Thursday, 8 June 2017

The Stompin' Riff Raffs at Club Three Shimokitazawa Tokyo

The Stompin' Riff Raffs at Club Three Tokyo
It was great news to see that The Stompin' Riff Raffs were playing a gig in Tokyo while I was there and the chance to see them in a small basement club in Shimokitazawa was too good an opportunity to pass up. After all they do rank up there among the best live acts I've ever seen and any band that can make a theremin sexy has got my vote! I first saw them play at last year's Hipsville Weekender where the enthusiastic organizers Mr A, Alex and Ade can be relied on to scour all corners of the planet to bring us unbelievably good Garage Rock bands. I've been introduced to bands from Mexico such as Los Sustos, the fabulous Autoramas from Brazil, Messer Chups from Russia and The Jackets from Switzerland to name a few. But they really surpassed themselves with The Stompin' Riff Raffs. Getting them over from Japan can't have been easy and the band were hit by technical problems on the day which unfortunately put paid to Miku's keyboards. However the young Tokyo based band continued to put in a stunningly energetic performance, Miku endearing herself to the crowd by still going through the motions of playing her broken keyboard just in case it miraculously burst in life!

Miku of The Stompin' Riff Raffs at Club Three Tokyo
Rie of The Stompin' Riff Raffs at Club Three Tokyo
So, back to the present and I'm down the front at Club Three eagerly awaiting my second experience of The Stompin' Riff Raffs. They burst onto the stage and crash straight into the Surf-Psych instrumental "Parabellum". Three girls and a guy. The girls dressed identically in sparkling 1930's style flapper dresses and Green Hornet face masks. Miku plays her theremin as though it were a guitar, twisting ear-bustingly weird yet wonderful noises from it. Drummer Saori is all smiles behind her kit and super-cool bassist Rie looks great while adding harmonies and backing vocals. Singer and guitarist Nao is a truly charismatic front-man as he throws everything into his performance. The Sonics' "The Witch" gets a good Stompin' and "Surfside Date" sounds amazing. There are elements of Link Wray, Jerry Lee Lewis, The Cramps and the Ramones in their quick-fire no pause for breath approach. One of my highlights of the night is the penultimate killer track "Horror Show", which you can hear in Episode 22 of Retrosonic Podcast here

Saori of The Stompin' Riff Raffs at Club Three Tokyo
Nao of The Stompin' Riff Raffs at Club Three Tokyo
The band are all smiles and their enthusiasm is infection as the crowd go wild, there's a real sense of fun and abandonment with The Stompin' Riff Raffs. The set draws to a crazed end with another theremin-led instrumental "Ghost Train" during which all hell breaks loose on stage and everything falls apart in glorious chaos! What a show and what a band! My only complaint was that due to time restraints there was no encore so I didn't get to hear my favourite track "Linda" but I was more than satisfied. Let's hope they come back to the U.K. again very soon. You can check out more 'up close and personal' videos of the band at the Club Three Shimokitazawa and Hipsville 2016 over at our Retro Man Blog YouTube channel here. Here's a little taster...

For more info on The Stompin' Riff Raffs check out their official Facebook page here.

Lester Square "Carcass" - New Solo Album from The ex-Monochrome Set & Adam & The Ants Guitarist

Lester Square photographed by Paul Slattery at our Retro Man Blog Night back in 2014
Lester Square, the original guitarist in Adam & The Ants and co-founder of The Monochrome Set has just released a new solo album entitled "Carcass". The title track features Lester's trademark twanging riffs that will of course be familiar to fans of The Monochrome Set. It's a great opener, like Dick Dale or Link Wray performing the soundtrack to an Ennio Morricone Spaghetti Western movie. Another personal highlight is "Time Flies" which is a beautifully pastoral song with vocals from The Chefs' Helen McCookerybook that reminds me of Goldfrapp's "Seventh Tree" album and it wouldn't have been out of place on the soundtrack to "The Wicker Man". Although by the end the peaceful landscape seems to get shattered and polluted by the sound of screaming fighter jets. The rest of the album features a diverse set of evocative and mainly instrumental songs that range from pulsing funky brass to baroque orchestral pieces. There's even some Gaelic Pipe Folk rubbing shoulders with organ driven tracks that touch on The Senior Service or James Taylor Quartet's output. But of course it's Lester's instantly recognisable and inventive, yet still seriously underrated, guitar work that is the star of the show. As well as recording eleven studio albums with The Monochrome Set, Lester has also recorded with The Invisible, Jesus Couldn’t Drum, ...And The Native Hipsters, Victory Through Sound and Helen McCookerybook. The official description of the album goes something like this: "Carcass, is a product of its times; a collection, if you will, of protest instrumentals; sound poems to chart these extraordinary times. Whether imagining the insect winners of a post nuclear winter, or the secrets of the Trump penthouse, these works are in equal measure poignant, sarcastic, angry and hopeful. It has been said that revolution today has no soundtrack in the same way that the anti-Vietnam draft resistance of the sixties did. For what its worth the redress starts here". You can order the CD of "Carcass" from Lester's Bandcamp page here.

