Category Archives: Music

Roxy Agogo: band feature

Roxy Agogo

Roxy Agogo is the brainchild of Hamish Fingland, better known as guitarist and keyboard player with Glasgow band White.

Currently showing a resurgence in musical activity, Roxy Agogo first caused ripples on the Glasgow scene in 2014 with tracks like ‘When You Dress Up’ and ‘Crocodiles’.

He wrote the score for the indie Glasgow film ‘Waitress’ released in early 2015 then took a sabbatical from solo projects until earlier this year.

Hamish Fingland has been busy touring and recording with White pushing the pop-funk boundaries.

Almost unrecognisable from his time with folk band Kassidy, Hamish Fingland as Roxy Agogo is glam rock personified.

There is substance to the style, though. The music is as self assured and full bodied as the image.

There is a stark beauty to the electronic pop Hamish Fingland produces as Roxy Agogo.

The music is experimental but shows an appreciation of 80s electronica. It manages to be both fresh and nostalgic.

This is what pop music should be, not the bland sameness found on commercial radio stations.

It is bold.

It is vital.

Art house at it’s finest.

There is often an undercurrent of sexuality in the words, a claustrophobic spotlight on pleasures of the flesh.

The lyric ‘I want to taste the saliva at the corner of your mouth’ in ‘Supercloseups’ gives a sense of intimacy under the microscope.

Every caress dissected. Every touch described.

 

It is always fascinating to see the musical vision become a reality on stage.

With a band featuring members of Baby Strange and White, and creative input from Lucia Fontaine, these are shows worth catching.

Sadly for those not living in the North, most of the live activity centres round Hamish’s native Glasgow.

Perhaps if we pay enough attention to his work. he may be persuaded to stray a little further afield.

 

 

YAK, Goat Girl and Peaness – LiverpoolO2 Academy 2: live review

YAK, Goat Girl and Peaness – LiverpoolO2 Academy 2: live review

26.10.16

There was competition for Liverpool’s live audience on the night Yak came to play. Warpaint were playing close by on the opening night of Liverpool International Music Festival 2016. It left the room at the O2 Academy 2 emptier than it should have been. Those that chose to attend were treated to fine support acts and another overwhelmingly full-on YAK performance.

Peaness brought their melodic indie to the venue to start an interesting and thought provoking night. The Chester trio use the duel female vocals excellently, providing some good quality tunes. As they said themselves, they were the quietest band of the night. They went down well with the audience as a whole and had brought their own fans with them. Songs like ‘Summer Song’ have an off-beat simplicity which suits their vocal style well.

Goat Girl from London have a wild and interesting style. They do have a cool stage persona which seems to have developed since their early gigs in South East London. Louder and wilder than Peaness, the girls brought some excellent songs to the audience and received quite a welcome. The audience reaction gained strength with every track. A great and original band.

YAK hit the stage with more bombast than many bands achieve in a lifetime. Every gig is different and the addition of a saxophonist may have added substance, but did little to change the incendiary nature of their live show. They chopped and changed from one track to another creating medleys and morphing one song straight into another.

All the anthems were there with ‘Smile’ and ‘Hungry Heart’ getting the live treatment they deserve. It was good to hear their frenzied take on ‘Cumberland Gap’, such a big part of their early live shows. The material from the album ‘Alas Salvation’ was amazing, with ‘Curtain Twitcher’ a stunning highlight. At times the room was the most amazing wall of sound. ‘Semi-Automatic’ from the recent double A-side single showed Yak are continuing to bring out quality tracks rather than simply releasing singles from the album. With a three song encore including ‘No’ and finishing with ‘Plastic People’ it was a stellar set. The audience went wild.

The Liverpool gig was the second to last before YAK break for a while. Their stage show is physical, exciting and probably exhausting. It takes real showmen to pull off a breath-taking  performance at the end of two years of tours across the world. YAK did all that.

The kids in the pit and the majority of the audience didn’t care. They got what they came for: Ollie on top of the crowd; hanging from the pipework; swigging Jack Daniels straight from the bottle. But the need for a break from the road was palpable even during this stunning gig. Ollie left the question of what comes next dangling, hinting that the break may be permanent, but only maybe. Perhaps a break to recharge will be enough. If YAK break up, the current music scene will have lost one of it’s brightest stars. The world will be darker without them to shine light into the blandness.

Live love: Why going to gigs matters

There has been a lot written about the closure of music venues across the country. I started thinking of what my favourite venues have meant to me and why. This is a love letter to those venues. They have filled my heart with music over the years. Live music venues are culturally and personally important. They are the places amazing memories are made. This post has some of mine.

