May 12th, 2007

The Swing Movement Explode Flatness More

Granadaland Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, May 12th, 2007

Komakino, Mother Vulpine, The Tendertraps, The Swing Movement Granadaland at The Love Apple, Bradford

There is something flat about this second Friday night of the month of that is Granadaland at the Love Apple in Bradford. Perhaps it is this, or perhaps it is the idea that this this here Granadaland night might become a subset of this or perhaps it is the non-metonymic strangeness of the four day week but whatever it is something it has left the room flat.In a couple of hours things will have been changed.

The Swing Movement are one of those bands who are so easily tagged "improbably young". The mothers have come for a quick one and to say hello as the kids with guitars set up. They have to drink water cause not only are the Mums in attendance but they probably could not get served either. They are that sort of young, they are also that sort of good.

The sort of good that demands attention of the room when they start up with the anthemic How It Goes with it's "shudda/wanna" refrains and scratched out guitar. As a band they welcome comparisons to The Clash for the funked up bass sound of moody Joe Gamble but without one of them being over 17 they are more likely to be versed in The Libertines with Ben Walker and Patrick Wanzala Ryan riffing off each other in a familiar way. They share the energy of performance and have a dynamism between them that drives the music impressively. "Why not be The Libertines," someone comments, "after all Pete and Carl don't want to be any more and when was the last time they took to the stage with four lemonades?"

Walker looks like every scruffy bleached blonde teen hanging around a town centre but takes the middle of the small Love Apple stage and looks off to top right with effacement, almost embarrassment. Wanzala Ryan's hair puts one in mind of the legendary Ces Podd and his bandy legged bobbing shows a similar lack of hauteur. Joe Gamble is just moody while Drumsman Kieran Borrett might be able get served at the bar. As good a reason to pick one drummer over another one supposes.

All of which sells The Swing Movement short. While not being the most original band to pick up guitars they are certainly authentic. They stand nervously on stage with a refreshing lack of arrogance but they hint at a confidence as they buccaneer through the lyrically nimble Shooting Blanks - "I'm happy if you/but I'm happier if you're not/you've got all the money in the world/but you never show me that smile" - and on to the ridiculously catchy Kiss Kiss Bang Bang.

Just as the set draws to a close they lads on stage begin to notice the room of attention and confidence grows with Walker and Wanzala Ryan going guitar to guitar with a swagger. They own the night - they will own more and more nights if they carry on as they are now - and blast away the earlier malaise.

Tendertraps are off the bill. Not a problem.

Presentation is the thing for Mother Vulpine. They are the sort of band who do their eyeliner after arriving and wear matching ties tucked into their black shirts and for a moment as they expand the stage forward into the acre between band and audience they seem to have taken too long a look at Franz Ferdinand - the band not the deceased Arch Duke of Astro-Hungary - for comfort however it would probably be more accurate to say they were born of the same mothers.

Mother Vulpine are Gang Of Four meets Eighties Metal and that goes down well on this their first visit to the town that gave the world Terrorvision.

Single Keep Your Wits Sharp (Her Words Are Quick) has one cup of smartness to three of guitar thrashing - the Bass Vulpine is a sight to behold with arms and legs flying everywhere and, according to Lead Vulpine, a tendency to make bass/head contact a little too often - while We'll Be Detectives goes to tight structures and enunciated vocals. "It is Friday night," Lead Vulpine tells us, "so you can come up to the front and dance." The success of Mother Vulpine is that from the initially sceptic audience a few take him up on his offer.

Stand out is the hypnotic Snow Falling In Unison which takes the night from thrashing guitar through smart pop and indie rock and settles impressively into what is increasingly known as newgazing and while watching at the four identically dressed Vulpine it becomes clear that while visually they are together musically they have a full Swiss army knife of styles and songs and - delivered with gusto - there is something for everyone.

Mother Vulpine are visiting Bradford for the first time except for Guitar Vulpine who had a curry here once and tells us she enjoyed it. Bradvirgins too are Derby's much noticed rocksters Komakino who extend stage further to include chair jumping and generally storm around the room. MTV2 like them and it is not hard to see why but immediately they fall more into the like than love category and while they keep an audience entertained and bopping along pulling a few from the bar they seem a little less fresh than the support. Not bad just not brilliant they seem a little like you have heard it all before despite the energy of the delivery.

