Menu

Instruments

Cherry Red Album Reviews – Apr 2014 by Scenester

The Jasmine Minks

Jasmine_ Minks

The Jasmine Minks: Cut Me Deep, The Anthology 1984-2014
(Cherry Red CDBRED608)

Arriving in a world dominated by Culture Club, Pet Shop Boys and their lion-pop ilk in the mid 1980’s, The Jasmine Minks instead stuck affectionately, but not doggedly, to their nervous, scratchy rhythms and their songs of life as lived by the rest of us. This comprehensive 2-CD set by Cherry Red sets out their stall for an age that sorely needs some sense of wakefulness and urgency in its pop scene.

It’s said that if a record grabs you with its first track, it could have you for the rest of the album. Happily, ‘Think!’ is a great wake-up call with its clashing guitars, good fret work, a little reminiscent of the beloved Buzzcocks. It could easily segue into ‘Work For Nothing’ were it not for the mysterious, twangy guitar start to this second track. ‘Where The Traffic Goes’ jumps with both feet into an exciting drum roll and some fine, angry singing, but it’s ‘Mr Magic’ that’s the early standout, with its deft mixture of intertwining guitars, rhythm and great harmonies, that may unintentionally take attention away from the lyrics.

There’s plenty of those beloved winner’s chords in ‘The Thirty Second Set Up’, with a nod to eternal 60’s style rock, which spills over into the L-for Leather ‘What’s Gone Wrong’, with its strong climbing vocal. ‘Somers Town’ is a rare disappointment, the lyrics too lumpen and the delivery weak, but interest is piqued again by ‘Ghost of a Young Man’ with its drum trip opening and ‘House of Love’-like feel, several years early.

More buzzy, nervous fret bothering follows, laced with frustration and anger, with ’What’s Happening’ and ‘Black and Blue’ the latter of which comes to a very sobering dead halt after all its manic thumping. It’s perhaps unfortunate that the boys from Aberdeen didn’t develop their more reflective side, exemplified with the slow, HOL-style intro and two part vocal of ‘Cold Heart’. The followers, ‘Choice’ and ‘The Ballad of Johnny Eye’ demonstrate this even better, the former, a ‘Here Comes Summer’ sort of riff that tries too hard and the latter, a steady but maudlin rocker.

Climbing guitars enliven ‘Sunset’ and ‘Like You’, but the former’s steady rhythm promises too much and descends into ‘la la la’s a little too predictably, whereas the latter fails to capitalise on its strong rhythm. The Minks obviously had a lot of frustration to work out of their system, with blaring horn-ridden tracks like ‘Painting/Arguing’, in between indulging their hippy-ish side with the acoustic strumming, lugubrious ‘You Take My Freedom’.

If you’re impatient for a little variety, you could skip the remaining tracks and go to the second CD, missing little.

‘Cut Me Deep’s ringing guitars and echoing vocal makes good use of the climbing rhythm trick, and leads into the chiming guitars of ‘Living Out Your Dreams’, and the Indian sounding intro to the otherwise steady rocker, ‘Don’t Wait Too Long’. ‘Nothing Can Stop Me’s slow build up and tense, precariously balanced guitars promises some engagement, which it unfortunately can’t live up to, a similar problem to ‘Soul Station’.

Taking a holiday from straight ahead rock, ‘Another Age’ has some good rises, twangy guitar and a definite Country and Western feel. The rest cure seems to have worked, with ‘Sad’s strong start, guitars and organ, a bright production and 60’s figures that make this track easily the best so far. ‘Lost and Living’s funky beat is in pleasing contrast,’ with ‘Little Things’ continuing the theme.

‘Marcella’ shows glorious promise, with its ‘Westworld’ feel, and ‘Misery’, despite its title, is no lament, but a full-on, positive, racing guitar track, leading into some superb wah-wah and fuzz in ‘Take’. ‘Reaching Out’s swinging rhythm and chiming guitars remind you of an agreeable Jesus & Mary Chain, if such a fabled beast could ever exist, its C’n’W beat resolving well. ‘Shiny and Black’s quiet beginning takes us into folksy territory, with an interloping electric guitar, whilst ‘Scratch the Surface’s high, distorted guitar and jerky drum trip take us down a much more perilous path. ‘Daddy Dog’s trip hop rhythm sounds a little out of place here, but its fuzzy guitar is a good counterweight to the Arabic style beat, in a polemic against globalisation.

‘Midnight and I’ benefits hugely from the female back up vocal, in amongst the clashing, gong-like guitars.’Popartgod’s Eddie Cochran –like start belies a slice of freakbeat lunacy.

If you’re new to this Aberdonian quartet or just curious about C86 before it was so dubbed, there’s plenty here to get the feel of the times. Those of you who enjoyed them first time round will need no such inducements. BUY HERE!

Pete Molinari

petemolinari_theosophy

Pete Molinari: Theosophy (Cherry Red Records)

Cherry Red’s love of timeless music extends well beyond the reissue of gems from the recent past, and into the realm of young artists who take roots music as their starting point, but with an undeniably modern viewpoint. One such is guitarist and singer/songwriter Pete Molinari, whose ‘Theosophy’ CD, replete with classic riffs, is scheduled for release on 2nd June.

We’re off to a good start with ‘Hang My Head In Shame’, a fuzzy rhythm sound and a guitar solo with real bite, reminiscent of ‘Dirty Mac’ era blues styling, and ’You Will Be Mine’ in hot pursuit, its suggestion of a psyche-feel with a ranging chorus and sweet arpeggios providing a full, satisfying sound.