Many of the venues in Liverpool have gone. Some have changed so much I hardly recognise the sanctified versions of the sweaty haunts I used to visit. As I have got older and bolder the venues I love are now found across the country. I hope that one day they will be in cities across the world.

erics
Eric’s: Photographer unknown

My first great loss was the legendary punk club Eric’s. The club was only open for a short while, but hosted gigs from so many iconic bands the flyers seem hard to believe. It was always a dark, dank basement venue, where the collective sweat of the crowd collected on the ceiling and rained down on the seething mass below. Shoes stuck to beer-stained carpets. It was glorious. I remember seeing Stiff Little Fingers at one of the despised matinees. I could barely get in, let alone see them, the place was so full. But the raw, exciting music was sublime. I was too baby faced to get into the evening shows, but to have just been part of it at all was amazing.

Fast forward to my favourite ever Liverpool club The Kazimier.  I wrote my first review of The Jackobins after seeing them at a Liverpool Calling gig there. The atmosphere and the whole way the venue was laid out made it a brilliant place to see bands. I remember running in really late because I couldn’t get the night off to see The Fat White Family. They were doing a coin toss for the headline slot and I was on tenterhooks until I found they had won. The bouncers though I was hilarious getting to a gig at 10pm, but I managed to see half the Growlers set and all of The Fat White Family. A wild and chaotic night. Just one of my memorable gigs at that amazing and sadly missed venue.

dscn0390
The Fat White Family at The Kasimier; photo by Roxy Gillespie

I love so many different types of music. here are a few of my many memories; Bon Scott with Angus Young on his shoulders in the crowd at The Empire; getting tear gassed at the Beastie Boys concert at The Royal Court; The bouncers trying to stop Lux Interior from climbing the speaker stack and failing miserably, The Royal Court again; Baby Strange blowing my socks off as a support band at The Arts Club; Falls playing right next to me in the crowd at Maguires.

villy-maguires
Villy Raze at Maguires: photo by Roxy Gillespie

I can’t even remember what some of the venues were called – The club near Norton Street where I saw Cabaret Voltaire; The nightclub in the St John’s precinct where I saw  Ultravox.  The names don’t matter- the music does.

Gigs are more than just a band on a stage. They are an event; a memory; a feeling; life itself. When councils and developers close venues they remove more than a stage. When clubs become gentrified and only book ‘safe’ bands they discourage the new; the loud; the innovators.

And life becomes just that little bit greyer.

 

Bat Bike: band profile

BAT-BIKE: band profile

bat-sauce10532758_959761280761307_1567660083588963567_n

BAT-BIKE produce such experimental and often humorous songs, it is hard to classify their music. Formed in Scotland in 2013, the band partially live in South-East London and often bring their hectic live show to the capital. One of the acts at Nestival in Deptford, they slammed the crowd with a frantically superb set at Deptford Vinyl, which I was lucky enough to catch.  The band continue to confound and delight with their chaotic charm and gutsy, fuzz-laden sound. There is a wonderful variety to their output, aided by a prolific number of self-released digital albums, as well as their excellent first album ‘Getting Back’ released by Trashmouth Records in January 2016.

From the hypnotic psychedelia and dead-pan humour of ‘Leicester Holiday’ through the blues fuzz of ‘Sean Lemon’ to the total gospel choir anthem ‘Getting Back’, the album is an amazing piece of work. It stands as one of my favourite albums of the year.

With part of the band living in one country, England, and part in Scotland, the logistics can be difficult, but their live shows are anarchic and a hell of a lot of fun. With such a lot of material to draw on the set is always a brilliantly crazy one-off. The music hangs together perfectly, like the ingredients in the famous shit-hot sauce cooked up by Bat-A; spicy and guaranteed to blow your socks off.

Also featured on the 2016 Trashmouth Records Album Day release and the compilation ‘Thinking of Moving to Hastings’, there are a lot of ways to obtain your own slice of surreal BAT-BIKE musical counter culture. This is a musical revolution you need to be part of.

 

 

 

Darma: band profile

Darma are a three piece grunge fuzz band from Manchester. They come with enough attitude, volume and dour Northern humour to hit you right between the eyes; a triple whammy.

Only working with their current line-up since 2015, the band consists of Harry Corbett on vocals and lead guitar, Issac Whitehead on drums and Lloyd Whitehead on bass. With two fine EPs already released Darma are already aiming for the stars and might well reach them.

Their first EP, the self-titled Darma and the recently released Milk are only the beginning for these talented guys. They already have plans to release a full length album next year, no mean feat for a band who fund all their releases themselves.

14462789_1133894653343951_6073781971095460389_n
Darma Live at Brink: Photo by Georgia Flynn

Some bands mellow as they develop, but Darma seem even louder and more vital with every release. There are some serous earworms on Milk including ‘Your’e Always Right‘ and title track ‘Milk‘. Add the excellent tracks from the first EP such as ‘What Are You Waiting For‘ and you can see the total quality of material the lads are producing from the word go. They also throw a loud, exciting stage presence to the mix. It is blindingly easy to see Darma’s potential. Get them while they’re hot.

