Saturday, 6 February 2016

The Senior Service "Depth Charge" Launch Party with French Boutik and Of Arrowe Hill at The Half Moon January 30th - Paul Slattery Photos

The Senior Service photographed by Paul Slattery
Well, I'd just like to start off by saying a huge thank you to the fantastic crowd that turned up on Saturday to witness the first ever live performance of The Senior Service, the gig completely sold out over a week in advance so I, and of course all three bands, really appreciate your superb support. The evening started off with a short sharp set from Of Arrowe Hill whose spiky melodic tunes really went down well. Of Arrowe Hill are a difficult band to categorize but with those insistent melodies, dry Scouse humour and his ever-present Ringo Starr hat, it's not hard to see where singer songwriter (and Rickenbacker guitarist) Adam Easterbrook draws a lot of his influences from. In fact "She Said She Said" from "Revolver" springs to mind as their songs have dreamy harmonies floating over spindly razor sharp guitar riffs. The rhythm section comprises ex-Aardvarks drummer Ian O'Sullivan and bassist Jason Hobart, who both quietly and unobtrusively go about their business, with simple but mightily effective arrangements that allow the songs to shine.

Of Arrowe Hill photographed by Paul Slattery
Easterbrook has quite a bit in common with fellow Liverpudlians The Coral and Michael Head from Shack as it is all about the tunes even though they are sometimes half-cloaked in mystery and off-set against some jarring guitar work or the odd Psychedelic passage. Having said that, on "She's Leaving? (No, She's Gone)" it's all thrown into one glorious headlong rush of a Pop song that Chris Difford & Glenn Tilbrook would be proud to call their own. I must confess that I sometimes get a bit frustrated though, as rather like Robert Pollard from Guided By Voices, Adam's songs can sometimes appear to be more like an Artist's preliminary sketch rather than the finished masterpiece that they promise to be. You see, there are very few Of Arrowe Hill songs that even reach the three minute mark. Just when you get a hold of that catchy riff or ear-worm melody the song can sometimes end abrubtly and you just want to hear more of it or see how it will develop. It's not necessarily a bad thing though and I guess that's part of Of Arrowe Hill's quirky but undoubted charm, they cram more into those short precious minutes than most bands manage in an entire career!

French Boutik by Paul Slattery
When I was thinking about suitable support acts to complement The Senior Service everything drew me towards French Boutik. The only stumbling block was that the band are based in Paris but I took a chance and offered them the slot knowing that they did play in the UK quite regularly and hoping it might coincide with something else over here. Unfortunately at first the date didn't fit but the band made a quick decision to just go for it anyway and I got my wish! The band are currently working on their debut album following a fine run of excellent vinyl E.P.s and are trying to raise funds for the release via a crowd-funding campaign here. I'd urge you to get involved as, judging by the selection of new tracks they played tonight, the album is going to be something special.

French Boutik photographed by Paul Slattery
I think the new tracks like "Le Mac", "Je Louche" and "Le Casse" fitted in seamlessly alongside their more familiar favourites such as "Les Chats De Gouttiere" and "Ici Paris". The usual band line-up of Gabriela on vocals, Serge on guitar, Zelda on drums and Jean-Marc on bass was tonight augmented by Olivier (Popincourt) on the Hammond organ and surprise guest Graham Lentz on bongos and huge smile! Their Pop Moderniste sound was soulful and rich with Serge's superb Rickenbacker guitar work adding a welcome edge to proceedings. Gabriela is an engaging vocalist and backed up by the impressive harmonies of drummer Zelda the songs really took on a life of their own over the Half Moon's excellent sound-system. A sparkling version of "Tiptoes" by Madness was a highlight and the band seemed to be enjoying themselves as much as we were. French Boutik went down a storm with the crowd and I was really pleased for them, they also charmed everyone they met with their easy going nature and I really would like to thank them again for coming over.

