• Helme claws back his history

    Gen 27 2009, 10:20


    Micky P. Kerr and Chris Helme at The Faversham, Leeds

    There is a charm about Micky P Kerr as he takes to the sizable Faversham stage shunning his guitar and sitting on a high chair starting with poetry but he doesn't get anywhere with people talking and laughing at the back he shuns the serious forgetting the second verse of his Credit Crunch Christmas poem and running through the song I'm in awe of you eager to get onto what he calls his silly songs.

    The charming humour of the shambling poet is lost and Kerr - who admits a hostility to the buffonlike hecklers - tries to pass himself off as arrogant with tongue-in-cheek but aim askew. One can imagine that on other nights he goes down a storm but not on this Sunday evening in Leeds.

    Leeds's Faversham is - according to Chris Helme so cool you have to wear an overcoat and the former The Seahorses front man's new brand of bluesy guitaring is yoked into something altogether more honest.

    Helme is an interesting performer in the midst of reclaiming his back catalogue from the monstrous ego of John Squire that haunts his past. He plays through a good chunk of his 1990s offerings musing that Blinded By The Sun was written when he was 23 in Brighton and that he is surprised anyone wants to hear it. He is less pleased to have to play the obviously Squire Love Is The Law but does do to earn the freedom to run through stomp Be My Husband and the Lorali.

    It is then that Helme seems most comfortable for sure but he takes requests for Seahorses B-Sides - "Funny, my songs always ended up as B-sides" - and is pleased to play them slowly clawing back as his own each one.

  • Tonight, Mr Jens Lekman. Tomorrow, Mr Jens Lekman

    Mag 22 2008, 11:21

    This article is from www.dalliance.co.uk


    "If you have videoed tonight - which is fine with me," says Jens Lekman after an enthralling night at The Cluny in Newcastle "then do not put it on the Internet or on YouTube because I want this night to be between you and me."

    Jens Lekman is an honest man in what is a dishonest industry.

    Every night on stages across the world artists pour souls into the same unique displays that they give the night before and will give tomorrow. This suits some performers and but not others and Lekman - following his path of attempting to not play the same venue in the same town every time he visits - is uncomfortable with the four month touring fatigue he and his five musicians are trying to avoid. "If there is a button to press, a rope to pull, then do it" he tells his band.

    He wants every night to be special, unique, individual and for two nights in Newcastle and Leeds - fulfilling a long time curious interest of mine - I will be watching both gigs.

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    Thank you very much. Michael
  • Now hear me. Now hear me roar! - The Ending Of, Dinosaur Pile Up, Getoutofcities,…

    Apr 13 2008, 15:03

    Fri 11 Apr – Granadaland

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    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.

    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.

    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.

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  • Navigated, Priceless - Dalliance (Does New York) Review

    Mar 5 2008, 13:53

    Sun 24 Feb – The Magnetic Fields, The Interstellar Radio Company


    Strung along the stage at New York's Town Hall are The Magnetic Fields. "We are here to promote our new record, erm, Distortion" says Claudia Gonson sitting behind a piano looking nervously across to the mercurial yet miserable Stephin Merritt and in the next hour and a half they will craft music worth crossing the Earth for.

    For the uninitiated The Magnetic Fields are a strange combination of New York curio quirks. The lead performer Merritt pushes a finger in is ear to deaden the sound of applause - a medical thing - but as a symbol of the band's reluctance to conform to a norm of pop music it is telling.

    More a recital than a gig they are a mandolin, a piano, a cello, am acoustic guitar and drafted in singer Shirley Simms who begins the night with the ironic yet bitter paean to axe attacks California Girls.

    So the scene is set with Gonson - all Annie Hall chic and disorganisation - playing good wife to Merritt's sniped, self depreciating one liners and perhaps this would not play elsewhere but this is the home town and the Magnetic Fields are in accepting company.

    They run through the love song for the City - Come Back From San Francisco - which sounds like it is on the edge of shattering and Gonson offers that that tune comes from the seminal 69 Love Songs which is a hard to follow work and one that has forced the band into new directions over the past decade. The noise pop of Distortion is missing tonight and tracks are acoustic, beautiful, chipped from marble.