Following on from the surprisingly pleasing Mother Vulpine and the never ending joy of The Swing Movement they round off the night keeping the mood high.

Next time on Granadaland: The Lodger, Laura Groves and the "Joy Division meets Folk Rock" of Le Tournoi.

Flat? Not so much no.

Written By Michael Wood Saturday, May 12th, 2007

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April 30th, 2007

Something Worth Seeing More

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Monday, April 30th, 2007

Harmacy, Falconetti at The Delius, Bradford

The view from the bar side of “Bradford’s Leading Indie Pub” The Delius is never perfect but tonight - after two failed attempts - I was finally going to see the city’s foremost scenesters Harmacy and if this meant peering around speakers it would be worth it.

"Last gig we ended in a fight", lead guitar and singer of Harmacy Haydn Wilcox says referring the set ending brawl of the Woolen Wig Out festival of three weeks ago, "No one start anything now." Before that at Fagin’s in Halifax the locals had nixed the night complaining about the sound. Tonight it seemed unlikely that anyone would stop me seeing Bradford's proclaimed kings of slack and roll.

First though for visuals actually seeing Halifax four-piece Falconetti is not important. Appropriately they take to the stage as light from outside fades and the create a mood all East Berlin spy novels, all soundtracks to fifties thrillers. Close your eyes and see long shadows in contrasting deep blacks and bleached out whites. Should any Hollywood producer have spent the night in this part of Bradford the search would be over. Falconetti are the smallest epic band you will ever see. Neil Heywood’s trumpet twists around creating atmosphere and Matt Fortune’s drums set a pace for carrying around microfilm whilst being followed.

Evocative? I should say so. Falconetti seem to be a taste worth acquiring.

Without vocals Falconetti do not suffer, as Harmacy do, from the perennial Delius problem of vocal projections. Dom the soundman manfully struggles to balance the vocals of Harmacy’s Haydn and Chris but they are under the haze of guitar fuzz.

Seeing Harmacy it becomes clear that there is something about Haydn’s Black Francis referencing guitar which blends surf joyousness with Chris Wall’s throbbing bass lines and for a while – and through the inspired Girl From Chile and the well received On The Waves – they fill every inch of the slack and roll label they are so often given. Something less slack more attack drifts into newer songs and Chris’s bass is more Gang of Four than 4AD.

On occasion something else shines out of the Bradford trio’s song writing. A sense of social justice not there in the bands they simply sound like and seems to seep through to all their songs. Black Francis never sang about the things Ken Loach makes films about.

So on seeing Harmacy it would seem that that is the attraction of the band so often cited as leading this Bradford scene. For sure they have grown up with jangling American guitars of The Pixies or the powerful bass lines of Peter Hook but it is reflected through a prism of growing up in this City in these times into a sound that is ultimately very Northern town post Thatcher, very give me a chance to have aspiration, very look after yourself cause no one else look after you, very Bradford.

And that is very much worth seeing.

Written By Michael Wood Monday, April 30th, 2007

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April 27th, 2007

Sometimes There Is Something Missing More

Dog On Wheels Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Friday, April 27th, 2007

The Tendertrap, (Most of) fourteencorners, Broken Books Dog On Wheels at The Love Apple, Bradford

Sometimes in life there is something missing. Tonight at Dog On Wheels's last Thursday of the month at the Love Apple everything has something absent. Leeds folkster(s) Broken Books seemed to be missing a band being only Paul Fenwick on stage with his acoustic knocking out tunes from his soul via is ironic bone. His lilting picked melodies find a way through the first band conversation and but for a little more stage presence he could have impressed more. Does he have a face someone comments at Fenwick's heads down set which could speak louder.

Nevertheless everything about Fenwick aspires to excellence and his set is almost reminiscent of something but always sits firmly next to Badly Drawn Boy which is no bad thing although a little out of time. Flowers is pleasing and Standing Here effective and while it is all a bit 2000 it is the nicer parts of 2000.

It is not especially hard to see what is lacking from fourteencorners tonight as Luke Silcock and Josh Taylor sit middle stage with acoustic guitars and a drummer but lacking bassist Marco. He is, erm, not here. Josh mumbles.

Perhaps we should have all been expecting a shambles - certainly the band's guitarist Luke apologises enough times - but a stripped down fourteencorners still shines. The beat dropped out to James Stock's drum Luke's furious finger picking takes centre stage and West Yorkshire's second most frantic guitarist sits and plays - and really plays - and they shine.