Initially sticking closely to the revered late 60’s template, with its strong drumbeat and marching rhythm, ‘Evangeline’ throws in the surprise of an early 60’s style guitar solo to catch us off-guard. ‘I Got Mine’ will have the 60’s punk fraternity among you gagging for more, with its Standells/Shadows of Knight feel.

A diversion to a more lush, House of Love-style atmosphere pays dividends, as ‘I Got It All Indeed’ has Pete letting his voice relax in this confection of gently whistling organ, soft drumming and twinkling guitar work.

‘When Two Worlds Collide’s Country style piano and swinging rhythm, with purring, cat-like guitars is another diversion, if a little cliché’d, but ‘What I Am I Am’ more than makes up for it, with its Country/ Gospel-tinged feel, unobtrusive piano and drum and Pete’s sometimes reedy voice is back in relax mode. ‘Dear Marie’ explores this familiar field further, its pleasing descending beat perfectly suiting this sentimental piece about a fondly remembered, but ultimately faithless former lover.

Back in rockier territory, ‘Mighty Son Of Abraham’ has a powerful bluesy-gospel beat, great guitar figures and a solo that will blow away your cobwebs with ease. ‘So Long Gone’s pedestrian, chain gang rhythm is powerfully executed, the Dirty Mac-Lennon voice reprising over good, descending guitar figures.

‘Easy Street’s almost Victorian, silent movie atmosphere has a pleasing echoey voice, with a suitably maudlin atmosphere for this depression-era tale. ‘Winds of Change’ sees Pete’s now highly appropriate reedy tones over a good, churning rhythm in a Dylanesque piece with a great, soaring chorus of Byrdsy aspect that is surely the best track here.

‘Love for Sale’ closes, its huge production with a rising vocal, and a mirror image two line chorus that promises much for the future from this relative newcomer. BUY HERE!

The Deep (Film Soundtrack)

thedeep

The Deep OST (Hot Shot Records HSRX009)

For someone who has been accused of listening to music which sounds like a soundtrack for a film that never got made, a genuine Original Sound Track is something of a welcome change.

Clearly exploiting the fashion for sub-aqua peril best realised in ‘Jaws’ two years before, which made Steven Spielberg a rich man, it was hoped that ‘The Deep’ would do good business for Director Peter Yates and Casablanca Filmworks and Records. A top musical score writer for this potential blockbuster was called for, and no doubt John Barry’s name headed a very short list. A stellar singer was also needed to push this piece to the young filmgoers, and so the queen of disco, Donna Summer, was drafted in to lend her velvet tones to the lush styling of the theme song.

The story of a happy, adventurous, holidaying couple caught up in a tepid tale of shipwrecks, long-submerged valuables, drugs and (wait for it) hungry sharks is taken far more seriously than the script, by Barry. Opening with a ‘silent ocean’ sort of soundscape, a little reminiscent of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, with a few delicate piano notes to ease the tension, strings come in and lead into a tense, meandering rhythm, suggestive of a high quality horror film. The strings, still soothing, now hint at danger, as if something is in the distance, out of sight. A sudden, loud clatter, like a squall at sea, gives way to a ‘fog lifting’ atmosphere, leading into a ‘sun rising’ passage, ponderous horns building up into a great wave, soothed by violins and flute.

The music turns nervous once more, tense strings weighed down with heavy piano chords, descending, until a ‘city beneath the sea’ atmosphere prevails, whirlwind synth effects adding another dimension. A sharp, terrible conflagration of whistles, horns and bells comes in, like the crashing of a great ship.

The contrast between the main score and the ‘love theme’ could not be more marked. The plodding beat, with a basic Caribbean, sun-shining rhythm and chuckling guitars all suggest a last minute rush job, and then Donna Summer’s warm croon starts. It’s not long before this basic piece of island beat becomes one of Donna’s characteristic groaning festivals, the sexual equivalent of being short changed in an expensive cocktail bar.

An instrumental version of the theme has triumphant horns and strings a little higher in the mix, lighter in feel and all the better for it.

‘Disco Calypso’ may convince you that the producers and John Barry may have taken temporary leave of their senses, and the return of Miss Summer for another stab at the theme does little to redeem the previous effort.

Bonus tracks are revealing; ‘The White House Years’ a heavy keyboard riff with synthesised sounds and the 12’’ disco version of the theme are time capsules of the muscular, pumping sound that once ruled the world. BUY HERE!

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

More Posts - Website - Facebook

April 29, 2014 By : Category : Indie Instruments Music Reviews Tags:, , , , , , , ,
0 Comment

Mineral – Eyefocus 359 Music

This entry is part 4 of 7 in the series Eyefocus 359 Music

So, who are Mineral? Well, imagine an indietronica outfit who hail from Paris and Dublin and cite as their influences Talking Heads, Pixies, Syd Barrett, Kraftwerk, Gainsbourg, The Beach Boys and Béla Bartók. That’s the vision behind the band members Craig Walker, Thierry Fournié, Sophie Armelle and Damien Li. Walker made his name in Irish indie rockers Power Of Dreams, and then trip-hop act Archive, who were huge in France. With Mineral, Craig teamed up in 2012 with three of the finest musicians in Paris to create a widescreen musical canvas in keeping with the best in French music (Air, Daft Punk) while hinting at soundscapes from around the globe. They’ve even recorded a telling cover of My Bloody Valentine’s ‘When You Sleep’.

01 How did you first get started in music?

Kids I was totally zero in football. So I’ve tried to play guitar.

02 Who were your major influences and inspirations?

Velvet Underground, New order ,middle age music, after punk and psyché pop. The letter B is generally good in music: Bowie , Barrett, Beatles, Beach Boys. We should call us Bineral.

