A Letter to Scott Hutchison

Dear Scott,

Thank you. Thank you for your song writing. Thank you for the lift in mood at my most isolated.

The news of your passing didn’t hit until today, the anniversary of the Manchester terror attack. As Radio 4 reported the testimony of parents who lost their children and surviving children as young as 12, I was awe struck by the spirit and sense of togetherness they’d found in adversity.

Radio 4 also interviewed various choirs this morning. They were preparing for a performance tonight in memory of the tragically lost. As they found solitude in a mourning city, your masterpiece ‘Nitrous Gas’ sprang to mind more vividly than ever before.

The warming nature juxtaposed with the emotive darkness as the protagonist tears their world apart is remarkable. The sense of telling the world to “fuck off” is so striking its almost tangible. The little guitar licks nod towards a dawning light that should have been spent asleep dreaming of better things. The imagery is masterful.

However, clearly this mind-set came with a cost. We, and hopefully all music fans from here on in will change their approach to music appreciation. It cannot be enough for reviewers like me to put a tortured soul up on a pedestal anymore. The time has come to refer young men like Scott to CALM, or simply as, “are you ok mate”.

Sorry Scott. Sorry we indulged in your pain. Sorry for not making your isolation our problem too.

Yours Sincerely

Mike Adams

* The Mural was painted by Michael Corr in Glasglow with his wife and a little girl who walked by wanting to help. http://www.michaelcorrartist.co.uk/

The Bluetones Top 10

After two intimate nights with Mark Morriss (Westcliff) and then the full band (Water Rats), we thought we’d do something different than just review their brilliant Shepherds Bush Empire homecoming.

So, here is our top 10 Bluetones songs for you to enjoy, debate, and troll us with alternatives on Twitter with.

10. Slight Return

Music is a great tool for inducing memories both good and bad. As a child of the 90s, it felt like this emerged from nowhere to number two (kept of by Babylon Zoo!!!) in the charts. After Pulp’s ‘Mis-Shapes’, siege mentality at the fore front of the alternative community and this was one of its chief weapons.

9. Emily’s Pine

A groove laden ending to the 3rd album ‘Science and Nature’. What begins as a romantic ode ends in dank murderous tones. What’s not to like?

8. Carnt Be Trusted

The perfect mix of Marr’s funk and Squire’s rock n roll blend on this heavy paisley anthem. Lyrically, it’s Morriss at his best, detailing the darker side of relationships. Remarkably, in a song without a chorus, it’s level of hooks are high.

7. Talking To Clarry

Kicking off the debut album, and harnessing the band with too many Stone Roses comparisons was this cracker. Yes, there are some ‘Breaking into Heaven’ moments in the intro, but, for our money, there was always a nod to Crosby Stills and Nash in this slow burner.

6. Autohpillia

In 2000, Pop Idol was well under way, and freeze dried pop in a bag was in full force. So, for this eccentric REM number to reach 18 in the charts was a great feat.

5. After Hours

When Mercury Records decided to put a greatest hits out against the bands wishes, the boys decided to take ownership and record some new material. The iconic Bugsy Malone video directed by Edgar Wright was the best of the bunch.  

The Wings meets ‘Benny and The Jets’ sense of fun oozes from this tale of pub that the Winchester of Shaun of the Dead fame is based on. For anyone who is old enough to remember the dirty secret of a lock in, well, it will always raise a wry smile.

4. Never Going Nowhere

Bands like Radiohead get tagged as brilliant because they always innovate (rightly so). However, to recreate your band’s sound and retain great pop sensibilities is a far rarer occurrence. Their 4th album witnessed a distinct array of 70s influences not seen before. The intro brims with Talking Heads’ sense of humour whilst, as ever, Morriss tells brilliant tales of dark relationships.

3. Home Fires Burning

After the heavier second album, the knives were out in the music press. It would have been easy for them to fold under the pressure. Cue, their most complete single.

2. Bluetonic

This, more than anything seems to define the band in the mid 90s. It’s immediate with intelligent lyrics and a boozy swagger. Much like the early Supergrass records, it was both of and before its time simultaneously.

1. Marblehead Johnson

Few bands reach the top and then give something back to the fans like The Bluetones did with this non-album single. Furthermore, it’s the freest the band have ever sound. From the jingle jangle riffs to Morris’ eloquent vocals, everything flows effortlessly.

Shot in the Dark

"they've now grown up, sorted their shit out but importantly they still retain their bite." - Alan McGee (Creation Management) 

Tuesday night, in the car park of a music industry office building, Towers of London are laying on a night of booze food and themselves. These things are always weird, some turn up for the music, but some stand around talking through the whole thing about how they once broke some shit Britpop band.

