• July preview: live highlights this month for Cardiff and Bristol

ANOTHER FUCKING UPDATE!  OK, people need to announce ace gigs before the month they’re happening.  Including, er, us.  Two more belters, more details in the main blurb section below because I felt like it.

LOS CRIPIS / JEMMA ROPER / PHEENUS / DJ CASEY RAYMOND, JOY COLLECTIVE PRESENTATION!, Undertone, 29th:  http://www.thejoycollective.co.uk/blog/preview/club-foot-foot-joy-collective-present-los-cripis-jemma-roper-pheenus-dj-casey-raymond/

SATURDAY’S KIDS / PLAYLOUNGE / CHAIN OF FLOWERS, Jacobs Market, 27th: http://www.thejoycollective.co.uk/blog/events/space-junkie-press-launch-featuring-saturdays-kids-playlounge-chain-of-flowers/

UPDATE! These two brilliant gigs are happening in Bristol this month but came to my attention after I’d finished the article.  Go to them!

LOS CRIPIS / THE JELAS / ACRES, County Sports Club, 17th: http://www.thejoycollective.co.uk/blog/events/los-cripis-the-jelas-acres/

DAVID THOMAS BROUGHTON / FLYHOOP, Cafe Kino, 23rd: http://www.thejoycollective.co.uk/blog/events/david-thomas-broughton-flyhoop/


Last gig for a while for Ben of Red Medicine, and one of the best line-ups around this month, so get to this.  S&CW is Australian transplant Craig Dermody with a revolving cast of pals from Melbourne’s fertile underground and a clutch of sweet, sad slacker-pop nuggets that can be darkly, dumbly funny (‘Gammy Leg’) and sweetly nostalgic (‘Footscray Station’, one of a handful of Melbourne-specific tunes that can’t help but have a dash of Robert Forster about them, albeit a solvent-dazed teenage version) but that for the most part reside in a shallow pool of despond and dislocated, shiftless loneliness where beer-numbed apathy gradually suffocates ambition.  Um, except they’re fun, and except he made it out of his terminal basement and to New York, where the spidery Velvets/Pavement fuzz, ringing Flying Nun guitars and wistful Modern Lovers hooks on Para Vista Social Club elevate him from the gloom and stasis into something charming and outward-looking.  Highly recommended.  Among a tidy supporting cast, the malevolent shoegaze shudder of Bristol’s Spectres stands out, prime Ride harmonies coalescing nicely with giddy Mary Chain noise.


This month may be fairly light on name gigs of much great worth, but this happily only shines more light on the excellent stuff happening under the radar.  It might otherwise be easy to miss this rare Bronnt Industries Kapital gig; rare in that Guy Bartell has been performing his splendid BFI-released score to Turksib for so long now that this is his first performance of “new electrical music” in his home city for about three years.  Dig in to 2009 album Hard For Justice for an idea of what to expect from the day job; all sorts of stylish, evocative cinematic treats, be they lurid Italo-disco, or jazz-inflected crime drama scores lofted high by flaring trumpets, or urgent, fizzing kosmische psychedelia, like a one-man reconstruction of the entire catalogue of soundtrack reissue label Death Waltz.  Excellent stuff, and the supporting cast here sounds brilliant too; Aron Ward (Raiders / Color Of The Sun) does creeped-out solo electronica as Vostok, all eerie synth stabs and sliced-up half-speed beats.  Have a listen here.  See?


It’s back!  One of the most welcome events in the Cardiff gig calendar, particularly in a month like this where, with the greatest respect to the fine events collated here, one isn’t exactly spoiled for choice.  All-round excellent person Justin Evans curates and introduces another fine and varied line-up to raise funds for brain injury charity Headway; he will also be unleashing another remarkable rap cover version at some point during proceedings, with assistance from Quiet Marauder.  You’ll want to see that with your own eyes.  The line-up is a corker, with a headline set from Right Hand Left Hand the big draw (especially after our own alldayer was postponed, making this RHLH’s first headline gig in a year or more) and excellent support from Totem Terrors, Gindrinker and Alex Dingley in particular.  A lot of people give their time, money, raffle donations and culinary expertise to the PMYH events, and the community atmosphere, boozy bonhomie and sense of achievement in raising very decent amounts for a very worthy cause should make your attendance compulsory.


Age and perspective suit Owen Ashworth down to the ground.  The songs on A Shut-In’s Prayer, his first album as Advance Base after thirteen years under the name Casiotone For The Painfully Alone, are as delicately nuanced and observed with almost painterly detail as anything on Etiquette or Twinkle Echo, but the occasionally unflinching awkwardness and emotional frankness that made even Casiotone’s sweetest, catchiest electro-pop moments sting like salt air on chapped lips is gently brushed away by reflection, nostalgia and even happiness.  He wears it well, with a similar softening of his beats-and-keys musical palette, a wistful, piano-led sweetness that complements his tales of childhood, family foibles and the rush of youthful discovery.  Not a million miles from Eels or his new label ‘boss’ Mark Kozelek, perhaps unsurprisingly, it’s some of his best work.  He loves the Cube, apparently, so it should be a good one.