03 What shapes your song craft and sound?

We love a lot of different stuff, different periods in music. We chose to be an electro band because it allows us to amalgamate all these influences, because it looks like our time. Electronic music is using the most modern expression to describe this strange period.We love Pop, rock, soundtrack but we just have a bass and 3 keyboards in a little studio.

04 What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

Love and Violence.

05 How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

Listening a lot of music always evolves your own perception of things.We need to be curious! A lot of musician plays the same shit all their life, they found something quite interesting at the beginning, and after dig it. Some people call that “style” but in fact it’s just mannerism. Bowie never did the same, he’s an example to follow.

06 What has been your biggest challenge so far? Were you able to overcome this? If so, how?

My biggest challenge so far is to learn how to live, my second one will be to learn how to die.

07 Do you ever play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

We’ve already done “When you sleep” by M.B.V. We did a stupid video for it, it was quite funny to do. The danger with covers is if the songs you choose is really excellent, it’s going to be impossible to do better. The challenge is at least to do something as good as the original, otherwise there is no interest. Next cover will be a Rihanna song!

08 How did you get connected with Alan McGee (ex Creation Records) and with the new record label project 359 Music?

It had a lot to do with time, numerology , destiny and 2 Albums by Kevin Shields.

09 Alan has a reputation as someone who makes things happen in a very vital way, did this draw you in to the bigger plan?

Alan gets the best albums out of the artists he works with, the evidence is clear.

10 Will there be a Tour or live dates to help promote your album and single releases?

Yes,we must pay to eat…

11 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows?

Very loud electronic rock n roll.

12 Who would you most like to record with?

Kraftwerk.

13 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

We have finished writing our second and third albums.

14 Can you tell us a half-decent joke please?

The 1975 band is a very funny joke.

Web Links:

facebook.com/mineralofficial
twitter.com/mineralofficial
soundcloud.com/mineralmusic
359music.co.uk/mineral

Photo Credit: Nicol Despis

mineral_album

Plastic Exphrastic: Mineral (359 Music, cat #359CD3) – Released 28th October 2013

The long established genre of electronica has thrown up some frustratingly difficult to appreciate music over its life span, as well as some highly accessible ditties, and Mineral are on the blue end of the scale, never straying into the red zone of the totally unlistenable.

‘Serial Monkey’s loose, bleeping rhythm and its cast of vocalists, ranging from displeased infant, growling, monkey-obsessed male and stentorian disco minx, all seemingly pursuing their own path, is an attention grabbing opener, but does not bear up to too many repeated listens.

‘Atoms’ has a more languid feel, a pleasing marimba, real or generated, doing sterling service, but the male voice is too monotonous to hold the interest in this sprawling track, that tails off into a Beach Boys inspired workout, regrettably not one that resolves as only the BB can.

‘Bleeding the Beast’ is much more to my taste, soft piano chords coming on like Roxy Music, a sugary- sweet female vocal and an atmosphere that shows the band, unlike many of their brothers in synth, can be a little reflective.

‘Cynical’ is back in the icy-cold waters of electronic pop, but the male vocal has a little grit to contrast with the sweetness of his female comrade in voice, and the melody is not lacking in interest.

‘Love divine’ is another grass hopping synth riff with a worried keyboard figure doing nothing to enliven this maudlin ‘You, Me’ song. The offer to ‘Love you forever’ does not tempt this reviewer, and even the band gets bored with the whole shebang, ba-da-da –da-da-ing into the distance. What’s with the foghorn, by the way?

‘Mi-Clos’ has some tingling, ghostly vocals and hard, echoing guitars that set up a pleasingly tense atmosphere that could have been the basis of a chilling break-up story. Regrettably, the song fails to capitalise on it, and it ends sounding like a particularly freaky Japanese car commercial.

‘Stone’ presents us with more Lego music, bubbling keyboards, muffled drumbeats and loud-hailer vocals, the only respite a pleasing acoustic guitar figure. Aiming, I think, for the kind of absolutist shtick peddled in the 90’s, but all we appear to have here is an interesting beat going nowhere.

‘1989’ recreates the kind of twee-pop I thought had been outlawed long ago, but it seems some can’t get enough of it. You’re welcome.

‘Brainwashed’s compressed drums, bright keyboards and light touch guitar is pleasant enough, but it isn’t too long before the twee vocals start up again, and we’re stuck in a lift with Frazier Chorus.

By the time the final track ‘Plastic Exphrastic’ spun around (please, no secret tracks) I was ready for a change, and was duly presented with a sub-Kinks, Sgt Pepper lead-out groove dervish, that quickly turns into a robotic organ ditty of a late 1970’s stamp, complete with whiny vocals and whistling.

‘Where are we going with our digital souls?’ Indeed, where? BUY HERE!

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

More Posts - Website - Facebook

November 5, 2013 By : Category : Front page Instruments Interviews Music Pop Rock Tags:, , , ,
0 Comment

Cauldronated speak to Eyeplug

Cauldronated are A punky, drum-centric, techno adventure featuring Eva Menon (Italian extrasolar poetess), David Harman and Dave Barbarossa (Drummer with Adam and The Ants, Bow Wow Wow, Republica, Chicane…

01 How did you first get started in music?

I deputised for the drummer in Adam and The Ants and Adam took me on.

02 Where did your direction come from?

My love of music and the drums.

03 Who were your major influences and inspirations and who do you despise?

I despise artificial passion in music, I can smell it like shit on my shoe. Far to many influences to mention.

04 What inspires you to make your current type of songs and sound?

I am driven to create uniqueness. Anytime I’ve gone the straight route in music, I’ve been deflated. ‘Cauldronated’ is a strange brew; House/tehcno scenery, impassioned alien vocals and mental drums.

05 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows?

Complete commitment to the instrument. Spellbinding singer, modern sounds.

