Wednesday 31 October 2012

Free Fall - "Power & Volume" new Album and 7" Single news

Mattias Bärjed - Photo Steve Worrall
Free Fall, the Swedish Heavy Rock "Super-Group", has just announced a record deal with Nuclear Blast Records. Free Fall was started by guitarist Mattias Bärjed – while playing guitar with The Soundtrack of Our Lives - as he felt the urge to form a classic four piece band (drums, guitar, bass, lead vocals), that would play straight-up heavy Rock 'n' Roll. As far as a musical direction, there was a clear intention to sound like a mix between early Van Halen, The Stooges and The Who. Other obvious influences on the band would be rock classics such as Led Zeppelin, UFO, AC/DC and Judas Priest to name a few. First in line to join the band was long time friend and ex-Nymphet Noodlers band-mate Jan Martens on Bass, who was to be joined shortly after by Drummer, Ludwig Dahlberg (ex-International Noise Conspiracy and Mattias Hellberg's White Moose). The final, last and very vital piece of the Free Fall puzzle was to find a lead Vocalist. And not just any vocalist - but a guy that could deliver the very high standard in over the top vocals that the band was looking for to front Free Fall. The word hit the streets that the band was looking for a vocalist in the school of Steve Marriot and Bon Scott.

After some time, help was found from Mattias and Ludwig's long time friend and producer Don Alsterberg (Graveyard, José Gonzales etc). Don claimed that he knew a guy called Kim from his hometown that he was sure was the right guy for the job. Kim Fransson showed up at rehearsals, the band jammed a couple of songs and the rest will be history. After signing a deal with Nuclear Blast, the band went into Studio Cobra in Stockholm and have, together with producer, engineer and mixer Martin Ehrencrona, recorded an album that will show the world what Free Fall and their "Freedom Rock" is all about - Power and Volume!

"Power & Volume" is scheduled for an early 2013 release. However, a first impression of what their Freedom Rock is all about will be due on November 30th 2012 when the band release the 7“ Single of the album's title track. "Power & Volume", the single, will be made available on black (retail version) and white vinyl (Nuclear Blast Mail order only) as well as digitally via iTunes. All versions of the single will also feature the non-album track, "Stand Up For Your Rock 'n' Roll".

Jan Martens, Ludwig Dahlberg & Kim Fransson - Photo by Steve Worrall
Free Fall will be opening for Gothenburg band and labelmates, Graveyard, in Oslo, Norway on November 8th and in Malmö, Sweden on November 15th.

Check out the Retro Man Blog review of Free Fall's May gig at La Gaîté Lyrique, Paris here.

You can also read all about Mattias Bärjed's soundtrack to the new political thriller "Call Girl" here.

Tuesday 30 October 2012

Retrosonic Podcast Swedish Music special with Spiders, Eken, Division of Laura Lee, MUG Music store, The Oholics, Side Effects, Samling and much more...

Continuing our series of Retrosonic Podcasts on Sweden, the latest Episode features a spotlight on Gothenburg's thriving music scene. And what better way to start than to kick off with The Troublemakers' classic anthem and tribute to the City, "Staden Göteborg". There are interviews with Ann-Sofie from the hotly tipped Spiders, where we discuss the release of their excellent debut album "Flash Point" and their upcoming European tour with Graveyard. We also talk to Wayne Lundqvist-Ford from the Ice Cream Man Blog about life in the city, including his thoughts on local bands, venues and the Gothenburg Scooter Club. We play a pick of recommended Swedish bands such as Division of Laura Lee, The Moving Sounds, The Early Days, The Wild Shore, Arvidson and The Movements. Next, it's a quick pop into the legendary MUG Music Store for a brief chat with the equally legendary owner, Bruce Emms. Then there is a feature on local Record Union digital A&R man, Hans Selander, and we play a selection of excellent bands on his roster including Långfinger, Eken, Side Effects, The Sympathy, Headons and The Oholics, who had their latest album reviewed very favourably by respected journalist Andrew Perry in the latest issue of Mojo Magazine. As if that is not enough, there's even more music crammed in, with songs by Samling, Swedish Brilliance and The Wonder Boys.

