BPREVIEW: She Makes War @ Sunflower Lounge 22.11.16

She Makes War @ Sunflower Lounge 22.11.16




Words by Ed King

On Tuesday 22nd November, She Makes War (aka Laura Kidd) comes to Birmingham – presenting ‘An Evening With…’ ate Sunflower Lounge. She Makes War will be headlining the night with a full band set, alongside support slots from Luckless and Laura Kidd as a solo performer.birm_prev-logo-main-lr

Doors open at 7:30pm with an 11pm curfew. Tickets are priced at £8 (advance) – as presented by My Big Sister. For direct gig info and online ticket sales, click here.

Last time Birmingham Review saw She Make War was as support for Carina Round at the Hare & Hounds in June, bringing a sense of joy to an otherwise depressingly flat evening. Sorry Carina, we f*ing love you but…

She Makes War braved out a broken leg that night to bring us an awesome solo show and endearingly endearing on stage banter (remember Ms Kidd has penned and performed an hour long love lament at the Edinburgh Fringe, the subtly titled one woman show Shit Girlfriend).

We’d missed her previous gig at Ort in May, but the ball of excitement about She Makes War’s third studio album – Direction of Travel (out on The state51 Conspiracy) – had been bouncing around our editorial HQ since April. Finally getting to see some of it on stage was a huge Brucey Bonus.

direction-of-travelNow the ‘queen of gloom pop’ is back in Birmingham for ‘An Evening with She Makes War’ at The Sunflower Lounge on Tues 22nd November. And this time she’s brought her band, alongside another one woman music machine – Luckless. We are most excited.

Meanwhile back at the ranch… She Makes War released her third studio album, Direction of Travel, in April this year – the bio of which reads like a litany of my early indie rock ideals. Always good to see Tanya Donelly’s name on an album. But the whole of Direction of Travel is a pretty special endevour; a bold and beautifully vulnerable affair, shifting from the tougher edges to the softer centre of this absurdly versatile artist. The kind of game changer you want to see in the The Sunflower Lounge too.

We’re kinda hooked for now, with songs to both challenge and comfort across the 12 track LP. Loads to choose from, but see what you make of this pretty little love dissection below. ‘What’s coming for me…’

‘Cold Shoulder’ / She Makes War

‘An Evening with She Make War’ comes The Sunflower Lounge on Tues 22nd November – presenting both solo and full band sets from She Makes War, alongside further support from Luckless. For direct gig info and online tickets sales, click here.


For more on She Makes War, visit www.shemakeswar.com

For more on Luckless, visit www.luckless.co.nz

For more from The Sunflower Lounge, visit www.thesunflowerlounge.com


BREVIEW: The Hungry Ghosts @ The Sunflower Lounge 06.07.16

The Hungry Ghosts @ The Sunflower Lounge 06.07.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)Words by Ed King / Pics by Rob Hadley (Indie Images)

For the full Flickr of pics, click here

I have a problem with ‘thank you’.

When I write something – a review, a feature or an opinion piece, it’s autonomous. To thank me for it implies I did something supportive, or helpful, or (god forbid) kind. I didn’t. I don’t. Writing is what I do. I often wish is wasn’t. And should you find yourself the subject of my (often acerbic) pen you’ve done something to deserve it; however the end critique turns out, you’ve earned your words.The Hungry Ghosts @ The Sunflower Lounge 06.07.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)

On Monday I reviewed The Hungry Ghosts’ debut EP, Blood Red Songs. Surmised in ten words or less: Ferocious. Superb. Dark. Ball grabbing. One track too short. I received a number of ‘thanks you’s.

But I like the band; they swagger, they strut, they could cut you with razors, and their Redditch born black magic southern swamp blues is perfectly dangerous.

The Hungry Ghosts are (and I’m not the only one to say this) “a fu*king rock band”, and if Blood Red Songs is anything to go by they’ll continue to be until we all choke on stories of “when I first saw them…” Its only flaw was the track listing – the four song debut leaving you with a psychedelic lullaby instead of a kick to the groin. Strike, dear mistress.

Now it’s Wednesday and I’m at The Sunflower Lounge, to see said Ghosts launch said EP in front of a strong home grown crowd. The room is full, the stairs are full, there are several other bands in the audience, and I’ve already upset someone by helping her not to knock over my cider.

The Hungry Ghosts @ The Sunflower Lounge 06.07.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)It’s cramped and furtive; the two support slots dutifully filled by Apathy and The Terror Watts – taking us from the Metallicaesque shoegaze of the former, to the pop fueled DIY of the later. And if you see either band on a bill it would be worth looking further.

The Sunflower Lounge is always dark, but tonight extra midnight red bathes the small stage as The Hungry Ghosts take root. Scrubbed, oiled and polished, with new drummer Mike Conroy in tow, the four piece start with the cheeky bass riff of ‘Beetle Boots’ – dancing through the room like Scooby Doo with a switchblade.

