Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Gone Campin'

See you after the festival for a two-headed write up of the whole shebang, with lots of pictures.


Saturday, August 19, 2006

What's On the Playlist..... August 2006

Since It's Grim Up North seems to be in a bit of pre-festival lull at the moment, as we wait for the highlight of the musical year, here's a bit of an insight into what has been filling our Winamp playlist for the last couple of weeks.

The Divine Comedy - Absolute Power

Turns out there are more hidden treasures from the recording of Neil Hannon's return-to-form album Victory For The Comic Muse. Long regarded as a bit of a lost classic in its live form by fans of the band, The Divine Comedy have finally recorded a studio version of Absolute Power and it's fantastic. As a study of the shallowness of fame it's everything that the single Diva Lady should have been but sadly wasn't. It can be found as a B-side to the new To Die A Virgin E.P.

Download Absolute Power from iTunes here.

The Holloways - Two Left Feet

Now Bona Fide chart stars, this fiddle-wielding punk hoedown simply refuses to leave the IGUN playlist. If it was crap it would sound like The Levellers but thankfully it's ace.

Download Two Left Feet from iTunes here.

Muse - Invincible

As we impatiently await Muses inevitable domination of the Leeds Festival next weekend, we can't help but feel that this must.... MUST... be their set closer. The very definition of a slow burner, the idea of 40,000 singing along to the line "And tonight, we can truly say, together we're invincible" is giving us goosebumps already.

Download Invincible from iTunes here.

The Automatic - Monster

You know this already of course, but this is another festi-anthem in waiting. Anyones opinion of The Automatic will depend entirely on what you make of keyboard player Alex Pennie - the guy whose strangulated yelps make it sound like he has trapped his testicles in a barbed wire fence. But never has a song so entirely been based around a killer chorus since the peak of Terrorvisions fame, and "What's that coming over the hill? Is it a monster? IS IT A MONSTER?" seems most likely to replace "Bollocks!" as the night time cry of choice around the Leeds campsite.

Download Monster from iTunes here.

Disturbed - Land Of Confusion

Now this is brilliant! We had no idea that multi-pierced metallers Disturbed had done a cover of Genesis' none-more-eighties anthem Land Of Confusion, but they have and it rocks. This even caused IGUN to dig out Invisible Touch and wistfully remember a time when anything Phil Collins was involved wasn't automatically shit.

Download Land Of Confusion from iTunes here.

Adam Green - Novotel

Songs which reference smoking crack sung in a deceptively alluring baritone? It can only be ex-Moldy Peach Adam Green of course, and this little gem from his Jacket Full Of Danger LP contains everything that makes him such a star in just 99 seconds.

Download Novotel from iTunes here

Jarvis - Running The World

If you haven't already heard the pleasingly profane and pissed off comeback call from Mr Jarvis Cocker, this is a must-download. It's a sort of disco-stomp protest record and IGUN cannot wait for his forthcoming solo record.

Download Running the World from iTunes here.

Arctic Monkeys - Leave Before The Lights Come On

Are the wheels starting to come off the Arctic Monkeys express train to world domination? Whilst we applaud the Sheffield Scallywags for releasing new material so soon after their debut album, rather than flogging it to death for eighteen months (Kaiser Chiefs - we're looking at you!) it seems a shame that this mid-paced and unmemorable slice of Monkeys sounds much more like an album filler than a single, and the closing refrain of "I'll walk you home, what times the bus come?" sounds dangerously close to self parody. Must try harder.

Download Leave Before The Lights Come On from iTunes here.

Posted by Matt

Monday, July 31, 2006

New Band Review - White Light Parade - Leeds Cockpit - 19th July 2006

Taking to the stage with the confident strut of an experienced rock band, it's hard to imagine that these are the only band tonight without a record deal. But it's true, they are and tonight they could change all that for the better and in the opener Wood for the Trees - a Ska throw back, complete with trumpet and a chugging backbone of a rhythm section - you can see that happening. With their confidence soaring, Chants of W.L.P from both the 150 + crowd and from the stage they storm in to the towering Riot in the City, recently purchased by Nissan (yes - THAT Nissan) for use on an advert, and it tears the place apart.

A couple of Emo(!) tinged numbers later and they really are owning the Cockpit tonight. Its now time for the bands trump card - an extended Wait for the Weekend - its soaring choruses making it now sound like a bonafide classic and with front man/lead guitarist Danny really throwing out the rock shapes with a shimmering solo they take the roof off the Cockpit and leave us all in the crowd baying for more.

The band then exit with the same confidence the entered knowing it's a Job well done. Deal or no deal methinks this lot are going places. Up the W.L.P

Words by guest writer Mikey Phillips

White Light Parade (MySpace)
Album Review - Muse - Black Holes And Revelations

Muse? Their 4th album? Have they finally conquered the world like I always hoped they would?

IGUN's feelings are split in 2 as we prepare to write this review. On one side were like proud parents, watching at the cap & gown ceremony of our bands graduation day, sat with other parents whose bands have made the grade & taking a ridiculous amount of photographs as they toss their caps in the air. Or as in this case, their album covers. On the other side we feel nothing but cynicism and post-underground arrogance, how dare they change their sound to fit the common ears of our top 20, how dare they say the words 'commercial' and 'dance floor filler' in the same sentence. This is a band that writes tunes as crazy as Uno & as nerdy as Megalomania, stick those on your dance floor and 'groooove' to them. Alas, here at IGUN we know better than to let something as trivial as feeling disrupt our always spot-on reviews (Wahey!) so with those early thoughts pushed to one side for now, lets put on the c.d. and begin.

The first song, Take A Bow is pure Muse. From the trademark lyrics right down to the dark spiralling synths here’s a track that sits well on darker second album Origin of Symmetry and its also business as usual for Starlight which is set to be the next single. This sounds like a track born out of the Absolution sessions, a love song, which sees Matt Bellamy attempting to woo his lady and one in which also contains the line “Our hopes and expectations/black holes and revelations”. Supermassive Black Hole follows which is by far the most anti-Muse song that Muse have ever created. Its not theatrical and its not Progressive and to make matters worse chubby Womble Chris Moyles has declared on his Radio 1 breakfast show that It’s ‘the best thing Muse have ever done’. This is bad. Apparently emulating from a time spent in New York listening to Franz Ferdinand, its funky beat and fuzzy guitar coupled with Matt’s ‘Knob caught in zip’ Prince like yelp should not wash well with hardcore fans. Or should it? As I listen I can’t help but notice I’m dancing on IGUN’s review table. Mr Turner wont be happy with me but I cant help it, it’s a double-mint, funk-tastic, hip-swinging belter that the most-die hard of Muse fans will harbour a secret love for and one that commercial music listeners all over the world will crave for weeks to come.

Map Of The Problematique sounds like The Pet Shops boys having a fight with The Foo Fighters and Assassin will damn near blow your head off with its heavy riffs and System Of A Down style solo’s. Its also a song that deals with Matt’s ever growing fear of War and general world destruction containing the lyrics “War is overdue/this time its come for you”. The softer, acoustic songs that appear like Invincible & Soldiers Poem are also real winners showcasing the bands ability to turn down the volume and tap into the world around them. The latter, Soldiers Poem, written as a letter from a soldier sent to War against his will is particularly poignant considering the current circumstances in the Middle East and other troubled parts of the world. Hoodoo comes with the use of Mexican style Mariachi guitars and pounding pianos that work so well with many of Muse’s songs, this one in particular sounding like Nancy Sinatra’s ‘Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down)’. But its album closer Knights Of Cydonia that really demonstrates Muse’s power and imagination, starting off with the sound of lasers and pounding horses we have a tune that draws comparisons to a Peter Gabriel led Genesis and to a lesser extent a super-theatrical Queen. “No ones gonna take me alive/The time has come to make things right” screams Matt as he sings and manages to pull one of those ‘Yes’ guitar solo’s out of the cosmos.

