Manson recently released his 10th studio album “Heaven Upside Down” signalling a return to form after a few lack-lustre affairs. He injured himself on-stage in New York at the beginning of October when an oversize gun which formed part of the stage-set fell on him. Add the sacking of long-term band-mate Twiggy Ramirez at the end of October due to rape allegations from his ex-girlfriend, this was building up to be an interesting night in the company of Brian Warner.
And so it proved.
A little bit broken
After the elongated intro-music of The Cure’s “Killing an Arab, followed by The Door’s “The End”, the curtain dropped. The band launch into a blistering “Revelation #12” and revealed Manson sporting a cast on his right leg and in a customised throne-like electric wheelchair.
He remained in said chair for “This is the New Shit” after announcing that he may be “a little bit broken but you won’t break me”. He also thanked us as he’s “got a little bit of Scottish in me”.
This prompted him to a shout a mildly irritating “Glasgow” (rhyming it with cow) for the first time of what seemed like several thousand throughout the course of the evening.
Throughout the set he had two personal roadies (or should I say “orderlies”) on stage appropriately dressed in scrubs. They were there to helped him around stage and changing costumes. For most of the set he was on a half crutch strapped to his knee. While this made him fairly immobile, it didn’t stop him putting on a great show with his voice better this time than on the last few occasions I’ve seen him.
“Disposable Teens” and a fierce “mObscene” followed before another cut from the new album “Kill4Me” with added groupies stage front. I have to say the newer songs were among my favourites that he played in tonight’s set.
“Deep Six” and “Day Three of a Seven Day Binge”, two of the stronger tracks, and the only ones making an appearance, from previous album The Pale Emperor followed.
Then we were treated to a trio of Manson classics. The band started to play “I Don’t Like the Drugs (but the Drugs Like Me)” before cutting and Manson stating “that was 100% a lie”. They then launched into one of his best songs “The Dope Show”.
This was followed by his bruising take on the Eurythmic’s classic “Sweet Dreams (are Made of This). This song signalled his injury in New York. In Glasgow he writhed on a hospital trolley like a patient in a secure unit, overseen by his 2 orderlies.
“Tourniquet” (“the last song I played the first time I played here”) was the 3rd classic Manson track in a row.
We Know Where You Fucking Live!
He then transferred back to a wheelchair with all the house lights right down and kicked off the next song with a torch/mic combo searching the audience. An appropriate intro to the menacing fury of the full-scale assault that is “We Know Where You Fucking Live”.
The bombastic theatre continued with him donning a big coat for the latest song in his ongoing God vs Satan debate with “SAY10” from Heaven Upside Down.
Then it was almost over with the wall of sound that is crowd pleaser “The Beautiful People” was the thrilling main set closer.
Of course things were not quite over and the encore saw him come back to an extravagant lit-up mic stand covered in white stars and play my particular favourite song from the new album, “Saturnalia”, followed by perhaps one of my favourite Manson compositions, a potent “Coma White”.
As he left the stage again, the lights stayed down there was uncertainty whether he would return. However the strains of his cover of Johnny Cash “Gods Gonna Cut You Down” split the air and it was show over.
For someone who was not fully fit it was a stunning show. And to someone who thought he was possibly past his sell-by date, I was impressed
For many it is now that dreaded time of year when they are bombarded with Christmas songs everywhere they go. Actually, for many it is just that dreaded time of year.
Christmas itself is a great divider of opinion. I could go on at great lengths about commercialism and consumerism, the continued Americanisation of our culture (Black Friday) slowly turning us into the 51st state. Or the age-old religion versus paganism debate about where many of the Christmas traditions came from and what they symbolise. However, I wanted this blog to be about music.
Not all wine and roses
It did get me to thinking though. For many, the season is a time of coming together and having fun with friends and family. However, for too many others it can be a time of loneliness, stress, anxiety, depression & money worries. For people with poor mental health, the whole season can exacerbate everything for them and is often not a time to be relished.
That doesn’t even touch on those that through circumstance are living on the street or without a fixed address. People who are rely on the charity of others through night shelters and food banks to just merely survive the festive season in the most literal sense.
This is where society often has its priorities so wrong, and I include myself in that group. Spending too much on gifts that aren’t really needed, overindulging on food and drink and generally being self-centred.
Let me give you an example. I was in a well-known supermarket at the weekend. The specific intention was to buy Christmas pyjamas for my daughters. When we arrived there were volunteers for the Trussell Trust handing out leaflets at the door. I took one and didn’t think much more at the time. Then my daughters started arguing over clothes. “You can’t have that, that’s the one I want” – you get the picture. That moment made me realise how wrong our priorities were. They were arguing over pyjamas and I had a leaflet in my hand asking for donations of food for people who can’t afford to feed their families.
The shopping trip immediately changed focus and I was on a mission to get everything on the list I had been handed. Despite moans of dismay from my daughters. Even they eventually realised what was going on and how wrong their attitude was and calmed down.
While that assuaged my guilty conscience for a while, it’s not enough. In 21st century Britain, this shouldn’t be a problem. We are living in one of the wealthiest nations in the world and our governments can’t even be bothered to look after our citizens that need the most help and support. Of course their self-serving policies and making Brexit happen are more important.
