Album Review – The Psychedelic Furs: Made of Rain

The Psychedelic Furs – Made of Rain

Way back amongst a plethora of snarling punk and poppier new wave outfits, The Psychedelic Furs immediately stood out; so much more than the three chord backdrop of the era and Richard Butler’s gravelly vocal bringing a rich, haunting hook, his brother Tim adding deep bass-tones. The dark undertone of tracks like Sister Europe and President Gas stands up all these years later, the haze of Love My Way embedded as a time stamp of the early 80s.

Several decades later then it seems somehow unlikely that they could be producing an album that can still make the hairs on the back of your neck stand up, but here we are with Made of Rain, a collection of songs that sound every bit as valid against today’s oddly dystopian background.

Opening track The Boy who Invented Rock and Roll is a strong starter awash with jagged synths, fading into the gritty couplets of Don’t Believe, an updated version of a sound that is unmistakably The Psychedelic Furs. There’s a lot to take in as the album progresses and its mood swings from the upbeat Come All Ye Faithful to the more anthemic Turn Your Back on Me, that would surely provoke a lighters in the air moment live if only people didn’t just use the flashlight on their phones these days.

All in all, Made of Rain is a very welcome return from a band that could easily have chosen to eat out on past triumphs but instead have put together a whole new dining experience for fans past and present. In many cases a long absence is best left to continue, but kudos to the Butler brothers and their new ensemble, this is a happy reunion and adds some fresh content to the songbook without taking anything away from its beautiful past.

Made Of Rain is released tomorrow, 31st July, on Cooking Vinyl. The album will be available on gatefold double 12” vinyl, CD, cassette and digital download with exclusive and signed items available from the band’s Official Store. Link to pre-order and pending tour dates here; watch the video for Come All Ye Faithful below.

Review by Siobhan
Photo © Matthew Reeves

30th July 2020

Days Gone By: Porches

Days Gone By: Porches 
by Jennifer Mullins

Phoenix, AZ, is a city that spreads out into the suburbs instead of up, partly because the airport is adjacent to downtown. With all the music venues closed due to Covid-19, I decided to explore the historic neighborhoods in downtown Phoenix. Each neighborhood has a unique name, such as Roosevelt Historic Neighborhood and F.Q. (Francis Quarles) Neighborhood, to name a couple. Unlike the suburbs, the architecture of each house is unique.


The houses are late 19th / early 20th century in the style of bungalows and craftsman. The more houses that I photographed on these empty quarantined streets, the more I realized that I began to focus on the porches. Most cookie-cutter suburban houses do not have porches. These porches were decorated in a way that looked so inviting. I could see myself sitting there daily, enjoying talking to neighbors, or watching the world go by. On one walk, there was a socially distanced concert, before the summer heat descended, where La Luz de la Luna performed in front of their house and the neighbors sat on curbs and porches to enjoy the show.

Downtown Phoenix, with its historic areas, music and arts venues truly is a gem in the desert.

Words and photos © Jennifer Mullins
Links to other content by Jennifer here

29th July 2020

Album Review – Fontaines DC: A Hero’s Death

Fontaines DC – A Hero’s Death

As a debut album Dogrel more than did its job, a loud, unrepentant punch into the world full of bravado and disquiet, plunging Fontaines DC into mass market idolatry with extensive touring and a saturated fanbase. There are still people shouting about the fact that it hasn’t made this year’s Mercury list despite being on last year’s; a fan favourite for sure.

But make no mistake, Fontaines DC are not here to play puppets to anyone’s expectations, it’s surely no coincidence that the lead track on new album A Hero’s Death contains the repeated refrain ‘I don’t belong to anyone’ and it’s clear from the outset that this album has a whole different sound.

Still the familiarity of the Mark E Smith-esque swagger shines through on recent single Televised Mind and Living in America, but delve into the other songs and you’ll find unexpected hints of Wire, Leonard Cohen and Throbbing Gristle. The angst is still there but it manifests itself through controlled balladry and contemplation, notably mid-album on side by side tracks You Said and Oh Such a Spring.

When you’ve found a winning formula, it’s a bold move to leave it to one side, but the world is a very different place to what it was a year ago and A Hero’s Death feels like a much better fit right now. It’s only a tricky second album if you try to replicate the first one and there’s no danger of that here. Throw your presumptions aside and enjoy the new incarnation.

UK tour dates are planned for May 2021 and the band have just announced outstore performances for Resident in Brighton and Banquet Records in Kingston in November, updated regulations allowing.

A Hero’s Death is out via Partisan Records this Friday 31st July – preorder link here. You can watch its first performance streamed in A Night at Montrose, Dublin on Monday 3rd August; all album purchases from the Fontaines DC store by 9pm on 2nd will receive an access code beforehand. Watch the video for Televised Mind below.

Review by Siobhan

28th July 2020

 

HENGE – New Single & Bluedot Festival Livestream

HENGE – Exo single launch & livestream from Bluedot Festival

Today, inter-galactic rock troupe Henge release their latest single Exo, the lead track from their pending new album ExoKosm, cited as ‘another exploration into the band’s unique interplanetary sound known as Cosmic Dross’. Incorporating the talents of their audience, the animated music video for Exo has been created with art made by their loyal human fanbase, who had the opportunity to submit illustrations in return for a special edition HENGE comic book.

While tour dates are being rescheduled, you can dip into the cosmic world of HENGE tomorrow, 25th July, as they take part in Bluedot Festival’s A Weekend in Outer Space online extravaganza; be sure to park your virtual spaceships in an orderly line.

Photographer Ingrid Turner’s images from previous shows will give you an inkling that this is likely to be no run of the mill Saturday morning…

Video for Exo below

Catch up with HENGE here and check out the full details of Bluedot’s weekender

Photos by Ingrid Turner

24th July 2020

Kraszna-Krausz Photography & Moving Image Book Awards

Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards announce Long and Shortlists

Header image: Swimming Pool in Wiesbaden’ (1934) © Dr Paul Wolff and Alfred Tritschler. From ​Dr. Paul Wolff & Tritschler, Light and Shadow – Photographs 1920 bis 1950 ​ edited by Hans Michael Koetzle (Kehrer, 2019)

Established since 1985, The Kraszna-Krausz Book Awards provides a platform that highlights a beautifully diverse range of Moving Image and Photography books. The awards are open to books that have been published in the previous year and are available in the UK. This year saw over 200 entries, from which short and longlists have now been drawn up and were announced yesterday.

In a year that has seen galleries closed and exhibitions cancelled, it seems timely to appreciate another medium through which to view the art involved in image making and some stunning end results.

The 35th edition of the prize sees some stiff competition and judging will surely not be easy.

Quil Lemons, “Purple” South Philadelphia, 2018, from​ ​
The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion​
by Antwaun Sargent (Aperture, 2019) © Quil Lemons

Winners will be announced in September prior to a livestream event featuring conversations about the two winning titles, hosted by and
in partnership with The Photographers’ Gallery. This takes the place of the usual awards ceremony, allowing celebrations to take place safely.

You can find more information about the work of the Kraszna-Krausz Foundation and about the selected books on their website.

Left: Jonas Mekas, ‘At the Film-Makers Cooperative’, 1962.
From ​I Seem to Live. The New York Diaries. Vol. I 1950-1969​
by Jonas Mekas (Spector Books, 2019)

Right: Two Archivist (gloves on), Photographic Collections,
National Museum Wales, Nantgarw, Cardiff, 2016 © Sophy Rickett.
From ​The Curious Moaning of Kenfig Burrows​ by Sophy Rickett
(GOST Books, 2019)

From the press release:

‘The books in the running for the 2020 Photography Book Award and Moving Image Book Award address diverse global issues related to race, justice, identity, and the construction of truth, history and memory.

Ranging from illuminating artist monographs and anthologies to in-depth critiques of photography or filmmaking, to photobooks reconstructing hidden stories, and much more, the lists reflect the Foundation’s enduring recognition of rigorous and original books that will likely have a lasting impact on their field.’

Still from Revisiting Genesis, by Oreet Ashery. 2016.
Web series, 93 mins. (Courtesy the artist).
Erika Paul Mellon, Lucy Reynolds & Sarah Perks (eds),
Artists’ Moving Image in Britain Since 1989​
(Centre for Studies in British Art, 2019)

2020 Photography Book Award Shortlist

LaToya Ruby Frazier (Mousse Publishing & Mudam Luxembourg)

Photography, Truth and Reconciliation by Melissa Miles (Routledge)

The Curious Moaning of Kenfig Burrows by Sopy Rickett (GOST Books)

Moving Image Book Award Shortlist

Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film by Allyson Nadia Field, Marsha Gordon eds (Duke University Press)

Frame by Frame: A Materialistic Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons by Hannah Frank (University of California Press)

This Thing of Darkness: Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible in Stalin’s Russia by Joan Neuberger (Cornell University Press)

2020 Photography Book Award Longlist

The Canary and the Hammer by Lisa Barnard (MACK)

Women War Photographers: From Lee Miller to Anja Niedringhaus by Anne-Marie Beckmann & Felicity Kom, eds (Prestel)

Seeing the Unseen by Harold Edgerton (Steidl co-published with the MIT Museum, Cambridge, Massachusetts)

LaToya Ruby Frazier (Mousse Publishing / Mudam Luxembourg)

Signs and Wonders: The Photographs of John Beasley Greene by Corey Keller (Prestel)

The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art & Fashion by Antwaun Sargent (Aperture)

Dr Paul Wolff & Tritschler: Light and Shadow – Photographs 1920 bis 1950 by Hans-Michael Koetzle (Kehrer Verlag)

