Wednesday 29 July 2015

Ebbot Lundberg & The Indigo Children at Slussens Pensionat, Orust, Sweden on Friday July 10th

Ebbot Lundberg by Anders Magnusson
When The Soundtrack of Our Lives split up, one of the things I would come to miss the most of all would be the annual trips to the beautiful Slussens Pensionat on the island of Orust. These nights became legendary; a chance to see the band up close and personal, often playing up to three hour shows which started off as laid back semi-acoustic takes on a wealth of rarely played album tracks and B-sides from throughout their career. The band would also try out new unreleased material as well as showcasing whole albums in their entirety. The Slussens shows were unpredictable and exciting and often ended up in complete mayhem as the initial laid back approach would quickly turn into a full-on Rock ‘n’ Roll freak out with Ebbot climbing on tables, bottles, glasses and bodies flying in all directions. These were great social occasion too, a chance to chat to the band, drink rather too much and meet other fans, some travelling from as far afield as America, Scotland, England, Norway and even Chile to sample the unique Slussens atmosphere. You can see a great example of the Slussens experience in the trailer to the superb "Ebbot the Movie" here.

Joacim of The Indigo Children by Anders Magnusson
So, when I heard the news that Ebbot was going to play a show at Slussens Pensionat it was a dream come true to have a reason to return to my all time favourite venue. Ebbot has certainly been busy working on a wide selection of eclectic projects since TSOOL split. From the ambient art Psychedelia of The New Alchemy to solo acoustic performances and Johnny Cash tributes to the blistering, relentless Kingdom of Evol along with the legendary Freddie Wadling, artist and musician Per Svensson (who designed the iconic 'death masks' album cover for "Behind The Music") and his ex-Union Carbide Productions colleagues Henrik Rylander and Adam Wladis. Then there was a cameo role in the Swedish TV drama “Viva Hate” which featured music by Ian Person and not to mention Ebbot's appearance in the hugely popular music reality TV show "Så Mycket Bättre" which has elevated him to household name celebrity status in Sweden, "I’m a lot more known, I'm suddenly doing a lot more selfies..." he told me in our Retrosonic Podcast interview. Then there was the news that Ebbot was working on new material with the excellent Stockholm based band Side Effects and ex-Broder Daniel member Daniel Gilbert backing him under the name The Indigo Children. Things were looking promising and we went to see them play a tremendous show at Gothenburg’s Stora Teatern back in March. I think seeing him perform that night with The Indigo Children was the closest he has come to capturing the energy and excitement of The Soundtrack of Our Lives live. 

Hugo of The Indigo Children by Anders Magnusson
The set that night was crammed full of rare treats harking back to Union Carbide Productions and some unusual Soundtrack of Our Lives songs too. This time round unfortunately Daniel Gilbert couldn’t make the Slussens show so Rebekah from Those Dancing Days was drafted in on rhythm guitar – she was certainly thrown in the deep end, evident by the pages of notes with guitar chords scrawled on them strewn on the floor at her feet. But she did a really great job especially as working with Ebbot involves a fair bit of musical flexibility; you never quite know where he is going to lead you. So, the remainder of the band is, as mentioned earlier, Side Effects, who were named (like this Blog...) after a TSOOL song. In fact guitarist Billy Cervin is no stranger to Ebbot’s musical demands, he has already played live with The Soundtrack of Our Lives during Mattias Bärjed’s paternity leave, indeed he was taught guitar by Mattias. You can read all about Billy's experiences in the Blog feature "How To Join Your Favourite Band" here. The band are all in their early 20’s and their talents are quite extraordinary, they started off as kind of school project in Stockholm and have already signed to a major label for their last album release, the stunning "A Walk In The Space Between Us", which I can't recommend highly enough. At Stora Teatern I was amazed at the likeness of their mentors, a kind of "mini-TSOOL", complete with all the moves and confidence. 

