BREVIEW: Kikagaku Moyo @ Hare & Hounds 17.08.17

Kikagaku Moyo @ Hare & Hounds 17.08.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Review




Words by Anna Whittaker / Pics by  Denise Wilson

Hailing from Tokyo, Kikagaku Moyo present what they call ‘feeling good music’ and the rest of us call psychedelic rock. Regulars across Europe and at festivals like Green Man, they make me feel like I should be in a field stoked up at least on sparkling wine under a hot sun. But tonight we are upstairs in the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath, a well-known Brummie institution and purveyor of live music.

Earthling Society, the guest band on first, are from somewhat closer to home in Fleetwood and also present psychedelic rock – kicking off with a nice blast of dry ice for that grungy atmosphere. I thought we’d be the eldest here but not so; a real mix are in the room tonightEarthling Society - supporting Kikagaku Moyo @ Hare & Hounds 17.08.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Review, perhaps reflecting the vintage of the bands.

‘Freedom’ is Earthling Society’s first track, with impressive bass played by someone who is clearly related to Steven Tyler. Or at least his face. But if this is psychedelic rock then I like it; a decent beat, blisteringly loud to the point of vibrating through my seat.

Displaying an impressive range of guitar skills, although rather lacking on the lyrics, this was made up for in the next track which sounds like a cross between Pearl Jam and Tame Impala with the bass turned up. This sort of music goes perfectly with my pint of Guinness and thank goodness the Hare & Hounds is somewhere with a bar in the same room as the gig; nothing Kikagaku Moyo @ Hare & Hounds 17.08.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Reviewworse than having to go back downstairs and leave the atmosphere and your seat. Although tonight’s young to middle aged (mainly male) audience are doing a great job of standing (no dancing yet) so maybe wouldn’t nick it anyway.

“This sounds a bit like War of the Worlds,” says NM (newish man) and I agree. Earthling Society finish with ‘Kosmik Suite’ (a clear crowd favourite) which starts with the unmistakable sound of being beamed up, then turns into a hard rock instrumental symphony with a Pink Floyd-esque bridge. If you like your heavy rock more instrumental and zen-like spaced out, less angry screaming, then you will like Earthling Society.

Kikagaku Moyo, tonight’s headline act, have been playing since 2012 and recording since 2013, so are relatively new by comparison to their support act. It’s the break before they come on, and I’m intrigued as there is a sitar player (an Kikagaku Moyo @ Hare & Hounds 17.08.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Reviewelectric sitar, no less) bringing an unusual vibe. But after the initial intro, which sounds like a guitar-fuelled rain stick, I get it, ‘feeling good music’ definitely. The Beatles could’ve fallen off a roof to this; it makes me want to sit in a field and plait daisies into my hair, or possibly theirs.

The second track, ‘Kodama’, has real energy to it and inspires a bunch of iPhone recordings, but most people finally forget their phones and are bobbing up and down as an audience should.

I really like this, then the next track, ‘Smoke & Mirrors’, has such a great rhythm I can’t imagine anyone wouldn’t like it. It’s not generic crowd-pleaser either, but Kikagaku Moyo switch up the rhythm and timing in each track building up a real buzz in the room. It’s easy to see how this band are playing practically every night in August across Europe; Kikagaku Moyo @ Hare & Hounds 17.08.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Reviewthey’re getting into it as much as the crowd, so let the head-banging commence.

Kikagaku Moyo then switch over to acoustic guitar, which is more chilled and felt like being in a Japanese tea house (which I have experienced, albeit in Vancouver) but perhaps it was the tune or the sitar echoing the acoustic melody.Kikagaku Moyo @ Hare & Hounds 17.08.17 / Denise Wilson - Birmingham Review

One criticism of tonight’s set is in the switch over between tracks, which is a little awkward. But once Kikagaku Moyo get going no they make up for it with really slick switches of tempo within the songs. A new track for the tour, ‘Samui’, goes down well and even gets a brief rash of crowd surfing.

