April 20th, 2008

Fourteencorners, My First Tooth, Le Tournoi Excel Before The Peak At All Day Hootenanny More

All Day Hootenanny Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, April 20th, 2008

Mark Levin, Garfunkel and Simon (Patrick Dowson), My First Tooth, Pablo's Last Stand, Kid Id, fourteencorners, Laura Groves, Le Tournoi, UltCult, The Seven Inches, The Rosie Taylor Project, Buttonhead All Day Hootenanny at 1 in 12 Club, Bradford

If I ever was to see a man playing Radiohead on a harp - see it and enjoy it - I might have predicted that it would be in the surroundings of left wing cafe serving bean burgers and vegan food to a crowd that divides it's time between band watching and knitting. The All Day Hootenanny - an ambitious split headed all dayer - was a good day and this was a suitability curious start.

Mark Levin's harp performance comes after Garfunkel & Simon - aka Patrick Dowson of Monty Casino - has titillated with a Springstein cover retitled and reformed into Born In The BRI and sets up the curious afternoon in the Library of the 1 in 12 club on Bradford's Albion Street. Having seen Radiohead in my time I can say that I enjoyed Levin's versions of their songs more than the originals and that is credit enough for any man.

There is nothing but credit for Northampton duo My First Tooth who take to the rug that makes a stage wearing matching cardigans - one of which hides Sophie's amusing t-shirt - and perform with a similar fused coordination.

The duo deserve better than to play to a handful of people but play they do with Sophie's multi-instrument performance going from violin to a long necked mandolin to a Bontempi mouth organ while the stoic Ross bends his vocals emotionally around a set of self penned, heartbreaking tunes. Sleet and Snow stands out and is delivered with perfect phrasing on the lines "Who's idea/was this Gondola ride/the cable frayed/we're plummeting."

It is emotive without being overtly emotional and fits the dynamic of the band with the youthful Sophie providing a charm next to the painfully shy Ross who would hide everything but his abilities which shine without braggadocio but with a calm confidence.

Certainly Ross shows less confidence than those in Pablo's Last Stand the two strong folk group who follow My First Tooth but do not exceed them. They are serious folk - the type of folk where one stamps a foot on the floor to keep the beat - and they are good but lack the spark of the previous act who form the highlight of the acoustic half of the day.

Downstairs we are in rockville and Kid Id are a squeezed onto stage party reminding one most readily of Madness but with a more obvious political agenda and this could make them nauseating but in truth they are a riot.

A bongo playing drummer recalls Animal from The Muppets and the Henson theme continues as Kid Id mellow out to play a stand out song called Skipping Stones which recalls Mississippi Mud and for a band who my id seemed keen to dislike I find myself beaming.

I beam when fourteencorners take to the stage. They are shy a bassist - Jim has left for the Marines recalling the Napoleonic phrase about not knowing what he will do to the enemy but he scared the Hell out of me - but have Laura Groves filling in on organ and with customary 'corners ability they master the muddy sound set up to come over as clear as any band will today and more so than most bands will in their gigging career.

I think for a moment about how the ability of drummer Marco Pasquariello especially but also Josh Taylor and Luke Silcock to get the band sounding good when playing in venues of varied qualities may be the decisive factor in my belief that they are West Yorkshires's finest hidden gem. Certainly that skill augments their desire to play cleanly sung, intelligent lyrics over crisp guitars and as with The Lodger one is amazed that this county offers up bands like The Pigeons or Kaisers above them.

Tsotsumi has been dropped from the set but The Walk Home continues to sound better and better with Groves keyboard straining background and Pasquariello's softer touch of drumming. We Are Pathetic! We Are Stars! is Silcock's chance to show finger work on an acoustic that makes one glad one never had to play Subutteo against him and in the centre is Taylor who's heart bleeding on sleeve lyrics and determined certitude create the focal point. Few songs on my Walkman get as many plays as New Limbs For Old Flames - in fact my Last.FM says that none do - and that is the mark of this band.

The mark of Le Tournoi is an inconstancy between a disorganised discord and something that touches on genius and as afternoon begins to fade into evening they are very much the latter having been augmented by the livewire antics of Keiron Casey on guitar the family Sanderson plus one are on form and when on form there are few better.

They are a Scooby gang of a band. Kieron's ebullience seems him leap from the stage to grab a pint, Robert on bass is calm and centred taking vocals at one point for a Neil Young cover - "I can't sing" he intones - while James on drums has praise heaped on him by the previous band's sticksman Marco Pasquariello and pounds the band on.

Emilie - effortlessly cool - streams melody from her keyboard and pitches vocals high augmenting William who continues to grow as a guitarist and songwriter playing newer songs that are richer than the back catalogue that is dipped into with It's Only a Power Station sounding especially full and while many bands group together through likeness the five members of Le Tournoi seem to be a desperate as could be.

