BPREVIEW: Sun Club @ Sunflower Lounge 30.01.16

Sun Club by Shervin Lainez

Words by Ed King / Pic by Shervin Lainez

Main with web colour bcg - lrOn Saturday 30th January, Sun Club will be performing at The Sunflower Lounge, with support from Callum Pickard & the Third Look.

Doors open at 7:30pm, with tickets priced at £6 – as promoted by Birmingham Promoters. For direct gig info & online ticket sales, click here.

Out n’about promoting their first full length LP, the curiously titled The Dongo Durango, Sun Club play at The Sunflower Lounge on their first of six UK dates – ending up at (the even more curiously titled) Sticky Mike’s Frog Bar in Brighton. What could possibly go wrong..?

Sun Club - UK/European Tour 2016Born and raised in a Baltimore basement or two, Sun Club are the happy amalgamation of brothers Shane & Devlin McCord with neighbor Mikey Powers, plus friends Kory Johnson and Adam Shane. Cutting their teeth on the colloquial circuit, for the first two years Sun Club mostly played friends’ parties and toured people’s basements’ before moving into established venues. But the five piece have finished taking their ‘baby steps’, having now supported acts such as FIDLAR and Fat White Family, as well as being invited onto the Sweetlife Festival bill in May 2015.

But with the release of Sun Club’s debut LP,the focus is just making music that you feel strongly about, and about releasing it’; The Dongo Durango (…a well endowed city in North West Mexico? Colorado?) is glorious eleven track endevour of unashamed psychedelic Surf Rock. OK, ten tracks – the title song is a 15sec request to check out someone’s birthday suit. And Sun Club come from Baltimore, so perhaps it’s not Surf Rock.

For that matter I’m not sure you can use the term ‘psychedelic’ post 1977. But it is fun, lots of fun; DIY drum echoes, punchy melodies, washed out guitar riffs, with Mikey Powers’s vocals foot stomping a polite Punk march over the top. And like drop kicking a My Little Pony, once you start it’s a little hard to stop.

In fact, whilst we’re on the subject of fighting with neon haired plastic toys…

‘Tropicoller Lease’ by Sun Club

Sun Club perform at The Sunflower Lounge on Saturday 30th January, with support from Callum Pickard & the Third Look. For direct gig info & online ticket sales, visit http://birminghampromoters.com/Events/sun-club-2/The Sunflower Lounge - BR web colours, cropped

N.B. All ‘quotes in italics’ are taken from an interview with Mikey Powers for www.baltimoremagazine.net – to read Lydia Woolever’s article in full, click here or on the highlighted quotes above.

For more on Sun Club, visit http://www.sunclubband.com/

For more from The Sunflower Lounge, visit http://thesunflowerlounge.com/

For more from Birmingham Promoters, including online ticket sales, visit http://birminghampromoters.com/

Follow-Birmingham-Review-on-300x26Facebook - f square, rounded - with colour - 5cm highTwitter - t, square, rounded, with colour, 5cm high

BPREVIEW: Mayday Parade @ O2 Institute 29.01.16

Mayday Parade / www.maydayparade.com

Words by Ed KingMain with web colour bcg - lr

On Friday 29th January, Mayday Parade perform at the O2 Institute in Digbeth – as presented by SJM Concerts/Gigs & Tours.

Doors open at 7pm, with tickets priced at £16 (advance). For direct gig info & online ticket sales, click here.

Back in the UK & mainland Europe as part of their Black Lines Tour, Mayday Parade are on the global road promoting their new album of the same name. Released in October 2015, Black Lines was produced by Mike Sapone at Dreamland Studios in Woodstock, upstate New York.

Mayday Parade - Black Lines Tour 2016Available now through Fearless Records, Black Lines is the fifth studio album to come from the Florida based band – with all their LPs being released through Bob Becker’s home grown Punk/Rock imprint.

Formed in 2005, Mayday Parade released their debut EP, Tales Told by Dead Friends, in June 2006. Initially self releasing the six track debut, Mayday Parade built a strong following from their brash distorted guitar riffs, rolling drums and energetic Pop/Punk – reportedly selling their debut EP in the thousands (or even tens of thousands, according to some sources) to festival goers across North America, following the Warped Tour in 2006.