And all my cynical fear and feeling are gone. Blown away into the universe as Muse flex with a confidence and a self-belief that’s never been seen before. Yes they’ve attempted something different in parts but by sheer will of force and in the face of adversity from some of their own fans they’ve pulled it off. Coming across with an almost “I don’t care if you like it cos I know its good” attitude that somehow remains sincere and manages to add a touch cool that some people will tell you has evaded them in previous efforts. This fourth album confirms Muse’s place at the top of the tree when it comes to British rock bands and it will only add to their already huge fan base around the world. Graduation day it is then. Pass the tissues love. I’m so proud.

Words By Chad

Saturday, July 22, 2006

Stop, You're Killing Me.....

Well after what seems like forever, The Killers have made the new single off their forthcoming album available to listen to on their website, here.

Unfortunately, on first listen it sounds like Meatloaf, except that Meatloaf is ace and this is all empty bluster and a terrible vocal.

Check it out and tell us what you think.

Album Review - Amusment Parks On Fire - Out Of The Angeles

Well, for all you peasants that didn't get into their 1st album, here's what you've been missing, APOF's 2nd album. I thought I’d heard of the last of this kind of stuff with MBV but thank God someone's had the sense to resurrect it.” Out of the Angeles" starts off with the title track and what a f**kin' track it is! I've no idea what he's singing about, something about castles or string or something, it doesn't matter, the sheer unstoppable power of the guitars is spine tingling and you’re on your 3rd orgasm before it ends. You get a slight post coital cig break whilst the 2nd track, "A Star is Born" warms up, but not for long, 2 mins in and the volume and melancholia are upped a notch then after another minute of pounding noise, it climaxes with the reason God invented guitars, simply awesome. They thoughtfully made track 3 a shit one so you can calm down after the first 2, song 4 starts promisingly but starts to sound American, and then we reach "To the Shade" which is more thoughtful than the 1st 2 but still has the bite of a pitbull with a fractured scrotum with its relentless drumbeat.

I think even Mr Curtis would have baulked at making track 6, BEWARE not to be listened to lightly, and at over 5 and half mins long easily gives you chance to get the gas on. Blackout is next but because I’m so good and have been listening to this for months I can't be arsed to review it apart from to say its 4th best. Await Lightning is their 2nd attempt at American rock and best avoided, track 9 is a strange one, begins with the melody of the title track with a girl (probably a gorgeous Harriet Wheeler type) humming along, then turns into something of a dirge which leads to the final track, "Cut to the Future Shock" which I can't get to the end of in my haste to get back to the 1st song again. To be fair, its difficult to give this album a fair review, the first 2 songs are so relentlessly breathtaking that after you've listened to them you've got nothing left for the rest of the album. If you don’t like APOF you are either a girl or you’ve got no soul, this album could wake the dead, it's as simple as that.

Ps, and he's only about 12, it's enough to make you sick!

Words by IGUN guest reiewer Vincent Lunn

Friday, July 07, 2006

Laugh? I nearly went to Wales...

IGUN has never liked the Manic Street Preachers - there's nothing worse than people who think they are cleverer than they really are - and when their lyrics are so god awful it really is just the pits. But to be fair, that's mainly down to the AWOL Richie Edwards and the unfortunately still-with-us Nicky Wire. However, we've always had a grudging respect for James Dean Bradfield, who can belt out a tune like a good 'un, and obviously has more talent than the rest of the MSP put together.

Anyway, whilst researching his new solo album, we stumbled across these sites - two initially convincing piss-takes of the Manics figureheads. (Clearly Sean Moore was not considered important enough to merit a satirical swipe.) Someone has gone to a lot of effort of these - even registering the right domain names - and we haven't laughed so hard since we last saw a picture of Brandon Flowers with his beard.


James Dean Bradfield
Nicky Wire


Thursday, July 06, 2006

Going Digital

IGUN is impressed. We found out yesterday that indie bible the NME has gone digital. You can now subscribe to recieve the entire magazine (ads and all) in a new downloadable format which is available every Tuesday - when the old fashioned inky copy is still only out in London.

The absolute best bit though is the price - at £1.95 an issues, the paper version would cost £101.40 per year. The downloadable version is $39.99 - that's £21.75 for 12 months!

We subscribed yeserday and we love it!


Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Album Review - The Radio Dept. - Pet Grief

If you failed to buy The Radio Dept's amazing debut album back in 2004 then shame on you. Go outside, don a Portugal shirt, shout 'Wayne Rooney's a tosser', take a kicking then come back in and download 'Where Damage Isn't Already Done'. Wait for atonement. Breath & carry on reading. If You did buy it then stay, and read on as I try to put into words the beauty of this second album which is set for its U.K. release late 2006 on Labrador.

Its well documented that this IGUN member is a very big fan of this genre of music, dubbed by NME in the early 90's as 'shoegazing', mention My Bloody Valentine, Ride, Chapterhouse and - I shit you not - early Boo Radleys records and you can get an idea of what was playing in my Toshiba single c.d. system when I was getting ready for school back in the day. A brief resurgence came later in the decade when My Vitriol added their heavier spin on things but its not until recently with the likes of The Radio Dept, Amusement Parks On Fire, Scarling & to a lesser extent Sigur Rios that shoegazing (Re-dubbed 'Nu-gazing' embarrassingly, again by NME) is beginning to stand on its own two feet.

The Radio Dept are adept at bringing that special Scandinavian gloss we know and love to their music - well crafted, beautiful indie pop tunes sent through muffled drum machines, cosmic keyboards and vocals that are so lazy and blissful they demand you kick back and enjoy the sunshine. Imagine Julian Casablancas whispering, on morphine, playing with The Beta Band on a boat coming out of Sweden and your with me. While keeping the roots of their highly successful debut firmly intact here we have a second album that’s pushing more toward the dark electro synth sound of the late 80's, with New Order and Depeche Mode making constant appearances through out the 12 tracks, this is evident straight away on first track 'It's Personal'. With its haunting Piano and dark synths we have a song here that sits well with those pioneering sounds that came from Depeche Mode and at a strong push Kraftwork.

Song 2 and album title track 'Pet Grief' could be mistaken for Gloria Estefan and her Miami sound machine for the first 20 seconds until the trademark, sweeping, almost sailing feeling that comes with Radio Dept's melodies kicks in. With its Joy Division baseline and high synths the track 'A Window' sounds like The Radio Dept. have recently been on holiday in Manchester, dipping their toes in Hooky and Steven Morris's ponds - Stockholm in Rusholme anyone ? You better believe it. But before you think this album is turning slowly into the grey Manchester skyline up pops 'Every Time' reassuring us that the sun always shines in Sweden and the Radio Dept still know how to capture it in its rarest, pure, pop form.

This is also evident on the brilliantly titled 'Sleeping In' - a song that deals with nothing more than what the title suggests, staying in bed, day dreaming and losing your headache. Come away from the hassle that the outside world has to offer and listen as this song transports you to a paradise island complete with buzzing birds and bustling trees. Second to last track 'Tell' is a cousin of Temptation and should have you New Order fans frothing at the mouth. If there is one thing this album is lacking then its the mesmerising first track 'Where Damage Isn't Already Done' off their debut album which was a contender for single of the year back in 2004, but then maybe were asking too much of A band to reproduce a song as good as that ?.

This is a band that have been and probably will remain underground, even with the release of this second album and new single, aptly titled 'The Worst Taste In Music', guaranteed to not make the top 50 of our so called pop charts which are already littered with drab, boring and repetitive solo artist's whining about lost loves. If you feel its all getting too much and you want some happiness in your life go and buy The Go! Team. If you want to be the coolest indie kid on the block, sat in your back garden with an ice cold Magners swaying peacefully on your Hammock then go and buy this album. Put some summer into it.


Sunday, June 25, 2006

This Is The Modern Way....

The cultural twinning of the North of England with places far and wide continues.... local hero Ricky Wilson is apparently (According to the low quality tabloids anyway) dating Amanda Palmer from IGUN favourites The Dresden Dolls.

If memory serves, Amanda did streak during a Kaisers set at an American festival last year, causing Wilson to quip "That's the first time I've played that song with an erection." He was also sitting right by the stage during last weeks 'Later', which whilst bit did give a great view of The Dolls in action, but unfortunately meant he had to be schmoozed by the one man personality slick that is Jools Holland.

