Wednesday 30 May 2018

Autoramas: "Libido" Brand New LP from Brazil's Hi-Octane Spage Age Garage Rockers Out Now!

Autoramas "Libido" cover art by Julian Weber
Autoramas, Brazil’s high octane Retro-futuristic Garage Rockers, are back with a brand new album entitled “Libido” and once again, they deliver on their promise to make ‘Rock Music To Dance To’ in their own inimitable style. From the shuddering opening guitar riff let loose from Gabriel Thomaz’s instantly recognisable Vibratorama effects pedal, this LP bursts forth from the speakers with a fizzing barely controlled energy. Now, I thought it might be difficult to top 2016’s excellent release “O Futuro Dos Autoramas” but top it they most certainly have. In fact, “Libido” is boldly staking a claim to be, not only the best Autoramas album to date, but also a benchmark by which all other albums released this year should be judged. They are still one of the best live acts I have ever seen, courtesy of the always mind-blowing Hipsville Weekender, and thankfully they have managed to capture that manic energy from their live performance in the album's sound perfectly.

Autoramas photographed by Paulo Aguiar
The Sound
So, let’s hop aboard the Autoramas time travelling space ship and join Gabriel, fellow vocalist and guitarist Érika Martins, bassist Jairo Fajer and drummer Fábio Lima on their quest as they zoom through various musical eras and genres, swooping down at various intervals to plunder all the best bits of Rock music’s rich heritage. They cherry pick from 1950’s Rock’n’Roll, 60’s Surf and Garage Rock, 70’s Punk Rock, 80’s New Wave and 90’s Grunge and Indie before returning to their underground laboratory in São Paulo to create a bubbling simmering concoction crammed full of only the choicest ingredients. Devo, Link Wray, The B-52’s, The Rezillos, Pixies and the Sci-Fi theme tunes of Barry Gray such as Fireball XL5 and Stingray. With Gabriel at the production controls and mixing duties handled by Jim Diamond, Bernardo Pacheco and Luis Tissot and with the help of Zique - who has added Brian Eno style electronic beeps, buzzes and special effects - “Libido” is a magic potion brimming with chemical and psychotic reactions. There’s distortion, sinewy riffs, pounding drums, fuzzed up bass, vibrato guitars and bags of energy. This time round there is a 50/50 split in songs sung in English and Portuguese so it may well be the album to break the band through to a much wider International audience but, whatever the language, the album is full of instantly memorable songs packed with catchy choruses (didn’t they write a song about that once…) and wonderful backing vocal harmonies. Yes, I love Autoramas for many things but I’m especially impressed with their perfect sense of dynamics. You can feel that time and care has been taken with the track listing to ensure that “Libido” flows like a classic album should.

Autoramas photographed at Hipsville by Paul Slattery
The Subject
From the moment you gaze at the excellent cover artwork by the Berlin based artist Julian Weber to the closing chords of the very last song, “Libido” takes you on a cinematic journey that is packed full of vivid imagery. Along the way, each song ignites sparks in your mind, causing your imagination to run riot. I’m already envisaging a spin-off to a Sci-Fi movie such as “1984” or “Total Recall” where our heroes, Autoramas, star as a gang of Day-Glo clad renegades trying to inject Neon bright positivity into the daily grind of a grey corporate obsessed world populated by faceless stressed out men. They take aim at hypocritical politicians who award themselves and each other with medals and trophies without actually doing anything to deserve such accolades. People in this world are only concerned with the here and now. Eyes down. Work Hard. Question Nothing. Autoramas however preach a somewhat chilled out Super Zen philosophy and they “don’t drive the same cars, wear the same clothes or speak the same words” as the sheep-like crowds who surround them. However, sinister forces spy on our intrepid heroes and shadow their every move like a ‘creepy echo’. The paranoia sets in and even the furniture becomes suspiciously scary. Are the sofas really taking on a life of their own? Are the chairs really going to trap them like “Tetsuo the Iron Man” and inflict some serious damage? However, Autoramas are plotting their escape – looking to the sky, to the stars and beyond, even into the future. Expanding into new worlds where they can meet again and realise their dreams. So, there you go, there’s the synopsis for the “Libido” screenplay and now we’ll just wait for Hollywood to call! Of course, Autoramas will be providing the soundtrack.

