LIVE REVIEW: Less Than Jake, Kingston

LTJphotoLess Than Jake
Kingston Hippodrome
May 2nd 2016

“You’ve been coming to see us for 15 years?” barks Less Than Jake singer/guitarist Chris Demakes to someone down the front, shortly before trombonist Buddy Schaub scales a stage-side wall to parp out the intro to a supremely groovesome ‘Nervous In The Alley’. “Well, whose fault is that – mine or yours? Don’t pin that one on me!”

Guys, it’s always a pleasure to have you back. Around the turn of the century, Less Than Jake’s smart ska/punk tunes and colourful, hi-octane gigs were a welcome antidote to the dourness of nu-metal, and after all these years (and some great records to boot), their appeal remains much the same. Tonight is their first ever show in Kingston, and although LTJ certainly have the songs and stage presence for a Big Rock Show™, this feels more like an oversized gathering of friends to rock out, bounce around and generally have a blast.

So that’s exactly what happens, and frankly, it’s hard to tell whether the band or crowd are enjoying themselves more. Predictably, classic cuts like ‘Johnny Quest Thinks We’re Sellouts’ and ‘All My Best Friends Are Metalheads’ dominate the set (the latter inciting utter pandemonium in the crowd), but a supercharged run through recent gem ‘Good Enough’ indicates a band with their foot still firmly on the gas. What more could you want? Some large balloons? Some toilet paper guns and a confetti cannon? The crowd bouncing halfway to the ceiling during an anthemic ‘History Of A Boring Town’? All joyfully present and correct.

Like all the best shows, tonight seems to pass far too quickly, although it ends in fine style as an increasingly sweat-drenched crowd almost drown out Chris and co-vocalist Roger on ‘Gainesville Rock City’. Less Than Jake might not be able to pack out the likes of the Brixton Academy like they did about a decade ago, but when they’re on such great form, you can’t help but feel sorry for the folks who didn’t want to stick around for a party that was – and is – far from over.

Alex Gosman

Serious Sam Barrett

serious_samSerious Sam Barrett
Sometimes You’ve Got To Lose

YaDig? Records

Sometimes You’ve Got To Lose is Serious Sam Barrett’s first release since 2014’s AnyRoad, and sees the same heady swirl of love, life and skateboarding occupying its subject matter as his previous output has ever done. Sam’s blend of genres, Yorkshire-cana is the closest description currently put to it, incorporates healthy doses of folk, blues, country and rock n roll into a sound which, despite the previously listed elements, still sounds undeniably birthed from The Ridings. Sam’s music is as powerful as it is because, despite being deeply personal, it takes from the aforementioned genres their accessibility and universal appeal. Whether you’ve loved, lost, sat at a petrol station in a strange place drinking coffee at sunrise, put in the blood, sweat and tears to build a DIY skate spot, gone out for a quiet drink and suddenly found yourself dancing on a sofa at 3am clutching a bottle of bourbon, put yourself in hospital skateboarding and counted down the days before you could next feel the sensation of truck on coping, sat in a van for hours talking nonsense with your mates – any of those things, then Sometimes… will be an album you relate to.

It’s music with soul – much like the punk and hardcore bands whose influence is visible, if not in Sam’s sound itself, then in a DIY approach to his craft. The songs on this newest album see a lean back towards the folk and blues end of the spectrum, closer to his early releases than his last and more country influenced LP. This is undoubtedly due in part to a return to recording songs live in the same style as his first couple of records. A 12 string, vocal chords and the occasional banjo are the instruments of choice, creating a rich wall of sound much more than the sum of its parts from the get go. The title track might reference breaking a wrist before tour last year and ably sum up the recovery process, not being able to play guitar or skate, but it is from the start that we see love being the overriding theme of the album – whether that be to his other half (who produced the killer zines which accompany the first couple of hundred records), to the particular satisfaction to building and skating your own DIY spot or to the joys of being on the road, this is distilled PMA at its finest.

