2016: A Year of Nights Off with Beer and Live Music

I’ve spent a fair few nights watching live music in the last 12 months. Many have been outstanding. I’ve seen acts I had spent half my life waiting to see, I’ve seen some of my favourite acts in unexpectedly small venues, I’ve seen over a hundred acts for the first time, and found new favourites. I haven’t attended quite a gig a week, but it’s not been far off. It’s been fun, and it’s involved the consumption of a lot of beer, and a of time in particular in The Brudenell Social Club and The Fulford Arms. However bad things have been in 2016 socially and politically, there has, at least, always been great live music in abundance.

There is a heap of people – PR, bands, venue personages – I’d like to thank, and I’ve chatted to some ace folks while out and about. Mosly I’d like to thank all the acts I’ve seen for making it a fun year. Those acts are listed, alphabetically, below. I’ve had a blast, and suffice it to say I’m looking forward to more of the same in 2017.

 

…And the Hangnails x 3

99 Watts

999

Asylums

Avalanche Party

Bearfoot Beware

Baroness

Beige Palace

Big Love

The Black Lagoons

Brix & the Extricated

Broken Skull

Buen Chico x 2

Bull x 3

By Any Means

Cannibal Animal

Charlie Padfield

Chris Catalyst

Circuit Breaker

Climbing Alice

Colour of Spring

Consumer Electronics

The Contortionist

Corinth

Cowtown

Deathmace

Death Valley High

DVNE

Dragged Into Sunlight

The Duke Spirit

Eagulls

Elsa Hewitt

Eugene Gorgeous x 2

Face

The Fall

False Flags

Famine

Fat Spatula

Fawn Spots x 2

FEWS

Fighting Caravans x3

Fizzy Blood x2

Flora Greysteel x 2

The Franceens

Future of the Left x 2

Game Program

Gang of Four

Ghold

Gnaw Their Tongues

Gloomweaver

Groak

Hands Off Gretel

Heads.

Helen Money

Hinges

Holy Esque

Hoogerland

The Homesteads

Hora Douse

Horsebastard

The Howl & The Hum

Human Certainty

Irk x 2

Jaded Eyes

Jakoby

Joanne

Kagoule

Kid Canaveral

Killing Joke

Kleine Schweine

Knifedoutofexistence

Legion of Swine

Living Body

Low Key Catastrophe

The Lucid Dream

Mannequin Death Squad

Man of Moon x 2

Max Raptor

Maybeshewill

Mayshe-Mayshe x 2

Meabh McDonnell

The Membranes x 2

Milk Crimes

Mishkin Fitzgerald

Mouses

Mums

NARCS

Near Meth Experience

Nick Hall

Moloch

Mountains Crave

Naked Six

Neuschlaufen

Nordic Giants

No Spill Blood

Ona Snap

One Way Street

Oozing Wound

Orlando Ferguson

Palehorse

Party Hardly x 2

Percy x 2

Pijn

Post War Glamour Girls

Protomartyr

Push

Raging Speedhorn

RM Hubbert

RSJ

Sand Creature

Sarah Carey

Seep Away

Shellac

Shield Patterns x 2

Shrykull

Silver Apples

Simon Bolley

Soma Crew x 5

Stereoscope x 3

Stoneghost

Suburban Toys

Super Luxury

Sweet Deals on Surgery

TesseracT

Thank

Tooth x 2

They Might Be Giants

Three Trapped Tigers

Treeboy & Arc

Unwave

Vesper Walk

Washing Machine Repair Man

Wharf Street Galaxy Band

Wolf Solent

Worriedaboutsatan

Yard Wars

You Slut!

ZoZo

10 Obscure Musical (Cross)-Genres You’ve Probably Never Heard Of

Musical development is all about incorporating different and disparate elements of existing styles to create new sounds. However, the music press and fans alike have contributed to a world of music that is marked by increasing fragmentation and specialism, with some hybrid crossovers being so obscure that only the three bands who play that style of music have ever heard of it.

Musical factions are like tribes, and while the stylistic differences may seem minimal or even non-existent to the untrained ear of an ‘outsider,’ they’re pivotal to adherents of certain musical forms. East coast / West coast rap and the fighting between death metal and black metal factions in Norway and Sweden are but two high-profile examples that have been reported in the media.

Not all genre divisions cause such acrimony between fans, but being able to distinguish between types of music can be extremely useful, especially if you find yourself in the pub in the middle of a debate over various bands; some genres – and their fans – are simply incompatible. Others probably should be, but through the years, stranger and stranger hybrids have evolved. They might sound weird, but the more micro genres become, the more obsessive about the minutest of details the fans become.

