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Video of the Moment #1652: PINS

 
By on Monday, 20th October 2014 at 6:00 pm
 

Manchester quartet PINS have followed up their cassette-format EP ‘Come Back’ with a video for its title track, a cover of The Belles 1966 garage rock classic. Our own Martin featured a stream of the track in his previous review of the EP, but the video adds a new dimension to PINS‘ quirky take on the song. Directed by Amy Watson, it takes an off-kilter, behind-the-scenes look at the sterile and artificial quality of bands in manufactured television appearances. As in Honeyblood‘s recent video for ‘Super Rat’, the pristinely made-up members of PINS eventually descend into chaotic destroying of desserts and the systematic ruin of their carefully coiffed image. Are these grunge rock girl bands trying to make a point or something?

[youtube]http://youtu.be/XR980GYppEo[/youtube]

 

Album Review (on cassette!): PINS – Come Back EP

 
By on Monday, 22nd September 2014 at 12:00 pm
 

In an ever-more-likely attempt at world domination, PINS demonstrate their impeccable taste, and perhaps betray more than a little of their idolatry, with the advent of their ‘Come Back’ EP, released on cassette to coincide with Cassette Store Day on 27th September. Gadzooks – what next? Wax Cylinder Week? Floppy Disk Fortnight?

Each of the three tracks is a cover – ‘Come Back’ is by The Belles, ‘I’m Leaving You’ by Char Vinnedge and Mary Gallagher, and ‘You Don’t Love Me’ by bluesman Willie Cobbs, which is perhaps the most instantly recognisable song – think Dawn Penn’s skanking reggae version with added “na na na”s, or perhaps, for the younger generation, Beyoncé’s brief poptastic live cover. Whichever way you cut it though, PINS deliver the definitive garage-rock version here.

More intriguing still is the origins of the title track. The Belles are a little-known Miami group from the early ‘60s, with nary an album to their name. How they can come up with something as spanking as ‘Come Back’ and thereafter sink into obscurity is unknown, and something of a shame. They did a cover of Them’s ‘Gloria’, changing the title to ‘Melvin’, with tongue-in-cheek consequences, but that’s about all we know about them. Certainly deserving of a modest revival courtesy of PINS. Cleverly, the original of ‘Come Back’ is 2 minutes, 12 seconds long; the cover is exactly the same length. Spooky coincidence or admirable attention to detail? You decide.

‘Come Back’ will be released on cassette in a limited run of 100 for Cassette Store Day on Saturday, the 27th of September, so get eBaying for those vintage Walkmans right away.

 

Deer Shed Festival 2014: Day 1 Roundup

 
By on Thursday, 31st July 2014 at 2:00 pm
 

On Saturday the 26th of July, on the occasion of its fifth birthday, Deer Shed Festival finally came of age. I mean no disrespect to Villagers or Darwin Deez, but Johnny Marr is the perfect climax to Saturday night at Deer Shed. He drew a crowd to Baldersby Park’s gently sloping natural auditorium unmatched in both size and enthusiasm than in any previous year. By virtue of writing the music to countless songs that soundtracked the lives of the adults in the crowd when they were young, free, and unencumbered by the offspring who were variously marauding around the site in frenzied glee or asleep in their arms despite the noise, for an hour or so they gave Marr their undivided attention and appreciation as he reeled off one classic after another.

Even though perhaps not as much a household name as his Smithsian lyricist and singer, by virtue of avoiding the latter’s rum pronouncements on vegetarianism, race, and sexuality, and sticking to what he does best – playing decent music – Marr succeeds in a similar, but much larger fashion, to that which Gaz Coombes did the previous year. A combination of life-affirming back catalogue hits, each of which instantly evoke dusty memories of life past, together with new material that easily stands shoulder-to-shoulder with the older stuff, is a recipe for success at Deer Shed Festival. Thusly are memories of the future made.