‘Sailor’s Song’ opens proceedings and sound-wise, would not be out of place on 2009’s Close to Home. A rolling pace and finger-scorching 12 string lick, as well as a melody which defies the listener not to be drawn in, are a formula bought to bear both here and on the title track. These two songs, with their respective themes of love and of absolutely wrecking yourself taking a good, solid slam, book end the yearning post tour blues of ‘Drive Your Way Home’. The title track is followed by ‘Shoals of Montana’, the one banjo-picking track on the album with a haunting melody that sounds like it could have been written any time between now and 1900. ‘The Last Thing’ and ‘My Last Sad Song’ are the closest nods to straightforward country songs on the album, while in between them the brawling folk stomp of ‘Single Drop of Rain’ leaves its mark strongly. ‘Me and you Tonight’ is a tender love song which sees the first appearance from another musician, as Sam is joined by Frosty AKA Squeezebox Bob on the accordion. LBP represent…

Frosty’s able assistance continues into the album’s closing tracks; ‘I’ve Been Trying’ and DIY spot ballad ‘New Bird, Needle and the Dustbowl’, Sam’s ode to one Liverpool and two Yorkshire skatespots built guerrilla style under the council radar by locals for the love. This celebration of what can be achieved with DIY ethics and a community of people on the same page is a fitting end to the record, running pretty much parallel as it does to Sam’s own method of recording and releasing records. Run from a label created by him and Matt Bradshaw, with artwork by Sami Graystone and the previously mentioned zine courtesy of Kate Bristow, Sometimes… slots perfectly into Sam’s catalogue of releases and shows just how music flourishes away from the industry and big record labels. This one is pretty much guaranteed to not leave the record player for weeks and leave you wanting to experience his music in a live setting – which he proved on the tour for this album that he can power through even with an unexpected re-broken wrist, showing no signs of the injury having slowed him.

Apart from during the writing of this review, I last listened to the album a couple of days ago on the train back from Yorkshire, following on from a two-day-heavy session at a DIY skate spot, stoned and half drunk on a fast diminishing bottle of wine as I watched the sun set over the countryside. If possible, I can’t recommend this environment for listening to this album highly enough.

Jono Coote

Kikagaku Moyo

kKikagaku Moyo
‘Kogarashi’
Guruguru Brain

Set to feature on a new album titled House In The Tall Grass, by a band called Kikagaku Moyo, ‘Kogarashi’ (that’s the ‘Autumn Wind’, before you hit google translate) is just the ticket you need for a trip to the dreamy inner realms of far-eastern psychedelia.

Here you’ll find influence from Indian raga’s, Krautrock, country folk and more, but a devotion to none of them. Think of Kikagaku Moyo as a free, untainted and loose being, bridging gaps between the netherworld and the outer cosmos, armed with little else but a sitar, a couple of maracas and the soundtrack to Paris Texas.

These chilly autumnal soundscapes conjure levels of poignant scenic imagery that sit firmly on par with those great American deserts on just a first listen. Do not miss their new record, due May 13 via Guruguru Brain. The band will tour the UK in May on the below dates.

May 2016 live dates

25 Bristol, UK Cube
26 London, UK, Fields Brewhouse
27 Manchester, UK, Star and Garter
28 Glasgow, Scotland, Nice’nSleazys
29 Leeds, UK, Karma Fest
30 Brighton UK, Bleach
23 Paris, FR, Paris Fashion Week w/Issey Miyake

and there’s more…

HAG

HAGHAG
Fear Of Man

Little is known about what exactly Anglo/Hungarian/Swedish basement-metal crew HAG were up to in the five-year gap taken between debut EP and full length album, but Fear Of Man confirms it was time well spent.

Nine-tracks strong, Fear Of Man comes laced with the kind of gut punching intensity you’d expect from messrs Buzzo and Dale. A hefty comparison, though one that stands tall considering drummer Tamas Kiss also shares his talents with the mighty Bad Guys. It’s an album laced with delightfully jagged and dog-eared production, courtesy of Part Chimp’s Tim Cedar, and one that rages back and forth across the punk crossover with gusto, spraying toxic sludge and throwing daggers at any opportunity.

We urge you to check it out on the stream below.

Buy here: https://hag-noise.bandcamp.com

Brighton’s Strange Cages debut cathartic new single

strange_cages(1)

Spat with venom, frontman Charlie McConnochie claims “I’m not a bitter person”. However, with a sound akin to the fervour of a bad trip, ‘Catharsis’ is a lucid outpour seeping a paranoid sweat. Seething and unrestrained, the latest single of the Brighton trio sees a minor departure from the coolly delivered desert psych the band had debuted with.