There's another pleasing symmetry here too - let's not forget that Alex Kapranos from catchy indie heroes Franz Ferdinand is hooked up with Elenor Friedberger from yelpy, mad-as-a-balloon Americans the Fiery Furnaces. Can you see where we're going with this?

Dresden Dolls to support Kaisers on big tour in Autumn? Ricky to dress up for a performance of 'Coin-Operated Boy' at Leeds festival this year? Only time will tell.


Sunday, June 18, 2006

Live Review - Hope Of The States with Vega4 - Sheffield Leadmill - June 17th 2006

I don't know about you, but when I was sixteen or so, I turned up incredibly early to every gig. Why? Support bands! I mean, I'd paid my ten pounds damnit, and I was going to be down the front for every single note of music that was played.

It goes without saying that ten years later, this is no longer the case.

However - here's the exception that proves the rule. Happily chilling in the Leadmill's back bar, only three songs from tonights support band Vega4 - just visible through the doorway - was enough to tempt us stage front. They sound fantastic - big anthemic rock songs that sound like you've known them forever. Second song "Paper Cuts" (Available as a free download here, sweetly) owes a huge debt to Radiohead's last record for sure, but overall, the band which keeps springing to mind is Snow Patrol. But please, those of you who find the Scottish schmindie standard-bearers too wet to bother with shouldn't dismiss Vega4 because of the comparison... these are tougher, stronger songs than Lightbody and co could ever manage. Singer Johnny McDaid is a great band leader - blessed with an awesome voice and a cheeky Irish charm which brims with confidence but refreshingly lacks ego. Vega4 seem to have all the hallmarks of a band for whom big time success is not far away. Suddenly, I remember that five or so years ago, I saw Muse play a gig on this very stage supported by a band called Coldplay. A fortnight later "Yellow" was released and.... well you know the rest. When you see Vega4 headlining V festival 2008, remember you heard it here first.

And so onto Hope Of The States.... a band in a strange kind of limbo at the moment. Heavily tipped as the next big thing, "The Lost Riots" won critical and fan acclaim but relatively low sales, and after suffering a tragic setback after the suicide of their guitarist Jimmi Lawrence they promptly dissapeared from view. Back with a new album, "Left" after a brace of great EPs, the reaction to their return has been lukewarm at best. And sure enough, the Leadmill is only two thirds full tonight. (a blessing-in-disguise for the crowd, given the soaring tempreatures) But by God, this band does not dissapoint. Whilst the focus undeniably lies on Sam Herlihy, he is an unusual hero. Surprisingly animated and unfailingly polite - despite his general dog-about-to-be-kicked demenour, there is a telling moment only minutes into the gig when, despite his vocals being almost inaudible beneath the bands immense sound, he gestures to the sound guy to lower his mic even further in the mix. Unusual, yes, but it quickly becomes clear that HOTS are not a conventional band. If I can be allowed a tenuous analogy... unlike my partner in crime, the Manchester United obsessed Chad, this half of the IGUN writing team knows precisely sweet FA about the beautiful game... yet seeing Hope Of The States swap both instruments and limelight as the gig progressively becomes bigger and more epic, you can't help but be reminded of the idea of Total Football. And that's what HOTS practice - Total Noise if you like - every element as important as the others, building into a huge, venue filling wall of sound. The real highlight of the gig is when Herily is tucked away behind the piano, for an awesome double whammy of "Black Dollar Bills" and "Enemies / Friends." And by the time the encore comes around, an frantic blast through "The Red, The White, The Black, The Blue" is followed by a track called "Black Stars / Red Stars" (More colours!) which - if I can return to the football analogy - finds the whole band pushed forward on the attack - a rock-solid five man, three guitar offensive which sounds... look, I'm going to have to use the word 'huge' again, cos the IGUN thesaurus has shrugged it's shoulders at me once and for all.

The weight of expectation clearly lies of HOTS - everything from the cool merchandise to the ace micro-cameras dotted around the stage beaming the band onto three big screens (In the Leadmill... Wow!) screams major label support, which raises the uncomfortable prospect of them being dropped like a hot potato if "Left" doesn't sell in huge numbers. Perhaps they would be more at home on an indie label... this band clearly speaks directly to the devoted, to those who yearn for more depth that the 2006 holy trio of Monkeys / Kaisers / Franz. In the mainstream at least, only The Cooper Temple Clause can even come close to such a massive sound - clearly at odds with the current trends in what we loosely call Indie. Triumphant then... for those gathered for one night in Sheffield, Hope Of The States feel like they could be a new hope for just about everyone.

Hope Of The States

Words By Matt, Pictures from The Internet - proper gig pics to follow once I can get them off my phone

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Album Review - The Divine Comedy - Victory For The Comic Muse

In an unusual move for IGUN, we're going to start with what we don't like about the new album from The Divine Comedy.

First single "Diva Lady" is a huge let down. Over an admittedly catchy samba rhythm and smatterings of brass and boogie-woogie piano, Neil Hannon tells all about some Mariah / Beyonce / Britney-esque Diva of his acquantance, Unfortunately, the best observations he can come up with is that she is demanding, spoilt and has a huge entourage. Well bugger me! Perhaps the b-sides will tell us that the sky is blue, kittens are cute and Embrace are shit.

Preceeding track "Mother Dear" is even more of a dissapointment - kudos for a jaunty banjo part which makes the whole thingl oddly reminiscent to the theme tune of "Scrubs", but here Neil Hannon commits a terrible pop crime by writing a song about his Mum. (This is even worse than writing tunes about your kid - another lyrical sin commited not once but twice on the last Divine Comedy record.) Bleuch.

Oh, and at only 11 tracks - one of which is an instrumental which clocks in at barely a minute - the whole album feels a little brief.


Having got all that out of the way, it is with great pleasure that IGUN can announce that "Victory For The Comic Muse" is a triumph - an album which pulls off the remarkable trick of feeling like a best-of scamper through the last fifteen years of Divine Comedy music.

Take opener "To Die A Virgin" for example.... a charming and hilarious account of hormone-addled adolescence, unrequited lust and near-terminal masturbation, it could have come straight from The Divine Comedys 1996 breakthrough record "Casanova", were it not for the uber-topical lyric "With all the bombs and the bird flu / We're probably gonna be dead soon / So here we are in your bedroom / Did I tell you I love you....?" Similarly, a cover version of the Associates new-wave classic "Party Fears Two" manages to be both faithful to the original and uniquely DC - mainly due to a scampering, galloping tempo which has characterised many of Hannon's best songs. ("Something For The Weekend", "Tonight We Fly", etc) Hannon pulls off the bizarre lyrics ("Even a slight remark / Makes no sense and turns to shark." Indeed...) with spectacular aplomb.

But whilst The Divine Comedy are best known to the public for tracks with a slight whiff of novelty about them, it has always been scratching the surface beneath which reveals the hidden treasures. And sure enough, "Victory..." does not dissapoint. On "The Light Of Day" Neil shamelessly presses every button marked "ballad" at his disposal, and produces a gorgeous heart-breaker which mines the unusual lyrical territory of sticking through bad times for the sake of true love. Strings flutter, oboes wander mournfully across the melody, and suddenly, IGUN has to apologise and claim we must have something in our eye. (*Sniff*)

But hey, surely anyone can write a love song .... and towards the end of the album there are two of the most unusual epics you will hear on a pop record this year. Whilst "Count Grassi's Passage Over Piedmont" tells tale of soaring Victorian ballon adventures with Neil's finest baritone duetting with himself for three and a half beautiful minutes, it is "The Plough" which is probably the stand-out track on the whole album. It seems to compress the middle act of some kind of Russian Opera into five wonderfully over-wrought minutes. Betrayal, religion, murder.. it's all here. Why a wee lad from Eniskillen is singing about hooking up with radical geurillas in order to take personal revenge on Communist opressors is a complete mystery, but remarkably it works brilliantly. Suddenly, you remember that the man behind "National Express" once also wrote a dark, paranoid tale of insomniac self-loating called "Through A Long And Sleepless Night" and that Hannon could make a serious claim to being one of the best songwriters of his generation. If there can be comparison to any recent pop record, only The Decemberists marvellous Jonah-themed epic "Mariner's Revenge Song" springs to mind - both songs share the same sense of preposterous narrative and huge, vaulting ambition.

