Remember winter? Those harsh days when darkness descended just after breakfast and we didn’t have two decent gigs to rub together? Those days are behind us, friends; from this point on it’s green fields, 18 hours of sunlight and wall-to-wall top-drawer live music entertainment. April is ridiculously stuffed with fine-looking nights out, and here’s a selection of our recommendations for the month ahead.
Let’s start with a few no-brainers. We bang on about reliable promoters here, but look; put your trust in them and they do not let you down. Your humble Joy scribe put on leering Mancunian noise outfit KONG in 2009; they were breathtakingly loud, scabrously funny and greasily funky. In a good, bad way. They headline Balloon’s night of wrong-rock and fevered prose at Clwb (29th), wherein BRANDYMAN play (they say, again) their final show. Do. Not. Miss. This. The same goes for DANIEL HIGGS, ex-Lungfish frontman, Moondog lookalike and purveyor of mystic, meditative audio-visual solo works. He’s at 10 Feet Tall (28th) for Lesson No. 1, with RATATOSK and LT. MEAT in able support. Busy month for the newly one-man LN1 operation, with a tasty double-header of crushing noise from across the metal spectrum; Brooklyn’s ‘transcendant death metal’ outfit LITURGY are properly great and get the corpsepaint purists in a right old froth (Buffalo, 18th, with GHAST, ATOMCK and Newport’s ORDER OF TEPES), and there’s a fine-looking doomy affair the night after with Virginians COUGH topping an ace local bill of THE DEATH OF HER MONEY, SPIDER KITTEN and THORUN. Eight pounds your combo ticket! You simply cannot knock that shit. Biggest fanfares, though, are for the South Wales debut of the mighty EARTH (MMH2, 11th), whose slo-mo riffs and country-fried doom should blow the cobwebs from the Point’s old PA.
Celebrations! Everyone’s having them, and duty requires that they mark them with quality live turns. Witness 2011 Record Store Day (16th), which sees FUTURE OF THE LEFT playing Clwb and The Mighty Y NIWL, as they’re henceforth known, who play Spillers at 5pm having echoed obvious influence Phil Collins by starting the day with a gig in Bangor. Neis. Over in Newport, Diverse mark the day with country-rock and folk from REDLANDS PALOMINO CO and PAPER AEROPLANES respectively. Chapter celebrate their 40th birthday this month, not by purchasing a motorbike and ill-fitting jeans but with a suitably diverse programme including a multimedia collaboration between ZWOLF and CASEY RAYMOND (15th) and a set in the bar from ROCKETGOLDSTAR (16th). There’s a couple of highly recommended launch gigs, where SATURDAY’S KIDS invite pals like FACEL VEGA for ice cream and hardcore punk thrills (Undertone, 7th) and BAREFOOT DANCE OF THE SEA and EVENING CHORUS host an altogether more genteel affair at Thé Pot (20th) for their rather lovely split single. Hardy souls who enjoy drinking in a bit of railway yard can spend Easter Sunday with H. HAWKLINE and others at Gwdihw (24th); others may flit between floors at 10 Feet Tall and Undertone where THREATMANTICS, Barefoot Dance Of The Sea and, er, H. HAWKLINE AGAIN are joined by Cali no wavers NO BABIES (24th). 10 Feet Tall and Undertone stretch credibility slightly by declaring the double bank holiday bit of the month a ‘spring festival’, in fact, bolstering the listings with party-starters like THE 2 BEARS aka Hot Chip’s Joe Goddard (10ft, 22nd) and DJ FORMAT (10ft, 29th). Cripes.
While we’re on one-off events, its well worth mentioning a few music-related exhibitions and events happening this month, all over in Bristol. The Cube has ‘A Radiophonic Weekend‘ (2nd/3rd), with talks, films and workshops around the subject pioneering electronic artists and live sets from Ekoplekz among others. The Arnolfini tackles Stockhausen, meanwhile, with lectures and installations around the 8th and 9th, and St Georges spend three days celebrating the work of John Cage in the company of Steve Beresford and Stewart Lee (17th-19th). A celebration of sorts back at the Cube marks the passing of Peter Christopherson of Throbbing Gristle with an evening of musical and spoken tributes (23rd).