06 How do you begin your song creation? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

From a beat, or a groove, a vocal line, everything is thrown into the Cauldron. The themes are historical yet, futuristic.

07 How did your music evolved since you first began playing?

I have followed my heart. I play what pleases me.

08 What has been your biggest challenge? Were you been able to overcome this? If so, how?

To not sell myself out. To follow the teachings of geniuses I have worked with.

09 Do you play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

I don’t play them.

10 Where did you envisage being in five years time?

‘Top o’ the world ma!’

11 Who would you most like to record with?

Cauldronated.

12 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

More mental beats, Italian style and heady grooves, all live, all full-on.

Web Links:

cauldronated.com
facebook.com/cauldronated
facebook.com/BarbarossaBeat
soundcloud.com/cauldronated

Cauldronated @ The Finsbury – 21st Nov 2013

A welcome blast of superheated noise from the stage of this vast Manor House pub on one of the year’s coldest nights, Cauldronated lived up to my every expectation. Hard to believe that it takes just two people to make this brimming, bone shaking sound, the beat provided by Dave Barbarossa, veteran of such chart-bruising acts like Adam and the Ants, Bow Wow Wow and Republica, the voice and yet more drum work courtesy of the mysterious Eva Menon, she of the dark locks, tattoos, and more than a nod to the classic female rock stars of the much missed late 1970’s. With just a hint of synth to flesh out the sound, this heady brew showed its strength from the word go.

Playing the ice maiden with considerable relish, a huge 80’s cut jacket thrown over her slight shoulders, Eva glares, struts and swerves in front of her mike, coldly intoning the bullet-point vituperative lyrics, as synths wail and scream, Dave pounding out a thunderous beat that will tolerate no dissent. Difficult to characterise in one heading, Cauldronated seem to inhabit a world of their own making, somewhere in the wastes between rock, synth pop and trance, but without getting enmired in any of them.

Every young woman who ever picked up a microphone in anger seems to be embodied in Eva, her Siouxsie/ Ronny persona showing up most of today’s so-called cougars for the compliant puppets they really are. Dave’s enviable drum pedigree ensured a solid wall of rhythm for every song, with their electronic friend’s unobtrusive wailing a perfect backup.

Throwing her huge jacket aside, revealing a one-piece man-drag outfit that perfectly complemented her onstage self, Eva’s voice ran the gamut from Siouxsie to Poly, with even a suggestion of Diamanda, as she spat out yet more bile to the accompaniment of the screaming synth and rumbling drums which she shared stage with.

Scenester

Scenester lives in London and Brighton, as time allows. Enjoys music, film, television, books, design and anything else which won’t leave well alone. Old enough to know better.

More Posts - Website - Facebook

November 12, 2013 By : Category : Beats Dark DozenQ Gigs Instruments Interviews Music Reviews Tags:, , , , , , , , , ,
0 Comment

DozenQ – The Daydream Club

This entry is part 4 of 19 in the series DozenQ 4

Adam Pickering and Paula Walker met while studying at The Liverpool Institute for Performing Arts (LIPA). They started performing together as The Daydream Club in 2010. Founding their own label ‘Poco Poco Records’ and releasing their debut album Overgrown in the same year. Overgrown deliberately aimed to strip away production layers to focus on songwriting and acoustic instrumentation. The album brought them critical acclaim with the duo being invited to perform live sessions for BBC Nottingham and BBC Tees.

01 How did you get started in music?

Adam: I’ve been involved with music for as long as I can remember. I knew quite early on that I wanted to do something with music or art. As it turns out, with The Daydream Club I get to do both.

Paula: I’ve always had music in my life. I was a bit of an instrument ‘starter’ growing up. I took guitar lessons, piano lessons, violin lessons and flute lessons but I never had the dedication or drive to follow a syllabus so I was also a bit of a quitter. After passing my music A levels I moved on to study dance so it wasn’t until a knee injury that I rediscovered my musical side.

02 Where did your direction come from?

When we first started writing together we were creating electro/pop songs. It wasn’t until we did an open mic night for fun, armed with just two voices and an acoustic guitar that our direction changed. We received such a lovely response to our no gimmicks, intimate performance that we decided to explore this further. Our debut album Overgrown was created on this idea of honest, intimate, stripped-back music. From that introduction we’ve built on the sound, adding more instruments and dynamics and with each release we like to try and incorporate our electro side with a remix or a alternate versions.

03 Who are your major influences and inspirations and who do you despise?

The Beatles, Fleetwood Mac, Wings, Simon & Garfunkel, Joni Mitchell, Steve Reich, Moondog, Sufjan Stevens, Beck, Goldfrapp, Daft Punk, Ray Charles… we don’t like to limit our influences. Despise is a strong word, we’re not so fond of music that is more business than art but at the end of the day we are creators and not critics.

04 What inspires you to make your current type of songs and sound?

We never follow any set formula, we just see where a song takes us. There are no restrictions on sound as you can probably gather from our back catalogue and remix alter egos. One element that did influence some of the sound of our new EP Found was the instruments we had to hand. We had just invested in a mandolin and an accordion so naturally they were getting a bit of love on the recordings.

05 What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows?

Between the two of us we juggle instruments but the foundation is pretty much boy/girl harmonies, acoustic guitar, percussion and some added extra sprinkles form the likes of piano, melodica and glockenspiel. We like gigs to be personable so no matter the stage size we always try and include our audiences in some way shape or form.

06 How do you begin your songs? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

This varies, some songs we’ve made up characters and fictional worlds and others are from personal experience. At this point its probably best to point out that The Affair from Overgrown is 100% fictional, Paula isn’t a knife wielding ‘cheating boyfriend’ killer!