Tsotsumi is raked over strings and a word fumble in New Limbs Songs For Old Flames is deftly moved over with a wry smile and a chuckle. The Walk Home needs the thud that Marco's bass normally provides but We Are Pathetic! We Are Stars! is plucked to a kind of lazy perfection. When this band move further afield than West Yorkshire someone will have to make a new lexicon to describe how good they are cause the old adjectives are getting used up.

A new song sounds superb and Small Northern Town is followed by more apologies. We are normally a four piece, we are normally good. The reputation will outstrip the modesty one day.

Leeds mellow five piece The Tendertrap turn up twice in Bradford in the next month and have generated something of a buzz for their mellowed out tunes and boy/girl vocal stylings. Dubbed Arcade Fire Lite by those being nice - Keane Liter by others - they kick off with Burn The House Down shows flares of wonderful imagination. Nicely stripped down to essentials Danny's vocal is bare and honest with Aimee's opportuning adding a depth to the song. "In this down and house/ambition bursts through the seams" offers Danny, "Send me a match with your letter/so I can burn the house down" Aimee interjects.

It is deep without being forced and everything is good but they go on and after a time it seems that they lack the same spark. Everything comes over as having the ambition to be a Coldplay album track. Everything is too soft pedaled. Everything is too lightly done. Scars On 45 briefly raises the mood but the cover of Eurodance "classic" Mr Vain tries to be witty and ironic but comes over as smug and arrogant. Culture Beat where no one heres idea of a good band but I'm left wishing that The Tendertraps had a per cent of the vigour and fun of the German nonsense they snidely reference.

What is missing from The Tendertraps is a sense of enjoyment, Broken Books miss a band but that is fine, fourteencorners are never to be missed - not even tonight.

An early start means an early finish before Shady Bard come on. They sound good enough through the wall but what is missing then is me.

Written By Michael Wood Friday, April 27th, 2007

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April 22nd, 2007

The Best Thing From Bradford, The Riot & The Blues More

Your Attention

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

Teasers, The Swing Movement, The Lodger - Currently Available For Your Attention

The Swing Movement claim to be the best thing out of Bradford - they are obviously oblivious to Faith Nelson - and they back the claim up with a collection of songs which put one in mind of a less snarling and some watch mixed version of The Libertines. Truth be told Kiss Kiss Bang Bang hangs a little too close to The Libertines romantic English rock but as far as calling cards go it is impressive and hangs around for just the right length of time.

Digging continues the theme which beings to tire on Shooting Blanks until the sound drifts from would be Libertines to something early nineties and interesting. The Swing Movement have a vibrancy that drifts in and out of their songs as they form up a sound. Black Russian puts you in mind of the heavy drumming of Adam & The Ants and that is no bad thing at all. They are gigging around Bradford and Leeds at the moment and have the kind of sound is worth getting out to hear.

Always worth getting out to hear are Londoners Teasers who are favourites at The Gasworks in 2006. Back then they come over as a kind of Blondie played by The Wedding Present - continuing reading of Dalliance will show that everything that impresses me will be compared to The Wedding Present - and since those gigs they have expanded the sound adding a frantic drum to Work It Out and some rather strange bass sounds to Light Of Day which suggest someone would like to bring Johnny Cash back. Molly - Molteaser if you will - takes centre stage with her breathless vocals on the latter half whispering over the steady beat and the cowboy calls of the start of Osward perfectly pitch the band. They are a riot worth seeing but current tunes are not as appealing as last year's Bang Bang.

A different kind of riot live - the riot of tapping feet if you will - is Serious Sam Barrett who raised spirits in the basement at The Woollen Wig Out more than I ever thought a man on a five string Banjo could do. Gambling Man - a Serious Sam Barrett original - sounds just as good as it did then and Cocaine Blues gets into your soul. Serious Sam is a blues man from Barnsley but his sound is pure Americana - the good kind - and gives your day a an often much needed shot of soul.

Barrett's gigs takes in most of West Yorkshire but turning up early to his second spot on 24th April, 2007 at the Faversham, Leeds under T-Model Ford will get you the also ace bluesman David Broad.

