Saturday, 30 November 2013

This weekend at The Musician, Leicester: Mentallica (Sat.) / Light Of Day England, Fundraiser for Parkinsons (Sun.)

Saturday 30th November

Xander Promotions presents
£7adv £9door
plus Piston Broke
Got the need for more Metallica than you can get? Well here's your fix. MENTALLICA. This band has TOTAL respect for Metallica and have set out to recreate the raw, intense experience of seeing Metallica live. Mentallica have earned a reputation as Europe's top Metallica tribute. Playing across Europe and at some of the UK's top biker shows such as Wozwolf and The Rock & Blues Custom Show and at major venues and universities. Mentallica continue with no signs of let up in the touring and their high energy shows. These guys live and breathe Mentallica... and so will YOU...

Sunday 1st December

Light Of Day England presents
Fundraiser for Parkinsons
feat. Badly Drawn Boy, Jesse Malin, Joe D'Urso, Guy Davis and Jersey Budd
£18adv £20door
plus special guests Maeve O'Boyle and Rob Dye
Light of Day England this year takes place at the Musician in Leicester and features a host of fantastic musicians including Jesse Malin, Guy Davis, Badly Drawn Boy, Joe D’Urso and local hero Jersey Budd. In the support slot are Maeve O’Boyle and Rob Dye.

The Light of Day Foundation was formed in 1999 by a group of musicians from the renowned New Jersey shore, to raise money for research into the cause of Parkinson’s and related diseases. Legendary New Jersey music manager, Bob Benjamin, was diagnosed with Parkinson’s at the age of just 38 years. The organisation was named ‘Light of Day’ after the Bruce Springsteen song – in the hope that a cure would be ‘just around the corner’.

What started as a single concert at the world-famous Stone Pony in Asbury Park has now become a global tour, this year taking in 13 countries, and raising hundreds of thousands of dollars for the cause. Bruce Springsteen himself has given his time and support to Light of Day many, many times over the years since the concerts started. With 2013 seeing both Linda Ronstadt and Billy Connolly, to name just two, diagnosed with Parkinson’s the quest for a cure goes on. Come on out for a night of great music and help to support an amazing charity.

Remember; always check with the venue before travelling, or grab a ticket direct from the site:

JD Salinger stories leaked online

Three short stories by JD Salinger, which the reclusive author did not want published, have been leaked online.

The Ocean Full Of Bowling Balls, Paula and Birthday had previously only been available to read at two American university libraries.

The first title, in particular, is of particular importance, as it inspired elements of The Catcher In The Rye.

A scanned copy of the stories was uploaded to a file-sharing website this week, and rapidly spread online.

The collection, titled Three Stories, features a plain black cover, and also contains a letter from Salinger to his publisher Little, Brown and Company, discussing proof copies of his works.

David Ulin, a book critic with the Los Angeles Times, said that at least two of the stories in the collection were "the real deal".

"I've never read The Ocean Full of Bowling Balls," he wrote. "It's part of a collection of Salinger material at the Princeton University Library and available only to scholars who are supervised as they read.

"I have read the other two stories, however, at the University of Texas' Ransom Center, and the versions of them in Three Stories are the real deal."

"The Ransom Center is relatively free with its manuscripts; visitors can even have photocopies made, although they are prohibited from circulating the work.

"It's more difficult to imagine how a manuscript was copied from the Princeton Library, but in this digital age, I have little doubt that it could be done."

Salinger's only published novel, The Catcher In The Rye is a tale of teenage angst which has gone on to become one of the most influential American novels of the modern era, selling more than 65 million copies.

The Ocean Full Of Bowling Balls is a prequel to the story of its idealistic outcast, Holden Caulfield, and recounts the death of his younger brother Kenneth - renamed Allie in the subsequent novel.

It was originally scheduled to appear in Harper's Bazaar, but Salinger withdrew it before publication.

'Marvellous peace'

Following the success of Catcher In The Rye, Salinger released a collection of short stories and several novellas but stopped publishing in 1965 and withdrew from public view - although it is believed he continued to work.

Living in New Hampshire, he protected his privacy fiercely until his death in 2010, aged 91.

In 1982, he sued to halt the publication of a fictitious interview with a major magazine.

And in 2009, he took court action to stop the US publication of a novel by Swedish writer Fredrik Colting that presented Holden Caulfield as an old man.

In his final interview, given in 1980, he said: "There's a marvellous peace in not publishing.

"When you publish, the world thinks you owe something. If you don't publish, they don't know what you're doing. You can keep it for yourself."

He had given instructions that his unpublished stories should not be seen for 50 years after he died.

However, a documentary released earlier this year claimed five works would be made available between 2015 and 2020 - among them The Last And The Best Of The Peter Pans, a sequel to Catcher In The Rye.

The appearance of Three Stories was first mentioned on discussion site Reddit, and later reported by Buzzfeed - but the provenance of the collection is unclear.

A paperback version was recently sold on auction website eBay, and is thought to be one of 25 copies printed privately in Britain in 1999.

However, the version that was shared online has a different cover to the one listed on eBay.

The user who distributed the scan, on invitation only file-sharing site, wrote an anonymous message saying they would "confirm and, with that, take responsibility to the claim that these are accurate to the originals".

"It took me many weeks of research to find that this book existed, and many more weeks to acquire it," the anonymous user added.

Source: BBC

Friday, 29 November 2013

Review: Mrs. Henry – Not The Kinda Girl

Mrs. Henry – Not The Kinda Girl (Blind Owl)
San Diego quartet, Mrs. Henry, play a form of classic rock that taps directly into the genre’s early/mid ‘70s prime. Their stated influences unsurprisingly include The Band, Led Zeppelin and the Stones, and they’ve also enough funky flow about them to warrant comparisons to Lowell George’s Little Feat.

“Not The Kinda Girl” is their sophomore release (the “Chicken Towne” EP was released earlier in 2013), and its five tracks showcase frontman-singer-songwriter Daniel Cervantes way with words and tunes, together with the band’s talent for self-effacing, honest-to-goodness, rock ‘n’ roll musicianship.

The one cover on the EP is the old Mae Boren Axton / Tommy Durden standard, “Heartbreak Hotel”, though obviously made famous by Elvis. Here they disembowel it, poke the innards back in with a stick, and sow it back up for our listening pleasure. Played mostly at double speed, it falls somewhere between the Magic Band and Johnny Moped, with a vocal treatment that threatens collapse at any moment.

It’s a fine version, though by no means the standout track. Indeed both the opening cut “Shake” and the expended grind of the title track vie for that particular distinction. Both tracks feature Deer Tick’s Rob Crowell on keyboards; the former a stinging, sexually charged romper-stomper with more than it fair share of infectious groove. The latter simultaneously brings to mind The Tubes, Steve Miller and Frank Zappa’s “Valley Girl”.
Phil S.

Review: La Femme – Psycho Tropical Berlin

La Femme – Psycho Tropical Berlin (Born Bad Records)
“Psycho Tropical Berlin” is the debut from La Femme, who formed in Biarritz around the nucleus of Sacha Got’s keyboards and Marlon Magnée’s guitars. The line-up has expanded since the first EP of 2010 to include Sam Lefevre (bass), Noé Delmas (drums), Clémence Quélennec (vocals), Clara Luciani, Jane Peynot and Marilou Chollet. The title for the album quite perfectly captures the essence of the album: upbeat electro-psychedelic pop, with Krautrock and new-wave tendencies, with a splash of surf rock.

“Antitaxi” (a pro – bus diatribe) liaises between the angular anguish of Joy Division and the absurdist end of Devo. From thereon Quélennec’s lead gives inherent 1960s yé-yé zeal to the energetic grooves. Featured singles include the Bardot / Gainsbourg flavoured "Hypsoline", the propulsive, "Packshot", and the funky fairground pop of "Nous Etions Deux" - some nice videos for which can be found on YouTube.

Other highlights are the cool “Interlude” which is as vintage as it is widescreen, and the amazing centrepiece, “It’s Time to Wake Up 2023”, crosses Laurie Anderson’s repetitive “O Superman” motif with a Velvets / Modern Lovers two-chord organ mantra, before the electric sitar joins in.

An enthusiastic, vibrant LP, which I’d recommend to those that enjoy Django Django, or French contemporaries, Concrete Knives.

La Femme – Packshot

Tonight at The Musician, Leicester (29/11): El Pussycat

El Pussycat
Friday 29th November
El Pussycat are no longer young boys blasting out 100 mph ska. “You're just too fast, too loud, too loud!!" said the godfather of ska Laurel Aitken. These days they keep their sound, which goes back to the 50’s roots of bluebeat and ska, relaxed and rock steady.

Other ska names that individual pussycat members have played with include; Rico, Alton Ellis, Derrick Morgan, Owen Gray, The Specials, Prince Buster, Simarip and Freetown.

Remember; always check with the venue before travelling, or grab a ticket direct from the site:

Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh named 'Scotland's favourite book'

Irvine Welsh's debut novel Trainspotting has been named as Scotland's favourite book of the past 50 years.

The cult story of drug addiction in Leith topped a poll for Book Week Scotland with one in 10 votes.

Welsh said he was flattered that the book, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, had even made it onto the list.

Lanark by Alasdair Gray was second, with Ian Rankin's Black and Blue third.

Responding to the poll, Welsh said: "I don't know if Trainspotting is the best Scottish book - I'm far from convinced it's my own best book.

"But I'm obviously flattered just to be on that list of great novels with those amazing writers, especially when I consider some of the brilliant books and my personal favourites that never made it onto this list."

Gray said he was "delighted and astonished" that his first novel, Lanark, had been judged more popular than a book by Rankin.

Black and Blue was Rankin's eighth Inspector Rebus tale.

The crime writer said it was an honour to be included in the top 10 with a book he regards "with great fondness".

He added: "I'm sure the results will be pored over and discussed, but what really matters is that books are still read with a passion. I feel sure this will be the case in another 50 years' time."

Two novels by Iain Banks, who died from cancer earlier this year at the age of 59, were included in the poll: The Bridge and Excession, the latter written under his science fiction name Iain M Banks.

Banks' widow Adele Hartley, whom he married shortly after announcing his terminal illness, said: "Iain was always a huge fan of his fans and I think he'd have been very flattered by their support and delighted to be in such fine company."

Book lovers from as far afield as the US, Ethiopia, Iceland and South Korea got involved in the poll, held to coincide with Scotland's week-long celebration of reading.

More than 8,800 people cast a vote for one of a shortlist of 50 titles compiled by author and literary critic Stuart Kelly and Scottish Book Trust staff.

Mr Kelly said: "Crime, comedy, science fiction, the avant-garde - the public vote has reinforced the diversity of contemporary Scottish writing."

Female authors

But he noted a shortage of female authors, with Janice Galloway the only woman writer to make the list at number nine.

"My sole regret is that we have only one woman on the list - that said, The Trick is to Keep Breathing is indubitably a contemporary classic," he said.

Marc Lambert, chief executive of Scottish Book Trust, said: "This is a fascinating list combining traditional classics with modern greats, with every book an absolute gem.

"Aside from acting as a barometer of Scottish reading tastes, the list has amply fulfilled its purpose of generating an exciting debate and discussion around great Scottish novels.

"Trainspotting is undoubtedly deserving of the top spot. It remains a brilliant read and its publication was a key cultural moment in the history of the Scottish novel."

The 10 favourite Scottish novels of the last 50 years

1. Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh (833 votes)
2. Lanark by Alasdair Gray (750)
3. Black and Blue by Ian Rankin (591)
4. The Bridge by Iain Banks (496)
5. One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night by Christopher Brookmyre (416)
6. Excession by Iain M Banks (330)
7. Morvern Callar by Alan Warner (296)
8. 44 Scotland Street by Alexander McCall Smith (282)
9. The Trick is to Keep Breathing by Janice Galloway (271)
10. Docherty by William McIlvanney (269)

Source: BBC

Thursday, 28 November 2013

Review: The Harmaleighs – People Line Up

The Harmaleighs – People Line Up (Independent)
Nashville trio The Harmaleighs hit the ground running with their debut release, the five-track “People Line Up” - a lively, lyrical offering, which places them squarely in the new folk-rock scene, alongside bazillion-sellers such as the Mumfords and Fleet Foxes. Their unique selling points are the vibrant lead vocals of Haley Grant (who also writes the songs), their sublime harmonies and the often striking imagery, which they employ.

I can’t imagine it’s been too easy for them to make an impression on their local scene – Nashville has never had a reputation for making life easy for artists / groups who don’t tow the party line. Fortunately, if they can catch the breaks, there’s a worldwide audience waiting for them. The five songs they present for our delectation are universally strong, and Grant has a fine ear for a pop hook, and writes melodies that stick.

Roots radio should be all over them. Opening cut “Sunflowers” balances on a chugging banjo riff and is both gentle and assertive. It’s followed by the excellent “Freakshow” where a splash of indie attitude is incorporated and a scratchy mandolin adds plenty of colour. They end with “Monster in My Head”, a clever take on mental instability, with a gloom-laden cello in the background providing ominous tones.
Phil S.

Review: The Harmed Brothers - Better Days

The Harmed Brothers - Better Days (Fluff and Gravy Records)
Of late it’s seemed that what we came to love as Cosmic American Music has lost much of its lustre - the initial thrill of hearing country folk and blues fired up by young pretenders full of punk spirit having given way to predictable and derivative fusions of all-too familiar phrases.

