Archive for the ‘Album & Single Reviews’ Category

Dead Captain hail from Tameside in the deep dark Northwest, that’s north of Watford for the Southerners who aren’t too sure of their geography. To loosely quote a famous Northern gentleman for my own ends, ‘we do thing differently up here’. Well Dead Captain do that’s for sure.

The legend, in their own words is as follows “All we have is a small cardboard box with a scribbled marker pen message, “we could have come through had we neglected the sick. Very little is known about Dead Captain. The box we found is scattered with notes, drawings and recordings. It was discovered outside a charity shop in Ashton Under Lyne. An attached note simply stated do something with this“. They did!

Dead Captain are currently a duo  featuring Dan Adams and Dunstan Carter, both who have featured in various notable music ensembles in the Manchester vicinity over the last couple of decades, The Cornelius Crane, Foilface & SupaJamma to name a few.

Vermillion follows on the heels of ‘Toddler Democracy & The Fear two outstanding tunes in their own right. It mixes a Manc’ take on American college rock mixed up with a healthy dose of prog, I’m particularly drawn in by the haunting theremin vibe, it also features the long lost sound of a Fender Rhodes piano which reminds this listener of the Hill Street Blues theme tune. Carter’s vocal is undoubtedly English so rather than call this a Mid-Atlantic vibe I’m going for somewhere off the coast of Lancashire in the Irish Sea heading off to the Atlantic.

According to the blurb, Dead Captain’s debut album will be out “sometime between the collapse of Brexit and the impeachment of Trump“. So, that’s either, never or sometime whenever!

So get your ears around it, it’s a free download a risk free aural delight.

And finally ….. Be careful out there.

Saint Steven.

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Watched this a couple of nights ago and it’s still resonating with me. Regardless on where you stand on the Sleaford Mods (Me? Love some of it and the rest I can leave) this is ESSENTIAL VIEWING for any band wanting to get anywhere in the music game. It’s one of the greatest music documentaries ever made. Not for the rock n roll tales of excess (there’s not much in that dept), but for the gritty reality of what it takes to make your mark in this game.

The music world is full of hard luck tales and nearly bands who would have got there if it hadn’t been for someone else, some band member, manager, label etc. It takes a hell of a lot of hard work, resilience and self ownership to get anywhere in this game and even then you need all your stars to align, that bit of luck on your side, be in the right place, the right time etc.

Sleaford Mods

After several years, The Sleaford Mods got their chance for their 15 mins. It could have been over as soon as it had began but they jumped on it and took their ride for all it was worth and they’re still riding it, because love them or loathe them they have what it takes to stay in the game.

In a band you need a solid unit where everyone knows their role within the band. Sure, you need an ego to work in this game, however when there’s a job that needs to be done, egos have to be left firmly at the door in order for the greater good. You also need everyone on board promoting the hell out of it.

In my 10 years of Northern Star I worked with many fantastic bands, but I only ever worked with one band with the focus, commitment and work ethic that it takes to get there. They weren’t the best band I’d worked with but they were certainly contenders, until one person’s ego believing it’s own press, brought the whole thing crashing down.

A lot of bands either don’t know what it takes or are not willing to put the effort in. They waste their time getting jealous of others, moan about everything and make fuck all effort, then expect to reap the rewards when there’s some minor glory to be had. Every band I’ve ever been in has suffered this fate which is why I now choose to go it alone and work with who I choose.

I miss the label and putting on gigs so much, but nothing could ever get me back into it unless I could work with a band (or bands) that had the attributes needed to make an impact, with their eyes firmly focused on the prize.

 

The Reverend

So when you read a bio / one sheet press release from a band  you mostly get the ‘formed at such & such, from here & there, influences so & so, style – whatever’ & they are mostly pretty standard things. Every so often something drops in that bucks the trend & Dead Captain’s offering certainly does that.

Dead Captain

Apparently this Tameside (Eastern-ish side of Manchester), nice that they didn’t do a Verve or a Charalatans & become a Manchester band & instead have embraced their actual roots. The duo found a shoe box outside a pub in Ashton-Under-Lyne filled with scribbled notes, drawings and grainy recordings on some old VHS tapes (for younger viewers VHS are old fashioned DVD’s but made of tape instead of discs). The origins are still being debated but it had a note taped to it saying “do something with this”.  Dead Captain have done that with some outstanding results.