Further Reading

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, April 22nd, 2007

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April 8th, 2007

The Woollen Wig Out Festival More

Live Review The Woollen Wig Out Festival

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, April 8th, 2007

fourteencorners, Laura Groves, Le Tournoi, That Fucking Tank, David Broad, Serious Sam Barrett, Harmacy The Woollen Wig Out Festival at The New Beehive, Bradford

Hope is a wonderful emotion and not easily spoiled. Hope had sprung eternal minutes before the doors opened for the Woollen Wig Out Festival and in the corner bottom corner of Bradford near Lumb Lane and opposite the real best restaurant in the City soaking up the early sun it seemed that hope was in the air for all.

The Woollen Wig Out Festival had a wonderful organised shambles quality to it which probably proved its undoing later in the day but listening to Monty Casino kicking off half an hour late it and seeing the fresh faced kids picking up guitars and hammering out something loud and spiky on them it seemed entirely appropriate and in keeping with the mood in the air.

Mood is never more lifted than when listening to the incomparable fourteencorners. On early to allow the band to make a rapid exit for bassist James's mum's birthday tea kept up their own stupidly high quality. Everything is balanced on the right line of precision and roughness and this late afternoon New Limbs For Old Flame in its speeded up live version is superb and blends pauselessly into The Drive Home so we don't have to applaud at the end of the first one we are told. "You don't have to applaud at the end of the second one if you don't want" singer Josh adds in what is increasingly false modesty. Everyone who sees them stands impressed. Everyone who sees them has high hopes for their future.

Le Tournoi I didn't get last time I saw them but today in these surroundings everything clicked into place and I was won over. They are, in their own rough edged way, the bravest and most innovative band around West Yorkshire at the moment with innovation not measured on a scale of strange beeps but on short, spiked pop pieces.

They are Magnetic Fields signed to Sarah Records band with all the wonderfully haphazard elements that suggestions. William has the kind of intelligentsia hip that justifies the excellent I was a victim of a series of accidents, as are we all which buzzes around the cellar bar so utterly pleasantly while Emilie oozes cool and makes things sound melodic. I still struggle to hear the sounds of - or be won over by the usefulness of a - saxophone player but like the violins on old Blueboy records if it works why knock it and something about Le Tournoi works really well.

Also working well is David Broad who's fedora and suit age him twenty years as he rips through a foot tapping bluegrass set almost all of which is entirely new to me but feels well worn and wonderfully comfortable. St James Infirmary wins me over for good and I'm not alone in making mental notes to take more interest in him, and probably in bluegrass, beyond the White Stripes.

It would be hard to take more interest in Laura Groves who seems to be on the bill at every other gig I see but tonight I end up saying Hello to her Mum - she is nervous and can't watch - and standing behind to her sister - she is short and I get a great view. If hope is in the air then Laura Groves conducts it. Her voice-as-instrument melodies and picked out guitar sounds are never far from familiar but sound unlike anything else. "Suzanne Vega" someone says, miles wide of the mark, "Joanna Newsome" someone else comments but Joanna Newsome never sung about Filey as the always wonderful Coast is and perhaps that is what is so enchanting about the Shipley born singer/songwriter. Her uniqueness comes from growing up near the Shipley Glen Tramway not the Palm Springs Aerial. Perhaps she is as much a product of the area as riots or superb Chicken Pathia or Rugby League. She is fabric.

The need for superb Chicken Pathia takes over and The Hipshakers could be the greatest band ever but I've gone to eat. Next time I hope.

Kill Manticore are noisy boys and trash at guitars as if they have done something wrong. They stomp well and effectively and show the breadth of acceptance of the music scene in West Yorkshire at the moment.

Later in the night Serious Sam Barrett and David Broad will be sitting on two beer barrels deep in conversation and when Barrett takes to stage it is not hard to see why. Both are cut from the same cloth and both are are equally enjoyable pitching perfectly for place and people. Barrett's mic fails and in an hours time technical problems are going to boil over but he Serious Sam plays on and is applauded for it.

That Fucking Tank suffer the same technical problems but create a hell of a racket. By the time Harmacy come on the mics are failing and vocals sound as if they are sung from deep underground. Steve Albini would have loved the sound of Harmacy ala Seamonsters but after one song someone takes exception and a scuffle breaks out. Everything gets very strange and the end is no reflection of the day nor is it a reward for the work that went into it. It is sour but does nothing to dampen the mood. I head for the door but I hope - I hope - that we get to do this again sometime.

Written By Michael Wood Sunday, April 8th, 2007

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