ALELA DIANE, Louisiana, 7th

Blessed with a gorgeously luminous, bell-clear voice with a signature warble that could becalm rampaging livestock at a hundred paces, Portland-based folkie Alela Diane has nonetheless suffered unfairly from over-comparison to the crop of similarly gifted peers who emerged in the middle years of the last decade.  Her close friendship with Joanna Newsom led to inevitable comparisons, but while her debut The Pirate’s Gospel bore superficial resemblance to Newsom, and while she recalls Marissa Nadler or Josephine Foster on occasion, Diane’s since shown admirable diversity while becoming a recognisable voice, be that on the dusty pedal steel intimacy of To Be Still or the languid full-band West Coast country-rock of …& Wild Devine.  to Remarkably, she also features on comedy Oi! scamps Hard Skin’s new album, or at least the female guest-sung ‘cover’ version of it, the amazingly titled Why Do Birds Suddenly Appear?.  Whether her spirited rendition of ‘Two Bob Cunt’ makes it into her regular live set is moot, but its very existence makes me like her all the more.

THE NEW MENDICANTS, Colston Hall 2, 9th

A hot new Toronto three-piece, these thrusting young things are in fact Teenage Fanclub’s Norman Blake, Pernice Brothers’ Joe Pernice and Mike Belitsky of the Sadies, all now living in Ontario and more inclined to form a band than, say, open a moose-hunting lodge or a low-key Hard Rock Café.  Good thing, too; Blake and Pernice are both diamond-sharp songwriters, gifted with a glorious melodic turn of phrase and back catalogues stuffed with tunes that make this aging fool sigh wistfully.  Norman’s collaboration with Euros Childs as Jonny is probably a fair touchstone, though expect the New Mendicants (craftily named after the orders that rely solely on charity for survival) to be a shade more countrified and heartbroken in tone.  A six-track EP, originally recorded for an Australian tour, revisits a few of Norm ‘n’ Joe’s old hits alongside a handful of originals and will be out over here to coincide with this duo tour.

WARM SODA, Louisiana, 16th

I know I’m a sucker for powerpop, but sometimes it’s hard to see why not everyone gets it.  The 70s doing the 50s, punks doing romance, two verses, a chorus and repeat to fade.  Just the good bits.  Oakland native Matthew Melton knows his powerpop onions,  and after his bubblegum glam/punk trio Bare Wires collapsed after SXSW in 2012 he wasted little time in forming Warm Soda; their debut Someone For You racks up the hits with the pace of Ty Segall or Jay Reatard but shorn of their harder edges and with a little of the revisionist charm of Exploding Hearts and a lot of the sugary pop smarts of Redd Kross or even Jellyfish.  Yeah, that good.  Easy to do this stuff competently, deceptively hard to do it well; Thee Oh Sees’ John Dwyer doesn’t mess about, and he released Someone For You on his Castle Face label.  Your garage rock kite mark of quality right there.


It’s fair to suggest that Tunabunny might have been a bit hamstrung by their name, which suggests (ok, to me) a slightly cloying cookie-cutter tweeness utterly unlike the splenetic, ferocious and downright fun blast of jittery post-punk, riot grrrl defiance and razor-edge new wave danceability encountered on their three albums to date.  It’s a hugely endearing crash of Reject All American-era Bikini Kill sass, the tightrope-walking defiant/vulnerable swoon of Sleater-Kinney circa All Hands On The Bad One and early B-52s; it’s also plenty more besides, piling up familiar stylistic tics with riotous enthusiasm.  Some neat supports to complement them, too; lucky buggers in Bristol get Personal Best’s delicious mix of crackling powerpop and Throwing Muses grit, while the Cardiff gig features Radstewart.  To suggest the latter might enjoy the early recordings of Pavement is a remark so wholly unnecessary that only the most desperately uninventive hack (hi!) would stoop to it, so here goes: their Whig Crooks & Beer Swindlers EP nails the Tupperware-lid drums, just-so sloppiness and inimitable vocal inflections of Slanted and Enchanted so completely that it’s impossible to dislike.  90s hits at 90s prices!  Choose one and make sure you attend.


Joy Collective exclusive!  In conjunction with thirsty Joy alumnus InteriorMonologue, we bring you the return to these parts of Nottingham’s finest shape-shifting drone rock behemoth, Six By Seven.  From a jaw-droppingly great debut EP, through a trio of albums that represent some of the finest, rawest and most intensely felt music of its time, they promised and delivered much but, you sensed inevitably, never got their true reward.  They played Cardiff loads and were reliably, deafeningly great.  Chris Olley was an intimidatingly tall, intense, drily funny presence.  They may have slipped off the radar to an extent, but later releases kept up a consistently high quality – 2007′s self-released If Symptoms Persist, Kill Your Doctor, released after a two-year hiatus, supplemented their slow-burn psychedelic beauty with flashes of icy post-punk and buzzing krautrock.  Like the best of Olley’s work, it presented a coal-black worldview, dislocation on a personal level and disenfranchisement on a political level rendered beautiful by spare, well-chosen words and expertly poised, brittle crescendos.  It also represented the band’s last gasp, at least until a welcome reformation last year.  It is fucking great to have them back.  Other reasons that this is your gig of the month, should you need them, come in the form of two cracking supports; Saturday’s Kids, now five years young, return for what I think is their first Cardiff gig this year, while the mighty Zail make an unexpected and hugely welcome comeback after at least two years.  Brooding post-punk and sludgy noise rock on one hand, monolithic and intimately constructed math-rock genius on the other.  Once again, we truly spoil you.