Graham Day of The Senior Service photographed by Paul Slattery
So after the great warm up provided by both support acts, the sense of anticipation for The Senior Service was building and I must admit there was a bit of trepidation too. How would an all-instrumental band go down live? Would the crowd be open minded and go with it or would they start shouting out for "Melanie" after ten minutes! Thankfully it all went rather well indeed - songs from the forthcoming debut album "The Girl In The Glass Case" were all short and punchy and had enough variety and groove to keep the audience extremely satisfied throughout. Of course all of the band's instrumental influences were touched on - whether it was John Barry's Bond themes such as their cover of "On Her Majesty's 'Senior' Service" or the Spaghetti Western Ennio Morricone twang of "Caballo Sin Nombre" with the addition of a trumpet player adding that authentic Tex-Mex feel.

Wolf of The Senior Service (and Sophia...) photographed by Paul Slattery
The Booker T & The MG's groove of opening number "Abandoned" got everyone's toes tapping before the crunching single "Depth Charge" blew our minds with it's scorching guitar riff. Along the way we are treated to a dazzling backdrop of movie projections taking in classic TV shows, Psychedelic movie interludes and even a stripping Sophia Loren, during which the band can't help sneaking furtive looks back towards the screen! Tonight Gerry Anderson, Captain Scarlet, Lalo Schifrin, Bullit and Barry Gray are the order of the day, replacing the more familiar Rock 'n' Roll references. There was so much crammed into the perfectly crafted tunes all driven along by Wolf's pin-point drumming and Darryl's inventive bass lines, all underpinning some great guitar work from Graham and of course topped off by Jon Barker's surging Hammond organ runs.

Jon Barker of The Senior Service photographed by Paul Slattery
Each Graham Day line-up has always included a few excellent instrumentals in their repertoire and tonight we get "Come To The Mushroom" and "Explosion on Uranus" from The Prisoners and my personal favourite "South Avenue" by The Gaolers, which was an absolute cracker. The set comes to a close with The Prisoners classic "Find & Seek", Graham knows what we are thinking and approaches the microphone "I'm not bloody singing it! You'll have to sing it yourselves!" And we do!

Darryl Hartley of The Senior Service photographed by Paul Slattery
I'd like to thank the following people for their much appreciated help: Carrie and Staff at The Half Moon, Ian at Damaged Goods Records, Debbie at Muso's Guide, Mark Raison at Monkey Picks Blog, Alan Powell at Down In The Basement Radio Show, Ged Babey and John Robb of Louder Than War, Wayne Lundqvist-Ford at The Ice Cream Man Show on Radio Andra, Alan May at The Glory Boy Radio Show, PJ & Paul at Dirty Water Records and their excellent Gig listings, Artrocker Podcast, Gideon Coe and Mark Radcliffe at BBC Radio 6 Music. Please do take the time to check out the highlighted links if you can, these people deserve your support too, after all they obviously have great taste in music! There's already a great (and impartial...) review by Debbie at the Muso's Guide web-site which you can check out at this link here, she says it much better than I can!

Graham Day of The Senior Service photographed by Paul Slattery
I'd also like to say how much I appreciate the support of the Retro Man Blog regulars and subscribers, especially those that travelled to attend the show...and a very special mention to the Breakfast Club! Of course thanks to my Retro Man Blog & Retrosonic Podcast colleagues Adam and Paul Slattery, especially to Paul for contributing the superb photos, here are some more...

French Boutik
French Boutik
French Boutik
The Senior Service
For more photos of The Senior Service Launch Party please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and if you are not already following, hit "Like" for access to the Photo Album. There are videos from the show at the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel at this link here.

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

The Vanjas at Sticky Fingers Gothenburg , Sweden January 30th by Wayne Lundqvist-Ford