Billy of The Indigo Children by Anders Magnusson
They are all great musicians and tonight as I am quite literally sitting on the stage (well floor as is the case with Slussens Pensionat...) with them, it’s certainly fascinating to watch them so close. Billy is an excellent guitarist and all smiles under his mop of hair, wind-milling his Gibson SG just like his mentor. Bassist Joacim is the quiet one of the band on stage, just letting his understated but impressive bass playing do all the talking. Keyboard player Elias plays standing up, adding backing vocals and bringing an additional visual element very much like Martin Hederos did. However, it’s drummer Hugo who gets most of the crowd’s plaudits and on an extended and wired version of TSOOL’s classic "Grand Canaria" he really comes into his own. Fredrik Sandsten himself would have been very impressed with the way Hugo tackled his mind-blowing drum fills. Then of course we get to Ebbot, invigorated by the energy of his young backing band he is in good humour and in mighty fine voice. He takes the stage alone at first and treats us to a "little appetizer" which turns out to be a superb acoustic version of Union Carbide's "Down on The Farm" which goes down a storm. Then he introduces The Indigo Children one-by-one and we are off and away on a perfectly compiled set-list that begins with "You Are The Beginning", one of the highlights of TSOOL's final album. "Killing My Darlings" from the new Indigo Children "Homo Futurus" E.P. is a sort of whimsical, almost Country, song which lyrically could well allude to the decision to call time on The Soundtrack of Our Lives. While we're on the whimsical theme this leads into the early Pink Floyd Psychedelic fairy-tale "The Gnome", it's the sort of off-the-wall humorous track that Ebbot delights in. 

Elias of The Indigo Children by Anders Magnusson
Three brand new tracks follow, "For the Ages to Come", "Beneath The Winding Waterway" and "In Subliminal Clouds", demo versions of which can be heard on the "Immaculate Concept" album. All three sound superb played by the band tonight and I am really looking forward to hearing them in all their recorded glory on the next album. What I thought was the intro to TSOOL's "Lone Summer Dream" turns out to be "Royals", not a tribute to my favourite football team unfortunately, but an unexpected cover version of New Zealand pop star Lorde's international hit. Somewhat surrealistically this is quickly followed by one of Union Carbide's most uncompromising tracks "Glad to Have You Back", which is brilliantly played by The Indigo Children, and really raises the roof of Slussens Pensionat. Another unusual cover is next, "Cerca de las Estrellas" by the 1960's Spanish band Los Pekenikes with lyrics changed to English and re-named as "Calling From Heaven". It's a brilliant Love style piece of obscure Psychedelia that apparently Ebbot has recorded with The Indigo Children for inclusion on the new album. There's a nice touch when they let an excitable Spanish fan introduce the song and join in on backing vocals. The Soundtrack of Our Lives rarity "Room Without a View" is a nice surprise, originally this was released as a fan club only web-single before being included on the B-Sides and rarities compilation "A Present From The Past", it's a beautiful song that deserves to be tracked down. The first set ends with a raucous take on Pink Floyd's "Arnold Layne" and we get to catch our breath and re-charge our batteries for the next part of the show.

Ebbot Lundberg by Anders Magnusson
For the second set Ebbot is joined by the solo artist Martin McFaul (whose superb album "Pop Mansion" I would really like to take the opportunity to recommend) and they play a version of Simon & Garfunkel's "April Come She Will". Martin has played quite a few acoustic shows with Ebbot over the past few years, especially at his Club Revolution No. 9 which was started up by Ebbot with help from Hans Selander the bassist from early 80’s Gothenburg Punk band Tre Muskler, a band that also included Per Svensson. There was a nice surprise to see Martin's friend, Wallander actor Lars Melin, in the crowd and I’d like to think he wasn’t too freaked out to be accosted by a couple of strange and excited foreigners telling him he was their “favourite ever Martinsson!” He’s even cooler now after discovering he has quite an impressive musical pedigree himself. I would have liked to have heard a few songs by Ebbot and Martin but that's all we get and Ebbot plays another rarity "Swim Like a Bird" before the Indigo Children return and slam into the tremendous "To Be Continued" from the new E.P. which segues into an extended version of the classic "Grand Canaria". This in turn leads quickly into another Soundtrack of Our Lives classic, "Instant Repeater '99", or “Sweden's unofficial national anthem” as I have heard it described. "Backdrop People”, the lead track from the "Homo Futurus E.P." must be one of the best songs that Ebbot has ever written; it certainly ranks up there amongst the very best of his impressive back catalogue. At the sinewy slow intro of Union Carbide's "Chameleon Ride" you can sense the crowd drawing a collective breath, the anticipation is palpable just waiting for the part where the powerful guitar chords come crashing in and the song tales off into another dimension like The Stooges "Sick Of You", it's a truly stunning moment.

