Doors open at 8pm, with tickets are priced at a friendly £5 (+ booking fee). For more direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here. You must be over 18 years old to ride this ride.
‘Belched out of the Midlands’, one of our favourite quotes this year, Table Scraps are busily terrorising people across the UK with a four date tour – coming to their home turf on Thursday 27th April for the official launch of ‘My Obsession’, their latest single. And now greater in number, with the addition of TJ on bass guitar and vocals, Table Scraps are official 33.333 recurring louder. “Hello… sorry, what? From the Environmental Health. No, no one of that name here… Try the Weatherspoons.”
Released as part of Black Mekon’s 45 Consortium series – a series of six limited 7” vinyl press singles, featuring Black Mekon on one side and a guest artist on t’other – ‘My Obsession’ is ‘a tense and brooding slab of menace anchored around a hypnotic fuzz bass and primal drum groove.’ Sounds like most Monday mornings to me.
What the Black Mekon side of the 7” is, we sadly cannot say. It’s either a closely guarded secret or a digital marketing mishap, but we’ve scoured the public domain (their website, Clash Magazine, Discogs…) and come up with nothing but mystery.
But I guess that’s what Thursday’s all about, and costing a mere five British Pounds Sterling you’re likely to get more bang for your buck than a convoluted scratch card. And some 3D glasses. Win win.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, here’s Table Scrap’s official video to ‘My Obsession’ – produced, as always, by the bionic three piece themselves. Viddy my droogs, what bolshy horrorshow warbles from Birmingham’s ‘most respected (and feared) fuzz merchants:
‘My Obsession’ – Table Scraps
Table Scraps + Black Mekon play at the Hare & Hounds on Thursday 27th April – launching ‘My Obsession’ through the 45 Consortium series of limited releases. For direct gig info and online tickets sales, click here.
In twelve short months Ed Geater has established himself as a firm part of the Birmingham music scene. Overcoming an initial anxiety about performing, his live gigs have become something of an event. With his trademark human beat boxing looped live over beautiful acoustic guitar melodies, and an earnest lyricism that recalls Jeff Buckley and Ben Howard, it’s a beguiling live adventure. On stage Ed Geater exudes a quiet and charming confidence that is hard to resist. He’s like that in person too; warm, honest and open. How did it all start?
“I started beat boxing when I was about twelve,” tells Ed Geater. “A friend got me into Rahzel and I was just blown away it was a human making that noise. Because I’ve got naturally quite good rhythm I could imitate it even though I couldn’t do the sounds. At school it became a house party trick. I always enjoyed doing it and over the years I gradually improved. Eventually I improved the sounds I could do and I discovered that I really liked the percussive side of it. When I was at uni I had the idea of combining that with my guitar playing.”
Ed Geater possessed the talent but found it emotionally tough to perform and struggled with his early gigs. Anxiety would lead to cancelled shows and when he did push himself to get on stage he would feel helpless and begin shaking, struggling to overcome a dry throat and deliver his vocals. It was important to “keep going” though.
Most people that suffer with anxiety don’t get over it by performing on stage? “I would say that it’s the best way that I could’ve done it,” says Geater, “if I’d given in and gone on medication that’s probably a lifelong thing isn’t it? I was close to going on medication for depression but it just never felt right for me to do that. I found another more natural way to get through it. It’s been a personal journey. The whole point of me gigging constantly was to get over my anxiety issues. I had severe anxiety and a history of quite severe depression.”
Are you OK sharing such personal details? “I’m more than happy to share. It’s part of the story. I feel like some musicians find their talent and confidence from a very early age and they just go for it, for me that wasn’t the case. It was very very difficult for me to put myself out there; I had to really really try over a number of years to get over the many hurdles.”
Ed Geater’s friend and now manager, Tom Bradshaw-Smith, could see the improvement in his song writing, vocals and live performances at the tail end of 2015. A plan was drawn up to increase exposure and make his unique sound available to a wider audience. As plans go it was pretty successful, two EPs, a string of gigs – including a sell out at Mama Roux’s, and hearing his song ‘Symmetry’ played to a capacity crowd at Villa Park. Not a bad year’s work. And as the old adage goes, success breeds confidence.
This confidence is apparent in the leap from the first, almost stark, Barriers EP to the slicker and more adventurous Unseen EP alongside the radio friendly pop of his single ‘Symmetry’. “I think that’s just me as a producer improving,” explains Ed Geater. “I love electronic producers and that influences me more than singer songwriters, like Bonobo and Four Tet, all these guys who do creative slightly more out there alternative electronic music with an ambient mellifluous sound to it, that’s the sound I try to create with my guitar and my beat boxing. When I produce I produce with that whole thing in mind.”
