BREVIEW: John J Presley + Table Scraps, The Hungry Ghosts @ Hare & Hounds 14.09.16

John J Presley @ Hare & Hounds 14.09.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham Review

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Words by Jay Dyer / Pic by Rob Hadley (Indie Images)

Wednesdays are not exactly prime nights for live music. Venues generally struggle to attract punters to their doors, punters whom have most likely hit the hump of the working week and long for the weekend. Surprisingly, however, The Hungry Ghosts - supporting John J Presley @ Hare & Hounds 14.09.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham Reviewas I arrive at the sun drenched Hare & Hounds I’m happy to see many people out to delve into some mid-week indulgence.

Entertainment for this evening comes in three forms: John J. Presley, Table Scraps and The Hungry Ghosts – which, from an initial perspective, looks like a bit of a mismatch. I head back up the winding stairs and into the Hare‘s smaller Venue 2. The room has been cut in half by a looming black curtain, I guess in order to condense the crowd, but alas we all huddle at the back – leaving enough space for a decent sized family car between ourselves and the stage.

The Hungry Ghosts - supporting John J Presley @ Hare & Hounds 14.09.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham ReviewThe Hungry Ghosts take to the stage in their now customary fashion, seemingly appearing out of thin air. The band emerge without much fanfare, except front man Joe Joseph who looks like he got off his ship in Whitby and travelled down to Birmingham via a cowboy convention.

As the set commences, their impact become apparent. The marriage of the booming rhythm section and the screaming guitars is something to behold. It seems The Hungry Ghosts have spent a lot of time in the rehearsal room since the last time I saw them, ensuring they dial in their sound precisely on the brink of annihilation. The quiet to loud dynamics are wonderfully maintained with each movement proving both intricate and deadly. Then there is the swagger. During parts of the set they are touching on Nick Cave levels of swagTable Scraps - supporting John J Presley @ Hare & Hounds 14.09.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham Reviewger. ‘Super King King’ is a perfect example, with the strutting riff echoing around the room.

As Joe Joseph peruses the stage and beyond, the bass line creates a head bobbing, lip turning, effortlessly sexy beat. The Hungry Ghosts describe their sound as ‘slaughterhouse blues’. I agree. Just when you think you’re safe, you are riding the waves of chaos into impending doom. I love it. I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Next up on stage tonight are Table Scraps. The three piece bring a fast paced brand of punk rock which has understandably rewarded them with much respect and admiration within the Birmingham ‘scene’.

Table Scraps - supporting John J Presley @ Hare & Hounds 14.09.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham ReviewThey started out life as a two-piece, but have since added a bass player which makes all the difference. Table Scraps’ sound is light and thick in all the right places and they really know how to write a catchy hook. Whether it is the gloomy, sludge filled ‘Bad Feeling’, or the thumping ‘Motorcycle’, the band know how to knock you about and leave you begging for more.

Guitarist, Scott Abbott, is seriously good; combining complex guitar lines with singing duties is no easy feat, yet he pulls it off with enough instinct to make it seem effortless. The crowd respond with a bit more energy than they did with The Hungry Ghosts, moving into the no-man’s land in front of the stage and having a few knocks about.

Table Scraps’ sound is forged through the intense driving bass lines and pounding drums battling the high end guitar lines and the accompanying gruff vocals. It takes you on a journey through the best parts of punk rock and reassures you that it’s just a heap of fun.John J Presley @ Hare & Hounds 14.09.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham Review

The room reaches its capacity for this evening and the headline act appears on stage to a cheer from the crowd; enter John J. Presley, flanked by his backing musicians. Their focus, the heavy musical influences of the southern states of the U.S. and the forming of blues escapism; tonight’s set is dripping in conventional blues guitar styles and played with such a tender touch that it must be admired.

However, as the performance goes on things start to grind on me; songs begin to merge, sounding identical to the one preceding it. There is very little change or movement in the music, which ultimately leads to myself and some of the other crowd members becoming restless.

John J Presley @ Hare & Hounds 14.09.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham ReviewAnd whilst I am a complete advocate for poetic versatility making a prominent return to song lyrics, John J. Presley is going in the wrong direction. His lyrics feel overly conceited, so much so that I can mouth the next line with such ease it’s unbelievable.