So back to my reason for writing this blog. I am not for one moment suggesting that these are not important consideration and I’m not ignoring them or trying to be flippant, but that is a massive debate for another blog.
When I started writing this blog post it was intended as a celebration of my love of Christmas songs – old & new, traditional but probably more with the less so!
I am a lover of all things Christmas and obviously a big part of that is Christmas songs.
I grew up in the late 70’s and 80’s and from my rose-tinted memories, Christmas songs were a big thing – the 70’s glam of Slade, Wizzard & Mud (the first single I ever bought was Slade’s Merry Christmas Everybody) to the likes of Wham, Jona Lewie, The Pogues and of course Band Aid in the 80’s into the 90’s.
Back in the day, Christmas music specials were all over the TV. From the likes of T-Rex to the ever-present Val Doonican and his famous rocking chair and cardigans. The Christmas Day Top of the Pops was a must watch for all the family with its review of the year and Christmas songs dotted throughout.
Going further back, the old classics by the crooners Sinatra, Martin, Crosbie and the likes of Nat King Cole and his ilk are timeless songs.
Christmas Number 1
The battle for Christmas number one was always something that was watched with anticipation – Who would it be? Would it be a Christmas song?
That anticipation has largely disappeared, well, totally disappeared for my part. I have no idea what is in the charts these days, is there even such a thing?
Why is that?
Obviously the manufactured “artists” churned out by X-Factor is one big reason for this – for as many years as I can remember there has been no battle for a Christmas number one. (Apart from the year of the anti-Cowell campaign where Rage Against the Machine reached number 1. How festive!) Nowadays, It’s probably a shoe-in that Simon Cowell will own the Christmas number 1 (and the artist, their family, the pet dog..) with an act who will be famous for 10 minutes. Then, having served the purpose of being a puppet for the egocentric Cowell, they return to working in their local McDonalds a few weeks later.
I may be totally off the pace but then again, I did say I have no idea what happens in “the charts” these days. Does anyone actually care?
It used to be like a religion for me on a Sunday afternoon listening to the charts with my C90 in my battered ghetto blaster. My fingers on play/record ready to record my favourite songs and hoping whatever eejit DJ was doing the chart rundown didn’t talk all over it.
The way “the kids” access their music these days on all the streaming platforms and not buying physical records makes a difference too. I don’t see the same excitement from fans for singles coming out and fighting for their chart positions. The instantaneousness of it all takes away the excitement of waiting for weeks to go into the local record shop and buy the shiny vinyl you’d been waiting for.
Christmas music sucks?
However, all of that said, back to Christmas music. It is definitely still around, and very much a thing – from early November in some shops. Maybe now its more Christmas albums than singles though . Everyone and their dog seems to be releasing one. If you’ve been on the TV for more than 5 minutes, you may as well go for it…
This is nothing new either. I remember my Mum listening to Johnny Mathis and Cliff Richard Christmas albums when I was growing up. The range of Christmas albums is now vast – from the traditional choirs, through the crooners (old and new) to punk, psychobilly, rap – the whole gamut.
I personally have a vast playlist of Christmas songs that cover a wide range of genres. I can totally appreciate those who work in a retail or customer service environment hate Christmas songs. They are subjected to the same small playlists of the obvious standards day in/day out. This must grate on them, even a Christmas lover like myself would balk at that.
There is an interesting article on this in The Guardian. I have been there too. I worked in a bank for 20 years. One year we had a promotional video on loop daily for the month of December. It only had 3 songs on it, all sung by children’s choirs. If I ever hear “It’s a holly jolly Christmas” nowadays, I begin to twitch.
I however, am happy to subject myself to a variety of Christmas songs throughout December.
Christmas songs are a bit of fun, they are a distraction from the shit of daily life (obviously some have served a greater purpose over the years – Band Aid for example – but again, that’s a different topic altogether).
Some people get all po-faced and critical about bands releasing a Christmas song/album. “They’ve sold out, they’ve released a Christmas song”. By the way, I never did understand that whole selling out thing. Do you want your favourite band to be successful and popular? To make enough money to keep going as a band and releasing singles and albums for fans? Or do you want them to disappear into obscurity because only you and 2 of your mates knew about them? But Christmas songs, lets not over-analyse, they’re a bit of fun – aren’t they?
Must Be Santa
I was shocked a few years ago when a well-respected and serious artist like Bob Dylan released his Christmas album, but I was pleasantly surprised and now “Must Be Santa” is one of my favourite Christmas songs.
In the Mood (for Christmas)
Some artists have made it a career move. Brian Setzer has several albums of Christmas songs and now tours his big band extravaganza across the US from November right up until Christmas.
Love ’em or hate ’em
I also find myself listening to bands/artists who I normally wouldn’t give the time of day because I like their Christmas songs (Mum, I’ll still listen to Johnny Mathis but I draw the line at Cliff!)
Christmas songs are for enjoying, bringing a smile to your face and adding some fun to the proceedings. They are never going to appeal to all and are hated by many. That’s fair enough the world would be a boring place if we were all the same. Vive la difference.
