Wozniak – Courage Reels

The debut album from Edinburgh quartet Wozniak, a long awaited debut after a series of stunning EPs and singles. The band comprise of Simon Cuthbert-Kerr (guitar), James Urquhart (bass), John Sinclair (drums), and Sarah Cuthbert-Kerr (guitar, vocals).

The first listen was cathartic and an experience not unlike being stood on a cliff edge in a storm.  Sounding more post-rock than shoegaze, the album is mostly instrumental with some long tracks.  I will try to refrain from drawing comparisons with fellow Scotsmen Mogwai

The opener Shader starts off straight into a constant fuzzed out wall of distortion with bright ringing guitars breaking through. The pace shifts but the distortion is relentless. Ghosting starts off gentler but builds up to a chaotic finale which even has some vocals from Sarah.

My favourite song on the album is Super Panther.  The quieter parts have a real sense of urgency and suspense.  It is a soundtrack for a film that has not been made yet.  The bass and drums propel this song through the very heavy guitars.  Scottish Dancer is different from the rest of the album as it was vocals mostly throughout and a verse-chorus structure.  The cold vocals and washes of ghostly noise give this song a hazy dreamlike quality.

The closing track Death Suit starts off as stripped back song with hardly any effects, a Wozniak unplugged.  It is focused on the interplay of the instruments and the steady build up of layers of melody.  Until distorted guitars crash in at 2 minutes into the song, they continue to appear and then disappear leaving parts without any feedback really stark and bare.

Courage Reels is an elemental force not dressed up as anything else or trying to be anyone else.  It is beautiful by it’s sheer power and force.

The Charlatans – Weirdo

Part of the holy triumvirate Over Rising, Me In Time the Weirdo EP was released. The latter is a Hammond organ extravaganza. This would one of the pinnacle of Rob Collins’ career as shortly after the single was released Collins was arrested for aiding and armed robbery. Collins was charged with armed robbery on an off-licence near his home. He claimed to have no foreknowledge of the robbery, and pleaded guilty to “Assisting an offender after an offence”, for which he was sentenced to 8 months imprisonment.

The EP features the Theme from The Wish. A film that no one has heard of; or was it a film at at all? It is an atmospheric yet kind of groovy instrumental. There is an alternate take on Weirdo which is basically not as good as the original. Lastly the epic Sproston Green (U.S version) which is always a joy.

The Charlatans : Weirdo

Weirdo
Theme From “The Wish”
Weirdo (Alternate Take)
Sproston Green (U.S. Version)

Ian Prowse, Barrelhouse Ballroom Totnes, 2nd June 2017

I did not put up a blog post this weekend because I was away in Totnes.  I was really surprised that Ian Prowse from Pele and Amsterdam had chosen to appear there.  It was also an opportunity to take my wife away as she found the folk-rock work of Ian Prowse much more palatable than the walls of distortion, feedback and reverb at gigs I would regularly attend.

We got to the Barrelhouse and watched the support, which was singer/guitarist from Plymouth.  Unfortunately the support had to compete with a very talkative audience at the bar.  I ended up feeling very sorry for him.

 

Ian took to the stage and led the audience through and anthology of work.  There was a selection from; Pele Raid the Palace, Amsterdam  Does This Train Stop On Merseyside? and solo work My Name is Dessie Warren. There were many songs that inspired me to seek out the Amsterdam backcatalogue as I am not very familiar with it.  The interaction with the crowd was great, Ian recounted many stories about the inspirations behind some of the songs, being top of the charts in South Africa and childhood holidays in Totnes.

The highlight of the evening was Does This Train Stop On Merseyside? it is a song that is so much better live and the audience were all singing their hearts out to this.  John Peel said that he was moved to tears everytime that this was played.  I was surprised that there was a cover of The Clash’s London Calling in the set.  This was a bold move as no one can really pull off a Clash song except themselves, but I was thankfully surprised and eventhough the cover was faithful to the original it was another gem in the live set.

At the end of the gig I went for the obligatory selfie with the performer.  This was when my wife said, “Russell saw you live in 1991″.”  Upon further research it was actually 8th February 1992.  I said that it was at The Joiners Arms in Southampton where I had seen him 25 years ago.

Ian’s reply was, “The Joiners Arms, the world’s biggest stage.”

