The Mirandolas, Le Tournoi, Laura Groves and The Tempus Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford
Granadaland exits stage left after three, four years when it has become the definitive night in Bradford guitar music. Promoter Mark Husak will be moving on to another venue but this - coupled with Adam Simons stepping back from his night - suggests that the times for music in Bradford are a-changing.
For years the most interesting bands in the area have played under some interesting more well known acts but the night has become bigger than the bands and the final spot is dead weight with the increasingly popular Wave Machines playing to a half dozen not long ago while the outer room buzzed with talk and people. It had become the way.
The Mirandolas are the type of band that have been doing well at Granadaland all these years. They are locals and they play indie pop on guitar pretty fast. They are fresh faced in that way that sends your brain trying to work out what their Dad's were listening to and how it might have influenced the tunes.
Perhaps they borrow the bass from eighties tunes the heard growing up and spliced it together with some Libertines putting a dash of freshness in. The Mirandolas are a tried and tested combination and they bounce along throwing out the odd interesting hook. They are worth a second look and are well received by the appreciative ranks. Le Tournoi's William Sanderson is impressed. He calls them tight, well practiced.
Le Tournoi went through a shift about two months ago with extra guitarist Kez joining the family Sanderson and now they are the talk of Bradford - or at least the train from Bradford to Leeds on this morning - with the buzz that was generated when they burst from the bedroom returning with vigour.
They take to the stage and within seconds front man Will has shirt off - there is a shirt off theme that surrounds the band - and Kez joins him. The tunes thrust with the same unity. Christmas Eve has emerged from the early CD-Rs as a fine work and is infectious tonight.
Infectious too is the enthusiasm that emanates from the stage and for a moment I think about the first time I saw the band and how they seemed like ill fitting pieces. Today they are smooth, at ease. James on drums wears shades and a beatnik hooped shirt. Emilie oozes sexy cool and offers harmonies that add a depth to the sound, Robert's bass is stable, Kez lively standing on a chair to play guitar, Will is eccentric and during It's Only A Power Station edges into David Byrne territory of entertaining intelligence.
They are there - Le Tournoi - and if the end of Granadaland pushes them into new territory they have the power to storm it. Storm it.
If Granadaland has given us Le Tournoi as a son then it's daughter is the brilliant Laura Groves who - as she records her debut album - has a confidence grown in the over talkative atmosphere of this night. Tonight she projects forcefully taking control of her audience as she starts off with Bridges which is picked sharply and rings around the Love Apple. She laments wistfully "This is the last Granadaland. We've had some good times. We've had some bad times..."
This is one of the good times. The buzz of voices is overcome as much as it ever can be in a pub venue and this is her apprenticeship. Groves has been adding to her set over the years since her first Granadaland and augmenting her standing material. Imaginary Flights benefits from her move into album style production and has a deeper, richer sound. For a moment the song softly drifts us back to St George's Hall and her finest triumph that night.
She finishes her set with I Wish I and both song and set are perfectly formed. She is the best thing to come out from this night and - apologies to The Tempus - she closes off for event for me.
Husak will be back in September. The bands that Granadaland pushed forward are a fitting legacy for his efforts.
Some Like It Hot, Wave Machines Would Have Probably Preferred It Not More
Written By Michael Wood Friday, May 9th, 2008
Wave Machines, Daybreakers, Laboratory Noise and Captain Jack and the King of Hearts. Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford
It is a hot night in Bradford and people would rather be on the roadside in the sun outside The Love Apple than inside watching Captain Jack and The King of Hearts and they are right to do so. Two kids singing grime, messing about, wasting time. They finish when one falls from the stage and the reaction of the five or six who are inside goes between bemused to amused. Back to the bedroom lads.
Laboratory Noise are an altogether different affair with polish and experience they are Bradford's finest exponents of post-rock soundtracking and perform well coming back from a six month hiatus. They sweep over the room and gain appreciation from the crowd they have pulled off the pavement into the bar.
Finding less apprciation are Daybreakers who seem a band out of place fitting in a little more soft rock than one might expect. They are a tight band and they make the sort of sounds that if you really like Van Morrison you would probably really enjoy but they fail to grab the distracted audience leaving Wave Machine - fourscousers in masks of themselves - to play to a fistful of people late on.
