dea Lesson No.1

Thursday, February 6


In tandem with the almost holy Joy Collective, as is often the case in these insecure times, Lesson No.1 is back after a four-month period wandering in the desert and not promoting gigs. The last one I did included a set by someone who, a few weeks after, started to [POST EDITED TO REMOVE REFERENCE TO THINGS WHICH, WHILE FAIRLY OBVIOUSLY TRUE, PROMPTED ITS SUBJECT TO LEAVE ME A VOICEMAIL THREATENING LEGAL ACTION. PRETTY SURE NOTHING THIS GUY DOES IS WORTH EVEN THE PROSPECT OF FIVE MINUTES OF MY TIME BEING TAKEN UP]. What a complete wanker Kristian Cole (To The Lovers Farewell, Red Venice Records) is. Nevertheless, I feel confident that lightning will not strike twice in regard to the four bands on this bill.

“Us the headliners?” asked Joe from HENRY BLACKER when their place at the top of the bill was mooted. We’re only a few gigs old, he continued. This is true, but featuring two-thirds of the mighty Hey Colossus, this three-piece from south-west England have experience in abundance, and play music that rocks a fissure through the generations. Their debut album (‘Hungry Dogs Will Eat Dirty Puddings’, recently released on the Riot Season label) deals in raw and somewhat deranged punked-up proto-metal that, at various moments, harks back to 1970s free festival Mandrax biker rock, pre-‘Nevermind’ Seattle grunge and Kyuss-style 90s trippiness (I also detected floral notes of ENDLESS BOOGIE, LIGAMENT and RYE COALITION here and there). Abandon your grooming plans.

When Nottingham’s splenetic twosome GUILTY PARENTS were hitting Lesson No.1 up for a gig around this time, the hook – not that I required one – was that they’d have their debut album available to buy here too. Not sure what happened to that, although I believe it was recorded in October, so can’t be that far away. Thing is, this band are terrific, and sound vibrantly LIVE! even though I am yet to see them LIVE! They play exciting and atmospheric garage/punk/hardcore/art rock with lots of effects and flashing lights, but also catchy riffs and hooks and suchlike. Useful points of comparison are kind of fleeting, but their two previous tapes (streamable on das Bandcamp) gave me vibes similar to ...TRAIL OF DEAD, BUTTHOLE SURFERS, HUNCHES, WRANGLER BRUTES and Area Band ZINC BUKOWSKI.

Featuring former/current members of Chain Of Flowers and Dead Beggars Club, LUVV are only a few gigs old, having formed last summer sometime, but going on the first few tracks the quartet have fired into the void, it sounds like they’re gunning for an early 80s British postpunk type thing with maybe some olde tyme New Zealand indie in there as well. They may not agree. The important thing is, it’s dead good. A wee dram of hype has already been poured into the tumbl(e)r of sonic consumption, for example the music guy from the Western Mail making them one of his 40 Bands You Must Hear In 2014. The other 39 bands were all The Keys, but still.

Finally – in the sense that they’re the last band I’m writing about here, and that I’m putting them on having inexplicably not done so before – we have HIS NAKED TORSO. This Cardiff duo stack up guitar, drums, keys, electronics and unhinged vocals in victorious fashion; replete with complex time changes to wrongfoot you, they are a sort of freely jazz-ish take on 90s Skingraft Records bands like ARAB ON RADAR.

This gig is at Buffalo, which is under new ownership since it had a bit of a financial wobble late last year. It doesn’t seem to be doing many gigs at the moment, but as far as I know it’s business as usual for those turning up. Doors 7.30 or so, done by 11, a fiver on the door, go out the back if you want to smoke one of those cigarettes which make you look so cool, and me envy your coolness.

Saturday, September 28


It’s ya boy Lesson No.1, back from taking a break from putting on gigs since May to do one more slightly hastily-arranged show, then probably taking another long break that could last any length of time up to ‘forever’. ALRIIIIIIIGHT!!!!!

If you wanted to come and bug out at this one, though, I’d be really grateful and so would these guys. Playing one of ONLY TWO UK DATES, AUN are tonight’s headliners: moving and blissful drone-rock from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, North America, America, Earth. AUN (they use all caps, don’t feel pressured to do so) are a duo who, since 2007, have released music, quite a lot of it, on labels including IMPORTANT, ALIEN8, CONSPIRACY and DENOVALI. If you’re a fan of the furthest-out 90s shoegaze types (MBV or Slowdive), spacerock of the type Kranky Records specialised in during the 90s, old German synth dudes from the Krautrock era or not quite as old German ‘pop ambient’ dudes like Wolfgang Voigt, you will sink into this like a deep bath.