An always-welcome return for Trembling Bells, spiritual successors to the sort of flinty and very British folk tradition of Incredible String Band and Fairport Convention and yet far more than that; their debut Carbeth may have been the most perfect distillation of that sound in some decades but subsequent releases have tweaked the template with roistering folk-rock, country, shanty and traditional rounds and a blistering set of semi-improvised and psych-tinged duets with Bonnie Prince Billy.  Lavinia Blackwall’s golden pipes belie a clenched-teeth worldliness reminiscent of Linda Thompson or Sandy Denny’s finest, and the band’s hugely varied other work (Directing Hand, Scatter, Lucky Luke, Alex Neilson’s awesome-sounding new free jazz trio Death Shanties…) is evidence that TB represents a shared common love rather than a singular guiding principle.  They just happen to make this stuff sound great as well, that’s all.  They’re joined here by Mike Heron, the original String Band singer and multi-instrumentalist with whom they teamed up on a festive release and short tour a couple of years back; this tour, ‘The Circle Is Unbroken’, is their first fully collaborative concert and should be a total belter.


I’m going to this!  It’s going to be brilliant.  Probably sold out, and a few ignorant words from me are hardly likely to make you fork over £70 for a ticket anyway, but if there’s cheap returns/spares going on the day you’d be a fool not to.  Anyway.


A cracking booking for Balderdash.  This questing Brooklyn trio, formerly quartet, whose galloping productivity (Sub Verses is their seventh full-length in eight years, including a split LP with one-time label boss/guru/patron Michael Gira) might raise suspicion of hippie profligacy were it not for their unerringly consistent quality.  The campfire freak-folk of their debut had enough touches of tricksy psychedelia and ruminative Microphones-style lo-fi warmth to predicate what’s followed; they’ve flitted between styles and shades ever since without once appearing to grab for the mainstream or betraying desperation, something numerous peers have fallen prey to.  Now a dense amalgamation of folk, country, woozy ambient, jam-band trippiness, puttering electronics and drum-circle shamanism, they seem happy to develop organically off the radar while remaining just as capable of moments of beatific indie-folk accessibility as Animal Collective, Fleet Foxes or Grizzly Bear.  They could be huge, but they’re probably just right as they are.


Saturday’s Kids’ second Cardiff gig this year, a cool five days after their first, celebrates the launch of Sion from SK and Owen from Joanna Gruesome’s new DIY comic book publishing concern Space Junkie Press.  Their first release, an anthology of small strips called The Gutter, will be on sale for the first time (though some of the artwork will be displayed at an exhibition in Milgi on the Friday), and the white-knuckle art-punk chokehold of the hosts is ably supported by the moody No Age-style guitar/drums thump of Playlounge and the splendid miasma of fireball psych noise and post-punk gloom unleased by Chain Of Flowers.  Should be a party.


They’re back!  We brought these utterly loveable Buenos Aires DIY pop kids to Cardiff last September and now, in tandem with Club Foot Foot, we bring them back.  Joyous primitivism care of Beat Happening, Swell Maps, the Shaggs.  Loose-limbed and ramshackle danceability like the Raincoats, Liliput, Half Japanese.  Distortion and chaos and defiant lippiness and bruised vulnerability.  Your next new favourite band.  Roper’s swooping electropop noir and brittle post-punk shimmer cloaks existential dread and millennial exotica.  Fruity and delicious.  Fair warning: mysterious openers Pheenus are a shady entity comprised of Casey Raymond, Adam Jones and maybe some other miscreants.  There may be improvisation, and there may be brass.  Submit!  The Bristol show on the 17th, meanwhile, is at the County Sports Club on Colston Street and features total legends The Jelas.  GO TO BOTH and blow kisses.


Rounding off the month, the Bristol Proms take place at the Old Vic between July 29th and August 3rd, with the Watershed theatre adding a little technological magic to some of its highlights.  This double bill on the opening night is one such.  First up, astonishingly talented teen piano prodigy Jan Lisiecki performs selections from Chopin and Bach while Bristol filmmaker John Durrant captures every intimate movement from multiple angles for a simulcast at the Watershed.  Following that at the Old Vic comes the return of prepared piano genius Volker Bertelsmann, aka Hauschka, whose new work Inside Out sees him play while artist MacLachlan utilises robot cameras to explore the inner workings of the instrument.  The Proms feature a wealth of other out-there and innovative stuff, from choral concerts in pitch darkness to dance pieces based Bach cello concertos; if you’re keen, check Jon Boden and the Sacconi Quartet doing Elvis Costello’s pretty brilliant Shakesperean song cycle The Juliet Letters (30th) and Max Richter’s new take on Vivaldi’s Four Seasons as performed by Daniel Hope and the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra.