Thursday, 25 March 2010

Long Live the Leadmill

 Long known as a Sheffield institution and one of the Steel City’s most loved and longest running independent venues, the Leadmill celebrates its 30th birthday this year.
Having been at the forefront of Sheffield’s music and club scene for the last 30 years and being the city’s most famous venue, the Leadmill (actually a former flour mill) was born in a cultural wasteland of rusting steelworks and rising unemployment. Its existence was banded together between volunteers with the idea of cleaning up Sheffield’s cultural wilderness and providing not only a music and club venue, but a place for theatre, education and artist workshops.
The Leadmill is a venue known for championing new bands and often showcases early talent before it reaches the masses and other known entities such as NME which has earned it a glowing reputation for holding searing gigs to passionate crowds, something which has made it many friends. With the emergence of newer venues and chains threatening to snuff out the romance of the independent venue (ahem, 02 Academy), the Leadmill has stood the test of time and stands firm, with long running nights such as SHAG and Sonic Boom still hosting indie disco debauchery.
The humble walls of the downtown club have hosted many-a band over the previous three decades and it has seen the rise of many of Sheffield’s finest musicians and artists. With Sheffield seen as the ‘it’ city at the start of the 80s and with acts such as the Human League, ABC and Cabaret Voltaire moving through the ranks, the Leadmill was soon cemented as a trend setting and forward thinking venue after showcasing the city’s hottest talent.

Of more recent times, home town starlets, Arctic Monkeys and Reverend and the Makers have passed through their doors while bands such as Kings of Leon, Muse, Coldplay, The White Stripes and The Strokes all started out on the Leadmill’s famed stage.
Not wanting to stray too far from their roots, the Leadmill is running through a revamp in the build up to their 30th birthday celebrations (that will run from Fresher’s week before a very special shindig in November) and plans for a new assault on Sheffield’s night life are underway.
Rebecca Walker, Leadmill’s live promoter said: “We want the Leadmill to be seen as the alternative club to go to again. There are too many nights where you go out and hear the same songs, we want to move away from that and provide something different.”
Top of the list is launching new nights such as B-side night and bringing back the long lost DJs that graced the Leadmill’s sticky floor in the 80s and 90s:
“We want to stick to our roots, bring back the old school and get back to what this venue was all about in the 80s,” says Walker before adding: “That’s half the point of the Steel Stage, smaller bands can play in smaller surroundings, it has a really intimate feel but it’s keeping bands in the bigger venues without playing to empty rooms.”

The plans as to what is exactly happening for its birthday celebrations are being kept on the down-low with Walker remaining coy about the festivities, only revealing: “It’s going to be massive.”
While the rumours are rife (anything from Arctic Monkeys to the Human League if you believe the gossip mongers) concerning the birthday celebrations, one thing is for sure, Leadmill is here to stay.
Here’s to another 30 years.

Coming soon to the Leadmill:
Young Rebel Set – April 16
Feeder – April 18
Don Broco – April 24
The Futureheads – May 3
The Big Pink – May 8
Sarah Mac – May 15
Marina and the Diamonds – May 22 – SOLD OUT
Teenage Fanclub – May 28

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Black Rebel Motorcycle Club - Beat The Devil's Tattoo