Daoud Popal on lead guitar does a stunning job, building up to a wall of sound but by that time you’re floating off with the rhythm. Kikagaku Moyo are gentle enough to mellow out to, loud enough to keep you awake, and accomplished enough to make you want to hear more.

For more on Kikagaku Moyo, visit

For more from Earthling Society, visit

For more from Kushikatsu Records, visit

For more from the Hare & Hounds, including full events listings and online ticket sales, visit

BREVIEW: Goodnight Lenin @ Hare & Hounds 11.08.15

Goodnight Lenin @ Hare & Hounds 11.08.15 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review




Words by Damien Russell / Pics by Michelle Martin

You know that moment when you find a band and think ‘I really must go and see them sometime’? Do it. Go and see them. Don’t ‘catch them next time’, or wait until you’re not ‘too tired’ for a non-work night, or whatever else it is that you tell yourself to give you an excuse to be lazy. Go out of your front door, down the road by whatever your chosen method is, and see them.

This is the lesson I have been teaching myself, painstakingly, over the last 12-18 months and never was it more poignant than with Goodnight Lenin.

I first came across the musical strains of Goodnight Lenin in 2015 and the video I found online had been up for two years already at that point. I liked it, got the album and kept an eye on their social media for when they might be about. Sometime later, after nothing had materialised, I had stopped being so diligent in my approach and waited for something to just pop up in the ether and grab me which, of course, it never did. And now in August 2017 I have finally made it to a Goodnight Lenin gig for the first and probably last time.

Not for lack of quality or enjoyment, you understand, but because I left it too long and this gig is currently set to be their last. The creative flame is a delicate thing, to be nurtured lest it fade away out of sight, and while Katherine Priddy - supporting Goodnight Lenin @ Hare & Hounds 11.08.15 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewI don’t know all of the reasoning behind this hiatus in the Goodnight Lenin story I sincerely hope that lack of support isn’t part of it.

All of these things and more are running through my head as I make my way to the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath and up the stairs to the far room. This taller and more impressive of the Hare & Hounds stages is already fully set up and the lights (full disco ball included) are heightening the atmosphere of anticipation. Very fitting, and while the room is surprisingly only about a third full it’s early and there’s still a feeling of electricity in the air. Predictably, I move to the bar and get a pint while I wait for the inevitable rush and for the proceedings to… well, proceed.

About 15 minutes later Katherine Priddy takes the stage. She is to perform seated, which is a nice low-key start to the evening and working to my expectation that musically the event is set to build with each act. As she starts I become acutely aware that she has a very good voice (clean and clear, slightly ethereal) and a complex finger picking guitar playing style – the combination of which make her songs seem both simple and intricate at the same time. A hush settles over the room as she plays, receiving enthusiastic applause at the end of each song.

Boat to Row - supporting Goodnight Lenin @ Hare & Hounds 11.08.15 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewWhile I admit Katherine Priddy is an excellent opening act for an evening headlined by a full band, I can’t say that she would be out of place as a headliner and I could easily imagine her on the Cropredy Folk Festival or Beautiful Days stages. Priddy’s set is well thought out and, even containing two songs based around Greek mythology, manages to be relatable and engaging. Doing some YouTube searching post-gig, I’m pleased to find a cover of ‘Beeswing’ that justifies the fact I was comparing Richard Thompson and Katherine Priddy in my head during the set.

After a short break, Boat To Row start to plug in and tune up. Lead singer/rhythm guitarist, Michael King, joined Katherine Priddy for her final song so I have an idea what to expect. Although now King has changed into his gig outfit and is joined by the full band, so it’s a fresh introduction and a fuller sound. A bit too full if I’m honest.

I find Boat to Row provide that particular brand of folk where the songs are quite busy, with several different melodies present at once. I can’t deny that as a band they work very well together, and the precision in such detailed song writing can’t be understated, but I find it hard to grab a ‘hook’ in most of their songs and found them too ‘art for art’s sake’ for my taste (‘chorus, for God’s sake’ I find myself thinking, stealing 10cc lyrics). My favourite song of theirs is the penultimate in tonight’s set – a new number called ‘Fairies Flaws’, I believe, that has a funky undertone and quite a driving tempo, standing out as the most accessible to an uninitiated listener.