Autoramas "Libido" cover art by Julian Weber
The Track-by-Track Guide
Opening track “Sofas, Armchairs & Chairs” kicks off with a stinging vibrato guitar riff courtesy of Gabriel’s very own trademarked Vibratorama effects pedal. It is driven along by some wicked Fuzz bass and powerful drumming. On the surface, it might seem like a mundane subject to write about but this edgy song with its jerky rhythms sheds a different light on the matter. Are those chairs out to get you? In fact, I feel a little bit unsafe sitting here listening to this, it feels as though I am going to be sucked into my chair! “Creepy Echo” is another sinister song that could be about CCTV surveillance or the theft of personal data. On the other hand it could be about a stalker or an obsessive fan or just about an intense sado-masochistic relationship. It is based around a sinewy riff with lyrics such as “I wanna lick your soul, you're trapped in my peephole. I wanna be your constrictive knots, I wanna call the shots, I wanna swallow you whole, you're always on patrol after me”. With “Stressed Out” they look on in thinly veiled disgust at the corporate world and its “stressed out short tempered men”. JJ Burnel from The Stranglers would be proud of the great bass fuzzing away beneath and the song ends with an excellent organ riff and a catchy “super Zen” mantra. “Homem Cliché” rides in on a wicked Surf guitar riff, tipping its hat to “Rock Lobster" by the B-52's. It takes a dig at macho posturing and capitalism “Look, here comes Cliché Man, Everyone likes him, not you. I do not wear those clothes, I do not speak those words, and I do not drive that car”. Next up, “Ding Dong” is a super-fast raucous punk song that sounds like it has been concocted by a mad scientist. It is fizzing and bubbling with electronic special effects and barely controlled feedback and is punctuated by feral screams. With the lyrics stripped down to the bare bones Ramones style, it is definitely the easiest to sing along to. Believe me you will be walking around for days after you hear this, happily singing “Ding Dong Ding Ding Dong” aloud. Just be prepared for some funny looks from passers-by. “Non-Practitioner” is an immense song that will surely go down as an Autoramas classic with its superb Kim Deal style backing vocals and thunderous riff. It’s a scathing attack on hypocrisy, fake news and publicity hungry politicians or celebrities all “fighting for the headlines”. It pours vitriol on the institutionalized backslapping of a “deep thinking elite” who “have all the badges but none of the deeds, got all the trophies but none of the feats”. 

Autoramas photographed by Paulo Aguiar
I think that “No Futuro” is one of my personal highlights of the album as a great Garage Rock riff powers it along and it features what could well be the best vocal performance by Erika to date. This song shows that Autoramas dream of escape, maybe even seeking out new worlds and civilisations and deep down they harbour a rather romantic vision. “I missed you when we had a tomorrow, one day we'll meet in the future”. Now, “Eu Sei Mas Eu Não Sei (I Know But I Don't Know)” might be familiar to fans of Blondie as Autoramas twist and turn this classic from “Parallel Lines” into much more than just another cover version. With Boy-Girl joint vocals in Portuguese, it licks its lascivious lips over lyrics such as “I'm your dog, but not your pet, can I be your toy?” Following this is “Coisa pra Caramba pra Fazer” which has Gabriel and Erika once again trading lead vocals and it buzzes around with a pent up energy that perfectly complements this barbed attack on a selfish executive trapped in a dog-eat-dog world. The main target of their vitriol has so many “projects and problems to solve” that they “don’t even have time to get sick” and they trample over everyone to climb that corporate ladder. “Get out of my way if you’ve got nothing important to say” this arrogant suit smugly announces as the guitars circle around like dive-bombers ready to inflict some well-deserved retribution. The album closes with “Para o Alto e Avante” which is a lovely classic pop song. But after all, Autoramas are not ashamed to tug at your heartstrings as the Pixies once did with “Here Comes Your Man”. This is an unabashed and uncynical ballad sung beautifully by Erika in Portuguese. In the lyrics, they “celebrate the miracle of aviation” and with some vivid imagery “open their wings over Brazil to occupy the blue sky”. A fitting way to end a remarkable album.

The band are releasing "Sofas, Armchairs & Chairs" as the first single from the album so please check out the Autoramas official web-site here or their Facebook page here for news and information and details on how to purchase the single and the "Libido" album. You can find out more about the excellent artwork of Julian Weber at his Facebook page here.

Monday 28 May 2018

The Fay Hallam Band at The 100 Club with Special Guests Magnus Carlson, French Boutik & DJ David Edwards

Fay Hallam and bassist Andy Lewis at the 100 Club - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
What a great feelgood Friday night down at the legendary 100 Club with a superb line-up...The Fay Hallam Band featuring a very special guest appearance from Swedish Soul star and frontman of Weeping Willows, Magnus Carlson along with support from our good friends French Boutik and then there was DJ Dave Edwards from the Sidewinder club night too. French Boutik played a superb set, bravely introducing a few brand new numbers which went down really well. After all the band have a knack of writing instantly memorable and catchy songs, so even though they might start out as unfamiliar, by the last chord the melodies are already stuck in your head for good.