- Tracklist & Links (please click the highlighted names to visit each band's web-site).
Troublemakers "Staden Göteborg"
Division of Laura Lee "Need To Get Some"
The Early Days "Flowers"
The Moving Sounds "Never Follow Through"
The Movements "She Said"
The Wild Shore "Chinese Birds"
Arvidson "I'd Hate To See You Go"
Spiders "High Society", "Rules of The Game", "Fraction"

Spiders at Truckstop Alaska, Gothenburg - Photo by Anders Magnusson
Långfinger "Clap Your Hands For The Troubadour"
The Oholics "Wasted Youth"
The Sympathy "Get Away"
Side Effects "Let's Take a Walk in The Space Between Us"
Eken "Tanto, Min  Gröna  Fru"
Headons "Million Ways"
Samling "Stackars Lilla Värsting"
Swedish Brilliance "Another Day"
The Wonder Boys "Conspiracy Theory"

Bruce Emms of MUG Music Store - Photo by Steve Worrall
With many thanks to:
Bruce Emms at MUG Music Store (Musik Utan GRÄNSER), Kaserntorget 9, Gothenburg SE-411 18
Hans Selander at Record Union A&R and Selander Art
Ann-Sofie from Spiders
Wayne Lundqvist-Ford at Ice Cream Man Blog
Also, thanks to Anders Magnusson.

For all previous Swedish Special Edition Podcasts please check out the Retrosonic Podcast web-site on Soundcloud. All are available to download for free, here's a guide to all the Episodes so far.

Part 1: Ian Person, guitarist with The Soundtrack of Our Lives talks about the decision to call time on the band at the end of 2012. We also discuss his own music and play a selection of tracks from Ian's debut solo album "Diamonds In The Rough" and from the soundtrack to the new IFK Gothenburg movie "Football's Last Proletarians". We are also extremely delighted to include some brand new, as yet unreleased, songs from his forthcoming solo album.

Part 2: Thomas and David from one of Sweden's best psychedelic-garage-space-rock bands, The Movements, take us on a trip through the band's story which includes chapters as diverse as writing a theme song for a German football team, to being the first band that legendary Union Carbide Productions and Soundtrack of Our Lives guitarist Björn Olsson produced. From rehearsing songs in a hospital ward while singer David recovered from cancer, they ended up being the first band to have their very own Space Rock album taken to Outer Space by Swedish astronaut Christer Fuglesang! Generously sound-tracked by loads of great Movements songs, you can find out more in this fascinating special edition podcast!

Part 3: Movie Directors Martin Jönsson and Carl Pontus Hjorthén tell us all about their stunning new documentary, "Football's Last Proletarians" (Fotbollens Sista Proletärer), a fascinating look back at IFK Gothenburg's 1980's European adventures under the management of Sven-Göran Eriksson. We are also joined by one of the stars of the team, and of course the movie itself, ex-IFK, Liverpool and Fiorentina defender, Glenn Hysén. The Podcast features some examples of The Soundtrack of Our Lives' guitarist, Ian Person's excellent music from the film.

Our final Episode in the Swedish Series will be a special feature on Mattias Hellberg where we talk about his fascinating career from his early days in Karlstad to the present day as he prepares to release his latest solo album. Mattias talks about putting on gigs in the college canteen for Union Carbide Productions to forming his own bands such as Ugly Jake and later The Nymphet Noodlers with Martin Hederos, Mattias Bärjed and Jan Martens. We chat about his various collaborations and projects including The Solution, The Hellacopters, The Soundtrack of Our Lives, Hederos & Hellberg and more recently, with Nationalteatern. The Episode is generously soundtracked with lots of music from a selection of his many phases, including his solo albums and with The White Moose. We're also honoured to have some superb exclusive, unreleased songs from his forthcoming album. Please keep a check on the Retro Man Blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed @RetroMan65 or Retrosonic Podcast Soundcloud web-site for news of the release date of this great Mattias Hellberg Special Edition.
The Movements Podcast Cover Photo copyright Josefine Larsson 2012.

Ian Person Podcast Cover Photo copyright Paul Slattery 2012.

Spiders live Photo copyright Anders Magnusson 2012.

Monday 29 October 2012

Shonen Knife live at Cargo London October 16th

Shonen Knife in action - Photo by Paul Slattery
Yes, it's back to the Cargo for another fix of smiley day-glo catchy pop-punk with Shonen Knife. The recent sell-out gig at the same venue, where they played as their alter-ego tribute band, the Osaka Ramones, was certainly great fun. However, there was a slight down-side in that we were only treated to three of their own Shonen Knife songs as an encore. So there was no contest, immediately after the show I just had to snap up tickets for the return fixture as I was desperate to hear some more of their original classics. There was an expectant crowd building up and suddenly Naoko, Emi and Ritsuko bounded on stage to the strains of their own "Welcome To The Rock Club", took up their positions and then it's bang, straight into the opener, "Konnichiwa".