But Deer Shed Festival is far from being just the Johnny Marr show, and the adventure commenced the previous sultry afternoon. For those that don’t know, Deer Shed festival is held in North Yorkshire, just off the A1 on the way to Thirsk, in the beautiful grounds of Baldersby Park. The unwritten rule of Deer Shed: bring the kids. Even though the music is as good as anywhere, the real focus is on giving children a good time throughout the weekend, so if you’ve an aversion to the little blighters, look elsewhere. If you need an event where the kids are kept amused as Dad moshes down the front, Deer Shed is for you.

After a less-than-arduous 5-minute walk from car park to campsite, silently congratulating oneself for attending an event of a sensible acreage, and a bout of fumbling with canvas and string in the baking hot sunshine, refreshment and musical entertainment are less desired than demanded. Teleman were welcome succour. Comprising three of the admired Pete and the Pirates but swapping jaunty guitars for more considered electronica-enhanced melodies, they mix Erasure’s way with a dramatic synth-pop arc with Belle and Sebastian’s observational twee. All We Are eased the main stage into the late afternoon sunshine with the gentle ebb and flow of their gently atmospheric, shoegaze-influenced pop. Contenders for “The xx imitators of the Year” award, along with Woman’s Hour.

PINS are impeccable now. Watching them transform from a rickety band of noiseniks just a couple of years ago into today’s whirlwind of glamour and red lipstick is a life-affirming experience. They combine the power of 1970s New York glam-punk rock with an overlaid sweetness of melody and delicacy of touch comparable with any Supremes classic. While the phrase “girl band” has loaded connotations of manufactured, shallow pop nonsense, bands like PINS are doing their best to reclaim it for groups of talented musicians who just happen to be women. Whether or not there’s any great feminist insight is open to debate, but nevertheless, theirs was one of the performances of the weekend.

Next comes the only major misstep of programming of the whole weekend. Just as the sun starts to think about lazily drifting towards the horizon, and the main stage crowd are tucking into their evening meal of organic houmous and vintage prosecco, along come Toy to blast away the early evening reverie. On record, TOY are more considered, melodic, and song-focused, but live they come across as an incessant wall of noise; they’ve got three guitars and they’re going to turn it them all up to 11. ‘Join the Dots’, the title track from their début album, is a case in point – its climax of multi-layered guitars, phased into the next universe, is an undoubtedly viscerally thrilling piece of music, but perhaps not enjoyable if it disturbs little Johnny’s digestion and makes the whole family go scrabbling around for the ear defenders.

It’s not that they’re a bad band. Far from it. In fact, along with Temples, they’re one of the most convincing neo-psych bands in the country right now. But in this instance it’s a case of right band, wrong stage. Various overheard grumbles pay testament, including the old classic, “it’s just noise!” A considerable chunk of the Deer Shed crowd rock up to the main stage auditorium in the morning with their camping chairs and stay there all day, so in a way have little choice as to what they are made to listen to. Whatever is on the main stage influences the enjoyment of the entire site, and the Friday evening slot needs to be something less challenging, a little funkier, to properly match the mood of the audience.

A band on the correct stage are Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip – they play the tented Lodge stage, so aural participation is distinctly optional – but certainly recommended. Pip’s gently political and moderately sweary diatribes (“that last song had an MF in it, sorry parents!”) combined with Sac’s dubstep-flavoured soundtrack excites many audience members into a display of such extrovert dad-dancing that any child would be excruciatingly embarrassed. The atmosphere in the tent is genuinely charged with enthusiasm; Deer Shed’s first foray into urban/rap/hip-hop is superbly received. More please. In common with several other acts, Pip seems genuinely pleased to have such a diverse range of ages in the audience – officially the most people on shoulders ever at one of their gigs, as children are raised aloft to experience “the man with his head on upside down”.

