TELL EVERYONE EVERYTHING: TRUST FUND / THE JELAS / THE NERVY BETTERS / EXPENSIVE / MOTES / TWO WHITE CRANES / MAT RIVIERE / MY TAPE ARCHIVE / THE MIDDLE ONES / ATTACKED BY WOLVES / MARGOT, Southbank Club, 1st
THE JELAS / TRUST FUND / TOTEM TERRORS, Roll For The Soul, 14th
Strap in; February is mental. There are dozens of excellent things happening this month, as if Cardiff and Bristol’s creative, ambitious and talented folk just decided that this ghastly rain-lashed winter has gone on far too long and needs to be dealt with. To this end there are at least two progressive and intriguing festivals and a couple of cracking alldayers this month, kicking off in Bedminster with Tell Everyone Everything, where Pull The Strings host a ton of excellent Bristol DIY bands in aid of LinkAge (who work to provide inspiring and friendly social communities for over-55s). Taking in delicate, plaintive pop (Trust Fund, the Nervy Betters), gorgeously sad-eyed Trembling Blue Stars-style electropop (EXPENSIVE), crystalline yet sturdy-hearted indiepop (Two White Cranes, the Middle Ones) and ungraspably, chaotically, brilliantly experimental oddpop (the Jelas, Mat Riviere), it is a nailed-on good time presented with love and the best of intentions. Also this month, one of several Valentine’s night treats guaranteed to win your intended’s eternal respect sees the Jelas launch their new Beetroot Yourself EP, and Ellis Trust Fund’s Time Of Asking label, with a FREE SHOW at Roll For The Soul which additionally features Totem Terrors. What a time to be alive.
EAST INDIA YOUTH, Louisiana, 4th
Music publications starting labels and writing about their own bands. Members of four-square indie bands undertaking solo projects, explaining how they’ve always been into Eno and electronica. These are the kinds of things that can vex a person, depending on how miserable and contrarian they are (hi!), so it’s refreshing to have your suspicions shredded in the way that William Doyle does as East India Youth. ‘Heaven, How Long’ was a fair indication – icily moody synths and bold composition, a vocal that soars without any bloated pretention or histrionics, then the track subtly pulls back before launching into a giddy motorik wash. The best of EIY’s debut Total Strife Forever replicates the effect of that song, blending coldwave synths and brittle electronics with the alinear dynamics of Fuck Buttons’ Street Horrsing, Factory Floor’s stentorian thump and accessible pop songwriting. Intriguing, impressive stuff.
BILL CALLAHAN / ALASDAIR ROBERTS, St George’s, 6th
FURROW COLLECTIVE, Chapter, 25th
What was the point at which Bill Callahan began to transcend the company of his peers and become something other, this entity that hands down a book of carefully-chosen aphorisms every two years, plays a handful of shows and then drifts wordlessly away until next time? The Bryter Layter horns and warm Lou Reed chug of ‘Ex-Con’, maybe, though he remained lyrically remote, wary of commitment and certainty. Or the way the glorious Leonard Cohen fog of ‘Vessel In Vain’ hangs like a flightless bird over the Peak District landscape at the opening of Shane Meadows’ Dead Man’s Shoes? By the time his second post-Smog album Sometimes I Wish We Were An Eagle appeared in 2009, Callahan’s voice had settled into its now familiar sonorous baritone, his lyrics a model of economy but never one word wasted, pithy and funny and moving and fatalistic and hopeful, telling you more about him than you ever knew before while still reminding you that you don’t know him at all. He’s in possibly his best run of form ever, casually dropping an album of the year contender in Dream River, and this is a rare enough visit to be utterly compulsory. This is especially so given that Alasdair Roberts, perhaps the closest these shores have to a songwriter as inimitable, affecting and consistent as Callahan, is supporting. Roberts returns later this month to Chapter, where he played a glorious, intimate 90-minute set of originals and traditionals in 2012. This, though, is as part of the Furrow Collective, a quartet of individually renowned folk performers including Emily Portman and wonderful Newcastle-based balladeer Lucy Farrell. Early samples of their album At Our Next Meeting reveal typically sublime, earthy interpretations of laments and ballads, tales of love and disaster arranged to showcase four beautifully interwoven voices with only modest, subtle accompaniments. Expect a mid-afternoon Green Man spot, but don’t wait for that.
