Posts Tagged ‘Leeds’

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We’re very pleased to announce the new Gang of Four 77-81 Limited Edition Boxset, out on Matador Records on December 11th, available to preorder now here: gangoffour.ffm.to/boxset.ofp

The boxset features:- Entertainment! (Remastered) LP- Solid Gold (Remastered) LP- Exclusive Singles 12” LP- Exclusive ‘Live at American Indian Centre 1980’ Double LP- Exclusive Demo Cassette Tape of Outtakes, Rarities and Studio Demos- 2x New Badges- 100 Page full-colour Hardbound Book curated by Allen, Burnham and King.

“I stumbled upon a copy of Gang of Four’s Entertainment! accidentally and it went on to become one of the most influential records of my life as a producer, lyricist and fan of music in general. Their sparse, unorthodox, riff heavy guitars and nasty, funky, in-the-pocket rhythm section drew me in, but it was their questioning of the world that kept me listening as I grew. I consider them a seminal band, whose influence and effect permeates the music world in a deeper way than many realize. Thank you, Gang of Four, for existing.”

The box set contains “Entertainment!’ and ‘Solid Gold’ (both remastered from the original analogue tapes), an exclusive singles LP, and an exclusive double LP of the never officially released ‘Live at American Indian Center 1980’. Additionally, the package includes two new badges, a C90 cassette tape compiling 26 never-before-issued outtakes, rarities and studio demos from ‘Entertainment!’ and ‘Solid Gold’, and an epic 100-page, full-colour hardbound book.

The book details the history and legacy of the original Gang of Four with never before seen photos, contributions from surviving original band members, rare posters, ephemera, flyers, essays, artwork, liner notes and more. It also marks the first official publication of their lyrics.

Gang of Four was formed in Leeds in 1976 by bassist Dave Allen, drummer Hugo Burnham, guitarist Andy Gill, and singer Jon King. The band pioneered a style of music that inverted punk’s blunt and explosive energies — favouring tense rhythms, percussive guitars, and lyrics that traded in Marxist theory and situationism. They put every element of the traditional “rock band” format to question, from notions of harmony and rhythm to presentation and performance. This original line-up of the band released two monumental albums, ‘Entertainment!’ (1979) and ‘Solid Gold ‘(1981). A third, ‘Songs of the Free’ (1982), was recorded with bassist Sara Lee replacing Dave Allen. After ‘Songs Of The Free’, Burnham departed the band and Andy Gill and Jon King continued on to release Hard in 1983. After this release, the band broke up. In 2004, the original quartet reformed for tour dates and released ‘Return The Gift’ (2005).

Gill’s untimely death in February 2020 was cause for many to once again re-examine the group’s catalogue and the legacy of these early releases was widely cited. Not only did Gang of Four’s music speak to the generation of musicians, activists, writers, and visual artists that emerged in the group’s immediate wake, but the generation after that. And the generation after that, even.

In the last few years, their songs have continued to resonate with and been sampled by artists far afield including Run the Jewels (“The Ground Below”) and Frank Ocean (“Futura Free”). Now forty years since the original release of ‘Entertainment!’, Gang of Four’s legacy cannot be overstated.

Music, specifically pop music, is as much of a commodity as pork bellies. It’s bought, packaged, sold, traded and has as little to do with the Platonic triad of beauty, goodness and truth as, well, pork bellies. And it hasn’t just become this way. It’s been this way. From its inception to now, its value is what’s made it significant in the marketplace. But pressed against a wooden stage in New York at Hurrah’s in the late 1970s, what stepped out on stage had nothing to do with any kind of commercial calculus. That I could see.

See, in 1979, after a steady diet of The Ramones, the New York Dolls, Klaus Nomi, fer chrissakes, and on the strength of the name alone, a single, the press and the locale, the Gang of Four was a must see. But wrapped in the earlier vaudevillian aspect of punk rock, new wave, no wave, and a sort of well-meaning but very extant schtick, expectations were in keeping with what had already been seen. But what had been seen would in no way prepare you for what you were about to see.