Boat to Row - supporting Goodnight Lenin @ Hare & Hounds 11.08.15 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewAnd then, of course, our main event. The room has been filling up more and more over the course of the evening and at this point it’s roughly three quarters full. And by full, I mean having your toes stood on and breathing the hair of the person in front of you because that’s the only space left in the room.

*At this point, I would like to take a moment to thank the three women by the bar who were loudly and relentlessly cackling and bumping into my friend and I. Without your inconsiderate rudeness, we would have stayed put by the PA and not moved further into the crowd. We got the best of the atmosphere where we moved to so you did us a favour, in a way. I hope you got your money’s worth of being shushed and glared at because I know I wasn’t the only one who called you out on your nonsense.

Goodnight Lenin are a wall of sound. It’s the only way I can describe it. The sound has been good all night, but Goodnight Lenin are a cut above and their depth and ‘fullness’ is noticeable against the other acts on the bill this evening. I listen hard and I can pick out every instrument individually, which is my test of a well-mixed band. Impressive work from Jon Nash on the desk too.Goodnight Lenin @ Hare & Hounds 11.08.15 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham Review

The band are in good form and seem to want to send themselves off in style. They tell us they have an extended set planned including some covers and all the ‘hits’ from the new and old original material. And they’re not kidding. Goodnight Lenin move through the set smoothly and confidently, and from their In the Fullness of Time album I pick out the familiar strains of ‘The Constant Lover’, ‘Weary’ and ‘Cautionary Tale’ among others.

In particular, ‘The Reason’ was blindingly good – a song that is a real treat to listen to live. As was ‘Old Cold Hands’ with its anthemic ending, a near ‘lighters in the air’ moment. Sadly they don’t play my personal favourite, ‘Tell-tale Heart’. But it is quite slow one and I didn’t really expect them to. They can be forgiven.

There are songs I’ve never heard in tonight’s set as well, perhaps not being as much of a die-hard fan as I might have been; ‘Wenceslas Square’ being an easy one to pick out as it was an audience request. While they may well have played it anyway, the fact that Goodnight Lenin asked for requests and then actually played one is a nice touch and not something all bands do.

Goodnight Lenin @ Hare & Hounds 11.08.15 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewFrom the newer material we are treated to live versions of ‘Desire’ and ‘Portrait of Youth’, with the fresher faced tracks standing up against the tried and tested classics. Were I bolder, I might venture the opinion that perhaps the new songs don’t quite cut it as well. But honestly, I think that’s only because I’m so familiar with the older ones.

Covers-wise, we are treated to Neil Young’s ‘Helpless’, where Goodnight Lenin are joined by Katherine Priddy and Boat to Row for a huge multi-band rendition and a nice rock oriented version of ‘Come Together’. A solid nod in the direction of the bands that have inspired them over the years.

There’s a lull in the set somewhere in the middle, when some technical issues occur, and Liam is forced to use a guitar kindly lent by Boat to Row. No idea what happened to his as it just seemed to give up between songs (although it was very considerate of it to wait until the previous song had finished). John did a good job of keeping the set going with his comfortable patter and a couple of solo songs, but it is an inevitable come-down in an otherwise high octane set. A shame but nothing that could have been helped, I imagine, and these things do happen.

Goodnight Lenin @ Hare & Hounds 11.08.15 / Michelle Martin - Birmingham ReviewEnding with ‘Without You’, the band invite their sound technician, Jon Nash, onto the stage wielding a black Telecaster – bringing the lesser-spotted member of the Goodnight Lenin family into the limelight for this swansong.

And then it’s over.

Goodnight Lenin put on a cracking show and despite the technical issues kept things flowing very well. If I had to offer a criticism, it would be that the set went on too late and people had to leave before the end for buses and trains home. A shame, in a way, but one not easily combated.

For some reason it was one of those gigs where I thought I knew what to expect; I had it in my head that it would be packed from the outset, that musically it would build and build and then Goodnight Lenin would hit the stage hard, smash through their set to rapturous applause and then do two, maybe three, encores before bidding us a fond farewell. But it was so much more than that. So much more personal.

