It’s time for my final gig of the year (well reviewing wise anyway) and I can think of no better way of wrapping up an excellent year of live music than by spending a few hours in the company of one of the acts behind one of the best albums of 2019, The Mark Lanegan Band

 

I also have something of a confession to make too as whilst I’ve been an admirer of John Robb’s work for quite some time now (via both his writing and his time spent fronting the awesome Goldblade) I’ve never actually seen his first band The Membranes live before, in fact I’ve only ever heard the odd track by them before tonight. As a result, and true to RPM form, brother Brooks and I are in Bristol’s SWX venue very early doors to make amends for this fact, and as it transpires boy are we glad we did.

For those of you like me who are perhaps unaware of their music, The Membranes kick out a kind of gothic post punk jam that only has Robb’s trademark creepers and haircut in common with those turbo-charged garage punk rockers Goldblade. Oh and ‘blade guitarist Peter Byrchmore whose been in the band since they reformed back in 2009, who mangles the six strings along with 80s Membranes guitarist Nick Brown, and creating a kind of Reeves Gabrels meets Robert Fripp six string sonic assault between them. Goldblade drummer Rob Haynes has along been along for the ride since the reunion but he’s missing from these European dates with Mike Simii providing the backbeat over some tripped-out samples and keyboards from the enigmatic Amelia Chain who also chips in with some kooky Ofra Haza style backing vocal too.

Having been on the road with Lanegan since early November The Membranes really have got their allotted 30 minute stage time down to a fine art, slotting in tracks from their recent ‘What Nature Gives​.​.​.​Nature Takes Away’ album like the throbbing ‘Black Is The Colour’ alongside the likes of ‘The Graveyard’ and ‘Dark Energy’ from their 2016 album ‘Dark Matter/Dark Energy’ with the always moving frontman (and here bassist) Robb cutting a very different figure here from the one he commands in Goldblade. At times it’s almost like someone has taken Shaun Ryder and somehow channelled the spirit of Phil Lynott through him (albeit correcting Lynott’s above the belt bass height failure). It really shouldn’t work, but by God it does, and as soon as the band wrap up their six song set with ‘Myths and Legends’ I find myself immediately rushing to the front of the stage to buy a copy of the band’s new album. (Robb having previously voiced on social media his uneasiness with the percentage certain venues were demanding for the band to sell their merch choosing to sell his wares from the photo pit.) So, I think we can say that’s mission accomplished as I certainly wasn’t alone in the rush for the new album.

 

If Alanis Morissette is looking to update her examples of irony for her 2020 tour then she need look no further than the fact that tonight RPM has a photo pass for this show, and for anyone who knows Mark Lanegan shows you’ll already get where I’m coming from, as its near impossible to take any decent photos, other than silhouettes, due to his penchant for blue and red backlighting, so as a result instead of making his way to the photo pit as Lanegan and band amble onto the stage just before 9pm Grandmaster Flash (aka Nev Brooks) instead steps into the mosh pit alongside me and gets ready to let the whole experience melt his brain as we have done on so many previous occasions in the company of Lanegan and Co.

Tonight though turns out to be unlike any other Mark Lanegan Band show we’ve ever attended, as by the time we reach ‘Emperor’ towards the end of tonight’s ninety minute main set people really have started something resembling a mosh pit, and earlier during ‘Penthouse High’ you better believe me when I say we were just a strobe light and a few glow sticks away from this being a regular club night at SWX.

 

This is the sound of Mark Lanegan Band in 2019 though folks, and with ‘Somebody’s Knocking’ featuring high in my RPM Albums of the Year list I really wouldn’t want it any other way. In the past when I’ve lost my cool with people around talking through the more melancholic moments of Lanegan’s shows tonight the chances of that happening are reduced to just one or two songs (with ‘One Hundred Days’ also getting one of the loudest shouts of the night and thankfully absolute silence around me) and everywhere else it’s very much the electro gothic sound that dominates his latest album that drives proceedings.

 

Lanegan himself seems to be loving every minute of it too, taking the time to address the audience after just one song and that banter (albeit brief) continuing pretty much for the rest of the night. Me, I’m totally lost in the moment, the sound enrapturing me and making me feel that there really is a force for good in the world after all. Plus when older songs like ‘Hit The City’ and ‘The Gravediggers Song’ pop up alongside the (I think) nine songs aired from ‘Somebody’s Knocking’ it all kind of falls into place as the true band sound & vision Lanegan has been working on for many a year now. There are times tonight where you could strip away the rock schtick and I could just as easily be watching Jeffrey Lee Pierce as I could Astrud Gilberto, the vocal key changes are at times totally sublime, and if you don’t see this then please just take one listen to ‘Dark Disco Jag’ live and tell me I’m wrong.  This track alone conjures up images of what Kraftwerk might sound like jamming Burt Bacharach, and is truly inspirational.