FUCK BUTTONS / CUTS, Trinity, 6th
It should be compulsory at this juncture to pull up a chair and recount the tale of Fuck Buttons’ rise from first on at a free Lesson No. 1 gig in Newport to soundtracking the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in just six short years. Cap duly doffed in Noel and Adam’s directions, it’s just as remarkable to consider the vertiginous leap FB have made from scrappy Black Dice-aping noise act to the expansive machine-tooled monsters of Slow Focus. If the first record had its heady, exaltant peaks, honed to near-perfection in a seemingly endless year of festival ubiquity, then the Weatherall remix of ‘Sweet Love For Planet Earth’ gave notice of how far they could go towards your actual stadium-sized hands-up crossover act, something they nailed utterly with Tarot Sport’s gleaming balance of oppressive noise and dizzying accessibility. Slow Focus is the point where they have it both ways, and have more fun with possibility than before. ‘The Red Wing’ leads on the beats, but the 4/4 thump is replaced with a flattened, slo-mo hip-hop paced rhythm. Off guard, you’re at the mercy of the jet engine synth drones that rattle your ribcage, lovely malevolent melodic shifts propelling the track along. ‘Brainfreeze’ rides in on tribal drum pounds, and when it rises up it’s with an industrial-strength Human League drum pattern, slow and methodical, the textural dexterity on the surface doing all the work while the rhythm grinds unflinchingly away. Halfway through it drops out altogether, pitches rising, to crash back in at a gleefully anticipated moment. This is the beauty of Fuck Buttons six years on, the noise group that crosses over to the biggest rooms; Mogwai monoliths, Robocop precision.
MOWBIRD / FURROW / RHODRI BROOKS / SMALL ENGINE REPAIR / RADSTEWART, Four Bars, 7th, Le Pub, 22nd and Café Kino, 23rd
A prolific DIY cottage industry responsible for a string of EPs and singles, t-shirts, posters, an endearingly daft zine and their own micro-indie label, Wrexham’s finest Mowbird have kept up a pretty relentless schedule over the last few years. Now, following their first vinyl release (the ‘Happy Active Horse Organ’ 7” for Popty-Ping), there’s an album, Islander, released by Shape and a perfect summation of what makes them so enjoyable. There’s two sides to Mowbird, both explored within Islander’s rollercoaster 26 minute running time; short and sweet, reverb-stuffed surf-punk and slacker pop gems like ‘Holy Moly’ and ‘Brompton’ crash by like a Times New Viking with moderately better fidelity, while the rickety Slanted & Enchanted poise of ‘Islander’ and the utterly adorable mid-tempo Weezer rush of ‘Return to the Sea’ are unshakeable brainworms with scuffed-up charm to spare. It’s a perfect trade-off; insidious hooks, repetition, fuzz and shuddering organ stabs galore, the trebly beach-pop joy of Real Estate leavened by the longing and loneliness of prime Grandaddy. The LP launch tour takes in three (count ‘em) local-ish dates, with Radstewart upping the Pavement-worship ante in Newport and Bristol while sloppy DIY punkers, labelmates and kindred spirits Furrow join them in Cardiff.
CATE LE BON / SEA LION, Gate, 8th and Colston Hall, 19th
Beloved local bands can have a strange effect on you when (if ever, and you always hope they will) things suddenly start going very right very quickly. As a fan you can invest a lot – I’m sure anyone reading this can reel off any number of bands from Cardiff or wherever you’re from who you’ve seen dozens of times, become friends with, willed them to get that first single or album released. If it goes right, it’s exhilarating; it feels like a victory for everyone, a vindication. So, to get to the point, seeing Cate Le Bon pictured on the cover of the ruddy NME, and effortlessly charming sell-out US crowds, is a brilliant thing. It’s recognition that’s overdue and richly deserved, as the creative purple patch that started with CYRK’s long-awaited release has seen her roll straight off the touring schedule into writing and recording Mug Museum in Los Angeles. It’s not hard to see the West Coast’s influence on the record, tuning in to a subtly different psychedelia to the West Walian Me Oh My and CYRK’s earthy, untethered garage-folk; Noah Georgeson’s production brings out the Laurel Canyon undercurrents a little more, particularly evident in the nimble bass swoops on ‘Duke’ and ‘Wild’, and even the album’s heaviest moments have a lovely offhand spaciness and relaxed classicism. Tour support Sea Lion is Linn Osterberg, a Swedish singer-songwriter in the Newsom/Dalton tradition with a startling childlike register and an album, Mercy Land, that reads like Victoria Bergsman whispering lullabies.