The main stage headliner is British Sea Power, but inevitably for many parents their slot coincided with trying to settle one or more very excited children to sleep. They sounded great from the campsite. When eventually the kids are settled, the last attraction of Friday is the genius that is Darius Battiwalla accompanying a silent film: this year, The Hunchback Of Notre Dame. It was intended to be The Cabinet Of Dr Caligari but had to be changed for licensing reasons, which would have suited the time travel theme far better, and also the patience of the crowd: Caligari is a mere 67 minutes long, whereas Hunchback is over 2 hours. Whilst I’d happily listen to Battiwalla play over a cornflake advert, that’s a long time to spend watching Lon Cheney gurning, and by the time the film’s impenetrable plot reached its climax, the audience were variously physically uncomfortable or sound asleep. It’s surprising how loud a small boy’s snores can be in the auditorium of a silent film!

Stay tuned for more of Martin’s coverage of Deer Shed coming soon on TGTF.

 

TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014: Rock UK artists showcasing at this year’s SXSW (N-W)

 
By on Wednesday, 26th February 2014 at 1:00 pm
 

Please note: all information we bring you about SXSW 2014 is to the best of our knowledge when it posts, and bands scheduled to appear may be subject to change. To learn when your favourite band is playing in Austin, we recommend you first consult the official SXSW schedule, then stop by the band’s Facebook and official Web site for details of any non-official SXSW appearances.

British rock and its many facets will be on display at SXSW 2014, judging by the variety of acts been given a shout by the festival this year. In the second installment of the exclusive TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014, we turn to the UK bands that play rock, punk, metal and everything in between, alphabetically N through W. (In case you were wondering, there weren’t any Y or Z bands announced, we weren’t leaving anyone out on purpose!) The first half of the rock list, in case you missed it, is here.

Natives
How many UK bands do you know of have already gone on tour in Asia even before their debut album has been released? Not many. Even less when you’ve never heard of said band. So there must be something more about Natives from the New Forest that deserves your attention. They sound entirely unpretentious and (gasp!) just like they’re having a lot of fun too. We don’t know much about them, but we’re guessing there’ll be plenty to say post-SXSW.

New Desert Blues
John writes: “With no sense of pretence, no dramatic unveiling, New Desert Blues have snuck up on my psyche, with the immense track that is ‘Adam’. The five impeccably dressed lads who sounded raw, and ebbed with potential at The Great Escape at The Fishbowl have created something really special with their debut effort.

Refined, and delightfully genuine, New Desert Blues aren’t bursting with youthful exuberance as you’d expect from a group of five less-than-likely lads. They instead emanate a dastardly sense of cool: whether that is in lead singer James Cullen’s ability to pull of the most pretentious of turtlenecks in Brighton sunshine at this year’s Great Escape, is yet to be uncovered.”

PINS
All girl group PINS sound more Brooklyn than Manchester in their raucous, fuzzy rock delivery. Admittedly, their complete lack of Y chromosomes sets them apart from all the other UK rock acts at SXSW 2014, but will this – along with their Christmas song getting an exclusive on Urban Outfitters’ Web site – work in their favour, or will they merely be a curiosity?

Public Service Broadcasting
Martin writes: “They take as their inspiration and sampling material that rich vein of mid-century film footage which gloried in the wonder of British achievements, celebrating the majesty of heavy engineering, the valour of daring explorers, and the gritty triumph of war. The band themselves mirror the tone of their subject matter by dressing in tweeds and having names like Wriglesworth; one half-expects the other band members to be called Ginger and Algy, and for them to fly off in Sopwith Camels after the show is over.

Each piece brings to life a particular microcosm of history via clips from vintage newsreels, spanning about 20 years from the early 1940s to the advent of practical colour television in the 1960s. Wartime propaganda is invoked in ‘Dig for Victory’, the distinctive iconography exhorting the populace to self-reliance via growing their own food is writ large across several vintage television sets adapted for digital projection. ‘Spitfire’ uses copious footage from the 1942 film The First Of The Few to honour the achievements of RJ Mitchell, the designer of arguably the most famous aircraft ever built.”

Royal Blood
The lone true rock band on the BBC Sound of 2014 longlist, the Brighton duo’s is the UK’s answer to, well, both the Black Keys and Queens of the Stone Age. And they’re ready to unleash their punishing bluesy rock on Austin come March.