French Boutik at the 100 Club - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
French Boutik at the 100 Club - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Tonight we were treated to the full line-up of the band with vocalist Gabriela, guitarist Serge, drummer Zelda and bassist Jean-Marc augmented by Olivier Popincourt on keyboards and Graham Lentz on percussion and acoustic guitar. They started off with their recently recorded version of The Jam's "The Place I Love" as a happy 60th birthday tribute to Paul Weller and ended up with a well deserved encore and a Punky run through of a cover of "Beta Gamma" by Henri Salvador. Highlights for me included a storming "Je Regarde Les Tigres" and "Mieux Comme Ca" with Serge on lead vocals and new song "Loin de Moi" which sounded like it could become a future crowd favourite. The band are on fire at the moment and I'd recommend catching them play live whenever you get the chance.

French Boutik at the 100 Club - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Fay Hallam and her excellent seven piece band kicked off their set with a great version of the "Dave Allen at Large" theme tune which had many of us old nostalgics looking round for a cigarette and glass of whisky and checking that they still had their fingers intact! We were then treated to an uplifting and uptempo set that touched on most aspects of her career stretching right back to a couple of Makin' Time numbers including the classic "Feels Like It's Love". We were brought right up to date with some really promising new tracks "Magic Potion" and "Lie Detector" which featured Fay's son Josh taking on lead vocals and he did a great job, such a talented family!

Fay Hallam Band at the 100 Club - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Fay Hallam & Magnus Carlson - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
I particularly enjoyed "Do You Know How To Love Me?" taken from the latest album "House of Now" which was produced by Andy Lewis who I'm pleased to see is adding his considerable bass playing talents to the line-up tonight. Two tracks from the excellent "Lost In Sound" album with The Bongolian, "Dancing" and a fantastic "Freefall" in particular highlight how good a drummer Kieran McAleer is and they get a warm reaction from the appreciative crowd. There's a couple of cover versions included, a faithful run through of The Flirtations classic "Nothing But a Heartache" and a perfect take on Dusty Springfield's version of "Spooky". Magnus Carlson is invited on stage to join the band for a great run through of Nolan Porter's "If I Could Only Be Sure" on which the excellent guitarist Jim Bishop tackles that great melancholy riff perfectly.

Fay Hallam Band at the 100 Club - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Fay Hallam & Magnus Carlson - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
There is a sparkling chemistry between Magnus and Fay, they look like they are having as much fun as we are and their voices work perfectly together. I understand that Fay will join the line-up of his band on an upcoming tour of Sweden to promote his new LP "A Nordic Soul" on Cosmos Music. In fact the main reason that Magnus is here tonight is because he just released a stunning new single "Now That It's Over" featuring Fay on vocals and organ. It's a stomping slice of classic Soul and it was definitely one of the highlights of the night, almost lifting the roof off of the 100 Club. Magnus says his goodbyes and the band are called back for an encore and end with a great version of "Greenhouse" from The Prime Movers early 90's album "Earth Church" which was a nice surprise. Great night out, great music and great people - you just can't beat it.

Magnus Carlson at the 100 Club - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
Fay Hallam Band at the 100 Club - Photo copyright Retro Man Blog
French Boutik are currently finishing off work on a new LP so please check out their Facebook page here for more details. You can pledge your support at their IndieGoGo campaign here. For more news and information on The Fay Hallam Band please check out their web-site here. Information on Magnus Carlson and his upcoming album "A Nordic Soul" along with his collaboration with Fay can be found at his web-site here or over at the Cosmos Music site here. There are more photos from the night at our Retro Man Facebook page here and videos of both bands over at our YouTube channel here. Here's a sample of what you will find...

Friday 25 May 2018

The 50 Guitars of Lester Square "Serotonin": New Solo Album from ex-Monochrome Set Guitarist Coming Soon

Lester Square was the original guitarist in Adam and the Ants before co-founding The Monochrome Set with whom he has released eleven studio albums. He has also recorded with The Invisible, Jesus Couldn’t Drum, And The Native Hipsters, Victory Through Sound and Helen McCookerybook. Lester will release a new solo album entitled "Serotonin" in July and this will be the follow up to his excellent debut solo LP "Carcass", which we featured in Retro Man Bog here. It's another intriguing and inventive selection of musical vignettes that cram in a myriad of different sounds and influences. Some of the songs such as "Blake's Dream" - one of three co-written with ex-Smith, Craig Gannon - are like mini-symphonies while others have evocative orchestral arrangements that seem ideal for movie scores. The track "Shaken Not Stirred" as you may imagine could well be a theme tune to a James Bond movie and Lester plays with this filmic element throughout the album. He throws in lots of twangy Surf riffs and the occasional blast of Garage Rock Fuzz as well as Baroque synth sounds sound effects and radio and TV news broadcast excerpts. "Privates on Parade" is driven along by some military snare drumming and a toy town rhythm track that's not unlike what Lawrence from Felt is now doing with Go-Kart Mozart. There's even time for a bit of Sitar on "Prime Time (Cowboys & Indians)" and "Pachelbel's Pistol" features some dreamy female backing vocals and the percussion gives it a Tropicalia feel - all topped off by Lester's familiar exquisite guitar work.