SLEAFORD MODS / HENRY BLACKER / MARK DURGAN, Exchange, 8th
One of the most curious and unique things to have emerged in recent times, here is working-class beat poetry and DIY awkward-bugger hiphop from Th*tch*r’s home town of Grantham. Jason Williamson’s curdled, rancourous East Midlands accent spits splenetic, scattershot bile like Paddy Considine’s Richard in Dead Man’s Shoes (twice in one month, I need new reference points), inevitably recalling MC Pitman’s magnificently truculent rants. His targets are whatever’s in front of him and causing him anger, dismay, whatever – drinkers, doleites, hipsters, industry people – he’s not selective but the underlying targets are those that would demean or drag down the little man, the working man. Non-album single ‘Mr Jolly Fucker’ is ‘Witch Trials’ era Fall with a rolling bassline and odd stabs of milky keyboard underpinning a bludgeoning, insistent rhythm and Jason railing, coiled, MES with his 80s/90s gimlet-eyed acuity restored. See the video – Jason, eyes closed, mantra-like, pursed with rage. The beats are simplistic, thuggish, tinny like early Cabaret Voltaire knocking out grime on a cheap drum machine. Still, the likes of ‘Fizzy’ or ‘I Don’t Want A Disco or 2′ are propulsive, punch-along anthems filled with bitterly funny lyrical gems and lightning changes of attitude. Gindrinker need to play with them. Actually, that’s it – they’re a Gindrinker where every song is from the viewpoint of the pub-tanned protagonist in ‘Reilly’. Y’get me?
FUTURE OF THE LEFT / TEETH OF THE SEA / JOHN MOUSE, Clwb, 8th
Bloody hell. Support band choice of the month here, as FOTL, fangs still dripping blood off the back of the taut, bilious and frankly brilliant How To Stop Your Brain In An Accident, test their live mettle by getting Teeth Of The Sea in to support. FOTL’s decision to go it alone with the album’s release may have stemmed more from general weariness with the machinations of record labels than any one particular bad experience, but the effects of the immediately successful crowd-funding exercise are clearly audible in a record that’s more stylistically diverse than ever (skulking murder-country, bizarro spoken word) but with a swingeing confidence and a higher hit-rate than anything since Curses. Yep. As for Teeth Of The Sea, their own excursions out into the margins continue to intrigue. Third album Master goes deeper and blacker than TOTS have ventured before; shuddering, limping, sickly beats like life support, queasy white-noise synth tones, muffled dread samples. Still, for all that it’s closed-off and uncomfortable, the dynamics remain loose enough, the possibilities more open and varied, that to simply pen it off with the claustrophobic likes of Haxan Cloak or Raime does them a disservice; see ‘Black Strategy’, which limps along like Fuck Buttons taking on bruising EBM/New Beat, the loops and acidic synths coalescing into something grimly danceable. Highly recommended viewing, this one.
GUILTY PARENTS / HENRY BLACKER / LUVV / HIS NAKED TORSO, Buffalo, 9th
If you’re reading this and were one of the many legends who attended our January gig with Trust Fund, THANK YOU. Here’s our next offering, a buffet of greasy treats served up in league with Lesson No. 1. Henry Blacker are a West Country-based power trio featuring two holidaying members of former Joy guests Hey Colossus, and they distil the unrelenting real-ale boogie-mantras of HC into hissing slabs of punishingly loud biker metal. There’s bits of Kyuss’ blasted desert rock, gleefully howling Part Chimp noise, Groundhogs’ prehistoric thump and prime Melvins dread-crawl in the soup on Hungry Dogs Will Eat Dirty Puddings, their splendidly titled debut. Nottingham’s Guilty Parents, meanwhile, offer hotwired garage punk and careening, gleeful art-rock best showcased on the excellent five-track cassette release Noro, all stroboscopic vocal flails and churning 100mph riffs that embed themselves in your brain within a listen or two. Think the sloppiest, heaviest early Trail of Dead stuff, with a good serving of Hookworms psych-noise and the incessant artpunk clamour of the much-missed Ikara Colt. Nice tendency towards experimentation and variation too. Luvv count members of Chain of Flowers among their number, and colour the CoF template of gloomy post-punk and 80s overcoat rock with some Chameleons/Mighty Lemon Drops-era jangle, Dunedin Sound breeziness and Feelies pop. His Naked Torso, as you should know, do magnificent skronky no-wave punctuated with queasily tense keyboard drones. Every one’s a winner. Are you, dear reader?