Joe Joseph leans in and looks up over his mic stand, all dark curls and menace; rumbling vocals of dangerous tales I can’t quite distinguish. A low drawl jumps to a frayed scream, whilst Jodie Lawrence and Billy Ollis flank him with self assured pouts and head thrusts. Flashes of teeth, red and silver jump off stage; it’s an entrance Jack Nicholson would be proud of. The Hungry Ghosts @ The Sunflower Lounge 06.07.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)

Straight into ‘Father Snake Moan’, with the metaphor chorus I have yet to fully unpick, Joe Joseph commands us all forward – filling the invisible void so many small venues create. Rolling drums and appropriate feedback spill into the now tighter crowd, before Joseph tails it into the audience for what will not be the only time tonight.

The molasses of ‘Love Song’ follows, with the B-Side of The Hungry Ghost’s debut single bringing Lawrence and Joseph’s vocals together like a stolen kiss – before the front man is back off stage and into the crowd.

I’ve seen this in their sets before, a dance around the candid and intimate, yet still somewhere on the cusp of violence. You believe it too; a raw and rehearsed performance celebrating the intimacy of these people on stage. You can practice this stuff but you can’t make it up, and it’s precisely these points that warrant “a fu*king rock band.”

The punchy dark march of ‘Hares on the Mountain’ signs its A side name across the room, almost bitch slapping the front row, as Joe Joseph takes his place back on stage and cranes his eyes back over the crowd. Who in turn start to bubble. I scrawl the word ‘ferocious’ into my notebook (for neither the first nor last time with this band) before ‘The Hungry Ghost Blues’ washes through the room leaving little imprint. ‘I lose something. I say something to the person next to me. It ends’ is written on the line below.

The Hungry Ghosts @ The Sunflower Lounge 06.07.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)There’s a small break, like just before the second time you jump into water, and the shoulders of the room seem to drop slightly as the band tunes in between tracks. In silence. The stage lights seem momentarily brighter whilst the audience chats away to itself; ‘INTERMISSION’ could be written in light bulb letters across a long velvet curtain somewhere. Tonight’s opening triptych has been a powerful beginning, even domineering at points, but as a small divide perches on the edge of the stage, its feet not quite yet touching the floor, I write ‘…say anything’.

And they do, musically, as ‘Super King King’ struts its predatory blues off stage next – prompting a period of deep breaths, steel-eyed stares and mic stand stroking that could land you in court. It’s a ferocious track (…told you) a working museum of the band’s influences and admirations, and one that’s fast becoming my favourite in a Hungry Ghosts’ set. On the EP it sounds superb; back to your seats people.

We slide full swing into the Velvets-esque riffs of ‘Death Rattle Blues’, another track from the Blood Red Songs EP, as the room builds in an orchestrated crescendo. The crowd dances; I drum my fingers against the railings, a few steps down from where I stood the first time, and contemplate throwing things from the stairs. Me, a glass, the man to my right. Something. Anything. Again, “a fu*king rock band”.

By this point Billy Ollis and Joe Joseph are huddled together in a twist of guitars, as the front man’s vocals jump from low drawl to scream. I struggle more and more with the frayed lyrics; it’s an honest display, but I want to hear these words and not just witness their delivery.The Hungry Ghosts @ The Sunflower Lounge 06.07.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)

And the final track of the main set brings this dichotomy to the forefront, as Joe Joseph lays down his guitar to focus on prose for ‘The Catcher’ – with its semi spoken introduction, leading to almost fetal position screaming from the floor of the stage.

Then somewhere, somehow, Joseph is lifted up by the crowd; fulfilling the main set held aloft by his audience, playing his guitar horizontally as he is passed from one end of the room to the other. This wasn’t rehearsed yet manages to occur with almost theatrical precision; one of those moments.

The demanded encore is ‘The Hungry Ghosts Say Hello’ – a seemingly scone & tea titled track, that is, in reality, a mosh pit and explosion of strobe light. An awesome end, leaving a palpable and lingering taste that would have done well on the EP. Perhaps not this track, but this ending.

Joe Joseph, with no windows to jump or throw something out of – trapped in the limited capacity of the subterranean Sunflower, walks through the Red Sea crowd and out the back door. And for the last time tonight… “a fu*king rock band”.

The Hungry Ghosts @ The Sunflower Lounge 06.07.16 / By Rob Hadley (Indie Images)We file slowly, languidly upstairs, with most of the room deciding it would be safer to just stay for a drink. No one’s going home straight away. The Hungry Ghosts, their “job done”, are dutifully packing their gear into the van and cracking on with the business of post performance. Joe Joseph seems, as always, genuine and appreciative that anyone’s responding at all.

I extend a garrulous invitation to help – not knowing anything about kit or stage that would be in anyway useful, but it’s all I can really think of to say. “…you’ll have to wait until I publish it. But, you know… blimey. Job done I think Joe” and I extend a pat between the shoulder blades as both deflection and full stop.

The Hungry Ghosts must know it’s been a good gig tonight, I think; there will be personal assessments, sure, and mistakes only a creator will see. But the crowd response was undeniable. A happy elephant stomps through this room.

I backtrack, my drunk and guarded rhetoric still determined not to give away parts of my review (perhaps that one cider should have been sacrificed to the floor) and think quick for a suitably safe response.