Lester Square photographed at our Retro Man Blog Night in May 2014 by Paul Slattery
"The new Lester Square album "Serotonin" follows up last year's "Carcass" with yet more melodic soundscapes crammed with the kind of earworms and guitar hooks that were his Monochrome Set calling card. Lester is joined by guests such as Craig Gannon (Aztec Camera, The Bluebells, The Smiths) and Andy Vaughan (Victory Through Sound) to produce a toe-tapping, fender bender of an opus, infused with a lush filmic sense of mood and everywhere the plangent sound of the guitar, in all its incarnations. From the space disco of Cassini Godspeed to the raga redux of Prime Time (Cowboys and Indians); from the 'Carry On' square bashing of "Privates on Parade" to the psychedelia of the title track; from the pastoral poignancy of "L'Olivarie" to the 'strum' und drang of "Shaken Not Stirred"; Serotonin is an album of infectious melody but with all the edge and verve you would expect from this mover and shaker of the Indy Sound. So move over, Duane Eddy; sling your hooks, Tommy Garrett; thanks, but no thanks, Hank. With this feel good album, Lester Square is now claiming the aural high ground." - Johnny Besoin

All songs written and performed by Lester Square except "Shaken Not Stirred", "Blake's Dream" and "50 Guitars" which were written and performed by Lester Square and Craig Gannon. Vocals on "Pachelbel’s Pistol" by Jenny Besoin, Sitar intro on "Prime Time (Cowboys and Indians)": Bobby Lightfoot, Guest guitarists on "50 Guitars": Jeremy Wilson, Andy Vaughan, Ian Evans, Jen Denitto, Ciaron Marlow, Andy Bushrod, Brian Nupp, Nate Stiles, Cliff Adams, Mark Ashe and Steve Thompson. The album recorded at Liberal Elite Studios, Islington in 2018 and was mastered by Craig Gannon. "Serotonin" will be released in July and is available to order from the Lester Square Bandcamp site here.

Tuesday 22 May 2018

The Nettelles: "We Are.../I'm Over You" Second Limited Edition 7" Vinyl Release of Prime Garage Rock from the Spinout Nuggets Label

Our friends over at Spinout Nuggets, the record label set up by Spinout Productions, follow up their debut release by the Medway Garage Rock outfit Sergeants Mess with another limited edition 7" Vinyl Single this time by the Edinburgh based band The Nettelles. Just like they did with Sergeants Mess, Spinout have uncovered another gem by an act that might not be familiar but some of the names of those involved most certainly are. So let's find out some more...

We are The Nettelles and we're gonna sting you! The Nettelles are a Garage Punk band based in Edinburgh, Scotland, who sprung up in 2016 after former Sally Skull members Clare and Saskia got together for a reunion. Following the reunion, they wanted to keep making music together and wanted to make it bigger and louder and thus recruited close friend Caitriona on keyboards as she’d 'always wanted to be in a band’, and enlisted Angus in on drums. The Nettelles was formed! Together, they make Garage influenced music and have also been known to cover songs by The Pandoras, The Brood, Shadows of Knight and Sally Skull of course. On this limited hand numbered 7” vinyl release of 300, the ‘We Are….’ double-A side release is the first for this line up as The Nettelles, but it won’t be the last! ‘I’m Over You’ is a Garage-Punk hit, with an intro that sucks you in, swirls you around, and spits you out some three minutes later. ‘We Are….’ is the answer to your question ‘Who are The Nettelles?’, providing a sting or two with an introduction to the band themselves. Recorded in June last year at Ravencraig Recording Studios, Edinburgh, both tracks are boldly produced by a combination of The Nettelles and the multi-talented Russ Wilkins (Lord Rochester, The Wildebeests, The Gruffmen, The Len Bright Combo, The Mindreaders, The Pop Rivets, The Milkshakes) who also famously produced The Prisoners "The Last Fourfathers" LP, amongst many other musical wonders. The Nettelles members can also be found in other musical combos. Saskia also plays bass in Rock ’n’ Roll combo Lord Rochester and Angus plays various instruments in various bands including Scottish Garage legends The Thanes, French popsters Les BOF!  and The Sensation Seekers. Keep an eye out for The Nettelles live outings.

This release will be available via Spinout Productions from 4th June.