Four Brits, no leather jackets, no make-up, and outside of an opening song with about two minutes of unremitting feedback, no schtick.

“We all grew up around vaudeville. It was part of the zeitgeist,” said drummer Hugo Burnham, from outside of Boston where he toils in academia and presently makes his home. But Gang of Four? “It was anti-schtick. And it was somewhat deliberate because we were serious about what we were doing but we weren’t dour. We didn’t go as far as the shoegazing thing.”

Which is almost right. Gone was the clever art school quirk of Talking Heads or the mordant rumble of a Joy Division, musicians framing what we were understanding about new music at the time. Replaced instead with something that was equal parts both cool and hot, and when they tore into their set that night it was with a life-changing brio. No “Hello Cleveland!” No foot on the front wedge rock god posturing, just songs and songs played like those that were playing them meant it. It, here, being coruscating takes on very precisely what it was we were doing while we were doing it. Again: not by accident. But very specifically, deliberately.

“We sat in pubs and talked about it,” Burnham said. Right down to things like, “No fucking feet on the monitors.”

What Burnham fails to mention and this is an amusing Rashomonesque feature of chatting with the three members still living – Burnham, singer/lyricist Jon King, and bassist Dave Allen – is that the no-feet-on-the-monitors “chat” didn’t happen in a pub. King, in a call from London, offers an alternate scenario. “It happened backstage after a show in what used to be Yugoslavia,” King laughs. “And it involved a fistfight.” So Gill and Allen settled things the old-fashioned way and while it’s unknown who won, at the Hurrah’s show there were no feet on monitors.

But first a little historical political perspective and a sense of the tableau upon which whatever Gang of Four was, was created. In the late 1970s in the U.K., there was 14 percent inflation, 18 percent in 1980, one in five adult males were out of work, interest rates were 14 percent, and there was massive industrial unrest. “In ’78 and ’79 it was called the Winter of Discontent,” King said of the hellscape that England had been even before Thatcher dug in. “There were piles of garbage four meters high in the street, people weren’t going to be buried because there was a strike of mortuary workers and grave diggers, there were dozens of IRA terror attacks in mainland UK, there were plotters looking to pull a coup d’etat, plus Russian SCUD missiles in eastern Europe and Americans sending Pershing missiles to NATO, so threats of nuclear attack. Songs like ‘In the Ditch’ on Solid Gold? That was the context we were working with.”

And given that context, a steadfast mark of Gang of Four’s genius that they didn’t zig into what was a popular pose at the time (and still really) and try to pull off the working class hero crap that had smart people dumbing down in the name of some sort of shopworn idea of what was authentic. That is, the Gang of Four were driven and obsessed with what middle class art school students should be obsessed with: making great music and art in and of the times they are living, fully realizing that you can’t fake authenticity. “Look, in looking back I have decided I really like this sort of troublesome 21-year-old me who wrote these totally un-commercial songs,” said King. But the charm, at least for the creator, is that “there’s nothing in it that is an attempt to pander to people. And it may sound kind of stupid but I kind of thought of us as like a blues band.”

“So I tried to avoid cliché, but it’s quite difficult trying to not write about things that everyone else was writing about,” King explains.” But there’s a reason hip-hop is the biggest genre in the world now and that’s because it’s got some authenticity about it; it talks about things that are actually happening. The world is a shit show now. To not write about it is a remarkable evasion of responsibility.”

Something that wasn’t missed in 1979 New York either with crime at an all-time high and the city collapsing financially. So mid-set when King dragged a metal crate on stage – “we later switched to a microwave,” Burnham said – and started blasting it with a drum stick it was both the sound of the city and the times all at once.

Adding percussive elements in and from trash, well in advance of Einsturzende Neubaten and even Stan Ridgway from Wall of Voodoo who Burnham initially thought they had lifted it from (“No,” corrects King), this was a perfect sweat-drenched statement of intent: Gang of Four absolutely were not fucking around.