Drawing from Liverpool's pop tradition Wave Machine craft an entertaining tune with single I Go I Go I Go standing out. They look crestfallen when they finish having played to a couple of dozen but a mental note is made to check them out again.
Now hear me. Now hear me roar! More
Written By Michael Wood Saturday, April 12th, 2008
The Ending Of, Dinosaur Pile-up, Getoutofcities, Bedroom Gymnastics Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford
They are young - these Bedroom Gymnastics kids - and in a while the keyboard Katie will be told that she has to go home by her Dad when on stage she is apart from the rest of the band of pale faced yoofs who are warming up the Bradford scene.
They are well supported by old and young and thrash away on guitars through songs like Holes - the oft talked about track- but they have a tendency to bleed one bit of thrashed guitar with howling vocals into another bit of thrashed guitar with howling vocals and one is taken not with a confidence but the opposite.
In a quieter moment they cover that Lisa Loeb song that everyone can hum but no one knows the name of and give themselves away. They can play and they can sing but they lack assurance in their abilities to do so and hide themselves behind the howls.
Howls are one of many noises that will not be heard after the volume excesses of Getoutofcities who are dubbed Post-Rock and after an eardrum splitting set should inspire a joke about posts and deafness but none spring to mind. They are proponents of that swirling, atmospheric, soundtrack music and are entertaining enough but fail to rise above the likes of Falconetti or Lab Noise in Bradford's crowded aural soundscapers.
Immediately rising as high as some demented Pterodactyl are Dinosaur Pile-up who rip through a five song set in their third gig brilliantly. From Kendal via Leeds they pilfer the sounds of early 1990s smart American guitar rock - if you think Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain is three times as good as Nevermind then Dinosaur Pile Up are for you - while bringing a sense of modernity to proceedings.
They crunch through My Rock n' Roll and it digs into the head with a powerful bass line thudded out by checked shirt wearing Tom (as distinct to the other Tom sterlingly performing on drums) while lead guitar/vocals Matt fuzzes up both strings and singing to an increasingly appreciative audience. I Get My Direction's loud-quiet-loud approach has the word "Pixies" thrown about in a good way. Matt hopes to have twelve songs done towards the end of the summer and will test them as the three piece tour extensively - "I've just got a van" he says - which could be the making of the band and certainly will give plenty of opportunity to see them again.
Not that keen to be seen again are The Ending Of who grind through a dull set never becoming more interesting than when the guitarist strays too far from his fuzzbox and pulls the wire out. They tell us they have never been to Barnsley before and that seems forced. The set is cut short and time - mercifully - plays a part.
Ear drums recovering then the talk of of Dinosaur Pile-up who go on to support The Rosie Taylor Project in Leeds on Wednesday (16th April) and then on to bigger and better.
Lack of Originality More
Written By Michael Wood Saturday, February 9th, 2008
Elle S'appelle, Heads We Dance, fourteencorners, Pierpoint Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford
Elle S'appelle are a well beaten track and that is not to say that they are not travelling that path well but rather that for all the new band buzz around them one gets the feeling that you could add their catalogue to your record collection and nod along with it for the rest of your days without ever catching the whiff oforiginality.More later for this is Granadaland and there is an order to things and as Mark Husak expands his night to include out of the area bands he is applauded for retaining a loyalty to the local scene he has sponsored for the past two years.
Pierpoint - named after Albert, the famed hangman of Bradford - are a tight collective of would be post-punk/new wave guitar heroes. They have a decent following already and the dedication they obviously have used to file jagged metal edges into sharp songs is impressive but they are let down by a lead singer who snarls a little too derivatively and ends up coming over like a parody of a pop star. Like an actor playing a would be Libertine. Like the sort of character who could crop up in Emmerdale when a band's tour bus broke down outside the Woolpack.
For tonight would seem to be about originality - or the lack of it - and Pierpoint need to stop hiding behind the cliche of a band and be more honest. When they do I believe they could be really rather interesting.
Honest is the watchword of Fourteencorners who once again pour heart and soul into the six song set they play effortlessly excellently tonight. It is familiar stuff on the whole although Marco and Jim - drum and bass - seem to have filled out the sound of We Are Pathetic! We Are Stars! and the whole set seems beefed up for sure but half way through it strikes one that the problem with Fourteencorners is that as sure as an eleven months pregnant girl - they are ready.