Monday 21 May 2018

Ye Nuns: Brand New 7" Single "I Don't Want To Do This Again" and "Nun More Black" Vinyl LP Reissue

Ye Nuns 7" cover photo by Jeff Pitcher
It has been a busy time in the convent as Ye Nuns, the premier all-girl tribute to The Monks, have two new releases out and available for sale right now. First of all, State Records have released a brand new 7" single on heavyweight vinyl “I Don’t Want To Do This Again”/”Don’t Worry” which is limited to 500 copies and it has a very special unique selling point…so let’s get the low down from the label itself…"State Records are very pleased to announce a new 45 from legendary Monks tribute act, Ye Nuns. These seven ladies have been blowing minds for a good few years now, with their spot-on renditions of classic tracks by Garage legends, The Monks, whose story is pretty well known now. Five American GI’s stationed in Germany formed a fairly typical beat band in the mid-60s before hooking up with some avant-garde existentialists who persuaded them to change their image, drop their repertoire and embark on a twisted journey into an originality that set them apart from every other band at the time. Stinging fuzz guitar, bass from hell, electric banjo, barked nonsensical lyrics - these guys were NOT messing around! Fast forward 40+ years and Ye Nuns picked up the baton with a mission to keep the fine work of The Monks alive and out there. Now, they've upped the ante again, recording two previously unreleased songs written by original Monks bass-player, Eddie Shaw. Both sides are deadly, sounding for all the world like “Black Monk Time” outtakes! The single comes packaged in a super cool double-sided fold-over card sleeve and is limited to 500 copies". You can order yours now from State Records at their Ebay store here.

Next up, the Manchester based label Crocodile Records has just reissued Ye Nuns “Nun More Black” album on vinyl in a limited pressing of just 300 copies, so don’t hang around if you haven’t yet got a copy of this work of twisted Garage Psych genius. This reissue follows the original and now out-of-print 2014 release on Tuff Enough Records, which saw Ye Nuns faithfully reprise and update The Monks’ one and only official long-player (1966’s mind-blowing “Black Monk Time”) to a swathe of critical acclaim. It also received the seal of approval from fellow Monks fan, the much-missed Mark E Smith from The Fall, someone not known for dishing out praise lightly. Even The Monks’ original Bassist Eddie Shaw was suitably impressed and went on record to express his admiration for Ye Nuns album: “These songs have a personal significance to me and to see how someone else treats the material and expresses it, was a distinct pleasure and joy. I thoroughly enjoyed the album, it was fun – I laughed and pranced. It is such an honour to be able to have a part in this opera inside the cloister. Thank you, Ye Nuns!” You really can’t get a much higher recommendation than that so please head on over to the Crocodile Records store to order your copy here.  

Ye Nuns photo by Jeff Pitcher
You can check out more of Jeff Pitcher's excellent photography at his Facebook page here.

Thursday 17 May 2018

Hipsville-A-Go-Go Weekender 2018 - A Mighty Garage Rock Rumble in The Margate

The Schizophonics at Hipsville
Well, I seem to say this every year but the latest Hipsville was the best yet! This year the weekend was billed as Hipsville Jungle A-Go-Go following on from previous themes of Hipsville in Space, Horror, Carnival and Seaside and the excellent props and stage decorations were the usual high standard of imaginative design and humour. Mr A, Alex and Ade really surpassed themselves in providing us with a non-stop-fun-packed-value-for-money extravaganza that featured Gorillas, stunning Go-Go Girls and super cool DJ’s including Neil Sick, Carl Combover, Mike Gunn, Fritz Buzzsaw, Adam Diddy Wah and, of course, more Gorillas. There was a Tiki Cocktail Bar, Roller Disco, Classic Auto Show and a Vintage Market. In addition to all of that, thanks to a fully open and functioning Dreamland Amusement Park, we could also take advantage of unlimited free rides on the lovingly restored old-fashioned funfair attractions. Oh, I almost forgot to mention the small matter of the twelve top quality international bands, but more about those later. Whereas at last year’s Hipsville, Dreamland was still under construction and everything was centred on the downstairs Ballroom, this time round the main event was held in the cavernous Event hall upstairs, which was lit up by some fantastic Psychedelic projections and boasted a huge stage. 

DJ's Fritz Buzzsaw and Adam Diddy Wah at Hipsville
I have to say that everything went to schedule and was extremely well organised so it was easy to plan your weekend’s entertainment. I know how stressful it is just to promote a one-off gig so I have nothing but admiration for the Hipsville organising gang. Even if we take away the stress of the financial side of things, they have to deal with a venue that is pretty new to staging music events and which has to take into account the general public visiting Dreamland too. Mr A, Alex and Ade don’t exactly make things easy for themselves either; for example, they rarely have the same bands back twice, instead preferring to offer a chance to those acts that might have impressed at a Weirdsville show over the past year or a band that they just want to see as fans themselves. Then they up the stress ante even more by inviting over acts from all corners of the globe – for example at Hipsville I have seen bands not only from the Continent but from as far away as Brazil, Japan, USA, Russia and Mexico. So, all this means they have to worry about accommodation and looking after the acts they choose, sometimes even helping to set them up with other UK shows through their network of like-minded friends and promoters.