There are other delights on this album - the wonderful character study "Lady Of A Certain Age" which has charm in abundance, musically transports us to a street cafe somewhere near Nice, and is worth the admittence price alone for Neil's pronnuiciation of "Givenchy"- but we should probably stop gushing. After 2004s dissapointing "Absent Friends", The Divine Comedy have unquestionably found their form again. The departure of genius arranger Joby Talbot, which could have done for their career, instead seems to have re-onvigorated Neil Hannon to produce some of his best music in a decade. Whilst "Victory..." lacks the focus of earlier DC records, which tended to have thematic threads so strong they could almost be called concept records, this instead feels like a musical celebration which revels in the contrasts of genre, style and emotion.

But on a personal note to Neil Hannon - please, no more songs about your dear old Mum!

Word by Matt

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Album Review - The Raconteurs - Broken Boy Soldiers

Jack White. The world is split at the very mention of his name. On one side you’ve got the haters and on the other you’ve got the devoted fans. Love him or hate him you cant deny his place in the elite crowd of today's rock 'n' roll superstars. Five world conquering albums. Hollywood movie star. Car accident related injuries. The scandal of being a front-man beater-upper, this fella‘s seen it all. I’ve been a big fan of The White Stripes since they started and I’ve always been of the opinion that as an axe-man there's not many people out there better then Mr. White, yet after his bands rushed and slightly tired 5th album 'Get Behind Me Satan' which was delivered to us early last year I’ve been left wanting more. I'll admit I chuckled when Noel Gallagher referred to him as 'A Zorro who's had too many donuts'. I went to the Empress for the second time and although a knockout performance was delivered I also wondered whether Jack had lost the plot when he came on stage looking like an extra from The Pirates Of The Caribbean, let’s not even mention that ‘sell-out’ Coca-Cola advert. Little did I know that Jack plus good friend and all-round Detroit nice guy Brendan Benson, who also put out his own record last year, were putting the finishing touches to material they had wrote and recorded way back in 2004. Was this material going to destroy all the doubting Stripes fans like myself, reaffirm the faith and maybe pick up some new fans along the way in a bid to untie the world at last ??? Ladies and Gentleman, allow me to introduce, The Raconteurs.....

Part White, part Benson, 2 part Greenhorne (Rhythm section Patrick Keeler & Jack Lawrence) this Blues soaked pop hybrid is just what the summer ordered. Here we have a record that’s knee deep in a 60’s retro style sound, dripping with layers of R ’n’ B (Think The Who and not Usher), Garage rock and modern pop flavours. Current single ‘Steady As She Goes’ is a Kinksian homage to late 60’s pop tunes, good enough to make Ray Davies himself tap his feat and join in on the chorus. “Find yourself a girl and settle down/live a quiet life in a quiet town” quips Jack, as he drives through Detroit with his new band, tossing his old Red, White and Black slacks in the road with aplomb. It seems to me that we have a band here made up of mates that, you know, just wanna make music and have fun and who are we to stop them ?! Check out album track ‘Intimate Secretary’ with its opening verse of “I’ve go a rabbit it likes to hop/I’ve got a girl and she like’s to shop/The other foot looks like it wont drop/I had an uncle and he got shot”….. How can this be the same Jack White that penned such serious, paranoid, fun-less songs such as ‘The Union Forever’ and ‘ I’m Finding It Harder To Be A Gentlemen Everyday’ I hear you ask ? What we get here is the musical equivalent of a man stretching his legs, embracing new band mates and writing his most accessible & commercial material to date. Track 3 - ‘Broken Boy Soldier’ is in fact the most Stripes-esque song on the here, with his trade mark falsetto screech and scratchy guitars reminiscent of his second album with Meg, De Stijl.

Of course song-writing duties are shared on this album by Benson and the first sample we get of his vocal is the track ‘Together’. Here is a song that would have John Lennon himself spinning around with joy if he were still alive, leaving him speechless as to how it never got onto his own ‘Imagine’ E.P. Sorry Beatles fans but on this track Benson has some how managed to cram all of Macca’s/Lennon’s early material into 4 minutes & 10 seconds of easy writing: “You’ve gotta learn to live and live and lean/You gotta learn to give and wait your turn” slips out of the speakers instantly transporting you back to the summer of 68. ‘Yellow Sun’ is another of Benson’s summer-kissed pop ditties that has a sing along chorus of “Your making me hungry/But what’s really funny/Its not sunny anymore” - Now I know what your thinking, I’ve got a 4 year old cousin who can write lyrics like that, trust me, its infectious stuff. The stand out track is the last on the album, ‘Blue Veins’, which would have had Nina Simone herself salivating at the mouth if she were given the chance to sing it. Its Jack White at his, blues ridden, smoking jazz club, preaching best. Complete with backward recording (Those pesky Beatles again!), piano’s and vocals that go hand and hand with a seat at the bar and a JD and coke by your side we have a song that Quentin Tarantino himself will be fighting to find a place for in his next film.

So what of the future ? Will this excellent album be enough to rip Jack away from the White Stripes for good ? Do we have to wait, drenched in panic no doubt, to hear if there will be that all important 5th Greenhorne’s album ? Is Meg really working the counter at the local 7/11 ? Who knows. One thing is for certain though, this wont be the last L.P. we hear from The Raconteurs. “I was passionate about doing this band, and its very much for the long term for me” said Mr. White in a recent interview. Steady as she goes it is then.

Words By Chad
The Heroic Return Of The Cooper Temple Clause!

For one week only, the now Didz-less TCTC are making their new single, "Damage", available as a free download, available here. On first listen it's a surprising comeback, lacking the dense scariness which characterises the band and replacing it with odd time changes, handclaps, and a jerky, new wave feel.

Let IGUN know what you think!


Monday, May 08, 2006

Live Review - The Dresden Dolls - Sheffield Leadmill May 7th 2006

The Dresden Dolls have always described themselves as Punk Cabaret, and tonight we see the contradicton at the heart of their mission statement. If the make-up and costumes suggest the artful atrifice of theatre, it's the chaotic spontaniety of punk which almost topples the Boston duo's Sheffield debut. After making an guest appearance with ace support Devotchka, Amanda and Brian take the stage proper in their full Dresden Dolls regalia, performing their traditional arms aloft bow, both faces blanched white with striking red lipstick, Amanda's pale thighs peeping over her stripey stockings, Brian's hat perched atop his head like an errant Mr Man. They then charge through 'Sex Changes' from new record, followed by "Missed Me" and "Bad Habit" from their debut. But already the Gremlins are creeping in, and Brian is forced to deal with a collapsing drumkit - eventually he hurls his drum pedal at the back wall in disgust. Ad-libbing admirably, Amanda treats us to a solo rendition of "Such Great Heights" by US indie legends The Postal Service, whilst things are repaired. Unfortunately, only a song or two later, Brian has a broken guitar string during a brief sojourn to stage front, and is soon complaining of a damaged wrist. The setlist now well and truly out of the window, we get a spirited - if frazzled - romp through "Mandy goes to Med School" before two of the Doll's most intense tracks - "Delilah" and the always unsettling "Half Jack"bring the main performance to a goose-bump inducing close.

Emerging after the encore - a battered "The Who" T-shirt now replacing her trademark black dress - Amanda apologises for her band mate, explaining that his hurt wrist means he cannot play anymore. Still - the theatre always says, the show must go on - and Amanda gives us a lovely if downbeat ending to the show - the melancholy alcoholic haze of "Me And The Mini-Bar" is followed by a closing cover of the Leonhard Cohen via Jeff Buckley classic "Hallelujah" (the first few chords of which cause the dippy girl next to IGUN to starthyper-ventilating with excitment) It's far from how the gig would have been planned, but feels appropriate and leaves the Leadmill appropriately sniffly and moved.