  • The Outside - Dalliance Review

    Feb 19 2008, 16:13

    Sat 16 Feb – Art Brut, Popular Workshop

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    Art Brut are powering through a storming set at Bradford's St George's Hall and I get the same feeling I did returning to school aged nine after a couple of weeks off with chicken pox.

    Led by the wonderfully haphazard Eddie Argos who charges onto the stage like the Disney friendly version of Jarvis Cocker Art Brut are twice the band live than they are from any of the two albums and umpteen singles that have totally passed me by leading to this sense of schoolyard confusion.

    They pound through My Little Brother and Argos gees his band up for every gushing of guitars with a communal call - "Are you ready Art Brut?" It is entertaining, is the stirring and as the bouncing kids at the front attest to it is stimulating enough to set bodies moving. They have an anthem - it is called Emily Kane - and it sounds fantastic. It is about Argos's fifteen year old squeeze and I'm back in the schoolyard and with my two weeks off everyone else has a new word, a phrase, a thing. I feel like an outsider.

    As they are welcomed back to the stage with a chorus call of "Art Brut Top Of The Pops" which references some line in some song they have but is also exceedingly singable I'm struck by how well the four lads and a lass on stage have won over the four hundred odd at BD1 Live night in St George's Hall - or perhaps they have just won over me - but either way they deserve the encore and, I would suggest, your attention.

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  • Lack of Originality - Dalliance Review

    Feb 11 2008, 21:30

    Fri 8 Feb – Elle S'appelle, Heads We Dance, Fourteen Corners, Pierpoint


    Elle S'appelle are a well beaten track and that is not to say that they are not travelling that path well but rather that for all the new band buzz around them one gets the feeling that you could add their catalogue to your record collection and nod along with it for the rest of your days without ever catching the whiff oforiginality.

    More later for this is Granadaland and there is an order to things and as Mark Husak expands his night to include out of the area bands he is applauded for retaining a loyalty to the local scene he has sponsored for the past two years.

    Pierpoint are a tight collective of would be post-punk/new wave guitar heroes. They have a decent following already and the dedication they obviously have used to file jagged metal edges into sharp songs is impressive but they are let down by a lead singer who snarls a little too derivatively and ends up coming over like a parody of a pop star.

    Read more on www.dalliance.co.uk
  • The Magnetism Of Morrissey - Dalliance Review

    Feb 4 2008, 11:13

    Fri 1 Feb – Morrissey

    "I'm sorry for being unoriginal." Steven says looking playfully at the aging but rapt audience in the music hall classic surroundings of the Sunderland Empire.

    Not to his second song - the ebullient First Of The Gang To Die - does he refer but to opener Stop Me If You Think You've Heard This One Before.

    A song now imitated but not by the man, not by Morrissey, who does not dwell on self referential imitation or parody. The twistiest verbalist in music plays this straight...

  • Taking Turns At Granadaland

    Gen 14 2008, 21:47

    Fri 11 Jan – Wild Beasts, Laura Groves, The Debuts, Spondi Pradlo

    The Wild Beasts, Laura Groves, The Debuts, Spondi Pradlo - Live Review Granadaland Night at The Love Apple, Bradford


    This review - and more like it - can be read at http://www.dalliance.co.uk
    Dalliance: About music in West Yorkshire but not all music and not all West Yorkshire


    No matter how huge Spondi Pradlo could get - and hearing them one suspects they will not be the next U2 - they will always be known as the band with one of the more ludicious names to have been considered and passed as acceptable. I'm very sure it has a meaning that that meaning is probably as earnest as Joy Division or Enola Gay and that not knowing it makes me a Philistine of the highest order but even if it does it is still a name that virtually guarantees a struggle for popularity.

    Which is a shame because The Pradlo, Spondi, The Spon Boys, Pradders, SP, Whatever, sound rather interesting. They are spirited and manage to fill the stage at the Love Apple with any number of curiously played instruments and the crowd with enough interested acquaintances that they are the best received first band at Granadaland since the insanely good The Swing Movement impressed last year.

