Archive for the ‘Record 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.





More by Dead Captain


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

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.


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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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 & all relevant digital outlets

The Hurt Sleeping

The Hurt Facebook



Electronic music from the late 70’s to early 80’s is encapsulated in this latest release from Auto-Pilot. This album, with its retro sound & strong tracks really captures that magic era of Synt…

Source: Auto-Pilot – 8-Zero

36 Years Ago Today… Way back in the late 70’s to early 80’s a truly superb band existed making highly original music seemingly following no particular style. They were amongst a small …

Source: Japan – Gentlemen Take Polaroids

It’s been a while since I’ve said anything about Tameside’s (East Greater Manchester) The Cornelius Crane.They’ve had three excellent EP’s so this is the long anticipated full length album ‘The Difference’.
Cornelius Difference

The Cornelius Crane – The Difference (album)

The band are fronted by Steve Wilson, or as he is now known Stephen Wilson jnr.  Rumour has it he has a solo album in the pipeline so we’ll be looking forwards to hearing that too. Wilson has fronted several bands in his long underground career, bands such as Wilson who picked up a deal with Fiction, gracing the airwaves of Radio 1 with an hallowed Peel Session. Other bands include, Smile Like Fools, Bong & Plastic Gun Alliance  along with many more.
Wilson’s talents also extend to producing recordings for many other artists & he has produced this album. It has that feel that you are sat in the room with the band which gives the album an added dimension of inclusiveness for the listener.
The band is also graced by the musical brilliance of the Adams brothers Dan & Mark, bass & drums (plus a complete array of other instruments, far too long to list) along with their incredible backing vocals. I think there may be something in the theory that chemistry of family members instinctively sparking off one another. John Roberts also adds his voice to the vocal mix along with the all important pedal steel guitar. In fact the whole band are multi talented musicians, the line up on this recording completed by another long serving Tameside musician Paul Higham.
The Cornelius Crane  by Elspeth
There are a few familiar tunes for the people already in the know, including the fabulous ‘Soul in the Lightning’, “Needle & the Gun”, “They Sail Like They Never Heard a Song”
The album draws the listener in gently with opener ‘Northern Moon (part one), 1.59 minutes of acoustic guitar & harmony vocal.
Track 2 is the aforementioned ‘Soul in the Lightening’, probably the most instantly appealing song on the album, though there are a few contenders. It opens with a  laid back beat & guitar melody & is graced by Wilson’s instantly recognisable vocals,  ‘Hedonlea’ follows, opening with the sound of traffic before easing you into a surprise laden track of ever evolving guitar laden melody & harmony. One of the bands darker songs. ‘They Sail Like They Never Heard a Song’ is different again, sure we’ve got the great musical arrangement & vocals but when you just think you’ve got a handle on these boys the direction is altogether off in a different direction. I must add that it’s in a good way, a avery good way. It’s unmistakably The Cornelius Crane but in a rockier mode. Again with this song they take the listener on an unpredictable journey which makes perfect sense once you’ve reached the songs destination. There are once again some fabulous harmonies on this one, enhanced with the addition of Lucy Whitehead.
‘Stay Dry’ introduces us to the vocal abilities of John Roberts, performing this self penned understated song. More beautiful vocal harmonies, the kind that give Crosby Stills & Nash a run for their money. Something that keeps on happening on this album. It’s perfectly placed in the running order & keeps you guessing on what’s coming next. As for what’s next, ‘Rooster’. Following the disarming sound of birds tweeting away …. in the woods, well that’s where it took this listener anyway, the band bring something that takes me back to the early late 1960’s 1970’s vibe of some of the US ‘summer of love bands’, these bands did of course last more than that summer but hopefully you’ll get where I’m coming from. It’s another song of several parts & kicks up a storm live. You really will have to hear this album to grasp the full gravity of it’s depth & breadth. The album has some very gentle moments, ‘Josie’ being one such tune, faultless in it’s harmonies & sweet understated instrumental arrangement. Then follows ‘The Needle & the Gun’ another particular favourite of mine, instant appeal from the opening notes. Then there’s the Hammond organ, did I mention the Hammond? It’s placed around this album in several places & sounds like an old friend so open that glass of wine, whisky or moonshine, yes it’s probably moonshine to accompany this album, & kickback for a while. ‘Felt Top Heroes’ this song has the summary honour of being the only song I can think of that refers to underpants. Great title & ends with a tease, I want to hear more of where that was going fellas. ‘Sleeping Dogs’, insanely absorbing chorus on this tune, a seemingly lazy banjo, I’m sure it’s not. Another song that takes you places “And the world never cared for her, time took the cruelest turn”,  a little more dark subject matter then they grab you by the throat & take you down with the help of Leonora Johnson’s sinister string arrangement. I wasn’t expecting it & there it was dragging me along on a wonderful journey of melancholy reflection.  Another album highlight, one of many. ‘Now ‘The Difference’, the song that the album takes it;’s title from (I know, talk about me stating the obvious)  is an instrumental. Think Joe Meek & you’ll be close, it’s been a while since I heard a reed organ but like everything else on this album, it makes perfect sense & sits comfortably as track 11. Music publishers pay attention, could add something different to a film makers soundtack. The album closes with ‘Northern Moon (part two)’. “we’re all just strangers passing by”, “rain round here is sometimes tears, you may live out all your fear, don’t despair you’re not alone”. Wilson’s last word with his sobering & thoughtful lyrics.
 So, The Cornelius Crane’s first album,  to this listener, sounds like a band that has had a decade or more together, at their peak & delivering their 5th album. It’s mature, dark in places, unpredictable the makes perfect sense after first listen & with many moments of pure joy. The production is spot on, the songwriting is soulful, reflective, grown up & often infectious. For the lazy references to the, as yet, uninitiated listener I will have to name the likes of Crosby Stills & Nash, Neil Young, The Black Crowes, that whole Buffalo Springfield thing but there is an unmistakable British-ness to them, well they are English & this makes them all the more accessible to my English ears so also think Beatles, Hollies .. there’s that Nash connection again.
As an aside, In preparation for writing this I have been listening to the album in my car over the last few weeks, I do all my best listening there, so my daughter has heard it a few times. One one particular day I was listening to The Rolling StonesMade in the Shade’, particular song that was playing was ‘Wild Horses’, my daughter asked me if it was ‘The Cornelius Crane’. So in my list of comparable artists I will also cite 1970’s Rolling Stones! I have no argument there.
Buy the album on –
Buy album on  – Amazon
Band website – The Cornleius Crane
Previous releases can be found on Ruby Music & Stereokill Recordings.