Photography, Truth and Reconciliation by Melissa Miles (Routledge)

The Curious Moaning of Kenfig Burrows by Sophie Rickett (GOST Books)

Where We Find Ourselves: The Photographs of Hugh Mangum, 1897 – 1922 by Margaret Sartor & Alex Harris, eds (University of North Carolina Press)

Jamal Nxedlana, Johannesburg, 2019, from​
​The New Black Vanguard: Photography Between Art and Fashion ​
by Antwaun Sargent (Aperture, 2019) © Jamal Nxedlana

Moving Image Book Award Longlist

Artists’ Moving Image in Britain since 1989 ​by Erika Balsom, Lucy Reynolds & Sarah Perks (eds) (Paul Mellon Centre)

Screening Race in American Nontheatrical Film ​by Allyson Nadia Field, Marsha Gordon, eds (Duke University Press)

Frame by Frame: A Materialist Aesthetics of Animated Cartoons ​by Hannah Frank (University of California Press)

The Brighton School and the Birth of British Film ​by Frank Gray (Palgrave Macmillan)

Film, Music, Memory ​by Berthold Hoeckner (University of Chicago Press)

The Lost World of DeMille ​by John Kobal (University Press of Mississippi)

I Seem to Live. The New York Diaries. Vol. I 1950-1969 ​by Jonas Mekas (Spector Books)

This Thing of Darkness: Eisenstein’s Ivan the Terrible in Stalin’s Russia ​by Joan Neuberger (Cornell University Press)

The Brothers Mankiewicz: Hope, Heartbreak, and Hollywood Classics ​by Sydney Ladensohn Stern (University Press of Mississippi)

Silent Cinema: A Guide to Study, Research and Curatorship​ by Paolo Cherchi Usai (Bloomsbury)

Aggressive Assimilation, by Adrian Stimson. 2013.
Adrian Jr./Old Sun Residential School/Adrian Sr.).
Photographic triptych, 50.8 by 162.56 cm. Courtesy Adrian Stimson.
From ​Photography, Truth and Reconciliation ​by Melissa Miles​ (Routledge, 2019)

Intro by Siobhan
Details and photos via Flint Culture – copyright as detailed; please do not reproduce images without permission

23rd July 2020

The Blinders – New Album & Livestream

The Blinders – Fantasies of a Stay at Home Psychopath

On Friday, The Blinders released their new album Fantasies of a Stay at Home Psychopath. Last night, they followed this with a streamed launch which only served to reinforce how much we’re all missing live music. The band are renowned for giving a blistering performance and, despite the obvious lack of opportunity to interact with fans on this occasion, their trademark energy and intensity were still very much to the forefront.

Following on from first album Columbia, the new offering feels like the band have had time to consider and incorporate their influences into their own brand of alt-rock with a heavy noir twist. The result is a departure from the debut and begs to be seen live in the flesh. Tour dates scheduled for March will doubtless sell out in no time. But for now, the livestream from their Manchester studio has whet the appetite, ably abetted on the night by the complimentary skills of Eoghan Clifford on guitar, Paris Taylor on backing vocals and percussion, Thomas Castrey on drums and Callum Chesterman on keys.

Fantasies of a Stay at Home Psychopath is a reflection of the shades of societal dystopia that come from living in the shadow of Brexit, the climate crisis and the global pandemic, a bizarre situation that prompts justified angry anthems. Lunatic (With A Loaded Gun) calls on the disturbing imagery of Trump’s separation policies… ‘there are children in cages on Monday’s front pages’ and the metaphorical loaded gun crashes through the tribal drums and half spoken vocal. The Doors-esque Black Glass draws towards the final track In This Decade, where things slow to a pensive contemplation of the fragility of the environment we live in… ‘for in this decade there’s no knowing if there’s gonna be a tomorrow’. All in all, the album is a journey through the increasingly varied aspects of The Blinders’ repertoire, and a welcome addition to the bleak background but certainly not creatively challenged facade of 2020.

Fantasies of a Stay at Home Psychopath is available now via Modern Sky UK – purchase the album and tour tickets here.

Words by Siobhan

21st July 2020

New Music – Silverbacks | Pet Grotesque | Erasure

New releases – Silverbacks, Pet Grotesque, Erasure

Silverbacks – Fad (album)

Following the slow drip of tantalising singles over the last couple of years, Dublin’s Silverbacks finally release their much anticipated album Fad today. If you’ve not heard the band before, opening track Dunkirk is a fine introduction, all spiky guitars and spoken lyrics, flavours of The Fall and Sonic Youth easing their way throughout the song. Further into the album, Just In The Band depicts the tale of Bowie and Iggy Pop’s friendship which is surely worthy of consideration. Lots of influences abound but Silverbacks manage to shape -shift these into their own enigmatic sound, a fad worth getting involved in.