The Vanjas by Wayne Lundqvist-Ford
Mention Sweden to anyone these days and the first thing they think of is Ikea, well here is another package from Sweden, but this time there are no screws missing! The Vanjas hail from Stockholm on the east coast of Sweden and consist of singer Vanja Lo, Bass payer Bon Ton, Guitarist Mr Magnatone and drummer Swingin' Zack. They serve up a good, honest dish of Rock 'N' Roll in the form of RnB, not that faux style of RnB that you see a generic version of each Saturday night on TV "talent" shows, this is Maximum RnB! The three guys in the band take the stage sporting matching red suits, Chelsea boots, white shirts and black ties, looking sharp, smart and as if they mean business, which they clearly do. They fire up with an instrumental before being joined on stage by singer Vanja Lo, Vanja is also looking very sharp in a late 50's early 60's style cut dress, she later tells me that she "struggles to look sharp," pointing to a ladder in her tights which had probably occurred when climbing over the stage barriers to dance with a young man whilst singing the band's new single "No Tomorrow Boy." However, her neat styled hair, again in a 50's/60s style, along with her dress, would suggest otherwise, she is positively stylish and sharp. On stage the band put on a show, a real show, not just an audible experience but a fantastic visual experience too. Mr Magnatone and Bon Ton are all over the stage, pointing their guitars at the sky and towards the audience in a well co-ordinated, synchronised unison, using as much of the stage as they can, which on the small stage at Sticky Fingers is no mean feat. In fact, Mr Magnatone also leaves the stage and plays guitar in amongst the audience who are all wearing broad smiles on their faces, one guy looks across at me and nods and smiles in acknowledgement that we are both witnessing something special. 

The Vanjas by Wayne Lundqvist-Ford
Throughout all of this at the back of the stage Swingin' Zack is providing a tight beat, pounding the skins. Vanja is of course keeping command over the audience with an attitude and style that is not frequently seen, when she tells the audience to listen, they listen! The band play most of the songs from their album "The Vanjas Sings and Plays Rock 'N' Roll" with songs like "Friday Twist" making even the reserved crowd at the back of the venue start shuffling around, they are also smiling like Cheshire cats and edging more into the crowd with each song, this band could win over even the toughest of audiences and get them moving, why would you not want to join this party? Talking to the band after the show, I asked about musical influences and there is no surprise when the Blues, Rock 'N' Roll, Soul and Punk are mentioned, The Vanjas encapsulate all of those styles and fire them at you at a million miles per hour. When I ask about their style, and they are as I said, very stylish, they tell me how they were chatting in the car on the 5 hour drive from Stockholm to Gothenburg and they had agreed that with the outfits and the stage names they were like a cartoon, which immediately made me think of the Ramones, a band whose name came up in later conversation. 

The Vanjas by Wayne Lundqvist-Ford
It is fair to say that the qualities between the two bands are very similar, whilst the visual styling of the bands are different, the result is the same, fucking amazing! I bid my farewells to the band who are still bright eyed and looking sharp, with the exception of the ladder in Vanja's tights, which isn't really bothering her. I exit the venue into the rainy night/morning, sheltering my newly acquired slice of of vinyl inside my jacket, my beaming grin still firmly fixed in place on my face and head home safe the knowledge that everything I could have wanted from seeing a band live had been checked off and also exceeded. In short, go and see this band, book this band, this isn't the next new thing, this is good old fashioned Rock 'N' Roll, an institution of what is great about music and we should embrace it because The Vanjas aren't going to let us forget it and amen to that.



With many thanks to Wayne Lundqvist-Ford for the review and photos. Wayne also does the excellent Ice Cream Man Radio Show on Radio Andra and you can check out the archive of past episodes at his Podomatic web-site here. You can check out our Retrosonic Podcast Episode from a couple of years ago when I spoke to Wayne in Sweden and we played his pick of some of the best International Power Pop bands that had been submitted to his Ice Cream Man Radio Show.






Monday, 18 January 2016

The Senior Service, French Boutik & Of Arrowe Hill at The Half Moon Putney January 30th - Update


I'd just like to say thanks to everyone that has helped promote The Senior Service launch party at the Half Moon Putney on January 30th. We've had some great support including being part of the Independent Venue Week campaign. There's a real buzz about the gig as it will see the next chapter in Graham Day's illustrious music career and what with the news about the Billy Childish gigs and the Medway Legends Weekender in San Sebastian, this is a great time to experience some of that Medway magic! But don't just take my word for it, check these great comments out...

