Monthly Archives: December 2012

TOP TEN TRACKS OF 2012

I’ve already shared this with my facebook friends but, as promised, here are my top ten tracks of 2012. It’s one per artist, by the way, and often the song selection represents a particular album or band.

1, MORAIN – Animals http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8DAFxqTNulw

A choice which surprised me but I think the decision was the right one. Morain supported Dive Bella Dive in November – a support band supporting a support band. For me this was a band and a song so easily missed. However more, much more, than this – they were giving their EP away for FREE. When I think about some of the money I’ve wasted on crap this is a bargain. Do these guys know how good they actually are?

So nothing pretentious here, just a great song by some really nice lads (well they seem nice anyhow)

2, BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – Death To My Hometown http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UASyS-jUKKI

He sells out stadiums, his albums top the chart and after thirty plus years people still don’t `get` The Boss. His music these days is rooted in the great American protest tradition. The world economy is in ruins, life is hard and there is little respite and less hope. Let the greatest songwriter and performer of all time tell us about it.

3, FOUR 45s – Encore TricoloreĀ  https://soundcloud.com/thefour45s/encore-tricolore

This blog is almost the Four 45s appreciation society anyway so just enjoy the link.

4, DIVE BELLA DIVE – School http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g0kfJCf90k0

In a perfect world the charts would be full of stuff like this. Four amazingly good looking guys producing fantastic pop rock nuggets. That’s what rock music is about at the end of the day. Unfortunately the official video seems to have been removed so we’ll have to make do with a fan edit. Sorry about that. Incidentally on sex appeal Dive Bella Dive would be number one … we’ll all to have to live with that

5, STRANGERS IN PARADISE – Crosswire http://strangersinparadise.bandcamp.com/track/crosswire

As with the Four 45s, a band who should be well known to readers of this blog. They should of course be well known to everybody.

6, KILLERS – Runaways http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TMbyWSGYUgc

The Killers remain arguably the best band of their era and when they hit form, as they do here, few bands can compete.

7 HOPE & SOCIAL – Saints Alive http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vWGm4dd9a28

This magnificent band coming up with the goods yet again. I was going to give the nod to the beautiful ballad One Way Home from their recent album but a link proved elusive so the storming opening track will have to do – even if it is somebody’s phone footage.

If you’ve never seen this band live make doing so one of your New Year’s resolutions. You will not regret it.

8 ADAM LAMBERT – Better Than I Know Myself http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lg31XQR22zg

If there was any justice Adam Lambert would be the biggest pop star on the planet. He’s got the image, the attitude – and the voice.

9 BOB DYLAN – Scarlet Town (no link available)

Like many latter era Dylan albums The Tempest was a curate’s egg but even at his lowest ebb there’s always a great song to add to the canon. Like this one.

10 FUTURES – Start A Fire http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SDQygdQUsuc

Something of a slow burner this one. It spent several months on my Ipod without really standing out, but somehow it avoided the cull each time. This band have now split, just after I discovered them. Of such things are legends made.

GIG REVIEW – Four 45s/ Recovery at the Circle Bar, Harrogate Theatre

It’s becoming a bit of a tradition; Four 45s and/ or Recovery play a gig and I blog about it. Obviously there are only so many ways you can say, `they’re all great lads and their music rocks` so I’ll try and approach this one from a different angle.

A few general observations. Firstly this gig was organised as part of Later At The Circle Bar, the brainchild of Graham Chalmers, arts correspondant of the Harrogate Advertiser (just about the only decent person that ridiculous publication has but I digress). As Mr Chalmers rightly pointed out when introducing the bands Harrogate has a thriving gig scene but virtually no venues. I don’t always agree with what Graham Chalmers writes – he’s more indie while my tastes are classic rock – but he’s making events like this happen while the likes of me just turn up to enjoy the show and get pissed. Respect is due.

The Circle Bar of the theatre isn’t an obvious choice for a concert but the acoustics are superb (if not the soundproofing – arriving early I heard the soundcheck from the top of the street) and the inevitable limiting of numbers and friendly attitude of the bar staff make for an excellent venue. Judging by how quickly they ran out of lager they could perhaps be better prepared but that’s only a minor criticism.

Ah yes, numbers were limited. By the day of the concert Joe, Nick and the rest were appealing to anybody who had tickets but couldn’t go to get in touch as demand was so high and there were so many disappointed fans. The Four 45s could have sold the gig out twice, if not thrice, over. And let’s be brutal here – we are talking about a band whose total number of gigs hasn’t reached double figures and whose recorded output consists of a few demos on Soundcloud. The Four 45s have become Harrogate’s number one band on word of mouth and, most importantly, the fact that they deliver the goods.

Recovery opened proceedings. This was only their second gig and they were missing Andy Crick – Tom Skinner of Pips (see below) stood in for him. This meant that the three way vocal harmonies were absent this time but the vocal interplay between Jonny Skinner and Matt Ramsden was still impressive and the overall sound was crying out for a bigger audience and arena. This is the sound of ambition. I hope Recovery find the producer and audience they need – they deserve it.