Rebekah of The Indigo Children by Anders Magnusson
Next up is the laid-back Burt Bacharach lounge styling of the Ebbot solo single "Wishing Well" which allows a welcome breather and we all join in on the "La La La La" backing vocals before a crunching version of Alice Cooper's old 60's Garage Psych band Spider's "Don't Blow Your Mind" slaps us round the face and gets the tempo going again. The it’s one of my highlights of the whole night, a song entitled "I See Forever" which I later found out was co-written by Ebbot and his old UCP/TSOOL colleague Björn Olsson but is as yet unrecorded. It's an achingly beautiful yet simple song based on one of those minimalistic Erik Satie style piano motifs that Martin Hederos did so well in Soundtrack songs such as "Tonight". The second set ends with "Second Life Replay", the complex baroque masterpiece that despite being buried on the 24 song 2008 double album "Communion" fast became a fan favourite. For the inevitable encores we get a batch of cover versions starting with "Riders On The Storm" and the Beatles "A Day In The Life" which breaks down into a knock-about "Act Naturally" and somehow morphs into Donna Summers "I Feel Love" via The Trashmen's "Surfin' Bird"! The night draws to a close with a faithful cover of Johnny Cash's version of "Hurt", rather than the Nine Inch Nails original and we finish with an emotional singalong of "The Passover". And that's it, it's sadly all over, the end of yet another amazing experience at Slussens Pensionat and I can only sincerely hope that Ebbot makes this a regular date in the future.

Ebbot Lundberg and fan by Anders Magnusson
The next day we managed to have a little chat with Ebbot for Retrosonic Podcast where he gives us the low-down on two forthcoming album releases and explains what he has planned for the future. You can download/listen to the Podcast for free at our Soundcloud page or subscribe for free at iTunes. For more photos of both the Stora Teatern and Slussens Pensionat shows please head on over to our Retro Man Blog Facebook page and, if you are not already following, hit “Like” for access to the exclusive photo albums. You can see lots of exclusive photographs and features on TSOOL including reports on the band’s last ever show at Slussens with exclusive Paul Slattery photos here. We also have Retrosonic Podcasts featuring exclusive interviews with Ian Person, Mattias Bärjed and Fredrik Sandsten available in the Retrosonic Archive. There's also The Soundtrack of Our Lives fan's forum on Facebook here. With thanks to Ebbot, Hans Selander, Liselott, Robert and Vibs.

Special thanks to Anders Magnusson for contributing the excellent photographs as credited above.

Friday 24 July 2015

Of Arrowe Hill and The Teamsters: A Night Out in Camden

Of Arrowe Hill - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
A review of the Camden performances of Of Arrowe Hill and The Teamsters at two separate shows in two different venues on the same evening submitted by Blue Oystercard Cult.

Taking the stage at exactly 9.15 Of Arrowe Hill proceeded to play a set consisting of songs from their recent, and jaw droppingly brilliant “ A Conspiracy of Clocks” album,  and not content to rest on their laurels, several  impressive  new and as yet unreleased  songs.  Whenever I see this band play live a couple of things strike me.  The first is obvious. The song writing ability of Adam Easterbrook. Whether they are story songs such as “She’s Leaving? (No she’s Gone)”.  A song that puts me in mind of “Squeeze” at their very best, or whether its the intense lyrical rush of “And That’s What Really Happened Blues”, it feels like there was NO choice in the matter, each song HAD to be written, usually clocking in at around 2 minutes, they are sometimes melancholic, containing detailed, poetic accounting of life’s joys and sorrows, and never too far from a wry aside to ever allow proceedings to get maudlin. The other significant aspect is the three band members; appear to be “singing from the same song sheet”.  There are obvious collective “Mod” influences, whether they be in the clothes or guitars, and as a consequence, some of the songs from their recent aforementioned album are given added power and flesh to the bone live with great success. A new song with its “” references gave me the cold shiver of reality as this was the time I had to get up for work the following morning,  but you know what ,  when Of Arrowe Hill are playing,  (to nick one of their song titles) “Friday Night Applies”. 