 

Closing the main set out with the mandatory ‘Death Trip To Tulsa’ before returning for a double whammy encore of  ‘Harbourview Hospital’ and (the ‘Thousand Miles Of Midnight’ version of) ‘The Killing Season’ Lanegan is soon out front on his merch table signing things for his faithful with no hint of paid meet and greet bollocks anywhere to be seen, and that right there is what makes this guy (as well as his music) so God damned punk rock. This is a singer who not only turned his back on an easy pay cheque with QOTSA but continues to stick his middle finger up to anything that is considered conventional in the rock n roll world, and I simply can’t help but love him for it.

 

If we hadn’t already submitted our gigs of the year list to RPM HQ tonight would have cruised into the top three with some ease, I just wish this every night could be like this, albeit maybe a little more well lit.

 

See you down the front in 2020!!!

 

Author: Johnny Hayward

 

So the time is here for a new batch of 45’s to spin and /or new videos I guess as there seems to be a bit of a drought lately yet we get video submissions all the time. First up is the new video from The Membranes ‘Black Is The Killer’ taken fro the band new long player ‘what Nature Gives …Nature Takes Away’

Dead Furies – Stay Gold, Ponyboy  Well this is like a breath of fresh air blowing through the Singles roundup.  Whilst it might not be pressed on a slab of wax and run at a speed of 45 RPM the new single from Dead Furies is easily the finest slab of noise in this bunch of singles.  With the classic one-fingered piano honk and a rollicking Stooges riff that Ron and Iggy would have been proud to have written and it hits you like a steam train.  ‘Stay Gold Ponyboy’ is majestic and guaranteed to get the blood pumping its classic scandi rock and traditional formula. simply Write a top tune and then play the fuck out of it – Hey presto!  Single of the month hands down – buy it!

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Jack Rabbit Slams – ‘Crackerjack’ Scottish three-piece like to make a noise as ‘Crackerjack ‘ will testify.  Taken from their debut album that’s to follow this tense loud slab of Rock also has a cool video to accompany it and one that works well with the tune.  Zombies – loud guitars – time changes – Blood – gang vocals what’s not to like?

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Joey & The Rats – Stick To You (Stardumb Records) On their brand new 7 inch which we’re looking at right here, Joey and the Rats? Confused? what happened to Lucy?  Fear not folks its just Lucy is taking a break from vocals and Joey has stepped up to the plate. With two glorious slabs of rock‘n’roll fun. Guitarist Joe Tolosa is taking care of the lead vocals of both songs, Its a punkier couple of tunes for sure, be it still got the power pop side of punk happening think The Boys, Teenage Head, Buzzcocks. Currently playing with the Rats as well as snotty punks Johnny Throttle. this is what 45’s were invented for. Sloppy, punchy and totally rockin’  – excellent single.

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The Drippers – Bottled Blues (The Sign Records) From the ‘Action Rock’ album soon to hit the streets on Sign Records The Drippers kick the living shit out of ‘Bottled Blues’, coming on like the bastard children of Lemmy daddy daycareing early Hellacopters and Total 13 and having Zeke over for some foreign exchange.  Rapid – exciting and ripped to the tits ‘Bottled Blues’ is all killer and no filler just like the album.  Check it out and tell me I’m wrong. Who said gamblings for fools? If you want to know what Action Rock sounds like chew on this one for fun!

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Piston – Rainmaker Rockers Piston come forward with a downloadable track off their new long player originally entitled ‘Piston’  its a hard-rockin’ wall of riff-a-rama that will have the fans of Rock radio drooling. Check it out in video form below.

Black Sheets Of Rain – Through The Storm (W.A.R. Productions) If Piston wasn’t enough how about more hard rock in the shape of Black Sheets Of Rain and ‘Through The Storm’.  Taken from their debut EP its classic hard rock.  sure it lacks originality but they can play obviously they’re rockers! Four and a half minute that felt like four hours. Not the best track I’ve had to review recently it reminds me of Queensryche (now that’s a band I never thought I’d mention on RPM)

 

Junky Love – Nowhere To Go (Red Thread Records) 4th single by London based psych/garage rock trio is a bit of a slow burner; a song about substance abuse comes to the boil slowly.  Its a grower, not a shower and never gets ahead of itself.  Interesting and a band to perhaps keep an eye on.  A touch of early nirvana about the track which isn’t a bad thing at all.