07  How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

You could say its changed a lot. We were electro and now we’re acoustic (though we still like to dabble)! One day maybe the two sounds will join, who knows.

08 What has been your biggest challenge? Were you able to overcome this? If so, how?

We’ve had a few challenges come our way; stage fright, setting up a record label, releasing our own music, running our own fan funding campaign, creating our own artwork, creating a larger sound with just two people for live gigs… I could probably go on but you probably get the gist that most of our musical journey we’ve been out of our comfort zone in some way or another! We’ve overcome all of these things by just doing them, get your head down and get stuck in. You won’t accomplish anything if you don’t dare to try.

09 Do you play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

We do indeed play covers. We’ve already covered a song that we really love and like to think we put ‘The Daydream Club’ stamp on it. It was a bit of an obvious one (Skinny Love – Bon Iver) but its such a brilliant song we couldn’t resist.

10 Where do you envisage being in five years time?

We like to think we’ll be creating original music still, ideally on a larger scale. It would be amazing to collaborate with an orchestra at some point so that seems like a pretty decent 5 year plan for now. Time will tell.

11 Who would you most like to record with?

This is an easy one, George Martin. He’s not just an amazing producer but an awesome composer and arranger in his own right too. He created absolute magic with The Beatles, it would be pretty inspirational to work with him.

12 What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

Our new EP Found is released on the 28th October 2013. We’ll be playing a string of dates supporting The South, as well as a support date with Bridie Jackson and The Arbour and our own launch gigs in both London and Leicester.

Web Links:

thedaydreamclub.com
facebook.com/thedaydreamclub
twitter.com/thedaydreamclub
youtube.com/thedaydreamclub

Live Dates 2013:

12th Oct: Supporting The South @ Apex, Bury St Edmunds
19th Oct: Supporting The South @ Warehouse24, Newcastle
25th Oct: EP Launch Party @ Paper Dress Vintage, London
1st Nov: Supporting Bridie Jackson & The Arbour @ The Vic, Saltburn
3rd Nov: Supporting The South @ Waterfront, Norwich
7th Nov: EP Launch Party @ The Donkey, Leicester

admin

Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

More Posts - Website

October 9, 2013 By : Category : DozenQ Features Folk Front page Instruments Interviews Music Pop Tags:, , ,
0 Comment

DozenQ – Sakis Gouzonis

This entry is part 5 of 20 in the series DozenQ 3

Sakis Gouzonis, more often referred to as Sakis, is a Greek electronic composer. He has released five studio albums over the last five years (First Contact, New Earth, The Tree Of Life, Ultimate Love and Vast Victory), winning multiple international awards for his music. Today, his international fan club consists of more than 440,000 members in 220 countries. What makes this all the more amazing is that it has all been done independently, with no record labels involved in supporting him. He is the only Greek independent artist to have reached that level of fame and success.

01. How did you get started in music?

I have been playing and composing music since I was a kid. In 1990, my parents bought me an electronic keyboard, and I immediately started playing and composing music. I can still remember myself sitting at my parents’ home spending countless hours every day composing, orchestrating, creating sounds, and playing music. After finishing Senior High School, I released two remix compilations of Christian hymns. The first one was released in 1996, and the second one in 1998. In 2000, I was asked to play keyboards in a band that was backing up Greek singer Costas Fragoraptis. We released two albums, and both of them were aired by Greek radio stations. On 8 August 2008, I released my first studio album entitled First Contact, which received a lot of radio airplay and press coverage from media outlets around the world.

 02. Where did your direction come from?

The music you listen to when you are growing up is extremely important, and for me it changed who I was and everything I wanted to be. When I first listened to the music of Jean Michel Jarre, Yanni, & Vangelis, my life took a new direction.

03. Who were your major influences and inspirations, and who do you despise?

I believe that the music from the 80’s and 90’s was a major influence. I was also influenced by great electronic and cinematic composers, such as Jean Michel Jarre, Yanni, Vangelis, John Williams, James Horner, Danny Elfman, Alan Silvestri, and many others. I despise all those that spread hate around the world, instead of accepting people as they are.

04. What inspires you to make your current type of songs and sound?

The idea of inspiration is a bit hard to comprehend. Something that one person may not even notice could be the most inspiring thing to someone else. Personally, I am inspired by so many things; planets, stars, people, nature, paintings, dreams, etc. The list could go on forever.

05. What can someone who has never seen you live before expect from your live shows then and possibly even now?

He/she can expect a Greek electronic composer on stage that performs with passion and a lot of positive energy. In my live act I do my best to recreate the sound of my studio albums, but with the emotionality of a live show.

06. How do you begin your tracks? What types of themes and subjects do you deal with?

Each one of my tracks comes in a moment of inspiration. My music is about the universe, it is about the infinite, it is about the mysterious forces that we all feel to be around us, it is about what we can and what we cannot understand. My complicated rhythms tell people something about the equally complex rhythms of their inner life.

07. How has your music evolved since you first began playing?

That’s a great question. Well, my melodies have become more emotional, and my orchestrations and chord structures have become more complex. In addition, music technology has improved vastly since I started recording, as has my access to that technology. My music tracks just keep getting stronger and stronger.

08. What has been your biggest challenge? Have you been able to overcome this? If so, how?

My biggest challenge has always been not having enough knowledge for solving technical problems as quickly as I would like to. But I will say that I have very high standards. Being a perfectionist both in the studio and live on stage is a constant challenge for me.

09. Do you play covers? If you could pick any song, which would you like to cover most and why?

It is very easy to fall into the trap of wanting to play other people’s music. For me, there is nothing more satisfying than playing my own original music and people responding to it in a really positive way.

10. Where do you envisage yourself being in five years’ time?

In five years’ time, I would envisage myself being in my studio recording a “greatest hits” album.