FROM NOW ON FESTIVAL, Chapter, 14th – 15th
Spectacularly great and highly laudable scenes in Cardiff this month as Mark from Shape Records curates this forward-thinking two-day blowout showcasing what he bills as ‘music and sound without borders’. Right on. It rounds up some of Cardiff and Bristol’s best and brightest sonic adventurers (Euros Childs, Hail! The Planes, The Jelas, Thought Forms, Trust Fund, Tender Prey) alongside an impressive set of well-chosen names from improv and experimental circles. Look out for Bridget Hayden, whose single-guitar set-up belies an astonishingly intense storm of crackling drone and visceral electric blues; harpist Rhodri Davies’ fiery excursions into free jazz, raga and African polyrhythms; Lucky Dragons, who you might have seen opening for Dirty Projectors in Clwb a few years back, enticing the audience into collaboration on their playful electro-acoustic forays into flickering electronica and Books-style concrete; Serafina Steer’s captivating interpretations of traditional English psych-folk; and utter hero Richard Dawson, whose beautifully imperfect, soaring voice and fevered, utterly heartfelt takes on Northern English song have been a fixture in my life since his brilliant Joy Collective show a while back. Celebrate the ambition here, explore it, encourage it, see that it returns.
EZRA FURMAN / THREATMANTICS, Moon Club, 15th
THREATMANTICS: ‘THE BALLAD OF SHOTGUN BILLY’, Four Bars, 23rd
Rough-edged and raw of production and reedy of voice, Ezra Furman’s string of albums demonstrate an unashamed embrace of rock ‘n’ roll classicism closer to the lean, strutting jukebox nuggets of Sonny Smith or Langhorne Slim’s folksy stomp than the psych/garage belters of Ty Segall or Mikal Cronin. With a nasal brashness and puffed-chest charm, his jittery folk-punk and wiry Violent Femmes delivery marked him out as a contender as early as 2007′s Banging Down The Doors; later releases upped the fidelity and added E Street horns and the boozy, raffish enthusiasm of the Heartbreakers or the sadly missed Exploding Hearts, turning out closest to a version of Mac DeMarco that was just as charming but less self-conscious, less affected. Threatmantics, themselves long-established as a rollicking live turn meshing together folk instrumentation with windmilling punk compositions, are a fine choice of support. They also bring their eye for a twisted yarn to Fleapit, a monthly night at Four Bars wherein local turns turn in A/V sets in collaboration with film-makers and visual artists. ‘The Ballad of Shotgun Billy’ expands the tale told on Kid McCoy into your actual rock opera about the titular Billy, Wales’ first NFL quarterback, presented in song and self-shot film. Endearingly, messily strange.
WORKIN’ MAN NOISE UNIT / SLY & THE FAMILY DRONE / THE COSMIC NOD, Moon Club, 16th
BARBEROS / WORKIN’ MAN NOISE UNIT / BIG NATURALS / SLY & THE FAMILY DRONE, St John The Baptist Crypt, 14th
Two enticing local stops on a tour featuring the charred improv pounding of S&TFD alongside Workin’ Man Noise Unit, a bunch of clockpunchers from commuter belt joy-void Reading, veterans of Supernormal fest and admired by Julian Cope. WMNU proffer the endearing, Spacemen 3-riffing mantra ‘drinking Stella to make music to drink Stella to’, which is entirely fair enough, and their EP of the same name deals in a lurching, guttural take on bluesy noise-rock with chunks of heads-down thug-garage fury and strafing feedback. They are entirely excellent, and put me in mind of Penthouse, Big Business and Racebannon. I know, right? S&TFD’s ecstatic, ragged mess of drums/tapes/synths chaos is righteous enough when (relatively) tethered down on their Unnecessary Woe LP, the likes of ‘Grey Meat’ peeling out from basic drum patterns and machine crackle into glorious 12-minute mantras, the inclusive mania of their live shows is something else. Cardiff attendees get The Cosmic Nod thrown in; soon to supplant parent band The Witches Drum, who are to split, their freeform spacerock/psych jams in the vein of Amon Düül, Comets on Fire or Earthless should set the tone nicely. The Bristol show comes from the increasingly busy Cacophonous Sarcophagus dudes, and adds Liverpudlian electro-noise nutbars Barberos, whose shuddering, ADHD Trans Am-go-breakcore attack did for Undertone last year. Big Naturals’ deafening bass rumble rounds out a cracking line-up. See one! See both!
