Friday, 29 April 2011

Michael Kiwanuka – Tell Me A Tale EP

Released June 11
Communion Records

Arriving in time for summer 2011, Michael Kiwanuka will be fresh from playing tour support to Adele just in time to brighten the disappointingly grey summer days.

Recorded and produced by Paul Butler (Bees) in the Isle Of Wight with a host of indigenous musicians, ‘Tell Me A Tale EP’ perches on the edge of a precipice that promises greatness.

As Kiwanuka croons: “Tell me a story that I can read, tell me a story that I believe. Paint me a picture that I can see, give me a touch that I can feel,” the 23-year-old plays older than his days as rootsy folk is combined with soul and a backlash of emotion.

There is a vulnerability to his sound and voice that tugs on the heart strings and ‘Need Your Company’ and ‘Worry Walks Beside Me’ will make you bleed compassion and empathy for the lonely heart as strings, pianos and modest blues guitars create an ambience that’s difficult to escape from.

Mel Tormé

 Perfect old school blues soul....

Monday, 25 April 2011

Teenage obsessions...

This was Silverchair's first live performance after singer Daniel Johns' battle with reactive arthritis.

Johns was still suffering from the aftermath of the life threatenning condition when this performance took place at Australia's ARIA Awards Ceremony (Aussie equivalent of the Brits) in 2002. He reportedly changed chords positions in order to play the song.


Stumbled across this....

Sunday, 24 April 2011

Songs on the Stereo

1. Arctic Monkeys - Don't Sit Down Cause I've Moved Your Chair

2. Raphael Saadiq - Heart Attack

3. Michael Kiwanuka - Tell Me A Tale

4. Alexander - Truth


5. The Kills - Nail In My Coffin

Top tunes x

Monday, 18 April 2011

My Head Radio – Reality Cheque


Out Now
Hotblack Records

My Head Radio have never collaboratively met.

It can do bloody wonders the internet and yeah, it might be a soulless way to purchase your music but if the advert has shown us anything, it can make new relationships blossom.

Compiled of four musicians connected by the World Wide Web, all sharing a love for funk, jazz and hip hop, the electronically built group that spans two continents have hit their second album despite an array of studio, maternal and equipment complications, on top of their geographical differences.

Reality Cheque is a peculiar concoction of jazz and lo-fi rap that chills and swings mischievously with horns and funky bass. It’s not without its charm in parts but as predictably as your average internet date goes, it falls short.

The superb jazz fusion of ‘Up To You’ and the non-violent message of ‘Cease Fire’ provide highlights but it takes a while for the Atheist rambling longevity of ‘Big Foot Prince’ to convey it’s message: “I see through your ruse and refuse your command, I’ve tried all the scoops in your ice cream stand, drafting a plan to melt your deception, what if I’m the man with a biblical lesson.”

From the outside it might seem that My Head Radio have moves so smooth it's going to be a done deal but that charm eventually becomes as plastic as her breasts and the beats as predictable as his next profile picture.

While it’s not difficult and it’s not offensive, Reality Cheque is just as boring as the conversation the next morning.

Sunday, 17 April 2011

Arctic Monkeys - Don't Sit Down Cause I've Moved Your Chair

Released May 30

It’s with thunder and fire that Arctic Monkeys have announced their return.

After the muscular riffage of the opinion dividing ‘Brick By Brick’, the quartet are moving into heavier territory to piss on the ridiculous rumours of guitar band extinction.

‘Don’t Sit Down Cause’ I’ve Moved Your Chair’ is an untamed brute that plays on Seventies arena rock with an unashamed bite that breaths fresh air back into rock n’ roll.

Turner speaks in riddles: “Go into business with a grizzly bear, just don’t sit down cause’ I’ve moved your chair,” and Cook wraps meaty hooks into thick licks to push the Sheffield quartet into new terrain as they continue their evolution.

Thursday, 7 April 2011

The Beatles - Sheffield - 1963

Legend – The Beatles made their live Sheffield debut on February 12, 1963 at the Azena ballroom, Gleadless...or so Peter Stringfellow would have you believe...

During an interview with Beatles biographer, Mark Lewisohn, nearly 20 years ago, the notorious entrepreneur (who organised the gig with his brother, Geoffrey) told Lewisohn that the Beatles played the Azena on the February date, claiming it was the first time the band had appeared on a Sheffield stage.

In fact, recent research shows it was last Saturday (April 2) that marks the 48th anniversary of the Beatles’ legendary show at the Azena, nearly two months before the reported date.

