dea Lesson No.1: May 2012

Wednesday, May 30


I just went to see the band High Places play a live set. They were a bunch of fun! It felt like a weird and slightly misassembled version of late 80s/early 90s chart house, like something that would have been signed to Rhythm King or whatever. I dunno, I’m too young to know what I’m talking about really. There wasn’t enough people there though, for a band that came all the way from the USA’s east coast, so it would be really really really nice if more folks turned out for my gig on Friday (probably the last one I’m gonna do til at least the autumn, by the way), headlined by Boston, MA’s FOREIGN OBJECTS.

There are four people in Foreign Objects, three ladies and a bloke, and they make the sort of winningly catchy punk rock I’ve probably not put enough of on over the years. They have a few singles on 7” out there, and according to the tumblr of the label (Cut The Cord That Records) issuing their newest one, it should be “out this week”, hopefully meaning they have copies with them. If not, try their ‘No Sensation’ LP. If you like the early 80s cream of the Dangerhouse label, the more rock’n’roll side of riot grrrl (the first few Sleater-Kinney albums, for example), and all manner of spiky garage rock and postpunk jawns, I think this is for you. Foreign Objects have members of Ampere, who have kept a torch burning for that chaotic fall-over style of 1990s screamo, and the Libyans, who I never listened to because I suck. Regardless, it equals DIY punk pedigree.

I think this will be great Friday night music before you go on a four-day bender because of a public holiday given for reasons you likely don’t care about or find contemptible. Foreign Objects will be onstage about at about 9.30pm, too, and done by 10, so come down early! And check out the other two bands. SOLUTIONS have been going a few years, evolving from a band called Gunrack? (a truly ‘banterous’ movie reference) and releasing a few things including an album, ‘Before The Roars’ and a split CD with Goodtime Boys. They trade in that taut-but-grand 90s post-hardcore thing that I guess At The Drive-In made most famous, but there’s a more direct punk rock element to them, and the fandom of that whole ‘gruff’ Gainesville/No Idea Records malarkey. Solutions’ second album is out pretty soon, I believe, and presumably some songs will be played off it.

First on are PERSONAL BEST, who upset everything you understand about modern self-promotion by not having a website, blog, Facebook, Myspace, Bandcamp, Soundcloud or account on Silk Road (look it up) where they sell flash drives of their music inside bags of cocaine. The hyperlink above is a messageboard thread about them that has some reviews of their few gigs so far. “Owing as much to the forceful power of Sleater-Kinney and Superchunk as Best Coast and Belle And Sebastian,” said someone; another compared their guitar/drums/vocals directness to The Muffs, which is a badge worth wearing. As you can maybe tell, I haven’t heard Personal Best’s music yet, but because they include Kate from Cardiffian country/indie/punkers Bedford Falls, and someone from Bristol punk band Caves, I am happy to go on trust and instinct.

Doors are at 7pm for this; Personal Best will be on at 7.45 or so and it’s £6 on the door. If you’re reading this and have been to one or more Lesson No.1 shows over the years, thank you for doing that. I guess it’s why I/we kept putting them on. It wasn’t because it made girls like us, I can tell you that much.

Monday, May 14


So this Wednesday I am chipping in with a gig chiefly booked by Will and Keith of the loveable Joy Collective which will deliver varied and upstanding brands of noise. About a fortnight after that I have a punkier show headlined by terrific Boston, MA band FOREIGN OBJECTS. Then after that I probably won’t be doing many shows for a mighty long time. Most likely a Swn Festival bill of some kind, as I’ve done one every year so far and I got asked again, but to be really real, most imminently touring bands on my radar right now are either too big/pricey for my smalltime operation, more suited to promotion by someone else in Cardiff, or I just don’t rate them enough to feel like stressing out about doing a pop concert for them. This is always subject to change without notice, so anyone can still enquire about the possibility of Lesson No.1 gigs – it isn’t very likely at the moment, is all.

On which note I shall stop talking about myself and shine a firefly-sized light on the musical acts playing this thing. MXLX is the headliner. The flyer at the top looks almost tauntingly as if it says MXPX, who are a popular Christian ska-punk band, but it’s MXLX. He is a guy called Matt Loveridge who lives in Bristol, and this is only one of his noms de noise – you might know him as Team Brick, under which name he’s recorded and performed since maybe 2003. He was a right old mess in those first couple of years, if this writer recalls right: junky live electronics and random surreality, with the general feeling it was all being done on the hoof somewhat. Over time, he started listening to a lot of ‘ethnomusical’ (is that the correct term? An acceptable term?) records and teaching himself throat singing, which was/is really cool to watch/listen to, especially when put through a bunch of loopy modulatey FX.

Matt’s virtuosity and uniqueness was picked up on by many in Bristol especially, the highest profile being Geoff Barrow of Portishead, and the two play together in the Kraut/prog trio BEAK>, one of Barrow’s projects during Portishead downtime. Despite this raising of his profile, Matt has continued to furnish micro-labels with music for short-run CDRs and tapes – as Team Brick, Fairhorns, Gnar Hest, Klad Hest, Knife Library and MXLX. In this latter mode, he seems to favour long pieces which approach transcendentalism and employ intense, ecclesiastical drones and scarcely shifting motifs. I seriously can’t get enough of ‘8’, the 42-minute chongout on his Bandcamp (linked above). If he pulls out something like that on Wednesday I’ll be stoked.

It will likely be an extremely jarring shift from what WOOLF are going to deliver, but Woolf are kinda jarring by design. When I booked them for this gig and told them about the rest of the bill, Colette from the band informed me that she put Team Brick on in Cardiff back in 2006, before she moved to London. Which was cool because that show was nutty (Gay Against You made a mess by throwing polystyrene everywhere), and because I had an inkling it was her that promoted it, but wasn’t sure, and didn’t want to ask cos I’d look weird. This will be Woolf’s first gig in Cardiff, and they will have copies of their 13-minute album (you may lean towards ‘EP’ here) ‘The Right Way To Play’. Released on the heroic La Vida Es En Mus label, it promises to be wickedly scratchy, itchy, practically deconstructed punk primitivism indebted to riot grrrl, especially its least rockist enclaves. The Woolf songs out there thus far (their side of a split 7” with Trash Kit and a couple of other online tracks, basically) remind me of no-one more than Skinned Teen, although Woolf aren’t 16 years old and so have different concerns.

Woolf have done a really nice poster for the UK tour, listing all the bands they’re playing with and all. It occurred to me that maybe they’re expecting ‘Brandyman DJs’ to be actual DJs who like scratch and beatmatch and that, as opposed to Ben and DC from the band Brandyman putting CDs on one after the other, which is what it will be. They will choose wisely, though, on account of their fine musical taste. Also on the bill is STACKING CHAIRS, a solo project (with occasional help) of Casey Raymond. Casey is known (to those who know) for creating weird videos for singles by pop bands large and small; he also likes to make wonky DIY noise out of keyboards, loops and contact mic’d household objects.

‘Weak-Beat And Noodles’, the first Stacking Chairs album – purchasable on the link above – reminds me of the Skaters’ tape-damaged gloop, V/VM’s assault on pop culture and the plunderphonic prototypes of John Oswald (and ‘Revolution No.9’, I guess). You won’t see much like it round here too often, so treasure these small gifts. Starts at 8pm, finishes at 11pm, fiver on the door.