With visuals that swirl and contort, Strange Cages’ latest video meets the deranged psychosis of their ‘cathartic release’. The perfect tonic to this insanity is nothing more than the motorik undertones of the track. “There’s actually a five minute version with a long kraut intro that might one day surface”, McConnochie says of the track, recorded by Lauro Zanin from the Brighton band Wax Machine at Studio 284. Watch the video below.

Strange Cages will support Night Beats tonight at Brighton’s The Hope and Ruin. Get tickets here.

Words: Yasmyn Charles

Preview: Cosmosis Festival

cosmosis

Seldom do I comment on something that is going on outside of Brighton, however, on the odd occasion a real special event comes along that just grabs my attention by the jewels. Cosmosis Festival in Manchester is one of those events. The best part? It’s all to take place in the Victoria Warehouse. Imagine that. Imagine that great big, bloody sound echoing around in there!

Over the years of festival going it’s rare to see such a promising line-up, and one for all psych-heads and lovers of anything with a bit of release out there, it is a must do event. Dig below for the skirting details.

The line-up takes into account one of the greatest and most recognisable cult bands of, well, arguably all time: The Brian Jonestown Massacre. A band that revolves around Anton Newcombe’s wit, wisdom and curiosity – they have produced 14 studio albums and countless EPs detailing their musical ventures, moves and fierce fights against the music industry. From Give It Back! to Revelations, sounds change, each equally as interesting as the other. We really cannot wait to catch this mesmerizing bunch once more.

Running alongside them and headlining the event are Scottish shoegazing giants, The Jesus and Mary Chain. Having produced such seminal albums as Darklands and Psycho Candy, they have influenced the sound of a guitar and what you can do with some frets and six strings beyond your mind’s belief. Expect face melting sounds to leave you blurred and crawling on the floor wondering what happened en-route.

Beyond the two main attractions, the line-up swarms through a field of psychedelia, fuzz and punk. On the colorful, carefree side there is the West Coast haze of The Allah-Las, the eccentricity of Of Montreal and the return of the shoegazing dream: LSD and the Search for God. This acts as the calm before the storm and it’s set to be bloody great.

For the uptight, tense music lovers – you are all just as well catered for. The post-punk angst of Wire revels within Victoria Warehouse. This is generated onwards to the gloom of Esben and The Witch, the dream-pop of The Raveonettes and the stoned psych noise of Uncle Acid. Expect as much fuzz as a 14 year old’s attempt at a beard, swooning guitar lines and ushered vocals.

Beyond the bigger names lurk some fantastic newbies as well – the garage-rock of The Black Delta Movement to the Fugazi-esque The Longcut. Or the desert rock of Lola Colt – sounding something like PJ Harvey lurching into a collision with My Bloody Valentine. In addition, there is the sitar revival of Baba Naga, the relaxed, curious waves of far flung psychedelia sounding like Kula Shaker on some serious sedative. Up and down the festival line-up, it is impossible to pin point every band as the line-up begs for attention on every level. Get stuck into the Spotify playlist below and give the whole thing a run through, even though it’s up in Manchester it is certainly not worth missing. Post-gig DJ sets run where you can catch my local favourites Acid Box Promotions proving their worth too.

It’s not so grim up Norf after all.

Tickets: £71.55

Words: Tom Churchill

Iggy Pop and Josh Homme have announced an album

Photo credit to Elizabeth Weinberg

Iggy Pop and Josh Homme have announced plans to release a record together. Kept a top-secret and fully independent project until now, the album, titled Post Pop Depression, will see its release in March via Loma Vista (Marilyn Manson, Spoon, Ghost).

According to the New York Times the album is said to show “both songwriters’ clear fingerprints: the pithy, hard-nosed clarity of Mr. Pop’s lyrics and the unflinching tone of his voice; and the crispness, angularity and deft convolutions of Mr. Homme’s chords and melodies.”

