Slab of hardcore: The Twin Dracula Death Is Our Client CD EP

Seeing The Twin Dracula for the first time earlier this year I can’t recall a time when I’ve ever had to readjust my preconceptions quite so fast. Ambling on stage to support GBH the singer has a haircut more in touch with rock’n’roll than punk rock and none of the rest of the band really looked like they were just about to rip through a blitzkrieg of thrashy anthems either. But that’s exactly what they did. And at least some of those songs, if not all, have ended up on this their recently released Death Is Our Client EP. I remember set closer Newtown Jazz Revival particularly well. In fact it’s the reason I was keen to track down this CD. With an ever present driving bass line which takes a nod to AC/DC’s Let There Be Rock it swirls in and out of raucousness and by TTD’s standards can best be described as mid paced. For most other bands that would be an up-tempo song but on the other two tracks on offer here the band push things more to the extreme which makes it sound almost pedestrian in comparison. Despite all the ferocity there’s room for respite from the onslaught contained in these songs too with the band effortlessly switching from the raging to a more ear friendly style mid tune. Preconceptions adjusted, this is one I can recommend.

Buy it here thetwindracula.com - Death Is Our Client 3 somg CD EP featuring the songs Nom De Plume / Occultimate Warrior / Newtown Jazz Revival

The Twin Dracula – Reading Sub 89 (photo Steve Cotton)

ANDY T / LOUISE DISTRAS / STEVE IGNORANT’S SLICE OF LIFE – Kingston Fighting Cocks

Didn’t know much about opener Andy T before this gig apart from his Crass Records release’Weary Of The Flesh’, certainly never seen him play before. Standing on stage with his notes, guitarist seated at his side he engaged the sparse crowd with angry polemic with a varied and well received set. The targets were familiar (I Still Hat Thatcher) but the passion shone through and for many it was a reaffirmation of what they already consider their opinions. Decent enough but I struggle with getting too enthused by just a guitar and a voice alone.

So up next was Louise Distras, another guitarist with just a voice. But what a voice! I’d first seen her live supporting GBH at the 100 Club and she was essentially the reason I made the effort to attend tonight. She demands attention from the very first song through her forceful delivery and a clear honesty in her conviction. She has a passion that fills the room and songs that lodge readily in the mind. Despite being the support act with the headliner to follow on leaving the venue it’s her song “Never Let The Hand You Hold Hold You Down” that I have going around my head. I bought a copy of her album Songs From The Factory Floor on the way out and I’m pleased to report it does her justice. Great album full of solid songs.

Louise Distras – Kingston Fighting Cocks (photo – Steve Cotton)

It’s odd seeing Steve Ignorant in a pretty small and half full pub back room. He’s got a new band with him, a stripped down and more melodic sound and a lot of life stories to tell. I’ll be honest here, the first two songs he went through I thought what the hell is this? Accompanied by stories of how wonderful sex under the light of a lamp post is he’d completely lost me. But then, little by little and over the rest of the set I became accustomed to his bands style, got more engrossed in his amusing stories and by the end he’d pretty much won me over. I’d not put this band in the ‘cancel all leave’ category for when they come to town, in fact I don’t really know if I’d bother to go and see them again but it was entertaining and thought provoking and portrayed him as just a person, a human being more than was ever possible than when he was in Crass. Talking of which, the audience were kind of expecting a song from that era. Steve didn’t disappoint, eventually ending with an encore of ‘So What’ which ended abruptly in good humour when he stopped the song before its climax and advised the audience they could go home and listen to the rest. Gig done, hat back in place atop his head, he slipped back into the crowd and the show came to an end.

Revolution time again

Barb Wire Dolls are back in the UK with their explosive mix of punk rock. You know good bands fire on all cyclinders and there’s no passengers in Barb Wire Dolls. Last time here singer Isis Queen got dumped on concrete but she’s made of kevlar – and was back playing the following night.

Isis Queen, Barb Wire Dolls ) photo: Steve Cotton

See them at the following venues:

02.10.14 UK Lowestoft – Granny’s
03.10.14 UK Middlesbrough – The Longlands Club
04.10.14 UK Leeds – The Packhorse
05.10.14 UK Edinburgh – Bannersman Live
07.10.14 UK Liverpool – Lomax
08.10.14 UK Grimsby – Yardbirds
09.10.14 UK Peterborough – Met lounge
10.10.14 UK Bristol – The Louisiana
11.10.14 UK Manchester – The Star and Garter
12.10.14 UK London – Purple Turtle Camden.