And it was perhaps this quality specifically that drew the heavy. “We were political with a small P,” said bassist Dave Allen who followed a post-Gang of Four career with music tech gigs at both Apple and Intel, which is how he ended up in Portland. “But we were fighting Nazis. The fascists that came to the shows. They would jump onstage when we were playing in London, skinheads, and they had knives.” Allen, in general soft spoken, neither laughs nor smiles in the retelling. “The security guards would all run away. Having a big heavy bass in this instance helped quite a bit.”

But before reforming in 2005, Allen was the first to leave Gang of Four, in 1981, and his leaving was part of that whole not fucking around piece and almost perfectly Gang of Four-ish. “EMI were always pushing us. They wanted us to make ‘hits’. Be on the radio. Top of the Pops,” Allen sighs. “That’s not what we do. We don’t make pop songs. The 2005 reunion only lasted a few years, but Andy Gill continued with replacement musicians and died right in the midst of touring with them. He left giant shoes to fill. But even considering trying to fill them? A straight-up damn the torpedoes move. To which they are well matched. “When you try to audition a guitar player they just can’t do it,” Allen winds up. “They come in blasting thinking it is punk, but we were post-punk. It was us and Wire…”

On December 11th, Matador will release GANG OF FOUR: ’77-81”, a stunning, limited edition box set gathering Gang of Four’s influential early work.

The Music

Despite live music being derailed for 2020 Leeds’ will host a monumental reunion show to look forward to in May 2021! Returning to the stage are The Music, the Kippax band that shot to the top of the charts back in the early 00’s with their hugely infectious dance-rock songs including ‘Take the Long Road and Walk It’, ‘Welcome to the North’  and the track with everyone’s favourite riff from 2002 ‘The People’.

Joining the reunion party in May is a line-up of indie legends, leading the support billing is Wakefield’s very own ‘The Cribs’ themselves returning from a short hiatus with their brand new album and first in 3 years ‘Night Network’ set for release in November 2020. Joining them will be The Wirral’s indie-pop heroes ‘The Coral’ a mainstay of the indie scene for the best part of two decades. Fast-rising Scottish band ‘The Snuts’ who have already been selling out venues across the country and London outfit ‘The Skinner Brothers’ completing the bill.  With such a strong line-up of bands this will surely be one of the gigs of 2021 as live music makes a triumphant return to Yorkshire, and an exhilarating way to forget live music’s most forgettable year.

Crake are an alt-folk four piece from the city of Leeds in northern England who write melodic and (sometimes) hopeful songs about flora, fauna, anxiety and the tough stuff. Formed on the cusp of 2016/17 after a New Year’s Eve pact, Crake spent their first couple of years playing locally with loose-line-up changes, self-releasing two EPs – 2017’s By the Slimemould and 2018’s The Politics of Lonely.

Led by singer/guitarist Rowan Sandle, Crake blend shimmering alt-folk and indie-rock, featuring an increasing density of guitars, tape-loops and synth blankets. Their songs provide a more sonically reassuring but equally intimate bed for Sandle’s poetic lyrics.

In late 2018 the band supported Big Thief’s Buck Meek on the Leeds date of his solo tour, impressing the guitarist so much that he invited them along for Big Thief’s forthcoming tour across the UK and Europe. Those three weeks spent travelling and playing with their musical heroes saw Crake go from a small, beloved act who’d barely left their hometown, to finding themselves with a legitimate fanbase of their own. Their third 3-track EP Dear Natalie was subsequently released in 2019, also marked by the addition of lead guitarist Russell Searle, joining Rob Slater on drums and Sarah Statham on bass. The EP was the sound of Crake finding their feet on a larger stage, both literally and figuratively, with opening track ‘Glycerin’ shining a spotlight on Sandle’s ever-confessional words.

Since the Big Thief tour and the Dear Natalie EP the band have focused solely on writing and demoing new music, assembling in garages, practice rooms and the beloved Greenmount Studios in Leeds (The Cribs, Pulled Apart By Horses) where drummer Rob Slater works.