Ritsuko - Photo by Paul Slattery
I suppose that "Konnichiwa", could almost be the band's mission statement really, encouraging the crowd with a call to arms that promises that we'll all have "a good time tonight". They are not wrong either. Next up is their classic "Riding On The Rocket", the opening track from their 1992 breakthrough album "Let's Knife", it's one of those perfectly crafted songs that the band excel in. Then we are treated to a double hit of foodie songs, the impossibly catchy "Banana Chips", which are delicious fried in coconut oil apparently, and one of the set's highlights, "Flying Jelly Attack", that instigates some wild dancing from some enthusiastic fans beside me. They power through two songs from the latest album, the title track "Pop Tune" and then the brilliant tribute to their home town, "Osaka Rock City". I noticed that Photographer Paul Slattery was finding it difficult to take photos, as bassist Ritsuko was whipping him with her flailing hair as she threw herself around the front of the stage. He soldiered on regardless...

Emi - Photo by Paul Slattery
Naoko introduces the band and hands over lead vocal duties to live-wire drummer, Emi, to sing "Psychedelic Life" from the new album. Naoko explains that the song is about Emi's "Bohemian private life", which causes much whooping and whistling from the crowd. Although, some might have been disappointed as this is Shonen Knife, and the Bohemian life portrayed in the lyrics actually consists of sitting around sipping peppermint tea and burning incense. Then bassist, Ritsuko takes her turn on lead vocals for the slower paced sweet pop of "Sunshine". Next, they elevate that handy everday object, the "Rubber Band", into the subject of a catchy Punky thrash. "BBQ Party" from the album "Super Group", continues with their food obsession and then it's one of the highlights of the last album "Free Time", the Buzzcocks style Pop-Punk of "Do You Happen To Know", in which Naoko tells of time she lost her guitar en-route from Heathrow to Osaka's Kansai International Airport. Then it's the spooky "Jack The Ripper" guitar riff intro to "Devil's House" and the rocking "Bear Up Bison". The band then get into their Osaka Ramones character for a great, well received run through of  "Rock & Roll High School". Actually, Shonen Knife could almost be the cheeky little sisters of Johnny, Joey, Marky and Dee Dee. They have that knack of taking classic music references and making them sound fresh and envigorating. Not only that, but the lyrical twists on mundane every-day objects, food stuffs and cute animals is elevated to near genius, very much like their heroes, the Ramones. 

Naoko - Photo by Paul Slattery
This leads into one of the band's signature tunes, "Twist Barbie" and then "Tomato Head" from their "Rock Animals" album, which is a grungey number that reminds me of L7. Next up is the hardcore thrash of "Cobra vs. Mongoose" and the band close the show, putting down their instruments and holding their Shonen Knife scarves aloft, lapping up the applause and calls for an encore. They return for a "three cat encore"...a trio of feline inspired numbers. "Cat Nip Dream" sung by Ritsuko, "I am a Cat" sung by Emi and then Naoko takes over again for "Giant Kitty". Then all too soon, it's all over and the band leave to cheers, stomping feet and more encore requests. Unfortunately, that's it for tonight, the lights go up and illuminate a crowd of happy smiling faces. But the band do, however, graciously hang about afterwards, chatting, signing merchandise and having their photos taken with extremely satisfied Shonen Knife fans.

Shonen Knife greet their adoring fans - Photo by Steve Worrall
Photo by Paul Slattery
Photo by Steve Worrall
Shonen Knife - Photo by Steve Worrall
Shonen Knife (L/R) Ritsuko, Naoko & Emi - Photo by Paul Slattery
With many thanks to Paul Slattery for contributing his excellent Photos - all Photos Copyright of the credited photographers Paul Slattery 2012 & Steve Worrall Retro Man Blog 2012.

Thursday 25 October 2012

Royale Records Launch Night with The Electric Stars, The Past Tense, Mr. Bridger and The Swagger at the Half Moon

Royale Records' Hipster Lee by Steve Worrall
Royale Records had their official launch party at the Half Moon in Putney, featuring performances from four of the bands on their ever-expanding roster, The Swagger, The Past Tense, Mr Bridger and The Electric Stars. One of the label's Supremo's Hipster Lee, was spinning a great selection of Mod and Soul tracks. Also in attendance was Dizzy Holmes of the excellent label Detour Records, who have already released records by most of the Royale Records bands. The Swagger opened the show with a laid back set of songs, and although the band are from London, they seem to take a fair bit of influence from Liverpool in their sound as they reminded me of The Coral and the hugely underrated Shack. I felt that some of the songs could have been edited a bit, but overall their performance made a really nice contrast to the other three bands that were to follow.

The Swagger - Photo by Steve Worrall
The Swagger have only been together as a band since March, and they will release their debut E.P. "Carnaby's Treat" on Royale later this year. The band are made up of Lee Stevens on lead vocals and guitar, his brother Paul on lead guitar, bassist Will O'Connell and drummer Tim Desmond. Paul is an excellent guitarist and most of the songs are built around his riffs and soloing. Next up were Retro Man Blog favourites, The Past Tense, and tonight they finally delivered the blistering set that they have been building towards for some time. The Kingston three-piece were on fire and the occasion, along with the limited set time, just seemed to spur them on to a faultless show. I have been a bit hard on vocalist and guitarist Andy Norrie-Rolfe, I know he is a self-effacing chap, but I have sometimes felt that his habit of apologizing during a set just detracts from how great The Past Tense really are. They seriously have nothing to apologize for, but should have faith in their abilities and most importantly, the sheer quality of their fizzing little Garage Pop nuggets of songs.