On tour with the Samsung Galaxy S5

Last Saturday I got to try out the new Samsung Galaxy S5 courtesy of mobile network operator Three who laid on a street art tour of East London with established guides Alternative London. In just a few years mobile phone cameras have made the jump from fuzzy, blurry pics to real sharpshooters often beating many compact cameras along the way. Samsung’s Galaxy S5 is right up there with the leaders of the pack and being so much more pocketable than my normal camera (a hefty digital SLR) I was curious to see if it would take decent enough pictures to consider leaving that lump of weight at home in future. As well as portability a mobile phone with a decent camera has security benefits too as it’s not obvious you’re carrying it until you take it out to use it. Anyway…let’s have a look at some photos from the day….

We started off in Bethnal Green and this little paste up immediately caught my eye – no idea who its by though – but the pencil barrel is a neat touch.

We set off heading West towards the City at a pretty leisurely place stopping to look at this chiselled face (in more ways than one) by Portugese artist Vhils:

Now the next piece may not be everybody’s cup of tea but I liked the fact that someone had been pedantic enough to correct the grammar of some existing graffiti by using pink spray paint to add an apostrophe and and E!

Going up a fair few notches in scale we were then led around a corner to see this huge work by Roa in his trademark style. So big in fact the only way to capture it all was to use the S5′s panorama mode. I’d met Roa on a previous trip to London but never quite got to see this particular piece of work so this was a real highlight of the tour for me.

Always my favourite detail in a Roa piece are the eyes, deceptively simple but so effective.

Easily missed, this piece by Dark Cloud was situated right next to much larger works.

This umbrella is such a simple idea utilising a bit of already existing pipework, no idea who its by though!

Heading towards Brick Lane the lamp posts are covered in stickers. This one by I Am Someart stood out nicely. Using the selective focus option on the S5′s camera threw the background out of focus nicely.

Nearby Dscreet (the owl) and Malarky appeared to have teamed up to create a joint work – with a nice little strap line at the bottom.

Another nearby paste up, again artist unknown

Wall of the day had to go to this truly collosal combination piece produced during the recent Meeting Of Styles graffiti jam.

Chu’s clever optical illusion piece which has to be viewed from a particular angle had been part painted out the the day after it went up but by the time we arrived it had been largely restored to its original format.

Nearby were a couple of stencil paste ups from .FRA:

From here we moved on to Sclater Street – a pretty essential stop on any street art tour with some large scale pieces.

Lovepusher who writes ‘Jesus’ in amazingly lit letters is one of my favourite artists so it was good to see this recent work untouched (at the base of this picture) unlike so much of his work in Leake Street.

Round the corner was a little bit more from .FRA

And a real survivor from My Dog Sighs

Overall impressions of the Samsung Galaxy S5 were that it did a great job in capturing the art. In fact it could have been put to better use by myself had I realised early on the impressive array of controls that are available in the settings menu of the camera. The ISO can be changed as can the picture size (up to 12M). There’s face detection, stabilisation, selective focus and burst modes as well HDR and timers. Video wise it will shoot full HD (1920 x 1080). Quite a capable device. The screen itself is crisp and bright, switching back to my existing iPhone 5 after using the S5 for a day seemed a real step backwards. Everything looks bigger and brighter on the S5. As for the network coverage from Three, it was faultless – I managed to post to instagram and Twitter throughout the tour without any problems. Regrettably the S5 has to go back but before it does I’ll add a couple of hi-res shots to the blog over the next couple of days so you can see it’s full potential. In the meantime check out shots from some of the other bloggers, tweeters who went on the tour as they post them up:

Hooked Blog UK Street Art

Marcus Maschwitz Photographer

Selena The Places Food, photography and smiles

The Usual Shutter Specs Photography news and views

With thanks to Becca and Three, Samsung, Alternative London and Farandrockaway.

The Stranglers – Reading Sub89

So last night I got to see The Stranglers. A bit late to the party admittedly – this is their Ruby Anniversary tour (40 years) but oddly I’ve been a fan since the 70′s but never really liked the direction they went from the age I started going to gigs. You know – stuff like Golden Brown and all that stuff. But I’d heard the guy who’s now doing what Hugh Cornwell used to do in singing and playing guitar is decent and that they were playing relatively small venues on the tour so I got myself a ticket for the Reading leg of the tour.