So, I’ve lost all the bah-humbuggers by now. OK, they probably didn’t read beyond the title. If, like me, you love Christmas, and you love Christmas songs, dig a bit deeper than the “Now That’s What I Call Christmas” compilations and you might unearth some gems you love and won’t sicken you of the whole season by hearing the same old songs over and over.
31 Days of Christmas songs
I could share a massive playlist, but as there are 31 days in December, here are some of the tracks I love, some are well-known classics, others not so.
El Vez – “Feliz Navidad” – a Merry Christmas all the way from a Mexican Elvis with a massive debt to PiL’s Public Image. Lets face it. It is just Public Image with different lyrics…
Glasvegas – “A Snowflake Fell and it Felt Like a Kiss” – Glasvegas’ James Allan once stated his favourite album of all time was Phil Spector’s A Christmas Gift for You. He and his band recorded a mini album of Christmas songs taking that as their inspiration. The rest of the mini-album touches on topics such as homelessness and relationship breakdowns, so not the album you want to play at your Christmas party probably.
The Yobs – “Tommy the Christmas Tree” – The alter-ego of 70’s punks The Boys released an album of Christmas tunes (The Worst of the Yobs). This is one of the cleaner ones – poor Tommy. Warning – I don’t recommend listening to their 12 Days of Christmas in front of the kids.
Siouxsie & the Banshees – “Il Est Ne Le Divin Enfant” – Just because its Siouxsie. The video which you can find on YouTube from a French TV. Robert Smith on cymbals looking as if he’s about to drop off to sleep.
Toyah – “I Believe in Father Christmas” – originally from a David Essex Christmas TV show, Toyah does her take of the Greg Lake classic. If you know me you know how much I love Toyah. Ha ha.
The Futureheads – “Christmas Was Better in the 80s” – because the lyrics remind me of growing up and the family Christmases as a kid in our house. (Although you better make that 70s’s/early 80s).
Bob Dylan – “Must Be Santa” – as mentioned earlier from his surprisingly good Christmas album, this became an instant Christmas classic.
Ramones – “Merry Christmas (I Don’t Wanna Fight)” – Because how could you not like it – it’s the Ramones. (see also Joey Ramone and his version of “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)”.
The Greedies – “A Merry Christmas Jingle” – a good fun romp of a Thin Lizzy/Sex Pistols collaboration.
The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl – “A Fairytale of New York” – my ultimate Christmas song. Not a sugary coated saccharine song of sweetness but a tragic take of love and hope gone wrong. All the more tragic following the death of the mega-talented MacColl.
Cocteau Twins – “Frosty the Snowman” – Liz Fraser’s ethereal vocals – what else do you need?
The Primitives – “You Trashed my Christmas” – 90s indie stalwarts Tracy Tracy & co with their contribution to the festivities.
The Wedding Present – “Step into Christmas” – Their take on the Elton John classic, from the b-side of “No Christmas” the 12th single of their year of releasing a 7” single a month in 1992.
SLF – “White Christmas” – You can’t have Christmas without Stiff Little Fingers White Christmas!
TV Smith – “Xmas Bloody Xmas” – One of the hardest working men in music. Mr TV Smith with a tale of consumerism and all the stuff I talked about at the start of this blog…
Julian Casablancas – “I Wish it was Christmas Today” – Me too…
Jona Lewie – “Stop the Cavalry” – An anti-war song not written as a Christmas song but one of the best known now.
The Wildhearts – “Geordie in Wonderland” – not really a Christmas song, but I love it and it makes me think of Christmas.
The Dickies – “Silent Night” – not so silent from these US punks
Coffin Draggers – “Jingle Bell Rock/Jingle Bells” – just to throw in a psychobilly Christmas tune. From one of a number of Psychobilly Christmas compilations out there.
The Fall – “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” – Mark E Smith singing a Christmas Carol – why wouldn’t you?
Brian Setzer – “Getting in the Mood (for Christmas)” – Big Band sounds from the rockabilly master.
Half Man Half Biscuit – “All I want for Christmas is a Dukla Prague Away Kit” – Because its HMHB and I couldn’t resist.
The Waitresses – “Christmas Wrapping” – Just a great song.
Darlene Love – “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” – from Phil Spector’s Christmas Gift for You. Many would say the best – or the only – Christmas album you should own.
Goldblade and Poly Styrene – “City of Christmas Ghosts” – John Robb and the much missed Poly get together for this punk stormer. See also Poly Styrene’s “Black Christmas”.
Frankie & the Heartstrings – “(Too Right) Its Christmas”. Christmas from the North East – too right – Its Christmas.
Low – “Just Like Christmas” – Just a lovely song.
Peter & the Test Tube Babies – “I’m Getting Pissed for Christmas” – I’m sure they’re not alone.
Bubbling under (see what I did there – Bubblegum Lemonade…) Weezer, Eels, Isobel Campbell & Mark Lanegan – Time of the Season, Pretenders – 2000 Miles, Frightened Rabbit – Its Christmas so We’ll Stop, Run DMC – Christmas in Hollis and so many more…
Playing catch up with blog posts with few recent releases that deserve your attention.