The Past Tense - Photo by Steve Worrall
Tonight, Andy really sticks it to me with a brilliant performance, full of confidence, and he attacks the songs with aggression and power. Their two albums "Take Three" and "Pick 'n' Mix", although crammed full of genius songs, unfortunately have a production that doesn't quite capture the power of the band live, and that's where they are best appreciated. There's just something very special about the The Past Tense. Maybe it's Andy's slightly unconventional guitar playing, where he somehow captures a slashing Wilko Johnson rhythm style that just makes you want to dance. He spirals off into little Freakbeat guitar riffs on tracks like the crowd favourite, "Wolfman" and perfects a Pete Townsend strum on their Quadrophenia tribute, "Jimmy's Love Song". It might have been Andy's crowning performance, but that's not to forget that The Past Tense also boast, what is probably the Garage Rock scene's best rhythm section, in bassist Ken Halsey and drummer Warren Samuels, who really power things along.

The Past Tense - Photo by Steve Worrall
Ken's bass runs add counter melody to Andy's rhythm guitar, and Warren is a blur of energy behind the drum kit. The great thing about them is that, although they cram so much into each song, there is no excess, each number may be short but it is perfectly formed! And to top it all, unlike a lot of the current guitar bands on the circuit, The Past Tense have a groove, you have to dance. OK, I'm going on a bit...but I'm totally enthused by the band, they deserve more. So get yourself down to the Retro Man Blog night at The Half Moon, Putney on December 07th, where I have a feeling that The Past Tense will be pushing the headliners, The Len Price 3, all the way to the wire for the title of "Best live band 2012". That's going to be some gig, so make sure you contact the Half Moon to book your tickets.

Mr Bridger - Photo by Steve Worrall
The next band is another three-piece, the Medway based Mr. Bridger, who proceed to cover every inch of the Half Moon stage with an energetic bash through songs from their "Out For Tea" album. Sure, there are hints of that Medway-Delta Garage Rock sound, but there's also a healthy mix of Punk energy. There's a bit of a Mod sensibility in their songs too, and a powerful version of The Jam's "Down In The Tube Station at Midnight" is well received by the crowd. They are a pretty incendiary live act too, with lead Vocalist Dave Hursell laying waste to his guitar at the climax of the set. So, all in, a really enjoyable, fun band and well worth catching live if you get the chance. Headliners, The Electric Stars were being raved about by Hipster Lee, in our Retrosonic Podcast special Edition on Royale Records recently. There has certainly been a buzz about the band around the release of their new album "Sonic Candy Soul", which is out now on Detour Records.

The Electric Stars - Photo by Steve Worrall
The band certainly don't lack confidence, the guitarist is even wearing aviator shades and front man Jason Edge, knows how to work a crowd. They open with my two favourite tracks off the new album "136" which is a storming Rolling Stones style tribute to all that's good about Rock 'n' Roll, with it's refrain "Beautiful music for beautiful people". Next up is "Between The Streets and The Stars", which has a nice, almost French, Sixties Lounge feel to it. The Electric Stars live, are pretty much like the album, polished and professional, and you feel that, of all the bands in the scene, they will be the first to really "make it". So, all in all it was a great night and very well organised by Hipster Lee, it will be interesting to see how things progress with Royale Records.

All Photographs Copyright Steve Worrall Retro Man Blog 2012

Tuesday 23 October 2012

Call Girl: Mattias Bärjed from The Soundtrack of Our Lives soundtracks new Mikael Marcimain movie.

Mattias Bärjed, Guitarist with The Soundtrack of Our Lives and Free Fall, has written the soundtrack music to "Call Girl", the new Swedish political thriller by the acclaimed Director Mikael Marcimain. The soundtrack album will be released by the Stockholm based Razzia Records on CD and Vinyl on October 31st and you can pre-order your preferred format from GinzaBengans or CD-On. "Call Girl" is the debut feature film from the highly rated Marcimain, who previously worked with Mattias Bärjed on the excellent TV Series, "Upp Till Kamp". "Call Girl" is inspired by a real-life Swedish political scandal known as "Bordellhärvan", which linked underage prostitution with powerful and influential Clients, believed to have come from the highest levels of society. It is set in late '70's Sweden, a time of women's liberation, sexual revolution, and political neutrality in the nuclear power age. However, under the polished surface of Sweden's model utopian society, other desires are eager to be fulfilled, and within a stone’s throw of Government buildings and offices lie the seductive, yet dirty world, of sex clubs, strip shows, discotheques and apartments used for illicit and profitable rendezvous.