Fad is available now on Bandcamp or via your local record shop. Live dates are being rescheduled for 2021, in the meantime check out the album and watch the video for  Pink Tide here. 

Silverbacks

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Pet Grotesque – Scratch (single)

Most recently seen as touring keys player in Goat Girl and a member of Tiña, featuring on Speedy Wunderground’s latest excellent release, Pet Grotesque has spent much of lockdown working on his second album. If new track Scratch is anything to go by, it will be one to watch out for. Mixing gnarly psych undertones with dreamy lo-fi pop sensibilities, Scratch sounds like the soundtrack to a balmy summer evening with just a hint of menace. The forthcoming album is mixed by PVA’s Josh Baxter, promising another layer of genre-fused finesse.

Listen here

Pet Grotesque

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Erasure – Shot A Satellite (single)

Stalwarts of electro-pop, Erasure release a new track this week as a precursor to their album The Neon, due to be launched into the world next month. Long time fans of the band need not worry that they’ve strayed too far from what they know and love. If anything, Shot A Satellite is testament to the heady days of the 80’s dancefloor, looking set to stick in your head and prompt a listen to material old and new. Speaking about the new songs and the use of older instruments and machines, Vince Clarke says, “There’s a warmth to them. There’s also a real beauty in putting different analogue synthesisers together, too – a Pro-One, a Sequential Circuits, a Moog – they give this lovely sheen… It was about refreshing my love – hopefully our love – of great pop. I want kids now to hear these songs! I wanted to recharge that feeling that pop can come from anyone.”

The Neon is scheduled for release on 21st August via Mute Records, you can pre-order the album here and watch the video for Shot A Satellite below.

Erasure

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Words by Siobhan
Photos via Prescription PR, Majesty PR, Sonic PR

17th July 2020

Album Review – The Streets: None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive

The Streets – None Of Us Are Getting Out Of This Life Alive 

“Stand by me my apprentice; be brave, clenched fists”

The concluding lines of Turn the Page, the opening track of Original Pirate Material, Mike Skinner’s game-changing debut album under the moniker The Streets, which turned eighteen this past March. 2020 sees his prophecy fulfilled, as None of Us are Getting Out of This Life Alive sees him recruit some of UK music’s most exciting acts to collaborate on what is the first record by The Streets in nearly a decade.

It’s difficult to differentiate what constitutes as ‘The Streets’ and a project by ‘Mike Skinner’ in the years since he retired the moniker in 2011; I’d imagine Skinner isn’t exactly sure where the line is himself, and this new mixtape provides no clear answers. On the face of it, it doesn’t scream an album by The Streets; whilst the infamous clipper lighter logo adorns the cover, the kitchen-sink imagery of lonely bus stops or Goliath tower blocks that they bordered don’t feature, instead it sits entangled by a brazen gold chain, a trophy to recognise Skinner’s impact on UK music, and a tease into the young heirs who he’s brought along as proof being in the pudding. However, as a collaborative project it possesses a palpable creative spirit and fun energy but also a sloppiness (the latter of which could not be said of Original Pirate Material or A Grand Don’t Come for Free) and surprisingly the most jarring part of the mixtape is often Skinner himself.

His idiosyncratic style, only a step away from spoken word but with a documentarian eye for detail that captured early 2000’s youth culture so definitively, here stands out often as clumsy and wonky when placed alongside some of the slicker features. If this were your introduction to The Streets it would be hard not to think that Skinner is failing to keep up with the kids, at times the difference in tone and rhythm borders on embarrassing. It doesn’t help that it’s stylistically all over the place and inconsistent in production too, for example the titular track with Bristol punks IDLES should have been a towering, punishing success but disappointingly sounds tepid and brittle. On the other hand, the wobbly dubstep of Eskimo Ice with Kasien is the polar opposite; hard, loud and face-scrunch inducing.

As for the features, it’s where the mixtape shines for the most part and Skinner should be given credit for finding space and allowing for their personalities to flourish, even if it works against him personally in a number of cases, though one is left wondering for what reason the highly anticipated Slowthai duet did not make the cut, with him being often labelled as the true heir to Skinner’s crown. Initial listens are a little harsh, but after a few playbacks it would be hard to argue that Skinner has nothing left to offer UK music in 2020, especially when sparring one-liners with Ms Banks on You Can’t Afford Me – “She talks about her ex so much even I miss him” / “I ain’t gonna allow you mate, not even a little, I’m from M&S babes, you got a better chance at Lidl’s” or when weaving around a meditative Everything is Borrowed style beat on Falling Down with Hak Bakar.