The difference is heard in the music and when it goes right - and it does - it creates drive, snappy, intelligent tunes. There is a new drive in demeanour of Le Tournoi - a determination to push things on - and there is a randomness of how far that could go. Tonight they are enthralling and recapture the excitement that saw them catapulted from bedroom band to Bradford's most talked about act. More of tonight in their support slot at St Georges Hall with Lightspeed Champion could see them seize attention.

Coming off the back of such a support slot are UltCult who are a shadow of the band that played only a few days ago struggling with sound problems and having dropped the most interesting song from their set. They will have better days than this one hopes.

Sounding great are Leeds band The Seven Inches who take the stage with lead singer Ian looking rather like Klinger from M*A*S*H with only my Grandmother's wardrobe to choose from and he is annoying in that punch him way but memorable too and should the band be aiming for distinction in a sea of similar acts around the scene then they achieve it with Ian strumming a paper guitar, bouncing around the room and generally giddying it up.

The songs are strong with Our Type Of Friends (title? - mw) standing out amid a general collection of good pop tunes which do not out stay their welcome with the exception of a lyric about Tom & Jerry which returns to the wanting to punch style of sticking in the mind and at that point one has to wonder if people said exactly the same thing about David Byrne when Talking Heads used to perform and it never did that band any harm.

Not able to do themselves much harm at The Rosie Taylor Project who's inexorable rise continues regardless of a distinct lack of memorability to their songs. They are a serious and sombre act and may be perfect on a mellowed out summer's evening but they do not stick in the memory on a dark night in Bradford.

They play through a set and they seem very in control but they lack the ironic smile of the better Tweecore bands. Buttonhead are twee without the lyrical smarts and after forty-five minutes of tuning up momentum drifts away into the night. They shriek, they need more melody they are easy to break away from, and so I do.

April 19th, 2008

The School, The Lodger Master The Art of Kissing in Different Ways More

Live Review The Art of Kissing

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, April 19th, 2008

Simone White, Peter Von Poehl, The Lodger, The School, Chiara L's, Voltaires The Art of Kissing at The Faversham, Leeds

Voltaires are the kind of noisy cliche that I worried would mark The Art of Kissing - a night in Leeds pub The Faversham and while they have their charms they lack a little originality. Guitars grinding and guys singing and they are rewarded for their efforts by applause but Leeds - as opposed to the other four centres of population in West Yorkshire - seems to produce a formula for bands and Voltaires are very much of it.

The Chiara L's are from a similar template. Musically they are strong with a powerful drum and bass pushing lively guitar but lead singer/keyboardist Chiara lacks the stage presence to make the band stand out. She hops and jigs on stage and at one point seems to engage in performance origami all of which screams "quirky" and serves to underline her slightness on stage. She wears the dress of a sparkling front woman but no one is at home.

The band are plagued by technical problems not of their own making and before the next band arrive an amp is replaced which is a shame because behind the girl is an interesting sound which is over-ruffled tonight. Up front though they seem - once again - to lack originality

Having loads of people on stage and coming from Cardiff is anything other than original these days and The School share an almost identical set up to the previous band save the addition of a xylophone glockenspielist who looks as if he has been dragged from a building site and is none too pleased about it but the breezy brand of annunciated vocals and tweed up backing is more disarming.

They wear their influences well - The School being the suffix of a Belle and Sebastian song which has obviously been digested by the band - and they bring something fresher to the mix. All I Wanna Do sounds like Dusty Springfield fronting The Divine Comedy while Valentine sounds like it could be pulled from a lost Camera Obscura album that had slipped back in time to the 1960s.

The band are invaded on stage by five friends who join the band in high hand clapping and despite the fact one looks as if he is about to swing his pants the whole stunt appears charming. Strains of Steph's violin drive Let It Slip and tweecore finds a breathy Sarah Cracknell. They are selling singles on pink vinyl after the show and that fits rather well. If you do not tap your feet to The School then you probably don't have any.

The Lodger do not need to find their feet and tonight play a set of two old and five or so new and brilliant songs including new single and perhaps best work so far The Good Old Days which marks a real advancement in Ben Siddall's song writing hanging the melody off a palmful of chords and if you buy into the idea that this band really are the new Smiths then this is their How Soon Is Now?.

All of which comes at the end of a set which sees them augmented with an extra guitarist who adds a breadth but not a weight to the sound and they still sound crisp and picked out of the best of pop music. The band have just finished new album Life Is Sweet which improves on the excellence of Grown Ups. A Hero's Welcome lyrically plays with themes of isolation - "You could be waiting for this bus forever/waiting for the fun to begin" evokes Manchester's finest while being up to date.

Ben Siddall of The Lodger

The Lodger are the sound of waiting for a mobile phone to bleep with a text that never comes. How this City adores The Pigeon Detectives and Kaiser Chiefs over this band amazes me.