Signing to Fearless Records in August 2006, and re-issuing their Tales Told by Dead Friends EP in November the same year, Mayday Parade would start working on their debut album whilst on the road with their debut EP.

Changing front man from their original singer, Jason Lancaster, to Derek Saunders in March 2007, it wouldn’t be until July 2007 that A Lesson in Romantics was eventually released – featuring lead vocals from both front men, with Lancaster also credited for ‘guitar on all songs.’ Derek Saunders has remained Mayday Parade’s lead singer and front man across the bands decade long active career.

Released in July 2015, ‘Keep in Mind, Transmogrification is a New Technology’ was the lead single from Black Lines. Mayday Parade further released ‘Letting Go’ as the follow up single, in October the same year – have a stop, look, listen, below:

‘Letting Go’ by Mayday Parade


Mayday Parade perform at the O2 Institute on Friday 29th January, as presented by SJM Concerts. For direct gig info & online tickets, visit http://o2institutebirmingham.co.uk/listings/upcoming-events/24741/mayday-parade-3/Print

For more on Mayday Parade, visit http://maydayparade.com/


For more from the O2 Institute, visit http://o2institutebirmingham.co.uk/

For more events from SJM Concerts, visit http://www.gigsandtours.com/

Follow-Birmingham-Review-on-300x26Facebook - f square, rounded - with colour - 5cm highTwitter - t, square, rounded, with colour, 5cm high

BREVIEW: Victories at Sea @ Hare & Hounds 21.01.16

Victories at Sea / By Joëlle O’Toole - Birmingham Review

For the full Flickr of pics, click here




Words by Helen Knott / Pics by Joëlle O’Toole

Victories at Sea / By Joëlle O’Toole - Birmingham ReviewVictories at Sea have an eye for detail. They are fastidious about everything, from the sound of their snare drum to their matching black clothes.

It’s the main reason it took them almost six years to release their debut album, Everything Forever, as apparently they only manage to write four new songs a year. But this obsessiveness is arguably both their biggest strength and biggest downfall.

I’m at the Hare & Hounds, the place where Victories at Sea launched Everything Forever back in October 2015. And the first thing you notice about Victories at Sea live is that for a band with only three members, they take up a lot of space. Massive analogue synths jostle for position with guitar pedals and a laptop, alongside the traditional guitar, bass, drums set up.

Perhaps surprisingly given their name (which, for some reason, led me to expect an evening of expansive Post-Rock) the sound all this equipment generates is that 80’s revival stuff made so popular by bands like Interpol. Imagine a dancier Editors and you won’t be far off the mark.

Indeed, Victories at Sea have supported Editors on a number of occasions and in some large venues. I can imagine this working very well – the band have a commercial sound, and are both confident and professional live performers.  Songs like ‘Up’ and ‘Florentine’ (which could both easily be found on a Foals album) are certainly catchy and no doubt thoughtfully structured.

Victories at Sea / By Joëlle O’Toole - Birmingham ReviewThe trouble is the sound is so slick and controlled it starts to feel overproduced; nuances between songs get washed away in thick waves of reverb. As my friend said to me afterwards, “I enjoyed it quite a lot considering they only have one song”. Even adding computer samples doesn’t really help matters; in fact, as it makes it more difficult for the songs to change tempo or time signature, it actually only serves to exacerbate the problem.

And there isn’t enough bite or soul present tonight to elevate the songs above anything more than Indie dance floor fillers, for this member of the audience. Of course there’s nothing wrong with that per se, and certainly the people dancing at the front of the packed crowd are having a great time. But there are bands around at the moment, Savages for example, who are approaching this type of music in a more interesting way to me.

It would be good to see Victories at Sea be a little freer, more organic – to give their songs the space they need to breathe.  And they write good songs. But perhaps they could be a little less obsessive in their search for perfection.Victories at Sea / By Joëlle O’Toole - Birmingham Review

And as for album number two? Well, getting it out before 2021 will be a huge step in the right direction.