The 25th Anniversary edition of Pele’s Fireworks is available from Ian’s site

The Charlatans – Over Rising

The high point in The Charlatans career was the time just in between Some Friendly and Between 10th and 11th. The Stone Roses were locked in battle with Silvertone Records and the Happy Mondays were on course for self destruction. At this time The Charlatans seemed to be the brightest hope.

Over Rising
grooves around the organ and piano chords. With some great guitar sounds thrown in. The whole delivery is laid back and funky, including Tim Burgess’s vocals. In contrast Way Up There, shows that Tim’s vocals have much more range and feeling. This song is built around the drums rather than piano and organ.

Happen to Die
really stands out to me as a catchy song. I am not sure why? I think it is the way it builds up with the lyrics adding tension. Then when it gets to the chorus it sounds really cheerful, despite the serious message.

If you happen to die I wont be there,
If you happen to leave then in order to remain there,
Would you do the same on me?

Opportunity Three
is Flood’s reworking of Opportunity. A heavily layered baggy, ambient and psychedelic
song. It is a big tune that rises and falls for over 7 minutes. The EP shows that The Charlatans had settled
and had become more distinctive with their sound, and become groovier at the same time.

The Charlatans : Over Rising

Over Rising
Way Up There
Happen To Die
Opportunity Three

Slowdive – Slowdive

After reading dozens of different reviews (which were all different), I took the plunge and got the new Slowdive album.  Their first album since disbanding 22 years ago after allegedly Oasis asked Alan McGee to drop them.  My first impression is that it blends the shoegaze earlier style with their ambient leanings of their latter work.

Initially I thought there was a lack of delicate gossamer, and celestial harmonies. The harmonies in Everyone Knows, are lost in the guitars.  Go Get It is my least favourite track, it sounds messy.  Slowdive usually have something that pulls the chaos together like a vocal harmony or a cello.

It took a few listens to the album for it to not sound so heavy.  There is a post-rock feel to the album, and particularly in the song No Longer Making Time, with the quiet-loud-quiet format.  Star Roving is the stand out song on the album that gets everything right, and would be easily included on a Slowdive greatest hits album.  I am pleased that they have returned with an album that is not a change in direction, layers of reverb at the forefront.

It is a worthy addition to the Slowdive discography that enhances a glorious back catalogue.

Mark Goodier’s Evening Session

The show ran on Radio 1 between 1990 to 1993, until it was revamped and presented by Steve Lamacq and Jo Wiley.  It was Mark Goodier that built the show into the indie safe haven.  There was not much on the Radio at the time it was launched.  John Peel had moved to the ridiculously late weekend stint, and the only other programme of note was Hit the North presented by Mark Radcliffe.  Irritatingly Hit the North was only available in medium wave on Radio 5.

Monday to Thursday, 7.30pm till 9pm was Mark Goodier’s Evening Session.  Which showcased new indie and alternative talent.  Mark came across a bit Smashie and Nicey.  This partly because he was born in Zimbabwe, and his accent remind me of the quasi-Australian accent of Nicey, and because he sounded so enthusiastic.  This is not a bad trait, as it would be annoying if he had a dead pan voice.

Steve Lamacq did the Evening Session he had more indie credibility, but in this golden age of alternative music his role was at the NME.  Lamacq is often idolised for his work at Radio 1.  I seem to remember him raving about unsigned Bis appearing on Top of the Pops, and that this was the most indie thing that ever happened.     I really don’t know if Goodier was really into the scene.  I always thought of him as a UB40 fan.  He did sometimes play the same song twice in a row, because he enjoyed it so much.

The Best of the Mark Goodier Radio 1 Sessions, Vol. 1

Hearts ‘N’ Minds – The Farm
Someone to Blame – Jesus Jones
Sally Anne – Milltown Brothers
Oh Yes – Angels, Paris
I Believe – EMF
Chlorine Dream – Spirea X
Stars – Poppy Factory
Wake Up Dreaming – Birdland
Wonderful – Real People
Don’t Let That Man – Banderas
Walk Your Way – Linden Tree
Ocean Wide – The Dylans
You’re a Rose – Fatima Mansions
Breather – Chapterhouse
Michael – Frank & Walters
Oh No Won’t D0 – Cud
(No One) Not Even the Rain – The Charlatans