I left the Dublin castle with a rough idea of how to get to The Constitution, and after confirming directions with the outside drinkers at a nearby pub (Keeping with the Mod referencing) all of whom could have passed the audition for Phil Daniels part in “Parklife”, I got to the venue. Initially I wasn’t sure if the band had already played or not. But fortunately they were still to go on. (It turns out about 15 minutes after I get there). With vintage records on the turntable and several examples of fine vintage clothing on display in the audience, The Teamsters took to the stage. The first thing I noticed is that they had changed drummers from last time I had seen them play. The drummer tonight was Bruce Brand, who I have heard of, but had never actually seen play before. It proved to be a good thing for the audience as on this evidence he is clearly a great drummer. His playing style is a perfect fit for The Teamsters. So, on with their set, despite them producing a relatively recent and excellent album, they played only a track or two from it. Tonight there were many new songs. 

Now, on some occasions, with some bands, this can put something of a dampener on proceedings, but this certainly was not the case on this occasion. For me, The Teamsters great strength is they  have a real understanding of the ”less is more” approach to the ‘beat’ style of music they play, a sound that many bands have tried to create , but very few pull off with such success. Singer and songwriter Tom Wing appears to have found the “sixties dust” in his guitar and speakers that Lee Mavers from the La’s was once searching for.  Songs that are direct, catchy, with choruses and hooks that draw you in and also have a real intense edge to them. It struck me that their new songs are closer now to the early Kinks sound (even throwing in a Kinks cover for good measure), and on first listen the new songs were immediate and impressive. As their set ended   I was left feeling lucky to have spent an evening watching two great bands who are both clearly, from tonight’s evidence, at the top of their respective games, and continuing to create great new music. And I also felt lucky that the timing of their sets meant I could get to see both bands at two different venues! 

Thank you very much to Blue Oystercard Cult for the great review. You can hear tracks by both bands in previous episodes of our Retrosonic Podcasts, please check out the full archive at Soundcloud here. The Teamsters photograph by Jason Baldock courtesy of Tom Wing. Please visit the websites of each band for news and information Of Arrowe Hill and The Teamsters.

Thursday 9 July 2015

The Dustaphonics and The Mobbs at Weirdsville June 27th

The Dustaphonics - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Yet another great night at Weirdsville saw The Dustaphonics headlining with The Mobbs travelling down from their native Northampton to open the show. The last time I saw The Dustaphonics was supporting Graham Day & The Forefathers at 229 The Venue which I always find a pretty soul-less place with its high stage and ridiculously over-the-top jobsworth security staff. It turned out that lead singer Hayley Red had injured her leg earlier in the day so, although she bravely continued with the show, she did spend most of the gig rooted to the spot clutching her microphone stand for support. This was a bit of a shame as I had heard a lot about Hayley’s energetic performances but luckily nothing had affected her voice, which was still in impressively fine form. As if one injury scare wasn’t enough, proceedings came to an unexpected halt when the drummer passed out suddenly. Luckily he was OK and able to continue and the band went on to complete a really enjoyable show despite the set-backs. So, tonight I was really looking forward to seeing The Dustaphonics again, this time in the far more friendly and intimate surroundings of the Fiddlers Elbow but more importantly and hopefully with the band all fit and healthy!

The Dustaphonics - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The Dustaphonics - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The Dustaphonics are the brainchild of promoter, guitarist and songwriter Yvan Serrano Fontova, otherwise known as the DJ Healer Selecta and first of all Yvan, bassist Devid and drummer Eric take the stage as a trio and launch into the twanging Surf instrumental "Eat My Dustaphonics", then suddenly Hayley bounds on stage and we are off and away for a perfectly paced hour long set. "Don't Let The Devil Drive" closely followed by the single "Big Smoke London Town" is as excellent a double shot of pure Garage Rock & Soul as you are ever going to hear. Yvan is hunched over his guitar, feet tapping energetically, with his trademark flat cap and loud Hawaiian shirt. He smiles throughout the whole set, and I can’t blame him, I’d smile too if I could play in a band as great as The Dustaphonics! He seems to be having as much fun as we are in the crowd. They were joined on stage for "Ride On Louisiana Red" by Kevin Smith on some mightily impressive harmonica. It turned out that this was a pretty spontaneous appearance, apparently Kevin was a big fan of the band and he had just moved down to London from Glasgow that very day. Via some mutual friends Yvan was able to invite him to have a trial blast during their sound-check and it worked out so well that Kevin also jumped up on stage for a few more numbers during the set.