“I mean, that was, well… Thank you for tonight.”

The Hungry Ghosts’ debut Blood Red Songs EP is out now – available to by online & from Setting Son Records. For more on The Hungry Ghosts, www.thehungryghosts.co.uk

For more from The Sunflower Lounge, visit www.thesunflowerlounge.com 

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BREVIEW: Broken Witt Rebels @ The Sunflower Lounge 15.04.16

Broken Witt Rebels @ Sunflower 15.04.16 - Eric Duvet #2

Words by Olly MacNamee / Pics by Eric Duvet 

Broken Witt Rebels @ Sunflower 15.04.16 - Eric Duvet #2Currently on a whistle-stop tour of this scepter’d isle of ours, Birmingham’s Broken Witt Rebels are back on home turf tonight. And with a sell-out crowd of family, friends and new fans awaiting, they need to bring their ‘A’ game.

Playing a taught, thirty minute set and offering up tracks from their two EP’s (the recently released Georgia Pine and previous offering, Howlin’) alongside new songs, this quartet from Castle Vale did not disappoint.

First and foremost, I was amazed at the rich, smoky, sensual, “Down South” strains of frontman, Danny Core. Core offers a voice that sounds as though it’s done some living; a wise Broken Witt Rebels @ Sunflower 15.04.16 - Eric Duvet #2old singer-songwriter reincarnated into a young man from Brum. Maybe the stork got his Birmingham cities mixed up and somewhere in the Deep South of America there’s a guy with the Brummie brogue Core was supposed to have.

Opening up their set with the punchy, sexy ‘Low’, Core and company – childhood friend and bassist Luke Davis, guitarist James Tranter and drummer James Dudley – were clearly enjoying themselves. It was infectious, with many of the crowd singing along, bringing a sense of taciturn camaraderie between the rockers and the room.Broken Witt Rebels @ Sunflower 15.04.16 - Eric Duvet #2

Broken Witt Rebels‘ sound is a blues-infused, country-twanged brand of rock and roll, reminiscent of early Kings of Leon, before they lost their beards and their soulfulness. Whizzing through a set of ciggie-soaked vocals and Mississippi moonshine-marinated melodies, Broken Witt Rebels played tracks including ‘Getaway Man’, ‘Guns’ and the set’s closer ‘Shake Me Down’.

I was left with the feeling that this is a band on the up. And I suspect Broken Witt Rebels may not be returning to such small venues in the future, given how developed and ready for rock success they already are, and at such a tender age.

For more on Broken Witt Rebels, visit http://www.brokenwittrebels.com/

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

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BPREVIEW: Ringo Deathstarr @ The Sunflower Lounge 09.03.16

Ringo Deathstarr @ The Sunflower Lounge 09.03.16

Words by Helen Knott

On Wednesday 9th March, Ringo Deathstarr performs at The Sunflower Lounge in Birmingham. Main with web colour bcg - lrDoors open at 8pm, with tickets priced at £12 (advance). For direct gig info and online ticket sales, click here.

This Sunflower Lounge gig is the first of a five-date UK tour in support of the band’s third studio album Pure Mood, which was released on 20th November through Club AC30.

The brilliantly/badly named Ringo Deathstarr, from Texas, was originally formed by singer and guitarist Elliott Frazier in 2007. After a string of singles and international tours (apparently the band is big in Japan) Ringo Deathstarr released their first album Colour Trip in 2011, followed by Mauve in 2012.Ringo Deathstarr / Pure Mood

Their latest album, Pure Mood is a continuation of Ringo Deathstarr’s shoegaze sound – heavily influenced by bands like Ride, The Jesus & Mary Chain and My Bloody Valentine. Crucially, Ringo Deathstarr incorporates enough stylistic surprises, including hints of grunge and heavy metal, to keep things interesting.

And as for the band’s live show, expect Ringo Deathstarr to be loud. Maybe not My Bloody Valentine or Sunn O))) loud, but loud enough to make you worry the ceiling is about to cave in.

Until now Ringo Deathstarr’s most high profile was probably a support slot for The Smashing Pumpkins, back in 2012. But a resurgence in popularity of the shoegaze sound over recent years, through bands such as Cheatahs, Echo Lake and DIIV (along with the release of Ringo Deathstarr’s arguably best album to date) may mean it’s time for this hard working band to finally emerge as a force to be reckoned with.

…I think that’s enough bad Star Wars puns for one BPREVIEW.

Released in November 2015, ‘Guilt’ was the first taster of Pure Mood. Check it out below:

‘Guilt’ by Ringo Deathstarr

Ringo Deathstarr perform at The Sunflower Lounge on Wednesday 9th March. For direct gig info & online tickets, visit http://thesunflowerlounge.com/event/ringo-deathstarr/The Sunflower Lounge - BR web colours, cropped

For more on Ringo Deathstarr, visit http://ringodeathstarr.org

For more from The Sunflower Lounge, visit http://thesunflowerlounge.comFollow-Birmingham-Review-on-300x26Facebook - f square, rounded - with colour - 5cm highTwitter - t, square, rounded, with colour, 5cm high

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/

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