For most reviews we have the task of lazily labeling the genre, making references to other artists so that you, the reader, can have an idea of what they sound like. I’ll take shot at it then.  There’s elements of Americana / College Rock about it but it also sounds a little prog in places, prog country? maybe, maybe not.  Track 1 – ‘This Old Village’, Pink Floyd does country? Possibly! lyrically it makes me think of Roy Harper in his most English & reflective of moments. It certainly paints a picture of an idyll that no longer exists, if it ever did outside of television. Track 2 – ‘Looming Moon’ is altogether darker both lyrically & musically, brooding vocal & starkly haunting stripped down guitar, great contrast to track 1. Track 3, ‘Who knows?’ hints at the guitar style of Neil Young but that’s where the comparison end, I don’t think Young ever entertained a beat like that & vocally it’s in a different stratosphere. I’m happy to report I can’t draw a reference to the vocalist, Dunstan Carter, not often we have the pleasure of introducing someone who sounds totally unique. Track 4 – ‘Toddler Democracy’, interestingly the song that the band has chosen to make a video for, is introduced by the resurrection of Mrs Thatchers old pal Ronald Regan & his speech about wealth distribution. A speech which sadly, given subsequent history was just blather! Musically it has a touch of the Joe Meek about it. Lyrically it observes the rather sad state of the politics we are subjected to on a daily basis & the consequences. Dead Captain get my vote.

What they do have a solid, darkly infectious &  memorable tunes with some wonderful off-kilter lyrics. A little political & social commentary here & there which is all good as far as I’m concerned. Not enough music around that actually has an opinion these days. Vocally the Americana references go out of the wind as Mr Carter’s vocals keep the Dead Captain sound firmly fixed on the English shoreline! A great debut EP all in a genre of it’s own.

JC.

Out on July 17 2017

 

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Stereokill Recordings

Future Has been Cover 2

In the midst of the Manchester Oasis and dance craze Manchester produced a 3 piece band that really didn’t fit into the city’s formula.  Mixing up classic punk rock with some good old rock ‘n’ roll. This adrenaline fueled combo were  more than happy to sit outside the city stereotype &  take the hard road.

The band played the Mancunian circuit, Boardwalk, Star & Garter, PJ Bells & Hacienda. As a result of their incendiary live shows the band were spotted by a local management team who put them in the studio. The recording sessions took place between Christmas & New Year 1996 / 97 under the guidance of producer / engineer John Pennington. The songs the band recorded were going to be their first release, the EP ‘The Future Has Been’.  This release has never seen the light of day until now because the band were very quickly signed by Muff Winwood to Sony S2.  This was an ill-fated venture as Sony had ideas about re-inventing the band & turning them into a latter day Stooges with a brand new frontman. The band declined & left the label.

The following years are stuff of punk rock legend, cramped vans, weeks on the road, trying to reach every small venue in the country & across into mainland Europe. They were the support band of choice for the likes of the Damned, Therapy? The Wildhearts, Dwarves, New Bomb Turks, Turbonegro, Misfits & Dee Dee Ramone to name a few. They graced the pages of all the rock monthlies, John Peel got behind them & they did deals with several labels. RCA / Victor ( Japan) Junk records (USA), Radioblast (Germany), State of Decay / Subversive (UK) & signed a publishing deal with George Martin Music.

Dogs-96

The band released 3 albums in the period 1996 – 2006 ‘The Future of Rock ‘n’ Roll is in Your Hand’, ‘Sacred Heart’ with legendary grunge producer Jack Endino (Nirvana, Mudhoney, Soundgarden, Supersuckers).  ‘One More Sinner’ with producer / engineer Pete ‘PeeWee’ Coleman. (James, AC/DC, Wildhearts, Paradise Lost, Christians). They also did various EP’s working with ‘Roger Tebbutt (Silver Ginger 5, Demented are Go, Jason Ringenberg). The band received great critical reviews for both their recorded & live work.

During the bands career they worked with three different drummers. First drummer was Ged Roache, they then worked with Memby Jago (Ghost of a Thousand / Macabees / Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes) & finally long serving drummer Phil Nelson who still holds the drum stool today.