It’s a short but impactful set of their new material which, is largely a foray into dirty rock n roll. Breed and Proletariat have been scrapping there way to radio attention in recent times, on this showing, Towers of London might just be the break through this emerging scene needs.

The show is good, they are good, but, on ‘Shot In The Dark’, they’re great! Donny introduces it by saying “this is Shot In The Dark, I hope you like it, It really means a lot to us”. This maturer approach is a striking contrast to the persona he once built which adds more fuel to its fire. This song wins on every level. Great riffs and solos are one thing but here, they become a clarion call to the downtrodden. Arguably the finest of its kind since The Enemy's 'Away From Here'.

In this setting, surrounded by industry that shunned them, they've made a great statement that, not only are they back, but this time you will listen.

This Feeling TV Live at Nambucca

Nambucca played host to the Other Kin, Shed Seven and Cabbage’s live performances of This Feeling TV (episode 5) Tuesday night. One thing is striking about the night, optimism. It’s everywhere. The youngest in the audience fuck about care free whilst, the elder states people among us, can sense the ground swell of rock n roll emerging once more. Despite the neglect from the mainstream, This Feeling has provided a home for the outsider and, after years of graft, they look set to kick the doors in and take back the airwaves for the righteous!

Opening the live proceedings were the Dublin five piece Otherkin and, although Shed Seven are legends and Cabbage are well established, the sense of “follow that” loomed large. Their blend of psyche, grunge and rock n roll was a joy to behold. The guitar playing, comfortably the best we’ve seen in some time. It was intensely brutal but, in a similar fashion to Nirvana or The Cribs, never loses sight of great pop melodies.   

Shed Seven treated us to a rare acoustic set. On new tracks ‘It’s Not Easy’ and ‘Better Days’, it struck home just how heartfelt they are and highlighted the trust Rick and Banksy have as song writing partnership. The classics ‘Going For Gold’, ‘On Standby’ and ‘Chasing Rainbows’ were giving an airing and, as ever, their hymnal quality reigned supreme.

Cabbage’s set is less promotional trail for the upcoming debut album release and more a rampaging assault on Downing Street. Their guttural psyche-cum-punk is the sound of this generation kicking back against all things Tory. Never without humour or melody, you can’t help but feel they are one big single and tabloid scandal away from scaring little Englanders half to death.

RIP NME. So What Now?

No one should be surprised that the NME closed recently. It's a difficult time for all print media. Furthermore, no one should care either. IPC has long put a noose round its neck to make the reader stop caring. It was trading of its once good name to sell adverts. Global are doing the same with Radio X, Channel 4 & Bauer did the same with Q television. There all run by people who just want a job and judge success on numbers. They should be run by people who want to push the boundaries of art, fashion and music.

Speak to anyone who writes about or takes photographs of bands they love and the same themes emerge. They were born out of a love of something and a deep routed sense of injustice that it was being overlooked.

It's not officially a public service, but, essentially, that’s what is provided. So, for anyone thinking it’s a sad day for music journalism, get off the canvas and join the struggle. You only have to look at This Feeling, Rocklands TV, The Zine UK or Louder Than War over to realise how the digital media can matter. Hell, even if you have just one reader, be it your wife, best friend, or parent who says “hey, I just listened to The Blinders after reading your review”, you've won!

What else can be done:

 

1.       Take to social media when you find a band you like. From our experience, the mainstream music industry will look for any reason not to play alternative music, such as, lack of online presence. It’s not in the DNA of the hegemonic to allow rebellion to thrive. So, like them on as many platforms as possible. Dont give them an inch!

2.       Start your own club nights. Find a room in a pub for free, get some mates, have a party. Get any local bands you know to play and most of all, don’t be snooty if they are shit. Everyone is shit when they start out. Find the first entries of our google blog, appalling (please don’t find them). Those willing to try, should be afforded the space to fail.

3.       Finally, to the younger generations, the ones who instinctively understand digital media. Find ways to make a honest living from it and ways for bands to make an honest living from it. Spotify cannot be the answer. You can and must do better to help artists thrive.

 

 

Top 20 Albums of 2017

20. Ride – Weather Diaries

The Oxford quartet’s first album since 1996’s ‘Tarantula’ saw them on mixed form. At it’s best though, ‘Cali’ and ‘Lannoy Point’ deliver their brand of melodic shoegaze.

