Frank Turner

Sean McGowan - Curate Calm, Create Chaos EP

Southampton's favourite son Sean McGowan releases the EP 'Curate Calm, Create Chaos' via Xtra Mile Recordings on the 1st November.

Although McGowan's debut album (Son of Smith) was all of a high standard, its flaw was it was disparate in style at times. Here, a focus on stripped back acoustic guitars and cinematic orchestration has heightened the two things McGowan does best, defiance and emotion!

Here's our track by track review:


I'm OK

McGowan's ability to find melody and simultaneously offer gut wrenching honesty lyrically is out in full force here.

The universality to 'dealing with death / dealing with demons' is one all can relate to but, few use this pain to such positive effect.

With ‘The Joker’ causing a stir amongst those who have missed the fucking point, McGowan's song about mental health is perfectly timed. ‘The Joker’ is not about inciting violence, it’s a clear shot at the criminal under-funding of mental healthcare. As McGowan sings 'this one is for the lost', the poignancy of the film and the song strike home, painfully so.

Heartbreaker 

Even in 2019, for a man to lay their inner most feelings, especially romantic feelings on the line like this, is rare and courageous. The confusion, the hurt and the sense of loss McGowan displays being in a relationship, let alone out of one is laid bear with a fine eloquence.

The stunning Celtic style backing vocals of Kate Lynn (also violinist on the EP) and McGowan's lyrics will bring self-examination of the brutal kind. Am I enough? Will me and you make it? How do I know you're OK?

Silk

In the 90s, the tabloids and magazines heightened what it was to be a man and a woman. You must be a supermodel on a diet or you must a super lad drinking and shagging. As impactful as it was, the rise of Social Media feels more over bearing with its 24/7 access.

With that in mind, McGowan examines the negative side of Social Media on society. The intense pressure on how to live your life from both the male and female perspective are looked at with heart and soul.

As the orchestration builds, the fragility and beauty of life being tormented is rammed home with gut wrenching effect.

Money

Frankly, any song with an Only Fools and Horses reference in deserves to be number one! Much like Del Boy, McGowan has dreamer’s mind-set. No matter what is thrown in his way, McGowan walks forwards swinging, hits the canvas and then gets up again with a grin on his face.

Queen of the West

The EP’s standout moment! Such is the clarity of the music; McGowan need not have sung a word. The subtle acoustic guitar build is bitter-sweet and tinged with an acceptance that someone close (Margret) has passed away.

As the Lynn’s violin and vocals soar, the military drums pound into view, laying the platform for McGowan’s most daring and triumphant moment to date.

His punk fire rattling alongside the innocent Noah & The Whale 'First Days of Spring' beauty to bring all of McGowan’s hurt and grief to beautiful climax!

Whoever Margret is, McGowan has gone further than “write her name in history”, he has etched her into the hearts of his fans.

The Courteeners: Heaton Park, Manchetser

“I miss the city I love but I've been having an affair
With L.A and New York, Dundee
And Doncaster if I may dare
Of course I do, of course I do
But I was meant for this place, and I was meant for you”

 

Four days on from The Courteeners hometown triumph at Heaton Park, the slightest thought of ‘Are You In Love With A Notion’ is still delivering some serious goosebumps. This wasn’t just a gig, this was, in the words of Liam Fray “a party”.

The Courteeners have been here before in 2015 but, this past Saturday was more than double the size at fifty thousand people and. Every street, bus, train and tram was alive with anticipation in Manchester Saturday lunchtime. It was impossible to deny, even by this hardened cynical view of outdoor gigs. From note one from Goth pop outfit Pale Waves, it’s clear, Manchester isn’t to suffer the same fate as the string of gigs too quiet in London.

When Liam and co walked on stage, something special happened for two hours. It wasn’t rock stars playing to their adoring fans. This was a personal affair, almost as if it an unsigned band had convinced all their mates to come alone for support.

The atmosphere The Courteeners generate is, for all wankers in the industry wondering what their appeal is (aside good tunes), their usp. Heaton park became the greatest playground of all time. The flares, the mud, the drizzle, the endless Union jack waterproofs from Primark, the mud (the endless mud), the overflowing urinals, laughing at people stacking it, and the dedicated follower of fashion in his brand new white trainers. THE MUD!