For more on Victories at Sea, visit https://soundcloud.com/victoriesatsea

For more from Static Caravan, visit http://www.staticcaravan.org


For more from This is Tmrw, visit http://thisistmrw.co.uk/

For more from the Hare & Hounds, including full event listings & online tickets sales, visit http://hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk/

Follow-Birmingham-Review-on-300x26Facebook - f square, rounded - with colour - 5cm highTwitter - t, square, rounded, with colour, 5cm high

INTERVIEW: Scroobius Pip

Scroobius Pip / www.scroobiuspip.co.uk

Words by Olly MacNamee

Bringing that beat back once again to Birmingham, Scroobius Pip’s We Are Lizards returns the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) this Saturday 30th January – for direct gig info & online tickets, click hereBirm_Prev-logo-MAIN - lr

Olly MacNamee caught up with the club night’s well versed founder for a quick Birmingham Review Q&A – sharing a slightly graying love for comics, 12” acetate and the lure of the second city.

BR: What is the draw to Birmingham, given your club nights tend to run in London?

SP: It’s a bit of a second home for me because I went to Wolverhampton University, the only place outside of my hometown I’ve ever lived. With a lot of my friends at Birmingham University I spent a lot of time there around 2001.

Yeah, the people at the Hare & Hounds… every time I’ve gone there, I’ve always got on really well with them. I’ve performed at their Spoken Word nights, Speak Up, that they used to put on. I liked everyone, I liked the venue, I liked the place, so really, although I tend to do the We Are Lizards club nights exclusively in London, Birmingham tends to tempt us back. I’ve also sent artists from my label there (Speech Development Records); B Dolan went there. I’ve also done the Speech Development tour there, with Warren Peace and B Dolan.

BR: As long as you avoid Broad Street, it’s a great city.

SP: Yeah, definitely. And I’ve been in a bit of bother on Broad Street in my time, but that’s Broad Street for you.

Scroobius Pip presents We Are Lizards @ Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) 30.01.16BR: You’re better off staying in the Hare & Hounds.

SP: Yeah, yeah. I agree. The whole Kings Heath area was new to me. The first time I performed at the Hare & Hounds was with, amongst other people, Musa Okwonga, who is a god of the spoken word, and a guy called Ed Sheeran who’s done quite well since. It really is a good spot.

BR: So what can people expect from a Scroobius Pip/We Are Lizards club night?

SP: Simply, a really good party. And another reason we keep on coming back to Birmingham, and specifically the Hare & Hounds, is that the people seem to just get it. Although the music does tend to lean towards Hip Hop, Funk and RnB and a bit of Indie, we never actually have any set rules. As long as people are getting into it and dancing, we’re happy.

I’ve been doing it in London, monthly nights for four years now, then when we took it to the Hare & Hounds and realized it was busy enough for us to come back, we were sold. The next two times it was rammed out and people were getting into it. What I liked, and it is a bit of a Midlands thing, is that the crowd was straight onto it. They were all up for it and up for a dance. In London it can be a slower start, but in Birmingham, and after a live band maybe – offering local talent a stage – we get the DJs on, including DJ Destruction who’s a former DMC champ. People were coming up to him all night long asking who he was, when he’s back, when can they see him again. He’s our jewel in the crown.

The club night in Birmingham is a bit of a weird one for me too. I don’t often drink these days, I’ve just drifted away from it really, but in Birmingham I do always tend to drink. I don’t think I’ve even drunk in 2016 yet, so the We Are Lizard club night might well be the first time.Hare & Hounds / By Ed King - Birmingham Review

BR: I’ll buy you a drink if I see you on Saturday. But moving away from We Are Lizards, like your namesake (‘The Scroobius Pip’ by Edward Lear) you seem to be something of a career chimera – with your Distractions Pieces podcast, your club nights, music, and even a graphic novel. Anything else we should know about?

SP: I’ve got a couple of comic book ideas, but they’re bouncing around with a lot of other projects at the moment. But on Monday I’ve got Kieron Gillen (comic book writer) and Jamie McKelvie (comic book artist) who did the comic, The Wicked + The Divine, coming in to record a podcast that should be out sometime in February. Gillen is currently writing the Marvel Darth Vader comic, so I’m a huge fan of them and looking forward to that. Jamie is the first comic book artist I’ve interviewed, having already interviewed comic book writers like Alan Moore (Watchmen) and Garth Ennis (Preacher).

