Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Buzzcocks Pop-Up Exhibition & News On Their Upcoming Show at The Royal Albert Hall on June 21st

Buzzcocks - John Maher, Steve Diggle & Steve Garvey - Retro Man Blog
Buzzcocks marked the 40th anniversary re-issues of the albums "A Different Kind of Tension" and "Singles Going Steady" with a special exhibition and pop-up shop at the Noho Showroom in London last Saturday. The one day only event featured Malcolm Garrett’s original artwork designs for Buzzcocks' record sleeves along with various prints, adverts and posters. There was also a shop selling the albums and the original "Product" carrier bag plus a very limited number of exclusive screen-prints of the original Malcolm Garrett "What Do I Get?" poster. To top it all we had the added bonus of a signing session where Steve Diggle was joined by the 'classic' line-up's rhythm section, John Maher and Steve Garvey who happily chatted with fans and signed albums and prints. Of course, seeing the three bandmates there together you couldn't help but feel extremely sad that Pete Shelley is no longer with us. However, the exhibition also served as a reminder for this Friday June 21st's very special event at The Royal Albert Hall to celebrate Pete's life and music. 

Buzzcocks Exhibition & Signing Session, London - Photo Retro Man Blog
Buzzcocks Exhibition & Signing Session, London - Photo Retro Man Blog
John Maher signes Buddy Ascott's charity drum skin - Retro Man Blog
Buddy Ascott, drummer with The Chords and now The Fallen Leaves, came along wth me and finally managed to get one of his biggest influences, John Maher, to sign the now legendary bass drum skin. John added his autograph alongside such drummimg icons as Clem Burke of Blondie, Nick Mason of Pink Floyd and Rick Buckler of The Jam among many others. The drum skin will eventually be auctioned in aid of the Roll Out The Barrel Trust charity which you can hear all about in our special Retrosonic Podcast interview with Buddy here. Buddy and I also pay tribute to Pete Shelley in Retrosonic Episode 33 where Buddy picks his favourite Buzzcocks song and talks about the influence of John Maher on his drumming. I also reminisce about the Buzzcocks 2012 "Back To Front" gig at Brixton Academy, which saw John and Steve Garvey joined by original vocalist Howard Devoto.

Buzzcocks Exhibition & Signing Session, London - Photo Retro Man Blog
Buzzcocks Exhibition & Signing Session, London - Photo Retro Man Blog
The Royal Albert Hall gig on Friday promises to be another very special, but of course poignant, one-off event and will feature Buzzcocks current line-up, along with Steve Garvey and John Maher and a star-studded cast of guest vocalists. The special guests confirmed so far include Dave Vanian, Captain Sensible, Thurston Moore, Peter Perrett, Richard Jobson, Pauline Murray and Tim Burgess. The impressive support on the night comes from The Skids and Penetration, making this a fitting tribute to Pete Shelley and a night not to be missed. Tickets are available from The Royal Albert Hall ticket office here. Here are a few photos of the exhibition and signing session.

Buzzcocks Exhibition & Signing Session, London - Photo Retro Man Blog
Buzzcocks Exhibition & Signing Session, London - Photo Retro Man Blog
Buzzcocks Exhibition & Signing Session, London - Photo Retro Man Blog
Buzzcocks Exhibition & Signing Session, London - Photo Retro Man Blog
Buzzcocks Exhibition & Signing Session, London - Photo Retro Man Blog
Buzzcocks Exhibition & Signing Session, London - Photo Retro Man Blog

There are more photos of the exhibition at the Retro Man Blog Facebook page here.

Monday, 17 June 2019

Thee Moot Release New LP "Peel It To Reveal It" and Announce Appearance at Twickenham's High Tide Festival

Thee Moot "Peel It To Reveal It" cover art by Lambo
Retro Man Blog's good pals Thee Moot have released their debut full length LP "Peel It To Reveal It" which comes hot on the heels of the excellent mini-album/EP "Tomorrow's Calling". I know this is going to sound somewhat contradictory but the band are reassuringly familiar yet refreshingly different. They are certainly hard to categorise, that's for sure. I think there should be a new movement for bands such as Thee Moot, The Galileo 7 and Of Arrowe Hill - superb bands that might often get overlooked because they plough their own furrow and don't conform to easy stereotyping. Words like 'taut' and 'lean' spring to mind, you see Thee Moot specialise in perfectly formed guitar pop nuggets that are as stripped back as you can get. Each song is naggingly catchy in the extreme and Dave's memorable ringing, glacial guitar lines are the undoubted star of the "Peel It To Reveal It" show. This might have something to do with the bass being mixed down a bit too low for my taste this time round, but that's probably just a minor gripe from an ex-bassist!