The Dresden Dolls walk a fine line between performance art and a conventional band at the best of times, but tonight sees them at both their best and worst - the artifice crumbling around them, Amanda rescued what could have been a disasterous night. (Brian's frustrations were obvious - he could later be seen harranging a hapless bootleg t-shirt seller outside the venue - best quote; "We're working in there man - we gotta eat!") Often it's the nights which teter on the edge of collapse which prove the most memorable and tonight was no exception. Viva The Dresden Dolls then - but for their sake, hopefully the rest of their tour is a little less shambolic.

Words and Pictures by Matt

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Live Review - Be Your Own Pet - Sheffield Leadmill - Saturday 22nd April 2006.

It isn't exactly "Zig a Zig Aah" nowadays, but the Rock and Roll industry is currently doing its best to promote the female of the species. Since Meg White beat down hard on her dusty drum kit in 2002 to liven up what was a stagnate time for women in rock, there has been a rush of women striving to be the icon that a thousand indie-chicks in skinny jeans want to be.

Shining magnificently like a last-chance distress flare is the blonde, delicate yet explosive, Jemina Pearl, lead singer of 'Be Your Own Pet', who are playing Sheffield's Leadmill as they near the end of their recent tour - an end which has seen the Nashville punksters finally release their eponymous album. An album, that can be described quite safely, as a 15 track rush of blood to the feet.

Being somewhat of beautiful nature, Pearl does well to ignore the many dropped jaws from the male fraternity of the crowd. Indeed, rarely has their been so many a man at the front of a gig, holding on to their territory at the front like a pubescent alsation. Starting off with the band's most vocally shared track 'Fill My Pill', the band disregard any casual introduction to their watchers as they storm into the 2-minute, beautifully unstructured firecracker of a song. As the words "Get out of my skin!!!" leave Pearl's lips without a fuss, the crowd are fired a 'don't fuck with me' warning. They won't, although you wouldn’t blame them for trying.

Leaving current single 'Adventure' out of tonight's set, the band lay an explosive benchmark. Instead, BYOP make sure the crowd that took an interest in heavier paced early singles 'Let's Get Sandy' and 'Damn Damn Leash' are rewarded. As Pearl's tiny frame ricochets around the stage throughout these songs, it's clear that if there is any such combination of elegance and out of control ferocity then we are witnessing it tonight. She is not on her own though, as each member of the band seems willing to outdo each other.
Only some needless spitting into the crowd by BYOP's afro-headed bassist deters from a band intent on baring their musical insides.

Of course, Pearl wouldn't be here today if she didn't have guts. She takes front stage willingly and effortlessly. She is very much the rebel, and she confesses with no remorse, "I'm an independent mother fucker, and I'm here to take your money" on the brutal 'Bunk Trunk Skunk'. However, it is also the submissive and naïve side to her voice, which she sometimes helplessly and wonderfully falls into, which makes you fall in love with her. During 'Wildcat', Pearl talks of a playmate, "We are chasing each other and taking turns." You'd love it if she was talking about you wouldn't you?

Ending with the riff-laden, call to arms-esque, 'We Will Vacation You Can Be My Parasol', BYOP ensure the crowd knows they've earned their sweat. With hooks so glorious you'd think Sir Paul McCartney was backstage orchestrating the whole show, it's surprising BYOP haven't made it bigger commercially. Considering they've got the most heart-wrenchingly dazzling woman seen on a sweaty stage since this thing called Rock and Roll became a habit, the band should already have a couple of 20 singles under their belt. They look good, and sound fucking righteous. But if music this good is going to be impaired by Miss Pearl getting distracted and famous, then I'm all for brushing BYOP under a carpet so only I know about them. This is punk how I like it - sassy, sexy, catchy and fast. Leave the ballads to Fat Spice will you?

words by Michael Brunt

Monday, April 10, 2006

Album review - The Dresden Dolls - Yes, Virginia

Self obsessed women singing songs that are all about “me, Me, ME!” do not have a great track record. A flashback to the late nineties and the dreary lines of Alanis clones parading their neuroses through the medium of guitar and bloody awful lyrics still sends a shiver down the spine of anyone who actually likes music. Thank everything then for Amanda Palmer - singer of Boston piano and drums two-piece The Dresden Dolls, who gleefully breaks all stereotypes and has just presided over her second masterpiece.

The band’s 2004 self-titled debut is still a permanent fixture in our house. That was a crying, spitting, self mutilating, joyously over the top debut which sounded genuinely new. That album’s signature tune - ‘Girl Anachronism’ - set the stall out, with Amanda portraying herself as a whirlwind composite of every teenage girl’s most crazy moments - all set to what sounded like a Grand Piano falling down a lift shaft. ‘Yes, Virginia’ is a little more polished, slightly less over the top, yet is a more complete and satisfying album - the themes and ideas of their debut brought into full, glorious, widescreen Technicolor, complete with full supporting cast and dancing girls.

The DDs favourite themes are all here - Shagging, check. (Opener ‘Sex Changes’ gleefully lists the consequences of an imaginary off the shelf, well, sex change) Excess - Oh yes. (The AA in reverse show tune that is ‘My Alcoholic Friends’) And of course, an obsession with the sticky, gooey mess of surgery and bodily functions which sees ‘Mandy Goes To Med School’ (we mentioned self obsessed already didn't we?) practicing back street operations out of the back of an SUV, set to the filthiest bar-room piano you have ever heard.

Musically, the advances here are huge. If ‘The Dresden Dolls’ had basically two settings - in your face piano-punk-pop or dirgy self loathing – ‘Yes, Virginia’ feels like a Broadway musical - funny, sexy and massively charming. Yet it's the lyrics you'll remember. ‘My Alcoholic Friends’ celebrates drinking to ridiculous excess with the marvellous verse “I’m trying hard, not to be ashamed, not to know the name, of who, is waking up beside me, or the date, the season or the city, but, at least the ceiling’s very pretty…” Or how about the twistedly gynaecological “Put away those pliers honey, trust me cos I know the options, how about a nine month long vacation and a two foot coffin…?” from ‘Mandy Goes To Med School”.

The clincher though is the brilliant seven minute character study ‘Delilah’, in which Amanda lays into a hopeless friend for her total lack of sense when it comes to choosing men. As damning put-downs go, you’ll have to go a long way to beat “You’re an unrescuable schizo… or else you’re on the rag”, yet her final despair is summed up in the exasperatedly innocent, almost Enid Blyton-esque “You’re impossible, Delilah!”

Only once does the album really fail. ‘First Orgasm’ is simultaneously funny and unsettling - charting as it does a typical day chez Palmer. (Get up, have coffee, quick wank in the bay window). It's should be classic DD, yet the almost total lack of tune makes it an endurance test rather than the quick guilty pleasure it probably should be.

Ultimately – ‘Yes, Virginia’ is an absolute Marmite album - if you don't adore it, you will almost certainly find it insufferably smug, indulgent and annoying. But The Dresden Dolls should be treasured - a dramatic contrast to forgettable indie everywhere. God forbid they should ever become too successful - the idea of make-up caked, stocking clad imitators trying to match them is just horrible. But on this particular occasion, the pretentious art fags have scored a perfect ten. They come to these shores in May and you should make a point of catching them when they do.


Album Released April 17th on Roadrunner Records.

Sunday, April 09, 2006

A Town Called……

… In AD 79 the Romans built a fort on the east bank of the River Irwell called Mancunium.

The rest, as they say good people, is history….

I am somewhat of patriot. An ambassador if you will. Not as much for my country but for my city. The city of Manchester. Its hard for me to put into words what this City and its heritage means to me, everything about her from the shine on the glass at the top of Europe’s tallest apartment block down to the very weeds that grow under foot in Piccadilly, from the derelict houses in Collyhurst to the Thirsty Scholar on Oxford Road I feel like I belong here more than anywhere else in the world. In 1844 it became the worlds first industrial city, the birthplace of the Working-Class citizen as it where. This computer I write on was born in Manchester, the Small-Scale Experimental Machine, known as SSEM, was designed and built at The University Of Manchester, and made its first successful run of a program on June 21st 1948. Its where Vimto was born. But it’s the music that has been made and played here over the last 4 decades which has carved a further place in the history books and helped in some way to shape everything we listen to today.