Just over 20 years on from the original recording sessions the band feel the time is right to release their debut EP ‘The Future Has Been’ to the World. This will be available on Stereokill Recordings through most digital outlets from April 24 2017. This is the first release of the majority of the bands back catalogue.

The EP features 5 tracks of stripped down, take no prisoners rock ‘n’ roll. Unashamedly drawing on 1950’s rock ‘n’ roll but with a sharp injection of adrenaline. Taught rapid-fire drumming, buzz saw guitars, pounding bass & spitfire vocals … punk as f@&~. The band probably missed a trick not releasing this back in 1997 but 1997’s loss is 2017’s gain.  Hit replay & let’s go kick in some bus shelters!

The EP is released by Stereokill Recordings on Monday May 24 2017.

The band are back in rehearsal with some live dates expected later this year.

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TT

 

A new album from Dreadzone is always something to look forward to. This is a band that gets better with each album. Which is great for a band that looks like they’re at their peak with every live show. Since their ‘Eye on the Horizon’ album the songwriting of the band has been ever more focused &, well for this listener anyhow, more connected to life & the world around us. Songs that mean something in a world where many songs are about nothing other than girls, money & cars. This feels like a blast of fresh air.

The band are true to their unique brand of dub roots, the opening song ‘Rootsman’ makes that very plain & is a fabulous opener, a statement of intent. The album is filled with outrageous strong basslines, I really do have bass envy on this! The album is uplifting & infinitely danceable. One of the albums many  highlights for me is ‘Mountain’.  Killer bassline, melodic vocals from Earl 16 contrasted by some darker chatting vibes. The interplay is spot on. Talking of basslines ‘Battle’, what a tune!  Dreadzone pull off that very neat trick of combining infectious grooves with strong memorable melodies. They  haven’t abandoned their English folk vibes or trademark breakdowns that their fans love so much.

Dread Times

The upbeat ska driven ‘Area Code’ features 90’s reggae duo Louchie Lou & Michie One’ who had hits with ‘Shout’ & ‘If I Was a Rich Man’ amongst other. Another infectious tune which has this listener hitting the repeat button. ‘Keep it Blazing’ brings back the bands earlier dance flavour mixing it up with some Spanish influenced guitar & it’s so smooooth.  Another ‘sweet’ (in the colloquial Mancunian sense) tune. ‘Never Going Back’ features another well placed guest vocalist, ambient / electronica artist Lena Cullen. Lyrics ‘Why do we hold onto the past? I’m never going back, no I’m never going back’. Sound advice & from a band that keeps moving forwards.

So we have another fabulous album from Dreadzone, ever evolving & refining their sound & always instantly recognisable. Hot on my playlist for the last few weeks since it arrived in the post & will continue to be for the foreseeable future.  They’re one of those bands that are now firmly part of the foundations of British music. A band that, for my money, should be in an arena, I mean have you seen how they light up a festival? However, the selfish part of me likes the fact I can see them in a venue where I can actually really share the vibe with them & feel like part of the family when I’m stood in the crowd. If you’ve never seen this band live, do it at the next time they’re anywhere near, always an unforgettable show.

 

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SJ.

If Leonard Cohen & the Velvet Underground had spent a few weeks in 1970’s Manchester I’m pretty certain this is the recording they would’ve made. Dark, doomladen vibe which rather than drags me down actually picks me up & puts a smile on my face. No mean feat, trust me.

The sound is dark & lo-fi, I guess we can also take a nod at Waits & Nick Cave if we really have to make comparisons but I don’t want to sell this short.  It’s got a personality & identity all of it’s own.

The Hurt introduced themselves with a great tune last year in the shape of ‘Berlin’. A solid track in itself but I’d say they’ve hit the motherlode with ‘Sleeping’. The vocals are courtesy of ex Paris Angels frontman Rikki Turner who is also co-writer of this song alongside Stephen Evans of Manchester buzz band of the moment Cabbage.

Dark, brooding & infectious.

Available on Blindside Records May 12 2017 though i.tunes & all relevant digital outlets

The Hurt Sleeping

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SJ.

 

Not for the first time have Johnny Come lately graced the words of Canned Static and for good reason too. Their previous carnation, the (EP) Messiah Complex Part 1 breezed fresh air over a predicta…

Source: Johnny Come Latelys – Judas Factor (EP)