Thee Moot by Thee Moot
Vocalist Nick Stone and bassist Mark Leech were in the 80's Paisley Psych act The Onlookers, whilst drummer Freezer Pinch and guitarist DC were, along with Mark, previously playing in The Transients. In fact, if I think back to The Transients it's probably from their eclectic choice of cover versions that included The Nerves, Small Faces, Rupert's Children, Television, The Only Ones and Radio Birdman - that might give you some idea of where Thee Moot are coming from. If you throw in The Church and The Kinks and even a bit of Bowie, then you will see what a broad palette Thee Moot are painting from. My personal highlight, the fuzzed up funk of "Let Your Hair Down" rides in on a great bubbling bass line before DC's vicious guitar riff slashes through the speakers. It's a welcome moment when Thee Moot let loose a bit and (if you will excuse me...) actually do let their hair down, and they are all the better for it. "My Fixation", a live favourite of mine for some time now, also benefits from a more aggressive approach and this would have made a great choice to release as a single. "Peel It To Reveal It" ends on a real high with "Don't Be Afraid of The Dark" which sees Nick in mighty fine voice and it's a fitting and strong way to finish a thoroughly satisfying album. The band will be appearing at The Eel Pie Pub in Twickenham at around 5:15pm on Saturday 22nd June as part of the High Tide Festival which is curated by the excellent Eel Pie Record Store. Given the area's rich musical history and links to classic British Beat and R'n'B - I can't think of a more apt band to be appearing at the festival than Thee Moot!

Thee Moot at the legendary Hope & Anchor - photo Retro Man Blog
You can order both Thee Moot's releases from their Bandcamp site here. You can also hear a track from the "Peel It To Reveal It" album in our latest episode of Retrosonic Podcast which you can listen to below or download from our Soundcloud page below or you can subscribe at iTunes.



Duncan Reid & The Big Heads "Kelly's Gone Insane" New Single on Crocodile Records


There are only two people in the entire world who can claim to have played with the Ramones while not actually being tagged with the ‘Ramone’ nom-de-plume. Duncan Reid is one of those people. As singer and bass player of Joey Ramone’s favourite band, The Boys, Duncan rode on the crest of a wave during Punk’s original late-1970s heyday as part of a wider collective of friends and peers that included Sex Pistols, The Clash, Generation X and a host of other power-chord pioneers. The Boys remain one of the best-loved and influential bands of their generation. "Montevideo" from the Big Heads’ debut album "Little Big Head", earned Duncan the keys to the Uruguayan capital with the only other musicians to achieve this being Elton John and Paul McCartney! Following a cornucopia of stellar reviews for "Little Big Head", The Big Heads developed their unique, effortlessly entertaining, melodic brand of harmony laden Pop-Punk with "The Difficult Second Album". Their third album "Bombs Away" was released in 2017 garnering variety of awards and appearing in numerous best album of the year lists and featured fourteen catchy little ditties about life, death, paranoia and Viagra. 2019 sees the Big Heads touring eternally in the UK, France, Belgium, Spain, Japan, Korea and Germany including festival dates at Rebellion, Strummercamp and Scotland Calling. As well as a fourth album being recorded, "Little Big Head" is reissued with previously unreleased bonus tracks and splatter vinyl, while a vinyl single, "Kelly’s Gone Insane" is out on Crocodile Records, also with new bonus tracks. You can check out a review of Duncan Reid & The Big Heads recent show at The 100 Club which features photos and videos, in the Retro Man Blog archive here.

Duncan Reid at The 100 Club - photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The "Kelly's Gone Insane" single can be ordered via Crocodile Records and more info on Duncan Reid & The Big Heads can be found at their official web-site here. Words courtesy Crocodile Records.

Sunday, 16 June 2019

The Nika Leeflang Project "The Night Call"


I first became aware of Nika Leeflang when I saw her singing with The Limiñanas at their superb show at London's legendary 100 Club earlier this year. I was inspired to find out more about the band's influences and history which led me on a voyage of discovery into the vibrant music scene of the band's Perpignan hometown. I found out about the pre-Limiñanas bands such as Beach Bitches and Les Bellas and then I checked out the work of the other various band members which would lead me onto Crank, Hair & The Iotas, The Toxic Farmers and then Nika's own music too. I caught up with Nika and asked how she got to know and work with The Limiñanas. "They called me up when they needed a new singer for their promotional tour when they were searching for a label to sign them. I always used to accompany artists on tour and a fellow called Raph Dumas, who was working with Renaud Papillon Paravel, gave them my phone number. I was happy to travel so much and to live the ‘musician’s dream’ - that is to play big stages in many places and to meet people and sweat on stage." I think most people in the U.K. would, like me, have first discovered Nika's own music through her association with The Limiñanas and I was intrigued to find out more about her own background. "My family was based in the Netherlands and my father and mother, thinking they couldn’t have children, began to travel around the Mediterranean coast. One day, they were in the South of France and that’s where I was born so they decided to stay at that place, the place where I still live, Clermont L’Herault. My life is made of many kilometres of travel, but I like my birthplace."