"Call Girl" tells the tale of how a young girl is unwittingly recruited into a ruthless world where power can get you anything. The story also follows a dogged Detective investigating the case which will take him on a dark trip, from the very bottom of society, through a superficial world of glitz and glamour, to the labyrinth corridors of power, which are full of secrets. The movie had it's world premier at the Toronto Film Festival and you can read a review of the movie on the Variety web-site. Two stars of the movie, Sofia Karemyr and Josefin Asplund, have been nominated in this year's Rising Star category by the Stockholm Film Festival. You can also watch a trailer for the movie at the Trust Nordisk web-site.

Razzia Records have also previously released Mattias Bärjed's soundtrack to Mikael Marcimain's award winning 2007 TV Series, "Upp Till Kamp", which featured the outstanding actress Ruth Vega Fernandez and actor Simon J. Berger from "Call Girl". In fact, it seems Marcimain is building up quite an impressive and hugely talented ensemble around him, as both Fernandez and Berger have also appeared alongside "Upp Till Kamp's" lead actor, Sverrir Gudnason in episodes of "Wallander", the popular Detective TV series starring Krister Henriksson, that he directed.

"Upp Till Kamp" is a superb drama, and as a fan of The Soundtrack of Our Lives, it is well worth watching, as not only do you have Bärjed's acting debut, but also his impressive score, which features the beautifully moving song "Coming Down Cold" with Ebbot Lundberg. Swedish music fans might also spot ex-International Noise Conspiracy, and Mattias Hellberg's White Moose drummer, Ludwig Dahlberg, who is now part of Bärjed's heavy rock outfit, Free Fall. Marcimain, I suspect, must be quite a music fan himself, as I loved the way he captures the authenticity of hot, packed out gigs in small clubs in "Upp Till Kamp". The live show scenes are some of the most realistic that I have seen committed to film. Gudnason also excels as Tommy, the charismatic lead singer of the fictional band, The Heartbreakers.

I am really looking forward to hearing the "Call Girl" soundtrack, and will of course review it as soon as I can get hold of a copy. Likewise the movie, which has it's Swedish domestic premiere on November 09th, and then hopefully an International general release will follow very soon after.
Mattias Bärjed at Slussens Pensionat, September 2012 - Photo by Paul Slattery
Thanks to Hans Selander and Daniel Tivemark. Mattias Bärjed photo courtesy of Paul Slattery.

Monday 15 October 2012

Retrosonic Podcast Movie Special - "IFK Göteborg, Football's Last Proletarians" with Directors Martin Jönsson & Carl Pontus Hjorthén and ex-IFK & Liverpool legend Glenn Hysén. Music by Ian Person

The superb documentary movie about IFK Gothenburg entitled,  "Football's Last Proletarians" (Fotbollens Sista Proletärer), had it's very first London screening as part of the "Kicking & Screening" event, at the Everyman Cinema Baker Street recently. After their busy day talking to Sky Sports and Talksport Radio, Retro Man Blog got the very pleasant opportunity to relax and have a couple of beers with Directors, Martin Jönsson and Carl Pontus Hjorthén along with one of the stars of the team, and of course the movie itself, ex-IFK, Liverpool and Fiorentina defender, Glenn Hysén. The movie is a fascinating look back at IFK Gothenburg's 1980's European adventures under the management of Sven-Göran Eriksson. However, it is far more than just a film about football, it's a classic and extremely well told story of David against Goliath - how a team of part-time footballers took on, and beat, some of European football's top outfits on their way to UEFA Cup success.  The movie also puts the football into historical and social context, as we see how the politics of the time, along with the atmosphere of the working class dock city of Gothenburg, helped to shape such an unlikely yet successful team.

Martin Jönsson, Carl Pontus Hjorthén & Glenn Hysén
I would go so far as to say this is the best film to be made about football so far, as the highs, lows and crushing sense of injustice that permeate the movie, are familiar to every die-hard football fan, no matter where they are from or what team they happen to support.  The original soundtrack music is provided by Ian Person, long time IFK fan and guitarist with The Soundtrack of Our Lives. Ian spoke to me about how he got involved with the movie on our Special Edition Retrosonic Podcast, which you can listen to and download hereYou can also read the previous Blog feature on the movie, with an interview with Ian and a track-by-track guide to to the movie soundtrack here.