    This Friday is Granadaland's second birthday. Four baloons hang from the ceiling and real ale is two pounds a pint and these things are done in celebration of the event which stands as a testament to founder Mark Husak. Tonight his event is as full as one has ever seen the Love Apple and the crowd is young and peopled with pretty things who jabber loudly between Spondi Pradlo and the second band The Debuts who open living up to the NME style billing of "Girl fronted Joy Division" but soon spin into sounding rather too much like The Long Blondes to claim genuine originality - something about new year in music seems to have everyone clamouring for all things new and different while in contrast in eleven months time every other song heard will be Simply Having A Wonderful Christmas Time.

    Tonight The Debuts are amusing without being enthralling and they struggle to control the increasingly restless assembled masses but that struggle pales compared the the slight frame of Laura Groves who barely visible on the low stage and is disrespectfully ignored by many who chatter loudly throughout the set and for sure one might thing that Groves needs to roughly take the attention of the audience or perhaps someone should give the Northern Working Men's Club motto of "No talking while the turn is on" but the delicate shading of the Shipley teenager's Joni Mitchell-esque vocal tremblings do not lend themselves to such coarseness and those who can't or won't hear miss out.

    Groves is better suited to the stage of larger events - she was never better than her slot at St George's Hall on one of the BD1 nights - where her vocals fill rooms uncontested. Tonight everyone is the victim of Granadaland's success but still the lament of single I Am Leaving - "My home was silent/My town was hidden somewhere in the dark/A spark ignited my imagination." - is music to be in love to and hotly tipped many here will no doubt claim to have taken more notice. Groves goes onto a musical sideline in the next month and with eager ears Dalliance awaits.

    Dalliance ears were more curious than eager about Kendalites The Wild Beasts who headlined but that curiosity was rewarded by a surprising and entertaining mash up of fifties teen Dance Hall and the most modern guitar driven indie. Brave Bulging Buoyant Clairvoyants is high pitched and enjoyable and Through Dark Night's Elvis growls seem to sum up the band's ethos of showmanship without the compromise of parody. Perhaps not the finest songsmiths but the win over the previously inattentive and dancing breaks out. The Wild Beasts stagecraft shines through and while one suspects that they may spend many a year as a very good opening act for the likes of the Kaiser Chiefs tonight they deserve the credit for finishing of a night that troubled as Bradford's best music night veered to being more about hair than hearing.


    This review - and more like it - can be read at http://www.dalliance.co.uk
    Dalliance: About music in West Yorkshire but not all music and not all West Yorkshire
  • This Vampire Weekend stuff...

    Gen 9 2008, 10:07

    ...is all well and good but the prediction for who will be big next year lists have started to become self fulfilling prophecies. A band like Vampire Weekend are catapulted to something like global fame because they turn up on a good few “Look out for in 2008” lists and go from playing tiny venues to being MTV stars in the space of months.

    One recalls The Bravery and how they got the same catapulting (“Duran Duran playing The Smiths fronted by The Glam Robert Smith”) but lacked the graft and grounding to maintain the levels.

    A band as esoteric as Vampire Weekend need to be ignored for a couple of albums (as The White Stripes were pretty much) rather than becoming ubiquitous before they have developed.
  • Dalliance Albums of 2007

    Dic 20 2007, 14:38

    Michael Wood's albums of the year as seen on http://www.dalliance.co.uk - About music in West Yorkshire but not all music and not all West Yorkshire.

    1 Night Falls Over Kortedala - Jens Lekman
    The sound of a heart beating in a thousand different ways Night Falls Over Kortedala - while bordering on twee - is an emotionally honest record revealing in the quirky and glorious, enjoying sweeping highs and distressing over bitter lows. And I Remember Every Kiss is stripped down power, Sipping On Sweet Nectar is joy unrestrained. Postcard To Nina is funny and big while Into Eternity is heart-warming and small. I'm Leaving Because I Don't Love You is raw emotion. Everything rings true, everything has the feeling of a conversation rather than a confession. Everything is honest and valuable and sweeps you away.