BR:  And what about your tastes in music? With the way we can access music now, have you found you’ve become more eclectic? When I was younger I had just enough money to buy one album a week, and one only.

SP: Yeah. In my day at school, like you, if you were into Punk, like I was, you were into Punk and that was it. But when I worked in HMV, and before ‘free music’ over the Internet, that was the first place I found I could try out different genres of music more readily. Then people who worked in record shops knew their stuff, they were hugely knowledgeable of the particular section. They knew their shit. You could talk to the Hip Hop guy and he could tell you what was good.

Speech Development - lr, BR web coloursI worry that, because music is a bit more disposable, we are going to see people that don’t have those (physical) albums that changed their lives, that spoke to them. I agree, in my day I could afford a couple of albums a month and that meant that those albums were played inside and out and I knew every lyric to every song, B-sides included. Now you can just grab a hundred songs in moments, skip through the bits that you like only. But I try not to focus on that ‘coz you can come off as the bitter musician asking people to, ‘stop stealing my music’. But yeah, it does sadden me.

The amount of repairs my mum used to have to do to my coats, because the CD Discman didn’t quite fit into my pocket. But again, I would only take the one CD to school, not three or four. I used to have to get the train to school and listen to Punk, Metal, whatever.

BR: Any stand out albums that mean a lot to you? One’s you go back to.

SP: Three albums that stand out for me particularly in my formative musical years was Rancid’s Out Come the Wolves, Offspring’s Smash – which was a great record, Green Day’s seminal album, Dookie. Those were my teen years and I loved them. I’ve still got nothing but love for Green Day, even though I’m not that much into their new stuff.

BR: With the clock ticking… again like your namesake, are you ‘the wisest beast’ of them all?

SP: I think I definitely am (laughs). I feel like I’m old as fuck now, and that translates for me into wisdom.

hare-and-hounds-logo - transScroobius Pip presents We Are Lizards at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) on Saturday 30th January – featuring Scroobius Pip, Destruction, Push Music, Redshift Rebels, Disco Stu + The Oddysee (live) For direct gig info & online tickets, visit http://hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk/new-show-scroobius-pip-presents-we-are-lizards/

For more on Scroobius Pip, visit http://www.scroobiuspip.co.uk/

For more on the Hare & Hounds, visit http://hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk/Follow-Birmingham-Review-on-300x26Facebook - f square, rounded - with colour - 5cm highTwitter - t, square, rounded, with colour, 5cm high


INTERVIEW: Tom Dunstan

Tom Dunstan @ The Dark Horse / By Ed King - Birmingham ReviewWords & pics by Ed King

N.B. Plaid come to The Dark Horse on 30th Jan, with Scratch Club further presenting Jehst (27th Feb) and Akala (9th Apr) at the Moseley venue. For direct updates & event info, visit http://www.darkhorsemoseley.co.uk/whats-on/

I’m sitting upstairs at The Dark Horse in Moseley talking to Tom Dunstan, aka DJ Automaton, about his recent flurry of monthly (and more) events here. It’s cold, the 200 capacity room has only 100th of its potential body heat in it, and we’re camped out on two old leather sofas in the corner. Diametrically opposed a Funktion-One speaker glares down at us – a brand name not known for its subtlety.

Tom Dunstan’s regular Hip Hop night, Scratch Club, recently found its new home at The Dark Horse after losing the bricks and mortar of its birth when The Yardbird closed down – Birmingham’s renowned Jazz/ live music venue and Conservatoire hang out.

Taking on the Tuesday night hole in The Yardbird’s eclectic diary, Scratch Club began with beat boxer Bass6 as host, open mic sessions “and me being the sound man,” explains Tom. “We didn’t book anyone, we didn’t ask any artists to come down, we just said ‘we’re doing this Hip Hop night and there’s an open mic’ – that was it. I remember it vividly; at 8pm the venue was empty, by 8:30pm you couldn’t fucking move.”

Having already promoted DJ/Mr Switch to “rammed to the rafters” crowd at its new B13 venue, back in November 2015, Scratch Club has announced Jehst and Akala as its next two headliners. It’s an impressive addition to The Dark Horse’s events programme, a venue whose recent makeover harks back to the transformation of the Hare & Hounds – when Leftfoot founder, Adam Regan, waved his magic wand over the century old boozer. Provided they can book it out, that is.