However, in this Episode of Retrosonic Podcast, Martin and Carl Pontus tell us how they got the idea for the movie and how they believe that it will hopefully appeal to British and Scottish football fans in particular. They discuss the importance of the social and political times in Gothenburg around the team and how they got to work with Ian Person from The Soundtrack of Our Lives for the film's music. Glenn discusses some of the unsung heroes of the team and what it was like working under the management of Sven-Göran Eriksson and he then talks about his time with Liverpool FC and Fiorentina. I also finally uncover the mystery of the ubiquitous Ramones style "Glenn" T-shirts that you see all over the city...  

With many thanks indeed to Martin Jönsson, Carl Pontus Hjorthén and Glenn Hysén for sparing time from their busy schedule to chat to me and for their turn to get the beers! Many thanks also to Ian Person from The Soundtrack of Our Lives. The English version DVD is available soon from all major outlets and is thoroughly recommended.

Photo of Martin Jönsson, Carl Pontus Hjorthén & Glenn Hysén Copyright Steve Worrall 2012.

Budokan - "Spin a Little Gold" new blistering guitar pop album from Canada.

If you listened to our recent Retrosonic Podcast Power Pop Edition with Wayne Lundqvist-Ford from Ice Cream Man Blog, you will be aware of the blistering guitar pop attack of Budokan's contribution, the superb "The Queen's English". Budokan are a rock and roll band from Victoria B.C. in Canada and they play hook filled songs with loud guitars that they want people to love and remember. They draw inspiration from all the greats, but feel particularly indebted to the likes of Cheap Trick (yes, the band's name is a tribute to their classic "Live at Budokan" album), Ramones, Redd Kross, The Stones and Buzzcocks. Budokan comprise the singing, guitar playing and songwriting pair of Andrew Molloy and Craig Vishek, Kent Bendall on bass and Graham Watson on drums. "Spin a Little Gold" is their hotly anticipated debut full-length album and was initially only be available on beautiful 180 gram gold vinyl and digital download. However, the CD is version is now available on Japan's prestigious SP Records.

You can check out Budokan at their Bandcamp site.

Friday 12 October 2012

The Sensibles - Raucous Punk Power Pop from Milan

The Sensibles - Photo by Laura Donati
I first heard The Sensibles during our recent Retrosonic Podcast interview with Wayne Lundqvist-Ford from Ice Cream Man Blog, where he picked out some of the best international Power Pop music he had received over the past year. The Sensibles were one of the tracks that really stood out, and I do mean that, as "Open Book", positively burst out of the speakers with a raw, crackling energy. The song was like a noisy neighbour (head) butting in on the somewhat more polite and pastoral Power Pop we were happily checking out. I really liked the track and the total enthusiasm that seemed to spill out into the room, plus it had a catchy chorus that stuck in my head long after the interview had finished. So we included "Open Book" in the Podcast, which you can listen to here, and I quickly got in contact with the band.

Stella of The Sensibles - Photo by Paolo Proserpio
The Sensibles are from Milan and have been playing together since 2009. The band consist of Giacomo on bass, Fili on Guitar and Backing Vocals, Ga on Drums and Stella on Vocals. Last December they were included on a 4-band split CD entitled "The Pizza Connection", released by the Italian label, Making Believe Records, and in July this year, they released the superb, must-have self-titled E.P. on their own label. This was a limited edition, just 300 hand numbered copies, and included the Podcast track, "Open Book". The band played some dates in America in August to promote the record and then released a split vinyl E.P. with Japanese band The Ever Coming Hair on SP Records. The Sensibles certainly like their collaborations, as next will be another joint vinyl E.P. with The Hairlips, on Night Fever Records. 

Now, collaborations are all well and good, but I am kind of hoping that the band get round to concentrating on themselves soon and think about releasing a full length album of their very own. Judging by the strength of their scattered songs, that would be something very special.

Thanks to Giacomo.

You can check out just how good the band are for yourself by visiting their Bandcamp site.


Thursday 11 October 2012

The Pacifics - New split 7" Single with Thee Cormans out now.

Following on from our coverage of The Pacifics previous E.P. "Pacifics Play Favourites", here's a new release from the Dublin based band. It's a split 7" on Austrian label Bachelor Records along with the Californian surf instrumentalists, Thee Cormans, on the flip side. It's the band's first original tune on wax and was recorded in between the guys from Little Green Cars recording their debut, and The #1s' LP sessions. The single follows on from the 2011 E.P. "Play Favourites" and the 2012 LP "Pacifically"...both out on American label "Blood Red Records".

Here's some info from the band's record company: "There are a lot of things that can be said about this release but you know the deal, I don't want to be too informative and chatty about this cause if you order, it means WORK for me. So here we go, we tricked those goofs from Costa Mesa, Thee Cormans, into a record deal, and we were shameless enough to put Ireland's handsomest guys and Bachelor's latest Hit-makers, The Pacifics, on the Butt-Side of this 45. Both bands don't really deserve to be on a split 45 'cause they are good enough to have their own 7 inches, but well, it's another attempt for us to cash in. Now we pressed 500 copies of this beast of a dirty surf beat platter and we only have a limited amount of copies for sale. So, be quick and get yerself a copy, and while you're at it snatch some other cool bean releases from Bachelor Records too".