Dreamland, Margate - home of Hipsville
Quite a few of these bands may well be making their first high profile UK appearance, if not their actual debut but what the organisers can rely is the loyal and open-minded attitude of the audience to welcome these sometimes-unfamiliar acts. You can guarantee that you are going to come away from Hipsville pleasantly surprised with a good number of ‘brand new favourite bands’. Having said that, occasionally I do think it would be nice to see a more familiar name such as King Salami & The Cumberland 3 or Oh! Gunquit but then again most of these bands are there in the audience enjoying themselves as ‘regular punters’ anyway. Either that or they are involved in some way or another, for example, Oh! Gunquit’s Simon Wild is DJ’ing and their vocalist Tina is one of the Hipsville Go-Go girls. Over the course of the weekend, I bump into and chat to Kevin from The Baron Four, Chuchi from Oh! Gunquit and members of King Salami, The Fuzillis, Ye Nuns, The Hare & Hoofe, The Sine Waves, Thee Girl Fridays and The Wicked Whispers amongst others. It would appear that there are almost as many musicians in the crowd as there are appearing on stage. I also had a chat to Gwen Ever who was interviewing the bands and organisers for the excellent “A Low Life in High Heels” show on Deal Radio, which is well worth checking out.

The Hipsville Go-Go Girls with organisers Mr A, Alex and Ade
Margate is a great place for a weekend too, not just for the usual traditional kiss-me-quick and saucy postcard seaside attractions and it does have lovely beaches and a stunning sunset but there is also plenty to do for Hipsville visitors. The old town has some great independent stores, pubs and bars such as Olby’s Soul Café and the quite superb Fez Bar, which could have been created by the Hipsville props department. The Cliftonville area also has some great vintage shops, cafes and record stores. Sunny was a particular delight, a treasure trove of vinyl and movie memorabilia and retro-kitsch items and the friendly and knowledgeable owner was playing King Kurt followed by “Stompin’ At The Klub Foot”, so you can’t go wrong there. However, enough of the sightseeing let us take a look at the bands that were appearing over the weekend.

The Jungle Deviants open Hipsville on the Friday
The bad news started filtering through that Davros and the Deep Space Deviants had been held up at Intergalactic Customs just outside the orbit of planet Skaros. Apparently, they were stopped for being over their limit on duty free booze so their earthbound counterparts The Jungle Deviants stepped in to act as house warm-up band for the weekend. They were dressed as the cast of “It Ain’t Half Hot Mum” and treated us to a set of Jungle themed classics such as “Jungle Boogie” and “Welcome To The Jungle” and they did an inspired version of Toto Coelo’s “I Eat Cannibals” mashed up with Magazine’s “Shot By Both Sides”. There was also the odd curveball such as the Dave Allen theme tune thrown in for good measure to keep everyone on their toes. It’s bugging me, but The Deviants do bear a striking resemblance to The Shook-Ups; I wonder what ever happened to them? Anyway, we are introduced to the wonderful Hipsville Go-Go Girls, Wanda De Lullabies, Celia Aloha, Tina Tuna, Nocturna, Alexandra Beatgirl & Miss Diabolik. Sadly, there was no Dottie Gooseberry this year but new girl Miss Ge Veve took her place and seemed to relish her first Hipsville experience. 

Les Lullies at Hipsville
I had seen the Madrid based band Los Wallas at Weirdsville before and their 13th Floor Elevators influenced Psychedelia punctuated with the occasional Bo Diddley beat went down well on the night. They had a nice line in choreographed moves too and ended their set with a cover of Pixies “Isla De Encanta” which was a rather good choice. I was so looking forward to experiencing Les Lullies blistering full-on high voltage Punk Rock ‘n’ Roll again but poor sound sadly rendered Romeo’s vocals inaudible from where I was standing down at the front of the stage. It was a bit disappointing but I still thoroughly enjoyed watching them, they just have that charismatic energy that marks them out as one band you really have to see. I think they are working on their debut LP now so we will update you as soon as we have more news. 

The Oddballs at Hipsville
One of the highlights of my weekend was seeing The Oddballs for the first time and they kindly brought over the sun with them from their hometown of Malaga. They also happened to bring along a cheerful gang of friends and fans too all dressed in matching stripey T-Shirts who seemed to be enjoying the Hipsville experience to the full. The Oddballs wouldn’t have been out of place in the Klub Foot at The Clarendon back in the day, they just have that vibe about them. Maybe it’s Juanillo standing centre stage playing a floor tom with maracas that does it. They play a kind of Frathouse Rock ‘n’ Roll with a touch of Ska and Garage Rock thrown in for good measure all driven along by Dani’s excellent Sax. They even have their own theme song, the insanely catchy “We Are The Oddballs” which really stood out for me, as did a pounding “Slowly Killing Me”. There’s a nicely chaotic Punk edge too with lots of boozy terrace style choruses and hooks. I really enjoyed their boisterous version of Sham 69’s “Borstal Breakout” which was quite apt as the original Borstal prison was opened in nearby Rochester, home of Billy Childish and the Medway Garage Rock scene. 