Skinner is at his best when crafting a narrative, it’s when his conversational style is at its most charming and effective and this formula here doesn’t allow for such, but if there’s a running theme at all it would be technology; specifically phones. Not the first time Skinner has mused on mobiles, they appear throughout his past work and interestingly can be used to date the projects; the early 2000’s struggle of standing by the door of a club to get signal on Blinded by The Lights or developing a nervous apathy for the introduction of camera phones in the mid-2000s for the fear of being caught in some toilet cubicle hedonism in When You Wasn’t Famous. The same can be said here, his unique view on the 21st century appendage is viewed through a focused 2020 lens and results in the most interesting lyrical moments, as in his references to ghosting and watching Instagram stories Skinner is delightfully honest; like many of us, his phone is always in his hand, though as he says outright, if you think he’s ignoring you, he is.

So, in the end NOUAGOOTLA only muddies the waters further of what The Streets exactly are in 2020; a return to music in the form of a mixtape of rap duets in which the features often outshine the lead should, on paper, be a disaster. But much like the chain on the cover, it’s different than before but there is gold that can be found gleaming through, after the first few awkward listens. 

None of Us are Getting Out of This Life Alive is out now on Island Records; more details and link to buy tickets to a livestream performance from London on 6th August here – watch the album sampler below.

Review by Ryan Bell

16th July 2020

 

When Covid-19 Stopped the Music

When Covid -19 Stopped the Music
by Jennifer Mullins

This refrain from Joni Mitchell’s song Yellow Taxi, ‘Don’t it always seem to go, that you don’t know you’ve got ‘til it’s gone,’ seems to sum up the situation of live music at venues being put on hold to stop the spread of the virus. Hopefully, the small venues and musicians that have created a community there will have a place to return once this pandemic is over.

Alex Mullins at the Rebel Lounge

I began to get into music photography when my son, Alex, began playing open mics. His first show was at Joe’s Grotto in Phoenix, Arizona. Because he was underage, I had to accompany him. It was the first time that I had seen him perform, though I had heard him play in the house. I was blown away at how calm, confident, and talented he was as he took the stage. A year into his playing at different venues, I began to take photos and videos. My primary photography focus at this time was on nature.

Top: Fans at Pub Rock
Middle: Alex Mullins
Coyote Tango at the Rebel Lounge

Once Alex formed his band, Alex Mullins and the Royal, I began going to different venues with low light. It was a whole new photography learning experience as I had to learn to adjust to low light photography. I met some of the nicest young photographers who helped me with camera settings and encouraged me to move from shooting in auto to manual mode. They also helped me with editing techniques as I found my unique style.

Top: El West at Crescent Ballroom
Bottom: Holiday Extravaganza at the Van Buren 

In the beginning, I would stay and photograph only Alex’s band, then head home. As time went on, I began to stay and watch other bands. Before I knew it, I was driving around the greater Phoenix area to different venues to discover the vibrant local music scene. I found not only so much musical talent, but a community. Music is meant to be heard live with other people who come together to share their love of the sound the musicians create.

All at Crescent Ballroom – Top: Rival Coast
Middle: Luxxe  
Bottom: Harrison Fjord

A camera gives you a different way of seeing the world and that’s true when photographing a gig. You have to move fast to capture the moment because each set is non-stop and there are no second chances. Since my focus was on the viewfinder, I would forget that people were seeing me in action. I was also posting on Instagram and people would get to know who I was through there as well. I would always introduce myself to musicians and they would say, “I know who you are.” It’s been great to not only see Alex grow as a musician but to get to know other musicians and fans.

Top: Jared and the Mill at Rhythm Room
Bottom: Jared and the Mill at the Rebel Lounge

Now all the venues are closed, the musicians are not playing live and the music community can no longer gather safely. It’s great when my favorite musicians livestream but I miss seeing them on stage as much as I’m sure they miss playing. The collection that I created was capturing the musicians and fans. The connection that only music creates can be seen in both the musicians’ faces and the fans’ reactions.

WHSTLE at the Van Buren

All words and photos are © Jennifer Mullins – you can find more of Jennifer’s work on her website and follow her on Instagram 

We recently featured some of Jennifer’s lockdown photos; you can view them here 

10th July 2020

 

Interview – LEECHES

As psych-surfers Leeches release their singles collection Easy, we had a chat about musical influences, how they’re coping with lockdown and painting along with Bob Ross. At times like these it’s important to hold very serious conversations, and it’s highly likely that someone, somewhere is doing exactly that.

Leeches are Jack Pearce (bass/vocals), Ben Lowe (guitar/vocals) and Frank Waloszek (drums) and that much at least is true – probably. Here goes…

Hey, how are things with all of you – where have you been spending lockdown?

Jack: I’ve been in a shed in my parents garden keeping myself busy with my Only Fans account.

Ben: As I have not been able to drive my Porsche around the south of France lately, I have not been in the best mood.

Frank: I stay as far away from Jack and Ben as humanely possible, filthy cretins, they definitely have Coronavirus.

Your singles collection Easy was released last week, tell us about it…

Frank: Well actually… as far as I was concerned, it was supposed to be a Jazz Fusion album called Pints as an Act of Persistence but due to pressure from the record label, our manager, and Jack/Ben we had to scrap that idea and it became a heavy rock singles collection instead, but it’s still pretty good to be honest.