OF MONTREAL, Fleece, 17th
Of Montreal’s triumphant European tour of 2007, taking in a memorable show at the Point and an unreal one at Primavera, was on reflection a curious tipping point for the band and for Kevin Barnes’ fragile subconsious; the three rapid-fire albums following high-wire high water mark Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer slipped deeper into a moebius-strip of churning, coquettish pseudo-funk, hermetic, overdriven production and wracked lyricism. Pure pop bright spots like Janelle Monae duet ‘Enemy Gene’ became too-rare exceptions in this paranoid morass, to the point where OM records became something they should never be – a chore to listen to. I can’t have been the only fan concerned that their Sunday night slot at Green Man in 2012 might have been an awkward, impenetrable scene. Not so. A blur of tight, impactful hits and accessible new stuff, it signposted an album (Lousy With Sylvianbriar) on which Barnes dialled down the kitchen-sink dissonance and impenetrable free-association in favour of country rock and strutting glam, let in some light and made his most relaxed effort in ages. That’s extremely relative, of course, but it bodes well.
BRISTOL NEW MUSIC FESTIVAL, Spike Island, St Georges, Colston Hall & Arnolfini, 21st – 23rd
A festival of new and experimental music with a close focus on artists from the Bristol area, this sees a coalition of venues present a packed schedule of innovative multi-disciplinary work over three nights. Legendary Bristolian jazz composer Keith Tippett’s octet perform his new work The Nine Dances of Patrick O’Gonogon for the first time outside London (Colston Hall, 22nd), while John Butcher’s Tarab Cuts (Arnolfini, 21st) has its first airing anywhere; a longform revisiting of a piece for saxophones, feedback and sound files which samples, and draws inspiration from, a lost form of classical Arabic music. Christian Wallumrød Ensemble (St Georges, 23rd) flit between jazz, Cage-ian modern composition and folk forms with a beautifully spare, intricate minimalism enhanced by their all-acoustic (no PA, no electronics) approach and streaked with light by Arve Henriksen’s fluttering brass. Elsewhere, things get darker and heavier; Emptyset play Spike Island’s gallery (21st), while there’s a cracking and very affordable triple-bill featuring Addison Groove’s juke and footwork-inspired bass monsters, the oppressive, creaking drones and seismic textural shifts of Roly Porter and the astonishing Klavikon – techno created entirely from amplified prepared piano, you have got to hear this – at the Colston Hall on the same night. With installations (Christian Marclay, Ellen Fullman), workshops and plenty more, this is both a fantastic thing to explore and a pointer to the sort of thing Cardiff could have in a few years if the likes of From Now On get the support they deserve.
KAWABATA MAKOTO / KATHY HINDE / HACKER FARM / H / BIZARRE RITUALS, The Island, 21st
This rare solo appearance from the legendary Acid Mothers Temple leader takes a very different form from AMT’s cosmic freakouts and his noise outfit Mainliner. It’s brought to you by Club Quiet, an occasional night at The Island curated by Henry Collins, composer, sound artist and once the gleeful breakcore terrorist known as Shitmat, so its once-avowed ‘no beats policy’ might come as a bit of a surprise. Makoto is, of course, an incredibly versatile performer, and on past evidence his solo guitar outings carry much of the intensity and grandeur of his group work; blistering improv drones and gorgeously beatific washes of layered sound that meld the compositional freedom of Derek Bailey or Terry Riley with Rhys Chatham volume and the free-folk leanings of one-time collaborator Richard Youngs. Audio-visual artist and composer Kathy Hinde, whose fascinating TEDx talk is well worth a watch, also features alongside Hacker Farm’s agrarian DIY techno and the shivering devotional drones of Zamzam Records’ H. After much research I’m genuinely unsure whether Bizarre Rituals is a performer, a film or a veiled threat, so keep your wits about you.