You think you know your Crusties from your Grebos, your Goths from your Emos? Can you tell, just by listening to the introduction, the difference between Industrial Metal and Grindcore? As a music fan and music journalist, these things are of interest to me, so here’s an introduction to ten of the most obscure and specialist sub-genres around.

Grunk is a hybrid of grunge and punk. While Grunge trailblazers the likes of Nirvana and Hole were explicit in their citation of punk influences, many other Grunge bands who hit the big-time in the 90s, such as Smashing Pumpkins and Pearl Jam were less punk in terms of inspiration and sound (and, indeed image: while Courtney Love and the members of L7 may have looked like Nancy Spungen wannabes, the same could not be said for Pumpkins bassist D’arcy, for example). However, the punk aspect of the grunge sound is rendered more explicit by mohawk-sporting grunge-lite acts like Humankind, who include punk / oi! style D-beats in their song’s choruses.

Gunk – Not to be confused with Grunk, is Goth-Punk. Whereas many of the bands that became synonymous with goth were, in fact, post-punk or New Wave bands with darker leanings (Bauhaus, The Sisters of Mercy), others drew more direct influence from punk, the likes of Siouxsie and the Banshees. Subsequently, there were bands like Sex Gang Children and UK Decay who were very much punk-inspired, but drew on elements of gothic imagery or even B-movie horror. It was only a matter of time before the slide into parody was inevitable.

Sadecore – A form of industrial metal influenced by hardcore and punk, the exponents of which are obsessed with sexual perversion, hardcore S&M and the writings of the Marquis de Sade. Bands tend to reflect these dark themes not only in their deviance-fixated lyrics, but on their album covers and in their appearance, often wearing leather, latex and even full gimp outfits on stage. Exponents of Sadecore include The Flagellators, Justine, Sodom and Raping a Foetus With a Poker, best known for their controversial album ‘Sacrificing an Aborted Infant to the God of Ejaculate while Embuggering the Corpse of a Goat and Slowly Sucking a Hot Fresh Stool.’

 

Corpse

Eat shit and die, motherfuckers. You don’t screw with a sadecore fan in corpse paint.

Skunk – A compound of skate and punk. Pioneered by the likes of Big Boys and JFA, Skunk – also known as Skate punk, Skatecore and Skate Rock – was popularised in the 90s by guttermouth, NOFX, Pennywise and The offspring. See also Blackened Skunk and Blackened Skate, which introduce Black Metal to Skunk and Skate respectively. These forms evolved some time after Blackened Death Metal and Blackened Crust, a hybrid of Black Metal and Crust Punk, as exemplified by Antimelodix and Order of the Vulture. The Beach Bastards from Hell attempted to forge a new genre in the form of Blackened Surf, combining satanic messages and blastbeats with guitars heavy with reverb and a Dick Dale-style twang. They split up after attempting to shoot their first promotional video, which resulted in their corpse paint makeup washing off in the breakers.

Slow-slow-quick-quick-slow-core – While Slowcore bands like Codeine and Red House Painters were inspired to create a sound that was the antithesis of grunge and hardcore, playing slow, downbeat songs with clean-sounding or even acoustic guitars, Slow-slow-quick-quick-slow-core bands like In Paris and Naked introduce Latin dance rhythms to the mix. Muscho Gusto’s single, ‘amoeba!'(2000), which featured a tango rhythm is widely considered to be the first example of Slow-slow-quick-quick-slow-core.

Lamecore – A particular thread of popular mainstream rap. Unlike hardcore rap, Lamecore is not remotely agrressive and has no social or political agenda. Lamecore rap takes the smooth production values of contemporary soul and r’n’b, and often incorporates female backing vocals and downbeat tempos to create a ‘seductive’ atmosphere. Lamecore rappers are generally smooth, stylish and sensitive, and the music is all about bling and chicks and makin’ love and whatnot, usually delivered in smooth tones (for the laydeez) and is ultimately lame – to the core. Examples of Lamecore rap can be found on Radio 1 and most mainstream radio stations 24 hours a day.

Screaming Edge
– Perhaps not as bizarre as it may sound. The Screamo genre was born out of US hardcore and post-hardcore punk (which was, and remains poles apart from UK punk) as exemplified by DC bands like Fugazi, Black Flag, Husker Du, Minutemen, by changing the flat shouting vocal style to one whereby the lyrics are screamed. Fugazi, in their eschewing of drink and drugs and casual sex, pioneered the Straight Edge lifestyle. Screaming Edge bands like EatFuckShitWorkandDie! and NDRGZ are Screamo bands who adhere to the Straight Edge principles of clean living. Simples!