Jack: It was originally meant to be a pure Jazz Fusion piece but Frank insisted on making it more accessible, and kept threatening to leave the band so we settled on this.

Ben: It was always our (mine and Jack’s) dream to be the biggest band on Clarendon Road. Then Frank was enrolled as percussion I remember, and we moved on to Ascham Road. We progressed to barking on both these roads riff by delightful riff, singing and whistling as we strode. Alfie Tyson-Brown, a butcher by trade, took us under his meaty wings and turned our gaze to larger streets, upon which he showed us not only how to rock, but how to roll upon these new avenues, the likes of which we had never seen the like of which. Christian and Alex, the knights of Bristol at the time, the striders ahead,  knew of even brighter pastures. We now want to bark on these roads when Boris says “Yeah alright”.

How difficult is it releasing music when you can’t get out to promote it?

Jack: It is hard to know how it will land and would be nice to tour it, but it means we can work on stuff like the music video and go through old unfinished tracks. Every artist is in the same boat though, it’s been amazing seeing how people have worked around it.

Frank: About as difficult as it was playing to a venue full of debauched wasters who had no recollection of the gig the following morning.

There’s a track called Bob Ross, have you ever tried to paint along with him?

Frank: Of course.

Jack: Wouldn’t dream of it.

Ben: Due to an ongoing court case, I’ve been advised to answer no comment to this question.

You’ve been with Leisure Records for a while now, how did you first start working with them?

Frank: It all happened so fast. I was auditioned for the band, and when we were certain it was going to work the next thing we were travelling up to Bristol and London, just all over the place really, networking with all these real characters, you know… and somehow they were making it all happen. It was greatly uplifting to discover such a conglomerate of proactive, cultured folk. Jack and Ben had already done most of the hard work when I joined the band. I was quite literally the leech.

Ben: Christian and Alex from Leisured Recordings threw big money on the table and my accountant told me this was my only option after what happened with the last label.

Jack: Please see Frank’s answer.

Musical influences – what are your earliest memories of listening to music as kids and which artists do you count as long term favourites?

Jack: When I was little, my folks would listen to Euphoria compilations and REM while we drove around, I think that had a big influence on me. That and getting into all forms of dance and psych-rock, Sabbath’s first two albums and early Chemical Brothers got a proper rinsing.

Frank: Anything that was on cassette cause it got played in the car. Devo was the first band I ever really ‘got into’. After that it was Weather Report.

Is 2020 the weirdest year ever and can you pick out some good bits amongst all the mayhem?

Frank: Yeah, it is the weirdest year. On the bright side – I think the impact of this Coronavirus has overtly exposed a lot of serious inadequacies and hypocrisy in politics and the economy on a global scale, to say the least. There’s nowhere to hide it; we have to pay up and counter-weigh all the broken aspects of the system to make things work and it shows. Hopefully it’ll ignite a change for the better. Because I think people everywhere are beyond fed up with all the horseshit – we all share that in common, albeit with different agendas.

Jack: Frank put it really nicely. It’s definitely a catalyst of a year, I just hope things pick up in the right direction.

And assuming things revert to normal at some stage, what’s next for Leeches?

Frank: Who knows… I mean, beyond getting around to making that Jazz Fusion album we never completed… I don’t know.

Jack: We will be going under the new name of Scalping.

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Easy is out now via Leisure Records, you can buy it here and watch the video for All of the People below.

 

Catch up with LEECHES here

Interview by Siobhan
Band photo © Rowan Allen

8th July 2020

In Focus with Gary Hough

It’s always heartwarming to see a music photographer who clearly loves the bands they shoot and Gary is definitely one of those. Here he talks us through some of the last gigs he caught before lockdown, and the nature and landscapes he’s discovered since whilst walking along the famous Leeds to Liverpool canal…

‘Hi, I’m Gary. Like Batman I have a respectable day job, as a regulatory manager for a UK Internet Service Provider, and at night I’m often seen lurking in the dark, seedy shadows of an underground music venue.

The day job pays for my unpaid hobby, a hobby that I started a few years ago now photographing the bands and gigs I was already more often than not going to see anyway as a fan.

It was December 2019 and I’d been photographing the current Buzzcocks line-up at Preston’s 53 Degrees and Manchester’s Gorilla, the band performing together following Pete Shelley’s sad passing and, although that was three months before lockdown, I remember having a strange feeling that something significant was about to happen in our lives but nothing I could put my finger on.

Buzzcocks, Preston

Buzzcocks, Manchester

Three months on and it’s February 2020 and although none the wiser as to what was about to happen, I got to photograph the brilliant band Déjà Vega doing a full set at the Ferret in Preston. I’d seen them playing there previously at GlastonFerret; if you haven’t seen these guys they are a must go and see.