Rock & Roll was always meant to be working class you see, if you’re middle class you have a work ethic, where it’s a wonderful job and you work at it and you make lots of money and take it all very seriously. Bands like U2 and Coldplay are perfect examples of this. If your working class in the Music Industry it’s a bit like robbing the bank. Rob the bank, take the money, shove it up your nose and fuck off. Happy Mondays anyone ? Its this working class ethos coupled with some Northern swagger and attitude that make Manchester’s music unique, I have witnessed it all over the world. In New York you can walk into any bar in the Lower side of Manhattan and find Joy Division on the jukebox, in Melbourne Australia a single sentence strung together in a Manc accent can make girls go weak at the knees (Believe me I’ve seen it happen!) and in Singapore you can be stopped by randomly excited young teens who have spotted you ‘Fac 51’ Haçienda t-shirt. In June 1976 it became Punks second home after a little known band called The Sex Pistols played the Lesser Free Trade Hall at the invitation of just established Manc tunesters the Buzzcocks, in attendance that very night we have a few a names that would soon be whispered by every music fan in the North as, in some way shape or form, pioneers. Pete Shelley, Steve Diggle & Howard Devoto (Buzzcocks), Peter Hook, Steven Morrissey, Bernard Sumner, Anthony Wilson, Marc Riley, John The Postman and some ginger twat called Mick Hucknall. In 1978 post-punk was born by the enigmatic Joy Division, turning their raw musicianship into a virtue, inventing an austere, intense, industrial sound and when local media figure Tony Wilson signed them to his new Factory label, a legendary era began.

Joy Divisions legacy covered the Manchester music scene like a thick layer of fog and more diverse bands began forming though out the 80’s. The Fall & The Smiths arrived giving an even more unique sound and vibe to City and in1989 via Wilson’s Factory label ‘Baggy’ was born. The Happy Mondays and The Stone Roses enjoyed world wide success and helped to create the Rave culture that was sweeping through the city and down the throats of the millions of teens who swamped to the Haçienda every weekend. The DJ ruled for the first time in history and with a fearless play list of deep Chicago dance grooves plus the Northern beats of New Order & 808 state, house music was established. Madonna made the stage at the ‘Haçi’ for her first ever performance outside the US. In 1994 in a small suburb of Manchester known as Burnage 2 young brothers were creating a noise that would soon become the world beating super-power of today that is Oasis. Even to this very hour established bands such as Doves & Nine Black Alps coupled with the as yet un-signed but growing belly of groups and artist’s that frequent the City’s Bierkeller and Night & Day venues continue to contribute to Manchester’s legacy.

Here for your enjoyment are a selection of Tracks, a music menu, a little slice of the Mancunian pie, some of the finest cuts of music that this City has offered and that people will look back on and use as examples as to why this place, Manchester, is one of the most important City’s in Musical history. Just fire up iTunes, Napster or your illegal downloading software of choice and dive right in.



The Durutti Column - Collette

Joy Division - Shadowplay

Slaughter And The Dogs - Where Have All The Bootboys Gone ?

The Fall - It’s the New Thing

Buzzcocks - Lipstick

Magazine - Burst

The Chameleons - Don’t Fall

A Certain Ratio - Shack Up

The Smiths - How Soon Is Now ?

New Order - True Faith

The Stone Roses - Sugar Spun Sister

The Charlatans - Weirdo

Happy Mondays - Kinky Afro

Intastella feat. Shaun Ryder - Can You Fly Like You Mean It ?

Inspiral Carpets - Saturn 5

808 State - Pacific 707

Northside - Shall We Take A trip

Blackgrape - Kelly Heroes

Oasis - Fade Away

Doves - Pounding

Wednesday, April 05, 2006

Martin Gilks 1965 - 2006

Sad news reached IGUN yesterday - Martin Gilks, original drummer with the Wonder Stuff died on Sunday in a motorcyle accident.

XRRF has written a great obituary here and the excellent Wonderstuff site Room 512 is busy organising a fitting tribute.

On a personal note, Martin was my favourite ever drummer and a musician who I could have picked out on any record - I cannot think of another such talented yet distinctive drummer in rock.

He will be sadly missed.


Monday, April 03, 2006

What A Line Up!

Well, Its Grim up North has braved the inevitable Website / Phoneline meltdown and has finally acquired tickets for Leeds festival.

They'll surely be sold out within the hour.

Still, now we have had time to draw breath - what a line-up!

Franz Ferdinand
Kaiser Chiefs
Belle & Sebastian
The Subways
Panic! At The Disco
Primal Scream
Arctic Monkeys
The Streets
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Dirty Pretty Things
The Futureheads
The Cribs
The Raconteurs
Pearl Jam
Fall Out Boy
(Reading Only)

Despite the prescence of grunge dinosaurs Pearl Jam and tedious rock bohemoths Audioslave, it really is an embarrassment of riches. And since the true gems at the Carling Weekend are usually to be found mid-afternoon on the second and third stages - which have yet to be announced, it looks to be an absolute classic.

The First Names Are In For Leeds.....

As widely expected and predicted, Muse, Franz Ferdinand and Pearl Jam have been announced as the headliners for The Carling Weekend - Reading and Leeds.

A big chunk of the line-up will be announced at 7.15 tonight and is expected to include the Kaiser Chiefs, Arctic Monkeys, The Strokes, Audioslave, Feeder and We Are Scientists.

Watch This Space


Saturday, April 01, 2006

A Touch Of Class

The marvelous, elegant and wonderful Divine Comedy are back with a short European tour in May. Fantastic news obviously, and certainly suggests that the new album will be along soon. Excellent news for a Saturday morning.

11th May – Paris, La Cigale. Tickets €25

12th May – Berlin, Haldern Spiegeltent. Tickets €18.50
13th May – Munich, Atomic Café. Tickets €17
14th May – Hamburg, Haldern Spiegeltent. Tickts €18.50
15th May – Cologne, Prime Club. Tickets €17

17th May – Cambridge, Junction. Tickets £13.50
18th May – Wolverhampton, Wulfrun Hall. Tickets £13.50
19th May – London, St James' Church. Tickets £16.50
21st May – Sheffield, Leadmill. Tickets £13.50
22nd May – Manchester, Academy 2. Tickets £13.50
23rd May – Glasgow, QMU. Tickets £15

24th May – Dublin, Vicar St. Tickets €25


Sunday, March 26, 2006

Turns Out You Can Polish A Turd

Though widely expected to reach number one in the singles chart this week, Embrace only managed number 2 after all.

Still, after a critical mauling by yours truly right here on IGUN, this appalingly high placing proves we have some way to go before we revolutionise the music industry.

Keep the faith people! We'll get there in the end!

Single Reviews - Out On 27th March

The Flaming Lips - Yeah Yeah Yeah Song

Believing The Flaming Lips to be anything other than genius has always seemed to be pretty much a criminal offence in alternative circles, but IGUN is not afraid to take risks and will say that this isn't very good. For all their innovative tricks, The Flaming Lips only ever seem really worth listening to when there is a killer tune behind the wackiness, (See - "Race For The Prize") and this is all ker-azy bluster and precious little else. Vocoda tricks and silly chanting do not a great single make. We suggest you drop the song and check out the Yeah Yeah Yeah's instead.