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The first results of this focused time away can be heard on Enough Salt (For All Dogs) b/w Gef, a brand new, two-track single which will be released on 7” vinyl via Saddle Creek’s ongoing Document Series. Their first self-produced effort, the new single is Crake at their most confident. Exploring the depths of their sound while staying rooted in Rowan Sandle’s brilliant songwriting and captivating lyrics.

Releases September 18th, 2020

2020 Saddle Creek Records.

Crake are an alt-folk four piece from the city of Leeds in northern England who write melodic and (sometimes) hopeful songs about flora, fauna, anxiety and the tough stuff. Formed on the cusp of 2016/17 after a New Year’s Eve pact, Crake spent their first couple of years playing locally with loose-line-up changes, self-releasing two EPs – 2017’s “By the Slimemould” and 2018’s “The Politics of Lonely”.

Led by singer/guitarist Rowan Sandle, Crake blend shimmering alt-folk and indie-rock, featuring an increasing density of guitars, tape-loops and synth blankets. Their songs provide a more sonically reassuring but equally intimate bed for Sandle’s poetic lyrics.

In late 2018 the band supported Big Thief’s Buck Meek on the Leeds date of his solo tour, impressing the guitarist so much that he invited them along for Big Thief’s forthcoming tour across the UK and Europe. Those three weeks spent travelling and playing with their musical heroes saw Crake go from a small, beloved act who’d barely left their hometown, to finding themselves with a legitimate fanbase of their own. Their third 3-track EP “Dear Natalie” was subsequently released in 2019, also marked by the addition of lead guitarist Russell Searle, joining Rob Slater on drums and Sarah Statham on bass. The EP was the sound of Crake finding their feet on a larger stage, both literally and figuratively, with opening track ‘Glycerin’ shining a spotlight on Sandle’s ever-confessional words.

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Since the Big Thief tour and the Dear Natalie EP the band have focused solely on writing and demoing new music, assembling in garages, practice rooms and the beloved Greenmount Studios in Leeds (The Cribs, Pulled Apart By Horses) where drummer Rob Slater works.

The first results of this focused time away can be heard on “Enough Salt (For All Dogs) b/w Gef”, a brand new, two-track single which will be released on 7” vinyl via Saddle Creek’s ongoing Document Series. Their first self-produced effort, the new single is Crake at their most confident. Exploring the depths of their sound while staying rooted in Rowan Sandle’s brilliant song writing and captivating lyrics.

releases September 18, 2020

2020 Saddle Creek

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The band formerly known as ’Ørmstons’ has undergone a massive reinvention including changing their name, and their newest single is an absolute tour de force.

Now going by the new name RAE, ‘Never Meant To Start A Witch Hunt’ is heavier than a Rugby prop and bites like a rabid Yorkshire Terrier. They’re a typical indie band who aren’t bothered about becoming world famous, it’s the music they care about the most. RAE was announced to the world in January 2020. A time for a clean slate and a new journey.

Jess, Will, Bob and Jamie are no strangers to being in a band together, previously know as ‘Ørmstons’, they have grown together as friends and musicians and are ready to take the next leap into the big black pit, or as its normally called – the music industry. Their music takes a spin on indie/pop and indie/rock – the best of both worlds. Lyrically, they touch upon all the issues we face as we grow up, love and heartbreak (which we will go through over ad over again in our lives), politics, mental health. The band aspire to be as raw and real as they can be in both person and in their music.

The way I see it they’re like a cross between Blondie and the Manic Street Preachers. Frontwoman Jessica Huxham is the star of the show, and can captivate audiences at the drop of a hat. Her lyrics are haunting and quiet, similar to Morrissey’s back in his prime.

This track is the flag in the ground that marks RAE’s reinvention. It’s not quite Bohemian Rhapsody or Jailhouse Rock, but it is simple and easy to listen to, and well worth a few repeats.