"Looking at that line-up of Medway magnificence it doesn’t require me to say much more than they sound exactly how you would hope and expect: bespectacled spy walks into a nightclub as a swingin’ 60s go-go soundtrack is played by musicians with a long streaks of ash hanging from their Players No. 6 as half-drunk jugs of Watney’s Red Barrel sit on their amps. If that doesn’t sell it, nothing will". - Mark Raison, Monkey Picks Blog.

"Citing influences of high calibre - Barry Gray, John Barry, Ennio Morricone and Booker T & The MG’s, you can certainly catch glimpses of them all here. 'Depth Charge' could have been lifted straight from of an episode of UFO or Space 1999, or incidental party music from a late ‘60s Hammer film. Opening with phasing that puts the Electric Prunes to shame; It’s groovy, sexy, psychedelic, distinctly British, unmistakably Day, and perfectly paced for a shimmy around the floor." - Debbie Sheringham, Muso's Guide Web-site.

With many thanks for the much appreciated support goes to Mark and Debbie for the above feaures, Carrie at The Half Moon, Ged Babey and John Robb of Louder Than War, Wayne Lundqvist-Ford at The Ice Cream Man Show on Radio Andra, Alan May at The Glory Boy Radio Show, PJ & Paul at Dirty Water Records and their excellent Gig listings, Artrocker Podcast, Gideon Coe and Mark Radcliffe at BBC Radio 6 Music. Please do take the time to check out the highlighted links if you can, these people deserve your support too, after all they obviously have great taste in music!


The Senior Service debut single "Depth Charge" is now available from Damaged Goods Records on-line store here, or if you prefer the good old fashioned way, you can pick up a copy at the gig. For more information, news, announcements, details of our flyer competition not to mention lots of videos and tracks from all three bands in the build up to the gig, please join in our Facebook Event Page here. Advance tickets for the gig at a bargain £11.00 can be ordered from the Half Moon here.


Joining The Senior Service on the night we are very pleased to have special guests French Boutik and Of Arrowe Hill - Venue doors open at 7:30pm and the live music curfew is 11pm but the bar will be open for dancing and drinking until 1am.

Wednesday, 13 January 2016

Billy Childish London Gig announced & New 7" Single released on Damaged Goods Records.


The inspirational Medway Garage Rock legend, author and artist Billy Childish has finally announced his long-awaited return to the stage with a gig at The Lexington on Pentonville Road in London on May 21st with his latest line-up Wild Billy Childish & CTMF. The band will play two sets, an all-ages matinee kicking off at 3pm and then an over-18's only set from 8pm. Please note that tickets only went on sale this morning and already the evening show has SOLD OUT! Tickets for the matinee are still available at the time of writing but I can't guarantee they won't have sold out too by the time you read this. It just goes to show the overwhelming interest in seeing Billy play live again.

Thee Headcoats - Photo Copyright Paul Slattery
Damaged Goods Records have also released a brand new 4 track 7" vinyl EP by The CTMF entitled "A Glimpse of Another Time" which precedes their forthcoming (and fourth) album. The title track of the EP is a song about the scene based round Slim Chance’s Club at the Wild Western Rooms in the 1990′s (The club was out the back of the St. John’s Tavern in Archway, North London). The club later moved down the road to the Boston Arms. Billy’s  group Thee Headcoats used to play a regular monthly stint there, which explains the cover photo taken in 1991 of  Billy fronting Thee Headcoats with Bruce and Johnny on that tiny, legendary, wild west themed stage. The cover photo was taken by my Retro Man Blog colleague Paul Slattery who worked closely with Billy during that period. You can order the single from the Damaged Goods Records on-line store at this here link.

The New CTMF Single with cover photo by Paul Slattery
In our Retrosonic Podcast Billy Childish special at our Soundcloud site here. Retro Man Blog and Photographer Paul Slattery visited Billy in his Medway studio to chat about some of his musical influences such as Hamburg-era Beatles, Link Wray, Muddy Waters, The Voidoids and more and the effect they had on his own work. Along the way we discuss and play some tracks from a selection of his many line-ups including The Pop Rivets, The Milkshakes, Thee Mighty Caesars, Thee Headcoats, The Buff Medways, The Musicians of The British Empire and his latest band The CTMF.