11. Who would you most like to record with?

I like to record with Vangelis or Yanni. They are both great Greek composers.

12. What should we be expecting from you in the near future?

I am currently working on my sixth studio album, which is going to be released on 13 August 2013. I am also working on planning my tour for this autumn.
So, remember to visit my official website SakisGouzonis.com for all the latest news. Thanks in advance.

Web Links:

SakisGouzonis.com
SakisGouzonis.com/music
myspace.com/sakisgouzonis
purevolume.com/sakisgouzonis
imradio.com/sakisgouzonis

admin

Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

More Posts - Website

July 3, 2015 By : Category : DozenQ Instruments Interviews Music Tags:, ,
0 Comment

tonym: My 1959 Gibson Les Paul TV Junior

This entry is part 2 of 2 in the series Tonym - On Guitars

Following on from my recent piece about guitar collecting, eyeplug have asked me to write a little weekly piece about the guitars I have in my collection. So, starting from oldest to newest, this first week, I’m bringing you a profile of 2 guitars I own, both identical, dating from 1959, made by Gibson in their ‘golden age’ of building solid body electrics.

If either of these guitars had only LES PAUL written on the headstock, I’d be a very wealthy man but alas, these are the “junior” Les Paul’s, originally built as a student guitar but strangely much more succesful originally than the proper Les Pauls. Fortunately for me though, these are the rarest and most desireable of the Juniors for a number of reasons and I’ll explain why shortly.

Les Paul, the man, was a guitar wizard who was one of the pioneers of the electric guitar. In fact if he is to be believed, he actually invented it but was laughed out of various guitar factories who didn’t think his idea would ever be viable. The only electric guitar you could buy originally were the hollow bodied jazz type of archtop guitars which would then be fitted with a pick up to amplify the strings. Les Paul wanted something a bit more user friendly and Gibson were the first company to provide this.

The Les Paul guitar was originally built in the early ’50’s and Les was asked to give his name to it in a sponsorship deal due to his recorded successes with his partner mary Ford. All early Les Paul guitars were
“Goldtops”, painted on the face with a gold finish and these were followed by Les Paul Customs in the mid ’50’s. However, it wasn’t until 1958 when Gibson produced what has become the Holy Grail of electric guitars, the “Burst”, a sunburst stained Les Paul Standard. These were only produced for 3 years because they were a dismal failure but alongside the whole Les Paul range were the Juniors, a lot more basic, aimed at the student market. The Juniors were first made in 1955 but by 1958, the shape had changed to what is now known as a double cutaway Junior and these too were phased out in the early 1960’s.

The standard colour for a double cutaway Junior was a stained red but during the three years of production, another colour was added, TV Yellow, which apparently showed up better on the television. There were about 500 of these made but they have become iconic for a number of reasons. Firstly, Keith Richards of the Stones started to use one in the late 1960’s and he was followed by the ultimate rock and roll outlaw guitarist, Johnny Thunders of the New York Dolls who supposedly bought them because they were cheap at the time. Then there is the scarcity value to factor in. You can buy any amount of the standard red Juniors but try finding a TV Yellow one and it can be a long search.

What makes these guitars so great is their simplicity. They are fairly light, solid mahogany body and neck with a rosewood fretboard, and they only have one pick up in the treble or bridge position and one tone and one volume control, that’s it. No fancy switches or anything luxurious. Then there is the sound! Crank up a Junior through an old valve amp and you get the meanest sound known to man. That’s the sort of sound I like for my own band, Long Tall Shorty, so it’s the perfect guitar for me.

As I mentioned previously, I have 2 of these, one is totally original but the other possibly has a more interesting history. I bought it in the early 1990’s from a roadie who had previously worked with another band I was in called the Angelic Upstarts. He had got a job working with a singer called Stiv Bators who had to go to Paris for a recording session with Johnny Thunders and Dee Dee Ramone. Unfortunately, Dee Dee and Johnny had a bust up over the writing credits of a song called Chinese Rocks and Dee Dee smashed JT’s guitar up and poured bleach over his clothes! The aforementioned roadie was left with the remnants of the guitar and for a few years it was in a case under his bed which is where I first saw it, with the neck broken in 2 places, at the headstock and also at the heel, the bit where the neck joins the body. I’d seen this guitar several times and eventually managed to buy it, still in bits and I took it to a luthier to be repaired. At the time, completely ignorant about the soon to become “classic” guitar market, I had an extra pick up fitted and an extra tone and volume control added. A few years ago, I decided to get it put back to it’s original spec at great expense and the whole thing was refinished in the original yellow colour and I’ve used it as my main guitar ever since. Last year, I went to see Walter Lure, guitarist in Johnny Thunders and the Heartbreakers, and got him to sign the back of the headstock of my JT guitar. He was really interesting and I have to say, it’s the only person I have ever asked for an autograph, but I just thought it’d be cool to have him scrawl his moniker on this particular guitar.

Whether the Johnny Thunders story is true or not is irrelevant to me though because it’s just about the best guitar I’ve ever owned. The neck profile is perfect for me and the whole guitar just feels really comfortable. The other 1959 one I own has a slightly different neck profile but it’s still a cool guitar. I bought that one in the USA a few years ago because it’s always handy to have a spare that’s exactly the same as the one you’re playing in case you break a string. It’s pointless having a spare that dosen’t sound the same because if you do have to change mid set, you want to keep the sound the same.