Saor Patrol
Cheryl writes: “Playing what they have dubbed ‘medieval Scottish rock’, Saor Patrol – which translates as ‘freedom guard’ in Scottish Gaelic – kicks up the amperage on other traditional folk music. Not content to stick with the 100% traditional sound, these guys add a grinding guitar to pull it just this side of modern. Completely instrumental, the combination of this driving guitar overlaid with a bagpipe melody is just different enough from traditional bagpipe bands to turn heads.”

Read the rest of Cheryl’s Band to Watch on Saor Patrol here.

Save Your Breath
Cheryl writes: “There probably wasn’t a lot to do on a Saturday night in the port city of Newport in the south of Wales. Friends Ben Griffiths and Tom Owens solved the boredom by forming a band that eventually was fleshed out to become Save Your Breath. Taking their pop punk sensibilities from the likes of Green Day and their ilk, they forged their sound from the grit of the life around them. What must have started out as a lark between school chums, titles like ‘Not in the Mood for Kiwi’ and ‘Holy Shit, Fortune Teller Miracle Fish!’ show up on their first album, they have matured enough to temper their weird song titles but still have energetic, aggressive tunes worthy of a listen.”

For more on Save Your Breath, read the rest of Cheryl’s Band to Watch on them here.

Slaves
Garage punky duo from Kent have already made a big noise in London and on tour with fellow SXSW 2014-ers Drenge for their punishing live set. Not much else to say except if you like punk, you better start planning your SXSW schedule around these guys, because I think it’s pretty assured their sets will be rammed.

Splashh
Kind of poppy, kind of rocky, kind of surf-y. Not terribly cerebral, but hey, this is the kind of music I expect Best Coast fans to enjoy (and there are a lot of those).

Syd Arthur
Syd Arthur – there is no man named “Syd Arthur”. No, they’re a psych rock band with a wink wink, nudge nudge hippie name, and the players all with long, unkempt hair. “Greatly inspired by the sonic pioneers of the late 60s and early 70s, they have patiently learned how to engineer, produce and mix themselves, using an innovative hybrid of analogue and digital techniques.”

Teeth of the Sea
Instrumental proggy guitars plus synths band with their latest album, ‘Master’ (2013), receiving rave reviews across the board for its inventiveness. Their live shows have received similar plaudits, so if you’re into this kind of music, they’re unmissable in Austin.

Traams
Like your punk as well as your melodies? Described often as “noisy”, “happy” and “joyous”, Chichester’s Traams, then, are for you.

We Were Promised Jetpacks
The Scottish band’s cult popularity in the States was on a high in 2012 when the band appeared at SXSW last, but after being off the radar for quite a while, they’ve just released a live album ‘E Rey Live In Philadelphia’ and will be looking to solidify their standing stateside.

Wolf Alice
Carrie writes: London alt-rockers Wolf Alice are likely to bring in new fans from all corners at their SXSW shows. Their sound is a hybrid of styles, a slightly unsettling middle ground among cerebral indie folk, bright garage pop, and murky grunge rock…The band’s own lyric, from the title track ‘Blush’ might actually be the best description of their overall sound: “Punch drunk, dumbstruck, potluck, happy, happy.”

The Wytches
Ben writes: “These Brighton based psych surfers take a battered base of shoegazing garage rock, douses it with B-movie psychedelia, throws on a lighter and watches it blacken into a ghastly yet basely expressive lump of carbon. The far out three piece had a degree of success with two singles on Hate Hate Hate Records, before announcing their switch to Heavenly Recordings with the release of Afree digital download ‘Gravedweller'”.

Keep it here on TGTF for more in the TGTF Guide to SXSW 2014, coming soon!

 

Beacons Festival 2012 Review (Part 1)

 
By on Tuesday, 28th August 2012 at 2:00 pm
 

There’s nothing quite as much that embodies the soul of festivalling than a humble handful of tents in a muddy field, preferably in a salt-of-the-Earth part of the world like North Yorkshire. Which, thank one’s lucky stars, is exactly what was offered by Beacons 2012 in Skipton. Certainly there were fringe events aplenty, and no less than three inflatable structures on which the young, or even perhaps the young at heart, could variously bounce and slide. But for those of a more musical bent, the sheer quantity and quality of angry, soulful, cerebral, and simply downright deafening music on offer was too much to resist. So, with practicalities out of the way first (food – adequate; beer – plentiful and cheap; cocktails – strong and immaculately-made; camping and toilets – well, at least there were some), let’s move onto the music.