I enjoy listening to blues, and understand it has the problem of being restrictive upon experimentation. But unfortunately I find tonight’s set derivative of everything I have heard before; it is not breaking any ground, at all, seeming to settle and stagnate as the set wears on.

Back on the positives though, I do admire John J. Presley voice – it’s wonderfully thick and raspy, which is great for his own style. Also the music is technically played, precisely, and with a level of ability few people possess. I am just saddened to find myself sat at the back of the venue by the end of the set.

For more on John J Presley, visit www.johnjpresley.com

For more on Table Scraps, visit www.facebook.com/tablescrapshq

For more on The Hungry Ghosts, visit www.facebook.com/the.hungry.ghosts

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For more from the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath), visit www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.uk

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THE GALLERY: Moseley Folk Festival @ Moseley Park 02-04.09

Moseley Folk Festival 2016 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham Review

For the full Flickr of pics, click here

Pics by Rob Hadley (Indie Images)

Moseley Folk Festival enjoyed its eleventh time round the sun this year, with another cascade of troubadours ushering in autumn at Moseley Park.

Billy Bragg was welcomed back to the fold, headlining the Friday night stage alongside The Levellers. The Coral and Songhoy Blues took centre stage on Saturday – with The Proclaimers playing their last UK gig of the year to close the show on Sunday. Rumour has it Benjamin Francis Leftwich even spent his birthday in Birmingham, but this could be the cough syrup talking.

Outside the high echelons of festival billing, the first weekend in September saw a range of international and UK based acts coming to Moseley – from local luminaries such as Dan Whitehouse and Chris Cleverley, to pan-Atlantic performances from Sam BeamJesca Hoop, Laura Gibson and Mothers.

All in all, a damn fine fettle of folk to round off another festival season. Rob Hadley was on weekend’s the front line for Birmingham Review – happy snapping an extended picture spread to go into THE GALLERY.

Check out some sample shots from each day below. Click here (or on the link above) to see the full flickr of pics.

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Luke Concannon & Jimmy Davis @ Moseley Folk Festival ’16 / 02.09

Luke Concannon @ Moseley Folk Festival 2016 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)  © Birmingham Review

For more on Luke Concannon, visit www.lukeconcannon.com

For more on Jimmy Davis, visit www.jimmydavisdavis.com

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Sam Lee & Friends @ Moseley Folk Festival ’16 / 02.09

Sam Lee & Friends @ Moseley Folk Festival 2016 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)  © Birmingham Review

For more on Sam Lee, visit www.samleesong.co.uk

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The Levellers @ Moseley Folk Festival ’16 / 02.09

The Levellers @ Moseley Folk Festival 2016 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)  © Birmingham Review

For more on The Levellers, visit www.levellers.co.uk

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Billy Bragg @ Moseley Folk Festival ’16 / 02.09

Billy Bragg Moseley Folk Festival 2016 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)  © Birmingham Review

For more on Billy Bragg, visit www.shinealight-joehenry.billybragg.co.uk

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Barmer Boys @ Moseley Folk Festival ’16 / 03.09

Barmer Boys @ Moseley Folk Festival 2016 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)  © Birmingham Review

For more Barmer Boys, visit www.facebook.com/BarmerBoys

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C Duncan @ Moseley Folk Festival ’16 / 03.09

C Duncan @ Moseley Folk Festival 2016 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)  © Birmingham Review

For more C Duncan, visit www.musicglue.com/cduncan

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The Coral @ Moseley Folk Festival ’16 / 03.09

The Coral Moseley Folk Festival 2016 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)  © Birmingham Review

For more on The Coral, visit www.thecoral.co.uk

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Songhoy Blues @ Moseley Folk Festival ’16 / 03.09

Songhoy Blues Moseley Folk Festival 2016 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)  © Birmingham Review

For more on Songhoy Blues, visit www.songhoy-blues.com

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Benjamin Francis Leftwich @ Moseley Folk Festival ’16 / 04.09

Benjamin Francis Leftwich @ Moseley Folk Festival 2016 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham Review

For more on Benjamin Francis Leftwich, visit www.benjaminfrancisleftwich.com

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Rhino & the Ranters @ Moseley Folk Festival ’16 / 04.09

Rhino Ranters Moseley Folk Festival 2016 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham Review