Hard-Fi - Better Do Better

Surely Hard-Fi have now had more singles than there actually are tracks on Stars Of CCTV by now? Still, it worked well enough for The Kaisers so here is "Better Do Better", an anthemic tale of how to deal with the return of the girl who broke your heart. (You show her the door, naturally.) This won't win any new fans for the Staines massive, but cements their position as a great singles band, and scores points for knowing that you can have ska influences without turning the whole shebang into a skanking Madness freakshow. (Ordinary Boys - we're looking at you)

The Streets - When You Wasn't Famous

Staying with Chavs, The Streets are back and it's business as usual for Captain Burberry himself Mr Skinner - in this case meeting famous girls, shagging them and doing loads of drugs. This tries to be a cautionary tale but the message is a bit muddled - Mike gives up the hot pop chick with the good gear, but not because the lifestyle isn't for him - it's bacause the tabloids might find out. "Anyway, I had to rest my beer hat, delete my dealer’s number and unroll my bank notes /and we were on borrowed time anyway, what with the daily toilet papers not knowin’." Hmm. He's taking the piss for sure, but quite how much is a mystery. Anyway, dubious celebrity ethics aside, the tune is great and will be belting out of every vertical drinking establishment on your high street as you read this

The Automatic - Raoul

Following on from their great single "Recover", The Automatic return with "Raoul", a suitably yelpy, squelchy indie dancefloor filler. It's good, but somehow should be better - managing to sound totally now without actually doing a great deal. Unfortunately the words, "It'll sound great in a club" are heading inevitably into this review, which truly is damning with faint praise.

The Suffrajets - Going Nowhere

Hello then to The Suffrajets, currently most famous for featuring Gemma Clarke - aka the girl who survived Babyshambles. This is good enough to escape from Pete's scrawny shadow though – a suitably nasty little slice of close-harmony girl-punk actually. Only in the last few seconds when singers Alex and Claire start bellowing in a distinctly nu-metal fashion does the whole thing come a little unstuck.

Secret Machines - Lightning Blue Eyes

Secret Machines don't really do instant - their big fuzzy rock records hardly lend themselves to leaping from the speaker and shouting "Look at me!" Still, after a few listens "Lightning Blue Eyes" reveals that it has hooks, choruses and some great anthemic-eighties style guitars. The dense production which the band so obviously favour does them few favours, but there is a top track in here and no mistake.

Fischerspooner - We Need A War

With all the dust on the multi-million boom and bust that was Electroclash (think the fall of Dot Com empires but with more glitter) well and truly settled, it is time to reflect that Fischerspooner are great, and always have been. "We Need A War" is no "Emerge"-esque disco monster though - it actually has a rather lo-fi feel, oddly reminiscent of, say, Baby Bird being remixed by the Human League. "We Need A War, To Show Them That We Can Do It, Whenever We Say We Need A War" deadpans Casey as his cheapest Casio pops and bips in the background, and whilst the sentiment is perhaps three years too late, it beats being preached at by Green Day by some distance. If IGUN can be presumptious enough to have a single of the week, this is unquestionably it.

New Music In The North

Liam Fray - Friday 17th March 2006 - The Bierkeller, Manchester

Singer/songwriters are ten-a-penny these days aren't they ? Its not for this writer to criticise multi-million selling supposed musical talent but in my humble opinionthere are too many of them. They seem hell bent on taking over the world with their mind-control inducing songs which seem to me to be more a part of a government scheme to zombie-fy its people rather than a bunch of musicians
trying to make good music. James Blunt, Damian Rice, old shaky-head himself David Gray and Jack Johnson are but a few that spring to mind, the first of which,Mr Blunt is by far the worst offender. Over achieving, under-whelming songs that,when it comes down to it are all a bit, well, shit. To be honest this writer would rather spend 3 hours of his time sticking pins into all his major organs then go to a live show by one of the above artists.........

Fellow Mancunian Liam Fray is as far removed from this merry band of tossers as you could get. This is a very angry young man hell bent on making you understand that not all lone singers write about 'spotting that certain someone in a subway station on a rainy day' (Cock head Blunt!) and focusing more on simple everyday things such as catching a local bus and sleeping with your ex. His songs rattle along at a great pace and he uses tried and tested Northern wit to portray his lyrics, that matched with an energy and a swagger that clearly engages the crowd he's singing' to. Songs such as 'An ex. is an ex. for a reason' and 'Cavorting & Snorting' connect well with the lyrical warbling’s of Alex Turner and his Monkeys but, and I say but, with a sound that is a lot less Sheffield and much more Manchester - listen very closely to his voice and notice a resemblance to a certain Mr. Noel G. - this coupled with the help of a much needed and as yet unknown drummer you get a clearer picture of what his fella is all about. Well written songs that shake you up rather then send you to sleep, tunes that you'll pick up and listen again rather than re-wrap and send to your mother for mothers day. With an affiliation to the current best new independent Manc. label around, Northern Ambition, who themselves already have fellow Manc tunester Stephen Fretwell & rasping upstarts Omerta on their pay role, Mr Fray should be able to continue his assault on the unsuspecting public and bash his way into the ears of anyone who will listen.

The Children - Saturday 11th March 2006 - The Witchwood, Ashton

Its a busy, sweaty night in the Witchwood and I’m already star spotting.
I'm at the bar buying my 4th bottle of Becks when none other than Dermo, lead singer of celebrated Madchester band Northside brushes past me and without so much as a “Yeah…..good blog mate” or a ‘Damn you’re a tall, cool looking fella aint ya’ he disappears into the crowd. Next to walk past this writer is a small unassuming kid, scraggily curly indie hair, dressed in retro threads and sporting a huge grin. This ladies and gentleman is Ben Carcamo and the grin is because he is the front man of tonight’s most anticipated performers. Ze Children….. Sorry, The Children.

The Children are a band on the rise, already spotted by Paul Weller and on constant rotation on Oldham Revolution radio station's former spinster Clint Boon they have created a buzz about themselves that is not to be passed of as just 'Some new band'. With a sound that’s refreshingly taken from all over the place and not just 1977 we have a group of lads that are as tight as can be and that seem happier to be on stage doing their thing than anywhere else. Remember people that this is the Music Industry™ and with music being the operative word this band know that alone is the single most important factor when it comes to gaining admiration and a cult following. Here we have a band content with being themselves rather than attempting to copy which ever uber-cool darlings the recent glossy mags have named as this years most trendy hot new talent. Tunes such as fans favourite ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘People’ drip with rhythm and shine with a retro sound not heard since Jim Morrison & legendary blues man Long John Baldry jammed together up in the heavens (What ?!).

Having seen this band a number of times this year and admittedly not liked them on first impressions I have come to realise that if you give them a chance and give into the sound of that Organ, that pop-flavoured fun sound, that trademark Manc swagger and that do it yourself punk attitude you’ll be bopping in the aisles of their next gig. Possibly next to me or Dermo from Northside.

If you are in Manchester during April time then have a look at both the above bands. See the flyer below for details.


Friday, March 24, 2006

Cheeky Monkeys

Write it in your diaries - new Arctic Monkeys material can be yours on April 24th. The Snappily titled, "Who The Fuck Are Arctic Monkeys EP" will feature "The View From The Afternoon" as well as four new tracks.

Hmm, four... that's a suspicious number. If only because it's too many for a Chart-friendly CD. Ooh wait, what if they stuck them on two seperate CDs..., you know with"View..." as the lead track on each?

Meaning you get 2 CD singles with B-sides... just like any other single release ever.

We'll see on the 24th.....


Thursday, March 23, 2006

Alright Mate?

We had a nice email from Manchester based Mate records who saw our blog and wanted to say hello

"Hello back" we said.

"Want to hear some tunes?" they said.

"Ooh yes" we said.

So they sent us a link to a free mp3 (Magic words) to the Boys Of Scandanavia's Good Looking (Regina remix) Turns out it's a likeable disco stomp which reminds us a little of Radio 4. (The band, not the 'Intelligent Speech' radio station

Free download until 31st March. What do you have to lose?

A Man Called Sun

Paul Draper, the genius behind Mansun has a new website up. Admittedly, there's very little there at the moment, except some stuff on his work with Skin on her latest record and some tantalising tit-bits about his solo project. A full update is promised soon.


Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Dresden Dolls Versus The Eighties

Currently on the playlist.... The Dresden Dolls amazingly faithful cover of "Pretty In Pink" by the Psychadelic Furs. From the High School Reunion CD full of eighties movie cover versions.