For the Blog feature to accompany the Podcast which has some exclusive Paul Slattery photographs of Billy from throughout the years from the crowd at the Sex Pistols Brunel University gig in 1977 right through the various line-ups to the present day, please check out the link here.

Billy at work in his Medway studio - Photo by Retro Man Blog

Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Hipsville Carnival A-Go-Go Weekender May 13th, 14th & 15th 2016 Line-Up Announced!


The line-up for the 2016 Hipsville Weekender has just been announced and mighty fine it is looking too! The whole event has moved from Bisley to Bordon & Oakhanger Sports Centre, Bolley Avenue, Bordon, Hampshire GU35 9HG and dates are confirmed as May 13th, 14th and 15th. I don't think the sleepy Hampshire countryside knows what it is in for! There will be free camping on-site and free parking for cars, camper vans and caravans and you can check all the accommodation and transport options at the Hipsville website here. The Sports Centre has a fully licensed (and cheap) bar open until 3am and there will be various food outlets and a vintage market on site too. Not forgetting all the Hipsville favourites will be present and correct - the vintage car and bike show, the Tiki Bar, gorgeous Go-Go girls such as Dottie Gooseberry, Venus Raygun, Alexandra Beat Girl, Celia Aloha and Wanda de Lullabies and marauding stage-diving Gorillas. Then we get to the superb line-up of international bands which include Retro Man Blog favourites The Jackets, The Baron Four and The Missing Souls, all three responsible for some of our "Best Gigs of 2015" and a host of other great acts such as Archie & The Bunkers from America, The Wildebeests, The Weird Omens from France and The Stompin' Riff Raffs from Japan, who do some strange things with a theremin!


You can still check out our Retrosonic Podcast Hipsville 2015 Special in which we chatted to Mr A one of the main organizers in the build up to last year's event, talking about the history of Hipsville and their monthly Weirdsville club nights and You Got Good Taste Podcasts. The episode is generously sound-tracked by loads of great bands who have appeared over the years as well as a few of Mr A's favourite tracks and it's free to listen/download from iTunes or Soundcloud.



You can search through the Retro Man Blog archives for lots of glowing reports, reviews, photos and videos of previous Weirdsville and Hipsville gigs from 2014 here, 2015 Day 1 here and Day 2 here, including some excellent exclusive live and backstage photos of Giuda, Les Grys Grys, The Autoramas and Kinoco Hotel by the legendary Rock Photographer Paul Slattery.

Here's a great video by Out of This World Pictures showing Hipsville In Space back in 2014.



Needless to say Retro Man Blog will be packing our rucksacks, donning the pith helmets and heading off on an expedition deep into the Hampshire countryside to file a report on Hipsville 2016! We'll also be previewing some of the bands who will be appearing here on the Blog and playing some tracks in future Episodes of Retrosonic Podcast, in fact you can hear check out tracks by The Baron Four, The Missing Souls and Archie & The Bunkers in our latest Retrosonic Podcast Episode 20.



You can buy tickets for Hipsville 2016 at the website ticket link here.

Monday, 11 January 2016

Haertz "Them Jokes" featuring Kim Fransson (Free Fall) & Martin Hederos (The Soundtrack of Our Lives)

Martin Hederos in Atlantis Studios - Photo by Sören Carlsson
Here's a little P.S. to my recent feature on what the ex-members of The Soundtrack of Our Lives are up to these days. "Them Jokes" by Haertz is a one-off collaboration that started off as the brainchild of Producer & Lyricist Daniel Haeggström who was to secure the talents of Kim Fransson and Martin Hederos. Kim is the lead singer with Free Fall, the band formed by TSOOL guitarist Mattias Bärjed along with his ex-Nymphet Noodlers colleague and bassist Jan Martens and drummer Ludwig Dahlberg from The (International) Noise Conspiracy. Of course Martin Hederos will be well known to fans of Soundtrack of Our Lives but also as a hugely respected and in demand keyboard player, arranger and composer, having worked with such diverse acts as Tonbruket, Ane Brun, Nina Persson and most recently Sofia Karlsson, among many others. "Them Jokes" was an idea that was to take three years to complete as Daniel wanted only the best musicians, the best studio and the best mixing and mastering that he could find to fully realize the sound he wanted to achieve.