They are ready to go above third place on a bill. They are ready to put out something on a shiny silver disc, They are ready to get reviewed by the NME and the Observer Music Monthly. If they could move between songs live quicker - or get some banter to fill the air - then they would be ready to play much bigger venues with interesting accessible vocals from Josh and guitar work from Luke that still amazes me with it's precise speed. They are ready and if they do not get moving soon they will end up stale and that will be a crime for a band this good. Perhaps they lack the confidence to move on but they certainly lack nothing else.
Confidence can be seen in abundance in Heads We Dance who sport Bryan Ferry raincoats buttoned up to the top and loudly project around the filling Love Apple venue. They mix Eno-esque ambitions with an early Human League sensibility and show no fear of producing - albeit avant-garde - pop tunes. Love Version 15 buzzes along impressively as does Love In The Digital Age and both titles point one towards theirinfluences . One day they will release an album and it will have the words "lipstick" and "neon" in the title no doubt and I will buy it because as a band while their influences are apparent they are not scared to veer wildly away from them and as a result they create some genuinely interesting tunes.
Which leads back to Elle S'appelle who - on another night - one may laud for their tight, modern take on eighties pop mixed with a shot of The Darling Buds but tonight it all seems a little derivative and one is left hoping that they do something more edged, more spiky, with the popularity which is being pushed their way.
Taking Turns At Granadaland More
Written By Michael Wood Saturday, January 12th, 2008
Wild Beasts, Laura Groves, The Debuts, Spondi Pradlo Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford
No matter how huge Spondi Pradlo could get - and hearing them one suspects they will not be the next U2 - they will always be known as the band with one of the more ludicrous names to have been considered and passed as acceptable. I'm very sure it has a meaning that that meaning is probably as earnest as Joy Division or Enola Gay and that not knowing it makes me a Philistine of the highest order but even if it does it is still a name that virtually guarantees a struggle for popularity.
Which is a shame because The Pradlo, Spondi, The Spon Boys, Pradders, SP, Whatever, sound rather interesting. They are spirited and manage to fill the stage at the Love Apple with any number of curiously played instruments and the crowd with enough interested acquaintances that they are the best received first band at Granadaland since the insanely good The Swing Movement impressed last year.
This Friday is Granadaland's second birthday. Four baloons hang from the ceiling and real ale is two pounds a pint and these things are done in celebration of the event which stands as a testament to founder Mark Husak. Tonight his event is as full as one has ever seen the Love Apple and the crowd is young and peopled with pretty things who jabber loudly between Spondi Pradlo and the second band The Debuts who open living up to the NME style billing of "Girl fronted Joy Division" but soon spin into sounding rather too much like The Long Blondes to claim genuine originality - something about new year in music seems to have everyone clamouring for all things new and different while in contrast in eleven months time every other song heard will be Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time.
Tonight The Debuts are amusing without being enthralling and they struggle to control the increasingly restless assembled masses but that struggle pales compared the the slight frame of Laura Groves who barely visible on the low stage and is disrespectfully ignored by many who chatter loudly throughout the set and for sure one might thing that Groves needs to roughly take the attention of the audience or perhaps someone should give the Northern Working Men's Club motto of "No talking while the turn is on" but the delicate shading of the Shipley teenager's Joni Mitchell-esque vocal tremblings do not lend themselves to such coarseness and those who can't or won't hear miss out.
Groves is better suited to the stage of larger events - she was never better than her slot at St George's Hall on one of the BD1 nights - where her vocals fill rooms uncontested. Tonight everyone is the victim of Granadaland's success but still the lament of single I Am Leaving - "My home was silent/My town was hidden somewhere in the dark/A spark ignited my imagination." - is music to be in love to and hotly tipped many here will no doubt claim to have taken more notice. Groves goes onto a musical sideline in the next month and with eager ears Dalliance awaits.
Dalliance ears were more curious than eager about Kendalites Wild Beasts who headlined but that curiosity was rewarded by a surprising and entertaining mash up of fifties teen Dance Hall and the most modern guitar driven indie. Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants is high pitched and enjoyable and Through Dark Night's Elvis growls seem to sum up the band's ethos of showmanship without the compromise of parody. Perhaps not the finest songsmiths but the win over the previously inattentive and dancing breaks out. The Wild Beasts stagecraft shines through and while one suspects that they may spend many a year as a very good opening act for the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs tonight they deserve the credit for finishing of a night that troubled as Bradford's best music night veered to being more about hair than hearing.