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Sunday, 29 January 2017
It kinda makes sense Italy embracing British Mod culture with a sizable scene thriving in the country. As everybody knows the “modernist” style was heavily influenced by sharp Italian Post War fashion as the Sixties changed from drab monochrome to technicolour…………and of course there are the iconic Italian scooters. As they say “what comes around, goes around”. Italian ace faces, the imaginatively named The Mads, have completely immersed themselves in the culture and iconography with their “look” and sound, with record sleeves featuring London Routemaster buses, scooters and 60s type face among other era defining references and great songs that evoke classic bands such as The Who and The Creation. Formed in Milan in 1979 and playing an energetic blend of Beat and Rhythm 'n' Blues, The Mads were probably the first Italian Mod band. In four solid years of gigging, their reputation grew and The Mads became absolute legends on the Italian Modernist underground scene. The band re-formed with their original lineup in 2012 and have since released some fantastic 7” singles and EPs of original material, plus an EP of classic 60s tunes that is available as a Bandcamp freebie here.
The Mads have always written and sung in English (the international language of all things Mod), however, dusting down some tapes from their early years, The Mads have released a 4 track EP of previously unreleased recordings from 1979 - 1983………………..sung in Italian. Limited to a 100 copies on CD only, the In Italiano EP features alternative versions of tracks in the Mads native language originally released in English and a couple of tracks from the vault that never made it onto wax first time round. ‘Sono Chiuso In Lei’ is the Italian version of the Mod/Beat ‘I'm Lonely Boy’ and ‘Psycho Rock'n'Roll Art’ is a Pop Art explosion of sound influenced by the the 60s British Blues/R&B bands………………….it’s the raw sound of a band that has tapped into the late 70s UK Mod revival and are playing with the combination of Punk, Ska and the back to basics 60s sound that was popular in 1979. Much more sophisticated, the other two tracks on the EP are a riot of sparkling guitars and Mod pop smarts…………………’Io Dirò’ combines an elaborate late Beat melody with a typical nursery rhyme chorus of The Creation and The Who, while ‘Solo Verità’ is a track inspired by Bowie’s imperial early 70s period and was the last track recorded by the first line-up The Mads before going their separate ways in 83. For long time fans of the band, the In Italiano EP is a cool addition to the Mads discography and well worth your time.
If this is your thing, In Italiano is out NOW on Area Pirata Records/Sexy Groovy Rhythms and is available on CD from the Area Pirata website or from The Mads Bandcamp page here https://themads.bandcamp.com/album/the-mads-in-italiano where you can also buy the download.
Saturday, 21 January 2017
Had Bristol’s The Blue Aeroplanes been formed within spitting distance of the Golden Gate Bridge rather than the Severn Bridge then there would be no doubt with their unique mix of beat poetry and Rock, Punk and Folk influences they would be a band seriously name dropped by the cool kids and talked about in the hushed reverence usually reserved for the likes of the Velvet Underground. Originally conceived in the mid-eighties hot bed of Post Punk invention, their early gigs were a meeting of an art happening and Rock and Roll celebration with a reputation being cemented by their ferocious live shows towards the end of the decade. The Blue Aeroplanes hit their critical and commercial peak at the start of the 90s with a pair of peerless records in Swagger and Beatsongs before falling foul of fashion and crashing and burning during the “back to basics” Britpop era and not fitting in with the glut of “landfill” Indie bands that now clutter up the racks in charity shops that followed in it’s wake. After 20 years of flying below the radar and not troubling anyone much outside their home city, The Blue Aeroplanes are back with a new album, Wecome Stranger!, which….err…….landed at the start of this month that has been a hit with the critics and they have also hit the the road for their first UK tour since, well ages.
The current line up of the band that has seen practically every guitar player from Bristol pass through it’s ranks over the last 30 years is original members Gerard Langley (poet/singer), John Langley (drummer) and dancer Wojtek Dmochowski with long time members guitarist Gerard Starkie and bassist Chris Sharp joined by new blood in guitarists Mike Youe and the elfin Bec Jevons. Crammed on the small stage at a nicely full Hare & Hounds, the band and dancer ricochet behind and around Gerard Langley in a live performance every bit as thrilling as in their early 90s heyday. Mixing up new tracks with old favourites, you can’t hear the join…………the new songs are all in the mould of the “classic” three guitar Aeroplane attack while the old tunes have aged remarkably well and still sound great. Standouts have to be, from the the new album, the quirky ‘Elvis Festival’ and the brilliant ‘Here Is The Heart Of All Wild Things’ which closes the set in a hail of feedback and you really can’t go wrong playing ‘Jacket Hangs’ and ‘…… And Stones’ from Swagger back to back. Although it is unlikely that The Blue Aeroplanes will ever hit the commercial heights of the early 90s again, Welcome Stranger! Is their strongest album since those times ( "It feels as if The Blue Aeroplanes have never been away...Still fresh and potent, with punchy production, twisting song structures and sweeping choruses" Mojo) and with the best line-up for a long time, they are still a glorious and exciting live band. It’s good to have them back.
Sunday, 15 January 2017
New from Brazilian underground label Essence Music, the release of some great “lost” tracks from the Kansas City Kosmische/Space Rock band Expo Seventy. Originally recorded in 2012 during the three-week art experience started in Kansas City featuring paintings, sculptures, poetry, plays, films and music from local and national artists called “America: Now And Here – A cross-country traveling dialogue about America through the arts”. Local musician Ashley Miller spearheaded a recording project that featured a handful of local acts to record some music that would be later edited together and released as an album. The project lost funding and the album was never completed, but Expo Seventy were able to record as part of the art experiment and the complete session had been released for the first time. Featuring a rare two drummer line-up of the band piloted by Justin Wright, the America Here & Now Sessions take Expo Seventy further out to the dark edges of the cosmos than ever before.
The America Here & Now Sessions comprise of two long improvised tracks of transcendent kosmische drones and slow-burn psychedelic magnetism (with a third much shorter bonus track on the CD). Freely touching distant, dark corners of the cosmos where the sun shines timid, the band slowly builds two long movements of truly mesmerizing, free-form quality that propels the listener even higher to maximum altered state of consciousness. The first side of the album (the ‘First Movement’) is a smoldering psychedelic mix of guitar and analog synths that builds into an epic journey to the far side of space. Subtle and measured, Expo Seventy explore the same stars as bands such as Electric Moon and Sun Dial……free form and flowing but never boring. The epic ‘Second Movement’ is a warm, harmonic, meditational analog synth exploration, eventually accompanied by bursting, ritualistic drums and percussion with distorted guitar tones building into an explosive finale of seriously dark psychedelia. It’s a heavy trip People.
The America Here & Now Sessions are out NOW and available from the usual on-line distributors of heavy Space Rock and twisted Psychedelia…………….and your local, proper clued up Head Music emporium. Released as an LP on black vinyl (or special edition gold vinyl) and CD in very limited numbers, copies are also available from the Essence Music Bandcamp page https://essence-music.bandcamp.com/album/america-here-now-sessions where you can also buy the digital download.