THE COSMIC NOD will be playing only their third show here, but their first two went down a treat. They scratch an itch that has for too long been untreated in south Wales, the need for a band who make heavy (not metallic) freeform psych-rock jamming along the lines of Comets On Fire, Earthless (who their name references), Hawkwind and the like. The hyperlink takes you to a Soundcloud page with a recording of a practise jam; you can also watch a video of one of their gigs if y’like.

TO THE LOVERS, FAREWELL is the primary musical alter ego of a gentleman called Kristian who lives up Merthyr way and runs a noise cassette label called Red Venice Records. Both TTL,F and his label have unleashed some truly vicious harsh sonics over the years (hear for yourself at the link above IF YOU DARE) but he also has a taste for trigonometric beats, trippy chillwave, weird synth tones and unsettling ambience. For this live electronic solo set, some or all of these things will crop up. First ever Lesson No.1 show for this dude. Also he is pretty keen to try and get a tangible noise scene going in this part of the world, so, er, show him that it’s possible I guess!

Finally, we have the nocturnal thud of SVNTREADER, in which Darren Kaskie, singer and guitarist in Lesson No.1 regulars THE DEATH OF HER MONEY, wheels out his solo project for a rare showing. “Leans towards the dark droning industrial vibes with a nod towards elements of witch house with minimal but psychedelic synth sounds,” is what he wrote before he played earlier in the year, and if memory served it lived up to that. Big doomy bass for sure. The latest instalment of the ‘Dragon Era’ Welsh electronic compilations has one of his on it: here it is (listen to the other tracks on the comp while you’re there by all means!).

This is at The Moon Club on Womanby Street and is a fiver on the door, which is some nonsense for four bands one of whom come from Que-bastard-bec. Nonsense that goes to serve YOU.

Saturday, May 18


The title of this blog refers to the only knitting terminology I know, most likely gleaned from reading the Beano or similar as a kid. Like Dennis’ mum would be knitting and he’d grab the end of the wool and fuck it up. Classic pictorial comedy! It also refers to Philadelphia psych dogs PURLING HISS, who are headlining this collaborative gig between Lesson No.1, The Joy Collective and FYB. Purling Hiss is a pretty weird name for a band by any standards, if you ask me. Mike Polizze, who was previously the band’s sole member and sings and plays guitar now it’s a trio, has stated that it isn’t a spoonerism of ‘hurling piss’. Feel like we’re going to have to wait until Polizze is on his death bed before he gargles “it... was actually... supposed to sound like ‘hurling piss’,” and then expires.

Before that hopefully very far-off episode, bear witness to a band that sound sense-etheringly ALIVE. Purling Hiss has existed in some form since the early 00s, putting out their first record in 2009. Bouncing between US indie labels of a bedroom and rented office space nature ( Richie, Woodsist, Mexican Summer), the fourth Purling Hiss album – ‘Water On Mars’, released about two months ago – arrives with the help of Drag City Records. They are a good fit for the fuzzy, guitar raunch-utilising and occasionally countrified sounds present on the album. From a band that used to settle for just plugging in and wailing away with everything in the red (which they still do, eg on the immense thud-rock opener ‘Lolita’), PH have developed into a source of supreme sunburnt earworms. I reviewed this album someplace and mentioned Archers Of Loaf, Teenage Fanclub, Silver Jews, The Men, Milk Music, Blur and Weezer. Those last two are probably eyebrow-raisers, and only really refer to one song apiece, but srsly, this off the album is full-on ‘Pinkerton’ jawns, isn’t it? The incredible flyer for this show (designed by Adam Chard) also lists Dinosaur Jr and Kurt Vile, so there y’are, that’s lots of bands namechecked so you can come to a snap judgement based on that.

On the undercard, two Cardiff bands make their debut for Lesson No.1, a big milestone in their lives I have no doubt. CHAIN OF FLOWERSplayed their first gig almost exactly one year ago, supporting Milk Music, which I didn’t go to because we had this gigon the same evening. Since then they have taken their mane-shaking, reverb-soaked and romantically-minded revue out on the road, including as tour support for Pure Love and Iceage, and released a single on tape, then another one on 7”. They are influenced by punk, hardcore, shoegaze, garage and jangle, but are not any of those things. In fact, pretend I wrote “crunk, hardcore, synthwave, garage and jungle” instead. I’d buy it!