For more on Rhino & the Ranters, visit www.rhinoandtheranters.com

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Jesca Hoop @ Moseley Folk Festival ’16 / 04.09

Jesca Hoop Moseley Folk Festival 2016 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham Review

For more on Jesca Hoop, visit www.jescahoop.com

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The Proclaimers @ Moseley Folk Festival ’16 / 04.09

The Proclaimers Moseley Folk Festival 2016 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham Review

For more on The Proclaimers, visit www.proclaimers.co.uk

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Moseley Folk Festival will be back on the city’s suburban event’s calendar, with next year’s festival coming to Moseley Park 1st – 3rd September 2017. For more Moseley Folk Festival, visit www.moseleyfolk.co.uk

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BREVIEW: The Garden + The Parrots @ Hare & Hounds, 28.08

The Garden @ Hare & Hounds 28.08.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham Review

Words by Jay Dyer / Pics by Rob Hadley (Indie Images)

For the full Flickr of pics, click here

It’s Bank Holiday Sunday and it seems nature has given us Brits one final fleeting glimpse of what summer should be. It’s hot, it’s muggy and a wave of BBQ smoke lingers on the air.The Mothers Earth Experiment supporting The Garden + The Parrots @ Hare & Hounds 28.08.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham Review

However the promise of a darkened room filled with sweaty people and loud music is too good to miss. Word reaches me that two of the best local promoters, This is Tmrw and Killer Wave, have teamed up to bring some exciting local and international underground bands to the Hare & Hounds in Kings Heath.

The venue’s second, smaller room is host for this evening; its floor is already nice and sticky as I take a quick trip to the bar. The first band up on stage is The Mothers Earth Experiment, a six-piece ensemble who answer the question ‘’what’s up with all these flared jeans?’’.

The Mothers Earth Experiment arrange themselves on stage (which isn’t easy for a six-piece) and begin their set. The word ‘experiment’ within their name is aptly chosen; the band fuses together such a variety of genres that it is both old and fresh simultaneously. A luscious blend of Psychedelia, Jazz and Blues that takes you on a journey through the best parts of the 60’s and 70’s; in parts, they sound like Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd, in others the writing process behind The Beatles Revolver.

The Terror Watts - supporting The Garden + The Parrots @ Hare & Hounds 28.08.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham ReviewEach segment is wonderfully brought together – from the dual percussion, to the slightly overdriven guitars to the Ray Manzarek-esque organ. You get the feeling while watching The Mothers Earth Experiment that they must have so much fun in the rehearsal studio, just their effortless ability to be in complete sync is something to be admired. Arguably some of their instrumental songs go on a bit too long, but overall the set is a good dreamscape to begin the night – even if the room is a little empty this early on.

It appears the Hare & Hounds have their AC on the ‘ARCTIC’ setting too; to warm up I take a brief look outside to see more people have arrived, which is good news. Terror Watts are up next, a band that I’ve been keeping an ear on for some time; the three-piece are highly praised around Birmingham and this will be the third time I have seen them live.

Terror Watts play a form of high paced punk rock with a few more added pop hooks than most similar acts. They seem to have nailed the three-chord-song and maintain the pop melody throughout, which is quite intriguing. The rhythm section is pretty damn brutal and the bass is full of energy, which really compliments the high end distorted guitar and the melodic vocals. The room is much fuller by this point, something that reflects in the Terror Watts’ performance – one which is all about energy.Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam - supporting The Garden + The Parrots @ Hare & Hounds 28.08.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham Review

Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam are up next, as another influx of people come up the narrow winding stairs into the still unnaturally cold Room 2. Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam are another band I have heard quite a lot about, however I’ve not yet had the chance to see them live. Like their predecessors, Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam focus upon delivering a fast paced, energetic set with lots of movement both physically and sonically.

They utilise dual vocals extremely well and the two very different tones intertwine wonderfully. The use of over driven, octave effects on the guitar is also worked perfectly. Many bands use this technique to varying success, but the sounds produced tonight are refined and blend well with the raw power of the rhythm section. Although it’s hard to put a finger on the style Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam are making; in some parts I hear Palma Violets, in others I hear some Blink 182 (I apologise).

Table Scraps - supporting The Garden + The Parrots @ Hare & Hounds 28.08.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham ReviewTable Scraps take to the stage next; the three piece are a punky, gritty mass of noise which comforts my ears. The pace of this band is the fastest tonight, with the tempo seeming to ever rise alongside the thunderous noise. The drums are the heartbeat; they pound and reverberate around the room with much focus upon the toms.