Drunk Gods officially launched their new single tonight in Glasgow’s 13th Note.
The double AA single is available on CD at gigs and from the band members, but will also available to download from the 4th of December
See my review of the blistering new single(s) on louderthanwar website.
If you haven’t got their debut album – my first question is why? – but its not too late, you can download it from bandcamp or iTunes
To Be a Man – new single
Sway have recently come to my attention and are a distinctive melodic guitar driven 4 piece from Paisley. New track “To Be a Man” is a sumptuous slab of indie/power pop reminiscent of melodic 90s guitar bands Into Paradise/Whipping Boy/Power of Dreams.
They are due to headline King Tuts in January and having sought out some of their previous tracks, they surely have a bright future.
Reptilians from Andromeda
I don’t know what the Istanbul music scene is like, but it is good to see that garage rock/punk is popular and alive in other climes.
Reptilians from Andromeda have recently released a new video for song “Burning Inside” from forthcoming self-titled album.
They are by no means a new band having released several EPs since 2013 (check out their bandcamp site for some cracking tracks)
Their forthcoming album will have 10 tracks written and recorded by the band and mixed and mastered by The Monos frontman Fran Ashcroft. It will be available to download from their bandcamp page.
The bands sleazy goth-like garage sound is supplemented by a female vocal not dissimilar to Distillers frontwoman Brody Dalle.
Arriving before the doors to the upstairs venue opened, there wasn’t room in the bar to swing a cat. Just getting to the bar was no mean feat. However, the doors opened and the crowd dispersed quickly with all vying for the perfect vantage points to see the gig.
Gun – King Tuts
Gun are no strangers to playing this club sized venue having played a “secret” gig as NUG in an earlier incarnation and more recently a series of dates playing “Taking on the World”, “Gallus” and “Swagger”.
Tonight’s gig served both as a fundraiser for the fantastic Nordoff Robbins charity, in conjunction with the Sunday Mails 7 Nights, and also as a warm up to the bands forthcoming weekend gigs in Ayr and Glasgow Barrowland.
The job of warming up the crowd went to Alan Nimmo of King King fame who played a stirring acoustic set prompting the crowd to sing along and help him out. That wouldn’t be the last we’d see of Alan this evening.
The anticipation for Gun was palpable in the venue and when they joined the party, they didn’t disappoint.
The main event
The band looked and sounded as if they were enjoying themselves as much as the crowd throughout the night. Dante had a huge grin most of the evening and there was much banter between him and Jools.
The 15 song set pulled heavily from latest album “Favourite Pleasures” and the new songs sound even better live than they do on the album.
The opening salvo of single “She Knows” and the stomping glam rock of “Here’s Where I Am” set the pace for the night. Following up with crowd pleaser, “Don’t Say its Over”, before going back to the latest long player for the funk rock of title track “Favourite Pleasures”, “Silent Lovers” and a live airing for heart-warming new single “The Boy Who Fooled the World” evoking memories of recording your favourite songs off the radio.
This latest settled line up of Gun are an accomplished group of musicians. Jools and Tommy Gentry complement each other on guitar, supported by a more than adept rhythm section of Andy Carr on bass and Paul keeping the beat at the back. Dante is an energetic and impressive frontman and has made the job his own over the years.
Triumphant rocker “Black Heart” followed before one of my personal favourites from the album, “Tragic Heroes”.
I said we hadn’t seen the last of Alan and he joined the band onstage for a rousing version of debut single “Better Days”. The band followed this up with some more bona fide Gun classics – “Inside Out” and “Steal Your Fire”.
Malcolm Young tribute
The date of the gig coincided with the funeral of AC/DC legend Malcolm Young. As a tribute to him and also AC/DC being one of the reasons Jools first picked up the guitar, Dantes place was taken by Jools ex-Blind Allez band-mate from the early 80s, Peter Scallan (also of Samson fame) for a perfect version of “Highway to Hell”. Nice tribute.
A powerful rendition of “Take Me Down” followed and took us into the final songs of the evening. Fan favourite “Shame on You”, complete with a Dante crowd walkabout, and a final fun blast of Beastie Boy’s party anthem “Fight for Your Right (to Party)” and the band were gone all too soon.
The punters heading to Ayr and the Barrowland later that week were in for a major treat!
It was a Friday night after what could be described as a “challenging” week at work, in all honesty all I felt like doing was sitting on the sofa and drifting off to sleep in front of the TV.
But I had tickets to go and see Hazel O’Connor and had already missed a Waterboys gig I had tickets for last month so gave myself a shake and headed out.
The gig was in Oran Mor – a great venue that I hadn’t been to in ages (the last time was for Jason and the Scorchers 2, maybe 3 years ago.) The only problem in the West End is parking…..everywhere is residents only. Eventually we got parked up, after taking an aeon to pay for the meter on my phone – issues with Scottish voice recognition I think (cue references to ”eleven” lift sketch…) and headed into the venue.
As I say, great place but £6.10 for 2 soft drinks – what the hell is that all about?