Tonight was more than just a last gig, it was a real goodbye. I’m sure every Goodnight Lenin fan would join me in wishing them the very best of luck in whatever they choose to do from now until the reunion (fingers crossed) and while I can’t stop feeling the edge of sadness, I’m glad I’ll be able to say I was there, the day a chapter in Birmingham’s musical history closed.

For more on Goodnight Lenin, visit

For more on Boat To Row, visit

For more on Katherine Priddy, visit


For more from the Hare & Hounds, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit

For more from Moseley Folk, visit

BPREVIEW: Goodnight Lenin @ Hare & Hounds 11.08.15

BPREVIEW: Goodnight Lenin @ Hare & Hounds 11.08.15

Words by Damien Russell 

Presented by Moseley Folk, Goodnight Lenin are headlining the Hare & Hounds on the 11th of August – supported by Boat to Row, and Katherine Priddy

The night is scheduled to start at 19:30 and tickets are priced at £11.00, excluding bookings fees etc. For direct gig info, including online ticket sales, click here.

A lot can happen in a week.

As I discovered when, six days ago, I found out Goodnight Lenin’s ‘indefinite hiatus’ was being brought forward and they sadly won’t make it to the Beyond The Tracks festival. But before they go, they are going to join us for one last show at the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath which ‘so happens to be at our favourite venue with our favourite bands playing alongside us’, as they said in their farewell post. Arguably the most heart-warming way for any band to begin a break.

A lot can happen in a month, too. It was only three weeks ago that Goodnight Lenin announced ‘We are now well and truly finalising our second album’ and confirming that there will be a run of physical copies. As a happy listener and owner of the first album, this was very good news. The second hard copy recording they will have done. They did say, however, that it might be a couple of months more before it’s finished so fingers crossed it’s done before the hiatus hits.

And in six months? A year? Well, perhaps not filled with the same level of press-stopping headlines but I would describe Goodnight Lenin’s seven years as more of a book than an article, and the chapter that would be this last year has, in itself, been quite something.

BPREVIEW: Goodnight Lenin @ Hare & Hounds 11.08.15A year ago this Friday they were in the studio nailing bass lines to ‘Desire’, released on the 21st of November 2016 and ceremoniously rung in with a launch show at Muthers on the 26th.. The single was advertised as one of four to be released before the album comes out this winter.

Before the official release date, ‘Desire’ had piqued media interest and the band made appearances musically or in person on Brum Radio, BBC Radio2 and BBC Introducing West Midlands. While I’m on the topic of radio airplay; in January, BBC Radio 6 played ‘Desire’ and on the 24th, Goodnight Lenin were live on air with Steve Lamacq. On the same day, they were also featured on BBC Midlands Today who were reporting on Independent Music Week and interviewed Sammy.

The 2nd of December saw the two-year anniversary of the release of In The Fullness Of Time – their debut album and the record that cemented my (and a lot of other people’s) appreciation for Goodnight Lenin’s music. It wasn’t the album or even its lead single ‘You Were Always Waiting’ that first grabbed my attention though, it was their Sofar Sounds performance of Tell-tale Heart in Oxford that I found by accident while trying to get my own band some gigs and mooching through the Sofar Sounds website. But I digress…

On the 25th of January, the announcement came out that the second of the four singles would be ‘Portrait Of Youth’, released digitally on the 27th of March. Of course, another single means another party and this one was on the 2nd of April (no fools) at the Hare & Hounds. I must admit, the four single releases, four parties idea is great and one I must try to put into practise myself at some point.

But the great plan has now changed. Singles two and three (and associated parties) have seemingly been put on the back burner. It’s all about the album (I hope) and the last show. Goodnight from Goodnight Lenin. Hopefully not forever but at least for the foreseeable.

It’s always a shame to see a good band leave the limelight but, like any passing, it’s surely better to mark with a celebration of all that we’ve enjoyed up to now and to raise a glass (or five) to ‘until we meet again’. But before the currently unknown ‘next time’, we get this, one last time.