Up first are ROUGH MUSIC, who started out last year as a duo and are now a trio. When I saw them play about a month ago, they started with a moody and even ‘glacial’ instrumental rock thing, but this is a red herring leading you on a wild goose chase. Their preferred mode of rocking is clattery yet melodic sludge-pop (getting a Torche vibe here and there) with lots of bottom end and throaty vocals. Great drumming on ‘Welcome To Shanghai’, if you fancy trying out their Bandcamp player thingy.

This gig will start at 8pm and finish by 11, barring acts of God. It costs £6 if you want to buy a ticket, which you can from here, or £7 on the door. I want to say STOKED FOR THE MADNESS!, so I shall. Also, bit of ‘gossip’ here, apparently Mark E Smith came to see Purling Hiss play in London the other day (technically White Fence, who was also on the bill and one of whom plays in The Fall, but whatever). Don’t worry, I doubt he’ll be in Cardiff on Monday.

Tuesday, April 30


There are quite a few decent looking gigs happening in Cardiff on Friday 3 May, so we (that’s Lesson No.1, The Joy Collective and F.Y.B.) would be really honoured and junk if you came to see ours, in Undertone. It will be the heaviest of the lot without a doubt. (I did go and see Congo Natty, who are playing in Clwb Ifor on Friday, a few years ago and was deafened by AN A CAPELLA SECTION! But that is a club night, not a gig, and you can go to it after our gig finishes. I may even do so myself.)

HEY COLOSSUS the London-based headliners tonight, have been going a puzzlingly long time without playing in Cardiff – about ten years in fact. Now I think about it, their debut LP – ‘...Hates You’, released on the Jonson Family label in 2004 – arrived in my world, with its amazing side-long closing track ‘A Witch Is Born’, at nearly the exact time I started putting on gigs. It seems that I am neglectful and also suck! They did play in terrible Newport venue the Meze Lounge a few years back, as part of a month of free gigs, but I’m not sure many people went.

Anyway, over several albums and singles, some long out of print but mostly obtainable, this group have rarely put a foot wrong, their music lifting liberally from doom/sludge metal, 90s noiserock, Krautrock, psychedelia and drone to name but a few. They make no apologies for enjoying ‘a joke’, with record titles including ‘Eurogrumble’ and ‘Witchfinder General Hospital’, but this should never imply that they take the business of melting minds anything but MEGA-seriously. Their new one calls itself ‘Cuckoo Live Life Like Cuckoo’ and it can be burly (‘Hot Grave’) and intricately, metronomically Germanic (‘How To Tell Time With Jesus’). I think there are six people in the band at present and, excitingly for me at least, their latest drummer is Tim Cedar, who used to be in Part Chimp and Ligament, and who takes his name from the tree trunks he uses instead of puny sticks.

HOGSLAYER feature members of two bands we have put on in the past: Shaped By Fate and Zonderhoof. SBF’s chaotic good-end-of-metalcore aggro, and ZH’s technically-inclined sludge edifices, are both represented in Hogslayer’s music: Paul, the former band’s ex-vocalist, is a right old injection of personality. When I saw the band the other week Paul had to run the gruesome gauntlet of two pissed men dressed as ‘comedy Mexicans’, from what I assume was a stag party, who kept dropping their trousers in front of the band. This was handled, so to speak, with admirable patience. I do hope they don’t come back.

Every time I’ve written a little blurb for THE DEATH OF HER MONEY in the last couple of years it’s mentioned how they have new songs from an upcoming third album, ones which will have the intensity and heaviness of the old ones, but in a different and more subtle way. Now, though, they’ve actually recorded it!! So they just need to do all the other stuff you do to an album before it’s released. Anyway, if you’ve caught the band supporting BEAK> and Hark in the last few months, you should expect shoegazey shenanigans and clean singing and that, also that it will be high quality gear. This gig will also be a kind of preview of their late May tour with the mighty ÅRABROT, which comes to Cardiff on Wed 29 May – check it.

Doors 8pm, should be done by 11, only a scrotally wrinkled fiver payable on the door. The poster was done by the horrendously talented Gareth from Homoh, aka THE DEAD HAND. See you at the stacks!