These are Decadent Days…
Anyway, as soon as Hazel O’Connor hit the stage I was delighted I’d made the effort to come out. Opening with an energetic run-through of one of my favourite O’Connor tracks “D-Days” she set the tone for the evening.
Hazel was joined by brother Neil (ex of The Flys of “Love and a Molotov Cocktail” fame – unfortunately we didn’t get that tonight) on guitar and long term collaborators Claire on Sax (an ex Belle Star) and Sarah on keyboards (ex Eurythmic) and a tight rhythm section completing the lineup.
The night was billed as the “Mega Plus” tour featuring songs from her first 3 albums – Breaking Glass, Sons & Lovers and Cover Plus. With that myriad of tunes to pick from, it was bound to be a good night.
And so it played out – a nigh on 2 hour and 23 song set, with all the hits and highlights from the 3 albums. A dazzling night’s entertainment.
It’s hard to pick my own highlights from the set but “Will You?” complete with closing sax solo was pretty special.
However, I could go on – the powerful ska of “Blackman”, the protest of “Who Calls the Tune” (written about the controversial death of teacher Blair Peach during anti-racism demonstrations). “If Only”, “Monsters in Disguise”. The searing commentary on she who will not be named who ran the country at the time of writing the song (but equally as valid today with the idiots in power in the UK and USA – “old pumpkin face”), “Big Brother”, “Writing on the Wall”, “The Zoo”, “Come into the Air”, you get the picture…
As well as the cover in the encore, Hazel also treated us to her versions of Nina Simone’s “Do What you Gotta Do” (the first single she ever bought) and The Stranglers “Hanging Around” – which prompted a reminder of their hanging around outside in the cold waiting to play this as an encore when she played in support of Hugh Cornwell.
the Hits and more
As well as this recollection, throughout the evening Ms. O’Connor regaled us with more tales of her experiences over the years.
Some were humorous – from escaping some over-zealous fans in her home town in a 3 wheeler Reliant Robin – her mum only had a motorbike license to her inadvertent flashing during a standing ovation for “Breaking Glass” at Cannes.
Others were poignant – introducing “I Will Give You My Sunshine” written for her mother as a gift when she was in cancer hospice care.
Unfortunately, all good things have to come to an end and so to set closer her “non-plastic paddy” version of “Danny Boy”. This segued into the triumphant “Eighth Day” before the band left the stage to rapturous applause before returning for her take on Snow Patrol’s “Chasing Cars”.
Post-gig Hazel appeared for a signing/photo call. It was as if the last 30 odd years hadn’t happened as the clamour and fervour from the (mainly over 40’s) crowd to see her at the end must have felt to her like the story she told of trying to escape enthusiastic fans back in the day!
All told a tremendous gig and due to venue curfews, all over by ten pm. Harking back to my shattered state before the gig, I was back home and falling asleep on the sofa by 10.30. I must be getting old….
North Devon 2 piece “I Am Derek” release their new EP on Friday 17th November. This follows on from debut (demo) EP (“Zipped” ) recorded and released between Christmas and New Year last year having got together in December 2016. The Zipped EP was picked up by several radio stations across the UK and Canada.
In May 2017 they started writing and demoing new tracks which were again picked up by radio stations. These early demos received radio play worldwide on internet and FM radio stations. One of the tracks, “Boxes”, was voted no 4 in an Australian radio station’s weekly indie chart.
Radio play of the demos has snowballed and has led to radio interviews and several 15 minute features and endorsements without having an official release.
I Am Derek EP
The self-titled EP has 4 tracks:
I Fell Short
A Tale of Ordinary Madness
The EP is a thoroughly enjoyable way to spend 15 minutes. Three of the tracks are bouncy/noisy indie rock with fuzzy distorted guitars and from first listen they had me nodding along as I listened on my iPod at work.
The aforementioned “Boxes” has some subtle layered vocals and harmonies with instrumental break building to the end.
“A Tale of Ordinary Madness” is a much slower more ballad like affair.
On EP opener “I Fell Short”, Neil’s vocal is delivered earnestly and at times is not dissimilar to Graham Coxon both musically and vocally.
This self-produced EP was recorded at a cost of no more than £100, with the money having been spent on a second-hand condenser mic and a rehearsal space for recording.
The EP is scheduled for release on 17th November 2017, and is available now to pre-order through iTunes.
Over the years, there have been a number of essential record labels with Scottish roots that have given rise to some unforgettable bands and their music.
The list is massive but everyone must be familiar with at least one of these:
Postcard (Orange Juice, Josef K, Aztec Camera)
Creation (Oasis, Ride, Primal Scream, Jesus and Mary Chain, House of Love)
Creeping Bent (Vic Godard, Secret Goldfish, Alan Vega)
Chemikal Underground (Mogwai, The Delgados, Malcolm Middleton, Arab Strap)
And that is just scraping the surface.
Add a new one to that list – Tarbeach Records. Although NYC based, the label has Scottish roots and a number of Scottish bands on their release list.
To date they have an impressive back catalogue (see below) of releases from bands old and new – with much more to come.