Band Members
Jess Huxham, Will Smith, Bob O’Hare, Jamie Collins

RAE “Never Meant To Start A Witch Hunt”  Released on: 2020-06-12

MUSH – ” Live On KEXP “

Posted: March 23, 2020 in MUSIC
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Mush are from Leeds. They play a kind of slacked out art-rock. The songs are melodic and highly music -orientated but weirdly catchy and infectious. Their early single Alternative Facts was a ten minute critique of the increasingly familiar phenomenon of fake news and the movement toward soundbite-orietntated politics. Set to a backdrop of a driving repetitive rhythms, weaving guitar textures and off the cuff a-tonal vocal style,Alternative Factsis a catchy and refreshing single choice. due to the sheer length. Live performances have prompted the expected ‘guitar band’comparisons to the likes of Pavement, Television, Velvet underground etc. Mush, however, play with an unhinged and experimental energy and purist intentionality that means they are ones to watch in their own right.

Mush performing live at the La Chapelle by le Studio in Rennes, France, during Trans Musicales 2019. Recorded December 8, 2019.

Songs: Eat The Etiquette Revising My Fee Gig Economy 3D Routine Alternative Facts

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3D Routine’ has arrived. Following on from their ‘Induction Party E.P’, Mush are circulating their own sonic mythology, blurring the lines between abstract surrealism, existentialism and social commentary. Like its predecessor ‘3D Routine’ is a sensory overload of clattering, hooky, guitar work. However, this time space emerges between the onslaughts and in this respite, room is found for new emotional depth. More expansive than ever before, ‘3D Routine’ manages to maintain the rawness of a classic debut but it’s experimentation and variety portray a band unlikely to rest on their ‘guitar band’ chops.

Songwriter Dan Hyndman explains the genesis of the band as being “fairly boiler plate” a combination of friends old and new converging in Leeds post-uni to form a band predominantly united in their mutual affection for the Pavement back catalogue. Finally settling on a lineup of Nick Grant (bass), Tyson (guitar) and Phil Porter (drums) the band’s progression has taken them far beyond this original vision.

UK band Mush are gearing up to release their new LP 3D Routine next week, and this latest single “Existential Dread” is a fun example of the band’s angular, guitar-driven style, which blends nervous post-punk with garage rock distortion.

Having garnered local attention in the early days for their unhinged and often calamitous live shows in Leeds, it was the unlikely radio hit ‘Alternative Facts’, (clocking in at an uncompromising ten minutes) that brought the Mush to the attention of a wider audience. The song, one of the last releases for the legendary Too Pure Singles Club saw early support from Marc Riley and others on BBC 6music with them playing multiple sessions, and the follow up single, ‘Gig Economy’ hopping onto the 6music playlist. Roaming further afield from their hometown, Mush spent the first half of 2019 heading out around the UK, earning a reputation for their intense live performances, supporting the likes of Girl Band, The Lovely Eggs, Yak, Shame and Stereolab, as well as releasing the ‘Induction Party’ EP to great acclaim. At the tail end of summer of 2019 Mush headed to Leeds’ Green Mount Studio and with Andy Savours (Dream Wife, Our Girl, My Bloody Valentine) manning the mixing desk, their debut LP, ‘3D Routine’ was born.

The way in which the album brazenly moves from polished 3- minute punk tracks, to avant-garde spoken word, to sardonic-political funk, whilst sounding like the same band is testament to an uncompromisingly unrefined ethic and compounds the jarring nature of Mush. Together, the songs form a unified, abrasive, emotive, frenetic and entirely beguiling concoction of sound and opinion, a fast-moving snapshot of current times, relatable, politically minded and incredibly personal. Music for those who want their guitars loud and weird, and their political commentary a little less ‘on the nose’.

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Andy Gill, a founding member and guitarist for the British post-punk band Gang of Four, has died. He was 64.

Formed in Leeds in 1976, Gang Of Four’s career spanned five decades, from their first single Damaged Goods to last year’s studio album Happy Now. In 1979, they made their Top 60 chart debut with At Home He’s A Tourist – despite the song being banned by the BBC for a lyrical reference to condoms.

