulling over the musical maestros behind Black Tooth, and despite having no basis for this, I’m convinced that one of the two well-known musicians is Ryan Hemsworth… I’m happy to start that rumour here.

Black Tooth SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/ablacktooth
Black Tooth Twitter https://twitter.com/ablacktooth


I think I’m a bit late to the party on this one as I only heard these guys in October, just as they released ‘Bridges’ but in short, I absolutely adore them, I’ve listened to ‘Bridges’ at least twice a day since discovering them, AT LEAST! They’re a brother-sister duo hailing from New Zealand so have naturally drawn comparisons to Lordes. They’re a little bit The xx, a little bit Alpines, a little bit Imogen Heap (vocally) – all with a wonderfully heavy bassline

Broods SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/broods
Broods Twitter https://twitter.com/broodsmusic


Folky, electronica, alternative, mellow, soulful, moody… pop.

Fyfe (real name Paul Dixon), actually released some tracks back in 2010 under the moniker David’s Lyre, and was essentially dropped by his label.

His EP, Solace, came out earlier this year and it’s become one of my favourite things to listen to. This won’t sound like a compliment but it definitely is: Fyfe is consistently good. Which has gotta be better than hit or miss, right?

Fyfe SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/thisisfyfe
Fyfe Twitter https://twitter.com/thisisfyfe


I LOVE THIS WOMAN. This year has been massive for her and she’s been working with the likes of Jamie Woon (WHERE is he, by the way? Desperately seeking a second album from him), Lil Silva, TEED and SOHN (of ‘Red Lines’ fame).

I first added her to a playlist back in March and I’ve not been able to get enough of the soulful R&B, indie-eletronica brilliance since.

She recently made it onto the BBC Sound of 2014 Longlist and TEED describe her sound as “baby-making music.”

How much more convincing do you need?

BANKS SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/banksbanksbanks
BANKS Twitter https://twitter.com/hernameisbanks

Shy Girls

Shy Girls, aka Dan Vidmar, delivers moody minimalist pop that’s all, y’know: feelings. He works in a hospital by day and makes these lovely sounds by night.

And they are lovely. Nice, even. Some have said too nice, and I’d probably tend to agree that a full-on 12 song Shy Girls album might take ‘saccharine-pop’ to eye-gouging levels. But that’s where the remixes (of which there are many) save the day; Under Attack, The Drum remix is definitely worth a listen or five.

Shy Girls SoundCloud https://soundcloud.com/shygirls
Shy Girls Twitterhttps://twitter.com/shygirlsmusic