Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Kids in Glass Houses @ The Sugarmill

Review by Sian Eardley

Photo by Alex Mulliner

Tonight was busy from the get-go, which is not always the case, striking tonight as a special one-off event; celebrating the success of Kids in Glass Houses. You only have to look at the facts to know that they’re doing something right: they’ve recently released second album ‘Dirt’, have featured heavily on Radio One’s airplay, and their ‘Big Weekend’ show in Bangor earlier this year, and if that’s not enough, they made a special stop in Stoke before jet setting off to the likes of Japan and Australia. Oh how we were privileged to welcome the boys from Cardiff; and they’re unlikely to grace us again before they storm the likes of Manchester and Birmingham Academy in November.

The younger generation certainly made up the mass population of the audience – the ‘scene’ fashionable kids, the girls who aspire to the ideals of Hayley Williams and the boys who want to love her; only proven by the vast singing along to the background musac in-between sets. But, that music generation today; that strange musical hybrid of post-emo, stylish punk rock, considered to be a ‘cool’ conception, brings us to today. Gone are the days of the committed sweaty and indie/mod rocker divide; the two have been brought together for this new genetic post/prog emo to the likes of KIGH, but they do pull it off. Though their fans provide an new audience etiquette to cater for (they don’t even say ‘sorry’ when barging past, and yes this might sound like a grumpy granny speaking – but it begs the question: ‘can we have the real music appreciators please?’) – During fellow Welsh support act ‘Town’, the crowd were there just to be ‘scene’ rather than hear what was on offer. However, Town did play up to this with plug, plug, plug and ‘MySpace this and that’ during their average pop-punk set, slightly resembling ‘Futureheads’ vocals, but pushing too hard to have an American polished edge.

To the audience’s defense, they did stop and listen when the tremendous headlining five-some unleashed their jam packed set (note: with no encore), of golden oldies, recent hits and future smashes.

From front to back, and for the entire duration, the now well-behaved crowd never stopped moving for the crowd-surfers to boppers, and arm wavers to head-nodders, with everyone notably singing their heart out to track ‘Sunshine’. This had to be a highlight, with everyone joining in for the ‘Wooooahhhh!’ chorus, and the band turned this lamenting love song into an extraordinary uplifting musical experience for all present.

Like their obvious peers and local comrades: ‘Lostprophets’, their songs cry out for stadium arenas for fans to ‘Ohhhh; to, as they exude immense emotional power. Similar to Lostprophets is their engagement with the audience, like Ian Watkins, they might curse heavily, but nonetheless permeate a confident charisma which you can’t ignore. It was an absolute wonder the place didn’t fall down when ‘Undercover Lover’ came blaring through the speakers, and frankly from the way lead singer Aled Phillips leapt on stage like a rocking Robert Pattinson, which yes made the girls swoon, he absolutely worked it tonight, and it particularly shone through this performance. Everybody in the building was in complete awe.

Tonight the boys and girls were entertained. It was worthy of £11 of anybody’s (pocket) money, as the lads from the valleys delivered the goods hands down, and it was refreshing to see them celebrating their old releases such as ‘Give Me What I Want’ and ‘Saturday’. Fact of the matter is, tonight, you just weren’t human if you weren’t immediately drawn in and bop-bop-bopping, to the ‘oh-oh-ohhhs’. The grand finale: ‘Matters at All’ was the perfect sentiment to the end of the night, with its summery feel much like Lostprophet’s (yes, again!) ‘Last summer’, which saw everyone get on down and bellow their lungs out, whilst their ‘goodnight’ send out went out to the fans following a deafening cheer from a climactic refrain.

In all honesty, I’ve never seen a crowd in The Sugarmill get so worked up. We were blessed with this visit from KIGH, with their infectious pop rock collection and their entertaining interjections; they could definitely rise to the challenge of picking up from where the Prophets lads dropped off at the peak of their career, and by witnessing them tonight, they could go above and beyond. C’est Mangnifique!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The Black Apples: The Black Apples

Review by John West

Images courtesy of The Black Apples and Octopus Records

This local popular vibrant garage blues band will be very familiar amongst the local gigging fraternity across Staffordshire, Cheshire and further afield. The Black Apples are an extremely hard working trio and have developed a bluesy formula which is very much their own. Over the past six years they have been leaving fans and audiences alike gasping for more with their high octane delivery on the live circuit. They soak up their inspiration from the bluesy swamp lands of the Mississippi Delta where the levees break via the garageland’s of Michigan of the late 60s to the infamous sounds pouring from CBGB’s in the mid 70s. Add into the mix by travelling from across the pond to a 60’s London blues scene eventually hitting the 100 club and its punk explosion and beyond, this talented trio are bearing their souls at the crossroads of 21century incendiary blues with their raw power and energy both here in Stoke and further afield. They have been exciting audiences on their very own travelling riverside blues boat trip, you simply just need to get on board if you haven’t already booked your ticket.

Alix, Jamie and Joe are a great bunch of lads very humble and unassuming they love to play and it’s that tightness and precision of their musicianship that’s certainly on display here - the debut album here for Stoke’s very own new label Octopus Records. Octopus are a new company which I believe will specialise in garage, blues, psychedelia, and rock, thus helping to put Stoke further on the musical radar. There is a lot of great talent out there and we certainly need to raise our profile, Stoke has such a vibrant music scene, so lets support it whatever your tastes. This is their first release and what a powerful debut it is - a no holds barred recording of wailing urgent vocals, storming riffs, held together by a driving rhythm section of bass and drums. It certainly delivers and if you’ve seen the boys live this will not leave you disappointed. A blistering seventeen tracks on the CD and thirteen on the limited edition vinyl (300).

Although The Apples released a live EP a while back, which is still available to down load, please check out their site for further information (details below) however this is their first full length studio release. There are live favourites abound contained herein including “Don’t fool me now” “Take me to the station” “ Hypnotize” and “Buy me a ticket”;yes they are all here in their glory. The band fire on all cylinders and do not disappoint on this album, you will all have a favourite I’m sure as they have successfully bought to this record the terrific sound of their live sets. It’s one which they will have you bopping along to and one you need to turn up loud annoying the neighbours with. This is for those fans both older and familiar and those new to the band its a great debut for a new company, so here’s to the future for the Octopus label and Stoke Sounds wishes them success with all future releases.

This is a great first release for them with a mighty fine band too!

The lads have a number of local gigs coming up including the Brown Jug over the August Bank Holiday and a special support at an Octopus Club gig with the legendary Pretty Things at Fat Cat in October. Don’t give the Apples the blues, ust get your self a copy of this album especially the vinyl collectors biscuit and keep local music alive! It’s Stoke stacked lightening indeed, just crank it up and get those feet stomping on the killing floor, get hypnotized as their energetic electric blues hits you from the speakers. Listen and feel it, this is the blues, kicking and screaming in the new decade and beyond. Play it loud!




Further recommended for your listening pleasure :-

Son House : King of the Delta blues

Blind Willie Johnson : The complete...

John Mayall’s Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton

MC5 : Kickout the Jams

Rory Gallagher : Big Guns : Best of Rory Gallagher

Dr Feelgood : Down by the Jetty

The Ramones : Anthology