The Pacifics in action.
The 7" will be launched at The Big Itch Club in The Thomas House on Thomas Street, Dublin on October 13th. Also on the bill are Hunk and Slim Jim & The Bonebreakers. Entry is only Euro 4.99.

The Ace! "Next Time Around" & "Another Top Pop!"

As I wrote in my recent feature on Swedish band The Movements, I love it when a band has actually checked out the Blog a bit before sending in their music, and I love it when that music is something that really makes me sit up and take notice. That's what happened when Leeds based garage rockin' trio, The Ace! got in touch and I was mightily impressed with the tracks I heard. The band then very kindly despatched their brand new album "Next Time Around", which has been released on their own label "We Dig This!". The album consists of twelve tracks, a collection of their two previous released E.P.s, "Attack Of The Ace" and "Advance of The Ace", together with four previously unreleased songs. It's certainly an energetic up-beat record, positively bursting at the seams with some mighty fine good time Rock 'n' Roll. Actually, I wasn't kidding when I said it was bursting at the seams, the material is so strong that it can't be contained and has spilled over into an additional three-track bonus E.P. "Another Top Pop!", that comes free with the album.

The band certainly draws on many influences, sometimes conjuring up the raw enthusiasm of Hamburg-era Beatles, or what I imagine a packed and smoky Cavern Club in the Sixties would have been like. Yes, although these are Yorkshire boys, there are definite nods to the thumping Mersey Beat sound, of say, The Dave Clark Five's immense "Glad All Over". There are also strains of American bands such as Beau Brummels and The Knickerbockers, who admittedly were also heavily influenced by that Liverpool scene. They can take the softer approach of The Searchers or The Left Banke but mainly belt out fizzing bubblegum pop. There are also some raw Soul stompers in the vein of their contemporaries The Woggles, and the full throttle garage rock energy of The Len Price 3. The band are made up of Dynamite Daz Lee Parkinson on drums, Nige B-Side Spencer on Bass and Vocals and Jonny Magus Wilson on Guitar and Vocals. They seem to be causing a stir in the States, picking up lots of air-play on influential radio shows such as Bill Kelly's Teenage Wasteland, Mike Murray's Whole Lotta Shakin', WLUW Chicago's Razor & Die and Mr Suave's Mod World in Seattle. Back over this side of the pond they have been played on Radio 6Towns Glory Boy show, Cabin Radio's Curiosity Shop and featured in Heavy Soul fanzine and Happening Magazine. You can buy the album, check out and contact the band at their Facebook or MySpace pages.

Here's a great track "Oh Yeah!", that is as good as any song I've heard all year.

Photos courtesy of The Ace!

Wednesday 10 October 2012

The pUKES - A Punk Rocking Ukulele Orchestra

The pUKES - Photo by Diana More
I noticed on the posters advertising the Tate Modern's Merge Festival event to launch "The Art of Punk" book, that music was to be provided by a band called The pUKES. It automatically conjured up images of a really awful Kenny Everett Sid Snot Gizzard Puke Punk parody but, as it turned out, that couldn't have been further from the truth. As the lecture drew to a close there was a flurry of activity and over twenty brightly coloured Punks took to the stage. Apart from the drummer, they were all clutching Ukuleles, or Ukes, and I soon cottoned on to where the band's name originated. What followed was an unexpected delight, a set of Punk Rock classics covered in a truly individual style, that just made you grin from ear to ear. From popular favourites such The Clash's "White Riot", Ramones "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" and X-Ray Spex's "Oh Bondage Up Yours" to slightly less well known numbers like Menace's "GLC" and Cocksparrer's catchy anthem "Because You're Young", The pUKES sang and played their hearts out, it was fantastic.

The pUKES at The Tate - Photo by Steve Worrall
After the Tate Gallery event finished we all traipsed round to the nearby Charles Dickens pub, the band crammed themselves in and did it all again. This time freed from the restraints of the seated auditorium and the total absence of a bar at the Book Launch, a few pints made the experience of seeing The pUKES even better. The packed pub sang along to all the hits, and even when the band slipped in an original number, "Will I Learn", it was such a great song that I still sang along, even though I'd only heard it for the first time at the Tate a couple of hours earlier. So it all turned out to be a raucous and fun night, not something I expected when I first took my seat in the Tate Gallery's auditorium earlier that evening. The pUKEs describe themselves as a "ukulele anti-society for punks", they are based in London and first started meeting up in early 2011 at their local The Royal Sovereign. A lot of the band had never played an instrument before taking up the Ukulele but other members have been in bands such as UK Subs, Extreme Noise Terror, Lost Cherrees, ATV and Rabies Babies. The band are now in demand, playing gigs, festivals and punk's picnics in London and beyond. They have also been lucky enough to share a bill with many of the bands who inspired them, including Sham 69, UK Subs, Vice Squad, Bad Manners, Chelsea, Menace, Subhumans and Splodge. So if you are planning a Punk Rock party any time, you know you can always call on The pUKES to supply that perfect feel-good entertainment.