The next guitar I am going to be writing about is a 1968 White Fender Stratocaster that I own. This is also a great, well-crafted instrument, but I’ll save that for the next installment in this growing series.

tonym

After leaving school and deciding that work wasn't for me, I got my first record contract at 18 with my band Long Tall Shorty. This quickly went kaput, the contract that is, and we were left scrabbling around releasing records on small independant labels for a couple of years until salvation dropped into my lap. I bumped into my old associates, The Angelic Upstarts who had just lost their bass guitarist and I blagged my way into the job. They were doing pretty well with a big Emi contract and records getting into the lower reaches of the chart and the best bit of all, American Tours so I spent nearly 3 years doing nothing but making music and having a great time. After that all ended I did a few gigs here and there but it had lost it's magic so I just gave up playing for a few years. Eventually in 2000, I got a new version of Long Tall Shorty together and have been making records and touring in Europe and the UK ever since. I also play sessions for other artists several times a year and have been working lately with a fabulous singer-songwriter called Kiria who just released her first LP. The future for her looks very bright and it's great to see that after 30+ years of making music, there are still young artists with as much enthusiasm and commitment as I had, trying to make great music.

More Posts - Website

June 5, 2015 By : Category : Instruments Tags:, ,
0 Comment

tonym: My life as a Guitar Collector.

This entry is part 1 of 2 in the series Tonym - On Guitars

I’ve been playing the guitar for three quarters of my life now and still recall the time the bug first bit me. In my early teens I would watch Top of the Pops on telly, but I only ever liked the bands with electric guitars. If an artist played a piano or acoustic guitar I’d quickly lose interest, but if they had a low strung Stratocaster or were wailing away on a Les Paul, I’d be glued to the box. Aged about 14, I suddenly got the idea that I could do that, too – but how to get a guitar? My parents used to sit there and if Alice Cooper or the Sweet came on, I’d be straining my ears to listen to the music while my Dad was going, ‘Look at that bloody poof’, or ‘Bloody hell, he’s got nail varnish on!’ So I honestly felt guilty as hell about wanting a guitar, it would have been easier to shut up because I felt they would accuse me of being a ‘bloody poof’ or something similar.

Walking past a junk shop near where I lived, I saw an electric guitar on the wall which was six quid and, as it was nearly Christmas, I figured that’d be a cool present. However, it wasn’t to be, because when we enquired about it, it transpired you needed an amp too and that was way out of the budget. Instead I was bought an acoustic guitar instead though with thick nylon strings and I was away, forget about being a racing driver now, it was all girls and guitars.

I initially had five lessons and was the star pupil as I used to practice for a couple of hours a day, but on the fifth week, I was shown an F chord and even with a week before the next lesson, I couldn’t get it right, so I gave up and never saw the guy again. However, as most rock guitarists will tell you, they can’t read a note of music and don’t need to, so being a guitar player is a cool job – you buy a phallic looking instrument, plug in to a mass of speakers and you don’t even have to study. That really appealed to me back then!

Now, all decent electric guitars are American, it’s always been the case and back in the 1970’s, these things weren’t cheap. As with all imported goods then guitars are actually much cheaper today than they have ever been. The Japanese made ‘copy’ guitars that looked exactly like the original Fenders and Gibsons and were often fine instruments – but they were a fraction of the price. The first guitar of note I bought was one of these, a used Antoria Stratocaster copy which cost £35.00. I was king of the block until a friend down the road bought a CSL Les Paul copy, but it was a start. Bearing in mind a real Stratocaster was probably about £165.00, these sorts of guitars got many people of my age playing and it all coincided with the revolution called punk rock. Suddenly, you didn’t have to have great equipment and expensive guitars. There was a saying that went, ‘One pick up is cool, two pickups are flash, and anymore than that are ridiculous. Of course, that was all bollocks because the first thing any punk band did with their record company advances was to buy the real guitars and amps, book into expensive studios and start living the life of proper rock stars. What such ideas did do was demystify the whole process and workings of the music industry – suddenly anyone could be in a band.

I began playing properly in clubs in 1978; in fact the first gig I got was supporting Sham 69 at the Electric Ballroom. Our band was lucky to have a drummer whose mother was secretary to Sham’s manager and our next gigs were supporting the Angelic Upstarts on their first tour of the UK. Jimmy Pursey, singer with Sham, saw us and offered us a record contract which was with Warner Brothers. One of the first things he did was to give me a Rickenbacker that had belonged to his guitar player. While not exactly the Holy Grail, this guitar was a proper instrument and I used it with a Vox AC30 that Paul Weller had given to me a few weeks earlier after a completely random meeting.

So that’s how it all started. Over the following years I did get to own Fender Stratocasters, Gibsons and all other manner of decent guitars, but bizarrely, the way I started collecting came after I’d actually given up playing which was about 12 years ago. I figured I’d had my shot at stardom and at the age of 28 I got a job. I then got married, had a son and just gave up playing and sold whatever bits and pieces I had left. About 10 years in the wilderness I started feeling like something was missing in my life so I began tinkering around with guitars again until eventually I had a small collection of oddities and slightly rare and desirable guitars. This led to me getting back to playing live and recording again and I started to yearn for better and better instruments.

I bought a 1972 Fender Stratocaster which is a pretty decent guitar but as I got better and had more spare cash, I started to trade up and up. Next I acquired a 1970 Stratocaster which was only two years older but there is a big difference to collectors. Between 1966 and 1971, Fender changed the design of the Stratocaster slightly and these guitars are now known as ‘Hendrix Strats’ because they are the exact same models as Jimi used. Prior to late 1965, Fender was an independent company, but was taken over by CBS, so you have pre-CBS Fenders which are the most collectable. CBS Fenders also have kudos because that’s what Jimi used. Buying a post 1972 Stratocaster is a bit risky because they aren’t that collectable and the design changed again with a fundamental fault, the neck plate, (the bit where the neck joins the body), was changed from four bolts to three, and I’ve always found that the tuning can be affected by playing too hard. The first time I realised that collecting guitars was a good idea was about eight years ago. I bought a 1965 Fender Stratocaster in Denmark St, Central London, for £3000. A couple of years later, I decided to move that on and the shop I bought it from offered me the three grand back. I found out they’d sold it two weeks later for over £4000! This seemed like a great way to buy anything you want, use it for as long as you want and then eventually sell it for a profit. How cool is that?