Released March 8
Abstract Dragon

Get your leathers out, Black Rebel are back. Returning for their sixth studio album and with a new drummer to boot, their swampy psychedelia monster is back with blues on arm and folk on the other.
Since parting company with record label Virgin after the stripped back folk revival of ‘Howl’, ‘the band that broke the floor’ have manage to sneak in ‘Baby 81’ and a low key release of instrumental (and near suicidal) LP ‘The Effects of 333’ to mixed receptions after several line up alterations and changes.
Despite the departure of long-time on-off drummer, Nick Jago, Black Rebel Motorcycle Club have found a peace with their sound and ‘Beat The Devil’s Tattoo’ knits together the healthier sounds of their back catalogue.
It may seem like a been here and done it jobby but you don’t get that vibe from this album and the heavier psychedelic stomp of ‘War Machine’ sits well with the title track blues of ‘Beat The Devil’s Tattoo’ and ‘River Styx’ resulting in a highly accomplished sound.
They’ve never been for the faint hearted as it burns and broods in the same Black Rebel way and the anguish in the vocals remain as Peter Hayes groans: “She’s a reckless lover, with blood-stained hands ‘round the neck of her helpless man,” behind Robert Levon Been's gruesome bass sounds in ‘Aya’, while he croons “everything’s taking its toll, it’s a moment we carry alone, with a cause there’s a cure for the soul,” to keep things on the heavier side of happy in 'The Toll.'
When you get down to the nitty gritty with BRMC it all begins to make more sense, behind the fuzz and big bollocks lies something more fragile and untouched, while it’s laboured and low on energy it also possesses a charm that sweats passion and washes the gimmicks away.
 Their newest offering is better and more whole than anything that has previously been sent our way. While many of their peers may have left the garage long ago and have been engulfed in their own sanctimonious storm, BRMC are still revelling on the fringes, getting all the better for it.

On the Stereo

1. My Body's A Zombie For You - Dead Man's Bones -

2. The Toll - Black Rebel Motorcycle Club -

3. Mercedes Benz - Janis Joplin

4. How Could I Complain? - Pete Lawrie -

5. E-Pro - Beck -

Top tunes x

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Matthew Glenn Thompson - The Garden and the Arcade

Released March 15

Teddev Music/ASCAP
In a world where mediocrity is generally celebrated and the likelihood of being forgotten is ever on the increase, Matthew Glenn Thompson should fit in just fine.
Thompson’s debut UK album ‘The Garden and the Arcade’ has all the pop sensibilities you would expect from someone who honed his abilities in cover bands and his debut stinks of cliché and teen film soundtracks from the off.
While there is little to offend the ears (produced by Casey Diiorio – Bowling For Soup, Deep Blue Something) and has epic moments between the laboriously dull ones, there is also little to keep you interested as the chorus from opening track ‘End Of The Parade’ rings “Vision comes and you’re still debating, and all the time we spend excavating,” to make the whole thing sound rather Del Amitri, without the Del, and the couple of songs they did that were any good.
It doesn’t get too much better from the Memphis born songwriter and although it does relieve sweet sentiment on occasion it’s just doesn’t make up for the ground that’s lost in the chorus of ‘January day’ (“Feeling good, feeling great, lost the anchor on a January day.”)
After sharing bills with Bowling For Soup, the Goo Goo Dolls, Deep Blue Something and playing over 700 shows in the last four years there is no doubt that Matthew Glenn Thompson will tickle a few people’s fancy, just be prepared to set up camp in the middle of the road.

Kah - MoreThan Dawn

Released March 22
Joy Lane Music

This electronica laden London singer/songwriter is a woman in charge. She’s currently dusting herself down after writing, recording and producing everything on her debut album ‘More Than Dawn’, with the aid of coffee and Absinth.
With the new ‘forward thinking’ wave of artists given the nod by the Mercury Awards and gaining chart liberty there is undoubtedly space for the subtle grace that reins Kah superior to her competitors.
While electronica may be the buzz word surrounding this album, it’s more of a pastiche that spans through many different genres, something which can often create the stuttering effect. This, however, is not the case with ‘More Than Dawn’ as Kah links the many different tributaries with elegant melodies that find their counterpoint in the singer’s voice and run alongside the interesting array of beats and sounds that accompany them.
It’s not all grandeur as ‘More Than Dawn’ sometimes slips away and reveals it to be the bedroom record that it is. Debut single ‘Goose Girl’ (an inexplicable choice) is a monotonous crawl while ‘Dragonfly Boy’ follows in the same fashion and occasionally falls into the stop start trap.
The good moments far outweigh the bad ones though and ‘July Song’ is filled with summer vibes as Kah croons: “There’s no place in this song for the blues, there’s no place in this song for your bad muse, there’s no place in this song for wheres and whys,” while opener ‘Wanting To Be Haunted’ rings with medieval strings, juiced up with beats for modern day consumption.
‘More Than Dawn’ provides you with a real sense of being, it’s emotive and haunting and when it falls, it merely picks itself back up again. All in all, it’s really rather good.