And what of creative ‘process’, how does an Ed Geater song get born? “I don’t really have a set structure to writing. Sometimes I will have a riff idea, start to write a melody over it and then write some lyrics to it. I find lyrics come quite spontaneously, I just write down my thoughts. It’s been a therapy, a lot of my songs, my thought patterns, whatever’s going on in here (points to head) I get down and try and make sense of it.”
Using gestalt therapy and meditation helped Ed Geater overcome his anxiety; there is an acknowledgement that anyone can judge him these days and, most pertinently, that’s OK. “Anything anyone thinks about me has got everything to do with them and nothing to do with me,” tells Geater. “It’s their lens and their ego created by everything they have been through and there’s nothing I can do about that so I can’t judge them for it either.” It’s a self assuredness that is palpable in his live shows; there is a friendly swagger about an Ed Geater performance, a charming inclusivity that was memorable during his sell out show at Mama Roux’s in October 2016. “It was like a ride,” remembers Geater, “and when it finished it didn’t feel like I’d done it. The creativity was flowing through me. It’s a high that I love and whenever I play I get it.”
Ed Geater declares a love of variety and a desire to not be “tied down by a single genre”. In the 2017 pipeline is a collaboration with local ‘emcee with a message’ Lady Sanity, plus the small matter of a national tour with a headline show at the Hare and Hounds on 24th March. These are good times for Ed Geater and good times for the Birmingham music scene he talks about with an infectious passion and enthusiasm.
“I’m really excited to get the single with Lady Sanity out in the summer,” tells Ed Geater, running through his roll call of local luminaries. “Also Call Me Unique, I’ve just produced her EP which will be released later this year. Pleasure House are great guys and a great band, Alex Rainsford is a really great singer songwriter, the rapper Vital is really hard working. Bear, DEE Ajayi and Amy Louise Ellis who are playing with me at the Hare and Hounds. Hannah Brown is a great girl with a lovely voice. My other recommendations are Sam Jackson, Dame, Cinema, Youth Man, Elektrik and Namiwa Jazz.” Ed Geater texted following the interview with more Birmingham musical shout outs; his commitment to the local scene is clear.
But as celebratory and positive as his plans are, Ed Geater’s ‘story’ possesses a difficult truth for a lot of performers – the musical talent was there, but the ability to express it was hampered by self doubt, anxiety and depression. But it also shows that all ‘hurdles’ can be overcome.
“There is no time limit on chasing your dreams,” concludes Ed Geater. “I hope something about my story will resonate with people and create awareness of mental health issues.”
‘Symmetry’ / Ed Geater
Ed Geater begins his national UK tour on Thursday 9th March, with a headline show at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) on 24th March – with support from Bear + Dee Ajayi + Amy Louise Ellis, as presented by Birmingham Promoters. For direct gig info and online ticket sales, click here.
Playing gigs from Brighton to Glasgow, Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation have been in the UK since the end of Feb – including a return to Liverpool, where the band were amongst the top bill for the city’s International Festival of Psychedelia last year. Not really relative to their Birmingham gig but citing this booking should divert the need for a load of garrulous comparisons. Alright, you can have one – Mazzy Star meets Swervedriver.
Relatively fresh faced Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation released their first LP, Horse Dance, in 2015 though the Stockholm based Gone Beyond Records, and Rocket Records – the UK based label home of Goat, Teeth of the Sea and Gnoomes. A brooding and driven eight track landscape, with subverted rock powering some ethereal yet commanding vocals, this uncompromising album was both a darker side step from their previous EPs and something to notice. A bit like Mazzy Star meets Swerve… ibid, your honour.
Self described as marking ‘out a territory in which beguiling repetition could sashay with sweet pop suss, melodic flourishes with experimental intensity,’ (a line I wish I had written) Horse Dance gained Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation a solid left of centre fan base and respectable industry interest. Roskilde followed, as did a string of dates across the UK supporting label mates, Goat.
Now back on the road with a new album, Mirage, Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation’s sophomore LP is similar but a step up from their visceral debut – bringing the same twisted metal intensity and spirit guide vocals, but with a touch more digital than analogue. So Mazzy Star meets Swervedriver, remixed by Underworld. Or to once again cherry pick from the band’s own biog: ‘…the seductive splendour of these ten songs make manifest a parallel world of disorientation and deliverance in which one would be a fool not to want to languish adrift.’ Lovely.
But one sense (or song) is seldom enough, so have a stop, look, listen to this double album track sandwich from Mirage.
‘In Madrid / Rainbow Lollipop’ / Josefin Öhrn + The Liberation
Josefin Öhrn + The Liberationperform at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) on Tuesday 7th March, as presented This Is Tmrw. For direct gig info and online tickets sales, click here.
Doors open at 7.30pm, tickets are £10 adv (plus booking fee). For direct gig info, including venue details and online ticket sales, click here.
