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.
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.
Birmingham’s Beyond the Tracks festival is set to take over the Eastside City Park, outside Millennium Point, from the 15th to the 17th of September.
This new three day addition to the Birmingham festival scene has a stellar line-up and caters for an eclectic audience incorporating rock, britpop, dance, electronica and more. And it’s not just music that’s on offer, the festival website boasts a ‘great selection of gourmet caterers to suit all tastes and appetites’ as well as ‘a choice of well stocked and well staffed bars’ which, while not essential for the festival experience, will certainly be reassuring for some (me included).
Beyond the Tracks is one of the biggest city centre festivals this year and although there’s no camping, being just five minutes from Moor Street Station the transport access is good enough to take away the sting of the daily ‘commute’. For direct festival info, including more about getting on and off site, click here. For information and online bookings for all Birmingham city centre stations (Moor Street, New Street and Snow Hill) click here to visit Trainline.com
On Friday 15th September the gates will open at 14:00 and this is definitely your day if you like electronic music. Orbital, reunited and with a new track released this February, are the headliners – with Leftfield performing their 1995 album Leftism in full as part of their anniversary tour. There will be a DJ set from electronica stalwarts Faithless, with Australia’s Jagwar Ma also providing a touch of psychedelia to the Friday night bill.
Beyond the Tracks opening night also sees the return of the Higher Intelligence Agency (HIA) to our city’s soundsytems, who will no doubt bring the old ambient/Oscillate crowd out from under whatever chamomile flavoured rock of lost serotonin they are currently resting – Birmingham Review’s editor included. HIA are also hosting an unofficial after party at Centrala on Friday night, for direct info click here.
On Saturday and Sunday the gates open at midday, with both days set to have a more rock-based line up. There are also a number of notable local names across the weekend, including Saturday’s headliners – britpop veterans Ocean Colour Scene.
Also performing across the Saturday programme are The Americas, with their driving up-tempo rock (reminiscent of Tom Petty) describing themselves as ‘music to ride a motorbike to’. Then there’s Midlands based artfully crafted classic college-rock quartet Superfood and B-Town indie-pop rockers Jaws, both coming back to Birmingham after some significant success outside the city walls. The Twang, who are celebrating the ten-year anniversary of their debut album Love It When I Feel Like This,Maxïmo Park – touring following the release or their 2017 album Rick To Exist – and The Coral complete an indie side to the day’s line-up. To read Damien Russell’s Birmingham Review of Risk To Exist, click here.
For those still craving more following all that, there is an after party running from 23:00 to 03:00 at the O2 Institute featuring a DJ set from Maxïmo Park, Blast Off DJs and Dave Southam of Snobs – click here for more details or check out the banner ad below.
For those not exhausted by the previous two days partying, Sunday is a more eclectic line-up with artists such as Scottish 80’s alternative rockers The Jesus and Mary Chain – touring their new album Damage and Joy, Reading’s shoegaze rockers Slowdive – promoting their eponymous album (the first for twenty-two years) and Birmingham’s own Editors bringing the proceedings to a close.
Beyond the Tracks‘ final day will be opened by Dorcha – ‘a five piece Birmingham band of synths, strings, electronics and heavy beats led by composer Anna Palmer’. Then throughout Sunday we will see sets from Victories at Sea – described by The Guardian as ‘dolorous indie disco with a fresh spin’, Goodnight Lenin – who have recently announced they are recording their second album, and psychedelic industrial rockers BLACKASH.
I think it would be fair to say that there is something for everyone on the Beyond the Tracks bill and seeing big national names with current tours/releases lined up side by side with solid local acts is a pleasure. The organisers seem to have considered every act and made sure they all have a connection to the area or to the 2017 music scene – an attention to detail that bodes well for the wider event.
Speaking of the wider event, while information is a little sparse the promotional video for the festival (link below) goes into a little more about what non-music elements we can expect. There is the promise of ‘fine ales, imported lagers, craft beers, scrumpy cider shack, quality cocktails and fine wines & fizz’ for the drinkers, alongside the aforementioned ‘gourmet street food & snacks’ to soak it all up with and and keep you going.
Then for those moments when the music has got a bit too much, we have some ‘cabaret side shows and walkabouts’ for the grown ups. Not a lot on the programme for children though, with the Beyond the Tracks organsisers issuing the following statement:
‘The event is aimed at an adult audience. There will not be any specific children’s entertainment on site with the focus primarily on the music itself. That said, we are keen not to exclude anyone from the event so have not set an arbitrary age limit for this year. However, all persons do require a full ticket for the event regardless of age’.
But seriously, who under the age of… is going to be losing it to Orbital or The Jesus and Mary Train? Also worth noting Beyond the Tracks has a no re-entry policy and once you’re in, you’re in. Although with a line-up like this I can’t see why anyone would possibly want to be ‘out’.
Beyond the Tracks 2017 – Official Trailer
Tickets for this event are £54.45 for individual day tickets, £145 for a weekend pass, and £11 for the Saturday night after party at the O2 Institute.