So the Four 45s. What can I say that hasn’t been said already? Only that you need to see a band a few times before you can really get into the groove and get to know the songs. In the case of the Four 45s you have the gloriously anarchic political song `Eton Mess`, the sly knowing `Encore Tricolore` and the reflective ballad `Did You Hear The Wind Blow`.

Readers of this blog will know that I only discovered the Four 45s by accident. I can now safely say that I haven’t felt this excited by a local band since the heady days of IV Play. This train is gathering momentum so button up your coat, swallow down a shot to calm your nerves and brace yourself for what could be the ride of your life.

MUSIC OF 2012 – honourable mentions

OK, sorry I’ve not updated this for a while. I have a poor excuse – I’ve been too busy to get on my soapbox. Besides my blog seems to be more popular when I talk about music.

So a new year will soon be upon us and this may be as good a place as any to champion the songs that made my year. I’ll be counting down my top 10 songs of the year over the next few days but in the meantime here are three honourable mentions (alphabetically by artist).

LAWSON – Standing In The Dark http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PsbPkZPKEuY

I just thought this was a good pop song.

PIPS – Justice https://soundcloud.com/pipsband/justice

The best song to date by an impressive and original new band.

VAN HALEN – Tattoo http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3WfQ-hV3WtA

If you’re going to grow old disgracefully you may as well do it in style. Yes, David Lee Roth I mean you.

Gig review – Pips/ Recovery/ Andy Graham Blues Bar 2/12/2012

When it comes to local gig reviews this blog is now playing to the gallery to a certain extent – some of the featured bands do read this blog. As a result I have to toe a fine line between being too critical and too uncritical – the only answer is to invoke the spirit of rock and roll. If you want to make music pick up your guitar, bang those drums and just play. As long as the audience has a good time who cares if its a bit ragged around the edges? That would be my advice to any new band and why I would never slag off any band (and I’ve seen some pretty shit bands in my time). HOWEVER there’s no immediate need for this as all of the acts playing at the Blues Bar last Sunday were pretty impressive. And we’ll return to that spirit of rock and roll – several times.

It’s never easy being the guy on an acoustic guitar trying to warm up the audience while shouting over drunken pillocks but Adam Graham gave it his all and succeeded. I must admit I know very littleĀ  about this guy except that he plays a mixture of covers and his own songs. Given that two fine bands followed his set and the audience was there to see them, not him, he carved out his own part of the night and nobody begrudged him his moment. I hope I get a chance to see him perform again.

Recovery were the reason I went to the Blues Bar that night. This was their debut gig but the members themselves are hardly newcomers. Recovery consist of Jonny Skinner (ex Revolv and Faces of Dorian), Matt Ramsden (ex IV Play and briefly a member of Revolv), Andy Crick (ex Faces Of Dorian) and Mike Holmes on drums – Skinner has been in a prior band with at least two of these guys although not at the same time.

Those who remember Revolv may be surprised to discover how much Jonny Skinner has matured since that time, particularly as a vocalist. I’ve always had a soft spot for singers who can actually sing and Skinner’s powerful roar alone was enough to announce Recovery as a band with intent. However his vocals were supported by those of Matt and Andy and the three way vocal harmonies (unusual for a rock band) are Recovery’s most distinctive selling point and will translate well to record when the time comes. Hopefully this was the first of many gigs to come; the Harrogate music scene has a new major contender.

One note. I’ll probably be blogging incessantly next year as I celebrate a decade since IV Play. Revolv may well have only been Harrogate’s number two band of the time but with Joe Flanagan leading Four 45s, Steve Mosby breaking new ground with Strangers In Paradise and Skinner now returning to the fray Revolv may have just won the war – and interestingly none of these guys were the principal songwriter.

Which takes us on to Pips.

Pips are a three piece outfit that are painfully difficult to describe. There’s a definite metal influence here; they have riffs that would do Black Sabbath proud but to call them a metal band would be insulting. Lead singer Petch has a vocal style not entirely dissimilar to the great Bluesmen but Pips are hardly a blues act. The band’s lyrics (and they have lyrics – too many bands just have words) and Petch’s banter with the audience are vaguely reminiscent of acoustic era Dylan but any folkies would have left after the first few seconds clutching their ears.

These guys are originals. That’s not always a reccomendation. On this occasion – it is. They share something with the Four 45s (who were in the audience) in that they’re a band to get stuck into but at the same time a band you can party with. Put simply – their set was fun.

So band of the night? Well Recovery might just edge it with those vocal harmonies but for sheer blood, guts and rock and roll it’s a win for Pips. We’re all mates here so score draw.

And finally … I can’t resist pointing out that Pips, like the Four 45s, feature a former work colleague I never knew was musical. Once these bands hit the big time we’re going to have hordes of recordcompany executives descending upon us to see what other talent might have been missed (as happened in 60s Liverpool with the Merseybeat explosion). Anon, anon, I pray you remember the blogger …