‘Portrait of Youth’ – Goodnight Lenin

Goodnight Lenin play at the Hare & Hounds on Friday 11th August, with support from Boat To Row, and Katherine Priddy – as presented by Moseley Folk. For direct gig info, including online ticket sales, click here.

For more on Goodnight Lenin, visit

For more on Boat To Row, visit

For more on Katherine Priddy, visit


For more from the Hare &Hounds, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit 

For more from Moseley Folk, visit

BPREVIEW: Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam – album launch ‘all dayer’ @ Hare & Hounds 05.07.17

BPREVIEW: Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam - album launch 'all dayer' @ Hare & Hounds 05.07.17

Words by Ed King

On Saturday 5th August, Sunshine Frisbee Lasterbeam (SFL) host and headline an ‘all dayer’ at the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath – launching their double LP, Sink or Swim / The Mirage.

Joining SFL will be a bevy of the great, good and decidedly gifted of the Birmingham DIY scene, with Black Mekon, YR Poetry, Sonne Mond, Burning Alms, Bad Girlfriend, Repeat of Last Week and Exotic Pets all playing live alongside DJ sets from This is Tmrw and Victories at Sea. Blimey.

Doors open at 4pm with tickets priced at £7 (advance) and £10 (otd) – as presented by This is Tmrw. For direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam have been out on the road with YR Poetry, touring their latest double release since the 25th July. The August 5th gig at the Hare & Hounds is a stone’s throw from the end of their oddly alliterated tour and a chance to see the MAMMOTH 20 track LP get some serious stage time. Plus check the wider line up… for a tenner downwards you can’t really go wrong there.BPREVIEW: Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam – album launch @ Hare & Hounds 05.07.17

So what’s the ‘ere LP all about then? Littered with short, sharp shocks the Sink or Swim / The Mirage double whammy is the fourth/fifth long playing endevour from SFL. Opening with the twisted garage rock  of one of the album’s title tracks, we slide into some kick drum led punk pretty quick and then bounce around the two.

The other title track delivers a longer wall of sound and pedal kissed rock, before introducing a second half that would have felt right at home on the sticky Hummingbird and Black Horse dance floors of yore… that’ll separate the men from the older men. Then there’s the album’s closer, ‘Drunk in the Sea’, with a psychedelic kiss goodnight.

But it’s live you want to see this band. The last time Birmingham Review stood in front of Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam was back in May this year, again at the Hare & Hounds, when they supported Victories at Sea. Ouch. Then there’s the wider line up to this ‘all dayer’ album launch who are, for the most part, pretty high on our ‘I’ll call in sick tomorrow’ list.

Can’t argue at that for a crinkled Charles Darwin; but if you need a little more twist to your arm…

‘Sink or Swim’ – Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam


The Mirage – Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam

Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam headline and host their ‘all dayer’ album launch for Sink or Swim / The Mirage at the Hare & Hounds on Saturday 5th August – as presented by This is Tmrw. For direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.

For more on Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam, visit

For more from the Hare & Hounds, including full event listings and online ticket sales, visit

For more from This is Tmrw, visit

OPINION: The making of European English

OPINION: The making of European EnglishWords by Johnny Kowalski / Pics by Sarah Tohin

N.B. Johnny Kowalski & the Sexy Weirdos play at the Hare & Hounds on Sat 20th May – celebrating the run up to their third album, European English – out this summer. For direct info and online ticket sales, click here.

It all started in 2014. We’d just made and released our album Kill the Beast, and to anyone who was listening (which wasn’t many people) we were selling that album. Inwardly though, we were already groping towards the album number 3. Our first album had been cobbled together DIY style. Our second album, Kill The Beast, was made in a ‘big name’ studio, and although Gav Monaghan (Editors, The Twang) did a great job, it pointed us in the direction of the album we wanted to make next. Which was something more fucked up.