    2 Icky Thump - The White Stripes
    The bric-a-brac shop of music that is the White Stripes is never better presented than in the three week recording fest of bagpipes, RAT distorted guitars, one handed drumming and general madness of Icky Thump. Everything pulses with a wild imagination hard to sustain over two bands and over ten years of recording but Jack White comes good again with another in a long line of most interesting things about music today. Icky Thump, Conquest, I'm Slowly Turning Into You, Effect and Cause and Rag And Bone get continued plays. 300 M.P.H. Torrential Outpour Blues, A Martyr For My Love For You and You Don't Know What Love Is (You Just Do As You're Told) provide the depth. Plenty of bad notes, plenty of strange notes, plenty of everything and nothing uninteresting.

    3 Neon Bible - Arcade Fire
    Everyone has tagged Neon Bible as the album of the year and it is not hard to see why with Arcade Fire reaching high and grasping near. It is melodramatic and swooping. It is powerful and effecting. It is a superb album but it lacks a edge of the personal. There is a glory in Neon Bible but it is obviously vicarious. That said there are few better tracks released this year than Keep the Car Running or (Antichrist Television Blues). Neon Bible and Windowsill keep a general massively high quality and rich texture. As with the Arctic Monkeys Favourite Worst Nightmare this is the difficult second album done superbly.

    4 Favourite Worst Nightmare - Arctic Monkeys
    The second album problems neatly circumnavigated with an acceptance of the change of focus from local heroes to International popsters The Arctic Monkeys Favourite Worst Nightmare is far more interesting that it sound be. Fluorescent Adolescent and Balaclava show a maturing of style and theme from the massive selling first album while If You Were There, Beware and Do Me A Favour show a real growth that is confirmed in album ending, show stealing 505.

    5 Boyracer Jukebox - Vol 1
    Leeds/Nashville popsters Boyracer release fifteen cover versions - some classics, some not - of lo-fi pop excess and knock out a belting album. They Don't Know, When You Were Mine and Swords of a Thousand Men are all brilliant. Total Eclipse of the Heart is the reason anyone has ever picked up a guitar. Superb.

    6 Grown Ups - The Lodger
    A long time in gestation the smarter face of The Pigeon Detectives and The Kaiser Chiefs are The Lodger and Ben Siddall's band's first offering Grown Ups is a minor miracle touching on the likes of The Smiths and The Jam without sounding contrived or copied. From superb opener Many Thanks for Your Honest Opinion through the ebullient Kicking Sand and on Grown Ups is a smart record released into a world that prefers not to think.

    7 Cinerama Peel Sessions Vol 3
    A collection of old songs for sure but worth pushing would be The Wedding Present (or arrivists if you prefer) Wait For Me by The Pigeon Detectives out of any top ten for. Covers of All The Thinsg She Said and Groovejet are worth the money alone which On/Off is a reminder of the superb and meanderering path that David Gedge took in Cinerama.

    8 R.E.M. Live
    Obviously familiar - it is a collection of often albums old songs done live - but effective live set done in rehersals for the 2008 released new album. Stand outs are reworked Document offering Bad Day and Mike Mills country redition on (DOn't Go Back To) Rockville.

    9 23 - Blonde Redhead
    Aging New Yorkers produce their finest work to date with a textured and rich album of modern shoegazing. 23 grips onto the area behind the ears and worms into the the mind. Top Ranking stands as one of the tunes of the year.

    10 Our Earthly Pleasures - Maxïmo Park
    Baroque and hard edged pop sung with some style and no little intelligence that marks the album out from the morass of laddish indie pop. Singles Our Velocity and Girls Who Play Guitars are impressive but the soul of the band is shown best in Books from Boxes and By The Monument.

    11 Possum and the Moods - The Possum Moods
    Possum and the Moods is funky Lo-Fi pop with a large slice of spirit. Stand out tracks are 4WD and One More Try bookended an interesting and effective album.

    12 Wait For Me - The Pigeon Detectives
    Not really big, not really clever but it is indie guitar pop with track after track of hummable if forgettable tunes. Stop And Go and Take Her Back live longer in the mind but for all the enjoyment of 2007 this is bubblegum pop and not for the new year.