CARS CAN BE BLUE / TOTEM TERRORS / FRANCESCA’S WORD SALAD / SHINY TIGER, Four Bars, 2nd
Like the Lovely Eggs, who play Clwb this week, CCBB arrive in Cardiff fresh from Indietracks and are a similarly, refreshingly coarse antidote to certain elements of the tweepop norm. Finally snared by Liz from the School, it’s heartening to see them make it over at all given the nightmare scenario that befell them on their planned 2008 jaunt with Hotpants Romance; detained on arrival at Manchester airport, they were finally turned back home after a hideous and sadly believable experience with unsympathetic UK immigration officials. They’ve got work visas this time! You live and learn, dudes. In the head-slappingly inane shorthand this ‘column’ has been built on, CCBB can be likened to a sloppy, punk-pop take on Moldy Peaches’ scatological merriment, or a sex-obsessed Matt & Kim with the pop smarts of Tullycraft. Seek out ‘Coat Tails’ for starters, a gleeful, withering put-down of second-rate Pitchfork fodder that easily matches Helen Love’s ‘Long Live The UK Music Scene’ for waspish, perfectly-pitched sarcasm. Funny, catchy, smart and smutty, they’ll be masses of fun. Worth that five-year wait, too. Maybe.
SPIDER KITTEN / CEMENTIMENTAL / JIMMY ROWE, Le Pub, 3rd
Free gig! Rare hometown show for the psych/doom/stoner dons whose still-fresh Cougar Club will, if there’s any justice, shortly be making the Welsh Music Prize shortlist. They’re also promising up to three new tunes from its follow-up at this gig, suggesting a far shorter wait until the next one. Good. Anyone who’s seen Spider Kitten nimbly experimenting with variations on their sound over the years, or attended one of their excellent Loserpalooza events, will know they’ve a healthy disinterest in surrounding themselves with mono-cellular all-metal line-ups. So it is here, with Cementimental returning to Newport to unleash his signatures volleys of bracing electronic scree and circuit-bent machine noise. He’s released a frightening amount of stuff on CD-R, from brain-scouring feedback hell to weirdly hypnotic loops of bubbling found-sound and rancid techno. Last time I saw him and Spider Kitten on the same bill he was wheeling about in a noose of cables while a scratch grindcore band pummelled away behind him. Pretty rad. Replacing the Death Of Her Money on the bill, due largely to Kaskie’s ongoing issues with a broken arm, is the Southern-fried country blues of Jimmy Rowe, whose recent EP is produced by Chi out of Spider Kitten and who performed at the inaugural Loserpalooza alldayer in 2011. This year’s edition is next month and will feature here. How’s that for organisation?
SHIT & SHINE / GNOD / BIG NATURALS / BIG JOAN / H, St John The Baptist Crypt, 3rd
Repetition, noise, absurdity, madness. These are the weapons of Craig Clouse and whoever else is in Shit & Shine at the time. Particularly the repetition bit. Remember their Lesson No. 1 show in Clwb in 2008? Huge great monolithic walls of terror-drums, Boredoms and Can and grisly old pigfuck/industrial bands and Butthole Surfers’ smiling malevolence. They are/were magnificent. The live shows tend to focus heavily on the lengthy drum workouts, so cross your fingers for a rendition of ‘Practicing To Be A Doctor’ and get ready to loosen your neck. Mancunian fiends Gnod are a less prankster S&S on marginally less terrifying drugs. Lord knows how many drummers are actually employed on Chaudelande; it sounds like there are at least three, all of whom are steroid-addled bricklayers. Their bludgeoning attack, coupled with the acidic hurricane of feral guitar noise, marks them out in similar territory to Hey Colossus, with the grimy motorik repetition of Action Beat and a fearsomely hypnotic psych-kraut heat-haze somewhere between Popol Vuh, Oneida and Earl Brutus. I might be in love with this record. They’ve clearly imbibed, amongst many other things, a lot of drone, improv, space rock and blissed-out African psych too. Pick a spot in their catalogue – Chaudelande, the splits with S&S or White Hills, any of their CD-R series – and dive in. Elsewhere here, should it be even vaguely necessary to tempt you further, lie several of Bristol’s very finest, with hosts Big Joan, monolithic riff goons Big Naturals and Zamzam records’ H rounding out a spectacular line-up. Do. Not. Miss.
JOANNA GRUESOME / KING OF CATS / SOMETHING / GINDRINKER / IDES, Buffalo, 6th
Next Joy Collective-related gig! Along with Reeks Of Effort we are chuffed to co-present this excellent line-up headlined by boy/girl wonders Joanna Gruesome. They’ve done everything right, more than they could ever have imagined; a keened-over demo, single for HHBTM, forthcoming album for Slumberland, produced by man-of-the-hour MJ out of Hookworms. It’s a blinder of an album, too; the handful of songs re-recorded from those earlier releases are utterly reborn, toughened and enhanced without a hint of unnecessary gloss or the queasy over-compression that blighted the debuts of recent forebears. It will chime with lovers of recent indie-pop high rankers like Pains Of Being Pure At Heart or Veronica Falls, but it’s the Goo-era Sonic Youth squall, clammy Beat Happening faux-innocence and swooning, distortion-wracked noisepop melodies that pin your heart to the bedroom wall. You will love it, of course. Lan’s solo project Ides, whose gorgeous, bruised minimalism informs JG’s quieter, Galaxie 500-informed moments, opens here, part of a stellar supporting cast. In particular, those unfamiliar with ex-Fantasy Rainbow chap Oliver Catt’s work as Something should make a point of checking him out, thickets of spindly lullaby teased out on banjo and violin which suddenly lurch into giddy, beautiful sunbursts of horns and drums and wonder. YES.