After such excellence Peter Von Poehl - a single, tall, hairy Swede - has a tough time impressing. He is the next in an increasingly long line of Swede solo artists and he is more Jose Gonzalez than he is Jen Lekman but eventually he wins me over with a cover of Heartbreak Hotel that omits the word lonely in favour of a guitar break - Elvis would be impressed - and if his songs do not have enough of an honestly to them then his performance certainly does with his neck snapping up right to sing high notes.

Von Poehl will live longer in the memory than Simone White who’s acoustic stylings are lost in the late night hub-bub of the pub at ten thirty and one is forced to wonder who put the two solo acoustic performers on last?

No matter. These all day events peak between eight and nine and that is when The School and later The Lodger shone.

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, April 19th, 2008

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April 17th, 2008

With The Peasants as Bradford Welcomes Back Los Campesinos! More

BD1 LiVE Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Thursday, April 17th, 2008

Los Campesinos!, The Luvvers, UltCult BD1 Live at St George's Hall, Bradford

After blazing through Broken Heartbeats Sound Like Breakbeats the band introduce themselves. "We are Los Campesinos! and we are from Cardiff, which is near Bristol."

It is the type of comment which typifies the seven strong popster from South Wales and one is not sure if it is a flippant quip or a heartfelt claim on the heritage of that City.

UltCult look young enough to not have been at school when Sarah 100 came out but they resonate with the same DIY spiked joy that bands like Talulah Gosh, Even As We Speak and The Sea Urchins used to put through the Bristol record label with a sly mix of Kevin Shields edged on.

UltCult - Three girls, two guys and small glockenspiel.

They are three girls, two guys and small glockenspiel - glockenspiels are the instrument de jour tonight - and they sound like the fastest relationships one could have started and ended in a single night.

Odious Emporium opens the set and is impressive. Five Bedrooms and Two Lounges closes and stands out and what passes in-between is far from dull. They depart to impressed noises.

Noises describes The Luvvers who are a musically tight four piece of lads - the very sort that will later be described as "saying nothing [to me] about [my] life" and they are fronted by a bleached blonde haircut who seems to ape style and lack substance.

Substances concern Los Campesinos! and Gareth Campesinos jokes that they are on crack but the band are more like the sound of a bunch of teenagers on sugar rush. They are a band to fall in love with mixing smartness - smugness even - of lyrics with an excess of energy in performance and ring in an ill fitted innocence that gives them charm. They credit Blank Generation's Adam Simons with giving them a first gig outside either capital and are genuine in doing so. "We would have had to get proper jobs..." Gareth comments.

This ebullient charm runs through the night. Drop It Doe Eyes - sung by Aleksandra Campesinos who swaps from side keyboard duties to the front - is a joy and the Pavement cover Frontwards sounds superb. Harriet Campesinos - see what they have done with the names? - draws a bow over her violin creating depth to what would be a sound of kids hitting tin and looking over the instrumentation the seven have one can see where the Arcade Fire comparisons come in. Had Arcade Fire gown up in Cardiff and listened to Heavenly they probably would sound like this.

Gareth retreats to the back of the stage and joins Ollie Campesinos drumming the famed start of You! Me! Dancing! and they go from good to great with the half full St George's Hall moving with a total joyous lack of unison. They finish on Sweet Dreams, Sweet Cheeks after stand out version of We Throw Parties, You Throw Knives which exceeds the album and sees Gareth bounding around the stage. They are a band who are going interesting places and owe much of that to the start and support they got in Bradford.

Tonight they repaid us.

Written By Michael Wood Thursday, April 17th, 2008

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April 12th, 2008

Now hear me. Now hear me roar! More

Granadaland Live Review

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.

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, April 12th, 2008

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March 29th, 2008

The Local and The Pub More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, March 29th, 2008

Six Fingered Man, The Analog Bombs at The Manville Arms, Bradford

With The Head having finally seeped into the local lexicon tonight's venue is renamed The Manville Arms and in the low corner of the open floor of hosts the first gig of Bradford's The Analog Bombs since the last gig ended in a brawl between the Bassist and Ben.

One has some sympathy for the bassist as Ben - standing around six foot eight - seems the sort who could cause a riot in an empty room bristling at the front of his three band mates like Sean Bean playing Kurt Cobain having been stretched on a medieval rack.

His vocal stylings are raw as are his lyrics and they are pushed along by the Indie meets Ska tone of the rest of the band largely driven by Dean's organ playing and the new bassist Rick who enjoyed an impressive debut.

They are very much a local band and The Analog Bombs sing about Bradford in a knarlled kind of way. "What would I give/to spend one more night with you" is a refrain from a song about 1990s indie disco Tumblers. God I Wish I Was You is likably barbed and spat out in rough Yorkshire and they very much seem like a band with more ambition than talent but that is no bad thing.

Certainly not compared to Six Fingered Man who seem to lack the ambition to go beyond the remit of being a pub band. They are technically competent but lack anything approaching a spark to render them that interesting beyond talking about The Princess Bride - great film - and how they may or may not have given the band a name.

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, March 29th, 2008

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