LOSCIL / FINGLEBONE / SPACES BETWEEN, Cube, 21st
I picked up a promo of Loscil’s album First Narrows on a whim from some bargain bin years ago. Kranky’s name on the CD was enough to gamble on, and its minimal, otherworldly ambient drones were certainly typical of the label; but the fluttering electronic patterns were also redolent of the freezing minimalist classics of Biosphere, the Artificial Intelligence series and even the less overtly poppy fringes of the Morr Music catalogue. I hadn’t listened to anything of his since then, but digging into Sketches From New Brighton – eight years on – reveals at best a single-minded methodology, at worst a punishing want for variety in the minutely detailed compositions. The clicks and cuts and static-as-rhythm remain, the bass drops are heavier but no closer to anything than incidental heartbeats. Frozen in amber, maybe no bad thing. There is subtle variation in Scott Morgan’s work where you look closely; Endless Falls’ aquatic samples add a pleasing sense of disorientation to the stately norm, with Destroyer’s Dan Bejar (with whom Morgan combined on the latter’s epic ‘Grief Point’) adding a spoken-word vocal – but the pleasure remains in the hypnotic, glacial sweep. Nicely chosen support, with a touch of grit coming from Finglebone’s lovely manipulated guitar, glitch electronics and field recordings.
OCTA: FIST OF THE FIRST MAN / R. SEILIOG / RIGHT HAND LEFT HAND / JEMMA ROPER / TENDER PREY / THE MANATEES / loads more stuff, Sherman, 22nd
Another one! Great and intrepid programming everywhere you look this month, and this splendid-looking collision of thrilling, inventive live music and bonkers art stuff will make excellent use of the Sherman’s attractive interiors. The live music in Theatre 2 (an octagonal space, hence the name) has a ridiculously good line-up, with shady organisers Vertiac’s musical wing Fist of the First Man a bruising, muscular live beast these days, and crushingly loud at Swn last year. There’s a welcome return for the mighty Right Hand Left Hand, surely now only days away from releasing that second album, with R.Seiliog’s clockwork kraut-pop and dreamy ambient workouts nestled snugly inbetween. Tender Prey’s return as a smart, hooky and raw-edged trio at our last Joy gig was great to see, and whether or not Alex continues on snakehipped bass duties you should be lining up to see them; likewise Roper’s swooning futurist pop and noirish post-punk exotica. Sup deeply. More live turns to be announced for the foyer, where you’ll also find a Casey & Ewan film programme, some sort of giant game of Pong, good DJs (team Spillers), idiot DJs (us!) and an artist in residence who’ll knock up your portrait on Windows 95 Paint in ten minutes. What more do you want for six pounds? The Sherman, it should be noted, also stocks a reasonably good range of bottled ales. Align yourself for fun.
EVIL BLIZZARD: HAXAN RESCORE / SUPER FAST GIRLIE SHOW, Cube, 22nd
A horrifying sight, resplendent in piggy doll masks and wielding meat cleavers, this four-bassist, one-drummer anti-band hail from Preston and nominally deal in a throbbing, clammy take on prog/doom. Icy synths and (naturally) a humming wall of bass underpin album title track ‘Sacrifice’ wherein our singing drummer pal declaims addled incantations a la Ozzy or PiL and the band pummel and churn away like an ungodly amalgam of Hawkwind, latter-day Fall and Chrome Hoof. Here, for the second time, they perform a re-scoring of the seminal 1922 Danish/Swedish occult classic Häxan (‘The Witches’) by Benjamin Christensen, based on his study of the Malleus Maleficarum, a 15thc German guide for inquisitors. The original score has been restored in recent years, but it’s also been the subject of several new soundtracks, including a lovely symphonic one by Barði Jóhannsson and another by Bristol’s own Bronnt Industries Kapital which made it onto a remastered DVD. EB already have some notoriety for the disorientating chaos of their (cough) ‘regular’ gigs, bemasked band members bearing curious instruments mingling with the audience, so the incipient malevolence and theatricality they’ll bring to proceedings should immediately be more engaging than more straightforward, scholarly events of this kind. Be ye rightly afraid.