I first came across the label when I bought the peerless debut album “Accelerator” by ReAction, but have since bolstered my Tarbeach collection somewhat.
In addition to the ReAction album mentioned, from a Scottish perspective, Tarbeach has been supported releases from the much touted Heavy Drapes and Glasgow’s legendary The Zips/Jonzip. These 3 bands recently played a sold out showcase gig “Kiss This” in Broadcast, Glasgow.
I asked Walt Stewart about the origins of Tarbeach…
The label started in 2016. I had recorded an album in 2007 called “Thee New York Tarbeach Recordings”. It was an Avant-garde set. I continued to record as Thee Electric Fits, or Thee E-Fits or Thee EFF-its.
The reason for the labels existence is because I felt like doing something, more concentrated, other than these abstracted projects.
So from humble beginnings, the label has worked with a range if bands to get their product out there. Walt expanded on the ethos of the label.
This label was intended to be, and has become a self-functioning collective. I hope it is about giving bands a home and appreciating their efforts by releasing their music indiscriminately. That their effort is so natural, is nothing to do with the label at all. That’s the ethos.
We don’t have a roster (of bands), whatever is coming out will be on the website. We don’t have any CAPITAL to advertise ‘n stuff, if it’s out, it’s on the website.
All the more reason for anyone reading this to spread the word far and wide. If you need any encouragement – just listen to some of the bands that have released their music on Tarbeach. (See the list of releases below). I guarantee you’ll find something you like and be impressed by.
What about the music Walt likes?
I can swing from Miles (Davis), to Buttholes (Surfers), to Sparks, To GBV (Guided by Voices), to The Fall, to Milkshakes, to Pixies, to Reaction, to Monkey Don’t Care.
But most of all, I listen to the local scene. My fave bands of late are Pepper Kings, and GIFTSHOP.
On that note, being NYC based, Tarbeach naturally supports a diverse range of New York/US based bands, including some of those mentioned by Walt.
Again, NY and Glasgow have reflected activities around showcasing the bands on the label. As well as the recent gig in Glasgow there have been showcase gigs in NY in the last few months including Monkey Don’t Care, Pepper Kings and The Bowery Boys along with Golden Axe Attack and the Rose Pedals in Gussy’s Bar, Queens in June.
A truly international label. Loved by many on both sides of the Atlantic. Tarbeach artists regularly feature on Danny Mac’s Testifying Time Radio Show. On the other side of the pond, Walt (along with ReAction’s Joe Whyte) recently appeared on DJ Rob Select’s show
The label has also been involved in supporting Sonny Vincent and family after the much publicised tragedy that befell them. This was through the release of a compilation CD (details below) of bands associated with Tarbeach with funds raised going to the support fund.
Tarbeach has a busy few months ahead with a number of releases scheduled. Look out for the following exciting releases coming in the next few months:
Halloween sees the release of the second EP from Monkey Don’t Care:
Monkey Don’t Care – “Pearl Necklace” CDEP – Tracks “She Goes Her Own Way”, “Slow But Sure Destruction”, “Lids of my Eyes” (Tar022)
3 great tracks of melodic alt-rock with distortion heavy vocals on a couple of the songs. “Slow but Sure Destruction” is a standout with its pleading opening bass over the sound of rain bringing a feeling of desolation but builds into a crashing epic song. “She Goes Her Own Way” brings the tempo back up again and is reminiscent of early REM.
(The) Meghan Taylor (fronted) quintet (GIFTSHOP) specializes in CBGB’s style punk mixed with 21st century pop hooks. GIFTSHOP’s dynamic live shows have earned them prime festival slots.
GIFTSHOP – “Despicable”/”Dontcha Know” – AA blue vinyl 7” (Tar020)
“Despicable” with its driving guitars and plaintive vocals is a straightforward fuck you to an asshole who thinks he does “the things that make him likeable”, but is really just ”despicable”. A fantastic 3 and a half minute romp. “Dontcha Know” shows a softer side to the band – more ballad like and with a real 50’s feel to it. Definitely not aimed at the subject of “Despicable”. Brilliant.
Pepper Kings – “Pepper Kings” debut CD album (Serial No TBC)
I want to say the Pepper Kings are quirky. I can’t think of a better word to describe them, their sound is unconventional and often eccentric (Hoot Owl).
It would be difficult to pigeon-hole Pepper Kings. While not necessarily sounding like them – the band are off the wall in the way bands like XTC, Devo and Talking Heads are – doubtlessly a good thing.
The vocals at times reminiscent of varied vocalists like Jello Biafra, Calvin Johnson and Fred Schneider. Like Dead Kennedys, there is a serious side to the songs too, with “Casinos Mean Jobs” making a deliberate political statement.
You will categorically not be bored listening to Pepper Kings. I’ve only heard a selection of the songs from the album, but I look forward to hearing more.
(Date – TBC):
ReAction – “Out of My head” b/w “Crystallised Radio” 7” white vinyl (Tar013)
ReAction are a phenomenal band both live and on record. The energy from Big Carson is second to none and the song-writing and music is sophisticated and varied. The 2 tracks here showcase different sides to the band with “Out of My Head” being an in your face punk rock romp. ”Crystallised Radio” on the flip side is a dub remix of Accelerator album track “Crystal Radio” and follows on from Fireball in Dub (Warped Plan Remix) on the album.