The tortured vocals are exactly what you would wish for with this style of music, cutting through the low end noise and ringing out catchy melodies for the duration of the set. The choruses are great for the crowd to scream back at the band, and there’s a ritualistic chant behind almost every song.

Table Scraps have elements of Ty Segall running through their music (albeit a far sludgier version) with simple songs played in a way you do not hear very often. This band are great for getting the heart race and adrenaline running, which is shown when the first crowd surfers of the evening start occurring in the middle of the room. And thankfully Table Scraps seem to have made the room a little bit hotter to counteract that air conditioner.

The penultimate slot goes to Madrid 3-piece, The Parrots. And I will get the following comparison out of the way, because the band (or their fans) are most likely bored of hearing it… and with my limited knowledge of Madrid’s music scene… The Parrots sound very similar, in terms of style, to Hinds. Absolutely no bad thing, but rather a look into what the Spanish are up to. But I love it, I really do. The harmonic distorted vocals, the jangling guitar lines, the galloping bass and the swinging drums; it all just fits so, so wellThe Parrots @ Hare & Hounds 28.08.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham Review.

The Parrots also have elements of psyche rock bands such as The Allah-La’s, and their overall sound is just overwhelmingly feel good. Yes, it is simple, but that’s the joy because they make it sound so fun. It’s not over laden with noise and over-experimented on the effects; it is honest and completely to the point, which is right up my street.

The Parrots’ front man, Diego García, is eye catching – running about the stage, ending up on his back whilst screeching out a guitar line. This is the craziest I have seen the Hare & Hounds‘ crowd tonight and it’s a great surprise to discover a band I really, really, want to see again.

But this is it. I have overheard, at various points this evening, how much people are looking forward to tonight’s second headliner The Garden. Somehow I’ve not listened to this band before either, but once again I am looking forward to see what all the fuss is about.

The Garden @ Hare & Hounds 28.08.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images) © Birmingham ReviewAs I stand right next to the stage right speaker, I am shocked to see Trent Reznor (straight from the ‘March of the Pigs’ video set) and a young Dave Gahan wearing French regency makeup walk onto stage. One sits at the drums and the other picks up the bass, as they tear into a set which both confuses me and intrigues me equally.

The Garden are, almost definitely, the most polarising band I have ever witnessed live. I would understand that a lot of people would absolutely hate them, but I am not one of them (…I think). The Garden seem to cross genres nearly every second – starting with cataclysmic death metal style bass lines, then intertwining jazz, electro, new wave and beyond. It is madness, absolute pure unadulterated madness; you have to be completely open-minded and expect nothing.

Inexplicably, midway through a song, The Garden ‘twins’ (brothers Wyatt and Fletcher Shears) both drop instruments and embark what I can only deem as electro/dubstep karaoke which the crowd absolutely loves. If I were to attempt to define the sound I would suggest beginning with Devo, then imagining that Devo took some really awful acid and spawned some brutal dark Devo baby. Then you’d be close.

But there has been a lot on stage tonight, as The Garden end our Bank Holiday mayhem with simply a really strange set. One which has an incredible reaction from the crowd surfers, but something I was not expecting to witness on a Sunday.

For more on The Garden, visit http://www.thegardenvadavada.com/

For more from The Parrots, visit www.facebook.com/theparrots1

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For more from Killer Wave, visit www.facebook.com/kllrwv

For More from This Is Tmrw, visit www.thisistmrw.co.uk

For more from the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath), visit www.hareandhoundskingsheath.co.ukFollow-Birmingham-Review-on-300x26Facebook - f square, rounded - with colour - 5cm highTwitter - t, square, rounded, with colour, 5cm high

HELEN’S PICKS: Moseley Folk Festival @ Moseley Park 04-06.09

Moseley Folk Festival '15 / By Rob Hadley

Words by Helen Knott / Lead pic by Rob Hadley – Artist pics courtesy of Moseley Folk

On first glance I wasn’t particularly excited by this year’s Moseley Folk Festival line-up. But how wrong I was.