19. Cast – Kicking Up The Dust

The Scouse legends deliver their best album since the 1995 classic ‘All Change’. Flitting between their free flowing blues and spritely pop numbers, John Power has hit a purple patch of song writing once more

18. Noel Gallagher – Who The Built Moon

The old mongrel shed a few coats for his latest album. When he nails it, as he does on ‘Holy Mountain’, it’s magnificent. It’s big bold and new. Alas, when he doesn’t, its because the leaps are not big enough or he doesn’t remain in his big key change comfort zone. Nevertheless, with plans to make another record with David Holmes, this could be the start of a glorious journey.

17. Public Service Broadcasting – Every Valley

Those clever clever bastards have churned out the goods once more. Getting to grips with pit life in Wales this time round. The guest vocals from Camer Obscura’s Tracyanne Campbell and Manics’ James Dean Bradfield were welcome additions to their sound. However, the standout track comes from the rage

16. GospelbeacH – Another Summer of Love

The West Coast veterans channel their inner Byrds spirit and deliver exactly what it says on the tin. As the cold sets in and all that’s left to eat is cold meat, this blast of sunshine will see you through to your next holiday.

15. Alvvays – Antisocialites

Molly Rankin’s sublime vocals should be saved for a long journey staring out windows at vast landscapes. Everything this band do sounds life changing or affirming.

14. Girl Ray – Earl Grey

With the single of the year ‘Touble’ on its books, Girl Ray were always making this list. Brilliant melodies, unique vocals and a sense of humour unrivalled, they are band with magic at their fingertips.

13. Tom Williams – All Change

History has always proven the poet can achieve far more than social comment. Nevertheless, the social commentary here is smothered such warming pop music vibes, it’s hard to picture this not reaching even those who disagree.

12. Michael Head & The Red Elastic Band

There is nothing we can say, that the genius John Dorman hasn’t about Michael Head already: https://noisey.vice.com/en_uk/article/3ka349/the-british-masters-michael-head Nevertheless, we love this album, we love that Head is in a good place and long may it continue.

 11. Liam Gallagher – As You Were

To quote Jurassic Park, “clever girl”. Did anyone see this album coming? All the money was on a flailing Beatles via psyche album. What we got was, big emotive albums with remarkably honest and humble lyrics from the icon.

 10. Shed Seven – Instant Pleasures

Sixteen years was well worth the wait. All the pain and bitterness felt by band and fans alike when they were shunned by the industry has dissipated. Emerging from the fog are the unsung heroes of Britpop. This new offing is packed with great choruses, wit, and a charming underdog spirit. Business as usual!

 9. The Moonlandingz – Interplanetary Class Classics

This supergroup was always going to deliver wasn’t it? Whether it’s the Mary Chain inspired ‘The Strangle of Anna’, the Gary Numan-esque ‘The Rabies are Back’ or Earl Brutus via The Horrors ‘Black Hanz’, everything sounds so fresh!

 8. Idles – Brutalism

Wry, sarcastic and effing hilarious. This pitiless body of work will stop at nothing to take the piss and provide punk rock nirvana.

7. Johnny Flynn – Sillion

The one true genius of the nu-folk era returned from acting to prove he is still the master. No one in the folk world can touch him for sincerity of song writing. Everything he delivers has a warmth and depth of emotion to be admired.

6. British Sea Power – Let The Dancers Inherit The Party

Is this the first ‘Remainer’ album? Quite possibly. It has overarching sense of together is better and, inevitably, a sense of loss.

Forever consistent, BSP have risen their pop sensibilities to ‘Open Season’ standard and, on leadoff single ‘Bad Bohemian’, surpassed it. Despite the “half glass empty” and “what’s done is done” lyrics, it’s as defiant single your likely to hear. Effortlessly free, it tumbles and swirls with abandon.

Elsewhere, ‘Don’t Let The Sun Get In The Way’ is a sauntering rock behemoth which will stop you dead in your tracks to ponder life as you know it.

5. Daniel Wylie’s Cosmic Rough Riders – Scenery For Dreamers

Proving age is but number, Wylie, 59, as delivered a masterpiece. No one thought it was possible for him to ever reach the heights of the Cosmic Rough Riders’ ‘Enjoy The Melodic Sunshine’ but, this Teenage Fanclub via Neil Young offering just does that.

4. Theatre Royal – And Then It Fell Out My Head

Comfortably the pop record of the year. Smart, funny and always brave in its song writing topics. The heartfelt ‘Standing in the Land’ just grows in resonance the more the British press turns away from atrocities of Syria. To wrap such a subject in a achingly beautiful acoustic number is the very reason why so many people think Ed Sheeran is shit. This is the pinnacle of a simple song!