It’s been fourteen years since The Courteeners begun and, during the two new songs, showed no signs of slowing down. ‘Better Man’ had such an infectious chorus it was being sung back by the end.

Whether people came to hear ‘The Smiths Disco’ or reaffirm their love of ‘St. Jude’, this was not only a gig for the ages, it was a triumphant for the underdog. Memories of Frank Turner’s underground insurgency at Wembley Arena in 2012 came flooding back. Seven years on from that night, the industry is still throwing money at homogenised dullards. For any kid attendance wanting to form a band, stick your head above the parapet and be yourselves. You will be adored!  

We never post clips from peoples phones but, this was too much fun to ignore despite the iffy sound:




Friday 2nd August marks our 8th birthday. Come down to the New Cross Inn for a night of great live music. Tickets available here:

 

Frank Tuner - Be More Kind

Frank Turner’s road to Wembley Arena was a long but a rewarding one for everyone who had rooted for the punk rock underdog since day one. However, much like Oasis at Knebworth, you wondered whether it could go on meaningfully. Commercially, it has, two big selling albums and big sell out tours but, the feeling of insurgency felt somewhat diminished. Could he relight the fire on new album ‘Be More Kind’?

No one should be grateful for a world that now has Trump, Farrage, Brexit, Grenfell, Royal indulgence, Windrush, working class tories, a growth in anti-Semitism and a general sense of bitterness as the status quo. Nevertheless, it has focused Turner’s song writing. The Spark is lit!

Opener ‘Don’t Worry’, is a gentile ode to like-minded progressive souls that, to not have the answers is not a reason for giving up. Whereas, ‘1933’, turns to his classic sound to kick against the pricks as Johnny Cash would say. Crucially, on ‘1933’, Turner injects his punk rock sense of fun and unity. No one said the rebel alliance couldn’t be fun!

All this said, ‘Be More Kind’ is not all fire breating punk energy. Far from it. There is a subtley and nuance to the song writing not witnessed before. Album title ‘Be More Kind’ is a Springsteen road trip in 3rd gear combined with Celtic folk. ‘Don’t Worry’ and ‘Get It Right’ have all of Turner’s instincts for the righteous and a better future. However, they’re delivered in a sombre and reflective mood. The fight clearly hasn’t gone, but the approach is certainly changing.

Anyone concerned that his blend of folk and punk has diminished needn’t worry. ‘Blackout’, sits perfectly in the middle of the two has a pop music gem. ‘1933’ is classic raging against the machine and ‘21st Century Blues’ is an update on Bragg’s classic ‘A New England’.

There was a time when Turner came under attack for not nailing his political colours to the mask. Well, a line in the sand has been drawn. It’s amazing how every generation needs someone to remind everyone about love. From John Lennon to Arthur Lee to Joe Strummer to Bernard Sumner, song writers have continually embodied a collective sense of togetherness. For now, it is Turner’s time.

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Frank Turner: Cliffs Pavillion, Southend      

It’s hard to think of Frank Turner as part of the establishment but, after 11 years as a solo artist, he is punk rock royalty. With that comes pros and cons. The angst, the rage, and the fall to the floor desperation inevitably fades. However, being a massive Freddie Mercury fan, Turner is developing into the consummate performer.

Essex, a far too deprived county of proper gigs, is pumped and raring to go as Turner strides on stage. The ease at which he glides around the stage or leaps onto speakers on set opener ‘1933’ is, well, palm of his hand should cover it.

‘Making America Great Again’ leaves a big imprint on his Southend faithful. To be progressive of political thought in this county is not the norm so, to hear the chorus “Let's make America great again / By making racists ashamed again / Let's make compassion in fashion again” belted out is staunch reminder that we’re not alone.

Of all the classics he plays, its ‘The Ballad Of Me and My Friends’ that always shines brightest. For those who find no solace in this anthem we say this, you’ll never know the collective spirit forged in a dark sweat filled room that provides goosebumps for a lifetime or, as Frank might say:

"But if your all about the destination / Then take a fucking flight / Where going nowhere slowly but seeing all the signs / And we're definitely going to hell / But we'll have all the best stories to tell"

Image Source: Martin Neal