Suspicion arose among Fab Four fans when it was realised that the band played in Oldham on the same night they were supposed to be in Sheffield, the day after recording their debut album ‘Please Please Me’ in a single session at Studio Two in London.

Evidence, in the form of a set list picked up by a support band member on the night, has since confirmed that Lewisohn was fed false information. The handwriting from the document has been confirmed by Lewisohn as Paul McCartney’s and features ‘From Me To You’ - which hadn’t been written by February.

Furthermore, a poster supposedly advertising the February 12 Azena line-up has long been discarded as fake. The poster contains the famed ‘drop T’ logo, in which the stem of the T, central in the name, drops beneath the other characters. This wasn’t designed until the April of 1963 and wasn’t officially unveiled until May of the same year when it was used on Ringo’s bass drum. 

The fake poster, designed by Duffield that later sold for £10, 000

The poster, made by Colin Duffield, later sold at a rock n’ roll memorabilia auction for £10,000 and was accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Duffield himself.

I recently uncovered the real advert for the event at Sheffield City Library archives. Taken from the Sheffield Star of April 2, 1963, it disproves Stringfellow’s claim that the Beatles’ first ever Sheffield gig took place at the Azena, and the authenticity of Duffield’s poster.

The night itself was originally meant to be played at Stringfellow’s new club, the Black Cat (formerly St Aiden’s Church on City Road.) But when tickets started selling quickly (for four shillings, the equivalent of 20p today) prices were raised to five shillings (25p,) the location was changed  to the Azena and over 1,000 more tickets than the venue's capacity of 500 were sold.

Another 1,000 people turned up without a ticket and when someone opened a fire door to let people in, chaos ensued before police officers restored order.

Notably, one of the band’s top hits, ‘Twist And Shout’, wasn’t included in their set. It is thought that John Lennon had a cold and didn’t want to risk his voice with the iconic throat shredding vocals.

Before playing the Azena, the Beatles appeared twice at the City Hall, on March 2 and 16 of that same year, before appearing in Sheffield another two times at the venue before the year end.

Sheffield Star - April 2, 1963

Wednesday, 6 April 2011

Midlake – Late Night Tales


Out Now

Late Night Tales

It’s nearly ten years ago that the curious concoctions of Late Night Tales began.

With artists such as Arctic Monkeys, Belle and Sebastian and Air all contributing to previous editions of the series, it’s now the turn of Texan folk rock starlets, Midlake.

It’s a compilation that twists and turns through anthemic folk and evocative melodies which isn’t surprising considering the curator’s own approach to their craft.

The broad musical landscape of Fairport Convention, Lazarus and Scott Walker dominate the opening to Midlake’s anthology before the bands own contribution, a cover of Black Sabbath’s ‘Am I Going Insane’, jangles with twelve string guitars and lifeless melody for over six minutes.

Its Bjork’s, 'Unravel' (taken from 1997 album ‘Homogenic’,) that sucks you into another world and her dulcet pipes and wacky ambience change the pace and breathe life into the LP. It’s followed by the finger picking folk of John Duindam and the Flying Burrito Brother’s country twang to keep the preciously wrapped tunes riding on the crest of continual flow.

It’s that flow that’s so vital to the how effective a compilation, or any album, may be, and when allied with the quality of song, Midlake don’t fall short.

One big downer to the affair is the robotic feminine voice that repeatedly fades in throughout the album running, reminding: “You’re listening to Late Night Tales with Midlake.”

I’m not that thick, but thanks all the same.

Monday, 4 April 2011

Ezio - This Is The Day


April 4

Tapeter Records

 After being locked away in a rustic country house in the north of Germany to record the follow up to 2006’s ‘Ten Thousand Bars’, this Cambridge guitar duo who formed almost 20 years ago have found fine form.

The soft finger picking croon of ‘A Small Dream’ sets the scene to ‘This Is The Day’ with the rudimentary use of a solo acoustic guitar and story-telling vocals (told by Ezio Lunedei) which conjure a rich emotion that’s then obliterated with the blues stomp of ‘Bad Bad Place’.

As Lundei chunters: “We’re in a bad bad place, we’re all following rules, the money it is put in place, oh you’re really such a fool,  we just want more and more, we don’t count the costs,”  Ezio exhibition feral blues that could soundtrack a car chase somewhere out west.

‘This Is The Day’ epitomises the career of Ezio and their wistful country ramblings are hard not to trust as they soak up melody and character into their well constructed tunes.

Yeah, you might want to avoid the cheap cheese swing tunes ‘Bruce Springsteen’ that sucks the life from the blissful acoustic balladry that makes this band what they are but ‘This Is The Day’ confirms what we already know...Ezio are one of the best kept secrets.