Not that there aren’t reams of mouth-watering gigs in Bristol’s more conventional venues, mind you. Qu Junktions predictably lead the way, kicking off with wonderful American Primitive-style guitar instrumentals from WILLIAM TYLER and MICHAEL CHAPMAN (Cafe Kino, 5th) and a two-venue Mountain of 4 event featuring skeletal, sweet-voiced dub and maximum dread paranoia from KING MIDAS SOUND, dense electroacoustic compositions from ONEOHTRIX POINT NEVER and 80s-influenced electro and bleached-out pop from GAMES (Arnolfini/Start The Bus, 7th). There’s also a welcome return for the giddy Balkan-via-New Mexico folk of A HAWK AND A HACKSAW (Polish Club, 13th), wonderfully off-kilter violin, accordian and percussion creating something that thrills the heart every time. ATTEND. Qu regulars ZUN ZUN EGUI round off their month at the Croft (23rd) atop a packed bill featuring Swn festival dark horses NEDRY. Elsewhere in the city and no less recommended, you get your millennial post-rock with the massively underrated CRIPPLED BLACK PHOENIX (Fleece, 10th), your conscious hiphop done in a hugely fun way with MR LIF (Croft, 6th) and your crushing instrumental math-metal with KEELHAUL (Croft, 22nd, with the lesser-spotted ZONDERHOOF). Fans of Earth’s latter-day stuff would be advised to keep a few quid back for the doomy slo-mo country-blues of BARN OWL (Cube, 27th – excellent bill with Tarentel’s JEFRE CANTU-LEDESMA bringing drones and shoegazey melody and THOUGHT FORMS), and there’s a bit more of that instrumental noodling goodness with TALONS (Croft, 28th). Lastly, MOUNT KIMBIE return with their pleasingly pastoral, laid-back dubstep (Thekla, 27th) and CLOUD CONTROL are a fine indiepop tip (Cooler, 11th).
Back in Cardiff, a few more tasty bits and pieces to mention. On the quiet, St Davids Hall have been running a folk series well worth checking out; following on from the Unthanks last month they welcome the wondrous trad-folk storytelling and off-kilter wryness of ALASDAIR ROBERTS back to the city (19th). SAM AMIDON‘s poor-boy tales were a lovely grounding presence amidst the tumbling compositional wonder on the Whale Watching tour last year; he supports BETH ORTON at the Glee Club on the 17th and I don’t mind telling you that I’d quite like to go to that. Don’t miss the nicest man in Cambridge ever, ex-Broken Family Band leader and mercurial songwriting talent Steven Adams; now going by SINGING ADAMS, he’s joined by alt-country types DEER PARK at 10 Feet Tall (10th). On a very different note, superior electro-pop dark horses and remixers extraordinaire METRONOMY are very close to selling out Clwb (21st) so get in quick, fools; and don’t think you don’t want to dance your feet to stumps for 2 MANY DJs, playing the big room at Millennium Music Hall (24th). I’m sure I’ve listed PETE AND THE PIRATES here already this year but the listings don’t lie, they’re also at MMH (13th) and are jaunty and fun; attend TRUCKERS OF HUSK‘s charity bash for the Downs Heart Group (CAI, 8th) or the drummer will come round and do press-ups on your face till you repent; and take a punt on the BRONTIDE/HAMMER NO MORE THE FINGERS/DRAINS gig (Undertone, 15th) because (a) it’s cheap, (b) Flux=Rad know their onions and (c) the bands are good. Right? RIGHT.
OK, round up time. I’m hungry. CHAS AND DAVE CHAS AND DAVE CHAS AND DAVE. Oh Newport, you are a rum old bugger. Little or nothing in listings again this month, but the cockney tunesmiths’ farewell tour takes in the Riverfront (16th) and, no messing, it’ll be great. Exhumed Corner: THE UNDERTONES still cut it without Feargal and do the Thekla (10th), KYUSS probably do too without Josh Homme (O2 Academy, 6th), BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE may well still be pretty ace (Academy, 9th) and THE STUPIDS (fact, d’n'b dude Klute was in them aged 15) bring back their funtimes skatepunk (Fleece, 14th). Fela’s son SEUN KUTI with EGYPT 80 should be danceable afrobeat fun (Colston Hall, 19th); DAN SARTAIN does yelping, rail-thin rockabilly strutting (Thekla, 26th), LYKKE LI (Trinity, 12th) and JIM JONES REVUE (Thekla, 12th) should both do decent business, JENIFEREVER do a nice bit of moody Euro post-rock (Buffalo/Fleece, 16th/17th) and indie makeweights DINOSAUR PILE-UP get a dinosaur leg-up from STRANGE NEWS which might make it worth the dollar (Clwb, 28th). Think that’s the lot. Yeah, it is. Have fun.