Haertz in Atlantis Studios - Photo by Janne Hansson
The track was recorded in Stockholm's legendary Atlantis studio which has hosted sessions from pretty much every notable Swedish band and artist from Cornelis Vreeswijk, Jerry Williams, Lill Lindfors and Abba to The Hives, The Cardigans, Teddybears and Lykke Li. You can read more about the history of Atlantis studio here. Daniel, Kim and Martin were joined in the studio by Robert Eriksson on drums, Heikki Kiviaho on bass, Hannu Kiviaho and Sören Carlsson on guitars with the Stockholm Strings and additional contributions from Linn Segolson and Calle Olsson. 

Martin Hederos in Atlantis Studios - Photo by Sören Carlsson
You can download "Them Jokes" from Spotify and iTunes and get more information on the background of the song at the Haertz Facebook page. Photos courtesy of Daniel Haeggström.

Monday, 4 January 2016

The Soundtrack of Our Lives - Update on the Band's ex-members for 2016 with Photos by Nellie Selander

Ebbot Lundberg with The Soundtrack of Our Lives - Photo by Nellie Selander
It's going to be a busy year for fans of The Soundtrack of Our Lives who have been missing the band since their split at the end of 2012. Lead singer Ebbot Lundberg will be releasing two albums, one with his new band The Indigo Children and the other will be a collaboration with Nirvana and Sonic Youth producer (and drummer with Garbage) Butch Vig and various musicians that include members of Portishead and Spiritualized. You can hear Ebbot talking to us about these two exciting projects in our Retrosonic Podcast special here. 2016 will also hopefully see Ebbot playing his first solo show in the U.K. and we will be sure to keep you updated on all the news as soon as possible.



Ian Person is also working on his first solo album via a Pledgemusic campaign and this is due to be released in the Autumn with an E.P. preceding it sometime in Spring. You can join in the campaign here, contribute and get lots of exclusive goodies such as demos, videos and the chance to bid for various packages in the build up to the album's release. His superb collaboration album with Jerry Williams "Ghostrider" is out now and features ex-TSOOL bandmates Fredrik Sandsten and Kalle Gustafsson. The album is a kind of Johnny Cash style reinvention of the Swedish Rock & Roll legend where Jerry performs covers of tracks by bands such as The Stooges and Suicide. "Ghostrider" is available via CD-On or you can download it via iTunes. Ian and Fredrik also talk to us about their work with Jerry, their time in TSOOL and of course what they have been up to since the band finished in our Retrosonic Podcast special edition here.



Martin Hederos has been busy as always, not only as a member of Tonbruket and touring with Ane Brun but he has just released an enchanting Xmas album with Sofia Karlsson entitled "Stjärnenätter" which has been extremely well received in Sweden and is also avaialble to order now from CD-On. He has also played some acoustic shows with Nina Persson from The Cardigans recently and you can see some photos and a feature on the gig in Ystad in the Blog archive here. Nina and Martin will play at the beautiful Södra Teatern in Stockholm on February 22nd, tickets are available here.

Ebbot & fans at Slussens Pensionat - Photo by Nellie Selander
Mattias Bärjed has been touring with legendary Swedish Punk band The Refused while Free Fall has been on hold. He is also establishing a critically acclaimed reputation as a film score composer with work on successful Swedish movies "Gentlemen", "Upp Till Kamp" and "Call Girl". Here's another Retrosonic Podcast special from the archive when we spoke to Mattias before The Soundtrack of Our Lives' last ever shows at the Södra Teatern in Stockholm.



Thank you to Nellie Selander for the photographs. Nellie has a company The Nellie Selander Fusion which covers her main job as a make-up artist along with her great photographic work, you can check it out at the official Facebook page here or at the Blog.

Mattias, Ebbot & Ian at Slussens Pensionat by Nellie Selander