SAMOANS / THIS IS WRECKAGE / THE EPICDEMICS, Clwb. 9th
A headline gig to celebrate their first release with a rejigged line-up. ‘Antlers’ is a pocket gem, Samoans’ history to date wrapped up in four minutes; twisty, complex mathy guitar lines winds in and out of beautifully atmospheric rock that’s as melodic and accessible as anything on Elevated Reflections but tempers the quiet-loud exaltation of ‘Catamaran’ with a little more reflection and poise. Still splendidly reminiscent of Aereogramme, then, but with a bit of early (decent) Biffy Clyro to Dan’s vocal and a bit of early (brilliant) Don Caballero in the intricate, percussion-heavy noodling. Full album this year then, yeah? Alongside them here, the enjoyably ugly racket of This Is Wreckage follows The Epicdemics, who, should you not yet have had the pleasure, are Jimmy and Julia from FOTL and Bernie from Right Hand Left Hand. Less denim and cowboy hats than Strange News, but retaining their penchant for volume, speed and hugely entertaining patter. Be early!
HARRY & THE POTTERS / MARTHA / FROZY, Cafe Kino, 14th
Word to the uninitiated: this is for real. Joe and Paul DeGeorge formed H&TP in 2002. Their entire, pretty substantial, recorded output concerns the Harry Potter universe, and they perform dressed as the boy wizard himself. They have inspired an entire cross-genre musical concept – Wizard Rock – that spans indie rock, metal, breakcore and more, and in which bands perform as particular characters, or to their narratives. It is, let’s be fair, completely ludicrous. But that’s the point. It’s also, in the case of H&TP, perfectly possible to enjoy without having seen or read a single entry in the Potter canon; they specialise in yearning, air-punching lo-fi nuggets that variously recall Weezer, GBV, early tweepop Of Montreal and, in particular, trebly, overdriven synthpop like Japanther or Best Fwends. Except about a fictional wizard. They mainly play library or school shows, promoting teen literacy (of course), and this latest UK jaunt is with pretty adorable Durham kids Martha whose emo-tinged indiepop will compete hard for your heart. Wizard Rock, guys. I just don’t know what to think anymore.
ARBOURETUM / ST PIERRE SNAKE INVASION, Exchange, 18th
If ever a band deserved the unpleasant descriptor ‘troubadours’, then Baltimore folk-rock gentlemen Arbouretum fit the saddle. Equal parts buttoned-up Presbyterian Will Oldhams and lo-fi cosmic Neil Youngs across their first three or so albums, a pretty lovely mix assuming you can get behind Dave Heumann’s weighty, austere lyrical concerns, they detoured slightly into windy desert rock for 2010′s The Gathering. It wasn’t a move without success, with some cracking drawn-out fuzz-heavy solos that saw them mutate from Dead Meadow choogling into almost Saharan blues, and though music as parched as that could use a little more liquor and fun than Arbouretum offered up there’s still plenty to get your teeth into. Start with Rites Of Uncovering, if you want my two pence. Not exactly sure why TSPSI are the choice for support – if you’d have preferred Mclusky if they’d sounded 30% more like the Datsuns, they’re your boys – but there we are.
THE FLATMATES / DESIGN / FLOWERS, Exchange, 23rd
Spikier of heart and straighter of spine than many contemporaries, the twee/shambling label never sat well on Bristol’s Flatmates; they shared the knack for pinpoint girl-group harmonies that the Shop Assistants did, but their swirling guitars and punchy, propulsive rhythms were more akin to the Popguns. Songwriter Martin Whitehead’s Subway Organisation label was pivotal in establishing the C86 scene, predating Bristol mainstays Sarah and bridging the gap between indiepop and the fuzzier, poppier end of shoegaze. This reformation/reunion, cautiously worked out over the last five or so years, sees Whitehead and one other original Flatmate with a new band and new vocalist revisiting the hugely endearing likes of ‘I Could Be In Heaven’ from the tumultuous four years before the original line-up’s messy implosion in 1989.