Roxy G

 

 

Baby Strange: band profile

baby-strange
Baby Strange by Roxy Gillespie

Baby Strange have come a long way since I saw them give a stunning performance to eight people as a support band. Their following in their native Glasgow is fierce and the band’s material goes from strength to strength. With the recent release of their first album, ‘Want It, Need It‘. the Glasgow trio have cemented their place at the forefront of the current punk/indie scene.

Baby Strange consist of Johnny Madden on guitar and vocals, Connaire McCann on drums and Aiden McCann on bass. There is a moodiness about their music. It can be stark and brutal, as on ‘Want It, Need It‘ or fatally charming on tracks like ‘VVV‘. Johnny Madden has a deep, dark vocal style perfect for the music he and the McCann brothers produce. Sometimes their sound verges on pure pop on tracks like ‘California Sun’. The music may be radio-friendly, but has an undercurrent of unrest that marks the band apart.

14192625_1275309935812433_2824251701899803863_n

With or without their Glasgow friends White, Baby Strange have always been a hot proposition live. With a headline tour about to start, these should be a must-see on your Autumn gig calendar.

Roxy G

Yak: band profile

 

12651307_895804483861014_2464490633268291279_n

Already the darlings of the garage/ punk/ psych scene, Yak are doing very well for themselves. With a record deal on Jack White’s Third Man label and a highly thought of album, ‘Alas Salvation’, released this summer things seem pretty rosy for them.

With a variety of styles, ranging from the gentle psychedelia of ‘Please Don’t Wait For Me‘ and to the frantic, wild stampede of ‘Victorious‘, Yak are always worth listening to. Yak are known for their crazy live shows. Ollie Burslem  is more in the audience than on stage and a table full of Elliot Rawson’s broken drumsticks at the end of the night is not an unusual sight. Having stood next to the bass amp of Andy Jones at a recent Brighton gig, I can assure you the music can be felt as well as heard.

If you want to see the mayhem for yourselves, Yak tour this September. Your very own chance to make sure Ollie stays firmly where he is supposed to be –  playing some very fine guitar while crowd surfing above your head.

Roxy G

Liverpool Psych Fest 2016

Liverpool Psych Fest 2016

My first experience of Liverpool Psych Fest was a little mixed. The music was varied and often fabulous, with some expected and unexpected treats. Known for my love of new bands, Deja Vega, Go!Zilla and Taman Shud all blew me away. I already loved Taman Shud through the unsavoury epiphany I went through in 2014 when I first heard the Trashmouth Records complilation ‘Thinking of Moving to Hastings‘. Go!Zilla were already a band I knew and was aching to see. Deja Vega were nothing more than a name to me, but they thrilled me with their stunning set.

Gwenno, La Luz, Guadalupe Plata were also well worth watching. Super Furry Animals, Acid Mothers Temple and too many more to mention made the festival a really special event.

cropped-SFA.jpg
Super Furry Animals big screen by Roxy Gillespie

The Moonlandingz were amazing and it was good to see that Lias Saoudi, aka Johnny Rocket, hasn’t stopped popping out to the bar at gigs. It was good to see him with Adrian Flannagan. Their set was incendiary, showing why all of the bands associated with the Fat Whites are so, so good. So few bands give crazy, wild performances that the fans remember for ever. They seem to be able to do it every time, for now, anyway. The stand-out performance of the festival for me.

dsc_7442-2
Johnny Rocket with Roxy G in the background by Melanie Smith

Let’s get on to the mixed bit. Drinks tokens. It was my first experience of these, to be honest. It wasn’t a good one. I hope the organisers get enough complaints to scrap them next year. The only other thing was that, being a niche festival, a lot of the experimental music melded into one after a while. Fans of pure psychedelia probably loved it though, so I may be out of line.

taman-shud-1
Taman Shud at The Blade factory by Roxy Gillespie

Back on a more positive note, the visuals and virtual landscapes were amazing and a real addition to the event. Another plus was the amount of seating available both indoor and outdoor at the event. It gave the festival a cool vibe with everybody talking and getting together, especially around the eateries, which were also superb.

gwenno
Gwenno screen shot by Roxy Gillespie

I might have loved the event more if I had been an ordinary punter but doing the whole thing sober was my loss. Working with Melanie Smith of Mudkiss Photography and staff photographer at Louder Than War was a treat as usual. It was also nice to meet photographer Andy Von Pip. Thanks be for good company and fine music with some excellent virtual adventures thrown in.

Roxy G