Déjà Vega, Preston

A couple of weeks later and what was to be my final photography gig was for Dead Objectives who’d asked me to go and shoot their set at Wigan Punk Fest 2, as they wanted some live shots for their forthcoming new album cover. Sadly, post-lockdown the band decided to part company with their bass player so not sure if these shots will be used now.

Dead Objectives, Wigan

My last gig of 2020 was ironically the same night as the Dead Objectives gig in Wigan, this time I had to drive over to Manchester for the sold out Déjà Vega gig at the Deaf Institute, and what a gig that was although for once I didn’t photograph it.

Like most gig photographers, Covid-19 and lockdown have given us an opportunity to photograph different subject matter.

For me, I’ve always been interested in landscapes and buildings so I took the camera with me when out on the daily exercise walks along the Leeds to Liverpool Canal route that’s close to where I live. The non-live shots highlight some of the interesting things you see when out walking, even along a canal that stretches some 65 miles to Leeds or Liverpool depending on how much of a walk you fancy.

The picture below was taken about a mile into the walk from my house where you end up at the lock that runs alongside a dairy farm. Depending on the route you take you can end up in the field to the right of the lock gate trying to get to the other side before the bull gets you.

If you walk straight on about a quarter of a mile down the canal path, you will come across a derelict farm building that’s not surprisingly covered in graffiti. You often encounter quite a few cyclists along this route, the majority of whom are courteous and warn you before they park their bikes in a place that would likely be uncomfortable.

Carry on walking about another quarter of a mile and there’s a nice cluster of boats that are moored in what appears to be a small boat repair yard.  Most as you can see below are barges, one of which is named Elvira, I added in the nickname Mistress of The Canal.

In the next picture you can see a 50-person lifeboat tied up to its mooring which I’m sure is very reassuring for anyone that might take a wrong turn down the canal in a cruise liner.

Finally my last shot is of a male swan who’s just become a dad and often comes over to take bread and peas for his baby cygnets and his Mrs. He’s quite partial to porridge oats when he can get them.

There’s lots of other wildlife along the route and plenty to see, irrespective of the direction you take, and for someone that never really exercised much, lockdown really has given me a different perspective to life and opened up a lot more opportunities to develop my photography from the Punk frenzied gigs I’m usually shooting.

I’m currently working on my website at www.allthecoolbandsphotography.co.uk which has already attracted one well known band and one that I’m a big fan of to contact me for some live show shoots in 2021, I’m unable to say who at the moment but keep an eye on the website and all will become clear next year. I might include a section on the site that highlights some of the other photos I take too, I haven’t made my mind up yet if I’m honest.

Thanks to Siobhan for giving me the chance to write this and, if you got this far, thank you all for reading it.’

All photos are taken and copyrighted by Gary – you can see more of his work on his website and give him a follow on Facebook  /  Instagram  /  Twitter

7th July 2020

Exhibition – Shirley Baker: A Different Age (James Hyman Gallery – Online)

Online Exhibition, James Hyman Gallery, 22nd June – 26th July 2020
Shirley Baker: A Different Age

Header photo: Manchester 1985

‘James Hyman Gallery is pleased to present an online exhibition of largely unseen photographs by Shirley Baker, selected from the photographer’s estate. The exhibition includes her rare colour work as well as iconic black and white images.’

Manchester 1965

Shirley Baker (1932 – 2014) is one of Britain’s most fascinating yet unexplored social documentary photographers, particularly considering the era in which she started actively shooting. A woman practicing street photography in post-war Britain was a rarity, her gritty, expressive style a poignant reflection of the times. Shirley’s pictures show the flip-side to the hype of London’s swinging 60s, instead concentrating on the reality of the local people in the area around her Manchester home. From traditional flat caps to the vintage style and sometime glamour of the working class, the images are beautifully composed without being posed, her work continuing to record urban life over the following decades.

For those who question the validity of street photography, Shirley Baker’s pictures go a long way to explaining how, especially over time, capturing the everyday scenes around us offers an important visual timeline as good as any history book, memories for some and a chance to better understand the past for others.

Top left: Manchester (Man with Pigeons) 1967
Top right: Stockport Road, Stockport 1967
Bottom: Chester 1966

Further details here from the press release:

The exhibition focuses on Shirley Baker’s celebrated street scenes photographed around Manchester and Salford and explores her depiction of older adults.

Nan Levy, Shirley Baker’s daughter, who has curated the show with James Hyman, explains, “Having been in lockdown for the past weeks and only just being allowed out, it made me think of our elderly folk who are still unable to see their loved ones. They cannot even visit their sons and daughters or take pleasure from playing their grandchildren for fear of catching the virus. I have put a collection of Shirley’s photographs of the elderly taken from the 60s to the 80s showing them taking pleasure from the simple things in daily life that sadly are not possible at the moment”.