THE PIRATE SHIP QUINTET / WICKET, Le Pub, 23rd
Two Newport gigs in one month! Unprecedented! Sorry Newport, I am crap. Anyway, here’s another blinder in a generally fairly quiet month; Bristolian post-metal er, septet TPSQ are still a rarely-seen sight, emerging gradually after a five-year gestation period for their full-length debut Rope For No-Hopers, they’re apparently more settled and playing more as a result. Good. RFNH values the epic slow-build and grandstanding payoff trick more than most post-rock peers, but they’ve the chops to make it work and a pleasing lack of pomposity which means the emotional weight remains but without any unnecessary cheesiness. The presence of a full-time cellist inevitably means Grails are a good reference point, while the lengthy, flab-free panoramas and storming crescendos will recall Red Sparowes, Isis, maybe Neurosis too. Will be nice to see Wicket again, too; supple math-rock dovetails with moody Thrill Jockey ambience and plangent piano on their excellent three-track Bandcamp demo which I’d highly recommend shelling out £2 for.
HUB FESTIVAL, Various Womanby Street venues, 23rd-25th
A laudable undertaking, and one we’ll feature much more as the line-up takes shape, this three-day festival will see around 150 bands and DJs play across the venues of Cardiff’s most fertile live music area. Clwb, Dempseys/Four Bars, the Full Moon & Moon Club, City Arms, Fuel and the Cardiff Fashion Quarter warehouse space will all host stuff, and the Joy Collective is very pleased to be a part of it. We’ve got together with our pal Adam from Balderdash to curate the Clwb bill, which is especially nice for us after our planned alldayer in June fell victim to multiple counts of bad luck. We’ll have Right Hand Left Hand, Them Squirrels, Sen Segur, Gwenno, Zail, Y Pencadlys and Shhh…Apes! all playing, and hopefully a bunch of excellent folk DJing for us too. It’s going to be a celebration, and the whole thing will be crazy cheap. Get involved!
DUCKTAILS / CAPE / THE CRISIS PROJECT, Louisiana, 24th
It’s not quite in danger of taking over the day job, but Matt Mondanile’s one-time lo-fi side project, doodle repository and clearing house for song fragments that didn’t make it to his ‘main’ band Real Estate has suddenly become something altogether more composed and substantial. The version of Ducktails heard on this year’s fourth collection The Flower Lane bears little resemblance to the gauzy, sun-bleached pop heard half-buried under tape hiss and biscuit tin drums on Arcade Dynamics, let alone the barely-there collages of his previous efforts. The Arcade Dynamics high spots – the countrified Malkmus breeze of ‘Hamilton Road’, the glorious twang and melodic rush of ‘Don’t Make Plans’ – have a clear lineage with the rushes of pure spring that lit up Real Estate’s Days, sharing a patch of common ground somewhere between early Shins and the Sea & Cake. On The Flower Lane, the jazz-pop arrangements hinted at by the latter influence bloom further into comfortable FM pastiche, and guest performers (Cults, Ford & Lopatin) mould Mondanile’s ideas into something bearing little resemblance to much he’s done before. He’s touring here with a full band, so some of the glossier, twilit pop moves he’s edged into could be on show, but whatever Ducktails turns up expect insidious earworms and relaxed, breezy drone-pop treats.
MERCHANDISE / EAGULLS / CHAIN OF FLOWERS, Globe, 27th
Wait, this is a punk band? Merchandise’s ‘breakthrough’ album Totale Nite, released on Iowa City micro-indie and tape label Night People, is comprised of many excellent things but hardly suggests the punk and hardcore roots the trio emerged from. Here is the urgency of post-punk, the machine-drum rhythms of Darklands-era Mary Chain, guitars that swirl shoegazily and (as on the utterly lovely ‘I’ll Be Gone’) pick out glorious glissando solos and Carson Cox’s relaxed, yearning croon, located somewhere between the National’s Matt Berninger and Talk Talk’s Mark Hollis. Cox chooses to stay lower in the mix, a part of the swarming, romantic whole, especially on the more drawn-out likes of ‘Totale Nite’ itself where MBV-style jet engine FX and bursts of blaring saxophone fill out the sound still further. This ought to be a fantastic show, one of the month’s best, not least for some superb support choices – Chain Of Flowers’ own gloomy, agitated post-punk noise is a perfect counterpoint for Merchandise, and anyone who saw visceral, brattish and deafeningly loud Leeds bruisers Eagulls at Swn two years back will know how great they are. Anyone who didn’t, listen to ‘Coffin’ and tell me I’m wrong. Once again: Do. Not. Miss.
DAUGHN GIBSON, Exchange, 30th
This is a confounding thing. A tombstone-faced, baritone-voiced crooner with a remarkable line in vocal contortions, Daughn Gibson’s debut All Hell, released on Pissed Jeans dude Matt Korvette’s White Denim label, samples broadly from country, folk and gospel, dusts the results with subtle electronic flourishes (a stuttering, echo-brushed James Blake treatment here, muted drum patterns there) and provides a timeless-sounding bed for that voice. A little M Ward, a bit Scott Walker, maybe Richard Hawley attempting a Roy Orbison impression, words warp at the edges like they’re sliding out of his mouth by accident, slip and slide across the songs and lend it a slightly unreal, plasticky quality. His videos (particularly ‘Kissin On The Blacktop’, from new LP Me Moan) add to this, with a weird MTV slick-sheen and the coked-out, dislocated air of Herzog’s Bad Lieutenant remake. His band on the new LP draw from Baroness, and he was previously in stoner dudes Pearls & Brass. All very curious, but certainly worth investigation.