I am excited for the future of Tarbeach and hope to see many more releases coming from the label continuing with the variety of music styles as they have to date.
Thanks to Walt and all the bands for the time and effort they put in to get their music out there to the masses.
I’ve linked to bands Facebook pages/websites throughout where possible.
Unassuming from the outside, but a perfect intimate venue for a gig inside. The venue has loads of great vantage points to watch the bands and with a great line up of acts due to visit, I’m sure I’ll be back
The Kilmarnock band had formed over 30 years ago but split up before they released an album, due to public demand according to frontman Munro. They reformed last year, recorded and released their debut album “Restitution”. The album is packed full of epic songs which we were treated to tonight.
The band ripped through their 10 tracks, kicking things off with album opener “Break in The Circle”. Munro has a commanding voice complemented by luscious harmonies from Shirley Guthrie. The band were tight through their set and treated us to one hook laden track after another. Songs like “Shake” & “Killing Fields” & “The Traveller” are titanic soundscapes with instantly memorable refrains.
Judging by the number of CDs they shifted on the night, I wasn’t the only one who enjoyed their set. This was great for the band as tonight’s gig was a big deal for them having originally been called Legion after the Theatre of Hate song of the same name.
And to complete the set, Theatre of Hate didn’t let me down either. I’d seen Kirk Brandon live before in various guises, but this was the first time I’d seen Theatre of Hate.
It was a different story for the majority of tonight’s packed out crowd. Bass legend Stan Stammers mentioning having played the original incarnation of the Bungalow 30+ years ago. From the reaction of the gathered masses, there were a fair number present who had been at that gig.
The band of Kirk Brandon. Stan Stammers, Adrian Portas and Chris Bell with Clive filling John “Boy” Lennard’s shoes were on prime form. The 18 tracks played at the gig borrowed from the entire back catalogue of the band, including 5 tracks from 2016’s Kinshi. The newer songs sat perfectly alongside the old Theatre of Hate favourites.
Right from the off the intensity was pronounced. The opening trio of classics, “Rebel Without a Brain” and debut single “Original Sin” sandwiching “Black Irony” from Kinshi, set out the bands manifesto for the rest of the gig.
The sax is a fantastic instrument when played well, and tonight was a great example. There was no John “Boy” Lennard tonight due to family circumstances (thoughts are with John) but Clive ably filled his shoes. Not many alternative/rock bands can get away with a sax player. With Theatre of Hate, it is vital part of their sound. A perfect foil to the power of the bands lyrics and crashing guitars.
Tongue firmly in cheek, Kirk introduced “My Own Invention” as “a tender song about mass murderers”. The band followed it up with “The Maintenance Man” a song about “the ones who clean up after them” complete with a nod to Harvey Keitel’s roles in Point of No Return and Pulp Fiction.
Brandon alternated between playing guitar and dancing in his unique style when not playing. Taking to the side of the stage at times to give the rest of the band their place, he was evidently lost in the music. At one point I did think that he and Richard Jobson could challenge each other to a dad dance-off.
Unfortunately for him, no-one took him up on his request for ice cream at the start of “Triumph” which he introduced as “(sounding) like ice cream music to me”.
One of my own personal favourites, “Judgement Hymn” notched the atmosphere up a level. There was a discernible increase in the energy and exuberance from much of the assembled hoard.
As the band reached the climax of their set with “Poppies”, “Solution” and “Legion” there was an outbreak of vigorous dancing in the “pit”. This initially created a bit of tension which threatened to spill over, this was picked up by Kirk who urged the crowd not to “hurt each other”.
In the main though, the atmosphere was good natured. Everyone finding their place and enjoying the gig in their own way. As the band returned for the brace of “Do You Believe in the Westworld?” and “Propaganda”, I turned round and saw a sea of people with huge smiles on their faces. Energetic dancing and singing continued right to the end with a rush of people looking to shake the bands hands before they exited.
A great night’s entertainment. As I said hello to a few folk before I left, I heard a number uttering phrases like “gig of the year”. Proof if needed that the auld yins can still show the youth how to do things right.
Many of you will know Julie from her Morrissey connections. From Mozarmy to her book “15 Minutes with You”.
“Frank” is her first novel. The first in a series of three following the lives of a family in 1980s Airdrie.
The book tells the story of recently widowed Frank. The tale of how he, and daughter Jackie, are dealing with the many and varied challenges life is throwing at them after the death of his wife June.
I found myself drawn into Franks life from the off. The novel is an emotional rollercoaster with laugh out loud moments & happy events to bringing you to the brink of tears. Franks grief is palpable throughout, as is the comfort he gains from his interactions with deceased wife, June.