‘Locked Together on the Lines’, ‘Port Bou’, and ‘Will Somebody Please Write Me a Song’ ooze a carefree spirit that demands instant affection.

3. Ryan Adams – Prisoner

Mr Prolific is back, and his back with the most brutal of break up records. This is the sound of a crushing divorce and searing unseen pain. Channelled through big rock riffs and dream pop production, Adams is at his scintillating best. 

2. Wolf Alice – Visions of Life

The hottest property in the UK right now, and rightly so. They’ve combined a sense of experimentation with punk and pop immediacy on an album that is forever shape shifting in sound. Rock music might not be dominating the charts right now but, Wolf Alice have taking a big stride towards making it relevant again and, they’ve done it with the utmost integrity.

1. Trampolene – Swansea to Hornsey

What a year these boys have had. As if supporting The Libertines and Liam Gallagher wasn’t enough, all the promise from the early EPs has been followed up with an instant classic. There's the aching beauty of ‘Gangway’ and ‘Beautiful Pain, the vitriolic social comment of ‘Dreams So Rich, Life So Poor’ and William Blake poetry scattered throughout, it has it all

Shiiine On the Underdog

"The fact of being an underdog changes people in ways that we often fail to appreciate. It opens doors and creates opportunities and enlightens and permits things that might otherwise have seemed unthinkable."

David and Goliath, Malcolm Gladwell, 2013

Shiiine On 3 was a glorious display of David vs Goliath. Every act seemingly should never had made it but did. A fervent reminder that belief can be all, especially when its in the art of our working class.

Headlining Friday night were the indestructible Levellers. Could a group of Marxist folk-cum-punk rockers ever be considered mainstream anymore? Nevertheless, the fire of 'Liberty', rueful melody of 'Fifteen Years' and the togetherness of 'The Road' are a stark reminder that pop music can be full of love, socialism and make a difference.

The examples of the underdog just kept on coming over the weekend. Clint Boon, an organ player from Oldham, now an icon of the industry Dj-ed to adoring fans. The criminally unknown Theatre Royal continued their good run in 2017 in the Inn on the Green pub. Recent single 'Locked Together On The Lines' drew the crowd, but the power of 'French Riviera' will place them in hearts forever.

Amidst the big choruses lay two beautiful. Firstly, celebrating their 30th anniversary, The Orchids played arguably the most angelic indie set known to man. 'Something for the Longing' will ring in the heads of anyone who watched until they next see this remarkable band. The jingle jangle of 'Bemused, Confused and Bedraggle' brought on a freeness that would have had Arthur Lee beaming from his multicoloured cloud and 'Peaches' was, is and always will be a classic.

The second came from a man, without who, this festival simply could not exist, Steve Lamacq. He was this generations John Peel, shining light on anyone who dared record a demo. His set covered his 30 years but more importantly, it gave little indie nights their dignty back. It became about the people in the room singing the 'Size of a Cow' chorus as one, feeling every bit of angst of 'Mis-Shapes' and, as Lammo stopped to tell all, it was about what John Peel fought so hard to give us, 'Teenage Kicks'.

A conclusion is usually appropriate at this time but, Shiiine On 3 can only be summed up by The Orchids' 'A Kind of Eden'. See you all next year!

Grace and No Favour

For those who don’t know, and far few do, Grace Petrie is solo artist with agift, not seen since Billy Bragg’s formative years to write anti –Tory protest songs and love songs with wit, charm and often, heart-breaking emotion.

Petrie, hailing from Leicester, is four albums in to her career now, and whilst she has a small band of loyal fans, we are certain this should be more. So, in 2017, could Grace Petrie ever be played on daytime Radio 1? It would appear not, so, why not?

Can it be that her blend of punk, folk and pop music is not what they are looking for? Well, loathed as we are to mention Ed Sheeran, he ticks two of those boxes. As for punk, their daytime playlist currently hosts Foo Fighters, Enter Shakiri, 30STM, and Royal Blood so it’s not that.

Maybe it’s her song ‘Ivy’, a loving tale of friendship and kindness as she sets off to meet the new born protagonist. The sense of hope and the swelling of love as Petrie and her friend drive all night from Glastonbury is so unifying, so ready made to tug on heart strings for the millions of us who have been in similar situations. Does it matter, should it matter that she came from left wing Left Field stage? The press love a media spat so, when she decrees “who gives a fuck about Kasabian”, isn’t this just another tick in the box for airplay?