Friday looked like belonging to the smaller Noisey/Vice stage, packed with trendy guitar-toting freaks from dawn ‘til dusk. But first up was Veronica Falls on the main Stool Pigeon stage. Their faux-naïf guitar jangle was helped by the natural reverb of the tent; the girl-boy vocals of James Hoare and Roxanne Clifford a natural, distinctive pairing, easing the crowd into the weekend. ‘Right Side Of My Brain’ features the word “beacon” in its lyrics. Neat, huh?

Pins must make all the bands who struggle around the circuit for years, never making it big, green with envy. Lucky if they’re into double figures in terms of live shows, and only the odd limited edition tape to call a release, their influence in terms of pixel inches belies their young status. And in all honesty, they deserve it. The four ladies look great, the sound is warehouse-bare and won’t win any awards for virtuosity, but there’s plenty of edge and aloof attitude – exactly as it should be.

Gross Magic are somewhat more confusing. Their release ‘Teen Jamz’, whilst noisy in places, carries a ’70s glam-rock subtlety that appears almost entirely lost in the live performance, which is a deafening electric guitar onslought overlaid by a reed-thin voice. What is clear is that single Sam McGarrigle is desperate to transport himself back to 1990 Seattle and ingratiate himself with that scene – backwards baseball cap, half-mast pyjama bottoms, shuffling gait, faux-Transatlantic accent – he should fit right in.

Roots Manuva need no introduction. Rodney Smith’s lithe, languid, baritone flow has been leading the way in thoughtful urban music for years now. Tonight he pulls out all the stops – three MCs, full band, tight as a conga skin. There’s such a concentration of ideas that you really have to know the material or pay extremely close attention to the lyrics to fully appreciate – and when a tent is as jumping as this, that’s a tall order.

If anyone was wondering, from first-hand experience the main arena closed at 3 AM…but the tiny open-mic shack was still inviting weary musicians to knock out a song or two into the wee small hours. Just the thing to ease fragile heads into action on Saturday morning were conceptual electro-folksters The Magnetic North [pictured at top and appearing to be what Erland and the Carnival get up to on their day off, plus a female singer. – Ed.] Their magnum opus is Orkney Symphony, an aural tour of the northern Scottish island. And truly magnificent it is live too, the midday timing belying the subtle beauty on offer both in the music, and in the opinion of my male companion, also their auburn-haired lead singer.

Cass McCombs brings a touch of chilled Americana to proceedings. In fact, a touch too chilled – one gets the impression there’s some serious talent up there on stage; Cass has a lovely delivery and some great material – but they play it very cool. Which is all very well in the early afternoon drizzle, but one is left with the impression that one of those vintage Telecasters just wants to let rip into a 2-minute solo.

If you like noisy Welsh socialists making a racket, Future of the Left are for you. Musically as subtle as a brick to the head, and on first listen just as enjoyable, there is commendable anger and surprising depth of ideas on offer here. At times a touch too keen to rely on tired tropes like the North-South divide and knocking capitalism and Americans to really move the game on, but at others there’s a nice touch of working-class surrealism – like The Manics covering Eric Idle.

Ghostpoet is snapping at the heels of Roots Manuva, and quite rightly so. Musically more down tempo and glitchy, vocally he’s right up there with Mr. Smith, in terms of delivery and flow. There’s more considered storytelling going on here, there’s more space for the rhymes to breathe, and he seems to be creating the lion’s share of the music right there on a few synths. Romantic, grounded in day-to-day life, this is a deeply relevant and even moving set.

Stay tuned for the second half of Martin’s review of Beacons Festival 2012 appearing on TGTF tomorrow.

 
 
 

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