Wednesday, March 13


I have a dark grey V-neck jumper which I wear quite often, both in the workplace and at home. Every time I put it on I think of when I acquired it, slightly over three years ago. I say “acquired” because it found its way into my bag – accidentally, your honour – after a gig in Buffalo headlined by Diet Pills, playing in Cardiff for the first time. What a great band they were, even more so when they returned to the city in 2011 for a couple of raucous shows at the Gower pub (the Nov ’11 date is the last ‘loud’ show that’s been promoted in there, I think). Pick up all their releases too, especially the self-titled LP on their own Force Fed label: horrified, crawling noise-rock coated in litres of sludge woodstain.

That, however, is the past! Diet Pills broke up last year sometime, but each have flung themselves into the wild world of the new band, mostly teeming with comparable heaviness and unease. From their Leicester homestead, Duane Farrow and James Fowler, DP guitarist and drummist, have founded DISABILITY with another dude, Aaron Clayton. 2012 saw them spring swiftly into action with a four-track EP, ‘Rock’n’Roll Tigers’ – buy it on CD or tape, hopefully at this gig if they have copies. It’s more direct in its pummelling than Diet Pills, or at least what they grew into, but still thrills in the way it bolts weird jazzy interludes onto raw patties of ornery (not ordinary) Pissed Jeans / Hammerhead noiserock. I am amped about seeing them, on a Friday night and ev’ryt’ing.

The supporting cast are three bands who are all playing their first Lesson No.1 shows. Continuing the theme of dim memories of rock gig minutiae, ZINC BUKOWSKI were booked to support the great Foot Village at this gig a couple of years back, but the drummer decided to leave the band one day beforehand. Hopefully this will not happen again, not least because Pontypridd trio ZB now have the hardest-hitting drummer in the ‘scene’. They have also, in the last 18 months, turned into one of south Wales’ raddest rock bands on the sly. A self-released album, ‘Nature Finds A Way In The Face Of Woe’, mixes up anti-purist thug garage, Sonic Youth-y scree and destructo punk rock.

HOMOH will be playing their third ever gig here, I think. Their first one, back in January, was a trip, for them what likes Eyehategod-style southern sludge muck and downtuned/trad doom. They’ve finally uploaded a track in half-decent fidelity, so you can prep yourself. And before them we have THINK PRETTY, a Cardiff-based duo called Laura and Mikee. They do stripped-down grunge/punk/riot grrrl/goth rockouts that make we want to hit caps lock and type PJ HARVEY, BABES IN TOYLAND and WILD FLAG maybe.

OK then! As is customary with Friday (and Saturday) gigs in Buffalo, this is an EARLY START (7pm) and EARLY FINISH (10pm). With four bands, even though all sets are half an hour or less, we are running the tightest of ships. Think Pretty will be on at 7.25pm, and we’re not waiting round for slackers to turn up. It’s only FOUR POUNDS on the door, which is old skool to a fault, and will of course all be going to the bands in appropriate segments. Oh yeah, sorry about the flyer, I did it using scissors and glue in work.

Saturday, March 2


The latest in Lesson No.1 and F.Y.B.’s burgeoning series of ‘bands that got us jazzed last year on our travels to festivals and that’ (following RICHARD DAWSON and QUEER’D SCIENCE [there will probably be more in this series in the future]) arrives this Monday, March 4, in the form of POINO. A trio based in London, Poino have been around for a little over three years, but have a little added band history as individuals – at least, in the case of singer and guitarist Gaverick De Vis (dunno about the other two, sorry lads), who used to be in Giddy Motors. Now they were a good band! I think I saw them in the Cardiff Barfly in 2003 or 2004. Seems an awful long time ago... maybe because it was. Their cover of ‘Eisbär’ by Grauzone isn’t on YouTube, but it introduced me to, er, that song. Which was nice.

Poino have much less of the Pop Group style skronk than Giddy Motors, and much more of the Big Rock cap-peeling riffs. They move fluidly from tender moments of puzzled contemplation to noisy but controlled chaos which sounds like flexing while howling at yourself in the mirror feels. I should probably mention some bands, because while musicians are special snowflakes whose creative vision evades comparison, this does a better job of interesting people than the vague imagery and fannydangle present in the previous sentence. I think you will like Poino, likewise their debut LP ‘Moan Loose’ (check it on their Bandcamp), if you enjoy bands such as SHELLAC, US MAPLE, UZEDA, OXES and BILGE PUMP. Stuff that sometimes gets called ‘math rock’, but is played by people who obviously know and enjoy rock, and who don’t wear (metaphorical or actual) polo necks.