It’s to their credit therefore that The Harmed Brothers, without any pretence at re-inventing the wheel, are breathing much-needed new life into its flagging form. It helps that founder members Ray Vietta and Alex Salcido have such first rate roots-rock voices: gritty and grounded with the occasional affecting warble, which work especially well in harmony (see ‘Sky Cracked a Smile’ and ’Carolina’). As mid-paced acoustic goes, their songs are relentlessly driven, an extravagant emphasis on lead banjo as much as guitar helping to encase a defiantly rock and roll soul within a deeply traditional body.

Personal and plaintive themes are handled sensitively rather than mawkishly (‘Never Went Away’, ‘Better Days’), and the overall succeeds in being simultaneously evocative, romantic and undeniably exciting. It works so well on occasion that their best compositions and vocal performances combine to summon the spirit of The Band (‘Under the Axe’ for example), although for closer reference points it might be more pertinent to look to Uncle Tupelo’s ‘March 16-20 1992’ and the Jayhawks’ ‘Tomorrow the Green Grass’.
Neil B.

Sophie Ellis-Bextor dates:

Sophie Ellis-Bextor dates:

Tues 21st London Bush Hall (sold out)

Mon 7th Birmingham Institute
Tues 8th Oxford Academy
Thurs 10th London Union Chapel
Fri 11th London Union Chapel (extra date added due to demand)
Sun 13th Bournemouth Academy
Mon 14th Brighton Concorde 2
Tues 15th Bristol Academy
Thurs 17th Gateshead Sage (Hall 2)
Fri 18th Manchester Ritz
Sat 19th Glasgow Oran Mor

Review: Corey Abell – Rainwater Youth

Corey Abell – Rainwater Youth (Independent)
From Vancouver, British Columbia, singer-songwriter Corey Abell inhibits a musical space where various genres intersect, and it’s that cross-spectrum of styles – pop, folk, soul, rock, jazz - that helps make “Rainwater Youth” such a worthwhile listen. The final additions to the equation are Abell’s engaging vocal style and the quality of his songwriting. The result is an album you’ll potentially want to spend considerable time with.

For an independently released debut album, Abell has fashioned a collection that’s both assured and confident. It’s also lyrically rich, with no shortage of fine pop moments or easy, conversational flights. His voice is jazzy, honeyed and relaxed, and on opening cut “Kids First” he keeps things simple, with the buzz of his guitar strings emphasizing the back to basics approach. Even with minimal instrumentation – for the first part, anyway – it remain a remarkably fulsome sound, and when drums, keys, brass, etc. arrives on the scene, it erupts into a massive, messy high.

“Salene” tempers the onslaught, its electronica blending sweetly with Abell’s gentler, acoustic side, and it’s followed by the title track, which is beautifully woozy and laden with echo and half-heard intrigue. On “Georgie, Where Are You Georgie?” a languid strum leisurely moves the song forward, but its lazy countenance does little to disguise a first-rate number.
Phil S.

Tonight at The Musician, Leicester (28/11): Blackbeard's Tea Party

Forty Tenth Promotions presents

Blackbeard's Tea Party
Thursday 28th November
£10adv £12door
plus Tautas Roks
Funky folk tunes, storming songs and an infectious stage energy, Blackbeard's Tea Party mix fiddles & squeezeboxes, guitar noise & synth bass, and a feast of international hand percussion to bring you an unforgettable folk-rock extravaganza. Grounded in English traditions, but never afraid to explore more exotic musical avenues. Whether playing a raucous concert slot or performing as a high energy ceilidh band, they create a sound that is equal parts tasty, dramatic and danceable.

Remember; always check with the venue before travelling, or grab a ticket direct from the site:

Review: Damon – Song of a Gypsy

Damon – Song of a Gypsy (Independent)
And so the story goes… the direction of Damon’s music was formed whilst jamming with George Harrison and Ravi Shankar in Big Sur, California in 1967. Those resounding ethnic waves instilled an omnipresent influence on his guitar playing and his soon after released, critically unrecognised (because of the small, 100 copy, pressing) and subsequently forgotten debut album, “Song of a Gypsy.”

In collectors circles original copies have been rumoured to exchange hands for up to $3000, which may be Damon’s impetus to get a belated self-re-release. Unfortunately, first impressions suggest it’s not quite as exceptional as its high price tag would allow.

It opens strongly enough with the title track, yet from thereon it lacks much in the way of variation, with the midway exception of “Funky Funk Blues”. Damon’s crystal and precise musings of hippy waywardness dominate but, never the less, there’s enough modal-fuzz guitar, eastern finger cymbals and percussion to hold its own. The woozy “Birds Fly So High” and the mildly Electric Prunes-ish, “Oh What a Good Boy Am I” are the album’s highlights.

Beware: if you visit Damon’s website and watch some of his YouTube postings it may be enough to put you off completely!