Over the coming years, I owned many guitars which were extremely desirable. These included a 1969 Gibson SG Special, bought for £1950 and sold for £2400, a 1969 Dan Armstrong Plexiglas, bought for £1300 in Italy and sold to a guy in Berlin for £2200, a 1974 White Gibson Les Paul, bought for £1850, sold for £2700 and any amount of other Les Pauls which I paid anything from £1200 to £3700. Without exception, I made money on
all of them which isn’t a boast; it’s just a niche I have found that I appear to have some sort of talent for. The guitar collecting market has obviously been affected of late by the contracting economy but it is still relatively simple to own a guitar you want and then sell it for a profit at a later date, you just have to know what you are buying and then buy at the right price. To my mother, I am some sort of guitar trading genius. She was always interested in antiques and it always mystified me as to how people could buy an old item and then make money out of it. Nowadays, I buy guitars that I know I will use and I also love to own certain models, but eventually you change your musical style or maybe just your tastes and then you’re off on the lookout for something different. I currently own a 1968 Fender Stratocaster which is painted in the original Olympic White finish. It is a super rare guitar because of the colour. If you change the finish of an old guitar or restore it and replace parts, you lower the value dramatically. Imagine buying a 50 year old car that was full of rust, the wipers didn’t work, the doors didn’t shut properly but you couldn’t change anything because it would affect the value? Guitars are the opposite – the more original parts that are intact the better. The ’68 Strat is the one instrument that I always think I’d never sell, but who knows?

The main guitars I use on stage these days are two Gibson Les Paul Juniors, both made in 1959 and these are also rare because they are finished in a colour called TV Yellow. I believe there were only 500 made in this spec so after 52 years, how many are left? The value of these particular guitars is also determined by other factors. Yellow Les Paul Juniors were used by Keith Richards and Johnny Thunders, both absolute axe hero icons and therefore the value is increased. Depending on who you believe, one of the ones I own was previously Johnny Thunders’ own guitar which I bought in three pieces from a roadie who had been in Paris working with Thunders when Dee Dee Ramone smashed it up after an argument. So that’s an interesting one, it’s been broken severely but it was possibly Thunders guitar which gives it provenance, so the value is being affected by these factors. All this doesn’t bother me, because when I play that guitar it just feels right. I pull the strap over my shoulder, plug it in and it does anything I want it to do. Comparing it to your favourite slippers wouldn’t be an overstatement.

The best guitar in my collection is a 1969/1970 Black Les Paul Custom, which weighs a ton but has the most incredible sound. I’m not a fan of Guns N’ Roses but there is a guitar solo on a song called ‘Sweet Child of Mine’ that has a great tone and I always wondered what effects the guitar player used to get that particular sound. I can tell you now, he didn’t! Plug this guitar into an old valve amp, whack up the distortion and it’s there. When recording, I play the rhythm guitar tracks on one of the Les Paul Juniors, but for all overdubs, guitar solos, power chords and so on, I use this Les Paul so I get two distinct tones but also the power that I want.

Finally, I also own a 1960’s Vox Teardrop guitar, which is exactly like the one Brian Jones used in the Stones, and a 1969 Les Paul ‘Goldtop’ – so called because the top has a gold finish with a sort of sparkly paint. Where the paint has started to fade, you get a greenish hue which is evidence of the arsenic they used in the paint back then.

The latest trend with guitars is “relic-ing” which is a process where you buy a brand new guitar that has been made to look old. The funny thing about this is that you pay a premium for the guitar, when in reality all you need to do is buy any old guitar, drag it around clubs for a few years, get a few scratches on it and you’re away – instant relic appeal. A lot of people buy these relic guitars because they want to look like they’ve been on the road for the last 20 years which is good news for people like me because I have been, and every scratch on my guitar is like a notch in the bedpost, they each have a tale to tell.

 

tonym

After leaving school and deciding that work wasn't for me, I got my first record contract at 18 with my band Long Tall Shorty. This quickly went kaput, the contract that is, and we were left scrabbling around releasing records on small independant labels for a couple of years until salvation dropped into my lap. I bumped into my old associates, The Angelic Upstarts who had just lost their bass guitarist and I blagged my way into the job. They were doing pretty well with a big Emi contract and records getting into the lower reaches of the chart and the best bit of all, American Tours so I spent nearly 3 years doing nothing but making music and having a great time. After that all ended I did a few gigs here and there but it had lost it's magic so I just gave up playing for a few years. Eventually in 2000, I got a new version of Long Tall Shorty together and have been making records and touring in Europe and the UK ever since. I also play sessions for other artists several times a year and have been working lately with a fabulous singer-songwriter called Kiria who just released her first LP. The future for her looks very bright and it's great to see that after 30+ years of making music, there are still young artists with as much enthusiasm and commitment as I had, trying to make great music.

More Posts - Website

June 5, 2015 By : Category : Instruments Tags:,
0 Comment

Eyeplug Amazone Effects Store


admin

Boo Eyeplug acts as webmaster/designer for the Eyeplug site. Not the most social of creatures and with several personality issues, and rather exotic, eccentric tastes for obscure ‘cultish’ stuff which makes his ramblings seem even more sweetly abstract and often annoying.

More Posts - Website

June 5, 2015 By : Category : Instruments 0 Comment