“My initial agreement with this place (The Dark Horse) was to do a monthly Scratch Club here,” explains Tom Dunstan, “we did eight years, fortnightly, at The Yardbird and never flopped once; it was never empty once. That started in May 2006, so we are looking at Akala being out 10th anniversary bash.” A birthday cake to be proud of, but why these headliners for a night whose “ethos is not to necessarily book ‘big acts’”?Tom Dunstan @ The Dark Horse / By Ed King - Birmingham Review

“We book the best acts in our minds,” continues Tom, “I’ve wanted to book Jehst since I started doing this 9 ½ years ago; he’s one of those ‘on the list’ acts. We’ve booked bigger acts, we’ve booked Public Enemy, DJ QBert, Scratch Perverts, Souls of Mischief – but Jehst is something that resonates with me. His lyrics aren’t always happy, it’s not always a positive message, but are something intrinsic to a way a lot of people are living.”

And Akala? “Akala just oozes intelligence and the correct kind of consciousness. You get this kind of perceived reputation of Hip Hop, spitting all this big dick gun talk postcode bullshit, but he (Akala) resonates with my own ethos, and not just myself but the rest of the crew at Scratch Club. Yeah, you will see a bunch of dudes (at Scratch Club) with caps on from different ethnicities rapping, scratching and beat boxing, but there’s more intelligence in them than I imagine is perceived to be.”

Those “bunch of dudes” are probably worth mentioning too, with previous Scratch Club residents going on to be “world champions in their field.” DJ/Mr Switch is five times and current World DMC Mixing Champion, whilst Scratch Club’s original beatboxing host, Bass6, is founder of The Beatbox Collective – winners of the 2015 World Beatbox Championship (team).

Plaid @ The Dark Horse - Sat 30th JanToday’s Scratch Club line-up includes Superbamz, Mr FX, Redbeard (Eatgood Records) and Sam Stealth, “although all emcees are welcome to get on stage during the open mic points of the night”. There’s also the regular Scratch Club Celebrity Show, “where Bamz will pick someone from the crowd, name the celebrity that they look like, then insult them in rhyme,” warns Tom. “And Bamz is harsh; he doesn’t care how offended you’ll get. And you might do. Don’t get up close to the stage if you’re easily offended.” Perhaps a well timed bathroom break… I went to school; I know who I look like.

But before we skip-and-a-jump into the Hip Hop on the menu, there’s a small morsel of Electronica to chow down – as on Saturday 30th January Tom Dunstan is bringing Plaid to play in this first floor suburban venue. That’s right… Plaid, The Black Dog founders and Warp Record stalwarts will be playing in Moseley. And on next week’s bill, a leprechaun riding a unicorn.

“Plaid is being booked as part of a new night,” explains Tom Dunstan, “which I’m running with a London Electro DJ called ADJ (Andy Jaggers) and one of the safest people I’ve met through music.” Both DJ Automaton and ADJ are featured on the night’s line up, alongside Plaid. “We used to DJ at Greenstreet together and hit off a friendship; every time I DJ in London he comes out to see me. Andy runs the Dodo Club, on a boat on the Thames, which Plaid are the residents at. So one drunken night after I’d done a gig at Brixton Hootenanny, we’re back at Andy’s flat hitting the posh whiskey and he asks ‘when we’re going to do something again?’ So I say, ‘…get Plaid.’ It took us from August 2015 to get it sorted.”

Were Coda (Plaid’s booking agents) concerned that you wanted to bring such a prestigious booking to a newly operated venue? “There are no agents or Warp Records involved. It’s on the official Warp calendar and they’re on the posters, but we’re doing this because we’re friends. If Andy (Turner) and Ed (Handley) say they’re playing, they’re playing.”The Dark Horse / By Ed King - Birmingham Review

A useful black book to have, and one earned through a regular series of Earko events at The Medicine Bar in the late nineties – where Tom Dunstan and co-promoter Ben Henneman brought acts from John Peel to Aphex Twin to the bohemian Digbeth watering hole. Indeed, “Plaid were the first act I ever booked, for Earko back in 1998,” tells Tom. “They were just lovely blokes, and let me get on stage and start scratching whilst they were playing live.”