Their debut album Entertainment!, released in September of the same year, has frequently been cited as an influence or inspiration by aspiring musicians, Combining Marxist politics with punk, dub, funk and disco, the “stiff, jerky aggression of songs such as Damaged Goods and I Found That Essence Rare invented a new style,

Gang Of Four never had a hit single (1982’s I Love A Man In Uniform came close, before it was banned from the airwaves during the Falklands War) but their first three albums are considered indispensable. They split in 1984, but reformed several times over the years, with a variety of line-ups. They released 10 albums in all, with a couple of periods of hiatus during their 40-year history Gill was the only constant throughout their career.

Gill’s death was announced Saturday (February. 1st) on Twitter by his current bandmates Thomas McNeice, John Sterry and Tobias Humble. A cause of death was not given. Gill had developed a “respiratory illness,” after finishing an Asian tour with Gang Of Four last year, they said. “This pain is the price of extraordinary joy, almost three decades with the best man in the world,” wrote his wife, Catherine Mayer, on Twitter.

Gill was a founding member of Gang of Four since the band’s inception in the late 1970s, and served as guitarist and producer of the group’s nine albums, including Happy Now in 2019. The musician’s scratchy, staccato riffs provided the band with their signature sound, and influenced the likes of Nirvana, Fugazi and Franz Ferdinand.

“This is so hard for us to write, but our great friend and Supreme Leader has died today,” Gang of Four wrote in the statement. “Andy’s final tour in November was the only way he was ever really going to bow out; with a Stratocaster around his neck, screaming with feedback and deafening the front row.”

The group called Gill “one of the best to ever do it,” adding that his “influence on guitar music and the creative process was inspiring for us, as well as everyone who worked alongside him and listened to his music.” His bandmates ended their post asking fans to “go give ’em a spin for him.” He had just finished a new studio album with Gang Of Four, they added.

As a producer, Gill worked on many high-profile music projects, including Red Hot Chili Peppers‘ 1984 self-titled debut album. He also worked on music by the Stranglers, Michael Hutchence, Killing Joke, Therapy?, the Jesus Lizard and the Futureheads.

In 2018, Gill spoke about his never-ending interest in creating music. “These days I get up early at 6:30, I get a cup of tea and I go straight down the studio and start working … I get a buzz out of it. I’m not in any hurry to stop,” he said.

Gill is survived by his wife, Catherine Mayer; his brother Martin; and “many family and elective family members who will miss him terribly” . His uncompromising artistic vision and commitment to the cause meant that he was still listening to mixes for the upcoming record, whilst planning the next tour from his hospital bed.

But to us, he was our friend – and we’ll remember him for his kindness and generosity, his fearsome intelligence, bad jokes, mad stories and endless cups of Darjeeling tea. He just so happened to be a bit of a genius too.

One of the best to ever do it, his influence on guitar music and the creative process was inspiring for us, as well as everyone who worked alongside him and listened to his music. And his albums and production work speak for themselves. Go give ‘em a spin for him…Love you mate.

John, Thomas and Tobias
GANG OF FOUR

CARO – ” Fall Apart “

Posted: January 17, 2020 in MUSIC
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The Leeds trio have been skirting around Northern festivals this year and we were very intrigued to hear the expert juxtaposition of the band’s sound. At points delicate and dainty and at others willing to put a razor to your throat – it’s what we like. Hello friends, we’re very excited to share our new single ‘Fall Apart’ with you

The beginning of ‘Cold Comfort’ sounds like a gentile pop track, somewhere between Wild Beasts early efforts and Bombay Bicycle Club at their most festival friendly. How brilliant it is then to hear the fizzing and thrusting chorus scream out of the traps.

‘Cold Comfort’ hints at a wide breadth of talent from the Yorkshire band as well as the ability to switch up a gear and make us all wish we had been listening a little harder already.

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Definitely a name to listen out for in the future. They’re really great live, catch them if you can.” Huw Stephens, BBC Radio 1 “a Leeds-based trio sporting stately, delicately-arranged pop that’ll slap you round the face with a fish” – DIY Magazine