Symphonic Doom
– The trappings of Doom Metal – i.e. growled, gnarly, gravely vocals and super-heavy power chords played at around twelve BPM – collide with the bombastic orchestration of symphonic metal to create this curious stylistic amalgamation. Unlike self-labelled Funeral Doom bands like the puntastic Depressed Mode, who produce weeping synth-laden gothic electrionica with guttural vocals, true Symphonic Doom bands like The Brightest Death, Bach Watching the Apocalypse and Tectonic Symphonic combine the weight of late Celtic Frost with the epic orchestration and horror vocals of Cradle of Filth to forge a truly unique sound.

Anal Crust – Crust Punk bands who demonstrate a scatological obsession within their songs’ lyrical content. Anal Crust was pioneered by The Shit Monkeys on their 1992 mini-album ‘Shit the Bed and Bugger me Raw.’ Although comedic in intent, the anarcho-punk messages of the songs – while referencing faecal matter with conspicuous frequency – set the blueprint for a number of successors, like Lords of Excrement, The Enema Animals and Coprophage, who later developed their sound in a more Sadecore direction. Anal Crust is not to be confused with Arsequake bands (or, indeed, the band Arsequake), famed for using sub-bass frequencies that would cause members of the audience to spontaneously and involuntarily defecate.

LARPcore – Derived from Viking metal, LARPcore bands don’t celebrate mythology, but are extremely particular about the historical accuracy of the lyrical content of their songs. Their stage costumes are also produced with a close eye on historical authenticity. A 2008 tour featuring Grendel’s Modor, Mons Badonicus and Scyld Scefing saw the three bands refusing to play their regular sets, and instead perform, on stage, real-time re-enactments of the Battle of Wippedesfleot (466AD).

LARPCORE

A LARPcore compilation album

 

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2011: A Year in Books

When I’m not busy writing, there’s nothing I like more than immersing myself in a good book. In fact, just as I’d describe myself as a compulsive writer, so I’d also describe myself as a compulsive reader. At times, it’s something that can prove to be something of a curse, as I’ll find myself distracted by any text within – or even just beyond – my range of focus. For his reason, rolling news channels can really test me, especially if the screen’s behind the head of someone who’s talking to me.

As a rule, I’m rather a ‘glass half empty’ sort of person, but this year, having found myself required to spend more time travelling to and from places of work (albeit for the same desultory pay-packet), I elected to make the best of a bad situation and use the time in transit to squeeze in a spot of light – and not so light – reading. Here’s a list of the texts I managed to plough through. A handful were re-reads, others were texts I’d stalled on previously and decided to attempt again (successfully this time) and others had been lurking on my shelf for some time. While I enjoyed some more than others, they all had their merits and enriched my life in some way during the last 12 months, and as such, I would happily recommend every last one of them.

Jarrett Kobek – HOE #999

Dennis Lehane – Shutter Island

JG Ballard – The Drowned World

Gary Cummiskey & Eva Kowalska (eds) – Who Was Sinclair Beiles?

James Wells – Hack

Alain Robbe-Grillet – The Erasers

Bill Drummond – $20,000

Chuck Palahniuk – Diary

Frank Kermode – Modern Essays

Mary Beach – Electric Banana

Carl Weissner – The Braille Film

Katrina Palmer – The Dark Object

JG Ballard – High Rise

Stewart Home – Memphis Underground

John Wyndham – The Day of the Triffids

Edward S. Robinson – Shift Linguals: Cut-Up Narratives from William S. Burroughs to the Present

Raymond Chandler – The High Window

Alain Robbe-Grillet – Jealousy

Ed McBain – Sadie When She Died

RG Johnson – American Scrap-Dragon

Mike Meraz – Black-Listed Thoughts

Mark Merlis – American Studies

JG Ballard – The Complete Short Stories Vol. 2

Plato – The Symposium

Roland Barthes – Mythologies

JG Ballard – The Day of Creation

Michel Foucault – Language, Counter-Memory, Practice

Kathy Acker – Bodies of Work

Mark Fisher – Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?

Michel Foucault – The Will To Knowledge 1: The History of Sexuality

JG Ballard – The Atrocity Exhibition

Robert Lort (ed) – Azimute: Critical Essays on Deleuze and Guattari

Chuck Palahniuk – Lullabye

Shakespeare – The Tempest

Stewart Home – Blood Rites of the Bourgeoisie

Nick Kent – The Dark Stuff

Valerie Solanas – S.C.U.M. Manifesto

Ivor Southwood – Non-Stop Inertia

 

Inertia

 

 

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