Sub89 is a decent venue. It’s got a capacity of a just few hundred meaning you’re not far from the band but it’s big enough to have a jolly decent PA and lighting rig too. Once settled into their set The Stranglers mentioned it was like playing in a front room and that sums it up nicely compared to other gigs they’ve played in the past. Perfect.

The Stranglers romped through a set list which was pretty damn near the one I would have chosen if I’d written it myself. I like to hear some more recent songs in amongst a heavy smattering of old classics – and there were plenty of those. “Nice ‘n’ Sleazy” does it every time. “Peaches’, their version of “Walk On By’ and ‘No More Heroes’ are stone cold standards and were all delivered in with amazing clarity. It’s interesting what you can take out of a band and still keep it’s essence. Drummer Jet Black is absent but the guy behind the kit delivered a very solid and punchy performance. What I would really miss is Jean Jacques Burnel’s bass lines and presence and Dave Greenfield’s unique keyboard playing but thankfully they are still very present. It just wouldn’t be The Stranglers without these two. In Baz Warne they have a great front man and guitarist who’s not trying to be Hugh Cornwell but fits in just fine. Excellent.

In a virtually straight through performance lasting for an hour and three quarters they pile through ‘Tank’, ‘Hanging Around’ and a host of others only interrupting the flow for JJB to hold up a sign showing that Germany were beating Brazil 5-0 – by half time! Elsewhere the crowd got the chance to vote to hear ‘Golden Brown’ or ‘La Folie’. A simple choice really and we got to hear the latter in full, in French for it’s entire six minutes. The crowd are really up for it tonight and songs like ’5 Minutes’ leave the floor literally jumping beneath my feet as people in front of me go just a little bit crazy with some energetic 40 something pogoing. Crowd surfing, crutches being waved in the air and the odd shower of beer show that this bunch of fans still want to enjoy it all just as they did many years ago. And yes, I did too. Absolutely bloody brilliant.

And for your enjoyment here’s my punters eye view of the aforementioned ’5 Minutes’

 

 

 

Whose Generation?

“I kind of think somethings over by the time you’ve read about it”. So says Tommy of the Stupids fame as he opens a new documentary about the whirlwind ride that was UK hardcore in the mid to late 80′s. It’s a telling quote applicable to so many scenes that start off life underground, rapidly gain an expanding and increasingly mainstream audience before burning out in the space of a few short years. It’s true of the spasms in punk rock that preceded it such as the leather and studs UK82 bands and the activist Anarcho punk movement and also of those that followed in its wake such as the colossal waves of grunge and melodic pop punk.

UK hardcore started off life as a truly underground scene and this short film captures that spirit well. In 23 minutes it tells a story of music sharing via C90 cassette trading long before Napster and Spotify made it all so easy. It reveals cheap international communication networks using reusable ‘soaped’ stamps years prior to broadband and social media coming into existence. An entire subculture of bands and venues existed without the involvement of the mainstream music press. It relied on word of mouth, flyers stuffed into letters, photocopied zines and a trust in a handful of record  labels to carry on putting out  bands that had a similar appeal. For a while it couldn’t be heard on the radio but all that changed when John Peel of Radio 1 championed many of the bands on his late night show. That brought new fans and even the music papers belatedly and grudgingly took note calling it Britcore for a while before claiming it had gone into a cul-de-sac and returning to ignoring it.

It’s only possible to give a feel of those times in such a short programme. Punk chronicler Ian Glasper gives an overview of life’s bleak outlook for many young people growing up in the eighties, music writer James Sherry explains how tape trading worked, Beddis from Cowboy Killers tells of scaring a very young Green Day with a Samurai sword on their first UK tour. Band wise the Stupids, Heresy, Extreme Noise Terror, Chaos UK, Ripcord amongst others all feature. You can argue that this band or that label should have been featured but c’mon, this is the first nationally aired documentary on this scene since the late eighties. Enjoy it for what is is – an amazing snapshot of an incredible analog music network.

Watch it here: Soap The Stamps

 

 

 

Now on Facebook – more punk rock pictures

So does anybody look at actual websites any more? Useful but too damned static and tedious to update. I’ve got a new Facebook page for all the punk rock pictures I take. Like it if you like. Here’s a few from recent gigs for starters, more over on Facebook.

Maid of Ace, Camden Unicorn – photo: Steve Cotton

Charlie Harper on his 70th Birthday tour – UK Subs, Sub 89, Reading - photo: Steve Cotton

Brains All Gone from Krakow  - photo: Steve Cotton

Captain Sensible – Happy 60th Captain - photo: Steve Cotton