Archive for the ‘Music’ 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.





More by Dead Captain


Mid to late 1990’s Manchester saw a rather desperate Manchester, still desperately riding on it’s former glory days of the late 80’s indie / dance scene. Sure Oasis had proved there was some success to be had by keep on mining that vein & produced some excellent shitty Manc attitude  along with a couple of fistfuls of excellent tunes.  If you didn’t play that game it was a city where you couldn’t get arrested. Despite the negativity of the city to anything that didn’t fit their magic formula there lurked in a few darkened basements  a rumble of pounding drums, driving bass & buzzfire guitars, a tiny hardcore straight-edge punk & metal scene & had developed & was rearing it’s wonderfully ugly head at venues such as the Star & Garter & PJ Bells / Republica.

DT Soup

At one such venue, the Garter a band was soundchecking & the engineer said to the bass player give me an E. Said bass player not knowing what string was E hit the fat string & history was born.  That history came in the form of Dog Toffee, named after a rather unsavoury character in a long forgotten wannabee Viz publication. 3 teenagers with a cool as fuck uncompromising style that didn’t fit with anything remotely relating to that period of Manchester history,  running on pure instinct & raw energy. The shows were raw, shambolic & frighteningly entertaining, it was difficult to see where the band ended & the audience began as large portions of the audience shared the stage with them. What was clear was this band didn’t give a fuck & loved every minute.

What was instantly obvious about Dog Toffee was they had tunes & I  mean raw pure of heart rock ‘n’ roll tunes. They sounded like the bastard offspring of Elvis & Lemmy, perish the thought those 2 fellas would have ever got it on but I hope you catch my ,meaning. For me they were the most exciting band I’d heard since I first heard SLF & the Pistols back in the late 70’s. Kerrang described them as a cross between Dwarves &  Misfits which I would say was pretty fair at that point.

Over the years the band were signed by Sony, did several deals with various independents & also signed to RCA Victor in Japan. They did 3 superb albums working with the likes of Pete Pee Wee Coleman & Nirvana/ Mudhoney / Soundgarden producer Jack Endino.

The bands live reputation was second to none & there wasn’t anyone in the UK who knew about the underground scene didn’t know about this band. They shared stages with the likes of the Wildhearts, Damned, New Bomb Turks, Dwarves, Misfits, Therapy?, Groovie Ghoulies, King Prawn & Anti Nowhere League to name a few.

The band took a short break in 2003 to actually try & make some money to pay a few bills, such was the near bankrupt life of a UK rock ‘n’ roll band on the road but they are now back with new material & a homecoming show at Manchester’s Soup Kitchen on Saturday July 21. It’s 20 years since I first saw this lot live, no angst ridden teenagers this time, older, meaner & no doubt wiser.  Be warned it will be loud, those amps go to 13 & they ain’t afraid to use them.

DT Pose

Saint Steven.

Dog Toffee on Facebook


Nice to see the return of Blackthorn Music Festival which is coming back to Whitebottom Farm – Etherow Country Park – Compstall – Stockport – SK6 5HZ. The festival goes from strength to strength with each year. Genre -wise there is always a heady mix of styles, rock, indie, acoustic, country to name a few. The line up is always a mix of familiar talent from past & present with a healthy dose of new blood. Chances are if you’re the type to go check out a band you’ve never heard of you may come away having found a musical new love!

Blackthorn Poster 2018

This years top of the bill line up is stronger than ever featuring local, well I should say International hero Peter Hook & the Light, hip hop legendary pioneers The Sugarhill Gang & the Furious 5, the anti-hero that is Pete Dohety, We are Scientists, Oldham’s Twisted Wheel, William McCarthy & The Bluetones. I’m also delighted to see that Tom Hingley & the Kar-Pets are also on the bill alongside various tributes to REM, Happy Mondays. Tom of course is being a tribute to himself!


The setting is beautiful, the beer is affordable, there’s always a great choice of quality food outlets, the mood is relaxed & the vibe has always been family friendly.  See you down the front!

Website –

Facebook –

Tickets –

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

Blackthorn Festival returns again for 2017 with another blistering line up. Cool festival based in Compstall in the the Stockport area of the North West. This years headliners include Lightning Seeds, Reef, Space & Sex Pissed Dolls.

The festival offers a great mix of familiar established acts alongside new emerging talent & also an evening dedicated to tribute bands so a bit of something for everyone. The site is very beautiful & going off the last couple of years the vibe is always friendly with several stages so there’s always something happening. Last year there was an excellent choice on food stalls & properly staffed bars. Always a relief not to have to queue excessively for some well earned lubrication.

Blackthorn 2017

The main stage area has the added advantage of being in a largely covered area compete with hay bails, it is a country park after all, & the bar right where you need it. No need to miss any tunes!

On top of the music you’ve got art installations & the opportunity to experience some serious glamping!

See you down the front.


Weekend tickets are £55, see website for day rate.

Postcode – SK6 5HZ

Line Up



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.


Out on July 17 2017


Twitter: @deadcaptain2

Facebook: /deadcaptainsongs

Stereokill Recordings

I’ve been aware of Northern Embezzler for some time but somehow missed them. Tonight has proven this to be my loss. The venue, Hoof & Rooster, on arrival seems to be a little unlikely for a rock show, a restaurant / barbeque joint, tables full of people gnawing down on various animal parts washed down with beer.

Northern Embezzler - Clitheroe

The band are setting up so I sit down with my family- Clitheroe Festival shows are all family friendly which is a massive bonus! Beer & nachos, that’s a new experience for me at a show. Not the beer, the nachos!  The band take to the stage, four 40 – something geezers that look like they know what they’re doing.  Well that impression isn’t deceiving, they immediately launch into a set of strong punchy mixture of punk, new wave & dub influenced  tunes.  There’s some solid points of reference for this kind of stuff, Clash the Ruts, Joe Jackson, Graham Parker to name a few  but saying that the band never actually sound like those bands, they have a solid vibe all of their own.

The audience are  on side within the first couple of tunes & stay there  for an 11 song set. Well that’s an albums worth right there. Arguably for a first hearing  the set was quite long but they still left me wanting to hear more which is testament to the quality of the tunes & how good the band are.

Cool band, great songs, rock solid performance, where can I buy the album?

Check the tunes here – Reverb Nation

Catch the band live at

Artisan Rawtenstall Lancashire – May 5 – Free Entry

Strummercamp Festival – May 27 – Manchester Rugby Club


Northern Embezzler set List