Manchester 1968

Shirley Baker, writing of her motivations captures a world of street life that seems like a distant memory, “I love the immediacy of unposed, spontaneous photographs and the ability of the camera to capture the serious, the funny, the sublime and the ridiculous. Despite the many wonderful pictures of the great and famous, I feel that less formal, quotidian images can often convey more of the life and spirit of the time”.

Untitled 1983

All images are reproduced courtesy of the Shirley Baker estate and James Hyman Gallery. The online exhibition is live on the gallery’s website now until 24th July 2020.

You can see more of Shirley Baker’s photography here.

Words excluding press release by Siobhan

6th July 2020

New Music – Beach Riot | In Earnest

New releases – Beach Riot, In Earnest

Beach Riot – Wrong Impression (single)

Proving to be another great signing for Alcopop!, Beach Riot’s latest offering brings not just music but retro gaming skills to the table. Wrong Impression showcases the band’s trademark mix of fuzzy grunge and new wave harmonies, a suggestion of what might happen if their Brighton neighbours Blood Red Shoes and Demob Happy were poured into the melting pot.

The single is released alongside a specially designed retro style Instagram filter arcade game. To play along, search ‘CATNIP 3000’ on Instagram filters and share your high scores with the band. Not only do you get to fly a spaceship but there’s a prize up for grabs for the record-breaker, details to follow but it probably won’t be a spaceship.

Commenting on the new track, the band say: ’Imagine that you had the chance to go back in time to tell your younger self that you turned out alright. You’d do it, right? You’d give your old self some much needed advice and encouragement, and then be on your way? As we can’t go back in time, maybe take a moment. Next time you catch yourself in a reflection let yourself know it’s gonna be OK now. Love yourself’.

The only beach riot you should be involved in right now, Wrong Impression is released via Alcopop! Records.

Beach Riot

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In Earnest – Come Upstairs (single)

In Earnest continue to tackle the reality of living with mental health issues in a very honest, uncomplicated way. The Southend trio are made up of Sarah (vox, keys), Thomas (vox, guitar) and Toby (violin, guitar) and together they create music that manages to be delicate and reassuring at the same time. New single Come Upstairs is the epitome of this.

Written from Thomas’s perspective, as he urges Sarah not to give up hope, he says, ‘In the wake of my partner’s mental health struggles, it feels like I spend every waking moment trying to keep a brave or positive face on and there are times when I find it difficult to maintain my own identity. We’re gradually learning how to combat negative thinking, but I’m usually the one who takes the weight and pulls her out of waves of depression.’

The track has a feel of Goo Goo Dolls’ Iris and addresses a situation that many people will recognise and empathise with; a reminder that there’s always someone there to talk to and keep things at a level that feels ok.

Aside of the message, it’s a great song and promises more to look forward to when the band release their forthcoming EP later this year.

In Earnest

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Words by Siobhan
Photos via In Earnest and Wall of Sound PR

3rd July 2020

 

In Focus with Ingrid Turner

With a diverse range of subjects in her portfolio, photographer Ingrid Turner captures the true essence of the moment, be it music, documentary or street photography. Here, she shares some favourite shots and experiences…

‘My name is Ingrid Turner and I’m a photographer based in Manchester, UK.

My interest in photography was initially sparked in 2009, when I was employed at a charity and went to the Philippines on a research trip. Even though I had pretty much no idea how to use the expensive Nikon DSLR I’d been equipped with I liked the process of talking and connecting with people and taking photos with them and of their community.

Once I had my own camera, I started out with street photography.

Salford Central

Lisbon 

Left: Corfu Town, Greece
Top right: View of Stretford House from Turn Moss
Bottom right: Cagliari, Sardinia 

A couple of my street images from Dublin were included in Breaking Glass Magazine’s recent B&W feature.

I’m also an event photographer and often work with the bands Henge and The Age Of Glass, as well as other Manchester-based musicians and performers.

Henge, Scala, London

Drift, The Lowry, Manchester 

Henge, Glastonbury 

Shunya, Carlton Club, Manchester 

The Age of Glass, Beatherder Festival

Paddy Steer, Scala, London

During events, I love spotting intimate, special, humorous moments when people connect – either with each other or with the performers.

Henge, Pennabilli Festival

Henge fan, Bristol Fleece

Egg Pondering, Pennabilli Festival

Henge fan, Manchester Academy 

Over the last couple of years, I worked with various charities to illustrate the stories and experiences of the people they help and support. Covid-19’s impact on the arts sector means event photography will be impossible for some time. The charity sector is struggling financially so photography may not be a priority, or even a possibility, for many organisations. In the meantime, I am trying to stay positive and am planning on developing street and social documentary project ideas.’

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All photos are taken and copyrighted by Ingrid Turner. You can view more of Ingrid’s work and make contact via her website. Follow her new posts on Instagram / Facebook / Twitter.

1st July 2020