Admittedly the headliners probably aren’t as captivating as last year (Spiritualised and The Monkees vs. The Proclaimers and The Coral), but scratch a little below the surface and you’ll find a real strength in depth in this year’s festival, which includes some of music’s most intriguing new artists alongside a selection of cherished favourites.

Here are a few of my picks from the Moseley Folk Festival‘s 2016 weekend line up:

 

MothersMothers

Mothers began as the solo project of Georgia-based visual artist Kristine Leschper, who wrote the majority of the songs for debut album When You Walk A Long Distance You Are Tired while finishing art school. Having recruited multi-instrumentalist Matthew Anderegg, guitarist Drew Kirby and bassist Patrick Morales, the band recorded their debut after playing together for just a month.

Leschper lists her influences as solo artists Sufjan Stevens and Joanna Newsom, as well as experimental music, math rock, and noise artists, Lighting Bolt, Hella and Don Caballero. It’s a raw, unconventional, moving album and Mothers will be well worth a look when they take to the stage on Friday.

For more on Mothers, visit www.mothersathens.bandcamp.com

 

Sam Lee & FriendsSam Lee & Friends

Sam Lee’s first career was as a ‘wilderness survival expert’. I guess folk isn’t a million miles away from the world of survival – both spheres are focused on traditional ways of life. Lee quickly found success in the music world, with his critically acclaimed debut album, Ground of its Own shortlisted for the 2012 Mercury Music Award, establishing him as one of the UK’s foremost folk stars.

Lee is most well-known as a specialist in the inventive reworking of the music of the Romany Gypsy and Irish traveller communities. He’s lauded as a one-off, an innovator. Though, with one of his songs providing the soundtrack to the trailer of the new Guy Ritchie film King Arthur, he could soon be reaching a much more mainstream audience. He will perform at Moseley Folk Festival with his regular band, Sam Lee & Friends.

For more on Sam Lee, visit www.samleesong.co.uk 

 

Songhoy BluesBilly Bragg

“Since the Brexit result, our political environment has shattered.”Billy Bragg

It’s been a rocky time for politics in the past few months and who better to guide us through these troubled waters than Billy Bragg, the country’s most well-known political singer. He plays Moseley Folk Festival ahead of the release of latest album Shine a Light: Field Recordings from the Great American Railroad, a collaboration with guitarist Joe Henry that explores a lost American tradition. Expect a rousing Friday night set of folk and protest songs spanning Billy Bragg‘s 30-year career.

For more on Billy Bragg, visit www.shinealight-joehenry.billybragg.co.uk

 

Songhoy BluesSonghoy Blues

When Islamic extremists banned music in his hometown in Mali, Garba Touré grabbed his bag and his guitar, headed to the capital and formed Songhoy Blues. The band’s energetic live performances caught the eye of Damon Albarn, with one of their songs being included on a compilation released by his label African Express. Gigs in the UK and a record deal with Transgressive Records quickly followed and their debut album Music in Exile, produced by the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Nick Zinner, was released in February 2015.

The band has gone from strength to strength ever since, performing in festivals and shows all over Europe, including their very own sold out date at the Roundhouse earlier this year. The name says it all really – traditional West African music mixed with Jimi Hendrix and Beatles style blues, with a little bit of hip hop and R&B thrown in.

For more on Songhoy Blues, visit www.songhoy-blues.com

 

Benjamin Francis Leftwich

York singer-songwriter Benjamin Francis Leftwich lost the person he describes as his “number one source of inspiration” – his dad – to cancer in the intervening five years between his debut and new album After the Rain. As our interview with Leftwich from earlier this year shows, the impact of the death of his father is felt throughout the new album – due for release on 19 August, on Dirty Hit Records. Read our full interview with Benjamin Francis Leftwich from May this year.

Still, if ‘Tilikum’, its moving first single, is anything to go by, Leftwich has channeled his grief into a melancholic but optimistic piece of work. He will be hoping that the album garners the same success as debut Last Smoke Before the Snowstorm, described by The Fly as “majestic” and selling over 100,000 copies worldwide.

For more on Benjamin Francis Leftwich, visit www.benjaminfrancisleftwich.com

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Moseley Folk Festival takes place on 2nd, 3rd & 4th September in Moseley Park. For more on Moseley Folk Festival, including online tickets sakes, visit www.moseleyfolk.co.uk

Or check out Moseley Folk Festival’s social media on Facebook or Twitter

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