Black Mambas with Celia Aloha at Hipsville
L.A.’s Black Mambas took to the stage with a couple of familiar faces in the line-up - Romeo from Les Lullies was standing in on guitar and Shauna Faye was on bass. I always thought Shauna was a really cool bassist when I saw her play with Sex Crime at Hipsville a couple of years back so it was a nice surprise to see her making an appearance in the line-up. Vocalist Michael Price prowled the stage as they stormed through a great set of their ‘wild & savage’ songs. There’s a raw R’n’B edge to them that reminds me of pre-Punk bands like The Saints alongside touches of Californian bands such as The Germs and The Zeros. Their super-fast Rock ‘n’ Roll flies past in an instance and I particularly loved their track “Baby I’ll Give It To You”.   

DJ Mike Gunn with Wanda De Lullabies
We started off the day with cocktails in the Tiki Bar with the majority of people dressed in colourful Hawaiian shirts and garlands. Then it was onto the Roller Disco hosted by the legendary international jet-setting playboy DJ Mike Gunn who blasted out Soul, Funk and Disco classics. We were also treated to special guest(s) Double Dutch the three-legged con-joined twin DJ(s) from Holland, dressed from head to fifteen toes in bright orange. I needed a break from watching all the Roller Disco exertions so headed to the fabulous Fez Bar in town for a refreshment break. I spied the Jungle Deviants drummer and asked what the hell the Dave Allen theme had to do with the Jungle and his answer was “well, there was no danger of anyone else playing that over the weekend was there?” Fair enough. You know, it is bugging me but he really did look like The Shook-Up’s drummer and DJ Carl Combover, uncanny! I must find out who these mysterious Deviants are. Anyway, he also promised me that their next set would see them play a fifteen-minute version of the “Indoor League” theme tune, the naff 1970’s ITV Pub gameshow competition fronted by the fiery Yorkshire cricket legend Fred Trueman. Unfortunately, due to a delayed Taxi I only just made the last few minutes of their set as they were accompanying the end of the Fancy Dress Parade so I missed finding out if he was pulling my leg. As usual, many people really went to town with the Fancy Dress and some of the stunning and truly imaginative costumes on show blew me away. 

Chrome Reverse at Hipsville
The Paris based Chrome Reverse were excellent and despite a few technical problems with an amp at the start they soon got into the swing of things. Leopard skin clad vocalist and guitarist Lili Z is a great focal point and their lithe Link Wray inspired classic Rock ‘n’ Roll was thoroughly enjoyable. Guitarist Dave Rockin’ is a real character, bursting with energy and not to be outdone, bassist Ivan climbed into the Go-Go cage to play at one stage. They were a great live act who went down a storm on the night. The Madcaps from Rennes played a nice set of laid back eclectic songs with a soulful groove thanks to some excellent organ work. 

The Schizophonics at Hipsville
I missed The Schizophonics when they played at Weirdsville unfortunately and I had been hearing some amazing reports about their live show. I was really looking forward to seeing them and they certainly didn’t disappoint. Just before their set, my mate Grant told me that I should expect something along the lines of The MC5, Jimi Hendrix and James Brown all rolled into one and he was certainly not wrong. In fact, they kicked off with a cover of MC5’s “Black To Comm” and from the moment he struck the first chord Pat Beers, the singer guitarist didn’t stand still for a second as he bounced, leapt and rolled about the stage in a quite jaw-dropping display of musical gymnastics. He did the splits, jumped off the drum riser and straddled the security barrier and one point teetered off the stage only to miraculously hop back without any serious injury. I had my heart in my mouth for most of their set, at one point the microphone stand was laying on the floor with the base sticking up and I feared for the worse, it was a health and safety officer’s nightmare! With some superb drumming from Lety and a some great playing from the cool longhaired and laid-back bassist, the rhythm section really locked in tight to enable Pat to free form all over the place. It was refreshing to see a band with a hint of danger and unpredictability and Pat makes Howlin’ Pelle Almqvist of The Hives look like Val Doonican. However, The Schizophonics are not just a visual act or a gimmick, they have the songs to back it all and their new LP “Land of The Living” is well worth getting hold of. But seriously, I would recommend that you just have to experience The Schizophonics in all their live glory at least once in your life!