Memories of The Medicine Bar will bring tears, of both joy and frustration, to many in Birmingham – as Simon Jones’s war of attrition was the blueprint for Digbeth’s nightlife today. “I remember the magic of those years, how much it meant to us,” admits Tom Dunstan. “Trip-Hop came out, Mo Wax appeared, I was confronted with Ninja Tunes and Warp Records; all of a sudden everything changed.”

But after closing its doors in early 2010, The Medicine Bar (or Factory Club, as it was known when it ceased trading) left a legacy arguably not honoured by subsequent tenants. The Custard Factory venue has changed hands several times in the past half decade, with no would-be-pretenders matching the eclectic events programme that brought acts from Mr Scruff to De La Soul (on a Monday?!?!) to the city centre back streets.

The Dark Horse / By Ed King - Birmingham ReviewThe Medicine Bar’s most prominent Round Two happened in Kings Heath, when a late license gave the Hare & Hounds a chance to compete with its city centre counterparts – as Adam Regan brought an absurdly rich line up to the south Birmingham suburb. It marked a greater shift too, as the Hare & Hounds’ success greased the egos and wheels of further extended hours applications, and planted the seeds of the 2am turnout that now thrives across B12-14. But with all these neighbours turned venues, and the residents in between, is it still peaceful in the provinces?

“Certain folks ask me if it (Scratch Club) clashes with nearby venues,” explains Tom, “and no. Because I speak to those promoters; if we’re having a night on the same night we contact each other and wish each other good luck. I’ll give you a for instance, when we had DJ Switch here we sold out – rammed to the rafters. Roni Size sold out the Hare & Hounds – rammed to the rafters. And down the road at the Old Print Works there were over 300 people dancing to salsa, all on one night.” I recognise a look of both solidarity and relief. “There is no ‘rivalry’ or anything like that; we actually want each other to do well. We genuinely get happy when other people do well. And to quote a local venue owner, ‘it takes a lot more than one venue to create a scene’”.

A reassuring sentiment, and knowing some of the protagonists involved it’s one I can believe is believed in. For the most part. But having worked on two extended hours applications for venues in these suburbs, including the one we’re sitting in (when it traded as The Cross), I know there’s more to content with than competition. And the Funktion-One speaker stack continues to glare…

But the economic impact is palpable; with certain operators working hard to allay any fears or residents associations that might try to, literally, pull the plug. There are festivals in the Private Park for Christ’s sake. And the husband and wife team behind The Dark Horse have arguably already proved their scope with the phoenix like resurgence of The Prince of Wales, alongside a long fought battle at Epic Skate Park (you try heating a listed bus depot). But is this just a question of right place/right time, like Oscillate bringing Insanity Sect and APL to Moseley Dance Centre, or is it something more perennial?scratch-club-logo-(jpeg) - BR web colours, coppped

“It feels like it’s meant to be,” answers Tom Dunstan, “the idea of going to my local boozer, seeing my pals, and seeing an awesome world class act is so much more appealing than going all the way into town, dressing up, blah blah, spending out.”

“Look at us,” continues Tom, “we can watch Plaid here in three weeks time, sat on these Chesterfield sofas, drinking tea if we want. Tell me in your late 30’s that’s not an appealing thought.”

Plaid come to The Dark Horse on Saturday 30th January – with support from DJs ADJ, Automaton + Michael Valentine West. For direct gig info & online tickets, visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1687029418177721/

Scratch Club presents DJ Jehst (27th Feb) and Akala (9th Apr) at The Dark Horse in Moseley. For updates & event info, direct from The Dark Horse, visit http://www.darkhorsemoseley.co.uk/whats-on/

For more on Tom Dunstan, aka DJ Automaton, visit https://www.facebook.com/automaton-111928481855/

For more on The Dark Horse, visit http://www.darkhorsemoseley.co.uk/

Follow-Birmingham-Review-on-300x26Facebook - f square, rounded - with colour - 5cm highTwitter - t, square, rounded, with colour, 5cm high