So we set off on a five week tour of Europe. The phrase ‘five week tour of Europe’ sounds impressive,  but it was a crowning children’s crusade in a surprisingly long litany of daft adventures. We’d managed to book around 12 gigs for that entire period, and though we had sporadic lodgings sorted we were effectively condemning ourselves to periods of pointless homelessness.

The first show was in Paris where we narrowly avoided a fight with some children on the way in, and played in a tiny, packed basement to an audience who seemed to take me very seriously, observing us as if they were at the theatre. After playing in Orlean we had a 14 hour van journey to the French Mediterranean to play in a steak bar by the sea. We stayed a few nights, met a guy who could balance a bike on his face, bought cannabis off a police officer and dreamed of bank heists. From there we went on to a squatted football club near Milan, and then eastwards across Italy. We spent a sweaty night in the van near lake Garda drinking cheap wine, a night so bad I had to remind myself being in the Sexy Weirdos isn’t compulsory. This was followed by a weekend of spontaneous gigs in beautiful Verona, then onto Trieste, stopping in Slovenia and Austria, before landing in our temporary home of Josefov.OPINION: The making of European English / Sarah Tohin

Josefov is an Austria Hungarian fortress town near the border of Poland in the north of the Czech Republic. It has over forty kilometers of tunnels beneath its surface, and a wall around the outside so thick that goats and sheep live on top of it. It’s under populated, inhabited only by a small group of Romani gypsies and a few artists – one of which is a classical sculptor that rides his horse bare back around the town every day. All of this, as well as the preceding tour, meant that the Sexy Weirdos were feeling pretty God damn epic when we set up our equipment and played whatever was going through our stupid heads.

I’ve got to admit it; at first it annoyed the hell out of me. It felt like everyone was self indulging rather than composing, and there didn’t seem to be a discernible gap anywhere for vocals. I had no lyrics prepared, and was spooked by having to sing them in front of everyone without obsessing over them in private for months on end first.

However, something was emerging.

So that’s the romantic genesis story behind European English. The middle part of the story involves us slowly improving and adding to the tracks we wrote in that Austro Hungarian fortress town over the next couple of years, in OPINION: The making of European English / Sarah Tohinrehearsal rooms and on stages. Being of limited financial resources and having poor organisational skills has meant that the recording process has been incredibly trying at times. Hell, it took us far too long to even start recording. Multiple deadlines have been missed. We’ve screwed it up; other people have screwed it up too. Tempers have been frayed, and at times, harsh words have been spoken.

However, no blood has been spilled. And the end is in sight. At present, we have mixes being finalised, two potential covers being argued over, and several pieces of video to launch at you in the near future.

We also have a limited edition E.P featuring two entirely new tracks (‘Megahorse’ and ‘Flight Of The Juniper’), backed with remixes and collaborations that have not been given a physical release before. This will only be available at our gig on Saturday 20th May at the Hare and Hounds (Kings Heath). We hope that you join us for that gig, buy a copy of the E.P and support the album when it’s finally released.

I’d like to leave you with the reasons for choosing the title European English.

The album is called European English for three reasons:

A) A reference to the dialect of English spoken between European people using English as a necessary second language.

B) An acknowledgement of the bands’ wider musical influences (see tracks such as ‘Serbian Rumba’ and ‘Sicilian Silian’). The cannon of cool guy bands we’re all supposed to like has been too narrow for too long.

C) A gesture of solidarity with those individuals from mainland Europe who have touched both our individual lives and our existence as a band, which includes our Greek percussion player, our violin player’s half French children, those that helped us stay at the Czech fortress town (Josefov) where we wrote most of the album, alongside many others from many different European countries. There is a good chance that without this support coming from overseas, our band may not exist today.

Our idea of Europe is wide enough to include anyone who comes here and peacefully makes it their home, of whatever persuasion, from wherever they may come.

This album is not a statement about the European Union.

‘Megahorse’ (taken from European English) – Johnny Kowalski & the Sexy Weirdos. To play, click here or on the image below:










Johnny Kowalski & the Sexy Weirdos play at the Hare & Hounds on Sat 20th May. For direct gig info and online ticket sales, click here.

For more on Johnny Kowlaski & the Sexy Weirdos, visit