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Slaughter Beach, Dog – One Down (Lame-O Records) Not your typical single song.  A real gentle yet seductive song.  ‘One Down’ has a flavour of Neil young and more indie driven bands such as a gentle Dinosaur Jr maybe or Sonic youth go Eels as the song builds they control the feedback nicely and its a great introduction to the new album coming late summer.  Although ‘Good Ones’ which has also been released to promote the album release is a mighty fine tune mixing acoustic with fuzzed electric really well like Lemonheads used to do so well.

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Beauty in Chaos – ‘Drifting Away’ ft. Robin Zander (Synthetic Capricorn Mix)(33.3 Music Collective)  Robin Zander and Michael Anthony (Synthetic Capricorn Mix) Remix by Paul Wiley (Marilyn Manson) and Steven Alexander Ryan (The Black Queen)  Sounding more like A Pete Murphy song this is one that will test Cheap Trick disciples and people who wondered what Michael Anthony was up to lately.  A pop experimental remix is about as much as I can say Fair play to the artists for stretching themselves and really stepping out of their comfort zones on this one.  I’m sure many will be open-mouthed and gasp in horror.  Oh well, I bet the artists had a ball.  This remix really pushes the boundaries.

Album order Here

Baby Shakes – Baby Blue/ In My Arms Again (Surfin Ki Records) Classic two track slab of power pop.  Crunchy guitars built around a dreamy melody and delivered by the softly sung vocals like a knuckle duster in a velvet glove Baby Shakes give it some of that sweet Johnny Thunders guitar breaks and who doesn’t love that?  the flip side is a cover of the Shoes ‘In My Arms Again’ – lovely.  Head over Here to pick up a copy from the label or the band’s Facebook page I’m sure they’ be delighted to have you.  Besides, they’re heading out of New York and heading to Europe and Shit Island for a whole bunch of dates so how cool would it be to know a couple of tunes to sing along to down the front?

 

 

 

 

Ruled By Raptors – Ouroberos EP (Pulse Music) Noisy Geordie alt Rockers release new EP and accompanying video get an ear full of their angular alternative Rock or just check out their video below. Quite melodic yet bruisingly heavy the band get set to burst onto the alt-rock scene and make a lot of noise doing so.

MoLD – Breaking Bones (GMR Music) Hard ‘n’ Heavy is the order of the day.  Built around a rolling riff the band cite the likes of Motorhead, Sabbath and The Cramps as influences whilst I can hear the first two in this track I’m intrigued as to where the Cramps fit in but this is only the first track off the new record they’ve aired. ‘Breaking Bones’ is the first track taken from the album ‘Horrors’ which is out next month.  Oh, one thing.  There seems to be one string too many on that bass.  

Rat Face Lewey – Comfortable Taken from their second album this upbeat effort from alt-rockers who’ve been compared to the Manic Street Preachers (not a comparison I’d go for but hey ho) Its got a load of energy and who doesn’t like skateboard videos?

Para Lia – Hawk Hill (Bandcamp) Influenced by The Mission and a bunch of other alternative vagabonds Para Lia release this three track EP via Bandcamp.  The use of the male/female vocals on the chorus is very All About Eve meets the Mish as is the guitar solo over a wall of harmonic guitars.  The second track ‘Over It’ is a much stronger tune and I like the melody on the chorus but it sounds less cluttered that ‘Hawk Hill’.

‘On My Way Home’ has added cello if this wasn’t Gothic enough and sounding more Echo And The Bunnymen especially on the verses it’s a good tune with a decent arrangement. you can check out the songs via the bands Bandcamp page.

 

Psychobabylon – Is This All There Is? (Self Release) Four track EP is the way to go for this five-piece with a hard edge but melodic hook the band slam down the opening track ‘All There Is’ part Metallica part Almighty hard rock it’s a bruising affair yet has a strong melody as it weaves to its conclusion. There’s no reinventing the wheel here just bruising hard rock Released digitally and on CD you can find it at the link Here. ‘Die Alone’ is a hard and heavy riff that drops to reveal a filthy bass line rumbling away holding this one together before the inevitable gang vocals.  Will please audiences up and down the country who want something loud and heavy.

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GOON – ‘Check Engine Light’ (Partisan) LA-based scuzz rockers release video for the track ‘Check Engine Light’ off their album set for release mid-July.  Check it out here and search out the band’s social media for details of their new album.

Finally, Welsh duo Henrys Funeral Shoes release a video for ‘Everybody Say Hi’ the first track off their new album ‘Smart Phone Rabbit Hole’ due for release on September 20th.  Old school blues with a twist, fuzzy vibes and a simple chorus you can all sing along to and a rather addictive sound as it burrows into your ear cool soulful vocals is one way to describe this one check out the video and make your own mind up.

Until next time when we’ll bring you the new singles and videos – Stay sick!