The Electric Mess at Hipsville
I felt a bit sorry for The Electric Mess on the Saturday night, as they had to follow The Schizophonics. Mind you, I would feel sorry for any band having to follow The Schizophonics! Even Kevin from The Baron Four, a wildly exciting live band in their own right, told me he would hate to have to play after them so they were in a tough situation. I first heard The Electric Mess via Little Steven’s Underground Garage radio show and I really liked their “Falling Off The Face of The Earth” LP so I wanted to see what they were like live. They have a cool 60’s Nuggets style of Garage Punk and Frontwoman Esther Crow with her peroxide blonde hair, mirror shades exudes a sassy New York cool but unfortunately, the all-important organ was lost in the sound mix. A girl standing next to me was desperately trying to get the band and the sound engineer’s attention to sort it out, all to no avail. So, all in all it was an excellent day but was Sunday going to be more relaxed I wondered...

Mighty Tsars at Hipsville
The Sunday afternoon perfectly encapsulated the variety of entertainment that can be found at Hipsville. For example, we started off in a relaxed and sedate manner in the Tiki Cocktail Bar again enjoying the soothing calypso skiffle sounds of the thoroughly entertaining Mighty Tsar and ended it with The Parkinsons, once dubbed the most dangerous and outrageous live band in Britain. In between, we strolled around the Dreamland amusement park and took in the classic car show too. 

The No-Things at Hipsville
I was so pleased to see the Edinburgh based No-Things again especially after being totally blown away by their Weirdsville appearance last year, which you can read about here, and loving their debut LP “Here Come The No-Things”. Somewhat ironically, it wasn’t until the Sunday afternoon that saw the bands daring to actually leap the security barrier and get down with the crowd and I wasn’t surprised that it would be vocalist Laurent to be the first. After all the very first time I saw him was when he was in in Les Bof! and he actually started the set from down among the audience before leaping on stage to carry out his duties. I think The No-Things are one of the best bands around now and were definitely one of my highlights of the weekend so it was just a shame that being early on the Sunday afternoon there weren't more people there to witness such a superb set. Their Punky Garage Rock was full of hooks and perfectly crafted songs all driven along by some great bass, visceral guitar and powerful drumming topped off by Laurent’s live-wire performance. “Don’t Get on My Tits” will go down as an all-time classic rebellious Garage Punk anthem. 

The Parkinsons at Hipsville
This was my first time to see The Parkinsons, not sure why really. I remember hearing some early songs and seeing the chaotic images of some of their gigs and I just had the impression that they were a thrashy Hardcore Punk band. So I was more than pleasantly surprised to be hit by the quality of their songs and like The No-Things before them I found their hooks sticking in my head immediately. The Parkinsons play some classic Punk Rock with terrace anthem choruses that at first seem rooted in U.K. Subs or Sham 69 territory. However, Victor Torpedo’s excellent guitar work adds a nice Post-Punk edge reminiscent of East Bay Ray from Dead Kennedys or bands such as Mission of Burma as he pogos and leaps about the stage. The addition of keyboards and percussion lift and complement the sound highlighting that there is much more to The Parkinsons than their outrageous reputation suggests. It is nowhere near just a punky thrash as I feared, they have bloody great memorable songs and it is evident looking around me at so many people singing along. 

The Parkinsons
“It’s nice to be here by the sea in Brighton” Afonso quips, and later “Thank you Portsmouth!” He playfully derides the English attitude to the good weather and their sartorial faux pas in the sun but ironically, he is wearing garish beach shorts himself. Being a Sunday mid-afternoon the gig probably wasn’t as wild and crazy as they might be used to but like The No-Things, it didn’t stop The Parkinsons from putting their all into the show. “Running”, “So Lonely” and “Heavy Metal” - a great track from their thoroughly recommended new LP “The Shape of Nothing To Come” - were real highlights but they had so many great songs that I am now totally hooked. The show ended with Afonso demolishing the bamboo Go-Go cage and it was the only time over the weekend that I saw a look of consternation cross a security guard’s face. What a great show to end a truly memorable Hipsville and I think that both The Parkinsons and The No-Things probably deserved a slot on the Friday or Saturday nights they were that good. Sadly, that was it, all over for another year.

So, clear your diary for next year’s early May Bank Holiday, I have already booked my Hotel up ready and I am counting down the days! To keep up to date with news on the next Hipsville please check out their web site here. If you can’t wait a year then don’t forget the regular Weirdsville Club nights at the Fiddler’s Elbow in Camden on the last Saturday of every month.

Hipsville organisers Mr A, Alex & Ade
Please click on the highlighted links throughout the feature for more information on the bands. You can see photos of all the bands and various happenings over the Hipsville weekend at our Retro Man Blog Facebook page here. There are also videos at our YouTube channel here. Check out Retrosonic Podcast archive for our previous Hipsville special and most bands have featured in regular Retrosonic episodes too. All photos copyright Retro Man Blog. Here's a little taster of what you can expect at our YouTube channel - this is The Schizophonics....