Here's the official video to their own original song called "Will I Learn". 

Many thanks to Clara, you can check out The pUKES web-site here.

The pUKES - Photo by Diana More
You can watch a video of "White Riot" filmed at The Tate at the Retro Man YouTube channel.

Tuesday 9 October 2012

Shonen Knife as Osaka Ramones live at Cargo, London Monday October 01st

Photo by Steve Worrall
It's Shonen Knife alright, just not as we usually know them. For tonight, the band took to the stage at Cargo as their alter-ego, the Osaka Ramones. Naoko, Emi and Ritsuko appeared in a cloud of dry ice to the strains of Ennio Morricone's spaghetti western classic "The Good, The Bad and The Ugly", just as the Ramones used to do. The band's usual stage outfits of cute, Mary Quant meets Mondrian dresses, are replaced by jeans, Ramones T-shirts and black leather jackets and after a customary "1-2-3-4" they slam straight into "Blitzkrieg Bop". The crowd went crazy and there was much good natured pushing and shoving. Cargo is a great venue, although the various bar and terrace areas seem to take up more than the gig space itself. This means the audience is crammed in and it can be a struggle to get a decent view, however it certainly makes for an intimate atmosphere. "Psychotherapy" is next and is quickly followed by "Rockaway Beach" and "I Wanna Be Sedated", which didn't make the album. The thumping "KKK Took My Baby Away" leads into the New York Punk anthem "Chinese Rock" and then the brilliant "She's The One", one of my favourite Ramones songs. Actually, I think the choice of cover songs on the album is maybe a little bit predictable. However, to their credit, they do pick out the less well known, CJ Ramone penned "Scattergun", from the Ramones' last ever studio album, "Adios Amigos", and make it their own.

Emi, Ritsuko & Naoko - Photo by Steve Worrall
Next up is the singalong classic "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker" which takes the cellar style roof off the Cargo. Strangely enough, a couple of days later I was singing along to another cover of this when I saw The pUKES, the superb 20 strong ukulele wielding Punk Rock orchestra. Although each band is somewhat different in their approach and sound, The pUKES "George Formby plays Punk" style against Shonen Knife's more traditional take, both have a similar effect. That is, you just can't stop smiling, it's infectious! Bassist Ritsuko, with her Dee Dee style low slung bass that's almost touching the floor, grins through her long thrashing hair, and singer and guitarist Naoko responds with a cheery smile throughout the show. The band are having fun and so are we. But it's their fantastic drummer Emi, who seems to be having more fun than all of us put together as she powers round her kit, adding backing vocals and yet more of those Shonen Knife smiles.

Shonen Knife drummer Emi - Photo by Steve Worrall
Things come to a close with "Beat On The Brat", "Rock and Roll High School" and a brilliant version of "Pinhead". Naoko lifts her guitar over her head and as the green lazers cut through the dry ice, multi-coloured confetti showers down on the audience, brilliant!  The band return for a well deserved three song encore of "Pop Tune" and "Osaka Rock City" from the new "Pop Tune" album and "Economic Crisis" from "Free Time", and that was it.  I was hoping for more of their own classic songs, but it did make me rush out and buy tickets for their return show at the Cargo on October 16th, where they promised us a full Shonen Knife set, and I can't wait. Well, it's taken me a week to get this review out but I haven't stopped smiling...

Shonen Knife as Osaka Ramones - Photo by Steve Worrall
Naoko - Photo by Steve Worrall
Ritsuko - Photo by Steve Worrall
Shonen Knife/Osaka Ramones in action - Photo by Steve Worrall
Naoko, guitar hero - Photo by Steve Worrall
Ritsuko points the way - Photo by Steve Worrall
Confetti time - Photo by Steve Worrall
Naoko, Ritsuko & Emi after the show - Photo by Steve Worrall
All photos copyright Steve Worrall 2012. For access to more exclusive photos of the show please visit and "Like" the Retro Man Blog Facebook  page. Here's a video of  "Blitzkreig Bop".

More exclusive videos can be found at the Retro Man Blog YouTube Channel.

There's also a good fan page, The Shonen Knife Nexus, here.