Nika with The Limiñanas at The 100 Club - Photo Retro Man Blog
I asked if music had always been in Nika's blood from an early age. "I remember dancing in my parents room to "One Love" by Bob Marley when I was just five or six years old. I remember some French songs by Jacques Dutronc and also Ray Charles who gave me intense happiness as a child. Then when I was around eleven or twelve I was a big fan of Michael Jackson and James Brown, who taught me how to shake my body to Pop rhythms everywhere and all the time. I made my mom crazy because of the noises on the floor from dancing!" But luckily it seemed as though her parents didn't discourage this interest in music. "When I was a child, my parents took me to local events where I was always dancing and watching the musicians, very close to the stage. I was a little one, but already in love with musicians, and still musicians are people that really impress me. Every story is so different, it’s endless, and for me musicians are like bibles, very precious, enriching and stimulating". So I wondered when did this love of music move Nika enough to start writing her own songs. "My mom was an English teacher in a bilingual school, and for a year, she took me with her, so we had these one hour journeys from home to school and back again. As I was eight years old, these travels seemed so boring that I started to write down my poems, my little stories and then one day, a song. So, I continued that way, to write down my impressions of life, of my feelings and emotions and then the day I held a guitar for the first time, I was already so inspired and naturally started to sing and play the guitar." I asked if there was a particular band or artist that had inspired her. "A few years later, I sat alone in a comfortable chair, listening to the album "Is This Desire" by PJ Harvey and I remember I said to myself, "I wanna be like that girl!" I’m a big big fan of PJ Harvey’s music and career as an artist, she is unstoppable and always amazed me with her classy voice, always changing and evolving and just the way she is and the way she represents herself."



Nika's latest song "The Night Call" is very textured and atmopheric, almost cinematic in it's feel and I could imagine her easily moving into movie soundtrack music. I wondered if was this something that she would consider in the future. "I am actually a very emotional person, and if I get the space I’m very imaginative and creative and my way of inventing my world is just as it seems to have enough rhythm. I really like independent movies, Directors such as Quentin Dupieux and others like David Lynch or Jim Jarmusch. I often discover weird films on French TV channels such as Arte or 5 but generally I still have a lot to discover and rare are the films that don’t bore me. I need action, drama, tears or fun but it has also to be fast-moving or just be weird. I’m also a real lover of short films, court métrages and I like humorous actors." I asked if Nika had any preference between working in the studio or performing live? "I adore recording at my studio, which I share with my guy, we are always exchanging ideas, guitar riffs and stuff. I always take these moments as kind of magic because I can create when I feel like it and not when I have to. But my favorite place is on stage".


I was interested to find out about her songwriting process too. "I always note my thoughts and my little stories since a very long time ago. Sometimes I take my guitar and there it goes, an indescribable flow of automatisms and I let it go, it’s kind of liberating! I used to write for friends and help them to get their experiences into words. I adore giving strength to others. My friend Souflette, a poet, very dear to my heart (M. Rico) wrote me a song years ago called "Horses" which was released on my second E.P. "7 songs". We played some shows together when I was touring my solo set, and we alternated songs and poetry. It was a super cool tour." Nika is currently working on a new LP and I wondered what should we expect? "As my personality is like a kind of chameleon, I will perform and sing up and down, French and English, Pop and Shoe-gazing, Grunge and Glitter! I won’t dare to give just one shade of me, because I waited for too long with my ‘being shy thing’ you know, thinking too much but doing nothing. I think the 8-trax release will be a part of me and then the L.P. will be another part of me. I’m currently looking for partners and labels for promoting and distribution, because although I can do a lot just not as far to have enough contacts to play in Japan, in the U.K. or around Europe. But well, I think every musician is looking for that. As soon as possible I’ll share on Soundcloud, Bandcamp or YouTube and hopefully vinyl and CD will follow".


With sincere thanks to Nika. There's a feature on The Limiñanas stunning show at The 100 Club with photos and videos in the Retro Man Blog archive here. You can find out more about The Nika Leeflang Project at her web-site here or at the official Facebook page here. Then, we also play a great track from the "Hey! Right" EP in the latest episode of Retrosonic Podcast which you can listen to/download below or subscribe at iTunes.