FAT WHITE FAMILY, Start The Bus, 23rd
God only knows how this fragrant shower are considered great white hopes, but they’re almost hysterically ill-suited candidates for stardom. Read the leering press accounts of their squat-dwelling and filthy lyrical concerns and you might sigh wearily and file them next to Towers Of London; shock-rock bores with a tin ear, posturing cartoons. Listen to Champagne Holocaust and you swiftly realise they’re far more interesting. ‘Is It Raining In Your Mouth’ is appalling from the top down, a drawling, rickety sleaze worthy of Country Teasers, and the fuck-it-all slapdash rockabilly mess of ‘Wet Hot Beef’ picks lazily at loose threads of the Fall, Eighties Matchbox and Birthday Party. ‘Auto Neutron’ further posits them as a hobbling, cankered Cramps, except with the Singing Detective muttering mush-mouthed blank verse come-ons into your ear, a pervasive, slow-creeping torpor that’s captivating like a bad accident. Lyrically clever, arcane and often absurd - ‘Who Shot Lee Oswald?’ exasperatedly blames Bobby Davro , and ‘Bomb Disneyland’ may or may not reference the 80s scuzz-thrash greboes who enjoyed similar taste-baiting antics – you’ll enjoy this plenty if you keep a safe distance.
CLAUDIO SIMONETTI’S GOBLIN / ANTA, Fleece, 25th
FATHER MURPHY / MXLX / TWIN / UIUTNA, St John The Baptist Crypt, 26th
Creepy Italians double feature! The spirits align in mysterious ways. You might be forgiven for seeing the words ‘Claudio Simonetti’s Goblin’ and thinking of hacky farragoes like when ‘The Drifters’ tour with two grandsons and the singer’s tailor, or some hoary old prog act are fronted by the bass roadie. Goblin’s convoluted history is different; Simonetti joined his original colleagues for a US tour a couple of years ago, but has now rejoined (yes) the Goblin tribute band he previously played with. It’s complicated, but this is one of the dudes who scored Profundo Rosso and Suspiria and all that, so let it go. ANTA are a cracking support choice, too.
Father Murphy are a shadowy trio from Treviso (although their pleasingly hacky ‘backstory’ has their origins in 1920s Brooklyn) who trade in a chilling modern-day take on classic giallo structures and occultist psych madness. Apparently they were ‘psychedelic pop’ once, though it’s barely conceivable from most recent album Anyway, Your Children Will Deny It; utter dread inducing, bad-trip psychedelic medievalist folk and ritualistic drum figures that sound like the summoning to some awful ceremonial at which you will likely play a terrible part. Cope and Gira are fans, almost inevitably. Produced by Greg Saunier of Deerhoof, and while it’s a stretch to see a similarity there is something to the percussive mania and skeletal un-rock composition that his own band’s unpicking of convention and structure would see eye to eye with. You can hear Gang Gang Dance circa God’s Money, too, and there’s a definite hint of the cloudy, funereal death-folk of Sylvester Anfang II, while the blown-out drones and chants and mantra-like chorale elsewhere recall the Liars of They Were Wrong So We Drowned. Suitably hazy, intense support comes in the form of rave/drone blissout imp MxLx and from Twin, who is one of psych/doom outfit Vena Cava doing some nice amniotic, treated guitar, eddying and ringing like Grouper or maybe a calmer, less fuzzed-out companion to Charlie Thought Forms’ side project Silver Stairs of Ketchikan.
TRAAMS / R.SEILIOG / GINDRINKER, Clwb, 26th
DRENGE / TRAAMS, Fleece, 27th
Back with us five months after their first visit, we’re chuffed to have TRAAMS (all caps, I’m not dropping that) back playing Cardiff again. Those who came out last time will most likely have been curious rather than informed, given the band’s slight output at that point, but even the naggingly insistent post-punk rhythms and lopsided catchiness of the Ladders EP didn’t suggest the sheer level of ear-bending volume they reached live. The likes of Field Music-recalling EP highlight ‘Sit Up’, the supremely catchy ‘Flowers’ and full-length debut Grin’s closing centrepiece ‘Klaus’ transform into towering walls of repetitive, distorted krautrock grooves, cheesegrater riffs and teasingly addictive hooks delivered in Stu’s oblique, tremulous yelp. They break off from a support tour with two-piece grunge shitkickers Drenge for our Cardiff date, so do come and join us. R. Seiliog will bring the motorik and Gindrinker the gleeful racket to get things started. It’s been a long winter, kids, and if this crazily packed February has been a riposte to the drudgery of recent months then this is the night to celebrate its eventual end. Right? RIGHT.