Julie on Grief
Julie: “I’ve noticed that when loved ones die, the grieving continue to look for signs to keep them close and remembered. E.g. if a robin lands on a bush, a feather floats down, if a song plays, a bee buzzes past, people believe these are signs from the deceased. When my daughter was accepted to a good school, I nodded towards the sky, feeling that my mother in law Bridget was keeping an eye on her, and this was her doing. Why do we do this? Perhaps it’s a way of entering a period of what might be called ‘a smiling grief. Frank is at the beginning of his path; June might be a ghost, she might be the strength of his grief, or she might be something else, but Frank is missing her and I love that she is sending him comfort, somehow”
As someone who grew up in the 80s, I could really visualise Frank’s home and the type of man he is. He is “old school” and very much looked after by wife June (with a bit of a twist which I’m sure we will discover more about in follow up novels) and other women in his life – daughter Jackie & neighbour Mrs Morrison cooking, cleaning and shopping for him.
Frank is finding adapting to life without June difficult. He needs her ongoing support, in whatever way he can find it, to get through.
All the settings in the novel – from the bookies to the working men’s club and other references, like trying to find a working phone box to make an urgent call were all exquisitely described. I felt I was there and picture what was going on in every scene.
JULIE ON THE SETTING: AIRDRIE
“I had to set the book somewhere and I felt it had to be Airdrie, where I lived from aged nine to seventeen. I confess I’ve only been inside the Workmen’s once when I was 14 and The Black Dog is made up. I have no idea of bus numbers – we walked everywhere. From Central Park to Cromarty Road and Chapel Street to Victoria Place. We spent a lot of time in Cairnhill woods climbing in through a broken window of the Cairnhill Hotel and playing hide and seek. I left Airdrie but it never left me. My mum and dad left too, they jetted off to… Coatbridge”
While the novel is set in Airdie, I’m sure many readers will be able to relate to the type of situations and locations described by Julie. You don’t need to know Airdrie. Personally, I’ve been in a number of working men’s clubs in deepest Lanarkshire over the years and felt myself transported back to them.
For any fans out there looking for connections to Morrissey be warned this isn’t a book about the Smiths. However, that’s not to say you won’t find anything Smiths related in it…
I’d highly recommend Frank to all. In summary, a poignant and tenderly told human interest story that I’m sure many will be able to relate to.
Like any great read, I was so immersed in the book, I felt disappointed when I got to the end. Frank was an extended part of my life for the time I was reading about him. I look forward to the next in the trilogy of tales of Frank, June and Jackie.
Frank is due for a November 7th release and will be published by Saron Publishing.
The Screens are duo, Neil and Colin. They have a long background in creating and producing music for TV shows and films. This project is their opportunity to have the “creative freedom” to make their own music and share it with the world. They don’t let the fact they live thousands of miles apart impact their ability to create their music.
They are currently in the process of recording a debut album for release in 2018
Colin : “When we wrote (first single) “Avalanche” we discovered our sound for this album. We’d written lots of songs that we liked but it wasn’t until we finished Avalanche that we discovered what The Screens were about. We found our style and it created the entire backdrop for the album we are currently finishing”.
Neil : “Our film music background was something we subconsciously were avoiding. A lot of what we were writing was relevant to other artists and what the market is into at the moment but it never sat well with us. When we wrote “Avalanche” it was our eureka moment. Within days of finishing it we had another 5 songs written and we were desperate to get back into the studio to get them down”.
Jennifer Jones (Paintbox Records)
The Screens second single “Jennifer Jones” is released on Friday 13th October. Strangely appropriate for the song…
On first listen Jennifer Jones has a driving guitar intro not dis-similar to London Calling. The multi-layered instrumentation then builds and what you get is a vast sophisticated orchestral-like soundscape.
The lyrics are passionately delivered and on first listen they appear to tell an effervescent story of love lost.
However, watch the video in conjunction with the song and you completely re-assess the lyrics. The message behind the song is much bleaker than it first appears. I won’t give it away – watch it.
Think 90’s ostentatious alt-pop from bands like Rialto and My Life Story and you wont be far from the mark. The music has a radiance & lustre to it but with a twist giving it a dark side making it a much more compelling offering.
“Jennifer Jones” is a toxic blend of flambuoyant and theatrical pop whilst tipping it hat to 60’s and 70’s film and TV characterisation.
It’s infectious and memorable yet still resonates with the darker elements of The Screens that were abundant in their first single.
Go to iTunes/or Amazon to purchase The Screens releases or stream on Spotify from 13th October.
Colin : “It’s fantastic to make an record when you really don’t care how it’s perceived commercially.
We’re in an enviable position where we don’t have an A&R man or marketing executive telling us what we should be producing. That extends further into how we produce our videos”.
Neil : “Were we signed to a major label there is no way we would have been given the funding to make the video we made for Jennifer Jones. I’ve worked for a major label and there’s no way we’d allow a video featuring sex, drug taking and overdosing to be made with a mainstream act.
We’ve not done it for any other reason apart from the fact it is what the song is about. A story of a girl who falls helplessly in love with a guy who manipulates her mind and destroys her independence.
There’s no way of telling this story any other way. It had to be dark.”
Website and contact details
The rest of 2017 will be incredibly busy for The Screens, between promoting Jennifer Jones, finishing off the album and working on the video for their third single.
Follow the band on facebook and twitter (@thescreens2). For more information go to their website.