Thursday, March 16, 2006

Single Reviews – Coming On 20th March

Morrissey – You Have Killed Me

So The Guvnor is back, predictably and wisely following up his unexpected 2004 breakthrough return to both artistic form and commercial success with unprecedented haste – for Morrissey at least. Unfortunately, “You Have Killed Me” sounds a little stilted, and if we’re being honest, Moz-by-numbers – certainly nothing on the barnstorming killers singles “Irish Blood, English Heart” and “First Of The Gang To Die” which so spectacularly heralded his return to fame and critical acclaim two years ago. The lyrics are punctuated with trademark Morrissey tics, (“As I live and breath”, “There is no point saying this again, I forgive you, I forgive you, always I forgive you”) but the whole thing feels a little flat somehow. A whole-hearted ho-hum then.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Gold Lion

On the other end of the scale, the world (well, the indie world anyway) has been impatiently waiting for new YYY material for what seems like an eternity. On first listen, “Gold Lion” seems like a disappointment – where early singles had your face chewed off twenty seconds in, this is a mid-tempo stomper which starts with a “We Will Rock You” drum beat and The legendary Miss Karen O burbling about the titular Gold Lion. No need to worry. This track is the very definition of a grower, and by the third or fourth listen you suddenly realise that, by the time the electric guitars chime over the acoustics, it’s a genuine multi-layered classic. More than ever, Karen’s lyrics remain entirely baffling, but this is a great single. “Ooh Ooh” indeed.

Embrace – Nature’s Law

Generally, lambasting bands like Embrace is a little unsatisfying (Shooting fish in a barrel springs to mind) but Christ this is awful. Throwing the kitchen sink at the production will never disguise the sheer inanity of lyrics, (“You should never fight your feelings / when your very bones believe them” Indeed.) though Embrace have chucked an enormous orchestra and choirs in to give it a try anyway. IGUN are by no means the members of the Coldplay-hating brigade who pepper the internet, but the fact remains that the inexplicable comeback of this awful band is entirely down to Chris Martin, who should be thoroughly ashamed of himself. The fact that they are now selling out enormo-gigs is enough to make any music fan weep.

The Holloways - Happiness and Penniless

Now this is more like it! A Britpop-tastic second single from the Holloways which starts like Parklife-era Blur and cheekily steals the chorus melody from “Bar Italia” by Pulp. It’s not earth shatteringingly original admittedly, but as of the dozens of bands who will undoubtedly be queuing up to be the next Arctic Monkeys, The Holloways have a huge head start by being, well, ace. “So what’s the point of money / if you’ve got no time to use it” they sing. Well said.

Richard Hawley – Born Under A Bad Sign

Ah, this is lovely. Ex-Longpig and sometime Pulp guitarist – as well as being a collaborator with Jarvis Cocker on the sleazy electo-odyssey that is the Relaxed Muscle album – Richard Hawley has re-invented himself as the lovelorn balladeer of Sheffield, and this is as good a place as any to fall under his spell. Think a gentler Scott Walker and you won’t be far wrong. Hawley makes what you could reasonably call easy listening music without a trace of irony and the end result is beautiful. Enjoy.

The Organ – Brother

As the likes of Boy Kill Boy and The Modern pilfer the eighties bargain bin for synth fun in this post-Killers age, The Organ are looting a different part of the same decade – namely The Cure and The Smiths. They may be five girls from Canada but these guitars physically could not sound any more like Johnny Marr. Good track though – another band who have been swimming around across the pond and are only just getting a UK release. Well worth a listen

The Strokes – Heart In A Cage

After being totally under-whelmed by all the Strokes-hype circa “Is This It” (Why everyone got so excited about the muddy likes of “New York City Cops” will always remain a mystery) this is an absolute treat. Following on from the ace “Juicebox” The Strokes again prove that they’ve found the button marked “EXCITING ROCK TRACK” on the mixing desk. Result? Killer bass track, truly Fab drums, and Julian Casablancas again realising that actually singing is at least a million times more fun than pretending to be cool and drunk. Undeniably ace.

All reviews by Matt

Live Review - Dirty Pretty Things & Humanzi - Manchester Academy 2 - 12th March 2006

I really am the wrong person to write this. The Libertines are and always will be my favourite band of all time. Fact. the band I would die for, the band I’d flog my own mother on e-bay for, the band that I’d cut off my own foot for and, well, you get the picture. Having followed Pete's shamble's since the Libs split, going from a working men’s club in Wigan to the dizzying heights of the Academy 1 via Oldham's NYE bash at the Castle I’ve pretty much proved my loyalty. It wouldn't matter to me if Carl came on stage tonight and opened with a cover of 80's hair-spray-metalers Whitesnake and in turn finished with a cover of the delightful 'My Humps' by the ooh-so talented Black Eyed Penises, Pricks, erm, sorry Peas. I would still love him and everything that he stood for. Libertine ‘til the end and all that. But, as I keep telling myself, this isn't the Libertines. There is no Pete, there is no John Hassell and there is no Gary. Wait. Hold on a minute........... oooh for fucks sake !

There’s a little matter of new rock outfit Humanzi to get through first. These Dublin boys are here to sell what they got to the crowd and anyone that has already purchased their latest single 'fix The Cracks' will know what I’m talking about. Take an Irish Kasabian vocal and throw in a sound that’s one part Sonic Youth and one part Brit-Snot-Punkers Kill Keneda and your with me, they rip thru a 6 song set which includes newies 'Fix The Cracks', 'Long Time Coming' and their head-busting B-Side 'Get Your Shit Together' . Its clear to me and the crowd that Humanzi will be one of the stars of 2006, I met the lead singer at the end of the gig and he assured me that me and my friends would get a shout out when they play Night & Day later in the year. I like them even more now. Good lads.

Now I’ll be honest, I’m excited. Its wrong for a fella to be this excited by the sight of four blokes and their instruments. First we have The Libs skins man Gary who minces his way to the drums under a huge cry of "Gaaaary! Gaaaary!" from the crowd, closely followed by post-Pete Libs replacement Anthony Rossamando, former TCTC bassist and chief knob-turner Didz arrives and then Carlos himself, fresh faced, dressed in his trademark black bikers jacket, vest and jeans with a United Kingdom flag wrapped inch perfectly around his waist. So British. So fuckin’ cool. In this writers humble opinion if Pete was the heart and the soul of The Libs then Carl was the look and sound, this is ever present as he tears through their first song of the night, a track called ‘Deadwood’ which is delivered with such pace and style that it looks hard for the rest of the band to keep up, they do though, Didz revelling in his new role with more freedom and expression than before and Anthony fighting with his guitar still with a lit cigarette in his mouth. Gary destroys his drums on the next few tracks which include ‘Gin and Milk’, ‘The Enemy’ and the Didz led ‘Playboys‘.

A treat for me & the crowd follows with ‘Death On The Stairs’, a real cracker from “Up The Bracket” and when Carl sings “……..and from way far across the sea…” everyone around gets taken back to Libs wonderland, everyone has their eyes closed are imagining being back in 2002 when it all started. Pure magic. The usual encore is followed by another of the Libs live favourite’s ‘France’ and then new single ‘Bang Bang Your Dead’, a song that is clearly about Pete and how Carl was feeling at the time of the Libs split - “I knew all along/that I was right form the start/bout the seeds and the weeds/that grew in your heart” clearly shows Carls side of the story for the first time and that this song is brutally honest but also very, very good, it rattles along at 100 MPH and demands that you bounce to every second of it. The encore of ‘I Get Along’ is like watching a holy man deal out sermons to the poor, in 251 seconds the crowd and the artist are one and the gig reaches its crescendo with a mass cry of ‘Fuck Em’.

It seems clear to me that as one Libertine seems destined to spend most of 2007 in a police cell with the blood-sucking animal that is the British tabloid press the other has come along to rescue the fans that sill believe in Arcadia and everything it offers. No supermodels, no drugs, no police. Carl is back. Libertines should not give up, the good ship Albion has a new captain and judging by tonight one that will lead the charge into the waters ahead for some time.

Words by Chad