For more on Beyond the Tracks, including full festival details and online ticket sales, visit www.beyondthetracks.org
But the masters of maritime (…nice) haven’t been floating around aimlessly (…ok) for the past year and half, with their five track A Place to Stay EP released on Static Caravan Records on 5th May. And shiver me techno timbers (…the last nautical reference I’m going make) it’s dark twist of brooding electronica meets meaty indie rock; all the goodness you’d expect from a Victories at Sea endevour. Fair to say it’s had its airplay at Birmingham Review HQ – with everything from Swervedriver and Explosions in the Sky to The Cure thrown around for comparison.
It’s a beautifully produced record no matter what your reference point, with some signature/ethereal melodies to send you blissfully out across the waters (accidental metaphor). But with Helen Knott, whose words I trust sometimes more than my own, citing the ‘slick and controlled’ sound from Everything Forever as a frayed edge to the sharpness of a live performance, we shall see what comes off stage on Saturday. Only a fiver an’ all; oddly accessible considering the line up would round off Day One at a small festie.
And as for the supports… Two from the FOMA portfolio: Matters, Mutes – both of whom Birmingham Review last saw at a FOMA showcase in Blotto Studios in mid March; click here for Aatish Ramchurn’s photo led feature in THE GALLERY. Both bands would be worth a fiver each, but with Mutes’ ‘sprawling debut full length album’ waiting in the wings, No Desire – out 2nd June, this is a good chance to see them polishing the final product.
Then there’s the perennial bridesmaid and winner of the Most Syllables Award, Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam. Or as Jeopardy would call them, ‘things that make Cannon Hill Park more fun’. Always worth a stop, look and listen. And whilst we’re on garrulous popular culture references, here’s our Graham with a quick reminder…
‘Sirens’ – Victories at Sea (from the 2016 album Everything Forever)
Victories at Sea perform at the Hare & Hounds (Kings Heath) on Saturday 13th May, with support from Mutes, Matters + Sunshine Frisbee Laserbeam – as presented by This Is Tmrw. For direct gig info and online tickets sales, click here.
What do ABBA, The White Stripes, Sonic Youth, Arcade Fire and Moon Duo have in common? Married band members.
It’s understandable that there are so many bands that contain couples really – the sharing of common interests is a solid basis for a relationship. And there’s always going to come that evening when you’ve exhausted all the good stuff on Netflix, one of you turns to the other and says: “Fancy a jam?” I’m sure that’s what happened with ABBA.
Moon Duo began life as a Wooden Shjips side project led by Shjips guitarist and singer Ripley Johnson and his synth-playing wife Sanae Yamada. The early Moon Duo sound is very similar to Wooden Shjips, but the band has progressively moved closer to the pop end of the psych-rock spectrum, replacing the drum machine of their early days with drummer John Jeffrey along the way.
On the record, Jeffrey has made very little impact to the band’s sound – he plays like a drum machine. I was hoping that in this live setting having an actual human drummer would give the band more expression and power, but I’m disappointed. There are no significant changes of tempo, rhythm or dynamics in songs, or even between songs. May as well have kept the drum machine.
This points to the problem with Moon Duo – it’s all rather samey and one note, even when taking into account that psych is inherently repetitive. Songs are given more space live than on the record, which is generally a good thing, and the geometric visuals create the ideal atmosphere for zoning out.
But even with the odd poppier track thrown in from 2015’s Shadow of the Sun, such as early set highlight ‘Free the Skull’, the formula is all too predictable: synth intro, girl/boy vocals, moderately cool guitar solo, more vocals, more synth, end.
And I’m not expecting them to be jumping around the stage but there is an underlying air that they are phoning this performance in. The only audience interaction is when Ridley sounds mildly irked with us that the gig finishes early so that we can have a disco afterwards. He can’t even be bothered to sound properly annoyed.
The audience is energetic and keen to have a good time, but we get very little back in return, apart from a begrudging encore that makes our supposedly beloved disco three minutes late.
It’s not bad. It’s just a bit safe and predictable. Probably a lot like being married.
Moon Duo first emerged as a Wooden Shjips side project, led by the band’s guitarist and singer Ripley Johnson. During breaks between Wooden Shjips records and tours Johnson would team up with his synth-playing wife Sanae Yamada to create music not-too-far removed from the mother shjip. The first Moon Duo album Mazes, released in 2011, features long, mysterious fuzzes with extended, noodling guitar solos that could easily have appeared amidst the psych drone of Wooden Shjips’ Back to Land or West.
In recent years, however, Wooden Shjips have been active only sporadically (though a four date UK tour is booked in for the autumn) and Moon Duo has moved out of the Shjips’ shadow. The music has developed alongside this, with last year’s album Shadow of the Sun featuring a more refined and poppy sound.
It’s still fuzzy, repetitive psych rock (indeed, it could be argued that it’s a little too repetitive on occasion) but it’s also much more focused. The addition of drummer John Jeffrey to the full time line-up provides an added dynamism that should be particularly effective live.