The Dustaphonics with Kevin Smith - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The Dustaphonics - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Kevin will also be appearing with the band at their show supporting The Sonics at The Forum in Kentish Town on July 30th. "Q Sounds Groove", from the new E.P. on Q-Sounds Recordings, is a nice 'n' sleazy down and dirty grind. The best thing about The Dustaphonics is that they cover a hell of a lot of bases - all your favourite good time genres are catered for, whether you are a fan of Surf instrumentals, Rock’n’Roll, raw R’n’B, classic Soul or Garage Rock you'll find something to love. Hayley is a stunning performer, a "force of nature" according to the Dirty Water Records web-site, and they are not wrong. With her long flame red hair flailing all over the place, she pulls out all the stops to grab our attention. She's a sexy and sassy non-stop blur of energy and there’s a nice chemistry between her and Yvan too. Tonight, it’s loud. On record the band tend to favour a lo-fi guitar sound but tonight standing right in the firing line of Yvan’s amplifier I nearly get my head blown off by the power. Eric and Devid lock in with their relentless solid groove and it punches you right in the guts. It works a treat, particularly on another of my personal highlights, a new song called "You Don't Love Me", which was a snarling Punk Rockin' delight. Actually, there are a lot of highlights, "Johnny & Bo" is a fun mash-up of the Ramones playing Bo Diddley that has us all singing along and the final song of the night "The Message" really brings the house down.

The Mobbs - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Although, I’ve known of The Mobbs for a good few years now, this was actually the first time to see them play live. Well, that is except for the closing bars on the last song of a set they played supporting The Fallen Leaves at their Minimum RnB Club night at the 12 Bar Club a while back. Actually, it would appear that The Fallen Leaves have made quite an impact on the Northampton scene, as The Mobbs latest album is entitled “Garage Punk for Boys”, which is a take on The Leave’s motto “Punk Rock For Gentlemen”. Their local mates, Snakeman 3, also got in on the act by penning a song called “Nice Cup Of Tea” in tribute to the Leave’s on-stage “tea ceremony” ritual. Tonight, The Mobbs kick off with “Get Your Hair Cut” from the new album which is also the opening track of Episode 16 of Retrosonic Podcast (which also features The Dustaphonics) and then slam straight into the superb "One Erotic Thought". Before we go on, I thought I’d mention that you can see a video of these two numbers at the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel here.

The Mobbs - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Looking very dapper in their waistcoats and cravats, The Mobbs are much tighter than I imagined, I’m not sure why I should have thought otherwise but I was expecting a bit of a chaotic gig. However, they are really on the money and boast an excellent rhythm section in Cheadle and Brendan. Cheadle certainly looks like he’s enjoying himself, bashing away behind his drum-kit and Brendan is a top bass player, one of the best I have seen for some time. The way he plays reminds of Noman Watt Roy, he has that fluid style that carries a lot of the melody. In fact talking of Norman leads me onto Wilko Johnson, as The Mobbs to me are not so much your typical Garage Rock band as a raw R’n’B band in the style of early Dr. Feelgood, Screaming Blue Messiahs or The Pirates. Lead vocalist and guitarist Joe B. Humbled also has that choppy, stuttering rhythm guitar sound pioneered by Mick Green but made better known by Wilko. Joe is an imposing front-man with his impressive beard and sculpted moustache and he machine guns the crowd with his guitar. One of my highlights of the night was the single "Ruby Sol". Lyrically they are a lot of fun and have you singing aloud some rather strange choruses such as the aforementioned “Get Your Hair Cut”, "Not a Sausage" and "Put It In Your Pipe and Smoke It". So, The Mobbs were the perfect opening act, it was a really enjoyable set and I hope it’s not another three years until I see the band play live again.

The Mobbs - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
The Dustaphonics will support the legendary Sonics at The Forum in Kentish Town on July 30th, you can check out more details on the gig at their official web-site here. Information on The Mobbs can be found here. For details on forthcoming gigs at Weirdsville please check out their Facebook page or the You Got Good Taste web-site. For more photos of both bands please head on over to the Retro Man Blog Facebook page and if you are not already following, hit “Like” to get access to the photo album. There are also videos from the gig up now on the Retro Man Blog YouTube channel.