This pairing of forces came about with a text message sent from Iggy Pop to Josh Homme, who told the Times it said something along the lines of, ‘Hey, it would be great if we got together and maybe write something sometime — Iggy’. Several phone calls later, and a fed-ex package sent from Pop to Homme containing a heap of material and ideas, including memories of his time spent in Berlin with the late and great David Bowie, the two gentlemen wound up in a rehearsal room.

Beginning sessions last January, the pair financed the project entirely out of their own pockets with no record label, with Homme recruiting a full band himself. According to the New York Times, Iggy has stated, “it was made to be heard — not to be some quirky thing that we did with our own money, ha-ha.”

In a conversation after the initial rehearsal Iggy told Josh, “you took me to a place I’d never been.” With Homme replying, “this was to go where neither of us had gone before. That was the agreement. And to go all the way.”

Watch this space for new music.

original article via
image credit: Elizabeth Weinberg

GHOST live at Koko

Ghost
London Koko
21st Dec 2015

Ghost2015

We here at Crossfire love Ghost, we do. (The Nameless Ghoul who plays bass is our favourite, he’s so much sexier than the others). Clearly, we are not alone, as tonight the queue for the sold-out Koko has to double back on itself long before the doors actually open. The Swedish sextet’s mix of old-school metal, synthesized orchestration and gothic/horror imagery may seem very much at odds with the prevailing Sounds Of 2015, but it makes for a devilishly good night out, and a fine last chance to dance as the year draws to a close.

Dead Soul are armed with some decent melodic industrial rock tunes, but the trio’s minimalist set-up and relative lack of stage presence ultimately draw little more than polite applause from a crowd eager for quite the opposite. They’d probably be more fun in front of their own crowd in a more intimate club.

Ghost, on the other hand, seem completely at home amidst the Koko’s cavernous red-and-gold furnishings. Churches may be heaving at this time of year, but it’s doubtful that many boast as magnetic a figure as Papa Emeritus III to lead their congregations. His increasingly camp between-song banter runs somewhat contrary to his band’s image – with various Nameless Ghoul musicians stalking the stage in black clothes and silver masks – but who says alleged devotees of The Horned One can’t have a sense of humour?

If you’re still tempted to dismiss Ghost as a novelty act, then you really need to wrap your ears around new album ‘Meliora’, which dominates tonight’s set, and on which Ghost have never sounded better. ‘Spirit’ is as atmospheric an opener as you could hope for, whilst the slower ‘He Is’ is sung back religiously by a crowd that encompasses teenagers in Black Veil Brides shirts, a few geezers in 1980s Monsters Of Rock t-shirts, and all folks in between. Quite simply, the likes of ‘From The Pinnacle To The Pit’ and ‘Mummy Dust’ sound bigger, stronger and more memorable than past efforts, whilst still being unmistakably the work of Ghost.

By the time they treat us to an encore of sorts, Papa has long since discarded his papal hat and robes for a tuxedo, and the almost reverential vibe has somehow seamlessly evolved into one of fun and celebration. He compares his band’s traditional set-closer ‘Monstrance Clock’ to an orgasm, and indeed, tonight it proves a deeply satisfying end to a sweaty evening, with many a shit-eating grin amongst the hordes filing out of the Koko. Ghost – come again?

Alex Gosman

Archy Marshall

Packshot_imageArchy Marshall
A New Place 2 Drown
XL

Archy Marshall, who we are all familiar with under the alias King Krule, announced this project via his new instagram only a couple of weeks ago. He may have ditched the name for now, however his sadistic lyrics in which romanticise the smallest of details within our world still remain.

The project comprises of a book, 12 piece soundtrack, and a short film, all of which give us an insight into the creative pathways in which a crossover between Archy’s music and his brother Jack’s visual expertise are contextualised.

I have been eagerly anticipating more beats from the south London legend and stand not in the slightest disappointed. These tracks may lack the jazzy undertones of which we generally associate Archy with, however this album is still a melting pot of different experiences; grinding every genre into one amalgamated sound and with each listen a new aspect can be heard within his equanimous words and beats.

Henry Calvert

Glassjaw return

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13-years on from their last full-length, New York post-hardcore clan Glassjaw mark their return to the fold this week with ‘New White Extremity’.

With details of a full new album TBA this first cut arrives sludgy, expansive and taking no prisoners. Check it out below.