If that wasn’t enough, there are name drops for Billy Bragg and Phil Jupitus and an ode to Dolly Parton’s ‘9 to 5’ in the closing moments.

Our main suspicion lies with her left leaning politics. Perhaps R1 are concerned with balance? Something I’m sure they agonised over when play listing Robin Thicke’s ‘Blurred Lines’ or every time Eminem’s peroxide French crop comes to town. If it is acceptable for Thicke to sing “I tried to domesticate you” and “Me fall from plastic / Talk about getting blasted” then surely it’s fine for Petrie to objectively sing about Edward Woollard throwing a fire extinguisher of the roof of Tory HQ in 2011:

“Well how quickly thrown, Was all your judges stone / Oh how quickly the obliteration of your reputation / So detested so deplored so unyieldingly appalled /  By elected officials who, had recently committed fraud”

Maybe the beeb enjoy being systematically dismantled by the privateering party but, if they don’t, may we suggest playing some tunes that might provide the ballast against a predominantly right wing press.

Hell, Coldplay are first name on the team sheet for R1. Where do they think they stand on immigration, gay rights, the EU and austerity? They’re not exactly skipping through fields of wheat despite how boring they are.

Yes music is subjective, so maybe they just don’t like her. However, it stinks of something more than that. It took Frank Turner, a straight white middle class male, selling out Wembley Arena in 2012 for R1 to pay attention his blend of folk and punk. Is this answer for Petrie, and anyone else who has an image and sound beyond grasp of Simon Cowell?

The Crookes Top 10

“if we’re gonna try / lets go all the way”

The Sheffield outfit, frustratingly, have been one of the UK’s best kept secrets since their debut ‘Chasing Ghosts’ in 2011.

The Sheffield outfit, frustratingly, have been one of the UK’s best kept secrets since their debut ‘Chasing Ghosts’ in 2011. Despite support from Steve Lamacq early on, they just didnt catch that big break.

A month out from their final 3 tour dates (http://thecrookes.co.uk/tour-dates/), we take a look at our top 10 favourite moments:

To prove out point, here is our top 10:

1.       Outsiders

2.       Before The Night Falls

3.       Just Like Dreamers

4.       Backstreet Lovers

5.       Echolalia

6.       Bloodshot Days

7.       Maybe In The Dark

8.       Sofie

9.       The World Is Waiting

10.    Afterglow

Absolute Radio’s Final 5: Shiiine On Weekender

Shiiine On Weekender was one of TT’s biggest highlights in 2016. So, to whet our appetite before we venture west, we take a look at the 5 contenders in Absolute Radio’s competition. The winner will open the main stage at this years shindig and win a £1000:

Shakedown Stockholm – Silence

No longer are female twins scaring the shit out of audiences riding tricycles or bullying human scarecrows in the League of Gentleman. Joanna and Davina front Shakedown Stockholm, a seven piece band from the northwest.

‘Silence’, is a classic piece of brooding rock music. Their intense entwined vocals are the stuff of hedonistic sweat ridden nights.

Deja Vega – Eyes of Steel

The Cheshire three piece won many a fan at last year’s Shiiine On Festival, opening for Eddy Temple Morris’ closing party. It would be only fitting for them to step up to the main stage in 2017.

Especially based on ‘Eyes of Steel’. Guitar playing this dangerous demands big stages. Not a big leap from motorik, but, with far more on the line. You’d be forgiven for imagining yourself as Jon Snow charging into the battle of the bastards.

Gypsy Fingers – Hey Maria

Gypsy Fingers are comprised of Luke and Victoria Oldfield, Luke being the son of legendary composer Mike Oldfield.

‘Hey Maria’ sees Victoria take on the vocal duties and delivers a sultry cross between The Bangles paisley era and early Lily Allen.

The Keepers – Here Comes Spring

The Keepers are British psyche-pop band from Northampton. ‘Here Comes Spring’ follows in the footsteps of fellow Northampton band The Moons and Temples.

This slice of haze, melody and big key changes pay homage to Syd Barrett era Floyd and the pop sensibilities of Noel and Ashcroft. While they are steeped in English heritage, lyrically there is more than enough to carry this in the present day.

Iridesce – Rise

Camden was once the epicentre of all things Britpop so, it’s only fitting that a Camden band form part of this competition.  

The Camden four piece are clearly onto something with this epic effort. The simmering vocals saunter through a cascade of guitar riffs seamlessly. They are but one killer hook from delivering something truly remarkable.

Head over to Absolute Radio here to listen and vote now:

http://absoluteradio.co.uk/competitions/shiiine-on-voting/index.html