This is also a perfectly OK description of BRANDYMAN, who are this bill’s ‘local band’, and who are looking forward to a fruitful and productive 2013 where they play lots of gigs (short of overkill) and hopefully get some shit recorded. If you are reading this upfront of the gig in question, you probably know who they are, so you should come and see them and play air guitar while doing the drinking bird dance. Or maybe that is just me. Ben the guitar player’s birthday is the day before this gig, so that is another reason to raise your tankard. .

Opening the show are BRATAN. A young but exciting duo from Manchester, their guitar-drums-no-vocals steez is highly austere and sparse, bordering on industrial at certain points – but they have a way with atmosphere and unease that will hopefully cut through the first floor of a city centre bar at about 8.30pm on a Monday. They, like the other two bands on the bill (to an extent) have a “90s kids will remember this” vibe – as well as Slint and their extended Louisville friends and family, I get strong echoes of A Minor Forest out of Chicago. This might have been aided by me pulling out the album the above track comes from last week, for the first time in years, but even so.

In conclusion, although this lineup might carry echoes of Mr. Shellac, attending it will not make you an “unbelievable prick”, if anything the exact opposite. A believable twat. Uh, this takes place in Cardiff’s Buffalo venue, is a fiver on the door and should be done by 11pm, once all the bands have finished “kicking ass” and “taking names”.

Monday, February 25


Lesson No.1 and The Joy Collective, the twin promoters of this gig – hold on to your hats, for I am arrogantly about to speak for them – like plenty of music which is quiet and delicate and minimal, yet we do not often put it on. Is it because we worry about our public personae seeming less tearingly rock’n’roll, or because we think that the people who come to our gigs (Sid and Doris Bonkers) are going to talk over the music and ruin the intimacy? Instead of answering this question, let’s just say (a) the most rock’n’roll thing you can do in this postmodern age is make no effort at all to be rock’n’roll; and (b) when you attend this three-act gig, FUCKING SHUT UP WHILE PEOPLE ARE PERFORMING.

RICHARD DAWSON is a folk singer from Newcastle, on what I believe is his first UK tour, or at least his highest profile one. He has been releasing music since 2005, mainly on CDR and in very limited runs. He sometimes sings a capella, with an unmistakable north-eastern accent and a highish pitch lending an air of near-innocence, but more often accompanies himself on electric guitar, with weird tunings and claw-like picking.

With the exception of Cath & Phil Tyler and Tom Waits, his influences (as stated on his Facebook page) are the reddest of herrings as regards what he sounds like. On ‘The Magic Bridge’ – released on CD in 2011, vinyl last year and fairly unquestionably his masterpiece to date – there are elements of (or things that remind me of) traditional English folk, Delta blues, Middle Eastern guitar music, ultra-loner six-string minimalism a la Jandek, Will Oldham’s more messed-up stuff pre-Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy... but before I drift off into a paroxysm of namechecks in place of any astute observations, let me say that it is properly compelling and weirdly FUN. When I caught a bit of his set at the Supersonic Festival, he told jokes and that in between songs, and kept what I imagine was a near-universally hungover crowd rapt despite being not-loud. Just saying.

In the middle of the bill is RATATOSK, the name Cardiff/Bargoed-based Rhodri Viney uses when he is performing solo, a thing that is happening for the first time in 2013. Eschewing the guitar for this show, although he can often be found coaxing exciting noises out of it (e.g. in Right Hand Left Hand), expect to see a musical saw, zither and loop pedal employed. I think. Might well be something new in the arsenal. He also threatened me with a set of improvisation if he didn’t find the time to rehearse his set, but I countered that this was no threat at all. Like Dawson, Ratatosk’s home-recorded music rewards close listening , and being quiet.

Opening the show, probably about 30 minutes after the 8pm doors, are MARS TO STAY, who are playing their first show for L#1 or TJC (acronyms are suave) and don’t play live enough, IYAM (if you ask me). They have been going a hair over two years and play slowcore/sadcore – is there a difference? – with levels of reverb that would drive the vicar to burn his own church down. I am going to repeat, for the second time including the Facebook event page, someone’s description “Red House Painters trapped in a big metal pipe”. Hee hee. I have also been reminded of Codeine, Grouper, Movietone and The For Carnation to one degree or other. Suffice it to say they deserve your UNDIVIDED ATTENTION.

This gig is in Undertone, which we figured was the venue that makes it the least easy to stand ignoring the bands, and costs a fiver on the door. Chris Eynon will be playing pre-recorded music between the acts, which may even be things appropriate to the occasion if he feels generous in that way. The entirety will warm your cockles and bulk your mussels.