Thursday, 6 June 2019

The Beatpack "Rhymes & Blues" - Ms Sheringham Boom reviews the band's new E.P. out now on Heavy Soul Records


This review is long overdue, and I can only apologise to the band who very kindly sent a copy of their new EP 'Rhymes and Blues', which is out now on Heavy Soul records, up to Edinburgh for me to review. You may not know this, but R&B stalwarts The Beatpack have been around for quite some time, since they were but slips of lads. Okay, the line-up has changed now and then, but in their current format they are a force to be reckoned with. This is their first release since the ferocious 2016 'Back Behind and Infront' EP on State Records, and about time too. ‘Howlin’ Fever Blues’ according to the press release ‘comes on like a late ’67 Texan garageband suffering from an extreme Yardbirds fixation and with fuzz pedals set to destroy’. I can’t disagree with that. But can I add to it? I’ll try my best. A souped up Blues Magoos ‘You Ain’t Seen Nothing Yet’ is the first comparison that springs to mind, and yet that doesn’t really cover it. The full-on drama of this track, with it’s use of caesura (pauses) builds anticipation and only gives one enough time to draw quick breath before it descends into fuzzed-out madness. Absolutely phenomenal. ‘Sadie’ isn’t at all what I was expecting. It’s pleasantly mellow, with Zombies-style electric piano. But don’t be fooled - flip it, and both ‘How Come You Sleep So Well?’ and ‘Tumbles Like A Domino’ are full of chunky familiar riffs. Whist it’s clear where the bands influences lie, The Beatpack are by no means copycats. They make their own brand of R&B Garage that is full of passion and energy, and then take it to the next level. If you haven’t seen them live, then I urge you to go and see them asap. And on that subject, you can catch The Beatpack are headlining at Beatwave this year, and they’ll also be heading up to Scotland for a few dates towards the end of the year.

- Ms Sheringham-Boom is the bassist in Edinburgh based Garage Rock band Thee Girl Fridays

You can hear a track from the 'Rhymes and Blues' EP in our latest episode of Retrosonic Podcast.

Tuesday, 4 June 2019

Les BOF! "Voila" - Ms Sheringham-Boom reviews the Edinburgh based Francophile's long-awaited second album


The much anticipated second LP from those ferocious francophiles Les BOF! has finally arrived, courtesy of Dirty Water Records, following a break of no less than 8 years. I for one was delighted to hear that news, and being an Edinburgh resident, I’ve been lucky enough to see them play live locally more than a few times over the last couple of years, and of course headline at last year’s Beatwave. 'Voila!' serves up a selection of raw ‘60s beat and garage that is as fine and as pungent as an expensive Fromargerie. There’s a balance of well chosen covers and originals. The opening track is a cover of a much loved rock and roll standard. ‘If ever the Devil’s plan was made to torment men...’, Monsieur Mombel vocally expresses his disdain, it certainly sounds more angry and passionate sung in French. I can almost see him stamping his foot, tossing his head, chin jutting out - he leaves the listener in no doubt that it was indeed you, 'Jezebel'. 'Vie De Chien' is definitely my bag (haha) with to-die-for ‘66 fuzzed-out riffage, as is 'Leberes Moi'. Standouts of the originals are 'Fin Du Monde', 'Drogue & Roll' - not only because it features a Vibraphone and Stylophone, it’s also deliciously Dutronc and a bit genius; and lastly short but sweet instro 'Port St. Louis'. 

Les BOF!
The overall mood is stylish, aloof, smart and very dance-able, all of which encapsulates that distinct Ravencraig Studios magic - the recording has clarity, and the equipment that is, without a doubt utilised here, produces a sound that (no matter what anyone else says) cannot be reproduced using digital equipment. It’s both warm and sharp, authentic, and it’s the NOW sound!! Should you purchase this LP? Yé-Yé! Les BOF! Launch their LP 'Voila!' in Edinburgh on Friday June 7th at La Belle Angele, Edinburgh with support from Thee Girl Fridays (not that I’m biased, but this is going to be a killer show) and you can buy tickets here. Then on Saturday 8th June the band will play The Finsbury, London with support from The Liquorice Experiment and The Cretins, more details here.

Les BOF! at last year's Beatwave - photo Retro Man Blog
Ms Sheringham-Boom is the bassist with Thee Girl Fridays - their debut EP 'Love Witch' is available from Spinout Nuggets. A version of this review was first published in the Muso's Guide.