Dutch Uncles formed in the Greater Manchester suburb of Marple in 2008, releasing their first eponymous album in 2009. A prodigious work rate has ensured a new album every two years, although Big Balloon is the first album not to feature founding member and guitarist Daniel Spedding who left the band in February 2015, shortly after O Shudder. Dutch Uncles have gigged without Spedding over the past two years, using a touring guitarist instead.
Alongside fellow Mancunians, Everything Everything (both grouped under the ‘Intelligent Manchester Scene’ banner), Dutch Uncles were amongst a clutch of bands that emerged, or at least started to find popularity, in the late noughties, favouring the use of unusual time signatures often combined with androgynous/falsetto vocals.
They have been influenced by the likes of minimalist composer Steve Reich (who turns out to be a fan of the band), Berlin era Bowie, 80s synth pop acts such as Japan, as well as the spikey, angular guitar sounds of post punk. Labelled as Art Rock, New Prog and the quite frankly off-putting Math Rock, Dutch Uncles play a twitchy, juddering, stop-start, idiosyncratic style of guitar/synth music that’s not without an element of funk underpinning it all.
Featured as one of the Guardian’s New Bands of the Day (No.691) in 2014, Dutch Uncles have racked up at least a dozen radio sessions in their nine year history. They are one of the main acts at this year’s BBC 6 Music Festival at the end of March, following the release of their latest single, ‘Oh Yeah!’, in February this year.
‘Oh Yeah!’ – Dutch Uncles
Dutch Uncles performs at the Hare & Hounds on Monday 6th March, as presented This Is Tmrw. For direct gig info and online tickets sales, click here.
I shouldn’t be here. I should be at home, dressing gown clad, half cut and punching nostalgic travel plans into Skyscanner. But I’m not. A pantomime of missteps has brought me to the second room at the Hare and Hounds; fully dressed and upright I’m watching Hidden Charms, a band I didn’t know until chance and their PR company (Sonic, a more reliable source) threw me into this review. And so it begins.
The first two bands tonight have been superb: The Lizards, with their Faustian approach to distorted psych/prog rock, and The Bay Rays – a stadium seducing blues rock three piece. It’s competitive. Rob and I joke about having to follow this kind of support. I don’t know much about tonight’s headline band but the stakes have been raised at each sound check and they’d better have big enough feet. Hidden Charms saunter into view, croaky, crumpled and confident; just like a rock band. A harmonica sounds, a hand goes up. We are called to the front of the stage. We are Act III. We are on.
A brooding screech cuts through a driving rhythm guitar; the beats drum, a whammy pedal breaks, Americana pours through the room like ill tempered bourbon. I am standing in the cracked mirror ball lights of an old motel bar. Then Bez in a cowboy hat (apparently ‘found on a beach in New Zealand’) drags us further into the stage. We shuffle through imagined broken glass and comply.
‘Over Now’ brings some serious shoulder drop blues; Addidas and broken Converse in a fist fight with keys and guitar. It’s Thursday night in a tired second city, but a complicit front row continues to accept this increasing and almost violent invitation – before ‘Long Way Down’ presses us further into our focal point and foe. John Lennon with balls. There’s no escape; it takes less than ten minutes and Hidden Charms’ front man is climbing into the crowd.
I was promised the London four piece would be ‘well worth seeing, you’re in for a good night’… but what does that ever mean. There is no truth, right? But the energy in this small live room is immediate and palpable – the music, ferocious and infectious. If chairs start getting thrown I don’t think anyone will care, or notice. As long as sound stays on and the bar open.
Usually I step through a set list, number punching the pertinent plot points and looking for chances to sound funny, but not now. After a small stationary skirmish I am reminded… I am here. So I put the pen down and dance. Anyway, you could pick five words (on, driving, cowboy, blues, rock) to surmise this review but in essence you only need four: go see Hidden Charms. You can get the rest from YouTube, Spotify or (better still) iTunes.
I did write the following (as I took a five minute double whiskey break at the back of the room) so I guess I should give them to you. Unedited, picked from the drunk spider scrawls in my now slightly crumpled notebook:
‘Punching it up between foot stamp blues anthem 101, seduce the front row, all round awesomeness – the whole room is, or should, or wants, to be having as much fun as possible. Then at some point, I’m not sure when, the front of the stage moves into the front of the crowd and we’re buying rounds of Tequila.’
Tonight has been a barrage of blues, psychedelic and prog rock – delivered by a live triptych of almost absurd quality. Raw and unexpected. You don’t see this too often. So go and watch all of these bands: The Lizards, The Bay Rays, Hidden Charms.
And by the end of a night I hadn’t planned for, I was picking my way off a fan fervent stage – full of pedals, alcohol stains and stories for the next day. Which reminds me of two more words: happy accidents.
Hidden Charms @ Hare & Hounds 16.02.17 / Rob Hadley