Lester will be re-joining The Monochrome Set for two very special gigs at The Lexington in Islington to celebrate 40 years since The Monochrome Set formed. The band will be playing their first two albums "Strange Boutique" and "Love Zombies" in their entirety and a set of favourites, over two nights, Saturday 10th February and Sunday 11th February next year. The gig is being promoted by Bizarro and support on both nights comes from The Would-Be-Goods Two who feature Jessica Griffin and Peter Momtchiloff of the original WBG's playing a stripped down set of songs old and new. You can order tickets in advance from We Got Tickets here. There's no news yet if Lester will be playing any solo gigs to promote the release of "Carcass" but in the meantime here's the title track.

Lester Square photo copyright Paul Slattery. You can see a feature, including more of Paul's excellent photos of our Retro Man Blog Night featuring The Monochrome Set and The Fallen Leaves back in May 2014 at the Retro Man Blog archive here

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

Oh! Gunquit - New Album "Lightning Likes Me" & Weirdsville Headline Show on June 24th

Oh! Gunquit have released a new album "Lightning Likes Me" on Decapitator Records, it features four tracks originally released last year on their "Hot Cross Fun" limited edition cassette only E.P. recorded with Jim Diamond and six superb brand new songs. The album also introduces new saxophonist Chuchi who has previously played with King Salami & The Cumberland 3 and I'm sure he's going to add another dimension to the band's already exceptional live shows. The album is packed full of Oh! Gunquit's strongest material to date, so if you are already aware of the band's previous releases then you'll get some idea of just how good this record is. Oh! Gunquit don't just straddle various genres but gleefully kick them to pieces as you might gather by this description from Dirty Water Records, who released the band's debut album: "Oh! Gunquit are a Rumble-Bop, Surf-Punk Band who concoct a brew of Raw R&R, Wild Garage Rock and Twisted Freak-a-Billy" - try finding that in the record store racks! Their blend of eminently danceable swampy, voodoo-touched Exotica will get even us old-timers bouncing around the room. The album is packed full of clever riffs and twists and turns that defy any categorization and the abundant melodies are nicely underpinned by some welcome off-kilter touches that on occasion remind me of Gallon Drunk meeting the B-52's. My personal highlight off the album has to be "Greasy Moves" which distills the essence of Oh! Gunquit into four lip-smackingly lascivious minutes. You can hear another highlight from the album, the stunning "Fireballs" in our Retrosonic Podcast Episode 25 here.

You can order the "Lightning Likes Me" album direct from the Oh! Gunquit Bandcamp site here. One track from the album "Nomads of The Lost" was released as a limited edition green vinyl single on  Trash Wax Records and it's well worth getting from the label here, now enjoy the video!

Oh! Gunquit will headline the always excellent Weirdsville club night at the Fiddler's Elbow in Camden on Saturday June 24th with support from Emptifish and DJ's until 3am. It's sure to be a busy night so better make sure you book your tickets in advance from Weirdsville at the link here.

Oh! Gunquit photographed by Paul Slattery
For more info check out the Oh! Gunquit Facebook page here. Colour photo copyright Paul Slattery.

Monday, 5 June 2017

Stupidity - "10 Years of Stupidity" New Greatest Hits Collection from the Swedish R'n'B Garage Rockers

Stupidity Photographed in Camden, London by Paul Slattery
The Stockholm based raw R'n'B & Garage Rock band Stupidity celebrate ten years of impressive recorded history by releasing a superb "best of" compilation entitled "10 Years of Stupidity" on Go Fast Records. With tracks selected and remastered from all of their four albums along with the 2015 single "Get Up" and a previously unreleased track "OK", it's the perfect collection for fans old and new. The band have been busy recently, gathering yet more support from Little Steven's Underground Garage, playing live with Duncan Reid & The Big Heads and drummer Tommy has recently been interviewed for Mighty Manfred's radio show which you can listen to at Soundcloud.

You can order the album directly from the band's official Stupidity web-site store here. Here's a video of one of the tracks that appears on the album, this is "Baby It's You" filmed by Retro Man Blog at a Garageland Club night in at The Unicorn in Camden back in 2015. Photo copyright Paul Slattery.

Friday, 2 June 2017

Ian Person - New Solo Album, Movie Soundtrack and Side Project from the ex-Soundtrack of Our Lives & Union Carbide Productions Guitarist

Ian Person, formerly guitarist with The Soundtrack of Our Lives and Union Carbide Productions, has certainly been busy recently. First of all Welfare Sounds & Records will release his brand new solo album "Exit: Highway Of Light" on June 09th and it features thirteen cracking guitar based Rock 'n' Roll tracks. It's a long time coming, following on some eleven years after his excellent debut solo/TV soundtrack album "Diamonds In The Rough" and it's available to pre-order from Bengans. Ian has also composed the soundtrack (along with his ex-TSOOL colleague Kalle Gustafsson Jerneholm) to a new movie featuring Sidse Babett Knudsen from "Borgen" and "Westworld" entitled "Ikitie". If that's not enough he has now teamed up with Per Stålberg from Division of Laura Lee to form a scorching Punk Rock outfit called Pablo Matisse. The Gothenburg based band, who also feature Samuel Järpvik and Mikael Björklund, have just released a six track E.P. "Deep In Guilt" on Startracks Records and it's a vicious blast of tuneful hardcore Punk that I'm sure will appeal to fans of Husker Du and Black Flag and of course Ian's old band Union Carbide Productions. The E.P. includes a rip-roaring take on Fugazi's piano ballad "I'm So Tired" that will blow you away! You can check out the album and find out more details on the band at their official Facebook page here.

Here's a track from Ian's new solo album "Exit: Highway of Light" entitled "Yo-Yo".

We've featured Ian's various projects extensively here at Retro Man Blog and also at Retrosonic Podcast, so please feel free check out our archives for various features and interviews from his time with The Soundtrack of Our Lives to his solo work, his album with Swedish Rock & Roll legend Jerry Williams and even his movie soundtrack work including his amazing score from the "Fotbollens Sista Proletärer" documentary about IFK Göteborg where we spoke to the film's directors and Swedish footballer Glenn Hysén. Here's a great interview with Ian and his ex-TSOOL colleague Fredrik Sandsten which sheds an honest and amusing light on their musical careers.

Thursday, 1 June 2017

The Baron Four - New Album "Silvaticus" Launch Party Gig at The Lexington on June 16th

The Baron Four at last November's Retro Man Blog Night Photographed by Paul Slattery
The Baron Four celebrate the release of their long-awaited second album "Silvaticus" with a launch party gig at The Lexington, 96-98 Pentonville Road, London on Friday June 16th. Support comes from The Teamsters and Elsa from The Missing Souls will be DJ'ing in the downstairs bar until the early hours. You'll be able to buy copies of the album on CD or vinyl on the night prior to the official release date of June 30th. If you order tickets in advance you'll be in with the chance of snagging a limited edition numbered CD featuring an instrumental version of "Just How You Want To Be". You can get tickets at the bargain price of £4.95 from here

"Silvaticus" is being released on Get Hip Recordings and here's some more info from the label..."ten new, original songs by singer/bassist Mike Whittaker jostle for space with two covers: the recently unearthed "Wild Angel" by James Bond & The Agents from 1967, and a radical reworking of the Bo Diddley classic "I Can Tell" featuring relative newcomer CK Smith on some of the dirtiest blues harp you’re likely to hear this year! Elsewhere, Mr. Smith lays down some killer guitar parts, deft and assured, with just the right amount of grit, complementing fellow axe-man Joe Eakins’ relentless rhythm. There’s even a 12-string in there! Set for release on Friday June 30th, the album will be available on Opaque Orange color vinyl (limited to 300), classic black vinyl (limited to 200), CD and digital. All LP’s include a complimentary download coupon".

Here's the band filmed at our Retro Man Blog Night at The Half Moon night last November.

For more information and up-to-date news on the band please check out their Facebook page here.